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Literature: Carrie
Carrie White — making people afraid to pick on "that girl" since 1974.

A novel of a girl possessed of a terrifying power.

Published in 1974, Carrie (the first published novel by author Stephen King) was later adapted into a classic horror film in 1976 by Brian De Palma.

High school outcast Carrie White has no friends at school and is endlessly tormented by her classmates and by her own mother, a raving Christian fanatic named Margaret. After being humiliated in the school shower while having her first period, Carrie learns that she possesses potent telekinetic powers which allow her to move objects and knock people down with her mind. After one bully, Chris Hargensen, gets suspended and barred from the upcoming prom for the shower incident involving Carrie, she comes to blame Carrie for the situation and work out a suitable revenge.

In the meantime, Sue Snell (another one of the bullies at the shower) feels bad about what she and her friends did to Carrie and asks her athlete boyfriend, Tommy Ross, to take Carrie to the prom as a form of atonement. Chris finds out about this and sees an opening for one of the greatest pranks in school history: she and her friends will rig the ballots for prom queen so that Carrie wins, then dump a bucket of pig's blood on her head in front of the entire senior class and thus humiliate her on the best night of her life.

Considering Carrie's telekinetic powers, this goes about as well as one would expect it to.

Carrie launched Stephen King's career and became a bestseller, but the film version arguably had the greater impact. Critics regard De Palma's adaptation as a landmark film, one of the best horror films of The Seventies, and one of the best feature film adaptations of any of King's stories, to the point where King himself feels that it's better than the book. The film became a major success for United Artists, as it ended up making over $33 million at the U.S. box office on a budget of just $1.8 million. The ending is notable for being perhaps the first use of a "shock" ending in a horror film, which has since become a staple of the genre. Film critics welcomed Carrie with immense acclaim (unusual for a horror film even today), which may have helped it gain two Academy Award nominationsnote  and a Hugo Award.

Several follow-ups/adaptations, none of which involved De Palma or King, have surfaced in the years since:

  • Lawrence D. Cohen (the writer of the 1976 movie) put together a musical adaptation in The Eighties. After a limited run at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in England that got a mixed reception, it debuted on Broadway on May 12, 1988 — where it met with scathing reviews. The $7+ million production quickly became one of the biggest flops in Broadway history, as the musical closed after only sixteen previews and five shows. It became infamous enough to inspire a book written about Broadway's worst to carry the title Not Since Carrie. A number of people, however, saw a lot of potential beneath the poor production and feel that it could've worked out if it had received some polish. A heavily overhauled, off-Broadway revival eventually happened.
  • The 1999 sequel The Rage: Carrie 2.
  • A made-for-TV remake was made in 2002. This adaptation (written by Bryan Fuller and starring Angela Bettis, Patricia Clarkson, and Emilie De Ravin) stayed closer to King's novel than the 1976 film did — with the exception of the ending, which the creators intended to lead into an NBC series that never happened. The film mirrors the novel's use of after-the-fact articles to tell its story; most of the film takes place in flashbacks while the police interview what few survivors remain after Carrie's rampage. Despite its obvious low budget, Conspicuous CG, and radically altered ending, this film has its share of fans. In some way, this version could perhaps be compared to the 1997 Mini Series remake of The Shining, though King wasn't involved with this one.
  • Another adaptation was released in 2013. This version was directed by Kimberly Peirce (of Boys Don't Cry fame), written by playwright, Marvel Comics scribe, and Glee writer/co-producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, and starred Chloe Moretz, Julianne Moore, and Judy Greer. It largely pulled elements from both the novel and De Palma's film; opinion on it is largely divided as to whether it should've been based more on the book or the movie. The overall reaction is that it's not bad, exactly, though it's still very much in the shadow of the original.

Don't confuse this work with the country singer (though her video for "Before He Cheats" is an homage to the film) or two other well-known fictional Carries.

Carrie contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Misnaming:
    The Principal: We're really sorry about this incident, Cassie...
    Carrie: IT'S CARRIE!
  • Actionized Remake: The 2002 and 2013 versions both crank up the destruction to something that resembles The Dark Phoenix Saga, the former going the extra mile and having Carrie wipe out the entire town instead of just burning down the school. This is actually more in line with the original book; the lack of special effects shots in the 1976 film was because they didn't have the money to film them. The 2013 film still has Carrie destroying the school and exploding a gas station, but she stops there, only destroying her own house at the end.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • In the book, Carrie is described as being slightly pudgy and covered in acne, although she can look good if she wants to. She was played in 1976 by Sissy Spacek at the height of her '70s youthfulness and attractiveness, and in 2013 by Chloe Moretz, whose status as the subject of some fairly creepy gushing is practically memetic. Angela Bettis in the 2002 version, though, was more in line with the book's portrayal, being a fair bit skinnier than the book's character but otherwise looking very dowdy before she's gussied-up for the prom.
    • To a lesser extent, Margaret in all three films. The book describes her as an obese, imposing woman, while each of the film versions has her played by actresses who, while in their 40s and 50s, were at least somewhat good-looking at the time of filming.
    • Inverted with Helen Shyres in DePalma's film. In the book, she is nominated for Prom Queen and has a date, which implies she is a pretty girl. In the film, she is played by Edie McClurg, a fairly chubby actress, and is something of a Butt Monkey for the popular girls, not to mention appearing to not have a date at the prom. In the '02 version, though, she is played by the very pretty Chelan Simmons.
  • Adaptational Badass: Carrie in the 2013 version is more well-adept on using her powers. She's also much more ruthless in punishing her tormentors.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Billy and Chris, while still jerkasses in the film adaptations, were Greaser Delinquents in the book. It's mentioned that Chris had once put a firecracker in a girl's shoe back in Junior High, while Billy was a downright thug who forces himself on Chris in one scene. The films largely tone this down to focus on Chris' Alpha Bitch tendencies and Billy's role as Chris' boyfriend.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: In Brian De Palma's version of Carrie, Norma Watson is made into Chris's gal pal and openly bullies Carrie as well as being in on the prank at the prom. This is due to DePalma being impressed with PJ Soles's performance and rewriting Norma to expand her role.
    • Again in the TV remake with Tina Blake. While she is one of Chris's friends in the book, she isn't as big a bully and she isn't in on the prank, which she is in the film.
    • Helen Shyres in the book is mostly just a background character as Sue's friend but gets combined with another girl Frieda Jason in the TV film and so has her scene where she is nice to Carrie at the prom.
    • An especially interesting case in The Musical with Margaret White. While she's still an insane, abusive Fundamentalist, she's shown to genuinely love and want what's best for Carrie, and is even self aware of the pain she causes her daughter. Not only that, she feels guilty! While she's definitely a villain, she comes off more as a Well-Intentioned Extremist, maybe even an emotionally complex Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • Norma in the original film, due to DePalma enjoying P.J. Soles's performance and thus rewriting her role to give her more screen time, and Tina in the 2002 film. Neither were actually evil in the book. Though Tina was at least mentioned to be Chris's friend in the book, she wasn't involved in the plot.
    • Casual dialogue can imply a whole lot. The 2013 movie takes a cue from the book, and strongly implies that Margaret's mother was telekinetic(in the book it was her grandmother.) However, the film goes farther with the line "the devil keeps coming back...you have to kill it again and again." Implying that Margaret killed her mother, believing she was possessed. This makes her manic behavior, and uncontrollable freak out about Carrie's power much more understandable.
  • Adorkable: Norma may be The Dragon to Chris' council of high school villainy, but she is so dorky and cute you kind of want to let it slide. Especially after seeing her get her hair done in the salon, and still wearing her trademark hat on top of the dryer.
  • Adults Are Useless: The adults in Carrie's life are either apathetic to her plight (the principal) or actively making her life worse (her mom, the English teacher). Even Miss Desjardin, the one person who tries to help her, only causes her bullies to hate her more.
  • Alpha Bitch: Chris.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: In the '02 version, this is the only way anybody is able to get out of the gym once Carrie locks the doors.
  • The Alleged Car: The original book has Billy driving a rusty, beat-up, jacked-in-the-back '61 Chevy Biscayne with a broken headlight. The film, fortunately, upgrades him to something much cooler.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Chris with Billy, who is frequently described as a delinquent, and is seen cracking open a beer while cruising down the strip (stopping only after he notices that there's a cop in the next lane). He is the one who kills the pigs to get the blood for the prank.
  • All of the Other Reindeer
  • And Starring: Margaret's actresses, Piper Laurie and Julianne Morre, got this treatment in the 1976 and 2013 versions respectively. Patricia Clarkson is credited second in the 2002 version. The 1976 version also had "Introducing" for John Travolta.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: In the 2013 version, the Jerk Jock posse has to goad each other into killing the pig they get the bucket of pig's blood from. Reality Ensues indeed.
  • Arc Symbol: Blood, represents power, violence and death.
  • Arc Words: "Flex", for Carrie when she practices her telekinesis.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: In the '13 version, when Sue tries to justify not apologizing to Carrie since Tommy never apologized to a bully he beat up, Tommy asks her, "What did Carrie White ever do to you?" (They have a similar conversation in the book as well.)
  • Artistic License - Religion: Used deliberately. Many of the passages Margaret White quotes are not found in any translation of any of the holy texts of Christianity. Carrie calls her on this, not that it does any good.
  • Asshole Victim: Let's face it, Billy, Chris, and Norma/Tina (1976, 2002, and especially 2013 versions respectively) kind of had it coming.
  • Auto Erotica: Chris fellates Billy in his car in one scene.
  • Ballroom Blitz: That prank played on Carrie at the prom? Not a good idea.
  • Beautiful All Along: Carrie. Justified in the novel; before the prom, she deliberately wore unflattering clothes, because her mother believed that trying to look attractive is sinful. Justified in both the films for different reasons. In the 70s film, Miss Collins suggests that Carrie would look nice if she paid some attention to her appearance. In the 2002 film, she got advice from Sue and is shown reading teen fashion magazines for tips.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Averted in the '13 version. Portia Doubleday was made to look less attractive than Chloe Moretz, being done up like a spray-tanned Snooki/J-Woww wannabe, yet was playing the Alpha Bitch Chris to Chloe's freak loner Carrie. This creates the impression, on top of the characterization in the script, that Chris might be jealous of Carrie's looks.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • Averted when Carrie gets covered in pig blood. Though still played straight somewhat in the book, where she died while covered in blood. In the films, she goes home and washes the blood off for the climax.
    • Likewise averted in the '13 version with Chris' death, in which she gets thrown through a windshield after Carrie crashes Billy's car. Her face gets badly carved up, with several huge shards of broken glass sticking out of it.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Sue and the teacher always survive in each version, for this reason. Except in the 1976 film, where Carrie kills Miss Collins by dropping a basketball backboard on her. The 2013 film double subverts this by having Carrie pull a Force Neck Lift on the teacher... to get her out of the way.
    • Averted in The Musical, where Carrie kills everyone at the prom except Sue. Sue only survives because the teacher (Ms. Gardner in the musical) kicks her out of the prom before the pig blood drops.
  • Beta Bitch: The '76 film upgrades Norma to this, and the '02 and '13 films do the same with Tina, giving Chris a female partner in crime. Neither was actually evil in the book, though Tina was friends with Chris.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Pretty much the moral of the whole story.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Margaret White and the Chris/Billy couple.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Chris and Billy.
  • Billing Displacement: John Travolta, who was then the star of Welcome Back, Kotter, got second billing on the posters behind Sissy Spacek, even though Billy was, at best, the seventh most important character. Home video releases continue this tradition now that Travolta is a Hollywood icon.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Averted in the 2013 version. Both George and Erika are seen among the survivors after the prom scene. Points to George as he was right in the middle of the prom trying to help people escape.
  • Blondes are Evil: This trope is likely the reason for Chris's Adaptation Dye-Job in the '76 and '02 versions. She is black-haired in the book, but in both of those films she was blonde. The '02 version also has a gang of blonde extras who are frequently seen turning their noses up at Carrie. Averted with Helen in the remake.
    • Pointedly averted in the '13 version, where Portia Doubleday (whose IMDb photo shows her as a blonde) dyed her hair brown to play Chris.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: Take a guess.
  • Blood Splattered Prom Dress
  • Bloody Handprint: Carrie leaves one of these on Miss Desjardin's shorts during the opening scenes, being under the impression that she is bleeding to death during her first period. (Momma never told her about That Time of the Month, feeling that menstruation is caused by sin.)
  • Book Ends: At the start of both the book and the movies, Carrie gets her first period and promptly freaks out at the sight of her blood. At the climax, the period she had previously becomes the least of her worries.
    • In the book, the opening scene is of Carrie getting her first period. At the end of the book, Sue Snell starts menstruating right after she comforts the dying Carrie. Like Carrie's first period in the beginning, this one is significant; Sue had previously been wondering if she was pregnant due to her missing her period. It's implied that Carrie is responsible for whatever caused her to start menstruating again.
  • Bucket Booby-Trap: Seriously, not a good idea.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Chris and the rest of Carrie's Jerkass classmates didn't know what she was capable of until it was far too late. Her mother, on the other hand, did know... and not only kept right on treating her in the same old way, but actually treated her worse, calling her a witch. In the novel, it's mentioned that some of Margaret's female relatives apparently had the same talent, and Margaret knew about it.
    • In the book, there is a flashback from Margaret, involving her own grandmother (Carrie's great-grandmother). The woman would display her telekinesis and cackle madly. She'd also gone completely senile at an early age before dying of a heart attack. It's shown that she was a pretty frightening figure for Margaret to grow up with, which is probably why she ended up being a crazy religious fanatic. It's subtle but gives her a very slight Well-Intentioned Extremist view.
  • Buried Alive: Carrie in Sue's nightmare at the end of the original film.
  • Censor Steam: The television edit put in a ton of CGI steam to hide all the nudity in the opening five minutes.
  • Christianity is Catholic: In the original film, most of the religious iconography that shows up in Margaret's house is explicitly Catholic.
  • Coming of Age Story: Albeit one that goes horribly, horribly wrong.
  • Confessional: Margaret White has one in her house, where she locks Carrie in periodically. It is decorated with horrifically vengeful images of God and Jesus.
  • Convicted by Public Opinion: In the book, Sue and Tommy are blamed by the media for having planned the prank and driven Carrie over the edge, even though they had only played an incidental and fairly unwitting role in such.
  • Cool Car: Billy, Chris' boyfriend, drives a classic red muscle car in the '76 and '13 versions — a first-generation Chevelle SS in the former, and a second-generation GTO in the latter. Shame that Carrie blows it up.
    • In the '02 version, Billy drives a Cool Truck. It suffers a similar fate — Carrie slams it against a tree. Roof first.
  • Corpsing: All of the actresses playing Carrie and her mother have very hard times keeping a straight face. Special mention to Piper Laurie, who was so over the top Brian De Palma had to take her aside and remind her she wasn't in a comedy. (In her interview on the DVD, Nancy Allen, who played Chris in the 1976 version, states that she thought they were making a comedy.) Every time Julianne Moore tries to get Chloe Grace-Moritz to pray, she cracks up. It's very noticeable in the final scene before Carrie is stabbed. Finally no-one can take the dirty pillows line with a straight face.
  • Crucified Villain Shot: In the movie: Carrie's mother in her final shot, impaled with steak knives in the style of the St. Sebastian figurine in the confessional.
    • And like Saint Sebastian, she experiences religious ecstasy during her death. Saint Sebastian, who according to legend was a very handsome young man, is something of an unofficial sex symbol in the Catholic Church (especially among closeted gay men). The movie uses this to show how Carrie's mother has literally channeled her sex drive into religious devotion — or in this case, Saint Sebastian.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death - most of the prom goers in 2013. Special mention goes to Tina (whipped by electric cords which ignite her dress and her hair) and Chris (got her face stuck in the windshield. Carrie just looks at her and seemingly leaves...then she hurls Chris' car into the nearby gas pump).
  • Dark Reprise: In The Musical, "Carrie" gets one, though only the audience knows it's dark.
  • Daddy's Girl: Chris in the novel and 2013 film adaptation is a particularly toxic example.
  • Deadly Prank: It ends up being this for almost the entire high school. In the TV remake, Tommy dies when the bucket falls on his head before Carrie's revenge even starts; in the book (and possibly the movie), he's only knocked unconscious, but dies with the rest of the students in the fire.
    • In the '13 movie, it's pretty much implied he died when the bucket hit him.
    • It should also be noted that in the book, Carrie not only killed her schoolmates but went on a rampage through her town, killing hundreds of people.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Norma and the gym teacher in the 1976 film. In the book and the '02 version, they lived.
    • Tina in the '02 version. It seemed both films made sure that the girl who helped Chris with the prank would get retribution.
    • Averted in the '13 film. It looks as though Carrie was going to Force-choke the life out of Miss Desjardin, but she's actually lifting her off the wet floor (so she wouldn't be electrocuted), allowing her to escape.
      • But Played Straight in the '13 film with Tina again. Also, Tommy possibly dies when the bucket hits him in the head, instead of in the fire, later.
  • Death Glare: Carrie gives a hellish one to everyone during the prom scene.
  • Death by Mocking: And how.
  • Delinquents: Billy and his friends.
  • Desolation Shot: Appears in the remake, with its shots of the fire and destruction that Carrie has left in her wake.
  • Did You Think I Can't Feel?: A variation: instead of Carrie saying this, it's Miss Desjardin/Collins who does so for her as she punishes the class for humiliating Carrie in the shower. Subverted in that the girls don't learn a thing from it — in fact, it makes Chris want to humiliate Carrie even further.
    Miss Desjardin (Collins): Have any of you ever stopped to think that Carrie White has feelings? Have any of you ever stopped to think?
    • Carrie finally standing up to Margaret also has elements of this.
    • The musical flat out quotes the trope. Carrie belts out "Doesn't anybody think that I hear?" right before destroying the gym.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In the 2013 remake, when Chris got her lawyer father to threaten to sue the school since they didn't have proof she was involved in the "tampon shower" incident, it never occurred to her that the school might actually have proof (in the form of the video on her phone).
  • Disappeared Dad: The book version of Carrie's father died in an accident before she was born. In the 1976 film, though, it is made clear that Ralph White left Margaret for another woman, acting as a Sequel Hook for The Rage: Carrie 2.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Yes, some of Carrie's classmates had been treating her unfairly, but her murderous rampage throughout the town is never justified. Instead, it is considered disproportionate.
    • This is set in motion by another example, namely Chris pulling the elaborate prank on Carrie in retaliation for getting punished for bullying her in the showers.
    • Averted, at least in comparison to the other versions, in the 2013 remake: She causes massive property damage and a lot of panic, but only kills the people she thinks had a hand in the pig's blood prank. She even lets Miss Desjardin and Sue go unharmed.
    • The 2013 version adds another layer: An offhand comment from Chris implies that Carrie has, on occasion, parroted some of her mother's more extreme beliefs about her classmates in front of them. While one can certainly understand them being annoyed by that, their abuse of her is rightly treated as an overreaction.
  • Domestic Abuse: How Margaret treats Carrie, and how Billy treats Chris.
  • Downer Ending: Carrie kills her mother at the end, then dies from a combination of overuse of her power and her own injuries. Also, the few survivors appear to be traumatized, especially Sue.
  • Dying Town: In the book, the town of Chamberlain becomes one of these in the aftermath of Carrie's rampage, well on its way to becoming a Ghost Town, as starkly reported in "The Legacy of TK: Scorched Earth and Scorched Hearts," one of the articles that make up the book's epilogue:
    The over-all impression is one of a town that is waiting to die. It is not enough, these days, to say that Chamberlain will never be the same. It may be closer to the truth to say that Chamberlain will simply never again be.
  • The End... Or Is It?:
    • The final scene of the '76 film, where Sue is grabbed by Carrie's arm coming out of the ground while laying flowers at the ashes of her house. Thankfully, it turns out to be All Just a Dream. This shock ending wound up having a major influence on many pioneering Slasher Movies, particularly Friday the 13th (1980).
    • The book has a very quiet The End... Or Is It?, with Amelia's letter to her sister. Fortunately, she's not a religious nut, and her concerns about Annie's telekinetic powers are mostly health-related.
    • The 2013 version has Sue visiting Carrie's grave and placing a single white rose by the headstone, which is vandalized with the words "Carrie White Burns In Hell". The headstone cracks and Carrie screams, hinting that she's Not Quite Dead. (There's no indication that this is a dream sequence this time.)
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: In the '76 version, Billy's Chevelle explodes soon after rolling over. Justified, though, in that it's made clear that Carrie caused the car to blow up with her mind.
    • Subverted in the 2013 remake. It takes Carrie dropping a light pole onto the car, after it's been crashed into a gas station, to blow it up.
  • Evil Matriarch
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • In the 2002 version, when Billy sees Carrie out on the road and decides to run her over, Chris screams at him to stop. She wanted Carrie humiliated, not turned into roadkill. This isn't the case in the '76 version, where it was Chris who tried to run Carrie down while Billy just looked on either confused or drunk, nor in the '13 version, where Chris tells Billy to "run her down" and he doesn't hesitate to try.
      • Likewise in the novel, Chris's literal last thoughts before dying are that she never meant to kill Carrie.
    • During the 1976 version's prom scene, after Carrie is drenched in blood, she — in her mind — hears and sees the entire student body and teachers laughing mockingly at her; in reality, the students stood mostly in stunned silence, trying to register what had happened, and most of them likely were disgusted and/or outraged (and probably wanted the instigators punished). The scene cuts back and forth between the actual reaction and what Carrie believes is the reaction.
    • In the musical, Billy remarks that Chris's plan is "pretty damn sick", even by his standards (though he still goes through with it). Again, this isn't the case in the other versions.
    • In the 2013 version, the stooge in Billy's posse charged with killing the pig whose blood is used to humiliate Carrie simply couldn't bring himself to murder a helpless animal even after "psyching himself up" with cheap macho bravado. This just rubs in how evil Billy is when he kisses the same hammer and gleefully brings it down on the poor swine.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Carrie Vs Chris, Billy and Margaret.
  • Fan Disservice: The shower scene in the beginning starts off very sexy, with lingering shots of the entire female cast undressing and showering, but it then culminates in Carrie shrieking while having her period.
  • Female Misogynist: Margaret, in spades - the evils of women and female sexuality is one of her favorite subjects. In the book, it's implied that this comes, in part, from troubled relationships with her mother and grandmother.
  • Fiction Isn't Fair
  • The Film of the Book
  • Flat Earth Atheist: In the book, mention is made of how the "Carrie White affair" and proof of the existence of psychic powers has affected the scientific community's long-held preconceptions. While most scientists have accepted this new reality, it's mentioned that those at Duke University, among others, continue to reject it as a hoax even after the government's official report on what happened supported their existence.
  • Follow the Leader: Pretty much any film about a teenage outcast who gets revenge on her (or, less commonly, hisnote ) classmates is going to be compared to Carrie at some point. Doubly so if the revenge is carried out through supernatural means.
    • The most egregious example is possibly the 1978 film Jennifer, which is basically Carrie with snakes!
    • And the 1987 film Hello Mary-Lou: Prom Night II, which is Carrie meets A Nightmare on Elm Street.
    • Evilspeak is pretty much an '80s male version of Carrie, though set in a military school, powers actually given from a Satanic source (a computer this time) and, funnily enough, demonic pigs standing in for psychic powers during the rampage.
  • Freak Out: Carrie's is one of the most famous ever put to celluloid.
  • The Freelance Shame Squad: A lot of those stupid teenagers at the prom might have lived had they not found Carrie's utter humiliation so hilarious. Or tripped her as she ran out the door.
    • Of course, it's implied in the original movie that they aren't actually laughing at her and that it's all in Carrie's head.
    • And in the novel, an interview with one of the survivors of the whole thing reveals that it was one of those situations where it was either laugh, cry or go crazy. Some people in Real Life tend to laugh in awkward situations. Combine contagious laughter and mob psychology and you get one horrible situation all around.
  • Freudian Excuse: Having Margaret White as a mother can excuse practically everything.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Carrie.
  • Full-Contact Magic: Carrie's powers are entirely from her mind and in most adaptations all she does is look at something and can make it move. The original film was famous for Spacek's unblinking stare and rigid posture as all hell broke loose. The same scene in the 2013 remake has Moretz use a few gestures for when she really focuses on something, but it is an unnatural "elbows always at her side" rather than anything grand.
  • The Fundamentalist: Carrie's mom is a particularly psycho version of this trope, who is extreme to the point of insanity. Margaret White makes the Westboro Baptist Church look downright progressive. She thinks sex, even within marriage, is sinful and that women develop breasts if they "weren't raised right". She didn't even tell Carrie about menstruation, because she thinks it is God's punishment for sinful thoughts.
  • Funny Background Event: In the 2013 film, anytime the words "period" and "tampons" are mentioned, the Principal grows increasingly distressed. When he catches sight of Carrie's bloody handprint on Ms. Desjardin's skirt, the poor man very nearly passes out.
    • Later on in the same film when he confronts Chris' father, he just cannot say the word "tampon" at all, instead referring to them as "those things".
  • Genki Girl: Norma in the '02 version, played to perfection by Meghan Black.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Chris' plan. She did humiliate Carrie just as she wanted, however....
  • The Hero Dies: While it's hard to call Carrie herself a heroine, it counts as such in the sense that she's the main character.
  • Heroic RROD: Carrie herself has one of these in the end after killing her mother, from a combination of shock, blood loss, and sheer overuse of her power which caused her heart to give out, although it's not really heroic. Also, it's heavily implied that all telekinetics will eventually succumb to this because telekinesis puts great strain on the heart and lungs.
  • High School
  • High School Dance
  • Homage:
    • The video for "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood.note  In the video, as Underwood walks down a small-town city street, various objects fly in the air, building windows break, lampposts fall and so forth, during a rampage caused by the horror she felt when she saw her boyfriend kissing another woman. (Her boyfriend's truck is also badly damaged, presumably as the result of the Carrie-type rampage.)
    • Hole has homaged Carrie twice in their music.
      • The video of "Miss World" has Courtney Love as Carrie learning she was voted prom queen. The end is supposed to be right before the bucket of pig blood is dumped on her head.
      • "She Walks on Me" is a song about an Alpha Bitch and the damage she does. "Carrie, Carrie, / please come here. / No, don't you touch me. / Don't you dare!"
    • Jill Sobule's song "Supermodel" from the movie Clueless. The video has Jill playing the part of Carrie. Her name is even changed to "Jill White" on the voting form.
    • The Glee episode "Tina in the Sky with Diamonds" has an extended homage/parody of the prom scene, with many specific moments lifted from the '76 version, only with a slushee instead of blood and Tina not having Psychic Powers.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Betty Buckley has said that she played Miss Collins as a lesbian in order to invoke this in her interactions with Carrie.
  • Hope Spot: The whole story is like one giant Hope Spot due to the Foregone Conclusion osmosis of the narrative. You know Carrie has powers, you know Chris is setting up a cruel prank, you know it's going to set her off and end horribly for everyone. But.. she looks so happy for the first time ever.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: It strikes on prom night instead.
  • I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me: The song that Carrie and Tommy dance to at the prom even quotes this word-for-word.
  • In the Back: In the original film, Margaret does this to Carrie after the prom disaster.
    • In the '13 film, she does this as she's hugging Carrie too.
  • In the Blood: One of the book's Scrapbook Story elements consists of clippings from books and scientific papers discussing the genetic and biological origins of telekinesis.
  • Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: In the 2013 version, Chris films Carrie's humiliation in the shower and posts it on YouTube. It bites her in the ass when Miss Desjardin and the principal use the video to point to her as the ringleader of the prank.
  • Ironic Echo: In The Musical: "I love you, Mama." "I love you, Carrie."
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Carrie's former next door neighbor remarks what a pretty child she was and her reaction to seeing Carrie's high school photo was "what did that woman [Margaret] do to her?".
    • In the book, this also applies to Margaret. Interviews with people from her past and records indicate that she used to be a very beautiful young woman, but her physical appearance began to degrade when her mental stability did the same.
  • It's A Small Net After All: Subverted in the 2002 remake. When Carrie does a search for "miracles" so that she could learn about her psychic powers, she has to dig through a bunch of results that have nothing to do with what she's looking for (including a site advertising "miracle underwear"). Still, she's able to find the information she needs without having to go to the second page.
  • Jump Scare: The Nightmare Sequence at the end. Notable for being the first horror movie of its time to employ this at the end of a story to get one last scare from the audience, which would go on to become a staple of horror films.
  • Karmic Death: For Carrie's bullies themselves at the end, especially Billy and Chris.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Carrie attacking the kid on the bicycle for attempting to scare her.
  • Kill 'em All: In the original film, Sue is the only major character who survives to the end. The book and the '02 version has a larger pool of survivors, which includes Ms. Desjardin, Tina, and Norma, who died in the original film.
  • Kill It with Fire: In all versions of the story, Carrie kills her fellow classmates by locking them in the gym and burning it down. The novel and the remake also have her flooding the gym floor and dropping live wires into it, electrocuting everybody, and causing a short circuit to start a fire. In the original film, this is also how Carrie dies.
  • Knife Nut: In Margaret's more psychotic moments, including the end, she goes after Carrie with a butcher's knife.
  • Leitmotif: In the revival of The Musical, Carrie sings a song named after her, and several reprises of the song are heard throughout the show, always in a situation involving her.
  • Lighter and Softer: While the 2013 version is still R-rated, the opening shower sequence is significantly toned down in comparison to its 1976 counterpart, especially in terms of nudity. This is justified by the fact that Chloe Moretz was barely fifteen at the time; social services and law enforcement would have had a field day if Kimberly Peirce decided to film her the same way that Brian De Palma... filmed the twenty-six-year-old Sissy Spacek. The added violence and bloodshed during Carrie's rampage almost feels like a way to make up for it.
  • Lovable Jock: Tommy.
  • Lovecraft Country: Set in Maine, obviously. The '76 version is the only one that doesn't explicitly place the story there.
  • Made-for-TV Movie: The 2002 version.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Carrie releases a sonic scream just before she starts the prom massacre in the 2013 version.
  • The Masochism Tango: Chris and Billy, especially in the book. Billy even tries to rape Chris, but she submits quickly after realizing that's what he wants. And that she likes it.
  • Mind over Matter
  • Mind Rape: In the book and the '13 version, a dying Carrie tries to do this to Sue, angry about the prank that she thought Sue had pulled on her... only to find that Sue meant her no harm, and that she hadn't planned to humiliate her at the prom. Also, several people who survived Carrie's rampage had her presence and identity essentially stamped into their minds, even though most of them had never met her and many never saw her that night.
    • In the book, Sue realizes that Carrie is also mildly telepathic, and actually invites Carrie to examine her thoughts to demonstrate her innocence. She didn't realize how unpleasant the experience would be, though.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The first international movie poster for the 2013 version of the film simply shows a close-up of Chloe Moretz as Carrie, drenched in blood, with the Tag Line "YOU WILL KNOW HER NAME," playing off of the original film's fame to do most of the heavy lifting.
  • A Minor Kidroduction:
    • The original film would have started out like this had the special effects necessary for the scene worked properly. They didn't, and so the scene was scrapped. The 2002 remake, thanks to the advance of CGI, was able to include this scene, albeit not at the very beginning.
    • The '13 film opens with Margaret giving birth to Carrie, and contemplating murdering her. A version of the above scene was also shot for the film, though it was dropped later on in favor of the one just described.
  • Mood Whiplash: In the original production of The Musical, "Don't Waste the Moon," a campy high school number that would be at home in Grease is sandwiched between Margaret's searing tirade, "And Eve Was Weak," and the somber "Evening Prayers."
  • Mommy Issues: The reason why Carrie is a Person of Mass Destruction in the first place.
  • Mugging the Monster: Although they didn't know she was a monster until it was too late.
  • Mutual Kill:
    • In the novel, Margaret stabs Carrie, then Carrie kills Margaret by stopping her heart. Carrie eventually dies from shock, blood loss, and overuse of her power in finishing off her final tormentors, Billy and Chris.
    • In the '76 film, Margaret stabs Carrie, Carrie uses Margaret's knives to crucify her, and then Carrie is done in when her My God, What Have I Done? reaction leads her to burn down her house with her inside.
    • In the '02 film, this is subverted. Margaret tries to down Carrie in the bathtub, and Carrie induces a heart attack in Margaret. Carrie turns out to be Not Quite Dead, though.
    • The 2013 film has more or less the same sequence of events at the 1976 movie, with Margaret stabbing Carrie and Carrie impaling Margaret with the knives and destroying the house around them after her My God, What Have I Done? moment. The only change is that, before Carrie destroys the house, Sue shows up and tries to get Carrie out of the house. Carrie almost kills her, but instead gently levitates her out of the house after sensing that Sue is pregnant, telling her "it's a girl."
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The reason Sue asked Tommy to take Carrie to the prom was because she felt sorry for what she did to Carrie in the shower. Also, in the '76 and 2013 versions, Carrie has a moment like this after killing her mother. (She shows no such remorse in the book or in the '02 version.)
  • Never Found the Body: In the 2002 remake.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The events of the book (which was published in 1974) are said to have occurred in 1979, and most of the in-universe articles that the book uses for exposition were written in the '80s. The films, however, are all set squarely in the year that they were released in.
    • In the 2013 remake, the year on Carrie's gravestone is 2014
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Sue. Granted, if she hadn't participated in humiliating Carrie in the shower, Carrie would have still been mistreated, but Sue's actions made her feel guilty enough to send Tommy to ask her to the prom, which is what set into motion everything that followed.
    • One could also apply this to Miss Collins, who could possibly have prevented everything if she had taken ten seconds to listen to Sue before throwing her out of the prom. Then again, Sue's aforementioned participation in the shower incident is probably what led Miss Collins to not hear her out.
    • Sue could have avoided the whole thing by simply apologizing with Carrie and perhaps being friends with her. Tommy even calls her out about this.
  • Nightmare Sequence: At the end of the '76 film, Sue dreams of placing flowers on Carrie's grave. A bloody hand suddenly reaches out and grabs her.
    • The alternate ending in the '13 film has Sue dreaming of giving birth only to realize something's wrong and in a Homage to the original, a bloody hand reaches out of her and grabs her.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Sue just wanted to do something nice for Carrie. We all know how that turned out.
  • No Periods, Period: Subverted so hard.
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Margaret crudely tells Carrie how she was produced via rape because Margaret considered all sex — even within marriage — to be offensive and sinful. She starts screaming about how she admits she enjoyed it.
    "He took me with that roadhouse whiskey on his breath and I liked it. I liked it!"
  • Not So Different: In the 2013 film, Chris gets her face lacerated by shards of glass after the car she's in crashes into the gas station and she's jerked into the windscreen. Looking from her bloodied face to the blood-drenched Carrie, this may be a possible way representing how Carrie has brought her bullies down to her level with her rampage.
  • Not Quite Dead: Carrie in the '02 version, where she is somehow resuscitated by Sue after spending hours submerged in a bathtub.
  • Offing the Offspring: Margaret White is convinced her daughter's telekinesis is a sign of demonic possession. Things come to a head after the fateful prom.
  • Oh Crap:
    • Chris and Billy's reaction in the 1976 film, when they look into the gym hall from outside and see all hell breaking loose.
    • Also Chris' reaction in the 2013 film, during her Villainous Breakdown.
  • Only in Florida: From the '02 version: where else would a girl with Psychic Powers who faked her death run and hide in? The one place where such a thing would pass for "normal."
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Carrie and Sue.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Carrie and her prom rampage, especially with her murder of Chris and her boyfriend, Billy.
  • Person as Verb: At the end of the novel, it's said that "to rip off a Carrie" passed into teen slang, meaning "to commit large-scale mayhem". In Real Life, "pulling a Carrie" or "going Carrie on [something]" became synonymous with someone going crazy after being humiliated. This one's become so well-traveled that it even appears in the Kare Kano manga as a visual-only metaphor for someone snapping under the strain of having perfectionist, controlling parents.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Carrie herself.
  • Pilot Movie: The remake was intended to be this for a show on NBC, but it was never picked up due to low ratings.
  • Plot Hole: See here for some examples on the original book. (Warning: Spoilers)
  • Power Floats: In the 2013 version, Carrie leaves the burning gym by levitating out of it.
  • Prank Date: Subverted. Carrie thought this was the case when Tommy asked her to the prom. However, he had benign intentions, as did his girlfriend Sue, who arranged for him to take Carrie to the prom instead of her due to her feeling sorry for joining in on Carrie's humiliation in the shower. Chris found out, though, and she wanted to make sure it went very badly. And it did.
  • Precision F-Strike: During one of their big fights, Carrie screams "You suck!" and then "YOU FUCK!" at Margaret. It gets the reaction she's hoping for.
    • In the '76 version, Miss Desjardin refers to the prank orchestrated by Chris as "a very shitty thing" twice in succession. This elicits a few giggles from the gym students.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Psychic Powers
  • Psycho Strings: Heard in the '76 version whenever Carrie uses her powers.
  • Psychological Horror
  • Race Lift: Sue, who was white in the original film and the book, was black in the '02 version.
  • Redemption Equals Life: Sue, who regretted tormenting Carrie and tried to make it up to her, is spared by Carrie after Carrie reads her mind and learns that Sue had no malice towards her.
    • In 2013 film, not only does Carrie save Miss Desjardin from getting electrocuted, but also allows her to escape safely. Sue is also spared after Carrie finds out Sue's pregnant.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge
  • Room 101: Margaret has a small, cramped closet in her house filled with religious paraphernalia. She locks Carrie in there to pray for hours on end whenever she so much as takes a tiny step out of line. In the '02 version, though, Carrie manages to make it into a refuge of sorts from Margaret's insanity, hiding a stash of fashion and gossip magazines in there. The '76 version also has Carrie hiding there with Margaret's dead body as her house burns down.
  • Rustproof Blood
  • Sanity Slippage Song: In both version of the musical, "The Destruction" is this for Carrie.
  • Scrapbook Story: The original novel was partly told through a mix of newspaper and magazine articles, scholarly papers, government reports, and excerpts from Sue Snell's memoirs.
  • Screen-to-Stage Adaptation: The musical. As detailed above, it has become a byword for disastrous Broadway flops.
    ... and as the lights dim to black, boos ring out from the upper balcony while below, others begin an ovation. ... Carrie has become an instant legend.
    As the audience files out, some appear thrilled, others appalled; the word most frequently bandied about is "unbelievable". ... The ad copy, which read "There's Never Been a Musical Like Her," has proved oddly prophetic.
    • Scarrie! the musical parody.
  • Setting Update: The remakes both update the story to the then-present day, with the '13 version also bringing in social media as one of Chris' weapons.
  • The Seventies: The setting of the book and the original film.
  • '70s Hair: Most of the cast in the '76 film, with the biggest example (in more ways than one) being William Katt's massive blond 'fro.
  • Sex Is Evil: Margaret thinks all sex, even within marriage, is immoral and sinful.
  • Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny: Though Margaret's husband Ralph shared her beliefs, one time he got drunk and couldn't resist the temptation, and managed to pressure her into having sex (or outright raped her, it's a bit ambiguous). And so Carrie was conceived. Margaret never got over the fact that she actually enjoyed the act.
  • Sexless Marriage: Carrie's parents wanted to have a marriage like that.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: When Carrie gets dressed up for the prom, both Tommy and the narrator say she's beautiful. Miss Desjardin gets this as well when she turns up at the prom. Carrie thinks she looks as though she's attending the prom instead of just chaperoning.
    • Inverted with Sue in the '13 version. In her final confrontation with Carrie, she looks a lot dumpier. This may have been used to show them as Not So Different.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Inverted. See I Was Quite a Looker above.
  • Shower of Angst: Goes without saying, both openings have this, as well as the endings.
  • Slasher Smile: Margaret in the '76 version, while she's coming after Carrie with a huge kitchen knife. Right into the camera.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Pino Donaggio is a master of this, scoring some very disturbing scenes in the '76 version either in a very inappropriately sexy or sweet fashion.
    • In the musical, there is a song called "When There's No One," with a very touching and somber melody... But the lyrics are about Margaret debating whether she should murder her own daughter.
  • Single Girl Seeks Most Popular Guy: Deconstructed.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Carrie in the '02 version.
  • Split Screen: Used perfectly during the prom scene. This is a staple of Brian De Palma, so it isn't surprising.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Sue Snell.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Implied in the Viral Marketing for the '13 version, where the "Find Carrie" Facebook app has Carrie stalking you.
  • Stepford Smiler: Sue is terrified of becoming this in the novel after high school, though funnily enough, the incident prevents her from becoming one.
  • Stocking Filler: Carrie wears a garter to hold up her stockings, although it's not intended to be sexy. It's because Margaret won't let her wear pantyhose. Carrie feels that it's cumbersome and uncomfortable and wishes she could wear sleek and sexy pantyhose like all the other girls instead.
  • Stock Shout-Out: It's in Tiny Toon Adventures of all things!
  • Strolling Through the Chaos: All of which is being caused, directly or otherwise, by Carrie.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Especially in the remake.
  • Survival Mantra: In the re-done version of the musical, the Lord's Prayer has this function for Carrie. The first sign that she's losing it after the incident with the pig's blood is that this doesn't work any more.
  • Teens Are Monsters: All the girls in the locker room, but particularly Chris, who is the mastermind behind the pig-blood prank. (Sue, however, quickly regrets her part in the taunting of Carrie). Billy is a monster as well. And of course, there's Carrie...
  • The End... Or Is It?: The novel ends with a letter written by a Tennessee woman called Amelia Jenks describing the telekinetic powers of her two-year-old daughter Annie, who can make marbles move by themselves. The novel's final words "I bet she'll be a worldbeeter [sic] someday."
  • There Are No Therapists/Social Services Does Not Exist: Justified. Margaret probably thinks that therapists would lead Carrie down the path to Hell, and she'll be damned if she'll let the "godless" government social workers take away her daughter. In the book, at least, it's established that she regards the government as a den of sin.
    • In the 2013 version, it's mentioned that the state intervened to force her mother to stop homeschooling Carrie, so at the very least, somebody stepped in on her behalf at some point. Though you'd think, given they knew enough that Margaret's homeschooling was considered harmful, they would have outright judged Margaret unfit. That said, it's entirely possible Margaret was simply judged unqualified to continue Carrie's education.
  • Token Romance: The 1976 film adds a kiss scene between Tommy and Carrie, implying he has fallen for her. In the original book, this never happened since Tommy was in love with Sue. You then realise that Tommy pretty much cheated on Sue. The book states he only thought of Carrie as a friend.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Carrie's mother, unlike Carrie's Jerkass classmates, has a pretty good idea of what her daughter's capable of doing if pushed sufficiently — and she keeps right on pushing.
    • It's pretty clear that if Margret ever had any sense, it's long been swallowed by zealotry and madness. She's a poster child for 'diminished capacity'.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: The people around Carrie herself were just plain old jerks who were being jerks when they wanted to — but then again, everyone in the prom wouldn't have been killed and most of the town wouldn't have been destroyed had they stopped to think that bullying someone might eventually get them into real trouble.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer for the '76 version showed off pretty much the entire climax, including the deaths of nearly every major character, which makes one wonder why anyone bothered to go see the film. It's particularly hilarious when they dramatically mention "John Travolta in his first motion picture role" and promptly have his car explode.
    • The 2013 version makes use of It Was His Sled to show plenty of footage from the prom, including when the blood is poured on Carrie. This example may be a bit justified, as the book and film have been around for so long and referenced in pop culture so many times that hiding the climax would have proved pointless.
  • Unusual Euphemism: They're not breasts, they're "dirty pillows."
  • Villain Protagonist: Carrie. More precisely she's a Woobie Anti-Villain.
  • Vote Early, Vote Often: The manner in which Chris gets Carrie named prom queen.
  • Where I Was Born and Razed: The original novel and the 2002 version have Carrie destroying her entire town, killing hundreds of people. In the book, it's explicitly stated that, within a few months, what was left of Chamberlain, Maine was a Dying Town, on the way to becoming a Ghost Town. The makers of the original film wanted to include this, but they didn't have the budget, and instead settled for destroying just her high school and her house.
  • Wham Line: For the 2013 version.
    Carrie: "It's a girl."
  • Who's Laughing Now?: The prom scene. All of it.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: We really could have titled this trope "The Carrie". She may go psychotic at the end, but she shows remorse as soon as the rampage ends — and after what she endured, it's amazing she didn't snap sooner.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: A particularly horrifying case that goes even more horribly wrong.

RollerballHugo AwardLogan's Run
CarouselThe MusicalCats
CarouselFilms of the 2010sCBGB
Burnt OfferingsFilms of the 1970sCar Wash
Carnival of SoulsCreator/The Criterion CollectionCasablanca
The History of Tom Jones, A FoundlingCreator/Magnetic VideoYankee Doodle Dandy
The Carpet PeopleLiterature of the 1970sCasca: The Eternal Mercenary
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CarnosaurHorror LiteratureCarrion Comfort
CarnosaurHorror FilmsThe Rage: Carrie 2

alternative title(s): Carrie; Carrie; Carrie1976; Carrie2002; Carrie 2013
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