"Animal House, House, HousePerhaps 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.
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."
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."
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...
- It's also worth noting that the good boy of the group, Hoover, never shows any real attraction to women, this being notable because virtually everyone else in Delta House is girl-crazy to some degree. Pinto was pretty sure Hoover's room was the place to go with a girl to make out and not be interrupted. Also, they felt no need to give him an actual nickname, deciding "Hoover" was fitting enough. Think about it.
- D-Day is another interesting case.
- 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 – Gun Safety: Neidermeyer is crazy and all, but he still fires a rifle into a crowd while trying to shoot Flounder. Given he shot Flounder's glass sprayer instead, he absolutely should have hit someone.
- 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.
- 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—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.
- 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. The only real difference is that the Omegas maintain a facade of morality and the Deltas don't. The Omegas are outwardly 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").
- 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 Dawn all the time!" "I know... she told me!" Otter has an Aside Glance when Dawn'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)".
- 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: Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life.
- 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. Alternatively, they may be 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.
- 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. Most of the Deltas end up graduating anyway.
- 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 wouldn't be so personally invested in the actions of one fraternity house, since as a Dean there should be others below him dealing with that nonsense. He's not a high school principal. Likewise, there should be multiple Deans, yet Wormer appears to function more as the President of the University.
- College Widow: Although not literally a widow, Mrs. Wormer.
- 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 extorts money from the college to finance the parade. His little screen time is enough to depict him as a bigwig even nastier than Dean Wormer, whom he threatens and is given a positive light by comparison.
- *Cough* Snark *Cough*: Cough*blowjob*Cough*blowjob*!
- Creator Cameo: John Landis sacrificed his heavy beard and much of his hair to appear in the film as a cafeteria dishwasher who catches Bluto mooching and tries, unsuccessfully, to stop him. The scene was filmed, but despite his personal sacrifices, Landis eventually also sacrificed the scene.
- 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 have to 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.Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.
- 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 Kay (eventually) 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 censors would approve. They believed that if they had her say she was 13, the censors would tell them she needed to be older and in that case, 16 would be okay. However, the censors 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: 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.
- 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?
- 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 hard not to understand just why Dean Wormer wants Delta off campus and out of Faber.
- Also, fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life.
- 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. "Is it supposed to be this soft?"
- Lovable Sex Maniac: Otter.
- Make-Out Point: One overlooks the town of Faber. It's frequently visited by the Omegas, and 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).
- Man Child:
- Bluto, proven by the cafeteria scene.
- Boon, according to Kate.
- 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.
- Oh Crap!: When the Deltas' prank Goes Horribly Wrong and they end up with a dead horse in Dean Vernon's office, all Bluto can say is "Holy SHIT!"(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, and the scene cuts to D-Day and Bluto outside the office, smiling until they hear the horse drop dead with a 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)
- Only Sane Man: Robert Hoover, somewhat.
- Our Founder: The Faber fellow. "Knowledge is Good"
- A Party, Also Known as an Orgy: Toga, Toga, Toga!
- 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: You have to admit that fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life.
- 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. 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.)
- The movie seems to be subverting - or at least playing with - the "bad-guys-bigoted-good-guys-tolerant" stock plot. The Deltas certainly try to be open-minded, but they're hardly civil-rights crusaders: they implicitly accept the de facto segregation of the Dexter Lake Club by fleeing in terror (which is, admittedly, what most white people in that situation would have done, but the point is that in most movies of this type, the frat brothers would sincerely try to relate to the other brothers). And they seem unconcerned — and even gleeful — about Unfortunate Implications when they ram a pro-integration float in the climactic parade scene, tearing the two papier-mache hands of different colors completely apart.
- 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: Greg's caption reveals that he 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 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 Seventeen 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: "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son." Though it's notable that Wormer says it in a slightly sympathetic way (compared to how he addressed the rest of the Deltas), making it a slight Pet the Dog towards Flounder as well.
- 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!"
- Sadist Teacher: Dean Wormer.
- 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.
- The '60s: An intentionally Two Decades Behind film made in the late seventies and set in the pre-counterculture 1960s.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Take That: Bluto goes on to become a U.S. Senator.
- Teacher/Student Romance: Katy has the hots for Jennings, who spends one night in her house.
- 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.
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 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, and it's heavily implied that at least some of them end up drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam. As Dean Wormer perfectly puts it, "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."
- As Mrs. Wormer reveals in "Where Are They Now: A Delta Alumni Update", Dean Wormer was fired after the homecoming parade debacle. That probably means that whoever they got to replace him most likely permitted the Deltas to return.
- 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."
- Villainy-Free Villain: Dean Wormer is an unpleasant antagonist, but for the most part he's merely enforcing 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.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: Flounder throws up on Dean Wormer - offscreen. (But we hear the "splat" and see Wormer's secretary's shocked reaction.)
- Wacky Fratboy Hijinx: The Trope Codifier. The Deltas steal and (accidentally) kill a horse, leave both Mrs. Wormer and Clorette DePasto drunken wrecks, and of course turn the Homecoming Parade into an utter fiasco. 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 a coed says, "He was just leaving," Otter replies, "No I'm not."
- At the Club Delta Lake: "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 Happened to the Mouse?: Whatever happened to Cissy, Flounder's steady girl? Otter walks off with her, but later winds up with Mrs. Wormer. Did he have them both? If anyone could pull it off, it would be him. But if so, Flounder didn't seem to notice.
- Also, 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 doctor with sexy patients, Diller is a missionary thanks to seeing Jesus in his food numerous times (including a shot of Kevin Bacon from Tremors), Babs is still a tour guide giving ludicrously bad information, Boon and Katy have married, divorced, and reconciled a number of times, 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- X Meets Y: Bluto was described as a cross between Harpo Marx and The Cookie Monster.
- Younger Than They Look: Clorette. Though the actress playing her was eighteen.