Headscratchers / Fight Club

Rules 1 and 2 of Fight Club are averted for this page, so Unmarked Spoiler Warning.

  • Why do so many people think Tyler was the hero of the movie? I'm not talking Alternate Character Interpretation or just liking the character (he's a well-written character and Brad Pitt's acting was awesome. Hell, I have the guy's face on a T-shirt!) I'm talking about thinking Palahniuk/Jim Uhls/David Fincher intended for him to be the hero of the story. Even for someone who never read Palahniuk's work (stories about deeply broken characters dealing with life in unhealthy ways) it should be clear, by way of conventional tools of storytelling, that Tyler is the villain. He almost destroys the protagonist's (Ed Norton's character) life. He's the cause of conflict. The way for the protagonist to be happy and be able to have love in his life is LITERALLY by making Tyler cease to exist! In the end, Ed Norton kills the villain, gets the girl and either lives happily ever after or saves his love interest via heroic sacrifice. By every standard we're used to, "Jack"'s the hero, Tyler's the villain. The fact that this have escaped so many people's attention is something that will forever baffle me.
    • Because Tyler was right about the fact that The Narrator's soft, complacent lifestyle was preventing him from living life to the fullest. However, The Narrator needed to confront and overcome Tyler's immature reaction to consumerist society (destroy it) in order to recognize the mature reaction to society (create something and build a genuine connection to another person) "Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives." Without the villain, there could be no hero.

  • Why did anyone else even join Fight Club, given that the Narrator/Tyler Durden would just look like some crazy drunk beating the crap out of himself in the parking lot?
    • It's supposed to emphasize that there's something so wrong with our society that people would turn to Fight Club. Rational, "normal" people wouldn't but there's lots of crazy people out there...
    • After the club got started up, people wouldn't necessarily have known about the origins, considering all the legends surrounding it. The people who were there the first couple of weeks would have either left when things got more serious than a guy beating himself up in a parking lot or joined in. Since the Narrator, Tyler, and anyone who would have stayed were that messed up, all it took was one guy saying "hey, fight me?" (or, in this case "can I have a go next?" which is vague enough that it wouldn't have tipped off the Narrator that something was weird).
    • Could be that Tyler talked to someone else at some point.
    • Also, in the scene showing Tyler beating himself and others seeing it, maybe someone just asked what the hell he was doing and Tyler began to explain his philosophies convincing them to try his near-life experiences too.
    • Indeed it could be that initially, other people were beating themselves up for the experience of getting hit. At some point, they transition into hitting each other once they get over the first hurdle of taking a punch/giving a punch.
    • It could be that the first people to join assumed the narrator was only fighting himself because he wanted the experience of fighting, but had no partner. Once they joined, there was nothing odd to explain.
  • In the scene where Tyler is in the car with the two gang members, what is actually happening? The Project Mayhem guys certainly seemed to be addressing a fourth person in the car.
    • I think the Narrator is just arguing with himself and the Project Mayhem guys just know to address both personalities (Both of them were older recruits). Think of how Gollum argues with himself and I imagine that's how it looked to them.
      • Right. Watch the scene again: the perplexed, disconcerted look on their faces indicates that they're probably hearing both sides of the conversation, although it's quite plausible that on other occasions only one side can be heard.
    • Maybe they were just following the rules. "You don't ask questions".
      • Yep. This is the point in the process when everyone is as far down the rabbit hole as they can get; Tyler is acting like a fucking crazy man? Well, he's the boss, I'm sure he has a reason. Is this some sort of test maybe? Well, we'll keep our mouths shut, we know how this works, etc.
    • Probably some of the conversation was in his head.
    • Its possible that the members of Project Mayhem had come to believe that whenever Tyler/narrator acted ignorant or confused that it was just an attempt to catch them out, and they were to strictly keep to the rules of silence. Perhaps at one point when Tyler was in control, he asked a question of one of the Space Monkeys, and beat him up if he received an answer.
      • There was a oneshot on FF which involved this situation. It dealt with it extremely well. (I think it was called A Near Life Experience or something. Not sure, though. You'll find it if you wanna see, there's only about 250 on there.)
      • Link.
      • Remember, when the narrator was following Tyler's "trail" (and coming up short, for obvious reasons) he comes to a bar and talks to the bartender. After the bartender tells him that the narrator was there before (as Tyler) asking about security, the narrator is confused and then demands that the bartender tells him what he thinks his name is. The bartender then repeatedly asks if he's testing him. So, it can be assumed that the Project Mayhem members kept thinking they were being tested.
      • In the book, this was made all simple with the Mechanic driving and telling the Narrator what Tyler had written down for him.
  • I know part of it was dramatic license, but really, how exactly does the protagonist survive shooting himself in the head?
    • Going from the scene in the film and the visual breakdown of the effect of the gunshot, the Narrator stuck the gun into his mouth at an angle. When he pulled the trigger, the bullet impacted against the mandible bone of the jaw and bounced out of the outside of the cheek (if you slow down the shot or watch the VFX breakdown of it, you can see the bullet spinning as it exits out of his cheek). The bullet wasn't directly shot through and through and the brain was not near the path of the bullet. Not to forget, the area where the bullet went through was muscle. However, seeing the Narrator didn't pay attention to how he handled the gun, he just considered that it would be a kill shot because the gun was in his mouth, and as a result, he projected that kill shot onto Tyler.
    • Easy. Bullet didn't pass through the brain, or even through much of the skull- the exit wound was just behind the jawbone. That's why his voice was all screwy. Out of interest, real people have survived far worse head wounds- note, guy with nail in brain.
    • He shot out through the cheek. At worst he burned his tongue, lost some teeth and knocked a chunk out of the mandible. Hurts a lot and is properly gory, but one or two reconstructive surgeries and the only way people would know would be that his jaw would set off metal detectors.
    • Although it's perhaps worth noting that his voice seems to heal and improve remarkably quickly — perhaps he didn't...
    • How does shooting yourself in the Cheek kill your other self?
      • I thought he genuinely was trying to kill himself, but the Tyler persona took the bullet.
      • A major theme of Tyler's speeches (like when he burns the narrator's hand with lye) is that pain brings you back to your most basic, real self. With that in mind, I figured the pain of shooting himself in the face, and the "near life experience" (as Tyler would call it) of attempting suicide and fully intending to die, was enough to destroy Tyler and leave "Jack" as himself.
      • When you are mentally strong enough to be willing to shoot yourself, even through the cheek, it's a fair chance you are mentally strong enough to get rid of unwanted double personalities.
      • One of the major themes of the movie is hitting bottom, letting go, etc. Sticking a pistol in your own mouth is hitting bottom by any definition.
      • This troper just thought it was because Tyler is shorter than the narrator.
      • This troper always thought that Tyler didn't really die...instead, the narrator and Tyler stopped being separate, and merged together. After he gets shot, the narrator stops panicking, starts being a lot more assertive, and bosses around the project mayhem guys like he's used to it. He also stops worrying about the bombs in the buildings and calmly watches them exploding. The personality disorder the Narrator has has been known to be cured by a traumatic event, and I'd say a gunshot wound to the face qualifies.
      • No. What happened was- the Narrator, and Tyler, thought they were honestly, truly going to die the moment he pulled the trigger of the gun. Since Tyler is nothing more then a delusion, a being who only exists in the Narrator's mind, believing he was about to be killed inflicted a case of Your Mind Makes It Real. But since the bullet was non-fatal, the Narrator survived, being the "core" personality. The change afterward, stopping panicking, calmly reacting to things, is just because the Narrator finally matured and was able to be responsible, as shown by his ability to be tender and gentle with Marla.
      • It's significant to note that real life cases of Dissociative Identity have (albeit very rarely) been eliminated by traumatic events.
      • Not to mention that it's very farfetched that Dissociative Identity would play out in such a way. It all just works much better as a metaphor.
      • The book had a much better ending, but it was too open-ended and devoid of explosions for David Fincher. The Narrator shot himself, not to kill Tyler, but to get himself placed in a mental hospital where Tyler couldn't hurt anyone else. Also noteworthy, America's economy was never destroyed. So there's that.
      • The ending of the book could also be interpreted as when he shot himself, he believed that he had died. When he was talking to the doctor, he says "Yeah, Well, Whatever. You can't teach god anything", implying that he believes he's in heaven. This would eradicate Tyler.
      • That's a better way to end it?
      • Fridge Logic proves that the book ending is actually the Narrator is in an insane asylum and doesn't want to leave because Members of Fight Club are still lurking around.
      • Chuck Palahniuk disagrees. He likes the movie's ending far better than the one he came up with. His words were "I wish I had thought of it".
    • On the DVD the writers say that it is possible that the whole ending after that point is a death hallucination, although the way they said it didn't seem to suggest that this is what they originally had in mind.
      • I just had another idea: the last thing he says before shooting himself is, "My eyes are opened." You know how imaginary friends die when children don't need them anymore? Well, Jack had learned everything he needed to know from Tyler, so Tyler was now unnecessary and committed suicide as a result. He just did it more literally than he needed to because...I guess because at that point he didn't care if either side of him survived, and his spool had pretty much been unwound by recent events. People have survived worse head shots than that. You would be quite surprised.
    • Does anyone else think it would've been better if the gun hadn't been loaded, and Tyler died simply because Jack thought it actually was?
      • Yes, actually, I do. You're right.
      • Probably would only work if it was loaded with blanks. And that would take a lot of planning.
    • I believed that Narrator had intentionally tricked Tyler into thinking he'd been killed. He seems to tilt the gun at the last second, so I thought that he just thought really hard about killing himself, to make Tyler think it was real. And then, when he proved to still alive, it didn't matter, because Tyler already thought he had that hole through his skull.
      • This troper is correct. Jack turned the gun away from his brain, but Tyler thought he shot it through the head. Jack's thoughts have no effect on Tyler's actions, so it didn't matter if Jack believed he was shooting himself or not. Tyler believed it.
    • Personally, I have the theory that, after the Narrator passed out after getting his shit kicked in by Tyler, Tyler took control and moved his body to where he eventually wakes up a bit later. In that time, he could've easily replaced the bullets in the clip with blanks, since the Narrator showed he just didn't give two shits anymore about who lived or died after realizing the horror that is his multiple personality disorder and what it wrought on the world. Question would then be where'd he get the blanks, but Tyler has enough connections to blow up buildings with nitroglycerin, so he probably made a call. This might not entirely work, since if Tyler knew that the gun was only loaded with blanks, he wouldn't have fallen for the deception. However, he could've also removed the bullets from the clip, which would most likely leave one bullet left over, if anyone knows anything about guns you know this is very possible, and in the heat of the moment could've forgotten it was empty and thought the Narrator had killed himself. If it was blanks, that could explain the wound. If it was psychosomatic, that could explain most everything in the scene.

  • Okay, if members aren't allowed to talk about the Fight Club (as in rules 1 and 2) how the hell do they recruit new members?
    • It's reverse psychology. Tell them not to talk about it so that it's the only thing they'll talk about.
    • Also, building on that idea, you have people who, in society, only do certain things because there's a rule/law telling them they can't and they feel it makes them look cool as a result. Teens, and anyone under 21, drink, smoke, take drugs, etc because they don't wanna be social outcasts from the people who look "cool" in the eyes of some as a result of them doing it, hence the common stereotype of people who peer pressure others saying, "it'll make you look cool." Stuff like that. Some of them do it because they perceive the club as being cool and either wanna start their own chapter of it, or join an existing branch.

  • We're supposed to believe that it's perfectly plausible for Tyler Durden to have "night jobs" while the narrator wasn't sleeping, but neither of Tyler's jobs would take place during the hours a normal office worker would be sleeping. Movie theaters are generally open 4PM - midnight, with most children's shows (as Tyler was particularly fond of splicing porn into these movies) ending before 10 PM. Tyler was also a banquet waiter, with dinner hours, once again, running about 4PM to midnight.
    • Note that in the fight with his boss, the Narrator is being told about his rampant absenteeism.
    • It wasn't necessary for Tyler to be operating the projector running the kids' movies: all he needed was access to both the reels of these and the reels of pornographic films. Porn generally would be shown at night, so Tyler could have easily removed a frame or two from the film after running the projector and snuck said frames into a family film at a later date. Additionally, he didn't have a permanent job as a projectionist (the book states that he was the substitute if a union member called in sick), leaving him plenty of time to work his other job.
    • Additionally, it wouldn't even be necessary for him to work the full time the theater would be open if they had rotating shifts, and it's not impossible that he made sure to bribe, blackmail, mess with, or simply ask nicely about the waitstaff schedule so as to be assigned only to catering jobs that required his presence at or later than six.
    • I think he turns into Tyler as soon as he leaves his office job. He could then work a 6-12 shift.
    • Or he could just not really have those jobs at all. Likely, the narrator made them up along with Tyler using his subconscious knowledge like where the abandoned house was or how to make explosives.
      • Given that the Narrator seems to have Dissociative Identity Disorder, this is the most likely explanation. With DID, each personality has their own personal history and backstory different from that of the core personality.
    • Ahem... "No, YOU have night jobs because you can't sleep, or stay up late and make soap." -Tyler.
    • Consider that projectionists and waiters would be most busy on weekends, when the Narrator would be off work anyway.

  • Why did so many people miss the point of this movie, going so far as to create their own Fight Clubs modeled after Tyler's? I'm well aware that there's a fine line between condemning violence and glamorizing it, but I thought Fight Club did a pretty good job at showing that it was the insane response of broken individuals.
    • See Do Not Do This Cool Thing.
    • It's worth noting that at least two of the "real life" Fight Clubs that formed in the wake of this movie were in fact formed by what you might call "insane...broken individuals". Luke Helder and another kid (whose name I can't recall) were both allegedly involved in Fight Clubs and were both caught making homemade explosives. The rest of the real life Fight Clubbers were mostly teens, pre-teens, and college students (and they aren't exactly known for making reasoned, well thought-out decisions).
    • Didn't we all know it was going to happen?
    • I think the appeal of starting your own Fight Club would die quite quickly- like after the first time you got the crap kicked out of you.
      • Disagreed. Fight injuries are not that scary once you've been through one - the fear of e.g. breaking a bone is worse than the actual thing (speaking from personal experience here). Plus, injuries inevitably happen in regular martial arts, and non-crazy people train for those, depending on your definition of "crazy". Also, adrenaline is a very powerful painkiller. On top of that, if there were non-fictional Fight Clubs, people would probably tap out much earlier, so things would not be as messy as in the movie.
    • Two reasons. First: plain and simple, Misaimed Fandom. Second: the movie shows screwed up people and actions, but much of the protagonist's complaining about life, the society etc. does ring true. And easy escapism is tempting - especially wrapped in something badass and glamorous like a Fight Club. Plus, the initial Fight Clubs did no actual harm, it was when Tyler wanted to "change things" with Project Mayhem that everything spiraled out of control (and, might I add, it was only then that the protagonist tried to stop him).
      • Also, it should be taken into account that it's one thing to watch the movie when you've already read Palahniuk's work and are aware that all his characters are unhealthy, deeply broken individuals, who are not supposed to be role models for anyone, in any context, and who, a lot of times, aren't even very likable. It's another thing to be young and impressionable and watch a movie where Brad Pitt is kind of Crazy Awesome, and makes some very legitimate complaints about contemporary society.
      • Even simpler than that. You're all avoiding the obvious, folks: People. Are. Idiots.
      • ...no, I think the last guy had it down pretty good.
    • There's an alternate interpretation. Rather than the members of fight club being insane and broken, they're the only sane ones left in a world that's insane and broken. When things are as fucked up as they are then raw, primal, physical violence becomes the only meaningful response. It's not something I personally agree with but it's a legitimate interpretation of the movie.
    • To people whose lives seem pointless and frustrating, with desires that are never fulfilled, who almost failed out of high school, and withdrew from the college they dreamt of getting into because they realized they'd mis-aimed and had only wasted time, money and their first relationship... yeah, the idea of punishing yourself with pain while beating the shit out of someone else is a very attractive option.
      • Mom? Is that you?
      • Me? Is that you?
      • Of course, then the manly men archetype simply gets up and tries again rather than whine and complain. One of the points of the movie is a call to action rather than reaction and follow the leader.
      • In fact, isn't that the entire point of the scene with the convenience store clerk?
    • By the same token, why did a couple of people go and kill the shit out of some other people, then say "A Clockwork Orange/Natural Born Killers/The Catcher in the Rye made me do it?" Because people like that were already in possession of shaky sanity to begin with. When you are denying having a serious mental illness, it doesn't take much to push you completely over the edge.

  • Remember that scene with Mafia trying to claim the fight club's cellar? It has always bugged me: what does the club intend to do with it. Picture this: civilization falls (Tyler's vision), state falls, and who has the guns and the men, and no moral restrictions like the government to use them? Mob. In other words, Tyler's anarcho-primitivist utopia would last a week, and then turn into neo-feudalism with mob bosses at the top. Tyler either had a plan and necessary manpower to fight them, or was damned shortsighted.
    • Whose to say he hadn't infiltrated the mob? At the bottom of that ladder are a bunch of workaday stiffs making not a whole lot more than the guys Tyler was recruiting.
    • I'm gonna go with "shortsighted" there.
    • At that point, weren't they just using it as a venue for their fights? I always understood it to be that the Mafia (well, Lou) was the owner of the bar just trying to * re* claim his property. It didn't well for him, of course...
    • Tyler is a pseudo-intellectual anarchist. His lack of a post-victory plan is sort of a large part of the point. It emphasizes the danger of the society that brought him about, that at its most extreme it could, in theory (with fictional hyperbole, anyway) turn someone as harmless as Jack—if he's smart enough—into a raging Jekyll and Hyde by making his inner Nietzsche Wannabe into a One-Winged Angel with deadly capacity.
    • Tyler even addresses this exact point in one of his speeches: "I say evolve, and let the chips fall where they may." He doesn't know or care what happens after civilization comes tumbling down.
    • Not to distract from your responses, but there is no mention of mafia taking over the cellar. It's Lou. "Who am I? There's a sign that says 'Lou's Tavern. I'm fuckin' Lou. Who the fuck are you?'"
  • A minor point, but one that bothered me: after the soap business takes off, Tyler is rolling in cash. In the book, the narrator mentions that they had enough money to eat out and "go dancing." So why did the narrator continue wearing his old, bloody clothes to work when he could easily afford new ones?
    • Why would they want new clothes? What was it that Tyler said? "Buying shit you don't need" or something along those lines.
    • "Hitting bottom isn't a weekend retreat."
    • Did you miss the part where Tyler had been pulling the narrator into his philosophy and way of living, and that Tyler's ideal society involves the collapse of the global economy, wearing functional leather clothing, etc...? A materialist consumer, Tyler isn't. More like a Spartan.

  • In the beginning of the movie, the narrator goes to see a doctor who tells him that "nobody ever died of insomnia". Yeah, about that...
    • Based on the doctor's demeanor, he clearly seems to think he's dealing with a hypochondriac. That's why he tells him to attend support groups to see what real suffering is like. In that position, there's no way the Doc is going to tell the Narrator that he actually could die from insomnia, as that would just feed his irrational fears.
    • 1999 movie, internet not as widespread for looking up obscure conditions.
    • It kind of was already widespread for everything, as I remember. But of course there's always the possibility that the doctor (who does not act like he's taking his job very seriously) is simply a quack. I mean, "Chew some valerian root?"
      • Valerian is a sedative and helps with mild insomnia and anxiety. Just because it is a herb doesn't mean it's useless.
      • That's hardly the point. Who actually chews the root itself? Is something that unsanitary and unnecessary what a good doctor would recommend? Again, does he act like he even gives a fuck? He's probably waiting out the rest of his shift so he can have another bong.
      • "Unsanitary"? He's not suggesting that the main character dig a root out of the ground and chew on something covered in dirt. As far as we and the doctor know at this point, our Narrator is having trouble sleeping. There's no indication that it's part of a larger problem. In medicine, the point isn't to be snooty about what you're taking or if it's the right drug "label", like it's a fashion brand or something. You use whatever clears the problem and you start with the basics first, working your way up if need be. The Narrator is self-centeredly equating his lack of sleep to a crippling illness. It may turn out to be but there's no indication that it is at this point. Accordingly, it's a good idea to prescribe a simple sedative that has little further chemical effect on the body. If the problem continued or got worse, the Narrator could tell the doctor this and ask what the next step is. Saying something absurd and unfounded like, "probably waiting out the rest of his shift so he can have another bong" makes you look like an idiot.
      • No need to call other tropers idiots. It's very possible that a doctor wouldn't care about his patient in a film about how uncaring and selfish society has become and is very much supported by the doctors demeanor in that scene. A mild sedative for a hypochondriac insomniac is probably a good choice, but I think most doctors would recommend a pill based on valerian root, rather than telling his patient to go chew on a herb.
      • No one's calling anyone an idiot, the above troper was just pointing out the idiocy of the "bong" comment, and not he commenter (hence "look like an idiot" and not "an idiot"). On point: at no time in the movie is literal root chewing brought up. The herb in question is publicly marketed IRL as "valerian root", even in processed pill form, so the doctor is basically doing exactly what you suggest. The pill needs to be chewed during ingestion to be activated. Bottom line, the doctor in the movie was being slack in attending to the narrator's complaints, but not to a negligent degree, and was actually trying to help (remember he also suggested more exercise, always a good idea). He even succeeded as far as the help groups are concerned.
      • I'd say that was a pretty irresponsible doctor. Even if you think a patient's being a hypochondriac, you still have a professional responsibility to treat them thoughtfully and sensitively. The doctor acted exasperated, shot off a cookie-cutter solution apparently without examining potential causes, and basically just tried to tell the Narrator his subjective problems weren't real. Now, this may well be part of the point, but a good doctor would probably have found out enough about the Narrator to advise he seek mental health care, barring dishonest answers about life stressors and emotional wellbeing.
      • I'd EXPECT dishonest answers. The doctor is also not a psychiatrist.

  • Most of the little inconsistencies and quirks of Tyler being imaginary can be chalked up to the total unreliability of the narrator. But that one shot where "Tyler" is dragging the narrator across the floor by his hair, and we objectively see it on the security camera footage, means that the narrator really was dragging himself across the floor by his own hair. That belongs in a Jim Carrey movie.
    • What about the scene in which Nameless Narrator is dragging Tyler before our eyes in the basement? He's got one side of him and someone else has the other and I guess that the way it's shot you could say the other guy has Nameless Narrator's entire weight but it looks awkward to see someone supported all on one side. Can we be blamed for thinking they weren't the same person? I mean, that scene is really pushing it!
      • In the flashbacks, you can clearly see that he didn't do exactly what he did with Tyler in earlier scenes. So he really was supported on one side, but he "remembers" being supported on both.
    • This troper has always seen those scenes as nothing more than Rule of Funny and that any scene with Tyler and the narrator was really just "Jack" imagining it. For instance, if he and Tyler were drinking, then it was really just "Jack" sitting alone drinking and having a conversation in his mind.
    • What makes you think the security camera footage is "objective"? This film has an impossibly uneasy relationship with the fourth wall as it is.
      • The whole film is seen through the narrator's point of view, so every camera is in a location that the narrator has been. Its probably not likely that the narrator made his way to the nearest security booth to watch the footage of him dragging himself in the parking lot. Even if he did, he wouldn't see anything, meaning the footage would be blank, and therefore useless to the film.
    • Actually if you watch his feet they flail in a way that could be him pushing himself along the floor or at least thats how I always assumed it happened.
  • The narrator is absolutely batty. Besides just having a Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder for the rest of you), the narrator is a walking basket case if you try to apply the Axis 1-5 to him. He probably also has acute schizophrenia, one or two other personality disorders, and maybe dysthymic disorder. He's absolutely all over the place. It's a wonder he managed to hide all of those as well as he did from any doctor/mental health professional.
    • As someone in the novel 'Salem's Lot points out, some people in Real Life go very quietly and virtually unnoticeably insane. Besides, the person with the most contact with Whatshisface, Marla, is if anything even farther gone than he is.
      • If Marla even exists.
      • Oh, Marla definitely exists, bud. If she didn't, then the goons wouldn't have been chasing anyone & the narrator would've been having sex with no one as Tyler.
    • You can't really take the story as a psychological profile. The narrator's "symptoms" don't make any sort of consistent sense if we try to apply the usual DSM categories to them. It's meant to work on a broader level, as a social allegory. Society, in the movie's world at least, has hit a breaking point. Its materialism and vanity have emasculated men so completely from their true selves that, in the narrator's case, his inner self split off and revolted against the whole thing, and that rebellion resonated so deeply with other men that it spiraled into an apocalyptic backlash against the modern world. The narrator's problems are a reflection of society's problems and a reaction against them, not a realistic mental illness.

  • Ok, so I see the motivation behind Tyler's plot. You destroy the records of people's debts, thus destroying the cornerstone of the banking system, corporations fall, nations fall, and we all revert to Tyler's vision of an anarchic society. But wouldn't the bank have offsite backups? Surely they'd have emergency measures just in case they lost their servers! All that would happen is the buildings will fall, but the bank would revert to an computerized backup, stored offsite, and business would continue as usual. Tyler's act would accomplish nothing.
    • Tyler doesn't strike me as a person who's good at considering the long term effects of anything he does.
    • It wasn't just those buildings. Tyler spent weeks setting up the same plan in other major cities all around the country. Project Mayhem was a big enough movement that it probably included all the inside men it'd need to take down the backups.
      • There are a lot of backups, stored in a wide variety of locations, not all of which are common knowledge either outside or inside such a company, and not all of which are even in the same country as the headquarters and primary offices of the company where they originate. Even granting the frankly laughable assumption that Project Mayhem had the necessary horizontal and vertical scope to identify and target all of them, governments will go very far out of their way to avert a general financial collapse, as we saw during the financial crisis of 2007-08; indeed, to prevent such internal chaos and disorder is a very large part of any government's fundamental remit. Between that, and the widespread desire to hunt down, arrest, try, and imprison the perpetrators, the likely result of an action such as that depicted in Fight Club would be an enormous increase in authoritarianism, rather than the converse.
      • However many back ups there are, having the headquarters of multiple financial companies get demolished would be a huge blow to the stock market and financial confidence. These are also just the buildings in Delaware. Who knows what's going on in New York or Chicago. Operations would have to halt while the companies reorganize themselves and in that time, millions of people would be unable to make transactions of any kind, which would snowball into a financial crisis rivaling the Great Depression. Project Mayhem isn't the blow that topples civilization; it rocks the foundation enough to get it crumble on its own.

  • This is minor but it does just bug me. In both the novel and the movie Jack cheerfully contemplates how much his life insurance will pay off if his plane crashes. But who would it benefit?? And for that matter, why should he even have life insurance? I admit I'm a novice with these things but think about it: who are his beneficiaries? His mom? He has a distant and strained non-relationship with his dad, he at that point has no girlfriend, he has no kids that we know of...who would the insurance benefit? Are we just supposed to assume that he doesn't think he needs an excuse to pray for death? If so, that defeats the purpose, doesn't it?
    • That's entirely the point. He has life insurance with no effective beneficiary just like he has a condo full of meaningless IKEA furniture he never uses. All because he has no point in life beyond needless consumption. Also, it may factor into his job as a cost-benefits analyst for car crashes.
    • I always assumed the "life insurance pays triple if you die on a business trip" line was sarcasm and implying that he sees his whole life as just consuming until he's dead.

  • Another minor detail but something to be addressed. In the whole entire movie, the narrator's name isn't mentioned.
    • He's not named in the book either. He just doesn't have a name.
      • This is part of Tyler's purpose. The Narrator feels that he has lost his identity in the shuffle of mass consumerism. He feels insignificant and meaningless, just another nameless face in the crowd. Tyler, his split personality is the exact opposite, he has goals and purpose and his name means something. The Narrator has no name because that name belongs to Tyler, who has worked to earn it in the narrator's mind, not to the Narrator.
      • This is a deliberate method that writers sometimes use to draw attention away from the main character's personality to focus on another's; and in this case there's reason to since the Narrator is constantly focusing on his invention of Tyler. It also makes the character too identifiable when it's simpler to shroud him in mystery so his purpose could be used as a metaphor. This trope explains in more detail.

  • This little ditty was always a point of interest for me when watching the film, but remember in The Matrix how Morpheus explains to Neo that how he views himself is considered "Residual Self Image". I actually applied that here to Tyler and the Narrator and I noticed something: After the Narrator wakes up to find that Tyler has gone missing, he goes around damn near the entire United States looking for him, but all the while he's still wearing the exact same outfit, then when we see Tyler again, Tyler has shaved his head, is wearing sunglasses and a big fur coat, orange fishnets, etc. When I noticed this radical change and factored in the fact that Tyler had been in control of the Narrator's body I realized that what we were seeing of the Narrator may have been what he assumed he still looked like, and the Tyler we saw sitting in the chair is what everyone else saw.
    • You mean to say that the Narrator, at least by that point in the story, had shaved his head and was actually dressed in that fur coat and sunglasses and everything?
    • I really don't think that that's what happened at all. If it was, we would've gotten a mirror shot of the Narrator revealing it after Tyler disappeared, or the security cam footage showing it. Tyler's appearance is most likely the Narrator projecting negative thoughts on to his perception of Tyler based on what he found out he did, and is applying the looks of stereotypical cult leaders, drug emperors, etc to Tyler's appearance. If you watch any story in a visual medium, or even in a medium you read, with gang leaders or whatever, most to all of the people like Tyler in those stories are shown, or described, to look a certain way. It's just a way to dehumanize Tyler and make him look like the kind of guy we find out he is. Before, his face was shaven, he dressed nice, and had a good haircut. After, we see him with a buzzcut, a 5 o'clock shadow, and an outfit you wouldn't be surprised to see someone like a drug dealer wearing. It's meant to be symbolic of the narrator's personal feelings about Tyler, and since Tyler's a figment of his fractured psyche, it becomes literal, where if he were real, he'd, most likely, look the same as the last scene we saw him in before he comes back. It could also represent his rise to power, since he felt on top of the world and wanted to dress as flamboyantly as possible at that point because his plans were all coming together.

  • Tyler may believe he rejects society but looking at his way of dressing it kinda makes him hypocritical. He is wearing ridiculously flashy clothes, sunglasses indoors (hardly the shit you need) and so on. And in the end everything he hated. Yes, it probably is what the narrator wanted for himself but why wouldn't he have noticed it? If so did our narrator know Tyler didn't exist from the beginning?
    • There's a difference between being deceived and being delusional: in the former case, you're being lied to by someone else, in the latter, you're lying to yourself. In a sense, the narrator always knew that Tyler wasn't real. The part of him creating the delusion was also the part of him that kept him from wondering about the inconsistencies surrounding it. As for Tyler's clothing, he's an idealized version of everything the narrator wishes he could be, so the flashy clothing and overall coolness probably just goes along with that. If Tyler has any reason of his own for it, it could be that he's deliberately being ironic, trying to bring the system crashing down while looking like something straight out of its fashion catalogues.

  • One thing I've never understood: On the flight where Tyler is introduced, he talks about the emergency oxygen masks on airliners. His claim is that they pipe pure oxygen to the passengers to sedate them and make them docile, so they "accept their fate." Even if this was true (it isn't-they don't deliver pure O2), why is this presented as something sinister? If the plane truly is spiraling to its doom, it seems like calming the passengers in their last moments would be admirable.
    • It's a metaphor for the broader process by which society dopes people into accepting their lot as inevitable. Tyler the anarchist is all about raging against this process.
      • I can understand that in regards to his other stories, but this is a situation where people actually don't have any power. He probably should have chosen a story about airport security or something.
      • Doesn't it give us important information about Durden, though? That he would rather people scream and wail in chaos as their fate approaches rather than be doped into submission by those more powerful than them? I would imagine that he wouldn't exactly think that people in this situation have no power... they have the power to face their deaths openly, which is far preferable to artificially enforced order. Besides, consider the context of the scene — Tyler is engaged in a seduction of sorts, so it makes sense for him to start with something small and seemingly inconsequential, but which hints at the larger workings of power.
      • That actually makes sense. Thanks.
    • Also, Chuck Palahnuik really likes making up fake facts. Don't believe anything that sounds true that you read in any of his books, look it up first!
      • For one thing, piping pure O2 to the passengers wouldn't calm them, it'd amp them up. If you wanted to calm them down, you'd be better off letting them go into hypoxia. One of the symptoms of oxygen deprivation is lethargy, as oxygen is necessary for most of the body's functions. Rule of thumb for aviators: If everything seems just fine and nothing is worrying you at all, check your oxygen.

  • So... how exactly does the Narrator call HIMSELF after his condo blows up?
    • *taptaptap-taptaptaptap* Narrator: "Hello, Mr. Durden? It's me, from the plane. [Explanation]." Tyler: *dial tone* Narrator: "Okay, I'll wait here until you get here."
    • It's the phone number for the Paper Street address. No one answered when the narrator called and then he imagined Tyler returning the call via *69. Look closely and the pay-phone even has a sign saying "No Incoming Calls". As an added clue to the ending, the number he gave Marla before the Condo blew up was the one for Paper Street.
    • Also to add to this^, the only phone we see in the Paper Street house is a rotary phone. No *69 for you.
      • 1169 on a Rotary phone.
  • More about the plane: Was the seat next to Tyler/Narrator empty? Or was he talking to himself and ignoring all of his rowmate's annoyed and confused responses? Or did he not say any of it out loud, including the desperate laugh?
    • I always assumed that he was talking to himself and that the seat next to him was empty. Either that or the conversation did indeed take place entirely in his head.
    • Or it is possible that there is a real soap salesman named Tyler Durden who happened to sit next to the Narrator and since he was everything that the Narrator wasn't the Narrator simply used this cool seeming guy he met on a plane as the basis for his hallucination also this would explain how Tyler was able to steal a car while the Narrator wasn't present.
      • Well, the movie makes it clear that the Narrator's name really is Tyler Durden, so I don't see how such a coincidence would explain anything. And for it to explain stealing the car, this person would have to be a cohort of some type, which makes it strange that the Narrator thought he was talking to Brad Pitt's character.
      • The movie makes no such thing clear. All it does is tell us that the Narrator called himself Tyler Durden during Project Mayhem. That may well be his real name, or he might have picked it up from the aforementioned hypothetical soap salesman.
      • Of note to this: In the book, the scene where the Narrator is trying to get Marla out of town is slightly different. He flat tells her about what's going on, and to help his case, he shows Marla his drivers license to show that he's not Tyler Durden. Also, it bears mentioning that in the reveal at the hotel room, Tyler says to the Narrator that he's slowly letting himself become Tyler Durden.
      • To add to that, the whole point of Tyler's "don't discuss me" rule is so the Narrator doesn't put it together, tip off someone around him (most likely Marla, which is what happens) who then pushes him to see help, effectively erasing Tyler from existence. Were the Narrator really named Tyler Durden, he would have picked up on it far earlier, as all it took was one person referring to him as Mr. Durden for him to start pulling at that thread. His emails at work, business cards, his own license, etc, would have tipped him off. He spends a couple weeks flying all over the country. His real name would have been all over a lot of stuff, and it's way more likely that the more aware of the condition Tyler would use the Narrators name when necessary.

  • I always wondered; how did the narrator turn off the electricity in the house while simultaneously banging Marla Singer two floors above? The electricity obviously went out, unless he was so deluded that he could've done it earlier and then just imagined everything else. This goes for anything that the narrator does while Tyler is actually busy, but a lot seem like they can be explained. Not sure how Jack ran down the stairs and picked up the phone in two seconds, either...
    • As mentioned below, it's either time-displaced memories that are running concurrent with the Narrator's current actions, or he's imagining the thing he's not doing at that moment.

  • Does Jack actually get seriously beaten twice in a row? Once by Lou, and then the next day in his boss's office by himself? Even for the remarkable immune systems we see in Fight Club, this seems pretty far-fetched.
    • The movie expects you to believe that they are truly Made of Iron.

  • We see Jack come home from work or work out while Tyler is, to put it in the tone of the film, fucking Marla. So, which is it? since they're the same person what was Jack doing? fucking Marla or doing his other stuff?
    • There seems to be a little bit of time displacement going on in the Narrator's dissociation between him and Tyler. It's likely that the things we see the Narrator doing is what he's doing at that time—he fucked Marla earlier, and "hears" it later. Or vice verse.
    • It's entirely possible that what we're seeing Jack doing is in his head, while Tyler is actually doing things in the physical world. Tyler fucks Marla, while Jack imagines himself doing sit-ups, for example.
    • I think what the last guy said is what it actually was. Someone on the Fridge page pointed out that in one of the scenes where the Narrator answers the phone, the sex between Tyler and Marla stops completely, implying that that was all happening in his head before and his attention became entirely focused on the phone call, so his mind stopped the noise so he could hear the other person.

  • This is an issue with a lot of villain-protagonist(ish) films, but I'll bring it up here anyway: how am I expected to accept the "sweet" part of this Bittersweet Ending when there's still the fact that the Narrator blew up a dozen credit card buildings? (If I'm recalling the plan right, that is.) I know that Tyler had fight club members in the local police force, but that sort of thing would draw a huge crowd of federal-investigator types, wouldn't it? How could the Narrator go on to live a normal life with Marla with that big ol' matzo ball hanging over his head?
    • As mentioned earlier up in the page, it wasn't just those few buildings that we see explode at the end. There are fight clubs all over the country, probably having the same modus operandi as central command, and with a key point of being Made of Iron in the recruitment process, it's unlikely that anyone outside the club except Marla will even know about Tyler Durden, and it'd be stupid for Jack to take up that moniker if anyone does.
      • Yeah, but he confessed to the police chief, who wasn't a part of the titular fight clubs, that he was the one who set those buildings to blow up only a few hours, at most, beforehand. The police have a record of his actual identity, even if we never learn what it is (though there's a few names hinted at both in the film and its script), so they'd still be looking for him, since the chief would've likely informed the feds afterwards. At that point, he'd have to use his position with the fight clubs to go on the lamb or something, possibly with Marla, to escape detection...unless the two cops that tried to cut his nuts off from earlier in the film kill the chief before he can call the feds.

  • At the very beginning of the movie, the Narrator voiceovers about how the building he and Tyler in is about to collapse. But in the end ... it doesn't. What gives?
    • The film's plot embodies the Unreliable Narrator trope, as The Narrator thought the building was going to blow up, but there's nothing backing up him saying it actually was. During his and Tyler's fight beforehand, we saw him pull out a wire to disarm the bomb in the van, and it disarmed. Whether Tyler actually took over for a hot second to rearm the bomb is anyone's guess, but it seemed to be that, since he also locks the van and breaks the key, which is carried through in all of the subsequent shots showing the van, even by the security cam, before Tyler starts kicking the shit out of him. On top of that, Tyler mentioned that he had a place that they can watch all the carnage from. Considering that he can switch to control his body when the Narrator's asleep, it's entirely possible that Tyler took control for a bit to get them to the building they were in without the Narrator knowing, with him just assuming they were in a higher point in the building, then it leads to what I said about their final conflict above. Also remember the goons that brought Marla to the building. Why in the hell would they step into a building doomed to blow up in less than several minutes and go to an upper floor where they'd have very little chance of survival once the place went up, even if it was just to drop someone off? Tyler also said that he wanted to become the dominant personality, so why would he endanger/kill the body of the individual he planned to take over completely, especially if it means he'd die too as a result? He's essentially almost The Joker from The Dark Knight, before that movie came out, an agent of chaos without much in the way of an overall plan moving from day-to-day with his plans of destruction. Unlike The Joker, however, he doesn't wanna die, so that seems to be the most likely explanation.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Headscratchers/FightClub