Dictionary of Movie Clichés

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Dictionary of Movie Clichés


Accents: In the less perceptive war flicks, the bad guys can pass for their nationality using just a bad accent.

Anti-Barbarian Law: Usually for martial arts films, the main character has NO weapon during the entire thing, but defeats anyone who is using one.

Bad Shootin', Amigo: No matter how many rounds henchmen fire at Our Hero, they either fire straight behind him, above him, below him - anywhere but on him.

Barbarian Law: The main character in bad action movies will carry a bigger weapon than the rest of the people he fights, save for the final villain.

Black Ninja Strategy: When a good guy is faced with a group of henchmen, they ALWAYS attack him one at a time, so he has a chance to win. Only for story purposes will they dogpile and actually capture him.

Boing: Movie previews usually emphasize scenes by adding sound effects, especially when people are hit in the head.

Cat Screech: In PG comedies or Disney animated films, when something gets thrown off screen or some through a window, it's usually followed by the famous "rrrAOW!" of a cat getting smacked.

Charlie's Angels Rule: If a bomb or missile successfully detonates near the hero(es), they jump away from it in slow motion to save themselves, always successfully escaping.

COUNTDOWN, The: Whenever the bad guy is going to blow up the world, he always sets a countdown timer (for the good guy's benefit?) for plenty of time to disable it. And when it reaches 00:00, it doesn't mean the end of the world, it means the good guys win.

Damage Factor: As a hero gets punched around, he can hold up much longer than bad guys, who fall down after a sweep kick and never get up.

Doomed Machine Gun Theory: When confronted with a huge monster/vehicle, nameless army guys and civilians will waste rounds and rounds of fire using tiny guns. Usually, the scene cuts after the thing they're fighting does something cool to wipe people out.

Dumptruck Dump: A "hilarious" gag in bad comedies where a character gets an entire truckload of manure/dirt/goo dumped on him. Used for comic effect but we've seen the damn joke so many times that it lost effect years ago.

Evil Playboy: Villainesses are always supermodels, which makes them even more evil than what a plain woman would be.

Expendable Rule: Nobody cares about the deaths of henchmen, not even other henchmen.

Fake Previews: Notice the way in trailers that they string scenes together from throughout the movie, making the plot look different that it is? (Okay, this isn't a cliché, but it is a movie thing.)

French Waiter, The: Stereotypical French guy with a heavy accent who is rude to the main characts for no real reason. Also can be substituted for a British guy.

Godawful Line #1: Seen only really, really sappy war films: "We may have lost the battle, but we haven't lost the war!"

Helicopter Fetish: Evil villains love to escape in helicopters.

"I'm not dead yet!": If a really important character appears to be dead off screen, they miraculously show up later, having survived by means the movie can only explain by having them talk about it ("Well, these fishermen saw me, and-").

"NO," The: Classic part of any movie where, while something bad is happening in slow motion, somebody yells out "Nnnnnnnnnnoooooooooooo..." as if that's going to save them.

Pep Talk: Whether it be an action, sports, or Disney movie, there alwas has to be some kind of "powerful" speech before the dramatic last battle.

Racism BAD!: Black bad guys are always "homeboys." Italian bad guys are always in the Mafia. Mexican bad guys are always the pushovers.

Racism GOOD!: Besides people from Asia, any other minority (including blacks, gays, etc.) are always a small aid to the main character, or comic relief.

Russians!, The: Ever noticed that all Russian bad guys have a Russian sub at their disposal? There always has to be a Russian chick and plenty of Vodka. Those Russians have plenty of money and can only use it for world domination.

Slow Look, The: Used when a character is unaware of some giant force behind/in front of them, and ends up seeing it by moving their head towards it... very... slowly...

Sports: It's gotta come down to the last shot and the whole thing slows down so we can waste 5 minutes watching a basketball go through a basket. Interesting note: In order to avoid this cliché, movies have the good team lose, making another cliché of their own: It's okay to lose; everyone's still happy!

Stupid Code of Honor: The main character always insists on facing the final villain alone, instead of having backup from his friends. This would, in real life, be STUPID, except we know it's a movie and the hero will win in the end.

Undercover Fish: Heroes all have the remarkable ability to hold their breath for however long the scene lasts, whether it be 30 seconds or 5 minutes.

Undercover Sprinters: Action heros are inhuman when running. They can catch trains and helicopters that are leaving, and outrun anything (in "The Mummy Returns," the main character outruns sunlight).

Universal Law #1: The main character, in nearly every action movie ever made, lives through the whole movie, or dies in the end. Name a movie. Did the main character die before the end?

Universal Law #2: The odds are always in favor of the Bad Side when the hero(es) fight the last battle, and they get clobbered for 2/3 of the fight. Then, with the help of a power within, or a big gun, or the memory of a friend (?!), the hero fights back and wins! We never saw that coming!

World's Worst Stereotype: The smartest scientists all wear glasses.

Worthless Years of Training: It's become funny to have a Japanese guy pull off a series of complex martial arts moves, then get taken out by a single punch or gunshot.

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