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.
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Tropes provided by the book
- Alliterative Title: Gone Girl.
- 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 wants 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.
- 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.
- Bookends: Nick's opening monologue, which is given more context and is expanded upon the second time around.
- Break the Cutie: Happens to Andie.
- Break the Haughty: The somewhat relishing moment when Amy gets robbed and battered by Greta and her boyfriend.
- Colbert Bump: In-universe. Nick manages to turn the public perception of his case around by opening up in his interview with Sharon Schieber.
- 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 only a woman 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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 realises 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 in the book he has some leverage over Amy in the end, film Nick is a trapped victim, entirely under her heel.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Casting Gag:
- 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.
- 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.
- Downer Ending: Nick's less sociopathic personality compared to the book turns the ending into this rather than an Esoteric Happy Ending.
- 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.
- Flyover Country: Amy does not like living in Missouri and her parents clearly look down on the locals as well.
- Halfway Plot Switch: Around the 1 hour mark we get an Internal Reveal and a switch of POV from Nick to Amy.
- 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.
- Internal Reveal: Half-way through the movie we learn of Amy's agenda and her whereabouts while Nick and the public is kept in the dark.
- 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 strangle on his own vocal cords.
- 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.
- 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.
- Kubrick Stare: After showing her true colors Amy demonstrates that she is a master of these to show her sinister nature.
- Male Frontal Nudity: Neil Patrick Harris gets a fan-disserving one. Ben Affleck has a blink-and-miss scene under the shower.
- 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.
- 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 Desi tells her that he is "never letting her get away again." Her expression is impassive, but her eyes fill with terror.
- 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.
- 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 murder. He meets an old boyfriend of hers, who tells Nick how Amy ruined his life with a False Rape Allegation. 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.
- 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.
- 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 screen.
- Wacky Marriage Proposal: Nick proposing to Amy during an interview.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: After Amy's reappearance, Andie (Nick's girlfriend) and Amy's parents are not mentioned again, albeit in hindsight they did good in getting the hell out of Dodge after accusing Nick of Amy's murder in national television.