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Film clichés


Film clichés

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In many films it can be observed that with relative frequency, certain plot idioms, gimmicks, and "clichés" are repeated time and again like stock phrases in a person's speech. They are often seen with such regularity that they are expected and disliked for it. It should be noted, however, that idioms and stereotypes are often a valid means to quickly establish plot points and story background. Most conventional movies, good or bad, use some form of "clichés". Each cinematic genre generally has its own litany of clichés, many of which are seen below.


American movies

  • A typical sub-plot of many movies is the theme of the parent who doesn't spend enough time with his children. (War of the Worlds (2005 film))
  • Criminals are almost always men. Hardly any women are seen as criminals (most Lifetime movies).
  • Crowds in films often display similar characteristics only shared with crowds in other films (see The American Crowd).
  • Villains tend to be European mercenaries or terrorists (Die Hard). This is most prevalent in older movies where the Cold War caricatured Russians as the ultimate enemy.
  • French people tend to speak English with a British accent, as do citizens of the Roman Empire in peplums ("sword and sandal" films).
  • By the end, the hero has killed the villain and given his rival/irritating boss his comeuppance. The comeuppance is usually a punch in the face, although it is sometimes just an insult.
  • When a couple is in bed, the sheets cover the woman's chest but leave the man's chest exposed. This is known as the "L-shaped sheet". When the woman gets out of bed, she covers herself with the sheet, as if she doesn't want the man with whom she just had sex to see her naked (or covered by the film makers with extremely well positioned small objects, as parodied in the Austin Powers series).
  • When in the jungle or other wild places, heroes easily overcome all dangers of the vicinity while natives that are their guides such as Indians die first, although they are supposed to know all dangers of the forest/jungle/weather/animals etc.
  • Scenes in cities usually open with a shot of a local landmark (e.g. Big Ben in London and the Eiffel Tower in Paris). Additionally, an opening shot in London often features an instrumental version of "Rule Brittania" (National Lampoon's European Vacation), and one in Paris features accordion music. Furthermore, most rooms seem to have a view of the local landmarks -- the Eiffel Tower can be seen out of every window in Paris.
  • The Chief of Police is always yelling at the hero cop of the movie. If he's not yelling, he always doubts the hero's ability to get the job done and/or his intentions (Dirty Harry, Lethal Weapon, parodied in So I Married an Axe Murderer and Last Action Hero)
  • A witness who is in a hospital is only kidnapped/killed if there's a police officer guarding the room.
  • In a World War II movie, an American masquerading as a German officer does not need to speak German, only speak with a German accent (Indiana Jones)
  • When any movie has a kid playing video games in it, the video games use Pac-Man or other 1980's video game sounds, regardless of how recent the movie (or system they are playing the game on) is. Also the actor’s controller motions seldom bear any resemblance to the motions actually used while playing a videogame.
  • British punks are often depicted watching internationally significant, televised events through a street window or in a pub.
  • Usage of phones is completely unrealistic. In real life, the receiver speaks first, not the caller. It is also common courtesy to say a farewell, or at the very least, an acknowledgement, before hanging up. Also, something that would otherwise take thirty or so seconds to say takes only three seconds to hear on the phone (GoldenEye)
  • Individuals from Eastern Europe often maintain communist ideology.
  • Individuals of German descent often maintain Nazi ideology.
  • Any given military group or unit will have at least one man named Kowalski.
  • Actors will whip off their glasses to emphasize a point (spoofed in Airplane!).
  • Protagonists will have many perfect opportunities to rid themselves of the main or sub-main villain, but are somehow and inexplicably prevented from doing so (The World Is Not Enough, Saw, Saw II)
  • People in horror movies usually have thousands of opportunities to do the smartest possible thing and rid themselves of the main horror antagonist, but always do the stupid thing only to prolong the movie.
  • Police officers who are completely different, with one being experienced and the other street smart, are paired together for missions where their dislike for each other could obviously compromise the mission (see buddy cop film and black meets white). [1]
  • Police officers who are nearing their retirement date are often tragically killed (see retirony).
  • Scientists tend to be nerdy, socially inept individuals, usually clad in lab coats and safety spectacles, and who always behave in an amoral manner (in contrast, if they are saving the world, they will be in shape and well tanned). [2]
    • Alternatively, they are nerdy, socially inept individuals who behave in a moral manner, work as comedy relief, and will be killed off unless they are the star.
  • Computers are all compatible, with almost instantaneous download, file loading and processing. This effect, commonly referred to as Hollywood OS, is prevalent in most films that feature, but do not revolve around, computers. [3] Computer systems are also often "destroyed" by blowing up or shooting the monitor, while leaving the actual CPU case unharmed.
  • Whenever it is said that somebody can't possibly be the suspect, that person almost always turns out to be the suspect (most Bond movies).
  • In the final combat scene, the villain and the hero will fight and one will gain a crucial advantage, usually having the other person disarmed staring at a gun in his face. The person with the gun will then throw it away and "fight like a man" in hand-to-hand combat with his opponent. (SWAT, Lethal Weapon, Commando, The Island, etc; parodied in Rush Hour and Team America)
  • If the hero of the movie has a teenage son, it's likely that at some point in the movie the son will die trying to be the hero or going against his father's wishes. The father then would probably go take his revenge.
  • If a hero is fighting several opponents, they always appear to politely queue up and attack one at a time.
  • In action movies, the villain will always die at the end and in the most spectacular way possible (usually falling off a building, getting shredded to pieces or in a big explosion)
  • Multi-ethnical groups of friends are often seen in movies, but at a degree of each one of the friends being of a different race (Power Rangers), but in contrast to this, the black man will always date the black girl.
  • During a fight, the hero loses, firstly, but then he gets confident again and wins spectacularly. (Serenity, The Island)
  • At a restaurant or in a bar, the characters never ever finish what they ordered.
  • When there is something on television that a character does not like relating to them, particularly a news report, they always turn the television off before the end of the broadcast, never stopping to watch the whole thing, even if it would be to their advantage. If the news broadcast is about something completely out-of-the-ordinary, the character will turn it off without stopping to watch it. (War of the Worlds (2005 film))
  • The protagonist won't shoot an unarmed villain in cold blood. So when the protagonist has the chance to kill the villain, he does the merciful thing and lets him be captured instead. The protagonist turns his back on the villain. The villain pulls a concealed weapon (or wrests one from an inept redshirt nearby), and the protagonist or their sidekick is "forced" to shoot the villain. Thus giving us the satisfaction of shooting the bad guy without any guilt or conscience wringing.
  • Whenever channel hopping, the protagonist will always flip to a station (normally a news broadcast) just in time to see a relevant programme or report in its entirety. They never manage to miss the beginning.
  • A wise guru coaching somebody will die before the training is complete. (Star Wars)
  • Characters sitting on a toilet will often be disturbed unexpectedly and will always have their trousers or at least their underwear on. (The Island, GoldenEye)
  • The boss of one of the protagonists may try to fire him or her, towards the end of the movie. He or her will automatically reply: "no thanks, I QUIT!" (Godzilla (1998 film))


See Bollywood.

  • Singing and dancing often take the place of typical romance scenes (kissing, sex, etc.)
  • Couples often never kiss, though this unwritten rule is beginning to be broken.
  • The families of one (or both) of the romantic leads will disapprove of the relationship.
  • Characters often wait until monsoon season to leave their loved ones, yet the female character/love interest is still wearing her sandals.
  • Though characters may be from rural village or a poor neighborhood, their song-and-dance numbers occur in an exotic locale (Switzerland, Egypt, etc.)
  • Dream sequences normally involve heavy song-and-dance routines.
  • A song-and-dance sequence involving a barely-dressed lead dancer (normally other than the female lead) has become the norm for most movies. These songs are called the "Item Numbers".
  • Dance numbers often feature several similarly dressed extras, who inexplicably appear out of nowhere.
  • Romantic dance numbers will often take place in a location that is seemingly anti-romantic: car repair garages are particularly popular.
  • The hero will likely engage in a street fight with the villain and his henchmen. Despite being heavily outnumbered, he emerges victorious. The police will arrive immediately after the fight to arrest the villain and his henchmen.
  • The hero will have been shot/stabbed/wounded multiple times by the bad guy, but he manages to survive through it all. Finally he kills the main villain using the same means that the villain was using on him, and the villain dies instantly. The hero is then either taken to the hospital or he dies in the arms of his loved one/s, after giving a long and emotional speech.
  • In older Bollywood movies, if the female lead dies, it is almost sure that the male lead won't last long either. Also, a hero without a heroine (in an action movie) was sure to die.
  • A typical heroine would appear in all kinds of modern/western dresses in the beginning of the movie (Like short skirts, Jeans, etc.), But in the last/ending scenes, the lady appears in a traditional Indian dress.

Disaster movies

  • The first victims of the disaster include a young couple, and usually when they're having sex. (Dante's Peak, The Day After Tomorrow, The Towering Inferno)
  • No one believes the protagonists until it is too late. (The Day After Tomorrow, The Core, Independence Day, Dante's Peak, Earthquake)
  • The protagonist's boss will give them an unrealistically short time to prove their theory. The protagonist does not finish in time or his theory is still shot down, leading to the disaster either way. (Earthquake, Volcano, The Towering Inferno)
  • One of the major characters will turn off a TV or stop listening to a radio the very second an emergency broadcast comes on warning them about the crisis (especially true in monster films or zombie films such as "Night of the Living Dead", but it also occurs in "Apollo 13").
  • The "crew" consists of experts from different backgrounds who have never met, and don't like each other, until they save the world and later become the best of friends.
  • Only the main characters will have any survival skills; background characters will run around in a mass hysteria and get killed easily. (Earthquake, The Towering Inferno)
  • When a victim falls from great heights, he/she won't suffer broken bones. Also no blood is visible meaning the victim always dies of internal hemmorrage.
  • Ten Little Indians Theme (members of the crew are killed one by one - usually in descending order of the actors' billing). (The Core, The Towering Inferno)
  • Rivalries between characters are resolved by the end of the film.
  • A child will be introduced and forgotten at the beginning of the film, only to be found in grave danger toward the end of the film. (Volcano)
  • A surviving hero and a surviving heroine fall in love. (Deep Impact)
  • Only major cities or landmarks are seen affected by the event, such as Paris or New York. (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, Planet of the Apes)
  • Writers work disabled or ailing children into the plot in an arbitrary way. This is criticised as tokenism.
  • Divorced couples reunite. (Outbreak, Twister, Independence Day, The Abyss)
  • A mistake or setback will fundamentally alter the mission, and generally kill at least one crew member. (Volcano, Alien, The Core)
  • Crew members often find themselves in immediately dangerous situations where they must "race against the clock", or perform a difficult task in an extremely limited timeframe. (The Towering Inferno)
  • Usually, when performing a race-against-the-clock task, the first few seconds will go by very quickly, the last will go by very slowly, and the hero will finish with one second left. (Andromeda Strain; This was spoofed in The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear, and Galaxy Quest)
  • The US Government's contingency plan will kill the crew. (Armageddon, The Core, The Rock)
  • There is always a stubborn old man or woman who will not leave his/her home despite imminent danger. (Dante's Peak; this happened for real with Harry Truman at the time of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens)
  • The President of the United States makes an address. (Deep Impact, The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day)
  • In Hollywood films, nothing bad ever happens to neighbouring Canada or Mexico, even if the US is destroyed.
  • If there is a dog or cat in danger, there will always be a scene of it escaping to safety. (Tunnel scene in Independence Day, Volcano, I, Robot)
    • If the dog or cat is owned by a child, the child will never leave its pet behind, and if they cannot rescue it themselves, they force someone to do it for them, endangering their life in the process. (Dante's Peak)
      • Pets never die. Somebody may die while trying to rescue them, though. (Dawn of the Dead (2004 film))
  • The disaster is kept hidden by the US government, but eventually they slip up and it goes public, creating mass panic. (Deep Impact (film)).
  • The villain alien races have advanced technology, but are easily brought down with a simple piece of earth's contrivance. (Independence Day, Signs, Species II, and the theme was parodied in Mars Attacks!) This is a typical trait of invasion movies, dating back to the 1898 novel The War of the Worlds, in which aliens die of common Earth germs.
  • Every group of survivors contains a pregnant woman who will give birth at some point during the film. (Dawn of the Dead)
  • The cop or scientist who is called in to help is likely to have a wife, daughter or girlfriend in the disaster area. (Volcano, The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day)
  • If the group has to escape from something, at least one female character will be wearing a nightshirt or some intimate clothing. (The Mummy, The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno)
  • When the people run away from some sort of monster or disaster, there will always be someone tripping, and the hero always goes back to carry him/her (usually an older mentor or a child). Volcano does this with a supervisor sacrificing himself to save a train operator.
  • The son of a divorced father has a negative attitude to his father at the beginning of the film. By the end, his attitude has changed. (War of the Worlds, Independence Day,)
  • Natural disasters seek out famous landmarks (especially the Arc de Triomphe, Big Ben, the Hollywood Sign, the White House, and the Statue of Liberty). (Earthquake)
  • Cows and/or livestock always die. (Earthquake; Twister makes light of this, as does the parody-like variation in O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Mars Attacks!). In "Jurassic Park" a goat is eaten by a T-rex. A far more comedic variation appears in Peter Jackson's "Bad Taste", in which a character shoots a rocket launcher at a villain, misses, and a sheep explodes. In Starship Troopers a cow is fed to an alien.)
  • If a character is disagreeable or ruthless they will usually die before the end of the film. (Jaws, The Core, Godzilla (1998 film), Jurassic Park, Total Recall)
  • A businessman will always value money more than people, to the extent that they will let others perish if they think there's money to be made. (Jaws, Total Recall, The Towering Inferno, Alien Quadrilogy)
  • The means of beating the disaster involves an easy solution, but by means of something impractical to do or obtain. (The Core)
  • Women (or "sissy" characters) are always hysterical and need to be slapped to regain any common sense.

Historical fiction movies

  • All Romans and Ancient Greeks speak in upper-class English accents.
  • One main character will do what in actuality was done by three or four people.
  • By contrast, the same movie will often exclude him from events in which he played a pivotal role.
  • Events that were avoided or that did not occur will be presented as fact (the car commercial in The Doors).
  • For some reason, the heroes/heroines seem to follow modern rather than contemporary morals (even if the person they are portraying did not). This is especially true as regards the peasantry/slaves, women and foreigners. In contrast the villain will almost never share these "progressive" ideas.
  • Events that took place years apart are somehow depicted as occurring very close together, often on the same day.
  • The main (fictional) characters will prove to 'write history', giving inspiration or influencing the real-life historical character (Shanghai Knights who brought Charlie Chaplin to Hollywood and gave inspiration to Arthur Conan Doyle about Sherlock Holmes).
  • Similar, but distinct historical events are often combined into one plot (Elizabeth).
  • People who lived years or even centuries apart will meet, and may well become intimate (Braveheart, The Ten Commandments).
  • The heroes are far more physically impressive than what is on record (Henry V), while for the villains the opposite is true. This is true especially for films about pre-photography periods.
  • Two relatives with similar names will get mixed up. This is apt to happen when one was famous, while the other was eccentric.
  • In a movie about the recent past, the celebrity will tend to be portrayed in the movie by an actor who looks nothing like the original. (Nixon, Thirteen Days, Exit the Dragon, Enter the Tiger, On Wings of Eagles has over six-foot tall Richard Crenna playing the part of the diminutive H. Ross Perot).
  • If one of the main characters is a person who is still alive, he/she will make an uncredited cameo appearance in the film. (Apollo 13, A Night to Remember, The Sound of Music, The People vs. Larry Flynt).
  • In several WWI, WWII and Korean (and to a lesser extent Vietnam) war movies, (especially those made only a few years later), one of the lead actors was actually present at the event depicted. This is almost always alluded to. (A Bridge Too Far, Sink the Bismarck, Tora! Tora! Tora!).
  • The most unbelievable scene in the movie is the only one that actually happened. (The Japanese pilot waving the baseball playing boys away in Pearl Harbor).
  • An American-patriotic "tough guy" attitude is a fail-safe way to survive in the WW2 John Wayne movie universe (a.k.a. John Wayne Cliche), even in The Green Berets, in which Wayne commands a group of overly enthusiastic troops in a "winnable Vietnam war universe". Wayne never gets so much as a scratch. A cliche which is repeated again in movies like Tears of the Sun, usually toned-down somewhat.
  • Americans or the American government replace any other nationality, despite what historically happened. (U-571, Enigma)
  • All WWII movies will contain an African American, Italian, Irishman, Jew, and boy from the Deep South.


  • At any moment someone engaged in everyday activity will burst into song. This song is fully orchestrated by either an invisible source of music, or an inadequate source for the amount of music generated.(Parodied repeatedly in Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Once More, With Feeling")
    • This will likely cause others around them to also sing. The other characters know all the lyrics and melody.
    • If they are in a crowded area (e.g. a street, factory, or even prison), the others will all sing along and possibly dancing as well. (Subject of parody in Rocko's Modern Life)
    • Furthermore, the characters will be able to do anything, no matter how impossible it would actually be, as long as they do it while singing and dancing. The instant that the song is over, howerver, this magical protection will lapse and reality will set in again (In Hair, hippies are allowed to sing a long song while dancing on the table at a fancy dinner party, but are arrested directly after the final note.)
  • Regardless of the time period, as long as it takes place in America, the milkman will make a cameo in at least one song.
  • The poor and downtrodden often sing and dance with jubilance. (Oliver!)

Though it can be argued that without the above cliches, the movie would not be a musical.

Road movies

See road movies.

  • The main characters will lose everything (vehicle, money, clothing, dignity, etc) but will never give up their quest. (Road Trip, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Dumb and Dumber, Rat Race, EuroTrip)
  • The characters are usually on their way to Las Vegas, or at least find some pretext for stopping there on the way to wherever it is they are going. They typically win a large sum of money there. (exception: Albert Brooks's film Lost in America.)
  • The characters always make their trip more difficult by travelling in an unreliable old convertible or an unwieldy, gas-guzzling recreational vehicle and by taking deserted rural two-lane roads instead of staying on the Interstate Highway.
  • The main characters will get into a fist-fight or decide they hate each other and might even part ways, but they will invariably reunite and continue on their trip. (Dumb and Dumber)
  • One or both characters will end up in jail and have to be busted out. (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Nothing But Trouble)
  • Main characters will sing a song together. This goes back to the first road movies starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, who were both known for their vocal talent. In more recent road movies that are based much more in reality, the main characters typically sing along with a popular song on the radio. The song's lyrics are usually known by the characters, with much embarrassment (Tommy Boy).
  • At some point the main characters will have to deal with an incompetent backwards law-enforcement officer of some small out-of-the-way town. They will inevitably insult and anger him, but escape in the nick of time. (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Dumb and Dumber, Meet the Fockers, Nothing But Trouble, Silver Streak)
  • There is always one very stupid character along with the group on the road trip. (Road Trip)
  • Some form of racist comedic relief always presents itself. (Rat Race, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Silver Streak, spoofed in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, EuroTrip)
  • One group of characters always gets lost and eventually finds their way, but not after going through a living hell to get there. (Rat Race, Cannonball Run, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Silver Streak)


  • An ex-lover trying to leave will be stopped just in the nick of time by the reformed guy/girl who wants to profess their love. The exiting lover will then have a change of heart and be convinced to remain with them.
  • Romantic kisses are often closed-mouth, as if the participants are pressing their faces against each other. If they are open-mouthed then the use of tongue is extremely rare.
  • The basic plot formula: Boy meets girl. Boy and girl dislike each other. Boy falls in love with girl. Boy loses girl (usually after one of them says something stupid). Boy gets girl back. If the girl is the main character then this formula is reversed but otherwise remains the same.
  • If the characters involved have a small argument before or are at a point where their relationship seems like it is finished and both want it to get back on again, they will meet up, with both seeming very reserved and then say something at the same time and then laugh.
  • The end of the movie often involves one of the characters (usually the male) realizing they've made a mistake, and having to chase the girl through some contrived means (mini-scooter, walking over the heads of a subway crowd, borrowing a little girl's bike with a basket and streamers, on foot through heavy traffic or swiping airport tarmac vehicles, for instance) to catch her to stop her from getting on a plane, marrying someone else, etc. (Alfie, What's So Bad About Feeling Good?, Simply Irresistible, The Wedding Singer, The Graduate, Crocodile Dundee, parodied in Not Another Teen Movie)
  • When the characters have been apart for a while (usually near the end of the movie), they notice each other from a fair distance and run towards each other and have a big hug, while the music will further dramatise this.
  • Any time one of the characters goes grocery shopping, they will always choose paper over plastic, and they will also buy two baguettes, which will invariably stick out of the top of the bag, for no apparent reason.
  • Another plot formula: Boy goes out with "geeky" girl for a bet. Boy realises girl has a great personality and falls for her. Girl takes off her glasses and lets down her hair to reveal she is beautiful. Girl finds out about the bet and calls it off. Boy has to resort to any means he can to persuade her his feelings are true. Boy gets girl back. (Ten Things I Hate About You, She's All That, Dogfight, parodied in Not Another Teen Movie)
  • Use of lame pickup line from a boy asking a girl out. Usual response is a clever comeback. However, the boy and girl will end up together by the end of the movie.
  • When a man gets out of bed after sex, it will be observed that he has kept his underpants on.
  • The pretty office woman always wears a miniskirt to work.
  • A female love interest is dressed sexy and feminine in her first appearance, but will be more casual-dressed and wear trousers when she and the hero make it out.
  • Prostitutes are always nice and sanitary people (see "Tart with a heart").
  • Teen romance films will always end at the senior ball.
  • Same-sex couples will rarely ever be shown kissing, nor is it implied that they have sex.
  • Romantic music which appears to be background music is always shown to be broadcast from a phonograph, which will make a loud scraping sound at the worst moment as the finished record clicks off.
  • Romantic interest initiated by a male character will be accompanied by the issue of infidelity, yet, romantic interest initiated by a female character will be accompanied by the issue of helplessness. (Fatal Attraction)
  • People who eventually get together often base their initial relationship upon little more than longing stares toward one another.
  • A male and female (usually teens or children) will pretend to hate each other to hide their feelings, yet somehow (usually through a crude plot device) get together at the end. (The Parent Trap)
  • People always decide to reveal their feelings in moments of extreme peril. (often parodied by the character being cut off)
  • A depressed woman who has just lost her man will eat ice-cream to cheer herself up. (Rumour Has It)
  • A woman vomiting is always pregnant.
  • Characters who don't believe in fate will find love through means that can only be ascribed to fate. (Sleepless in Seattle, Serendipity)
  • The leading characters fall in some way and end up on top of each other in an awkward, sexual manner.
  • At the end of the film, when the protagonists unite after their split, it will be raining as they kiss. (Indecent Proposal, Four Weddings and a Funeral)

Superhero films

  • The hero's and villain's past will coincidentally intertwine or be amazingly similar prior to becoming hero and villain.
    • The villain will use these similarities as arguments to try and get the hero to join his side, the hero will refuse and point out something, usually a trait of character, thats makes them different. (Spider-Man)
    • If the hero and villain were friends in the past, the villain will regret or refuse to kill the hero, but he will not be above using him to further his own plans or just plain hurt him.(X-Men series)
      • One of the villain's henchmen will suggest that he wants to (or that the villain should) kill the hero, only to be severely reprimended by the villain himself.
  • The villain was a decent person in the past, but turned evil. (Spider-Man)
  • The villain will kill henchmen if they fail a task or talk back to them, just to prove he is evil.
  • The hero's girlfriend will be abducted by the villain as bait against the hero, often as just a 'random hostage' and without realizing her significance to the hero. (Spider-Man, Superman 2)
  • An extremely hard choice will be presented to the hero, i.e. choosing between a hero life or a normal life. Usually, both choices will result in the death of someone close (Superman 2, Batman Forever).
    • If there are deaths involved, there's a large chance he will somehow save both anyway. (Spider-Man, Batman Forever)
  • Most heroes with powers get them through a scientific accident (exceptions being Superman and Green Lantern).
  • In superhero sequels, heroes must often ally with villains from previous films to combat a greater threat. (X2)
  • Heroes will make obvious references to other superhero franchises (usually this is fan service).
  • A larger ratio of villains to heroes will increase as more movies are made. (X-Men movies)
  • Heroes often have some sort of tragedy in their background. (X-Men (film), Batman Begins Superman)
  • Female superheroes costumes are either a tight fitting body suit or skirt.
    • When posing, the skirt will sway even if there's no wind.
    • They almost always show more bare skin than male heroes, especially on the legs.
  • If a superhero's costume rips, it does so in inappropriate ways while still keeping the private areas covered.
  • Hero uses catchy monosyllabic phrases whenever possible.
  • Police officers will be baffled by first encounter with hero at work ("Who was that guy?!"). (Batman Begins,Superman, Spider-Man)
  • The superhero's secret identity will never be discovered, no matter how obvious it is. (Parodied in Mystery Men with Captain Amazing, Spider-Man)
    • The superhero will be able to conceal his identity merely by slipping on a pair of eyeglasses. No one will notice any similarity betweeen the two (As previously mentioned, Captain Amazing in Mystery Men and, of course, Superman/Clark Kent, not to mention Wonder Woman/Diana Prince).
  • Lovable chump (and friend of hero) redeems self toward the end of the movie by driving superhero vehicle/using big weapon/kicking ass, etc. (Batman Begins)
  • Villains are preceded by heroes and almost never the opposite (the one exception being Lex Luthor in Superman: The Movie).


  • Circumstances of the first film that were unlikely to occur, occur again. (Home Alone 2, Return of the Fly and Curse of the Fly. Die Hard 2 makes mock of this by having John McClane famously quip "How can the same shit happen to a guy twice?")
  • Bringing back a dead character. (see comic book death) (Scary Movie 2, Scary Movie 3, Alien: Resurrection)
  • Explain why certain significant characters from the original are not in the sequel. (Batman Returns, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Men in Black II, Meet the Fockers, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, The Matrix Reloaded)
    • And it has nothing to do with them refusing to act, or the director will not be bothered.
  • If American, the main characters go to Europe. (National Lampoon's European Vacation, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, Killer Tomatoes Eat France!, Shanghai Knights, Ocean's Twelve)
  • With some notable exceptions, sequels are usually widely regarded as worse than their predecessors, and are often viewed as having been created solely for the revenue it would generate. (this is satired in Spaceballs with Yogurt's memorable line "God willing, we'll all meet again in Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money".)
  • The sequel to a horror movie will always be bloodier and more repugnant than the first.
  • The sequel to an action movie will have higher body counts and more spectacular stunts and explosions in an attempt to one-up its predecessor.
    The sequel simply ignores and/or retcons the previous films (mostly horror films).
  • Often in sequels the hero(es)and villan(s) will be forced to team up to fight some other more powerful threat.
  • Something you barely saw in the first film, you see a lot of (or many more of) in the sequels (See, Alien, then Aliens; Predator, then Predator 2, and, eventually Alien vs. Predator).

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Movies, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.


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