TPO's List of Movie Cliches


This is a list of the most annoying and common flaws and stereotypes found in movies, compiled from various sources.



# BINOCULARS

- Whenever someone looks through the binoculars, you see two joined circles instead of one.

# BOMBS

- Bombs always have big, blinking, beeping timer displays - When you cut the wire to the detonator, the timer will stop. You will not be able to do this, however, until only one second remains. - All wires have different colors, so the hero can easily differentiate them when he has to cut the right one.

# CARS & DRIVING

- Movie characters driving in the city will get to park wherever they like when they get to their destination. - When you are alone in the back seat of the car, make sure you sit in the middle. - Sudden accelleration of a car (be it forwards, backwards, stopping, skidding, sliding, or whatever) causes a loud skid, even on dirt or wet roads. Be prepared. Each wheel is also fitted with a smoke device to let you know when this happens. Hollywood cars are also special: when you take off quickly, you always leave a skid mark for each drive wheel, regardless of whether you have a limited slip differential or not. - Pedestrians in Hollywood have the world's best reactions, so don't worry if you have to drive down a sidewalk. Mr. Pappodopolus is quite used to having his fruit cart smashed, and despite his gesticulations and curses, he always manages to get out of the way in time. - There are always people carrying around large sheets of glass on the street during a car chase. - The person behind the wheel is talking to and looking at their passenger for the entire journey without actually looking at the _road_, changing gear, signalling etc. (ex. "When Harry Met Sally"). - Cars chasing each other in the middle of a city will not suffer enough damage to stop the chase. - People being chased by a car will keep running down the middle of the road instead of ducking in somewhere where a car cannot go. - A car will always explode when shot at, unless the hero is driving it.

# COMPUTERS & ELECTRONICS

- Word processors never display a cursor. - You can gain access to any information you want by simply typing "ACCESS ALL OF THE SECRET FILES" on any keyboard - All computers are connected. You can access the information on the villain's desktop computer, even if it's turned off. - Powerful computers beep whenever you press a key or whenever the screen changes. Some computers also slow down the output on the screen so that it doesn't go faster than you can read. The *really* advanced ones also emulate the sound of a dot-matrix printer. - All computer panels have thousands of volts and flash pots just underneath the surface. Malfunctions are indicated by a bright flash, a puff of smoke, a shower of sparks, and an explosion that forces you backwards. - People typing away on a computer will turn it off without saving the data. - A hacker can get into the most sensitive computer in the world before intermission and guess the secret password in two tries. - Complex calculations and loading of huge amounts of data will be accomplished in under three seconds. Movie modems usually appear to transmit data at the speed of two gigabytes per second. - When the power plant/missile site/whatever overheats, all the control panels will explode, as will the entire building.

# ENVIRONMENT

- Thunder and lightning always happen at the same time.

# EVIDENCE

- Incriminating evidence can be found either as photograph number four in a stack, or in the next to bottom drawer.

# FIGHTS

- If a character uses martial arts rather than a weapon, his opponents will always face him one-to-one. Spare bad guys may dance around the fight taunting our hero, but none will engage until his predecessor has been disposed of. - Two guys or a bunch of guys go at it, repeatedly bashing each other in the face with massive blows, or hitting each other with chairs, sticks, refrigerators, whatever -- and they go one doing this, sometimes for minutes at a time.

# HEROES

- If the hero has a psychological/phsical problem which has prevented him from effectively dealing with problems, you can rest assured that this problem will disappear at an opportune time. - The hero always misses the villan leaving the scene by seconds. - Stripping to the waist makes you invulnerable. - The hero's best friend/partner will usually be killed by the bad guys three days before retirement. - The hero's new wife will be mowed down by 80 machine guns right after the wedding or during the honeymoon.

# HOUSES

- The hero lives in New York City working at some okay, but not particularly high-paying job, and yet he or she has a roomy apartment filled with nice stuff, generally with a good view, and sometimes a nice, romantic rooftop to go to. - People never get out of the house when there is obvious danger there (ghosts, murderers). - People who hear something weird outside will go OUT to look, even if they know there's a homicidal maniac on the loose. - When an intruder is in the house, the occupant will snuck along a wall with his back pressed to it tightly and his arms out a bit from his body, palms flat agaisnt the wall. - When there's an intruder somewhere in the house, the thing that jumps at the heroine in the dark turns out to be her cat, even if it comes from places cats wouldn't be, like inside a cupboard! As soon as she relaxes, the killer will show up and strangle her.

# INJURIES

- When the hero is knocked out, he won't get a concussion or brain damage. - People hit on the head will not throw up. - When a hero gets a bloody nose, he'll stop bleeding almost immediately. - When a hero suffers through car chases and crashes, he never has to worry about unfelt spinal injury from impact. - A slight blow to the head is usually enough to cause total amnesia - Characters that get shot will never go into shock. - The hero will always get shot in the shoulder, yet will be able to use his arm.

# LOCKS

- Any lock can be picked with a credit card or a paper clip. Any safe can be opened in a few minutes with a stethoscope or some high-tech equipment with lots of blinking lights.

# PHONES

- All phone numbers begin with 555. - People speaking on the phone never introduce themselves, and never ever say "good-bye" at the end of a conversation. - A ringing phone is usually picked up within 3 seconds. - Don't give the person on the other end of the phone time to say what they have to. - When a phone line is broken or someone hangs up unexpectedly, communication channels can be restored by frantically beating the cradle and saying "Hello? Hello?". - Always knock over the phone if it wakes you up. If you are expecting a call, make sure that you pull the covers up completely over your head so that knocking it over becomes easier. All houses have phones next to the bed. - There's a dial tone to be heard on A's phone immediately after B has hung up on his/her end. - The Movie Telephone Time Vortex. How often have you seen something like this: Phone rings. Hero/Heroine picks it up. "Hello. Yes. O.k. Right. Thanks, Goodbye." (Total elapsed time on phone: 5 seconds.) Hero/Heroine turns to other character: "That was John. He says that the Marilyn left for the lawyer's office about an hour ago, and she should have been there by now. He's called the lawyer's office but Marilyn apparently never got there. He also called Bill's, thinking she'd stop by there, but Bill hasn't seen her. John says he's going to call Anne, as Marilyn said she and Ann were going to go shopping sometime today. If she's not at Anne's, he's going to call the police. He suggests that we drive over to Mario's and check with him as to whether or not Marilyn told Wally about the statue. However, he thinks this is unlikely as Marilyn doesn't trust Wally, she only trusts us and Fransisco. John also suggests we try to get in touch with Fransisco . . . ." - On the subject of phones, how about variations of the Bob Newhart-style conversation where we only get to hear one side of the conversation, as in: Marilyn hasn't shown up at the lawyer's office yet? (PAUSE) And you already called Bill's? (PAUSE) What did he say? (PAUSE) He hasn't seen her either. (PAUSE) So, John's getting nervous? (PAUSE) He's going to call the police... If I'm not mistaken, the conversation must have gone like this: "Marilyn hasn't shown up at the lawyer's office yet." "Marilyn hasn't shown up at the lawyer's office yet?" "No, and I've already called Bill's." "And you already called Bill's?" "Yes." "What did he say?" "He hasn't seen her either." "He hasn't seen her either." "John's getting pretty nervous about this." "So, John's getting nervous?" "Yes, he's going to call the police." "He's going to call the police..."

# POLICE

- Police Captains/lieutenants are always angry at their star detective and yell at him, threatening suspension if he doesn't drop the case. - The police will never question the hero, even if he kills lots of bad guys - The cops never show up during massive gun battles in city streets that involve bystanders and exploding cars. After the fact, you might just a siren in the distance.

# PRODUCT PLACEMENT

- Time will stand still when when the hero is in the presence of a company logo. - When a character picks up a bottle of whiskey or a pack of cigarettes, the label will always be clearly visible.

# RADIO & TV

- A character turns on the radio just in time to hear a special announcement or some important news item. Then turns the radio off. ex.: CLICK "Three escaped lunatics have been spotted in . blah blah blah." CLICK - The phone rings. Caller says, "You better check out what's on the news on Channel 13. He turns on channel 13 and gets the report from the beginning.

# SPACE & VACUUM

- Spaceships make noise! - Explosions in space make noise - Exposure to vacuum makes you horribly swell up and/or explode within seconds (ex. "Total Recall", "Outland")

# TRAVEL

- Transportation always arrives and leaves on time. - Characters arrive at the airport and get *right on the plane*. They must have the best timing of any people on Earth - I always have wait around for a while before boarding. (Not to mention getting a boarding pass and the "arrive 15 minutes before departure or you lose your seat" clause of most airlines. Good thing movie airlines never overbook! - Movie characters' suitcases are always weightless when they have to carry them.

# VILLAINS

- The bad guy is the foreigner. - People can be rendered inoperative by bumping them on the head. Beware, though; after you have left the scene, this person will regain consciousness and be more determinted to attack you. - The bad guy also has a side-kick muscleman, who has some sort of trademark gimmick that he/she uses to eliminate oppponents. You must kill or decomission this muscleman by forcing a backfiring of this trademarked gimmick. If the muscleman dispatched by a different method, he/she is not dead. (For that matter, don't assume that anyone is dead unless their death was spectacular. Beware sequels.) - The bad guy usually kills his henchman for failing, yet don't seem to run out of loyal henchmen. - Bad guys lurk until their presence is revealed by a flash of lightning. - You can kill the bad guy by taking careful note of any object that the camera has lingered on for an unnecessarly length of time; typically this is something like a meathook or a jagged bit of glass. You will be involved in a mighty struggle, and at the appropriate time you can become inspired (usually by either an insult from the bad guy or a look of faith from your love interest) with strength enough to force the bad guy into/onto/under/in front of the aforementioned object. Actor's Equity (Hollywood) requires that within 15 seconds either side of the bad guy's demise, you utter your trademark phrase. - The bad guy, having finally gotten the good guy into his clutches, will usually spend a few meglomaniac minutes gloating over his victory and his opponent's downfall. This increment of time will prove just enough to allow the good guy to figure a way out of his predicament, or just long enough to allow a rescue attempt. - The bad guy, instead of simply offing the captured good guy on the spot, will devise some sort of drawn-out, fiendishly clever method of execution that will take enough time to allow the good guy to figure out his escape.

# WEAPONS

- Major characters never run out of ammunition, nor do they ever have to reload. (If the movie _does_ make them reload, they never have to actually carry any spare ammo until that scene) - Guns never run out of ammunition unless escape would be otherwise impossible. - The first shot or burst of fire from a bad guy _always_ misses, and is there just to announce that a fight will be taking place. - Bad-guy hand grenades make noise and smoke, but no real damage; good-guy hand grenades are devastating but selective; they will destroy tanks, but won't hurt the thrower, even if he drops one on his toe. Bad-guy grenades used by good guys become good-guy grenades, and _vice versa_. - When the villain runs out of bullets, he'll throw away his gun. When the hero does so, he'll conveniently come across another. - Machine guns submerged underwater for a long time won't jam or misfire when the hero pops up to use them. (see any Rambo movie) - A cigarette case/lighter in the shirt pocket will always block the bullet. - When the hero faces a ridiculously large number of shooters with high powered weapons, they will all miss after several shots. Then, the hero will pulls out this gun that looks like a toy and start picking off the bad guys from half a mile away, usually hitting them in the forehead.

# WOMEN

- Women will always have shaved legs and armpits, even in caveman movies. - Women will be worrying about their nails or dresses while people are trying to kill them. - Woman falls to the ground whilst being chased by a bad guy, even when running over level, unobstructed terrain. Note that when a man and woman are being chased, usually the woman falls, then the man pauses and helps her up.

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