"I met him 15 years ago, I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding and even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong. I met this...six year old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and...the blackest eyes; the devil's eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply…evil."
— Dr. Samuel Loomis, Halloween (1978).
In 1978, John Carpenter and producer Debra Hill made Halloween, a low-budget independent horror film. The success of this film popularized the Slasher Movie genre and inspired other similar franchises such as Friday the 13th - and it also turned the film into the first of a major horror film franchise.The series starts off with the original two films:
Halloween (1978) — At the age of 6, Michael Myers stabbed his older sister Judith to death on Halloween; this led to his incarceration at a mental hospital. Fifteen years later, Michael escapes from the hospital on the night before Halloween and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois to stalk teenager Laurie Strode and her friends. Only Sam Loomis, Michael's former psychiatrist, stands any chance of stopping Michael.
Halloween II (1981) — On the same night as the original film, Laurie gets taken to a hospital to recover from Michael Myers' attack, but the serial killer follows her there. The film soon reveals the reason Michael stalks Laurie: he wants to kill his long-lost sister, who doesn't know about the familial relationship between them.
Carpenter followed those films with:
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) — A toymaker uses rocks from Stonehenge to create masks that cause children's heads to explode into writhing piles of snakes and bugs if they watch certain Halloween commercials. This plan also involves robots and lasers. Carpenter originally envisioned the Halloween franchise as a Genre Anthology series, which makes Halloween III' the only film of the franchise that doesn't feature Michael. The film's poor reception killed the anthology idea, though.
From there, the films go off into a couple of different continuities. First, we have the three direct sequels:
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) — Michael Myers awakens from a ten-year coma just before Halloween to return to Haddonfield and kill Laurie Strode's young daughter, Jamie, who lives with a foster family.
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) — After the events of the previous film, Jamie lands in a mental hospital to help her recover. Michael uses his psychic link to Jamie to lure his young niece to him by stalking her friend Tina.
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) — Years after the previous film, a group called The Cult of Thorn try to kidnap an adult Jamie's newborn baby, Steven, as part of a plan involving Michael (who keeps trying to kill his niece).
Halloween: Resurrection (2002) — Michael finally kills Laurie, then returns to Haddonfield to find an Internet reality show has set up shop in his old house. The contestants and crew get more than they bargained for when Michael decides to kill the trespassers.
After Resurrection, the franchise laid dormant until Rob Zombie brought it back and rebooted the story:
Rob Zombie's Halloween (2007) — This film, directed by Rob Zombie, reimagines the original film while adding a more extensive look at Michael's childhood in the first half of the film. (The second half follows the events of the original film, albeit at a quicker pace and with bloodier violence).
Rob Zombie's Halloween II (2009) — On the night of the previous film, the body of Michael Myers — who had been shot point-blank in the face — disappears en route to the morgue. One year later, Laurie Strode continues to struggle with nightmares about Michael, Dr. Loomis attempts to spin his experiences with Michael into fame and fortune, and the still-alive Michael returns to finish what he started...
The Halloween franchise provides examples of the following tropes:
The Adjectival Man: Before any of the characters knew Michael Myers' name, they simply referred to him as "The Boogeyman".
All There in the Script: Michael is never called "The Shape" in the movies, despite the script, credits and certain DVD covers referring to him as this.
Anachronism Stew: It's a slight case, but in the remakes it's utterly baffling to try and figure out just when they take place. The openings with the Michael Myers as a child are definitely somewhere in the early 1980s judging from the clothing and hair styles, but after the Time Skip to "Seventeen Years Later" (which should put the events with Laurie somewhere in the mid to late-nineties), people talk on post 2004 cellphones, make references to Austin Powers, and watch flatscreen TVs like they're in 2007 (when the film was made). To confuse things even more, no one references music beyond 1990, all the cars are pre-2000, and nearly all the things seen on TV are pre-1970. No one at all seems to know when the movie actually takes place.
Word of God says this was deliberate. In a deleted scene from the sequel, Mya says she was born in 1990, though.
Bigger Bad: The man in black, who is really Dr. Terrence Wynn the leader of the cult of Throne, who placed the curse on Michael in the first place. They wish to aid or possibly control Michael.
Billing Displacement: The original film had Donald Pleasence billed ahead of then-unknown Jamie Lee Curtis. By the time of Halloween II three years later, Curtis was enough of a star for them to employ diagonal billing.
Bloodless Carnage: The original only contains two shots with blood, and neither is particularly explicit. This is mostly because the film relies on lighting and suspense for its scares. The sequels avert the trope to an increasing degree, and Rob Zombie's versions also avert it.
Bloodier and Gorier: The Curse of Michael Myers and the remake. The original, oddly enough, is pretty tame when it comes to blood.
Death by Sex: According to director John Carpenter, this was actually unintentional - in the first film, at least.
Determinator: Michael spent fifteen years in a mental hospital, waiting for a chance to escape so that he could kill his sister. When he failed in killing her, he then spent the next ten years massacring everybody related to her. Then, depending on which canon you follow, he spent 10-20 years searching for his sister again.
While the earlier Halloween movies aren't so bad, the later ones revolve around the typically unlikable, rebellious teens with ~teen issues~ that are standard in many slasher flicks. In fact, Michael Myer's killings come off as more of a background issue to the love-triangles and teen angst of the protagonists.
This is especially prevalent in the Rob Zombie remakes where practically every character is a mean, brainless Jerk Ass who's scenes revolve around how awful they are. It seems to be Zombie's way of making the viewer sympathize with Myers, but it makes the scenes with any character who isn't Myers downright painful to watch.
Dramatic Irony: Virtually the entire first film, and much of the later ones, is simply "Hey! There he is in the background! And the characters can't see him! Crap!"
Evil Phone: In the original movie, Michael strangles Lydia to death with a phone cord just as she calls Laurie. Michael then picks up the phone to listen to Laurie's frantic cries, before calmly hanging up.
Evil Uncle: Michael, to both Jamie Lloyd and John Tate.
Laurie Strode and Jamie Lloyd (a role shared with her half-sister Rachel).
Sara Moyer from Resurrection.
Franchise Zombie: John Carpenter, in a 1982 interview, stated that Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis both died at the end of Halloween II and that he intended to make the series into an anthology "like The Twilight Zone but on a larger scale." After the financial flop of Halloween III Carpenter opted out of doing any more films in the series and signed away the rights to producer Moustapha Akkad, who quickly revived the original formula. Michael Myers went on to appear in five more films after his canon death, not counting the remakes.
Genius Bruiser: Micheal has proved that he ain't just a dumb brutish killing robot. He usually observes his victims closely, figures out their weaknesses, take advantage of it, kills their friends and family in order to make them weak mentally, cuts out all escape routes before he goes in for the kill and he knows when and who he can kill and when not.
Gorn: The deaths in Rob Zombie's film come with buckets of blood. Ironically, the first film in the franchise, which arguably invented the modern, Gorn-loving slasher genre, features very little gore.
Implacable Man: Guess who. A particular example is in the seventh film, after getting an axe in the chest, Michael nonchalantly rips the weapon out and keeps going.
In Name Only: Halloween III has an entirely separate story and characters from the other films.
Instant Expert: As lampshaded in the original film, Michael immediately knows how to drive a car despite having spent most of his life in an insane asylum.
"It" Is Dehumanizing: Loomis, as per his not-unjustified belief that Michael is nothing but pure evil, calls him an "it" on several occasions.
Joisey: Averted. Michael Myers' hometown of Haddonfield is in Illinois. The real Haddonfield is actually located in New Jersey.
Karma Houdini: Josh Pinder in the spin-off book The Old Myers Place. He at first appears fairly normal, but his status as a spoiled, assholishRich Bitch soon becomes apparent, and he eventually tries to rape the main character (with it being revealed he tried doing the same to another girl the previous year). You'd think all that would cause Michael to zero in on him like a homing missile, but no, he survives.
Mask of Power: Especially in the first film; Michael doesn't kill anyone except when wearing a mask. In the intro he froze when his dad removed his clown mask, and later when Laurie knocks his mask off he takes the time to put it back on, giving her a better chance of escaping. First thing he does before starting his spree is steal the mask, but not for disguise since he never takes it off and few people would recognise him. In the sequel, he still wears the mask (getting an innocent lookalike killed) and is discovered to have scrolled Samhain (basically, Halloween) on the wall of the mask store he robbed, suggesting he somehow links dressing up with murdering people; he becomes the Boogeyman.
Motive Decay: Inverted: Michael's motives are actually fleshed out in Rob Zombie's reboot. However, it turns out the fans liked it more when Michael was a soulless, mysterious psychopath, probably because the "motive" explained in the remake pretty much boils down to a Freudian Excuse.
Never Found the Body: Michael has a habit of pulling disappearing acts after seemingly being killed.
Not Quite Dead: Done again and again throughout the series, but used to full effect to justify Halloween: Resurrection: it turns out that Laurie had killed a paramedic instead of Michael at the end of H20; Michael had attacked the paramedic, crushed his larynx, and switched places with him before "Michael's" body was carted out to the ambulance.
For the original film's network television premiere in 1981, Carpenter - in between shooting for Halloween II - filmed twelve minutes worth of additional scenes detailing Michael's commitment to (and escape from) the Smith's Grove asylum, as well as another scene with Laurie, Annie, and Lynda, which aired in place of some of the original footage that was deemed too graphic for TV. The film is now occasionally shown with a third cut: the uncut original film with these scenes spliced in, known as the "extended cut". Both the theatrical and extended cuts are available on DVD.
Halloween II also features an alternate TV cut, supervised by director Rick Rosenthal. Unlike the latter example however, the differences between the theatrical and TV cuts are larger and more specific here, and also feature ALTERNATE takes and scenes. This cut did finally end up on DVD as a bonus disc on the collector's edition DVD/Blu-ray, although it didn't lose the television censorship to the language, violence, and nudity.
The Sheriff: Leigh Brackett, in the first two films (and Rob Zombie's remakes); Ben Meeker, in 4 and 5.
Myers finally kills Laurie in Resurrection, along with several Red Shirt characters, and he's still Not Quite Dead at the end.
Jamie takes the cake though. She gets mocked for being related to Michael, becomes mute due to a powerful connection with Michael, has all her friends, her sister, and her dogs killed, gets kidnapped by a cult and is forced to have sex with Michael, and she's finally impaled by farm equipment. Jamie is possibly the most depressing character in all of the horror genre.
She literally gets shot to death in the Producer's Cut of The Curse of Michael Myers.
Shooting Superman: In a non-superhero example, Michael Myers. This trope gets referenced in the commentary of Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers - in a scene where a cop clumsily shoots at Michael, one of the commentators mentions that, as a lifelong resident of Haddonfield, the guy should have realized shooting Michael just pisses him off.
The Shrink: Loomis' official occupation, which he isn't shown doing until the Rob Zombie's films.
Stock Subtitle: Words "Return", "Revenge", "Curse" and "Resurrection" are among the most typical subtitles, and all get used in the franchise.
Thematic Series: As mentioned, the franchise was originally meant to be a series of horror movies centered around Halloween but poor reception of the third movie killed any chances of this idea being carried through.
Things That Go Bump in the Night: The Shape (aka Michael Myers), from the original Halloween, is repeatedly compared to the boogeyman, apparently unkillable, and deeply enigmatic. He also seems to particularly target teenagers who are transgressive against social norms. In a subversion of this particular trope, he doesn't show much if any interest in actual children.
Time Skip: The original film skips from 1963 to 1978, while both of Zombie's films open in Michael's childhood and then the Laurie storyline 17 years later. There is a second time jump in the sequel to two years AFTER the events of Halloween (2007).
Too Dumb to Live: Countless examples, though especially prevelant in Zombie's films when several people insult and even strike Myers. This wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the fact that Myers in those films is A SEVEN FOOT TALL GIANT!!!
Justified in-universe. It's implied in The Remake that Michael took the janitor's words about about living in a world inside your own head to heart - aside from his mask-making and when they occasionally drag him out for probation hearings, he is functionally catatonic most of the time.
Traumatic C-Section: In a flashback sequence in Halloween: The First Death of Laurie Strode, a young Michael Myers is shown daydreaming about cutting baby Laurie out of his mother during a meal.
Villain-Based Franchise: Played semi-straight, in that Dr. Loomis (the hero in the first movie) came back for every sequel until Donald Pleasence's death, with Laurie Strode (the original's final girl) appearing in the remainder of the sequels. Whilst Michael is the only character in every installment (barring the third one), he is always opposed by one of the survivors from the first movie.
In the original series Michael never spoke and only ever uttered generic noises like grunts, which themselves are barely audible in most cases. In the remake series Michael's shown to talk, but only as a child.
... until the director's cut for Halloween II (2009), where screams "DIE!" at Loomis before stabbing him multiple times.
An early version of H20 also had Michael speak. Right before Laurie kills him with a javelin, he would've said her name.
Laurie didn't speak at all in Resurrection until her final confrontation with Michael. According to a nurse at the insane asylum she was being held, she hadn't "said a word in years".
You Kill It, You Bought It: One of the Chaos! comics has Laurie taking Michael's place after killing him in H20. This was ultimately rendered non-canon by Resurrection though.
The ending of Halloween II (2009) on the other hand ends with Laurie becoming as crazy, evil and twisted as Michael, even briefly putting on his mask, after killing him.
You Look Familiar: In 2009's H2, the actor who gets stomped to death behind the strip club later turns up as the green-faced host of the big Halloween party.
Which itself becomes funny when Bill Mosley, the original actor, dropped out from playing the role. The reason why its funny is because he had a victim role in the reshot scenes of the 2007 remake, appearing the theatrical cut of the film.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch includes appearances by Nancy Loomis as Challis' ex-wife and (via voiceover) Jamie Lee Curtis as a telephone operator.