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Western Animation: Rango
So you want something to believe in?
"No man can walk out on his own story."

Rango is a 2011 film directed by Gore Verbinski, starring Johnny Depp, Abigail Breslin, Isla Fisher, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy and others. The film is an ode to Spaghetti Westerns and is also Industrial Light and Magic's first feature-length animated film. It won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature that year.

The film plays out as a loving tribute to Westerns of the past, taking its story beats from the classic structure of classic films while maintaining its own course. References to great films of the past abound throughout the film, serving as Easter Eggs for fans of the genre.

The movie is also noted for its visual contrast with other wide-release CG animated films. Whereas most other films in the genre tend to go for a clean, idealized look for their world, Rango intentionally avoids this. Most of the characters are based on ugly-looking animals and the whole world seems to have a layer of dirt and grime on it. The result is a setting that looks more "real" in some ways and more cartoonish in others. Either way, it certainly stands out visually.

An unnamed lizard falls out of the back of a car and wanders the desert, eventually reaching the town of Dirt. In an effort to impress the locals, the lizard concocts a Badass backstory, adopting the name Rango along the way, that impresses everyone and gets him hired as sheriff by the mayor. But Dirt has its own problems, the town is going through a drought and the town's water supply is disappearing, and it's up to Rango find the cause.

Tropes featured in this film:

  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: While most of the animals are fully clothed, the hawk wears sharpened metal on its beak and claws, the armadillo wears a hat and a small band of cloth, and Rattlesnake Jake wears a flat-crowned hat, some bandoliers, and a gatling gun for a rattle.
  • Accidental Hero: After the hawk winds up dead trying to make a meal of Rango, the chameleon is hailed a hero for "killing" the hawk and made the town's sheriff. This isn't the last of his dumb luck either.
  • Adorkable: Rango is ditzy, cuddly sunshine in a bag.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of the Spaghetti Western. Basically, Rango is to Spaghetti Westerns as Kung Fu Panda is to the Martial Arts Movie.
  • All Deserts Have Cacti: Despite the accuracy in the appearance of the film's Saguarro cacti, this type of cactus does not actually grow in the Mojave desert.
  • All for Nothing: After stealing back the water jug, the tarp falls away to reveal it's filled with nothing but sand.
  • All There in the Script: Many of the characters' names are never said onscreen. Thankfully, the Closed Captioning gives a lot of the names.
  • American Accents: Aussie Isla Fisher does a pretty convincing Southern twang as Beans.
    • The ultra-British Bill Nighy does a stunning accent as Rattlesnake Jake.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Despite that it's the only non-speaking animal in the film, the redtailed hawk tried (almost successfully) to get Rango out of a glass soda bottle by dropping it from a great height, and successfully dispensed Rango from a vending machine he chose to hide in.
    • It's not the only non-speaking animal, the bats and the pigs (peccaries?) dragging the carts don't talk either. However the bats count for this trope too, being able to fly like jet planes and maintain a close enough formation to look like a hawk.
  • Analogy Backfire: Why, we'd turn on each other like a bunch of animals!
  • Animals Not to Scale: While animals like Rattlesnake Jake, the metal-beaked hawk, and the wise armadillo are of proper size, the citizens who populate the town of Dirt (more specifically a gila monster, fox, turkey vulture, bobcat, and tortoise) are the size of Rango, the former pet chameleon.
  • Anti Climax Cut: "We RIDE!" Cut to Rango's posse galloping towards... nothing in particular.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: 'Who am I?' See The Hero's Journey.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Who am I?"
    • "No man can walk out on his own story."
    • "People have to believe in something."
    • One bullet.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Apparently after a chain reaction wherein six Jenkins brothers were killed with one bullet, the seventh Jenkins brother died of infection.
    • Secure the perimeter, dust for prints, check for fibers, scan for DNA! I want a urine sample from everyone get me a latte.
  • Ashes to Crashes: Rango tasting the contents of jars in Beans' wagon. "You eatin' daddy's ashes!" (Subverted — She means his cigarette ashes. They never found the body.)
  • Ate His Gun: Subverted in a Crosses the Line Twice gag
    A kid playing with Rango's pistol, staring right down the barrel: There's a bullet in there!
  • Badass: Rattlesnake Jake.
    • Badass Mustache: He may not have any hair, but the scales on the front of his face have a mustachioed pattern.
  • Badass Adorable: Priscilla. With the six-shooters. "Can I gut-shoot someone?"
  • Badass Boast: What got Rango into the whole mess in the first place.
  • Bad Bad Acting: Rango and his posse disguise themselves as an acting troupe to arrest the mole clan. Given the lack of acting experience his posse seems to have, Hilarity Ensues.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animals: Some of the supporting characters, including Buford the barkeep and Mr. Merrimack.
  • Beach Party Ending: The DVD- and Blu-Ray-exclusive epilogue.
  • Becoming the Boast: By film's end, Rango lives up to be the hero he makes himself out to be. Made evident when he confronts Jake again and Jake can see no fear in his eyes as Rango holds him at gunpoint.
  • Berserk Button: Don't you dare say anything bad about Beans's father.
    • Heck, just don't say anything about him at all. Even if it's perfectly respectful, she'll take it the wrong way.
  • BFG: Rattlesnake Jake has a set of human-sized revolver chambers in place of his rattle. Also counts as More Dakka.
  • Big Bad: Not Rattlesnake Jake, but the genial tortoise mayor (voiced, rather appropriately, by Ned Beatty) who's hoarding the town's water.
  • Big in Finland:invoked According to the official website, this is what Wounded Bird is.
  • Bilingual Bonus: If you know Spanish, listen closely to the Mariachi Owl Band. During their scene in the jail cell, one of the verses in their funeral dirge translates into "Where are your eggs?" ("eggs" is Spanish slang for "balls").
    • "Cojones" are also mentioned once or twice. The best has to be, though, when Rango makes a crack about Beans's name, he comments that he enjoys a nice puttanesca, but he wouldn't name his daughter that. As a cognate, in Spanish, "puta" means..."Whore/Bitch/Prostitute!"
  • Billing Displacement: Abigail Breslin is billed pretty high in the credits (third or fourth) despite Priscilla not even really playing that much of a significant role in the movie. Then again, most of the other major characters in the movie were voiced by more obscure actors, and even by some of the movie's production staff.
  • Bland-Name Product: The "Golden Guardians." The Oscar is a registered trademark and can't be duplicated, even for novelty purposes; hence, the similar-looking statuettes.
  • Booze Flamethrower: This happens even though there is no liquor; the cactus juice is the gas. The flame is provided by the cigar Rango eats.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Done a bit with the Greek Chorus of owls—at one point they don't play an appropriately exciting musical cue on time, so Rango has to repeat his Call to Adventure. Later in the film, Rango uses them as part of a plan.
    • Played with early on in the film. Rango appears to breathe on the fourth wall to fog it up and draw on it. However, it's actually just the glass wall of his terrarium.
  • Brick Joke: Rango used to have a girlfriend, but she couldn't keep her head.
  • Captain Obvious: "Seems to me you folks have a water problem."
    • "The signal! Something must've gone wrong!" (As they stand surrounded by a huge clan of hostile groundhogs.)
    • While ducking a gatling gun, Waffles gives Counselor Troi a run for her money. "I am sensing hostility!"
  • Cargo Cult: The animals' treatment of human articles, like pipes, because of their "divine" ability to control water. Subveted in that the mayor and his followers have at least a practical knowledge of the water system, and have intentionally built religious trappings around them to control the town.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Lots! Notice Tortoise John's lackeys and assistant is a gila monster and a desert fox, which eats lizards, rodents and birds - animals that make up almost the entire town! Also, they're wearing boots, which are made from cow hide (and since no one in their right mind would keep cows in such a sweltering desert wasteland, it enters into Fridge Horror when one has to wonder whether they had to use the skins of the dead to make their products).
    • They could have used the leather of the non-anthropomorphic peccaries for the latter.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Every critter in the movie (and there are dozens of them) has a very individual face. Even the moles.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: Used masterfully. The climax uses practically everything in the entire film. The road from earlier, Roadkill, the walking cacti, and Spirit Of the West, all of which are seen or mentioned at the beginning of the film help Rango out of his Heroic BSOD. They're used again, along with the Mole family, Jake's fear of hawks, the hole dug by the moles, the pipe underground, and Rango's 'one bullet' each play a huge role in defeating the mayor at the end of the film. The writers practically made everything in the entire film a Chekhov's Gun!
    • Heck, even the little play Rango does at the beginning of the movie turns out to be a plot point during the canyon scene.
    • Inverted: Interestingly enough, there is no further mention or reference of the huge eye that Rango and his posse obliviously pass by in the underground tunnels, nor the creature that the eye belongs to. (Seriously, what the heck was that thing?)
    • The "Spirit of the West." Rango recites it a second time to make sure we don't forget it.
  • Chekhovs Gunmen: The walking cacti.
  • Circling Monologue: When Rattlesnake Jake calls Rango out on his lies.
  • Clint Squint: Delivered by the man himself('s animated counterpart) and Rango.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Pretty much every person in the posse sans Rango, Beans and Wounded Bird.
    • Rango and Beans are still only saner in comparison.
  • Comically Missing the Point: One of the volunteers for the posse, Sgt. Turley, has an arrow through his eye, and Rango sheepishly points out, "You've, uh, got a little something in your eye there." Turley seems to think Rango is talking about his conjunctivitis.
    • "Must be that immersive theater."
  • The Comically Serious: While Rattlesnake Jake definitely adds a sinister touch to the movie, his second faceoff against Rango cost him a little of his mystique. He is quick to gain it back after the mayor screws up a double cross however.
  • Contrived Coincidence: What forms the film's plot from start to finish.
    • Lampshaded by Rango at the very start of the film when trying to figure out how to use one to put a conflict in his story, right before the Contrived Coincidence does just that for the movie.
  • Corrupt Hick: The mayor, Tortoise John, who's stealing up the water from the townsfolk so he can kick them out and steal their land to use for his currently-in-construction new city. Pretty handy with a firearm, so it was probably best not to get on his bad side.
  • Crashing Dreams: Rango's fever dream ends with the air around him suddenly turning to water, causing him to choke. In the waking world, his body has been washed down a drainage pipe.
    • The "alabaster chariot" of the Spirit of the West is, in fact, a golf cart from nearby Las Vegas.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: After crossing the highway, an emotionally-drained Rango collapses on the side of the road. A bunch of pillbugs scoop him up and carry him off.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Invoked twice — The Armadillo, and the Spirit of the West.
  • Cucumber Facial: Rango is awakened from one of these by an alarm at the bank.
  • Curse Cut Short: The toad Rango meets out in the desert after he captured by the hawk: "You son of a b-(hawk screech)!"
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: I WILL BLOW THAT UGLY CLEAN OFF YOUR FACE!
    • I'm going to slice your face off and use it to wipe my unmentionables.
      • Mind the beak.
  • Dangerous Workplace: The Sheriff's office has a high turnover rate.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Rango receives one from the Spirit of the West.
    Rango: I’m a fraud! I’m a phony! My friends believed in me, but they need some kind of hero.
    The Spirit of the West: Then be a hero.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Beans and Priscilla. Also Señor Flan, the leader of the Mariachi owls.
  • Death by Looking Up: The Hawk getting creamed by a water tower.
  • Decade Dissonance: The movie is obviously set sometime in the past decade, but the Mouse World of Dirt seems to have gotten stuck in the classical Wild West era (roughly 1860 to 1890) - though it does start to modernize over the course of the film.
  • Deep South: Even though they're all native to the Southwest, the Mole Clan is pretty much one big satirical look at this trope.
  • Desert Skull: The owl mariachi band stands on one of these while singing about Rango's journey.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Rango at the start.
  • Determined Homesteader: Beans
  • Diagonal Cut: When Rango tries to hide from the red-tailed hawk in an outhouse, the hawk slices it to ribbons with one swipe of its talons.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Rattlesnake Jake is considered to be a Grim Reaper right out of the pits of hell, and he even seems to believe this about himself to some degree. Rango ultimately defeats him in the end with his wits alone.
    • At the end, it becomes more like Did You Just Save Cthulhu's Ass? when Rango prevents the mayor shooting Jake.
  • Disappeared Dad: Beans's father disappeared under "mysterious circumstances".
  • The Ditz: The little boy that was handling Rango's revolver. Pointing it at his own mother like it was a toy, himself, even staring into the barrel.
    "There's a bullet in here!"
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Rango mocks the Hawk from inside an empty beer bottle. The Hawk responds by scraping her talons on the glass, then picking up the bottle and smashing it.
  • Don't Look Down: Briefly and hilariously done by Rango.
  • Don't Sneak Up On Me Like That: Rango gets a bit too deep in character with an autograph-seeker.
  • The Dragon: Rattlesnake Jake.
  • Dramatic Drop: Rango, glass in hand, turns and sees a flattened Armadillo talking to him. SMASH.
  • The Dreaded: Even the Mayor's goons are afraid to call Rattlesnake Jake in.
  • Dream Land: Once Rango crosses the highway after the confrontation with Rattlesnake Jake, he seems to have stepped out the real West into the mythical West — which accounts for the encounters with spirits and walking cacti.
  • Driven to Suicide: During his Heroic BSOD, Rango walks across the highway without bothering to look out for the huge vehicles roaring past and over him.
  • Drowning Pit: The Mayor puts Rango and Beans into a makeshift one via the bank's water vault. Too bad for him it was made of fragile glass.
  • Dude, She's Like, Catatonic!: When Beans first freezes up, Rango sniffs her hair, then puts an arm around her shoulders til she snaps out of it. When she does it again later, he uses it as an opportunity to give her a little kiss on the cheek...and then it turns out that this time she was only pretending.
    • Then again, the closest he'd come to a female inside his terrarium was a headless Barbie doll, so he doesn't have much of a reference pool for proper behavior.
  • End of an Age: Evoked by the Mayer during his Chinatown-inspired speech.
  • Ennio Morricone Pastiche: Of course Hans Zimmer's soundtrack consists mostly of this!
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Mayor is so corrupt that even Rattlesnake Jake, who claims to be from hell itself does off with him after the mayor betrays him. His dialogue calling Rango out on his lies also implies that he has a sense of honor and hates a liar as well.
    • Meanwhile the Mayor, despite being willing to throw Rango and Beans in a tank to drown, tries to tell Rattlesnake Jake to back off when he's threatening Beans in his office.
    • This is more of a case of Even the Alpha Bitch Has Standards, but when the mayor puts Beans and Rango in the drowning tank, Angelique looks visibly horrified despite clearly not liking Beans.
  • Environmental Symbolism: The portraits behind Rango in the Mayor's office.
  • Evil Cripple: The mayor.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Bad Bill's gang have conspicuously non-American accents (British; German; Mexican; and since they're on the Mayor's side, we'll throw in his French secretary) while the people of Dirt all have easily identifiable Western accents and speech patterns.
    • Averted with Ambrose the owl, who has a British accent and is one of the good guys and the evil Inbred Rodents who steal the water jug but they redeem themselves in the end.
  • Eviler than Thou: Seemingly utilized first by Jake who quickly backs Tortoise John off when he criticizes his breaking techniques on Beans, until John attempts to betray Jake and shoot his brains out (which he would have done too if not for that "one bullet"). Following this Jake leans more as an Anti-Villain (albeit with a sinister revenge planned for the defeated John).
  • Evil Laugh: Rattlesnake Jake give a truly epic one to Rango before he gets ready to duel him in the middle of the town. This is all followed with him slithering out into the middle of the town, taking the time to load his gun (Which is followed by a healthy dose of Dramatic Gun Cock), looking over at Rango with a Slasher Smile, and chuckling quietly under his breath. The fact that he's voiced by Bill Nighy when he does this really sells it.
  • Exact Words: Tortoise John (who has Beans hostage) tells Rango to "hand over the gun". Rango has no choice but to do exactly as he says, and hands over the gun... without the bullet inside.
    • Also the Owl band leader saying Rango is definitely going to die. Well, he is... Everyone does eventually...
  • Expospeak Gag: He means follow the pipe.
    • "If we was to hit the mother load, being prospectors and such, where exactly do we deposit said annuity?"
    • "We are experiencing a paradigm shift!"
  • Exposition Diagram: Using a firelit twig and the night sky, Rango relates the Spirit of the West.
  • Eye Scream: One of Rango's posse is a chicken with an arrow sticking into his right eye and through the back of his head.
    • A fly has a taste of cactus juice in the form of a small spill. It gags and collapses dead in the puddle, with one of its eyes popping out.
    • While it doesn't actually happen, Rattlesnake Jake threatens to "squeeze them pretty brown eyes out of [Beans'] skull!"
    • Also happens to Waffles during the campfire scene, when Rango accidentally hits him in the eye with a stick.
  • Eyes Never Lie: The only reason Rattlesnake Jake allows Rango to hold a gun right at his nose and dares him to shoot him is he "doesn't see the killer in his eyes". He gets an Oh Crap moment later when he realizes that Rango does have the killer in his eyes when in the same situation reoccurs at the climax of the film.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Wounded Bird pointing out the escape hole of the alleged bank robbers.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Rango himself, though, through a lot of lucky breaks and eventually finding himself, he turns into a real one.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Hugely averted, seeing how Gore Verbinski directed this.
  • The Family That Slays Together: The Moles.
  • Fate Worse than Death: This is implied at what will happen to the mayor as he is dragged screaming away by Rattlesnake Jake.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Mayor Tortoise John.
  • Feather Fingers: Most of the bird characters. It's especially noticeable on the mariachi owls, who use them to play their instruments, and the red-tailed hawk, who operates a vending machine to get at Rango, who is hiding inside.
  • Fish out of Water: Quite literally in the teaser.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: "If this were heaven, we'd be eatin' Pop Tarts with Kim Novak!"
  • Food Slap: Beans throws a glass of water in the Mayor's face when he tries to get her to sell her ranch.
  • Foreshadowing: The dream Rango has before he gets to Dirt.
    • When the Mayor orders his men to call Rattlesnake Jake, they warn him that Jake's a "grim reaper" and, specifically, "never leaves town without taking a soul." The boss waves it off and orders Jake contacted anyway. Jake indeed never leaves town until after he gets a chance to kill someone, the Mayor himself, who he drags away, screaming.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The mariachi owls periodically assure the audience that Rango will die soon. Well, everyone dies eventually....
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: The "Spirit of the West." Later confirmed by the wise Armadillo, who muses, "We each see what we need to see."
  • Forgot I Could Fly: The Hawk stares stupidly as the water tower falls on her, instead of flying away.
    • Rule of Funny: And by the time Metalbeak looks and realized she's about to get pancaked, it's too late to do much of anything anyway.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: The film has at least one unambiguous reference to alcohol, but in the saloon all they have is cactus juice.
    • Interestingly, the Mayor treats his private stash of water as if it were fine vintage wine.
  • Fully Dressed Cartoon Animal: Rango in his western duds. Also Beans, Priscilla, Spoons and the rest of the townspeople of Dirt.
  • Funny Animal: Rather jarring when the walking, talking, cowboy hat-wearing animals still happen to realistically resemble their Real Life counterparts. Jake is the closest to a Talking Animal, though only due to the little he wears compared to the others (a hat and and a couple of bandoliers, not to mention the gattling gun for a rattle).
    • Averted rather interestingly with the hawk, who doesn't talk despite displaying problem-solving intellect and an accessory (her metal beak). Even more confusing considering that the avian residents of Dirt have no problem talking.
      • Given that her sole purpose in coming to town is to find food, it's unlikely that the hawk would be interested in starting a conversation.
  • Funny Background Event: When the Mayor is telling Rattlesnake Jake that he has outlived his usefulness, you can see Rango and Beans in the drowning tank behind him, Rango shaking a catatonic Beans and then administering the Heimlich.
    • This one happens in the foreground (but not at the center of attention), when the tank of water begins to break, the mayor is seen panicking with his wheelchair for a moment, looking for the lever that moves his chair, and accidentally pulls the one that releases his golf club.
    • Could the sight of the kid playing with Rango's gun be considered a Funny Foreground Event?
      • Considering she looks down the barrel of a cocked gun and says "There's a bullet in here!" then starts chewing on it, I don't think it matters whichground it is.
    • Actually more of a Funny Back-sound Event. When the posse introduces themselves as thespians, Waffles can be heard singing "la la la" to the tune that the Mariachi Owls are playing.
    • Kinda gross actually; in the extended ending, when Beans says: "You come back with all your digits!" there is a gritty-looking child in the back picking its nose.
  • Furry Confusion: Lots and lots! The intelligent animals like Rango, the shrew girl, the townspeople, and the outlaws wear clothing, wield guns, and have their own American West-style society, while at the same time utilizing roadrunners as horses, bats as flying mounts and javelinas to pull wagons (which brings up whole new levels of confusion when a javelina-like blacksmith was briefly visible in one scene!). One also can't forget the few bits of 'insect confusion' that occur between the dead cricket in Rango's enclosure, the life-size pillbugs used as golf balls, and the insect (including a spider and a scorpion - although they're not really insects but that's beside the point since neither are pillbugs) denizens that populate the town of Dirt, including in one scene where Rango tries to emulate the walking style of a clothed beetle. See also Animals Not to Scale above.
  • Furry Reminder: When a dragonfly buzzes past Rango's face, he sticks out his tongue and eats it.
  • Gargle Blaster: Probably the cactus juice. One sip kills a fly (and causes its eye to pop out of its head), and it's flammable enough that combining it with a lit cigar results in Fire-Breathing Diner.
  • Gatling Good: One of the many enemies Rango encounters are an entire clan of moles riding bats mounted with little gatling guns. Not to mention Rattlesnake Jake having a machine gun for a rattle.
  • Genius Ditz: Rango is very aware that he's only digging himself deeper with his lies, but he's also very aware of his surroundings and is able to competently think up solutions to his problems. He's even able to piece together the mayor's water-hoarding scheme.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The film is pretty much built on this trope. Saying they pushed that PG rating as far as they could is an understatement.
    Spoons: "What's the matter? You missing your mommy's mangos?''
    Rango: "As a matter of fact, I am... but not as much as your DADDY'S COOKING!"
    • "Know that I will be there, watching you! Sometimes, at inappropriate moments! That's part of the deal."
    • At the end of the extended cut, there is a stand that offers baths. The sign says a "Fresca/Melenee Tag Team" is $8 and an "Angelique French Surprise" is $6. To top it all off, a scantily dressed mouse women in front of the stand says "Water ain't money, money is money now! We're talkin' hard cash!"
    • Another exchange from the extended cut:
    ''She got more holes in her than a painted lady on a porcupine.'
    Hey! My daddy took me to her place! Not what I expected... (cue awkward stares)''
    • The German version kicks the radar square in the nuts and shoots it with a double barrel, since there are atleast two instances of the word bitch/whore (Schlampe) being used. The scene where Rango gets his sheriffs clothing is of particular note, as Beans is practically screaming it right at the camera before blanking out, refferring to Angelique. The word ass (Arsch) is also used faintly in the background when the Rango is watching the moles through binoculars. The father is hitting his son, and threatens to "beat up his ass." The movie is rated 6 and up...
  • Girlish Pigtails: Sported by Priscilla.
  • Girly Run: Rango. It rather resembles another character of Depp's.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: In the opening, Rango definitely looks like he's reached this point, and maybe even surpassed it, to the point where every inanimate object in his glass box has a name (even the dead bug), and personalities attributed to them, and he hears them talking to him. Which really isn't surprising, since he's probably spent his whole life stuck in that cage without anyone to talk to but himself.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Rango enlists the aid of the mole family near the end.
  • Great Way to Go: "Drowned, in the desert?" "What a way to go!"
  • Greek Chorus: The mariachi owls.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Rango receives this warm greeting from the folks of Dirt.
  • The Gunslinger: Rattlesnake Jake is a type B and a type D. Rango is a Type A...accidentally.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Rango plays this straight at the start of the movie, but almost everyone else is fully clothed, and Rango gets a full outfit before long.
    • Other characters that apply to this include Wounded Bird, Ambrose and Waffles.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Rattlesnake Jake initiates Rango's Heroic BSOD with one.
  • Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Rango is wearing a red Hawaiian shirt at the beginning. When he adapts to life in Dirt, he gets himself several sets of cool cowboy outfits.
  • Hero Killer: While he doesn't kill any heroes on screen, Rattlesnake Jake is stated to have killed Dirt's previous sheriff, and certainly has the reputation of a classic HK.
  • Heroic BSOD: Rango in spades after Rattlesnake Jake calls him out. He walks across a road full of traffic and emerges unscathed. He's brought before the Man With No Name, who finally breaks him out of it.
  • The Hero's Journey: It's all about Rango's, in a very archetypic way.
    • In the Extended Cut, Priscilla explicitly lampshades this.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Mayor really should've known better than to turn on Rattlesnake Jake...
  • Humanoid Female Animal: Beans is considerably more anthropomorphized than Rango, though they're both lizards.
    • Angelique is also more humanlike than the rest of the cast, be they male or female.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: Subtle, but definitely there. The road and cars, while mundane to humans, are enough of an incomprehensible barrier for the animals to become integral to a spiritual quest. The Mayor talks of controlling water as divine power, and the glimpse of Las Vegas and its sprinklers is like seeing Cthulhu's city. Not to mention the fact that humans stole the water from the valley in the first place, have enough of it to just dump in the desert, and the Cargo Cult treatment human artifacts like pipes get.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Wounded Bird, to Rango.
  • I Ate What?: Ah yes, the ancient cactus fruit. Also a natural laxative. [cue Spit Take ]
  • I Have Many Names / The Unreveal: The lizard who will become Rango says he has a stage name, a pseudonym, an Avatar, and even a maiden name but he never says them on camera.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: When Jake creepily licks Beans while partially strangling her.
  • I Want Them Alive: Bathazar clobbers his son for unloading bullets at Rango's wagon. He won't risk hitting the water.
  • If You Die I Call Your Stuff: Priscilla nonchalantly lays claim to Rango's boots in the event of his inevitable death just after he becomes sheriff.
    "Ya got any gold fillin's?"
  • In The Style Of: "Walk Don't Rango" is the Rango theme in the style of Dick Dale — specifically, it sounds suspiciously similar to his cover of "Misirlou", better known as the theme from Pulp Fiction.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: "What's an aquifer?" "Well, it's fer aqua."
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: Rango dropping his badge in the dirt after being ousted by Jake. Once his confidence is restored, the wind uncovers the badge just in time for Rango to walk up and reclaim it.
  • Insult Backfire:
    Beans: Go to hell!
    Rattlesnake Jake: Where do you think I come from?
  • Interspecies Romance: Rango is a chameleon and Beans is an iguana. Both lizards, but very different species.
    • One of Rango's lies is that he and Jake are brothers, and his mother had an active social life.
  • Ironic Echo: Rango likes to tell tall tales. One such tale was to claim that him and Rattlesnake Jake were brothers and had acquired an immunity to his venom. When the two finally meet, Jake pulls out a shot glass, filling it with his own venom, and offering it to Rango while taunting him with the line "Hello, brother. Thirsty?"
    • Later in the movie, Rango devises a brilliant plan to give the town its water back, and then some. He calls out Jake for a showdown, timing his actions exactly so that Jake would be directly over the hole from earlier in the movie, which is where the first burst of water would naturally come out. At 12:01 exactly, Rango smirks up at the snake and says "Thirsty, brother'?"
    • When The Mayor turns on Jake, he mentions it's because of old style cowboys like him becoming unnecessary and that once he's gone "No one will believe you ever existed." However, when Rango breaks out of the drowning pit and lets Jake deal with the Mayor, he says "Now what was that you said? Pretty soon no one will believe you ever existed?'"
  • It Has Been an Honor / Not So Different: From one Western legend to another.
  • Karma Houdini: Rattlesnake Jake.
    • Also the Mayor's goons.
  • Knight of Cerebus: After Rattlesnake Jake shows up, the movie's tone suddenly becomes a lot darker.
  • Kubrick Stare: About half of Priscilla's screen time is of her looking up at the camera like this.
  • Large Ham: Rango. Not even as Jack Sparrow we've seen so much scenery-chewing from Johnny Depp!
  • Law of Conservation of Detail: Pay attention to literally everything. It all comes up again somewhere. See Chekhov's Armoury for more details.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: No, that isn't Clint Eastwood, it's "The Spirit Of The West". (Unfortunately, it's not him voicing the character either).
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Moments before falling out of the car, Rango announces he's had an "epiphany" that what this story needs is something to "propel our hero into conflict!"
    • The Spirit of the West to Rango: "No man can walk out on his own story."
    • The mariachi band is constantly following Rango around singing about his exploits as they happen. The other characters are all aware that they're there, but generally ignore them.
  • Lecherous Licking: Jake creepily licks Beans' cheek when he's partially strangling her.
  • Left the Background Music On: Most of the film's music is supposedly provided by the mariachi owls or similar music-playing critters. During the Mole family's air chase, some of them are even playing "Ride of the Valkyries" ... on banjos.
  • Liar Revealed Near the film's end, this happens to Rango.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Averted with Rango, since he starts with the Hawaiian shirt, gets his hat, then long-johns, a full caballero outfit, and then the cowboy outfit and poncho. True for everyone else, though.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: "Rango" isn't the main character's real name. He just saw it on the back of his cactus juice bottle: Hecho en Durango (Made in Durango). He had no real name before this (according to the DVD Commentary, there was a misconception about his real name being Lars. Lars was actually just another background character Johnny Depp voiced).
  • Linked List Clue Methodology: Shoeprints at the site of Mr. Merrimack's murder, and his glasses left behind in an empty water jug.
  • Little Miss Badass: Priscilla wants to be one, and shows Rango she's got a lot of spunk. However, he tells her to stay behind, perhaps too afraid of endangering her. On a side note, their entire dynamic resembles that of Mattie and Cogburn in True Grit.
  • Lock and Load Montage
  • Logical Weakness: Rattlesnake Jake's extreme fear of hawks.
  • Loud Gulp: Rango, several times.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Lampooned by Rango claiming to be Rattlsnake jake's brother. "Mama had an active social life."
  • Ludd Was Right: The evil Mayor is trying to create an industrialized city by taking the land from the inhabitants of Dirt.
  • Made of Explodium: Bats, apparently.
  • Magical Native American: Parodied with Wounded Bird's character.
    Rango: (as Wounded Bird scatters feathers into the wind) I see you're communicating with the great spirits.
    Wounded Bird: No. I'm molting. It means I'm ready to mate.
  • Malaproper: "It's a puzzle! It's like a big old mammogram!"
  • Masochist's Meal: Rango snatching Bad Bill's cigar and eating it.
    • He claims to sweeten his coffee with snake venom for "tang."
      • This is brought back as Jake delivers Rango a glass of his own venom...
  • Mayor Pain: Type A.
  • Messianic Archetype: After Rattlesnake Jake's Hannibal Lecture, Rango drops his sheriff's badge among the tombstones on Boot Hill; the invented character of "Rango" is dead. He crosses to the other side, and after his encounter with God, wait I mean the Spirit of the West, he returns to the cemetery just as the wind exhumes the badge for him to pick up again in a symbolic resurrection.
  • Metaphorgotten:
    He controls the water! Like a monkey's bladder!
    But how does he control the water?
    Well, you gotta spend some time and train them. Cause you know, monkeys, when they do go, you rub their nose in it.
  • Miles Gloriosus: How Rango gets into this mess in the first place.
  • Mind Screw: A good portion of the beginning of the movie, particularly Rango's Dream of Foreshadowing.
  • Misplaced Vegetation: The Saguaro cacti featured throughout the film grow in profusion only in the Sonoran Desert, not the Mojave Desert.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Priscilla is, according to Gore Verbinski himself, an aye-aye. As in, the type of lemur found in Madagascar.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: According to a special on the DVD, Beans has the traits of at least two different lizards. To be fair, the character designers admitted that they were going for Rule of Cool on the species types.
  • Moral Guardians: They've bashed the film due to characters smoking. No, really.
  • Motor Mouth: Beans can really churn it out when flustered. Some of Rango's boasts are also shot out like crazy.
  • Mouse World: Dirt is your typical western town, but for desert critters, and built out of scrap.
  • The Munchausen: Rango, who is very good at telling tall tales about himself.
    • Some wizened old guys in Rango's posse.
    Buford: "I once coughed up a Dalmatian.
    Elgin: One time I coughed up an entire tribe of pygmies. They started lookin' at me funny.
    Spoons: I once found a human spinal column in my fecal matter once.
    [Everyone looks at him]
  • Never Say "Die": Averted.
  • Nice Hat: Just about everybody has one. Par the course for a western setting.
  • Noble Demon: Rattlesnake Jake is arguably considered one near the end.
  • Nobody Here But Us Cacti: Rango strikes a cactus pose to hide from the Hawk. A badly-dressed cactus.
  • Non-Mammalian Hair: Lizards, birds, reptiles, amphibians... All the citizens have hair. This also leads to...
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Plenty of 'em on all the women regardless of species.
    • The lady frog in the bar has Gag Boobs.
    • Similarly, Rango has a belly button.
  • Not So Different: Rattlesnake to Rango, one "legend" to another.
  • Obligatory Joke: Rango giving direction to a plastic tree. "You were wooden. There, I said it."
  • Obviously Evil: The mayor. Must be the voice. Especially when he sounds and dresses like Noah Cross.
  • Office Golf: Tortoise John, using pillbugs as golf balls. Later, he invites Rango to join him out on the green.
  • Oh, and X Dies: Subverted; The musician birds say many times all through out the film that Rango is going to die, but he doesn't. At the end, they justify it by saying that (obviously) he will die ... someday.
  • Oh Crap: Just about all the villains get a turn, and Rango almost makes a specialty of it. Metalbeak the hawk has a particularly notable one, just before the water tower gets dropped on her head.
    • Rattlesnake Jake's gets a close-up when Rango points his gun at him during the climax, this time with no fear in his eyes.
    • Rattlesnake Jake gets an epic one when he sees a hawk in the sky, until quickly discovering the ruse.
    • The Mayor after doublecrossing Jake, when he discover that his gun is empty.
    • Rango's face upon seeing Rattlesnake Jake pretty much just screams this trope.
  • One Bullet Left: A running theme in the movie based off Rango's lie that he killed seven men with one bullet (sorta...the seventh one "died from infection"). During the hawk chase scene in town, he accidentally kills it by shooting the licorice that was wrapped around him. The bullet ricochets and hits the tower causing it to fall on the bird. During the climax, Rango uses it to intimidate Jake, then shortly after uses it to get out of the drowning pit the mayor put him and Beans into. Jake also uses this line when it comes to giving Tortoise John his due.
  • One-Hit Polykill: Rango claims to have killed the Jenkins Brothers with one bullet. All seven of them.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Rattlesnake Jake's dialect tends to briefly slip into something vaguely resembling Irish.
  • Ow, My Body Part!: I think the metaphor broke my spleen.
  • Practical Currency: Water is pretty much what the people in Dirt use as money.
  • Precision F-Strike: This film isn't shy about swearing despite being a family film. One particularly jarring scene is when Rattlesnake Jake is squeezing Beans to death and says, "Sign the damn paper, woman!"
    • And her reply of "Go to hell!"
      • That said, Jake does have the most swearing of any character, which is part of what makes him the Knight of Cerebus.
      "If I ever see you again I'll take your soul straight down to HELL!"
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Scan for D! N! A!
  • The Quiet One: Wounded Bird.
  • Rain Dance: To Hank William's "Cool Water."
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Or at least will not hesitate if he has to kill.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Rango telling a boy to hold his gun while he signs an autograph. "There's a bullet in there!"
  • Recycled INSPACE: Kind of. Much of the film's plot owes a lot to Chinatown.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Rattlesnake Jake.
  • Red Herring: The mole family who try to rob the bank. While they actually were trying to steal Dirt's water reserve for themselves and appear to have a water jug when Rango and his posse arrive, at the end of the long chase sequence, everyone learns said jug was empty by the time the moles got there. The Big Bad is revealed soon after.
    • Rango's final showdown with Jake. He scares Jake by having the bat-riding moles fly in a hawk formation and when Jake figures it out he gets cocky and empties his ammo into the sky, allowing Rango to stroll right up to him and point his revolver right between his eyes.
  • Riding into the Sunset: It's a Western, so of course (Although only in the deleted ending). Even receives a lampshade.
  • Rule of Cool: Moles riding bats. That have gatling guns. And explode. While Ride of the Valkyries plays. On banjos.
  • Run or Die: Pretty much Rango's strategem when dealing with the Hawk.
  • Scavenged Punk: The town runs entirely on this trope. It's never alluded to, but the whole town seems to be scavenged.
  • Scenery Porn: There are many absolutely stunning settings, one notable one being a salt flat with the silhouettes of clouds blowing across it.
  • Screaming Warrior: The Moles let out a gobbling war cry (perhaps a rebel yell?) before giving chase to Rango's wagon.
  • Seldom Seen Species: The Movie. A plethora of seldom-used desert critters play prominent roles, including a chameleon, a gecko, an armadillo, a tortoise, moles and many more.
  • Shout-Out: So many, they have their own page.
  • Showdown at High Noon: Done a few times in the film with Rango and some of his foes.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Rattlesnake Jake and The Spirit of the West are regarded as mythical creatures. Rango, being The Munchausen, tries to shroud himself in myth and legend.
  • Slasher Smile: Rattlesnake Jake does a really good one. Same for the coffin-making spider.
  • Slippery Skid: Mr. Merrimack and a loose set of golf balls.
  • Slow Motion Fall: When his aquarium gets smashed, Rango is sent flying as "Ave Maria" plays.
  • Sneeze of Doom: After tricking the Hawk into barreling straight into a soup can, Rango stealthy tiptoes away. And steps on a twig.
  • Somewhere, a Herpetologist Is Crying: Rango's tank at the beginning of the film is a horrible environment for a chameleon.
    • Why do you think he starts the film crazy?
    • Rattlesnake Jake has very intensely expressive and focused eyes.
  • Sound Effect Bleep: As the unlucky toad is being carried away he cries, "You son of a bi-[hawk screech]".
  • Snakes Are Evil: And Rattlesnake Jake certainly helps to prove it.
  • Spaghetti Western: Despite being a family animated film, it's pretty much a straight up love letter to all those classic Spaghetti Westerns.
  • Spontaneous Choreography: When the townsfolk do the Water Dance.
  • Standard Snippet: "Ride of the Valkyries" during an aerial chase. It's even in-universe, as the moles start playing it as they ride the bats.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Rango's out-of-control ego manifests in telling Beans to put on some makeup.
  • Stealth Pun: A quite clever, very easy-to-miss one. When Rango is getting his new clothes before the water ceremony, he tells Beans he got "a ten-gallon hat marked down from fifteen." The citizens of Dirt use water, which is measured in gallons, as currency.
    • During the extended ending, Beans tells Rango that she put lotion in his saddlebag. He then "clarifies" that it is gun lotion. Much like another cosmetics product related to guns: gun powder.
      Rango: (to Wounded Bird) As my deputy, you'll be in charge of all tracking and finding abilities, using your well-developed sense of Injun-uity. No offense taken.
  • Stock Sound Effects: For once, the stock call of a red-tailed hawk is used for a red-tailed hawk.
  • A Storm Is Coming: A furious dust storm precedes Rango's return to Dirt.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Double subverted. The metal-beaked hawk pursues Rango all-out at first, until she ends up grabbing the desert toad instead. Later, the hawk makes a return appearance, chasing him through the town until Rango's one-bullet accident drops the town's water tower on her. May actually be a case of Fridge Brilliance, if you consider Metalbeak not as a random desert predator, but specifically posted to keep outsiders from reaching the town, and keep the townspeople confused and afraid. Someone gave her the beak-blade.
    • Highly likely seeing as the hawk was "the only thing keeping Rattlesnake Jake away" from Dirt. The Mayor would need to stop Jake from interfering in his own plans until he needed him. Certainly the You Have Outlived Your Usefulness scene implies the Mayor was worried Jake would turn against him at a future point, and decided to get rid of his scaly partner while he was vulnerable.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Beans saying "My daddy was not drunk when he fell down that mine shaft!"
  • Take Off Every Zig: A squadron of bats.
  • Take the Wheel: Rango handing the reigns of the wagon over to Beans.
  • A Tankard of Moose Urine: "Cactus juice is what we got."
  • Tap on the Head: Rango clocking a woman in the face during the rain dace. He's very apologetic.
  • Tempting Fate: You keepin thinkin' like that, and your hat's gonna catch on fire!
    • "What we need is an unexpected, ironic event that will propel the hero into conflict!"
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Beans, as she only wears a dress and has female hair.
  • Thirsty Desert: The desert and death are the closest of friends.
  • Tonight Someone Dies: Parodied shamelessly. At the start of the film, the lead mariachi who serves as the narrator informs us that Rango is going to die. At the end, Rango is still alive and well, and the narrator simply points out that his prediction will come true sooner or later, since Rango is as mortal as the next guy.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: The townsfolk of Dirt get irritable when Rango is slow to find their water.
  • Trailers Always Lie: A rather bizarre example of Getting Crap Past the Radar. In one of the trailers, Rango is showing talking to the one-armed torso of a Barbie doll which has a bra covering its chest. In the movie, it's not wearing anything.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: One trailer all but confirms that the mayor is a bad guy.
    • It's not a huge spoiler, since we find out there's something fishy about him in the first scene he appears.
  • Troperiffic: All the requisite Spaghetti Western tropes, except strangely everything involving train robbery. (But judging from the ad on the rental DVD, there might be a train robbery in the video game.)
  • Tsundere: Beans.
  • Unflinching Walk: Rango walking the highway at night.
  • Un Paused: A variation. A couple of times when she comes out of her trances, Beans says something that sounds random but might just be related to whatever she was saying beforehand.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The mariachi owls, see Oh, and X Dies
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Rango's plot to steal back the water jug. Invoked again when Rango enlists the help of the moles to save their kin.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: While transversing an underground cavern, the townspeople pass an enormous eye. All anyone has to say about it is "That's a big one."
  • Verbal Backspace:
    Now listen to me! We have got six days of water—
    *Rango leans against the jug, causing the water to shrink down to the five day mark*
    ...We have got five days...
  • Villain Song: The Mole chant.
  • Visual Pun: Angelique, the only real attractive character in the entire film, is a fox.
    • The Magical Native American might be from the Crow reservation.
    • Rango trying to escape from a flooded water tank while clenching a bullet between his teeth - that's right, he's literally biting the bullet.
    • The Dirt Post Office is a mailbox.
      • Also, its tower clock is mounted in an old tin box marked "thyme".
    • An outhouse in Dirt is a bottle of Pepto-Bismol.
    • Wounded Bird gets winged by a bullet in his wing/arm.
  • Volleying Insults:
    • Rango's first encounter with Priscilla.
      Priscilla: That's a funny-looking shirt.
      Rango: That's a funny-looking dress.
      Priscilla: You got funny-looking eyes.
      Rango: You got a funny-looking FACE!
    • Plainly, Beans and Angélique aren't the best of friends. Tart. Floozy. Trollop.
  • Waking Non Sequitur: Beans has occasional catatonic fits. When she snaps out of them, she never quite seems to be carrying on the same conversation she left off.
  • Water Tower Down: Used against the hawk.
  • We Can Rule Together: With Rango outsted and the town in shambles, the Mayor offers Beans one last chance to sell her ranch. She responds by tossing a glass of water in his face.
  • Weird Moon: Hovering over Rango's walk of shame.
  • Weird West: Talking animals, prophetic dream sequences, spirits, walking cacti, and that giant, unexplained eyeball.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Fox Secretary kinda disappears at the end, although she does show up before the mayor puts Rango and Beans in the vault to drown. Despite all the bickering she and Beans took part in before, she genuinely seems horrified that her boss is about to kill them.
    • She appears again in the Blu-Ray version's extended ending, apparently getting along fine with everyone else...apart from the fact that there's a porcupine enjoying the rapidly-deflating kiddie pool.
    "We have a problem."
    • The Giant Eye Of Doom that they all just casually dismiss down in the caverns. But that was meant to be more of a throwaway gag probably.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Thoroughly subverted—almost none of the characters, good or bad, could be called "cute" or "cuddly", with the possible exception of Abigail Breslin's aye-aye character, but the nice ones are still very likable.
    • Though there did seem to be very few carnivores amongst the town people, most were herbivores or insectivores, while carnivores were treated as villains and brigands. So there is a bit of an edge case of this in the movie, as carnivores are seldom seen as "cute" and the only two carnivores are "cute carnivores" (cat and fox).
  • What's a Henway?: "What's an aquifer?" "It's fer aqua."
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Delivered by Rattlesnake Jake to Rango, when he calls him out on lying to the good people of the town about his exploits and making them believe in a fraud.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Rango, as a part of disguise. And hardly has a male hero kicked so much butt while wearing a dress.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Rango asks this when Beans reveals her name, and she replies that her father loved beans.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Ironically, Rattlesnake Jake. He is deathly afraid of hawks, what with them being his natural predator. This is used against him in the climax; the moles and their bats ride in a formation that looks like a hawk. It works initially, but Jake sees through it pretty quickly.
    • But then, he was supposed to.
  • The Wild West
  • Worthy Opponent: Rattlesnake Jake's impression of Rango by the end of the film.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Rango himself pulls one off in the climax: even though Rattlesnake Jake eventually realizes the "hawk" is actually a flock of bats, Rango still succeeded in making him waste all his ammo.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Mayor tries to pull this on Rattlesnake Jake at the end of the film. It didn't work...
  • You Remind Me of X: Beans confiding that she doesn't meet a lot of folks down on the ranch. "Sorta like being sealed up in a little box." Rango chuckles unconvincingly and claims he wouldn't know anything about that.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Rango looks uneasy during Spoons's prayer to the Spirit of the West, thanking him for sending a brave sheriff to town.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Jake pulls this on Rango the first time they face-off, knowing he doesn't have the nerve to pull the trigger. When they end up in that situation again, he now sees that Rango does have the nerve and backs off.

Quigley Down UnderIndex of Film WesternsRavenous
The IllusionistAcademy Award for Best Animated FeatureA Cat in Paris
Toy Story 3Annie AwardTintin
Nacho LibreCreator/NickelodeonA Series of Unfortunate Events
Prep and LandingAll-CGI CartoonRenaissance
PsychoCreator/ParamountRear Window
The RaidFilms of the 2010sReal Steel
Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical AdventureAnimated FilmsRatatouille

alternative title(s): Rango; Rango
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