Film / The Truman Show

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All Truman, All the Time.

"On the air. Unaware."
— The film's tagline.

The Truman Show, a 1998 Science Fiction dark comedy/drama directed by Peter Weir and starring Jim Carrey, is widely considered one of the best movies of both men's careers.

Truman Burbank, a well-liked small-town insurance salesman, lives a seemingly idyllic life. But Truman himself is discontented. He still pines for a girl he fell in love with in college but who disappeared abruptly. Strange things have also been happening in his town: what looks like a spotlight marked with the name of a star falls out of the air right in front of him, his car radio picks up a broadcast which appears to be tracking his movements, and everything from his beautiful wife to his loyal best friend seems somewhat... artificial. When he bumps into a mysterious hobo who looks almost identical to his dead father, Truman begins to suffer a paranoid breakdown and sets out to fully investigate his environment.

But everyone around him tries in desperation to stop him from discovering the truth: Truman himself lives an artificial life. Since his birth, Truman has been the unsuspecting star of a globally-successful Reality Show called "The Truman Show", in which every minute of his day is filmed and broadcast live, overseen by the show's fanatical and obsessive creator/producer/director Christof (Ed Harris). While Truman has no idea about the level of deception everyone goes through to keep him in the dark, that changes soon enough...

Out of the many different reactions to the film, "what a good idea" seemed to top the list, at least with television executives. Truman came out in 1998, the first series of Big Brother debuted in 1999, and Survivor premiered in 2000. Those initial "reality" shows seemed like a shocking idea at the time — but the people in charge ended up on the right side of history (Reality Television of all kinds has captured a huge portion of the television viewing audience). On the other hand, the people in those shows volunteer. (Usually.)

A rare promotional video for the movie, which aired on Nick @ Nite, can be seen here. It was filmed as a Documentary Episode and features in-universe interviews with the cast and crew.


This film provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: The woman playing Truman's mom, considering she has manipulated him his entire life into staying in town. Christof is technically Truman's real adoptive father, and he's kept him prisoner all his life, under the claim of trying to protect him, which loses all credibility when he tries to kill Truman when he tries to escape.
  • An Aesop:
    • The most obvious, people don't exist for the entertainment of others. Their desires and struggles matter. They matter.
    • A fairly subtle one for the Show Within a Show while Truman and his buddy Marlon are golfing near the island's edge, Marlon mentions how he'd "kill for a desk job", bemoaning his fate as a guy who restocks vending machines. During a flashback to their high school years, Marlon is shown trying to convince Truman not to study and go out for a beer instead. Do well in school, kids.
    • Word of God on the DVD extras suggested an alternate possible Aesop: that we all come to a point when we have to decide whether to stay in our familiar, comfortable delusions or move forward into the unknown of reality, and when this happens we must not listen to that little disembodied voice telling us we can't leave.invoked
  • All There in the Manual:
    • A companion book containing the complete screenplay was presented as an in-universe companion to the show itself, containing background information on both the "actors" around Truman and the audience members cut to throughout the movie. (The guy in the bathroom died when he accidentally knocked his TV into the water, for one.)
    • In-Universe: Christof had a documentary where he videotaped the plight of the homeless, as he felt showing the world what hardship they had to go through would inspire people to help them. This documentary is what inspired him to create a world that would protect someone (Truman) throughout his life.
    • This promotion for the film is presented as an in-universe documentary and also goes into details about the fictional cast and their lives around Truman.
  • And the Fandom Rejoiced: In-Universe. Everyone cheers for Truman when he finally leaves the show, and the lie that was his life by extension.
  • And Then What?: Truman's entire life has been a lie. His parents are actors. His teachers were actors. The insurance company he worked for was fake. The customers were all actors. His friends and classmates were all actors. On top of all that, effectively an entire country's population was devoted to the "show" that was Truman's "reality." One can bet things are not going to go well for any of them after the credits roll.
  • Anti-Villain: Christof. He cares deeply for Truman, seeing him as shielded from everyday life's drudgery, malcontent, struggles, and plain ol' shit happening, and feels that Truman sends a message to the rest of the world - that they're not alone in their struggle with life.
  • Artificial Atmospheric Actions:
    • Truman only begins to notice when he starts suspecting things, like when he notices that there's a lady on a red bicycle, a man carrying flowers, and a Volkswagen Beetle with a dented fender passing by his house at the exact same time over and over all morning long, as if on a loop.
    • "Dog Fancy, please." A LOT of people seem to like Dog Fancy magazine...
  • Artistic License Film Production: The Truman Show does have the wonky camera angles, lack of/awkward use of camera movement, inappropriately close or far-away shots, etc, that you'd expect as a live show captured with hidden cameras. What's problematic, though, is the sound. All the dialogue on the hidden cameras is very clean and clear, as though caught on a high-end unidirectional mic from a couple of feet away, including the scenes on the beach (beaches being notoriously awful places to record sound even under ideal conditions, usually requiring some degree of ADR for dialogue to even be comprehensible). At one point it's suggested that certain passers-by are concealing little shotgun mics on their person, but it's a Hand Wave at best.
  • As You Know: in the middle of the film, the introduction to the TruTalk special gives away in detail what the viewers could only assume before.
    1.7 billion were there for his birth. 220 countries tuned in for his first step. The world stood still for that stolen kiss. And as he grew, so did the technology. An entire human life recorded on an intricate network of hidden cameras and broadcasted live and unedited 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to an audience around the globe. Coming to you now from Seahaven Island, enclosed in the largest studio ever constructed and, along with the Great Wall of China, one of the only two man-made structures visible from space, now in its thirtieth great year ... it's The Truman Show!
  • Aside Glance: During various attempts to shoehorn in Product Placement.
  • Audience Reactions: In-Universe — the movie occasionally cuts to members of the public watching the show and (most likely) mirroring the viewer. Especially so when Christof tries to drown Truman with an intense localized storm, before a cut to the balding bathtub fan shows him clinging to his shower curtain and shouting for Truman to hold on.
  • Audience? What Audience?: An interesting case, given that it's Played for Drama - Meryl choosing to perform a Product Placement pitch at a tense moment completely shocks Truman, with him directly asking "Who are you talking to?". It's what proves to him that she's also in on it, and it's possibly the clue that gives him the nature of what people are in on.
  • Author Powers: Christof has the science-fiction equivalent. When he gets desperate enough, he turns night into day and summons a tempest to stop Truman's escape.
  • Author's Saving Throw: invoked After Truman begins to rebel more and more against the illusion, Christof is forced to write his father back into the show just to try and keep him from asking questions. But the contrived way Christof pulls it off only makes Truman more paranoid. Lampshaded subtly in the interview scene where Christof is asked how he plans to explain the 20-year absence of the character. Christof is quiet briefly before awkwardly announcing, "Amnesia," to which the ass-kissing interviewer replies, "Genius."
  • Back from the Dead: Christof decides to re-introduce Truman's father in a bid to keep Truman from breaking free of the show.
  • Bad "Bad Acting":
    • A lot of the actors on the show aren't actually that great at their 'parts'. The extras passing through flub their lines, the regulars are only mediocre in their emotional displays with Truman, and for a reality show, they're absolutely terrible at improvising, and all too often have their lines fed directly to them.
    • Another case is Truman himself during the last iteration of his daily routine before his escape. He's pretty clearly going through the motions so as to not tip anyone off that he's about to make a break for it.
  • Bad Liar: Almost every attempt to convince Truman that he's just imagining things and that everything's normal backfires through either poor attempts at covering up or, alternatively, overly-coordinated Contrived Coincidences.
  • Big Damn Reunion: The director deliberately invokes this "in-universe" by having Truman reunite with his long lost father, in order to make Truman stay and also give the show's ratings a boost. Turns out it had the opposite effect as Truman makes his escape the next day, apparently having found the reunion too contrived to be real.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Christof shouts down his assistant Chloe, who pleads with him over trying to drown Truman.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In the background of the scene where Truman's dad is being taken away, two arcs display the words "unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno", Latin for "One for All, All for One". Truman exists for the rest of the world's entertainment, and all of Seahaven exists for Truman. Perhaps better, Truman exists for the rest of the world's entertainment while that world cheers him on, resulting in some surprisingly accurate French and Japanese to represent the world at large.
  • Blatant Lies: When Christof informs Sylvia that Truman could leave his reality if he really wanted to. Eventually he does, but the number of obstacles placed in his way show that it's not something Christof wants to 'let' happen.
  • Bookends: It begins with a star falling from the sky, and ends with a star rising up into the sky.
  • Border Patrol: We see an Angry Guard Dog barking at Truman (as a kid) when he was trying to get out of his world's boundaries.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • Louis Coltrane (the in-movie name of the actor playing Marlon) breaks the fourth wall when he speaks into the camera and to Christof ("He's gone!"), causing the latter to cut the show's transmission.
    • As well as Truman's wife when Truman becomes suspicious and holds a dangerous kitchen gadget to her neck and she screams to the camera "DO SOMETHING!"
    • Truman himself does this late in the film when, after one of his 'routines' to the camera in his bathroom mirror, he leans in and whispers "That one's for free." It's subtle enough to slip past the crew members watching, but he makes his break for freedom not long after...
  • Brick Joke: Meryl chastises Truman for trying to keep an old, beat-up lawnmower in good shape and instead replace it with an Elk Rotary model. He's shown using it near the end of the movie.
  • Broken Bridge: When Truman tries to escape, a series of increasingly unlikely obstacles (up to a faked nuclear incident) are contrived to bar his way. In fact, any method off the island is a broken bridge for Truman, including a literal one.
  • Broken Masquerade: Truman starts noticing a variety of unusual things, such as an actors' break room hidden behind an elevator.
  • The Cameo:
    • Composer Phillip Glass appears as one of the keyboard artists providing the live music as the show is filmed. If that weren't enough, many of Glass' previous work can be heard in the film, including The Anthem from Powaqqatsi and Opening from Mishima A Life In Four Chapters.
    • Visual Effects Supervisor Michael McAllister gets a cameo, too he's the construction worker on the girder of the Truman Show studio dome, who can be glimpsed when the camera does a dramatic pull-back out the studio and past the Hollywood sign in front of it.
  • Catch-Phrase: "Good morning. Oh, and in case I don't see you, good afternoon, good evening, and good night."
  • Closed Circle: For a massive set for a reality show with only one real person, Truman Burbank, with the creators deliberately Railroading ways so Truman could spend his entire life in the fictitious Seahaven set. Or that was the idea at least...
  • Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: Louis says this word-for-word after Truman goes missing.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The writers will set these up to keep Truman along the path they want him to follow (e.g. a shallowly sunken boat when he's about to board a ferry to invoke his hydrophobia). Of course, when these start building up, Truman starts figuring stuff out...
  • Control Freak: Christof is utterly convinced that he knows what's best for Truman and determined to rule every aspect of his life.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Truman's hometown, where everyone's happy and nice and pretty. However, it's wholly fake, and everybody psychologically messes with Truman to stop him realizing that...
  • Crapsack World: A Cracked article sums it up nicely...
    Think about how many laws have to not exist in that universe for this show to happen. It's apparently legal for a person or corporation to imprison a person, as long as you feed him. It's legal to film and record someone without his knowledge. It's legal to defraud a person out of literally every possible thing he could have in his life, from a real marriage to a real career. If it can be done to Truman, it can be done to anyone, including you. It's as much an "anything goes" society as The Road Warrior.
    • To sum it up even more, recall that the backstory points out Truman is the first person to be adopted and legally owned by a corporation. The operative word there is "first".
  • Crash-Into Hello. Subverted. The woman who was picked to be Truman's love interest falls on top of him, but he falls in love with a girl who is sitting on the lawn a little ways away.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: When Truman makes his final break for freedom, Christof goes so far as trying to kill him in a special effects storm rather than let him escape. When the seas calm, Truman is hanging half off the boat with his arms outstretched.
  • Cue the Sun: Trope Namer, quoted from Christof. But not actually an example.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: The ability to create an artificial enclosed environment has applications beyond making a complex reality show: countries with water shortages would pay through the nose for an environment that could create rain, wind, and storms with the simple click of a touch screen. Not to mention the ability to create self-sustaining space habitats.
  • Determinator: Even Christof recognizes one important truth to keeping Truman in the illusion. If he was absolutely determined to discover the truth, not out of some vague curiosity, there would be nothing they could do to stop him.
  • Did Not Die That Way: Truman was led to believe his father had drowned when he was a child. He later reappeared to the adult Truman.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The creator of the show is named Christof.
    • During the final scene Truman is walking along "the sky", but from the viewer's vantage point it seems that he is walking on the water.
    • It goes even further in the very next scene, where Christof talks to Truman through a speaker, his voice echoing and even coming from a ray of light behind the clouds: "I am the creator [long conspicuous mid-sentence pause] of a television show...."
    • Similarly "Cue the sun!" is reminiscent of "Let there be light."
    • The hole he digs to escape his house is directly imitating the "rough climb to enlightenment" that exists in the cave in Plato's "The Allegory of the cave."
  • Domed Hometown: The town's actually a major dome built in Hollywood it's famous for being able to be seen from space.
  • Door Closes Ending: A variation. The in-universe show ends with a shot of Truman walking up a staircase and through the door that leads off the set and into reality. This isn't the last shot of the film, as it's followed by scenes of other characters reacting to the end of the show — but it is the last the real audience, as well as the in-universe audience, sees of Truman. Once he goes through the door, Truman gets to live the rest of his life without anyone watching.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: It's implied that Marlon drinks heavily because of the guilt he feels over pretending to be Truman's best friend while lying to him constantly.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Truman goes through so much for the sake of must-see TV.
  • Easy Amnesia: Parodied. It's Christof's plan to explain away what happened to Truman's father.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • In-universe. Part of the way Truman figures out something is wrong is when he starts acting wildly out-of-character and none of the actors improvise well at all to his behavior, especially his wife.
    • And the poor sap whose leg the actors were "scheduled to amputate" barely escaped it thanks to a security guard.
  • Enhance Button: Shows up when Truman executes his "escape plan", when Christof and the control room director are analyzing footage of Truman supposedly sleeping.
  • Eureka Moment: After several hours of unsuccessfully searching for Truman, Christof quietly watches his crew run around in a futile manner, then it hits him:
    Christof: We're not watching the sea.
  • Faking Engine Trouble: There is a scene where Truman tries to leave the town on a bus. However, the driver crunches the gear box to make the excuse that the bus is not working, so Truman cannot leave town.
  • Former Child Star: According to the script book, the woman playing Truman's wife took on the role shortly after she became one of these.
  • For Want of a Nail: The key event that makes Truman start to realize the true nature of his reality? The spotlight falling and smashing in front of his house.
  • Fourth Wall Psych: In an in-universe example, Truman starts talking to himself through the bathroom mirror, and the production crew starts wondering if he's really aware of the camera that's hidden behind it. They're eventually reassured that he isn't, but he actually is.
  • Gaslighting: Truman's entire life was this. Especially notable, though, is how Meryl and Marlon tends to chalk his increasing suspicions up to him having a mentally unbalanced episode - which is the entire definition of "gaslighting".
  • God Is Evil: Played with; the director is the metaphorical "God" of Seahaven and hardly has Truman's interests at heart, but it's hardly as black-and-white as him being "evil".
  • Gut Feeling: Christof (correctly) believes Truman is up to something when the latter spends the night in his basement, something the on-duty camera directors didn't think much of.
  • Heel Realization: When Christof sends a man-made storm to try to capsize Truman's boat, his bosses get hit by the realization first, telling Christof to stop, lest his actions turn to murder. At first, Christof defends himself by saying Truman was born on live television, implying that Truman is subhuman. When he realizes that Truman won't stop, he finally gives in, ending the storm and letting him go.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: When Truman finally completes his ocean voyage at the end by crashing into the outer wall of the studio, and he has the dawning horror that all of his worst fears about his situation are true.
  • Hero's Muse: Truman's motivation for leaving Seahaven and going to "Fiji", he longs to see Sylvia again. He was only with her for one day and night, yet manages to make a photographic mosaic of her face from womens' magazines, much to the watching Sylvia's joy.
  • Hollywood Law: As this is set somewhere in America, the entire premise of having a show where the star spends his entire life being made into what is essentially a dancing monkey for the entertainment of others violates more laws than anyone can count.
    • Though The Joe Schmo Show proved that someone can be made into this sort of dancing monkey of this sort for a limited time at least if they're wiling to sign away certain rights to be on television for a big payout later.
  • Hypocrite: Christof in a lot of ways, but one notable way is when he admits he likes his privacy, when for not one moment of Truman's life has he been allowed any privacy himself. He also claims the show is realistic, but when Truman really falls for an extra after dancing with her, Christof basically forces him into the relationship with the pre-chosen actress.
  • Immoral Reality Show: The entire conceit of the movie is that Truman, an apparently ordinary dude living in a small seaside town, is being watched by an audience 24/7, and that everyone around him is really an actor who's being paid to keep him in the dark. Basically, a man's whole life has been completely stolen for the amusement of millions of viewers.
  • I Never Told You My Name: What gives away the cop who stops Truman at the edge of "town" he used Truman's name, despite having never met him before or being shown ID.
  • Insistent Terminology: In the mockumentary opening of the film, Louis/Marlon insists that Truman's world isn't "fake," just controlled.
  • Ironic Echo: "In case I don't see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night" at the end of the film.
  • Irony: Christof says it's a reality show, but the moment any hint of reality starts getting in, it's wiped out, and if Truman's life hadn't been so tightly controlled he might have worked it all out years ago.
  • ISO-Standard Urban Groceries: Truman's wife is seen carrying some early on in the movie.
  • Is That the Best You Can Do?: When Christof is throwing tsunami-like waters at a fleeing Truman, who manages to endure and keep sailing, Truman looks at the sky and screams the trope title, then follows it up with the ultimate Determinator line: "YOU'RE GONNA HAVE TO...KIIIIILL MEEEEE!"
  • It's All About Me: Many of the actors and actresses playing Truman's friends and family feel and act this way. The main characters only caring with how much of a personal fortune they gross from the show's success, while Truman the star has nothing. Many hate and resent what they consider to be "spending too much time" with Truman. When they were kids, Truman begged 'his best friend' Marlon to spend one night camping with him (cause that's what kids do). Marlon went off "sick for a week" after that. Also, at one point, Truman himself gets accused of this when he starts to suspect what's going on — despite him being clearly unhappy with the prospect.
  • Jerkass: A special note must be given to all the actors playing Truman's friends and family, especially the ones playing his parents it's baffling that any human being could play the part of Truman's parents, spouse, or friend for all his life and not begin to form any genuine attachment to him at all, but rather just keep lying to him. Louis Coltrane (Marlon's in-universe actor) may be an exception, as there are several hints left in — and deleted scenes making it more explicit — that he genuinely feels bad about it, despite having been there for much of the show as Truman's best friend. Even then he still keeps the lying up.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: His "father" played a big role in traumatizing a very young Truman and giving him a phobia of water that followed him all the way to adulthood by "drowning". We see that he was very upset over doing so... but only because it meant he had to be written out of the show.
  • Jumping the Shark: The Truman Show, in-universe. The producers decide to bring Truman's dad back from the dead in order to stop him from trying to escape Seahaven. But it is such a Contrived Coincidence that even Truman catches on.
  • Knight Templar Parent: Christof, in a sense. He fits in the father-figure role quite well, being the one in charge of the day-to-day operation of everything in Seahaven, and he tries to micromanage Truman's life, down to picking out Turman's spouse.
  • Laughing Mad: During Truman's Heroic B.S.O.D. after touching the "sky," there's no sound. It is possible he is laughing, crying, screaming, or all three.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: A classic case. Truman is the star of his own reality show, and he's the only one who doesn't know it. Everyone he's ever met has been an actor paid to keep the secret and the town he lives in is a massive set.
  • Long Runner: In-universe. The show has been running continuously since before Truman was born (almost 30 years).
  • Love at First Sight: Truman for Sylvia, despite his friend's attempts to distract him with trumpet playing and his planned future wife's Crash-Into Hello.
  • Lying Finger Cross: Truman's wife doing this covertly in their wedding picture is what tips him off to The Masquerade. Later, when Truman's wife is leaving for work, he said "Cross my fingers for you", which briefly made her nervous.
  • Man-Child: Downplayed version with Truman's toy-chest in the basement, which makes sense, as he's never been allowed to grow as a person.
  • McLeaned: Happens In-Universe with Truman's father. Due to a dispute by the actor, Truman's father is made to drown, which instills a lifelong fear of water in Truman. When he inexplicably returns, the producers Hand Wave it by claiming it was "amnesia".
  • Meaningful Background Event: Aside from those detailed under Spotting the Thread, Sylvia's wall at home has pictures of 4 cast members that she's approached in an attempt to reach Truman. Marlon was the only one she couldn't get close to, and she seems to think that he'd be the best bet (supported by a few Deleted Scenes).
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Truman Burbank Burbank because that's where Seahaven really is, and Truman as in "True man", because Truman is the only "real" person in Seahaven.
    • "Christ"of, as well as Moses and Roman, the two network executives, and one of Christof's assistants is named Simeon.
    • The principal characters also have names seemingly inspired by notable actors (Marlon, Meryl, etc.).
  • Meet Cute: Invoked. They seemed to be trying for it a second time, after the actress playing his wife has enough and leaves the show.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Invoked in-universe. In addition to the rampant product placement, everything on the show from the clothes the people wear to the houses they live in are for sale.
  • Messianic Archetype: Truman himself is one, if the "walking-on-water" shot, the references to Moses and the Romans, and the conversation with his creator in the heavens, and the discussion of bringing "hope to billions" didn't give it away.
  • Mixed Metaphor: Truman locks the car with Meryl in it and says they should go to Fiji right now. "Let's go right now. Early bird gathers no moss. Rolling stone catches the worm, right?"
  • Never Found the Body: Truman's reason for holding out hope that his father is still alive. More subtly, it could be to keep Truman from ever getting closure, thus keeping him traumatized and afraid of water.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer focused on minor scenes in order to make it out to be the kind of outrageously wacky comedy Carrey was known for.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: Many friends and relatives of Truman are played by actors that despise him. Except for Marlon, who's both Nice Character and Nice Actor who feels guilty for lying to Truman.
  • Not Listening to Me, Are You?: When Truman tells his wife he noticed a lady on a red bicycle, a man carrying flowers, and a Volkswagen Beetle with a dented fender has been going around the block repeatedly on a loop in that exact order, she tries to change the subject (possibly being told to). He angrily yells at her for not listening to a word he says.
  • Not So Different: After their bitter on-air callback confrontation, the way both Sylvia and Christof stroke Truman's image on the monitor suggests that, for their obvious vehement differences, they both genuinely love and care for Truman in their separate ways.
  • Off-Model: Invoked with the family photo of Mount Rushmore. Something about it is slightly off...
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: So serious that Christof demands to be notified if Truman starts showing any abnormal behavior.
  • Oh, Crap!: The actors and crew have this reaction when whenever Truman does something out of the ordinary.
  • Ominous Fog: During the reunion between Truman and his father, Christof tells his staff to go easy on the fog.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Natascha McElhone (Lauren/Sylvia) slips into her native British accent when Sylvia is on the phone with Christof. She also does this when she's about to be taken away, so this is likely an In-Universe case.
  • The Outside World: Truman enters it at the end of the movie.
  • Painting the Medium: Whenever the camera is shot through a fisheye lens, we know that we're seeing the scene from the viewpoint of one of the 5,000 hidden cameras. For shots impossible for the cameras to capture, a normal lens is used.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Invoked. In Real Life, there is a variant of paranoid schizophrenia now named "Truman syndrome", in which the patient believes that their lives are actually a television show. This may be the best and most controversial example of Defictionalization ever.
  • Parental Abandonment: Truman was an unwanted baby, "sold" or "sacrificed" for the project. Additionally, the man who he thought was his father was killed.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Truman tries this with his car radio, and it starts broadcasting the walkie talkie conversations of crew members who are tracking him.
  • Personal Rain Cloud: This is Truman's second major hint that something isn't right - he gets a 1-meter-wide downpour on his head that follows him around a bit before the rest of the sky opens up.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • The moment where Christof strokes the large screen showing the sleeping Truman does suggest that Christof, in his warped and Control Freaky way, does genuinely love and care for Truman as a father.
    • Marlon has a number of these moments, all of which were cut from the final version of the of the movie. One notable instance had him quietly help Truman escape by looking the other way after finding him during the search.
    • Christof does the same thing at the very end, when he talks to Truman for the first time.
  • Platonic Cave: Where the "cave" is the set to a television show.
  • Product Placement: Since the show doesn't have actual commercials (it airs 24/7), everything Truman uses is paid for by corporate sponsors and people in Truman's life will give elaborate sales pitches of items used in their daily lives. The first instance has Truman get shoved against a placard for "Free-range Kaiser Chicken" by a set of twins via overzealous greeting, to ensure the placard remains in the shot. This ultimately leads to Truman's "divorce" when the actress playing his wife does this at the wrong time.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Truman's morning commutes are invariably accompanied by Mozart; either the concluding Rondo alla Turca from Piano Sonata No.11 or the first movement of his Horn Concerto No.1. His memories of his short-lived romance with Lauren/Sylvia, meanwhile, feature the second movement from Chopin's Piano Concerto No.1.
  • Pull the Thread: Once Truman starts reacting to his early suspicions, further attempts by the TV crew to repair the illusion begin backfiring, each one mandating it be covered up in turn...
  • Put on a Bus: In-universe, Sylvia was written out of the show to keep Truman from learning the truth.
    • Truman's father is removed to cause his fear of water, but he's so determined to return, even managing to break into the show, that the show decides to basically pay him off by writing him back in.
  • Rail Roading: Truman's predetermined wife. In fact, his predetermined life.
  • Reality Show: It essentially encapsulated the idea and then Deconstructed it before it became popular. For all the trappings of reality the show and its creators try to give it, it's still plotted and only has an illusion of choice.
  • Red Alert: During the nuclear power plant "accident", a man can be heard announcing "This is a red alert!"
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: They created a self-contained biodome that perfectly mimics weather and sky. Alas, it's the only one in existence ("Along with the Great Wall of China the only man-made object visible from space")...and it's used for a TV show. Especially since the show's been running for 30 years, meaning this was in place back in 1968. Can you imagine how many wealthy people would be lining up to have their own private climate-controlled dome over their mansion?
  • Retro Universe: Downplayed. Despite the appearance of late-90s era cars, many of the fashion trends of Seahaven's inhabitants as well as the overall atmosphere of the town feel like it's set before 1970. Perhaps invoked by the creators to put Truman in a "simpler", ideal time period.
  • Ridiculously Average Guy: The fact that Truman is nice in an ordinary way seems to be part of his appeal to the viewers in-universe.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Despite all the manipulations in his life, Truman remained curious and longing for adventure. He even overcomes his fear of water, sails to the edge of the studio, and walks out the door. "You never had a camera in my head," indeed.
  • Satellite Love Interest: In-universe, Meryl doesn't really love Truman and is only acting the part of his love interest. At one point, he even asks her "Why do you want a baby with me? You can't stand me." After she leaves the show, the studio seems ready to set up a second relationship in the form of a hot new co-worker named Vivien.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Not actually shown on film, but the security guards comment on it.
    Flat-top Guard: You never see anything, anyway. They always turn the camera, and play music, and... you know, the wind blows in and the curtains move, and you don't see anything.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: After going on at length about the perks of being in Seahaven, Christof is perturbed by Truman's prolonged silence.
    Christof: Well say something, goddammit! You're on television! You're live to the whole world!
    (Reaction Shot-filled pause)
  • Sleeping Dummy: How Truman's escape begins. He starts sleeping in the basement, and - having gotten some idea of where the cameras are - slips out, leaving an inflatable snowman under a blanket with a recording of himself fake-snoring.
  • Small, Secluded World: Most of the movie takes place in a small society that is extremely secluded from the outside world, although the main character is unaware of this.
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter!: From the Trope Namer Jim Carrey before he named the trope in Bruce Almighty.
  • Spotting the Thread: Here are some of the things that cue Truman into the artificial nature of his world.
    • There's a point where he observes that a lady on a red bike, a man with flowers, and a vintage Volkswagen Beetle with a dented fender, go around the block, over and over again, and always in the exact same order at the exact same time.
    • During the "Nuclear Meltdown" encountered during his escape attempt, his reaction to a complete stranger (a police officer) uttering "You're welcome, Truman."
    • The writers handwave the falling spotlight as a falling piece of a random satellite, but that's a pretty blatant lie for us.
    • One day when Truman is driving into work, his radio starts picking up interference and he notices that it's narrating everything he's doing (which the radio show host handwaves as being interference from a police scanner).
    • During a heated argument with Meryl which ends with him holding a kitchen gadget to her neck, she yells "do something" at the camera.
    • His father shows up on the set dressed as a homeless man and is grabbed and shuttled away into a bus. Everyone dismisses it, but then the crisis is "solved" by writing his father back into the show and explained as "amnesia." Considering Truman makes his big break not long afterwards, it's very likely he didn't buy it.
    • In a deleted scene, Truman gives his sandwich to a man in a wheelchair, and two days later he notices the same man jogging like he's in perfect health. He's even wearing the same shoes.
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • Truman's wife, Meryl. It's creepy as heck. Laura Linney studied 50s Sears Catalogs in order to play this role.
    • Truman himself is obviously quietly dissatisfied with his life quite early on in the movie.
    • Most of the town has shades of this, particularly the twins and the neighbor across the street. Marlon is the only one who feels natural, and as a result Truman continues to trust in him when he grows suspicious.
  • Stepford Suburbia: Invoked in that Seahaven's designed to be unreal.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Enforced. Vivien looks the same, dresses the same, and has the same hair as Meryl. She also has a resemblance to Sylvia, probably in an attempt to make Truman more attracted to her than he was to Meryl.
  • Symbolic Baptism: Water plays a huge role in the film, marking Truman's conflicting fear of and desire for freedom. It's only by passing through the ocean and storm that he ultimately escapes the show.
  • Tempting Fate: Christof almost mocks Sylvia during their phone call by stating that Truman could leave at any time "if it was more than a vague ambition, if he was absolutely determined". Sylvia banks on the latter happening, and she's proven right.
  • Theme Naming: Fittingly for a town populated entirely by actors, the characters and places in Seahaven are named after famous film stars Meryl (Streep), Marlon (Brando), Lauren (Bacall) (last name (Judy) Garland), Kirk (Douglas), Angela (Lansbury), Spencer (Tracy), Vivien (Leigh), Errol (Flynn), (Orson) Welles Park, (James) Stewart Street, (Burt) Lancaster Square, (John, Ethel, and Lionel) Barrymore Street, etc. And, to put the cherry on top, "(Truman) Burbank," like the town in California with all the film studios.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: One of the rare examples where the viewer is already in on it when the film opens, though the extent of how much is slowly revealed to the audience along with Truman.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: It was originally supposed to actually be a twist, but the filmmakers decided a situation with Dramatic Irony was better. The trailers, posters, and even the name make it obvious. Despite this, Roger Ebert (being a critic, and thus treated to a screening before the advertising began) had the chance to see it without being spoiled, and complained about the advertising revealing the twist. The advertising even showed the final sequence of the movie, when Truman and Christof finally speak to each other.
  • Truman Show Plot: Trope Namer. He does a pretty good job figuring it out.
  • Unbuilt Trope: Reality Television.
  • Utopia: Christof thinks that he's created one in Seahaven, but he's hopelessly deluded.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Towards the end Christof and by extension the show, when Truman makes his escape attempt, begins to lose it quite rapidly and starts doing things that would be impossible to explain away to Truman, like turning the moon into a searchlight and having the entire town look for him. Once he does find Truman and tries to get him to turn back via an artificial storm. He's practically desperate, even willing to kill Truman after he yells if that's all they got..
  • The Wall Around the World: The enormous set of the show. Which Truman breaks through with his boat near the very end of the film.
  • Was It All a Lie?: When Truman finally does get to speak to Christof, he has only three questions for him "Who are you?", "And who am I?", and "Was nothing real?"
  • Weather-Control Machine: Christof and his technicians have total control over the weather in Seahaven. There seems to be some element of concealed mechanical sprinklers involved, but the incredible sunsets, clouds, and storm he creates at sea seem to imply the use of much more advanced atmospheric technology that can truly create weather...unless of course it's all holograms, IMAX projectors, and wind machines.
  • Weird Moon: The director's observation platform is behind the false moon. Also, the shadowing of the moon rarely corresponds to the position of the "sun", a cosmic and cosmetic mistake—but Truman of course has never seen the real moon or the real sun.
  • Wham Episode:
    • In-show example, when Truman is overcome with paranoia and flips out on his wife, and in the same night, he re-unites with his father who was previously written off.
    • And, ultimately, there's the show's Grand Finale, when Truman finally leaves the set.
    • The montage at the beginning of "TruTalk" reveals some past Wham Episodes including Truman's birth, Truman's first steps, Truman running off with Sylvia and Truman's wedding to Meryl.
  • Wham Line:
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Sylvia's phone call to Christof:
    Sylvia: Hi Christof, I'd just like to say one thing. You're a liar and a manipulator and what you've done to Truman is sick!
    Christof: I have given the chance for Truman to lead a normal life. The world, the place you live in, is the sick place. Seahaven is the way the world should be.
    Sylvia: He's not a performer, he's a prisoner. Look at him, look at what you've done to him!
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: To keep Truman from escaping, he was engineered to have a fear of water, because the town he lives in is on an island. Ironically when Truman makes his escape he goes by sea since it's the last place anyone would expect for him to go to. Indeed Christof and his staff don't figure it out long until after Truman has a head start on them. Another, less traumatic example is with Truman's interaction with dogs. He's initially shown to be mildly afraid of his neighbor's dalmatian, and his degree of apprehension is shown to be a result of an Angry Guard Dog used as one of the earlier deterrents from leaving Seahaven. Another one of the hints of his imminent escape is when he feigns fear of the dalmatian - he's no longer afraid at all of the dog.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Okay, not shooting... but why does Christof need to have his actors change their names? Why does Hannah need Truman calling her Meryl when he'll never know her as anybody else but Meryl? It boils down to two factors really, both of which are slightly sick and make the show less realistic:
    • By always calling them by the names of their characters, Christof creates an extra emotional layer between them and Truman and keeps the actors from getting too attached to Truman and revealing the truth.
    • It's not enough for Christof to have full control of Truman; this gives him even more psychological control over the lives of every person living in the show.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Truman technically does "destroy" his world.
  • World Limited to the Plot: Deconstructed the movie has two plotlines that eventually merge. The "inner" plotline suffers heavily from World Limited to the Plot, but the "outer" plotline reveals that the manipulation of Truman's life (rather than bad storytelling) causes this.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: Inside the artificial Seahaven set, stories like "Crackdown On Homeless" are front-page news.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Whenever Truman ends up going Off the Rails from whatever it was Christof wanted to happen, Christof acts quickly to engineer events that not only get him back on track, but also at the same time spin the unexpected events into an interesting plot point. When Hanna/Meryl quits the show after Truman breaks down, Christof decides to fix it by bringing in a new love interest - who is of course, just another actress.
  • You Are Not Alone: In-universe, part of Christoff's motivation for the entire Truman project: giving people a chance to see someone like them struggling and making it through life like they are. It's also part of the reason why the show is massively popular. During the ending, Christoff begs Truman to go back to the project for this reason.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/TheTrumanShow