main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Kickstarter Message
TV Tropes Needs Your Help
Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
View Kickstarter Project
Headscratchers: The Thing (2011)
  • Not sure if this counts as a "headscratcher" per se, but since the prequel shows that at least SOME people outside Antartica are aware of Norwegians' findings, does that mean that sooner or later somebody is going to obtain an alien spaceship in (more or less) working condition?

  • So from what I have read, this takes place /three/ days before the first movie. It is about the Norwegians who discover the buried saucer and some how manage to get a radio transmission through at the time to have an /American/ paleontologist sent to help them. Exactly how will they manage to explain this in a movie that is set in the 1980s, in Antarctica where the nearest base may be the American base in the original that did not have a female member? Never forget that it's winter in Antarctica so they'd be hard pressed to get a radio message out given the complications in the first. Now add in they also manage to get an American, /female/ paleontologist sent there in that time.
    • The timeline of the prequel is not nearly so compressed, as it turns out. The Norwegians find the UFO, 48 hours later they contact an outside scientist, who brings in Kate the Paleontologist because she's an expert on exhuming frozen remains without causing significant damage. An undocumented amount of time passes between this point and when she arrives, and then the actual plot of the film happens over the course of a few days. The silence is explained as the Norwegians wanting to keep it secret that they discovered a verifiable Alien Life form until they can keep anyone else from claiming credit, and a request to contact the American Outpost is directly shot down to prevent this.
  • Is the dog Thing that escapes from the Norwegian base intended to be a Thing-replica of Lars' husky (who left a blood stain in its kennel soon after the Thing's thawing and went MIA for the rest of the main feature)? This troper would assume so, being as that appears to be the only dog kept at Thule Station — yet Lars' dog and Thing dog look different, even though the Thing has an established reputation for being able to replicate its victims down to the cut of their hair.
    • I found this a moot complaint when watching it. I mean, where are the guys from the photo? I didn't see a Bill Lancaster.
      • The Norwegian crew from the '82 movie's photo not matching up with the '11 film's cast is prerequisite suspension of disbelief for admission to the prequel. The imitation-dog not matching the original dog is a headscratcher because, unless I'm mistaken, there is footage newly filmed for the prequel where dog Thing leaves Thule Station, and it looks like dog Thing, not Lars' dog... meaning that they had at least two dogs "cast" for the film, and they deliberately look different, when they should have simply cast a wolfish-looking husky for Lars' dog in the first place.
      • That is actual footage from the original intercut with the ending.
    • Canines have what is called "slippery genetics", which allows all of them to be able to interbreed. Basically, it means that all canines have the makings of all other canines within their genetics. So, Lars' Dog Thing could become the other dog Thing by playing around with the dog genetics a bit. Things basically are capable of using genetics in the same way that we use Legos. It simply re-built Lars' Dog into the other dog.
  • Why did the Thing transform on the chopper? He himself was reassuring one of his human companions that they would be out of there soon, and just needed to wait a moment more. Why did he then blow his own cover and ensure the chopper's destruction? I've heard that he feared detection, but transforming turned what one person suspected into an undeniable truth. One could argue that maybe he wanted to take control of the chopper and fly back himself, but then why didn't he attack the pilot? Moreover, why did he do something that basically guaranteed the chopper would crash, stranding him AND the humans? Had it been implied that maybe he wasn't quite used to the human shape yet and fell apart, I'd be fine with this, but there is absolutely nothing to suggest this. There are SO many reasons NOT to transform, and he did anyway!
    • Causing the chopper to go down not only saved him from detection but it did leave it with the chance to assimilate three people while it could.
      • Except of course that it was even more likely to go out in flames and die.
      • Would you rather risk it, or would you rather wait around for your impending detection and destruction?
    • At that point of the movie nobody cared about her opinion on the matter (hey, even after the crash they still didn't care much), and if I recall correctly she suspected of the wrong person. Plus, the Thing in the chopper had an accomplice that erased the evidence of assimilation, so it isn't logic that he assumed for sure that it had been found.
    • What's more important is why the Thing chose to assimilae the passengers while the chopper was off the ground? The first movie showed that for the thing, assimilating other organisms was a fairly drawn-out intense process that seemed to take quite a bit of concentration. When it attacked the dogs in the kennel, it appeared some time passed before the humans discovered its handiwork and it was only half way to assimilating its targets before being interrupted. It appeared that after it attacked the passengers there was no one to operate the controls and the helicopter was sent crashing into the ground in a huge blaze. What was the Thing thinking when this was going on? Did it think it could use its tentacles to steer the wheel while it was assimilating? Did it even have flight experience before eating the pilot? Why couldn't it have waited until the humans landed, assimilated them the moment they reached the ground, then hijack the copter and hightail out of there before discovery?
      • Unless someone among the production crew of the film steps forward to admit anything, we can only speculate that it was essentially the writer writing himself into a corner and making a bad call on how to handle it. The intent was to get rid of the chopper, removing it from the narrative so that the next few days of chaos could ensue without any chance of escape that was realistic. The problem here is that this is an obvious bungle, maybe caused by executive meddling, poor writing, or a combination of the two; the chopper could have landed, then been disabled (either by one of the hidden Things or by Kate's recommendation). Of course, this means two characters are added to the cast for the long haul, and I guess there was a clear desire to show off more sudden Thing transformation. TL;DR: The writer messed up big time in order to rack up bodycount, snuff out two secondary characters quickly, and get rid of the helicopter all in one fell swoop, while giving everyone a reason to suspect that the two helicopter pilots might be Things when they return. There were several other more believable ways to do this within the narrative, and the writer dropped the ball.
      • The only other feasible explanation is that Thing!Griggs had (ironically) a very human response: it thought it had been figured out already and panicked. Jumping the gun, it decided rather than face death upon landing, it would take it's chances by assimilating Olav in mid-flight. The worst case scenario would be everyone in the chopper would die. But we already know that, barring acid bathing or intense and constant flame, the Thing doesn't die easy, so it could easily survive a helicopter crash in the long term. It's important to note that Griggs had likely been assimilated shortly after the escape of the Bug Thing (the chopper door was left open, and Griggs stated after a hesitant pause that he "didn't remember" if he left it open or not. It's the lack of blood and torn cloth evidence that tends to get some fans to discount this theory), and given it's inexperience with humans at this stage, it might've felt this gamble was worth it. Notice how the Julliete-Thing doesn't even try to stop the flagging-down of the chopper one bit, despite such an act ensuring the Griggs-Thing won't get away to continue reproducing.
  • The ending just bugged me. If the pilot at the end had been the Thing, why didn't it kill Kate when it was alone in the vehicle with her, chasing Sander to the UFO? Or if it was converted later, why did it hand over the flamethrower?
    • He was most likely assimilated after they got separated at the UFO, not before since we get a clear shot of his earring before they enter. And as for him handing over the flamethrower, the Thing wants Kate to trust him , after all it's been through it just wants to make it out alive, acting strange or otherwise defensive about things would tip her off to his nature.
      • Then why didn't it just torch her, call it a day, and zoom of on the other vehicle?
      • It might have wanted to assimilate her, and there ain't no better place than in a small snowcat in the middle of nowhere, but he would need to seem trust worthy for her to get in. Or maybe it thought having a human that trusted it would give it some leverage when they got to the Russian Base.
      • But the Russians (assuming they existed at all) had no idea about The Thing. It could've easily come up with any number of excuses for getting stranded, and would have had an easy time assimilating all of them before they knew what was going on.
      • Leverage in that Kate would never have reason to suspect it and it could be saved once they reached the ambiguously existing base.
      • The Thing wouldn't have needed Kate's trust if it had just turned the flamethrower on her and left her a charred corpse in the snow. And when it got to the base, it could just make up an excuse. Seriously, this is really striking me as a massive case of Why Don't You Just Shoot Her.
      • Neither would've trust been an issue, had it simply assimilated her.
    • It's learned to wait until the opportunity was right. And the opportunity wasn't right yet. Or maybe they just have an aversion to certain people. Maybe it wanted to keep her unassimilated so that she could be its ticket out of there.
      • Uhm, why? They were alone - what other opportunity would it need? Just lunge at her and stab her. "ticket out..." - again, how would the non-assimilated, aware and suspicious Kate be better than the assimilated and cooperative one?
      • Or dead Kate for that matter.
    • I see two possibilities there. 1) The pilot was human. The only evidence you saw about him being transformed was the ear ring. He might have lost it and then put it on the other ear for some reason. Just a bad coincidence. 2) He was transformed, wanted to assimilate her but could not do so just yet. It's implied that he was assimilated just a moment ago - maybe they need time to finish the transformation before they attack another victim.
      • 1) When torched, it let out an inhuman scream, so no. 2) Then torch her.
      • 1) A burning human played back in slow-mo could sound just like that. 2) And lose the possibility to assimilate her. The Thing's priorities may be different from yours.
      • Also, how exactly would the pilot of 'lost' his earring? The only way that could possibly happen is if it for some bizarre reason he decided to take it off, or it was torn off, which would've left him with a bloodied ear. Secondly, even if he did somehow lose it, why the hell would he put it in the wrong, unpierced ear?
      • Is losing an earring while running around bumping into things really THAT rare? How do you know his other ear was unpierced? For that matter the Thing seems to possess the memories and skills of the assimilated person. Why would IT put the earring into an unpierced ear?
      • If Carter was human and he'd really lost the earing - not got it torn off but just had it fell out, do you really think he'd bother looking for it and reinserting it, that is if he'd felt it at all (i've never worn one, but don't people usually only realise it's gone long after it's gone)? And if he did notice it and decided to find and put it back, least Kate thinks he's the Thing, then he'd certainly not botched up the ear.
      • And I seriously doubt that a human scream could ever sound like this, even when in slo-mo.
    • Carter-Thing didn't give her the flamethrower. He put it beside him in the cabin as he was climbing in, and Kate saw his ear while he did it and realized what he was. She then grabs the flamethrower and tells him she's going to put it in the back. She then reveals that she knows he's the Thing because of his missing earring, and he reaches up to touch his right ear. Then she tells him it was his left ear and torches him.
      • Fair enough. So that leaves the earing part. How in the world could the Thing make such a blunder? It knows he was supposed to have the earing, and that Kate pays attention to little details, It had nowhere to rush after assimilating him. So, why?
      • Still doesn't answer the question of why it meekly puts the flamethrower down instead of just killing the defenseless Kate as they left the UFO.
      • One more possibility everyone seems to have forgotten. Kate has been exposed to a rather large amount of Thing DNA over the course of the movie. Who's to say SHE hasn't been infected and fully transformed by the end? Maybe she just didn't want the idiot who was stupid enough to put his earring back in the wrong ear to blow her cover by doing something equally stupid in the Russian base, and blows him away to eliminate the competition? Even as she's asking him if he knew how she knew he was human, she seems to be slightly contemptuous of him. It also explains why she's not in the original and the Russians aren't contacted. Maybe she got to them first, killed them all, and has already made her way back to civilization before the events of the first movie?
      • Doubtful that's the case, there are no prior instances of in fighting among separate Things in this or the previous movie. It needs to assimilate another entity by overwhelming its potential host which is why it takes a long time to do so in the movies. The reason as well that Kate may not be in the sequel is that she has no idea where this Russian base is, or any other on the continent. Her only transportation out of there has been toasted and so she is stranded, on foot. She's likely to freeze to death like is implied in the 1982 version for the survivors.
      • One thing - the snow cat should still be in working order, even after being toasted, otherwise it would have been discovered in the 1982 film.
  • When did The Thing ever get the opportunity to infect anyone other than its first victim? It implicitly stayed whole after it escaped the ice block and was thus burned. So how did it sneak up on one of its victims (who were traveling in groups) or someone in the shower?
    • The dog was attacked first. It had this mouth that would have just chewed it up and spit them out. The dog probably got Griggs sometime afterward but before the autopsy because Griggs is shown giving Juliette a creepy look as she heads to the bathroom. Whether or not she or Edvard got it in the shower is up to preference.
  • Assuming what the Things want to do is spread and therefore presumably infect as many people as possible, what happens after the entire earth is infected? If the Things do operate independently, and particularly if it's true that the Thing imitations are so perfect that they don't know they're Things until they're exposed, would we have a world full of Things who can no longer infect real humans and so just basically take the place of our society, or would the Things wander around, stupidly trying to infect each other and then getting a bit embarrassed when the recently stabbed/impaled/whatevered victim says: "Well, actually, that was a bit pointless, I'm already a Thing"?
    • My guess is that, since the Things seem to obtain all knowledge and intelligence from those they assimilate, that they'd try to construct spacecraft to go out and take over life on other planets.
  • The Thing is clearly shown to be able to detach parts of itself to attack enemies inaccessible to the main body. So why doesn't it do that in the finale, where it has Kate trapped in a crawlspace but is too big to fit inside?
    • I think I might have a theory: it seems that in this movie whenever the Thing is exposed and it begins to transform, it always transformed into basically the same thing, some kind of multi-limbed creature with a lamprey mouth and tentacles. The "sequel" has the creature basically just sprouting whatever is necessary for it to move and fight off the humans. Now my theory is the prequel version of the Thing is still relatively fresh and is trying to assume whatever it's "true" form is and is trying to avoid dividing itself unless absolutely necessary so as to maintain it's form. The times when the limbs divided off to attack individually were when it was exposed to a large group, the thought being that it could either divide up and infect as many of them as possible OR at least some part of it would be able to escape. Kind of a Shock and Awe tactic rather than a viable combat strategy.
  • Why would the Thing leave out the fillings instead of putting them back on its new teeth? They are no longer dental tissue - they are the same stuff the rest of its body is made of, and it's so pliable I don't see how that'd be a problem. Sure, it's a minor thing, but it was emphasised again and again that the imitations the Ting creates are supposed to be perfect, so why'd it be so negligent of all a sudden?
    • In fairness, I think it was supposed to come off as being really unreliable, and maybe casting a bit of doubt on Kate's identity. One of the characters even lampshades this, mentioning that 'she knows as well as him that the fillings prove nothing.' Backed up again at the ending, when a Thing demonstrates the ability to re-insert an earring.
      • But puts it in a wrong ear. As for the fillings, well, Kate rightfully notes that "it is better then nothing". After all, they were not going to instantly torch everybody who lacked them, so she acted reasonably, while the Thing committed a completely uncharacteristic blunder.
    • I don't think that the Things are perfect imitations. I think that that's just a misconception that people have about them.
    • Possibly, humans are the only species the Things have encountered that use artificial stuff like fillings and metal splints and whatnot.
      • Highly improbable, but even then so what? The Thing copies the identity as well as the body, so it has to have some access to the mind/memory of the assimilate and thus know where those metal things should go.
      • The answer is simple, until Kate pointed out the fillings it had no reason to assume anyone would have figured out it couldn't absorb inorganic matter. Edvard was probably assimilated before Kate discovered the fillings and thus had no defense when she brought it up.
      • And? If you were the Thing and you wanted to copy somebody and you saw that they have fillings, and you knew what those were, having absorbed their mind or something, wouldn't you realize that it if somebody notices their absence, they would become suspicious? I'm not familiar with the health care procedures in Antarctica, but I wouldn't be surprised if regular dental survives are par for the course, to watch out for scurvy, for instance. But regardless, the core question is why not do it, when it took so little? It obviously had time.
      • You're assuming The Thing perceives the world in the same way we do and it probably doesn't. Most of it's forms seem to lack sensory input (eyes, ears, so on) so it must perceive things in a completely alien way, like how Richard Dawkins said it's possible that bats hear in color. Maybe it "feels in color" (kind of stretches the metaphor though). It seems to get progressively more clever with each incarnation, maybe a big part of that was figuring out exactly how we perceive the world.
      • Besides, if it had absorbed their mind or memories, consider this: if you have fillings, how often do you think about them? I know I'd forgotten about mine by the time I went to bed the day I got it. Just because the Thing is a perfect imitation doesn't mean it thinks of everything. Especially if it was living in terror of being discovered and incinerated.
      • At the point Edvard and Juliette are taken over, the Thing was probably still running on animal instinct and replacing the fillings wasn't quite as important as getting the fuck out of there and maybe taking as many humans out as possible.
  • The way they "disable" their vehicles. In the original they demolish all the controls and, apparently, engines as well, beyond repair. Here they... cut the wires. The fuck? Whom are they trying to prevent from leaving, a bunch of kids? Hell, Kate doesn't even bother to actually cut the wires out, she just leaves them to be so conveniently "jump-started" or whatever it is called, later.
  • Even after 29 years, the question of how you can cut your own throat with slit wrists remains a mystery.
    • Easy, you slit your neck first and then your wrists before you pass out from blood loss. You'd probably have a few seconds from slitting your throat to handle your wrists. Given the circumstances, I'd imagine the overkill was justified.
    • A deleted scene ( shows that Colins only slit his right wrist and throat.
  • Considering that the movie takes place in the eighties, therefore taking place during the Cold War, why on God's green earth would you go to a RUSSIAN base when the US and Russia are clearly not too friendly with each other?
    •'s a science base and despite what you might think actual US and Russian personnel got along quite well with each other outside of wartime maneuvering.
    • This wasn't the height of Stalin's reign, any more. The relationships outside political ideologies were reasonably warm, especially between scientists. The American and Soviets actually cooperated in a number of international projects in spite of the Cold War, either for political points, or because it was too beneficial not to.
    • Not to mention it may well be the only camp anywhere near close enough for you to get to. Most of the people there were probably scientists and mechanics like the crew of Outpost 31 and Thule station rather than political figures, and let's be honest, if you were working in Antarctica, and a clearly traumatized young girl showed up at your camp you wouldn't leave her to die in the snow, even if you knew she was from a country your government wasn't on the best terms with.
    • Antarctica is one of the regions, like international waters, where rescuing people in danger always takes priority over political squabbles back home. Denying shelter to a refugee from a destroyed Antarctic base would be like dumping a shipwreck's desperate survivor back into their lifeboat without any supplies.
  • What was Larz doing all that time while Kate was at the spaceship before the pilot in the helicopter arrived?
    • First probably trying to get out of whatever shed he was locked in by Carter and Jameson, then trying to find a weapon (the gun) and picking a good spot to hide. Or (more likely, given his character) after getting out of whatever room and/or bindings he'd been put in, went about making sure every last Thing he could find was dead and burned to a crisp.
  • Why is the creature so much more deadly in this film? Compare Juliette's transformation to Palmer's. Juliette-Thing turned into a deadly, fast moving monster in a couple of seconds, while Palmer took much longer, moved slowly and his attack took forever to kill ONE person.
    • Simply put: Real Life Writes the Plot. As much as everyone complains about the obvious CGI that the 2011 movie used, at the same time, practical effects simply can't make monsters as quick and agile as CGI can. The Palmer!Thing couldn't move quickly and it's transformation took much longer because 1983 era special effects simply aren't capable of making him move with anything approaching agility.
  • After Julliette transforms, Larz immediately appears out of nowhere, holding a flame thrower.
  • How did Griggs caused the helicopter to crash without Carter or Jameson being infected?
  • Why are Carter and Jameson so unreasonable about being imprisoned? They both know they're both human so they don't have to worry about being locked up with each other. Why do they have such a problem with waiting for the test? Kate had pretty much everything under control until they decided to try and break out, which caused everything to go to hell.
    • Poor Communication Kills. Carter and Jameson didn't know what had happened at the camp—no one brought them up to speed on anything. All they knew was that Griggs suddenly became a tentacle abomination from hell, attacked and maybe killed Olav, and caused their chopper to crash. They know nothing of Kate's revelations about the Thing and what it does, nor what the camp has been through by the time they arrive. All they get as a welcome wagon is everyone from the camp giving them a wide and cautious berth, pointing flamethrowers at them and some saying they should just burn them right now, and then once being talked down from that, get locked up without any explanation whatsoever. Carter even tries to tell Kate about their experience on the chopper, not realizing they're aware of what's most likely happened, but she shuts him down in short order and gives him no real assurance as to when they'll be let out—or if they will be let out, etc. They acted brashly, yes, but given what they'd just been put through AFTER a crash and trek through a wintery hell, you wouldn't really be trusting of your captors or thinking straight either.

The Thing (1982)Headscratchers/FilmThis Is the End

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy