[[caption-width-right:345: What is the secret of Soylent Green? \\
[[ItWasHisSled Do you really have to ask?]] ]]

-->-- '''Detective Thorn''' (Charlton Heston)

''Soylent Green'' is a ScienceFiction film from 1973 starring Creator/CharltonHeston, loosely based on a 1966 Creator/HarryHarrison novel called ''Literature/MakeRoomMakeRoom''. [[AllThereIsToKnowAboutTheCryingGame Everyone knows the big plot twist]].

[[TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture The year is 2022]]. Overpopulation has brought [[GaiasLament environmental]] and [[FallenStatesOfAmerica economic collapse.]] In [[BigApplesauce New York City]], pop. ''40,000,000'' (its current population is about 8 million, not much higher than in 1970), police detective Thorn (Heston) is investigating the burglary-turned-murder of wealthy businessman William Simonson (Joseph Cotten), a board member of the food rations manufacturer [[PeaceAndLoveIncorporated Soylent Corporation]]. Based on the fact that there were [[KleptomaniacHero valuable food and books left for him to steal]], and that his bodyguard Fielding (Chuck Connors) and [[HookerWithAHeartOfGold 'furniture']] Shirl (Leigh Taylor-Young) were conveniently away at the time, Thorn believes it to be an assassination. He gives Simonson's oceanographic survey (which he himself stole) to his roommate Sol Roth (Edward G. Robinson), a book collector, and they have a memorable scene cooking up the food he also stole from the late Mr. Simonson.

In his investigation, he discovers that Fielding has more money than his job would provide, thus placing him under suspicion. Thorn is then called off the investigation and put on riot control duty, where an attempt is made on his life. He manages to get the assassin crushed under a people-scooping bulldozer.

Roth, having uncovered a terrible secret in the oceanographic survey, has lost the will to live and decides to take government-sponsored euthanasia. Thorn finds him at the suicide clinic, only in time to hear his last words. He follows Roth's corpse along to a factory that [[ImAHumanitarian processes the dead into soylent green biscuits]]. He makes a call to [[DaChief his chief]], Hatcher (Brock Peters), and is ambushed by Fielding. Severely wounded, he urges Hatcher to tell people the truth about Soylent Green, thus providing the famous quote.

For the trope previously known as the titular food, see PoweredByAForsakenChild, HumanResources.

* AllThereIsToKnowAboutTheCryingGame: That Soylent Green is people is generally known -- and that knowledge brings some folk to the film. The big reveal ain't gonna work for them, but watching the various characters slowly learn the secret is a very interesting and emotional journey in its own right.
* AlterKocker: Sol Roth, a grumpy but charming N.Y. Jew who's seen better days.
* AntiHero: Thorn has no problems quarms about RobbingTheDead or just in general helping himself to other people's stuff. Also, he WouldHitAGirl. Still, he is committed to doing his job and is nice to his friends.
* ArtifactTitle: In the original book, Soylent Green wasn't people but [[FutureFoodIsArtificial soy and lentils]], hence the title.
* BeamMeUpScotty: An odd case where the line is remembered accurately, but its delivery is very different. The film's ending is often remembered and referenced as [[spoiler:Thorn running down the street screaming "Soylent Green is people!"]], he actually says it [[spoiler:while he's badly injured and taken away to the hospital]].
* TheBeforetimes: When Thorn gets to see the (hidden) video Sol gets to see in the euthanasia clinic, he is shocked at what earth ''used'' to look like.
* TheBigRottenApple: The worst aspects of 1970s New York multiplied by 100 (at least).
* CoolOldGuy: Sol Roth.
* CoversAlwaysLie: Though more of misleading in this case. Once the "Riot Control" front end loaders arrive they lift groups of people so slowly you wonder why everyone isn't jumping right off.
** Possibly justified as a case of RealityEnsues, as the scene would have been too dangerous for the actors otherwise.
** Also, could be intentional. The riot scoops are just to get the rioters out of the way. If they jump and run off it's still done it's job, but if they actually do end up arresting the people rioting for food, they'd have to feed them.
* CrapsackWorld: You have people sleeping on every inch of the street, and even on the staircases of apartments, real food is expensive, there is a year long heat wave going on, not to mention the secret of Soylent Green...
* DaChief: Hatcher
* DownerEnding: [[spoiler: Thorn is badly injured and may well die, but manages to tell dozens of people the secret of Soylent Green. Whether the secret will actually take root as public knowledge, and more importantly, what the public and United Nations will actually ''do'' with that knowledge (if anything) is left ambiguous. But it's irrelevant, given the sad state of the environment. With the oceans dead, the bulk of the world's oxygen supply is gone. Almost all of the world's natural resources are used up, too, and humanity appears to be headed for its final collapse.]]
* {{Dystopia}}
* EnemyEatsYourLunch: As a logical extension of KleptomaniacHero, Thorn doesn't pass up the chance to help himself to the food he finds in the flats he visits. Considering the lack of food though, if it hadn't been him it would have been somebody else.
* FascistsBedTime
* FoodPorn: In this CrapsackWorld, some salad, beef stew and bourbon is enough to classify the "Sol and Thorn dining" scene as this.
* FutureFoodIsArtificial: Soylent red and yellow.
* GaiasLament: Prime example. Earth in Soylent Green is dying, with a year-round {{heat wave}} and limited food supplies.
* GreenAesop
* GoMadFromTheRevelation
** Sol Roth loses his will to live when he discovers that [[spoiler: the oceans are dying and Soylent has turned to making food out of people]].
** Thorn to a lesser extent, while he tells Hatcher the secret he is clearly in an emotional state.
** The priest who took Simonson's confession is the clearest example of this, now roaming aimlessly around his parish in a detached, dazed state of mind, attempting only to do what he can to "make room" for the poor and needy who need beds and shelter.
* GroinAttack: Thorn kicks Tab Fielding in the balls during their fight in Fielding's apartment.
* HeroicBSOD: Sol, seeing an apple and some beef, is broken by seeing all this good food being so rare, asking "What have we come to?"
* HumanResources
* IAteWhat: The Movie.
* ImAHumanitarian: [[TheSecretOfLongPorkPies Technically, everyone who eats soylent green is this.]]
* KleptomaniacHero: The first thing Thorn does after entering somebody's home is steal anything edible. Apparently this is not unexpected behaviour for a policeman.
* MayContainEvil
* MegaCorp
* MiracleFood: The Soylent Corporation produces cheap, nutritious food to sustain Earth's overpopulated masses. Subverted with the [[ItWasHisSled infamous]] revelation that [[HumanResources "Soylent Green is people."]]
* [[CaliforniaDoubling New York Doubling]]: Set in New York City, filmed in California.
* {{Newspeak}}: Live-in prostitutes are called "furniture".
* MsFanservice: Shirl struts her stuff in quite a few low cut dresses and takes it all off at least once or twice.
* NoNewFashionsInTheFuture
* OnlyElectricSheepAreCheap: A jar of strawberry jam will set you back $150, and not in the RidiculousFutureInflation sense.
* PersonalArcade: Possibly the UrExample Somerson's apartment has a ''VideoGame/ComputerSpace'' standing cabinet.
* PhotoMontage: The opening credits show a stream of photos depicting the industrialization of America.
* TheReveal: When Thorn goes into the factory and sees what is done with the bodies.
* SceneryGorn
* SenselessPhagia: Thorn steals a spoon that a woman is using to eat something out of a jar. He takes it home (with whatever is on it), and gives it to Sol to eat so he can tell him what it is (strawberry jam).
* SoundtrackDissonance: Beethoven's 6th (Pastoral).
* SoylentSoy: What Soylent Soy is ''supposed'' to be (and actually is in the original novel).
* SuicideByCop
* TrailersAlwaysSpoil: "What is the secret of Soylent Green?" [[EpicFail just as they're showing body bags on a conveyor belt]]. It also spoils [[spoiler: Roth's Death]]
* TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture: The film was made in 1973 and is set in 2022. Thorn looks to be in his forties and has no memories of when there was green vegetation or proper food. Apparently, the filmmakers expected their dystopia to materialize in less than ten years after the movie's release. This would be in keeping with other then-current predictions. For instance global overpopulation was going to cause starvation on a massive scale in the ''1970s'', oil and other vital resources run out in the 1980s and early 1990s, etc.
** The [[Literature/MakeRoomMakeRoom book]] is just as bad. The world population in the book? Seven billion. One would think that the 35,000,000 people living in New York City would spread out.
* UsedFuture
* WeWillHaveEuthanasiaInTheFuture
* YiddishAsASecondLanguage: Sol spouts "schmuck" and "l'chaim" all the time.
* YouHaveToBelieveMe