Soap is a much bigger plot point of this movie than you might think.
"You met me at a very strange time in my life."
— The Narrator
The first rule about Fight Club
is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule about Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club
. Both of those rules were designed to be broken, and we're breaking them right now by creating this page to tell you about it.
It is a 1999 movie directed by David Fincher
and originally based on a 1996 novel
by Chuck Palahniuk
, ended up becoming more famous than its literary inspiration
(and even the author liked it better
). It spawned two notable memes
: one involves the first two rules of Fight Club, while the second involves the oft-repeated claim of a mix of gasoline and frozen orange juice concentrate making anything but the world's third-worst screwdriver.
The film's story follows the life of an unnamed man (Edward Norton
)— the credits call him only Narrator although some call him "Jack"
thanks to the "I am Jack's ____" monologue — who has grown discontented with his life, which seems only to revolve around his dreary corporate job, going to support group meetings for diseases he doesn't have, and endless bouts of meaningless consumerism. During a business flight, the man meets a charismatic free spirit named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt
), and they eventually start a "support group" — the titular "Fight Club" — where other unhappy, unfulfilled men get together and fight each other in bare-knuckle brawls as a form of "therapy." Fight Club eventually escalates as Tyler turns from the man's best friend into a Sensei for Scoundrels
— and, eventually, into an Evilutionary Biologist
This film provides examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: Sheds several of the book's subplots and changes the ending significantly. The author actually prefers the film to his own work.
- Alternate Identity Amnesia: The protagonist doesn't remember any of his alter-ego activities.
- And Some Other Stuff: As noted above, frozen orange juice concentrate and gasoline doesn't really make homemade napalm. Several of the recipes were changed so that people wouldn't actually blow things up.
- Ambiguous Situation: Subverted then played straight towards the end. (When you start to rethink the scenes)
- Anarchy: Project Mayhem shows signs of this.
- Arc Words: Too many to count, this trope being a core part of Palahniuk's writing style (Palahniuk referred to them as "choruses".) "On a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero," and "I know this because Tyler knows this" are two of the most well-known examples. There's also mentions of "space monkeys," and the "I am Jack's *insert characteristic here*," a reference to a pamphlet that described internal organs in the first person and "We have just lost cabin pressure."
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The tagline of the movie; "Mischief. Mayhem. Soap."
- Ass Kicking Pose: Tyler
- Bad-Guy Bar: Lou's Bar.
- The Bad Guys Are Cops: Once the Narrator realizes that Project Mayhem is planning a series of terrorist attacks, he attempts to go the police, only to find out that several police officers are members of Project Mayhem, and have orders to castrate anyone who betrays the group.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Even though Tyler "dies", Project Mayhem still goes off as planned.
- Battle Strip: No shirt, no shoes while fighting—except for Bob.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Subverted and then Lampshaded.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Marla and the Narrator.
- Better Living Through Evil: Tyler helping the Narrator.
- Bittersweet Ending: Project Mayhem goes off without hitch, meaning Tyler succeeds in destroying the world's credit data. However, the Narrator manages to "kill" Tyler and free himself from his influence, and now has a meaningful relationship with Marla and will presumably start living a better-balanced life.
- Black Comedy: the ultimate "Should I Be Laughing?" movie!
- Break the Cutie: The fight between Angel Face and the narrator leaves Angel Face looking very untrue to his name.
- Briar Patching: Subverted; see Wire Dilemma.
- Broken Ace: Tyler, being the narrator's subconscious conception of his ideal self, which he manifests as an alternate personality.
- Broken Record: "His name is Robert Paulson. His name is Robert Paulson."
- Bullet Time: The narrator's dream of sleeping with Marla. Director Fincher was apparently embarrassed at the idea of directing a traditional sex scene, so he devised a more abstract way of presenting the material.
- Call Back: An easy one to miss on your first viewing is the opening scene, when Tyler asks the narrator if he wants to say anything to "mark the occasion". The narrator replies that he "Can't think of anything." The film then goes back and works towards How We Got Here; when the scene plays out again, the line becomes "I still can't think of anything," which Tyler lampshades with "Ah, flashback humor."
- Cavalry Betrayal: Once he realises the full extent of Project Mayhem's plans the narrator goes to the police and tells them the whole story, only to discover that the detectives he's talking are part of a Fight Club themselves, and they almost castrate him.
- Chekhov's Gag: The cock that Tyler puts onto family friendly films reappears in the end of the film.
- Cluster F-Bomb
Narrator: God dammit! Fuck you. Fuck Fight Club, fuck Marla, I am sick of all your shit.
- Color-Coded Characters: Tyler dresses in reds and yellows. Jack dresses in blues and greys. Marla dresses in black.
- Coming-of-Age Story: One of the weirdest examples of this trope in cinematic history. It helps if you bear in mind that Fincher's biggest influence while making the film was The Graduate.
- The Commandments: The rules of Fight Club.
- Cut Himself Shaving
- Creepy Monotone: The nameless narrator sometimes slips into this, both in his narration and in his dialogue in the film.
- Cry into Chest: A major theme of the first 20 minutes is how random people in the support groups pair up to cry on one another. Of particular note is the narrator being paired up with Bob, a former bodybuilder who has 'bitch tits' due to steroid abuse; it doesn't matter to the narrator after discovering how good it feels to cry.
- Dark Messiah: Tyler.
- Department of Redundancy Department: "The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club!"
- Destroy The Product Placement: It has a few instances:
- The Narrator's apartment is blown up in order to show him he doesn't need objects to survive. The furniture in said apartment came from IKEA (though in the movie the company where said furniture came from was called "Fürni").
- Project Mayhem members smash in a Volkswagen Beetle, break into a Mac store, and break a large spherical sculpture and send it rolling into a Starbucks shop.
- Dissonant Laughter: When Lou brutally beats up Tyler Durden when they first meet, smashing open his mouth and nose, Tyler is... laughing his ass off.
"You don't know where I've been!"
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Ho Yay between Tyler and the narrator is very much intentional.
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing: The film is supposed to mock both the shallow corporate suburban lifestyle that the Narrator represents and the nihilistic, self-destructive behavior that Tyler Durden represents. Some fans missed the memo on the latter.
- Easter Egg: Several. In detail here.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Marla.
- Escapism: Why the Fight Clubs are invented and what Tyler is for the narrator.
- Empty Fridge Empty Life: "Yeah, I know, I know, a house full of condiments and no real food."
- The Ending Changes Everything: the Narrator/Jack is Tyler Durden.
- Enemy Within: Whenever the Narrator fights Tyler.
- Even Fight Club Has Standards: One rule of Fight Club is that any two men in a fight must fight for as long as possible—but as soon as they go limp or surrender, the fight ends, no questions asked. It's called "Fight Club", not "Beat Each Other To Death Club", after all.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Everything's Better with Space Monkeys
- Everything's Better with Penguins: Slide!
- Evil Feels Good: Tyler.
- Evil Narrator Protagonist All Along: The narrator is related to this, but more of an unwilling participant than a straight up villain.
- Evilutionary Biologist: Tyler Durden. Sort of. More of an Evilutionary Sociologist, all things considered.
- Fan Disservice: Lots of half-naked, sweaty, bloodied men. One of whom is Bob. With bitch tits.
- Fanservice: Lots of half-naked, sweaty, bloodied men. One of whom is Brad Pitt.
- Fight Clubbing: The eponymous Fight Club is for half-naked, sweaty men to beat each other bloody in order to evoke their repressed manhood.
- 555: Marla's phone number.
- Tyler's presence is foreshadowed by his image getting spliced into several frames of footage at a few points before his actual introduction.
- Many lines point to the twist that might not become apparent until a second viewing. Especially obvious with lines such as, "I know this because Tyler knows this", "If you could wake up in a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?" When the Narrator fights himself in his boss' office, he muses, "For some reason, I was reminded of my first fight with Tyler." At one point Bob tells the narrator of a rumor that Tyler never sleeps, forming a possible connection to the Narrator's insomnia. Another is after mouthing off to his boss, he muses "Tyler's words coming out of my mouth".
- Marla interacts with either Tyler or the narrator, never both at the same time. She always gives him strange looks when he talks or acts like there is a third person in the house. This is most notable when he tells her "... Tyler's not here! Tyler's gone!"
- At one point, Tyler looks at a chiseled underwear model and sneers, "Is that what a real man looks like?" Tyler has the physique of an underwear model and is not a real man, being a split personality of the main character with an idealized appearance.
- Female Gaze: related to the Fanservice in the form of Tyler Durdan.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- In keeping with Tyler's habit of splicing porn frames into movies, Tyler himself visibly appears for a few frames before his introduction proper. As does a frame of a pornstar's penis.
- If you check the "Bridgeworth Suites" hotel commercial the narrator watches, you'll realize it's the hotel where Tyler works; during the shot containing several rows of male waiters, he can be spotted at the far right of the front row.
- If you look carefully at the pay phone the Narrator uses to talk to Tyler, you'll notice that it's physically incapable of receiving incoming calls, meaning that it would be impossible for Tyler to call that pay phone to talk to him in the first place. The only plausible explanation is that Tyler never existed to begin with.
- When the narrator first attends the support groups, there is a flyer for a 1997 film festival. Then, he mentions to Marla he's been going to the groups for over a year, and finally the film ends in 1999, when the film was released, after it's implied Fight Club has been going on for another year.
- Various business cards and postal codes place the story in the fictional Bradford, Delaware.
- In the first scene with the narrator in his office, he is wearing a nametag, implying first name (or at least one of them) is actually Neal.
- David Fincher has confirmed that, if you look hard enough, you can spot one or more Starbucks' coffee cups in almost every scene.
- Pausing when the narrator writes a haiku about bees, you can see his email contacts are cast and crew members mentioned in the credits.
- Friends with Benefits: What the Narrator thinks Tyler has with Marla.
- Freudian Threat: The threat to cut off someone's balls happens a few times.
- Freudian Trio: Played with when it's revealed Tyler is literally the Narrator's id.
- Id: Tyler Durden
- Ego: Marla Singer
- Superego: the Narrator
- Funny Background Event:
- The narrator sighs as he sees his new acquaintance Tyler shimmy up to an expensive convertible and drive away. As the narrator turns towards the camera in a fug of jealousy and self-loathing, the car owner is seen frantically pursuing Tyler down the street.
- While the narrator is on the phone with Marla, Tyler is in the other room messing with a pair of nunchuks and yelling at the top of his voice.
- When the narrator first approaches Marla at the support group, there's another man who apparently had the same plan, but was a little slower off the mark. The resignation on his face as he turns away is hilarious.
- Gag Boobs: Bob is a rare male example, due to steroid abuse and resulting drug therapy.
- Gang Initiation Fight: Anyone who comes to Fight Club has to fight someone on their first night there.
- Genre-Busting: Looking past the bare-knuckle fights and domestic terrorism, this is probably the best example of a Romantic Black Comedy.
- Good Cop/Bad Cop: The narrator and Tyler do this to the Project Mayhem applicants. Which becomes really weird after you get to we find out Tyler is the Narrator.
- Groin Attack: "Anyone interferes with Project Mayhem, we gotta get his balls."
- Gut Punch: Bob's death.
- Happy Place: The icy cave the Narrator imagines. Subverted during the chemical burn scene.
- He Had a Name: Invoked verbatim by the Narrator after the death of his friend Robert Paulson, when one of the members of Project Mayhem suggests disposing of "the body" by burying it in the garden. The Narrator's speech accidentally finishes turning Project Mayhem into a Martyrdom Culture: they reconcile it with Tyler's demand that the "Space Monkeys" go without names by concluding that Robert earned his name in death.
- He Who Fights Monsters: By the end, Tyler has shaped his group to be just as conformist as the consumerist society he's trying to overthrow, and in some cases, it's even worse.
- Hit Me, Dammit!: "I want you to hit me as hard as you can!"
- Hollywood Nerd: The narrator is a Type 2.
- Homoerotic Subtext: All over the place, and in fact it's an important part of the plot, since much of the conflict may stem from the Narrator's sexual confusion. The phallic imagery gets so out of control that at many points it's not even imagery. It should be noted that the subtext was taken down a notch in the movie.
- How We Got Here: Thrice, actually. first scene-last scene, the 'help yourself group' and the traveling scenes
- Human Resources: Tyler Durden collected human fat from the disposal bins behind a liposuction clinic, then used it to make expensive soap for rich ladies. Bonus points for fulfilling this trope, as the narrator lampshades the idea that the same women who paid to get rid of the fat would now pay him to return it.
Narrator: Tyler sold his soap to department stores at $20 a bar. Lord knows what they charged. It was beautiful. We were selling rich women their own fat asses back to them.
- Hypocritical Humour: In one scene, Tyler sneers at an advertisement featuring a ripped underwear model and asks, "Is that what a real man looks like?" Tyler himself is quite chiseled, but this only becomes hypocritical when you consider the fact that Tyler's appearance is "Jack's" ideal self, so yes, "Jack" does want to look like an underwear model purely for aesthetic reasons.
- I Ate WHAT?: The movie has several references to people urinating (or worse) into food, based on stories told to the author by waiters who spoiled the food of bad customers.
Narrator: And clean food, alright?
Waiter in the Tyler-staffed restaurant: In that case, may I advise against the lady eating the clam chowder?
- Ironic Echo: Related to Arc Words.
- If You Can Read This: The newspapers all have the same nonsense text, whether the headline is "Fountain Befouled" or "Feces Catapault Seized" or "Stolen Lab Monkey Found Shaved".
- I'm Not Afraid of You: Jack to Tyler
- Imaginary Friend: Tyler Durden is a split personality of the narrator, and is in many ways his idealized self.
- The Immodest Orgasm: Courtesy of Marla.
- Important Haircut: The members are all shaved when they get recruited. Also, Tyler himself gets one before launching Project Mayhem.
- Impossibly Cool Clothes: Tyler's ability to actually pull off increasingly flamboyant, off-the-wall outfits attests to his "I'm everything you ever wanted to be" charisma.
- Interface Screw:
- Tyler addresses the audience during one of his monologues and manages to shake the film. This scene is later reenacted with "Jack."
- The DVD has Tyler vandalizing the opening FBI warning.
- Fincher gets in another meta-gag with the Blu-Ray release. When you initially boot it up, the menu for Never Been Kissed comes up for a few seconds.
- I Surrender, Suckers: Tyler's fight with Lou.
- I Just Want To Be Free / I Just Want to Be Special: Feeling trapped in his monotonous, materialistic lifestyle, the Narrator searches for a way to break out of the mold.
- I Just Want to Have Friends: Lacking any real friends, the Narrator joins self-help groups for diseases he doesn't have in order to make 'friends' from, which he doesn't even stick to, and then enters into a mutual relationship with Tyler.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Bob used to be a bodybuilder...who took lots of steroids to help maintain his physique (back when that sort of thing was common). He then stopped doing both...and it shows.
- Jekyll & Hyde: Marla seems to feel this way about the Narrator: "You're Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Jackass." She is actually spot on.
- Journey to the Center of the Mind: Inverted in the opening credits. Fincher said he wanted to show the reaction of fear, all the way from one neuron in the brain firing off to sweat rolling down the Narrator's forehead.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: One interpretation of the third act of both film and book.
- Kicking My Own Butt: The narrator blackmails his boss into paying him for no work, and to seal the deal beats himself up in front of the boss, threatening to blame him for the beating if he doesn't comply, and of course in order to show how serious and nuts he is.
- Knight Templar: Tyler Durden.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Done enough times to make the camera a supporting character. In at least one montage the narrator directly addresses the camera to tell us about Tyler.
- At one point, the narrator and Tyler address the camera to explain some of the finer details of how theater projectors work, such as the "cigarette burns" bit. Complete with Tyler pausing what he's doing to point at one such marker showing up in the film itself.
- Life Will Kill You
Tyler: On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.
- Looks Like Cesare: Marla Singer - messy black hair, dark circles around her eyes, and pale skin.
- Made of Iron: Lots of characters, but particularly Tyler.
- Magic Countdown: It takes about five minutes from the point where Tyler says "60 seconds", before the bombs actually go off. No countdown is shown or mentioned during that time, though.
- Maniacal Laugh: Tyler Durden's, several times but especially, and most disturbingly, during his fight with Lou. This laughter is also used at the beginning of the DVD menu.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Darkly subverted with Marla. Tyler is sort of a Manic Pixie Dream Guy.
- Manipulative Bastard: Tyler.
- The Man Is Sticking It to the Man: If one takes Tyler's anti-consumerist stance at face value, the film (made on a budget of over $60 million and marketed with the intention of making a profit) could certainly be seen as an example of this. However, Tyler's anti-consumerist stance probably shouldn't be taken at face value.
- Masquerade: If you're not allowed to talk about Fight Club, you might never know who is in on it and who isn't. This is especially true for the book, in which the narrator mentions that nobody knows whether a prank pulled in public was pulled by Project Mayhem or not because the first rule is you do not ask questions. This is lampshaded in both the book and movie when police officers the narrator is counting on to save him from castration appear to be part of Project Mayhem.
- Marshmallow Hell: This is Bob.◊ Bob had bitch tits.
- Meaningful Echo: A lot of them, too many to cite. Possibly as much as ten percent of the script.
- Medium Awareness: Lots of deliberate film artifacts, including "cigarette burns" and sprocket holes. And, of course, a nice big cock.
- Memetic Mutation: Played darkly with in the In-Universe example, "His name is Robert Paulsen", when the Narrator first realizes that no matter how much he tries, any members of Project Mayhem not present at the birth of a rule will just become the Misaimed Fandom of the mutated meaning.
- Mental Story: In large part, but a lot of interesting stuff happens in reality, too.
- Mind Screw: The movie is weird from the start, but after a certain point, everything gets thrown out the window.
- Missing Time: The plane sequences.
- Mr. Fanservice: Most conversations about how attractive Brad Pitt is will mention this film.
- Mr. Exposition: The "Narrator"
- Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer focused on the fighting elements instead of the psychological elements.
- No Communities Were Harmed: The Narrator's hometown is never given, but clues suggest that it is Wilmington, Delaware. Other cities are mentioned by name as locations of satellite Fight Clubs.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
- The "fights" in the film are usually sloppy brawls or lopsided beat-downs, particularly "Jack" vs Angel Face, and Tyler vs "Jack".
- Lou beating the shit out of Tyler, who refuses to defend himself until Lou turns his back.
- No Name Given: Ed Norton's character is known in the script only as the Narrator, and is never given a name in the film.
- No Product Safety Standards: The narrator discusses how the automaker he works for chooses to enact a product recall (or not).
Woman beside the Narrator on a plane
: What car company did you say you worked for?! Narrator
* A large one.
- Nostril Shot: In the intro, the camera starts in the protagonists brain, zooms through his head, and finally emerges through his nostril and along the barrel of a gun jammed in his mouth.
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The Reveal throws everything that you thought was going on out the window, both for the audience and the Narrator.
- Ominous Visual Glitch: Tyler shows up in a glitchy Freeze-Frame Bonus for Subliminal Seduction before being officially introduced as a character. Tyler can also Break The Fourth Wall and point out "Cigarette Burns" in the film.
- Once More with Clarity: Towards the end of the film, the Narrator figures out Tyler Durden exists as a hallucination of his id. Once this happens, the film shows previous scenes involving both the narrator and Tyler — without Tyler in them.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: A variation of this occurs in the scene in which Marla comes into the kitchen of the narrator and Tyler's house and he asks her what she gets out of her relationship with Tyler. She thinks he is asking about her relationship with him because she thinks he is Tyler. She then asks him what he gets out of his relationship with her and he thinks that she is asking about his relationship with Tyler.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Near the end of the movie, a major character gets shot through the cheek, but seems to come out of it fine, except for the (plot-important) mental shock.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Jared Leto's character is credited as "Angel Face". And of course the nameless Narrator has become known as "Jack" to fans, after one of the movie's most memorable running gags.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Helena Bonham Carter's English accent comes through at times, most obviously in the scene in which the narrator explains that he actually quite likes her.
- Painting the Medium: Many scenes, especially the "Let me tell you about Tyler Durden" scene. Also: "Ah, flashback humor."
- Pay Phone: The Narrator calls Tyler on a payphone after his apartment is blown up. Tyler doesn't answer, but calls the payphone back to talk to him. A few years later, this scene would probably never have happened.
- Percussive Therapy: A big part of the movie's premise.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Marla compares a bridesmaid's dress to a condom.
- Pretty Boy: Angel Face.
- Product Placement:
- Fight Club subverts this by showing numerous name-brand products and companies — while holding them up as examples of the failure of modern society. One notable scene involves the Narrator's apartment morphing into the not-IKEA "Fürni" catalog page he ordered his furniture from. In the DVD commentary, the filmmakers wondered what 7-UP thought about their glowing logo providing a silhouette for Tyler's gun. Hell, the Narrator himself says it outright: "When deep space exploration ramps up, it'll be the corporations that name everything. The IBM stellar sphere, the Microsoft galaxy. Planet Starbucks."
- To shoot a scene where Project Mayhem destroy a Starbucks shop with a dislodged street sculpture, the producers needed permission to use the Starbucks logo. According to the DVD Commentary, they tried to use it anywhere they could manage when they received permission - but were then forbidden to use the logo for the destroyed coffee shop.
- Rated M for Manly: Fight Club's story imparts the idea of society neutering male nature and discouraging traditionally male impulses and activities by labeling them shameful. The Fight Clubs (before Project Mayhem) exist as a way for the characters to subvert society's expectations by allowing them to release their impulses in secret (the dialogue makes sure to emphasize the Club's male-exclusive status). On the other hand, by the end the audience has seen how damaging all this is and how Fight Club is just another form of conformity.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Tyler is impulsive and rash, whereas the Narrator is a calm and cool corporate executive. Their different personalities are, of course, all mixed-up in the heat of the fight, and then we find out that they're actually Not So Different.
- Removing the Rival: The motivation for the narrator to beat the crap out of Angel Face even after he says "stop". It leaves Tyler unimpressed.
- Reverse Psychology: Tyler actually wants you to tell as many people as you can about Fight Club - and he knows that the best way to get you to do this is by emphasizing how secret it is. See Schmuck Bait.
- Revised Ending: In the book, the protagonist tries to destroy one building, but fails when Tyler botches the explosive mixture (which the book foreshadows in the opening chapter). The Narrator ends up in a mental institution — though he considers it Heaven — and some of its wardens are members of Project Mayhem, who patiently wait for Tyler to return from the depths of the Narrator's mind. The book also explicitly says the mental split happened the moment the Narrator fell in love with Marla — the Tyler psyche loved her, while his regular psyche hated her — while the movie only hinted at this. In the movie, the Narrator manages to regain his sanity, but eleven buildings end up annihilated by Tyler's explosives, with the Narrator and Marla hold hands while watching in awe. Nice big cock, roll credits. Chuck Palahniuk liked the movie's ending more than his.
- Rule Number One: There are eight rules, though people only remember the first two (which are the same rule) due to Memetic Mutation.
- Rule of Cool: Tyler's clothes
- Rule of Sexy: Tyler.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Tyler's outfits are retro as well as rummage sale chic, emphasizing his cool detachment from the culture of modern society. His clothes range from 70s-style leather jackets to kitschy bathrobes.
- Refuge in Audacity: Tyler
- Schmuck Bait: The famous first two rules of Fight Club are actually specifically designed to be disobeyed, since Tyler's goal from the beginning is to grow his movement.
- Second-Person Narration: The "You wake up at SeaTac" scene.
- Sensei for Scoundrels: The trope was originally titled The Tyler Durden, which still exists as a redirect.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The Narrator and Tyler at first appear to be this to a certain extent, then we realize fairly soon that they are Not So Different in terms of their attitude toward society and life in general, and this is before we find out that Tyler is actually the narrator's split personality.
- Sexier Alter Ego: Tyler, no doubt.
- Shirtless Scene: The sixth rule of Fight Club says "no shirts, no shoes". Bob averts this rule without comment. Guess why?◊ (It also saved money on makeup effects.)
- Shoo Out the Clowns: Bob, the testicular cancer survivor, is rather dark comic relief. He gets fatally shot before the third act, when things get even darker.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Fight Club is easily one of the most cynical movies ever made. It's almost relentless in its gloom and doom.
- The Snark Knight: The narrator and Tyler, Tyler moreso, since he is literally the narrator's uninhibited id.
- Split Personality: What Tyler is to the Narrator.
- Spiritual Successor: To Heathers.
- Straw Nihilist: Tyler sounds like one at first glance, but it soon becomes apparent that he's anything but a true nihilist.
Tyler Durden: Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else.
- Subliminal Seduction:
- Tyler inserts single frames of pornography into children's films — and later threatens to reveal this to the public unless the boss of the projectionists' union pays him off.
- Tyler shows up this way in a few scenes before his first proper scene, generally as a way to trip out the audience.
- Sure, Let's Go with That: One of the potential recruits for Project Mayhem has bright yellow hair. When the Drill Sergeant Nasty-equivalent starts cutting the recruits down, he rips into the blond's hair color, as he can't find anything else to riff on.
Recruiter: You are too fucking old, fatty. And you! You're too fucking... blond!
- Tag Line:
- How much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight?
- When you wake up in a different place at a different time, can you wake up as a different person?
- Losing all hope is freedom
- Mischief. Mayhem. Soap.
- Works great even on blood stains.
- Through the Eyes of Madness: because we all invent alternative selves and then rename ourselves to get out of crappy jobs.
- The Reveal: Twice. The first is when Tyler blurts out about his role in the destruction of the Narrator's apartment. The second is the Tomato in the Mirror surprise below.
- Tomato in the Mirror: When the Narrator realizes Tyler is his alter ego.
- Trailers Always Lie: Most of the trailers made the film look like a straight-up fighting movie, which didn't help it at the box office.
- Trickster: Tyler.
- Übermensch: Tyler. Charismatic? Check. Atheistic? Check. Has agenda intended to tear down the existing establishment (mindless consumerism coupled with a society where masculinity cannot be expressed openly) with a new paradigm after rejecting all previous moral codes and overcoming the inherent nihilism? Check. Has a Last Man equivalent (and in the protagonist, no less)? Check.
- Unintentional Period Piece: The movie taps into the zeitgeist of the late 90s and channels it very well: in particular, a feeling of undirected discontent that all the important things to do had been done, and everyone was just killing time after the end of history. Hence Tyler's rant about his generation having "no great war, no great depression" to define it. This feeling did not survive contact with the 21st century. Also, as previously noted, a lot of the technology on display was obsolete barely five years later.
- Not to mention those hairstyles and fashions! From the narrator's short haircut to Tyler's sunglasses, this movie SCREAMS "Post-Matrix/Pre-9/11." Even the music, with its heavy techno influence, seems firmly rooted in the Turn of the Millennium zeitgeist.
- The Unfettered: Tyler Durden
"I look like you want to look, I fuck like you want to fuck, and most importantly, I am free in all the ways that you are not."
- Unreliable Narrator: The narrator has a split personality, and we see through his perspective, seeing Tyler Durden as a separate person. We're occasionally given glimpses of what was really going on in past scenes, such as the narrator burning his own unrestrained hand and dropping a beer bottle in an attempt to pass it to Durden.
- We All Die Someday: "On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero."
- We Are Everywhere: Tyler Durden delivers one to the man who planned to investigate Fight Club:
Tyler Durden: Hi. You're going to call off your rigorous investigation. You're going to publicly state that there is no underground group, or we are going to take your balls. […] The people you are after are the people you depend on; we cook your meals, we connect your calls, we guard you while you sleep. Do not fuck with us.''
- Western Terrorists: Project Mayhem
- Wham Line:
- Whole Plot Reference: The novel is one to The Great Gatsby, and most of those elements remain in the film.
- Wire Dilemma: "Oh, heavens, no, not the green one -- anything but the green one!"
- You Are Too Late: Project Mayhem's plan to destroy a series of office buildings works, and the Narrator is too late to stop it. Although it's an odd case, as he was also the one trying to do it.
- Your Mind Makes It Real: Outright stated a couple of times. Narrator's evolution into Tyler
- You Cannot Kill An Idea: The plans to blow up corporate buildings
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: All but said in relation to Tyler and the narrator and how Tyler "dies"