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American Movie Clichés


Beyond repair
American Movie Clichés

What would the films be without their clichés? Every genre of movie has its own Clichés. There are also some clichés which are a "signature" of a particular director or filming company. Well, I'm collecting all American movie clichés, and I want to make them into one movie someday. I'll list some of them (the ones which I came with right now) and YOU will post the ones I missed or forgot. This is mainly about American clichés but some anime or other ones are also welcome.

Anomal Expansibility of Time
One of the most well-known clichés. Our main character has to do something in order to save the day, he must do it quickly. Very often, a clock appears to measure the time left but always, ALWAYS, it's taking longer than it's supposed to take, as our character has to have time to talk with everyone etc. (Mostly in action movies)

Villain Time
The scary villain/monster who is about to attack NEVER attack immediately. He always "waits" for the main character to end his talk, to rethink the whole battle and bring some flashbacks. He "freezes" until our character is finished, and then attacks. (Mostly in action and horror movies and animation)

Iiiii'll Saaaaaave Theeeee Daaaaaaay!
Well, very similar to the "anomal expansibility of time" and often co-exists with it. When our character must save the day, everything is slow-motioned and he saves it in the last second. (General Cliché)

Dark Music
When someone says a scary villain's name or something mysterious happens, there always is a dark organ jingle to reflect the situation's darkness. One of most often parodied clichés (Mostly in horrors)

The School Squad
The existence of brainless chearleader squad, "popular girl". brainless sports team with their captain who is (or used to be) in love with popular girl or head cheerleader, nerds (sometimes there are two group of nerds - white and Asian, with the latter being more of computer freaks), idiots, valley girls, international exchange, one or more bimbos (with the notable "head slut", only in less childish movies), druggards (also in those less childish ones), school journalist (not always) and, of course, the new student who is the main character in practically every American movie school. (In school-related movies) (I omitted the important part. Mr. Mudkip submitted that missing part)

A Clichéd Couple
A main character girl who's not so popular (or new) falls in the popular guy, start dating him but he quits because they "don't look good together". Of course, after several turns of events, he start dating her again and we get a beautiful reunion. (Submitted by ShinyVaati)

Those Darn Lockers!
Nerds end up in lockers. Always! Sometimes they hide in them. The lockers are also one of the most visited part of school. (In school-related movies)

"Dream" Team
In every protagonist team there is a hated leader, a "responsible" girl, an unappreciated genius and a guy who tries to rebel against leader and gain his leadership. The unappreciated genius often invents a deus ex machina. (The "unappreciated genius part submitted by brettt, the hated leader part submited by Trainer Casey, the rest by me)

Oh look, we've got those penis and vagina things. Let's use them!
The opposite sex character always have sex (or kiss, depending on ratings) with each other, even if it's not relevant to the plot, it's still in. Those "romantical" scenes are often in the trailers. (General Cliché) (Submitted by intergalactic platypus)

Where's our cash?
The characters always need a large sum of money. They gain it, of course, by doing vacation jobs in rich families' houses. (In teen movies) (Submitted by jigglypoof)

Run upstairs, bitch, Run!
The main character (usually a brainless blonde girl) is chased by the freaky monster and ALWAYS runs upstairs, and then, pulls different objects down the stairs (the most important one - the piano!), and sometimes knocks him down for a few seconds but never kills him ultimately. (In horror movies)

The heirloom
Some character (usually female) has an object related to her family which "brings her luck". At some point, she loses it and goes back to search for it. And, of course, gets killed. (In horror movies) (Submitted by Brettt)

Wait Here, I'll Get It
Something similar to the heirloom. When the fraction of teenagers makes it away from whatever they are escaping, the attractive male has to go back into the threshold to retrieve something (or someone) and we get a spectacular action finale where he either dies or wins and we have a glorious happy ending. (Submitted by Nidogod)

I can take care of myself! Oh, wait, no I can't...
A female gets kidnapped and she puts a quite good fight. But, of course, she later turns to be a damsel-in-distresss and the cliché mentioned below must happen in order to save her. (Mostly Action and Horrors) (Submitted by Hakajin)

I'll save you!
A female gets kidnapped, a male frees her, and they fall in each other. (Submitted by JakeSteel)

Bad Luck Rule
In the late-middle of the film, where every hope seems to be confirmed, something bad happens to the protagonist and she/he ends up at the rock-bottom. (Mainly in dramas) (Submitted by Cavan II)

Relevant Revelations
When something (a phrase or an item) seems irrelevant in the beginning of the movie, it becomes a key thing in the climax. (General) (Submitted by Cavan II)

Nothing wrong with him?
There always is some character which has something strange in his look (e.g. levitating ears or always-closed eyes) but no one seems to notice it. (Mostly in comedies and animations)

Wilhelm Scream
WAAAAAH! This says for itself. (Mostly in horrors, but it's a pretty generic cliché)

Looking like a villain
An evil villain always has something strange about his look (like a giant scar) or is somewhat handicapped. There are never good-looking, normal villains (Generic cliché)

Wake up, hero!
When there is a brawl between two character, the hero gets beaten up and it seems like everything is lost. But, here comes someone who rescued him and we get an useless flashback of "how I rescued the hero?". Of course, the hero is in perfect condition after that (Mostly Action and Horrors) (Submitted by Tomato Jr.)

Wake up, villain!
But when a villains get beaten up, he gets up by himself, often without any explanation at all. He's also in perfect condition. (Mostly Action and Horrors)

Shooting is for killing only
No matter how bad the hero gets shot, he's always in the perfect condition. The only way to stop the American movie protagonist is killing him. (Mostly Action and Horrors)

Oh My, I can shoot!
The main hero always makes perfectly accurate gunshots, even if he has no experience with guns. While the villains can never hit the hero. (Action/Military Cliché, Sometimes works as a Deus-Ex-Machina) (Submitted by Sogeking)

Blacks go first
The first person to die must be black. (In old horrors, not so frequent these days) (Submitted by Tomato Jr.)

Who goes first now?
Now, instead of blacks, the first person to die is a bitchy girl who screams instead of escaping. (In horrors) (Submitted by Kikas123)

Oh no, he's got my family
The villains always threaten the life of a protagonist's family. He either saves the family and dies himself, or doesn't succeed in saving family but survives. (Mostly in horrors) (Submitted by TrainerCasey

Let's split up
When the main characters are in an old haunted house, a forest or an abandoned castle, factory or other building, they split up into two (or three, depending how many people are in the team) fractions and go separate ways. If they are separating into pairs, one person from the pair dies and the other person have to escape him/herself and find other fractions. (Submitted by Nidogod)

My usual plan...
The villain is always a psycho who either wants to rule the world or get a revenge for something (General Cliché)

...Looks like this
The villain always reveals his plan to the protagonist with its every detail. He usually does it after kidnapping the protagonist.

Let's Squish Indiana
The walls close in and are about to squish our main character! But they never succeed! I believe this cliché started in Indiana Jones, as this movie is a source for most adventure film clichés, though I'm not sure about that. (In adventure movies)

Oh no, the rock of nowhere
Another Indiana Jones-esque cliché, a giant rolling boulder appears out of nowhere as a trap. Of course, it never succeeds to squish the main character. (In adventure movies)

Itza meh usual speach
There is always a character who speaks with some kind accent or has some strange speaking manners. Very often, they have their own, one unique line. (General cliché, frequent in anime)

You stole my lines!
The name says for itself. One character steals another one's lines, making the other one angry. (In comedy films)

Gags attack!
When you watch a hard comedy or parody, you won't notice 50% of gags there. Because they are hidden in headings, in the background, on the character's pants and wherever possible. If you want to see all the movie's gags, you must watch it at least five times (In comedy films)

A wimp?
A wimpy and weak looking character turns out to be a "cool guy", saves the day, and gets his revenge for being teased. (General cliché)

They always return!
Of course, one of the most popular comic book clichés. The always-returning villains with their usual "I'll be back" line. (Mostly in comics and adaptations thereof and long movie series)

Meet My Alter Ego
The comic mythology. A plain guy, usually very weak and bumbling transforms into a superhero when someone is in need. (Marvel Comics and adaptations thereof)

Our lovely song
Every movie couple must have their "own" song which played when they first kissed and then, it plays on their wedding (In romance movies)

Where are your parents?
Many of the movies and books in which the main protagonist is a child don't have parents. Most times they died off-screen when the main character was a child, sometimes they were killed by the main antagonist. This cliché is generally used to present the main character as mature and independent (though there are many good ways to avoid this cliché. The usual "I'm an orphan" plot is tiring and stiff.) (General cliché, mostly in child books and adaptations thereof)

I'm not sure if this is so frequent to be called a cliché but the more controversional horrors (like Final Destination) usually have so-called "killing sequences". Some small detail causes a sequence of events which, in process kill a character with lots of blood. If the character doesn't get killed by a sequence, he/she gets killed by another sequence. (In horror/thriller movies)

The Child of Prodigy Family
The "children of prodigy" who have some kind of special abilities always come from pathological or broken families. (In sci-fi movies)

t33nz 1n t3h int4n3tz
The teens in the American movies always, ALWAYS type in n00bspeak on computers.

It's just our little bastard...
The man meets a woman, they start dating, they end up where dating usually end up, do that and the woman disappears. Then, several years later, she decides to contact her ex-One-Time-Tour who has became rich or/and an authority since then (and got married, in most cases). She shows her child she made with him and he reacts with the usual "Why didn't you tell me?" line. (In love stories and films with love story subplot. This cliche was just perfectly parodied in Mafia!)

A monster? No! A circusman
If a character is somewhat retarded and has... let's say two heads or a cat face, he must be a circusman!

One of the main characters turns out to hide something in his bag. He uses it and saves the day (Generic Deus-Ex-Machina)

Everything will be all right
After the Happy Ending mentioned below, the very last scenes in the movie show rebuilding from damages, as if nothing happens. The other times, we see the characters being extremely happy, despite the burning buildings beside them. (Submitted by Cain Nightroad)

Happy Ending
Yeah, for the end of my post - the definately most famous movie cliché which happens in most movies with fictional stories. The Typical American Happy Ending!!

Okay, that's all, for now. Of course, there are more movie clichés I know, I'm just tired of typic. Please bring more examples, I'll be updating this post with your submitted clichés.
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oldskool pokeshipper

The Wacky Inventor Could be a kid or adult, I've seen it used both ways, but from what I've seen they're almost always male. This person is always coming up with strange inventions, speaks in "science gibberish" that most of the cast doesn't understand, and either is the cause of or contributes to the huge problem in the film. Regardless, you can always count on his know-how and inventions to save the day.

We've Got To Save Our House, etc. The characters need a huge sum of money to save their home, business, or whatever else.

Tomato Jr.

Well-Known Member
Bullet time is the effect from the matrix when the bullets travel in slow motion (that has been overdone to death now and its only been around a few years.) not where everything slows down at the climax.

Gags Attack isn't a cliche, it's just something the filmmakers put in for viewers and it gives them something to talk about in the audio comentary.

As for they always return, have you seen The Dark Knight yet?

And the sequence thing is just reallly final destination, that is the whole point of the movies and i haven't seen it much elsewhere. Though Famly Guy did this brilliant one with a breakfast machine. Anyhoo....

I Get Knocked Down...But I Get Up Again
In action movies that have a big punch up between the two characters the hero will always get knocked down and it seems that all is lost. No, here comes a useless flashback or a view of someone in the crowd and he gets backup and wins.

The Black Guy Rule
this one doesn't happen so much these days but in horror films the black guy is always the one to die first.


The unappreciated yet necessary genius Every protagonist's team has a genius that either invents or comes up with plans, and is usually grumbly and unappreciated/made fun of, but in the end, he ends up saving the hero in a unescapable situation, and the hero gives him a thumbs up.

The Heirloom There's always something special, belonging to either an old family member or a lost friend, usually carried by the female protagonist, and at a point of high action, she (sometimes he) drops it, and they go back for it, separating them from the group or sometimes killing them.


...is a hack.
The Bumbling Idiot There's always some person, male or female, working for the heroes or villians, that is a useless, problem-causing idiot. Until s/he turns out to know how to save the day, of course.

intergalactic platypus

Only rescues maidens
The #1 cliche that bothers me is that the main characters of the opposite sex ALWAYS have sex (or kiss or whatever depending on the rating) almost without exception. It can be completely out of nowhere, or romance can have nothing relevant to do with the plot, but it will be in there. Its always in the trailers too, which is just incredibly ridiculous. I know sex sells but really people, can't we make a film without any sort of romantic/sexual subplot?

Cain Nightroad

Everything's Going to Be Alright

Along with the happy ending, most endings include rebuilding as if nothing had happened. Or at other times, you see relatives/friends of the main character acting extremely happy that they completed their goal, though burning buildings are behind them.

Yeah, I Saw That

One reason The End of Evangelion kills all American films: everyone knows the ending, and no major plot holes. Sure, there may be one or two small ones, but never a giant one. The famous plot hole in EoE is that it ends after Asuka whispers, "How disgusting..." and no one knows if the human race is ever rebuilt, or the end of the world is just that: the end of everything. There are two humans left, and no one knows what happens. The creator died, so we really won't ever find out.


What 'bout My Star?
The Good Guy Always Gets the Girl: Pretty self explanatory

Expanding on the "Black Person Rule", now a days, It's usually the Bitchy girl's rule , as either they, or the African American, die first in horror movies. Whilst the Fat Guy's Rule usually has them dying in the middle, last or not at all.


Well-Known Member
Let's Split Up! If you are in an old haunted house, forest at night, abandoned factory, ect the best course of action is to all go separate ways.

Wait Here, I'll Get It When a fraction of the teenagers make it away from whatever is chasing them, the main attractive male has to go back into the threshold to retrieve something. This makes for an easy action grand finale and either a heart wrenching death or a glorious happy ending.


100% Rebel Time Lord
School Girl falls in love
A girl is in love with a popular guy at school and she is not so popular. So she tries to get noticed by acting fake or using cheep out of character attempts when ever he is near. Turns out the guy loves her to. The guy is dating another girl (who is usually blonde and the bad guy... er girl) but it is all an act simply cause they "look good together". After several turns of events the girl and the guy start dating and the now ex-girlfriend is enraged but does nothing about it. Then we have a happy ever after.


Flabebe's Kids
O Mother, Where Art Thou?- Almost none of the characters in Disney movies have any motherly figures. They're either dead before the movie begins or they die during the beginning (ie Finding Nemo).

Cat's Out Of The Bag :D- There's something the main character is hiding from the other main characters that don't know about it, and then towards the middle, it gets out and they're all sullen.


Staff member
Target Practice: The hero of the movie can make extremely accurate gunshots when the bad guys can't hit the hero from 10 feet away. Even when the hero has no previous experience with guns.


~Johto Fanatic~
Go on without me!!!- Usually the main characters friend in a Horror movie, when in the scene where their running from the killer, Their best friend always falls and either screams their friends name or yells "Go on without me (Insert Name Here)"


"Dark Lightning"
Aww, do we have to come up with titles for the cliches?

-When, roughly in the late-middle of the film, when all hope seems confirmed, something comes up and the protagonist(s) end up at rock-bottom, usually at the most inopportune situation.

-When an element, like a phrase or item, that seems irrelevant introduced early in the film becomes something critical near the climax.


Flabebe's Kids
I can take care of myself! Oh, wait, no I can't...

In action movies, when the girl gets kidnapped, she always puts up a good fight, but the hero has to come save her in the end.
You mean like when the main female protagonist, who is supposed to be a strong-willed character, becomes a damsel-in-distress?


~Johto Fanatic~
First the snobby girl, Then the heroes Girl- The girl the hero gets in the end of a movie was the snobby girl that turned him down on a date or had a boyfriend that was a complete jerk to the hero before he saves the day.

The Villans got my Family!!!- In a thriller movie, The villan always threatens the hero with his familys life. Its either he saves his family and dies, Or he saves himself and his friend or family dies.

Im the leader- Theres always one person who takes the role as leader and is hated by everyone.