Western Animation: Chicken Run

The cast of Chicken Run, from left to right: Ginger and Rocky, foreground; Mac, Fowler, and Babs, midground; Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy, background; Nick and Fetcher at bottom corners.

Chicken Run is a 2000 stop-action animated film, the first in three collaborations between Dreamworks and Aardman Animations. Best described as The Great Escapewith chickens.

A ginger chicken named "Ginger" is the ringleader in the attempts of the chickens to escape from Mr and Mrs Tweedy's Chicken Farm, a prison where they must lay eggs at least once a week or face being beheaded and end up on the dinner plate. Ginger is at her wit's end having found she is now unable to convince the others into any more escape attempts (which end with them in failure and her being locked in solitary confinement in a coal bunker). Then a rooster named Rocky, who can apparently fly, falls from the sky and agrees to teach the chickens how to fly like him, in return for Ginger keeping mum on his presence.

However Mrs. Tweedy, tiring of the low profits selling eggs brings her, decides to convert her business into chicken pot pies. Needless to say, things get drastic in a hurry and Ginger must get the whole coop into the air before they all become mincemeat.

Tropes featured:

  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: None of the chickens wears real clothes, but they all wear accessories such as scarves, necklaces, and bandannas.
  • Affectionate Parody:
  • The Alleged Car: Subverted with the "crate", an airplane made out of whatever the chickens could find. Doesn't look like much, but it works perfectly.
  • Alliterative Name: Rocky Rhodes.
  • All of Them:
    Mrs. Tweedy: Get the chickens.
    Mr. Tweedy: Which ones?
    Mrs. Tweedy: All of them!
  • Almost Kiss: Rocky and Ginger almost kiss at one point before being interrupted by Mrs. Tweedy. Wait, how do you animate chickens kissing, anyway? (A quick peck on the cheek, perhaps?)
  • Already Undone for You: When falling towards a load of spinning blades in the pie machine, Rocky grabs a bar at the side which falls down and stops his fall. There is no sign of how Ginger survived moments before, however...
  • America Won World War II
    Fowler: Pushy Americans. Always showing up late for every war. Overpaid, over-sexed and over here!
    • This was an actual complaint that British soldiers had of American soldiers in World War II, due to the US Army paying better, and their willingness to use that extra money to get girls. The Americans usually countered that complaint by saying that the problem with the British troops was that they were underpaid, under-sexed, and under Eisenhower.
  • Amusing Injuries:
    • Mr Tweedy banging his head on the roof of the hut and, near the end, BY the roof of the hut.
    • Rocky getting hit on the head by a feeding trough.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: Provides the page quote:
    Mr. Tweedy: Oooh, that's champion, that is... What is it?
    Mrs. Tweedy: It's a pie machine, you idiot. Chickens go in; pies come out.
    Mr. Tweedy: Oh, what kind of pies?
    Mrs. Tweedy: Apple.
    Mr. Tweedy: [excitedly] My favourite!
    Mrs. Tweedy: Chicken pies, you great lummox!
  • Ax-Crazy: Mrs. Tweedy goes totally berserk against the chickens in the climax, and earns double points for actually wielding an ax.
  • Babies Ever After: In the epilogue, Mac is shown giving a group of peeps a ride in the catapult she had designed at the beginning of the movie. Presumably they're all Ginger and Rocky's.
  • Bad Boss: Mrs. Tweedy constantly mistreats her henpecked husband while bossing him around.
  • Bad Vibrations: All of the chicken coops are rattled ominously when the pie machine turns on. The use of this trope also gets Lampshaded.
  • Bamboo Technology: The chickens manage to make some elaborate mechanical contraptions out of spare parts and wood. Eventually they build a working airplane out of their chicken coops, which is entirely pedal-powered.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: The rats Nick and Fetcher don't wear shoes but are otherwise fully clothed.
  • The Bechdel Test: Despite the fact that there are only five male characters (Rocky, Fowler, Mr. Tweedy, Nick and Fetcher) and the film is set on a hen farm, only one scene, the meeting in hut 17, grants it's passing: Ginger has a lengthy conversation with several hens, many are named, main characters, about freedom, and the only man mentioned is the farmer.
  • Becoming the Boast: Rocky and Fowler are an interesting contrast. Both of them make big boasts that they they can't live up to — Rocky's claim that he can fly, and Fowler's vague allusions to being in the Royal Air Force, which the others mistake for him having been a pilot. Rocky runs away rather than face the shame of exposure, only to return when his guilty conscience gets the better of him. After revealing that his service in the RAF was as a mascot, Fowler agrees to take the wheel of the plane because he still has more familiarity with airplanes than anyone else.
  • Becoming Part of the Image: During the climactic scene Mrs. Tweedy gets rammed into a billboard advertising her chicken pies, and has the smiling version of her face from the billboard stuck over her real one. When she rips the paper off, her actual expression is completely Ax-Crazy.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Ginger and Rocky have traces of this.
  • Berserk Button: Ginger gets fed up pretty quickly of being called "doll face" by Rocky.
  • Big Bad: Mrs. Tweedy. While Mr. Tweedy seems to have inherited the farm from his parents before he married her, Mrs. Tweedy is definitely the one in charge, continually bosses him around and sets up the plan to kill all the chickens.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Rocky's return in the climax; while Mrs. Tweedy has Ginger pinned to the ground and is threatening to kill her, Rocky comes flying over the fence on a tricycle, screaming Ginger's name as he does so.
  • Big Eater: Most of the hens are pretty gluttonous, especially Babs. The exceptions are Ginger and Mac, who are considerably skinnier than all the other hens. They're about the same size as Rocky and Fowler.
    Babs: Chicken feed. My favorite!
  • Big "NO!": Done by Rocky when Mrs. Tweedy seemingly kills Ginger. Includes a Futile Hand Reach.
  • Big "Shut Up!": When Ginger has a Eureka Moment while the other chickens are fighting in the mud, she makes them stop and pay attention by yelling, "Everyone! SHUT! UP!".
  • Boxed Crook: Rocky is an interesting variation in that the ultimatum for getting out — without being ratted out and sent back to the circus — is helping everyone else get out as well.
  • Brawn Hilda: Bunty is big, strong, and unladylike.
  • Break the Cutie: Ginger goes through all kinds of hell, no doubt about it.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Rocky abandons Ginger and the other chickens right before the climax despite their because he can't actually fly, but comes back to help in the nick of time. While she slaps him for leaving them, she forgives him because he came back and they get together at the end.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Ginger imitates Rocky's American accent while saying she wouldn't expect a "Lone Free Ranger" to know anything about caring for her friends; When Rocky gets the idea to launch the chickens with an elastic band, he imitates the way that Scottish-accented Mac pronounces "Thrrrust".
  • Brick Joke: During the staff meeting, Fowler gets covered by a sock to hide him and prevent Mr Tweedy from seeing him. When Ginger leaves Hut 17 at the end of the scene, Fowler (still covered by the sock) falls over and hurts himself. The muffled grunt of pain as he hits the floor makes it all the funnier.
  • British Accents: Everyone has a UK accent except for the American Rocky, who makes a point of not understanding a word the Scottish-accented Mac says.
  • Butt Monkey: Nothing ever goes right for Mr. Tweedy, who gets injured and humiliated throughout the movie.
  • Captain Obvious: This little exchange near the end. It's meant to be a big plot twist, but it's just so obvious that you can't help but laugh.
    Ginger: But you're supposed to be up there! You're the pilot!
    Fowler: Don't be ridiculous. I can't fly this contraption.
    Ginger: "Back in your day"? The Royal Air Force?
    Fowler: 644 Squadron, Poultry Division - we were the mascots.
    Ginger: You mean you never actually flew the plane?
    Fowler: Good heavens, no! I'm a chicken! The Royal Air Force doesn't let chickens behind the controls of complex aircraft!
  • Captivity Harmonica: Parodied when Rocky comes back to find the chickens milling about the overturned food trough, having just heard from Ginger that they're all going to die, and there's one hen playing a mournful harmonica.
  • Cassandra Truth: Mr. Tweedy's belief that the chickens are "organized."
    • I Warned You: Said by Mr. Tweedy to Mrs. Tweedy the Sore Loser in possibly the meekest example of this trope after the chickens revolt and fly the coop.
      Mr. Tweedy: I told you, they was organized.
      Mrs. Tweedy: (gnashing her teeth at him) GRRRRR!
  • The Casanova: Rocky, coupled with Getting Crap Past the Radar below. He says he is brought to England because of all the beautiful English chicks. A few moments later, he is mid-sentence in that scene when he meets the rest of the chickens properly, he turns to one of them, winks at her and goes smoothly, "Hi, how are you?", causing her to faint.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Rocky abandons Ginger and the others before the climax because he knows he's a sham, but he comes back just in time to save Ginger from Mrs. Tweety and join the escape.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Why on earth did they make such a big deal of showing the Christmas lights getting caught on the plane's wheel? Oh, now they're using it to climb! But I'm sure they don't serve any other... WAIT A MINUTE! IS THAT MRS. TWEEDY?!?
    • Another example is the turnip catapult from the escape meeting scene, which shows up again in the climax when it's used to launch eggs at the attacking Mrs. Tweedy. But it doesn't stop her.
    • The hole dug under the fence at the beginning with the spoon. First used in that scene, then it's later revealed Rocky used the same hole to escape from the farm.
  • Both Babs' passion for knitting and Bunty's egg laying capabilities come in pretty useful when building the 'crate'.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Fowler. He spends most of the film rambling about the RAF, then in the third act his stories inspire Ginger to build the crate and he ultimately becomes its pilot.
  • Chick Magnet: Rocky shows up, and practically all of the hens except Ginger are immediately swooning over him. Since they're all chickens this makes Rocky a literal chick magnet too.
  • Claymation: The film is animated in stop-motion using plasticine character models.
  • Closest Thing We Got: Fowler wasn't a pilot, but he'd been around them and might have picked up a thing or two.
  • Closet Shuffle: Whenever Rocky's presence needs to be hidden from the Tweedys he gets stuffed by the chickens into a cramped space under the floor.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Babs and Fetcher are both very air-headed and spacy, jumping to strange conclusions and not fully grasping what's going on.
  • The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: Mr. Tweedy is correct in his strange-sounding theory about the hens being smarter than they look, which Mrs. Tweedy finds out the hard way.
  • Coincidental Article: Just when Mrs. Tweety exclaims that she's sick and tired of making minuscule profits, a magazine add catches her eye that says, "Sick and tired of making minuscule profits? Turn your chicken farm into a gold mine!" It's for the pie machine.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Babs thought Rocky had just gone on holiday. This got on Bunty's nerves ("Maybe he just wanted to get away from YOUR INFERNAL KNITTING!!"), and this escalated into a huge brawl until Ginger stops it.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back: Rocky leaves the other chickens to fend for themselves just before the climax, but turns back after seeing a billboard for Mrs. Tweedy's Homemade Chicken Pies and realizing that he won't be able to live with himself if he abandons them.
  • Conspicuous CG: Averted with the rain and the gravy explosion; it melds with the plasticine models perfectly. This is why Flushed Away was all-CGI; it's near-impossible to do with clay.
  • Conveyor Belt-O-Doom: Three, all in the pie machine. The first one is sideways with Ginger upside-down. The second is when Ginger and Rocky have their feet stuck in the balls of dough in danger of being crushed. The third is when they are in the pie tin and in danger of being squirted by gravy.
  • Court-Martialed: Fowler threatens Rocky with a court martial at one point, but it's an empty one as he doesn't really have the authority to go through with it.
  • Crapsack World: The farm is depicted as one for the chickens. They have no freedom and spend their whole lives laying eggs, and when they can't lay anymore the farmers kill them. It gets worse when Mrs. Tweedy decides she can make more money by turning all of them into pies.
  • Dance of Romance: The dance scene is when Ginger starts to fall for Rocky.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mrs. Tweedy belittles her husband with sacrasm.
    Mrs. Tweedy: It's a pie machine. Chickens go in, pie comes out.
    Mr. Tweedy: Oooooh. What kind?
    Mrs. Tweedy: Apple.
  • Death Course: The pie machine is a gauntlet full of deadly booby traps for any chicken trying to escape.
  • Death Glare: Ginger does this several times.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Lampshaded here:
    Rocky: Flying takes three things; hard work, perseverance and...hard work.
    Fowler: You said "hard work" twice!
  • Description Cut: This wonderful exchange;
    Mrs Tweedy: (To her husband after he voices his suspicions of the chickens) They're chickens, you dolt! Apart from you, they're the most stupid creatures on this planet. They don't plot, they don't scheme and they are not! organized!
    [Cut to Ginger banging a gavel at (a very rowdy) escape meeting]
    Ginger: Order! ORDER!
  • Determinator: Ginger never gives up no matter how many times her escape attempts fail.
  • Disney Death: Ginger gets one in the final escape attempt. Lasts considerably shorter than most examples, though.
  • The Ditz: Babs, the farm's resident "knit-wit", who is cheerful and friendly but not very bright.
    "I don't want to be a pie! ...I don't like gravy!"
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The whole thing is a gleefully unashamed rewriting of prisoner of war stories... with chickens on a farm. What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?
  • Dope Slap: Mrs. Tweedy smacks her husbandon the head with a clipboard for saying something stupid.
  • Double Entendre: When Mr. Tweedy is outside being attacked by the rebelling chickens.
    Mr. Tweedy: [covered in chickens] Mrs. Tweedy! The chickens are revolting!
    Mrs. Tweedy: [inside the house, not paying attention] Finally, something we agree on.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Averted like hell. Mrs. Tweedy is clearly a monster and her husband is just one of many whom she makes suffer.
  • The Drifter: Rocky likes to imagine himself as a wandering hero who doesn't like staying in one place too long, and plays this part in front of the chickens. He eventually realizes that this is merely his excuse to leave whenever the going gets tough, and ends up settling down with Ginger instead.
  • Dub Name Change: In the Norwegian dub, the "G" in "Ginger" is removed, becoming "Inger" which is a Norwegian girl's name. "Edwina" was changed to "Katrine".
    • In the Swedish dub, their names were changed to Jenny and Elvira, respectively.
  • Eagleland: Well, for Fowler's reaction to Rocky, go to America Won World War II. The funny thing is, Rocky is indeed a mixed flavour leaning towards flavour 2. Quite frankly, Rocky actually is also indeed "overpaid, oversexed and over here".
    • Gets even better in certain dubs where Fowler down right states "Besides, he's an American" [...] "Beware of guys like that, miss Ginger. Americans are unreliable."
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The chickens go through a lot of grief and mortal peril, but everything turns out well for them in the end when they escape in their airplane and get to enjoy freedom on an island sanctuary.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: Ginger's introduction has her hiding in the shadows, and then stepping into the light.
  • Empathic Environment: When Rocky is revealed as a fake after running away and his poster is connected — Ginger puts the two bits together — a thunderstorm starts. It is still raining as Ginger is in her Heroic BSOD. It then becomes sunny again when she has a Eureka Moment.
  • Establishing Character Moment: We're introduced to Babs in a way that demonstrates her ditzy, carefree nature:
    Babs: Mornin', Ginger. Back from holiday?
    Ginger: I wasn't on holiday, Babs, I was in solitary confinement.
  • Eureka Moment: Ginger staring at Fowler's "medal" (actually one of the commercial flight pins pilots give children), which has wings on it, gives her the idea that they can fly away, just not under their own power.
  • Everything Makes a Mushroom: A gravy explosion looks an awful lot like a mushroom cloud.
  • Evil Overlooker: The main posters and DVD cover have Mrs. Tweedy's face projected onto a cloud in the background.
  • Expospeak Gag: After Rocky wakes up with an injured wing, there is this bit of dialogue:
    Rocky: Ouch! What happened to my wing?
    Ginger: You took a rather nasty fall.
    Mac: And sprained the anterior tendon connecting your radius to your humerus. I gave her a wee bit of a tweak, Jimmy, and wrapped her up.
    Rocky: Was that English?
    Ginger: She said you sprained your wing. She fixed it.
  • Face Palm: Ginger after the Literal-Minded reaction to her "Let's not lose our heads" line.
  • Failure Montage: The film begins with a montage of Ginger's plans to break out of the farm, each one ending with her being stuck in solitary confinement as punishment.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Rocky, who let his "flying rooster" reputation go to his head. Once he had to give an actual demonstration, he chickened out.
    • To a lesser degree, Fowler. While he never outright said he was a wartime hero, his ramblings gave off that impression. When he finally admits he was just the mascot, he insists that it should have been obvious, since no one would employ chickens as pilots.
  • False Reassurance: Most of Rocky's promises (including the one to teach the hens how to fly) are true except for a few little details which he doesn't bother to mention.
  • Fanfare: With kazoos!
  • Fat and Skinny: Mr. Tweedy is fat and his wife Mrs. Tweedy is Lean and Mean; Nick is shorter and fat while his partner Fetcher is tall and skinny.
  • Fearsome Foot: Mrs. Tweedy is often introduced in her black boots marching through the chicken farm during inspections, purposely parallelling the visual sight of an approaching concentration camp officer.
  • Feather Fingers: In order to show the chickens using human tools, the film treats their wing feathers as if they were fingers. How else would you depict a chicken using scissors?
  • Feet-First Introduction: Ginger and Mrs. Tweedy.
  • Fiery Redhead: Ginger has red feathers, making her the hen equivalent. Perhaps she's a downplayed example since she isn't Hot-Blooded or irritable to the extent of having a Hair-Trigger Temper, but she is the most brave and defiant hen and often gets angry at Rocky for not taking things seriously.
  • The Fifties: According to the filmmakers, the action takes place in 1959. See entry Period Piece for more details.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Fowler reminisces several times about about "the crate" and his RAF days, which becomes important when Ginger asks him if he can help them build an airplane and fly it.
    • The magazine with the headline "Turn Your Chicken Farm Into A Goldmine" foreshadows the whole thing with the pie machine that will come into play later.
    • Right before Rocky flies in, as Ginger is crying against the fence, we hear and see what appears to be thunder and lightning. It's the cannon that he was launched from in a circus act, meaning he can't actually fly under his own power. Then, when she puts the missing piecing on the poster, it's companied by Dramatic Thunder.
    • And when Rocky is recovering in the hut, he's heard mumbling something about not wanting to get stuffed in there again. It sounds like prison. It's the cannon.
    • Rocky's poster is torn at the bottom corner. The missing piece depicted the cannon.
    • Fowler tells Ginger at one point to watch herself when it comes to Rocky, down right stating he's "not to be trusted".
  • Five-Chicken Band:
    • The Leader: Ginger — The good-hearted hero who unites the team with a grand vision.
    • The Lancer: Rocky — The cocky, arrogant American showman Foil to Ginger's demure British Team Mom.
    • The Big Guy: Bunty — The cynical, brawny, boisterous chicken with the no-nonsense attitude.
    • The Smart Guy: Mac — The fast-talking Gadgeteer Genius who provides the technical know-how.
    • The Chick: Babs — The traditionally feminine chicken with the most good-natured personality.
  • Friend in the Black Market: The rats, Nick and Fetcher, are acquaintances of Ginger who sell stolen items to help in her escape attempts. This overlaps with Honest John's Dealership since their merchandise is stolen and heavily used, but hey—at least it works!
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Mrs Tweedy slams her fist down to shut Mr Tweedy up, their wedding photo is glimpsed in the background.
  • Funny Animal: On the anthropomorphic scale the chickens are funny animals. They have the shape and proportions of real chickens (barring a few human-like traits such as Feather Fingers), but their intelligence, speech, and behavior are almost just like humans. Nick and Fletcher are also funny animals because of their realistic size despite having more human-like proportions than the chickens; The guard dogs are examples of regular animals because they walk, bark, and behave like actual dogs do.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • During roll call near the beginning of the movie, Bunty pushes aside a dark brown chicken who was sleeping on the spot to make room for Ginger. In the next shot we see the brown chicken getting up and looking dazed. When Mrs. Tweedy starts walking down, Fowler gets on the other side of Bunty; knocking over the dark brown chicken again!
    • When Mr Tweedy is trying to repair the pie machine after Rocky saves Ginger from it, he gets it working, but then it stops again. As he presses a button on it, it sends a jet of gravy right at Mrs Tweedy behind him and it hits her in the face. In retaliation she kicks him in the backside. And before that, he plugs in two cables and it covers Mrs Tweedy's face in smoke.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Pops up quite often. Notable examples:
    • When the circus ringmaster comes to the farm looking for Rocky, Ginger attempts to out the rooster's presence by yelling out loud "BAWWWWK"s. Considering that they're looking for a rooster in a henhouse, this would be akin to a human woman outing a hiding man by making orgasmic noises.
  • "So... which bunk is mine?" And the enthusiastic response from nearly all the hens in the place.
  • During the Training Montage, there's a precious moment where Ginger is leaning over and stretching and Rocky is checking out her bum. And then she catches him. And he coughs and continues instructing the class. Wow.
  • Mr. Tweedy pretty clearly jumps after Mrs. Tweedy apparently grabs his rear off-screen.
  • Ginger stating to Rocky that he's "the answer to their prayers" about their problem. The hens then giggle, to which Rocky responds enthusiastically that he is. He is clearly confused when Ginger says afterwards that he will teach them how to fly, which gives away that since there were no (young) roosters around, he assumed that they wanted to mate with him. All of them.
  • Fowler's "Pushy Americans, always late for every war. Overpaid, over-sexed, and over here!" See America Won World War II for further info.
  • At one point, Mr Tweedy calls the chickens "thieving little buggers!"
  • Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!: Spoofed.
    Ginger:: We'll either die free chickens, or die trying!
    Babs: Are those the only choices?
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Just before Mrs. Tweedy cuts off Edwina's head, the camera cuts to the other chickens. The sound of the ax is all we need to hear to know that she's dead.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: When the chickens find out that Rocky was shot out of a cannon and couldn't really fly.
  • Great Escape: Complete with a Suspiciously Similar Song version of the theme!
  • Greek Chorus: Nick and Fetcher comment on the futility of the chicken's escape attempts while observing with detached amusement.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Fowler is an irritable old rooster who gets cranky whenever he or the rules are being disrespected.
  • Gut Punch: When Edwina gets beheaded, albeit offscreen, and later her bones are seen on the kitchen table. As Roger Ebert stated in his review, Mrs. Tweedy is not fooling around. This is not a film that pulls punches, and there's a very real threat to the chickens.
  • Hamster Wheel Power: The "crate" is a vehicle powered entirely by the chickens themselves, who in a variation on this trope use bicycle pedals.
  • Hard Work Montage: Several montages throughout the film show the chickens building contraptions or digging tunnels for their escape attempts. The biggest one involves them constructing the "crate", or airplane, where every single chicken is working their rump off while sawing and hammering.
  • Help, I'm Stuck!: Bunty gets stuck under the fence near the beginning of the movie when they're trying to escape.
  • Henpecked Husband (hee hee!): Mr. Tweedy can't stand up to his domineering wife and does whatever she tells him to do even though she treats him like her slave. He gets some measure of revenge in the end: most of it was edited out, but it's clear that Mr. Tweedy pushed the wooden wall onto her as a moment of The Dog Bites Back.
  • Heroic BSOD: Ginger loses hope and is about to give up after Rocky's deceit is revealed along with his departure.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Ginger almost pulled this by apparently letting Mrs. Tweedy behead her along with cutting the line that was attached to the crate with the escaping chickens. Turns out she just ducked away, but still, a pretty dark implication.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Nick and Fetcher sell smuggled products to the chickens, which are stolen and heavily used, and refuse to let them have the good stuff unless they pay in eggs.
  • Humanlike Hand Anatomy: For this movie, they would have needed to come up with some pretty ingenious ways for all the chickens to use their various tools if they all had actual wings instead of arms.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Nick and Fetcher make pun after pun while laughing at the chickens' flight experiments:
    Nick: "Poultry in motion!"
  • I Just Want to Be Free: Ginger's personal reason for escaping is her desire to feel grass beneath her feet and go wherever she wants without a farmer to keep her down. The other chickens want this too, although they've become increasingly resigned to their lives, and Rocky doesn't want to go back to the circus either.
  • Impact Silhouette: When Ginger and Rocky try to escape from the oven of the pie machine, Rocky winds up falling into all of the pies that are being cooked, with a bunch of Rocky-shaped holes in all of the pies that he had fallen into.
  • Improvised Zipline: Rocky ziplines from the chicken coop into the pie machine building using a telephone wire and a coat hanger.
  • Indy Escape: Inside the pie machine, Rocky and Ginger avoid gigantic rolling gears while dodging bolts popping out of the walls. These perils resemble the kind of giant boulder and arrows-from-the-wall booby traps seen in your typical Raiders of the Lost Parody.
  • Indy Hat Roll: In the same part Ginger slips under a slowly closing door, and snatches back her hat from the other side just before it shuts.
  • Indy Ploy: When Mr. Tweedy discovers what the chickens are doing, Ginger struggles to figure out what to do next, before just yelling, "ATTACK!!!"
    Bunty: Nice plan!
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Subverted with Mr. Tweedy, who's smart enough not to underestimate the chickens, in particular Ginger, who he decides to use as the first victim of the pie machine.
  • Ironic Echo: A couple in the scene where Rocky is discovered to be on the run.
    • Rocky first uses "It's a cruel world" to Ginger, who later in the scene uses it to him.
    • Rocky stops Ginger from squawking by grabbing her beak. Ginger does the same thing to him later in the scene when she gets fed up of him calling her "doll face".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Rocky. Ginger couldn't stand him at the beginning, and flees the farm out of shame, but his conscience makes him return and he saves Ginger's life twice.
    • Bunty as well. She doubts the plans to escape and seems to pour scorn on them, but she does care for the others.
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude: It's hard to tell that Mac is female, because she's a tomboy and speaks really fast in technical jargon.
    • Then again, it's established there's only one rooster (Fowler) in the coop.
  • Last Name Basis: Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy address each other as such, and it may take viewers a while to realize they're actually a married couple. In rural Yorkshire, it was not uncommon for a married couple to address their spouses that way.
  • The Leader: Ginger is a combination of Types II and III.
  • Leitmotif
  • Let's Meet the Meat: The label for Mrs. Tweedy's Chicken Pies is a chicken's head popping out of a pie, smiling.
  • Liar Revealed: Played with. As mentioned above, Rocky lets the "flying rooster" reputation go to his head and decides to play along, until, most likely due to fear of being kicked out (which is how the trope usually works), decides to flee and leave behind the piece of the poster that reveals his secret.
  • Literal Metaphor: A good few.
    • "Really? Because it seems like we're going round in circles." (Cut to the other chickens, who are doing exactly that.)
    • Nick and Fetcher are tired of being paid in chicken feed because it's, well... chicken feed.
    • When the pie machine is sabotaged, it's because of a spanner in the works. Literally.
    • A funny one later, in the form of the line, "Let's not lose our heads." Taken literally by the other chickens. Bad choice of words.
  • Loud Gulp: The chickens gulp in unison (swallowing the heaps of chicken feed they all had in their mouths) after Ginger tells them that the food they've been eating was to fatten them up for slaughter.
  • Lucky Translation: In the Norwegian dub, when Mr. Tweedy picks up Ginger and originally tells her "I've got a score to settle with you.", the Norwegian phrase is "I've got a hen to pick with you" making it a perfect Pun.
  • Malicious Misnaming: It's not Dollface, it's Ginger.
  • Manly Tears: You can see Rocky was shedding some before he discovered that Ginger hadn't been decapitated.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The other chickens have one when Ginger is taken to the pie machine.
    Bunty: We mustn't panic. We mustn't panic!
    (Beat, then the chickens scream their heads off)
  • Meaningful Name: Nick (as in English euphemism for steal) and Fetcher. Also, Ginger is ginger (i.e. reddish).
  • Million-to-One Chance: The chances of the chickens escaping, according to Bunty. Guess what happens in the end.
  • Moment Killer: Mr. Tweedy delivers a heaping serving of feed, and the chickens go nuts, cheering and stuffing their mouths as fast as they can. Ginger, unable to get their attention, upends the trough and tells them the Tweedys are fattening them up and plan to kill them. This goes about over about as well as you'd expect, and Rocky even calls her out over it.
  • Mood Whiplash: There's a lot of levity in the opening credits, and horsing around with Fowler and Bunty during the lineup, but then you have Edwina, and her execution is not Played for Laughs. The music becomes mournful and dark, followed by an execution, and to drive the point home, her freshly eaten bones are on the Tweedy dinner table. At that point, Ginger's desperate attempts to escape aren't so funny anymore.
    • Nick and Fetcher get one. When Bunty slams into the fence during the thrust session, they are laughing at Nick's jibe, but their laughing turns to screaming as they realise Bunty is about to land on them.
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: Happens to Babs, who then adds with a deadpan, "It was really boring."
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Mrs. Tweedy may as well be called Hitler with the chickens as Jews, including a gas oven.
  • Never Say "Die": Played straight with the humans ("You are going to be a pie!") but averted with most of the chickens.
    • Invoked by Rocky, who tells Ginger that Brutal Honesty isn't going to work ("You know, if you want people to do something, you don't mention death.") Indeed, the chickens' morale is at its nadir after one of Ginger's speeches.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The advertising for the movie focused on the action sequences and screwball slapstick elements while glossing over the parallels to World War II, the references to prison escape films, the love story and the constant threat of death.
  • Nice Hat: Ginger's green beret is her distinctive accessory. She's the only chicken that wears one.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: When Mrs. Tweedy has supposedly beheaded Ginger with her axe while on the string of lights, it is revealed that not only did Mrs. Tweedy miss Ginger, but she cut the wires between the two of them and falls as a result.
  • Non Sequitur Thud: Replace "thud" with "gets hit on the head with a feeding trough."
    Rocky: Thank you ladies and gentlemen, you've been a wonderful audience.
  • No, You Go First
  • Off with Her Head!: Poor, poor Edwina.
  • Oh Crap!: A lot of them.
    • Ginger at the start when the dog closing in on her bites off the gnome's head.
    • Edwina being taken away. Ginger gets this as she realises what is about to happen.
    • Nick and Fetcher in the Mood Whiplash moment above.
    • Babs when she reveals she hasn't laid any eggs at the second roll call.
    • Rocky and Ginger inside the pie machine with their feet stuck in the dough.
    • Rocky when the circus truck arrives, and then later when the other truck arrives and he thinks it's the circus again.
    • Ginger, when she unfolds the bottom half of Rocky's poster.
    • Ginger when Mr Tweedy fixes the pie machine.
    • Mr Tweedy when the chickens attack him near the end.
    • Mr. Tweedy when he sees his wife with her head in the pie machine, making the machine overload. Realizing the machine's gonna blow, Mr. Tweedy quickly closes the door, just as the pie machine explodes, sending gravy everywhere.
    • Mrs Tweedy gets two in the climax. The first is when Ginger reveals that she cut the string of lights with the ax. The second is when Mr Tweedy pushes the barn door down on her.
  • Only Sane Man: Ginger is the only chicken who is both clear-headed about the danger of staying on the farm and doesn't have.
  • Oop North: The Yorkshire setting gets some of the associated tropes.
  • Orphaned Punchline: Rocky's, "So the pig says to the horse, 'Hey man, why the long face?'" No setup is even needed.
  • Packed Hero: During the pie machine sequence, Rocky and Ginger briefly get trapped inside a pie.
  • Period Piece: Although it's never outright stated in the film itself, Word of God is that the movie is set in 1959. It was even filmed with '50s cameras for added effect.
    • Which makes it rather odd that Rocky was singing along to Dion Dimucci's "The Wanderer," a song that wasn't released until two years later.
  • Phony Veteran: At least semi-phony. Fowler did serve in the military, but only as a mascot.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Had Rocky not been so reluctant to just tell the hens right away that he couldn't fly, they'd have had much more time to work on plan B.
  • PoW Camp: The farm is meant to invoke a prisoner of war camp, with wire fences and constant patrols as well as regular inspections.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Ginger's "Bye-bye." to Mrs. Tweedy.
  • Properly Paranoid: Mr. Tweedy is right about the hens being smart, and this fact comes to bite Mrs. Tweety in the bum.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Oh, would you just shut up about your stupid! Bloomin'! Medals!"
  • Punny Name: Rocky the Rhode Island Red, or Rocky Rhodes for short. It's a pun on "Rocky Roads".
  • Punishment Box: Ginger is put in the coal bunker everytime she's caught trying to escape.
  • Pungeon Master: Nick and Fletcher share this title, especially during their flight-spectating punning spree.
  • The Rat: Bonus points for the farm's resident scroungers being actual rats.
  • Reality Ensues: After all, chickens cannot fly by themselves.
    • The Royal Air Force doesn't let chickens behind the controls of complex aircraft.
    • Cutting Christmas lights wire with children's safety scissors takes a long time.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Building the Crate and The Chickens Are Revolting end up in Miss Congeniality 2 as the background music for a show called Treasure Island.
  • Red-Headed Heroine: Ginger. Not that it really stands out, what with the main cast being chickens instead of humans, but it's apparently notable enough to have her named after it and for the Tweedys to identify her as "that ginger one".
  • Red Herring: When Ginger orders the crate prepared for flight after Mr. Tweedy is subdued, Mac tells her that it's not yet ready for use. We're expecting this to be Foreshadowing for some kind of catastrophe during the escape (and originally it was going to be), but in the final film nothing ever comes of it and the crate flies without a hitch.
  • Red Shirt: Edwina.
  • The Reveal: Rocky never knew how to fly. When Ginger saw him he had been shot out of a cannon.
  • Ring Around the Collar: The chicken character models were made of a combination of plasticine for their heads and silicone rubber for their bodies. To hide the join, all the chickens wear scarves, necklaces, or any other kind of neckgear.
  • Rousing Speech: Bunty wasn't convinced however.
    Bunty: In all my life, I've never heard such a fantastic...LOAD OF TRIPE!
  • Rule of Three: Mrs Tweedy finds out about the pie machine and tries to shush Mr Tweedy twice. When that fails, cue a fist coming down hard.
  • Running Gag: Rocky calling Ginger "doll face" or "angel face", and her angrily shouting "Ginger!" at him. After the pie machine scene, this stops and he starts calling her by name.
    • Baabs assuming everyone who leaves is off on holiday.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Edwina is a minor character who gets killed off to show the film is serious and that the chickens really need to escape.
  • Say My Name: Rocky and Ginger when Rocky makes his triumphant return. In slow-motion, even.
  • Scavenged Punk: As provided by literal scavengers, Nick and Fletcher, the chickens build everything out of human stuff. Also, check out the Nick and Fletcher's homemade costumes (there's a fullsized human zipper).
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: At the end of the climax, Mr. Tweedy runs into the barn to find his wife stuck in the pie-making machine's safety valve and the pressure gauges deep in the red. He calmly closes the door. This counts for Rocky too, which forces the hens to abort to plan B.
  • Sealed with a Kiss: Rocky and Ginger kiss right at the end of the movie, and immediately afterwards they are shown in the epilogue enjoying life as a couple.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Mac, at times, especially when she's supposed to be hard to understand.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: When Mrs. Tweedy beheads Edwina near the beginning, we just see their shadows as the prepares her swing followed by the camera cutting away and the sound of the ax.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The entire film is an Affectionate Parody of The Great Escape, with references to other World War II POW media:
      • Hut 17 is a reference to Stalag 17.
      • And there are some references to Hogan's Heroes, with the rolling-up maps, the movable bunks, the slapstick escape ideas (which are more in line with Hogan's usual routines than with The Great Escape)
    • Mac provides a couple to Star Trek:
      Fowler: "We need more power!"
      Mac: "I cannae work miracles, Cap'n! I'm givin' 'er all she's got!"
      • And when Mrs. Tweedy grabs the end of the cord that had snagged on the plane, Mac identifies her as a "cling-on".
    • Oh, and the Indiana Jones references, as they're escaping the chicken-pie-making machine.
    • Nick refers to Ginger as Attila the Hen at one point, and Fetcher proclaims 'It's raining hen!' when the "flying" hens start plummeting to the ground.
    • At the start of the dancing scene, when Ginger enters hut 17, the theme from The Archers can be heard on the radio.
    • Nick and Fetcher are apparently fans of Saturday Night Fever, judging by their dancing. Some 20 years in advance, no less.
  • Shown Their Work: The way Mac lands square on her head and falls forward after attempting to fly? That would earn a perfect score in caber tossing.
  • Sidetracked by the Analogy:
    Ginger: Ladies, please. Let's not lose our heads.
    Bunty: Lose our heads?! [screams]
  • Significant Green Eyed Red Head: Ginger has red plumage and green eyes, which makes her stand out visually from the other hens.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Ginger is not impressed by Rocky's roguish charm since she sees him as being irresponsible with their lives, and only falls for him after he does something genuinely selfless and heroic.
  • Sitting on the Roof: Ginger has a habit of doing this. In one scene she goes up to the roof and discovers Rocky already sitting there. "I'm sorry, is this your roof?"
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: "That's for leaving! ... And this is for coming back." The actual kiss would have to wait until they'd dealt with Mrs. Tweedy first.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: Mac is the only chicken with eyeglasses and also the biggest engineering genius among them.
  • So Long, Suckers!: Ginger saying "Bye-bye" to Mrs. Tweedy before letting her fall from the sky.
  • Sore Loser: Mrs. Tweedy. Clearly, she does not like it when her Cloud Cuckoolander of a husband was right about the chickens being organized.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Stealthier in the US than in the UK, but as mentioned, the coal bin that Ginger is repeatedly thrown into is called a bunker.
    • Likewise, Nick, whose name is also slang for "steal" in British English (and elsewhere).
    • Rocky is a rooster who's very full of himself. He's "cocky."
    • Mr. Tweedy lives under the heel of his domineering wife, and he spends the movie futilely matching wits with a group of female chickens who end up attacking him en masse in the climax. Thus, he's both a literal and figurative...Henpecked Husband.
  • Stock British Phrases: Since it's a British film, there are a lot of these
  • Suddenly Shouting: Bunty, twice.
    Bunty: "In all my life, I've never heard such a fantastic LOAD OF TRIPE!"
    Bunty: "Perhaps he just went to get away from your INFERNAL KNTTING!"
  • Sycophantic Servant: Mr Tweedy.
  • Take That: Edwina, the chicken that gets beheaded, was named after former politician Edwina Currie who is (in)famous for starting a nationwide health scare over eggs in 1988 (confirmed by Word of God).
  • Techno Babble: Mac speaks about the problems of escaping in technical jargon that is hard to understand. It's Played for Laughs.
  • Thinly Veiled Dub Country Change: The Portuguese dub was always stated to take place in Portugal, with Fowler's references to the RAF being changed to FAPnote  and Rocky, despite still being American, says he came there for the lovely latin chicks. And yet, all the characters have their original names and the text in the movie is clearly all in English, with some of it being read out loud. Then again, there's not much they could do about that last one.
  • This Is no Time to Panic:
    Bunty: We mustn't panic! We mustn't panic!
    All Chickens: AHHHHHHHHHHHH!
    • The DVD has a special bonus feature called the "Panic Button". Click it and it plays a scene when all the chickens are going bonkers.
  • Those Two Guys: Nick and Fetcher are only ever seen together, and one has no plot significance without the other.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Rocky starts as an irresponsible bluffer who thinks that the chickens' plight is not his problem as long as he can escape himself, but by the end he becomes genuinely invested in helping them escape.
  • Toothy Bird: The animators depict the chickens with human-like teeth, which they do not have in real life.
  • Totem Pole Trench: One of the early escape attempts has the chickens on a wireframe dummy of Mrs. Tweedy, hidden under a dress. Which snags on the fence and falls off, alerting the dogs.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The theatrical trailers completely spoil The Reveal of the pie machine, while a TV commercial and the Burger King toys were all based around the plane. Then there's one DVD trailer which is comprised almost entirely of clips from the last 15 or so minutes of the film and the final scene in particular.
  • Trailer Spoof: The two trailers that were released prior to this movie were rendered in a way that parodied the first Mission: Impossible movie, complete with stop-motion explosions, "spy camera character bio" graphics, and initials of Chicken Run 's actual title rendered to resemble Mission: Impossible's Iconic Logo. Observe.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Mrs. Tweedy, when she sees the chickens escaping.
  • Visual Pun: Many as expected from such a film:
    • Coupled with Literal Metaphor, when the pie machine goes wrong, a spanner is literally in the works.
    • In the end, they really DO fly the coop...
    • When Fowler shouts "Chocks away!" it shows the chickens removing "Tasty-Choc" chocolate bars from the wheels that are very similar to the widely known Toblerone bar.
  • When I Was Your Age: This is part of Fowler's shtick.
  • Wrench Wench: Mac.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Whenever hens are unable to lay eggs anymore, they get slaughtered and eaten for dinner, as seen at the beginning with Edwina.
  • Zerg Rush: When Mr. Tweedy catches the chickens with his tools they use to build the crate to escape, they stand there in fear as usual. And then Ginger yells "ATTACK!" and the chickens all descend on Mr. Tweedy.
    Mr. Tweedy: Mrs. Tweedy! The chickens are revolting!
    Mrs. Tweedy: (not paying attention) Finally, something we agree on.