Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
"Roger that Burt, and congratulations. Be advised, however, that there are two more, repeat, two more motherhumpers."
One of two general handymen living in Perfection during the first Graboid Invasion. Falling in love with seismologist Rhonda LeBeck, he went on to marry her and move away. Made much better investments of his "rights" to all Graboid merchandising, perhaps because of her influence.
Combat Pragmatist: Kind of necessary when facing carnivorous tunneling worm twice your size.
Deadpan Snarker: "Of course Earl everybody knows about um, we just decided not to tell you."
Dork Knight: He's kind of childish and comes off as a bit of a dork, but he survives the first film and is instrumental in killing the last of the attacking Graboids.
Guile Hero: He was the one who tricked the last Graboid (of the first film) by luring it to him, then throwing the dynamite behind it.
Happily Married: To Rhonda, from what Earl says at the start of the second film.
Would You Do It For A Scooby Snack?: Nancy tries to get Val and Earl to hang around Perfection a little bit longer (pre-Graboid) by offering them beer on top of their usual fees. The sing-song way she offers to throw the beer in smacks of this trope. Averted in that Val and Earl don't go for it, though Val's comments in the directly following scene imply it was a real temptation for the both of them.
Played by: Fred Ward
"Damn it Valentine, you never plan ahead, you never take the long view, I mean here it is Monday and I'm already thinking of Wednesday... It is Monday right?"
One of two general handymen living in Perfection during the first Graboid Invasion. Unlike his partner, Val, he didn't invest himself so wisely in the post-Graboid money-making schemes, and ended up nearly broke and desperately trying to start himself an ostrich farm to recoup his losses. An offer from a Mexican oil company to exterminate Graboids would lead to him finding love with Kate Reily and turning his fortunes around. Moved out of Perfection with her and is implied to have taken up on Grady's offer to set up a Graboid theme park, assuring him of a much steadier income.
Book Dumb: It's implied when Earl chastises Grady for not knowing geology terminology, and then referring to their seismograph as a "Seismojigger".
Could be an inversion, if he's read a lot about geology between the two films but hasn't actually heard its technical terms pronounced.
Nerds Are Sexy: Val seemed to think so, despite his initial disappointment that she wasn't a curvaceous blonde sexpot.
Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Averted. As she exasperatedly reminds the others, she doesn't have the qualifications to tell them what the Graboids are or why they do the things they do.
The Smart Girl: While she really doesn't know much about the Graboids, she does come up with some clever ways of fooling them.
Played by: Michael Gross
"Food for five years, a thousand gallons of gas, air filtration, water filtration, Geiger counter. Bomb shelter! Underground... God damn monsters."
The resident survivalist of Perfection Valley, Burt is the only character to appear in every installation of the franchise.
Alas, Poor Scrappy: A rare case of an In-Universe character having this reaction to another. His reaction in Tremors 3 and the t.v. series to finding government agents have been killed. In both cases, the government agents refused Burt's help and advice regarding the dangers that Graboids and Shriekers caused. In both cases, these government agents, who Burt notably does view as Scrappies, are killed. And in both cases, Burt comments that despite his antipathy with them, he doesn't feel that they deserved to die the way they did.
Artistic License – Gun Safety: Averted. Burt is always shown treating his weapons with the proper safety and respect necessary. In fact, in one interview, Michael Gross says that he's very proud of the fact that in-series, none of his character's firearms are ever pointed at or wielded against human beings.
Bad Ass: Single-handedly takes on over a dozen Shriekers in the second film. From what he tells Earl and Grady, he took a few of them out in hand to hand combat. He was also the first person to kill a Graboid on purpose (the previous Graboid death being a happy accident).
Badass Normal: Burt's survival throughout the franchise is due to his wits, cunning, loads and loads of guns, and making sure to be prepared.
Comically Serious: Michael Gross stated in an interview that this was his approach to playing Burt, saying that the comedy in Burt was in how seriously he took himself, no matter how ridiculous he could be.
Crazy-Prepared: Even before the Graboids, Shriekers, Ass Blasters, and Mixmaster mutants began showing up.
Don't Make Me Destroy You: Type IV to El Blanco in the first episode. Burt could easily kill El Blanco and claim self-defense, especially with their rep from the Dept. of the Interior demanding he do just that at a moment of crisis. But killing El Blanco would result in Perfection falling to real estate developers, which would make the valley undesirable to its current residents.
Burt: El Blanco, don't make me do it!
Drill Sergeant Nasty: Tyler actually advises Burt to play up the trope when running his survivalist school, saying the students expect it anyway, and will eat it up.
Everyone Has Standards: Probably falling close to the spirit of Even Nerds Have Standards — in the tv series, upon the government sending himself and his partner to a town dominated by UFO-worshippers, Burt finds himself in the rare position of being the skeptic and deriding someone else as a Conspiracy Theorist kook. Given that these people accuse him of being one of the proverbial Men In Black out to cover up the aliens when he tries to explain their signaling device has attracted a Graboid that is munching the people down like popcorn, it's hard to disagree too much with his attitude.
Genre Savvy: By the start of the third film, he's laying some pretty clever traps for hordes of Shriekers.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Burt is curt, even blunt, bossy, and antisocial. But have no doubt that he does care for his fellow residents of Perfection Valley, and will risk life and limb to keep them alive and safe.
More Dakka: Burt's response to Graboid, Shrieker, and Ass Blaster incursions.
Never Live It Down: An In-Universe example. Anytime the others feel Burt is getting too bossy, they (especially Nancy) will remind him that he needlessly blew up his own home during the first encouter with Ass Blasters. In fairness, he couldn't have known at the time that the ABs didn't reproduce by eating like their prior Shrieker life-cycle.
Properly Paranoid: He does live in a valley with prehistoric monsters and chemically induced mutations.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Burt does have moments where he inadvertently made the situation worse, due largely to not having information that would have saved him from making those errors, such as trapping Shriekers in a building full of food stores, or blowing up his own home to prevent the Ass Blasters from getting to his own supply of MREs (learning only after the fact that excess food causes Ass Blasters to slip into a coma, not reproduce).
Vitriolic Best Buds: Nancy defines her friendship with Burt as "frequently butting heads, but deep down, a good friend". Burt agrees with this sentiment.
Team Mom: Obviously cares about the residents of Perfection in the first film, acts as a sort of balance for Burt's more extreme behaviors, and will offer up her own firearms to Val and Earl when they attempt to ride out for help.
The owner of Perfection's local store in the first film. He's killed by a Graboid after coining their moniker. A descendant of the Changs who founded the store when Perfection was founded as Rejection, a silver mining town in the 1800s, his niece inherits the store in the third film.
Batman Gambit: Tries one in the first episode, using a device to get El Blanco's appetite to become insatiable, hoping that the increased danger from the Graboid will result in Burt having to kill it. His plan falls through, because Burt spots and destroys the device.
Corrupt Hick: Runs a series of housing developments, and is trying to turn Perfection Valley into "Melville".
Crying Wolf: In the first film, he makes them think that he's being attacked by a Graboid, almost getting shot by Burt in the process.
Burt: (holstering weapon) You came close. Too close. No more games.
Jerk Ass: There's a reason Burt refers to him as "The turd".
Karma Houdini: Melvin has put the residents of Perfection in jeopardy on numerous occasions, including a scheme to make El Blanco so dangerous that they would have no choice but to kill the Graboid in self-defense, with the serious possibility that one or more people could have been eaten. He has never paid any serious price for his actions, always relying on Plausible Deniability to cover his butt.
Parental Abandonment: Cut dialogue would have revealed that part of his Jerk Ass behavior was due to his parents frequently leaving him behind while they went to Vegas on vacation. Nancy does state in series that he's compensating for a lousy childhood, which could mean that it's still considered canon.
The Scrappy: From the first film to the end of the t.v. series. In universe.
Earl: Hey, Melvin! You wanna make a buck? (as Graboid bait)
An old-time hippie who moved out to perfection to rear her daughter Mindy alone, she is one of Perfection's primary business entrepreneurs after the first Graboid Invasion, specializing in Graboid merchandise.
Granola Girl: Vegetarian, makes ceramic knick nacks in her kiln, and comments occasionally about some of her experiences in the Sixties.
MacGyvering: Miguel fashions a fishing rod out of a twig, some dental floss, and a piece of bent metal to retrieve Burt's radio from his vehicle without stepping off the rock and into El Blanco's waiting jaws.
My Greatest Failure: Burt views Miguel's death this way, believing if he'd taken a shot sooner, the Ass Blaster wouldn't have killed him.
A quiet Redneck type who lived in Perfection at the time of the first Graboid Invasion, which he didn't survive. Apparently a good friend of Burt's.
Chekhov's Gun: His moonshine became a vital resource in the first encounter with Ass Blasters.
Too Dumb to Live: Tried to hide from a Graboid that had just toppled his trailer by sitting on an old tire. While he was understandably too panicked to think of anything better, it worked about as well as you'd expect.
Giant monster worms that burrow under the ground. Graboids hatch from eggs, tunnel through the soil, and consume anything that makes noise or vibrations, though they will spit out anything that they cannot digest.
Bizarre Alien Biology: Graboids hunt by sensing vibration, but Shriekers and Ass-blasters rely on thermal sensors instead.
Bizarre Alien Reproduction: As revealed over the course of the films. They start as an egg roughly the size of a football, from which hatch smaller Graboids nicknamed "Dirt Dragons" when discovered; these are pack hunters until they grow larger, then become lone predators. Eventually, a Graboid dies to release about three or four Shriekers, terrestrial pack-hunters who roam and multiply asexually by eating food. If they survive long enough, Shriekers mature into flying Ass-blasters, which disperse to asexually lay eggs and start the cycle over.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: Graboids wise up quick to tricks that humans use to target them. The longer a Graboid lives, the more they know. As such El Blanco is among the cleverest monsters encountered in series.
Extreme Omnivore: Averted. Graboids will spit out anything that they cannot digest, or anything that past experience has taught them was dangerous.
Immune to Bullets: Not exactly, but you have to have Crazy Survivalist levels of ammunition to do the job. Also, the fact they are typically buried deep below the ground means they have natural shielding against bullets.
Tremors 2 Aftershocks
A fanboy of Val and Earl for their exploits in discovering and then killing the Graboids, he somehow knows an important member of a Mexican oil company. When Graboids begin stalking the oilfields the company draws from, he suggests that they approach Val and Earl to kill them. Whilst Val turns them down flat, he is able to convince Earl to take the job, becoming his temporary assistant. He has plans of using his share of the wealth to start a Graboid themepark, "Monster World", and is implied to do so with Earl as his partner after the film is over.
Ascended Fanboy: Of Val, Earl and Graboids. He's just thrilled to get to actually hunt Graboids alongside Earl and Burt themselves.
Fun Personified: Loves the idea of a Graboid themepark and thinks others will like it too.
I Was Quite The Looker: Not that there's anything wrong with how she looks when she meets Earl, but she was October '74.
Lovable Nerd: Gets totally exited when she learns just how old the Graboids species must be.
Nightmare Fetishist: Originally took the oil companies' offer because she was intrigued by the Graboids.
The second stage of the Graboid life cycle. More fragile than the Graboids that spawn them, but also far more prolific in reproducing, thanks to their asexual means of multiplying.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: Like Graboids, they learn quickly. Especially the "rescue" Shriekers that were being trained for Search and Rescue ops in "The Night of the Shriekers".
Explosive Breeder: Shriekers are the part of the life cycle that actually reproduce in anything approaching conventional terms. They gorge themselves on food and vomit up new Shriekers whenever they manage to eat enough, meaning a single Shrieker can spawn dozens, maybe hundreds, if it can get enough food.
Extreme Omnivore: They'll eat anything that radiates heat, from people to car engines to radio towers.
Tremors 3 Back to Perfection
Owner and operating of a faked "Graboid Safari", finding himself in over his head when actual Graboids resurface without anyone's knowledge. Goes on to sell his business to Tyler Reed and move out of the valley between the third film and the tv series.
Scooby-Doo Hoax: Inverted. Jack's putting on a fake monster show to draw in tourists, not scare them off.
A relative of Walter Chang who inherits his store and starts running it for herself.
The third and final stage of the Graboid life cycle. Shriekers molt and become Ass Blasters, who lay eggs that will become more Graboids.
Tremors 4 The Legend Begins
A dandy British gentleman who owns a silver mine in Nevada, around which is formed the mining town Rejection. Forced to confront the Graboids when they are accidentally unearthed, he eventually assists in saving the town, which becomes Perfection. He is the ancestor of Burt Gummer.
Does Not Like Guns: At first, due to being an overly civilised dandy. He's certainly an awful shot. It's implied they start to grow on him after he kills a Graboid with a Punt Gun and Christine Lord gives him a Gatling Gun as a present for saving the town.
The local schoolmarm, determined to save her town of Rejection. She and Hiram Gummer are implied to become a couple, making her a maternal ancestor of Burt Gummer.
Action Girl: Carries a pistol of her own and knows how to use it.
Black Hand Kelly
A mercenary gunslinger that Hirum Gummer hires to try and track down & kill the "Dirt Dragons" that have been killing the workers in the silver mine. Unfortunately for him, by the time they find them, the Dirt Dragons have grown up into full-sized Graboids, and his weaponry isn't designed for it. He gets killed because of his jangling spurs.
A crusty old wagon-driver who is found killed by the "Dirt Dragons".
A Mexican miner, the first surviving witness to the "Dirt Dragons" and one of the few miners who refuses to leave despite the killing.
An elderly Native American who works as a handyman around Rejection.
Indy Ploy: Tricks a Graboid into killing itself by thrusting a long-saw down a hole he had been digging for a flagpole and banging on the saw, causing it to slice itself open.
Pyong Lien Chang
The complaining matriarch of the Chang family, who runs the general store of Rejection.
Lu Wan Chang
The polite and even-tempered owner of the Rejection general store.
Henpecked Husband: For most of the film, Pyon Lien seems to stand over Lu Wan, but he is capable of putting his foot down when it matters.
Fu Yien Chang
The Chang's only son, who makes swift friends with Hiram Gummer.
Tremors the t.v. series
A former race car driver who buys Jack's tour business at the start of the series.
Drives Like Crazy: Justified. He's trying to outdrive monsters, and he is a former NASCAR driver.
In Harm's Way: Tyler frequently states that while living in Perfection is dangerous, he rather likes the fact that it keeps his adrenaline going.
Ascended Fanboy: Much to the irritation of the other residents of Perfection.
A former scientist who used to work in a secret government lab in Perfection Valley, part of the team that made Mixmaster, and the creator of Project 4-12. He is played beautifully by Christopher Lloyd.
El Blanco is the name of the last remaining Graboid in Perfection. Strong, intelligent and apparently incapable of reproduction. El Blanco is the key to preventing the valley of Perfection from being grabbed by developers.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: As a Graboid incapable of metamorphosing, El Blanco is the most savvy monster in the valley. If El Blanco is getting the heck out of Dodge without the encouragement of Burt's precussion grenades, then it's probably a sign that something even worse is on its way. Notably, this actually helps the heroes because it seems El Blanco has realized attacking humans too aggressively will get him blown up, so he normally just feeds off the animals in the valley.
Worthy Opponent: How Burt views El Blanco. El Blanco's views of Burt haven't been ascertained.
A Mixmaster mutation developed as a weapon for the Vietnam War by Cletus Poffenberger. Cletus rescued 4-12 from destruction when the lab was closed down. Described as a combination of a Rhino, aggressive spider, and wolverine.
Always a Bigger Fish: Averted. El Blanco may be bigger, but Project 4-12 left everyone's favorite Graboid with a foul taste in his mouth, as he spit out the mutant intact and none the worse for the wear.
A Mixmaster mutation, though we never learn its exact composition, Invisibat lives in an old barn, and by the end of the final episode, seems to have developed a curiosity about Larry. Fast and strong enough to knock a full grown man to the ground, and leave them with a sizeable knot on their head, but doesn't seem to be overly dangerous from what we'd seen.