555 for Everybody:
Every phone number in every film and TV show always starts with 555. Sometimes they’ll try to throw us off by using corresponding letters instead of the numbers, but we know better.
Captain Idiot, at Your Service:
Police captains in action films exist for one purpose—to make life difficult for the hero and to threaten to suspend him. No matter if the hero is making perfect sense and has a brilliant track record or that the captain doesn’t have a clue what to do next. He doesn’t want to listen to the hero. The captain is just there to yell at him and tell him that he’s off the case (Which the hero never obeys.)
Plot Specific Radio:
If a radio is turned on in a film (sometimes a TV will substitute) it will usually be tuned to a news report that is connected to the plot of the film. I wish my radio always gave me such convenient information.
Run upstairs-Ignore the Exit:
Characters being chased in films will always run upstairs instead of down. Why? So they can be trapped in the building, or on the roof. Escaping is no fun.
You Dropped Something:
When a sniper is about to covertly shoot one of the good guys, you can be sure that the good guy (or girl) will drop something at just the right moment and bend over to pick it up, just as the sniper fires, causing him to miss.
Hide and Seek:
If a character is hiding from a villain(s) who are hunting for her/him, the villain will always pause when he passes the hiding place. Whether the good guy/girl is up a tree or in a closet or under a desk, it doesn’t matter. As the villain passes, he will pause, as if he senses his quarry, but then he’ll go on his way without checking.
You Always Die Twice:
Villains and monsters don’t die the first time they are killed. Sometimes it takes two or three apparent deaths (Maybe even four) before the baddie is finally vanquished.
The Talking Villain Syndrome:
Roger Ebert coined this phrase. We all know this one. The villain has the hero completely at his mercy, but instead of killing him, he goes into a long explanation of his plans, his motivations and how superior he is to the hero. All this gives the hero time to come up with a way to escape.
Get back to the Target Range!
Bad guys can’t aim! None of them! Not when they’re aiming at the hero, anyway. A room full of bad guys with Uzis can all fire at the hero while he runs for cover, but not one of them will hit him. The hero, however, will never miss when he shoots.
No one ever runs out of ammo in a movie shoot-out. Occasionally you’ll see someone stick a new cartridge into their gun, but they never seen to run out of spare ammunition. No matter how long a gunfight last, the bullets will keep coming until the hero has killed all the bad guys.
Only Shoot Below the Chin, Please:
Very often, the hero is saved by his Bullet-Proof Vest, or by some other handy object he has stuffed under his shirt. (Like Bruce Wayne hiding the metal tray under his shirt in Batman) The bad guy will always be polite enough not to shoot the good guy in the head. Everyone else, yes, but not the good guy.
Can You Hear me now?
Cell phones will never work in movies when you need them to. If the character’s car breaks down in the middle of a town full of zombie and they want to call for help, you can be certain there will be no signal.
The Odd Couple Syndrome:
New partners in cop movies will always hate each other at first. They will be total opposites who drive each other crazy, but by the end of the film, they’ll be best buddies.
I Quit /I’m back:
When the film starts with a hero who has quit the police force or CIA or whatever organization he works for, someone will surely be coming along to ask him to come back. Our hero will say a definitive no! Never! But by the middle of the film, he’ll be back in the saddle again.
The Chopper Bunch:
The FBI always arrives by helicopter. Where ever they’re going, they travel by copter. If they’re going to a building, they’ll land on the roof. These guys travel in style.
It’s a Dog’s strife:
Dogs in films are very good at knowing who’s evil. If a dog barks at a guy, he’s a villain. Or a monster. If a werewolf or vampire is among us in human form, the dog will know and bark incessantly until those dumb humans finally get a clue.
Human in the headlights:
What do you do when a truck or some other large object is hurtling at you at fatal speed? You stop and stare at on oncoming object, like a deer in the headlight. Sometimes the person in question may scream, but she/he won’t move until the hero tackles her/him out of the object’s path.
Horses in Western films seem to like to run off high cliffs. How often have we watched the scene where the stage coach driver is dead or unconscious and has dropped the reigns, so the stage coach keeps going, heading straight for a cliff? The horses don’t seem to notice or care that they’re about to fall hundreds of feet down to a rocky death. So the hero has to leap from the coach onto the horses to get them to stop. Otherwise they’d just keep running for that cliff edge till they fell. (In reality, a horse knows not to run off the edge of a cliff.)
What’d He Mean by That?
Dying people will always give a very cryptic warning as their last words. When the hero and heroine find a dying man, he’ll mutter something obscure and confusing. If his brother Fred stabbed him with a silver letter opener, he won’t say “My brother Fred stabbed me!”, instead he’ll say something like “Beware the silver letter o…Argggh!” So the hero will spend the movie looking for a silver letter ‘O’, instead of just arresting Fred.
Can I Land on Your Car for a Minute?
People falling from tall buildings will always land on top of a car, usually a parked car with no one in it. If there is someone in the car, it’s usually a total jerk who spent the film being obnoxious and so deserves to have his car redecorated with splattered human remains.
I’ll Stay Right Here…Not!
Any kid in a film who is told by his parents to stay right where he is during a crisis, will always run off and get into trouble the minute he/she is left alone. Saying “Stay here and don’t move!” to a film kid translates to “Run towards the trouble and get yourself into danger, just to complicate things more, so we’ll have to go and rescue you later.”
If I Get Out of This Alive I’m Going to…Arrgh!!:
Any minor supporting characters who talks about what he’s going to do later on if he lives, is a goner! In War films, the soldier who says “If I get thought this war, I’m gonna propose to my girl and we’re going to move to Paris and start our own florist business” may as well make out his will, because he’s dead before the third act.
High Tech, Low Security:
Anyone can hack into the government’s most closely guarded secrets. All you need is a few seconds and a laptop, and you can to hack into the government’s most secure computers and pull out all their top secrets. Even kids can do it. It looks so easy.
The divorced hero still loves his ex-wife but she’s with another guy now (usually a pompous jerk) and doesn’t want any part of him. At least, not until the villain kidnaps the ex-wife and the hero saves her. Then she falls in love with him all over again and dumps her boring, boorish finance.
Hold That Gun:
If a character is shot by an unseen, off-screen person, the camera will hover on the dead man for a few seconds and then cut to the unseen shooter. Whoever it is, he or she will still be holding the gun out in front of themselves, with both hands. They’ll hold this dramatic pose for a good 5-10 seconds, just to let the message sink in, before they lower their arms.