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25 Cinematic Cliches I Never Wanna See Again

And I hate every last one of them.Those of you that know me fairly well know that I adore making lists. I get a serious thrill out of it. In that light, here are “25 Cinematic Cliches I never wanna see again.” Enjoy!

25. That in period pieces, vintage cars are always freshly polished, painted, and clean. They never have scratches, dents or any signs of use.

24. Every time we’re introduced to a police precinct house, one or more colourfully dressed prostitutes are being brought in while bickering with their arresting officer.

23. Chinese food takeout in a movie always comes in those little white boxes, which I have never, in my life, seen chinese food arrive at my door in. I desperately want it to, but it never does.

22. If a bar or clubhouse has a pinball machine, it’s gonna get fucking trashed during a fight scene. (I’ve ALWAYS wanted my own pinball machine, so this one makes me wince)

21. That it’s only after the detective has been suspended (and obligatorily forced to place his badge and gun on the lieutenant’s desk) that he can properly crack the case.

20. That in war, only the enemy (usually the Viet Cong) were ever low-down enough to stoop to using booby traps.

19. People being chased by a car who run top speed down the middle of the street instead of simply ducking somewhere where a car can’t follow, which happens to be pretty much anywhere except the middle of the street.

18. Young gorgeous women constantly falling in love with men much, much older than they are. In other words: Fuck you Jack Nicholson and Clint Eastwood.

17. Chess players are always always brilliant, charming, upper class people, while card players are always sneaky, foul mouthed, and prone to cheating.

16. When an innocent cough is always a symptom of terminal illness.

15. Women that never have enough sense to keep running while being chased by an enemy unless a guy is pulling her along by her hand or wrist — despite the fact that this takes them far below the speed either one could go on their own.

14. That somehow singing in a moving vehicle always makes something terrible happen.

13. If someone dies with their eyes open, someone will close them by effortlessly moving their hand over the deceased face — and they will remain tightly shut.

12. If our protagonist goes to a sporting event, no matter who he is, his face will always end up on the fucking jumbotron.

11. Women that don’t sweat during sex.

10. That every helicopter shutting down emits the chirp-chirp-chirp sound, in spite of the fact that only the Bell 47G (the chopper on MASH) actually makes this noise.

9. If a hero is divorced (and most are), that he’ll have some contact with his ex-wife who will still have strong feelings for him even if she’s remarried.

8. All computer keyboards or control panels have thousands of volts just underneath their surface, and their malfunctions are indicated by a puff of smoke and a cartoonish shower of sparks.

7. That Native Americans invariably have mystical knowledge that can obtusely predict the future, or have a fundamental understanding of all things in nature .

6. That when a phone line is broken unexpectedly, someone will always frantically press the phone cradle button and yell “Hello? HELLO!?” with an emphasis on the second hello.

5. A splash of cold water in face will render the most inebriated person stone cold sober in a faction of a second. I’ve tried it. It doesn’t work.

4. When someone yells “You never backed away from everything in your life, now fight!!” while giving someone CPR or working to resuscitate a stopped heart.

3. Girls are always instantly attractive to every male if they take off their glasses and/or let down their hair, never mind that they were totally gorgeous actresses failing to physically portray a nerd in the first place.

2. Children or retards that are wise beyond their years/capabilities and that humble the adults around them.

aaaand: (Drumroll)

1. Dogs who always know who is evil, and bark at them.

116 replies »

  1. 1) When the assault team or bad guy or escaped hostage crawls through the ventilation shafts, which are all sparkly clean and not at all dusty, and are also strong enough to support body weight even though they’re just thin sheets of aluminum.
    2) When the phone line gets cut or someone hangs up and the other end immediately gets dial-tone. As a telephone repairman, this one just bites my ass.

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  2. When the hero is stooping over examining something, and the ‘friend’ who is about to stab him in the back is always seen in the reflection of something.

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  3. Whenever a character is carrying a bag of groceries there will always been a loaf of french bread and/or celery (other leafy top veggie) sticking out of the bag. Always.

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  4. Nice list.
    Here are a few others cliches:
    The streets in the city are always wet at night.
    Bands/Musicians always know how to play any song even ones that haven’t yet been written until that very moment.
    If a man and a woman really hate each other and argue all the time, they secretely love each other.
    Highschool students are eloquent 30 year-olds.
    Nobody ever finishes a conversation. Just as they say the most shocking or climactic statement, the scene changes. We never get to see them wrap it up and leave the room.
    Hand-on-face punches sound like explosions and often have the force to instantly knock someone out.
    Little kids sing nursery rhymes when things get spooky.
    Every apartment in NYC, even the ones owned by poor students is an enormous loft.
    The guy will take his glasses off dramatically in order to see something more clearly?!?!?

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  5. Do you know anyone who turns off their TVs during a breaking news story or when they’re about to speak?
    Also related:
    TV news playing in the background always foreshadows the movie’s plotline.

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  6. You’ve been ordering from the wrong chinese restaurant… I’ve gotten plenty of those white boxes in my lifetime.
    And some dogs can sense “evil”.
    And women don’t always sweat during sex.
    Flipouk—
    I hate when a movie is supposed to take place in another country that doesn’t speak English, but yet they do… and with british accents. (Like Troy… give me a break!!!)

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  7. 23. Chinese food takeout in a movie always comes in those little white boxes, which I have never, in my life, seen chinese food arrive at my door in. I desperately want it to, but it never does.
    I have never NOT received my food in those little boxes…order from somewhere else man

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  8. I just watched Annapolis, a movie that appears to be the result of someone trying to string together every possible cliche from the “military bootcamp” genre (including related sports movies, like “Remember the Titans”). After watching that movie, I’ll probably walk out of the next movie that has any of these cliches in it:
    -The rebel guy with a heart of gold enters the military, is treated especially hard by one instructor, who he later develops a bond of special respect for
    -The rebel guy meets a female officer outside of base and comes on to her in a charming, but inappropriate way (if he knew who she was)
    -The obstacle course that kicks every body’s butt at the beginning (one guy especially), but that everyone breezes through by the end
    -Lots of random scenes of doing calisthenics in the rain
    -The group of guys that at first seems too diverse and full of conflict comes to be a tight-knit team
    -Montage after montage

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  9. How about the evil guy who has fiercely loyal army of henchmen, who are willing to die for him as he makes his getaway from a losing situation.

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  10. Oh my gosh, I can’t believe no one has mentioned the one that bugs me the most!! Timers never happen in real time. The countdown will be on 30, they’ll cut away for 40 seconds of stuff, cut back, and it’s only on 15. Wtf?? Whenever there’s an alarm or a bomb or something like that, I always count to check it. I have never, never found one that was right. Come on people, all it takes is good editing.
    On another note, I’m on your side with the chinese food thing. The only thing I’ve ever ordered in my life that came in a little white “chinese food” box was steamed rice. All the entrees and other items come in styrofoam boxes, bowls, etc. (I don’t know if it’s a regional thing, but I live in TX.)

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  11. I’ve never seen Chinees food in the paper boxes. I’ve only ever seen it in thin tupperware containers.
    Here’s another one: The protagonist is never arrested for murder, shooting in public spaces, reckless endangerment, or any other crime after shooting up the bad guys in public places. In reality, I imagine you’d get arrested and would have to claim self defense.

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  12. If you don’t get Chinese take out in those little boxes, something is definitely wrong with your local Chinese restaurant or you are not in the US.

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  13. In the movies, whenever someone goes to the grocery store, they always buy french bread and it always sticks up out of the top of the bag.

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  14. A few that get my ‘goat’:
    1) Somehow shooting a computer/smashing a monitor renders the contents of the hard-drive irretrievable to FBI/Whoever
    2) Cars who lose their brakes but nobody thinks of changing through the gears/taking it out of gear/turning off the ignition to slow the car down
    3) Good guys with no gun-experience being crack-shots, bad guys who are trained killers struggling to hit a barn door
    4) Ridiculous images flashing up while someone hacks into the computer exchange/secret website
    5) People zooming in to almost infinite amounts on tiny little cctv footage
    6) bad guys fighting someone also seem to approach 1 v 1 rather than the 5 people all going in together and overpowering the person (ala the real life police you see in ‘cops’ or whatever)
    Great list though, most of those are true – i wish they had chinese near me that came in the white-boxes, i’d love that.

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  15. you all mention that you hate when a movie takes place in another country and yet everyone speaks english in a british accent… what about a movie that takes place in england in the time of the crusades and the protagonist speaks like he’s from ohio out of the 20th century???

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  16. one more:
    When a couple is in bed after intercourse the bedseats are always shaped “L” not showing the female’s breasts and revealing the male’s chest (usually making me thing that I have to start going to the gym)

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  17. How about these computer related annoying cliches:
    1)Computers with some super flash operating system (in current day to day movies)and that make those “digital” sound effects every time they stroke a key or click on a button
    2) Ridiculous zooming in to low-res digital photos or video footage
    3) While processing – the computer always makes a chirping electronic sound… Yeah right – no real life operating system does that.
    4)Computer operating systems have huge unrealistic font sizes – or worse, unrealistic abstract text scrolling superfast in the background indicating that the computer is “processing” something, or worse – having hundreds of screens open at once everywhere while trying to crack a simple code or password
    5) Really tiny files that make the progress bar and processing seem like it’s a HUGE file – I suppose they make these effects to make them more obvious, but they are annoying and not real
    These have always annoyed me…
    – Jose

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  18. I would like it if, just once, in movies where the heroes have to stop a ticking bomb, they cut the wrong wire and blow themselves up. Just once.

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  19. Thanks for all the great comments on the article, people.
    About the Chinese food containters, which seems to be what most of the comments thus far revolve around:
    In the 4 Canadian cities that I’ve lived since I’ve been ordering chinese food: Vancouver BC, Chemanius BC, Saskatoon SASK, and Calgary AB…. I have never once gotten chinese food in the white boxes — and I eat a lot of the stuff. It’s always in the tinfoil pie trays with the wax card lids. Sounds like perhaps it’s a regional thing since many of you are able to get the boxes. But here in Western Canada for some reason, it’s scarce.
    I’m told by a friend that ONE place here in Vancouver that they know of has the white boxes, but considering that there are probably about 5 thousand Asian eaterys in the Lower Mainland, that’s pretty terrible in terms of percentages.

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  20. #23 – Much like everyone else here, I always get those white boxes you seem to miss. try not ordering a combo item.
    #8 this one really pisses me off too.
    i think you miss the point of the “plot device”. realistically, watching me hack is not going to make for interesting film. it would bore the piss out fo any viewer, even one with an intricate knowlege, and interest in the subject. keyboards going click click click let the user know that someone is typing right there, since half the time they show online conversations as scrolling, rather than line at once.
    streets are always wet in city’s because it makes them easier to photograph.
    a lot of the list is spot on though… and is stuff that maybe hollywood should consider retiring.

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  21. i order chinese food all the time, and ive never seen it in anything except for those little white boxes. other thaan that, great list

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  22. What about…
    In a fight – when the good guy manages to get one over on the bad guy and floors him… he never finishes him off with a shot to the head (thus leaving it open for the bad guy to sneak up later in the film).

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  23. Just to chime in along with everyone else–My Chinese food comes in the white boxes also.
    Also, to the person who said, “And women don’t always sweat during sex.” I think you’re doing it wrong. 😉

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  24. Here are three additional ones to the already great ones presented in this blog:
    1) CARS: Stealing cars is always extremely easy, there is always one that is unlocked, and when inside, the two magic wires are readily available for the ignition. Also, during car hot chases, there will always be a section where the cars jump (San Francisco style), and as they land they cause a shower of sparks.
    2) TAXIS: Paying taxis never happens inside the car, but once the character is outside. In NYC the cab driver would run you over if you didn’t pay inside the car! Plus, in movies, people never ask for change, it’s always a generous payment.
    3) GUNS: When a character is aiming at someone with a gun or a rifle and the camera shot is from behind who is shooting, the gun is never aimed directly at the target, but always a bit off. Really annoyng.
    4) COMPUTERS: Computer screens always show words (like passwords, email texts, etc.) in gigantic fonts.
    5) MOTORCYCLES: Has any action movie hero ever stolen a motorcycle and then had to admit that he can’t actually drive it (e.g. knowing how the gears or the clutch work)? NEVER.

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  25. Here are three additional ones to the already great ones presented in this blog:
    1) CARS: Stealing cars is always extremely easy, there is always one that is unlocked, and when inside, the two magic wires are readily available for the ignition. Also, during car hot chases, there will always be a section where the cars jump (San Francisco style), and as they land they cause a shower of sparks.
    2) TAXIS: Paying taxis never happens inside the car, but once the character is outside. In NYC the cab driver would run you over if you didn’t pay inside the car! Plus, in movies, people never ask for change, it’s always a generous payment.
    3) GUNS: When a character is aiming at someone with a gun or a rifle and the camera shot is from behind who is shooting, the gun is never aimed directly at the target, but always a bit off. Really annoyng.
    4) COMPUTERS: Computer screens always show words (like passwords, email texts, etc.) in gigantic fonts.
    5) MOTORCYCLES: Has any action movie hero ever stolen a motorcycle and then had to admit that he can’t actually drive it (e.g. knowing how the gears or the clutch work)? NEVER.

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  26. a super-grainy cctv camera shot can be ‘enhanced’ using complex software to reveal minor details on a persons face…read car numberplates that are 89degrees side on from the camera

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  27. nice list. I would add that “classic” scene in which the new kid enters the school and gets the attention of a pretty girl in class. They exchange witty banter/meaningful glance at which point the big jock at the back of the class glares at the new kid and mouths “your dead.”

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  28. I have one:
    26. Any time anyone removes handcuffs, shackles, or some for of rope from around their hands, THEY MUST RUB THEIR WRIST.

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  29. I dunno if you’ve ever had handcuffs on you’d probably rub your wrists once they’re off too; they put those things on tight.

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  30. Ok I thought it was annoying how in the 007 movie, Bond diffused a bomb and it stopped right on 0:07. Get it? 007 T_T I was like “Hell no.” So not in all movies does the timer end in 0:01… at least not when you can make not-getting-blown-up a joke.
    I think it sucks that there’s always a damsel in distress and when there isn’t and it’s the girl that’s doing the saving, the movie turns into a romantic comedy sorta feel. Just annoying…

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  31. 1) The Bad guy is never dead until there is a close up on his face. If there is not a close up on his face he is not dead yet
    2) the Heros gun holds unlimited bullets

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  32. Once the good guy gets captured the bad guy will, for no good reason, tell him his ‘super secret plan’ which once the good guy escapes, will almost always foil.

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  33. If there’s a funeral every attendee is dressed in black and the headstone is already carved and placed.
    A gun that has an empty catridge is useless and must be thrown away in an exasperated fashion. Maybe after the character has to hold the gun sideways and look at despite several preceding click-clicks.

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