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Film: Zombieland
"My mama always told me someday, I'd be good at somethin'. Who'd'a guessed that would been zombie killin'?"
Tallahassee

Some zombie films strive to evoke the terror of endless hordes of ravenous unstoppable undead advancing upon helpless, hopeless victims. Some show an exploration of the effects on civilization when The Virus moves in. Some spend their time showing military forces overrun by an enemy they're unprepared for. Some are a metaphor for zombies as victims of a materialistic, consumerism-driven society that gorges itself on pop culture and technology or are about a divided capitalist society headed by greedy fat cats, where the poor are exploited, or a desperate battle for survival. Some are even about the socio-political ramifications and aftermath of a zombie outbreak. A few try to trace the interpersonal problems (or lack thereof) that can result from a zombie attack.

Zombieland is a little more concerned with knocking their fuckin' teeth in.

It's the end of the world, so you might as well have some fun. You've seen the movies, now you get to live the life. Load up on shotguns, ammo, sledgehammers and banjos, because this is Zombieland — where your town is your name, where you must always beware of the bathroom, and where your biggest competition for Zombie Kill of the Week is a cheerful, cardigan-wearing nun.

A sequel was in the works, but that has apparently been dropped in favor of a half-hour show on Fox for the 2012-2013 season. Fox passed on the show, but Amazon developed a pilot. The prospective series was then rejected by Amazon after fans voted it down on the website. The Pilot of the Amazon series is no longer available on Amazon due to licensing concerns.

Has a Shout Out page.


Trope up, or shut up:

  • Abandoned Playground: Pacific Playland. Nothing says fun like smashing zombies with a tilt-a-whirl.
  • Adorkable: Columbus.
  • Action Duo: Tallahassee as the Action Hero, and Columbus as the Action Survivor.
  • The Ace: Tallahassee.
  • Action Survivor: This is Columbus up and down.
  • After the End: An unusually chipper take on this scenario.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Invoked. When Columbus asks Little Rock what her sister is into, she says Witchita likes bad boys. He responds by spilling the popcorn they're both eating.
  • 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.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: The film's climax takes place inside one of these.
  • Apocalypse Who Cares?: Societal Collapse, but screw it. Doesn't mean you gotta mope about the whole thing or fill it with political drivel about how we're all to blame.
  • Apologetic Attacker:
    • Columbus the entire time he fights off 406.
    Columbus: Oh my God. I am so fucking sorry.
    • Also done to Tallahassee (involving cologne) and Bill Murray (involving his shotgun).
  • Apocalyptic Logistics: The characters have no real problem getting cars. Food's surprisingly abundant (unless it's twinkies), and even electricity's shown to be pretty easy to rig (at one point they're able to power up an entire theme park and at another they just chill for a bit watching HD-DVDs in Bill Murray's luxury Hollywood mansion). Possibly justified in that the survivors we follow are well established as being Crazy-Prepared.
  • 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.
  • As Himself: Bill Murray.
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: "Don't swing! Don't swing!... Swing!"
  • Badass: Tallahassee. Most of the time, when a hero in a zombie flick gets into a small shack utterly surrounded on all sides by a huge crowd of zombies, it's only a matter of time before they get overwhelmed. 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.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Wichita and Little Rock at first.
  • 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.
  • Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: They don't show up, but Columbus mentions that in '97, he had his first orthodontist.
    Columbus: Bastard gave me headgear.
  • Brand X: Pacific Playland, as there is no way that they could have gotten permission to use Disneyland in an R-rated zombie flick. But they do tip the hat: "You've just fought your way across a zombie infested country! Where're you gonna go now?" "I'm going to Pacific Playland! Woo!"
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: During Tallahassee's near-incomphrensible fanboy squee at Bill Murray, he accidentally says that he wanked off to him.
  • Break Up Make Up Scenario
  • Brick Joke:
    • 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 Bill Fuckin' 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.
  • California Doubling:
  • Cameo: See As Himself, but potential straight cameos include Tom Cruise and Demi Moore amongst the zombie horde, though there's been no confirmation.
  • The Can Kicked Him:
    • As Columbus explains his rule about bathrooms, we encounter a man finding out the hard way that no place is safe from zombies - not even the stall.
      • This is doubly so when you realize that this is the same person that got scammed by Wichita and Little Rock earlier in the "lost my ring" bit.
    • When Columbus' next-door neighbor turns on him in his apartment he is forced to brain her with the tank lid of his toilet.
  • Car Fu: In the beginning, Columbus crashes his car to send the zombie in the back seat flying through the windshield. As noted later, one of Tallahassee's signatures is the Toyota Tripwire (aka slamming the door into zombies as he passes).
  • Celebrity Survivor: Bill Murray.
  • Chainsaw Good:
    • Tallahassee is Dual Wielding chainsaws. This is to establish his Crazy Awesome Badass 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.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • 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.
  • Cherry Tapping: I'm gonna give you about forty-five percent power.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The girls. Played for laughs at the ending, where they fake ditching the duo.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Columbus, with his Boring, but Practical approach to killing zombies ("Double Tap") and his strict list of rules for survival. Also Tallahassee, for whom just about anything can serve as a melee weapon, be it chainsaw, hedge clippers or a freakin' banjo.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Intentional:
    Columbus: You know, they say "He who seeks revenge should remember to dig two graves."
    Tallahassee: Oh, right, two graves! One for the big chick, and one for the little chick!
  • The Commandments: The Rules, as laid down by Columbus.
  • Cool Car: Tallahassee always paints a "#3" on every car he drives and always chooses the coolest looking car, regardless of practicalities like gas mileage . 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.
  • Danger Takes A Back Seat: One of Columbus's rules of surviving a Zombie Apocalypse is to always check the back seat.
  • Dare to Be Badass: "Nut up or shut up."
  • Dead Weight: Rule #1 of surviving in Zombieland: Cardio. The fatties got turned first. Unusually for the trope, they are not played as any more of a threat than normal zombies, just as a punchline.
  • Deadly Prank: R.I.P., Bill Murray.
  • Death by Cameo
  • Discreet Drink Disposal: "One and I'm done" Columbus says just after tossing his shot out the window.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • Demonstrated in a flashback as part of a con.
  • Does Not Like Spam: Tallahassee can't stand Sno-Balls (due to the coconut). It's not the taste, it's the consistency.
  • Doom Sayer: In the opening sequence a man with a sign saying "The End is Near" is about to be eaten by zombies.
  • Double Tap: Rule #2.
  • 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".
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Columbus to Wichita. Invoked by Wichita and Little Rock.
  • Everybody Lives:
    • 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.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Pretty much the basis of the True Companions.
  • Firing in the Air a Lot: Tallahassee, after finding a Hummer with lots of guns
  • 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?
  • Four Philosophy Ensemble:
    • The Cynic: Wichita
    • The Optimist: Tallahasseenote 
    • The Realist: Columbus
    • The Apathetic: Little Rock
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Sanguine: Tallahassee
    • Choleric: Wichita
    • Melancholic: Columbus
    • Phlegmatic: Little Rock
  • Four Man Band It's all up to interpretation, but the boys are somewhat easy to pin down while the sisters are a little more ambiguous.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • 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.
  • Genre Savvy:
    • Columbus, to a tee. Well, he does fall into genre savvy after he got attacked by zombified 406. He was simply hoping for it to play out like a Romantic film.
    • This entire movie is filled to the brim with genre savviness!
  • Gilligan Cut: Bill Murray's idea of "West Coast hospitality". What comes after that just makes it funnier.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Bill Murray's idea to scare Columbus in zombie getup ends up getting him killed.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Whatever it is that Tallahassee does with the hedge clippers, heavily implied to be beheading a zombie. Well, he said he was just gonna take "a little off the top."
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Holy Smoke.
  • Groin Attack: Columbus to the zombie clown in the climax.
  • 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.
  • Harbinger of Impending Doom: 406, Columbus's neighbor who comes to Columbus's apartment after being attacked by a "homeless person".
  • 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).
  • Heh Heh, You Said X
    Columbus: Did you know that sleep deprivation is the number one problem in America?
    Wichita: I think it might be number two now.
    Tallahassee: (laughs) Number two...
  • Heroic BSOD: Columbus has a minor one when Wichita tells him that Columbus, Ohio is in ruins, meaning that his parents are probably dead.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted. You think this is what Tallahassee is doing, but then you remember what a Crazy Awesome Badass he is.
  • 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.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Averted, which is surprising considering the genre's conventions.
  • 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.
  • Iconic Outfit: Woody Harrelson mentioned that he picked out Tallahassee's hat and clothes with this trope in mind.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Hey, we're in the middle of a country whose inhabitants have been turned into cannibalistic zombies attracted to light and sound. Let's switch on this theme park!
    • Hey, here's a great prank! Let's have the guy convincingly dressed as a zombie scare the jumpy kid who has a shotgun. Admittedly, they were high when they thought that one up.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Little Rock sarcastically credits "violent video games" with teaching her firearm use.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Columbus to 406 after she wakes up a zombie. (She isn't.)
  • 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.
  • Incongruously Dressed Zombie: Several examples chase people around in the opening credits, including one that's "dressed" in fire.
  • Informal Eulogy: For Bill Murray. Complete with a twenty-one gun salute. Finished with shots of Purell all around.
  • Instant Marksman Just Squeeze Trigger: Used when Tallahassee is training Little Rock.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • 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.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Tallahassee makes a silent gesture to Wichita to indicate to her that she just pretty much crushed Columbus' hopes of finding his parents safe, and that it was a crummy thing to do to him.
    "I haven't cried like that since Titanic!" And then he dries his eyes with money.
    • If anything, Wichita is even worse, but the scene where she dances with Columbus is particularly sweet of her. Of course, she walks out the next morning.
  • Karma Houdini: The girls.
  • Kick the Dog: Subverted. It's bad enough that Columbus shot a box of what is possibly the final box of twinkies in the world right in front of Tallahassee, but immediately after that, Wichita and Little Rock drive away in their Cadillac! Again! AFTER THEY WERE SAVED BY THEM! But they were just kidding. They even throw him a Twinkie.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Gleefully and repeatedly peppered throughout.
  • The Last Man Heard A Knock: Columbus starts the movie believing himself to possibly be the last person alive. Then he sees Tallahassee's truck plowing through abandoned cars on the highway.
    • And then inverted later when they stumble across the mansion of Bill Fucking Murray, who had been having a pretty comfortable life as one of the last uninfected humans in Bevery Hills.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Sorta.
    Columbus: So, where are you guys headed?
    Little Rock: Pacific Playland.
    Tallahassee: The amusement park?
    Columbus: Wait, outside L.A.?
    Little Rock: Yeah! We went there as kids.
    Tallahassee: That place totally blows!
    [Little Rock and Wichita give Tallahassee angry looks]
    Tallahassee: ... my mind. It's... it's so fun, just good entertainment for the whole family.
  • Last Stand: Near the end, Tallahassee uses himself as a decoy, drawing the attention of pretty much every zombie in Pacific Playland so Columbus can rescue the girls. Tallahassee eventually gets surrounded by a horde of zombies in a small booth. He shuts the screens on the windows, pulls out two pistols, and opens fire. The last shot of this is the booth surrounded by dead zombies with an unharmed Tallahassee twirling his guns.
  • 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.
  • Little Miss Badass: Little Rock.
  • Little Miss Con Artist: Little Rock again.
  • Little Miss Sunshine: Sorry.
  • 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.
  • Moment Killer: Columbus and Wichita had an Almost Kiss and then Tallahasee comes in to ask for help moving the couch so he can build a fort. Afterward, Wichita decides it would have been a mistake to get attached and leaves.
    "You are like a giant cockblocking robot built in a secret fucking government lab!"
  • Monster Clown: Columbus is terrified of clowns more than he is of zombies. Cue a zombie-clown standing in his way in the finale.
  • Mood Whiplash: About 2/3 in. After the genuinely tragic reveal that Tallahassee lost his toddler son to the zombies, he sniffles and says "I haven't cried that hard since Titanic."
    • Not to mention he starts wiping his tears with money.
  • More Dakka: "Thank God for Rednecks!"
  • Never Be a Hero: One of Columbus' biggest rules — don't risk your own life just to make yourself look good. He eventually breaks this rule in the end.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Sister Cynthia Knickerbocker, recipient of the Zombie Kill of the Week award. With a piano.
  • Nice Hat: Tallahassee's Stetson.
  • No Name Given:
    • At Tallahassee's insistence. They give no real names so they can't form attachments to each other. To no one's surprise, it doesn't work.
    • The girl who used to live in Columbus' building before she became a zombie who Columbus refers to as '406' for her apartment number.
    • Nobody in the movie goes by their real name except for Bill Murray and Sister Cynthia Knickerbocker, which we can assume is her name because no-one would choose to go by that.
  • Not Using the Z Word: Gloriously averted. It's, well, in the title. Keeping track of the many times the characters say "Zombie" is part of the drinking game.
  • Odd Couple: Columbus and Tallahassee.
  • 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.
  • Painting the Medium:
    • The "Rules" captions and the opening credits are sent flying by debris and people fleeing the zombies.
  • Played for Laughs:
    • Normally, zombie films focus on the horror of the situation. The horror gets momentary glimpses, but mostly this movie goes for the funny in a big way.
    • Bill Murray's dying moments were so ridiculous that Wichita couldn't help but laugh.
    Wichita: [laughs] I'm sorry, he just gets me. [beat] But it still is sad.
  • 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.
  • Product Placement:
    • GM with Cadillac, Hummer, and Chevy. BMW and Chrysler also sneak in.
    • FedEx. More like, "Sex Ed".
    • Mountain Dew Code Red, the nerd's drink of choice.
    • Hostess Sno-Balls and Twinkies (and by extension, Mexican Submarinos). ALL HE WANTS ARE SOME GODDAMNED TWINKIES!!! Which he eventually gets.
    • Columbus played World of Warcraft in his dorm room.
    • 2012, the film that Woody Harrelson had a memorable role in.
    • Columbus offers some Purell hand sanitizer after the group dispose of the dead Bill Murray. Notable in that an earlier movie of Abigail Breslin's featured heavy-handed Product Placement for Purell among other things.
  • Promotional Pictures And Cast Lists Always Spoil: One of the main promotional pictures and trailer shots for a while was the zombie clown, ruining that, and a look at the extremely small cast list ruins the big cameo.
  • 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
  • Road Movie: A post zombie-holocaust Road Movie, no less.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Tallahassee goes after zombies like this because they killed his son. He leads one during the end to distract enough zombies away from Columbus's rescue and survives!
  • Romance-Inducing Smudge: A variation is presented when Columbus discusses how his life's dream is to brush a girl's hair behind her ears.
  • Rule of Cool: Half the movie runs on this.
  • Rule of Funny: Takes care of the other half.
  • Rule of Three: All three of the cars the group uses have a 3 painted on the side.
    • Considering that was Dale Earnhardt's number, Tallahassee may well be a NASCAR fan. Showing up in a truck worthy of the name Intimidator helps.
    • We see a Dale Earnhardt poster on the wall during the flashback portion in which Tallahassee is feeding his son.
  • Searching the Stalls: Our hero has to relieve himself, and to be on the safe side, he searches each stall in the bathroom before doing so.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Columbus and Tallahassee respectively.
  • Shoot the Dog: Wichita asks Tallahassee and Columbus to perform a Mercy Kill on her infected sister, Little Rock, then stops them and insists that she be the one to do the deed. She then promptly turns the gun on the two men so that she and her NOT-infected sister can steal their weapons and vehicle.
  • 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.
  • Shut In: Columbus before the Zombie Apocalypse. He describes his parents as "paranoid shut-ins" as well.
  • Skewed Priorities: Columbus, who fears clowns above zombies. Yes, even the normal, non-Monster Clown variety.
  • Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Zombieland plays jump rope with this scale throughout the entire movie.
  • 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.
    Tallahassee: You're thinking about fucking Wichita, aren't you? Well, wish granted, she's been fucking us for the past 24 hours.
  • Survivalist Stash: "Thank God for rednecks!"
  • Take That:
  • Technically Living Zombie: The zombies aren't dead, so the characters aim for center mass most of the time instead of headshots. For instance, 406 gets bashed with a toilet lid.
  • Theme Naming: Tallahassee, Columbus, Little Rock, Wichita, 406. Is this a cast or a freakin' road map?
  • Title Drop: Early and often.
  • 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.
    • Turning on all the lights and music at the amusement park probably counts too.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Columbus, starting before the film as a shut-in spending all his free time on World of Warcraft, a competent survivor by the time we meet him and ending a big damn hero.
    • Also applies to Tallahassee - A deleted scene reveals that he used to be a sign spinner. A lousy one at that.
  • Too Soon: Tallahassee's In-Universe response to Columbus trying to apologize for unknowingly blasting a box full of twinkies behind a closed door.
  • Toyota Tripwire: One of Tallahassee's trademarks.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Tallahassee makes it his personal quest to find a good Twinkie in Zombieland. He eventually finds one.
    • Also inverted, as Sno-Balls keep being brought up, which Tallahassee hates. It's not the taste you understand, it's the texture.
  • Trailers Always Lie: While the trailers make it look like Tallahassee is the big damn hero lead, the honor actually goes to Columbus, the paranoid Action Survivor cum Heroic Bystander.
  • 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.
  • The Virus: Mentioned explicitly early on as the cause of the Zombie Apocalypse. Humorously, as with Solanum being a potato virus, the virus came from a "contaminated" burger at a Gas n' Gulp.
    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.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Colombus wakes up to an infected 406 spewing blood all over him.
  • Weapon of Choice: The gun salute during Bill Murray's "funeral" provides a great view of them. All are lethal at short-to-medium range.
    • Wichita's pump-action 12-gauge shotgun.
    • Tallahassee's lever action rifle.
    • Columbus' double-barrel 12 gauge shotgun.
    • Little Rock's pump-action rifle (small caliber, accounting for her small size).
  • Would Hurt a Child: Tallahassee threatens Little Rock for her lack of pop culture knowledge:
    Little Rock: Who's Bill Murray?
    Tallahassee: I've never hit a kid before... I mean, that's like asking who Gandhi is.
    Little Rock: Who's Gandhi?
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Columbus gets to face two of his worst nightmares wrapped up into one the zombie clown blocking access to Wichita and Little Rock in the climax.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Little Rock.
    "Twelve is the new twenty."
  • Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb: Averted all to hell with one exception: the 12-year-old Little Rock is at least as competent as the rest of the cast, but she hasn't heard of Willie Nelson, Bill Murray, or Gandhi.
  • Zombie Infectee:
    • 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.
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alternative title(s): Zombie Land
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