Wiki Headlines
We've switched servers and will be updating the old code over the next couple months, meaning that several things might break. Please report issues here.

main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Older Than They Think: Film

  • Graphic sex and violence in movies! Many think this started only when the MPAA ratings system took off in the 1960's (many point to 1971's A Clockwork Orange as the first truly raunchy mainstream movie). In truth, raunchiness and extreme violence existed in movies since their birth in the late-1890's. In fact, The Hays Code (which was largely responsible for this misconception to begin with, as movies made before this code came into being tend to be ignored even by most classic movie buffs)note  was actually created as a response to all the sex and violence in movies during the 1920's and early-1930's.
    • A Clockwork Orange wasn't even the first post-Hays Code mainstream film released in the US to include both graphic sex and violence. It's just the first that is well known. For example, The Libertine explored BDSM and was released in 1968, when the code was abandoned in favor of ratings. In fact, a lot of movies featuring nudity, sex and violence were release that year because of this.
  • Experimentation with sound, color and even 3D date back to the early days of the medium ; what was important was the evolution of these technologies, and the moment when they became mainstream, which is a very blurry line. Also, many young people today don't realize that there were several waves of interest for 3D movies before the current one, dating back to several decades ago.
  • People who think James Cameron is the first filmmaker to set a fictional love story aboard the ill fated RMS Titanic are in for a huge reality check.
  • John Carpenter's The Thing (1982) is a classic. It's also an adaptation of a novella called Who Goes There??. It's actually the second adaptation, with the first being the classic fifties sci-fi film The Thing from Another World. Carpenter's version is actually more faithful to the original.
  • The saying "What is best in life?" "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women!" is often attributed to Conan the Barbarian (1982), as he spoke the line in the eponymous 1982 movie. Genghis Khan supposedly originated the quote nearly 800 years earlier. However, the source it is from is unreliable, as it did not come from the only actual Mongolian source we have (the Secret History of the Mongols), and was probably made up by his enemies, seeing as how vastly different it is from his characterization in the Secret History. Nonetheless, it was still a line known in the West long before Conan put on his first loincloth.
  • Good Will Hunting was not the source of the phrase "How do you like them apples?" The phrase is recorded in use as early as 1910 and appears in numerous classic films. In fact, Will asking the man if he likes apples before springing the line assumes that the man is already familiar with the expression.
  • When The Rocketeer was released, a newspaper review smugly informed the reader that the idea of a rocket pack was nothing new, having been used in the 1965 James Bond film, Thunderball. The fact that The Rocketeer is a specific homage to far older comics and serials (most particularly the "Commando Cody" series, whose rocket suit was nearly identical) was completely lost on the reviewer.
  • Many, many movie critics seemed absolutely convinced that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was the originator of the Wuxia genre, and that Iron Monkey was derivative of it. Iron Monkey was made eight years prior. Wuxia films have been around long before that, and mystic monks are nothing new to ''much'' older Asian culture and mythology.
  • Several times and in several unconnected sources, the old timey map legend "Here There Be Monsters" has been attributed as a quote of Captain Barbossa from Pirates of the Caribbean. Barbossa says it specifically to quote the well-known phrase. It wouldn't make much sense unless you got the reference.
    • More specifically, back in the old days, when they were making a map but didn't have a certain area charted, they just put "Here be dragons" there and called it a day.
      • Which itself is Memetic Mutation; HIC SUNT DRACONES appears on only two particularly old "maps", both of which are actually globes, and given the placement of the phrase, the "dragons" may actually be Komodo dragons. Pre-modern mapmakers were much more likely to use HIC SUNT LEONES-"Here there be lions"-or simply include a drawing of a mythical beast in place of unknown topography or vast ocean.
  • The film The Mist (2007), based on author Stephen King's 1980 short story of the same name, has been accused of stealing elements from the video games Half-Life (1998) and Silent Hill 1 (1999)-both of which were released almost 20 years after the short story. The original title for Half-Life, "Quiver", was in part a reference to the "Arrowhead Project" of The Mist. The tentacle monster from Half-Life is in fact a direct homage to the short story, and the game itself was partially inspired by it.
  • A lot of people think that having zombies that move as fast as living humans (as opposed to classic, lumbering zombies) is something that started with 28 Days Later. But Return of the Living Dead had fast zombies in 1985, Nightmare City was made in 1980, and the very first zombie to appear in Night of the Living Dead (1968), while still somewhat lumbering, is very agile and quick on his feet.
  • An awful lot of quotes are attributed to Willy Wonka, most frequently "We are the music-makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams." Almost any catchy line usually attributed to Willy Wonka probably came from somewhere else. He's a quoter, he is. Here's a website that lists the quotes and their sources.
  • The Usual Suspects:
    • Many believe the phrase "round up the usual suspects" comes from the movie. In fact, the title of the film is a reference to Casablanca, which originated the phrase. The line does not even appear in The Usual Suspects.
    • "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn't exist" does appear in the movie, but it's not original-it's a paraphrase of a Baudelaire line.
  • People use the phrase "Good Night, Sweet Prince" in reference to the 1998 comedy The Big Lebowski. Some know the source material and just think that Walter's use of the line was hilarious, while others are completely oblivious to the fact that it is one of the most memorable lines from William Shakespeare's Hamlet. It's even more remarkable when you consider how many better, original lines The Big Lebowski has to offer. That rug really tied the room together.
  • Singin' in the Rain was made as a vehicle for the Freed and Brown songs that it contains. They predate the film by many years, with the exception of "Moses Supposes" and "Make 'em Laugh" (the latter was a rewrite of a Cole Porter song).
  • Shortly before the movie Underworld was released, White Wolf Publishing, makers of the Old World of Darkness Tabletop RPG setting, sued for copyright infringement, stating the movie's setting and plot had been lifted wholesale from Nancy A. Collins' For Love Of Monsters, that quite a number of world elements in the film's setting bear resemblance to White Wolf's Old World of Darkness. However, White Wolf can't exactly claim to stand on completely original footing either, having co-opted some pretty ubiquitous mythical characters. In fact, Nightlife by Stellar Games beat them to the punch of putting Vampires and Werewolves in a Gothic Punk setting.
  • The Scream series is often credited with being the first Post-Modern slasher, introducing Lampshade Hangings and Genre Savvy characters. The little-known Cult Classic There's Nothing Out There did it first. The director of Scream, Wes Craven, had himself done it before-to Freddy Krueger!-in Wes Craven's New Nightmare.
    • Popcorn, made five years before, shares many of Scream's themes and elements.
    • Also, the iconic "Ghostface mask" that The Ghostface Killer wears was first sold in costume shops in 1991, about five years before the film came out. The movie contributed so much to the mask's iconic status that it is often erroneously referred to as a "Scream mask" by trick-or-treaters who commonly buy it as a costume accessory around Halloween, mistakenly believing that the Scream films invented it.
    • The films didn't invent it, but the mask was based off Edvard Munch's series of paintings entitled "The Scream" the most recent of which was completed in 1910. It's a Scream mask alright, just a different Scream.
    • It also wasn't the first parody of the genre. Student Bodies (1981) uses the same combination of parody and Lampshade Hanging.
  • I Know What You Did Last Summer is seen by some as an attempt to capitalize on the revival of the slasher genre introduced by Scream (1996), despite the fact that it was not only based on a book, but the screenplay was actually written before that of Scream (1996) (and by the same screenwriter). However, the film has very little to do with the book.
  • When Cloverfield came out, a lot of people started comparing the camera style-and the entire film's nature as an Apocalyptic Log-to that of The Blair Witch Project. In reality, Cannibal Holocaust was most likely the first film to use this concept, and was followed by such films as Man Bites Dog and The Last Broadcast, the latter of which has a very similar concept to The Blair Witch Project.
  • The phrase "Hasta la vista, baby" was popularized by Jody Watley in her song, "Looking for a New Love" in 1987, four years before the release of Terminator 2 Judgement Day. Presumably, this is why John encourages the Terminator to use the phrase.
    • Actually, while we're on the subject of James Cameron, a lot of his work appears to be based on older pieces. The Terminator? Reportedly based on two Harlan Ellison episodes of The Outer Limits called "Soldier" and "Demon with a Glass Hand" (Ellison took him to court over it). It also bears a strong resemblance to La Jettée, a french film from 1962 in which a time traveler from a post-nuclear future meets a blonde woman in our time, and then dies, just after learning that his entire existence is dependent on a predestination paradox. Avatar (yes THAT Avatar) as well - Pocahontas? Nope. FernGully: The Last Rainforest? Nope. Look a little further back, and the plot best resembles an obscure 1976 Sci Fi Novel called The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin.
      • Many elements found in Avatar (hexapedal bond-beasts, planet-rapers repeled by natives and Gaia's Vengeance, a Death World jungle with a communal mind, a tribe refusing to leave their tree-home in the face of certain destruction) also turned up in Midworld, which Alan Dean Foster published in 1975. The artificial avatar bodies and the protagonist's paraplegia and Going Native both appear in Poul Anderson's "Call Me Joe", a short story from 1957.
      • Cameron himself reportedly said that Avatar is based on John Carter of Mars and King Lear.
      • A hostile planet called Pandora, packed with life forms so ferocious that a simple stroll is suicide, which humans, operating from their orbiting ship, attempt to control with massive overkill... yes, it's "The Jesus Incident" by Frank Herbert and Bill Ransom.
  • 2007's Beowulf is often accused of plagiarizing 300, with the line "I! AM! BEOWULF!" being a bit too similiar to "THIS! IS! SPARTA!" and the line "TONIGHT! WILL BE DIFFERENT!" being rather akin to "TONIGHT! WE DINE! IN HELL!" What these people don't realize is that there's a thing called Animation Lead Time. Filming of Beowulf was done long before filming of 300 began. Although it is true that these lines were in the 300 comic (and Herodotus records Leonidas saying "Tomorrow we break fast among ghosts,"), it seems doubtful that Beowulf was plagiarizing what was then some obscure Frank Miller comic, in which the lines were not delivered with any particular Punctuated! For! Emphasis!, which, as its article clearly demonstrates, goes back a lot longer. The Beowulf's source material is a epic poem written between the 8th and 11th century AD, while 300's is a historical battle (i.e the Battle of Thermopylae) in 480 BC. Both of these are older than what an average comic reader think.
    • The irony: Before either of those 2 movies came out, there was already another movie about Beowulf. Yes, that's Gerard Butler playing Beowulf.
  • Many people seem to attribute the idea of a constructed reality to The Matrix, despite the idea being a very old philosophical concept. In film, The Thirteenth Floor was produced concurrently with The Matrix, Dark City a year before, and David Cronenberg's E Xisten Z before that. Doctor Who's 1975 serial The Deadly Assassin also used the name "the Matrix" for its Gallifreyan VR information storage system; as did William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy, for a virtual computer network accessed via brain-link. In print, the concept goes back much further, and is itself merely a high-tech extension of the Lotus-Eater Machine, which is even older. Examples include many Philip K. Dick stories, the (highly illegal) peepers in Clifford Simak's 1957 novella "Shadow World", Plato's Allegory of the Cave, Descartes's "Evil Demon" thought experiment, and Zhuangzi's ""Was I before a man who dreamt about being a butterfly, or am I now a butterfly who dreams about being a man?" story. The philosophical treatise "Simulacra and Simulation" by Jean Baudrillard deserves mention not only because it contains the same ideas, but also because Neo himself can be seen keeping the book in his apartment the first installment.
    • Hell, just check this out. While certainly bringing a great deal to the table, the Matrix built and played off of a lot of older ideas and concepts.
      • Well the kung-fu in that video is all similar because the same choreographer (at at the very least, someone in his family) worked on all of those movies and the Matrix.
  • It's often thought the term "X Movie" as the name of a parody film was made by the creators of the Scary Movie series. Mel Brooks actually released a film in 1976 called Silent Movie. There was also the double-feature spoof Movie Movie.
    • Making a parody of a movie is even older then that, and can be traced back to the early days of film. Many of the 3 Stooges shorts are actually parodies of the popular movies of the time.
  • With all the recent talk of bromance movies, there was a post on ROFLRAZZI naming Bill and Ted as "the original bromance." Commenters there quickly pointed out they were still about four thousand years too late. And there are plenty of others working up to Bill and Ted, too. David and Jonathan are either (somewhat extreme) bromance or out-and-out Ho Yay, depending on who you ask.
  • Many people think the concept of the Men in Black originated in the movie of the same name. It is actually a preexisting conspiracy theory, with artistic examples going back at least as far as They Knew Too Much about Flying Saucers, a 1956 book by Albert K. Bender purporting to be nonfiction. They also made an appearance in the 1984 film Repo Man, and previous films (such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind) included similarly silent, terse, or otherwise awkward and intimidating people in black suits.
    • In fact Men In Black is based on a comic book of the same name.
    • It did help codify the concept that the Men In Black are a government organization built on keeping aliens secret. Prior to that, the Men In Black were more ambiguous about what conspiracy(ies) they were protecting (that may or may not involve aliens) and may or may not work for the government or the illuminati.
  • Many people seem to think Halloween (1978) was the Trope Maker for the slasher genre, however Halloween was originally conceived as a sequel to Canadian horror film Black Christmas (1974). The genre as a whole can trace its origins back even further, although Halloween is often accepted at the Trope Codifier, at least.
    • The original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) is often credited as having started the genre, while Two Thousand Maniacs! and other H. G. Lewis movies were years earlier, and had the little jokes and everything.
    • Psycho wasn't as gory as later films, but all the elements are there, including getting off the main road, although it isn't a pivotal part of the action ("Don't take the shortcut!" would eventually become a subgenre). Essentially, Psycho gave filmmakers permission to make a whole type of movie they hadn't been making before, films that were all about the crime, and not the reaction to it.
  • The 1994 film of The Shadow was accused by some people of ripping off the Jedi Mind Trick from Star Wars. The Shadow was one of the many classic pulp influences that George Lucas paid homage to in Star Wars and his other films, and he already had "the power to cloud men's minds" as far back as 1937.
    • Some believed the Shadow to be a ripoff of Batman due to several concepts being similar between the two (Rich playboy secret identity, cape-wearing dark hero stalking a nighttime city). In fact, The Shadow first appeared in 1930 and his characterization in the movie was codified in the 1937 Orson Welles radio program, while Batman first appeared in 1939.
    • Hell, the original Shadow was created by Charles Dickens! He was supposed to be a mysterious cultural reviewer for a magazine Dickens was working on.
  • Fans of Indiana Jones consider him to be the original Adventurer Archaeologist, even though this trope existed in multiple pulp novels and movie serials from the 1930s, which actually served as direct inspiration for the film makers. Even Indy's usual costume is a direct reference, the series is a big-budget version of the existing genre made by people who loved it. The fourth does the same to the '50s equivalent, although it was... less appreciated by fans.
    • The original, being H. Rider Haggard's Allan Quartermain. Though not as educated, an adventurer none the less. Others included Professor Challenger, Harry Steele, and Sir William Rutherford.
    • And in Real Life, Roy Chapman Andrews inpired most of them with his expedition to the Gobi Desert in seach of the origin of mankind. He didn't find it, but he rode on a caravan of jeeps and camels across the desert, fighting off bandits and other hazards,and evenutally discovered, among others, one of the world's most famous dinosaurs- Velociraptor
    • Another trope from Indiana Jones that is Older Than They Think (though probably coincidentally) is... well, let's just quote the Metropolitan Opera's summary of Tchaikovsky's 1884 opera Mazeppa: "Andrei comes forward to berate him for destroying the happy home that once stood on the battleground and challenges him to a duel to the death. Mazeppa replies that his grey hairs and his misfortunes should command respect, but when Andrei, unmoved, rushes at the old man with his sabre, Mazeppa draws his pistol and shoots. Andrei falls wounded."
    • The infamous "nuking the fridge" scene in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is derived from the early drafts for Back to the Future. Originally, the time machine was made from a fridge, and to travel back to the present, Doc and Marty went to a 50s nuclear test site to get the necessary 1.21 gigawatts of electricity. It got scrapped because it was too expensive to pull off and Steven Spielberg, who was also executive producer, didn't want young children climbing into fridges and getting stuck inside.
  • Disney's The Lion King is strongly reminiscent of a 1960s Osamu Tezuka manga/anime series called Kimba the White Lion (and its sequel, Leo the Lion, where Kimba grows up). It also shares similarity with Hamlet, the Egyptian myth of Horus, and the Epic of Sundiata.
    • The name is similar, and a few of the plot elements (parent dying young, villainous aunt/uncle, him growing up), but apart from that, there is very little beyond a few similar scene moments to suggest that Disney took anything from Kimba, certainly not the characters (standard heroic fare) or plot (vaguely based on Hamlet).
    • There's also the character designs, and the fact that Disney did attempt to make their own Kimba movie, and even did a short film, but couldn't get the rights to the property (Matthew Broderick even claimed to have been asked to do a voice for a "Kimba" movie, which was one of his favorite shows as a kid). In addition, Tezuka Productions does believe Disney took elements from their work, but claims to have no interest in taking any sort of legal action (it's DISNEY afterall). This page has more info.
    • The fact that Kimba the White Lion came first was commented on, surprisingly, in an episode of Life entitled "Badge Bunny":
    Detective Charlie Crews: "Wait... the tiger's name is Kimba? Shouldn't it be a lion, then, like in the movie, and not a tiger?"
    Captain Tidwell: "Simba. You're thinking of Simba, not Kimba."
    Detective Charlie Crews: "What?"
    Captain Tidwell: "The name of the lion. From The Lion King. It was Simba."
    Detective Charlie Crews: (silent beat, shakes his head) "Kimba was first."
    • The opening shot of a sunset above Africa appeared seven years earlier in the opening of the Malian film Yeelen. Except Yeelen's version then cuts to a chicken being roasted alive.
  • Batman's archenemy, The Joker, was most definitely not based on the poster for the film version of The Man Who Laughs, starring Conrad Veidt. In the days leading up to the release of The Dark Knight, a recoloured version came into mass internet circulation, and was actually mistaken by many for a publicity shot of Heath Ledger's Joker makeup.
    • The Dark Knight was not the first time the Joker has used the Jerry Maguire quote "You complete me" to Batman in a Foe Yay manner: he had previously used the line in The Batman vs. Dracula, and possibly even before that.
    • At one point in The Dark Knight, the Joker kills somebody using a writing utensil. Sound familiar?
    • The Joker's parody of Nietzche, "What does not kill you makes you stranger" was previously used, with "us" rather than "you", by Trevor Goodchild in the first talkie episode of Æon Flux.
    • Christopher Nolan's acknowledged that he drew on Das Testament des Doktor Mabuse for his characterization of The Joker. If you compare Mabuse's famous speech about using chaos to create "an Empire of Crime" and, say, The Joker's confrontation with Harvey Dent, the parallel becomes pretty obvious.
  • Tim Burton's film Batman Returns redesigned the Penguin to the point where many people, shown a picture of Conrad Veidt's Dr. Caligari, will believe it to be the Penguin.
  • In The Nightmare Before Christmas, Halloweentown looks suspiciously similiar to Holstenwall in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari , and Edward Scissorhands Looks Like Cesare.
  • Online videos of Neill Blomkamp's short film Alive in Joburg occasionally bear comments accusing it of ripping off District 9, which is extra amusing considering the latter is his own remake of the former.
  • In an interview, David Cronenberg tells about showing Shivers at a German film festival during the '80s, and a man stood up and asked how dare he show so obvious an Alien ripoff, as both films are set in an isolated location (Alien on a spaceship, Shivers in an apartment complex called the Starliner Towers), and both films involve Body Horror creatures that burst out of stomachs and attach themselves to faces. Cronenberg politely explained that his film was made several years prior, and that Alien screenwriter Dan O'Bannon admitted to taking some inspiration from Shivers. "Ah," said the German man, "Now we know who the real thief is."
  • Alien, apart from taking inspiration from Shivers, also reportedly took some thematic inspiration from Van Vogt's Black Destroyer and the coeurl. It is directly based on a sequence from Dark Star, written by the same author, in which an alien runs amok on a spaceship.
    • Some film scholars have pointed out that the both the plot and visual design of Alien bear more than a passing resemblance to those of Mario Bava's 1965 sci-fi/horror film Planet of the Vampires.
  • "There's no place like home" is now most commonly recognized as a phrase from The Wizard of Oz. The phrase didn't originate in the film though, or even in L. Frank Baum's book (though it appears in both); it came from the 19th-century song "Home, Sweet Home", which was recognized more than enough to be a Standard Snippet. In fact, said snippet is worked into the underscore in the final scene.
    • Several aspects of the Oz story are thought to be original to the 1939 MGM musical The Wizard of Oz, but are actually older. The characters being saved from the poppy field by a snowfall is actually in the 1902 stage production. Changing to Technicolor when the characters arrive in Oz was also done in a 1933 animated cartoon, although legal problems prevented the short film from being distributed with the Oz segments in Technicolor.
    • Technicolor, for that matter, was first used in 1916, though many of the earlier films to use it survive only in black-and-white if at all. "Modern" three-strip Technicolor was first used in Becky Sharp (1935); The Wizard of Oz was only the second MGM musical to use it (the first was Sweethearts).
  • When the first trailers for the Get Smart movie appeared on YouTube, many of the comments accused it of being a ripoff of the 2003 film Johnny English. Never mind that Get Smart is a TV show from The Sixties.
    • And never mind that the two films aren't nearly similar enough for either to be a ripoff of the other. Yes, they are both spy comedies. But all that means is they share the same subgenre. It'd be like picking two random foreign action films and saying one must be a ripoff of the other.
  • The Lord of the Rings has a particularly daft section of its fanbase who, upon seeing Peter Jackson's film version of the Return of the King, believed that Jackson's Oliphaunt march had been ripped off by George Lucas for his walker attack in the film The Empire Strikes Back. This incredibly stupid group somehow convinced themselves that Lucas' film, made in 1980, copied one of its key scenes from Jackson's film, made in 2003.
    • The scenes aren't even that similar. AT-ATs and Mûmakil both have four legs. And are really big. And used by the bad guys. That's about it.
    • Word of God admits that the AT-ATs from Return of the Jedi (1980) were inspired by the three-legged walking machines from The War of the Worlds, the Novel (1889) (The first film adaptation (1953) didn't have those, they just floated on "Invisible legs". The Peter Jackson movie (2002) was an adaptation of Tolkien's book (1954) and THAT was inspired by... um... elephants?
      • Tolkien says they're the ancestors of today's elephants, who aren't nearly as huge or impressive.
      • Elephants dominating the battlefields and slowly moving towards the lines of enemy are usually the first thing associated with Hannibal Barca (III-II century B.C.). Definitely Older Than Feudalism.
      • It should be noted in passing that the AT-ATs' walking motion was directly based off of the walking of elephants (they are the only animals with four knees).
  • The 'pram bouncing down the stairs surrounded by gunfire' scene in The Untouchables was a deliberate reference to a similar scene in The Battleship Potemkin from 1925. The Untouchables wasn't even the first film to reference this; there is a brief shot of a baby carriage bouncing down some stairs during a gun battle in Woody Allen's film Bananas.
    • Also referenced in The Godfather and Brazil, among others.
  • Name a movie about a burn victim, thought to be dead, who exacts his vengeance via the children of those responsible. Now name a movie about a slowly-dying man who comes up with overly elaborate deathtraps for his victims, but sometimes leaves a possible way out. Now name a movie about an extremely creative Poetic Serial Killer who takes his inspiration from a religious sequence. If you answered A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Saw, and Se7en... you're wrong (if you thought they were first). The answer to all three is The Abominable Dr. Phibes, a Vincent Price movie from 1971.
  • A man is drugged, and awakens in a room with a tape player. The tape informs him that there is a trap in the room, and if he tries to leave, he'll die. If he can disarm it within three hours, he'll be permitted to live, but if he fails, he'll die, and if he triggers it, he'll die. I think I Saw that before, right? Wrong. This is the plot of the 1964 Twilight Zone episode The Jeopardy Room, predating Saw by a full 40 years. Perhaps it's a revival for the anniversary?
  • A kid's doll that comes to life and kills people. Sounds like Childs Play, right? Wrong. the Twilight Zone episode "Living Doll" developed this concept a full quarter-century earlier.
  • Similarly, The Eighties TV special The Electric Grandmother (a fixture of the The Disney Channel back in the day) was actually the second adaptation of Ray Bradbury's short story "I Sing the Body Electric". The first was as an episode of The Twilight Zone.
  • Overhead shots of Chorus Girls linked in geometrical formations are usually identified with the work of Busby Berkeley, though they first seem to have been used by French director Robert Florey in The Marx Brothers film The Cocoanuts, which was filmed in 1929, before Berkeley started working in Hollywood. Audiences applauded the shot when the film was first shown.
  • "Your Wolfman ripped off Twilight.", ahem. The angry letter claims that the new Wolfman movie (2010) is ripping off of Twilight (2008) even though it's a remake of the original movie (1941) which drew from the common mythology of werewolves (circa 60 AD). The context of the letter strongly indicates that the writer believes Stephanie Meyer invented werewolves.
    • Speaking of Twilight, a lot of people complain about vampires being sexualized. Vampires are almost always meant to be a metaphor for sexuality, even (especially?) Dracula in the 1931 movie.
  • A film critic claimed (until being called on it) that Repo! The Genetic Opera was inspired by a 2009 book called Repossession Mambo. This despite the film version of Repo! The Genetic Opera being released in 2008. There was also the short-film version made in 2006. And these film versions were based on the stage musical version of Repo!, which was created in 2001. That was a union of short operettas that had been performed live in Los Angeles since the late 1990s. You can read the full story (with the pictures to prove it) HERE.
    • There was more of the same when Repo Men (which WAS based on Reposession Mambo — the author decided to make a film out of it when it was still being written) was released.
    • The producers of Repo Men did talk about doing a Repo! The Genetic Opera movie, under the condition that it wasn't a musical. The creater of Genetic Opera refused, then Repossession Mambo was written... So it probably happened the other way around what people actually think.
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is accused of ripping of The Matrix simply because of an artifact called the Matrix Of Leadership. The Matrix was an artifact in the original G1 continuity, 15 years before the Matrix films were ever developed.
    • For that matter, Sam's ability to commune with the All-Spark (itself a reference to Beast Machines) calls to mind a storyline from the comic book from the 1980s.
      • The much-criticized "robot heaven" also takes cues from the various interpretations of Transformer afterlife that have been around since the original show.
    • Optimus Prime's alternate mode, much hated by some fans, and character dynamic (somewhat brusque military commander of a small team of Autobots) are far more reminiscent of Transformers Armada than the G1 Optimus.
      • The shot of him scanning his alt mode and transforming into it is even a direct homage to the second episode of Armada.
      • His alternate mode also closely resembles Generation 2 Laser Optimus, a longnose Peterbilt that transforms into the commander of the Autobots.
    • Optimus having a mouth under a facemask has been already seen in Beast Wars from '96 and Transformers Cybertron from '04... and in the storybook The Great Car Rally from 1984, the year in which Transformers has started, as well as in numerous comics from the '80s. Many other characters that "shouldn't" have an actual face, for instance Soundwave, have also had genuine human faces in some early media, and Bumblebee's original toy lacked a mouth, much like movie Bumblebee.
    • Optimus' updated design from Transformers: Age of Extinction lacks his signature chest cab windows, causing further complaining. Also been done before, most famously in (again) Armada.
    • The amount of people who complain that the movie designs don't look like Transformers is staggering considering that similarly over-detailed, bizarre looking and often very ugly and monstrous robot designs have been a constant part of the franchise (most famously) since Beast Wars and (perhaps more obscurely) since the tail-end of G1. Some of the characters from the original toy lineup even had to be drastically redesigned for the cartoon and comics because they looked too weird.
    • Transformers with beards, beer guts, and cigars in their mouth? All been done before, and overly "humanized" robots have in fact been one of the most discerning aspects of the entire franchise since its conception. On the other end of the spectrum, some viewers are giving the filmmakers a hard time for the inclusion of animal-inspired robots, Dinobots in particular, which have also been a staple of the brand since the beginning. In truth, the live-action movies have barely scratched the surface of the weirdness that lies within the franchise.
    • Some call out the notion of samurai Transformers, in reference to Drift's portrayal from Transformers: Age of Extinction, as a clear example of how the moviemakers keep "screwing up" the property by introducing ridiculous ideas, unaware that there have been several samurai-based robots in the earlier franchises, and that the various Transformers universes have in fact always closely paralleled all sorts of real-life Earth cultures.
    • One of the all-time biggest complaints fans have against the live-action films is how they keep drifting away from the source material, renaming characters, changing their looks, personalities, powers or backstories. In truth, the movies are not meant to be adaptations of any previous cartoon or comic series, but their own, separate universe, of which there are incredibly many already — the Transformers brand is well known for reinventing itself every couple of years, and some of the iterations have had very little to do with the original series, beyond featuring shape-shifting robots who fight. Also, even the Gen 1 cartoon and comic series have been drastically different, so a lot of characters and concepts had already started out "not being true" to themselves. In some aspects, the live-action films are actually among the most G1-faithful "reinventions" the brand has ever had.
  • Many IMDb posters are annoyed that The Legend of Fritton's Gold is subtitled "St. Trinian's 2" (meaning the second of the current incarnation) when it's actually the seventh overall. Although the first came out over fifty years ago, and the fifth (The Wildcats of St. Trinian's) is so legendarily awful that it's no longer available, so ignorance is perhaps excusable.
  • Despite what you may think, Speed Racer is not the first American live-action film adapted from an anime or manga series. Neither is G-Saviour, a So Bad, It's Good direct to television movie adapted from the Gundam series back in 2000. That goes to Guyver, starring Mark Hamill, adapted from the manga/anime series of the sort-of-same-name back in 1991 and still kickin'.
  • Many (though by no means all) of the elements G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is taken to task for "changing" are actually taken directly from the source material. Examples include the mechanized body armor, Destro being Scottish, the mouth on Snake-Eyes's mask, and the black machine-gunner being named Heavy Duty instead of Roadblock. The thing is, there's a lot of source material: the armor was from the G.I. Joe: Sigma 6 line; Destro has been Scottish in the comics for decades; Snake-Eyes has had more than a dozen different action figures, several of which had mouths molded into their masks; Heavy Duty's been around since 1991 (and Roadblock himself has been renamed Heavy Duty in the comics due to trademark issues). But most people are only aware of a small portion of the franchise's history (in most cases that's the 80s cartoon) and assume anything they haven't seen before is new to the movie, which (perhaps unwisely) tried to combine elements from as many different eras as possible.
  • Who was the first person to say "It's a Trap!" in the Star Wars movies? First? Wasn't Admiral Ackbar in Return of the Jedi the only one who said it? Actually, it was first said by Princess Leia in The Empire Strikes Back, as the Imperials were leading Luke Skywalker into Darth Vader's trap on Cloud City.
  • At least one reviewer took Return to Oz to task, for taking Tik-Tok straight out of the Star Wars films. Tik-Tok was taken straight out of L. Frank Baum's 1907 novel Ozma of Oz, and is generally considered by literary historians to be the first depiction of a robot in modern literature ever.
    • While Tik-Tok is original to the Oz novels, E. T. A. Hoffmann had a clockwork automaton that was able to pass for human in his short story "The Sandman", which was published in 1816, which is a clear precursor to the concept of Tik-Tok, though in Hoffmann's case the character does not seem to have any intellect and only utters the phrase "Ah-ah". Oh, and the character is capable of singing and dancing quite well. Too well.
      • There have been clockwork (wind-up) toys that looked like animals, soldiers, and so forth since the Middle Ages. To imagine one that was so convincing it passed for human, or a sentient one that lived in a magical world where scarecrows and pumpkin-headed creatures could come to life is not such a big leap.
      • The Jaquet-Droz automata of the 1770s are surprisingly complex real-world examples, including a self-contained, programmable boy who can write up to 40 characters with a quill pen and ink on paper. It's amazing, even by today's standards.
  • A film uses a documentary style to cover real-life events without defined characters, dialogue, or even a 'story'. Regardless of this, it conveys a clear ideological message and manages to exhibit some impressive techniques that only film could really display in such a way. It's got to be Koyaanisqatsi and its sequels, right? Well, actually it's Dziga Vertov's 1929 Soviet Montage film The Man With The Movie Camera.
    • It is? I thought you were going to say it was Walter Ruttmann's 1927 film Berlin: Symphony of a Great City. (In which case, you still would have been wrong, as both Vertov and Ruttmann were working in a genre which dates back at least to Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand's 1921 short Manhatta.)
  • The concept of "Vamping Out" (a vampire having two forms: regular human, and vampire human) was credited by Joss Whedon as coming from The Lost Boys. However the vampire in Fright Night had the same ability (notice just how inhuman he looks after he gets stabbed in the hand by a pencil!). This may go all the way back to the Dracula novel, when Mina saw a massive figure feeding on Lucy when she finds her out on the moors, but ended up thinking it was only a trick of the shadows.
  • "You talking to me? You talking to me?" Yes, Travis Bickle did the talking to the mirror bit but Jackie Rhoades did it first with those lines.
  • Imagine a film in which an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth, so a team is sent to drill holes and place explosives in this unwanted visitor, thus saving our planet. That description sounds like Armageddon (1998) or Deep Impact (1998), although in the latter there were differences such as a comet instead of an asteroid. These plot elements are actually much older and can be found in the 1968 film The Green Slime, while the concept of preventing a huge celestial body from colliding with Earth goes back at least as far as the 1962 Japanese filme Gorath, although in this film the solution is to move the entire Earth out of the way.
  • Many elements of the Star Wars Universe that are often assumed to have been invented for the prequels were actually established in books, promotional material, and other sources before the development of Episode I. These include Bail Organa, the planets Kashyyyk and Coruscant, stormtroopers being clones, Palpatine being elected after the previous chancellor was removed from office by the Galactic Senate, Palpatine later abusing emergency powers given to him during a crisis, and Anakin being grievously injured fighting Obi-Wan on a lava planet.
  • Let's roll back in time with the idea of dream-hijacking popularized by Inception: prior to 2010, there was 2006's Paprika, 2005's Psychonauts, 2004's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and 2001's Kagetsu Tohya and Da Capo (minor plot device in the last one, though). It doesn't stop at that: in 2000 there was the original draft of Inception's script, the original Paprika novel in 1993 and 2 movies closely released in 1984: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and Dreamscape. Now that's a long retro ride, isn't it?
  • The premise of Trading Places, where two wealthy businessmen bet over whether heredity or environment makes a gentleman, and proving it by taking a bum off the street and making him sophisticated, was previously tackled in The Three Stooges short "Hoi Polloi".
    • which was taken from George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion.
    • Trading Places also shares elements with Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper.
  • Heeeere's Johnny! It wasn't intended as anything more than a Shout-Out in The Shining, but became a stolen Older Than They Think quote instead.
  • The famous line "If it bleeds, we can kill it" from Predator was earlier phrased (slightly more verbosely) in The Hound Of The Baskervilles.
    "If [the hound] was vulnerable he was mortal, and if we could wound him we could kill him."
  • A YouTube comment on the Fright Night (2011) trailer: "This is just a Disturbia clone with a vampire." So many things wrong with that.
  • The 1989 film Dead Calm seems like it's based on an original concept, right? It's actually based on an unfinished Orson Welles film called The Deep (which in turn is based on a book).
  • Ever wondered why the building-collapsing scene in the 4th-layer dream of Inception (2010) is so similar to the self-restoration of the city scene of Dark City (1998)? Why? Because they are both homages to the ending of AKIRA manga (1982-1990).
  • A couple friends head to Las Vegas for a fun time, and after a night of drunken partying, wake up in their disheveled hotel room to discover they've apparently gotten married to some Vegas cocktail waitresses. As they attempt to make sense of what happened and get out of their new marriages, they face such obstacles as show tigers and a celebrity boxer. The 2009 film The Hangover? I was talking about the 1999 The Simpsons episode "Viva Ned Flanders"! And before then, you had the 1998 film Very Bad Things, which similar to The Hangover featured a bachelor party in Las Vegas gone wrong and the hilarity ensuing from covering up the evidence (Though Very Bad Things is much, much darker).
  • New Media Are Evil types would have you think that sex and violence are new to movies. In reality, intense sex and violence have been in movies since the birth of cinema in the late 19th Century. In fact, complaints about there being too much sex/violence/etc. in movies were actually what led to The Hays Code in the mid-1930's.
  • Probably the most common one is people believing that "Revenge is a dish best served cold" comes from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, misunderstanding a reference to the phrase as claiming it a Klingon proverb. (Actually, a character is only asking what the equivalent Klingon proverb is.) In fact, it's French. (This did not stop the Kill Bill movies from identifying it as Klingon, which was most likely an intentional "mistake" on Quentin Tarantino's part.)
    • Probably the first recorded usage occurs in the 1782 novel Dangerous Liasons by French author Pierre Choderlos de Laclos.
    • Mario Puzo's 1969 novel "The Godfather" uses "Revenge is a dish best served cold" and identifies it as Italian. This predates the use in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" at the very least.
    • The Klingons seem to be guilty of a lot of this. "Today is a good day to die," comes from the Lakotah Nation and their leader Crazy Horse, but is associated with Klingons. Proud Warrior Race much?
    • "From hell's heart I stab at thee..." is originally by Herman Melville (from Moby-Dick), but more likely to be quoted now secondhand as a reference to Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan.
      • Khan uses several Moby-Dick lines in the film. However, this is intended as him consciously quoting the book. He sees himself as analogous to Ahab, a great man injured by a monster (Kirk) who has dedicated his life to the death of said monster. A copy of which is seen earlier in the film when Chekov and Terrill are searching the shelter on Ceti Alpha 5. Literary allusions are nothing new to the character, in his original appearance he quotes Milton.
      • Cetus is the constellation of the whale.
      • Wrath of Khan is essentially a feature-length Moby Schtick.
    • Referenced, or possibly lampshaded, in the later Star Trek movies.
      Spock: There is an old Vulcan proverb: "Only Nixon could go to China."
      Spock: An ancestor of mine once maintained, "Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains — however improbable — must be the truth." Of course, it's possible that this idea independently originated from someone on Vulcan as well.
      • That last one is partly a joke about how Spock is half-human, so technically one of his ancestors (by implication, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) did say (or write) that.
      • It may also have been a nod to the fandom, among which it had been widely speculated sin ce 1967 that Spock was related to Sherlock Holmes. Several scholarly essays associated him with the Wold-Newton Family of Philip José Farmer, which also included Sherlock.
  • One complaint about the new Star Trek film was that the romantic relationship between Spock and Uhura was random and came out of nowhere. They forget that in early episodes, Uhura flirted with Spock a couple of times, and the kiss she shared later with Kirk was originally supposed to be between her and Spock. There's also rumours that, had the executives allowed it, a relationship would have developed between them. Fans (at least those not busy creating Kirk/Spock Slash Fic) often focused on Uhura as a possible romantic interest for Spock.
  • One related to Trek, but not directly part of it; much of the premise and plot of Galaxy Quest can be traced to a 1967 Star Trek fanfic called "Visit to a Weird Planet" where a transporter malfunction swaps Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelly with their fictional counterparts in the middle of a crisis, forcing the actors into the bluff of their lives. Swapping actor and character was a small genre of fanfiction more common to the 70's and 80's than today, playing more on the then-unknown status of organized fandom.
  • The film version of Marvel Comics' Daredevil utilized many aspects of the "gritty and realistic" approach to superhero movies about two years before Christopher Nolan got credit for trying the same approach with Batman Begins (though it was much less successful). Aside from the two costumed vigilantes, the movie could easily be mistaken for a gritty crime drama, and it even deconstructed many aspects of superhero stories: Daredevil is shown to be nearly dependent on painkillers because of his injuries from fighting criminals, his Honor Before Reason tendencies have left his legal practice struggling because he refuses to represent wealthy men who he knows to be guilty, and though he triumphs over his archenemy, he ultimately fails to save his love interest, Elektra.
  • A young boy, heartbroken by the death of his beloved dog, resorts to crackpot science to re-animate his beloved pet. If you think it's the animated film Frankenweenie, or even the original live-action short, that first used this, you're several decades off: Dr. Robert Cornish wrote and starred in Life Returns, based on his Real Life experiments in adrenaline-triggered resuscitation, in 1935.
  • The 2002 film Jason X took Jason to space. However, the Recycled In Space idea was done as a parody first in a 1995 episode of MADtv (which combined Friday the 13th with the plot of Apollo 13).
  • After the success of The Hunger Games movie in 2012, the Japanese film Battle Royale was given a belated North American DVD/Blu-ray release. Some uninformed fans claimed Battle Royale was a rip-off of Hunger Games, even though the film and the novel it was based on predates Hunger Games by a number of years.
  • 2012's Best Picture Oscar winner The Artist was a beautiful love letter to old Hollywood, but its plot was virtually identical to that of Singin' in the Rain. The idea of inserting unexpected sound elements into an otherwise-silent film was also not completely original as Charlie Chaplin had done something similar in Modern Times and in fact The Jazz Singer did it too.
  • The Straight Story is often labelled as David Lynch's one non-maddening movie. While it is playing against type (being a G-Rated simplistic Disney movie as opposed to the more surreal and unnerving Mind Screw films he is famous for making), it is not the first time he made a film that was meant to have a comprehensible story, having directed The Elephant Man back in 1980, Dune in 1984, and Blue Velvet in 1986. However it is still incredibly simple even compared to the aforementioned movies.
  • A lot of reviewers and people who watched A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) praised the introduction of micro-naps to the series as a clever invention. They were actually introduced in Freddy vs. Jason, in which Lori's father briefly morphs into Freddy in broad daylight when she's sleep-deprived.
  • There is a scene in The Fly (1986) where Jeff Goldblum describes himself as an insect who dreamed he was a man. This was intended as a Chuang Tzu reference, but many people just thought he was referring to the "unsettling dreams" in Kafka's "Metamorphosis".
  • Man of Steel:
    • Superman kills Zod, which some might think is a dark, new direction for the character, but it's actually been done before in Superman Vol. 2 #22 (the end of the Supergirl Saga) and by all appearances in Superman II.
    • A lot of stuff that several reviewers have credited (or accused) Man of Steel of adding to the Superman mythos are actually from the comics, such as Superman's "S" symbol being the Kryptonian symbol meaning "hope",note  Kryptonians being Designer Babies, one of the Kryptonians being in a Mad Scientist (the character is named in the credits as Jax-Ur, a character dating back to 1961), Superman being treated with fear and distrust from some people, and even Kryptonian dragons.
  • Many fans think Pacific Rim is based off of Neon Genesis Evangelion, while Del Toro has explicitly stated that he had never seen the series and was basing the film off older super robot shows he had seen in his youth. His co-writer Travis Beacham might have been familiar with EVA and included some references, but the point that it's a more general genre homage still stands.
  • With the release of the 2014 Godzilla reboot, some people (mostly from countries where the Japanese films haven't been released) are expressing their surprise (and in some cases bitter disappointment) upon finding out that Godzilla was not, in fact, created by Roland Emmerich. Even if they are aware of the franchise's Japanese roots, a few still see the fact that the monster does battle with other giant creatures as a unique direction, at times comparing it to more recent "monster VS monster" flicks (like Mega Sharkvs Giant Octopus), even though he's been doing that in nearly every movie since 1955's Godzilla Raids Again. Likewise, his ability to shoot radioactive breath comes as a surprise to many who grew up on the 1998 film.
    • Gigan's eye beam debuted in Godzilla Island, a whole 6-or so years before Final Wars did it. And the general concept of Godzilla, a prehistoric monster attacking a city, dates all the way back to 1925, with the (first) film adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel The Lost World.
    • There are people who draw parallels with Godzilla: The Series due to the titular monster's somewhat heroic portrayal in the 2014 film, unaware that a lot of the original movies (and a previous animated adaption) have already covered that ground.
  • There are comedy Mockumentary films older than This Is Spinal Tap. For example from 1972 is the BBC TV movie The Black Safari where a crew of native African adventurers are followed by a camera crew as they explore the darkest corners of Northern England.
  • Inception isn't the first film to use the distinctive horn sound, but it's the one that stands out to the mainstream, to the point that many other instances are accused of ripping it off.
  • A big reason why the film version of Dune took so long to come out and was changed so vastly from the book was because the various producers and writers involved were worried about being called a Star Wars ripoff. Frank Herbert still considered the end product pretty Faithful To The Book.
  • "Klaatu barada nikto" is obviously a reference to 1992's Army of Darkness, even when used in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past introduced mainstream audiences to the character of Blink, whose power is essentially to create portals. Of course, this resulted in many people saying the character must've clearly been inspired by the video game Portal, even though the character Blink predates that game by over a decade.
  • Many people think The Sixth Sense was the first movie to employ the Dead All Along twist ending; in fact, as that trope page indicates, this plot device goes back a long way. Word of God has stated that he got the idea from a 1994 episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014):
    • Shredder's armor has received some nasty scrutiny from certain portions of the fanbase, with such comments that they turned him into "a Transformer", no doubt inspired by Michael Bay's involvement as producer — even though it's plainly obvious the character is simply wearing full-body Powered Armor, the design of which recalls the Shredder of the 2003 animated series. Some shots of the rooftop battle even show that his arms are exposed, just like nearly every older version.
    • There were also complaints over Shredder not being Japanese. Considering that the Shredder has been an alien, a demonic abomination and a woman, this is hardly the most drastic change to his character. And it turns out, he is Japanese.
    • Having the Turtles and Splinter be lab animals who April already knew back then is similar to the IDW Comics continuity, though with its own twists.
  • A lot of people complain about the 2014 Annie about Sandy the dog being changed into a Shiba Inu. Sandy in the original Little Orphan Annie comics is almost always a large, orange or reddish-brown dog with pointed ears and a white muzzle. The new dog is more true to the source than the Otterhound Sandy from the 80s film.
  • Despite comparisons to Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Dracula Untold might have more in common with the Dracula: Vlad the Impaler comic book series published by Topps in 1993 (see here), detailing the life of the historical Vlad before he became a vampire.

Comic BooksOlder Than They ThinkLiterature

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