[[quoteright:264:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/hitcher.jpg]]

->''Once you pick up The Hitcher, you'll '''never''' pick up another!''
->-- '''The original 1986 trailer's slogan'''

''The Hitcher'' is a 1986 road thriller.

The story is about a young man named Jim Halsey, played by none other than Creator/CThomasHowell, who's driving a car through the US of A. He decides to go against his mother's warnings and pick up a hitchhiker, [[AxCrazy John Ryder]] played by Creator/RutgerHauer, who will then turn his next few days into a wide awake nightmare.

It got a sequel in 2003, ''The Hitcher II: I've Been Waiting'', with C. Thomas Howell reprising his role as Jim, and this time featuring Creator/JakeBusey as the murderer. It was [[TheRemake remade]] in 2007 by Platinum Dunes, with Sophia Bush, Zachary Knighton and Creator/SeanBean. See also ''Film/{{Highwaymen}}'', its SpiritualSuccessor by the same director.

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!! ''The Hitcher'' contains examples of:

* AxCrazy: John Ryder is a serial killer who butchers whole families for kicks.
* BlondGuysAreEvil: John Ryder, who's also a sadist and psychopath.
* BookEnds: The original begins and ends with Jim lighting a match, although photographed in different ways.
* CarFu: In the remake, coupled with an odd variant of ImprobableAimingSkills.
* CellphonesAreUseless: Used shamelessly in the remake.
* BadassLongcoat: In a villanous example, John Ryder wears one.
* BewareOfHitchhikingGhosts: Although the film has a living hitchhiker, John Ryder [[spoiler: has no social security number, driver's license, or any other indication that he exists]]. Oh, and he's a psychopathic killer that beats down anybody he pleases.
* BigDamnVillains: Ryder, who actually saves Jim and Nash's lives (but only so he can try and kill them later) from the vengeful cops.
* BreakTheCutie: In the original. John succeeds.
* CentralTheme: The thrill of the hunt.
* CruelAndUnusualDeath: [[spoiler: Nash's horrific death by being tied between a Mack truck and its trailer and then ripped in half by the completely psycho title character.]]
* DaylightHorror: Much of the blood and gore happens during the day.
* DeathByAdaptation: [[spoiler: Jim and Lt. Esteridge]] are BOTH killed in the remake.
* DeathSeeker: John Ryder. As the plot uncovers, he repeatedly asks Jim Halsey to kill him in cold blood (after their first encounter when Jim picked up Ryder as an unsuspecting hitchhiker). When Jim fails to do so, John proceeds to go on a path of carnage.
* DissonantSerenity: John Ryder, who never loses his calm as he continues killing people in gruesome ways.
* TheEndOrIsIt: [[spoiler:Subverted. John does get up at the end of the original, but Jim shoots him dead on the spot.]]
* FatalFamilyPhoto: It happens in the ending of the remake; one of the cops on the cop bus that's carrying [[AxCrazy John Ryder]] takes out a photo of his daughter.
* FauxAffablyEvil: Ryder.
* FinalGirl: Jim Halsey (to an extent) and Grace in the remake.
* FingerInTheMail: The protagonist stops at a roadside diner to call the cops on the serial killer who's been pursuing him. The killer slips a human finger into a plate of fries the waitress brings him.
* {{Fingore}}: One of the most infamous scenes involves Jim finding a severed finger in his french fries.
* FoeRomanceSubtext: Deliberately inferred in the original ''Film/TheHitcher'', to the point where it creeps out the cops to watch the lead characters interact in the interrogation room.
* ForTheEvulz: Seems like Ryder's only reason d'etre.
* {{Gorn}}: The remake. The scene of a German Shepherd licking blood off a slit neck in the original can also count.
* GoryDiscretionShot: What happens to [[spoiler: Nash]]. Subverted but badly done ([[SpecialEffectFailure the body BOUNCES after being cut in half]]) in the remake. Also, the fate of the family in the station wagon.
* HalfTheManHeUsedToBe: [[spoiler: Nash]] in the original, [[spoiler: Jim]] in the remake.
* ICannotSelfTerminate: Ryder repeatedly gives Jim the opportunity to kill him, goading him to do so. [[spoiler: Possibly a subversion, as it's unclear if Ryder truly wants to end his own rampage, or if he wants to turn ''Jim'' into a killer who'll carry on after him.]]
* ImprobableAimingSkills: Ryder takes out several squad cars and a frickin' helicopter with no more than a handgun ''while driving''...all to the strains of [[SoundtrackDissonance Nine]] [[Music/NineInchNails Inch Nails]] (in the remake). See also the CarFu entry above.
* LoveInterest: Nash in the original, Jim in the remake.
* MyCarHatesMe: Used in both versions:
** In the original, Esteridge's Dodge truck stalls out in the climax for no readily apparent reason preventing Jim from escaping for a few suspenseful moments.
** In the remake, Jim's Oldsmobile stalls out at the beginning at a crucial moment.
* NotSoDifferent: [[spoiler: The movie seems to imply a psuedo-sadomasochistic relationship between Jim and Ryder, and that this relation ship is more father/son or between lovers than hunter/prey.]]
* PickOnSomeoneYourOwnSize:
** The original film is a textbook example of this. After young teenager Jim Halsey manages to thwart serial killer John Ryder's attempt to add him to one of his list of victims, Ryder becomes [[FoeYay completely obsessed]] with [[StalkerWithACrush stalking]] Halsey and [[TheOnlyOneAllowedToDefeatYou killing or being killed by him]]. Ryder himself looks to be around 40 - 50 years old.
** The 2007 remake turns this into an intergender example by adding Jim's girlfriend Grace Andrews to the mix. Ryder eventually murders Jim and puts all his focus on Grace.
* PoliceAreUseless: At least in the remake. The police officers act idiotically and unmethodically.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Captain Esteridge, who is probably the nicest cop in the film, even when Jim's got a gun on him.
* SenselessPhagia: There's a scene which features a severed finger in a man's fries. He doesn't notice until he directly looks at it.
* SoundOnlyDeath: The murders in the police station, when you only hear two gunshots.
* TheSpook: The villain is called a ghost because there is nothing that identifies him.
* StalkerWithACrush: John Ryder. After Jim Halsey manages to thwart his attempt at murdering him, Ryder becomes obsessed with either [[TheOnlyOneAllowedToDefeatYou killing Halsey or being killed by Halsey]]. He stalks him throughout the entire movie, framing Jim for crimes he committed (but rescuing him when the police are about to kill him) and killing Jim's [[OfficialCouple only female love interest]] violently. In one very disturbing scene, he holds Jim's hands, and Jim spits in his face. After Jim leaves, he is seen [[{{Squick}} rubbing the spit onto his lips, smiling]].
* StrikeMeDownWithAllYourHatred: There are occasional hints in the original film that the title character is trying to get Jim to kill him in order to fulfill this trope.
* SuddenSequelDeathSyndrome: [[spoiler: Jim and Lt. Esteridge]] in ''both'' the sequel and the remake.
* VillainousValour: Exagerrated to the fact that Ryder can take down an helicopter with just one single gun.
* VomitIndiscretionShot: Lots of these in the original.
* WouldHurtAChild: Ryder massacres an entire famile. Children included.
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