''The Stepfather'' is a 1987 thriller film, written by esteemed crime novelist Donald E. Westlake and directed by Joseph Ruben. The film tells the story of [[IHaveManyNames an]] [[NoNameGiven unnamed]] [[TheBluebeard bluebeard]] SerialKiller obsessed with being a part of the perfect family, to such an extent that if his current family doesn't live up to expectations, he kills them and moves onto another.

The first film was famous for putting Creator/TerryOQuinn on the map, with even Roger Ebert raving about his acting.

The film was followed by two sequels, the first [[DirectToVideo direct-to-video]] and the second [[MadeForTVMovie made for television]]. [[TheRemake A remake]] was released in 2009.

!!Provides Examples Of:


[[folder:All films]]
* ArcWords: "Who am I here?"
* FreakOut: Happens frequently when something or someone upsets the stepfather.
* HeKnowsTooMuch: Aside from killing those who acts as competition (like Phil in the second film) or does not fit with his values like the families he butchered of simply just get in the way, the stepfather also kill those who suspects him of being not what he initially appeared to be to tie up loose ends, such as Dr. A. Bondurant and James "Jim" Ogilvie in the first film. Susan in the first film, aside from being targeted for not living up to the stepfather's standards, nearly got offed early when she suspects something's wrong when she discovered the stepfather quit his job several days ago without informing her and witnessed the stepfather mixed up his identities. The protagonists of films finds themselves in this predicament as well once they discovered what the stepfather's truly is.
* IHaveManyNames: There is no way of telling what The Stepfather's real name is, or which one of them he believes it to be.
* IronicNurseryTune: The stepfather often whistles "Camptown Races" after his murders.
%%* KavorkaMan
* KnifeNut: The stepfather has used a lot of different objects to kill people, but the knife is still his prefered weapon.
* MasterActor: The stepfather is almost supernaturally talented at reinventing himself.
* MasterOfDisguise: The stepfather has the tendency to alter his appearance and change his name when it comes to finding a new family after killing the last one.
* MurderIsTheBestSolution: Family problems? Get the knife.
* MysteriousPast: Four films and the stepfather still doesn't have an origin... or even a real name. Closest we get is Doctor Danvers calling him "Bill Krieger" in the second film, though they don't actually outright state if that's his real name, or an old alias. The stepfather also apparently tells Danvers about his past... offscreen... he also could have been lying.
* NoNameGiven: It's never stated what the stepfather's real name is. He even wonders which man is supposed to be towards the end of the film. This is what ultimately causes him to kill his current family.
%%* PaterFamilicide
* ScarsAreForever: But its pretty easy to lie about how you got them.
* TheSociopath: The stepfather can easily be considered this.
* StandardFiftiesFather: The stepfather seems to think of himself as this, and at one point is explicitly compared to Ward Cleaver from ''Series/LeaveItToBeaver''.
* StepfordSmiler: The stepfather is a very cheerful individual, unless someone makes him angry.
* TheyLookJustLikeEveryoneElse: One of the scariest things about the Stepfather is that he looks and acts like a normal guy.
* VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory: The inspiration for the series was mass murderer John Emil List, who killed his family, fled to Virginia, assumed another identity, remarried and wasn't caught for eighteen years.
* VillainProtagonist: The stepfather is the real main focal point of the films, while anyone out to stop him are actually a HeroAntagonist.
* WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds: The stepfather, in the original at least.
* YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness: The trope that does not involve any henchmen in this series of films. The stepfather would kill the last family for not living up to his expectations before moving to the next one until a point they ''fatally'' don't live up to his standards as well. This is at least one of the motives behind his mass-murders of families.
%%* YoureNotMyFather

[[folder:''The Stepfather'' (1987)]]
* AffablyEvil: Despite murdering women and children, the stepfather.
* AmateurSleuth: James "Jim" Ogilvie has no formal law enforcement or investigation training, but spent a good chuck of the first movie following the stepfather's trail from town to town to apprehend his sister's killer outside of the law.
%%* AxCrazy
%%* TheBluebeard
* BreadEggsMilkSquick: Non-verbal example. The movie begins with the stepfather going about his daily routine... [[RevealShot then it reveals he's murdered his current family]].
* DropTheHammer: The stepfather contemplates killing his family with one.
* DroppedABridgeOnHim: James "Jim" Ogilvie, who's been treated as a major character in the first film, gets killed off unceremoniously in the climax and treated as another RedShirt on the Stepfather's bodycount following that.
* {{Fanservice}}: Jill Schoelen has an entirely random and gratuitous topless shower scene.
* FiveSecondForeshadowing: Susan's line "The receptionist probably just... got the name wrong, or something...", right before Jerry mixes up his identities.
%%* GuessWhoImMarrying
%%* HorrorDoesntSettleForSimpleTuesday: : There's a sequence set on Thanksgiving
%%* ImprovisedWeapon: A board and phone.
* InfantImmortality: Averted in the first few minutes of the film, as a butchered body of a little girl is shown.
%%* MakeItLookLikeAnAccident: Doctor Bondurant.
* OverprotectiveDad: When the stepfather sees his stepdaughter Stephanie kissing a boy named Paul he completely freaks out, claiming Paul was going to try and rape Stephanie.
* PetTheDog: Literally. When the stepfather loses it at the end and prepares to kill his new family, he takes some time to hug the little dog that he bought for his stepdaughter before, as he just couldn't kill the thing. Earlier in the movie, he also fondly remembers a previous dog he had.
* ShootTheShaggyDog: [[spoiler:Happens to James "Jim" Ogilvie, who spends the bulk of the film trying to find his sister's killer. When he finally does, he... gets knifed before he can even pull his gun out]].
%%* ShowerScene: A pretty random one near the end of the film.
* VigilanteMan: James "Jim" Ogilvie in the first film is an AmateurSleuth example, he even armed himself with a revolver with an intent, under advise of a police detective he met, to blow him away upon confronting him rather then just simply apprehend him.

[[folder:''Stepfather II'' (1989)]]
* BlackDudeDiesFirst: Doctor Joseph Danvers (who gets shivved in the neck).
* BloodSplatteredWeddingDress: Carol Grayland at the end of the film.
* CatScare: Happens right before Maddy's death.
* DropTheHammer: Todd Grayland takes the stepfather out with one, stabbing him in the chest with the claw end.
* EveryCarIsAPinto: The stepfather destroys a car, and it explodes spectacularly.
* FlashbackNightmare: The stepfather himself has one.
* GrievousBottleyHarm: Phil's death involves him being smashed and stabbed with a champagne bottle.
* HorrorDoesntSettleForSimpleTuesday: The climax of the film takes place during a wedding.
%%* NosyNeighbor: Maddie.
* NumberedSequels
* UnexplainedRecovery: The stepfather obviously dies at the end of the first film, but shows up here with only a large scar where he got stabbed.

[[folder:''Stepfather III'' (1992)]]
* AnAxeToGrind: The stepfather comes close to killing his current family with one, but relents at the last minute.
* BackAlleyDoctor: The stepfather visits one at the beginning of the film, to get a [[MagicPlasticSurgery new face]] after his escape from the institution.
* BloodierAndGorier: Much more emphasis is put on the kills, the highlights being the shovel, rake and woodchipper deaths.
* ContinuityNod: The stepfather mentioning he once worked in real estate, and later, during a FreakOut, he starts screaming "Who am I here?! WHO AM I HERE?!" The asylum he was placed in ''Stepfather II'' is also mentioned in a news broadcast.
* CoolOldGuy: Father Brennan, who shares Andy's interest in solving mysteries, and even starts helping him to find info on his stepfather.
* DropTheHammer: Annoyed with his wife, the stepfather moves in to bash her brains with one, but is stopped by the last minute by two potential witnesses.
* EveryCarIsAPinto: The stepfather pushes Father Brennan's car over a cliff, and it explodes on impact.
%%* GuessWhoImMarrying
* HorrorDoesntSettleForSimpleTuesday: Not counting the prologue, ''Stepfather III'' begins on Easter, and ends on Father's Day.
%%* ImprovisedWeapon: Random gardening equipment.
* KilledOffForReal: [[spoiler:The stepfather finally dies for good, by being pushed into a wood chipper.]]
* MakeItLookLikeAnAccident: The stepfather makes Father Brennan's death seem like he had a car accident.
* NumberedSequels
* RedHerring: Mark Wraynal. We're briefly lead to believe he's the stepfather, but it turns out to be Keith, who kills him via...
* ShovelStrike: A particularly gory example of this.
* SlashedThroat: The stepfather kills the backalley plastic surgeon by cutting his throat open with a bonesaw.
* SoftGlass: Averted. The stepfather punches through a car window to get at a victim, cutting his hand up pretty badly and necessitating a bandage for the rest of the film.
* UnexplainedRecovery: ''Stepfather II'' ends with the Family Killer getting a claw hammer in the chest, which he somehow survived.

[[folder:''The Stepfather'' (2009)]]
* BloodlessCarnage: Due to its PG-13 status.
** He kills all his onscreen victims via some form of oxygen deprivation.
* BreadEggsMilkSquick: Non-verbal example. Like in the original, the film begins with the stepfather going about his daily routine... [[RevealShot then it reveals he's murdered his current family]].
%%* BuryYourGays: Jackie.
* ButNotTooGay: Its only pretty close to the end of the film that we realize Jackie and Leah are lovers, and not just roommates or something.
* CallBack: The film has a lot of references to the original. Surprising, considering it was made by the same people who brought us the ''Film/WhenAStrangerCalls'' and ''[[Film/PromNight2008 Prom Night]]'' remakes, both of which are borderline InNameOnly.
* CatScare: Happens right before Mrs. Cutters's death.
* HorrorDoesntSettleForSimpleTuesday: The opening of the film is set sometime around Christmas.
* IdiotBall: Firmly gripped by many characters. ''Especially'' Susan. Let's just say that if Susan had half a braincell, the low kill count of about six or so would be down by ''three''.
* ItsAllAboutMe: Susan, so much so that [[UpToEleven she seems overly obnoxious compared to most other examples on that page]]. Her oldest son is unhappy with the stepfather and her best friend, ex-husband, and even an old lady down the street try to point out the oddities in her new husband's behavior, but she refuses to hear anything bad about the man, always countering the arguments with how good he is to her, how happy he makes her. Its actually quite possible she wasn't really oblivious to the warning signs so much as deluding herself into ignoring them.
* KarmaHoudini
** The stepfather in the remake. He survives, gets away and is last seen charming another single woman with kids.
** Susan was never called out, or even felt remorse, for ignoring all the warning signs that her fiance is a serial killer and thus leading to the deaths of a neighbor, her ex-husband, and her sister. The closest thing she ever got was ''almost'' getting killed. Though considering that the word possibly have gotten out that her fiance is a serial killer and that she was indirectly responsible for the deaths of those three, chances are that she will eventually.
%%* MakeItLookLikeAnAccident: Mrs. Cutter.
* MsFanservice: Kelly (played by Creator/AmberHeard), who almost never wears pants. This is lampshaded in the commentary.
* NeverTrustATrailer: That awesome swinging buzzsaw scene that was in all the trailers and TV spots? Its ''completely absent'' from the film.
* PoliceAreUseless: Obviously, but what sets them apart from the others is the fact that they couldn't catch a severely injured man crawling away when they were a few feet away.
* SoftGlass: Michael smashes a window with his elbow, but doesn't get cut at all, and the sleeve of his hoodie remains intact, without even a few glass shards to show for it.
* SoundtrackDissonance: "Silent Night" and a more "hardcore" rendition of "Happy Together" appear during less-than-peaceful moments.
* TooDumbToLive: Susan cannot take a hint that her fiance is a murderer to save her life. Neighbor claiming she saw his face on ''Series/AmericasMostWanted''? Susan passes it off as someone else. Ex-husband saying that Susan's youngest son was ''throttled'' by her fiance? She does not bring it up again. [[note]][[TruthInTelevision To be fair, it can be hard to believe your ex-husband when he tells you your new beau is a psycho.]][[/note]] Her sister telling Susan that her fiance left as soon as he had to fill out some employment forms, Susan ''laughs'' it off. You know you have a dumb as shit character when she does not get the message when her fiance is pointing a knife at her, along with a whole bunch of weapons laid out on the table, saying that she should punish her son more, then ask, "[[ArcWords Who Am I here?]]". [[WhatAnIdiot Mother of the year.]]