All Girls Want Bad Boys: Invoked. When Columbus asks Little Rock what her sister is into, she says Witchita likes bad boys.
All There in the Manual: Not all, actually - there isn't a full list of the original 30 Rules of Zombieland (2 are added during the course of the movie), minus YouTube videos filling in some rules and others besides the original thirty, and Rule #2 was even revised from "Ziploc Bags" to "Double Tap" (though if you pay attention to the 406 flashback, it's still in there).
Almost Kiss: Columbus and Wichita, up until Tallahassee walks in and Wichita walks out, unnerved by getting so close to another survivor.
You are like some sort of fucking cockblock machine, developed in some secret government lab.
Columbus had been hoping for this with 406, but trying to eat your brains isn't very romantic.
Also done to Tallahassee (involving cologne) and Bill Murray (involving his shotgun).
Armor-Piercing Question: Columbus brings up while to himself after learning Columbus, Ohio has been effectively 100% zombie infested.
Columbus: I'm not sure what's more tragic, that my family is gone or the realization that I never really had much of a family to begin with.
The Artifact: The original idea for "Zombieland" was a TV series. This is why the otherwise entirely random "Zombie Kill of the Week" scene is in the movie—if "Zombieland" had been developed as a TV show, that would have been a Running Gag. A webseries was planned but not picked up.
Badass: Tallahassee. Most of the time, when a hero in a zombie flick gets into a small shack utterly surrounded by zombies, that's it. They're done. Not Tallahassee. It is, however, noted several times that he appears to be trying too hard.
Watch closely at the "business is good" flashback. Zombies are running away from Tallahassee! That's right, he's so Badass the undead fear him.
Bait and Switch: At the beginning, while Columbus is explaining his rules, Rule #4 looks like it's going to be something about not trusting anyone or the people you loved are no longer human or something like that. NOPE. Seat belts.
Band of Brothers: At the end this is what they become, or in Columbus' words, his "family". This is precisely the reason that all of them survive, and might demonstrates why most people don't make it through a zombie movie.
Big Brother Mentor: Tallahassee seems to fill this role for Columbus, with a side-helping of Team Dad once the foursome more or less solidifies.
Big Damn Heroes: Columbus and Tallahassee arrive at the theme park just in time to rescue the damsels Wichita and Little Rock, who have become trapped at the top of the drop tower surrounded by very hungry and very persistent zombies. Tallahassee goes on an all-carnival shooting gallery WITH ZOMBIES, while Columbus has to face his greatest fears combined into one: a zombie clown.
Blood Knight: Tallahassee loves him some zombie killin'. Columbus notes that he has some sort of chip on his shoulder for them that goes beyond "it's okay to kill zombies". That's because they killed his son.
Boom, Headshot: Not even followed. The characters usually go for chest shots, as the zombies are still living.
Boring, but Practical: Columbus' weapon of choice is a basic side-by-side shotgun. No complex parts or operation, simple to reload, and clearing a jam or misfire is as easy as flipping a switch to operate the break-open action. But the fact that it runs out of ammo so fast is played for laughs and almost gets him killed, so not very practical.
The Rules, particularly 'Double Tap'. And the phrase "poor fat bastard" -> "poor flat bastard".
Not only is the revised "Ziploc Bags" rule in the 406 flashback, it also pops up in present day (Columbus keeps the shells for his double-barrel in them).
At the Hostess truck, Tallahassee rolls his eyes at Columbus for limbering up. Shortly after the girls steal their Cadillac, he smashes a van in frustration. As they walk away he mentions he might have pulled a muscle while the words "Limber up" pop up on a car in the background.
Through the course of the movie, we encounter the four main characters, and at one point learn of the existence of Sister Cynthia Knickerbocker. When Bill Murray turns out to be alive, Tallahassee seems to be aware of that fact.
Tallahassee: Six people left alive and one of them is BillFuckin' Murray!
Early in the film, Columbus annoys Tallahassee:
Tallahassee: Wanna find out how hard I can punch?
Later, he annoys him again:
Tallahassee: I'm gonna give you... 45% power. *PUNCH*
Bring My Brown Pants: Columbus was just trying to find a bathroom when zombies attacked. By the time he's safe again, going number two is no longer an issue. Possibly lampshaded because Columbus' pants are actually brown.
Broken Heel: Not so much averted as kicked square in the balls and told to go away. Early in the movie, Columbus, chased by zombies, goes for his car and drops the keys under the door. Rather than stick around and die like a conventional horror movie victim, he just does another lap of the parking lot, gaining enough ground on the zombies in the process to have time to get his keys. And then he finds out the door was already unlocked.
He'd need the keys to even start the car, so the fact it was already unlocked wasn't too important. Might even have helped, as he didn't have to fight his way back out to get them.
406 can still stagger after Columbus even after he broke her whole foot.
Tallahassee is Dual Wielding chainsaws. This is to establish his Crazy AwesomeBadass credentials immediately. Similarly, Wichita is shown holding a bloody chainsaw in the movie poster.
It's actually averted in the movie proper. Nobody ever wields a chainsaw, preferring ranged weapons such as shotguns and rifles or bludgeoning weapons for close kills.
Character Development: The movie ends with Tallahassee apparently having conquered his grief over his son's death, Columbus learning to break the rules once in a while, and Wichita and Little Rock having learned to trust.
Played straight - Columbus learns Rule #31 "Check the Back Seat" when he is ambushed from there by a zombie in the beginning. Tallahassee fails to do this and Little Rock gets the drop on him.
Subverted - Columbus tells Wichita about his seatbelt rule. At the end, when their car is being attacked by zombies, it looks as if she will buckle her seatbelt and crash to drive them off, as he did. But she and Little Rock instead bail out of the car, letting it fly into a lake. And Tallahassee throws out the rule of Double Tap and miraculously survives.
Tallahassee teaching Little Rock breathing techniques when using a gun. She's unable to hit a control box to a drop tower until she remembers what she what she was taught.
Cool Car: Tallahassee always paints a "#3" on every car he drives and always chooses the coolest looking car, despite practicality. Also see Rule of Three below.
Con Women: What Wichita and Little Rock were before the outbreak. And after as well.
Cosy Catastrophe: Granted, zombies mostly aren't fun, but given how every house in the movie still has electricity, the setting avoids hitting the backslide into medieval times that a lot of other Zombie Apocalypse movies present. The gang even winds up chilling in an abandoned mansion for a little while.
Covers Always Lie: The DVD cover shows Wichita/Krista wielding a chainsaw, but that is never shown in the film.
Instead of a lever-action rifle he uses in the film, Tallahassee is holding a double-barreled shotgun.
Crapsack World: Surprisingly averted, considering the premise. Despite the destruction and lack of humans, grocery stores are still filled with food, gas stations all have gas, and everything has power.
Cut Away Gag: Zombie Kill of the Week, and several of Tallahassee's "flashbacks".
Dangerous Key Fumble: Played with in this movie, when Columbus drops his keys by the car while being chased by a zombie, but is smart enough to circle around the car until he's able to reclaim the keys without getting killed...then he realizes the door wasn't locked in the first place.
Drop the Hammer: Near the end, Columbus meets his greatest fear, a clown zombie. Unfortunately for fear, this film is not in any way a horror flick, so Columbus grabs a big sledgehammer from a Test Your Strength carnival game and, well...
Dual Wielding: Tallahassee. Chainsaws! Sadly not seen in use. He also carries two shotguns later in the film, though he only uses one at a time. He uses two pistols during his last stand at the end of the flick.
Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe example - the glare Tallahassee gives Wichita after she laughs at Bill Murray taking a second "dying breath".
Unusual (and especially rare) for the film genre, none of the four main characters succumb to the zombie menace during the course of the movie.
After the opening (in which a fat man, non-double-tapper, toilet-user and seatbelt-forgetter get killed) there are only two non-zombie deaths seen (406 in the flashback and Bill Murray). Possibly just because humans are pretty scarce by this point anyway.
Face Your Fears: Columbus has to face a Zombie-Clown in order to save Wichita.
Failed a Spot Check: Blink and you might miss it, but sitting right on the shelf next to Tallahassee while he's beating a zombie to death with a banjo in the grocery store is...a box of Twinkies.
in the very first scene that Tallahassee brings up his Twinkie obsession, there is a giant pile of them hidden by the closed half of the truck's double doors.
Fan Disservice: The zombified topless strippers during the opening credits.
First Name Basis: The girls, eventually. Wichita blurts out Little Rock's name in a moment of panic and tells hers to Columbus. The boys remain nameless, though Columbus nearly tells us his in the intro.
Flashback: A couple from before the Zombie Apocalypse. Happier times for Tallahassee, and somewhat less stressful times for Columbus. Wichita and Little Rock are shown pulling one of their cons.
Foreshadowing: The object of Columbus's fake sexual encounter was named Beverly Hills. Guess where the quartet of heroes ends up later?
When Tallahassee is smashing up the minivan, the building behind him has several posters in the window related to the plague including one showing a grenade and the phrase "Solve It." It's even funnier when you see it's a bridal store.
After Tallahassee jumps off the van, he says he "pulled a hammy". "Limber up" shows up on the mini van and falls off with a clatter, almost like it was the license plate or the bumper.
Gainaxing: Hello, zombie stripper! Watch those nipples tassels fly off.
Guns Akimbo: Tallahassee in one scene where he strikes absolutely ridiculous poses while firing into a crowd of zombies with dual pistols. To be fair, the Zombies were packed so tightly together that every shot was bound to hit. If you watch him, it looks like he's doing Gun Kata.
Hand Wave: How did the world end up in such a horrific state? The explanation is two lines of dialogue: a guy ate a bad burger. Mad cow disease became mad human disease. That's about it. And then the movie gets back to killing things.
Haunted House: Played with. At one point, Columbus leads a horde of zombies into an amusement park haunted house. It works both for him (zombies are stupid enough to get caught in one of the things that jumps out at you) and against him (good job, moron, now there's moaning coming from all around you).
Hollywood Nerd: Columbus, a shut-in who, like Zoey, wasted all his time in his apartment, guzzling junk food and dreaming about the Girl Next Door. Though Columbus was less preoccupied with watching Zombie B-Movies than playing World of Warcraft, and was surprisingly limber for a nerd.
Hometown Nickname: All of the main characters never go by their names, only what city they are from.
Humble Goal: Tallahassee just wants one twinkie before they all expire.
Hypocritical Humor: Tallahassee's "Thank god for rednecks!" one-liner. Coming from a man with a Southern accent, was introduced driving an SUV with a dozer blade rigged to the front, paints Dale Earnhardt's NASCAR number on each car he drives, and, of course, love of all things that shoot, he doesn't have much room to speak.
Improbable Aiming Skills: Arguably Tallahassee during the finale. Yes, the zombies were packed in and close range, but he had about one bullet for each zombie rushing him, so every shot had to be a kill shot and no way to obey Rule #2 while he was at it. He pulls it off.
Improvised Weapon: A banjo, hedge clippers, toilet seat covers, a piano... even a carnival ride. The banjo gets bonus points - Tallahassee plays "Dueling Banjos" to attract a zombie before braining said zombie with said banjo.
As the movie starts, Columbus's Rule #17 is "Don't Be A Hero". As the movie ends... let's just say he's made an exception.
Used earlier after Tallahassee says he might have pulled something and Rule #18, "Limber Up" appears in the background.
During the Rule #1 introduction Columbus says "poor fat bastard". During the cutaway to the Zombie Kill of the Week joke later, he says "poor flat bastard" about the crushed zombie.
Jerkass: Wichita for most of the movie. She disarms the guys and leaves them for dead twice, kidnaps them once, and steals their only transportation three times over the course of the film. She gets better.
Leitmotif: Not a complete one, but the bell sound from "For Whom The Bell Tolls" can be heard in pivotal scenes.
Before the characters go into the grocery store, it sounds like a motif from Pink Floyd's "The Wall" is playing in the background.
Lightmare Fuel: The explanation of Rules #1 ("Cardio") and #2 ("Double Tap") are accompanied by a visual of people being graphically attacked and killed by zombies. They are hilarious and tragic and scary all at the same time.
The various "zombie kills" (especially the "Zombie Kill of the Week").
Line-of-Sight Name: Columbus tries to impress Tallahassee by describing an imaginary sexual encounter he had. The scattered FedEx packages end up being "the back of a FedEx truck" and a sign with the name Beverly ends up being "Beverly Hills," the object of his fake sexual encounter.
Love Makes You Dumb: The reason why Columbus goes after Wichita after she and her sister have carjacked the boys yet again.
Major Injury Underreaction: Bill Murray is surprisingly chill for a guy who just took a shotgun shot to the chest He had just smoked a bunch of weed with Wichita and Tallahassee.
Mama Bear: If you are not Little Rock, then it's going to take some very extenuating circumstances for Wichita not to rob you blind and leave you for dead if she gets the chance. If you threaten Little Rock, you've got about the same chance of not being shot.
A Man Is Not a Virgin: Lampshaded by Columbus who tells the viewer that it's perfectly acceptable to speculate on the status of his virginity, and tries to "brag" about his first time in the back of a FedEx truck. Lampshaded again by Tallahassee who comments with a grin, "Finally made it to first base", when Wichita kisses Columbus.
Minimalist Cast: The only living humans we see are the four main characters and Cynthia Knickerbocker. And Bill Murray.
Oh Crap: The girls, when they notice the hordes of zombies approaching the theme park.
Once is Not Enough: Rule #2 of surviving in Zombieland: Double Tap. Shooting a downed zombie in the head to make sure could be the difference between going on your way and becoming a human Happy Meal. Also demonstrated with a vehicle and a toilet tank lid.
Only Known by Their Nickname: The entire cast, with the exceptions of Bill Murray and Sister Cynthia Knickerbocker. Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock are their intended destinations. Wichita's name is later revealed to be Krista. 406 is also referred to just by her apartment number, and she refers to Columbus the same way.
Open Says Me: How Wichita and Little Rock get into Pacific Playland.
Our Zombies Are Different: Act generally like other fast, plague-bearing zombies, but it appears these zombies are actually technically still alive. This makes them easier to do away with than zombies in most media since even non-headshots are sufficient. They do still appear more resilient than normal people though, in the sense that they don't register pain any more.
They also seem to be smarter than the average zombies, as seen when 406 opens the bathroom door without hesitation, or when another zombie climbs a ladder.
Pretend We're Dead: Bill Murray does this so that he can play golf, and he uses his disguise to scare and play around with the other characters. It works a little too well, though — Columbus mistakes him for a real zombie and shoots him.
Rail Shooter: Tallahassee gets on a roller coaster while drawing the zombies away. It inevitably becomes one for the next couple of minutes.
Reconstruction: though it plays many things for laughs, the movie also takes time to show the characters in a realistic light.
Red Herring: One of the very first rules Columbus mentions is the importance of seatbelts. A later scene deliberately draws attention to Wichita's ignoring this rule, which seems like obvious foreshadowing for some horrible pay off later in the movie.
Replacement Goldfish: There are hints during their stay at Bill Murray's mansion that Little Rock is becoming this for Tallahassee
Shout-Out: Tallahassee plays a few notes of the Deliverance music as bait for a redneck zombie, which he then dispatches with a cry of "You got a purty mouth!" Also, the Gas n' Gulp may be a reference to the iconic gas chain in The Simpsons.
Sparse List of Rules: Subverted. Only a handful of rules ("Cardio, Cardio, Cardio") are brought up, but a whole lot more were presented via internet in short promotional clips leading up the the film's release.
Squee: Tallahassee has this reaction to BILL FUCKING MURRAY!
Stealth Pun: Tallahassee gunning down zombies whilst riding a rollercoaster. It's an on-rail shooter!
Tallahassee and Columbus find a car, and a stash of guns, after their old one was hijacked. The only thing that remains of the previous owner is his hands on the wheel. They were gonna have to pry it (and his guns) from his cold, dead hands.
The Stinger: Bill Murray un-dies to correct Tallahassee's mangled attempts at language, then dies. Again.
Stock Aesops: Friendship. Cardio Fitness. Wear Seatbelts. Oh, and Sunscreen too, though it has nothing to do with anything that happens in the movie.
Stockholm Syndrome: Played for Laughs, with Columbus dreamily thinking about how he 'kinda liked' Wichita mere moments after she and her sister have pulled guns on him and Tallahassee (for the second time!) and taken them prisoner.
Too Dumb to Live: You're in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse, and you pretend to be a zombie to scare the twitchy guy armed with a shotgun? Really, Bill Murray? Okay, he was high, and the others (also high) were goading him on, but still.
Trash the Set: the fate of the "Wampum" native American gift shop.
Columbus: Rule #32: Enjoy the Little Things. Even if it means destroying a bunch of little things.
Travel Montage: When the two men and two women agree to cooperate, each person takes turns driving while talking about random topics like Willie Nelson and Hannah Montana.
Traveling at the Speed of Plot: The girls and the boys leave the mansion at least several hours apart, but the guys get to the amusement park less than an hour after the girls (just in time to save them from the zombies attacking the park).
Troperiffic: This movie unapologetically takes an almost perverse pleasure in messing with just about every Zombie trope ever. And it is so much better for it.
Undead Child: Played for Laughs early in the film with a horde of little zombie girls in party dresses charging out of a birthday party after a soccer mom. Also, subverted with Little Rock.
Unorthodox Reload: Tallahassee prepares for his epic caged booth shootout by standing up numerous magazines of ammo for when he runs out. He then proceeds to just slam the guns into the mags on the counter and he's good to go again.
Violin Scam: In a flashback, the girls are shown doing a variation with wedding rings.
Columbus: Remember Mad Cow Disease? Well, Mad Cow became Mad Person became Mad Zombie. It's a fast-acting virus that left you with a swollen brain, a raging fever, and made you hateful, violent, and gave you a killer case of the munchies.
Played hilariously with 406, Columbus' neighbor, whom he lets into his apartment early on in an attempt to finally get close to a woman.
Little Rock pretends to have been bitten as part of a con to steal the guys' guns and car.
Zombie Apocalypse: 28 Days Later rules, surprisingly. They're technically alive, but infected with a virus that turns them into running, raging, flesh-eating... they're zombies.
Zombie Gait: Played with. These zombies can move just like regular people so long as all their limbs work. But since they're stupid and don't care about pain, a lot of them have assorted injuries, and groups run the gamut from lumbering to sprinting.
Ahah! Found a Twinkie — no, wait, no... It's just styrofoam... Dammit.