[[quoteright:245:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/12-monkeys-7_7474.jpg]]

->''"...5 billion people will die from a deadly virus in 1997... The survivors will abandon the surface of the planet... Once again the animals will rule the world..."''
-->-- '''Excerpts from interview with clinically diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, April 12, 1990 -- Baltimore County Hospital.'''

''12 Monkeys'' is an Academy Award-nominated 1995 science fiction film directed by Creator/TerryGilliam and written by [[DavidPeoples David and Janet Peoples]]. The film was inspired by the French short film ''[[LaJetee La Jetée]]''. It stars BruceWillis, Madeleine Stowe, and BradPitt, who won a Golden Globe for best supporting actor; Pitt was also nominated for an Academy Award in the same category.

There is a chance that James Cole is not insane. His paranoid ravings about a post-apocalyptic future in which the world has been ravaged by a deadly virus might be true, and the Army of the Twelve Monkeys might be real. The only trouble is, if Dr. Kathryn Railly accepts this, she will have to accept a terrifying truth: TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt is coming... very soon.

'''Beware of spoilers'''.

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!!This film provides examples of:

* AirVentPassageway: The absurdity of this in real life is lampshaded when Cole vanishes from a locked room, the only other exit from which is a air vent that has not been forced open and into which he could not possibly fit.
* AfterTheEnd: Cole's 'present'.
* AnimalMotifs: [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Monkeys]].
* AnimalWrongsGroup: The Army of the Twelve Monkeys is an animal rights group blamed for the spread of a deadly super-virus that killed most of humanity. [[spoiler: They end up having [[RedHerring nothing to do with it]].]]
* ApocalypseHow: Class 1.
* ArcWords: "The Keys are lovely this time of year."
* BeautyInversion: Brad Pitt manages to look convincingly homely and unkempt for the majority of the film.
* BedlamHouse: Averted. The protagonist is confined to a regular psychiatric hospital, and not to some sort of Arkham Asylum.
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler: Cole is killed and 99% of humanity is about to go with him, but he did successfully locate the pure sample of the virus, and one of the scientists was able to collect it (although only through contaminating herself with it, and she could well die from it if it takes more than a few weeks to create a cure).]]
* CantTakeAnythingWithYou: It seems the rule is you can't take anything that is ''external'' to your body. Cole gets the spider he swallowed back to the future just fine and the bullet that gets lodged in his leg time travels with him as well.
* CassandraTruth: [[DiscussedTrope Discussed]].
* ChewingTheScenery: BradPitt goes somewhat over-the-top in his scenes in the madhouse, but it works.
* ChekhovsGunman: A rather creepy but otherwise unimportant character is introduced midway through who [[spoiler: turns out to be the guy who spread the virus.]]
* CloudCuckoolander: Jeffrey. It is implied that it is at least somewhat ObfuscatingInsanity
* ContagiousCassandraTruth: The film has an interesting variation of this trope. Dr. Railly doesn't believe James Cole's claims that he's from the future, but when he disappears she investigates his claims and finds corroborating evidence. When Cole returns Dr. Railly has difficulty convincing Cole of the truth, as he has accepted her explanation that he is delusional.
* CoversAlwaysLie: At first glance it sure looks like a cyborg on the cover. It's not until you look closer that you see it's the symbol of the Army of the 12 Monkeys.
* CryingWolf: Part of what convinces Kathryn that Cole's telling the truth is he remembers hearing as a child about a boy who pretended to be lost in a well, only to turn out to have been hiding in a barn. The event plays out as he remembers, indicating he's [[ThroughTheEyesOfMadness probably]] telling the truth.
* CuckooNest
* DepravedDentist: Cole inflicts this on himself because he believes that they track time travelers with devices implanted in their teeth. [[spoiler:A subsequent conversation with another time-traveler implies he was right, but that they're able to locate Cole without his teeth, and the time traveler is confused as to why Cole pulled them out in the first place.]] It also seriously confuses the crook whom Cole had beaten up earlier:
--> Hey... is that the cops? I'm an innocent victim in here! I was attacked by a coked up whore and a - a fuckin' crazy dentist!
* {{Doomsayer}}: Several of these, who may or may not be time travelers who have gone insane.
* DownerEnding
* DramaticIrony: "I'm in insurance."
* DreamingOfThingsToCome: [[StableTimeLoop Kinda.]]
* DuelingStarsMovie: BruceWillis vs. BradPitt. This might be more of a retroactive example, as Pitt (while having found recent acknowledgements for his roles in ''InterviewWithAVampire'' and ''Film/{{Se7en}}'' ), wasn't nearly as big a star as Bruce "''Film/DieHard''" Willis at the time of the film's release.
* DullSurprise: Bruce Willis, which is very well {{justified}} by his character being either heavily sedated or emotionally traumatized for most of the movie. In addition, it provides a perfect contrast for BradPitt's [[LargeHam maniacal bombast]].
* EiffelTowerEffect: Philadelphia's skyline, particularly [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_Place Liberty Place]], is seen quite a bit.
* GenericGraffiti: The Army of the 12 Monkeys tags the walls around their base with graffiti shaped like a ring of 12 monkeys.
* GoAmongMadPeople
* HereWeGoAgain
* TheHeroDies: [[spoiler:Cole is killed before he can stop the virus from being unleashed on the world.]]
* HospitalHottie: Dr. Kathryn Railly.
* IdiotBall: The Airport Security Guard. When a scientist has a specially sealed case and tells you the vials inside contain "biological samples", what in the name of sanity would make you want him to ''open'' it?
** Especially if one can see that there is nothing but colorless gas inside.
* JustBeforeTheEnd
* LargeHam: Brad Pitt's acting is gloriously over-the-top.
* TheLawOfConservationOfDetail: During Dr. Railly's speech she briefly shows an etching of a man from the 1100s proclaiming the end of the world in 1996. Later on when James arrives in 1996 you see that man preaching on the side of a street corner. Also another example is a phone message heard by Cole in the 'present' [[spoiler: is later found out to be made by Dr. Railly.]]
* MadOracle: It's implied that at least one such oracle is actually a time traveler who landed in the wrong era, since he sees James and says: "You! You are one of us!"
* MeanwhileInTheFuture
* MindScrew: For the viewer, although by the end it becomes comprehensible. Also, for James, [[spoiler: who starts to think he really is insane and that he imagined traveling from the future. It's mentioned that this happens to all time travelers.]] Finally, for [[spoiler: Katherine, first as she starts to realize that James must have come from the future, and later when she starts to "remember" things that never actually happened (when they put on the disguises and she says he looks familiar.)]]
* MisanthropeSupreme: The villains, who engineer a lethal virus.
* MisplacedWildlife: Cole encounters a lion in the city while collecting samples in the future. [[spoiler: Releasing zoo animals was the Army Of The Twelve Monkeys' real plan.]]
* MusicalSpoiler: The first clue of [[spoiler:Brad Pitt]]'s involvement with the Army of the 12 Monkeys is when the "12 Monkeys" {{leitmotif}} plays during one of his rants.
* NonindicativeName: As [[CausticCritic Mr. Cranky]] asks in his review, "Where are the monkeys?"
* OohMeAccentsSlipping: Dr. Railly pronounces "advertisement" in a way no American ever would. Ironic since the actress, Madeleine Stowe, is American.
* PhotographicMemory: Or something like it. Cole is selected for the expeditions because, although mentally disturbed, he possesses an extremely accurate memory for details and information, and at one point is able to recite a distorted message word-for-word after hearing it once, days earlier.
* ThePlague
* PokeThePoodle: It is revealed that the horrifyingly evil plot of The Army of the Twelve Monkeys [[spoiler:amounts to releasing some animals from a zoo, which stops traffic, but no more]].
* PunctuatedForEmphasis: NO! MORE! MONKEY! BUSINESS!!!
* RayOfHopeEnding: [[spoiler:Protagonist James Cole, a time traveler from AfterTheEnd, dies trying (and failing) to stop the villain from releasing the virus that triggers TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt. But in the next scene, another time traveler appears in disguise to speak with the villain -- implying that, thanks to Cole's work, the scientists of the future will finally get a pure sample of the virus so they can make a vaccine. The past can't be changed, but the future can still be saved.]]
* RedHerring: [[spoiler: The Army of the Twelve Monkeys didn't release the virus.]]
* RuinsOfTheModernAge: James' trip into the ruins of Philadelphia.
* ShaggyDogStory: [[spoiler:Ultimately, James does not stop the virus and dies in front of his child self.]]
* ShootTheShaggyDog
* ShoutOut: Cole and Railly attend a Hitchcock movie marathon just before they go to the airport.
* SignificantMonogram: James Cole.
* SoundtrackDissonance: One of the most glorious examples.
* StableTimeLoop
* [[{{Spoiler}} Subtitles Always Spoil]]: Some versions of the movie have subtitles that label the voice on the recording [[spoiler:"Kathryn's voice"]], despite Cole specifically saying the voice was unidentifiable later in the movie.
* ThroughTheEyesOfMadness: The longer James stays in one timeline, the more he begins to doubt his memories of the other one.
* TrackingChip: The main character is told that he has a tracking chip in his teeth.
* [[{{Irony}} Tragic Irony]]: [[spoiler:"I've done my job, I did what you wanted. Good luck. I'm not coming back."]]
* UnreliableNarrator: Cole's memory of what happened at the airport is hazy because [[spoiler:he was a boy at the time]].
* TheVirus
* WhatYearIsThis
* WholePlotReference: To ''LaJetee'', a French New Wave film made up entirely of still images.
* WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity: All the time travelers go insane from the stresses involved in time travel; hence government use of expendable prisoners for this task.
* WorldWarOne: Features in a few short scenes and has relevance to the whole TimeTravel plot.
* YouCantFightFate: {{Played straight}}.
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