main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Film: Pulp Fiction

Honey Bunny: I love you, Pumpkin.
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 Tarantino trademark nonlinear 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 (the other boxer drops dead of a heart attack during the fight 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 called 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.

Not to be confused with actual Pulp Fiction as a genre, which is found under Pulp Magazine.

Tropes, muthafucka! Do you speak them?!:

  • Adult Fear: Drug overdose. Or on the flip-side, getting sub-par medical treatment that could easily kill you with a single slip.
  • Affably Evil:
    • Jules and Vince.
    • Winston Wolf, 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.
  • Afro Asskicker: Jheri Curl flavor.
  • Alliterative Name:
    • Vincent Vega, continuing the legacy of Vic Vega.
    • Also, Winston Wolf.
  • All There in the Manual: According to the script, the briefcase contained diamonds. Tarantino felt this was too similar to the plot of Reservoir Dogs, and left it ambiguous.
  • Anachronic Order: Quentin Tarantino's trademark style of storytelling. Here's how the film would play in chronological order:
    1. Prelude to "The Gold Watch" (Captain Koons talks to young Butch)
    2. Prelude to "The Bonnie Situation" (Jules and Vince discuss Europe and foot massages, then kill Brett and retrieve the case)
    3. "The Bonnie Situation"
    4. Prologue—The Diner (Pumpkin and Honey-Bunny discuss the robbery)
    5. Epilogue—The Diner (standoff between the robbers and Jules/Vince)
    6. Prelude to "Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace's Wife" (Marsellus instructs Butch to throw the fight and Butch has a minor confrontation with Vince)
    7. "Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace's Wife"
    8. Prelude to "The Gold Watch" (Butch and his French girlfriend talk about pot bellies)
    9. "The Gold Watch".
  • An Aesop: Redemption. Jules is a sadistic murderer, but he redeems himself by sparing the robbers and resolving to live a more spiritual life. Butch breaks his word and kills a man by accident, but he redeems himself by living up to the example of "the gold watch" and refusing to leave Marcellus at the rapists' mercy. Both get happy endings. Vincent, who scoffs at Jules' redemption, does not change his ways and does not get a happy ending.
  • Anti-Hero:
    • Butch, Type III
    • 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.
  • Artistic License - Medicine: See Shot to the Heart below.
  • 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: Is described happening twice during 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."
  • Audible Sharpness: The katana.
  • 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.
  • Badass: Jules, Butch, Marsellus Wallace.
    • Subverted with Vincent, who initially comes off as a standard one of these but is gradually revealed as simply good at making himself look like one and is actually the least competent person in the movie by a wide margin.
  • Badass Back: Butch killing Maynard. After wounding him with a Diagonal Cut he then moves on Zed and casually shoves his katana backwards into Maynard's stomach.
  • Bald Black Leader Guy: Marsellus Wallace, clearly.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: In-Universe, Jules has taken some serious artistic license in adapting Exekiel 25:17 into a Badass Creed.
  • Berserk Button: Butch, when he realizes that Fabienne has not packed his father's wrist watch.
  • Big Bad: Marsellus Wallace. Most of the time at least. This trope gets taken to some really crazy places...
  • Black and Gray Morality: Just about everyone in the film is morally dubious at best, but only Maynard and Zed are actually treated as villains.
  • Black Comedy
  • 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.
  • Bloody Hilarious: "I Just Shot Marvin in the Face."
  • 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.
    • The broadcast version also changes Jules's memetic line to Brett and Roger into "English, little sucker, do you speak it?" — probably one of the few cases where it would have been better for the censors to just cut out that word entirely.
  • Bound and Gagged: Butch and Marsellus.
  • 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.
  • Brick Joke:
    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.
  • Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: One of Vincent's more... endearing qualities.
  • The Cameo: Steve Buscemi as the Buddy Holly waiter.
  • Camping a Crapper: Vincent meets his end seconds after leaving Butch's bathroom.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Butch has two. The first isn't strictly a nightmare (the second isn't shown).
  • Cavalier Consumption: While Jules and Vincent are putting on a hit. Man, Big Kahuna Burgers are tasty.
  • Central Theme: Redemption - each of the segments features characters receiving (perhaps undeserved) second chances.
  • Chainsaw Good: Referenced,then averted: Butch considers a chainsaw when choosing his weapon for taking down the pawn shop rapists (he also sees and discards a carpenter's hammer and a baseball bat before spotting the katana.)
  • Chance Meeting Between Antagonists:
    • When Vincent Vega is caught unexpectedly by Butch. Vega was waiting in Butch's apartment to kill him, but has to use the bathroom. By chance, Butch shows up at that exact moment to find his gold watch. He decides to have a quick snack...and notices Vega's submachine gun lying on the counter. Cue toilet flush, Vega walking out, both men being startled...
      • Word of God states that the SMG was actually Marcellus'. Vince took his gun with him to the toilet, but Butch was quicker on the draw.
    • The scene where Butch is waiting at a stoplight. Who should cross the street at that exact moment but Marcellus Wallace, the man who put the hit out on him.
  • 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.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Butch's wife has shades of this with the things she talks about.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: And fucking how, you fucking motherfucker pissant piece of motherfucking fuckshit. On many TV broadcasts, there's at least one scene where instead of blocking out individual words, the audio just gives out entirely.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: What's going to be happening to Zed. With pliers and a blowtorch.
    Marsellus: I'm-a get medieval on your ass.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back: Butch going back to save Marcellus after escaping The Gimp
  • Creator Cameo: Quentin Tarantino plays Jimmie.
  • Credits Gag:
    • 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.
  • Decoy Protagonist: As stated above, while Vince initially clearly comes off as the suave bad boy protagonist, once it becomes clear the movie isn't a typical crime thriller it also becomes clear that he's not the protagonist. His death scene is ultimately briefly grazed over during Butch's story.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Zed and his buddies.
  • Destination Defenestration: Discussed. Marsellus threw Tony Rocky Horror out a four-story building for unknown reasons.
  • Dies Wide Open: Vincent
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • A case rumoured but untrue—Marcellus didn't throw Tony Rocky Horror out a window because he massaged his wife's feet.
    • The conversation about Vince's Malibu getting keyed has him and his dealer buddy fantasizing about dealing some of this trope out to the offender.
    "No judge, no jury - straight to the executioner."
  • Double Take: Marcellus, when he spotted Butch escaping. Complete with a Precision F-Strike which, if you consider the movie, is improbably precise.
    Marcellus: "...motherfucker."
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Played straight and inverted during the final confrontation. It's straight when Pumpkin is telling Jules to put his wallet in the trash bag, and he cocks his gun to show that he's serious. Inverted by Jules; after holding Pumpkin at gunpoint for a speech about how he's changing his ways, Jules uncocks his gun, letting Pumpkin walk away.
    • Played straight when Marcellus rises up from behind Butch holding Maynard's shotgun and cocks it loudly in slow-motion, before shooting Zed in the groin.
  • Driving a Desk: Tarantino chose what looks like a 1940s black-and-white street background for the scene where Esmerelda drives Butch away from the fight. Most likely, it's intended as a homage to the kind of 1940s pulp noir films that Pulp Fiction is named in honour of and evokes.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Vincent. After being the central character of the previous story, he comes out of the bathroom and gets shot by Butch before he can even say or do anything.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Mia nearly dies from an overdose, and the off-the-grid "medical treatment" she receives is rather disturbing.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Not only does Butch recover his father's watch and survive battles with four individual enemies, he slaughters two of those enemies and makes peace with a third. Not a bad day's work.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: In one of the most iconic uses of this trope, Jules slow-plays his intimidation of Brett by very politely asking for a bite of his burger and then slurping down the rest of his soda. Once he's finished, things become more overtly nasty.
  • Enemy Mine: When Butch goes back to rescue Marsellus Wallace.
  • Ensemble Cast: There's no real central character, and each of the major characters gets at least a scene in the spotlight.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Marsellus runs a pretty diverse group for an organized crime outfit. It's especially odd, considering Vince is the brother of a guy working for a more typical Mafia group whose leader makes a few rather unfortunate remarks about blacks.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When Butch saves Marcellus instead of leaving him to be raped to death by Maynard and Zed, Marcellus forgives Butch (despite the fact Marcellus is then holding a shot gun) and agrees that in exchange for taking the story of him being raped to the grave and leaving town, he will not retaliate.
  • 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:
    • Wednesday (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.
    • Thursday (about 8:00pm - 11:00am) - The rest of Butch's story.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • "NOOOOOOOOOOO!!" Brett
    • "Man, I don't even have an opinion." Marvin
  • Fan Disservice: The rape scene.
  • Fate Worse than Death: What Marsellus has planned for Zed.
  • 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.
  • The Fifties: Jack Rabbit Slim's is heavily inspired by The Theme Park Version of this.
  • Five-Bad Band
  • 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.
  • Freestate Amsterdam: Vincent tells us about this.
  • 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.
  • Genius Ditz: Vincent isn't completely dumb: he can speak a little French. Plus:
    [Vincent points at the various Jack Rabbit Slim's servers.]
    Vincent: That is Marilyn Monroe. And that is Mamie Van Doren. I don't see Jayne Mansfield, so it must be her night off.
    Mia: Pretty smart.
    Vincent: Yeah, I got my moments.
  • Gorn
  • 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. Jules and Vincent comment on its size.
  • Hash House Lingo: The retro Malt Shop Jackrabbit Slim's uses hash house lingo in its menu. Mia orders her milkshake "Martin and Lewis" rather than "Amos and Andy" (vanilla rather than chocolate). Meat is ordered either "burnt to a crisp" or "bloody as hell."
  • 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.
  • Hyperlink Story
  • Hypocritical Humor: Whether it was intended for humor or not, shortly after his Heel-Faith Turn, Jules tells Vincent to stop committing blasphemy by taking God's name in vain. 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.
  • Ice-Cream Koan: Deconstructed. At first Jules Catch Phrase seems like this, which Jules even lampshades, but when he's given a reason to think about it he realizes that it's actually highly applicable to his life, just not in the way he expected.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Trope Namer, from the scene where Vincent blows a man's brains out in Jules's car with a negligent discharge.
  • Imagine Spot: Jules imagines Bonnie's potential reaction to coming home and finding "a couple of gangsters in her kitchen doin' a bunch of gangster shit".
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Played for Laughs and when that one guy misses Jules and Vincent. At point blank range. Six times. This becomes a Deconstruction when, understandably enough, this causes Jules to suspect Divine Intervention.
  • Informed Attractiveness: While not directly said out loud, whenever someone jokingly accuses Vincent of going on a date with Mia Wallace, it implies that she is so beautiful, that no one could resist her. Being played by Uma Thurman helps too.
  • Insistent Terminology: "Whose motorcycle is this?" "It's a chopper, baby."
  • Intercourse with You: Mia plays "Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon" after a sexually charged evening while Vincent tries to pep-talk himself into not having sex with her.
  • In the Name of the Moon: Jules Winnfield's (mis)quoting the Biblical book of Ezekiel before pulling the trigger.
  • 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.
  • Just for Pun: The punchline of Mia's joke, "Ketchup," is such a lame pun that only a near-death experience impels her to tell it.
  • 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.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Butch chooses a katana over a variety of other weapons, and is clearly awed by it.
  • 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 the Background Music On: The music playing during the opening credits comes from Jules and Vincent's car radio.
    • Pushing it even further, the music plays during the scene selection screen on the DVD, the background is the car dashboard.
  • 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.
  • Lethally Expensive: Captain Koons's butt-smuggled wristwatch.
  • Lethally Stupid: Vincent accidentally kills Marvin and spatter the car with blood, in the middle of a talk.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again:
    • 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:
    • Vincent is never much more than a liability in whatever he's involved in. He fails to locate the hiding man in the bathroom while Jules is interrogating the others, accidentally shoots Marvin, gets into a pointless argument with Wolf, almost screws up Jules' peace negotiation with Pumpkin and Honey Bunny, and gets himself killed waiting for Butch. It's his heroin that Mia overdoses on as well, though he can hardly be blamed for leaving it in his coat.
    • 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. She may also be aware of it; she takes such specific offense to being called "retard".
  • MacGuffin:
  • 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.
  • Malt Shop: Jackrabbit Slims is a retro theme restaurant modeled after a Malt Shop of The Fifties. They use Hash House Lingo in the menu.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Mia is a version of this. Vincent assumes he wouldn't get along with her for real as she is his boss' wife. However upon getting to know her, he has a good time with her to the point that it's almost ship teased between them. However her overdose and Vincent's death, prevent the relationship from going too far.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • The fact that the mysterious contents of the briefcase glow, and cause awe in everyone who sees them, and are locked with the combination 666 suggest that there might be something supernatural about it, but it is never confirmed or denied.
    • The Magic Bullets scene leads to an argument between Jules and Vincent regarding whether or not it was an act of God or pure luck. The yellow flashes of light that are placed between cuts during the shooting might link the event to the glowing yellow contents of the briefcase.
  • 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.
  • Memento MacGuffin: Butch's watch.
    And now, little man, I give the watch... to you.
  • 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.
  • Moral Dilemma: The main characters struggle with these, as Tarantino explains.
  • Mugging the Monster: Two robbers try to hold up a professional hitman. Unusually, the conflict gets resolved more or less peacefully because of benevolence on the hitman's part.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted. Vince goes to the bathroom three times, and during each visit "shit" goes down outside.
  • 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 doesn't.
  • Oh Crap:
  • One-Liner, Name... One-Liner: "Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead."
  • Only a Flesh Wound: By the way Marsellus says what specific time period he's going to get on the ass of the guy that just raped him, you get the impression that the guy would live to face it. Despite the fact that he just shot him in his crotch with a shotgun! However, birdshot or anything smaller than 00 buckshot penetrates quite poorly, so the chance of his injuries being fatal may be...unfortunately small.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The two robbers "Pumpkin" and "Honey Bunny". Honey Bunny's real name is revealed to be Yolanda. Jules calls Pumpkin "Ringo" because of his British accent.
  • Outlaw Couple: "Pumpkin" and "Honey Bunny".
  • Pants Positive Safety: After ditching their bloodied suits from the Marvin incident, Jules and Vincent are seen carrying their guns in their waistbands.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Jules' reading of Ezekiel 25:17 (which can be found on the quotes page), especially the last line. "If I said it — it meant your ass."
  • The Precious, Precious Car: Vincent's Malibu. Also, Winston "The Wolf" Wolf's Acura NSX:
    Winston Wolf: I get my car back any differently than I gave it, Monster Joe's gonna be disposin' of two bodies.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Completely averted with Marvin.
  • 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."
  • The Public Domain Channel: Lance watches The Three Stooges short "The Brideless Groom".
  • Pulp Magazine: The movie poster is designed in the style of a Pulp Magazine cover. In it, Mia is pictured reading a pulp magazine with the title Pulp Fiction.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Does!? He!? Look!? Like!? A bitch!?"
  • Punk in the Trunk
  • Random Events Plot: There's no over-arching story. Things just happen to the characters, though several characters have changed by the end.
  • Rape as Drama
  • Rape Portrayed as Redemption: Marsellus.
  • Re Cut: Defied. In commentary, Quentin Tarantino mentions that he didn't do a director's cut because:
    Tarantino: "I made the movie I wanted to make the first time."
  • Reference Overdosed: Arguably the Trope Codifier.
  • Refuge in Audacity: As mentioned under N-Word Privileges , the entirety of the "Dead Nigger Storage" rant.
  • Retired Badass / Retired Monster: Jules presumably becomes one after the movie finishes.
  • Retro Universe: The film is filled with references to past time periods. Jules wears a Jheri curl hairstyle, popular in the 70s. The soundtrack is filled with a lot of surf rock from the 60s. Clutch Cargo plays on a Butch's motel television. A 50s theme diner plays a big part in the plot. The film takes its name from "pulp fiction," a style of fiction popular in the first half of the 20th century. The film poster apes the style of a pulp fiction magazine cover from around the 40s and 50s.
  • Riddle for the Ages: The contents of the briefcase. There his no official answer, though it was originally scripted to be diamonds before the filmmakers decided that a mystery would make it more interesting.
  • Rule of Cool: Jules' reason for reciting "scripture."
  • Running Gag: There are three times when Vincent goes into a bathroom and shit happens when he returns. The last one kills him.
  • Scary Black Man: Jules and Marsellus.
  • Scenery Porn: Jack Rabbit Slim's. (Nearly literal in the case of the Seven Year Itch-imitating Marilyn Monroe impersonator.)
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: So much!
  • Shared Universe: With Reservoir 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.
    • It's also been hinted at that Inglorious Basterds and Kill Bill also take place in the same universe. The ending of Inglorious Basterds branching off into a alternate universe where people are much more confident and tougher, thus the world is more sensitized to death and violence. Thus the Tarantino-verse being considerably darker than the one we currently live in. There are quite a few Easter Eggs connecting all of Tarantino's movies.
  • Share the Male Pain: Immediately after Marsellus shoots one of the rapists in the balls (with a shotgun) you can see Butch with his hands over his balls.
  • She's Not My Girlfriend: Vincent and Mia are on a "Not Date." That involves dinner and dancing.
  • 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. Plus that's not how heroin affects the body when inhaled.
  • Shout-Out: Eva Gabor's character's from The Aristocats inspired Uma Thurman's dance.
    • Tarantino has stated that the briefcase was originally meant to be the same MacGuffin suitcase of diamonds from Reservoir Dogs until they changed it to a glowing object instead. This itself is referenced in The Usual Suspects, where the suitcase containing their dossiers gives off this glow because of the yellow paper used.
    • 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.
    • Vincent wears a UC Santa Cruz T-shirt.
    • 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.
    • A character mentioned several times is called Tony Rocky Horror.
    • When Jules eats Brett's Big Kahuna Burger, moments before shooting him and his fellow dealers sans Marvin. It's a clear shout out to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, where Angel Eyes does the same thing to Stevens.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • 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.
  • Sickening Sweethearts: Pumpkin and Honey Bunny.
  • Signs of Disrepair: As Butch looks for weapons, one sign in the shop reads Kill___ _Ed.
  • Soul Brotha: Jules wears a Gerry curl hairdo and Porn Stache and speaks with a bit of Jive Turkey. Tarantino is known for his 70s throwback embellishments.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The "zany" jazz music heard in the pawn shop while Marsellus is being raped.
  • The Something Force: "Fox Force Five"
  • Spiritual Spinoff: Tarantino admits that Kill Bill is somewhat based on the "Fox Force Five" pilot that Mia Wallace describes.
  • 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.
    • Butch also mocks Fabienne by imitating her with impaired speech. Fabienne demands that he stop depicting her as a "Mongoloid"; Butch answers: "I didn't say 'Mongoloid', I said 'retard'."
  • 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.
  • Stylistic Suck: The poster has weathered edges to better resemble a battered old pulp magazine.
  • 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.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Jules and Vincent.
  • 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.
      • Vincent knew Butch would be coming back, despite he could arrive at any second, he surely wouldn't come back in the short amount of time it would take to go to the bathroom... wouldn't hurt to leave his only weapon on the counter while doing so... actually why not take his time and read while on the john? No rush.
    • Also, Marsellus Wallace. Even though he survives being hit by Butch's car, you'll notice he pauses right in the middle of the street long enough for Butch to both recognize him and screw up the courage to attempt to run him over.
  • To the Pain: Marsellus is about to "get medieval on your ass".
  • Tragic Keepsake: Why Butch is so protective of his father's watch.
  • Translation By Volume: When the hitman Jules psychologically tortures his future victim Brett, he plays with this concept. He's half-infuriated, half-amused that the confused boy answers him several times with only "what?", which leads to this iconic exchange:
    Jules: What ain't no country I ever heard of! Do they speak English in What?
    Brett: What?
  • Treasure Chest Cavity: Captain Koons keeps a watch in his rectum for the son of the former owner.
  • Trunk Shot
  • Underdressed for the Occasion: An unusually gory example.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: As Vincent is walking to his and Mia's booth toward the back of Jack Rabbit Slim's, he passes - sometimes within touching distance - performers dressed as Ed Sullivan, Marilyn Monroe, Mamie Van Doren, Zorro, James Dean, and Jerry Lewis, among other icons. He doesn't give any of them a second glance.
  • Verbal Business Card: "I'm Winston Wolf. I solve problems."
  • Victimized Bystander: A disoriented Marsellus Wallace starts shooting wildly into the crowd around Butch's wrecked car after Butch runs him over, missing Butch but hitting an innocent bystander who falls to the ground screaming.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Marcellus was literally out shopping for donuts, for himself and Vincent when he ran into Butch. Vincent and Jules also go out for breakfast prior to the hold up.
  • Villain Protagonist: Jules and Vincent, who are both contract killers working for a crimelord. Notably, when they accidentally shoot one of their allies in the face, they're less worried about the fact that they've just killed someone than that the mess they made will attract police attention.
  • Visual Pun: During the "adrenaline shot" scene, there are two board games in the background - "Operation" and "Life".
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Jules and Vincent, again.
  • Walking the Earth: Invoked, as Jules' retirement plan
  • Wham Line:
    • "Garçon, coffee!" The second time we hear it. Wham, we're back at the beginning of the film. Oh, did you think we were just gonna let that scene hang there like that?
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The last we see of the Gimp, he's hanging unconscious by his leash. It's unclear whether he asphyxiated or recovered after Butch leaves.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Butch has the opportunity to just walk out of Maynard and Zed's shop. He hesitates at the front door, and then goes back to rescue the man who wants him dead. The DVD commentary states that Butch was reminded of Captain Koons' words from when he was a boy: "When two men are in a situation like me and your dad were for as long as we were, you take on certain responsibilities of the other."
  • Wolverine Publicity: Marketing wise, Mia Wallace was everywhere, on the posters and the home video release covers.
  • You Look Familiar: According to Word of God, this is set in the same universe as Reservoir Dogs. Several actors (Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Tarantino himself) return.

"You read the Bible, Ringo?"
The Princess BrideNotable QuotablesReal Genius
The French ConnectionAFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies ( 10 th Anniversary Edition)The Last Picture Show
GoodfellasAFI's 100 Years... 100 MoviesThe Searchers
The Jazz SingerSchool Study MediaBicycle Thieves
Four Weddings and a FuneralAcademy AwardQuiz Show
The Profane ExhibitAnthology FilmSin City
The Puppet MastersFilms of the 1990sQuiz Show
PsychoRoger Ebert Great Movies ListRaging Bull
The ProducersCreator/The Criterion CollectionQuadrophenia
Roger And MeNational Film Registry    
Taxidermy Is CreepyImageSource/Live-Action FilmsEnemy Eats Your Lunch

alternative title(s): Pulp Fiction
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy