''The Stepfather'' is a 1987 thriller film, written by esteemed crime novelist Donald E. Westlake and directed by Joseph Ruben. The film tells the story of [[IHaveManyNames an]] [[NoNameGiven unnamed]] [[TheBluebeard bluebeard]] SerialKiller obsessed with being a part of the perfect family, to such an extent that if his current family doesn't live up to expectations, he kills them and moves onto another.

The first film was famous for putting Creator/TerryOQuinn on the map, with even Roger Ebert raving about his acting.

The film was followed by two sequels, the first [[DirectToVideo direct-to-video]] and the second [[MadeForTVMovie made for tv]] (that doesn't inspire much confidence, does it?). [[TheRemake A remake]] was released in 2009.

!!Provides Examples Of:

* AffablyEvil: Despite murdering women and children, the stepfather.
* AmateurSleuth: James "Jim" Ogilvie has no formal law enforcement or investigation training, but spent a good chuck of the first movie following the stepfather's trail from town to town to apprehend his sister's killer outside of the law.
* AnAxeToGrind: The stepfather comes close to killing his current family with one in ''Stepfather III'', but relents at the last minute.
* ArcWords: "Who am I here?"
%%* AxCrazy
* BackAlleyDoctor: The stepfather visits one at the beginning of ''Stepfather III'', to get a new face after his escape from the institution.
* BlackDudeDiesFirst: Doctor Joseph Danvers (who gets shived in the neck) in ''Stepfather II''.
* BloodierAndGorier: ''Stepfather III'', the highlights being the shovel, rake and woodchipper deaths.
* BloodlessCarnage: Due to its PG-13 status, the remake.
** He kills all his onscreen victims via some form of oxygen deprivation.
* BloodSplatteredWeddingDress: Carol Grayland at the end of ''Stepfather II''.
%%* TheBluebeard
* BreadEggsMilkSquick: Non-verbal example. Both the original and the remake begin with the stepfather going about his daily routine... [[RevealShot then it reveals he's murdered his current family]].
* BuryYourGays: Jackie in the remake.
* ButNotTooGay: Its only pretty close to the end of the remake that we realize Jackie and Leah are lovers, and not just roomates or something.
* CatScare: Right before Maddy's death in ''Stepfather II'' and Mrs. Cutters's death in the remake.
* ContinuityNod: The remake has a lot of references to the original. Surprising, considering it was made by the same people who brought us the ''Film/WhenAStrangerCalls'' and ''Film/PromNight2008'' remakes, both of which are borderline InNameOnly.
** ''Stepfather III'' has a few, like the stepfather mentioning he once worked in real estate, and later, during a FreakOut, he starts screaming "Who am I here?! WHO AM I HERE?!" The asylum he was placed in ''Stepfather II'' is also mentioned in a news broadcast.
* CoolOldGuy: Father Brennan from ''Stepfather III''. His death is actually pretty sad.
* DecoyProtagonist: James "Jim" Ogilvie from the original film, who spends the bulk of the film trying to find his sister's killer. When he finally does, he... [[ShootTheShaggyDog gets knifed before he can even pull his gun out]].
* DropTheHammer: Todd Grayland takes the stepfather out with one, stabbing him in the chest with the claw end, in ''Stepfather II''. The stepfather also contemplates killing his family with one in the original and ''Stepfather III''.
* DroppedABridgeOnHim: James "Jim" Ogilvie, who's been treated as a major character in the first film, gets killed off unceremoniously in the climax and treated as another RedShirt on the Stepfather's bodycount following that.
* EveryCarIsAPinto: The stepfather destroys a car in ''Stepfather II'' and ''Stepfather III''. Both explode spectacularly.
* {{Fanservice}}: Jill Schoelen has an entirely random and gratuitous topless shower scene in the original.
* FiveSecondForeshadowing: Susan's line "The receptionist probably just... got the name wrong, or something...", right before Jerry mixes up his identities.
* FlashbackNightmare: The stepfather himself has one in ''Stepfather II''.
* FreakOut: Happens frequently when something or someone upsets the stepfather.
* GrievousBottleyHarm: Phil's death in ''Stepfather II'' involves him being smashed and stabbed with a champagne bottle.
%%* GuessWhoImMarrying
* HeKnowsTooMuch: Aside from killing those who acts as competition (like Phil in the second film) or does not fit with his values like the families he butchered of simply just get in the way, the stepfather also kill those who suspects him of being not what he initially appeared to be to tie up loose ends, such as Dr. A. Bondurant and James "Jim" Ogilvie in the first film. Susan in the first film, aside from being targeted for not living up to the stepfather's standards, nearly got offed early when she suspects something's wrong when she discovered the stepfather quit his job several days ago without informing her and witnessed the stepfather mixed up his identities. The protagonists of films finds themselves in this predicament as well once they discovered what the stepfather's truly is.
* HorrorDoesntSettleForSimpleTuesday: Surprisingly, the series constantly flirts with this trope. The original had a sequence set on Thanksgiving, while the climax of the second takes place during a wedding. Not counting the prologue, ''Stepfather III'' begins on Easter, and ends on Father's Day, while the opening of the remake is set sometime around Christmas.
* IHaveManyNames: There is no way of telling what The Stepfather's real name is, or which one of them he believes it to be.
* IdiotBall: Firmly gripped by many characters in the remake. ''Especially'' Susan. Let's just say that if Susan had half a braincell, the low kill count of about six or so would be down by ''three''.
* ImprovisedWeapon: A board and phone in the original, plus random gardening equipment in ''Stepfather III''.
* InfantImmortality: Averted in the first few minutes of the original film, where the butchered body of a little girl is shown.
* ItsAllAboutMe: Susan in the remake, so much so that [[UpToEleven she seems overly obnoxious compared to most other examples on that page]]. Her oldest son is unhappy with the stepfather and her best friend, ex-husband, and even an old lady down the street try to point out the oddities in her new husband's behavior, but she refuses to hear anything bad about the man, always countering the arguments with how good he is to her, how happy he makes her. Its actually quite possible she wasn't really oblivious to the warning signs so much as deluding herself into ignoring them.
* KarmaHoudini
** The stepfather in the remake. He survives, gets away and is last seen charming another single woman with kids.
** Susan was never called out, or even felt remorse, for ignoring all the warning signs that her fiance is a serial killer and thus leading to the deaths of a neighbor, her ex-husband, and her sister. The closest thing she ever got was ''almost'' getting killed. Though considering that the word possibly have gotten out that her fiance is a serial killer and that she was indirectly responsible for the deaths of those three, chances are that she will eventually.
%%* KavorkaMan
* KilledOffForReal: [[spoiler:The stepfather finally dies for good in ''III'', by way of a wood chipper.]]
* KnifeNut: The stepfather has used a lot of different objects to kill people, but the knife is still his prefered weapon.
* MagicPlasticSurgery: How the stepfather evades the authorities in ''Stepfather III''.
* MakeItLookLikeAnAccident: Doctor Bondurant in the original, Father Brennan in ''Stepfather III'' and Mrs. Cutter in the remake.
* MasterOfDisguise: The stepfather has the tendency to alter his appearance and change his name when it comes to finding a new family after killing the last one.
* MurderIsTheBestSolution: Family problems? Get the knife.
* MsFanservice: Kelly (played by Creator/AmberHeard) in the remake.
** She almost never wears pants. This is lampshaded in the commentary.
* NeverTrustATrailer: The remake. ''Oh God, the remake''. That awesome swinging buzzsaw scene that was in all the trailers and TV spots? Its ''completely absent'' from the film.
* NoNameGiven: It's never stated what the stepfather's real name is. He even wonders which man is supposed to be towards the end of the film. This is what ultimately causes him to kill his current family.
* NosyNeighbor: Maddie in ''Stepfather II''.
* OverprotectiveDad: When the stepfather sees his stepdaughter Stephanie kissing a boy named Paul in the original film he completely freaks out, claiming Paul was going to try and rape Stephanie.
%%* PaterFamilicide
* PetTheDog: Literally. When the stepfather loses it at the end and prepares to kill his new family, he takes some time to hug the little dog that he bought for his stepdaughter before, as he just couldn't kill the thing. Earlier in the movie, he also fondly remembers a previous dog he had.
* PoliceAreUseless: Obviously in the remake, but what sets them apart from the others is the fact that they couldn't catch a severely injured man crawling away when they were a few feet away.
* RedHerring: Mark Wraynal in ''Stepfather III''. We're briefly lead to believe he's the stepfather, but it turns out to be Keith, who kills him via...
* ShovelStrike: A particularly gory example of this.
* ScarsAreForever: But its pretty easy to lie about how you got them.
* ShowerScene: A pretty random one near the end of the original. There's probably more examples in the series.
* SlashedThroat: The plastic surgeon's death in ''Stepfather III''.
* TheSociopath: The stepfather can easily be considered this.
* SoftGlass: The stepfather punches through a car window to get at a victim in ''Stepfather III'', actually cutting his hand up pretty badly and necessitating a bandage for the rest of the film.
** In the remake, Michael smashes a window with his elbow, but doesn't get cut at all, and the sleeve of his hoodie remains intact, without even a few glass shards to show for it.
* SoundtrackDissonance: "Silent Night" and a more "[[{{Narm}} hardcore]]" rendition of "Happy Together" in the remake.
* StandardFiftiesFather: The stepfather seems to think of himself as this, and at one point is explicitly compared to [[LeaveItToBeaver Ward Cleaver]].
* StepfordSmiler: The stepfather is a very cheerful individual, unless someone makes him angry.
* TheyLookJustLikeEveryoneElse: One of the scariest things about the Stepfather is that he looks and acts like a normal guy.
* TooDumbToLive: Susan in the remake cannot take a hint that her fiance is a murderer to save her life. Neighbor claiming she saw his face on ''Series/AmericasMostWanted''? Susan passes it off as someone else. Ex-husband saying that Susan's youngest son was ''throttled'' by her fiance? She does not bring it up again. [[note]][[TruthInTelevision To be fair, it can be hard to believe your ex-husband when he tells you your new beau is a psycho.]][[/note]] Her sister telling Susan that her fiance left as soon as he had to fill out some employment forms, Susan ''laughs'' it off. You know you have a dumb as shit character when she does not get the message when her fiance is pointing a knife at her, along with a whole bunch of weapons laid out on the table, saying that she should punish her son more, then ask, "[[ArcWords Who Am I here?]]". [[WhatAnIdiot Mother of the year.]]
* UnexplainedRecovery: The stepfather obviously dies at the end of the first film, but shows up with only a large scar where he got stabbed in the sequel. Likewise, ''Stepfather II'' ends with him getting a claw hammer in the chest, which he also somehow survives.
* TheUnreveal: Four films and the stepfather still doesn't have an origin... or even a real name.
** Doctor Danvers calls him "Bill Krieger" in the second film, though they don't actually outright state if that's his real name, or an old alias. The stepfather also apparently tells Danvers about his past... offscreen... he also could have been lying.
* VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory: The inspiration for the series was mass murderer John Emil List, who killed his family, fled to Virginia, assumed another identity, remarried and wasn't caught for eighteen years.
* VigilanteMan: James "Jim" Ogilvie in the first film is an AmateurSleuth example, he even armed himself with a revolver with an intent, under advise of a police detective he met, to blow him away upon confronting him rather then just simply apprehend him.
* VillainProtagonist: The stepfather is the real main focal point of the films, while anyone out to stop him are actually a HeroAntagonist.
* WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds: The stepfather, in the original at least.
* YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness: The trope that does not involve any henchmen in this series of films. The stepfather would kill the last family for not living up to his expectations before moving to the next one until a point they ''fatally'' don't live up to his standards as well. This is at least one of the motives behind his mass-murders of families.
%%* YoureNotMyFather