All Truman, All the Time.
On the air. Unaware.The Truman Show
—The film's tagline.
, 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 feels discontent with said life. He longs after a girl he fell in love with in college but who disappeared from his life in a sudden way. Strange things have also started 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 radio has started to pick up signals that match his movements exactly, 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 starred in a globally-successful Reality Show
called "The Truman Show", directed by 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
The Truman Show is the Trope Namer for:
The Truman Show contains examples of the following tropes:
- An Aesop: 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Anti-Villain: Christof. Indeed, if you look at Christof's actions, primarily in the final scene, you see that he shows a deep caring for Truman and the message he gives to the world, which would portray him more as a Well-Intentioned Extremist. The characterization, however, is ruined when you remember that about a scene earlier, Christof was trying to capsize Truman's boat, knowing that it could easily kill him.
- On the other hand, Christof is a control freak who ruins someone's life, would have to do a lot of bribing for the show to exist, and it is implied he fires anyone who might let Truman know about the world.
- Considering how much less the cast and supporting characters care about Truman as a human being, there are lines Christof will not cross, and he treats the subject matter very sensitively, such as callously discussing "his main star's" inevitable death and future spin-off replacement with his child.
- Artificial Atmospheric Actions: Truman only begins to notice when he starts suspecting things. "A lady on a red bicycle, a man carrying flowers, and a car with a dented bumper... they've been going in a loop around my house."
- "Dog Fancy, please." A LOT of people seem to like Dog Fancy magazine... (See also Product Placement.)
- 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 almost-drown Truman, before a cut to the balding bathtub fan shows him clinging to his shower curtain and cheering him on.
- Audience? What Audience?: 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: In-universe. 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. Arguably, it's so contrived that its biggest impact is to add to the growing list of things that Truman realizes seem amiss about his world.
- 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.
- Blatant Lies: When Christof informs Sylvia that Truman can leave his reality whenever he wants to.
- Book Ends: It begins with a star falling from the sky, and ends with a star rising up into the sky.
- 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 arguably does this towards the end, when he performs one of his usual routines in his bathroom mirror, only to mysteriously add "That one's for free." None of the crew watching pick up on it, but the implication is that he's signalling to the audience that he's just playing along; it's significant that he makes his break for freedom not long after. And then there's his climactic confrontation with Christof, where Christof converses with him via a Voice From Above (no doubt one of the studio's address systems).
- Truman's boat literally breaks the fourth wall as he sails into the "horizon".
- 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 they realize Truman is missing.
- Contrived Coincidence: Deliberately invoked, as 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...
- Out of universe, it strains disbelief a bit that suddenly all these things start going wrong on the same day. Though a popular Fan Wank is that there had always been these sorts of hiccups, and it's just that the falling spotlight was such an affront to Truman's sense of reality that he suddenly started noticing them.
- 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, given the fact that it's wholly fake, and how much everybody psychologically messes with Truman to stop him realising 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
- Cue the Sun: Trope Namer. Christof does this when he's desperate to find Truman at night.
- The 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.
- Discretion Shot... to a Lampshade Hanging.
- 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."
- The premise bears a strong similarity to Sophie's World.
- Domed Hometown: The town's actually a major dome built in Hollywood — it's famous for being able to be seen from space.
- 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: And how. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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".
- Heroic BSOD: 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.
- Hypocritical Humor: Subtly. The interviewer thanks Christof for the interview, noting how he famously values his privacy — the principal thing, besides truth, he has denied Truman his whole life.
- Also, almost everything the out-of-character interviews with the cast stresses how "real" the show is, and how Truman is an integral part of that reality, when almost everything about it is completely artificial and engineered (even Truman's own reactions were often the result of his own preconditioned choices). Amusingly, once he does begin to express his "real" self, everything begins to fall apart.
- I Reject Your Reality: Truman's drive to discover the truth about his artificial world and explore beyond ultimately leads him on a course to escaping it.
- The memorable ending itself is wonderfully symbolic as well, showing mortal man rejecting his all-powerful god and his paradise, just to achieve true freedom in the nothingness beyond creation.
- 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.
- 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...KILLLLLL MEEEEE!"
- It's All About Me: Unsurprisingly, many of the actors and actresses 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.
- 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.
- Although as noted just below, it's possible that some of them honestly thought he was better off being lied to. His mother is probably the worst of them, coming off as a total sociopath. The part where she passive-aggressively suggests that he was responsible for his father's death is truly horrifying.
- 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.
- Word of God says that Marlon, Truman's best friend might be the exception, as he does really care about Truman and feels bad for lying to him (understandable as they'd known each other since they were kids). Noah Emmerich also believes that Marlon had been into rehab several times over the years, due to having developed a severe drug addiction to cope with the constant guilt.
- There's a deleted scene that supports this. About two-thirds of the way through the movie (after Truman's had his breakdown and Meryl has left him), the actors and Christof have a meeting and discuss the next few months of the show. Christof has already scripted the whole thing out — he's brought a new character (Vivien) in to replace Meryl as Truman's love interest, they talk about her and Truman will get together, and Christof reaffirms his plans to have the world's first on-air conception, and he details how a second channel will be added to chronicle Truman Jr.'s life. At this point, Marlon (who up until this point hasn't spoken) very bitterly comments "So when Truman dies, we go back to the single-channel format, right?" Acts as a very quiet Shut Up, Hannibal!.
- Another deleted scene confirms this and gives Marlon a redemptive moment — he comes across Truman in disguise while they're searching for him and chooses to look the other way.
- 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.
- Depending on Alternate Character Interpretation, this also applies to some of the others close to Truman. It's possible that they believed that the lies needed to keep the show running were in Truman's best interest. Some characters (Marlon) lend themselves to this better than others (his mother, Meryl).
- Locked Out of the Loop
- 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.
- Mad Artist: Christof.
- Man Child: Downplayed version with Truman' toy-chest in the basement, which makes sense, as he's never been allowed to grow as a person.
- 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.
- Missing the Good Stuff
- 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 guilt for lying to Truman.
- Nice Guy: 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 car with a dented bumper" has been going around the block, 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...
- OOC Is Serious Business: So serious that Christof demands to be notified if Truman starts showing any abnormal behavior.
- And after Truman slips the net, the show goes off the air. This had never happened before, cluing the In-Universe audience in that something is seriously wrong. Christof sardonically notes that the stand-in placard is generating the highest ratings the show's ever had.
- 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.
- Painting the Medium: Whenever the camera is shot through a round 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 Put on a Bus.
- 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: Parodied — 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 insure 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.
- It seems to be a combination of this and merchandising as there's a catalog for everything in the show that is not being explicitly marketed. It also explains why everything is so pretty.
- 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: Sylvia and Truman's dad were both written out of the show to keep Truman from learning the truth.
- The Bus Came Back: Some lines of dialogue imply that Marlon was Put on a Bus that Came Back at different points during the show's run.
- Truman tried to put himself on a literal bus to Chicago. At the time, he hadn't realized the true nature of Seahaven, and just wanted to leave town. Obviously, the studio couldn't allow that, so the bus driver proceeded to ruin the gearbox by grinding gears.
- Rage Against the Heavens: See Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter.
- 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.
- Reality TV
- Red Alert: During the staged nuclear power plant accident, a man could 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Show Within a Show: Type 1.
- 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!
- 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 before he named the trope. See Moment Of Awesome, above.
- Spotting the Thread: Here are some of the things that cue Truman into the artificial nature of his world.
- In particular, 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.
- 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.
- To an extent, Truman himself. He's 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: Subverted in that Seahaven's designed to be unreal.
- Completely subverted by the fact that they filmed the movie in a real neighborhood in Florida. note
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Enforced. Vivien looks the same, dresses the same, and has the same hair as Meryl.
- 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), (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.
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: The time period the film takes place in is never stated or referenced in any way, however the technology running Seahaven implies it could be decades into the 21st century. Even some of the TV executives' outfits are a bit futuristic-looking.
- 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.
- Welcome to the Real World: The entire film builds up to Truman realizing the world he grew up in was fabricated.
- 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.
- Wham Line: For Truman, at least — "You're welcome, Truman."
- Also, Meryl's "Do something!"
- 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?: Truman's fear of water, deliberately engineered to keep him from escaping, 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.
- 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: Due to the setting, headlines like "Crackdown On Homeless" is front-page news.
- You Look Familiar: In a Deleted Scene, Truman runs into a jogger played by the same actor who played a homeless man in a wheelchair two days earlier.