Grandson: Has it got any sports in it?
Grandpa: Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...
Grandson: -sigh- It doesn't sound too bad. I'll try to stay awake.
Grandpa: Oh thank you. Your vote of confidence is overwhelming.
A 1987 movie
directed by Rob Reiner
, adapted by William Goldman
from his 1973 book of the same name
, The Princess Bride
is about the trials of true love in the Renaissance European nation of Florin. The story stars Buttercup (Robin Wright), a simple yet incredibly beautiful farmgirl, and Westley (Cary Elwes), the farmhand she enjoys ordering around. Although they realize that they share the incredibly rare thing called "true love", fate conspires to keep them apart, as Westley is lost at sea.
Five years later, Prince Humperdinck, who rules Florin in place of his elderly and doddering father, decides to celebrate the kingdom's 500th anniversary by marrying Buttercup, who is still the most beautiful woman in the kingdom. Buttercup, knowing that the Prince is well within his rights and believing she can never love again anyway, reluctantly agrees.
In a plot against the throne, Buttercup is kidnapped by the criminal trio of Vizzini (the mastermind
), Fezzik (the giant
) and Inigo Montoya (the world's greatest fencer
, traveling to avenge his father
) - but their steps are hampered by a mysterious man in black who seems determined to stop them at all costs. The subsequent adventures are madcap, iconic and brilliant.
The movie uses a Framing Device
of a grandfather (Peter Falk
) telling the story to his sick grandson (Fred Savage
) with the boy complaining about the story at various points. ("They're kissing again."
The Princess Bride contains examples of:
- Acquired Poison Immunity: The Man in Black has been building up an immunity to iocane powder for several years.
- Advantage Ball: Goes with Flynning as always. Westley's To the Pain speech and its results also qualify.
- Affectionate Parody: Pulls off the tricky balancing act between joyful appreciation and subtle (and not so subtle) parody.
- Anachronism Stew: The story seems to be set in the late Renaissance, and yet there is talk of the penal colony Australia; Australia was only discovered in 1606, and only used as a penal colony from 1780 onward.
- And Now You Must Marry Me: The Scarpia Ultimatum version.
- And Starring: And Introducing Robin Wright as The Princess Bride
- Arranged Marriage: Buttercup to Prince Humperdinck. Well...he arranged it himself, but it fits otherwise.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Prince Humperdinck and Count Rugen; the King, however, is merely senile.
- As You Know:
- Vizzini: "Because iocane comes from Australia, as everyone knows, and Australia is entirely peopled with criminals, and criminals are used to having people not trust them, as you are not trusted by me, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you."
- Humperdinck: "...when I hired Vizzini to have her murdered on our engagement day, I thought that was clever."
- Rugen: As you know, the concept of the suction pump is centuries old.
- Subverted by Inigo: "Let me explain. (Beat) No, there is too much. Let me sum up."
- The Bad Guy Wins: He doesn't, but the grandson automatically assumes this trope when his grandfather tells him Humperdinck will survive the end of the story.
- Batman Gambit: "To the Pain!" Wesley was in no condition to fight and was counting on Humperdinck's cowardice, by chiding him with horrible tales of disfigurement.
- Battle of Wits: Played straight (and for laughs) in one of the most classic moments of the movie: the one between Vizzini, the Man in Black, two cups of wine and a vial of iocaine powder. Except the Man in Black has rigged the game in his favor by poisoning both glasses, as he has spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocaine powder.
- Berserk Button: How ill Miracle Max thinks of Prince Humperdinck firing him is clear given how he reacts when his wife Valerie brings it up when calling him a liar.
- Best Served Cold: Inigo's quest for vengeance against six-fingered man Count Rugen.
- Big Bad: Prince Humperdinck.
- The Big Damn Kiss: "Since the invention of the kiss there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind. The End." Played for ironic Character Development, since throughout the movie the kid has protested and insisted on skipping or editing all the kissy stuff, only to protest when Grampa complies for the final kiss.
- The Big Guy: Fezzik. "It's not my fault I'm the biggest and the strongest. I don't even exercise."
- Big Guy Rodeo: The Man in Black does this to Fezzik.
- Bits of Me Keep Passing Out: Inverted and Played for Laughs as it takes a while for Miracle Max's cure to fully take effect on Westley, and Inigo and Fezzik have to carry him around while Storming the Castle as bits of him are "waking up" one at a time.
- The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: During his duel with Inigo Montoya, the Man in Black throws his sword. It spins end over end and impales itself in the ground point first.
- Blatant Lies:
- "Rodents of Unusual Size? I don't think they exist." Said as Westley is looking at about three of them over Buttercup's shoulder, and immediately before one of them tackles him.
- Also Miracle Max after mostly dead Westley says that true love is his reason for living.
Max: But that's not what he said! He distinctly said, "to blave." And as we all know, "to blave" means "to bluff." So you were probably playing cards, and he cheated—
Valerie: Liar! Liar! Liaaar!
- Count Rugen gets in on it too, but Westley calls him out immediately. Not that it changes anything.
Rugen: Come, sir. We must get you to your ship.
Westley: We are men of action. Lies do not become us.
Rugen: (smiles) Well spoken, sir.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: "Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I've got my country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder, and Guilder to frame for it. I'm swamped!"
- Break the Cutie: Happens to Buttercup. Having your One True Love killed (mostly) and being forced into an arranged marriage will do that to ya.
- The Brute: Subverted. Fezzik is really quite a nice guy.
Beat it, or I'll call the Brute Squad! Fezzik:
the Brute Squad. Miracle Max: (double take)
the Brute Squad.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: The Dread Pirate Roberts supposedly kills anyone who fights back (it's an Informed Attribute). When Buttercup realizes the Man in Black is the Dread Pirate Roberts, she's filled with loathing.
Buttercup: You killed my love.
Dread Pirate Roberts: It's possible. I kill a lot of people!
- But subverted shortly afterward, when he claims to remember this particular victim.
- Buy Them Off: Inigo offers to spare Rugen in exchange for money and power. Rugen leaps at the opportunity, but Inigo only made the offer to toy with him.
- Casual Danger Dialogue: Westley and Fezzik have a friendly discussion while fighting to the death. Fezzik keeps talking right up to the second he passes out. Westley and Inigo talk throughout their fight as well, but that's more the witty repartée you expect from a fencing duel.
Inigo: You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you.
Westley: You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die.
- Catapult Nightmare: Buttercup dreams about her wedding the night before it is to occur. She wakes in terror after the "Old Booer" accosts her.
- Catch Phrase:
- The Chase: A significant portion of the film consists of the Man in Black pursuing Vizzini's gang and their captive, and Prince Humperdinck with his soldiers pursuing both.
- Choke Holds: The Man in Black knocks out Fezzik with a blood choke. It takes several minutes and they have a rather cordial conversation all the while.
- Clark Kenting: The Dread Pirate Roberts and Westley. It's amazing Buttercup takes so long to realize it.
- Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity: The cliffs in question are Vizzini's first method of discouraging pursuit, but the Man in Black proves to be a superb climber.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Which, unfortunately, leads to Westley's death. Don't worry! He gets better!
- Collapsed Mid Speech: Vizzini says to the Man in Black, "Never go in against a Sicilian when DEATH is on the line! Ha-hahahhaha!" then the poison takes effect, causing him to freeze mid-laugh, grin frozen on his face, then topple sideways.
- Comically Missing the Point:
Buttercup: *kisses the king on the cheek*
The King: What was that for?
Buttercup: Because you've always been so kind to me, and I won't be seeing you again, since I'm killing myself once we reach the honeymoon suite.
The King: Won't that be nice? *calling up to the queen* She kissed me! Heeheehee!
- Confession Deferred: Inigo trying to convince Miracle Max to work cheap:
Inigo: This is noble, sir. His wife is...crippled. His children are on the brink of starvation.
Miracle Max: Are you a rotten liar.
Inigo: I need him to help avenge my father, murdered these twenty years.
Miracle Max: Your first story was better.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: Lampshaded and justified in-universe by Fezzik whilst going toe-to-toe with the Man In Black.
"Well, I haven't fought just one person for so long...You see, you use different moves when you're fighting half a dozen people than when you only have to worry about one."
- Cool Mask: The Man in Black. It's just terribly comfortable!
- Cool Sword: Indigo's sword is a special one made by his father commissioned for Count Rugen, with a grip specifically designed with a grip for a six-fingered hand; the Man in Black admits he's "never seen its equal". As Indigo explains, when Rugen wouldn't pay his father the promised amount, he refused to give him the sword, and Rugen murdered him.
- Creepy Monotone: Count Rugen, in terrifying contrast to the World of Ham around him.
- Cruel Mercy: The To the Pain sequence.
- Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: Buttercup after being untied.
- Curb-Stomp Battle:
- During the Storming the Castle sequence, four palace guards charge our heroes. Inigo kills them in five seconds flat without ever taking his eyes off Count Rugen.
- The later duel against Rugen also counts as soon as Inigo gets his Heroic Second Wind. Not only is Inigo's defense invulnerable, he mirrors his own injuries on his opponent's body to maximize Rugen's terror and humiliation.
- Damsel in Distress: Buttercup on two occasions at the beginning and end of the film. The same person is responsible both times.
- Dashing Hispanic: Inigo Montoya.
- Derailed for Details: Inverted by the kid in the Framing Device, occasionally. Sometimes asking to skip romance scenes or Get On With It Already.
- Determinator: Inigo in his fight with Count Rugen. Stabbed repeatedly and still keeps coming. He will avenge his father's death.
- Dirty Coward:
- Count Rugen pleads with Inigo not to kill him. After running away from a fight with him.
- Humperdinck himself, so much that Wesley decides letting him live the rest of his life as a coward is enough of a punishment.
- Also the gate guard:
Inigo: Give us the key.
Guard: What key?
Inigo: Fezzik, rip his arms off.
Guard: Oh, you mean this key! (hands them the key)
- Distant Reaction Shot: During Westley's scream, they cut to several places throughout the kingdom, including Buttercup's room, then to Inigo and Fezzik, where Inigo immediately recognizes the cry of ultimate suffering.
- Does Not Know His Own Strength: Fezzik, at times. "I didn't mean to jog him that hard..."
- Double Take
- The Dreaded: The Dread Pirate Roberts. His reputation for taking no prisoners means that everyone immediately surrenders without a fight.
- Dreaming The Truth: Buttercup and the Ancient Booer.
- The Dragon: Count Rugen.
- Driven to Suicide: Buttercup after her wedding to Humperdinck, during which he revealed to her he'd had Westley murdered. Good thing Westley was only mostly dead and happened to be in the honeymoon suite waiting for her.
- Dueling Scar: Inigo Montoya has two scars down his cheeks, which is understandable, given his career as a swordfighter. They are later revealed to be a humiliation inflicted upon him at the age of eleven after the first time he tried to avenge his father's murder by Count Rugen. He returns the favor before killing Rugen.
- Dumb Blonde: Buttercup doesn't come across as dumb so much as sheltered and naive, which makes sense, given she's almost instantly transported from a tiny farm into royalty. She also lampshades it with some Self-Deprecation while she's nailing Humperdinck with a pretty fair Kirk Summation.
Yes, I am a silly girl.
- Electric Torture: Vacuum, actually, but the trappings apply.
- Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: The Impressive Clergyman. Fezzik also has a minor bit of this, but his is actor-induced.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Buttercup actually gets promoted to princess, because she was born a commoner but Humperdinck wants to marry her.
- Evil Albino: Count Rugen's henchman, although he's played mostly as a Punch Clock Villain.
- The Evil Prince: Humperdinck.
- Evil Sounds Raspy: Parodied with the Albino. He starts off speaking with an extreme rasp. Then he coughs to clear his throat, and continues speaking in the actor's normal voice with a slight Cockney accent.
- Evil Gloating: Rugen halts Inigo's chase by throwing a knife into his stomach...and if he'd taken the opportunity to keep running, he might have got away. Instead he stops to gloat, and Inigo gets a Heroic Second Wind.
- Exact Words: Westley's challenge in the Battle Of Wits is "Where is the poison?", not "Which glass is poisoned?".
- Excuse Me Coming Through:
Inigo: Excuse me...Excuse me...Fezzik, please?
Fezzik: EVERYBODY MOVE!
Crowd: *clears a path*
Inigo: Thank you.
- Exploited Immunity: Vizzini and the Man in Black are playing Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo; the Man in Black puts poison in both glasses, having spent years developing a tolerance to the poison being used.
- Fairytale Wedding Dress: Buttercup wears one for her would-be wedding to Humperdinck.
- Fakeout Opening:
- The film begins with the boy playing a video game.
- Also used within the fairy tale itself. It starts off as an over-the-top love story, until the grandson stops his grandfather and accuses him of tricking him into hearing a "kissing book". The humor of the movie doesn't start until afterwards.
- Faux Affably Evil: Prince Humperdinck and Count Rugen seem to be genuine friends. Their exchange in the forest establishes, for the first time, that Humperdinck is genuinely evil, but is also full of little moments of relateability for both of them, like Rugen struggling to find the secret door to the Pit of Despair ("It's impossible to find...") and encouraging Humperdinck to get some rest.
- Fingertip Drug Analysis: Parodied. Scarily Competent Tracker Humperdinck correctly identifies the colorless, tasteless, and odorless poison iocaine after sniffing the vial it was in.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Westley becomes this with Inigo and Fezzik.
- Foregone Conclusion: The grandfather tells his grandson the ending of the story midway through the movie, although specific details have been left out.
- Flynning: The duel on the Cliffs of Insanity is an homage. The screenplay explicitly says that the characters are Flynning, as they have nothing personal driving their duel and are trying to have fun with someone who can fight as well as they can.
- Fractured Fairy Tale: Interruptions in between and the occasional Rodents of Unusual Size.
- Framing Device/Separate Scene Storytelling: The kid and the grandpa, and the main scenes of the movie.
- Genre Savvy: When Rugen tells Westley that he will be returned to his ship after being captured by the Prince, Westley says, "We are men of action. Lies do not become us." Rugen doesn't bother contradicting him.
- Gentle Giant: Fezzik.
- Get It Over With: Inigo to the man in black.
Kill me quickly.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: One of the Brute Squad greets Inigo, who replies in the King's Spanish:
Brute: Ho there!
Inigo: I will not budge. Keep your joder.
- Giant Mook: Fezzik was this before his Heel-Face Turn.
- Give Me a Sign: While holding the sword his late father made, Inigo asks his father's spirit to guide his sword and lead him to Westley. Then he closes his eyes while holding the sword out in front of him, and ultimately sticks it into a tree. Feeling let down and probably foolish, Inigo slumps down onto the tree. And then it opens up...
- The Good King: Unfortunately one so doddery that The Evil Prince is reigning for him.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Inigo has Good Scars.
- Grumpy Old Man: Miracle Max.
Inigo: Are you the Miracle Max who worked for the king all those years?
Max: The king's stinking son fired me. Thank you so much for bringing up such a painful subject. While you're at it, why don't you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it? We're closed! (slams window)
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Both Buttercup and Westley, almost too much sweetness and virtue for one film.
- Happily Ever After: Buttercup gets rescued, she and Westley have The Big Damn Kiss, Inigo might make a good new Dread Pirate Roberts, and they all ride off into the dawn. Grandpa might read the story again tomorrow.
- He's Just Hiding: Invoked.
The Grandson: Wait, what did Fezzik mean, 'He's dead?' I mean, he didn't mean dead; Westley's only faking, right?
- He Will Come for Me:
- A variation while Buttercup is held prisoner by the Man in Black.
Buttercup: No matter where you take me, there's no greater hunter than Prince Humperdinck. He could track a falcon on a cloudy day. He can find you.
Man in Black: You think your dearest love will save you?
Buttercup: I never said he was my dearest love. And yes, he will save me. That I know.
- While Buttercup is waiting for Westley to come take her away.
Buttercup: Any word from Westley?
Humperdinck: Too soon, my angel. Patience.
Buttercup: He will come for me.
- Shortly before the wedding:
Buttercup: You never sent those ships. Don't bother lying. [beat] It doesn't matter; Westley will come for me anyway.
- A final variation, at the wedding.
Buttercup, hearing the sounds of fighting: Here comes my Westley now.
Humperdinck: Your Westley is dead. I killed him myself.
Buttercup: Then why is there fear behind your eyes?
- Heel-Face Turn: Inigo and Fezzik, technically.
- Hell Is That Noise: Westley's scream at being put through The Machine.
- Henpecked Husband: Miracle Max, to an extent.
Valerie: Liar! Liar! LIIIAAAAAR!
- Heroic Second Wind: Inigo isn't going down that easily.
- Home Sweet Home: Westley wants to settle down with Buttercup.
- Hollywood Torches: In the underground chamber where Count Rugen tortures Westley.
- Hope Spot: Westley and Buttercup are reunited and have just survived the Fire swamp. Things are really looking up! Then Humperdinck shows up...
- I Am Not Left-Handed: Inigo deliberately handicaps himself during his duel with the Man in Black, because he's used to fighting people who are no challenge. When he realises that the Man in Black is beating him, he reveals his true abilities, and is soon winning — until the Man in Black reveals that he's also been holding back.
- Ice Queen/Defrosting Ice Queen: Buttercup goes from one to the other and back again throughout the story. She starts out cold, then defrosts when she realizes she's in love with Westley, then freezes up again after he's murdered by pirates, then defrosts again when he shows up.
- I Don't Pay You to Think:
Fezzik: I just don't think it's right, killing an innocent girl.
Vizzini: Am I going MAD, or did the word "THINK" escape your lips?! You were not hired for your brains, you hippopotamic land mass!
Inigo Montoya: I agree with Fezzik.
Vizzini: Oh, the sot has spoken! What happens to her is not truly your concern! I will kill her! And remember this, NEVER FORGET THIS! When I found you, you were so slobbering drunk, you couldn't buy Brandy! [turning to Fezzik] And YOU: friendless, brainless, helpless, hopeless! Do you want me to send you back to where you were?! Unemployed, in Greenland?
- Ignoring By Singing: Miracle Max's response when his wife provokes his Berserk Button by reminding him of his treatment by Prince Humperdinck.
- The Igor: The Albino, servant to the scientifically evil Rugen. He even speaks with the typical raspy "Igor voice"...for one line, then he clears his throat and speaks in a normal deeper voice.
- I Gave My Word: Played straight by Inigo as Westley is trying to climb the Cliffs of Insanity. Twisted around when Prince Humperdinck promises not to hurt Westley if Buttercup goes quietly (planning to let Count Rugen do it), but ultimately subverted when Humperdinck mostly kills Westley himself.
- I Know You Know I Know: Subverted during the Battle of Wits. Vizzini makes increasingly complicated reasonings to deduce what goblet is poisoned ("...so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me! But you would have counted on my thinking that, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you!..."), but, as the Man in Black points out, he is just stalling for time and trying to break the Man in Black's poker face. When Vizzini gets called out on that, he gives up and goes for a second strategy: he distracts the Man in Black and swaps the cup instead, reasoning that if the Man looks confident drinking his cup, he should be too.
- Incendiary Exponent: Fezzik during the storming of the castle.
- Indecisive Medium: The film is about reading a book.
- Inter-Class Romance
- Buttercup, a commoner, and Prince Humperdinck, prince, to the extent that it counts as a romance.
- Buttercup is more middle-class than Westley, who is after all her family's farm boy. She initially considers him to be beneath her notice and all he says to her is "as you wish", before she realizes they're in love.
- Ironic Echo:
- "I swear it will be done" (Prince Humperdinck and Count Rugen).
- A visual example, once again with Count Rugen: Every wound he takes during his duel with Inigo is somewhere that he previously inflicted. For those keeping score, that's both cheeks, right arm, left shoulder, and the stab to the belly.
- It Seemed Trivial: Inigo failing to mention to Westley that they have access to a wheelbarrow.
- Just a Stupid Accent: The novel establishes that English is not the native language of Florin. But since Florin is a Fictional Country (with a fictional language), there is no accent to imitate. Thus, most of the Florinese characters (played mostly by American actors), speak with British Accents. Frenchman Andre the Giant and American Wallace Shawn go into Not Even Bothering with the Accent territory with their characters, Fezzik and Vizzini, who are supposed to be Turkish and Sicilian respectively. However, the actors retain their native accents, and Vizzini's claim to be Sicilian is treated more like a joke than anything else. Miracle Max and his wife appear to be Yiddish speakers (but there's no reason why they couldn't be.) Only Mandy Patinkin bothers to try to speak with his character's native Spanish accent, albeit not terribly well.
- King on His Deathbed: Prince Humperdinck's father.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When Buttercup tells Humperdinck that Westley will come for her, he looks straight at the camera and smirks in response.
- Legacy Character: The Dread Pirate Roberts. Westley reveals that he is the fourth person to use the mantle in order to uphold the legend, after the real Roberts, a guy named Cumberbund, and another man named Ryan. Fezzik even briefly takes up the identity to scare a few guards when Storming the Castle, which also involves him being set on fire. At the end of the movie, Inigo wonders what to do now that he got his revenge, and Westley suggests passing the name to him.
- Leitmotif: Skillfully done with Fezzik's plodding slide trombone theme, "The Friends' Song." You can't help but smile when you hear it, especially in this scene:
Inigo: (drunk out of his mind) I. Am waiting. For. Vizzini.
Cue leitmotif as huge hands pick Inigo up
Fezzik: You surely are a meanie.
- Let's Fight Like Gentlemen:
- Inigo and Westley have a most cordial conversation both before and during their fight.
- And again with Fezzik:
Westley: You mean, you'll put down your rock and I'll put down my sword, and we'll try and kill each other like civilized people?
- Life Isn't Fair:
- In response to the grandson's protest at a certain plot development, the grandfather simply says, "So who says life is fair? Where is that written?"
- A similar sentiment is the line in both book and movie (though in very different contexts):
"Life is pain, highness! Anyone who says differently is selling something."
- Lip-Lock Sun-Block
- Liquid Assets: The Machine treats Life Energy as water.
- Living Legend: The Dread Pirate Roberts.
- Look Behind You:
- Vizzini does this in the "Battle of Wits" scene so he can swap goblets without the Man in Black knowing he'd done so.
- The ROUS attack in the fire swamp.
- Marry for Love
- Masquerading As The Unseen: The Dread Pirate Roberts is identified mainly by his black clothing and mask. As a result, few know that the identity has been passed from person to person through the years. At the end, Fezzik dresses up and claims to be the "Dwead Piwate Woberts" to scare the castle guards.
- Master Swordsman: Westley and Inigo both qualify.
- Metafictional Device: Used, lampshaded and parodied everywhere.
- Mexican Standoff: Between Vizzini and the Man in Black, leading up to the battle of wits.
- Mickey Mousing: Used throughout the movie to varying degree and effect, but the most noteworthy instance has to be Inigo Montoya's fight against Count Rugen.
- Minion with an F in Evil: Inigo and Fezzik. "I just don't think it's right, killing an innocent girl." And Fezzik complaining that his way of getting rid of the Man in Black (throwing a rock at his head) is not very sportsmanlike.
- Mistress and Servant Boy: Buttercup and Westley were originally this type of couple.
- Mobstacle Course: Inigo hears Westley's screaming. But he has a hard time getting through the crowd of peasants until Fezzik shouts "Everybody MOVE!"
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Playfully averted with all the successors to the Roberts legacy, who are given deliberately nonthreatening names.
Westley: ...he said, "My real name is Ryan. The man I inherited it from was not the real Dread Pirate Roberts either - his name was Cummerbund."
- The Napoleon: Vizzini.
- Neutral Female: Buttercup never lifts a finger to help Westley's fight, not even when he's about to be eaten by a ROUS and his sword is lying right next to her.
- Averted, since she does hit the ROUS with a stick, dazing it long enough for Westley to gain the upper hand.
- Never Say That Again:
- Humperdinck! Humperdinck! Humperdinck!
- Also, Count Rugen: "Stop saying that!"
- No Name Given: The boy and his grandfather are never named, not even in the ending credits. Also true of The Impressive Clergyman and The Albino.
- Noisy Nature: Shrieking eels.
- No Time to Explain: "Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up."
- Not What I Signed On For: Inigo and Fezzik agreed to help Vizzini abduct a girl. Revealing that he's going to kill her shakes them up.
- Oh, Crap:
- Buttercup when a shrieking eel advances on her.
- Yellin the castle gate guard when he gets a good look at Fezzik.
- One True Love: The plot basically revolves around this trope.
- Only a Flesh Wound: In his final battle with Count Rugen, Inigo twice deflects sword thrusts into his shoulder and yet seems to show no visible effect from it. Not to mention, of course, the gaping dagger wound to the stomach (though he's having to hold it shut the whole time.)
- Only Mostly Dead: After Humperdinck kills Westley, his friends take him to Miracle Max, who diagnoses him as "only mostly dead" and thus a candidate for revival. For the record, there's a big difference between 'mostly dead' and 'all dead', and that is the fact with 'all dead', there's only one thing you can do: go through his clothes and look for loose change.
- Out-Gambitted: Never go in against a Sicilian when DEATH is on the line! Hahahahahaha! Unless you are immune to a poison you are using.
- Overly-Long Scream: Westley, when Humperdinck charges into the Pit of Despair and cranks Rugen's life-sucking machine to its maximum setting.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: It took "As You Wish" to realize it?! Then again, she hasn't seen him in years, and has no reason to even think he's alive.
- Passing the Torch: Suggested that Inigo will take Westley's place as the Dread Pirate Roberts.
- Person with the Clothing: The Man in Black.
- Pet Rat: The Brute Squad hired by Prince Humperdinck whose job is to clear out the Thieves Quarter. Not to mention Vizzini and his crew.
- Physical Scars, Psychological Scars: Inigo Montoya has a scar on each cheek given to him by the man who killed his father which serves to strengthen his drive for revenge.
- Pirate: The Dread Pirate Roberts, to be precise.
- Pistol-Whipping: Sword whipping, actually.
- Plot-Powered Stamina: Fezzik's arms never get tired.
- Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo: Part of Vizzini's Batman Gambit that revolves around the aforementioned I Know You Know I Know.
- Power Trio:
- Fezzik is the Id, Inigo is the Ego, and Westley is the Super ego.
- In the original trio Vizzini was the Super ego - a very bad one.
- The Power of Love: A major theme - Westley is driven by romantic love, and Inigo by filial love (...and by The Power of Hate).
- Pragmatic Adaptation: Interesting case since the author himself adapted it to a screenplay. Many lines from cut characters are transplanted onto other characters. The stack of frame stories and unreliable narrations in the book, all focused on the reader-writer relationship is slimmed down to one simple frame story, removing most of the postmodernism and satire.
- Precision F-Strike:
- A single instance of "You son of a bitch" is the closest the film gets to an obscenity.
- Fred Savage shouts, "Jesus, Grandpa!" in exasperation, showing that he's fully invested in the story by now.
- Prepositional Phrase Equals Coolness: The Cliffs of Insanity, the Man in Black, the Rodents of Unusual Size, and the Pit of Despair, just to name a few.
- Pressure Point: Fezzik clasps her carotid artery for a moment to knock out Buttercup.
- Pretext for War: The plot behind Buttercup's kidnapping.
- Prevent The War: Vizzini thinks the man in black is trying to stop the prince's plot to start a war, but in reality he just wants to save Buttercup.
- Prince Charmless: Humperdinck is the main villain and a real asshole.
- Psycho for Hire: Count Rugen
- Punch Clock Villain:
- Inigo and Fezzik are only on the bad guys' side because they're working for Vizzini. It's no big surprise they go over to the hero's side.
Inigo: I just work for Vizzini to pay the bills. There's not a lot of money in revenge.
- The Albino seems to be one of these, too. The actor's performance mostly suggests he's just doing his job, even if it is a pretty evil job.
- Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: The Man in Black versus Fezzik.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
- "Drop. Your. Sword."
- "I. Am waiting. For. Vizzini."
- Quicksand Sucks: In the fireswamp, lightning sand quickly sucks Buttercup in without warning.
- Rambling Old Man Monologue:
Sonny, true love is the greatest thing in the world. (Beat)
Except for a nice MLT: mutton, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, when the mutton is nice and lean, and the tomato's ripe. They're so perky, I love them.
- Rated M for Manly
- Rags to Royalty: Buttercup.
- Reading Is Cool Aesop: Given the grandfather is trying to convince the grandson that the story he's reading to him is actually worth hearing (by comparison to, say, videogames like he was playing before, or TV).
- Reassigned to Antarctica/Place Worse Than Death: Vizzini threatens Fezzik with this. "Do you want me to send you back to where you were?! Unemployed? In Greenland?"
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Buttercup to Humperdinck after she realizes he never sent his four fastest ships to look for Westley.
- Recruited From The Gutter: Vizzini recruited both Inigo and Fezzik this way, as he reminds them when they question his orders:
Vizzini: (to Inigo) When I found you, you were so slobbering drunk, you couldn't buy Brandy! (to Fezzik) And you: friendless, brainless, helpless, hopeless! Do you want me to send you back to where you were?! Unemployed, in Greenland?
- Red Right Hand: It has six fingers.
- Reminiscing About Your Victims: The Man in Black recalls meeting and then killing Westley with Buttercup. Obviously it's also a subversion, since the Man in Black is Westley.
- Resurrection Sickness: Westley spends the rest of the film mostly being an invalid.
- Revenge: Inigo Montoya wants this on the six-fingered man who killed his father.
- Rhymes on a Dime: Fezzik.
Inigo: That Vizzini, he can fuss.
Fezzik: Fuss, fuss...I think he like to scream at us.
Inigo: Probably he means no harm.
Fezzik: He's really very short on charm.
Inigo: You have a great gift for rhyme.
Fezzik: Yes, yes, some of the time.
Vizzini: Enough of that!
[The boat sets sail]
Inigo: Fezzik, are there rocks ahead?
Fezzik: If there are, we all be dead.
Vizzini: No more rhymes now, I mean it!
Fezzik: Anybody want a peanut?
Vizzini: [screams in frustration]
- Ridiculously Difficult Route/Swamps Are Evil: The Fire Swamp. Blasts of fire, lightning sand and Rodents of Unusual Size. Though Westley and Buttercup seem to survive fairly easily all things considered.
Buttercup: We'll never survive!
Westley: Nonsense! You're only saying that because nobody ever has.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: Inigo hears a scream, which he identifies as the sound of "ultimate suffering", and concludes that it must be the Man in Black: "His true love is marrying another tonight, so who else has the cause for ultimate suffering?" He's right about it being the Man in Black, but he's actually being tortured by the Machine, which completely undermines Inigo's reasoning; it might just as well have been anybody else who'd happened to get on Humperdinck's bad side.
- Robotic Torture Device: The Machine, a water suction pump
- Rodents of Unusual Size: The Rodents of Unusual Size (about the size of a large dog) are one of the hazards of the Fire Swamp.
- Rule of Funny: Inigo has to count on his fingers to figure out he would be left with 20 men after Fezzik says he can handle 10 of the 30 guarding the gate. It's best not to think about that later when Inigo later instantly counts 60 men now guarding the gate.
- Sailor's Ponytail: The Dread Pirate Roberts sports a ponytail.
- Sarcastic Confession: When Humperdinck's response to Westley's To the Pain speech is to call his bluff, he replies "It's possible, pig, I might be bluffing. It's conceivable, you miserable, vomitous mass, that I'm only lying here because I lack the strength to stand." (Subverted, though, as he then reveals that he's regained enough strength to stand up. Just enough.)
- Scare Chord
- Scarecrow Solution: The entire "Dread Pirate Roberts" rig that Fezzik wears for the castle storming, which even gets set on fire for further dramatic effect.
- Scarily Competent Tracker: Prince Humperdinck is pointed out to be so, and demonstrates it. His skill is even more notable later after the revelation that the kidnapping had not gone as he planned it to go, so even he is being surprised by what he is discovering—but he still tracks them.
- Scheherezade Gambit: Westley's relationship with the previous Dread Pirate Roberts.
- The Scream: Westley's torture. Poor bastard.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!:
Inigo: Offer me money.
Inigo: Power, too, promise me that.
Rugen: All that I have and more. Please...
Inigo: Offer me everything I ask for.
Rugen: Anything you want...
Inigo: *runs Rugen through* I want my father back, you son of a bitch!
- Secret Test: When Westley rescues Buttercup, his True Love, from her kidnappers, he doesn't reveal his true identity, in the hope of finding out whether she still loves him or not.
- Westley's "man in black" outfit is a dead ringer for the costume Douglas Fairbanks Sr. wore in the original Mark of Zorro.
- Fezzik asks the Man in Black if he's wearing a mask because he was burned by acid, a reference to Phantom of the Opera (1943).
- The Slow Walk: Inigo during his final duel with Count Rugen. Justified because he was seriously injured at the time.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Vizzini.
"Ever hear of Plato? Socrates? Aristotle?...Morons."
- So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Buttercup. Her beauty's enough to get her promoted to future queen, except the Prince threatens to kill her if she refuses. He's planning to kill her anyway. In fact, if she were slightly less beautiful, the whole conflict wouldn't have happened.
- Something Only They Would Say: Roberts saying "As you wish", reveals himself to be Westley.
- So What Do We Do Now?: Inigo gets his revenge, but he spent all his adult life in pursuit of it. What should he do? Fortunately Westley passes on the mantle of The Dread Pirate Roberts to him.
- Sparing The Aces: The Man in Black would no sooner kill such a magnificent swordsman than shatter a stained glass window.
- Stop Saying That!: Count Rugen, verbatim, to Inigo Montoya.
- Storming the Castle: "Think it'll work?" "It'll take a miracle."
- Stunned Silence: Buttercup to Westley after he praises the Fire Swamp.
- Survival Mantra: HELLO! MY NAME IS INIGO MONTOYA! YOU KILLED MY FATHER, PREPARE TO DIE!
- Swashbuckler: Not a completely pure example of the genre, but containing many, many of its elements.
- Sword Fight: The "Chatty Duel". One of the best sword fights on film. (see I Am Not Left-Handed)
- Sword Pointing: Westley does it to Prince Humperdinck at the climax to make him surrender.
Westley: Drop. Your. Sword.
- Take a Third Option: Vizzini attempts this during the battle of wits. Unfortunately for him, so did the Man in Black, and rather more successfully.
- Tap on the Head: The Dread Pirate Roberts to Inigo (swordhilt) and Fezzik (stranglehold), Count Rugen to Westley (swordhilt), and Fezzik to the albino (fist) and the shrieking eel (fist).
- Tempting Fate: "Rodents of Unusual Size? I don't think they exist."
- Terrible Trio: Vizzini, Inigo, and Fezzik are initially this, before it becomes apparent that Inigo and Fezzik are actually good...and Vizzini meets with some iocane powder.
- Theme Naming: Florin and Guilder are different names for the same medieval European coin. Currency with those names is still in use today.
- Thicker Than Water
- To the Pain: When Westley confronts Humperdinck, he challenges him to a duel and describes in detail what what he's going to do to him when he wins. It's s a bluff; he could barely stand, much less carry it out.
- Tom the Dark Lord: Westley's explanation to Buttercup while they are traveling through the fire swamp as to why he had to take on the Dread Pirate Roberts moniker:
Westley: Well, Roberts had grown so rich, he wanted to retire. So he took me to his cabin and told me his secret: "I am not the Dread Pirate Roberts," he said. "My name is Ryan. I inherited this ship from the previous Dread Pirate Roberts, just as you will inherit it from me. The man I inherited it from was not the real Dread Pirate Roberts, either. His name was Cummerbund. The real Roberts has been retired fifteen years and living like a king in Patagonia." Then he explained the name was the important thing for inspiring the necessary fear. You see, no one would surrender to the 'Dread Pirate Westley'.
- Try And Follow: The Fire Swamp and the Cliffs of Insanity.
- Two-Faced Aside: When Buttercup asks Humperdinck to promise he'll return Westley to his ship:
Humperdinck: I swear it will be done. [aside to Count Rugen] Once we're out of sight, take him back to Florin and throw him in the Pit of Despair.
Count Rugen: I swear it will be done.
- Unable To Support A Wife: Why Westley went to seek his fortune.
- Unconscious Objector: Inigo's arm seems to block Count Rugen's coups de grace independently. At that moment, "conscious" wouldn't fairly describe Inigo, who seems ready to Go Into the Light. May be Justified. A few scenes earlier Inigo calls upon his father to "Guide my sword!", maybe Inigo was being protected by his father so that he could get revenge.
- Undead Author: The Dread Pirate Roberts takes no prisoners. (In the original novel, it's explained that this doesn't mean he kills everybody: he kills anybody who resists, but anybody who hands over their valuables without resistance gets to go free — and spread the word, so that the next set of victims are less likely to resist.)
- Unreliable Voiceover: "Fezzik took great care in reviving Inigo," is said as Fezzik dunks Inigo's head into alternating basins of hot and cold water. Several times.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: All of one person other than the main characters seems to notice the eerie, overlapping scream that's loud enough to be heard all over Florin. And he just turns his head slightly before walking on, all of the other peasants blithely ignoring it. Of course, Inigo has to tell Fezzik to stop and listen before the giant acknowledges it, so it might simply not be as loud to the characters as it is to the viewers.
- Vengeance Feels Empty: Once Inigo Montoya has killed his father's killer, Inigo's life is rather empty, although it's not really a lack of satisfaction but rather "That's everything on the to do list. Now what?"
- Video Credits: At the end.
- Villainous Breakdown: As Inigo refuses to die, and slowly gains the upper hand on Rugen in their duel, Rugen first becomes shaken, then demands that Inigo "Stop saying that!"
- Villainous Friendship: A Type I; Humperdinck trusts the Count completely, the Count worries for the Prince's health, and they seem to genuinely enjoy each other's company.
- Wall Slump: Inigo has a famous one after Rugen stabs him...several times.
- Wham Line:
- "As you wish!" as Roberts/Westley tumbles down the hillside.
- Humperdinck is presented as a Jerk Ass for claiming Buttercup as a trophy wife and later imprisoning Westley to get him out of the way. However, he seems sincerely concerned that Guilder kidnapped her and plans to kill her...Then he reveals that he was behind Buttercup's abduction all along, as a pretext for a war with Guilder.
- Who Are You?:
Inigo: Who are you?
Man in Black: I am no one of consequence.
Inigo: I must know.
Man in Black: Get used to disappointment.
Inigo: (shrugs) Okay.
- Worthy Opponent: Inigo and Westley compliment each other's fighting style during their duel. Afterwards, Westley tells Inigo that "I hold you in the highest possible respect". After this scene they're best friends.
- Xanatos Gambit: The battle of wits. Vizzini was doomed from the start, though he never realized it. The man in black knew such an egotistical sod would never turn down that challenge. Drinking from either glass was fatal, and even if Vizzini had realized the ruse, he was still screwed. The man would cut him down if he tried to kill the princess, and his only remaining option was to run away which means he would have to leave the princess behind.
- You Killed My Father: Count Rugen killed Inigo's father, so at the climax of the movie while Westley is dealing with Humperdinck Inigo has his own showdown with Rugen.
- You Fight Like a Cow: The famous Inigo/Westley duel, but with compliments instead of insults. (In most DVD editions, that chapter is titled "The Chatty Duelists".)
- Your Soul Is Mine: Invoked as one of Fezzik's threats when impersonating the Dread Pirate Roberts
"I am the Dread Pirate Roberts! I am here, but soon you will not be here! There will be no survivor! The Dread Pirate Roberts takes no survivor! (Fezzik bursts into flame.) All your worst nightmares are about to come true! The Dread Pirate Roberts is here! FOR YOU SOOOUUUL!"
- You Were Trying Too Hard:
- Inigo looking for the entrance to the Pit of Despair.
- Vizzini is so busy playing I Know You Know I Know with the Man in Black that he completely ignores the notion that both glasses could be poisoned, especially as one of his guesses — that his opponent is immune — happened to be correct.
Vizzini: You've beaten my giant, which means you're exceptionally strong, so you could have put the poison in your own goblet, trusting on your strength to save you...
Grandson: Grandpa...do you think you can read it for me again tomorrow?
Grandfather: As You Wish.