Film / The Phantom Menace
Obi-Wan: I have a bad feeling about this.
Qui-Gon Jinn: I don't sense anything.
Obi-Wan: It's not about the mission, Master. It's something... elsewhere. Elusive.

Turmoil has engulfed the
Galactic Republic. The taxation
of trade routes to outlying star
systems is in dispute.

Hoping to resolve the matter
with a blockade of deadly
battleships, the greedy Trade
Federation has stopped all
shipping to the small planet
of Naboo.

While the congress of the
Republic endlessly debates
this alarming chain of events,
the Supreme Chancellor has
secretly dispatched two Jedi
Knights, the guardians of
peace and justice in the
galaxy, to settle the conflict....

After CGI started taking off, in no small part due to the work of his company Industrial Light and Magic, George Lucas felt it was a good time to finish the Star Wars saga. He re-released the Original Trilogy in theaters as special editions to further test the waters for more Star Wars films.

The Phantom Menace then began production after the success of the special editions.

In protest for rising taxes, the Trade Federation blockade the small, peaceful planet of Naboo to make their demands known. The Galactic Senate sends the Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi as ambassadors to negotiate the end of the blockade. The Trade Federation invade Naboo and the Jedi are forced to protect the Queen, Amidala, and assist her to gain support to protect her people. On the way to the Galactic Capital, they encounter a young boy named Anakin who is extremely talented in the force, and the Jedi do battle with Darth Maul, the apprentice of the Sith Lord who is manipulating the Trade Federation's actions for his own means.

The prequels came about from backstory notes Lucas developed on the first film, and further expanded upon before The Empire Strikes Back came out (hence the retroactive naming scheme using "Episodes"). Unlike the original trilogy, this film was designed from the start as the introduction of a three-movie structure, though this film (and the other prequels, to a lesser extent) is still comparatively self-contained.

Followed by Attack of the Clones

Tropes Mostly Particular To This Film:

  • Action Girl: Padmé.
    • Her loyal handmaidens too, though we only see this towards the very end.
  • Aliens Speaking English: All the aliens speak Basic (the In-Universe equivalent of English), even on backwater planets like Naboo and Tatooine.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Trope Namer. Qui-Gon says this as he goes along with Obi-Wan and Jar Jar to travel in a sub through the watery core of Naboo, and are saved from a predator by another bigger predator twice in a row.
  • All There in the Manual: Exactly what the Trade Federation is and the nature of the original trade dispute are never explained in the movie itself.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The idea of an elected Queen sounds extremely strange, but, in fact, there are some places that actually did elect monarchy, including the Holy Roman Empire (at least technically, the electors inevitably picked the head of House Habsburg), medieval Ireland and early modern Poland. There are still elective monarchies, including Malaysia, Cambodia (where the King is elected by other members of the Royal Family), and Wallis-and-Futuna, a French territory in the Pacific Ocean, which is divided into three traditional kingdoms each led by a king elected among the local aristocracy. One more that people often don't think about is the Pope, who at one time ruled the Papal States (read: half of Italy) and now rules over the Vatican City, and is elected from the College of Cardinals. Those who know about this generally are skeptical of the idea of a popularly elected monarch; the examples listed above are elected from small cadres of elites, not the general populace, as is the case with Amidala. The fact that she was fourteen when she was elected, and future queens are even younger, also strains credibility.
  • Amusing Alien: Jar-Jar Binks and Boss Nass.
  • Antagonist Title: One is led to think "The Phantom Menace" refers to Darth Maul's secretive actions when really of course, it refers to the subversive undermining of Senator Palpatine a.k.a. Darth Sidious.
  • The Artifact: The design of the battle droids was based on an early conceptual design for the Neimoidians, which was scrapped because it was difficult to create. In-universe the droids are made to look like Neimoidian skeletons (since their skulls elongate after death), though this was latter retconned as a rumor spread by the Neimoidians. Attack of the Clones reveals they're actually based on Geonosian skulls, who actually manufacture the droids.
  • Artifact Alias: The Naboo Queen uses Queen Amidala in her public persona, but goes by her birth name of Padmé when disguised as a handmaiden. In the sequels, she remains Padmé Amidala, despite having left office and her full birth name being Padme Naberrie. It's unclear whether this is standard practice for ex-queens of Naboo.
  • Artificial Gill: The rebreathers used by Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan to swim down to the Gungan city.
  • Artistic License Law: Yeah... forcing a ruler to sign a document during war and with a gun pointed to her head. It doesn't matter which galaxy you're in, or how far far away it is, that's not binding because it's clearly under duress. (And why do invasions need to be legal?)
  • Artistic License Geology: Yeah, it's Star Wars, so this is to be expected, but given what we directly see of Naboo's geology, there's no way that the surface could be as verdant, full of life, and most importantly Earth-like as it is. Basically, Naboo is a porous planet with canals filled with water running through the planet's core from one side to the other. The problem is, without a hot, liquid metal core like Earth has, the planet would most likely have no magnetic field, meaning that everything on the surface should be fried by radiation. Furthermore, no hot core means no volcanic activity, which makes one question of how the atmosphere developed.
  • As You Know: "Our blockade is perfectly legal, and we would be happy to receive ambassadors..."
  • Background Halo: Most of Amidala's outfits.
  • Backstory: This movie really only exists to set up all the back story for the following five movies. In fact, Rod Hilton's Machete Order shows how leaving it out of the viewing order altogether doesn't hurt the overarching story at all.
  • Beneath the Earth: Of the flooded variety. The hidden Gungan city is actually fairly close to the surface. Below, the planet is a strangely porous tangle of caverns inhabited by gigantic fish and Kaiju-style monsters. Those living on the paradisaical surface apparently never even see these things, as they happily build their cities and homes along the shorelines of bodies of water that lead into this monster-filled underworld.
  • Big "NO!": Obi-Wan witnessing Darth Maul land a killing strike on Qui-Gon.
  • Bilingual Bonus: While Anakin is piloting his starfighter to join the fight at the Droid Control Ship, Artoo beeps at him. The text that shows up on the console screen reads to the effect of "Anakin turn the ship around right now."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Trade Federation has been defeated, Naboo regains freedom, but Qui-Gon is dead and Palpatine/Darth Sidious became a Chancellor.
  • Blood Sport: The podrace, which almost looks like Mario Kart on Steroids.
  • Body Double: Padmé's handmaiden, Sabé.
  • Boy Meets Girl: Anakin meets Padmé, who is actually the Queen of Naboo, and his future wife for the first time.
  • Call Forward: The film alludes to many future events in the Star Wars series.
    • The Droid Control Ship (at least its center sphere) is similar to the Death Star in appearance, and its all around design was inspired by the Imperial Star Destroyers. Anakin also (accidentally) destroys it by blowing up its core, which his son will do decades later to the Death Star in A New Hope.
    • Mos Espa is obviously meant to evoke the same imagery and feel as Mos Eisley in A New Hope, especially since it's set on the same planet.
    • C-3PO tells R2-D2, "I can assure you they will never get me onto one of those dreadful starships."
    • During the podrace, Anakin and Sebulba's pods get tangled up, an ode to Luke and a Scout Trooper getting their speeder bikes entangled in Return of the Jedi.
    • In a deleted scene, Anakin encounters a young Greedo. A friend even warns Greedo to be careful with who he messes with or he'll regret it, referring to his end at the blaster of Han Solo.
    • On Coruscant, a character named "Minister Antilles" is mentioned, a referenced to either Captain Antilles or Wedge Antilles from the original triology. He's also mentioned to be from Alderaan.
    • When Qui-Gon Jinn is killed by Darth Maul, Obi Wan screams "No!" in terror, similar to how Luke reacts when Obi Wan is killed in A New Hope.
    • Qui-Gon's body is burned at his funeral, like Anakin's will be decades later.
    • At the end, Senator Palpatine congratulates little Anakin on his heroics and says that he'll be "watch[ing] [his] career with great interest."
    • It's easy to miss, but Augie's Municipal Band is secretly a very upbeat arrangement of the Emperor's theme. The Peace Ceremony between the Naboo and the Gungans in the ending also evokes the imagery of the award ceremony from the ending of A New Hope.
    • During the end credits, Darth Vader's breathing respirator can be heard.
  • Catch Phrase: Jar Jar's "How rude!"
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Sebulba learns this in a humiliating way.
  • The Chooser of The One: Qui-Gon found Anakin.
  • Combat Pragmatist: When separated from Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon manages to hold his own against Darth Maul's lightsaber strikes. So what does Maul do to get the better of him? He butts Qui-Gon in the face with the hilt of his lightsaber to catch him off guard and then impales him through the chest.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: For Anakin and Padme. Anakin Skywalker leaves his home and family to begin his training as a Jedi Knight while Padme Amidala has to prove herself as a successful leader. Done as a mirror of their children Luke and Leia from the original trilogy.
  • Connected All Along: In this film, we learn that Anakin/Darth Vader built C-3PO.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The entire Tatooine sequence. To wit, the characters, in need of hyperspace parts, just happen to land near a settlement where the first guy they talk to just happens to be the only person with the right parts for miles, and also just happens to own the probable Chosen One as a slave, who just happens to be good in a Podrace of which there just happens to be one tomorrow. Also just happening to be there is said Chosen One's future wife. Lampshaded by Qui-Gon, who wholeheartedly believes all this was the will of The Force.
  • Cool Bike: Darth Maul's Bloodfin speeder bike
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Trade Federation, which is willing to sell itself out to the Sith in return for profit (or in the EU backstory, settling a vendetta against Senator Palpatine).
  • Cowboy Cop: Qui-Gon is the Jedi version of this. He goes with his gut feelings, rather than established procedure. He bends the rules to see justice done. He's been passed over for promotion by the suits on the Jedi Council for his actions, and he's willing to challenge their authority. Oddly, by the time we reach Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker seems more like Qui-Gon (who he's never met) than Kenobi or Yoda (who trained him).
  • Crapsack World: Tatooine. For one thing, it's stated in the movie that it's ruled by the Hutts (whom according to Panaka are gangsters) and it's clear from the movie that slavery is considered acceptable there, including the use of children as slaves. There's also the podracing, which people also bet various things (including the fate of slaves) on. Even putting aside the nature of its society, there's also the weather; dangerous sandstorms can come up on short notice, which the Tatooine residents apparently predict through aching bones, and that doesn't give them much time to find shelter. note 
  • Crippling the Competition: Champion podracer Sebulba "accidentally" bumps another podracer, messing it up and making it unable to race.
  • Damage Control: After Trade Federation battleships shoot out the shield generators on the royal cruiser, R2-D2 and several other astromechs are called out to fix it. R2 gets it done but all the other droids are blown away in the process.
  • Darkest Hour: Qui-Gon dies. The Gungans are defeated. Anakin is stranded inside an enemy ship. Amidala is caught by the federation. All at the same time.
  • Deadly Dust Storm: One forces Qui-Gon's party to take shelter in Anakin's house on Tatooine.
  • Decoy Leader: "After her! This one's a decoy!"
    • Actually played with, as the one that they think is a decoy is actually the real queen.
  • Decoy Protagonist/The Hero Dies: One of the rare instances where both is true. Qui-Gon Jinn is the main character of the film and dies near the end, with prequels and the original trilogy to go.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Played with in the Podrace; while Podracing is a Blood Sport done at breakneck speeds, Sebulba is more than willing to take time to handicap other racers (i.e. smashing Mawhonic's pod into a cliff wall, incinerating Clegg Holdfast's pod with a flamethrower, throwing a piece of junk into Mars Guo's engine to cause it to jam and explode). Unlike most examples, it doesn't particularly slow him down or cost him a lead; until he tries to pull it on Anakin, which, thanks to their pods becoming intertwined when Sebulba tries to ram him, gives Anakin a chance to boost ahead, thus tearing apart Sebulba's engine cables, triggering a humiliating chain-reaction destruction of his racer.
  • Disney Villain Death: Darth Maul falls down a deep shaft after getting sliced in half by Obi-Wan.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Subverted. Midichlorians provide a bit of scientific explanation to why some people are more receptive to the Force than others, and why it can be passed down in a family, but they do not explain what the Force is. In fact, when Qui-Gon explains them to Anakin, he specifically states, that the midichlorians only communicate the will of the Force, making it clear that the Force is higher consciousness, and not the midichlorians themselves, nor is it generated by them.
  • Don't Look Back: Said word for word, Anakin's mother gives him the strength to leave Tatooine by telling him not to look back at her.
  • Don't Think, Feel: Said almost verbatim by Qui-Gon to Anakin before the podrace.
  • Doomed by Canon: No, Qui-Gon. You are not going to train Anakin.
  • The Dragon: Darth Maul to Sidious, commanded to destroy the Jedi.
  • Dramatic Irony: Anyone who has seen the original trilogy knows what will become of Anakin, Obi-Wan, The Jedi, and the Republic. Fans more familiar with the universe will also know the Secret Identity of the Big Bad: Senator Palpatine.
  • Dull Surprise: A common complaint about most of the cast.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: This is the only prequel shot on film rather than digital video. Also, a sizeable portion of it was shot on location and with real sets rather than extensive Chroma Key like the other two prequels. As a result the film has more of a visual continuity with the original trilogy (especially the Special Editions) than with the subsequent films, which almost look like cartoons by comparison.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: Anakin tries this during the Droid Control Ship battle. "I'll try spinning, that's a good trick!"
  • Exact Words: "Stay in that cockpit!" from Qui-Gon to Anakin. Never mind that Anakin accidentally activates the Naboo fighter craft in question, subsequently blasts a few Destroyer droids, and ultimately takes out the reactor core of the orbiting Trade Federation control ship...
  • Explosive Instrumentation: The destruction of the control ship's main reactor by Anakin causes the droid control computer to malfunction and explode. The captain and ship staff are in front of the computer when it explodes, killing them all just as the bridge is incinerated.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Gungans and the Naboo appear to not like each other very much and live segregated from each other in underwater and aboveground cities, respectively. Later on they form an alliance to end the Trade Federation's occupation of their planet.
  • Fictional Sport: Podracing.
  • Fighter-Launching Sequence: The Naboo fighter pilots who the heroes rescued during their escape from the planet earlier in the film make off in their fighters during the film's climax. One of them is shot down on takeoff and crashes in a valley below.
  • Filk Song: Weird Al's "The Saga Begins" (which Al wrote before the movie using internet spoilers, and he even attended a charity screening to make sure it was accurate!).
  • Final Battle: There are 4 of them (a 3-way lightsaber duel, a massive ground battle, a big space battle and a smaller ground assault). It's been pointed out that the Star Wars movies had an increasing number of final battles per movie. At an early screening for execs and higher-ups the editor pointed out that because there was so much going on the audience's mood was being pulled from comedy to drama to excitement to sadness so much that it was losing its power. Lucas realized that he had gone overboard and that he couldn't fix it in the editing because all four scenes are intertwined, and in the latter two movies he backed down on it significantly.
  • Fixing the Game: Qui-Gon doesn't hesitate to cheat at dice if it serves the greater good.
    • According to the film's Novelization, Watto was using a weighted die and Qui-Gon knew it. No wonder he didn't mind cheating a cheater.
  • Flat Character: Darth Maul, to the point of having no character whatsoever, except being badass.
  • Foreshadowing: After Mace Windu wonders if it was the Master or the Apprentice who was destroyed, the scene pans towards Palpatine, and an ominous musical cue is heard while the funeral theme is playing in the background, hinting that Palpatine is the other Sith.
    • There's also the first meeting between Palpatine and Anakin; Palpatine pats the young boy on the back, saying that, "-we will be watching your career with great interest."
    • The Novelization has some of this in its version of the "Are you an angel?" scene, during which Anakin tells Padmé that he's sure he's going to someday marry her. It's used playfully as a Call Back later when Anakin and Padmé are talking aboard her ship.
    • If you hadn't watched the original trilogy, the soundtrack makes a foreshadowing. When Yoda talks about Anakin at the end of the film stating that the boy's future is clouded, the Imperial March makes a brief yet meaningful appearance.
    • After the podrace Shmi tells Anakin that he "has given hope to those who have none". Anakin will father Luke, the hope.
  • Force-Field Door: During a duel with Darth Maul.
  • Foreboding Fleeing Flock: The Trade Federation's invasion panics the animals of Naboo, who all race to get away, heedless of the Jedi trying to keep from getting trampled, or the Gungan who just stands there like an idiot.
  • Forgot About His Powers: A common complaint about Darth Maul's death.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: Deflector Shields are ubiquitous in Star Wars generally, but especially notable here in that the Gungans, alone out of all the races we have seen, have refined the technology for battlefield usage. They have portable shield generators that can provide an army with protection from artillery fire, as well as personal tower shields to allow front line troops to withstand blaster fire at close range. This would have been hugely useful in numerous battles during the Clone Wars, as well as to the Rebels on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. But these technologies are never seen again.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: A common complaint about the ending, as it makes the climax feel rather drawn out.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Shmi and Anakin live pretty well for slaves on a Third World-level planet. Also, their hovel seems to be Bigger on the Inside. And what's that area where Anakin was building his podracer? Was that, like, a backyard? Possibly justified by their value to Watto as slaves.
    • To point out just how much Watto valued his slaves: when Anakin left, he refused to sell Shmi to anyone, at any price, unless he was certain she would be treated well by her new owner. Sure enough, the guy who eventually was allowed to buy her didn't waste any time in freeing her and marrying her...
  • George Lucas Altered Version: The Blu-Ray did some changes, most notably changing the puppet Yoda with the CG one from the other prequels.
  • Graceful in Their Element: Jar Jar underwater.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Darth Maul gets (Non-fatally) bisected by Obi-Wan.
  • Hauled Before A Senate Subcommittee: As Queen Amidala points out, Nute Gunray will have to explain his actions to the Republic Senate.
  • Heroism Equals Job Qualification:
    • Jar Jar Binks goes straight from being banished to being a general after helping the Nabooan humans and the Gungans get along. And then soon after the droid threat is gone he becomes a senator.
    • Obi-Wan is promoted from Padawan to Jedi Knight following Darth Maul's demise.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: According to a Star Wars character guide, Podracer Ratts Tyerell was sick of Sebulba's cheating and meant "to fight fire with fire". However, he died in a crash before he could pay Sebulba back...
  • Horns of Villainy: While all Zabraks have horns on their heads, Darth Maul's combine with his Sith tattoos to give him a very sinister image.
  • "I Can't Look!" Gesture: As Anakin is preparing to start the podrace, Jar-Jar says it's going to be nasty and that he's not watching before covering his eyes.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Qui-Gon's fate, courtesy of Darth Maul.
  • Implacable Man: Darth Maul as he stalks his prey, the Queen (and the two Jedi protecting her).
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Amidala's wardrobe. Also a plot point, her makeup and clothing was designed specifically to make it impossible to see who was Amidala and who was her decoy. Keira Knightley played her decoy, who does somewhat resemble Natalie Portman.
  • Keystone Army: The droid army malfunctions when the control ship is knocked out.
    • Similarly, the Gungan army turns and runs as soon as their shield generator is knocked out. Justified, because while the shield was up the only thing that could get through was the Trade Federation's infantry. After the shield is down their heavy firepower could move in.
  • Kill 'em All: Darth Sidious orders this.
  • Knight, Knave and Squire: Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and Anakin, respectively.
  • Large Ham: Jar Jar Binks, Watto and Boss Nass.
  • The Last DJ: Obi-Wan hints that Qui-Gon is this character type.
  • Leitmotif: It wouldn't be Star Wars otherwise. Anakin's theme includes chords from The Imperial March.
  • Lethal Klutz: Jar Jar Binks destroys quite a few combat droids accidentally during the final battle of Naboo. In one scene he accidentally unlatches the door to a stash of grenade-like devices, sending them into the enemy ranks; in another, his foot gets caught in one droid, and trying to escape causes the droid's blaster to fire, taking out another droid.
  • Lighter and Softer: Despite the page quote up top there, children and funny-talking aliens play a large part in the plot. More obviously, the Used Future aesthetic of the original trilogy was done away with in order to help demonstrate that this is the "more civilized age" that Obi-Wan mentioned in A New Hope.
  • Locked Out of the Fight: The force-field gates that the Jedi fight Darth Maul through serve to separate Obi-Wan from Qui-Gon; Obi-Wan can only watch as Qui-Gon, fighting alone, falls to Darth Maul.
  • Made of Plasticine: The regular Battle Droids are extremely frail machines and absolutely pathetic in close quarter combat, with their strength mainly being in their sheer numbers and whatever heavy weaponry they have nearby, in addition to backup with the far more deadly Droidekas. Obi Wan and Qui Gon completely mop the floor with them without so much as getting a scratch.
  • Meaningful Background Event: In a couple scenes while characters are going about their business on Tatooine, you might catch an inconspicuous floating droid hover past in the background - or catch a listen to their signature sound effect - which have a striking resemblance to those we saw belonging to Darth Maul...
  • Mechanical Monster: The Droidekas. These are not puny little battle droids—they're fast, defended by built-in shield generators, and are armed with rapid firing laser cannons that pack a serious wallop. When the Neimodians send a pack after Qui Gon and Obi Wan on their ship, they immediately realize they're in over their heads fighting them, and make a break for it right away.
  • Meditation Powerup: When Qui-Gon fights Maul on Naboo. It helps, but not enough.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Qui-Gon, Obi Wan's mentor, is killed by Darth Maul.
  • Mid-Battle Tea Break: Justified in the final battle between Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Darth Maul when the three combatants are temporarily separated by some force fields. Qui-Gon takes a moment to meditate and compose himself, Maul takes an experimental slash at the field before pacing around and giving Qui-Gon a Death Glare, and Obi-Wan just stands around nervously.
  • Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: It gets a 4, because of Qui-Gon Jinn being impaled by Darth Maul's lightsaber and Maul being sliced in two at the waist (complete with blood vapor puff), also with a lightsaber.
  • Mole in Charge: Palpatine/Sidious.
  • Mook Horror Show: Invoked by the creators with the Trade Federation members hiding from the Jedi which nothing could stop. The DVD commentary specifically states this was an inversion of the typical "humans cowering in fear of the unstoppable alien" dynamic from old horror movies.
  • The Mothership: The Federation command ship which Anakin destroys.
  • Naval Blockade: By the Trade Federation around Naboo, which kicks off the action.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The manner in which the Trade Federation marched into Theed mirrored the Nazis march under the Arc de Triomphe. In addition, the Trade Federation, after occupying Naboo, also held the various indigenous peoples (Naboo humans and Gungans) in camps that were implied to be death camps/concentration camps. In addition, it is implied that Palpatine orchestrated the Naboo blockade invasion to gain more power, similar to how Adolf Hitler had some of his army pose as Polish people and attack their own key buildings so he'd have the excuse to invade Poland. It might also reference Hitler invading his native land of Austria, seeing how Palpatine was the senator of the same planet that he orchestrated the Trade Federation's invasion of. note 
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon both dash at super speed to escape two robots near the start of the film - and never use the power again, not even when it might have been useful during the duel with Darth Maul.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Aside from the trouble Jar-Jar causes in this movie, there is also the time when Qui-Gon made it his dying wish for Obi-Wan to train Anakin. Those familiar enough with the series' overall story would know that this didn't exactly work out all that well.
    • And Padme following Palpatine's recommendation to call for a vote of no confidence, allowing him to become Chancellor.
    • Knowing what led to Anakin turning to the Dark Side, the Jedi not accepting him earlier before Obi-Wan essentially threatened to go against the Order to train him himself also qualifies somewhat.
    • More to the point, they knew that Anakin's mother was still a slave, and if they'd just taken half an hour to go and rescue her after the events of the movie, it would've saved everyone a lot of trouble in the long run.
  • Noodle Incident: The specific reasons for Jar-Jar's exile, besides his obvious clumsiness, are never detailed. We only get to hear the last bit of the story, which apparently involves blowing something up and crashing Boss Nass' heyblibber.
  • No OSHA Compliance:
    • A Star Wars staple, which probably reaches its highest point in the area beneath the palace where Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan fight Maul - a series of catwalks with no railings over a bottomless pit. Plus a corridor lined with energy fields that seemingly activate and deactivate according to some computer-controlled pattern and lack any apparent means of detecting whether or not there are people in the corridor. It makes Cloud City look like a model of industrial safety in comparison!
    • The Trade Federation's ships are little better, judging by how the designers apparently decided that putting the main reactor right next door to the hangar was a good idea.
  • No Poverty: Naboo. It makes The Federation look like the Eastern Bloc during the 1980's in comparison!
  • No Sell: Watto is thoroughly unimpressed by Qui-Gon's Jedi Mind Trick.
  • Not-So-Innocent Whistle: Jar Jar does that a few times.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Palpatine suggests these rule the Republic with Chancellor Valorum as their puppet, and is the reason that rather than doing anything about the Naboo situation, the Senate has merely had meetings - and why Amidala says the page quote.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: Qui-Gon's communicator is a re-decoed woman's razor.
  • Oh, Crap!: A Gungan general's reaction to seeing a huge deployment of battle droids walk right through his army's force-field.
    • Panaka and his troops as a whole get one of these moments when they meet Darth Maul.
    • The Neimodians when they seal off the bridge and realize the Jedi are still getting through.
    • The pilot and co-pilot of the Republic cruiser in the docking bay of the Trade Federation Battleship. They don't even get a chance to finish saying Oh, Crap!.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: "Yousa in big dudu this time!" Also, Obi-Wan's scene with Qui-Gon at the Jedi Temple. ("Do not defy the Council, Master, not again.")
  • Ominous Sanskrit Chanting: Duel of the Fates.
  • Opposing Sports Team: Sebulba. Also doubles as The Rival.
    • Funnily enough, the Expanded Universe material sees Sebulba becoming a positively heroic figure as the Empire begins to crack down on podracing and sports in general.
  • Parental Substitute: Rather sadly, Watto is the closest thing young Anakin has to a father figure. Though he still does occasionally discipline him and Shmi like any average slave owner would, from what we get to see he is genuinely fond of the mother and son, treats them well, and was genuinely sad to see Anakin go. On top of all that, he would not sell Shmi until he was certain that her new master was a kind man that would give her a good and happy life (sure enough, when he does sell her off before the sequel, her new master promptly freed and then married her). Word of God does state that Watto generally treats his slaves much better than most other masters.
    • When Qui-Gon comes in, he takes on this role for Anakin.
  • Pimped-Out Cape: About every other queen outfit Amidala wore had one.
  • Pimped Out Dresses: Every one of Amidala's queen outfits.
  • Pinball Protagonist: Anakin is obviously a crucial character in the film due to his impossibly high midichlorian count (and thus incredible force wielding potential), but aside from racing and winning the pod race, he has no real control over what's going on around him, due to him being a Tagalong Kid. He ultimately thwarts the Trade Federations' invasion by blowing up their control ship, but even that was a lucky accident.
  • Plummet Perspective: A lightsaber goes a long way down a shaft.
  • Power Levels: The "midichlorian count" for measuring Force potential.
  • Pretext for War: The Trade Federation uses something about taxation as an excuse to occupy Naboo.
  • Pretty in Mink: Amidala's red dress is trimmed with brown fur.
  • Prevent the War: Chancellor Valorum sent Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan to try and stop the situation on Naboo from escalating.
  • Queen Incognito: Padmé acts and is treated like a common handmaiden, it works thanks to Decoy Leader Sabé, and the audience is occasionally left clueless. She gets to explore Tatooine by saying the Queen wanted a loyal handmaiden to tell her about it, the planet being deemed too dangerous for her to explore.
  • Radio Silence: It's vital that the Queen's shuttle not respond to the distress signals from Naboo to prevent giving away their location. But Darth Maul is somehow able to track them down anyway. The fact that Senator Palpatine is Darth Sidious, and that Maul is himself force-sensitive implies that he found them not by tracking the Queen, but her Jedi escorts.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: Whatever young Anakin says to the Hutts is untranslated.
  • Recruited from the Gutter: This is how Anakin Skywalker became a Jedi; the second act is basically devoted to freeing him from slavery so he can be trained as one.
  • Re Cut: The DVD release included a few additional moments, mostly ideas they had for the podrace. But a fan made recut of this film inspired a slew of fan made cuts of various films, largely toning down Jar Jar's antics.
    • The Blu-Ray also makes changes - most notably trading a much contested puppet Yoda for a digital one similar to the one seen in later prequels.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Qui-Gon Jinn attempted to walk up to several battle droids without any stealth, ask permission to go to Coruscant with several POWs, and then cuts him down when the droid, after briefly acting confused, realized that he should arrest him.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Once you learn that Padmé is the real queen, there are several instances where you can tell that the decoy queen is taking cues from her about what to do next.
  • Road Apples: Jar Jar Binks steps in poop and says "icky-icky goo".
  • Robot Antennae: B1 battle droids have antennae of this time on their backpacks. They're controlled by a large space station in orbit, so they need it to receive signals.
  • Royal Cruiser: The unnamed ship that Queen Amidala uses to escape past the Trade Federation's blockade, which comes complete with a throne room for her.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Queen Amidala and her decoys prove to be excellent at defending themselves during the invasion.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The virgin birth of Anakin Skywalker, who according to an ancient prophecy is said to bring balance to the Force. He also likes to build things and lived in the desert. The image of Darth Maul resembles the Christian Devil as well.
  • Running the Blockade: The Jedi and the Queen escape Naboo through the Trade Federation blockade aboard the Queen's royal cruiser.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Qui-Gon Jinn. Probably to make sure audience attitude towards Darth Maul was "somebody kill that bastard!" in time for his Karmic Death.
  • Same Language Dub: Darth Maul's voice is dubbed by Peter Serafinowicz (Ray Park's real, fairly higher voice can be heard as Toad in X-Men - not scary at all).
  • Schizo Tech: Naboo in general:
    • In all respects the human population has technology on par with what is standard for the Republic. But their (non-industrial) architecture looks straight out of the Italian Renaissance.
    • The Gungans are even more glaring. They live in spectacular underwater cities composed of transparent bubbles, use deflector shield technology even in place of transparent material on the canopies of their submarines, as well as on the battlefield, and their preferred weapons are spheres filled with ionized plasma. But they use dinosaur-like animals as mounts and beasts of burden and their only means of "firing" their plasma spheres is through the use of slings or by hand!
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!:
    • When Sidious orders Nute Gunray to land his troops on Naboo. The following dialogue shows this trope.
    Darth Sidious: This turn of events is unfortunate, begin landing your troops now.
    Nute Gunray: My lord, is that legal?
    Darth Sidious: I will make it legal.
    • Qui-Gon on hearing that the Jedi Council won't let Anakin become a Padawan says he will take on the boy as his apprentice, stating that Obi-Wan is ready to face the trials to become a Knight. This is against Jedi protocol.
  • Serkis Folk: Some of the alien characters, such as Jar Jar.
  • Shell Game: One of Padmé's handmaidens, elected decoy Sabé, turns up in full regalia, even shooting several battle droids on the spot, fooling the Trade Federation into thinking she's the queen and leaving Padmé relatively unguarded at a key moment.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The podrace is a space-age Chariot Race, complete with giant engines in place of horses, and the whole sequence is a huge reference to Ben Hur.
    • The podrace scene does also owe a lot to the racing car sequence from Pinchcliffe Grand Prix (a fact that made all Norwegian viewers go "huh", as every Norwegian alive have seen that move at least five times).
    • Some of Jar-Jar's antics are taken almost directly from the films of Buster Keaton.
    • Also as a likely Take That, the leader of the Trade Federation is Nute Gunray after former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich as well as a reversal of Ronald Reagan, to get back at Project Star Wars, and the Neimoidian senator is named Lott Dodd after U.S. Senators Trent Lott and Chris Dodd.
    • The Neimoidians are named after Leonard Nimoy. Even more amusingly, they were called Shatnerians in the earliest drafts of the script.
    • The title itself is a reference to the Universal serial "The Phantom Creeps" and its first episode, "The Menacing Power".
  • Show, Don't Tell: Padmé says "My people are suffering," and Sio Bibble says "The death toll is catastrophic," but we don't really see the impact that the Trade Federation invasion had on Naboo. Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you realize that, as all communications are blacked out, that conspicuously clear message must be a fake made by the Trade Federation to induce Amidala to reveal her position and there is actually nothing to see.
  • Skyscraper City: Large swaths of the planet Coruscant are encrusted with giant skyscrapers... built on top of older skyscrapers... built on top of even older skyscrapers. It's uncertain if the planet even has actual ground anymore. It's said to host one trillion inhabitants. A few of the skyscrapers are the construction droids that build more skyscrapers.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Darth Maul, technically, only has about 10 minutes of screen time and even fewer lines of dialogue. But the sheer importance of his role can be seen in the posters, as one possible interpretation of "The Phantom Menace" is that it is referring to him (other options are Palpatine/Sidious and Anakin). After all, he did kill Qui-Gon Jinn, which forced Anakin unto Obi-Wan Kenobi, who was said to train him in the original trilogy.
  • Space Is Cold: Mentioned word-for-word by Padmé to Anakin.
  • Space Jews: Watto for his miserliness and business-before-all-else attitude. He also has a large nose, and sometimes wore a hat similar to a Hasidic kapelyush hat.
  • Spin-Off: Notable for being the movie with the most spin-off video games of any of the prequels: The Phantom Menace, Episode 1 Racer, Super Bombad Racing, Jedi Power Battles, Obi-Wan, and Battle for Naboo.
  • Spit Take: Jar Jar does this in regards to how much a Gorgnote  was (7 wupiupi). This actually got him into even more trouble as he ended up spitting it into Sebulba's soup, and likewise resulted in Sebulba beating the crap out of Jar Jar in revenge before Anakin broke it up.
  • Start of Darkness: Not only for Darth Vader, but even more so for the Empire.
  • The Stinger: Sort of: As the credits end, the viewer can distinctly hear Vader's iconic breathing.
  • The Stoic: No matter the situation, Qui-Gon remains calm and collected.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: The Trade Federation at the start of the film, relating to the blockade of Naboo.
    Viceroy: As you know, our blockade is perfectly legal.
  • Take That: One of the early ads for the film spoofed the infamous "Size Does Matter" tagline of the 1998 Godzilla film with the phrase "Plot Does Matter."
  • Theme Music Reveal: Anakin's theme including chords from The Imperial March. A more subtle one is the joyful parade tune played during the film's post-climax celebration. It's Emperor Palpatine's theme from Return of the Jedi, in a major key instead of a minor key, with a children's choir backing it.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: "Ouch time."
  • Three Successful Generations: Anakin Skywalker has always dreamed of having the freedom to become a Jedi Knight, Obi-Wan Kenobi is obedient to the Jedi council and makes a stable father figure to Anakin, and Qui-Gon Jinn is insistent that Anakin become a Jedi Knight and fulfill his destiny.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The captain of the droid control ship should have taken that report of the reactor having a problem seriously.
  • Underwater City: Where the Gungans live.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Amidala. This is one of the most famous aspects of the movie. Even subtly lampshaded by Obi-Wan, who says they have nothing to barter with apart from the Queen's wardrobe.
  • Verbal Tic: Watto ends a lot of his sentences with "I think..." I think...
    • Boss Nass has one, kch kch kch.
  • Wacky Racing: Podracers collide into each other, Tusken Raiders fire at the racers, and the track is filled with obstacles, so Qui-Gon is right when he says that racers need to have Jedi-like reflexes to race.
  • Walking Disaster Area: Jar-Jar's klutziness leaves wreckage in his wake.
    • To his credit, he makes the best of this near the end, managing to purposefully take out several droids due to his own clumsiness.
  • Wham Line: "There was no father."
  • Wuxia: While the original trilogy is heavily inspired by Jidai Geki samurai films, the prequel trilogy takes more inspiration from the wuxia genre.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Regardless of what happened, as Palpatine was manipulating both sides, he would effectively win either way.
  • You Are a Credit to Your Race: Watto says this of Anakin.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: The look on Padmé's face when she learns that Anakin has never actually won a podrace, let alone finished one.

Chancellor Palpatine: "And you, young Skywalker. We will watch your career with great interest."

Alternative Title(s): Star Wars The Phantom Menace, Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace