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->''There are ''seven'' deadly sins, Captain. Gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, pride, lust, and envy. Seven... [[ItHasOnlyJustBegun You can expect five more of these]].''
-->--'''William Somerset'''

'''''Se7en''''' (or ''Seven'') is a 1995 American crime/horror/thriller film, directed by Creator/DavidFincher of ''Film/FightClub'' fame. It stars Creator/MorganFreeman and Creator/BradPitt as homicide detectives William Somerset and David Mills.

Somerset is about to retire and be replaced by Mills in the department, but the two get caught up in a string of horrible murders, each inspired by the SevenDeadlySins and all caused by one intelligent and elusive SerialKiller. A distinctive dark atmosphere and a skillful balance of {{Gory Discretion Shot}}s ends up creating a far more disturbing product than the {{Gorn}} films that try and emulate it.

Released to both critical acclaim and commercial success, and often ranked with ''Literature/TheSilenceOfTheLambs'' and ''Film/{{Psycho}}'' as the pinnacle of serial killer fiction.

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!!This film provides examples of:

* AdmiringTheAbomination: While not quite to the level of admiration, Somerset repeatedly urges Mills not to underestimate John Doe and instead to treat him with the respect he deserves.
-->'''Somerset:''' It's dismissive to call him a lunatic. Don't make that mistake.... This guy's methodical, exacting and worst of all, patient.
* AllThereIsToKnowAboutTheCryingGame: [[spoiler:It's Gwyneth Paltrow's head in the box]], and [[spoiler:Kevin Spacey]] is the killer.
* AmoralAttorney: The Greed victim was a prominent lawyer named [[GreedyJew Eli Gould]]. Doe's own lawyer also qualifies: when Mills calls him out on it he offers a rather weak rationalization.
* AndIMustScream: Sloth. [[spoiler:He is kept in his flat, alive, for one year, immobilized, occasionally given antibiotics so as not to die from his bedsores. By the time he's saved, his mind no longer functions.]]
* ArcNumber: Take a wild guess. In addition to the seven deadly sins, the main plot of the film takes place over seven days (with the days appearing as titles onscreen), Somerset arrives for supper at Mills's flat at seven o'clock and the box [[spoiler:containing Tracy's head]] is delivered at seven o'clock.
* ArtisticLicenseGunSafety: Mills is seen failing to observe proper trigger discipline in several instances, such as the chase scene with John Doe. Justified in this instance, as it's used to establish that he is an impulsive and hotheaded CowboyCop in contrast to the more restrained Somerset (see also their conversation about firing their guns on their way to the Sloth victim).
* AssholeVictim: According to the villain. His victims are chosen based on what he considers to be their (unforgivably) negative traits, although their "sins" range from being morbidly obese to being a drug-dealing pederast. The movie does not contain any indication that the victims for gluttony, lust, and pride were bad people in any way, unless you take the villain's "FromACertainPointOfView" for gospel -- or share his hatred of lawyers, obese people, sex-workers, and vain women.
* {{Autocannibalism}}:
** The Sloth victim bit off and ate [[TongueTrauma his own tongue]].
** In the Zenescope GraphicNovel, John Doe cuts off his "{{Semper Fi}}delis" tattoo with a knife and then eats it.
* AxCrazy: Why, John Doe.
* TheBadGuyWins: [[spoiler:John Doe manages to have Mills become the sin of 'Wrath' as Mills shoots him in the head. Depending on how you look at it, this trope is either downplayed or played terrifyingly straight.]].
* BaldOfEvil: John Doe has a shaved head.
* BalloonBelly: Gluttony is forced to eat at gunpoint until he can't take it anymore. Then the killer kicks him and [[TheLastStraw his stomach ruptures]].
* BeautyEqualsGoodness: A good part of John Doe's self justification for the Gluttony murder. [[{{Hypocrite}} And yet he goes the opposite route with the Pride murder]].
* BerserkButton: The suggestion that his victims count as "innocent" immediately sends [[SoftSpokenSadist John Doe]] into a loud MotiveRant.
* BigNo: [[spoiler:Mills after he discovers that his wife is dead]].
* BlackAndWhiteInsanity: John Doe, arguably. The film, however, does go out of its way to point out that John Doe ''isn't'' completely insane - which is in some ways even more frightening than if he was.
* BodyHorror:
** The Gluttony, Pride, Sloth, and especially Lust murders.
** John Doe's [[{{Fingore}} removal of fingerprints]].
** Just imagine John Doe [[spoiler:fingerprinting "HELP ME" with Victor's severed hand.]]
* BreakTheBadass[=/=]BreakTheCutie: Part of John Doe's plan for [[spoiler:Mills.]]
* BuddyCopShow: According to WordOfGod, Fincher was initially turned off by the screenplay because it sounded too much like a generic buddy cop movie. Despite the superficial trappings (down to the SaltAndPepper pairing) it doesn't really have a huge amount in common with the trope as it usually stands, however.
* BystanderSyndrome:
-->'''Somerset:''' Well, in any major city, [[ApatheticCitizens minding your own business]] is a science. First thing they teach women in rape prevention is never cry for help. Always yell "fire." Nobody answers to "help." You holler "fire," they come running.
* TheCameo: Charles S. Dutton as a cop.
** Subverted in one instance. When [[spoiler: the photographer]] shows up at one of the crime scenes, one might be forgiven for thinking it's just a quick, funny cameo by [[spoiler:KevinSpacey]] (assuming one even recognized him). [[spoiler:Turns out he's the villain.]]
* CaptainObvious:
-->''The coroner lifts the head of the Gluttony victim, where it has been resting for several hours.''
-->'''Coroner:''' He's dead.
-->''([[{{Beat}} beat]])''
-->'''Somerset:''' Thank you, doctor.
* TheChessmaster: John Doe.
* ChekhovsSkill: Somerset is repeatedly seen practising his knife-throwing skills, (to the point that he seems to be using it as a sort of meditation as the case gets worse,) and by the end of the film [[spoiler: [[SubvertedTrope it never gets used]], [[RealityEnsues since in real life there really aren't that many times when a man licensed to carry a gun would need to throw a knife]]]].
* ChristianityIsCatholic: Pointedly averted. John Doe's crimes are influenced by a plurality of different religious sources, and he is never stated to belong to any particular denomination (although he is definitely Christian). Part of what leads the police to suspect that the Sloth victim may be the killer is that he had an extremely strict Southern Baptist upbringing.
* ChurchgoingVillain: John Doe is a deeply Christian serial killer who despises the entire world. To show his disdain for all the "sins" around him he gives his victims ironic deaths tied to their perceived guilt in order to cleanse society.
* CityWithNoName: It appears to be a composite of New York and Los Angeles [[CityNoir noir cities]].
* ClickHello: [[spoiler:John Doe does this to Mills after the chase.]]
* ClusterFBomb[=/=]SirSwearsALot: Along with his hotheaded, impulsive nature, Mills ("M-I-L-L-S, ''fuck off!''") swears like a sailor.
-->Fucking Dante! Goddamn poetry-writing faggot, piece of shit! Fucker!
* ColdBloodedTorture: Several of Doe's victims (Gluttony and Sloth specifically).
* CowboyCop: Mills is certainly trying to be this. [[spoiler:Deconstructed by the end: his aggression and impulsiveness leads to him playing straight into the villain's hands and ruining his life in the process.]]
* CrapsackWorld: Detective Somerset and the villain seem to share this perspective on the world. At the end, Somerset states that the world is [[AWorldHalfFull still worth fighting for, even if it is a shithole]].
* CreativeClosingCredits: The grungy credits scroll down instead of up.
* CreepyMonotone: John Doe, most of the time.
* CriminalMindGames: [[spoiler:Although that was all part of a ThanatosGambit.]]
* CruelMercy: John Doe has already proven himself to be monumentally depraved piece of work with the sheer methodical cruelty of his various killings. When he corners Detective Mills during a downtown chase in the rain, he leaves him alive in what appears to be a random moment of mercy. [[spoiler:It turns out that he had already been stalking the Detectives who were pursuing him for some time. He had far greater plans for Mills in mind, decapitating his wife Tracy out of Envy and making him the final piece in his murder set by letting Mills kill him out of Wrath.]]
* CulturedBadass: Somerset is Doe's equal in his knowledge of literature and religious philosophy, and managing to be a good cop for as long as he has in [[WretchedHive that city]] surely qualifies him as a kind of badass, even if he never actually demonstrates it on-screen.
* DaChief: The Police Captain moderating the protagonists.
* DeathByDisfigurement: {{Invoked|Trope}} with the Pride victim, who killed herself.
-->'''Dr. O'Neill:''' He cut off her nose.
-->'''Somerset:''' To spite her face.
* DeathByGluttony: Invoked with the Gluttony victim. He was force-fed to a horrifying degree as part of his murder.
* DeathBySex: Invoked with the Lust victim. There is a blade and a sex toy and... well, best not to dwell on it.
* DeadpanSnarker: David Mills, so very much. Somerset too has his moments here and there.
* DecapitationPresentation: [[spoiler:Tracy's unfortunate fate, when Doe delivers David her severed head in a box in the middle of a desert.]]
* DespairEventHorizon: [[spoiler:Mills at the end of the film.]]
* DetectiveDrama
* DisposableSexWorker: The Lust victim. She and the Gluttony victim are the only ones to go unnamed.
* DissonantSerenity: John Doe, tying in with his CreepyMonotone.
* DressedAllInRubber: Latex bodysuits were implemented by the killer for Lust.
* DownerEnding: Downer beginning and middle too.
* DrinkOrder: Somerset's taste for red wine contrasts pointedly with Mills's preference for Pabst Blue Ribbon, a popular beer among the American working class, evidencing how Somerset is much more cultured and erudite than Mills. Mills doesn't even know to serve wine in a wine glass.
* DrivenToSuicide: The Pride victim. John Doe cuts off her nose and glues a phone to one hand and sleeping pills to the other, offering her the SadisticChoice of calling for help (but having to live with her disfigurement) or killing herself. As proof of her vanity, she chooses the latter.
* EgocentricallyReligious: John Doe is on a self-appointed MissionFromGod to torture and kill people he has decided aren't worthy of life to protest his [[MisanthropeSupreme misanthropic view of humanity.]] He also uses false modesty and claims he is unimportant immediately before proclaiming that his work will be studied and remembered forever.
* EmpathicEnvironment: It's [[GrayRainOfDepression raining]] during most of the movie. The [[PartlyCloudyWithAChanceOfDeath rain]] was meant to symbolize the third level of Hell, as described in [[Literature/DivineComedy Dante's Inferno]]. The idea is backed up by the numerous references to the work throughout the movie.
* EurekaMoment: When Mills mentions that "just because the fucker's got a library card doesn't make him [[Franchise/StarWars Yoda]]", Somerset realizes that the {{FBI|Agent}} is able to track the killer based on his reading habits.
* ExcuseMeComingThrough: In one scene Mills crashes through a couple of living rooms in his pursuit of John Doe.
* EyeScream: When asked why he is retiring, Somerset makes a passing reference to a man who was mugged the night before, and after the mugger had taken his wallet, he pointlessly and sadistically stabbed the man in both of his eyes.
* FanDisservice: The morbidly-obese Gluttony victim is naked on the autopsy table.
* FatalFlaw: Mills has a HairTriggerTemper, which John Doe exploits.
* FateWorseThanDeath: Invoked with Pride: [[spoiler:the victim prefers committing suicide than having to live disfigured without her nose.]]
* FauxAffablyEvil: John Doe is extremely polite, and it's creepy as hell.
* FauxDeath: [[spoiler:Sloth. Just as the detectives are starting to relax, he wakes up and scares everyone to death.]]
* FilmNoir
* FingerInTheMail: [[spoiler:A package is received from the captured SerialKiller containing the head of his latest victim — Mills' wife.]]
* FollowTheLeader: Compare it with later ThemeSerialKiller flicks like ''Resurrection''[[note]]A ''blatant'' rip-off starring Christopher Lambert and Leland Orser (who also played the man forced by John Doe at gunpoint to rape the Lust victim to death)[[/note]], ''TakingLives'', ''Anamorph'', ''Horsemen'', ''WΔZ'', ''SuspectZero'' or ''{{Saw}}''. Of course that's not to say ''Se7en'' didn't borrow some elements from ''TheSilenceOfTheLambs''.
* ForceFeeding: Gluttony, as part of his "punishment".
* {{Foreshadowing}}: After John Doe surrenders, the tech mentions "...three blood types..." found on John Doe. [[spoiler:For John Doe himself, the Pride victim, and Tracy Mills.]]
* FreezeFrameBonus:
** The name of the Pride victim is written on the label for the bottle of sleeping pills glued to her hand (see NoNameGiven for more information).
** Pausing the film when the photographer shows up at the Sloth victim's apartment reveals that he's played by [[spoiler:KevinSpacey]].
** A literally [[SubliminalSeduction subliminal]] example takes place near the end: Tracy's face flashes onscreen [[spoiler:just before Mills shoots John Doe.]]
* FreudianExcuse: [[spoiler:Averted in the film; John Doe's actions are not attributed to a past since he never gives one. Played straight in the (non-canonical) comic books.]]
* FromBadToWorse: The entire movie has this continuously, but the last ten minutes deserve special mention. It got a lot worse fast.
* GambitRoulette: John Doe's plan hinges upon: the police finding the Gluttony message behind the fridge, the Sloth victim not being discovered ahead of time, the police finding the message hidden behind the painting in Gould's office, the police being able to connect the fingerprints behind the painting to the Sloth victim, the police finding the Sloth victim on the appropriate day, the package containing [[spoiler: Tracy's head]] arriving at the scene at the right time, somebody actually opening said package and seeing its contents (one of the cops in the helicopter, upon seeing the package, radios for the bomb squad to be brought in - why would this not be Somerset's first assumption?), and convincing [[spoiler:Mills to kill John Doe]], without anyone intervening. Additionally, practically every murder takes place in a location where someone could have easily interrupted John Doe before completing the murder in question (Somerset notes that John Doe left the scene of the Gluttony murder twice in order to buy more spaghetti sauce, and hand waves no one interrupting the Greed murder with the BystanderSyndrome) - he was extraordinarily lucky that no one did so. Finally, when Somerset and Mills arrive at John Doe's apartment he fires upon them from a distance, and again when they give chase - Somerset and Mills form an integral part of his plan, so he must have been missing on purpose, but he was still lucky that he didn't accidentally hit one of them.
** It is possible that he ''made'' Somerset and Mills a part of his plan ''after'' they almost caught him. Though possibly Mills became a target for Wrath after he [[spoiler:accosted Doe pretending to be a press photographer]].
** John Doe specifically states to Mills and Somerset that [[spoiler: his plans changed after they found his apartment]]. The implication in the scene is that he did not intend to directly involve them until that point.
* {{Giallo}}: It isn't one, but the film's visuals seem to be heavily influenced by the genre.
* GoodCopBadCop: They never interrogate anyone jointly, but Somerset is very patient and soft-spoken, in contrast to Mills's more aggressive, volatile demeanour. This is particularly evident when [[spoiler: they are driving John Doe to the site of the last two victims.]]
* {{Gorn}}: Although it's mostly limited to {{Gory Discretion Shot}}s. Most of the horrors are nigh-unfilmable and left to our imagination.
* GrayRainOfDepression: See EmpathicEnvironment above.
* GreedyJew: The Greed victim is an amoral defence attorney named Eli Gould, an unambiguously Jewish name. However, his ethnicity is never explicitly pointed out. Our only clue to John Doe's implied anti-Semitism is the "One pound of flesh, no more, no less..." note left at the crime scene, a reference to Shylock's punishment in ''Theatre/TheMerchantOfVenice''.
* GreenEyedMonster: John Doe says he [[spoiler:killed Mills's wife out of envy]]. Of course, given his agenda, he may have exaggerated [[spoiler:his envy]] just for that purpose.
* HannibalLecture: "It's more comfortable for you to label me insane."
* HairTriggerTemper: Mills, which John Doe uses to manipulate him.
* ImpliedAnswer: [[spoiler:How Mills finds out his wife's head is in the box]]
-->'''Mills:''' [[spoiler:Tell me she's alriiiiight!]]
-->'''Somerset:''' [[spoiler:...if you murder a suspect, David-]]
-->'''Mills:''' [[spoiler:[[BigNo Noooo!]]]]
* InsanityDefense: Upon turning himself in, John Doe says that if Mills and Somerset accept his deal of escorting him to the location of the last two victims, he will plead guilty to all charges. If, however, they don't accept his deal, he will plead insanity. His lawyer points out that, given the sheer extremity of Doe's crimes, such a plea would have a good chance of succeeding. Somerset then counters that, if they brought him to court, Doe's lawyer threatening to plead insanity would itself be admissible as evidence ''against'' Doe (that is, the fact that Doe was mentally acute enough to recognize that pleading insanity might be a good idea would be good evidence that he was, in fact, sane). Doe, of course, freely admits that he doesn't believe he's insane (and Somerset agrees with him, although Mills does not), which isn't to say he and his lawyer wouldn't be able to convince a jury otherwise.
* IRejectYourReality: John Doe, leading to his insane "sinners must be punished" mentality.
* IronicNickname: "Smiley" Somerset hardly ever does so.
* ISurrenderSuckers: [[spoiler:A variation occurs at the climax. John Doe turns himself in, but only to ensure that his master plan of completing his "work" goes off without a hitch.]]
* ItIsPronouncedTroPAY: When reading off names and titles of books, Mills pronounces the Creator/MarquisDeSade's name as "Marquis de Shar-day", like [[{{Sade}} the singer]].
* JitterCam: Used in a handful of scenes, such as when Mills chases Doe through his apartment complex, or when [[spoiler:Somerset opens the box, realizes what Doe's plan is and immediately runs over to him and Mills in an effort to prevent his plan from being completed.]]
* KarmicDeath: What the killer is aiming for, at least in theory.
* KirkSummation: {{Subverted}}. Det. Mills' rebuttal was spot on, but the villain ignored him and [[ShutUpKirk continued the]] [[HannibalLecture lecture]].
--> '''Doe:''' And after him I took the [[AmoralAttorney lawyer]], and both of you must have secretly thanking me for that one. This is a man who dedicated his life to making money by ''lying'', with every breath that he could muster to keeping murderers and rapists on the streets—
--> '''Mills:''' "Murderers."\\
'''Doe:''' A woman—\\
'''Mills:''' "Murderers", John. Like yourse—\\
'''Doe:''' ''A WOMAN! So ugly on the inside''...
* KnightInSourArmor: Somerset delivers the last line in the movie:
--> Creator/ErnestHemingway once wrote, "[[Literature/ForWhomTheBellTolls The world is a fine place, and worth fighting for]]." I agree with the second part.
* KnightTemplar: John Doe. Somerset doesn't doubt he believed in all his 'preaching'.
* LadiesAndGerms: Played straight by the Police Captain.
* LetMeAtHim
* Letters2Numbers: "V" is replaced by the [[SarcasmMode similar looking]] "7".
* MeaningfulName: "John Doe" is a common term for an unidentified body/suspect/victim/etc.
* MisanthropeSupreme: John Doe.
-->'''Somerset (''reading one of John Doe's journals''):''' "What sick ridiculous puppets we are and what gross little stage we dance on. What fun we have dancing and fucking. Not a care in the world. Not knowing that we are nothing. We are not what was intended."
* MissionFromGod:
-->'''Doe:''' Don't ask me to pity those people. I don't mourn them any more than I do the thousands that died at Sodom and Gomorrah.\\
'''Somerset:''' Is that to say, John, that what you were doing was God's good work?\\
[''{{Beat}}'']\\
'''Doe:''' The Lord works {{in mysterious ways}}.
** Somerset points out that John Doe enjoys his work too much to have been 'forced' by God to do it.
* MotiveRant: John Doe while in the car.
* MrSmith: Johnathan Doe isn't his real name, but he takes it by choice.
* MyDeathIsJustTheBeginning
--> '''John Doe:''' What I've done is going to be puzzled over... and studied... and followed... forever.
** Mills is quick to dismiss this theory, telling John Doe he's "a Movie of the Week, at best."
*** In an almost meta irony, the movie is still talked about often. So was John Doe correct?
* NecessarilyEvil: John Doe thinks his actions are this.
* NoNameGiven: The Captain.
** [[AllThereInTheScript According to an early draft of script]] his name is Police Captain Lucas.
** The Lust and Gluttony victims also go unnamed. The Pride victim's name is never spoken aloud but her name can be [[FreezeFrameBonus read on the label for the sleeping pills glued to her hand]] (it's possible, however, that these pills weren't actually prescribed for her and were furnished by John Doe himself).
* NothingButSkinAndBones: What [[spoiler: Sloth]] was reduced to.
* NotSoDifferent: Somerset and John Doe. Both of them are intelligent, well-educated and cultured, and are both intimately aware of just how much of a CrapsackWorld they live in. Where they differ is in their respective approaches to trying to improve the world.
* [[NotWhatItLooksLike Not What It Sounds Like]]: Somerset says this to Mills when a list of books includes ''Literature/OfHumanBondage''.
* {{Novelization}}: Written by Anthony Bruno and based on the original script.
* NumerologicalMotif
* OffWithHisHead: John Doe decapitates [[spoiler:Mills's wife in order to goad Mills into shooting him to death.]]
* OhCrap: Somerset, when he finds out what's in the box.
* OldCopYoungCop: This trope was once called SomersetAndMills.
* OminousMundanity: John Doe.
* OutWithABang: Lust, in a particularly horrific and agonizing fashion.
* PinballProtagonist: An unusual example for the PoliceProcedural genre. See VillainsActHeroesReact.
* PoeticSerialKiller: John Doe chooses victims he views as guilty of one of the Seven Deadly Sins, then kills them in a manner that he thinks [[KarmicDeath punishes the particular sin]] of which each is guilty.
* PoliceAreUseless: [[spoiler:Ultimately, the police are entirely unsuccessful in stopping John Doe's plan or even hindering it.]] Lampshaded by Somerset.
* PoliceProcedural: Contains elements of the genre.
* [[MeaninglessVillainVictory Pound Of Flesh Twist]]: Plays out unfortunately for the Greed victim.
* {{Prequel}}: Some surprisingly good comics by Zenescope Entertainment. They center on John and the victims.
* RedHerring: [[spoiler: Somerset's knife-throwing practice. It's seen several times in the movie, but never given practical application.]]
** Though it should be noted that in the actual movie script, [[spoiler: Somerset did use his knife-throwing skill to try to stop Mills from shooting John Doe.]]
** Also possibly [[spoiler:the dog carcass.]]
* RedOniBlueOni: Mills and Somerset. The Blue is a fatherly mentor trying to harden the Red's heart to the harsh realities of life, and the young and emotional Red [[spoiler:loses EVERYTHING to John Doe.]]
* RelativeButton: John Doe pushes Mills' ''hard'' [[spoiler:in order to cement Mills crossing the DespairEventHorizon, and fulfill Doe's own ThanatosGambit.]]
* RoomFullOfCrazy: John Doe's apartment.
* SadisticChoice: The beautiful woman gets this: death or disfigurement. Many of the other victims are similarly forced to do horrible things at gunpoint.
* SaltAndPepper: Somerset (black) and Mills (white).
* SceneryCensor: Mills's head blocks the audience from seeing [[spoiler:the Lust victim's groin, just after it was mutilated by a bladed codpiece.]]
* TheScourgeOfGod: John Doe sees himself as this.
* SerialKiller: John Doe is an extremely disturbing example.
* SevenDeadlySins: The central theme of Doe's choices of victims and how he "punishes" them.
* ShameIfSomethingHappened: A variant with John Doe talking about [[spoiler:Mills's wife]]; he's not actually threatening him, but describing the things he's already done.
* ShoutOut:
** There is a store called [[TheSilenceOfTheLambs Wild Bill's Leather Shop]].
** {{Tuckerization}}: William Somerset is named after W. Somerset Maugham, [[AuthorAppeal as he was screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker's favourite author]]. Somerset Maugham's ''Literature/OfHumanBondage'' is mentioned in the movie.
* ShownTheirWork: The Wrath victim. [[spoiler:In Dante's time killing a man's wife and children was considered equal to taking his life and was sometimes used on men condemned to death.]] John Doe refers to this when he [[spoiler:tells Mills "whatever life I will allow you to have". Thus David Mills ''is'' the wrath victim even though he wasn't the one killed.]]
* SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids: More or less the lesson Somerset tries to impart to Mills.
* SirNotAppearingInThisTrailer[=/=]NotNamedInOpeningCredits: [[spoiler: Kevin Spacey]]. ''He'' was the one who insisted that he not be associated with the film in any way until it was released. The producers actually wanted him to have top billing.
** As a result of this, his name is the very first thing seen during the closing credits; the ''second'' line is, "Cast (in order of appearance)."
** He also said it worked to his advantage, since that meant he didn't have to appear on talk shows and stuff to promote the movie.
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: Way, way down the cynicism end.
* SoftSpokenSadist: John Doe very seldom raises his voice.
* SpoilerOpening: Averted. The actor playing John Doe is missing from the opening credits instead receiving the first credit at the ending.
** However, we do see John Doe's removal of fingerprints and writing in his journals.
* TheSpook: John Doe.
* StrikeMeDownWithAllOfYourHatred: [[spoiler:Doe's manipulation of Mills to kill him, which would avenge his wife's murder but also fulfill the last of Doe's plan by making Mills and Doe the Wrath and Envy "punishments", respectively.]]
* StuffedIntoTheFridge: [[spoiler:Mills' wife Tracy. We know Doe beheaded her... from his comments before the "souvenir" line, he may have done a lot more than that.]]
* SuicideByCop: [[spoiler:John Doe's death.]]
* SuspectIsHatless: How John Doe is described by his neighbours.
* SympathyForTheHero: John Doe comes to admire the main detectives after they surprise him by showing up at his house despite how careful he was to leave no clues. This is not a good thing for them. At all.
* TakeOurWordForIt: A major part of the film's aesthetics. Almost all of the most horrific elements of the film happen entirely offscreen.
* TearOffYourFace: The Pride victim has her face mutilated and nose cut off by John Doe.
* TechnicalPacifist: Apart from 'Envy' (and possibly 'Gluttony'), John Doe does not actually *kill* any of the victims himself. He makes them take their own lives, leaves them for dead, or forces someone else to do the killing. [[spoiler:Even 'Wrath' was his own death at the hands of Mills]].
** Averted with Pride, since he did mutilate her. Nor does he object to his some of his other murders being described as torture.
* ThanatosGambit: [[spoiler:John Doe dies for his cause.]]
* ThemeSerialKiller: Doe's crimes are based on invoking and "punishing" the SevenDeadlySins.
* TheyLookJustLikeEveryoneElse: John Doe.
* TrapIsTheOnlyOption: Mills and Somerset know John Doe has something up his sleeve, and are determined to be ready for anything. They're not.
* UnbuiltTrope: The film helped to popularize the archetypal 90s and 2000s PsychologicalThriller/serial killer movie (see FollowTheLeader above), but goes out of its way to avert or subvert many of the tropes the genre would become associated with: the murders are not shown in detail and given very little screen time, there is little blood and gore, the killer is not given a FreudianExcuse or much characterization [[spoiler:PoliceAreUseless and TheBadGuyWins]].
* VillainsActHeroesReact: Very much so. It's a PoliceProcedural where the cops never come close to catching the villain and he ultimately [[spoiler:gives himself up, which is of course all part of his plan.]]
* VomitingCop: One of the SWAT team members is about to throw up when they find Victor's (the Sloth victim) decayed corpse.
* WhereTheHellIsSpringfield: The name of the city is never specified. Tracy at one point mentions that she and David used to live "upstate", presumably referring to upstate New York, and screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker said that the screenplay was heavily inspired by his time spent in New York, but that's about it.
** In the novelization, Mills and his wife lived in a town named ''Springfield'' (probably Springfield, New York) before they moved to the city.
* WickedCultured: John Doe. He uses the works of Creator/WilliamShakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, Dante, the Marquis de Sade and St. Thomas Aquinas, among others, as inspirations for his crimes.
* WideEyedIdealist: Mills, at least in Somerset's opinion. [[spoiler:He most definitely isn't by the end of the film.]]
* WorkingTheSameCase: Happens very early on when Somerset has been assigned to the Gluttony murder and Mills to the Greed. The discovery of the word "Gluttony" written in grease behind the Gluttony victim's fridge identifies the two murders as the work of the same killer.
* WretchedHive: The massive [[WhereTheHellIsSpringfield unnamed]] city where it takes place is a rainswept hell of apathy and suffering. Writer Andrew Kevin Walker describes the script as his [[TakeThat "love letter to New York."]]
* WrittenInInfirmity: After Brad Pitt severed a tendon in his hand, scenes were added to show why his character was wearing a cast.
* XanatosSpeedChess: John Doe didn't anticipate Somerset and Mills discovering where he lived, which necessitated him stepping up his schedule.
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