Literature / Gone Girl

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"When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. I picture cracking her lovely skull, unspooling her brains, trying to get answers. The primal questions of any marriage: 'What are you thinking?', 'How are you feeling?', 'What have we done to each other?'."
Nick Dunne, opening narration.

A novel by Gillian Flynn about a married couple, Nick and Amy Dunne, whose marriage has slid from picture-perfect to downright frosty over the course of five years. Then, on the morning of their fifth anniversary, Amy disappears. There are signs of a struggle, and Nick soon realizes he's the prime suspect.

Nick narrates the investigation of Amy's disappearance, while in alternate chapters Amy's diary tells the history of their relationship. But there are hints that some things have been left out.

A film version by David Fincher starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike was released in 2014.

Please note that much of the suspense in the book and the movie comes from the numerous twists and turns. A majority of the tropes below are completely spoilered out, and thanks to Interface Spoiler, it's not even guaranteed that you won't figure out the twists just by reading what's below. With that said, read at your own risk.

There's a character page here, currently under construction. Feel free to contribute.


Tropes:

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    Tropes provided by the book 

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Nick's dad was a raging misogynist, and while he never hit Go or Nick, or their mother, it's clear his parenting caused issues for both of them later in life.
    • Rand and Marybeth to Amy — at least, in Amy's opinion. Considering they wrote a book series based on her but made Amy's book-self infinitely more perfect than the real Amy, and seemed to value the fictional Amy over the real one, it's not hard to see where she got that idea, even though it almost certainly wasn't intentional.
  • Afraid of Blood: Amy, to the point of passing out at the plasma clinic. Later, we find out she's not — she just told people she was so no one would suspect she faked her abduction, where she had to bleed, a lot.
  • Alliterative Title: Gone Girl. In-Universe "Amazing Amy".
  • Always on Duty: Detective Boney and her partner are on the case day and night.
  • Anachronic Order: Towards the beginning, there's a scene that takes place at the very end of the story; from there, the narrative goes back and forth between Amy's disappearance and her relationship/marriage with Nick before settling on the latter. Then it jumps back to show how Amy faked her own abduction before going back to the present.
  • Angst? What Angst?: In-Universe. Nick is perceived as this trope by the general public because he has a hard time looking sad for the camera. In fact, at one point he slips up so badly that he smiles while on a news broadcast about Amy's disappearance. As if that wasn't bad enough, the media latches onto the Nick-isn't-sad-enough angle and really blows it up.
  • Anti-Climax: The conflict between Amy and Nick is not being resolved in a dramatic finale but lingers on, resulting in a No Ending.
  • The Baby Trap: An interesting variant. Nick wants to have children with Amy, to the point of starting fertility treatments, but Amy changes her mind and has the sperm samples destroyed.... or so Nick thinks. Amy turns out to have kept the sample on ice. After she frames Nick for her murder, he naturally wants nothing more to do with her, but she impregnates herself with his stored sperm, believing that he'd rather stay with her than abandon his child. The ploy works.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Amy gets everything she wanted in the end, coming off as a heroic victim and suffering no consequences for her actions. Although Nick's final words to Amy in the novel seem to strike a nerve, "Because I feel sorry for you. Every day, you have to wake up and be you." Amy comments that she can't stop thinking about this.
  • Beauty Is Bad: Applies to both Amy and Nick Both attractive, both horrible, horrible people.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Nick does not like being compared to his father.
    • Amy's is triggered by attempts to control her, via her psychosis. She also doesn't take the discovery Nick is cheating on her very well.
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • Subverted. The more inexperienced Andie may seem like the Betty to Amy's Veronica with Nick being the Archie, but Amy is Nick's wife, while Andie is his 20 year old mistress.
    • Also subverted with Desi and Nick to Amy's Archie. Desi may seem like a nice, clean-cut guy—but he also stalks Amy. Nick may seem like a simple guy or even a sociopath, but he is Amy's husband—while millionaire Desi is not.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Amy is known as a nice girl but is in fact a sociopath.
  • Black and Gray Morality: All characters are flawed to different degrees. While both Amy and Nick are pictured as unlikable psychopaths in the book, Amy takes the cake when killing Desi and trying to get Nick wrongly accused of murder.
  • Book Ends: Nick's opening monologue, which is given more context and is expanded upon the second time around.
  • Break the Haughty: The somewhat relishing moment when Amy gets robbed and battered by Greta and her boyfriend.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Nick speaks directly to the audience in his narration, occasionally outright referring to the viewer as "you." This helps us feel like we're along for the ride with him, and helps us sympathize with him (even in moments when he may not actually deserve it). From Part Two on, Amy does the same thing, and it's creepy as all hell.
  • Catch Phrase: In-universe, Amazing Amy's is "Sheesh!" Even when the character is an adult. Real Amy finds this particularly grating.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Andie. Seriously, girl, your boyfriend is under investigation for a murder. You can't stay away for a few weeks?
  • Colbert Bump: In-universe. Nick manages to turn the public perception of his case around by opening up in his interview with Sharon Schieber.
  • Complexity Addiction: Amy's plan involves leaving a trail of clues all over town, some in very unlikely places, as well as bleeding herself, spilling the blood, and then cleaning it up in the way Nick would, just to heighten the suspicion when the police did find it. See Gambit Roulette.
  • Country Matters: The word "cunt" is used multiple times in only one conversation, when Amy admits to being a borderline psychopath for the sake of her relationship with Nick. It also doubles as N-Word Privileges given that a woman is the one who says it.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Amy. At one point some of Amy's pre-haircut blonde hairs are found in Desi's trunk, supporting her abduction story. Nick speculates that she probably had kept a bag of her longer hair...just in case. Not to mention all the junk she hoards in the shed to make Nick look like a greedy little cheat, draining the toilet so she could steal pregnant Noelle's urine to use for a pregnancy test...the list goes on and on.
  • Criminal Mind Games: The clues left by Amy for Nick.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone, but Margo probably takes the cake. She's always ready to relieve the tension with a sarcastic comment, or deal with said tension with sarcasm in order to keep herself sane.
  • Determinator: When Amy makes up her mind to punish somebody, she will get the job done. No matter how long it takes. Or how much effort and research she has to put in. Or how much physical injury she has to do to herself. As Hilary puts it, "The girl cracked her own ribs. Who was going to believe me?"
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Amy's modus operandi. She frames a bad friend for assault, frames a cheating boyfriend for rape, frames a cheating husband for murder, and we hear of her spending a year working on getting a truck driver who cut her off fired.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Desi is a particularly obsessive variant, as evidenced by his "protection" of Amy.
  • Domestic Abuse: Nick's father was incredibly psychologically, verbally and emotionally abusive towards Maureen, but Nick notes he likely justified it because he never caused her physical abuse. He suspects this is why his twin sister remains unmarried and hates crying in front of men, fearing dismissal.
  • Dumb Blonde: Averted with Amy. As it turns out, she's The Chessmaster behind the whole thing.
  • Dye or Die: To avoid detection after her disappearance, Amy cuts her hair short and dyes it. She also puts on weight and gets fake glasses.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Nick's full name is Lance Nicholas Dunne. He refuses to go by "Lance" because it exacerbates his punchable alpha-male douchebag appearance.
  • Evidence Dungeon: The woodshed behind Margo's house, filled with evidence against Nick.
  • Evil Is Petty: So very petty. While hanging out with Amy (who is masquerading as Lydia/Nancy) at the cabins, Greta says that Amy looks like a "rich, stuck-up bitch" when she is discussed on the Ellen Abbott show. Amy goes and spits in Greta's milk, potato salad and orange juice.
  • Fake Pregnancy
  • Faking the Dead: Turns out, Amy had staged the "disappearance", correctly predicting people would suspect Nick of murdering her.
  • False Rape Accusation: A favorite trope of Amy's. She did it once with a former boyfriend of hers and again with Desi.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Amy comes off as downright charming at first, but it's all an act. She's downright rotten at her core.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Amy's framing of Hilary Handy, for extremely petty things like, "Forgetting [I'm] allergic to strawberries," and so on.
  • Female Misogynist: Go, to a small extent. She doesn't seem to hate women, but she definitely considers herself to be one of the dudes, and makes a conscious effort to avoid "feminine" things like displaying her emotions in public. Nick blames their incredibly misogynistic father and the way he raised them for having this effect on her.
    • Amy's "Cool Girl" speech is chock full of this. Not only is she a hypocrite (she herself a pretender and a facade), the entire thesis is arguing that "cool girls" only act the way they do in order to impress or satisfy the imaginations of men, not because, um, it's part of their own personality. The movie highlights this by making Amy feel this way towards a woman she observes sitting with what she believes to be a man, when said woman is in fact not with a man, but with another woman.
  • Femme Fatale: Amy Elliott-Dunne is fully capable of using her sex appeal to befuddle men, and also killing them while they're distracted.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Nick gives his sister the game Mastermind for her birthday.
    • Nick admits, "I'm a big fan of the lie by omission." A couple chapters later, we find out he conveniently didn't tell us he was cheating on Amy.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Not only was Amy playing the cops like a fiddle, she was playing the reader, too. The moments when she's talking directly to the audience in her narration are also quite creepy.
  • Frameup: Amy is good at this, which Nick and Desi, as well as her former boyfriend, can attest to.
  • Freudian Excuse: Downplayed. One of Amy's earliest memories is discovering that she was different from the other children around her, specifically noticing she was unable to experience joy in the same way they did. But the way her parents, especially her mother, treated her during her upbringing definitely made matters worse.
  • Full Name Ultimatum: When Go is irritated with Nick, she upbraids him not with his full name, but his hated real first name, Lance.
  • Gambit Roulette: Amy's plan relies on the precise movements and deductions made by other people, after she's left; if the police were a little more or a little less competent, everything might have gone differently. Also, even if it wasn't part of the plan, she sure enjoyed being the center of the news media, which any number of things could have usurped completely.
  • Genre Savvy: Both Margo and Jacqueline pick up on the fact that something is very off about Amy, but both of them are powerless to stop her blackmailing and murdering Nick and Desi, respectively.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Sort of. Detective Gilpin is somewhat hostile towards Nick while Detective Boney is sympathetic; but in this instance, this reflects their true feelings on the matter.
  • Gunman with Three Names: Nick knows the public is turning against him when his full name "Lance Nicholas Dunne" is all over the media.
  • Happily Married:
    • The movie initially presents Amy and Nick as happy couple with lots of affection and lots of sex. Then Amy's perfectionism and disdain, along with Nick's adultery and laziness, tear that apart. They ultimately come to realize that as strained as their marriage is, no one else will ever live up to the other and stay together.
    • Amy's parents are very happily married... and their relationship is so perfect that it caused Amy to feel extreme pressure her whole life to be a perfect child and led her to become The Sociopath she is today.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: Nick's father dislikes women so intensely that, in his creeping senility, his vocabulary has almost entirely boiled down to chanting the word "bitch".
  • Henpecked Husband: After Amy's return, Nick is essentially this to Amy, being forced to act like the perfect husband to her because of the media spotlight and her many groupies camped outside their house. He waits for her to admit even the smallest thing about her actions that he can use against her.
  • Her Code Name Was Mary Sue: When Amy was a child, her parents wrote a series of children's books called Amazing Amy. Far from it being flattering, Amy finds it a huge passive-aggressive insult, because Amazing Amy always wound up correctly handling situations that Real Amy messed up (in her parents' opinion).
  • Hollywood Homely: Go, as lampshaded by Nick. He describes her face as "strange faced" with a broad jaw, pretty nose, and "dark globe eyes" that may have been suitable for 1930s Screwball Comedy leading ladies rather than recieved well by a standard of beauty that favors "pixie-princesses".
  • Hypocrite: Amy smugly claims that the reason criminals get caught is that they're too impatient, and she's fool-proofed her plan by being patient with the planning stages. Once the plan is in effect, however, she loses her patience and takes steps to speed things along.
  • I Am Not My Father: Nick's worst nightmare is turning out to be like his abusive father. When his twin finds out that he's a liar and a cheat, she says this nightmare has come true.
  • If It Bleeds, It Leads
  • I Just Want to Be You: Amy's childhood friend Hilary was obsessed with her and planned to kill her and take over her life. At least, that's what Amy wanted everybody to think.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Amy deliberately invokes this trope to create the media frenzy surrounding her disappearance.
    I knew the key to big-time coverage, round-the-clock, frantic, bloodlust never-ending Ellen Abbott coverage, would be the pregnancy. Amazing Amy is tempting as it is; Amazing Amy knocked up is irresistible. Americans like what is easy, and it's easy to like pregnant women; they're like ducklings or bunnies or dogs.
  • Incest Subtext:
    • In the book, there's something extremely off about the relationship between Desi and Jacqueline: as a teen, Desi obsessively dates girls who look like younger versions of his mother, and they still live together once Desi is edging into middle age and his three brothers have long since moved out. There's also the fact that when Desi complains that no-one sends love letters any more, Jacqueline asks if her son saved hers, to which he replies "of course". Now it could be that she's talking about her love letters to Desi's father, but what with the vague wording and all the other hints of the Collings' constantly sexual vibe and odd attachment to one another, it doesn't necessarily come across that way.
    • Discussed, Averted and (in the movie) Exploited with Nick and Go. As male-female twins who were one another's lifelong best friends, they had to contend with rumors of Brother-Sister Incest in high school; Nick makes a semi-humorous point of stating for the record that he and his sister have never had sex, or thought about having sex, or done anything other than like each other a lot in a completely sibling-appropriate way. In the movie it becomes more of a plot point, when media speculation of an incestuous affair between the two is used to smear them when they are both implicated in Amy's disappearance.
  • Incriminating Indifference: Nick has a major problem with this. Just as Amy knew he would.
  • In the Blood: Nick's greatest fear is ending up like his father, a rabid misogynist. It's not an unfounded fear.
  • Irony: When she fakes her death, Amy rants about the "Cool Girl" and notes that she can finally be herself. However, she never really stops pretending - she puts up a masquerade of 'Nancy' while on the run, then once she gets robbed by Greta and Jeff and is forced to call Desi, she begins acting like Desi's version of "Cool Girl" in order to lull him into a false sense of security. Then when she comes back to Nick, she's still playing the part of "Cool Girl" to the general public. This may be why Nick tells Amy in the final lines of the book that, all things said and done, he feels sorry for her.
  • It's All About Me: Amy has no regards for anybody other than herself. She reacts with outrage when people begin to feel pity for Andie, because Amy hates her, therefore everyone should.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • After framing her husband for murder and covertly waging a campaign to ruin his life, then murdering her lover and framing him for rape and kidnapping, Amy gets off completely; Nick was planning on exposing her, but decides against it after learning she's pregnant with their child.
    • Greta and Jeff get away with stealing Amy's money. They are never found, let alone prosecuted.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Amy at one point says Desi thinks of himself as this. This is why she calls him after she was robbed, so he can come running to the rescue and take her away to his castle. It turns out, he's more like a dragon with a lair.
  • The Lad-ette: Margo, the tough, beer-drinking bartender, is generally devoid of traditionally feminine attributes. The famous "Cool Girl" passage deconstructs this trope as often a male fantasy created to justify callous treatment of women.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Yes, Amy did get away scot free, but for the thirty days of her plan she had gone down the shitter. She gets beaten up by common thugs, have her money stolen, and was forced to live in an old friend's house, only to find that he's potentially crazier than her. The only reason she got away scot free was because she's forced to turn her situation around.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Amy and Nick are having sex at the local library.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Amy was this at the start of her and Nick's relationship. We discover that Amy was trying out being the "Cool Girl", which she regards as a vapid male fantasy that she holds in bitter contempt. The "Cool Girl" speech is an angry takedown of this trope; a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about women changing themselves to fit the ideal of the "Cool Girl" who tries to be "one of the guys" and adopts her boyfriend or husband's interests in order to please him. This speech became iconic immediately, and it has been critiqued and debated by feminists as either a really good speech or a really horrible one. The speech is also somewhat ironic, as she condemns women who appear to be happy while remembering her earlier time with Nick differently than it appears on-screen. This is justified with Amy being a sociopath.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Amy, and how! First she faked her death and framing her husband for her murder because she'd fallen out of love with him. Then she murdered her lover, went back to her ex-husband and framed her murdered lover as a rapist. The worst part is she gets off scot-free at the end.
  • Meet Cute: In both the book and the movie, Amy's diary tells a cutesy story about how the two met at a party and shared witty banter. It's all just a bit much, and the dialogue in these flashbacks can seem more than a little contrived. Amy even lampshades it in the movie, telling Nick "We're so cute I want to punch us in the face." As it turns out, there's a very good reason the stories sound contrived and over-the-top cutesy.
  • Missing White Woman Syndrome: Invoked. The media assumes, and we are led to believe, that Nick killed Amy. Then we learn that Amy, being the real manipulative psychopath, knew the trope so well that she exploited everyone's expectations about her case to frame Nick.
  • Momma's Boy: With an abusive Dad like his, it's no surprise Nick preferred his mother.
  • Moral Myopia: Amy never seems to pick up on the fact that, at the novel's end, her treatment of Nick is rather reminiscent of how Desi was treating her when she was his "guest".
  • The Movie Buff: Nick is a former movie and TV critic, refers to himself as a "film geek," and bonds with another guy over The Godfather.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • As a former prosecutor, "victim's rights" advocate and generally anti-defendant commentator with a religious-sounding surname, Ellen Abbott has clear echoes of Nancy Grace. In the film, she's even played by Missi Pyle, who had already played another Expy of Nancy Grace on The Mentalist.
    • Nick's defense lawyer Tanner Bolt (in the film version) is an unmistakable parody of Johnnie Cochran, right down to his trademark glasses and fast-talking demeanor.
  • Oh Crap!: When Nick opens the shed.
    Back to the far back of the yard, on the edge of the treeline, there was the shed.
    I opened the door.
    Nonononono.
  • Only Bad Guys Call Their Lawyers: First defied, then played straight. Nick holds off on hiring a lawyer because he's worried that it'll look bad for him; he turns out to be right. Then he winds up hiring a lawyer known for defending extremely guilty dirtbags.
  • Out with a Bang: Desi has his throat slashed by Amy after he ejaculates inside of her.
  • Papa Wolf: Exploited - when Amy reveals she's pregnant with Nick's child, Nick notes he would do anything for his unborn son, and that includes staying married to Amy so he can protect him from her.
  • Pet the Dog: On Amy's "to do" list she sets up to frame Nick, she takes the time to say a final goodbye to Bleecker, their cat.
  • Purely Aesthetic Glasses: Amy wears them as part of her disguise, however she can't fool Greta with it.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Nick reaches his after Amy's return and subsequent "The Reason You Suck" Speech, almost strangling her to death. He stops himself.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Amy gives one to Nick after she returns and he threatens her with a divorce.
    • Rather unexpectedly, Andie gives one to Nick when he dumps her.
  • The Reveal: Amy faked her abduction, disguised herself, and framed her husband for murder, abuse, and financial exploitation in order to get revenge against him for cheating on her.
  • Rich Bitch: Amy, as soon as she first steps on Missouri. Girl don't like Dixie and it shows.
  • Sanity Slippage: Amy goes mad over a period of years. The pressures of trying to live up to her parents expectations, trying to be a wife and ultimately having to remake her plan.
  • Sisyphus Vs Rock: Nick deciding to stay married to Amy in order to protect his son and keep tabs on Amy for as long as they both live.
  • Slashed Throat: The ultimate fate of Desi Collings.
  • Slut-Shaming: Amy refers to Andie as "the little whore" repeatedly in her narration.
  • The Sociopath:
  • Spanner in the Works: Amy committed the The Perfect Crime, but then she drops her moneybag in front of Greta and her boyfriend and things go awry.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Desi Collings has followed Amy for 20 years. When he volunteered for the search party, it's easy to assume he would keep her for himself. Which he does, but in a different way then he expected.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: Amy's In-Universe opinion of the "Amazing Amy" series her parents write. From what little snippets we see, along with the "Amazing Amy" Defictionalization released for the movie, she's not wrong.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Nick and Andie, hence why the media dubs the former "cheating teacher".
  • Twin Telepathy: Nick and his twin sister are close enough, and similar enough, that Nick describes them as able to read each other's minds. This stops when the events of the book drive a wedge between them.
  • Undying Loyalty: Margo is the one person who is constantly at Nick's side (even if at some points even she suspects Nick might have murdered Amy). By the end their relationship is strained (because she can't bear Nick actually staying with Amy for the foreseeable future) but she says that she's still with him
  • The Unfavourite:
    • Go jokes she was this to her parents, as they weren't expecting to have twins. Given their father's attitude towards women, there may be some truth in it.
    • Amy, an only child, considers herself this, as for her whole childhood she was forced to compete for her parent's affection with the 'Amazing Amy' character they based on her.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Nick keeps leaving significant gaps in his narrative. Then we discover that Amy's diary was a complete fabrication.
  • Villain Decay: It's implied by the ending. Amy has a plan to frame Nick for poisoning her if he doesn't behave but he torpedoes it very early. Now that he's watching her, it's quite likely Amy will never be able to get away with one of her schemes again. In short, she's lost her major advantage which was always surprise.
  • Walking Spoiler: It's hard to discuss Amy without revealing she's a sociopath.
  • Woman Scorned:
    • Amy's Evil Plan was forged because Nick cheated on her.
    • Andie turns on Nick when he announces at a vigil that he still loves his wife.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Apparently a favorite tactic of Amy. She's willing to go the extra mile to make it work, too rubbing her wrists raw on rope to leave ligature marks and using a wine bottle to induce vaginal tearing on at least two separate occasions to frame someone for rape. She also is mentioned to have cracked her own ribs in her teens when framing Hilary.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Jeff has no problems assisting his girlfriend Greta when they rob Amy. Also, Nick nearly kills Amy for what she did to him, but stops himself at the last minute.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Amy threatens to kill their unborn son if Nick doesn't stay married to her.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: When Amy gets robbed whilst on the run by Greta and Jeff, she changes her plans accordingly by calling Desi, whom she was in friendly contact with for years before her disappearance and even after she accused him of being a Stalker with a Crush, to help. She then manipulates Desi into thinking Nick was abusive and he invites Amy to stay at his place. When Amy realizes that she is not in control of the situation anymore, she begins violating herself with a wine bottle and tying her wrists and ankles with ropes to frame Desi for kidnapping and raping her. Love or hate Amy, that's impressive.
  • Yandere: Amy not only frames Nick for her disappearance and presumed murder for the slight of not being up to her expectations, she immediately regrets it once she watches his doe-eyed interview where he confesses his "love" for her and implores her to come back. She engineers a plan to frame Desi as her kidnapper and murders him in "self defense". While it's obvious for team Nick that she pulled that caper up and that she's batshit insane, she appears as a saint to the rest of the world.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Nick, it turns out, has been cheating on Amy for over a year by the time of the disappearance.
  • Zero-Approval Gambit:
    • Amy successfully pulled one in the eyes of Team Nick; to everyone else, she's a saint.
    • Nick pulls one by sticking with Amy to ensure that their future baby is safe.

    Tropes exclusively provided by the film adaptation 
  • Abusive Parents: Amy's parents creating a fictional near-perfect child set a bar the real Amy could never reach and forced her to a life of being compared to her fictional self. When she goes missing the parents act more like their fictional daughter has disappeared, even naming the website after the fictional character.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Officer Boney is described as ugly in the books, but is nowhere near ugly onscreen.
    • Noelle is described in quite unflattering terms by both Nick and Amy, but she's reasonably pretty in the film.
  • Adaptational Heroism: The film version of Nick is a somewhat more sympathetic character than the book version, he's more of a regular loser than the near sociopath in the book. Noticeably, while the book makes his awareness of her schemes more direct, the film has a very subtle example wherein Nick claims they are "partners in crime." Amy looks visibly surprised.
  • Adapted Out: Desi's mother and Hilary don't appear in the film.
  • Adult Fear: Amy successfully frames an ex-boyfriend for rape after he leaves her for another girl, landing him on the sex offenders register and ruining his life. It's her word versus his, only she's faked some evidence too. False rape accusations should scare everybody: innocent men can end up in jail and the phenomenon can lead to genuine accusations being disbelieved.
  • Alto Villainess: Amy, a very rare, speaking-only version of this trope. Rosamund Pike, as Amy, pitches her voice to be deep and almost husky — contrast against her voice in Pride and Prejudice or An Education.
  • Animal Motifs: Amy is very much like a cat, as shown on her movements and stare when Nick is caressing her hair both in the opening and ending scenes.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Discussed. Amy suggests that they have a baby when their marriage is going poorly, and Nick turns it down, saying that a baby won't "fix" anything.
  • Black Comedy: There are moments of it. For example, Amy flipping her hair to keep blood out after she kills Desi.
  • Bookends: Both the first and last shots of the movie are of Nick stroking Amy's hair while giving a monologue about the "primal questions of marriage", before Amy turns to look right at the camera.
  • Broken Aesop: Amy's Cool Girl speech about being true to yourself is undermined by the fact that she seems as honest with Nick in her flashbacks as she's ever with anyone. Therefore, her anger seems misplaced. Likewise, Amy is incredibly unhappy when she's left to be herself and quickly falls into old patterns in order to make friends. Not to mention that one woman in a car that she focuses on as a "Cool Girl" turns out to be sitting next to another woman, not a man. It undermines Amy's point that women only act in certain ways to draw male attention, as opposed to simply being the way humans act for each other. Of course, given that Amy is a sociopath with narcissistic traits, the Aesop-breaking is likely deliberate.
  • Broken Pedestal: The film is a bit clearer that, despite finding out that Nick is innocent, Margo has learned some fairly disturbing aspects about her twin brother's character. At one point Nick admits that he was somewhat relieved that Amy wasn't at home; Margo's unsettled look speaks volumes.
  • Cassandra Truth: Nick is telling the truth when he says that he barely knows Noelle Hawthorne, and that he didn't buy any of the items that appear on his credit card. Also, at one point, regarding the underwear found in his office, he says something along the lines of, "If they're not Andie's, they're Amy's, and she left them there for me to find." Neither the characters in the film nor the audience believe him, given his track record.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: Every time somebody switched the TV on, it shows a report related to the investigation. Possibly justified as Go prerecords Ellen Abbot's shows.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: Amy buys several extravagant "man-cave" items in Nick's name as a way to make it look like he was trying to build himself a new life once she was out of the way; she hides the items in Margo's shed to make her complicit as well.
  • Contrived Coincidence: In-universe example. Nick points out how convenient it is for Amy's diary to end with her saying she fears her husband will kill her. Boney thinks so too, it's part of the reason she never completely buys into the idea Nick killed Amy, despite the evidence backing it up.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Nick and Margo's parents aren't given nearly as much focus in the film, with Bill only appearing in one scene and Maureen doesn't even get speaking lines. Justified, in that they are mostly used in the novel to explain Nick and Margo's own personality quirks.
    • Andie has comparatively less screen-time compared to the books.
  • Detect Evil: Margo's "Just because I don't like to be around Amy [...]" implies that she senses something about Amy that others may not.
  • Downer Ending: Nick's less sociopathic personality compared to the book turns the ending into this rather than an Esoteric Happy Ending.
  • Dramatic Irony: Half-way through the movie we learn what really happened while the public is kept in the dark.
  • Eye-Obscuring Hat: Nick temporarily adopts this as a disguise when Ellen Abbot's show attacking him and implying an incestuous relationship with Go plays in the airport waiting area.
  • Fade to Black: Many scenes fade out this way.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • In the movie, we get a short glimpse at Desi's penis - after he has had his throat slashed open, with his corpse covered in blood.
    • A scantily clad Rosamund Pike? Good. A scantily clad Rosamund Pike covered in blood? Not so good.
    • The things Rosamund Pike does to her body and the ways she crawls around to spread blood everywhere is very disturbing.
  • Financial Abuse:
    • This is one of the main reasons why Nick had a rut with Amy in the first place, as she willingly surrendered two million dollars from her trust fund and gave it back to her parents without his consent even though they are going through a financial hardship; as Amy argues, it was their money on the first place; though they were dropped from their publisher, Amy's parents are able to still live leisurely with the two million. As it's shown, Nick never did forgive her for that.
    • Amy, reacting to this, later exacerbated their financial hardship intentionally by framing Nick with reckless spending.
  • Flyover Country: Amy does not like living in Missouri and her parents clearly look down on the locals as well.
  • Foreshadowing: "Any kids?" "Not yet!"
  • Halfway Plot Switch: Around the 1 hour mark we get an Internal Reveal and a switch of POV from Nick to Amy.
  • "Hell, Yes!" Moment: Nick and company are rather elated when he nails a great interview on national television; predictably, it doesn't last.
  • Insane Forgiveness: Despite her scorn over Nick's affair, Margo never falters in standing by her twin's side. As she puts it:
    Nick: Go, you're my voice of reason. I need you with me on this.
    Margo: Of course I'm with you. I was with you before we were even born.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Amy gives Desi what he's clearly been hoping for all along when she leads him to the bed in his lake house. He probably wasn't hoping to get his throat slashed, though.
  • Jerkass: Amy and her parents. The family, stereotypical WASPs, continuously sneer at "shit-smelling" Missourians; Amy in particular is called a bitch by no less than three characters even before she turns their whole shit upside down; her parents even modeled the character of Amazing Amy in everything the real Amy fell short in achieving. Understandably, Amy wasn't just simply not thrilled by this; it made her insane.
    • Ellen Abbott from the NNL Network accuses Nick of not only the disappearance of Amy based on his out-of-character attitude from a person that is supposed to be in bereavement, but also accuses him and "Go" of having an incestuous relationship; later, she even has the proverbial balls of showing up at their house after her venomous tirade once Amy reappears and Nick even calls her out on her hypocrisy.
    • James Gilpin also counts. Throughout the movie he constantly believes Nick is guilty and is always pushing Rhonda into arresting him. At the end, when Nick makes the very valid point that Amy couldn't have acquired a box-cutter if she was tied up the whole time, Gilpin just says, "Can't you just be happy your wife is back?" Also, unlike Rhonda, Ellen Abbot, and Amy's parents, he doesn't even attempt to apologize to Nick for painting him as guilty.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Tanner and Boney stop helping Nick and Margo after Amy returns - they note that while they are sympathetic, the case is too big for local police and that Amy's hero status is currently impenetrable.
    • Boney specifically states that the FBI being involved in Amy's case means that she can no longer have any involvement in it. She doesn't have any choice but to back down, even though she clearly isn't buying Amy's "kidnapping" story.
      • Amy doesn't try to fight off Greta and Jeff when they rob her, knowing that they outnumber her. In the book, she mentions she's never been in a fight before and wouldn't know what to do outside of what she's seen in movies.
  • Kubrick Stare: After showing her true colors Amy demonstrates that she is a master of these.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: Neil Patrick Harris gets a fan-disserving one. Ben Affleck has a blink-and-miss scene under the shower.
  • Mouthing The Profanity: When Nick Dunne sells out his lover during a public speech regarding his wife's disappearance, she mouths "asshole" at him from the crowd.
  • Never My Fault: Nick and Amy blame each other for their marital problems rather than acknowledging their wrong doings.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • An example that also provides an aversion to Trailers Always Spoil: one trailer has a scene of Amy's lifeless corpse sinking in the water, but in-film the event is simply an Imagine Spot.
    • The trailers implied that Amy is dead or missing, not staging an elaborate revenge plan. That Nick is either guilty, or is trying to prove that Desi is the main villain. None of this is the case.
    • According to the director's commentary, David Fincher fought hard with the marketing department to keep the twist hidden in all the advertising.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: During the film, Amy's disappearance is covered by Ellen Abbott of the NNL Network, who quickly assume that Nick murdered her. The segments are a clear spoof of the HLN Network and the Nancy Grace show.
  • Not His Sled: Averted. Initial reports said Flynn had written a different ending for the film, but she and Fincher later walked back those implications. The film's ending is the same as the novel's, minus the subtle alterations noted here.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Subverted. Initially we are not shown the interview Nick does with Sharon Schieber, but we are told he was performing exceptionally well. Eventually we get to see snippets of it when Amy watches the interview with Desi at the lake house. It's effective enough to convince Amy that Nick doesn't actually love her, but is willing to lie to himself enough to continue with the charade. Too bad for Desi.
  • Oh Crap!:
    • Amy's face when they first stepped on Missouri.
    • Amy's face when Desi tells her that he is "never letting her get away again." Her expression is impassive, but her eyes are filled with terror.
    • Desi, when he and Amy are watching Nick's teary interview on national television.
    • Nick has a bunch:
      • When Amy tells him that she surrendered two million dollars from her trust fund back to her parents without even talking with him.
      • When he tries to turn the tide around with a heartfelt speech for the cameras and the crowd that initially bodes well, but then Amy's "best friend" opens her mouth. Unsurprisingly, Nick bolts out of there in a jiffy.
      • Again, when he opens the door to see Amy covered in Desi's blood from head to toe and then again when she giddily beckons him to join her in the shower still covered in blood.
      • And then again when Amy reveals that she artificially inseminated herself with Nick's fertility clinic sperm.
  • Opening Narration: The movie opens and ends with a monologue by Nick.
  • Overdrawn At The Bloodbank: There is plenty of blood in the scene where Amy slashes Desi's throat open. It's okay because the throat is a major artery. Blood doesn't so much gush as spray out when that one is cut.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Played with. Amy goes to reasonable lengths to avert it - dyes her hair, forgoes makeup, wears glasses, puts on weight, adopts a new accent and even smashes herself with a hammer to the face, looking reasonably different from her image in the media. However, a real victim of domestic abuse and trailer trash, Greta, sees through it and admits so when she robs her, even making a point of saying that she clearly has never been hit in her life. Then she socks Amy in the jaw.
  • Product Placement:
    • Count how often Leffe beer comes up. Nick and Amy Meet Cute when Nick tells her to be careful where she puts her "monk-brewed Belgian wheat beer." She holds it up to the camera in some angles as they talk. It's also visible at The Bar and in Desi's refrigerator. Stella Artois and Hoegaarden, other Belgian beers owned by InBev, are also common.
    • In her first scene, Detective Boney spends a substantial amount of time holding a Dunkin Donuts coffee cup.
  • Race Lift: Tanner Bolt, who was white in the book, is played by Tyler Perry in the movie. The character had a black wife, who's been Adapted Out, and since Perry's Bolt takes on her media guru role, he could be seen as a Composite Character.
  • The Rashomon: All versions of the events are from Amy and were especially engineered so that Nick didn't have a version to defend himself. Ultimately, she sticks by her story and even makes up new details to leave Nick completely at her mercy and unable to reach to anyone.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Detective Boney never really buys the accusations against Nick, even once she finds the fake diary and assumes that his blunders are just a result of stupidity and shock. She immediately voices her suspicions so that Nick has a chance to provide his own context. Since Nick doesn't do that and antagonizes her by being uncooperative, it leads to his arrest after the police gets Amy's "anonymous" tip about the woodshed. Once Amy returns, she starts questioning the holes in her story, but is shut down by the FBI.
  • Right Through His Pants: Inverted. Desi somehow penetrates Amy through her panties before she kills him.
  • Rule of Three: Amy's love interests. We meet Nick first, and he seems like a fairly normal guy, if a bit stonefaced. The audience also knows he had nothing to do with Amy's disappearance. He meets an old boyfriend of hers, who tells Nick how Amy ruined his life with a false rape accusation. He's understandably bitter, but other than that, a fairly normal guy. By now, the audience is ready to discard Amy's parents' line about her always attracting obsessive lovers. But then we meet Desi.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Probably unintentional, but the scene where Nick shoves Amy and she hits her head on the bannister is strikingly similar to a scene in Oliver! when Bill Sykes does the same thing to Nancy, which becomes funny/ironic when you consider that in the book, Amy picks the name Nancy specifically because it reminds her of the "abused woman" character she's pretending to be.
    • Nick can be seen playing what is quite clearly Battlefield 3 in one flashback segment.
  • Shower Scene: Both protagonists together in a shower towards the end for fanservice.
  • Stepford Smiler: Amy is unique in the way that she doesn't just put a facade for Nick, but she has done so throughout her lifetime towards both women and men; in doing so, Amy is even more unique in the fact that she is a character that is both a misogynist and a misandrist. After the whole ordeal (murder, faked rape and all), she intends to continue the facade even when Nick sees right through her and she is even able to manipulate him into begrudging submission.
  • Street Smart: Greta certainly doesn't have Amy's education, but she's no slouch at sniffing out lies and recognizing opportunities. She's savvy enough to see through Amy's story very quickly, and correctly reason that she's on the run and can't call the police if she's robbed.
  • Too Clever by Half: Amy might be a dangerous and highly intelligent sociopath who outwits everyone around her, but she is outmatched by simple, everyday criminals in Jeff and Greta, who rob her, beat her up and get away scot-free thanks to common Pragmatic Villainy.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: After the Half Way Plot Switch, the story splits off into two parallel story lines following Nick and Amy separately, but not necessarily in chronological order.
  • Twincest: Mentioned by name after the media spreads rumors about Nick and Go.
  • Unable to Support a Wife: Played with. Amy married Nick for him to become an unrealistic paragon of emotional and financial fortitude for her delusions; when he failed to deliver, she made it even worse for him by surrendering a two million dollar cushion to her parents and intentionally framed him as a reckless spender.
  • Unfolding Plan Montage: Amy's monologue during the Internal Reveal includes images of what she is going to do, involving committing suicide by drowning. Of course, Unspoken Plan Guarantee applies and the plan changes due to unforeseen circumstances.
  • Viewer-Friendly Interface: A close-up on Nick's phone reveals Andie's text message (that she is waiting outside) displayed in large font in the center of the display.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Amy suffers a small one after Greta and Jeff steal her money, angrily shrieking into a pillow.
  • Wacky Marriage Proposal: Nick proposing to Amy during an interview.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After Amy's reappearance, Andie (Nick's girlfriend) is not mentioned again, albeit in hindsight she did good in getting the hell out of Dodge after accusing Nick of Amy's murder on national television.

"...What will we do?"
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/GoneGirl