Film: Mad Max

"My life fades. The vision dims. All that remains are memories. I remember a time of chaos. Ruined dreams. This wasted land. But most of all, I remember the Road Warrior. The man we called 'Max'."
The Narrator, Mad Max 2, Opening Monologue

Mad Max is a series of films that constitute the most famous things to come out of Australia since kangaroos and sexy women with accents. Created by George Miller, the original series stars Mel Gibson in his Australian accent as the title character "Mad" Max Rockatansky. It is one of the most famous film franchises to come out of the Australian New Wave.

The first film, Mad Max, is set "A Few Years From Now" at a time where scarcity of oil is beginning to cause the collapse of civilisation — law and order is barely holding on within the towns while the highways are controlled by the outlaw gangs. Max Rockatansky is a Main Force Patrol cop, held in high regard by his boss and peers, with a happy home with his wife and young son — until run-ins with the motorcycle gang led by the villainous charismatic Toecutter cause his life to fall apart. Max famously goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge at the film's climax, but by the end he has lost everything. Made with practically no money and released in 1979, the film was surprisingly successful in Australia and around the world to the point where it was in The Guinness Book of World Records for decades as the most profitable film ever made. However, it was barely noticed in America, where it was only given limited release and all the characters' voices had been dubbed with American accents because distributors thought the audience wouldn't understand what they were saying.

The second film, Mad Max 2 (retitled The Road Warrior in America), follows Max into the Wasteland that used to be Australia, where a few years later he is now Walking the Earth with his Post-Apocalyptic Dog in his Cool Car. He runs into a small ragtag group of survivors occupying an isolated oil refinery, who are surrounded and terrorised by a vicious gang of biker bandits led by the mysterious masked Lord Humungus. After at first resisting their pleas for him to help them, Max ends up assisting them in their plan for escape to the north, exorcising some of his own personal demons. Released in 1981, the film is almost unanimously regarded as better than the first — in America, where it was renamed so that people wouldn't realise it was a sequel, it was a surprise hit. Mad Max 2, a.k.a. The Road Warrior, is the film that made Mad Max (and Mel Gibson) famous worldwide.

The third film, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, is the first one to be set unambiguously After the End in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. Max gets stuck in the midst of a power struggle in a Merchant City, and ends up as a messiah to a tribe of children. Released in 1985, this film was an American co-production and a Dolled-Up Installment: the original idea centered around a man encountering a post-apocalyptic society of wild children, before George Miller decided to have Mad Max be that man.

The fourth film, Mad Max: Fury Road, was released in 2015 after thirty years in Development Hell, and is set after the first film. Tom Hardy takes over the role of Max, who teams up with the elite Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, to help a group of women fleeing across the Wasteland from the Immortan Joe, the tyrannical warlord leader of the Citadel. Production was delayed by higher-than-normal amounts of rainfall around Broken Hill that made the area too green, so filming moved to Africa. George Miller and Fury Road co-writer Brendan McCarthy already have sequels written, the first of which is titled Mad Max: The Wasteland.

Fury Road has a four-issue miniseries from Vertigo Comics written by George Miller, Nico Lathouris and Mark Sexton, serving as a prelude to the events of the movie, spotlighting Immortan Joe, Nux, Furiosa and Max. The graphic novel collection also includes the story of the War Rig.

A video game adaptation is in the works by the developers of the Just Cause games. Originally going to be a movie tie-in game for Fury Road, the game has been made into an alt-universe standalone story. The general plot is that Max's beloved V8 Interceptor has been stolen and dismantled by marauders and he ends up working with Chumbucket, a deformed "blackfinger" note . Chumbucket sees Max as an Angel sent by the god Combustion to help him complete his car, the Magnum Opus. Max simply sees Chumbucket as a means of getting a replacement vehicle so that he can finally reach an area of the Wasteland called the Plains of Silence and find peace in a world gone mad. The game is due to be released in 2015 on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

Character sheet for the film series can be found here.

Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome and Mad Max: Fury Road have their own pages. Put tropes applying to those films there.


The Mad Max series provides examples of the following tropes:

    open/close all folders 

    Serie-wide tropes 

  • Anti-Hero: Max begins on the more brutal end of the scale, but slides toward the idealistic side in subsequent films.
  • Apocalypse How: Society is barely holding together in the first film, arguably making it a case of Class 0. The nuclear exchange alluded to in the second film brings about a gradually worsening Class 2 between Road Warrior and Fury Road.
  • Apocalyptic Logistics: The whole premise behind the films is the collapse of civilization brought on by Post Peak Oil, yet one character flies a plane, and some other characters are seen driving cars (that are not powered by methane).
  • The Apunkalypse: The hair, clothing, and facepaint of many of the gangs codify the trope, especially in Mad Max 2 & Beyond Thunderdome.
  • The Atoner: Max for the family he failed to save, and Furiosa from Fury Road for reasons that are not mentioned; presumably whatever atrocities she committed in order to rise from captive to the rank of Imperator.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Max Rockatansky, who was named such as a reference to physician and pathologist Carl von Rokitansky.
  • Badass Driver: Filled with so many examples that even your run-of-the-mill mook qualifies. But Max in particular stands out as one of the biggest not just in the movies but in the entire film medium.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Every movie has Max surviving but not always winning, or even staying with the group he rescues that move on to rebuild.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: Because society has decayed to the point where new ammunition for guns is no longer manufactured, the primary Weapon of Choice in the wasteland appears to be the humble crossbow. Ammunition is apparently readily available and, probably more importantly, is reusable. However, the reload time is appalling, as shown by the turbaned warrior in the final chase scene in The Road Warrior.
  • Car Fu: The franchise holds a 10th degree black belt.
  • Crapsack World: All four films, in increasing severity.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The series as a whole is largely remembered for being the Trope Codifier of the After the End Scavenger World setting, complete with its Desert Punk aesthetic. The first film, however, takes place before the apocalypse that follows. Though crime runs rampant and the police force is stretched to breaking, society is still very much intact.
  • Epic Movie: Taken as a whole, the original trilogy could be viewed as this, as it presents the full circle of Max's struggle with the apocalypse and his own personal demons.
  • Fallen Hero: It all revolves around a former cop turned Anti-Hero.
  • Fanservice: The first two movies are blatant fanservice for revheads.
  • Follow the Leader: Responsible for a slew of low-grade post-apocalypse sci-fi movies during The Eighties.
  • Genre Popularizer: For the Scavenger World genre.
  • Hollywood Healing: Averted: Max's arm and leg in The Road Warrior are still in bad shape from his confrontation with Bubba and Toecutter, and his eye in Beyond Thunderdome is still healed from the climax of The Road Warrior. George Miller, the director, was a practicing emergency medical doctor before he became a director.
  • Iconic Outfit: Max's leathers, particularly as they appear in the second film, is considered the definitive post-apocalyptic ensemble to the point that it's appeared in some form or another in every Fallout game.
  • Implacable Man: Max, Humungus, Rictus Erectus, and Blaster. This last is a subversion.
  • In a World: The original trailers played this trope straight.
  • Ineffectual Loner: Despite his best efforts to keep to himself, Max always winds up allying with/helping out/getting saved by the victimized good guys.
  • Land Down Under: All of the films are at least partially filmed filmed in Australia, and the setting is in the outback.
  • Large Ham: Everyone in the first two movies save Mad Max himself (outstanding are villains such as Toecutter and Humungus). The fourth follows the Evil Is Hammy trend with all The Warboys.
  • Lighter and Softer: Before you say Beyond Thunderdome, Mad Max 2 is this to the terminally grim Mad Max.
  • Locked into Strangeness: Over the course of the second and third films, Max's sideburns become increasingly faded, presumably from the horrors he has witnessed or the great stress he is always under to survive. What with the apocalypse and all...
  • New Old West: All of the films have structures similar to Westerns, with motorcycle gangs and post-apocalyptic marauders taking the place of Western banditos.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: From The Road Warrior on, Max doesn't care about the plights of the people he comes across, and only helps them because it's advantageous (at least, at first).
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • In the sequels, the vast majority of characters go by some pseudonym. Lord Humungus, Papagallo, Toadie, MasterBlaster, Auntie Entity, Ironbar, Pig-Killer.... A look at the cast list of Fury Road shows that it continues this same trend.
    • Max himself is nicknamed - the Road Warrior, Raggedy Man, Captain Walker, Blood Bag - in the other movies. His real name Max is rarely used or mentioned from the second movie onward, befitting his role as a nameless wandering hero.
  • Post-Apunkalyptic Armor: The second and third film relied a lot on this trope. It seems that after the world collapsed, the gangs had the lion's share of leftover leather, spikes, spiked leather, scary masks and helmets, bits of metal, and strips of animal hide. The good people are usually stuck wearing cloth and rags. Even Max has patched his leather jacket up with a shoulder pad from some kind of sports armour. The fourth film continues this trend, though with a bit more in the way of combat gear.
  • Post Peak Oil: It is the cause of the collapse of society following the first film.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: At the end of each movie, Max has won the fight but lost everything he had. To really salt the wounds, in the second and third movie Max is left in the dirt while the people he's assisted go on to better lives. Whatever pleasure Max takes from helping others is left up to the viewer.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: George Miller has stated that the physical injuries he observed during his stint as a medical doctor would look more plausible if set in a post-apocalyptic setting. And co-writer James McCausland was inspired by his observations of the 1973 oil crisis on Australian motorists, who would resort to violence towards anyone who tried to jump the petrol queues.
  • Sawed-Off Shotgun: Max's signature weapon. The original script for the first movie reveals he made it by modifying one of the MFP's VG Bentley shotguns.
  • Scavenger World: Trope Codifier.
  • Scenery Porn: The movies have desert landscapes that can be pretty to look at before the explosions and flying car debris kick in.
  • Still Wearing the Old Colors: Max starts off wearing his MFP uniform for most of the first film, donning it for his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, possibly in order to keep innocents out of his way and gain access to the MFP's equipment. In the second film, he continues to wear the uniform, though it's in tatters and his badge is gone. In the third film, it's damaged further and he loses the jacket in the final battle.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Max, from The Road Warrior on. He's the titular character and the focus of the films, but he's never the hero of the story, instead showing up as a hired hand for the real hero (a la Han Solo in Star Wars: A New Hope).
  • Two-Part Trilogy: The Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome are almost completely different from the first Mad Max film, to the point where the sequels are rarely ever labelled Mad Max 2 or 3, and if collectors editions of the trilogy are made, only the last two movies are included. Although the recent Blu-ray collection does indeed include all three movies. On the other hand, much of the fandom considers only the first two movies to be this trope.
  • Walk the Earth: Max's fate.
  • World of Badass: Justified in that being a post-apocalyptic world, anyone who manages to survive needs to be badass!
  • World of Ham: Most of the villains enjoy Chewing the Scenery, as many of them are either Axe Crazy or are posturing for their followers.

    Mad Max (1979) 

  • 10-Minute Retirement: Subverted; Fifi says, "Again?" when Max hands in his notice, but on realizing he's serious tells him to take a couple of weeks holiday instead. Max does return, but only to steal his car for a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Ace Custom: Max's own Pursuit Special was built for him to entice him to stay with the MFP, but he ends up stealing it.
  • Action Prologue: The film opens with the Nightrider's escape from custody and the MFP's inept pursuit, culminating in Max taking up the case.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Goose arrives at the car chase just in time to crash his motorbike with everyone else, breaking his leg in the process.
    Civilian: What happened?
    Goose: (laughing) I don't know, mate. I just got here myself.
  • All Bikers Are Hells Angels: And ride Kawasakis
  • All There in the Manual: Max's line "May, call The Dark One" after Jessie is chased through the woods and the man they take Cundallini's severed hand to after they find it hanging from the van. Originally, he was Max's partner and May Swaisey's husband (you can still see "M. Rockatansky" and "The Dark One" on the Interceptor's fender). He is supposed to be played by an aboriginal actor who later cancelled the contract.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Sprog can be seen playing with Max's service revolver.
  • Big Bad: Toecutter, the leader of the biker gang.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted. Even if it is before the collapse of society, characters never fire more than two rounds in any one go.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Johnny's lighter.
    • Max's Holden Sandman's fan belt (though being stabbed in the radiator with a piece of the fence didn't help).
    • The last of the V8's (the duck's guts).
  • Cool Car: Max's Pursuit Special, "last of the V8 Interceptors."
  • Depraved Bisexual: The bikers have distinctly homoerotic overtones, but still find time to stalk Max's wife, and are strongly implied to have gang-raped both a man and a woman whose car they assaulted.
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • The Nightrider breaks down sobbing shortly before he crashes and it's implied his death spree is caused by his inability to deal with societal collapse.
    • Max's boss reaches this after Johnny the Boy walks free:
    From now on, you boys can do what you like out there, so long as the paperwork's clean.
    • Max himself after the bikers attack his family. It takes him up until towards the end of Mad Max 2 to regain some of his humanity.
  • The Determinator: Roop, who insists on chasing the Nightrider in an increasingly wrecked vehicle. All he gets is his partner permanently disabled.
  • Dirty Coward:
    • The Nightrider who opens the film leading the cops on a wild chase is ultimate shown to be this after all his bluster and bragging when he plays chicken with Max - only to find that Max isn't the incompetent pushover that the other cops were and breaks down in tears as Max chases him down.
    • The Toecutter when faced with Max, having gunned down Bubba, snarls and flees the scene.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Johnny the Boy's view on being egged to killing Jim Goose by setting him on fire in a wrecked truck.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Our hero's Establishing Character Moment. As the Nightrider taunts him over the radio after the massive pile-up, Max calmly pulls on his gloves and starts up his vehicle, slowly pulling out onto the highway.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: After his colleagues have had a mass pile-up, the Nightrider gleefully taunts Max over the radio as the audience is treated to a montage of Max calmly starting up his Pursuit Special.
  • Dodge by Braking: The Nightrider avoiding a blast from Roop's double-barreled shotgun.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Nightrider, as shown when he hits the brakes.
  • A Dog Named Dog: The dog that Max buys during his trip with his family isn't named.
  • Downer Ending: Max gets his revenge, but is now an empty shell of a man who cares about nothing.
  • The Dragon: Bubba Zanetti to Toecutter. It's somewhat understated, but the only time the bikers ever manage a decent attempt to kill Max is when Zanetti sets a trap, shoots him in the knee, and tries to run him down.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Bubba Zanetti regards Johnny the Boy with disdain for being a drug-addicted little weasel who is implied to only be kept around as Toecutter's male lover. Meanwhile, Johnny freaks out and tries to refuse when Toecutter attempts to make him burn Goose alive in his crashed car.
  • Everybody Owns A Ford: All the bikes were provided by Kawasaki and all the patrol cars (except the March Hare) are Ford Falcons bought from the Victoria Police Department. The Pursuit Special is a Ford Falcon coupé with a massive supercharger blower and a fascia added to the front.
  • Eye Pop: Nightrider and Toecutter the moment they see what's coming to them.
  • Game of Chicken: Occurs in the Action Prologue, when Max finally comes face to face with the Nightrider.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Max rushes to see the Goose in hospital, we see Goose's charred arm slide out from under the sheet. The camera (fortunately) cuts to Max's face as he pulls the sheet back, and his horrified reaction says it all.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Max becomes a hard and bitter man by the end of the film due to his battles with criminals. He quits the force because he's scared this will happen.
    Max: Any longer out on that road and I'm one of them, a terminal psychotic, except that I've got this bronze badge that says that I'm one of the good guys.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Max is the poster boy for this at the end of the movie.
  • Hollywood Police Driving Academy: All the members of the Main Force Patrol appear to have graduated from the Australian branch.
  • Homoerotic Subtext:
    • Johnny the Boy is obviously the biker gang's boy toy. At one point, Toecutter asserts his authority over him by making him suck the barrel of his shotgun, telling him, "Keep your sweet, sweet, mouth shut!"
    • The antics of the rest of the gang often have homoerotic overtones. The first thing Cundalini and Mudguts do after getting off their bikes is start sensuously dancing in the middle of the street.
    • The police chief, whose nickname is Fifi, dresses like a Hard Gay Leatherman on the job.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Early in the film there is a brief shot of two road signs. They read: "Anarchie" (Anarchy), and "Bedlam".
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit:
    • Yes, Max is wearing black leather in the scorching hot Australian Outback. This is apparently supposed to help in crashes, but Max never rides a motorcycle. It's implied that due to the shortage of MFP officers and poor funding, all those employed there rotate between driving the pursuit Interceptors and riding the police motorcycles. Also, a cut scene was to show Max and Goose having a friendly drag race, with Max on Goose's motorcycle and Goose in Max's Interceptor.
    • All the MFP officers wear the same leather outfits, even Fifi. It may just be the standard uniform in a culture where physical violence against the police is common.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills:
    • Bubba Zanetti kneecaps Max with a single well-aimed pistol shot at long range.
    • When the gang was setting an ambush for Goose, one of the members (standing on a hill) throws a wheel rim underhand up into the air, and it lands square in the middle of his windshield.
  • Infant Immortality: Played straight, then averted twice.
  • Just Before the End: In contrast to the sequels, as the film takes place as civilization is breaking down.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Not content to simply kill Johnny the Boy outright once he corners him, Max ankle-cuffs the sniveling little bastard to a wrecked truck (similar to what what he and the Toecutter did to Goose) where Johnny was stealing the boots of the dead driver (whom he may or may not have killed), sets the car to explode once enough gas builds up to the lighter and leaves Johnny with a hacksaw and two options before the car explodes - hack through the cuffs (which would take ten minutes) or hack through his ankle (which would take five minutes).
  • Leatherman:
    • Fifi Macaffee, Max's police chief.
    • The exact phrase is used by the nightclub singer during her torch song to Goose.
  • Mood Whiplash: The Nightrider is reduced from psychotic glee to blubbering fear after losing his Game of Chicken with Max. Justified as he is high on drugs.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Mae Swayze, the shotgun wielding old woman from the first film, manages to hold up the entire biker gang and unsuccessfully makes a stand against them when Jessie is run down by them.
  • No Name Given: His and Jessie's son is never called any name. He's just called "sprog", an Australian term for baby.
  • Oddly Small Organization:
    • The MFP seems to only have about half a dozen officers patrolling the highways. They're implied to be a hugely underfunded police force, where officers are forced to use whatever weapons come to hand and restrain prisoners with shackles.
    • This is even more apparent in MFP headquarters, which we only see staffed by Fifi, the mechanic, and an off-screen female dispatch officer. The building itself is a looted ruin.
  • Oh, Crap:
    • A split-second shot of Nightrider's bugged-out eyes as his car careens into an obstruction is an unusually disturbing example.
    • The Toecutter has time to rip off his goggles to reveal a similar look before being hit by a truck.
    • A Mass "Oh, Crap!" happens when a baby leaves his carriage and wanders out into the path of three onrushing Interceptors. A Disaster Dominoes pile-up ensues.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Averted. Max gets shot in the knee, rendering him with a limp and leg brace for the rest of the series.
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: Inverted. After dealing with Toecutter and Bubba, Max looks out Johnny, the remaining member of the biker gang.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: FiFi, Max's police captain. He is friendly with his officers, gives Max some time off when he tries to quit to think it over and tries his hardest to keep his men around despite dwindling resources and increasingly dangerous working conditions.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: At the end of the film, with Max taking out Toecutter's biker gang..
  • Rousing Speech
    Fifi: They say people don't believe in heroes anymore. Well damn them! You and me, Max, we're gonna give them back their heroes!
    Max: Ah, Fif. Do you really expect me to go for that crap?
    Fifi: You gotta admit I sounded good there for a minute, huh?
  • Sadistic Choice: Forcing Johnny to pick between sawing the handcuffs, which would take ten minutes, or sawing off his foot, which would take five, while cuffed to a car that's about to explode.
  • Same Language Dub: The movie was dubbed with American voice actors for the initial U.S. release, as the original actors' Australian accents and colloquialisms were deemed too opaque. Gibson provided his own dubbing, since he was born in America and could recall his old accent when needed.
  • Sedgwick Speech:
    Toecutter: Quit toying, Bubba!
    Bubba Zanetti: Easy! I know what I'm doing.
    (Bubba Zanetti then gets a shotgun round to the chest when he finally circles around to finish Max off)
  • Trailers Always Spoil: In video releases, the packaging revealed that Max's family are killed.
  • Tranquil Fury: Max displays this during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Twenty Minutes into the Future: The movie starts with the words "A Few Years From Now..."
  • The Voice: The female police dispatcher. Those with a keen ear can hear that she is broadcasting insights into the movie's verse, such as the slang "Bronze" for MFP officers is discouraged by the MFP itself and it's stated that Max's use of the Pursuit Special is unauthorized and that he may be a threat.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Once Max quits the force around halfway through the first movie, Fifi, Roop and Charlie are never seen again. Their absence may be explained by a Deleted Scene cited on the Mad Max Movies page. One scene claims that Fifi, Roop, and Charlie get killed in an attack by the bikers on the MFP headquarters. However, this footage has yet to be found.
    • Contrary to popular belief, Max's wife doesn't die in the film. After listing her catastrophic injuries, her doctor nonetheless states that she's "salvageable." Because we never see her after the attack and the film ends immediately after Max goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, her fate is left uncertain. She's certainly dead by the sequel, however.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Invoked with Toecutter's accent, which changes in every scene. Invoked by his actor Hugh Keays-Byrne to make Toecutter sound more insane.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Max is told that his V8 Interceptor was salvaged from various cars. Fifi is then seen listening in on Max enthusing over his new car, and it's revealed that Fifi had the car built to keep Max from retiring. The bureaucrat with him is not happy over the cost.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Johnny the Boy lies on the side of the road in order to draw Max out of his car so Bubba and the Toecutter can kill him. The only reason it doesn't succeed is because Bubba gets overconfident after he shoots Max's leg out and gets on the business end of Max's shotgun.
  • You Shall Not Pass: Subverted. Mae tries to hold off the bikers with her shotgun in the first film before Jessie and Sprog are run down. She misses.

     Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) 

  • Action Prologue: The film opens with Max being chased by the Lord Humongous' flunkies, well before we actually meet him.
  • Animal Companion: The cattle dog that accompanies in his travels across the wasteland.
  • The Bait:
    • The big rig tanker Max drives out of the compound turns out to be full of sand. The fuel is actually being hauled in 44 gallon drums in the bus, which escapes along with the rest of the civilians while the Vermin are busy chasing after Max.
    • The Gyro Captain uses his aircraft to lure Max.
  • Barbarian Longhair: Many of the bad guys have grungy hair-metal mullets.
  • Big Bad: Lord Humungus, who is besieging the oil refinery.
  • Big Badass Rig: The tanker truck that Max drives in the climax.
  • Bloody Hilarious: The Vermin roar with laughter after Toadie loses his fingers trying to catch the Feral Kid's metal boomerang.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted. Ammunition is shown to be extremely rare, especially in the second film. Max turns out to have been bluffing with an empty shotgun when he finds ammo again which turns out to be a dud. When he has functional ammo again during the final chase sequence, it takes him time to reload the few rounds he does have. The Lord Humungus has exactly five rounds for his Magnum, only loading it sparingly; he fires one shot at the truck when Max brings it back to the refinery and uses his last four at the start of the final chase. After that, he switches to triple bladed knives. Even before the collapse of society in the first film, characters never fire more than two rounds in any one go.
  • Fingore: Don't try catching bladed boomerangs with your bare hands. The results aren't pretty.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Pappagallo inspecting the egg timer.
    • The buses.
    • The booby trap on two counts: Max's car and the refinery.
  • Cool Pet: Dog, proving that blue heelers are fierce (the dingo blood probably doesn't hurt).
  • Cooldown Hug: Humungus "hugs" his lieutenant Wez as he is about to go on a premature, suicidal killing spree.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Max keeps his car booby trapped to explode should anybody attempt to siphon fuel from the tanks. Furthermore, he keeps a knife right next to the bomb's arming switch so he can use it against anyone who does attempt to persuade him to disarm it. The Gyro Captain figures this out pretty quickly.
  • Decapitated Army: Once Max has dispatched both Wez and The Lord Humungus by running them both over with a truck, the half a dozen or so remaining members of their gang look dejectedly at the crashed truck and drive off into the sunset.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Some of the villainous gang members are shown raping women, though Wez in particular had an androgynous guy riding with him who was implied to be more than just a friend, and they all were dressed in BDSM-style homoerotic clothing (cheekless pants, black leather galore, lots of chains and studs, leather facial masks, etc.).
  • Despair Event Horizon: It's heavily implied that, similar to Max, Humungus was a victim of this and chose to be bad; witness his "We have all lost someone we love" speech and the picture of himself and his wife (or, possibly his parents) that he keeps with his gun. Humungus was originally going to be Goose from the first film, having gone over to the dark side, but this was cut out of the finished script.
  • Dodge by Braking: Max does this at the beginning of the film when one of the Mooks chasing him pulls a crossbow on him. The bolt winds up in Wez's arm instead.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Nightrider, as shown when he hits the brakes.
  • Dog Food Diet: Max lives off cans of Dinky-Di dog food. You can even see crates of it stacked in the back of his car.
  • A Dog Named Dog: Max's Australian Cattle Dog. Its name is never given, and the script just calls it dog.
  • The Dragon: Wez to Lord Humungus, though Humungus is actually tougher than Wez.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Happens as the oil rig defenders fight to the last even though the rig is a decoy filled with sand. They still ensure the rest of their community escape to safety.
  • Eat the Dog: The Gyro Captain raises snakes as a food source as well as guards for his vehicle.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Lord Humungus' crew includes several women, though it's unclear whether they're actual members of the gang or tagalong prostitutes (or both). They're treated much better on-screen than unaffiliated female characters, anyway.
  • Genre Shift: The first movie portrayed Australia as a crime-ridden, crapsack world, and Max is a Cowboy Cop. The Road Warrior is post-apocalyptic, and Max is more like a traveling ronin or gunslinger.
  • Handicapped Badass: The mechanic has no legs.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Max thought he really was driving a full fuel truck and had no intention of being a decoy.
    • Papagallo would be a more straight example, since he knew the truth from the start and he was going to drive the truck anyway before Max came along. Also the rest of the truck defenders if they were in on the secret.
  • Hidden Depths: The Gyro Captain. He apparently has enough to become the leader of The Great Northern Tribe.
  • Homoerotic Subtext:
    • Wez wears assless chaps and drives around with his twink boyfriend clinging to his back. When his boy-toy gets killed, Wez goes berserk, and Humungus has to put him in a very intimate looking sleeper hold while whispering into his ear.
    • One group of guys under the Humungus's command is known as "Smegma Crazies," and another as "Gayboy Berserkers."
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • The Gyro Captain upon learning that Max has been bluffing him with an unloaded shotgun: "Empty, all this time! That's dishonest! Low."
    • Toadie knocks out the captive strapped to the front of Humungus' vehicle, then casts a guilty look at the compound while stroking the man's hair.
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: Lord Humungus must have a major case of sunburn.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills:
    • The mook shooting down the Gyrocopter with arrows would be nigh-impossible to pull off in real life.
    • Wez shoots a running rabbit with his arm crossbow.
    Toadie: You see! Nothing can escape! The Humungus rules the wastelands!
  • Improbable Weapon User: The Gyro Captain likes snakes - both as a booby-trap device and as a thrown weapon.
  • Leatherman: Wez, Humungus' Dragon
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Lord Humungus and many of his gang who wear police helmets and other assorted masks.
  • Narrator All Along: The Nostalgic Narrator of The Road Warrior turns out to be an elderly, dying Feral Child, now leader of the Great Northern Tribe.
  • Not So Different: Pappagallo plays it straight then turns it into "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
    Pappagallo: What is it with you, huh? What are you looking for? C'mon, Max, everybody's looking for something. You're happy out there, are you? Eh? Wandering? One day blurring into another? You're a scavenger, Max. You're a maggot. Did you know that? You're living off the corpse of the old world. Tell me your story, Max. C'mon. Tell me your story. What burned you out, huh? Kill one man too many? See too many people die? Lose some family?
    (Max briefly gives Pappagallo a Death Glare)
    Pappagallo: Oh, so that's it, you lost your family? That makes you something special, does it? Do you think you're the only one that's suffered? We've all been through it in here. But we haven't given up. We're still human beings, with dignity. But you? You're out there with the garbage. You're nothing.
  • Oh, Crap:
    • Wez wears a wide-eyed, fierce, almost haka face in practically every scene, but still manages to bug out his eyes even more when he is about to get crushed between Max's tanker and Humungus's speedcar.
    • A Black Comedy moment when the Gyro Pilot has a shotgun wired up in his face with Max's dog holding a cord to the trigger in its mouth. At one point the dog turns its head at the sight of a rabbit running past...Gulp!
    • The Vermin pursue Max right into the compound, but they manage to close the gate after only a couple of vehicles have gone through. The driver of the third vehicle finds himself looking down the muzzle of the gate flamethrower.
  • One Hit Poly Kill: The first shot Max fires during the climax takes out the driver of one car, which takes out another vehicle.
  • Peekaboo Corpse: Subverted as Max doesn't even blink when the crashed semi's long-dead driver falls out of the cab.
  • Pet the Dog: Max's attitude towards everyone is selfish and callous; the first crack in his Jerkass Façade is him clutching his dog protectively after it attacks the disabled mechanic and it looks like the others might harm it. His next moment is when he gives a wind-up music box to the Feral Kid.
  • Pop the Tires: Wez shoots his wrist-mounted crossbow at the tires of the Mack truck supposedly carrying the precious fuel. Since it's such a huge and powerful vehicle, it doesn't accomplish much, and the truck keeps on going despite the flattened tires.
    • It helps that no one ever tried shooting at the steering axle, the only one that didn't have dual-wheels.
  • Post-Apocalyptic Dog: An especially iconic one!
  • The Promised Land: Tthe villagers are trying to locate their own promised land.
  • Rasputinian Death: Wez takes impressive amounts of damage before finally collapsing.
  • Running The Blockade: Max tries to drive through the siege/blockade around the oil refinery but is intercepted and almost killed. At the end of the movie he tries again, driving the fuel tanker.
  • Still Wearing the Old Colors: One of the occupants of the refinery is an old gent still wearing his army uniform.
  • Stock Footage: Used for the opening narration.
  • Super Reflexes: Max is able to disable snakes with a single grab.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: In video releases, the packaging revealed that the fuel was in the bus, not the tanker.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: The Action Girl who takes on the task of guarding the oil tanker from above gets killed, while the Gyro Captain's more feminine Love Interest rides in the bus, which is not so much of a target.
  • Weapon for Intimidation: Max's shotgun for most of the movie. He uses it to bluff Wez into retreating at the start of the movie and rigs it up to keep the Gyro Captain captured. It's only when he searches some of the bodies by the autogyro and finds a single shotgun shell that we discover that the gun has been empty all along.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Bear Claw is the mook pinning Max from behind by holding to Max's shoulder during the film's final chase scene. When Max's truck crashes against Humungus's car, the truck flips as it falls by the roadside. Max and the Kid come out of the truck cabin alive, yet no clear explanation of Bear Claw's final fate is offered.
  • Wild Child: The "Feral Kid".
  • You! Exclamation: "YOU! You can run, but you can't hide!"

    The video games 

  • Cool Car: The Magnum Opus from the upcoming game, due to being completely customizable.
  • Dog Food Diet: Dinki-Di dog food returns as a healing item in the upcoming video game.
  • Eldritch Location: The 2015 game has a soft border around the world map called the "Big Nothing", a hellish landscape of unending sand and lightning storms. Max can attempt to journey into it to find rare parts for the Magnum Opus, although doing so is a death sentence.
  • In Name Only: The video game adaptation initially dropped the Australian accents and the setting, with the company admitting to treating it as an entirely new story instead of a Mad Max game, resulting in something that appeared as nothing more than a generic post-apocalyptic game rather than anything resembling the Mad Max series. Although a combination of a petition to have Mad Max voiced by an Australian (eventually revealed to be actor/martial artist Bren Foster), George Miller intervening and setting down some ground rules for creating the Wasteland, and having the KMM production company create all the characters has done a great deal to alleviate the concerns of the fans.


"The future belongs to the mad."

Alternative Title(s):

The Road Warrior, Mad Max 2