Pumpkin: I love you, Honey Bunny... Everybody, be cool, this is a robbery!
Honey Bunny: Any of you fucking pricks move, and I'll execute every motherfucking last one of you!
Pulp Fiction is a 1994 crime drama told in the Quentin Tarantinotrademarknonlinear fashion. It covers three stories, all interconnected.The first is about two hitmen, Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta), who are out to retrieve a briefcase stolen from their employer, Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). This leads into two subplots, one about Vincent being ordered to also take Marsellus's wife Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) out for a night on the town while Wallace is out of town doing business, and another about Jules and Vincent accidentally shooting a guy named Marvin in the face and trying to clean it up.The second is about an aging boxer named Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) who is paid by Wallace to throw a fight. Instead, Butch bets on himself and wins (accidentally killing the other boxer in the process), making swift plans to leave the country straight after. But before he can do this, he has to recover a certain gold watch that belonged to his father, which promptly leads into the weirdest day of his life, involving Marsellus, Vincent, and a pair of seriously nasty hillbillies.The third story which actually bookends the film is about a pair of robbers named Pumpkin and Honey Bunny (Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer) who spontaneously hold up a restaurant ...a restaurant that Jules and Vincent are eating in.Known for its rich, eclectic, pop-culture-laden dialogue, and mix of humor and over-the-top violence, Pulp Fiction is known as one of the best, most iconic films to come out of The Nineties. Also somewhat infamous for the controversy over proper writing credits. The Gold Watch chapter originated as an original script by Roger Avary. Tarantino bought the script with the intention of adapting it, as one would do a novel. In the final credits, Avary is given a "story by" listing.There is also an interesting review of the layers and story in one segment of the movie, the "gold watch" incident, which can be found here.Not to be confused with actual Pulp Fiction as a genre, which is found under Pulp Magazine.
Winston Wolf trumps Them both though. A dapper, elegant gentleman with excellent manners and genuinely nice who will dispose of dead bodies to "solve problems " — possibly the nicest thing he does for a living.
Vincent & Jules are Villain Protagonists or Type V Anti-Heroes, but Jules becomes Type III or arguably Type II near the end.
As Herself: Kathy Griffin is cast as herself. She's the red-haired woman who witnesses the crash Butch and Marcellus are involved in.
As the Good Book Says: Jules Winnfield is fond of quoting what he claims is Ezekiel 25:17 before executing someone. He explains to one character, he "always thought it was some cold blooded shit to say to a motherfucker before I popped a cap in his ass," but then he started to think seriously about what it means. The speech is actually lifted almost directly from a Badass Boast in the Sonny Chiba film Karate Kiba, with only the final lines, "And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger [...] And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee," actually taken from the aforementioned passage.
As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Esmarelda Villalobos. Colombia is the world's leading source of emeralds. No Colombian ever would name their child "Esmarelda" but "Esmeralda" (the Spanish word for Emerald). However, there's always the possibility that her name was misspelled In-Universe.
Asian Store Owner: The opening conversation includes a lament about how this trope has made knocking over convenience stores nearly impossible; as Pumpkin explains, the small business owners are all either Jewish or Asian. In the former case, the business has been in the family for "fifteen fucking generations," so naturally they're going to be rather defensive when some jerk with a gun comes in. In the latter, they're scared by the gun, but they don't speak English well enough to understand "open the register."
Ass Shove: Captain Koons' "your father's watch" speech.
The Atoner: While Butch claims not to care about killing his opponent, he mutters, "Sorry, Floyd," to the air when he hears the news. His compulsion to save Marsellus may be connected.
While we don't see it, it seems Jules is starting down this path.
"The truth is, you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo, I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd."
Author Appeal: Mia goes barefoot in at least two of her scenes, and foot massages come up in conversation twice. Esmarelda drives her cab barefoot, as well. Tarantino's foot fetish is well known at this point.
Blah Blah Blah: When Honey Bunny and Pumpkin talk about quitting robbing.
Honey Bunny: [very affectionately] You sound like a duck. Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack.
Blown Across the Room: One version of the script lovingly describes Vince Vega being catapulted through the bathroom door and crashing through the glass shower screen after Butch shoots him. However, probably due to the difficulty of shooting such a scene in a cramped bathroom, this was toned down in the film itself to Vincent merely stumbling backward into the shower from shock.
Book Ends: The film begins and ends at the diner, but from different POV's.
Also the Ezekiel Bible verse is used early on in the film, but by the end it takes on a different meaning.
Bowdlerise: The broadcast version of the film goes to extreme measures to eliminate the existence of the character of The Gimp.
Break Up Make Up Scenario: when Butch yells at Fabienne for forgetting his father's watch, to the point of making her cry. Next time he sees her, he gives her his first genuine apology.
Breakout Character: Jules Winnfield, when the movie first came out the character was overshadowed by the marketing around Vincent Vega and Travolta's Career Resurrection. Years later, Jules is seen as the most popular character from the film and even gets argued as the "true" main character.
Does Marcellus Wallace look like a bitch? He does now.
Jules: And Marsellus Wallace don't like to be fucked by anybody except Mrs. Wallace.
In The Bonnie Situation, Jules tries to (unsuccessfully) placate Jimmy by over-complimenting him on how good his coffee tastes. Later on Jimmy makes a cup for Winston Wolf who, upon tasting it, smiles and raises the mug slightly in approval. Evidently, the high quality of the coffee was no lie.
Bumbling Sidekick: Vincent to Jules. Notably, Vincent's incompetence gets him killed barely a day or two after Jules retires.
Cleanup Crew: Harvey Keitel plays the genteel Winston Wolf. Wolf takes charge and "solves problems," including corpse disposal.
Cliché Storm: In-universe: the Fox Force Five pilot described by Mia Wallace. From what she says, it appears to be a very generic and cheesy Five Girl Band series that wasn't picked up for a good reason.
The manager is credited as "Coffee Shop" because when he's about to say "I'm a coffee shop manager" to Pumpkin he was cut off.
Producer Lawrence Bender is "Long Haired Yuppie-Scum"
Emil Sitka is "Hold Hands, You Love Birds!", his "line" in the Three Stooges short Lance was watching.
The bartender's actual name in the script is English Bob (referenced by Jules in the diner scene). But his "My name is Paul and this is between y'all" line was so awesome that he's credited as "Paul" instead.
Deconstructive Parody: Of crime thrillers. Even feared crime lord Marcellus Wallace makes stupid mistakes. If you pay attention you'll notice that Vince is constantly incompetent, gets indignant at the merest chastening for his incompetence and is probably riding Jules' coattails in the gangster business. This is all masked by his genre-standard charisma.
Exact Words: When he wakes up Marsellus and Butch, Maynard tells them "No one kills anyone in my place of business, except me or Zed." That's exactly what happens.
Extremely Short Timespan: Aside from Butch's flashback, the entire film takes place over two (possibly non-consecutive) days:
Day 1 (about 7:30am - 4:00am) - Vincent and Jules talk to Brett and deal with Marvin, Pumpkin and Honey Bunny rob a diner, Jules retires, Marcellus and Butch make a deal, Vincent shows Mia a good time.
Day 2 (about 8:00pm - 11:00am) - The rest of Butch's story.
Faux Affably Evil: Jules when he and Vincent show up at Brett's apartment. Jules comes in, acts civil and friendly, and even politely asks Brett if he can take a bite of his burger and a drink of his Sprite. Of course, throughout the entire discussion, everyone present knows that Jules and Vincent are hitmen who, at best, are here to recover the glowy thingy in the briefcase, and at worst, are here to kill them, so Jules' act of civil politeness just serves to ratchet up the tension, until Jules finally dispenses with the whole thing and breaks Brett's concentration by shooting his buddy.
Foreshadowing: Jules on Marsellus Wallace, "Does he look like a bitch?" "No." "Then, why did you try to fuck him like a bitch?...You tried to fuck him. And Marcellus Wallace does not like to be fucked by anybody except Missus Wallace."
Near the beginning of Butch's story when Esmerelda asks him what it feels like to kill a man, he can't answer because he didn't do it knowingly. By the end of Butch's story and two corpses later, Butch could probably describe the feeling in detail.
The conversation about Mr. Wallace's apparent Disproportionate Retribution to the man that allegedly gave Mrs. Wallace a foot massage serves to build up the tension for the temptation and nervousness that Vince will be feeling when he has to take Mia out for the evening.
Funny Background Event: By itself it's not particularly funny, but the classy party Winston Wolf is attending when he receives the summons to help Jules and Vincent becomes a lot funnier when you realize it's not even eight o'clock in the morning when it's taking place.
Groin Attack: Marsellus puts a shotgun blast into the groin of his rapist.
Hand Cannon: The giant revolver carried by the third guy in Brett's apartment.
Heel Realization: The entire final part of the movie involves Jules' realization that he was, in fact, a tool used by wicked men. It's left unknown whether or not he helped Pumpkin and Honey Bunny have the same sort of realization as well.
Hypocritical Humor: Whether it was intended for humor or not, in one scene, Jules tells Vincent to stop committing blasphemy by taking God's name in vain. Before and after that scene, however, Jules has no problem using the same language he scolded Vincent for, himself.
During the opening scene, Pumpkin complains about how "too many foreigners own liquor stores", which makes robbing them harder. Pumpkin is an Englishman in America — a foreigner, in other words.
Ironic Echo: Butch telling Marcellus "That's pride fucking with you" while hitting him in the head.
Jerkass: Most of the characters aren't renowned for their bedside manners, yet the liberal and unapologetic use of profanity is so widespread that it isn't a defining trait in-story. Vincent's behaviour is particularly obnoxious as he outright antagonizes others without a real reason. Zed and Maynard go way beyond sociopathic territory and are just monstrous.
Karma Houdini: Pumpkin and Honey Bunny are made to give back the MacGuffin briefcase and Jules's wallet... but, other than that, they get to keep all the loot they've robbed, including the contents of the register, several of the other diners' wallets and a cell phone, and walk away entirely unharmed - while, admittedly, looking rather shook up. Of course, Jules has made it expressly clear that if it were any other day, he'd have just popped them both and finished his coffee, but he's making a conscious effort to change his ways.
Jules probably realized that they would need enough money to live on for a few months to be able to resist the temptation of returning to a life of crime. He even gave them the money from his own wallet towards that end.
Let's hope they do; if they go on with Pumpkin/Ringo's scheme, they'll soon find out that coffee shop owners may not pack heat, but their patrons often do.
Katanas Are Just Better: Butch chooses a katana over a variety of other weapons, including a chainsaw. The trope can be justified by the fact that Butch is trying to sneak up on two men armed with guns, and a chainsaw is not very sneaky, but Butch is clearly awed by the katana and sees it as the most AWESOME weapon.
The Knights Who Say Squee: While Vincent and Jules are established early on to be very seasoned and brutally efficient mob hitmen, they themselves are completely awestruck later when they have the opportunity to meet Winston Wolf, who is apparently a well-respected veteran within Marsellus' criminal organization. Even later while eating breakfast at the diner, the two continue to gush over how cool and awesome it was to work with him.
Large Ham: Jules at many points, such as the ending and of course the infamous "Describe what Marsellus Wallace looks like!" bit. Given that Evil Is Hammy, deliberate - and it works.
Laser-Guided Karma: When they first meet, Vincent goes out of his way to needlessly antagonise Butch. The second time they meet, Butch has found Vincent's carelessly-dropped gun in his apartment and pointing it at him as Vincent exits the bathroom. From the looks on both men's faces just before Butch pulls the trigger, it's clear they both remember the earlier conversation only too well.
Left Your Lifesaver Behind: Vincent is waiting for Butch to show up at his (Butch's) house to kill him. While waiting Vincent needs to go to the bathroom, so he leaves his Ingram MAC-10 on the kitchen counter. While he's in the bathroom Butch shows up, and uses the Ingram to kill the unarmed Vincent as he leaves the bathroom. The DVD commentary informs us that the gun belonged to Marsellus, not Vincent. But still.
The first of Marsellus' two things he asks of Butch after Butch saves him from Zed's... attentions.
Mia and Vincent decide to never speak to Marcellus about what happened.
The Load: While seemingly a cool and badass hitman at first, it soon comes to light Vincent Vega is an idiot. At least one person dies and another comes near it due to his general carelessness and a few of the conflicts inside the film are due to it.
Two, if we count himself.
When visiting the apartment in the beginning of the film, Vincent and Jules express deep concern over the fact that there could be as many as five guys there, all possibly armed. So what does Vincent do when they show up? Check the other rooms for mooks? Nope. Ask if there's anyone else there? Nope. He just sort of dicks around in the kitchen.
Fabienne is also the load to Butch. He would have just skipped town and avoided all the trouble in his plot line, except that she accidentally left his most valued possession behind in their apartment when she packed their stuff (even though he specifically reminded her to get it). Also, when he shows up at the end, beaten and bloodied and riding a stolen motorcycle, she ignores his repeated pleas for her to hurry up and get on, and just stands there in the parking lot asking him stupid questions.
Magic Bullets: One of the major plot points involves the "bad bullets" version of this trope, where a man empties a high-caliber revolver at Jules and Vincent (at almost point blank range), but completely misses them. After killing him, Jules and Vincent examine the bullet holes in the wall, which the camera could not see until they stepped back, suggesting that the bullets should have passed through them. Lampshaded and arguably justified, as Jules points out that it couldn't possibly be anything but divine intervention and Vincent has no better rebuttal than any other Flat Earth Atheist. However, the commentary points out that some bullet holes were already in the wall when Vince and Jules went in.
In Vince's defense, he didn't say he didn't believe in miracles, just that in his opinion what happened to them didn't count as one. Possibly skepticism that God would step in to save two professional murderers. God certainly didn't save Vince from getting shot the next day. Or maybe it was God granting them a last chance of choosing the right path, which Vince ignored.
And Jules wasn't so much concerned with whether or not there was some supernatural element obvious, but rather he felt God's presence. Even if there was a perfectly scientific reason why he survived, as long as he felt God's intervention, then it counted as a miracle.
Meaningful Background Event: In the first scene, when Pumpkin and Honey Bunny are discussing the merits of robbing liquor stores or restaurants, Vincent can be briefly seen heading for the bathroom, and Jules can be overheard in the background (listen here starting at 3:06).
Meaningful Name: Butch has a discussion regarding the meaning of names with a taxi driver who has some interest in the subject. He claims that for Americans, "our names don't mean shit". Which seems rather a strange thing for a professional boxer named Butch to say.
Messy Pig: Jules gives this as a reason for why, despite not being Jewish, he doesn't eat pork.
Mood Whiplash: Captain Koons' speech to young Butch starts off seriously, but then takes an abrupt turn for the absurd halfway through. Yet, somehow, the drama is not completely lost, and Butch's obsession with keeping the watch safe seems completely justified. A lot of the credit for this goes to Christopher Walken, who is possibly the only actor in the world who could deliver the second half of that speech seriously.
A lot of the movie specializes with this, with things like pleasant, polite Honey Bunny transforming into a shrieking, swearing robber, or Jules and Vincent's rambling conversations concluding with dramatic assassinations. In general, the movie enjoys portraying ordinary people who happen to transform into criminals.
Noodle Incident: Tony Rocky Horror getting thrown by Marsellus Wallace. Rumor is Tony gave Mia a foot massage but Mia writes it off as bullshit and says she doesn't know why Marsellus chucked him either. It's not totally clear whether or not she's telling the truth, however; Vincent still seems slightly dubious.
Noodle Implements: Marsellus Wallace tells Butch that he's going to call several of his men to "go to work" on his rapist Zed with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch, then proceeds to tell Zed that he's going to "get medieval on his ass." (Besides the obvious, the other implication of those tools is that the men will be Disposing of a Body. The blowtorch is for burning off his finger- and toeprints; the pliers are for pulling out teeth, so he can't be tracked via dental records. No-one will ever know what happened to him.)
N-Word Privileges: "Nigger" is peppered throughout the script, said by (and to) white and black characters alike. The most famous being Jimmie (who is married to a black woman), and his query about whether his garage has a sign saying "Dead Nigger Storage". If you are curious: it hasn't.
Pants Positive Safety: After ditching their bloodied suits from the Marvin incident, Jules and Vincent are seen carrying their guns in their waistbands.
Those gym shorts must have been cinched up tight to not be falling down from the weight of those guns.
Plot Hole: Jules identifies one of the people in the shakedown scene as "Brett" (and that's what most people call the character), but when Brett is asked why the French call a quarter-pounder a "Royale with cheese" and answers, "The metric system", Jules declares, "Check out the big brain on Brad!"
Pride: Discussed by Marsellus Wallace when he talks to Butch: "The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That's pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps." He's trying to convince Butch to throw a fight by suggesting that his career as a boxer is essentially over, making this something of a Breaking Speech. Butch later turns it around on Marsellus while he's beating him up, taunting him with "See that? That's pride fucking with you."
Rant Inducing Slight: Depending on how you see it, Vincent's mild insult to Butch ("I ain't your friend, Palooka") may be what inspired Butch to back out of his deal with Marsellus and cause the whole mess in the second third of the story.
With the flashback/dream to his father's war buddy giving him the watch immediately preceding the fight, it seemed more like Butch decided to not taint his family's legacy, considering he comes from at least three generations of war heroes who kept fighting to the bitter end. Granted, he had made plans to take the money and run beforehand, but maybe we just witnessed the last of a string of recurring flashbacks leading up to the fateful match.
Word of God is that it was diamonds. Theories say that they are the same robbed in Reservoir Dogs, which makes sense since they share a universe, Mr. Pink escaped with them and no longer had a boss to give them to.
Share the Male Pain: Take a good long look at Butch after Zed gets blasted by the shotgun. Butch spends all but a couple seconds in the next few minutes of conversation covering his crotch.
It's not quite clear what he is actually doing with his hands - one could also assume that he is resting his hands on the hilt of the katana.
Shared Universe: With Resovoir Dogs. An early draft of the script even had the briefcase containing the diamonds from that movie. Some fans have created theories that the two movies actually take place at about the same time, which would explain how Jules and Vincent manage to avoid having their antics noticed by the police; all the city's cops are busy dealing with the robbery. Also Word of God says that Vincent is Mr. Blonde's brother.
It also apparently takes place in the same continuity as the Howard Hawks film Air Force. Winocki, the man who brought the gold watch back to America after Butch's grandfather was killed at Wake Island was a character in the film.
Ship Tease: Vincent and Mia. Vincent even has to spend several minutes in the bathroom convincing himself that he'll politely leave so not to end up betraying his boss.
Vincent: Is this what you call an uncomfortable silence?
Mia: I don't know what you call this. (They share a Held Gaze)
Shot to the Heart: Vincent does this to Mia, since they don't want a drug lord's wife going to the hospital with a drug OD. In reality, she almost certainly would have died unless 911 was called. The epinephrine may have restarted her stopped heart, but it would do nothing about the heroin still in her system, she'd probably be tachycardic from the epi, and she'd probably also get an infection from the unsterilized needle in her chest. Plus that's not how heroin affects the body when inhaled, though the needle was almost certainly sterile, being from a sealed container in a medical kit.
The scene where Butch is stopping at a crosswalk and Marcellus walks by is very similar to a scene in Psycho.
Jules' expanded version of Ezekiel 25:17 directly quotes the Sonny Chiba film Karate Kiba (released in the West as The Bodyguard—with "and you will know my name is THE LORD" (one of the few bits actually from Ezekiel) replacing "and they shall know that I am Chiba the Bodyguard". A lot of the original speech is cannibalised from famous Biblical verses, though — "the path of the righteous man" from Isaiah 26:7, "[my] brother's keeper" from Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:9), "through the valley of darkness" from Psalm 23, among others.
Charley Varrick: In that film, Boyle tells Young that their bosses will most likely go to work on Young with "a pair of pliers and a blowtorch" for failure on the job and possible betrayal.
Jules' blue shirt has a monochromatic version of the current page image for Krazy Kat.
While trying to placate Jimmy, Jules says, "That's Kool and the Gang," referencing a funk band whose "Jungle Boogie" also appears on the soundtrack.
Jules refers to his gun as "Mr. Nine Millimeter" to Ringo during the diner standoff; while the gun Jules uses appears to be a .45 caliber 1911 pistol, it's represented by a 9mm Star Model B clone. The only way to identify them at all is by the external extractor, a tiny strip of metal on the right side of the slide, and the lack of a grip safety, a button on the grip covered by the palm when held.
Everything Vincent says about Amsterdam was true at the time of the movie's release. Not surprising, since Tarantino apparently spent some time there while writing the script.
Speech Impediment: Discussed. Being thrown out of a balcony and falling four storeys messed Tony Rocky Horror really good. He developed a speech impediment over it, according to Jules.
Stupid Crooks: Vincent has a large number of personal What an Idiot moments, two of which are directly in relation to his job as a hitman and enforcer for Marcellus Wallace's criminal empire. Not only does he provide us the Trope Name for I Just Shot Marvin in the Face, but Vincent also leaves Marcellus' submachinegun in plain view while he goes to the bathroom at Butch's apartment when he's supposed to be waiting for Butch to show up and kill him. Butch does show up, and, upon noticing the gun, picks it up and shoots Vincent dead after he steps out of the bathroom.
Jules and Vincent going to breakfast at a Denny's less than 400 yards from the place they shot three people at under two hours prior. The restaurant is a Denny's in the script, and you can see the sign as Jules and Vincent are walking to the hit, talking about Mia. Of course, given the operating procedures of law enforcement in the Tarantino-verse and especially in this movie, this may not be that big a deal.
It's also possible it was a completely different Denny's. It is a chain, after all.
Take Our Word for It: The audience never sees what Marsellus Wallace sent Vincent and Jules to retrieve, but, going by the glow that radiates from the briefcase containing it, and the reactions of all the characters who see it, we're to believe it's pretty fantastic. Tarantino originally intended it to be the loot from Reservoir Dogs, but changed it to an unseen light, and has stated that it's "whatever you want."
Third Person Flashback: At flashback to when Butch is given his father's watch, with Captain Koons telling him the story, starts in first-person but then goes third.
Throwing the Fight: Butch is supposed to take a dive. He does not. Things get out of control from there.
Too Dumb to Live: Vincent, so very very much. He lasts about a day without his Hypercompetent Sidekick Jules after he finds religion and retires. Possibly justified by his extensive drug use, likely only now escalating to the point of affecting his work.
To the Pain: Marsellus is about to "get medieval on your ass".
Translation By Volume: Played With. When the hitman Jules psychologically tortures his future victim Brett, he plays with this concept. He's half-infuriated, half-amused that the poor and confused boy answers him several times with only "what?", which leads to this iconic and memetic exchange:
Jules: What ain't no country I ever heard of! Do they speak English in What?