troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Film: Shaun of the Dead

Shaun of the Dead is a "romantic comedy, with zombies". A "Rom-Zom-Com", if you will. It was directed by Edgar Wright and stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

A young man named Shaun is dumped by his girlfriend Liz because he is unmotivated and doesn't put enough effort into the relationship. Shaun decides to reform in order to win her back. His plans, however, are interrupted by the Zombie Apocalypse. He and his even more deadbeat friend, Ed, go and rescue Shaun's mother, Shaun's stepfather, Liz and Liz's annoying flatmates and take them to the safety of the local pub, The Winchester.

Alternately hilarious, scary, and heartbreaking, it can be seen as either a parody of zombie movies or a romantic comedy that happens to use a Zombie Apocalypse as its setting.

First part of Wright's "Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy", followed by Hot Fuzz and The World's End.


This film contains examples of:

  • Abandoned Playground: The group comes across one of these on their way to the Winchester.
  • Action Survivor: Most members of the group survive by sheer luck, although Shaun and Liz stand out in particular.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • A British magazine published three short tie in comics that explain a few off scene events that tie up loose ends in the story, like, how did Shaun shake the zombies after leading them away from the pub? How did Ed end up in Shaun's tool shed? And what exactly happened to Dianne? These stories were inserted into the DVD complete with narrations by the characters.
    • Also, Mary, the zombie girl in the garden, has her own back-story which was published in 2000AD as a tie-in.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: invoked Invoked in-universe, as Shaun and Ed make up stories about the barflies, casting them in roles like mobsters and ex-prostitutes.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: And then Ed was a zombie at the end.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Shaun apologizes to his zombified mother when he prepares a mercy kill: "Sorry, mum..."
    • Played for laughs when Shaun and Ed are planning how to rescue their friends and families. Philip, Shaun's stepdad dies in all three iterations of the plan, with the apology getting less and less sincere with each iteration.
  • Asshole Victim: David, who's been a useless, annoying twat towards the gang, finally pushes it by goading Shaun after he just had to kill his own mum. Not too long after, he tries to leave the pub and gets ripped apart for his troubles. There's a deleted scene in which he apologizes before he dies, at least.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption: Used a few times, once by Ed and another using the TV.
  • Bait and Switch: In the movie's opening scene, we're treated to a view of a pair of shuffling feet, while their owner groans in a zombie-like fashion. Turns out it's just Shaun, half-asleep and yawning after getting out of bed.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished - Only Shaun (who is hardly a beauty) gets really roughed up after spending the day in a pub fighting zombies. The director's commentary confirms the make-up artist specifically wanted Kate Ashfield to look clean and lovely 'til the end.
  • Beta Couple - Dianne and David. 'Til death do they part.
  • Bloody Handprint: Two of the clues of the zombie apocalypse that Shaun overlooks.
  • Bloody Hilarious
  • Big Stupid Doodoo Head:
    David: We should have stayed at the flat.
    Ed: Why didn't you?
    David: (pointing at Shaun) Because... because, because of... (beat) "Captain Wow."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Though his mum, stepdad (with whom he reconciled) and best friend turned into zombies, Shaun survived the zombie attack, got back together with his girlfriend and retrieved zombie Ed to play video games with in the shed.
  • Brick Joke: Shaun threw the flowers he bought for his mum into the trashcan just outside the Winchester during the first act. They're the first thing to fall out when David dumps it. Shaun's mum picks them up and notices the tag on them, figuring Shaun had bought them for her.
  • Butt Monkey: Shaun, David, and Pete get the worst of these moments. David and Pete die.
  • The Cameo:
    • A fantastically in-jokey scene where the gang run into a very similar gang headed by Shaun's friend Yvonne (played by Jessica Hynes, Simon Pegg's co-star and co-writer on Spaced). The alternative gang are all played by well-known British comedy actors (Martin Freeman from The Office (UK), Tamsin Grieg from Black Books, Matt Lucas from Little Britain, Reece Shearsmith from The League of Gentlemen and Julia Deakin from Spaced) even though they're only on screen for seconds. They synchronise man-for-man with Shaun's gang. The implication is that Yvonne's the main character in a movie with a much higher budget, or at least with a smarter lead character.
    • All of the TV presenters & news reporters seen when Shaun's flipping through the channels are actual TV presenters & news reporters from the UK. Coldplay also appear briefly in the sequence at the end of the film being interviewed.
  • The Cavalry: When things are at their bleakest, the Army shows up, and blows away every zombie in sight.
  • Chekhov's Gag: Several.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Literally, in the form of a Winchester rifle behind the bar that the characters mention and wonder if it works. It does.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Most of the zombies appear as background characters before they become zombies (such as the groom in the shop, who reappears in Shaun's house sans an arm).
    • One scene has Shaun telling Yvonne they're heading to the Winchester. Cue the finale, and she's the one leading the rescue cavalry to him.
    • Pete is a Chekhov's Gunman and a Chekhov's Boomerang: Not only does he become a zombie and try to kill Shaun, but he also returns for the final battle at the Winchester, infecting Ed. His very reappearance is enough to earn a Precision F-Strike from Shaun.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Dianne is a failed actress, but her experience comes in handy when she has to instruct the group in pretending to be zombies.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: All throughout the movie, Barbara remains rather blithely unaware of everything that is happening around her. Halfway through the movie, however, this could be seen as her trying not to worry Shaun about the fact that she got bitten.
  • Cluster F-Bomb:
    • Shaun (hilariously) drops one on Ed, after getting fed up with his constant mobile usage, in front of a zombie crowd. For their part, the zombies just stare, possibly just as surprised as everyone else at the outburst.
    • Pete drops one when he's woken up by Shaun and Ed's "stupid hip hop" four hours before he has to go to work.
  • Commander Contrarian: David, who does very little but naysay Shaun's ideas. He's quite often got a point, but he's still not good at offering any constructive alternatives or keeping people's morale up.
  • Covers Always Lie: The poster seen in the page image above shows Shaun on an Underground train full of zombies. The Underground isn't seen at all in the film. It's meant to convey the theme of people such as Shaun living their lives like zombies before the zombie outbreak occurs.
  • Cool Car: The Jag. To the point that Ed deliberately wrecks the car that he and Shaun had been using, so that they'd be forced to drive it.
  • Deadpan Snarker: David
  • Death by Pragmatism
  • Despair Event Horizon: When the last few survivors get to the Winchester's cellar and find the hatch to the street inoperable, Shaun has a Heroic BSOD, then the talk stops being about escape and starts being about ending it quickly.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe; Barbara is not impressed when Shaun tries to turn her against Philip by claiming "he touched me."
    Shaun: ...That wasn't true. Made it up. Shouldn't have done that, sorry.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • As a result of being severely hungover, Shaun goes to get some breakfast from the bodega across the street and utterly fails to notice the Zombie Apocalypse raging around him.
    • Also, when checking the street:
    Ed: Are there any out there, though?
    Shaun: Can't see any. Maybe it's not as bad as all that. (beat) Oh, no, there they are.
  • Foreshadowing: So very, very much, once you know where to look... See Ironic Echo below.
    • Pete warns Ed to stop leaving the front door open. Guess what uses it as a way in later?
    • Shaun tells the football kid "you're dead" and Ed says Pete's dead the next time he sees him. Guess who later turn up as zombies.
    • Ed's plan to cheer Shaun up after Liz dumps him perfectly mirrors the events after the zombies attack.
    • Barbara is complimented on her zombie impression, but reveals she was actually just not paying attention. This might be because she had just been bitten. On a similar note, look carefully at Barbara in the background in some scenes. She's wincing in pain and looking at her wrist.
    • When Pete is ranting at Ed for keeping him awake with his electro music, he drops the line "You want to live like an animal? Go live in the shed, you thick fuck!" When we last see Ed, he's a chained-up zombie living in Shaun's shed indefinitely.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Pete is completely naked as a zombie, having transformed during a shower. He shows up in the film's climax to bite Ed.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Shaun and Ed bludgeoning the zombies in the garden.
  • Gosh Dangit To Heck: The DVD includes an extra scene named "Funky Pete" with the swearing removed to show the film on commercial flights, with mixed success: "It's four in the funking morning!"
    • "What a prink!"
  • Gray Rain of Depression: It starts raining immediately after Liz dumps Shaun.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: David is not-so-secretly in love with Liz and is deeply jealous of Shaun for being with her.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: As David is torn apart by zombies, his legs come off and are then used as clubs.
  • Headbutt of Love: A platonic version between Shaun and Ed before Shaun and Liz make their escape.
  • Heel Face Door Slam: David, who was an asshole the entire movie, and is totally unsympathetic to Shaun having to kill his own mother, is killed rather gruesomely before he gets a chance to apologize. There was an alternate version of the scene where he's killed just after he apologizes, but the creators decided it was more shocking if he never redeemed himself. People in the test audiences cheered.
  • Hero of Another Story: The doppelganger group led by Jessica Stevenson.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Shaun and Ed. Life and death partners, anyway.
    David: It wasn't me blowing our cover by arguing with my boyfriend.
    Shaun: He's not my boyfriend.
    Ed: (handing pint) Might be a bit warm, the cooler's off.
    Shaun: Thanks, babe.
  • Homage: The Romero and Russo zombie movies, particularly David's death scene, modeled off the death of Captain Rhodes Rickles and Torrez in Day of the Dead.
    • Also, the line: "We're coming to get you, Barbara!" from Night of the Living Dead. Which Romero didn't notice or recognise as a reference.
  • Humans Are Bastards: The stupid tasks they give the remaining zombies after the living take the world back shows that no one really cares about disposing of once living people in a more dignified way.
  • Ignored Vital News Reports: When Shaun wakes up in the morning he changes the channel every time a news bulletin shows up. Said news bulletins finish each others' sentences (even when switching to and from non-news channels), all talking about the dead coming back from the grave.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Averted as Shaun has never handled a rifle before, and his accuracy suffers accordingly.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Played absolutely straight in that the heroes use anything they can get their hands on to fend off the zombies, starting with the use of Shaun's record collection against two zombies in his garden.
    • When given a Swingball to fend off a zombie, Shaun's first instinct is to use it as a Epic Flail... and the tennis ball bounces pathetically off its head. Cue Dianne and Liz making stabbing motions.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted through a blink-and-you-miss-it family running from their zombified mother, who proceeds to drag her son back into the house. Additionally, the football-kicking child doesn't escape zombification either.
  • Insistent Terminology: It's not hip-hop, it's electro.
  • Inspirational Insult: An angry rant by Pete, the main character's frustrated roommate (even more frustrated than usual after having been unknowingly bitten by a zombie and having his dumb flatmates play records extremely loudly in the wee hours of the morning), ends on "Sort your fucking life out, mate!" The next morning, "Sort your life out" is on Shaun's to-do list, and becomes the film's theme.
  • Irony: After getting sick of constantly going to the Winchester, Liz finally breaks up with Shaun. Cue the apocalypse the next day, and Liz soon finds herself heading to the Winchester with Shaun. Even lampshaded viciously:
    David: How can you trust a man you binned for being unreliable? A man whose idea of a romantic nightspot and an impenetrable fortress are the same thing?
  • Ironic Echo: Basically the whole first half of the movie foreshadows the second half (after the Zombie Apocalypse occurs), ranging from obvious "Next time I see him, he's dead!" to the early scene in The Winchester in which Ed - unwittingly - predicts the events of the entire movie:
    "First thing tomorrow, we'll have a Bloody Mary (Kill the girl in the garden, whose name was Mary), grab a bite at the King's Head (Go get Shaun's stepfather Phil, who then was bitten on his neck by a zombie), have a couple at the Little Princess (Couple=Dave and Dianne, little princess=Liz), stagger back (Impersonate zombies), then come back to the bar for shots." (shooting scene in The Winchester.)
    • "You've got red on you."
    • The scenes with Yvonne also apply, with the mention of "Surviving" and "I'm glad somebody made it".
    • The scene at the beginning of the movie where Ed is playing a game with Shaun giving him help. Later on in the movie (during the bar shooting scene) Ed gives the same directions to Shaun.
    • When Shaun first goes to the shop, he picks up a Diet Coke, changes his mind and gets a normal Coke instead. The next time, after deciding to sort his life out, he does the opposite.
    • In the scene where Pete rages at Ed and Shaun for their late-night music-fest:
    Pete: "You want to live like an animal?! GO LIVE IN THE SHED, YOU THICK FUCK!"
    • Many of the shots from the TV montage during the intro are mirrored later on, such as the gameshow being replicated with zombies, and the couple on Trisha reappearing with one of them a zombie.
    • The gang are cut off from The Winchester by a horde of zombies (who haven't detected them yet due to an intervening fence) and they start bickering with each other out of frustration. One character says "We're not going to get out of this by moaning". Minutes later, that's exactly how they are trying to get out of it, by impersonating zombies.
    • When Shaun is getting ready to go to work at the beginning of the movie, he uses the toilet and checks himself in the mirror. After, he adjusts the mirror to find an angry Pete standing behind him. Later on, before Shaun and Ed prepare to leave the flat, Shaun goes to use the bathroom and checks himself in the mirror. Then he adjusts it to find the silhouette of Zombie Pete behind the shower curtain.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One:
    Liz: What, you want to hang out with my friends? A failed actress and a twat?
    Shaun: Well, that's a bit harsh.
    Liz: Your words, Shaun!
    Shaun: I did not call Dianne a failed actress!
  • It Works Better with Bullets: David's last hop over the Moral Event Horizon is when he panics and pulls the trigger on Shaun. *Click*. Screw This, I'm Outta Here!.
  • I Will Only Slow You Down: Ed at the end.
  • Jerkass: Ed and David, most notably.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • David, a few times. He's right that Shaun hasn't really thought his "plan" through at all, and that they'll just end up "sitting in the dark eating peanuts". Crowning example is his preparing to shoot Barbara as she's dying from a zombie bite, saying they have to do something before she revives and tries to kill all of them. After a rather heated and tense stand-off, Liz notes that she can understand what David is getting at, but he's still being "a twat" all the same.
    • Pete is still an asshole, but wouldn't you be pissed if your roommates were constantly leaving the front door open overnight and playing loud music at four in the morning when you had to work? This is arguably why Pete is an asshole, since he's clearly long gotten sick of both having Ed mooch around the place leeching off them and making it into a tip without contributing anything to the house in turn (except for a little bit of money he gets from selling weed) and to a lesser extent Shaun's weak-willed refusal to grow up a bit and stop enabling Ed. It's telling that Shaun's epiphany when Pete confronts him with the implication that he keeps hanging around Ed to feel less like a loser and that he should "sort your fucking life out, mate!"
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: A running argument between Ed and Shaun on whether or not The Winchester's namesake gun (mounted over the bar) has been deactivated:
    Shaun clubs a zombie with the butt of the Winchester
    Ed: "Why didn't you just shoot him, man?"
    Shaun: "Ed, for the last time..."
    Shaun squeezes the trigger of the gun, and it fires
    Ed: "I fucking knew it!"
  • Just for Pun: Compare Dawn of the Dead. (Wright and Pegg freely admit this is an awful gag, but were too attached to it.)
  • Just Ignore It: Shaun does this when he fixes a fuse and notices zombies right outside the nearby window; his response is to turn off the light and to lower the blinds.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: David is pulled through the window and eaten, right in the very middle of saying "I'm sorry" to Shaun.
  • Kill the Ones You Love / Staking the Loved One: Shaun is forced to shoot Barbara when she becomes a zombie.
  • Knuckle Tattoos: Briefly seen on the bartender at the Winchester.
  • Last Stand
  • Law of Conservation of Detail: The whole film is a masterclass in this trope.
    • All the zoned-out people shown in the opening montage reappear later as zombies.
  • The Load: Barbara during the Zombie Apocalypse, Barbara and Ed in the more mundane aspects of his life. Ed's uselessness is lampshaded by Pete.
  • Love Makes You Evil: David is at his most obnoxious when he's a) trying to drive a wedge between Shaun and Liz, b) gloating over the fact that they've split up, or c) making extremely feeble denials about having a thing for Liz.
  • Made of Plasticine: Like a lot of zombie movies, human bodies get torn apart relatively easily.
  • Meaningful Background Event/Funny Background Event: In the beginning of the film, there are many, many obvious hints of the oncoming Zombie Apocalypse, but it all takes place in the background while the main focus of the story is on Shaun's mundane, rundown life. Shaun and those around him are completely oblivious to the zombie outbreak until half an hour into the film, when Shaun and Ed finally decide to pay attention to the news reports... and only after they've unwittingly fought two zombies, wandered around an abandoned London, and obliviously think the zombies are drunkards.
  • Mexican Standoff: Involving a rifle, two broken bottles, and a corkscrew. And a lampshade.
  • Mickey Mousing: Happens twice.
    • During the intro credits.
    • When the heroes are whaling on the bartender to the sound of Queen.
  • Militaries Are Useless: A memorable aversion, where the military just comes in and mows down the zombies in less than a day, with complete ease and not so much as a single casualty. They rescue the protagonists and peace is quickly restored.
  • The Millstone: Ed, so very very much. David to a lesser extent.
  • Mirror Scare: Played straight, then echoed. Like everything else in the movie.
  • Mocking Music: "Who the 'ell put this on?" "It's on random... *sob*" Used for Ironic Echo value. The first time, the hero is bemoaning his girlfriend dumping him when the jukebox has the nerve to play Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now". The second time, the jukebox pipes up with Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now!"... as the pub the characters are in is being surrounded by zombies and a loud, fast, pumping rock track seemingly designed to attract their attention is the last thing the characters want.
  • Mood Whiplash: The first half of the film is an affectionate parody/pastiche of the zombie genre, but everything goes to hell in a grocery trolley when Shaun is forced to kill his own infected mother, David is torn limb from limb and eaten by zombies, Dianne disappears, and Ed becomes a Zombie. Fortunately, Shaun and Liz manage to escape by the skin of their teeth, and Dianne is revealed in a DVD extra to have survived.
    • The aforementioned death and zombification of Shaun's mother takes place literally five minutes after the "Don't Stop Me Now" sequence.
    • It's also done literally: about to turn into a zombie, Philip delivers a touching speech about fatherhood to Shaun, who is moved to tears. Shaun tells Ed to pull over, and he spins the car to a screeching halt. The gang is not pleased.
  • Mortal Wound Reveal: Barbara's zombie bite.
  • My Local: The Winchester pub.
  • Mythology Gag: "How's that for a slice of fried gold?", refers to a comment frequently made between members of the Spaced production team.
    • Tyres from Spaced is in the crowd of zombies around the Winchester (easily spotted because he's wearing his yellow hat and courier get-up), apparently STILL raving. And the first meeting between Shaun and Yvonne, played by Jessica Stevenson aka Daisy, refers back obliquely to their work on Spaced.
    • The entire Zombie episode of Spaced (where Tim hallucinates a zombie attack after getting high and playing Resident Evil 2 all night) was apparently the inspiration for the whole movie.
      • Including a throwaway remark about someone getting beaten to death with a pool cue.
    • That ice cream 'Cornetto' also appeared in Hot Fuzz as the blue 'Classico' to represent the police force, and because Shaun of The Dead is themed with blood, Shaun bought a strawberry (red) one, making this the first in the 'Cornetto' or 'Blood & Ice Cream' Trilogy. This also relates to the line "Want anything from the shop?" which appears in both films.
    • It's mentioned in the commentary that the location of Shaun and Ed's home is just up the road from Tim and Daisy's. They even speculate that Yvonne and Shaun are some kind of alternate universe's Tim and Daisy.
    • The recurring argument that Shaun and Ed often get into about the ability of dogs to look up is apparently based on an actual argument that Simon Pegg and Nick Frost had during the filming of Spaced.
    • The shopping trolley outside the house was also in Spaced.
  • Newscaster Cameo: Several, Jeremy Thompson from Sky getting the best line.
  • Noble Shoplifter: Shaun does this unknowingly. When the entire town is deserted, he just goes about his daily business and goes to the convenience store to shop for groceries. When he notices the shopkeeper isn't there, he puts his money on the counter rather than wait for him. He notes that he doesn't quite have enough ("I owe you fifteen p."), and the shopkeeper later comes to collect the rest — unfortunately, he's a bit dead by that point...
  • Non-Action Guy: Ed and David, originally ("Feel free to step in at ANY TIME!") - later, all David's attempts to be more "proactive" go horribly awry.
  • Noodle Incident: Shaun alludes to one where Ed apparently shot his sister in the leg — hence why Ed is no longer allowed to handle actual firearms.
  • Not a Zombie: Mary, as well as every other infectee Shaun and Ed meet before.
  • Not Using the Z Word: Where the title came from, and the readiest example.
  • Not with the Safety on, You Won't: David's first thought when the gun doesn't work. An exasperated Ed points out It Works Better If You Cock It.
  • Obstacle Exposition: Shaun plots out their every move to Ed once they've realized they're in a Zombie Apocalypse as a monologue over hilarious footage of him carrying out each act, calmly and with panache. As Ed reminds him about something else Shaun amends his previous plan to accommodate it. From then on they, of course, have trouble each step along the way.
  • Oh Crap: Shaun gets a big one when he turns on the lights and realizes how many zombies are outside the back door.
  • One Last Smoke: Shaun and Liz. Averted, as the light from the cigarette lighter reveals the controls for the escape hatch they had believed to be jammed.
    • Liz and Shaun also leave Ed with a cigarette dangling from his lips.
  • Only Sane Man: Shaun, once he's convinced himself that, yes, it is zombies they're dealing with, starts to deal with it pragmatically. Everyone else seems either intent on denying the crisis, in the belief that if they just sit around this silliness will blow over, or going into hysterical and useless rants (Dave). Ed goes too far in the other direction, becoming a bit too keen putting the others in danger for thrills.
    • Liz also has her head screwed on fairly well throughout the movie, and In the Mexican Stand Off almost everyone else gets into at the climax she's the only one trying to act as the voice of reason by pointing out that they kind of have bigger fish to fry at the moment.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Over the course of the film, it's shown that they degrade to an animal-like sentience, will still answer to their names, retain certain habits (e.g. Phillip turning off the stereo, that kid playing football, Ed playing video games), and can be trained like domesticated animals, which is a Shout-Out to Day of the Dead.
  • Pac Man Fever: Averted in the sense that actual footage of a TimeSplitters gaming session being shown. The exception to this was the addition of a voice saying "Player X has joined/left the game", added for comedic purposes.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Subverted with "Sorry, we're closed."
    • Played straight with "OK, John - it's time at the bar."
  • Precision F-Strike - Liz in the Winchester when everyone's got weapons pointed at one another:
    Please can we just calm the fuck down?!
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner - Subverted. Just as the zombies break into The Winchester, Shaun levels his rifle and says, "Sorry, we're closed!" but the gun jams, prompting a hysterical little squeak of panic from Shaun and several seconds of flustered flapping about from the characters before they can actually start shooting.
    • Played straight in one instance: when Pete throws his electro-inspired late-night tantrum and tells Ed to "go and live in the shed", Shaun tells Pete to leave Ed alone. Later on in the Winchester as Ed is getting chewed into by Zombie Pete, Shaun catches Pete's attention by screaming a single line before promptly shooting him through the eye as he advances.
      Shaun: I SAID LEAVE HIM ALONE! *headshot*
  • Pretend We're Dead: Done by the main characters to get to the pub. Their cover is blown when Ed gets a call on his mobile. The picture for that trope.
  • Rant Inducing Slight: After constantly sticking up for Ed and making excuses for his oafishness and stupidity, Shaun finally snaps when Ed answers his cell phone in the middle of a zombie horde, blowing their cover. Made all the more funny because he delivers the rant while still in the middle of the zombies, who look rather nonplussed.
    Shaun knocks the phone out of Ed's hand
    Ed: Oi! What are you doing?
    Shaun: What am I doing? What are you doing, you stupid moron!?
    Ed: Fuck off!
    Shaun: You fuck off! Fuck fucking off! I've spent... look at me! I've spent my entire life sticking my neck out for you and all you ever do is fuck things up! Fuck things up and make me look stupid! Well, I'm not going to let you do it any more. OK? Not today!!!
  • A Rare Sentence: Jeremy Thompson says he never expected to say Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain.
  • Reality Ensues: The military arrives at the climax and mops up the zombies.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: see the Juggling Loaded Guns example.
  • Redemption Equals Death: A strange example: when David tries to apologise to Shaun, he is promptly torn apart by zombies before he can actually do so.
  • Relationship-Salvaging Disaster: Shaun refers to Liz as his "girlfriend" near the end, and she replies tongue-in-cheek:
    Liz: What makes you think I've taken you back?
    Shaun: [smirking] Weeell... don't want to die single, do you?
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: The Sky newsreader's zombie-killing advice is the Trope Namer.
  • Replacement Love Interest: Dianne is resigned to the fact that she was David's consolation prize after he tried to get with her friend Liz at university, and to that fact that he's still in love with Liz.
  • Reset Button / Status Quo Is God: Hilariously subverted. There are still zombies all over the place at the end of the film, only they've now become a part of everyday life and life goes on pretty much as it did before.
  • Room Full of Zombies: This happens when they venture to the pub.
  • Rule of Three: "Glad somebody made it" and "Dogs can't look up", especially, although there's several other examples.
  • Separated by a Common Language: Averted. Shaun says that Mary the zombie is "so drunk" instead of the more British "so pissed" to avoid confusing American audiences, as "pissed" more commonly means "angry" in the USA.
    • Played straight with the trope naming line, "...the 'zed' word." Across the pond it would have been pronounced, "the 'zee' word."
  • Shout-Out: Many, because Pegg is a big zombie film fan. The opening music (over the production bits) is the same as the original Dawn of the Dead and at the end the TV briefly says "...And reports that the disease was spread by Rage infected monkeys have been dismissed as total bu-"
    • Two other news reports muddy the waters via their own shout outs: one talks about radiation from a downed satellite in reference to Night of the Living Dead, and another blames GM crops in reference to the agricultural experiments from the obscure Italian flick Let Sleeping Corpses Lie.
    • Don't forget this paraphrase from the original Night of the Living Dead:
      Ed: We're coming to get you, Barbara!
      • Funnily enough, George Romero himself actually missed this one on his first viewing, as Edgar Wright discovered when he excitedly asked what Romero had thought of the line.
    • In addition, their game of choice at the beginning was TimeSplitters 2. Free Radical reciprocated by putting some references in TimeSplitters: Future Perfect.
    • There's also the rather appropriate use of the first few chords of "Ghost Town", by The Specials at the start of the film?
      • And the phone ringtone blaring tinnily when Shaun is on the bus - Zombie Nation.
    • The restaurant Shaun is supposed to make a reservation is "Fulci's" in reference to Lucio Fulci, an Italian director famous for zombie movies.
    • Day of the Dead is first replicated with David being torn in half by zombies (though he never says "Choke on 'em!"), and Shaun and Liz ascend in the freight elevator at the end exactly the same way as the ending of Day.
      • Also, the shot of a half-awake Shaun's shadow entering the screen before we pan up to his face, mirroring the first shot of a zombie in Day.
    • "The Gonk" from Dawn of the Dead plays at the end of the credits.
    • A subtle shout-out to the Evil Dead series after Shaun discovers Pete zombified in the shower: as he backs away in terror, he babbles "We were wondering if you'd like to (beat) join us?"
    • Another subtle Evil Dead shout-out appears when Shaun arrives at work and briefly mentions a co-worker named "Ash" who called in sick that day.
    • The name of the electronics store where Shaun works is called Foree Electronics, after Ken Foree, the lead actor from the original Dawn of the Dead. The restaurant where Shaun and Liz are supposed to have dinner early in the movie is called Fulci's, after Zombi 2 director Lucio Fulci.
    • Shaun closing the mirror to reveal Pete reflected in it references An American Werewolf in London.
    • In the scene where Shaun and Ed try to use LPs as a weapon against a zombie, Ed brings up The Stone Roses' Second Coming, to which Shaun protests "I like it!". This is a reference to the infamous debate over whether the Darker and Edgier New Sound Album Second Coming is as good an album as the Roses' self-titled debut.
    • Every Romero zombie film has included at least one completely nude zombie. Shaun honors that quota.
    • Shaun shouting "Reload!" Straight from The House of the Dead.
  • Similar Squad: The gang meet up what appear to be a group undergoing the same plot but with a slightly more expensive cast. Each of the gang's double actually corresponds to a comedy double they'd shared in the past. Like Pegg and Frost, Jessica Hynes worked on Spaced, Martin Freeman worked with Lucy Davis on The Office (UK) and Tasmin Greig worked with Dylan Moran on Black Books.
  • A Simple Plan: "How's that for a slice of fried gold?"
    (later) "Oh, let's go to the Winchester — whose fucking idea was that?"
  • Skewed Priorities: Ed, who even casually answers a phone call while surrounded by zombies. And not even to talk to a friend. No, he's selling drugs.
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse
  • Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror: First one end, then the other.
  • Society Marches On: Shaun and Ed decide to hide at the Winchester because it's safenote , they know where the exits arenote , and Ed will be allowed to smoke. Perfectly acceptable in 2004, but smoking in pubs (and all other enclosed spaces) in England has been illegal since 2007.
  • Soul Fragment: A personality quirk or two survives the zombification process. Examples include the football kid continuing to play football, several people working menial jobs before the outbreak continuing in those jobs after zombification, and Ed living in the shed after being zombified, still playing video games.
  • Stealth Pun: Di. Despite her name, she survives!
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: In the pub at the start, just after Shaun has broken up with his girlfriend and the jukebox begins playing "If You Leave Me Now". Lampshaded as Ed says "Who the hell put this on?" "It's on random." "Oh, for fuck's sake!"
    • The same gag is Ironic Echoed later on in a spot of Soundtrack Dissonance: The jukebox in the pub, now facing an onslaught of zombies, randomly picks Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now".
      Shaun: Augh-! Who the hell put this on?!
      Ed: It's on random!
      Liz: Oh, for fuck's sake!
      Shaun: David! Kill the Queen!
      David: What?!
      Shaun: THE JUKEBOX!
    • Speaking of appropriate zombie-bashing tunes, this combines with a Shout-Out after Shaun drives off relieved that he only ran over a zombie. The first line out of the stereo when he starts the car again is "I think my head is gonna explode!" ... from the song Meltdown, by Northern Irish band Ash.
  • Take That: The LPs that Shaun is willing to destroy to fight Mary. Wright and Pegg don't think too much of the Batman soundtrack, apparently.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Shaun and Ed discuss which records to throw at two approaching zombies. Justified by the fact that these zombies are REALLY slow.
    • Also the blazing row that Shaun and Ed have after Ed answers his phone in front of a crowd of zombies when they're supposed to be acting like zombies to escape notice.
  • There Was a Door round the back of The Winchester, so David didn't need to smash the front window.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Barbara displays one of these during Diane's acting lesson.
  • Title of the Dead
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Ed from takes this to new levels and plays it for laughs. The characters need to get past a horde of zombies, and do so by acting like zombies to avoid drawing attention. When they are nearly to apparent safety, Ed's phone goes off... and he answers it and starts cheerfully talking on the phone, less than ten feet from dozens of zombies. Previously, he had "accidentally" crashed their first car, giving him an excuse to drive a Jaguar instead. Following after the cellphone incident, the electricity comes back on and he starts playing a pub fruit machine, which draw the attention of a zombie in the same building as them.
    • Shaun's mother should also be mentioned. What did she think would happen opening the door to a zombie?
    • Shaun himself also fits this. What exactly made the Winchester any safer than Liz's apartment? While it's got big heavy doors and a rifle on the wall and Ed knows where all the exits are (and he can smoke), they actually probably would have been safer in the apartment, because the window was above ground level (Shaun could climb up to it, but he wasn't a zombie) and you couldn't even get into the building without being buzzed in. Even if the zombies somehow got in through that door, they could have barricaded the apartment door fairly easily. But they also wouldn't have had half so much booze.
    • Let's not forget David standing right in front of the pub window, seconds before he gets eaten.
    • Frankly, the entire group lives and breathes this trope, making stupid decision after stupid decision, but Ed really is the king.
    • The entire human race falls into this at the end. After the Army restored order, someone had the baffling idea to round up the Zombies and use them as a source of cheap labour and entertainment, instead of destroying them! And if that's not bad enough, while they do take the precaution of putting restraints on them to keep them under control, they completely forget to muzzle them! Because it's not like Zombies are well known for infecting people by biting, right?
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailers tended to play up the comedic aspects and downplay or ignore the more serious and horrific elements.
  • Two Scenes, One Dialogue: A variant appears when Shaun flicks through television channels in the first half:
    Channel 4 News' Krishnan Guru-Murthy: Though no one official is prepared to comment, religious groups are calling it Judgement Day. There's...
    VH-1, playing "Panic" by The Smiths: ...Panic on the streets of London...
    ITV News reporter: ...as an increasing number of reports of...
    Football commentator: ...serious attacks on...
    Channel Five news reporter: ...people, who are literally being...
    Nature documentary, leopards eating a gazelle: ...eaten alive.
  • Two Shots From Behind The Bar: The Winchester has the gun hidden in plain sight, but Shaun and the others initially think it's just a prop.
  • Undeath Always Ends: Subverted, zombie Ed not only 'lives' on as a zombie at the end, but is rather poignantly no worse off than when he was alive... Shaun keeps him in the garden shed playing video-games!
    • Indeed, this is true for all the zombies that weren't killed during the crisis, as society managed to adapt and utilize the undead for their own purpose, roping them into reality TV shows, menial labour and chat shows, among other things.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: A large factor in deciding to hide out at the Winchester is that Ed will be allowed to smoke. This immediately dates the film, since while it was legal to smoke in enclosed public places (such as pubs) in England in 2004, when the film was made, it's been illegal since 2007.
  • The Unreveal: A very much in the background radio broadcast near the beginning of the film would imply that something from a downed US satellite caused the zombies. When Shaun is watching television at the end of the film, a news program says that the theorized cause was "use of"...something. Shaun changes the channel a moment too early.
  • Vertigo Effect: Used when the zombies break through the barricade.
  • Vinyl Shatters: "'Purple Rain'?" "No." "'Sign 'O The Times'?" "Definitely not." "The Batman soundtrack?" "Throw it."
  • What Happened To Mommy: One of the few things played absolutely straight.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Shaun sees his step-dad like this, though in fact it turns out that Phillip thought Shaun had it in him to really make something of himself with enough motivation and was simply applying Tough Love.
    • And it has to be said that Shaun wasn't exactly the perfect stepson. One incident that stands out is Shaun claiming Phillip attacked him with a lump of wood for leaving a Mars bar in the glove compartment of his Jag, but it's actually revealed later that Shaun calling Phillip a motherfucker might have had something to do with it as well... even if he was technically right.
  • Wiper Start: Ed when getting Pete's car to start.
  • You Leave Him Alone!: Shaun when Pete starts berating Ed at the start of the film. Gets an Ironic Echo when zombie-Pete attacks Ed at the end.
  • Zombie Apocalypse - Duh? Subverted in that the military mops it up pretty quickly, and life goes on with zombies just being a part of society.
  • Zombie Infectee: Ed, Shaun's mum, and his stepdad earlier on. Pete at pretty much the very beginning of the film.

The Seventh SealTropeNamers/FilmThe Sixth Sense
    Film/Blood and Ice Cream TrilogyHot Fuzz
The Shop Around the CornerRomantic ComedySingles
Ruby SparksDramedySilver Linings Playbook
Samurai ReincarnationZombie StoriesSiege of the Dead
Orange CountyFilm Brain ListSpider-Man 3
Blood and Ice Cream TrilogyFilms of 2000 - 2004 Boo, Zino & the Snurks
Mirror MonologueImageSource/Live-Action FilmsChekhov's Gun

alternative title(s): Shaun Of The Dead
random
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 thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
95367
34