[[quoteright:264:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/hitcher.jpg]]

->''Once you pick up The Hitcher, you'll '''never''' pick up another!''
->-- '''The original 1986 trailer's slogan'''

''The Hitcher'' is a 1986 road thriller.

The story is about a young man named Jim Halsey, played by none other than Creator/CThomasHowell, who's driving a car through the US of A. He decides to go against his mother's warnings and pick up a hitchhiker, [[AxCrazy John Ryder]] played by Creator/RutgerHauer, who will then turn his next few days into a wide awake nightmare.

It got a sequel in 2003, ''The Hitcher II: I've Been Waiting'', with C. Thomas Howell reprising his role as Jim, and this time featuring Creator/JakeBusey as the murderer. It was [[TheRemake remade]] in 2007 by Platinum Dunes, with Sophia Bush, Zachary Knighton and Creator/SeanBean. See also ''Film/{{Highwaymen}}'', its SpiritualSuccessor by the same director.

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!! ''The Hitcher'' contains examples of:

* AntagonistTitle: Jim is the protagonist.
* ArtisticLicenseBiology: [[spoiler: It is not possible to rip a human apart in the way shown in the 2007 movie. The joints - whether in the elbow, arm, knee, pelvis or feet - would give way earlier, and Jim would get arms or legs ripped off instead of being ripped in half - still, a messy way to die.]]
* AssholeVictim: Downplayed, but [[RabidCop Trooper Jack Donner and Trooper Dodge]] would count, due to them [[PoliceBrutality abrasively mishandling Jim when arresting him (to a point Donner calls Jim a "sack of shit") and Donner not giving a chance for Jim to have his brother to call him by not letting the phone ring a little longer]].
* AxCrazy: John Ryder is a serial killer who butchers whole families for kicks.
* BigBad: John Ryder, our hitchhiking SerialKiller.
* BookEnds: The original begins and ends with Jim lighting a match, although photographed in different ways.
* CarFu: In the remake, coupled with an odd variant of ImprobableAimingSkills.
* CellphonesAreUseless: Used shamelessly in the remake.
* BadassLongcoat: In a villanous example, John Ryder wears one.
* BewareOfHitchhikingGhosts: Although the film has a living hitchhiker, John Ryder [[spoiler: has no social security number, driver's license, or any other indication that he exists]]. Oh, and he's a psychopathic killer that beats down anybody he pleases.
* BigDamnVillains: Ryder, who actually saves Jim and Nash's lives (but only so he can try and kill them later) from the vengeful cops.
* BreakTheCutie: In the original. John succeeds.
* CentralTheme: The thrill of the hunt.
* CruelAndUnusualDeath: [[spoiler: Nash's horrific death by being tied between a Mack truck and its trailer and then ripped in half by the completely psycho title character.]]
* DaylightHorror: Much of the blood and gore happens during the day.
* DeadlyRoadTrip: In the remake, Jim Halsey and Grace Andrews are a young couple driving across New Mexico on Spring Break. Unfortunately, things don't go very well for them...
* DeathByAdaptation: [[spoiler: Jim and Lt. Esteridge]] are BOTH killed in the remake.
* DeathSeeker: John Ryder. As the plot uncovers, he repeatedly asks Jim Halsey to kill him in cold blood (after their first encounter when Jim picked up Ryder as an unsuspecting hitchhiker). When Jim fails to do so, John proceeds to go on a path of carnage.
* DiabolusExNihilo: When the police arrest [[SerialKiller John Ryder]], they can't match his finger prints to any existing criminals, nobody knows anything about him, and even his name is undoubtedly an alias. It's as if the desert just spat out Death in human form.
* DissonantSerenity: John Ryder, who never loses his calm as he continues killing people in gruesome ways.
* TheEndOrIsIt: [[spoiler:Subverted. John does get up at the end of the original, but Jim shoots him dead on the spot.]]
* FatalFamilyPhoto: It happens in the ending of the remake; one of the cops on the cop bus that's carrying [[AxCrazy John Ryder]] takes out a photo of his daughter.
* FauxAffablyEvil: Ryder.
* FilmNoir: The original 1986 film can mostly play out as this, the original screenplay was even more noir-ish then the actual film.
* TheFilmOfTheSong: The movie was inspired by "Riders on the Storm" by Music/TheDoors: "There's a killer on the road/His brain is squirming like a toad... If you give this man a ride/Sweet memory will die..." Just to drive the point home, the movie opens on the road in a storm, and the Hitcher gives his name as John Ryder.
* FinalGirl: Jim Halsey (to an extent) and Grace in the remake.
* FingerInTheMail: The protagonist stops at a roadside diner to call the cops on the serial killer who's been pursuing him. The killer slips a human finger into a plate of fries the waitress brings him.
* {{Fingore}}: One of the most infamous scenes involves Jim finding a severed finger in his french fries.
* FoeRomanceSubtext: Deliberately implied in the original ''Film/TheHitcher'', to the point where it creeps out the cops to watch the lead characters interact in the interrogation room.
* ForTheEvulz: Seems like Ryder's only reason d'etre.
* {{Gorn}}: The remake. The scene of a German Shepherd licking blood off a slit neck in the original can also count.
* GoryDiscretionShot: What happens to [[spoiler: Nash]]. Subverted but badly done ([[SpecialEffectFailure the body BOUNCES after being cut in half]]) in the remake. Also, the fate of the family in the station wagon.
* HalfTheManHeUsedToBe: [[spoiler: Nash]] in the original, [[spoiler: Jim]] in the remake.
* HeroWithBadPublicity: Jim Halsey, thanks to Ryder framing him for the murders. Jim and Grace in the remake as well.
* HostileHitchhiker: John Ryder in both the original and the remake, stalking and manipulating the protagonists after failing to kill them outright.
* ICannotSelfTerminate: Ryder repeatedly gives Jim the opportunity to kill him, goading him to do so. [[spoiler: Possibly a subversion, as it's unclear if Ryder truly wants to end his own rampage, or if he wants to turn ''Jim'' into a killer who'll carry on after him.]]
* ImprobableAimingSkills: Ryder takes out several squad cars and a frickin' helicopter with no more than a handgun ''while driving''...all to the strains of [[SoundtrackDissonance Nine]] [[Music/NineInchNails Inch Nails]] (in the remake). See also the CarFu entry above.
* InfantImmortality: Averted.
* InspectorJavert: The police pursuing Jim Halsey with Captain Esteridge as an exception.
* LoveInterest: Nash in the original, Jim in the remake.
* MadeOfIron: John Ryder in the remake manages to dislocate his thumb with an extremely audible "CRACK", skin his hand in bloody/painful-looking detail to free himself from handcuffs, and still is able to function said hand without any problem.
* MyCarHatesMe: Used in both versions:
** In the original, Esteridge's Dodge truck stalls out in the climax for no readily apparent reason preventing Jim from escaping for a few suspenseful moments.
** In the remake, Jim's Oldsmobile stalls out at the beginning at a crucial moment.
* NotSoDifferent: [[spoiler: The movie seems to imply a psuedo-sadomasochistic relationship between Jim and Ryder, and that this relation ship is more father/son or between lovers than hunter/prey.]]
* OneSteveLimit: Averted when counting both the original film and its sequel. In the original film, one of the arresting officers, Donner, is addressed by Sergeant Starr as Jack, while in the sequel, the new hitcher's name is Jack too.
* PickOnSomeoneYourOwnSize:
** The original film is a textbook example of this. After young teenager Jim Halsey manages to thwart serial killer John Ryder's attempt to add him to one of his list of victims, Ryder becomes [[FoeYay completely obsessed]] with [[StalkerWithACrush stalking]] Halsey and [[TheOnlyOneAllowedToDefeatYou killing or being killed by him]]. Ryder himself looks to be around 40 - 50 years old.
** The 2007 remake turns this into an intergender example by adding Jim's girlfriend Grace Andrews to the mix. Ryder eventually murders Jim and puts all his focus on Grace.
* PoliceBrutality: Jim Halsey ends up on the receiving end of this due to being WronglyAccused, whether it's either being abrasively mishandled while in incarceration, having an interrogator act coldly towards him despite Jim telling him about himself (though after sending Jim away, he privately expressed to one of the arresting officers, Trooper Jack Donner, that Jim is not a killer which "any fool can see that") or being a target of a vengeful {{vigilante}} RabidCop with a personal agenda to summarily execute the one responsible for the murders before finally getting shot at during a car chase by officers who are following martial law to shoot-to-kill Jim and Nash rather then just to arrest them alive, forcing them to shoot back in self defense. So does Jim and Grace in the remake.
* PoliceAreUseless: At least in the remake. Not only the cops inflict PoliceBrutality on the main protagonists like in the original, the police officers act idiotically and unmethodical.
* RabidCop: The InspectorJavert policemen who are after Jim Halsey, especially the abrasive Donner and Dodge and the corruptly vengeful Hancock. Also see PoliceBrutality above.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Captain Esteridge, who is probably the nicest cop in the film in contrast to the InspectorJavert {{Rabid Cop}}s, even when Jim's got a gun on him.
* SenselessPhagia: There's a scene which features a severed finger in a man's fries. He doesn't notice until he directly looks at it.
* SoundOnlyDeath: The murders in the police station, when you only hear two gunshots.
* TheSpook: The villain is called a ghost because there is nothing that identifies him.
* StalkerWithACrush: John Ryder. After Jim Halsey manages to thwart his attempt at murdering him, Ryder becomes obsessed with either [[TheOnlyOneAllowedToDefeatYou killing Halsey or being killed by Halsey]]. He stalks him throughout the entire movie, framing Jim for crimes he committed (but rescuing him when the police are about to kill him) and killing Jim's [[OfficialCouple only female love interest]] violently. In one very disturbing scene, he holds Jim's hands, and Jim spits in his face. After Jim leaves, he is seen [[{{Squick}} rubbing the spit onto his lips, smiling]].
* StrikeMeDownWithAllOfYourHatred: There are occasional hints in the original film that the title character is trying to get Jim to kill him in order to fulfill this trope.
* SuddenSequelDeathSyndrome: [[spoiler: Jim and Lt. Esteridge]] in ''both'' the sequel and the remake.
* TheTheTitle
* UnflinchingWalk: Ryder walking away from the burning transport van in the remake.
* VigilanteMan:
** HotBlooded [[RabidCop Trooper Lyle Hancock]], who tried to invoke LoopholeAbuse to find an [[HeWhoFightsMonsters excuse for kill Jim rather then just arrest him out of]] [[JerkassWoobie blind grief-stricken rage]] [[RevengeBeforeReason to avenge the deaths of two of his police force buddies]]. When that does not work, he tries to shoot him anyway in front of a busload of witnesses, an action which would cost him his badge and have him be prosecuted for being a DirtyCop who went against typical police protocol. It could have been worse for him when Jim's innocence would be later revealed.
** Jim at the end becomes this, wanting to kill Ryder personally for all the torment he underwent because of him.
* VillainousValour: Exagerrated to the fact that Ryder can take down an helicopter with just one single gun.
* VomitIndiscretionShot: Lots of these in the original.
* WouldHurtAChild: Ryder massacres an entire family. Children included.
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