[[caption-width-right:350:"Do you like scary movies?"]]

->''"Someone has taken their love of scary movies one step too far."''
-->-- Tagline

In 1996, director Creator/WesCraven (of ''Film/ANightmareOnElmStreet1984'' fame) and writer Kevin Williamson (who would go on to make ''Series/DawsonsCreek'' and ''Literature/TheVampireDiaries'') decided to make a film to [[GenreKiller end]] the [[SlasherMovie slasher genre]] once and for all: ''Film/{{Scream|1996}}''.

A peaceful town in California turns into a bloodbath when a masked killer begins to wreak havoc all over town. Sidney Prescott (Creator/NeveCampbell), a young teenage girl whose mother was killed a year before, becomes a target of the masked killer; her boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and her father soon become the main suspects. Local tabloid news reporter Gale Weathers (Creator/CourteneyCox) and Woodsboro police deputy Dwight "Dewey" Riley (David Arquette) investigate and try to figure out the killer's identity - and if they killed Sid's mom the year before.

''Scream'' became a big success - and, in the process, [[{{Irony}} gave new life to the genre it intended to kill in the first place.]]

''Scream'' and its sequels set themselves apart from other slashers. Instead of coming off just as straight-up horror films, they also served as [[BlackComedy dark]], [[PostModernism "meta"]] [[StealthParody parodies]] [[SlidingScaleOfComedyAndHorror of the slasher genre]]. The killers all [[DangerouslyGenreSavvy deliberately invoked slasher movie cliches]] while their targets tried to survive by [[GenreSavvy attempting to guess which horror movie tropes the killers would invoke next]] -- a move that just as often [[DeathByGenreSavviness got them killed]] as it did save them. To a generation that had grown up viewing slasher films as [[DeaderThanDisco trite and cliched]] following the genre's burnout at the end of TheEighties, ''Scream'' served as a breath of fresh air.

However, many (though [[SturgeonsLaw certainly not all]]) of the horror films that [[FollowTheLeader copied its formula]] in the ensuing years didn't understand this. A good number of filmmakers instead felt that the ''Scream'' franchise's success came as a result of its casting (which featured stars from hit TV series like ''Series/PartyOfFive'', ''Series/{{Friends}}'' and ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'') and its "hip" dialogue. As a result, the original film has suffered from HypeBacklash since its release, since its own various tricks and tropes [[SeinfeldIsUnfunny became more commonplace in the horror genre]].

In addition to all the copycats, ''Film/{{Scream|1996}}'' spawned three sequels of its own. While fans don't remember them as fondly as the original, they all have their fans:
* ''Film/{{Scream 2}}'', released in 1997, saw the surviving characters [[CaliforniaUniversity move on to college]] while dealing with their FifteenMinutesOfFame thanks to both [[IfItBleedsItLeads extensive media coverage]] of the killings and ''Stab'', the RippedFromTheHeadlines slasher flick made about the event. Just as the original satirized slashers, the second film satirized the genre's obsession with {{sequel}}s (and all ''their'' related tropes).
* ''Film/{{Scream 3}}'', released in 2000, concluded the original trilogy and moved the action to Hollywood, where a work on a third ''Stab'' film has begun. This film -- the only film in the series not written by Kevin Williamson -- targeted trilogies (and their associated tropes) as well as [[HorribleHollywood the inner workings of the film industry]].
* ''Film/{{Scream 4}}'' (or ''[[Letters2Numbers Scre4m]]''), released in 2011, brought the action back to Woodsboro as the surviving characters of the original trilogy dealt with the legacy of the events of those films. ''Scream 4'' parodied the [[TorturePorn various]] [[FoundFootageFilms trends]] in horror that cropped up in the decade between ''Scream 3'' and ''Scream 4'' -- including, most specifically, the surge of {{remake}}s and [[ContinuityReboot reboots]] of classic horror franchises. While critics and fans gave it a decent reception, its disappointing box office returns[[note]]The three previous films took in upwards of $100 million each domestically, but this one didn't even reach that amount with domestic and overseas grosses ''combined'' - though it only cost about $40 million to make.[[/note]] may have [[FranchiseKiller short-circuited]] the film's attempt to restart the franchise with a new trilogy. That said...
* Creator/{{MTV}} currently has a television adaptation of the franchise in development, set to premiere in 2015. It is a series reboot with all new characters, with the ShowRunner being Jill Blotevogel of ''Series/HarpersIsland'' and ''Series/{{Ravenswood}}''.

{{Troper}}s like us owe a substantial amount of our hobby to the film. ''Scream'' wholeheartedly lampshaded and deconstructed a large number of tropes -- which made it one of the first major, mainstream films to do so since ''{{Airplane}}'' -- while it remained grounded in reality and exploring a whole new genre. The original film predates ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' by only a few months when it comes to having a story about sarcastic, GenreSavvy teenagers in a [[PostModernism post-modern]] {{horror}} setting.

''This series has a [[Characters/{{Scream}} Character Sheet]] and a [[Synopsis/{{Scream}} sypnopsis sheet]].''

!!The ''Scream'' franchise provides examples of the following tropes:

* ActionGirl: Sidney, being a FinalGirl, has her moments.
* {{Adorkable}}: Randy and Dewey.
* AlasPoorVillain:
** [[spoiler: Roman's]] final moment with Sidney is almost ''touching'', but ends up ruined by the tacked-on NotQuiteDead moment.
** The final moments of ''Scream 4'' have been seen as an attempt to [[spoiler:cast Jill off in a tragic light, with a final shot of her face as the press are waiting to talk to her like she wanted]].
* AnyoneCanDie: Any character featured in the first ten minutes, [[DeadStarWalking regardless of the actor in the role]], can (and will) die. With other characters, however, this trope is averted -- [[spoiler:Sidney, Gale and Dewey have survived all four movies]].
* AssholeVictim:[[spoiler: Steven Stone and John Milton in Scream 3, Charlie Walker in Scream 4]]
* BetterThanABareBulb: These movies '''''love''''' to lampshade horror tropes.
* BigBad: [[SerialKiller Ghostface]] is the [[LegacyCharacter identity]] donned by every one of the series' antagonists; no matter who it is behind the mask, they always exhibit the same basic personality and physical attributes: taunts victims through phone calls, grunts and groans when injured, remains primarily mute while face-to-face with a victim, prolongs a kill when an advantage is gained, stabs victims with a hunting knife, switches from being quick and efficient to clumsy and accident-prone, outright ignores blunt trauma, stabbing wounds and gunshots, strong enough to physically overpower victims in a fight, prowls without being detected, and often vanishes from the targets' defense before taking them by surprise almost immediately thereafter.
* BigBadDuumvirate: [[spoiler: All but the third movie have two people alternating as Ghostface, though usually one of them has a more personal motive for the killings, while the other killer just goes along with it. Billy, Mrs. Loomis, and Jill all had their own reasons, while Stu, Mickey, and Charlie were somehow talked into being their respective accomplices.]]
* BittersweetEnding: All the films seem to end on this note, [[spoiler: Ghostface's dead and the heroes have lived to go on fighting and living another day, but most of the characters you have cared about are now dead and aren't coming back... [[OnlyMostlyDead unless they're still alive but barely.]]]]
* BloodierAndGorier: Discussed in the second film, but it actually used ''less'' fake blood and guts than the original. The fourth movie, however, is much bloodier than ''Scream 3'', and possibly the rest of the series.
* BoomHeadshot: [[spoiler: Billy and Roman. Sidney also shoots Mrs. Loomis in the head, but she was probably already dead.]]
* BoundAndGagged: At least one character in every film: [[spoiler: Steve Orth and Neil Prescott]] in the first, [[spoiler: Derek]] in the second, [[spoiler: Dewey, Gale and Milton]] in the third, and [[spoiler: Charlie and Trevor]] in the fourth.
* BrickJoke: One that occurs between movies. In the first, when Sidney is asked who she'd like to play her in the inevitable [[BasedOnATrueStory movie about the events]], she says that she'd prefer Meg Ryan, [[TemptingFate but knowing her luck, she'd get Tori Spelling]]. Guess who plays her in ''Stab''?
* ButtMonkey:
** Dewey, who depending on your point of view is either the unluckiest or the ''luckiest'' character in the series: [[spoiler:he gets attacked and very badly sliced up in every film but also manages to survive them all.]]
** Sidney as well, when you consider that she's basically destined to spend the rest of her life being periodically attacked and having all her friends killed by nutjobs attempting to imitate the previous killers... [[DysfunctionalFamily some of whom she's related to in some way or another.]]
* CatchPhrase: "Hello Sidney..."
* ConversationalTroping
* CreatorCameo: Director Creator/WesCraven has brief cameos in all the films. In the first, he's the school janitor [[ShoutOut Fred]]; in the second, he plays a doctor in the hospital; in the third, he's one of the tourists on the movie lot.
** Also had a cameo in the fourth, but it ended up on the cutting room floor.
** Additionally, writer Kevin Williamson appeared as a man interviewing Cotton Weary in the second film.
* CycleOfRevenge: The whole series to a degree. [[spoiler: Roman wanted revenge on his biological mother, Rene Reynolds (Maureen Prescott), for abandoning him. He led Billy (who also had a grudge against her for causing his mother to abandon him) and Stu to rape and murder Maureen, frame Cotton Weary, and set up the events of the first movie. After Billy and Stu's plan ends with both of them dead, Billy's mother orchestrates the murder plot of the second movie as a means of avenging her son's death by killing Sidney. This fails as well. By the third movie, Roman's original plan to destroy not only his birth mother but the family she replaced him with as well (Sidney) has backfired spectacularly due to the fact that Sidney's constantly surviving the murder sprees has made her infamous, almost legendary, world-wide. Angered, he tries to finish what he started himself by killing Sidney, her friends and the main cast and crew behind the latest Stab movie, the cult horror franchise he inadvertently spawned. By the end of the third movie, Sidney and her friends have killed him too. For eleven years it looks like it is all over and the characters can move on with their lives... Until the fourth film comes around, in which we find out Jill Roberts, Sidney's own cousin, has plotted an EVEN MORE nefarious plot to not only get revenge on Sidney, but to claim her celebrity status as a FinalGirl. And even though Jill dies and Sidney, Dewey and Gale still survive, it is made clear that this probably will never end.]] Yeesh.
* DamselOutOfDistress: Sidney laughs at the DistressedDamsel trope!
* DarkerAndEdgier: While being a horror series, and thus prone to being dark, Scream 4 is notable in being one of the most brutal. [[spoiler:The deaths are more graphic and horrifying, especially Olivia's. Some of the characters aren't even killed instantly, but are left horribly wounded then either killed (Rebecca), or left to die slowly (Perkins, Robbie, Charlie, and potentially Kirby). Then there's the fight scene between Jill and Sidney at the hospital, which is just painful to watch.]]
* DeadpanSnarker: [[WorldOfSnark Most of the characters]] often say witty snarky comments, but Ghostface seems to be the biggest one when he taunts the victims. Gale and Randy are no slouch at this, either.
* DeadStarWalking: A tradition for the films is to have a big-name actor in the opening scene, only to kill them off within fifteen minutes. The first film had Creator/DrewBarrymore in this role, the second had [[BlackDudeDiesFirst Omar Epps and Jada Pinkett]] (and later killed off [[Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer the Slayer herself]], Creator/SarahMichelleGellar), the third had [[SuddenSequelDeathSyndrome Liev Schreiber]], and the fourth one has '''' LucyHale, [[Series/BeverlyHills90210 Shenae Grimes]], Creator/KristenBell, Creator/AnnaPaquin, [[Series/FridayNightLights Aimee Teegarden]], and [[Series/TheSecretCircle Brittany Robertson]].
* DeconstructedCharacterArchetype: As the series goes on, Sidney demonstrates just what a FinalGirl would look like in real life after the credits roll, when she has to rebuild her life and cope with the loss of most of her friends. It's not pretty, especially by the time the third film rolls around.
* DeconstructiveParody: What it [[IndecisiveDeconstruction aims to be, but isn't.]]
* DefrostingIceQueen: Gale over the course of the series.
* {{Determinator}}: Ghostface is ''really'' driven when it comes to killing his intended victims.
* DysfunctionalFamily : The [[spoiler: Prescotts]] and the [[spoiler: Loomises]].
* EvilPhone: The killers are quite fond of messing with their victims over the phone.
* EvilSoundsDeep: As the series went on, Ghostface's voice went deeper in tone, possibly as a result of the voice actor (Roger L. Jackson) getting older.
* [[ShowWithinAShow Film Within A Film]]: The ''Stab'' series of slasher films, which act as [[CelebrityParadox this universe's analogues to the]] ''[[CelebrityParadox Scream]]'' [[CelebrityParadox series]]. The first ''Stab'', featured in the second movie, is [[RippedFromTheHeadlines based on the events of the first film]] (albeit with some artistic embellishment), is directed by Creator/RobertRodriguez, and stars Tori Spelling as Sidney, Luke Wilson as Billy, David Schwimmer as Dewey, and HeatherGraham as Casey. The third film, meanwhile, revolves around the production of ''Stab 3'', which the masked killer is trying to sabotage. By the events of ''Scream 4'', there have been [[FranchiseZombie seven]] ''Stab'' films, with the series having abandoned all pretense of being BasedOnATrueStory after the third (Sidney sued to prevent any further use of the original characters) and gone into straight-out fantasy by the fifth (which included a TimeTravel plot).
** On top of that, there's also (the [[ExpandedUniverse presumably non-canon]]) ''Stab 8'', which was featured on [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCTAM8QOoKs the Terror Tram]] at Ride/UniversalStudios' ''Theatre/HalloweenHorrorNights'' 2011. It incorporated {{found footage|Films}} elements so as to [[WereStillRelevantDammit keep the series relevant]], earning the ire of a film geek who hacks into the tram's video feed while dressed as Ghostface to complain about it (before getting messily offed by the ''real'' Ghostface).
* FinalGirl: Sidney and Gale are subversions; while they survive all three movies, neither of them (especially Gale) represents the ideals of purity that this trope upholds.
** Sidney evolves into a {{deconstruct|edCharacterArchetype}}ion of this trope as the series progresses, what with her life coming to be defined by the trauma suffered by her and those close to her thanks to her "perpetual victimhood."
** Jill in the fourth film [[spoiler:is arguably among the greatest subversions ''ever''. She masterminded the killings and planned to frame someone else for it so that she could play this trope and get her FifteenMinutesOfFame, much like her cousin Sidney did.]]
* FloatingHeadSyndrome: The first film helped to popularize the use of this trope with horror movies, and all of the sequels indulged in it as well. This trope is so attached to the series that, when the fourth film [[http://www.joblo.com/arrow/index.php?id=26950 finally released a "floating head" poster]] (even if it's only the Mexican poster), the fans were ecstatic that it was following series tradition.
* FollowTheLeader: ''TheFaculty'', which essentially did for sci-fi horror what ''Scream'' did for the slasher genre.
** Which makes some sense, as it was written by the same screenwriter.
* ForTheEvulz: Many of any Ghostface killer's reasons.
** Probably [[spoiler: Stu]] the most though. He really had no reason to help [[spoiler: Billy]] but did just because he [[EvilIsHammy wanted to]].
* FromNobodyToNightmare: Arguably, Ghostface. [[spoiler: Roman Bridger]] being the biggest one [[spoiler: since he masterminded Billy and Stu into killing his own mom then in turn the Woodsboro murders]] and followed through [[spoiler: his own killings by killing his cast and trying to kill Sidney, his half-sister, as well while appearing as their dead mom]].
* FreudianExcuse: Almost every Ghostface claims to have one. By the third film, Sidney has had enough of it and yells at the killer that [[ShutUpHannibal they all have no excuse, they're all just that excuses to kill people]] FortheEvulz.
** The exception to this being [[spoiler: Jill, who openly admits that she's evil, citing that "sick is the new sane".]]
* GenreBlind: Ironically enough, [[spoiler: the killers. Each time there have been two killers, one has turned on the other. And yet they never see it coming.]]
* GenreSavvy: Randy, a horror movie fan who [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-q-AWD_8AY lists three rules]] for surviving a horror movie -- [[DeathBySex don't have sex]], [[TheScourgeOfGod don't drink or use drugs]], and never say "[[TemptingFate I'll be right back]]." Naturally, [[TooDumbToLive the characters break all three in record time]]. Randy expands his rules to [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZJzD67-Dek sequels]] and [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmGxpXaNRpU trilogies]] [[labelnote:Warning]]Warning -- both clips contains spoilers for, respectively, the first and second films.[[/labelnote]] in the later films.
** He is replaced in the fourth film with Robbie and Charlie, two horror geeks who deliver a rules for [[TheRemake remakes]].
** ''All'' of the characters become this as the series progresses. [[spoiler: Sidney]] becomes {{Dangerously Genre Savvy}} by the end.
* GhostlyGape: The "Ghostface" mask.
* {{Gorn}}: Even for a horror series where the killers only use knives to kill, some of the deaths are quite icky. A particularly grisly example is the second victim in the series -- while she is [[GoryDiscretionShot eviscerated offscreen]], it soon cuts back to her intestines falling out. Even Creator/RogerEbert admitted being a little grossed out by the first two, almost to the point of docking the films for it.
* GuttedLikeAFish: Trope Namer, and happens quite a bit in the series.
* HarassingPhoneCall: The killers love doing this to people they intend to kill.
* HotScoop: Gale.
* IfItBleedsItLeads: Personified with Gale, although [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold she gets better]] in the sequels.
* LargeHam: Every actor who's been in the killer's shoes is clearly having a good time.
* LateArrivalSpoiler: Best to watch the films in order, because the sequels tend to be quite open about the identity of the killers from previous entries.
* LegacyCharacter: Ghostface.
* MadeOfIron: Notably averted. Ghostface is clumsy, falls down, and gets smacked around quite a bit, due to the fact it's normal folk under the masks, and not the genre's usual undead/supernatural/etc. figures.
** Though it should be noted that it still takes a lot to [[{{Determinator}} kill]] [[NotQuiteDead them]].
* MetaGuy: Randy in the original trilogy, and Robbie and Charlie in the fourth film. See GenreSavvy.
* MurderSimulators: Referenced several times with regards to violent horror movies. Considering that the director is a man who made his name with such films, this can easily be interpreted as a TakeThat against [[YouCanPanicNow fear-mongering]] MoralGuardians.
* NotQuiteDead: In each damn one. The characters end up fully expecting it.
** In ''Scream'', [[spoiler: Randy lampshades this with Billy, who promptly reveals himself to be not quite dead. Sidney ''very'' calmly shoots him in the head]].
** Subverted in ''Scream 2'', [[spoiler: Gale and Sidney expect Mrs. Loomis to be this, and then Mickey jumps up behind them screaming. They shoot and kill him, and then Sidney shoots the (probably already dead) Mrs. Loomis in the head, just to be sure]].
** ''Scream 3'' has [[spoiler: Roman play this straight, until Dewey shoots him in the head]].
** ''Scre4m'' [[spoiler: shows Jill survive a defibrillator on full power to the head, and attempt to stab the characters in the back with glass. Sidney, fully expecting it, turns around and shoots her in the heart killing her]].
* PluckyGirl: Sidney.
* PostModernism: Numerous elements in the films as discussed in the main text. The film also started a massive wave of self-referential, teen-focused horror films that ran through the late '90s.
* RippedFromTheHeadlines: The plot was loosely inspired by the Gainseville Ripper, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danny_Rolling Danny Rolling]], who murdered five students in Florida in the early 90's.
* SelfReferentialHumor: The series' bread and butter.
* SerialKiller: Needless to say.
* SlasherMovie: Despite the director's initial intentions, the films are well-accepted members of the genre.
* SlidingScaleOfComedyAndHorror: The first two films were roughly equal mixes of horror and comedy. The third film, which had a different writer, was more of a straight horror film, with more of the humor coming from the characters rather than from [[DeconstructiveParody jabs at the genre]]. Finally, the fourth film, which brought back original writer Kevin Williamson, is arguably the most comedic of the franchise, with even a few of the deaths (such as [[spoiler:Deputy Perkins]]) being {{played for laughs}}.
* TemptingFate:
** The phrase "I'll be right back" is treated like this. Stu makes a point to say it multiple times, apparently jokingly.[[spoiler: Considering he's one of the killers, though, he knows things the rest of the cast don't...]]
** Sidney, why did you even ''mention'' [[BrickJoke the idea of Tori Spelling playing you in the movie]]?
* TooDumbToLive: Multiple examples throughout the entire franchise.
** In the first film, Tatum Riley tries to escape Ghostface when she panics and tries to get through a large dog-door. Not only can she not get through, she gets stuck so she can't get back in. Ghostface recovers and switches on the automatic door, which snaps her neck rather messily. When one considers there were several instances where she could have a) defended herself with any of the numerous objects lying around the garage and/or b) [[CurbStompBattle curb-stomped]] Ghostface to within an inch of his/her life after managing to knock Ghostface down not once, but twice, it becomes this trope.
** Officers Ross and Hoskins are another classic example... see TooDumbToLive under ''[=Scre4m=]''.
** In the first movie, Ghostface told Casey to choose a door to escape the house through. Instead of taking the risk of Ghostface being behind the door she chose she could have [[TakeAThirdOption taken a third option]] and gone out a window.
* {{Troperiffic}}: Lampshadedly the whole point of the series, especially the first film.
* VoiceChangeling: Ghostface's voice changer, which can even replicate other people's voices in the third film. On the other hand, TechnologyMarchesOn...
* WhiteMaskOfDoom: Ghostface.
* WorldOfSnark: Most of the main characters, good and evil alike, are known for their snarky remarks about their situation and about horror movies in general.