It’s almost impossible to make a movie without any cliches. Sometimes they’re intentional and made to bring a little humour to the film, sometimes not. Mostly they are used because of a lack of originality: If something is once proven good, why not using it again and squeeze a little bit more money out of the idea. Some directors use cliches to their advantage by using the same ones in all of their films. This way their style becomes more known and these cliches become their trademark.

Here are some of the most (ab)used cliches:
  • Someone/thing is about to destroy the world/USA/western civilization, and there’s only ONE MAN, who can save it. (Rambo, Commando, etc.)
  • A cop movie: The hero is a cynical, divorced/widowed drunk who has no life but his job. His captain always yells at him for not following the rules, but thinks he’s the best damn cop they’ve got. The hero is forced to work with a partner, who eventually becomes his best friend by saving his life.
  • If someone tells the hero what he’s going to do after everything is over, you can bet that person will die.
  • In a fight, the hero first takes massive hits and when he’s half-conscious, the bad guy says something which really annoys the hero, who then beats the hell out of the bad guy.
  • The movie is about criminals who do a job that goes wrong.
  • The bad guy always tells his scheme before he leaves the hero to die in some imaginative way. If he tries to kill the hero himself, a sidekick will appear and and shoot/knock out the bad guy.
  • The bad guy never dies the first time he's killed. Usually this happens when the hero is concentrating on a woman, and the sidekick who’s nearly dead then shoots the bad guy, after which the sidekick can die peacefully.
  • The Maltese Falcon- parody: A detective tells his story of how he was sitting behind his desk in his office, when a beautiful but mysterious woman walked in.
  • In space, there’s a deep humming sound even if no one’s around. Naturally spaceships, explosions, lasers and everything else make a sound in space!
  • Something bad always happens, when someone says: What could happen? or This is the last time I’ll do this

Those of you who have seen Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Star Wars may recognise the following popular 'epic' movie clichés:

Title:			Lord of the 	Harry Potter	Star Wars

Young Protagonist		Yes		Yes		Yes
			(Frodo)		(Harry)		(Obi-Wan, Luke)
...with special ability	Yes		Yes		Yes
			(resist ring)	(love, magic)	(Jedi powers)
...who has had a		Yes		Yes		Yes
 sheltered upbringing	(in shire)	(no magic)	(Luke, on farm)
...who gets a cloak	Yes		Yes		Yes
			(From Elves)	(Dumbledore)	(Jedi robes)
...of invisibility		Yes		Yes		No
...and who is male		Yes		Yes		Yes

With older mentor		Yes		Yes		Yes
			(Gandalf)		(Dumbledorf)	(Qui-gon, Obi-wan)
...who is male		Yes		Yes		Yes
...and has grey hair	Yes		Yes		Yes
...and a beard		Yes		Yes		Yes
			(long)		(long)		(Obi-wan, short)
...which is also grey	Yes		Yes		Yes
...and a cloak		Yes		Yes		Yes
...and magic powers	Yes		Yes		Yes
			(Wizard)		(Wizard)		(Jedi master)
...who dies (maybe)	Yes		No		Yes
			(Moria)				(Maul, Vader)

And evil enemy		Yes		Yes		Yes
			(Sauron,		(Voldemort)	(Darth Maul,
			Saruman)				Darth Vader)
...who wears black		Yes		Yes		Yes
...and is male		Yes		Yes		Yes
...and comes from the	Yes		Yes		Yes
 same place as mentor	(Saruman only)			(Vader only)
...and has one 		Yes		Yes		Yes
 exploitable weakness	(Ring)		(Love)		(Luke)
...which the	 	Yes		Yes		Yes
protagonist can exploit	(Destroys)	(Burning touch) 	(Vader repents)

Procures group of 		Yes		Yes		Yes
 friends			(Fellowship)	(Friends)		(Queen/Gungan,
...from diverse		Yes		Yes		Yes
 backgrounds		(Races)		(Rep, Gender)	(Leia/Han/Ewoks)
...and they all work
 together			Yes		Yes		Yes
...until near the end,
when the protagonist	Yes		Yes		Yes
goes on alone		(End of bk. 1)			(End of ep. VI)
...and defeats the evil	Yes		Yes		Yes
enemy			(Destroys ring)	(Voldemort)	(Vader repents)
...then they meet up 	Yes		Yes		Yes
and have a big 		(Crowning etc)	(House dinner)	(With Ewoks)

Here are a few movie clichés that I could think of.

If there is a chase scene in a movie no doubt the person being chased will fall over especially if a woman. The man will stop to pick her up and then continue running. The terrain need not be uneven for our heroine to fall over, anything will do. The chaser will be, oh so hot on the tails of our intrepid chased heroes UNTIL the moment the heroine falls. At this moment the chaser will suddenly be quite a distance away.

If the heroes climb a tree then the villain is guaranteed to wait under that tree and rest/ look around without knowing that the hero is there.

The chase continues to a car which our heroes get into and drive away.

Or do they? Well the engine may take a couple of attempts to start, by which time the chaser has reached the car and is banging on the windows.

The chaser always bangs on the windows before trying the handles. This always reminds the heroes to lock the doors by way of the central locking (which all cars have).

Then the car finally starts just in time, because the chaser was just about to get in.

Any bullets fired by the chaser will smash the rear window but have no other effect.

All pedestrians have amazing reactions and can always get out of the way of a car chase in time. Fruit stalls are always smashed into, as are panes of glass being carried across the road.

The villain can be shot through his windscreen but the hero need only duck slightly to avoid being hit.

If a cop commandeers a car, the owner will tell them it is brand new/just repaired/not stolen. The car will get trashed.

So, they got away and made it home. Only to find the door ajar. This means that it is a good idea to enter saying timidly 'Hello?’

The answer phone will have recorded messages usually along the line "Hey it's me" then "Hey its me again" and then followed by "Hey it's me, you haven't phoned me back" before getting to the really important message i.e. the one that tell the heroine that the serial killer is her boyfriend.

Then to check the door. It looks like it has been opened using a credit card or paperclip. Quick, check the safe (hidden behind some grotesque portrait of an old lady in a chair). Oh no! it's been opened and there is evidence that a stethoscope was used.

Quick, to the phone. Call somebody. Need a number? Of course not, no-one looks up numbers. Anyway, it’s 555-something. No need to introduce yourself when speaking on the phone and no time to say goodbye either, what with the busy plot. More on phones, there is always one next to the bed and it is always knocked over should it wake you up in the morning.

The family teenager comes in and goes to his bedroom which is absolutely decorated, from top to bottom using every available inch of wall space, with anything that is deemed cool by the trends of that time; Bikes, bands, semi clad women etc.

So, who's the bad guy? Well it's the foreign guy or the Brit. And they are nearly invincible, appearing dead just long enough to fool the heroes into thinking they have won before getting up for the final fight. Despite size differences and the fact that the villain knows kung-fu and all other martial arts, the hero will always win. Usually due to cunningness.

In a gun fight the male hero will have gun knowledge and the heroine will always have the safety on while attempting the first shot. There is never any recoil from guns. The goodies never need to reload, either because of unlimited ammo or because, upon discarding their weapon they will find another. If a villain discards their weapon they will find no replacement or they will find one which is spent.

If the hero gets shot he will continue with no effect or he will have been wearing a bullet-proof vest. In the latter case the villain can shoot at the hero many times and upon realising that his shots have no effect will just question the logic rather than shooting the hero in the head.

Also, if, at the end of the movie, the hero gets shot and looks like he died. He will survive because the bullet will have been stopped by some artefact that the hero was about to throw away (Bible, late father's hip flask).

Even though the hero is a superhero or super spy, the lead female character will always save their life once during a movie. This is usually achieved by accident.

Talking of women. They always wear makeup to bed and in the morning the makeup is as good as it was the previous night, as is hair. They never need to go to the toilet but are always in the shower. Women never, ever have periods in movies but schoolgirls will use a period as an excuse to get out of the timid teacher's lesson.

And women are never alcoholics.

To change the subject to aliens. Always bipedal and human height. Sometimes speak English but most always speak the language of their planet. Yes, one race/language/dress sense per planet.

Bombs are always diffusible by cutting the carefully coloured wires but only 1 second before detonation. The time left is displayed by a red LED panel. The villain will always give the hero plenty of time to diffuse the bomb, about an hour. The hero will check his watch which will always display the correct time to the second.

All kidnappers know to cut the call after exactly two minutes to avoid being traced. After being cut off, the hero will hit the cradle and shout “Hello? Hello?”.

Well, see if you can spot them all in the movies you watch.

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