Film / Animal House
Bluto: Making toga parties popular since 19781962.

"Animal House, House, House
Nobody ever went to class,
Then we saw Donald Sutherland's ass
Then they did the end like
American Graffiti,
Where you find out what happened to everyone."
Homer Simpson's unique summary of Animal House, to the tune of the Animal House Theme Tune

The best known of all the National Lampoon movies, Animal House is a 1978 film about the wacky hijinx of the members of the Delta fraternity at "Faber College" in 1962-63, as they fight against the snooty Omegas and the uptight dean Vernon Wormer.

Directed by John Landis, Animal House launched the film career of Saturday Night Live cast member John Belushi. Inspired dozens of Follow the Leader takes on the raunchy college frat movie, including some by National Lampoon themselves. Spawned a spinoff TV series called Delta House, which only lasted one season. And perhaps most importantly, revived the popularity of movies featuring teenagers and younger twentysomethings, which had been largely absent from movie screens for about a decade.

Written by a guy from Harvard (who gave himself one line: "What the hell we s'pose to do, ya mo-RON"), advised by a guy from Dartmouth; and if you happen to visit the latter you can buy all sorts of Animal House-themed memorabilia in the co-op.

May hold the record for most releases ever on the notorious MCA Discovision label, and also one of the earliest 2-hour videodisc releases.

This film provides examples of:

  • Above the Influence: Pinto is sorely tempted (literally, by the devil on his shoulder) to have his way with Clorette after she's passed out but he resists said temptation. This is played for laughs. The '70s were a strange time.
  • Acrofatic: Bluto, who doesn't look particularly fit, shows his gymnastic prowess in the climax. He also successfully eludes the Omegas in the food fight scene.
  • Affably Evil: Neidermeyer in the opening scene with Larry and Kent. In almost every other scene, he's a belligerent Jerkass with No Indoor Voice.
  • All Men Are Perverts: This applies to virtually every Delta House member, save Hoover and D-Day. And even those who aren't unscrupulous skirt-chasers don't have any objection to the others doing it. Flounder has a girlfriend he seems to genuinely care about, but isn't above cheating on her (or attempting to). Pinto continues seeing Clorette even after finding out how young she is, and Otter is, well, Otter. Even Boon, the supposed monogamist of the group, goes along with Otter's "Fawn Leibowitz" scheme, but the next day gets angry with Katy for cheating on him.
    "We're willing to trade looks for a certain....morally casual attitude."
  • Alpha Bitch: Babs.
  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • Flounder's older brother, Fred, is referred to as "a real closet case," which may just mean nobody liked him very much, but still...
    • D-Day is another interesting case.
    • So is Hoover.
    • Greg is unable to get an erection, even when being given a handjob by two of the most beautiful girls in the cast. Perhaps he's subconsciously gay and doesn't realize it, or is in denial about it? In 1962, people were still pretty repressive about such things...
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Donald "Boon" Schoenstein, Eric "Otter" Stratton's best friend. German last name, short in stature, dark curly hair, unusual nose shape, New York accent, wisecracking personality - Come on! Either he's Jewish, or he's faking it really well. The actor, Peter Riegert, comes from a non-observant Jewish Family.
  • Artistic License – Military: Even in the pre-Vietnam 1960s, ROTC cadets were not issued live ammunition outside of strictly controlled, on-range training.note  Of course, the filmmakers were probably just emphasizing what a Sociopathic Soldier (flavor 1) and aspiring Colonel Kilgore Neidermeyer is.
  • Aside Glance: Bluto, while peeking into the girls' dormitory and right before smashing the guitar, in both cases primarily as an excuse for John Belushi's trademark raised eyebrow.
  • Author Avatar: Pinto, which was Chris Miller's frat name; underscored by Pinto's future career... as an editor of National Lampoon Magazine.
  • Auto Erotica: Interrupted.
  • Badass Biker: Daniel Simpson Day/"D-Day"
  • Based on a True Story: Chris Miller, whose National Lampoon stories about Dartmouth College's Alpha Delta Phi frat are the basis for the story, wrote a book detailing the real events. It involves a lot more vomiting. It also notably averts the films' most famous tropes (Slobs Vs Snobs, Dean Bitterman, The Neidermeyer)— it's pretty obvious that that frat is its own worst enemy.
  • Berserk Button: For Bluto, live folk music. For Neidermeyer, a "ppppledge ppppin" on a cadet's uniform.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Otter's rant during the disciplinary hearing; he knows that they"re going to lose, but he manages to accuse the college of being un-American about it.
  • Big Eater: Bluto, who eats some of pretty much EVERYTHING the cafeteria is serving (including a golf ball!)—although, then again, he doesn't actually wind up eating most of it, and isn't shown indulging in food nearly as much as alcohol throughout the rest of the movie. He may just have been doing it for the gross-out effect—it happens. Jamming an entire quarter-pounder into his mouth in one go is an impressive feat, though.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Dave Jennings is the cool professor at Faber. In the classroom, he's up front with his students about how boring he finds Milton. In private, he calls his own work a piece of excrement. Katie says he's the only professor she likes, and Pinto agrees that he's a wonderful teacher. Then he turns Katie, Pinto and Boon on to drugs; later, he seduces Katie.
    • Also, Genius Bonus: Jennings said Milton's wife found him boring, too. Milton's wife left him after she'd only been married to him for one day.
  • Black and Gray Morality: The Omegas are snobbish, bigoted, mean, and sneaky. The Deltas are not — but they're still far, far from model citizens. Let's face it, they're petty criminals at best. On the other hand, the Omegas are also openly elitist, racist and antisemitic. The Deltas have one Ambiguously Jewish member, are friendly to black people (which is notable considering the movie is set in the early sixties) and Flounder's older brother, Fred, may or may not have been gay (depending on your interpretation of the phrase "closet case"). In short, from the point of view of the late 1970s, the Deltas have (as one critic wrote of Huck Finn) none of the virtues except the essential ones, and all of the vices except the unforgivable ones; the Omegas, just the opposite.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • "Remain calm. All is well! ALL IS WELL!" It also counts as a Villainous Breakdown for Diller.
    • "I used to do this with Fawn all the time!" "I know... she told me!" Otter has an Aside Glance when Fawn's roommate says this, as he made up the relationship to get pity sex. He doesn't comment out loud on it because, well, it's proof that it's working.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Boon accidentally shanks a golf ball through the window of the campus cafeteria's kitchen, where it lands in a big tureen of soup. Later in the cafeteria, Bluto spots the ball in someone's discarded soup, picks it out, and eats it.
    • The speed limit sign seen in the background of Delta House could count as a short-term one. A few minutes after it first appears, D-Day rides in on his motorcycle.
    • The epilogue reveals that Babs became a tour guide at Universal Studios Hollywood. After the end credits, there's a title card: "When in California Visit Universal Studios Hollywood (Ask for Babs)".
    • At the very beginning of the film, Pinto and Flounder walk past a statue of Faber's founder, Emil Faber (including the plaque inscribed with Mr. Faber's famous maxim, "Knowledge is good.") At the very end of the film, the head of said statue adorns the hood of the Deathmobile.
  • Book Dumb: The Deltas are street smart rogues, but their academic life is dismal and their GPAs appallingly low. It goes without saying that most of them manage to graduate.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: At the top of a two story ladder, alone, Bluto looks over his shoulder and waggles his eyebrows. Who else could he be looking at?
  • Brutal Honesty: Flounder gets this twice in quick succession. As repeatedly noted on this very page, Dean Wormer is correct: Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life. And, slightly earlier:
    Otter: You fucked up. You trusted us.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Otis Day plays at Delta House's unforgettable toga party. When they go to see him at a bar a few days later, he doesn't even remember who they are (or he's unwilling to admit it because the Deltas are white and everyone else in the bar is an Angry Black Man).
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Kevin Bacon, both in the film and real life. As this was his first role, when he went to the premiere, he wasn't allowed to sit with the rest of the cast because the ushers didn't believe he was in it. He had to sit in the back with everyone else.
    • Flounder. The moment his picture appears in the projector during his presentation, the fratboys yell, boo and throw cans at it. He doesn't gain more respect during the rest of the movie. (Although, in the novelization, the Deltas consider him a hero for throwing up on Dean Wormer.)
  • Can-Crushing Cranium: Bluto possibly provides the Ur-Example.
  • Captain Ersatz: Boon, Bluto, Otter, D-Day, and Hoover were based on Harold Ramis, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, and Brian Doyle-Murray, respectively, though the actors were deemed too old to play college students when the film was made. Bluto subverts this with his classic "seven years of college down the drain" line. Caddyshack is something of a Spiritual Successor and was originally intended as a sequel, and contains many similar characters.
  • Captain Obvious:
    • Flounder's asking "You guys playing cards?" Hostile gazes ensue.
    • Also, Pinto saying, "Boon, we're the only white people here."
  • Car Fu: The "Delta Deathmobile".
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Zig-zagged. Bluto and D-Day steal the answers to an upcoming psychology test, but it turns out the Omegas planted the exam mimeograph and the Deltas get every answer wrong. Their grade-point averages drop so low that Wormer needs only one more incident to revoke the charter that allows them to remain on campus. The Omegas, however, are implied to have used the answers themselves to pass with flying colors.
  • Chewbacca Defense: Otter's "point of parliamentary procedure" during the hearing:
    [...] And if this is indeed an indictment of our educational system, is it not an attack on our entire American society?! Well, you can do with us what you wish, but we're not gonna sit here and let you bad mouth THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!
    • Subverted as it doesn't help at all, since they just walk out on the hearing. Not that it would have anyway; it was a Kangaroo Court to start.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: D-Day and to a lesser extent, Bluto.
  • College Is High School Part 2:
    • Justified with the Delta fraternity, given their nature as the fraternity for all the burnouts and "dumb kids."
    • Averted with the Omega fraternity, whose members act like pretty typical college bullies.
    • College professors don't hound you about late papers (and also don't call them "reports"). If you don't turn something in, that's your problem. It's one less paper for them to read. Bells don't ring at the end of class, either.
    • Dean Wormer appears to function more as the President of the University than as a real-world Dean. A Dean of Students would be responsible for dealing with discipline problems, but would not have the far-reaching authority that Wormer has: "There is a little-known codicil in the Faber College Constitution which gives the Dean unlimited power to preserve order in time of campus emergency."
  • College Widow: Although not literally a widow, Mrs. Wormer.
  • Cool Car: Fred Dorfman's Lincoln Continental and Otter's Corvette.
  • Cool Teacher/Hippie Teacher: Mr. Jennings is a mix of both; not a particularly motivating or laid-back teacher in the classroom, but certainly a guy who enjoys hanging around and smoking pot with his students after class. Ultimately deconstructed, as he seduces Katie, causing further drama for the Deltas.
  • Corporal Punishment: "Thank you sir, may I have another?"
  • Corrupt Politician: The Mayor of Faber, Carmine De Pasto, in his short but memorable screen time makes Wormer look sympathetic by comparison. De Pasto extorts money from the college to finance the parade and, when Wormer offers a mild protest, replies calmly, "If you mention extortion again, I'll have your legs broken." This is not typical behavior for most small college-town mayors, but his name and accent suggest strongly that His Honor may be at the very least well-connected.
  • *Cough* Snark *Cough*: Cough*blowjob*Cough*blowjob*!
  • Creator Cameo: Stephen Bishop, who wrote the theme song "Animal House", appears in the movie as the folk singer whose guitar Bluto smashes. "I gave my love a cherry..."
  • Cringe Comedy: The entire sequence in the all-black bar. It is, however, worth noting that both at the time the film was made and set historically, people were much less sensitive about things like race-based jokes, and the joke is on the Deltas in this scene, not the people at the nightclub.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Well, you must admit that fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: A literal example occurs during the homecoming parade mayhem, with Chip getting trampled into the pavement by a horde of panicked spectators.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Most of the oddly-phrased threats Wormer directs at the Deltas:
    "Grab the bull by the balls and kick those punks off campus."
    "The time has come for someone to put his foot down...and that foot is me."
    "You'll be out of here like shit through a goose."
  • Deadly Prank: Poor Niedermeyer's horse; it worked well enough without bullets.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Basically all the Delta members, especially Bluto.
  • Dean Bitterman: Dean Vernon Wormer. While not the Trope Namer, Dean Wormer is the Trope Codifier for this type of character. However, since the film is much more cynical than later Wacky Fratboy Hijinx films, he often comes across as a Villain With A Point, and the Deltas really are engaging in "pranks" that no sane college administration would tolerate.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The movie was made in 1978, but takes place in 1962 (back when yelling "The negroes took our dates!" in public was slightly more acceptable).
  • Distant Finale: A DVD extra expands further on the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, explaining what happened to the main characters in more recent years. Otter is a gynaecologist, Hoover was consulted for the OJ Simpson trial, Donald and Katy (eventually) re-married each other, Dean Wormer is living in an old folks home in Florida, where he is going senile and goes into a psychotic rage when the Deltas are mentioned and Bluto is the President of the United States.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: "I'm a zit. Get it?"
  • Expository Theme Tune: Played during the closing credits.
  • Eyebrow Waggle: Bluto climbs up a ladder to spy on sorority girls, then turns to the camera and waggles his eyebrows.
  • Fake Food: The whiskey Bluto drinks just after Delta House is dismantled was actually tea.
  • Fan Disservice: Oh hi, Donald Sutherland's ass! Didn't expect to see you here! Although the only reason why we see Donald Sutherland's ass is because Karen Allen, who was also in that scene, was reluctant to bare her ass. Seeing that she was nervous, Sutherland offered to bare his ass if she bared hers, and she agreed. So you might say that, were it not for Donald Sutherland's ass, the movie would have one less instance of Fanservice (see below).
  • Fanservice: Way too many examples to mention, and for both sexes.
  • Feng Schwing: Eric "Otter" Stratton's room.
  • Five-Bad Band: Dean Wormer and the Omegas
  • Five-Man Band: The Deltas
  • Food Fight: Quite possibly the Trope Namer.
  • Fratbro: Bluto is the Trope Codifier, but several characters qualify, thinking of little but sex, drinking, and hijinx.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar/Censor Decoy: When Pinto and Clorette are about to have sex, she reveals she's only 13. The writers originally intended her to be 16, but didn't think the studio would approve. They believed that if they had her say she was 13, the studio would tell them she needed to be older and in that case, 16 would be okay. However, the studio said nothing about her character being 13, so it was left that way.
  • Godwin's Law: Neidermeyer and the rest of the ROTC are disparagingly referred to as the "Hitler Youth."
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Pinto when he's with Clorette and she passes out, leaving her at his mercy.
    Devil: Fuck her. Fuck her brains out. Suck her tits, squeeze her buns. You know she wants it. [...] Aw, don't listen to that jack-off. Look at those gazongas. You'll never get a better chance.
    (Angel wins)
    Angel: I'm proud of you, Lawrence.
    Devil: You homo!
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Otter is The Casanova. Greg is saving himself for marriage and can't even get it up for a handjob. The latter may be because Greg is gay, but in his defense he probably can't even conceive of this as a possibility in 1962.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Mayor, a genuinely evil amalgam of Mafia don and authoritarian plutocrat, is ultimately behind Dean Wormer's actions against Delta.
  • Handsome Lech: Eric "Otter" Stratton.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Fred Dorfman, a pretty important character if you think about it.
  • Hero Antagonist: Dean Wormer is only the villain because the protagonists are delinquents.
  • Hilarity Ensues: Virtually the entire premise of the movie is about members of a college fraternity partying and getting away with anything and everything, things that would never be allowed (or, at the very least, severely curbed instantly) at any college in the United States in the new millennium.
  • Humiliation Conga: The entire homecoming parade is this for the Omegas and Wormer.
  • Incessant Music Madness: At the toga party, Stephen Bishop in a cameo is playing a guitar and singing "The Riddle Song" when Bluto happens by. After listening to the singing for a while, Bluto takes the guitar away from the guy, smashes it to pieces against a wall and then utters a halfhearted "Sorry."
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Bluto, after Delta House is cleaned out once their charter is revoked. Bluto starts to panic, when Otter tosses him a wide-mouthed bottle of Jack Daniels. He chugs the entire bottle. "Thanks; I needed that."
  • Initiation Ceremony: At Delta House, it involves getting drunk. At Omega House... "Assume the position."
  • Insult Backfire: After Delta House is dismantled.
    Neidermeyer: How's it feel to be an independent, Schoenstein?
    Boon: How's it feel to be an asshole, Neidermeyer?
    • A subtle and indirect occurrence in Wormer's office. The Dean says, "Congratulations, Kroger; you're at the top of the Delta pledge class." Bluto smiles and nods proudly, giving Pinto a little pat on the back, over Mr. Kroger's first-semester achievement of a 1.2 GPA. (Pinto himself gets the sarcasm.)
  • Insult of Endearment: Plump and naive Kent Dorfman, the newest member of the Delta house, is given the nickname "Flounder", probably because of his size (in comparison to fish maybe), yet this becomes an endearing name for him over time.
  • In Universe Nickname: Numerous, since they're the first thing assigned to freshmen after an initiation. Flounder is the one given most thought.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • It's understandable just why Dean Wormer wants Delta off campus and out of Faber.
    • Also, fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life.
    • A minor example: the United States Army does have fairly strict regulations covering jewelry, including pledge pins on uniforms.
  • Jewish and Nerdy: The Deltas find out from the Jewish house that all of their exam answers were wrong.
  • Joker Jury: The Omegas throw the book at the Deltas at the latter's probation hearing, even outright making up one of the accusations against them.
  • Kangaroo Court: The Deltas' disciplinary hearing. They are given no chance to respond to the allegations, and the charge of providing pledges with "diet pills" (amphetamines) is baseless. However, in the novelization (by script co-writer Chris Miller), the latter is quite true. The pills are kept in a dish marked "Study Aids". Pinto takes some to get through writing a term paper, crashes during his exams and fails that class.
  • Karmic Rape: Greg Marmalard's fate in prison, according to the epilogue.
  • Lady Drunk: Mrs. Wormer.
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre:
    (Otter and Mrs. Wormer are in the supermarket vegetable section)
    Otter : Mine's bigger than that. Oh, my cucumber. It's bigger. Vegetables can be really sensuous, don't you think?
    Mrs. Wormer : No, vegetables are sensual, people are sensuous.
  • Large Ham: Bluto is a boisterous bruiser who vehemently yells many of his lines.
  • Lazy Bum: With a GPA of "0.0", Bluto is head and shoulders below the rest of his Book Dumb colleagues (even D-Day manages to be better, as he has no grade point average and doesn't even take classes at Faber). He gets to be a Senator. When the "documentary" is made, Bluto is unavailable for comment as he's currently serving as President.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Greg, each time he takes Mandy to Make-Out Point. His luck doesn't improve with Babs, who utters the infamous query, "Is it supposed to be this soft?"
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Otter has a lot of affairs with various characters, but he isn't a terrible person, at least compared to The Omegas.
  • Make-Out Point: One overlooks the town of Faber. It's frequently visited by the Omegas, or at least Greg, and apparently never by the Deltas (probably because the latter group would rather make out in the "Sex Rooms" at their frat house... or the football field... or, well, anywhere).
  • Manchild:
    • Bluto, proven by the cafeteria scene.
    • Boon, according to Katy. She also believes this to be true of all the Deltas, with the possible exceptions of Pinto and, to an extent, Hoover.
  • Misfit Mobilization Moment
  • Mrs. Robinson: Mrs. Wormer
  • Naked Freak-Out: Babs Jansen at the end of the homecoming parade (in her final appearance in the movie). Okay, so it's really Fully-Clothed Nudity, but still...
  • Naked on Arrival: We're introduced to Otter as he's about to get dressed for a date.
  • The Neidermeyer: Trope Namer. "Killed in Vietnam by his own troops."
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The movie's circus-like climax features crashing floats, multicolored smoke bombs, an elephant, clowns on bicycles, Bluto swinging down from the rooftops dressed as a swashbuckler... and 10,000 marbles.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Otter gets one from the Omegas after Babs lies to Greg about him and Mandy having an affair.
  • Non Sequitur Distraction: The former Trope Namer. Towards the end, Bluto gives a stirring speech about not giving up, and builds to the following:
    Bluto: Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!
    Otter: (confused, to Boon) Germans?
    Boon: Forget it, he's rolling.
  • Noodle Incident: Dean Wormer has a pile of files on Delta's.
    Wormer: Who dropped a whole truckload of fizzies into the varsity swim meet? Who delivered the medical school cadavers to the alumni dinner? Every Halloween, the trees are filled with underwear. Every spring, the toilets explode.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Mrs. Wormer somehow has one on underneath her dress.
  • Oh, Crap!: When the Deltas' prank Goes Horribly Wrong:
    (left alone in Wormer's office with Niedermeyer's horse and a gun, Flounder tries to aim the gun at the horse for a moment, then winces, points the gun at the ceiling, and fires; the horse gasps loudly; the scene cuts to D-Day and Bluto outside the office, smiling until they hear an ominous thud, at which point they run inside to see Flounder standing over the horse's body)
    Bluto: Holy SHIT!
    D-Day: There were blanks in that gun!
    Flounder: I didn't even point the gun at him!
    Bluto: Holy SHIT!
    D-Day: (checks the gun) There were blanks in that gun!
    Flounder: Maybe he had a heart attack!
    Bluto: Holy SHIT!
    (after a pause, all three scream and beat a hasty retreat)
    • Chip has a great O.C. expression at the parade when he turns to see a crowd of panicked spectators charging toward him.
  • Only Sane Man: Robert Hoover, somewhat. Within the Delta leaders, he's usually the only one not involved in their crazy schemes. He also has the highest GPA in Delta, although that's not saying much.
  • Our Founder: Emil Faber. "Knowledge is Good."
  • The Peeping Tom: Bluto uses a ladder to peer through the second-story window of a sorority house and looks up the cheerleaders' skirts while under the bleachers.
  • Pet the Dog: Wormer has one moment in which he speaks to any of the Deltas in a manner that's not threatening, mocking, bullying, or enraged; one instant in which he reveals a glimpse that beneath it all there was (or used to be) a genuine educator; one line in which he very nearly relates to any student as a human being, and that line is directed to Kent Dorfman.
    Dean Wormer:Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.
  • Pity Sex: Played with: Otter uses a tragic kiln accident to launch the boys' adventures at Dickinson College, but it's heavily implied that he lucked out in the person of Fawn's roommate, the very caring Shelly Dubinsky.
  • Playboy Bunny: Martha Smith, Miss July 1973, played Babs. In universe, a bunch of sorority girls on a float are dressed as Bunnies, and one is flung through an open window into a boy's room.
  • Politically Incorrect Villains:
    • At their rush party, the Omegas humiliate Pinto and Flounder by forcing them sit at a segregated table with a Muslim (albeit one in a Sikh turban), a Hindu, a Jew, and a blind kid in a wheelchair. Oh, and they mispronounce the Hindu guy's name — on purpose. (They also consistently call Pinto Lonnie instead of Larry, and his attempts to correct them are rewarded only with a patronising chuckle.)
    • Neidermeyer isn't shy about using the word "faggots" to demean his fellow ROTC candidates, either. Note which hand picks up Neidermeyer in Flounder's Deus ex Machina moment.
  • Precision F-Strike: Bluto, after the Delta's charter is revoked:
    They took ''the bar!!' THE WHOLE, FUCKING BAR!!!
  • Prison Rape: The epilogue reveals that Greg went on to become a White House aide during Nixon's presidency, and was subsequently raped in prison. Probably meant to double as a Black Comedy Rape, since he's a first-class douchebag (and according to his girlfriend, was saving himself for marriage).
  • Put on a Bus: A small joke on the newspaper after the toga party reveals that Mrs. Wormer was sent to visit relatives, which more likely than not was a euphemism for rehab.
  • Really 17 Years Old: Oh, Crap!, she's actually only thirteen years old! Not only that, but at the end of the movie she introduces Pinto to her parents as "the boy who molested me last month", and then announces "we have to get married." Oh, Crap! times ten.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Dean Wormer's recitation of the Rhodes Scholar level academic achievements of the Deltas.
  • Re-Cut: The original version of the movie was 175 minutes long. Amongst the scenes which were deleted were some more scenes with Bluto, including scene where a dishwasher (played by John Landis) tries to stop Bluto from eating all the food and gets pulled across the table and thrown on the floor while Bluto says "You don't fuck with the eagles unless you know how to fly" and extended version of the scene where Bluto pours mustard on himself and starts singing "I am the Mustard Man."
  • Repeat After Me: During the Delta House initiation.
    "I, state your name ..." "I, state your name ..."
  • Rotating Protagonist: The film starts out by focusing on Flounder and Pinto, seems to shift toward Otter and Boon in the middle, yet Bluto is the most memorable character and the film's biggest celebrity, both then and now.
  • Rousing Speech: "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!"
  • Rule of Three: After Flounder inadvertently kills Niedermeyer's horse, Bluto's only reaction is to exclaim "Holy shit!" three times.
    • Pinto's attempt to get Clorette's attention is to throw three rocks of increasing size at her bedroom window, the last one breaking the glass.
  • Say My Name: Bluto after the frat's beer bar is taken away.
  • Self-Deprecation: Pinto's eventual fate: "Editor-in-chief, National Lampoon".
  • Serious Business: Fraternity initiations. Even Delta's whacked-out ceremony. "With liberty and justice for all. Amen."
  • The '60s: An intentionally Two Decades Behind film made in the late seventies and set in the pre-counterculture 1960s.
    • Given that it is in the pre-JFK assassination (check the Omega homecoming float) 60s, culturally it has as much to say about the end of The '50s.
  • Slippery Skid: The box full of marbles Flounder buys. Dumped on the street during the parade, they drop every member of the ROTC platoon on their backs.
  • Slippery Slope Fallacy: Used rather awesomely in the court scene where Otter argues that attacking his fraternity is attacking the entire American society.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: In spades.
  • Smug Snake: Most of the Omegas, especially Neidermeyer and Marmalard.
  • Stripping Snag: The scheming sorority girl, Babs, who hates the guys at Delta Tau Chi Fraternity gets her comeuppance at the end of the film. She is pushed off a parade float and clothes tear off, leaving her in her publicly humiliated amid the busy street.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Some of the stuffier characters (Dave Jennings being a good example) aren't above occasionally using such words as "shit" and "fuck."
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Elmer Bernstein was initially confused about why Landis wanted him to score the film. Landis replied that he wanted it scored as if it was a drama.
  • Spiritual Successor: Caddyshack.
  • Starter Marriage: At the end, it is revealed that Boon and Katy got back together, and married in 1964, only to divorce in 1969. Apparently, they later marry again, divorce again, and remarry yet again.
  • Stealth Pun: The full name of the fraternity is Delta Tau Chi. The Greek letters are spelled using the English alphabet as DTX.
  • Straight Man: Hoover.
  • Strawman U:
    • Faber College is a strict, pre-counterculture 1960s wannabe-Ivy League example.
    • About three-quarters of the way through the picture, the Deltas take a road trip and make a brief stop at a "progressive" women's college to pick up some dates. The college is a bit staid to qualify as "Berserkeley," but the point is made that the girls are all bleeding-heart liberals. (In order to make it with them, you have to mention that you're into some kind of progressive cause.)
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!:
    Neidermeyer: What is that on your chest, mister?
    Flounder: (beat) A pledge pin, sir.
    Neidermeyer: A PLEDGE PIN?! ON YOUR UNIFORM?!
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Katy has the hots for Jennings, who spends one night in her house.
  • Teacher's Pet: The Omegas are Dean Wormer's, to the nth degree.
  • Team Dad: Hoover, to the Deltas. He's the only one of them who seems to genuinely care about avoiding trouble and staying on Dean Wormer's good side (at least enough to avoid getting thrown out of school), and generally tries to keep the Deltas from going too far off the rails. Granted, they usually ignore his advice...but at least he tries.
  • Theme Tune Roll Call
  • There Is a God!: At the end, when one of the co-eds dressed in bunny ears and a leotard flies into the room of a young teen boy (reading through some Playboys), the boy simply shouts out, "Thank you, God!"
  • This Is Gonna Suck: When the gang enters the black night club, and everyone inside is instantly silent (including the band), Otter leans forward and says, calmly, "We are gonna die."
  • Those Two Guys: Otter and Boon. Also Flounder and Pinto. Even Bluto and D-Day at times.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Marmalard and Neidermeyer.
  • Trust Me, I'm an X:
    Bluto: My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.
    Otter: You'd better listen to him, Flounder, he's in pre-med.
    • Earlier...
    Otter: (Rising in a disciplinary hearing) Point of parliamentary procedure!
    Hoover: Don't screw around, they're serious this time!
    Otter: (aside) Take it easy, I'm pre-law.
    Boon: I thought you were pre-med.
    Otter: What's the difference?
  • Unbuilt Trope: This film actually does a lot in deconstructing Wacky Fratboy Hijinx. Throughout the film, it's pointed out how wild and destructive the Deltas are, doing things that no sane college administration would allow; things that would get real college students in the new millennium expelled or even arrested. Though the Deltas do ultimately get their revenge on the Dean and the snobbish Omegas by the end, it's a Pyrrhic Victory –- in spite of it all, they're expelled from the college. As Dean Wormer perfectly puts it, "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."
    • It also shows that the Deltas are not quite Cool Loser or Cool Rebel types; they just think they are. For example, the band they hire to play doesn't actually like them — or at least, the band's so shocked to see them in a nightclub that caters to African-Americans they don't acknowledge Boon's friendly greeting. Likewise, Otter, the basis of the teen comedy version of The Casanova, is not quite as slick a ladies' man as he seems; his only on-screen romantic moves are Pity Sex resulting in Coitus Interruptus. (Mandy even tells him to his face that sex with him "wasn't that great". He just looks stunned.) Even the Official Couple, Boon and Katy, are ultimately shown to be a poor match — Boon wants to avoid growing up, especially the responsibilities, as long as possible, while Katy can't wait to embrace adulthood — and the end credits imply that they have a short-lived relationship. Much of this is because the film is actually an irreverent satire of the nostalgia-driven teen dramas of the 1970s, most notably American Graffiti, something later teen Sex Comedies missed because they were merely aping the surface features of Animal House.
    • On the other hand, all of the Deltas are listed as members of Faber classes (and as Mrs. Wormer reveals in "Where Are They Now: A Delta Alumni Update", Dean Wormer was fired after the homecoming parade debacle, thus whoever they got to replace him most likely permitted the Deltas to return) in the epilogue. And it was the Deltas who, within their own personalities and limitations, achieved respectable-to-remarkable success: sensitivity counselor, public defender, gynecologist, National Lampoon editor, and United States Senator and eventually President.
  • Unfriendly Fire: The epilogue mentions that Neidermeyer was fragged by his platoon in Vietnam.
  • The Unreveal: Part of what makes "D-Day" so fascinating is how much the movie leaves ambiguous about his true nature. ("Daniel Simpson Day....has no grade point average. All courses incomplete." Okay, so what has he been doing all this time?) He also gladly stands back and observes during the "Food King" run and the road trip, and was off doing god-knows-what with his motorcycle at the beginning when the party was already in full-swing. Whatever D-Day was up to the whole time, it was bound to be interesting. And at the very end, as he's roaring off in a stolen police car: "Daniel Simpson Day: whereabouts unknown."
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Flounder throws up on Dean Wormer - offscreen. (But we hear the "splat" and see Wormer's secretary's shocked reaction.)
  • Villain Has Apoint: Dean Wormer is an unpleasant antagonist, and despite abusing his power, he's trying to enforce campus rules against hilarious but admittedly proto-delinquents. Part of his problem is that he's under pressure from the town's mayor, who goes so far as to threaten to have Wormer physically crippled if the Deltas do anything to embarrass him.
  • Wacky Fratboy Hijinx: The Trope Codifier: toga parties, road trips, food fights.... Not to mention, according to Dean Wormer, dumping an entire truckload of fizzies into the swim meet, delivering the medical school cadavers to the alumni dinner, filling the trees with underwear every Halloween, and blowing up the toilets every spring.
  • Was Just Leaving:
    • Subverted when Mandy says, "He was just leaving," Otter replies, "No I'm not."
    • At the Dexter Lake Club: "If I was in your shoes, I'd be ..." "Leaving! What a good idea!"
  • Watch the Paint Job: Flounder learns that trusting Delta House with his brother's car is not a good idea. It's repurposed as "The Deathmobile."
  • We Need a Distraction
  • What a Drag: Niedermeyer is dragged behind his horse after Boon and Otter use him as a target for their golf practice.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to the Dickinson College girls after the Deltas left the nightclub? They're seen walking home later, but what transpired in between?
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Perhaps the best known example. The DVD featured a modern-day update on this. The highlights: Otter is a gynecologist with sexy patients, Diller is a missionary thanks to seeing Jesus in his food numerous times (including a shot of Kevin Bacon from Tremors), Pinto is a filmmaker, Babs is still a tour guide giving ludicrously bad information, Boon and Katy have married, divorced, and reconciled a number of times, Hoover is the Assistant District Attorney of Baltimore, Dean Wormer is senile but the Deltas are still a Berserk Button, D-Day is living off the grid across the border and flees when John Landis tracks him down, and Bluto is the President of the United States.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Although Word of God has the setting in Pennsylvania, it's never explicitly stated in the film—Flounder is mentioned as being from Harrisburg and there is a Dickinson College in Pennsylvania (though it's not named after Emily Dickinson and it's co-ed), the Nowhere, USA vibe seems to work. (The flag in the student court hearing appears to be that of Tennessee.) Also, Otter identifies himself as "Frank Lymon, from Amherst," which is a bit of a long drive to Pennsylvania to be believable in-universe, though not impossible. Considering the writers were Harvard alumni, it's likely that Emily Dickinson college is a satire of Smith College or Mt. Holyoke, which are just a stone's throw away from Amherst and a quick drive from Harvard.
    • The film was shot on the campus of the University of Oregon. Dean Faber's office was the university president's actual office. The Delta House was a former Phi Sigma Kappa frat house, which was then empty; it was torn down in 1986. The club where the Deltas see Otis Day and the Knights again is the Dexter Lake Club, Dexter, OR.
  • White Anglo-Saxon Protestant: This is the entire ethos of Omega House, right down to the way the characters dress and (sometimes) how they talk. Delta House, while almost as monochromatic (they have precisely one black member, which is one more than the Omegas), is at least a blend of more sympathetic and less stereotypical WASPs and various "ethnic whites" (including one possible Jew).
  • Wild Teen Party: The Delta House toga party.
  • Women Are Wiser: Katy embodies this trope (granted, compared to her boyfriend and his frat brothers, it would be hard not to).
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Otter pretending to be the unaware fiancé of a dead coed in order to get grief/sympathy sex from her roommate, and three dates for his friends.
  • Younger Than They Look: Clorette. Though the actress playing her was eighteen.