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Franchise: Scream

"Someone has taken their love of scary movies one step too far."
— Tagline

In 1996, director Wes Craven (of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) fame) and writer Kevin Williamson (who would go on to make Dawson's Creek and The Vampire Diaries) decided to make a film to end the slasher genre once and for all: Scream.

A peaceful town in California turns into a bloodbath when a masked killer begins to wreak havoc all over town. Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), a young teenage girl whose mother was killed a year before, becomes a target of the masked killer; her boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and her father soon become the main suspects. Local tabloid news reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and Woodsboro police deputy Dwight "Dewey" Riley (David Arquette) investigate and try to figure out the killer's identity - and if they killed Sid's mom the year before.

Scream became a big success - and, in the process, gave new life to the genre it intended to kill in the first place.

Scream and its sequels set themselves apart from other slashers. Instead of coming off just as straight-up horror films, they also served as dark, "meta" parodies of the slasher genre. The killers all deliberately invoked slasher movie cliches while their targets tried to survive by attempting to guess which horror movie tropes the killers would invoke next — a move that just as often got them killed as it did save them. To a generation that had grown up viewing slasher films as trite and cliched following the genre's burnout at the end of The Eighties, Scream served as a breath of fresh air.

However, many (though certainly not all) of the horror films that copied its formula in the ensuing years didn't understand this. A good number of filmmakers instead felt that the Scream franchise's success came as a result of its casting (which featured stars from hit TV series like Party of Five, Friends and Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and its "hip" dialogue. As a result, the original film has suffered from Hype Backlash since its release, since its own various tricks and tropes became more commonplace in the horror genre.

In addition to all the copycats, Scream spawned three sequels of its own. While fans don't remember them as fondly as the original, they all have their fans:
  • Scream 2, released in 1997, saw the surviving characters move on to college while dealing with their 15 Minutes of Fame thanks to both extensive media coverage of the killings and Stab, the Ripped from the Headlines slasher flick made about the event. Just as the original satirized slashers, the second film satirized the genre's obsession with sequels (and all their related tropes).
  • Scream 3, released in 2000, concluded the original trilogy and moved the action to Hollywood, where a work on a third Stab film has begun. This film — the only film in the series not written by Kevin Williamson — targeted trilogies (and their associated tropes) as well as the inner workings of the film industry.
  • Scream 4 (or Scre4m), released in 2011, brought the action back to Woodsboro as the surviving characters of the original trilogy dealt with the legacy of the events of those films. Scream 4 parodied the various trends in horror that cropped up in the decade between Scream 3 and Scream 4 — including, most specifically, the surge of remakes and reboots of classic horror franchises. While critics and fans gave it a decent reception, its disappointing box office returnsnote  may have short-circuited the film's attempt to restart the franchise with a new trilogy.
  • MTV currently has a TV show spin-off of the franchise in development.

Tropers like us owe a substantial amount of our hobby to the film. Scream wholeheartedly lampshaded and deconstructed a large number of tropes — which made it one of the first major, mainstream films to do so since Airplane! — while it remained grounded in reality and exploring a whole new genre. The original film predates Buffy the Vampire Slayer by only a few months when it comes to having a story about sarcastic, Genre Savvy teenagers in a post-modern horror setting.

This series has a Character Sheet and a sypnopsis sheet.


The Scream franchise provides examples of the following tropes:

    open/close all folders 

    Series In General 
  • Action Girl: Sidney, being a Final Girl, has her moments.
  • Adorkable: Randy and Dewey.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Roman's final moment with Sidney is almost touching, but ends up ruined by the tacked-on Not Quite Dead moment.
    • The final moments of Scream 4 have been seen as an attempt to cast Jill off in a tragic light, with a final shot of her face as the press are waiting to talk to her like she wanted.
  • Anyone Can Die: Any character featured in the first ten minutes, regardless of the actor in the role, can (and will) die. With other characters, however, this trope is averted — Sidney, Gale and Dewey have survived all four movies.
  • Asshole Victim: Steven Stone and John Milton in Scream 3, Charlie Walker in Scream 4
  • Better than a Bare Bulb: These movies love to lampshade horror tropes.
  • Big Bad: Ghostface is the identity donned by every one of the series' antagonists; no matter who it is behind the mask, they always exhibit the same basic personality and physical attributes: taunts victims through phone calls, grunts and groans when injured, remains primarily mute while face-to-face with a victim, prolongs a kill when an advantage is gained, stabs victims with a hunting knife, switches from being quick and efficient to clumsy and accident-prone, outright ignores blunt trauma, stabbing wounds and gunshots, strong enough to physically overpower victims in a fight, prowls without being detected, and often vanishes from the targets' defense before taking them by surprise almost immediately thereafter.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: All but the third movie have two people alternating as Ghostface, though usually one of them has a more personal motive for the killings, while the other killer just goes along with it. Billy, Mrs. Loomis, and Jill all had their own reasons, while Stu, Mickey, and Charlie were somehow talked into being their respective accomplices.
  • Bittersweet Ending: All the films seem to end on this note, Ghostface's dead and the heroes have lived to go on fighting and living another day, but most of the characters you have cared about are now dead and aren't coming back... unless they're still alive but barely.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Discussed in the second film, but it actually used less fake blood and guts than the original. The fourth movie, however, is much bloodier than Scream 3, and possibly the rest of the series.
  • Boom, Headshot: Billy and Roman. Sidney also shoots Mrs. Loomis in the head, but she was probably already dead.
  • Bound and Gagged: At least one character in every film: Steve Orth and Neil Prescott in the first, Derek in the second, Dewey, Gale and Milton in the third, and Charlie and Trevor in the fourth.
  • Brick Joke: One that occurs between movies. In the first, when Sidney is asked who she'd like to play her in the inevitable movie about the events, she says that she'd prefer Meg Ryan, but knowing her luck, she'd get Tori Spelling. Guess who plays her in Stab?
  • Butt Monkey:
    • Dewey, who depending on your point of view is either the unluckiest or the luckiest character in the series: he gets attacked and very badly sliced up in every film but also manages to survive them all.
    • Sidney as well, when you consider that she's basically destined to spend the rest of her life being periodically attacked and having all her friends killed by nutjobs attempting to imitate the previous killers... some of whom she's related to in some way or another.
  • Catch Phrase: "Hello Sidney..."
  • Conversational Troping
  • Creator Cameo: Director Wes Craven has brief cameos in all the films. In the first, he's the school janitor Fred; in the second, he plays a doctor in the hospital; in the third, he's one of the tourists on the movie lot.
    • Also had a cameo in the fourth, but it ended up on the cutting room floor.
    • Additionally, writer Kevin Williamson appeared as a man interviewing Cotton Weary in the second film.
  • Cycle of Revenge: The whole series to a degree. Roman wanted revenge on his biological mother, Rene Reynolds (Maureen Prescott), for abandoning him. He led Billy (who also had a grudge against her for causing his mother to abandon him) and Stu to rape and murder Maureen, frame Cotton Weary, and set up the events of the first movie. After Billy and Stu's plan ends with both of them dead, Billy's mother orchestrates the murder plot of the second movie as a means of avenging her son's death by killing Sidney. This fails as well. By the third movie, Roman's original plan to destroy not only his birth mother but the family she replaced him with as well (Sidney) has backfired spectacularly due to the fact that Sidney's constantly surviving the murder sprees has made her infamous, almost legendary, world-wide. Angered, he tries to finish what he started himself by killing Sidney, her friends and the main cast and crew behind the latest Stab movie, the cult horror franchise he inadvertently spawned. By the end of the third movie, Sidney and her friends have killed him too. For eleven years it looks like it is all over and the characters can move on with their lives... Until the fourth film comes around, in which we find out Jill Roberts, Sidney's own cousin, has plotted an EVEN MORE nefarious plot to not only get revenge on Sidney, but to claim her celebrity status as a Final Girl. And even though Jill dies and Sidney, Dewey and Gale still survive, it is made clear that this probably will never end. Yeesh.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Sidney laughs at the Distressed Damsel trope!
  • Darker and Edgier: While being a horror series, and thus prone to being dark, Scream 4 is notable in being one of the most brutal. The deaths are more graphic and horrifying, especially Olivia's. Some of the characters aren't even killed instantly, but are left horribly wounded then either killed (Rebecca), or left to die slowly (Perkins, Robbie, Charlie, and potentially Kirby). Then there's the fight scene between Jill and Sidney at the hospital, which is just painful to watch.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of the characters often say witty snarky comments, but Ghostface seems to be the biggest one when he taunts the victims. Gale and Randy are no slouch at this, either.
  • Dead Star Walking: A tradition for the films is to have a big-name actor in the opening scene, only to kill them off within fifteen minutes. The first film had Drew Barrymore in this role, the second had Omar Epps and Jada Pinkett (and later killed off the Slayer herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar), the third had Liev Schreiber, and the fourth one has <breathes in> Lucy Hale, Shenae Grimes, Kristen Bell, Anna Paquin, Aimee Teegarden and Brittany Robertson.
  • Deconstructive Parody: What it aims to be, but isn't.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Gale over the course of the series.
  • Determinator: Ghostface is really driven when it comes to killing his intended victims.
  • Dysfunctional Family : The Prescotts and the Loomises.
  • Evil Phone: The killers are quite fond of messing with their victims over the phone.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: As the series went on, Ghostface's voice went deeper in tone, possibly as a result of the voice actor (Roger L. Jackson) getting older.
  • Film Within A Film: The Stab series of slasher films, which act as this universe's analogues to the Scream series. The first Stab, featured in the second movie, is based on the events of the first film (albeit with some artistic embellishment), is directed by Robert Rodriguez, and stars Tori Spelling as Sidney, Luke Wilson as Billy, David Schwimmer as Dewey, and Heather Graham as Casey. The third film, meanwhile, revolves around the production of Stab 3, which the masked killer is trying to sabotage. By the events of Scream 4, there have been seven Stab films, with the series having abandoned all pretense of being Based on a True Story after the third (Sidney sued to prevent any further use of the original characters) and gone into straight-out fantasy by the fifth (which included a Time Travel plot).
  • Final Girl: Sidney and Gale are subversions; while they survive all three movies, neither of them (especially Gale) represents the ideals of purity that this trope upholds.
    • Sidney evolves into a deconstruction of this trope as the series progresses, what with her life coming to be defined by the trauma suffered by her and those close to her thanks to her "perpetual victimhood."
    • Jill in the fourth film is arguably among the greatest subversions ever. She masterminded the killings and planned to frame someone else for it so that she could play this trope and get her 15 Minutes of Fame, much like her cousin Sidney did.
  • Floating Head Syndrome: The first film helped to popularize the use of this trope with horror movies, and all of the sequels indulged in it as well. This trope is so attached to the series that, when the fourth film finally released a "floating head" poster (even if it's only the Mexican poster), the fans were ecstatic that it was following series tradition.
  • Follow the Leader: The Faculty, which essentially did for sci-fi horror what Scream did for the slasher genre.
    • Which makes some sense, as it was written by the same screenwriter.
  • For the Evulz: Many of any Ghostface killer's reasons.
    • Probably Stu the most though. He really had no reason to help Billy but did just because he wanted to.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Arguably, Ghostface. Roman Bridger being the biggest one since he masterminded Billy and Stu into killing his own mom then in turn the Woodsboro murders and followed through his own killings by killing his cast and trying to kill Sidney, his half-sister, as well while appearing as their dead mom.
  • Freudian Excuse: Almost every Ghostface claims to have one. By the third film, Sidney has had enough of it and yells at the killer that they all have no excuse, they're all just that — excuses to kill people Forthe Evulz.
    • The exception to this being Jill, who openly admits that she's evil, citing that "sick is the new sane".
  • Genre Blind: Ironically enough, the killers. Each time there have been two killers, one has turned on the other. And yet they never see it coming.
  • Genre Savvy: Randy, a horror movie fan who lists three rules for surviving a horror movie — don't have sex, don't drink or use drugs, and never say "I'll be right back." Naturally, the characters break all three in record time. Randy expands his rules to sequels and trilogies Warning  in the later films.
    • He is replaced in the fourth film with Robbie and Charlie, two horror geeks who deliver a rules for remakes.
    • All of the characters become this as the series progresses. Sidney becomes Dangerously Genre Savvy by the end.
  • Ghostly Gape: The "Ghostface" mask.
  • Gorn: Even for a horror series where the killers only use knives to kill, some of the deaths are quite icky. A particularly grisly example is the second victim in the series — while she is eviscerated offscreen, it soon cuts back to her intestines falling out. Even Roger Ebert admitted being a little grossed out by the first two, almost to the point of docking the films for it.
  • Gutted Like a Fish: Trope Namer, and happens quite a bit in the series.
  • Harassing Phone Call: The killers love doing this to people they intend to kill.
  • Hot Scoop: Gale.
  • If It Bleeds, It Leads: Personified with Gale, although she gets better in the sequels.
  • Large Ham: Every actor who's been in the killer's shoes is clearly having a good time.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Best to watch the films in order, because the sequels tend to be quite open about the identity of the killers from previous entries.
  • Legacy Character: Ghostface.
  • Made of Iron: Notably averted. Ghostface is clumsy, falls down, and gets smacked around quite a bit, due to the fact it's normal folk under the masks, and not the genre's usual undead/supernatural/etc. figures.
    • Though it should be noted that it still takes a lot to kill them.
  • Meta Guy: Randy in the original trilogy, and Robbie and Charlie in the fourth film. See Genre Savvy.
  • Murder Simulators: Referenced several times with regards to violent horror movies. Considering that the director is a man who made his name with such films, this can easily be interpreted as a Take That against fear-mongering Moral Guardians.
  • Not Quite Dead: In each damn one. The characters end up fully expecting it.
    • In Scream, Randy lampshades this with Billy, who promptly reveals himself to be not quite dead. Sidney very calmly shoots him in the head.
    • Subverted in Scream 2, Gale and Sidney expect Mrs. Loomis to be this, and then Mickey jumps up behind them screaming. They shoot and kill him, and then Sidney shoots the (probably already dead) Mrs. Loomis in the head, just to be sure.
    • Scream 3 has Roman play this straight, until Dewey shoots him in the head.
    • Scre4m shows Jill survive a defibrillator on full power to the head, and attempt to stab the characters in the back with glass. Sidney, fully expecting it, turns around and shoots her in the heart killing her.
  • Plucky Girl: Sidney.
  • Post Modernism: Numerous elements in the films as discussed in the main text. The film also started a massive wave of self-referential, teen-focused horror films that ran through the late '90s.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The plot was loosely inspired by the Gainseville Ripper, Danny Rolling, who murdered five students in Florida in the early 90's.
  • Self-Referential Humor: The series' bread and butter.
  • Serial Killer: Needless to say.
  • Slasher Movie: Despite the director's initial intentions, the films are well-accepted members of the genre.
  • Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror: The first two films were roughly equal mixes of horror and comedy. The third film, which had a different writer, was more of a straight horror film, with more of the humor coming from the characters rather than from jabs at the genre. Finally, the fourth film, which brought back original writer Kevin Williamson, is arguably the most comedic of the franchise, with even a few of the deaths (such as Deputy Perkins) being played for laughs.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • The phrase "I'll be right back" is treated like this. Stu makes a point to say it multiple times, apparently jokingly. Considering he's one of the killers, though, he knows things the rest of the cast don't...
    • Sidney, why did you even mention the idea of Tori Spelling playing you in the movie?
  • Too Dumb to Live: Multiple examples throughout the entire franchise.
    • In the first film, Tatum Riley tries to escape Ghostface when she panics and tries to get through a large dog-door. Not only can she not get through, she gets stuck so she can't get back in. Ghostface recovers and switches on the automatic door, which snaps her neck rather messily. When one considers there were several instances where she could have a) defended herself with any of the numerous objects lying around the garage and/or b) curb-stomped Ghostface to within an inch of his/her life after managing to knock Ghostface down not once, but twice, it becomes this trope.
    • Officers Ross and Hoskins are another classic example... see Too Dumb to Live under Scre4m.
    • In the first movie, Ghostface told Casey to choose a door to escape the house through. Instead of taking the risk of Ghostface being behind the door she chose she could have taken a third option and gone out a window.
  • Troperiffic: Lampshadedly the whole point of the series, especially the first film.
  • Voice Changeling: Ghostface's voice changer, which can even replicate other people's voices in the third film. On the other hand, Technology Marches On...
  • White Mask of Doom: Ghostface.

    Scream 
  • Ax-Crazy: Billy and Stu.
  • Blown Across the Room: Randy gets thrown backwards several feet by a gunshot.
  • Cat Scare: When Tatum hears a noise in the empty garage, she turns just in time to see a startled cat scramble out the pet door.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The 30 second delay on the tape gets Kenny the cameraman killed.
  • Combat Pragmatist: After stabbing Billy with an umbrella, Sidney sticks her finger through the wound to gain the upper hand.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Billy and Stu, until they decided to stab each other before trying to kill Sidney and her dad.
    • Tatum during her death scene; she continually mocks the killer and the idea of the helpless female victim scenario, until he actually pulls a knife on her:
    "No, please don't kill me Mr. Ghostface! I wanna be in the sequel!"
    • Sidney also qualifies when she first talks to the killer:
    "[referring to horror movies] They're all the same; some killer stalking some big breasted girl who can't act, who's always runs up the stairs when she should be going out the front door - it's insulting."
    • This of course leads to an Ironic Echo, where she is forced to run upstairs instead of outside when the killer attacks moments later.
  • Death by Sex: Lampshaded.
    Randy: Rule #1 [for surviving a horror movie]. You can never have sex. (boos from the crowd) Big no-no! Sex equals death, okay?
    • Subverted, however, by Sidney, who has sex (with the killer!) and still survives.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: When Stu, one of the killers, is informed that the cops are on their way, rather than reacting negatively to that, or the fact that he's coughing up quite a lot of blood, he starts crying and says, "My mom and dad are gonna be so mad at me!" You almost feel sorry for him. Almost.
    • Being Billy's motivation for the murders.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect: Randy makes a scene yelling out this exact phrase word-for-word in the video store.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Stu, who seemingly goes crazy following The Reveal.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Gale Weathers states that she thinks that Cotton Weary was framed for murdering Sidney's mother. Turns out she's right; Billy did it.
    • Randy thinks that Billy is the biggest contender for murderer in a video store.
    • Stu celebrates the closure of his school after the principal is murdered.
    • After the rules speech, Stu's mocking "I'll be right back!" and Randy's response "I'll see you in the kitchen, with a knife!" foreshadow that Stu is able to break Randy's rules for survival because he's a killer, and guess what he's holding in what room a short time later?
  • Ha Ha Ha No
  • Improvised Weapon: Sidney drops a TV on the killer in the first film. It can be taken as Death by Irony, since the TV is showing Halloween (1978) and the killer, who was an obsessive fan of horror movies who wanted to live one out, is now all the way into one.
  • Indecisive Deconstruction: The first film was marketed as a Deconstructive Parody of the Slasher genre, but for all it did to point out as many traits as it could, it just ended up being a straight entry of the genre with genre savvy characters that still fall into all the same traps.
  • Insistent Terminology: By the killer, both of them.
    Sidney: You're crazy, both of you.
    Stu: Actually, we prefer the term "psychotic".
  • Irony: When called by the killer, Sidney, who dislikes horror movies, badmouths them, saying they all just involve some eye candy girl who always runs upstairs instead of out the front door. When Ghostface attacks moments later, Sidney tries to run out the door, can't, and seeing no other option, runs upstairs.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Subverted with Randy, who attributes his survival to being a virgin.
  • Murder Simulators: The killer states that violent movies "don't create psychos, they only make psychos more creative."
  • Not Quite Dead: Lampshaded.
    "Careful, this is the moment when the supposedly dead killer comes back for one last scare."
  • Not with the Safety on, You Won't: Played straight, then later subverted.
  • Oh Crap: Randy's reaction after realizing that Sydney just handed the gun to one of the killers.
  • Red Herring: Played with beautifully, in that the red herrings aren't red herrings at all. The movie practically screams "This is the killer" whenever Billy's onscreen (a phone falling out of his pocket after a call from the killer, an unstable attitude, his tendency to show up only after someone is killed), and does it so much that everyone assumes this is the film trying to distract you from the real killer. The trickery is upped further when the apparent Red Herring is killed and everyone who's been paying attention will think "So obviously that means it was Sidney's father the whole time!" It then takes the usual horror denoument "The guy who was too obviously the killer was killed off, and the real killer turned out to be the person the Final Girl thought she could trust the most (her father)" in a very inventive direction by doubling back on itself: The Red Herring was the killer, his death was faked and there were actually TWO killers and the guy you thought you could trust was trustworthy after all!
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Casey.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Tatum.
  • Saw Star Wars 27 Times: Played for Drama - Casey angrily declares that she's seen Friday the 13th (1980) "20 goddamn times" when the killer says that she gave the wrong answer to the trivia question about it (with the stakes being her boyfriend's life). Unfortunately for Casey, the killer was not talking about the series as a whole, but the original movie, whose killer was not Jason Voorhees but his mother. The boyfriend gets Gutted Like a Fish soon after.
  • Self-Deprecation: Casey saying that all the sequels to A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) sucked. This could also be seen as a Take That, since Craven only directed the original and Wes Craven's New Nightmare (and only co-wrote Dream Warriors). He only decided to keep it in once its self-deprecating nature was pointed out; he apparently thought it was a bit mean-spirited at first.
  • Sequel Snark: "No, please don't kill me, Mr. Ghost face! I wanna be in the sequel!"
  • Shout-Out: A brief appearance by a janitor named Fred, who dresses like Freddy Krueger and is played by Wes Craven.
    • Not to mention a character named Billy Loomis
  • Slasher Smile: The killer Billy Loomis pulls off an epic one near the end. While his partner yammers on about "watching a few movies, take a few notes", he merely stands there and silently starts smiling, till it's a full on grin, heading into Technically a Smile territory. Interestingly, while all the other Ghostfaces pull off some form of Psychotic Smirk during the movie, Billy Loomis is pretty much the only one to really look like he's going to become Laughing Mad from revealing his plans. It sends a shiver down your spine.
  • Take That: "And no thanks whatsoever to the Santa Rosa City School District Governing Board." To elaborate: when this movie was in production, scenes were to be filmed at Santa Rosa High School in northern California. The school board, however, objected to the gory nature of the movie, and after a lot of small town political theatre, shooting for the school scenes was moved to a community center in the nearby town of Sonoma. In response, Wes Craven threw that phrase into the credits, right after the "special thanks" portion. The town of Santa Rosa, once a popular filming location, was essentially blacklisted from Hollywood as a result of the experience.
    • To be fair to the people of Santa Rosa, there was also a strong element of Too Soon involved, with the community still recovering from the Polly Klaas murder in the nearby town of Petaluma. The killer's trial was even set to take place around the time that Scream began production. Wes Craven later admitted in the Biography Channel's Inside Story program that he understands now why the timing was just too uncomfortable to be acceptable.
  • Title Drop: Subverted. The original title of the movie was Scary Movie, and there are several lines that are clearly, knowing the context, meant to be Title Drops, but thanks to the changed name, they no longer are:
    Casey: Oh, just some scary movie.
    Ghostface: What's your favorite scary movie?
    Gale: Several more local teens are dead, bringing to an end the harrowing mystery of the masked killings that has terrified this peaceful community like the plot of some scary movie.
  • Too Soon: In-universe, the principal expels two students for insensitivity because they were roaming the halls dressed as Ghostface after the real Ghostface killed two students the night before, and then, not thinking it to be punishment enough, threatens to kill both for their actions AND hits BOTH with a Precision S Strike.
    • For a real-life example, see above.
  • Two Dun It: Billy and Stu, as it happens. This is also true in later films but is less of a twist after this first film set the pattern.
  • Viewer Stock Phrases: "Look behind you!" is played with in the sequence where Randy watches Halloween (1978) and says this to Jamie Lee Curtis in the movie — but also, unknowingly, to himself, as the killer is approaching him from behind. Meanwhile, a couple of people in a van outside, watching the exchange on a video camera, are saying the same thing to him. However, because the video they're watching is on a time delay, and whatever is going to happen is already over, they are powerless to help him — just as Randy cannot change what happens in Halloween, and the Scream audience can't change what happens in the movie they're watching. Whew!
    • Played with even more when Randy says, "Look behind you, Jamie!" He's talking to Jamie Lee Curtis, but guess what the actor playing Randy is named?
  • Wham Line: In the intro, the phone call starts off like a friendly chat between two strangers, until...
    Casey: Why do you want to know my name?
    • "We all go a little mad sometimes," as said by Billy Loomis before he shoots Randy Meeks (though non fatally).
      • "Your slut mother was fucking my father. She's the reason my mom moved out and abandoned me. How's that for a motive?" as said by Billy, while explaining to Sidney about this. Even Stu was shocked by this.

    Scream 2 
  • Aborted Arc: Gale sets-up the idea that the killings behind the new Ghostface Killer is a copy cat to the original victims but it goes nowhere.
    • This might have been an in-universe example of Creative Differences. Mickey wanted to create a Real Life sequel to the Woodsboro murders but Mrs. Loomis was only doing this to avenge her son's death.
  • All Part of the Show: The death of Jada Pinkett's character is mistaken for this by the crowd in the theater, who thinks it's a publicity stunt.
  • Analogy Backfire: After Mickey compares himself to the killer from the first film, Billy Loomis;
    Sidney: Yeah, well you're forgetting one thing about Billy Loomis?
    Mickey: What's that?
  • Ascended Extra: Cotton.
  • Avenging the Villain: Mrs. Loomis.
  • Ax-Crazy: Mickey and Mrs. Loomis.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Mickey and Mrs. Loomis shared the role of Ghostface in this film.
  • Big Damn Hero: Cotton.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Done, and lampshaded.
  • California University: Though Windsor College sounds like a fictional California college, the college in the film is in Ohio, both established in script and on the film.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Derek's Greek letters.
  • Double Tap: Sidney shoots Mrs Loomis in the head after commenting that they always come back;
    Sidney: Just in case
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Arguably, Randy.
  • Foreshadowing: Two instances; Randy's mention that "Mrs. Voorhees was a terrific serial killer", and Debbie Salt remarking that if the killer is repeating Woodsboro, the killer could be from Woodsboro.
  • Another one: After Debbie Salt introduces herself as the "one in the front row, asking all the questions" at Gale's seminar, Gale snidely remarks that she thought Salt looked familiar. Later on when Salt is revealed to be Billy's mother, Gale says that she's seen photos of Mrs. Loomis, but didn't recognize her.
  • If It Bleeds, It Leads: The killer (at least, one of them) planned on invoking this in order to get himself media publicity and a sensational trial.
  • Kill the Cutie: Randy.
  • Murder Simulators: A discussion in a film class early on has several characters debating whether or not violent slasher flicks turn people violent. Later, the killer plans on blaming his killing spree on said slasher movies (such as the newly-released Stab), invoking this trope in order to create a sensational trial and get the Moral Guardians on his side.
  • Oh Crap: Sidney's expression when Ghostface turns off the voice changer and speaks with Mickey's voice.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Randy.
  • Sequel Escalation: Provides the page quote, too!
    Randy: "There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to create a successful sequel. Number one: the body count is always bigger. Number two: the death scenes are always much more elaborate — more blood, more gore. Carnage candy."
  • Sequel Hook: The film was originally supposed to include a shot of the masked killer in the bell tower as the camera pulls back in the final shot, but this was never done.

    Scream 3 
  • Arc Welding: The killer, Roman, reveals that he was the one who originally convinced Billy and Stu to start killing, making him directly responsible for the events of the first movie and indirectly responsible for the second.
  • Award Bait Song: Does Is This the End by Creed count?
  • Big Bad: Roman was the one that convinced Billy and Stu to become killers in the first film, and was indirectly responsible for Mrs. Loomis wanting to avenge Billy's death, plus Mickey, Jill and Charles fame-seeking motivation for being the next Ghostfaces. Furthermore, Roman was the lone Ghostface killer in the third film, so one could arguably consider him as the Biggest Bad for the series, at least for the original trilogy.
  • The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: Subverted when Ghostface throws his knife at Dewey, and it hits him on the handle side. It still hurts enough for him to fall down the stairs.
  • Cameo:
    • Jay and Silent Bob appear on the movie set of Stab 3. In their own films, they interrupt the filming of a fictional Scream sequel.
    • Roger Corman also has a cameo as a studio executive.
    • In-universe, Cotton Weary shoots a cameo for Stab 3 As Himself.
    • Heather Matarazzo appears as Randy's sister.
    • Carrie Fisher appears ... as a woman who is always mistaken for Carrie Fisher, and is very annoyed by it. She also accuses Carrie Fisher of sleeping with George Lucas to get the role.
  • Chekhov's Handgun: This little dialogue says it all.
    Kincaid: (hands Dewey his pistol) Take this GET THE SON OF A BITCH!! he does get him.
  • Dawson Casting: Happens in-universe. Sarah is 35 years old, but her character in Stab 3, Candy, is only 21.
  • Death by Sex:
    • Lampshaded by Randy, who taped a video prior to his death just in case, and blames what became his eventual death in the last film on the fact that he had sex with a girl in the video store.
    • One of the most egregious instances ever: Angelina gets killed literally seconds after revealing that she slept with the producer to get the role. Damn, do the rules strike fast! Doubles as a Death by Irony, since Angelina played Final Girl Sidney in Stab 3, and yet she herself failed to follow the rules that Final Girls are to obey (but then again, so did Sidney herself in the first film).
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Cotton.
  • Dumb Blonde: Sarah, who mistakenly believes that Psycho's famous shower scene was in Vertigo instead.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Subverted (possibly even inverted). Roman's motivation for killing everyone was because his mother disowned him and ran off to start a new family.
  • Frying Pan of Doom
  • Horrible Hollywood
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: It's Roman's birthday.
  • The Ingenue: Angelina. It's all just an act, though. Underneath this persona, she's actually a foul-tempered bitch who slept with the producer to get the role of Sidney in Stab 3.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Liev Schreiber (as Cotton Weary) has a cameo at the beginning. He is talking on the phone with his agent, complaining that the only gig he could get is a cameo at the beginning of Stab 3.
    • Also, the Stab 3 cast can't predict their characters' fate: the script is being kept under wraps to avoid it being leaked on the Internet. This happened during the production of Scream 2, and may have lead Craven & co. to change that movie's outcome: in a leaked version, Derek and Hallie were the killers.
  • Lighter and Softer: De-emphasized explicit violence in favor of humor, due to being made post-Columbine.
  • Made of Iron: Randy's "trilogy rules" state that, at the ends of trilogies, the killers become supernaturally strong and tough, and can only be killed through decapitation, cryogenic freezing or other extreme means. As it turns out, he's partly right. The killer is able to survive multiple gun shots, because he's wearing a bullet-proof vest.
  • Murder Simulators: One of the producers of Stab 3 notes how violence in cinema has become a touchy subject recently; the unstated-yet-obvious cause of this is the fact that, a year before, the Columbine massacre took place. They also speculate that Cotton's murder may have been by a deranged fan.
    Milton: Detectives, there's no reason to presume that Cotton's death had anything to do with this movie, is there?
    Kincaid's Partner: He was making a movie called Stab. He was stabbed.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: The killer conceals their location by hiding in a rack of Ghostface costumes.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: In the beginning, Sidney is revealed to be living as a recluse, convinced it is the only way to stay safe from psychotic killers from coming after her, and killing those around her. She lives in the middle of nowhere, locks and sets an alarm on her gate before locking and setting the alarm for her house. In the end, she leaves her gate open behind her, and doesn't set the alarm for her house. When the wind blows the door open, she looks at it and walks away.
  • The Other Darrin: In-universe, Stab 3 sees the replacement of Tori Spelling as Sidney with Angelina Tyler.
  • Red Herring: Detective Kincaid is implied a number of times to be the killer, in fact, his innocence leads to a Plot Hole/What Happened to the Mouse? incident. It was never explained how the real killer got Sidney's phone number, and Kincaid used Dewey's phone just before the scene in which Sidney gets the phone call from the killer. And it doesn't explain why he had all those newspaper clippings on Sidney in his desk, but the ending shows him now all chummy with the main three.
  • Secret Keeper: Sidney is living as a recluse, convinced it's the only way to stay safe. The only people who know where she is are her father and Dewey.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: The killer Roman explains that he is Sidney's half-brother, and fires off a bunch of reasons as to why he committed the murders. Sidney then cuts him off, saying she's tired of all the bullshit that the killers she has encountered have told her, and says that all of the reasons she has heard are just pathetic excuses that the killers use to hide the fact that they kill people simply because they enjoy doing it. This leads to a rather large Villainous Breakdown.
  • Stage Names: It's revealed that Sidney's mother Maureen was a failed actress who went by Rina Reynolds. In the same scene, it's also revealed that Jennifer's real name is Judy Jurgenstern.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Cotton.
  • Tempting Fate:
    Sarah: Guys, we are not in any danger.
    Tyson: "We are not in any danger," says Candy, page 15.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: Played with. Disguised as Dewey, the killer has a phone conversation with Jennifer Jolie's bodyguard while he's looking through Dewey's trailer. When he insults "Dewey" over the phone, the killer responds with "That makes me... angry!" (with a definitive emphasis of rage on that last word), while bursting in and stabbing him in the back.
  • Theme Naming: A number of characters (Angelina Tyler, Jennifer Jolie, Tom Prinze) are named after real-life actors. Fitting, since the characters are actors themselves, and in Jennifer's case it's actually a stage name.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: When Dewey catches the the killer by surprise, he retaliates by throwing his knife at Dewey... though it's hilariously averted as the handle side hits him square in the forehead.
  • Tonight Someone Dies: Randy mentions that the rules of the trilogy mean that someone big is going to die before it's over. He's wrong though, Sidney, Gale, and Dewey all live.
  • Video Will: Randy's tape, also counts as The Tape Knew You Would Say That (somehow).
  • Wham Line: From Ghostface, while unleashing its Motive Rant in Scream 3
    Ghostface/Roman: I searched for my mother, an actress named Rina Reynolds... searched for her my whole life. I finally tracked her down, knocked on her door, thinking she would welcome me with open arms... but she had a new life, a new name: Maureen Prescott! You were the only child she claimed. Sid, she shut me out in the cold forever! Her own son. (takes off the mask, revealing who they are) Roman Bridger, director... (uses the voice changer) and brother.
  • Wild Mass Guessing: The cast of Stab 3, since they don't have the full scripts for the movie (to keep the ending from being leaked), indulges in this while on-set. Angelina (the actress who plays Movie!Sidney) speculates that her character might even be the killer this time.

    Scream 4 
  • Anyone Can Die: The marketing has strongly teased the possibility of series regulars getting killed off. They don't, though all of them come close.
  • Ax-Crazy:
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Jill and Charlie are the joint-killers that donned the Ghostface identity here, the latter for his love towards Jill, and the former to make herself a "sole-surviving hero", getting the fame that comes with the title. Jill soon proves that she's the dominant one, disposing of Charlie to fulfill her own plan.
  • Bond One-Liner
    Sidney: You forgot the first rule of remakes, Jill: Don't fuck with the original.
  • Bury Your Gays: Played for laughs. Robbie states that being gay is probably the only way to survive a horror film. Later when Ghostface attacks him, he admits he's gay thinking it will save him. It doesn't.
  • The Can Kicked Him: Variation. Dewey gets clocked in the head with a bedpan.
  • Casting Gag: Erik Knudsen not only was in the second chapter of the Saw saga, though the forth chapter is mocked in the the Stab openings, but also starred in the CBS TV show Jericho the lead of which was none other than Skeet Ulrich, who played Billy Loomis in the first Scream. And even more surprising or by sheer coincidence, his name in Scream 4 is named Robbie Mercer, which sounds a lot like the name of the character (Bobby Mercer) in Four Brothers who was played by Mark Wahlberg and who is the brother of Donnie Wahlberg of New Kids on the Block fame who played Knudsen's father in the second Saw film and is Mark's brother.
  • Cash Cow Franchise: invoked While Stab was entering this with the third installment (the first not based on real life murders), the fact that it got to 7 installments - one of which has time travel - shows it went down the "grab a quick buck" path rather easily.
  • Continuity Nod: The girl in the beginning getting crushed by a garage door.
  • Death by Sex: Apparently, averted. The trailer states that "the rules have changed. Virgins can die now." In the trailernote , this is then promptly used by Kirby for a Take That at the girls sitting next to her:
    "Does that mean I'm not gonna live as long as these two?"
    • The answer seems to be "Yes," but it's never definitely stated she gets it, except by Jill — who has a vested interest in her being dead, and who wasn't on the scene when it happened so it's likely she's only assuming it's such. And since Kirby went down well with fans - being played by Hayden Panettiere didn't hurt - the possibility of her coming back cannot be ruled out. Especially as unlike virtually every other victim throughout the series the last time we see Kirby she's still alive...
    • If Kirby actually died, it's a weird inversion - she died for not having sex (with the eventual murderer of all people, as a Moment Killer ruined their advances on each other).
    • This is played straight by Trevor, who is mentioned to have had sex with Jill (the killer!). This one is especially ironic, given that Trevor and Jill are Billy and Sidney expies, respectively, and Sidney survived having sex with Billy (also the killer) in the original.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Kirby, for Randy from the original.
  • Downer Ending: Yes, in the end, Jill and Charlie's plans are foiled. However, all the new characters, save for Judy (and arguably Kirby), are dead. Sidney, Dewey, and Gale come out injured and broken. The media are convinced that Jill is a hero, and one wonders how Sidney is going to take having to tell the world that her own family member was playing them all like fiddles, and was committing the murders herself.
  • Drinking Game: At the Stabathon.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Jill, especially in the scene where she's self-harming to make herself look like a victim of the killer.
  • Evil Plan: The events of the film were all planned out by Jill, who wanted to kill Sidney, frame Trevor, betray Charlie, and come out the Final Girl of the movie so that she could have the same fame and hero worship that Sidney got for surviving her first three ordeals. The Moral Event Horizon is crossed when she decides that, in order to be more convincing and sympathetic, she had to kill off her own mother, in addition to Sidney. Considering her mother is Mary Mc Donnell, Jill and the movie itself cross a Moral Event Horizon when she succeeds.
  • Fanservice: Putting Lucy Hale, Shenae Grimes, Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell, Aimee Teegarden, Brittany Robertson, Alison Brie, Hayden Panettiere, Emma Roberts, Marley Shelton and a still-sexy Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox in the same movie defines the term, even if many of them are bumped off before (and in Emma's case, during) the finale. (Come to think of it, for some men a movie in which Alison Brie is thrown off a roof, Hayden Panettiere is stabbed in the stomach and Emma Roberts gets blown away - even if the last named is the killer - is Fan Disservice with a side order of Tear Jerker.) The only survivors, other than guess who, are Kristen (who was actually in the movie within the movie), Marley, and possibly Hayden.
  • Fan Disservice: Subverted. Just before Olivia is killed off she undresses and is seen in her underwear. However she puts a baggy sweater on thus eliminating the Disservice element.
  • 15 Minutes of Fame: Jill's motivation for the killings.
  • Foreshadowing: At the afterparty, most of the gang are drinking alcohol. But Charlie is hitting a Red Bull, both to stay sober and to keep energetic while killing.
  • Film Within A Film: Stab 6 within Stab 7 within Scream 4, with a reappearance of Stab 1 halfway through the film.
  • Groin Attack: Jill to Trevor. With a gunshot.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: It has got to start feeling that way to poor Sid. The sad part is with Jill and Charlie donning the mask for reasons that have almost no connection to the original murders, it's unlikely that it's ever going to stop. There will always be psychopaths who go after Sidney because she's famous for being the ultimate Final Girl. She'll probably be dodging killers and watching people die until her old age. Luckily she has gotten very, very good at it.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Dewey realizes that the supposed Final Girl, Jill is the real killer because she mentions that she and Gale have "matching wounds". The details of the killer's assault on Gale had not been revealed to the public, so Jill would have no way of knowing unless she was the one who attacked Gale.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: A cop is stabbed in the forehead. And still lives long enough for some Black Comedy Famous Last Words.
  • It Runs in the Family: One of the killers, Charlie, is played by Rory Culkin - the brother of Macaulay Culkin, who has played a sociopathic killer not once but twice, in The Good Son and Party Monster.
    • As of this movie, might also be the case in-universe with the Roberts family. Both Sidney’s half-brother Roman and first cousin Jill turn out to be psychopathic murderers.
  • The Lad-ette: Kirby, a brash, snarky, tomboyish horror buff who makes the first move on a timid boy she's into.
  • Made of Iron: Holy crap, Jill. The girl scratches herself, pulls out her hair, stabs herself in the shoulder, runs her face into a glass picture frame, and then throws herself through a glass coffee table. At the hospital she's still able to start up another rampage, nearly killing Sidney and Dewey. A defibrillator to the head only momentarily slows her down. It isn't until she shot directly in the heart that she stops. She's probably the toughest killer yet.
  • Moment Killer: Oh, Trevor, why did you interrupt the geek getting the girl?
  • Near Villain Victory: Jill nearly gets away with her plan, except a) Sidney survives her attack and b) she mentions how she and Gale have matching wounds, despite the fact that she should have no way of knowing that.
  • Not Quite Dead: A rare heroic example — Sidney, who was presumed to have been killed, managed to survive after all. Wild Mass Guessing also claims that Kirby may have survived. There also seems to be hope for Robbie.
    • Alas, Robbie is confirmed on screen to be with his ancestors, complete with body on view. Kirby, on the other hand, may indeed be just hiding.
  • Offhand Backhand: Sydney pulls one by casually turning and shooting an attacking Not Quite Dead Jill with a handgun.
  • Oh Crap: Gale and Dewey upon realizing that Jill is the killer.
  • Outlaw Couple: Charlie thought that he and Jill were this. Unfortunately for him, Jill was looking to play the Final Girl instead. Emphasis on Final.
  • Plot Armor: Discussed in regards to Sidney. She still has it.
  • Police Are Useless: Hoss and Perkins are nowhere to be found while Olivia is being stabbed to death. Really, any cop in this series not named Dewey is pretty much hopeless.
    • They even note that police in horror films tend to be worthless, and die. They're right on both counts.
  • Polish The Turd: Parodied in the cast/crew section on the film's website, where all of the actors' bios are heavily glowing, praising their careers. When you read the one for David Arquette, however, you realize that the whole thing's a joke.
    David Arquette is an actor, writer, director and producer whose unique sensibility makes him one of the most versatile talents working in the entertainment industry today, able to segue from comedy to drama with extraordinary ease. This makes David Arquette extremely uncomfortable, because of the fact that he is writing this bio himself and it seems arrogant to boast about his incredible talents in such a way while also referring to himself in the third person.
  • Red Herring: The movie likes to hint at Trevor. He really was just trying to protect Jill, after all. Too bad she didn't need protection.
    • The movie also briefly hints at Judy. Having a creepy "I remember you even if you don't remember me" conversation in a shadowy hallway ends up meaning nothing.
  • Remember the New Guy: Judy Hicks, the new deputy, was an old classmate of Sidney's back in high school and says that her and Sidney used to act in plays together, despite not seen nor mentioned in the very first film. Sidney lampshades that she does not remember meeting her at all.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Kirby and, to some degree, Robbie and Charlie. Though in Kirby's case, she may be alive since unlike the other two they never confirmed she was dead. (While a lot of fans argue Miss Reed is dead, a lot of fans argue she isn't - and on the DVD/Blu-ray commentary track Hayden Panettiere and Wes Craven confirm that Kirby's fate is indeed left unclear, a rarity for a series that likes to make sure we know who's Killed Off for Real. Craven has subsequently Tweeted that he doesn't think Kirby's gone to the great big cinema in the sky, and see also Executive Meddling above.)
  • Shout-Out: One of the characters is named after Anthony Perkins, who played Norman Bates in Psycho.
    • The film has several ShoutOuts to Alfred Hitchcock: A character named Marnie, and at least two background references to Rear Window, for instance.
    • The film also has several events (seen and/or referenced) that are ShoutOuts to previous films in the series. For example, Jenny's chase scene echoes both Sidney's first encounter with Ghostface in the original, and Tatum's death by garage door.
  • Something Only The Culprit Would Know: Jill and Gale's "matching wounds."
    • With the invention of the internet and dozens of witnesses, nevermind a rather lengthy time between her attack and the events that led to the hospital scene (enough for a news report), was it out of the question that the details of the crime were already reported and she heard about them? Not hard for the news to say "this famous author got stabbed in the shoulder." Hello Fridge Logic. Possibly justified as Dewey from an earlier scene is clearly oblivious to how fast information spreads, and in this case he's right.
    • However, the news report aired, presumably, after Kirby got Jill from the house (since Kirby left before the attack) and it's easy to assume they never saw the news report. Robby and Charlie were too freaked out from the attack, given that they believed their lives would go to shit thanks to the attack happening at an event THEY were throwing. They were right.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Subverted like there's no tomorrow. Characters are thrown at us as being replacements for the characters of the original film, but most of the new characters die, the apparent Sidney replacement turns out to be the killer, and we even get a Billy replacement who is almost successfully framed for all the murders.
    • Hell, the entire new cast is built up as a counterpart to someone from the original:
      • Jill: Sidney
      • Kirby: Tatum
      • Trevor: Billy
      • Robbie: Randy
      • Charlie: Stu
      • Judy: Dewey
      • Rebecca: Gale
  • Those Two Guys: Deputies Anthony Perkins and Ross Hoss fall under this.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Rebecca. After Ghostface appears on the hood of her car that she has locked herself in and reveals he cut the wires, he disappears when she tries to signal a car down. Instead of staying in the car and calling the cops to rescue her, she gets out of the car and runs for the parking garage exit. Take a guess as to how well that turns out.
    • Robbie may count as well, considering that he went walking outside, alone, drunk, when he knew there was a killer on the loose. Though he may have thought he was safe due to the rules started in the film class scene. Not really the case, though.
    • Perkins gets himself killed, along with Hoss, by choosing to joke around.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer makes it look like they're spoiling Gale's death, but she survives yet again.
    • It also makes it appear as if Ghostface is in Jill's closet. Not really the case, AT ALL. It did, however, spoil Robbie's death, Hoss' and Perkins's deaths, Rebecca's death, and Marnie's body crashing through the window.
      • Another trailer shows Ghostface attacking Olivia from her closet. And you can throw in Kate's death having been spoiled as well.
  • Trilogy Creep
  • True Companions: Sidney, Gale, Dewey and Randy. Sidney and Gale are a particularly good example in that despite their long history together they never really become friends — but have saved each other's lives numerous times and know they can count on each other.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Averted by Hicks. "Wear the vest, save your chest.". It's worth noting that this is the only time this trope was featured in the Scream franchise.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Arguably Jill goes through this in the end after her entire plan falls apart and basically turns to Taking You with Me.
  • Where It All Began: Woodsboro.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Jill's self-mutilation in order to make people think she was a victim.
    • And unlike the last time it was tried, it succeeds.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Charlie.

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