Wyldstyle: You found the Piece of Resistance, and the prophecy states that you are the most important, most talented, most interesting, and most extraordinary person, in the universe. ...That's you, right? Emmet: Uhhh... Yes. That's me.
Adult Fear: One big one with Bad Cop's parents. They see their son's Good Face wiped off with nail polish remover in front of them. What if your sweet little child, who had so much ahead of him, grew up to become a brutal murderer?
An Aesop: One's creativity is not meant to be stifled; it exists in everyone and is awesome, and if you combine it with teamwork, the possibilities are endless.
Affably Evil: Good Cop isn't that much less evil than Bad Cop ( Kragling his parents being the exception), but he's a heck of a lot nicer.
Affectionate Parody: The movie frequently (though not completely) parodies summer blockbuster movies. The fact that Everything's Built with LEGO helps, as even the most spectacular explosions and overloaded action sequences end up becoming sillier as a result.
Alliterative Name: Various background characters like Cardio Carrie, Sir Stackabrick, Gallant Guard, Sharon Shoehorn, Frank the Foreman, and likely others too.
Allegory Adventure: The movie notably toys with this trope. The entire plot of the film is presented In-Universe a metaphor for Finn's playtime in his dad's study, which explains why the ancient "relics" of human artifacts can appear alongside LEGO bricks. However, Emmet, complete with mental voiceover, is able to consciously move himself in this world, albeit with great difficulty. It's left to the viewer's interpretation whether or not the whole movie took place in Finn's head, or if the world of Lego is its own universe Finn can just manipulate.
Almost Touch: Emmet and Wyldstyle come this close to holding hands several times, but are interrupted by her boyfriend, Batman.
Alternate Reality: The LEGO World to the Real World. While the events of the film and actions of the protagonists seem to be heavily influenced by Finn's actions at his father's LEGO set, Emmet still possesses his own thoughts when he falls into the Real World, and even wills himself to move at one point, independent of Finn or his father. The two worlds are separate, but apparently run parallel to each other, with whatever happens in the Real World affecting what happens in the LEGO world.
Emmet gets hit with this when he's transformed into an inanimate LEGO minifig in the real world.
The "Think Tank", which is where Lord Business holds all of the captured Master Builders and plugs them into a computer database that forces them to create new LEGO designs for him.
Quite a literal example when Lord Business removes Good Cop's face with nail polish remover. You can see him put his hands to his face and start trembling like he's in a great amount of pain but can't say anything.
Animated Actors: In an odd variant, the "Behind the Bricks" featurette shows that the characters are not only all acting, they're also all fully aware of the Celebrity Voice Actors that voice them, and of the fact that they are all toys—sort of. It's weird.
Wyldstyle: The whole world is created out of LEGO bricks—or as I like to call them, "bricks"—and populated with LEGO figurines—or as they should be called, "people". Batman: We got two directors Phil and Chris, really, really talented guys. ...Big, though. I mean, they towered over us. Basically freaks. Wyldstyle: They would pick us up, and physically move us across the set! Not cool! I mean, it's not like I'm a prop for something.
Arc Words: Lord Business's obsession with keeping everything "how it is supposed to be."
Archnemesis Dad: "The Man Upstairs" is this to Finn, who scolds him for playing with his figures and universe, as well as puts up "Do Not Touch" signs in his basement.
Arm Cannon: Metal Beard has at least two of these mounted on his left arm. Unlike some examples these are literal powder-and-cannonball-based cannons!
Ascended Fanboy: Most of the cast and crew by nature, but Liam Neeson two-fold. He and his nieces and nephews played with LEGO and he jumped at the chance at a role in the film. He also visibly Squeed a little during an interview when he talked about making jokes with Will Ferrel.
Ascended Fanon: Various references to LEGO-fandom, such as the term "macaroni brick" for 3063 Brick, Round Corner 2x2.
One of the foremen in the construction yard yells for "cheese slopes," a fan term for the 54200 Slope, 1x1x2/3.
Wyldstyle: You wanna know why I like Batman? He's dark and brooding. Emmet: Yeah? Well I'm dark and brooding too— (looks out the window) Hey guys, look, a rainbow!
Benny certainly counts as one, considering his continuing lack of oxygen and his obsession with building "A SPACESHIP!"
Author Filibuster: Directly invoked in the story itself. When discovering his kid's creations and the climactic confrontation between Emmet and Lord Business, Finn's dad asks him to tell him what Emmet would say to the villain. Cut back to the LEGO world, where Emmet gives his speech asking Business to change his mind.
Awesome, but Impractical/Boring, but Practical: Tying into Order Versus Chaos, they directly oppose one another in this world. The things made by the Master Builders are very creative but often unstable as each MB does his/her own thing while building; by contrast, the things made by President Business are dull and drab but work perfectly. It represents the difference between Finn's creativity and his dad's perfectionism. When Emmet unlocks his Master Builder powers, the mech he makes is Awesome yet Practical, looking sleek and balanced and able to tear through President Business's armies.
Awesomeness by Analysis: Part of Master Builders' skill set. They instinctively know the names and catalog numbers of all LEGO pieces, and how to fit them together to achieve their goals.
Badass Beard: Metal Beard has one made of... well... metal. Appropriate for a character played by Nick Offerman.
Badass Driver: Not only is Wyldstyle good at creating cars/motorcycles, she's also very adept at driving them, if the chase scene is anything to go by.
Big Entrance: President Business walks through doors with a dramatic burst and smoke trailing along the floor. He has his people arrange it ahead of time.
Bigger on the Inside: The underseat coolers of the double-decker couch can each fit a whole Master Builder.
The house that Emmet drives through on the freeway. The stairs are too small to accommodate the width of the motorcycle, there shouldn't be enough room on the staircase to let it turn 90 degrees, and the dimensions inside the house are way bigger than the exterior would allow. The movie gets away with it because it all happens in first person POV.
Black Cloak: Wyldstyle looks like she's wearing one of these whenever she has her hood up.
Black Dude Dies First: Vitruvius. In fact, he's the *only* character that dies in the whole movie, not counting the robots. He does come back as a ghost though.
The Blank: President Business rubs off Good Cop's face so Bad Cop won't be hindered by his morality. Luckily, Bad Cop later crudely restores it with a marker upon his Heel-Face Turn.
Boarding Party: Metal Beard does this at least once, to get from some clouds to his ship.
Bread and Circuses: Basically everything in Bricksburg runs on this, most obvious when Emmet seems disturbed by President Business offhandedly mentioned people who oppose him "being put to sleep", sees a clip of Where Are My Pants?, laughs, and forgets what he was talking about.
Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: According to Captain Metalbeard, Octan Tower's security systems include lasers, sharks, and laser sharks.
Brick Joke:note Accidental Pun When outlining his plan to defeat the Kragle, Emmet notices that Vitruvius has added an extra slide showing the Kragle and Emmet exploding. When Emmet protests, Vitruvius responds that there's a small chance that the Kragle might explode upon connecting to the Piece of Resistance. Later, when Lord Business takes the Piece, Emmet jokingly warns that it and the Kragle might explode. Sure enough, it does explode a few seconds after being united.
A more subtle (and literal) one: when Wyldstyle first tells Emmet to try building something, his first instinct is to combine two useless bricks and throw it at the cop cars. Later, during Wyldstyle's rousing speech, a Bricksburg citizen combines two similar pieces with the same enthusiasm as Emmet had earlier.
Built With LEGO: Duh. Not just the solid objects, but things like liquids, smoke, fire, lasers, and explosions are all made of LEGO pieces. The only things that aren't are the occasional "relics".
But He Sounds Handsome: Part of Emmet's plan near the end is to have Batman go as his alter ego Bruce Wayne, where we get this little gem of a line:
Batman: Bruce Wayne? Who is that guy? But he sounds like an awesome dude.
Butt Monkey: Green Lantern doesn't make many appearances, but is portrayed as an idiot and being massively annoying to Superman when he does appear. One can't help but wonder if it's because Warner Bros. is still bitter about his movie underperforming...
Making a surprise appearance mid-movie: the freaking Millennium Falcon, complete with Han, Chewbacca, Lando, and C3PO, the latter two voiced by Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Daniels! Well, LEGO does have that license as well...
Milhouse is not a meme, but he is a Master Builder!
Relatively early in the movie, a short slideshow is shown as Emmet has the various LEGO worlds explained to him, and pictures of various LEGO properties are displayed, including several that make no other appearance in the film, such as BIONICLE, LEGO Friends, and the above mentioned Speed Racer's.
Celebrity Paradox: Some minifigs featured in the movie, such as Wyldstyle and Good Cop/Bad Cop, didn't exist prior to this movie being made, as the tie-in toys were made based on this movie. Which means The Man Upstairs bought LEGO sets based on the movie he's in.
Cheek Copy: A pair of mooks try to do this. Unfortunately for them, the copier is actually Metalbeard in disguise.
Chekhov's Gun: Where Are My Pants? is an extremely popular television show. Wyldstyle later hijacks a broadcast to show all of Emmet's deeds to get everyone to rally up and to unlock their imagination.
The only idea Emmet ever had before becoming the Special, the double-decker couch, turns out to be a functional escape pod when their submarine is sunk.
Chekhov's Skill: Emmet's talent for convincing motivational speeches, displayed first with the Master Builders and then on Metalbeard's ship, not only inspires Wyldstyle to make one of her own but also serves as Lord/President Business's motivation for his Heel-Face Turn.
The Chosen One: Emmet is mistaken as this, known as "The Special". The reality is that he is this—not because of the prophecy (which was made up to begin with), but because he found the MacGuffin that could stop the Kragle.
The Chosen Many: However, Emmet ultimately tells Lord Business that he's also the Special because he has the creative potential to change the world for the better.
Emmet: I know what you're thinking: he's the least qualified person to lead us... and you are right!
Clingy MacGuffin: The Piece of Resistance, which is stuck to Emmet's back. The reason for the cling turns out to be more mundane than usual: it's not a LEGO piece at all, it's the cap to the Kragle (Krazy Glue), and presumably has some glue stuck to it.
Close on Title: The title card appears a few minutes into the end credits.
Cloudcuckooland: A place in the movie ruled by Princess Uni-Kitty. It's even called "Cloud Cuckoo Land".
Clucking Funny: During Bad Cop's interview in "Behind the Bricks", he's inexplicably surrounded by chickens. In a Funny Background Event, two of the chickens can be seen mugging a minifigure.
Colony Drop: Lord Business and Bad Cop raid Cloud Cuckoo Land and destroy it, sending it crashing into the ocean.
Colour-Coded Emotions: Uni-Kitty turns different colors and/or changes her appearance based on how she's feeling at the moment.
(In Cloud Cuckoo Land, surrounded by a clown and a guy in a dino suit) I hate this place.
Contrived Coincidence: Twice. The first time, when stranded in the ocean, Batman claims there's no chance of a rescue ship approaching just as Metalbeard's ship arrives. The second time, they need to build an Octan jet, to which Batman says there's no way they'll get access to a working hyperdrive. Cue the Millennium Falcon coming in.
Batman: Oh come on!
Control Freak: President Business. Not only has he separated everything to be exactly perfectly organized, he plans to superglue everything together. Finn's dad is also this by extension, since President Business is Finn's representation of him.
Cool Airship: A ship of this type is commandeered by Metal Beard during the course of the film.
Crapsaccharine World: Once you get past the bright colors and general cheeriness of the LEGO world, you start to realize that there's a lot of posters/screens emphasizing obeying President Business, as well as the surprising suppression of creativity.
Crazy Cat Lady: Mrs. Scratchen-Post, who owns over a dozen cats, all with different names. At the climax of the film, she builds a giant sled pulled by them.
Creative Closing Credits: The end credits are full-on LEGO stop-motion, with the credits themselves written on Dymo labels. You can watch them and read an in-depth article on their creation here.
Crippling Overspecialization: Master Builders tend to only build things that reflect their own particular idioms—Benny's only good with 80s technology, Batman only works in black (and very dark grey), and Uni-Kitty has to stick rainbows onto everything. This makes for chaos whenever they try to work together.
Cross Over: See "of Massive Multiplayer variety" below.
Culture Police: Or creativity in this case, as anything built that doesn't conform to provided instructions gets destroyed. Citizens are encouraged to follow these rules or "be put to sleep".
Played straight: Many of the wild models dreamt up by the Master Builders and ultimately Finn are available as real toys. As is normal for a movie that's Merchandise-Driven.
Played with: The movie contains objects like Vitruvius' staff, which are clearly not from the LEGO universe. The licensed toys give these an official brick representation.
Die, Chair! Die!: Bad Cop frequently takes his frustration out on chairs, including when he first interrogates Emmet.
In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, on one occasion, someone hands Bad Cop a chair for the specific purpose of being kicked around.
Dissonant Serenity: In Emmet's instructions to "fit in, have everybody like you, and always be happy", the last step is represented by an image of a happy minifigure being eaten by a shark.
Distracted by the Sexy: On the construction site, Emmet is about to report Wyldstyle, when she takes off her hood. And while in the Old West Wyldstyle explains to Emmet about the many worlds of the LEGO universe. Unfortunately, Emmet quickly stops paying attention in favor of ogling her, parodied by her words shifting from exposition to "blah blah blah, I'm so pretty..."
Does This Remind You of Anything?: After The Reveal, the movie can be seen as a satire on the current state of Hollywood. "The Man Upstairs" is so convinced that he's built the perfect LEGO world that he refuses to let his son express his creativity by building new things and letting new characters flourish. Finn ultimately wins him over by showing him how fun it really is to experiment and try new things.
Do Not Spoil This Ending: A TV spot for the movie says "Don't miss [the movie], and don't give away the ending." Especially the part where it's revealed that the Lego universe is actually the creation of the real world and the story is just part of a kid's imagination as he plays.
Early-Bird Cameo: A Milhouse minifigure appears alongside the rest of the master builders, despite the set not being released until later in 2014.
Earth All Along: Sort of. The "Kragle", Lord Business's unstoppable weapon, is "Krazyglue" with letters missing. The thing is, the entire LEGO world is a literal construct of Finn, a young boy, who is caught playing with his father's LEGO buildings. Thus the entire film is a metaphor for the clash between their play styles.
Easily Forgiven: President/Lord Business, who is turned with a single speech from Emmet. Possibly justified, since he's based on Finn's father.
Elite Mooks: The Micromanagers are much more competent than Skeletrons and actually get the heroes in tight spots many times.
The Evils of Free Will: President Business seems to be out to stop his citizens from having individual thoughts. Those who do and don't stop are tracked down by his secret police or taken to "melting rooms".
Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: When Bad Cop lets slip President Business's evil plan, Emmet is skeptical, and proceeds to list all the cool stuff Octan makes. When he gets to the surveillance cameras, history books and voting machines (with only one option), however, he suddenly realizes that it isn't so crazy.
Near the very beginning of the film, during the establishing shots of the city, look at the Lord Business billboards in the background; phrases such as "President because he says so" and "What part of 'No' do you not understand?" can be seen on them. This would indicate that Finn and his father have had LEGO-based disputes before.
Noticed the rubber-band and lollipop wand Vitruvius has? Those, along with the "relics" Lord Business collects, suggests that the LEGO World takes place somewhere very close to us humans.
When they enter Emmet's mind, Vitruvius mentions "The Man Upstairs" and Emmet thinks of a construction of him, shaped like a giant human hand.
Take a close look at Lord Business' cape. It's a red tie, just like the one Finn's dad wears.
Several sound effects, such as the noise of a plane taking off, are made up of mouth voice. You'd think it's just Played for Laughs until it is revealed that the entire movie is set within a real-life kid's imagination while playing with his father's LEGO set.
This is further elaborated upon when Vitruvius is a ghost; he is obviously covered with a LEGO blanket piece to make him look like a ghost, and he is obviously dangling by a string.
Two things pointing out that Emmet is just viewed as a rather bland fellow by the others: firstly, the people that he speaks to on his way to work never actually refer to him by name, instead using various forms of 'you'. And secondly, Emmet is never in line when he's walking with the other construction workers.
It's more than that. Pay close attention to Emmet and Lord Business' first interaction, particularly before Business goes off to freeze the world. Once you realize that Business' actions of wanting to "be someone" after being told he wasn't anyone, and Emmet's feelings of inadequacy even in the face of his own supposed greatness, are reflective of things that only make sense after the climax, the context of the battle which frames the entire movie becomes much clearer.
Cloud Cuckoo Land is one giant foreshadow. Everything shown within that world, including all the mishmashed types of Master Builders that gathered and the Uni-Kitty's speech about rules, implies that there was a reason it was different from the other, more ordered, parts of the world - a reason which necessitated its complete removal from the universe.
Emmet's encouraging of the Master Builders to work together, and their difficulty in doing so at first. It's difficult to get different mindsets to meet in the middle, after all.
When Emmet touches the Piece of Resistance, he falls unconscious and is treated to a vision. A flash of the vision briefly shows Finn's covered face and hand, a silhouetted man opening a door, and a cat poster. Finn's voice can be heard telling him that it's his turn to be the hero.
Everything Is Awesome. The lyrics are one giant spoiler for the movie and the ending!
More subtle, when Batman and Emmet are discussing the plan:
Emmet: Batman, when we get into this room there are gonna be audio sensors everywhere. We can't make a sound.
Batman: Don't worry, Dad, I read your dumb instructions. Stop yelling at me!
Pause it quick or you'll miss it: When Vitruvius and Wyldstyle are entering Emmet's mind, quickly pause at the bright flashing lights to see Wyldstyle's, Emmet's and Vitruvius's heads interchange with one another.
Another is when Metalbeard transforms into a singing robot on the ship, quickly pause it when it cuts to Emmet to see Unikitty's face of disgust.
During Wyldstyle's backstory Info Dump, she mentions that all the realms were connected and people could build whatever they wanted. This is represented by two minifigs of Cleopatra and a wind-up robot building something, before Lord Business' walls separate them. Fast forward to the end, after Lord Business completes his Heel-Face Turn and the realms are saved, and you can see Cleopatra and the wind-up robot dancing off to one side of the heroes.
From Nobody to Nightmare: Both Emmet and Lord Business started off completely un-special. Lord Business handled it by becoming a tyrant, while Emmet went the hero's route. Later, all the citizens of Bricksburg put their long-dormant creativity to use and built incredible machines to defend their town.
After Lord Business threatens Bad Cop with the Band-Aid, he hands it off to two of his mooks and continues talking. They...have a bit of trouble handling it from there.
While Wyldstyle is talking to Vitruvius in the saloon, Emmet is seen interacting with things in the background. He even takes a sip of alcohol and gags.
When the team is driving up the rainbow to Cloud Cuckooland, two knights can be seen jousting, with one completely skewering the other.
When Batman tells Wyldstyle "He's the hero you deserve", gesturing to Emmet, Emmet looks around to see if Batman is gesturing to someone behind him, whilst in the background, Benny also looks around to see if he's referring to someone else.
Generic Doomsday Villain: Lord/President Business. He's actually a fantasized projection of how Finn sees his obsessive LEGO-collector father.
Genre Shift: In the last half hour or so, the movie shifts from a dramatization of a child's playtime with his dad's LEGO to a parental bonding story.
For instance, a character gets decapitated and his severed head is shown on-screen for nearly a minute, but it's neither squicky, gory, nor anything inappropriate.
Michelangelo (the artist) has brought a white statue with him to the assembly of Master Builders, the statue of David. Like the real statue it's nude, but unlike the real statue there's nothing to censor.
In the Behind the Bricks featurette, President Business moans about why they got Will Ferrell to voice him, then starts doing imitations of famous actors who he wanted to voice him. At one point he mentions Ryan Gosling, then takes off his shirt to reveal a six-pack, raises his eyebrow and a wolf-whistle sound plays.
When losing the heroes, Bad Cop swears up a storm of: "Darn, darn, darn, darny-darn!".
When arriving in the Old West, Emmet exclaims: "O-M-G-O-S-H!"
Batman drops a "What. The. Heck." late into the movie.
Go Ye Heroes, Go and Die: Emmet's speech about how he isn't qualified to save the world ends up horrifying the crowd he's supposed to inspire. Ironically, he was trying to invoke this trope to follow it up with a heroic statement.
Groin Attack: Wyldstyle uses not only the regular version of this but also a variant where she takes the disassembled groin of a robot henchman and throws it to destroy another one!
Ground-Shattering Landing: When Emmet returns from the real world, he impacts the street with enough force to crater it... then apologizes to the street.
The Guards Must Be Crazy: Emmet and Wyldstyle don't make very convincing robots in their tin foil disguises, coming very close to being caught. When Emmet breaks into "Everything is Awesome!", however, the robots join in and completely ignore them.
Robot Guard 1: This is my jam!
Robot Guard 2: Mine too!
Hair Flip: Parodied with Wyldstyle in her introduction. Since her hair is one solid piece, it rotates on her head.
Happiness Is Mandatory: Implied with some of the billboards scattered around the city, as well as the instruction manual. It even juxtaposes the words "How to [...] always be happy" with a picture of a smiling guy being eaten by a shark.
Heel-Face Turn: Let's just say pretty much every "villain" in the film from Lord/President/Dad Business to Bad Cop/Good Cop gets a turn around by the end.
Heel Realization: Lord/President Business has one upon Emmet's speech — and more importantly, Dad has one when he sees that Finn modeled Lord/President Business after him and realizes that he's seriously losing his son's respect.
Emmet loses his hard hat near the beginning just before he gets chosen to be the special. The evil Lord Business notably has an enormous one which he loses in the lead up to his Heel Face Turn.
At the same time, what would Benny be without that cracked space helmet?
Heroic BSOD: Twice in the film — when Emmet first realizes how the rest of the world views him as just an NPC without any identifying characteristics thus initiating the plot of the film and at the end when he thinks he's not The Chosen One.
Heroic Sacrifice: After recovering from his second Heroic BSOD, Emmet throws himself out of Lord Business' tower, taking the power source of the Think Tank's self-destruct mechanism with him.
The Hero's Journey: What Emmet's story is. Particularly, his final confrontation with Lord Business, which itself mirrors Finn's confrontation with his dad, has some heavy "Atonement With The Father" vibes.
Heroic Willpower: Emmet wills himself to move while trapped in the real world as an inanimate LEGO figure.
Hipster: Vitruvius says that he liked Emmet before it was cool.
Historical-Domain Character: Here, Abraham Lincoln and William Shakespeare are Master Builders. Justified, since it's not actually these characters, it's just the Minifigs of them.
Holy Backlight: The Man Upstairs makes his appearance this way, as he comes down the stairs.
Humans Are Cthulhu: The only glimpse we get of humans are various artifacts kept by Lord Business such as the Kragle (Krazy Glue) and the Cloak of Banaide (a Band-Aid). Vitruvius earlier makes reference to "The Man Upstairs", who is seemingly the god of the LEGO universe. Then Emmet himself personally encounters his builders after falling out of the LEGO world, which turn out to be a human kid named Finn and his father.
Hurricane of Puns: The back and forth between Batman and Bad Cop during their initial confrontation.
Hypocritical Humor/Hypocrisy Nod: Uni-Kitty explains that Cloud Cuckooland has no rules, then proceeds to list several things that aren't allowed. Wyldstyle calls her on it, to which she adds that there's also "no consistency".
Idiot Ball: Green Lantern gets these moments a lot, when not fanboying over Superman.
invokedIdiot Plot: In-universe; the show Where's My Pants revolves around one joke: a man can't find his pants. When hijacking the show's camera to make an announcement, Wyldstyle throws him a pair, saying: "Found your pants! Series is over!"
Imagination Based Superpower: The power of a Master Builder essentially boils down to being able to instinctively construct whatever they want from whatever materials they can get their hands on in super speed.
Industrialized Evil: What Lord Business does to captured Master Builders is chain them up, plug into their brains, and use their creative minds to write the instruction manuals for all the ordinary civilian builders.
I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Superman avoids Green Lantern by telling him he "needs to go visit Krypton". A moment later, Green Lantern recalls that Krypton was destroyed.
In the Hood: Wyldstyle has one, although she rarely pulls it up.
Ironic Echo: The Prophecy, originally describing The Special as "the most important, most talented, most interesting, and most extraordinary person in the universe," is used to describe Lord Business, AKA "The Man Upstairs", and is instrumental in his Heel-Face Turn.
Inverted by the end of the movie: the opening song, "Everything is Awesome," begins as an ode to conformity, i.e., everything is awesome so don't question anything. The song becomes irony-free by the end of the movie.
Logo Joke: The Warner Bros, Warner Animation Group and Village Roadshow logos are displayed in LEGO form and hung on strings.
Losing Your Head: Metalbeard survived the first assault on Lord Business's tower with just his head. Sadly, it was different for Vitruvius, who could only speak a few words before dying after being beheaded by a penny.
Lovecraft Lite: No matter what, the heroes are always controlled by Finn and "The Man from Upstairs," even the final exchange between Emmet and Lord Business is meant to mirror Finn talking with his father. Luckily, "The Man Upstairs" is an Obliviously Evilordinary human, and Finn manages to reason with him.
MacGuffin: The Piece of Resistance glued to Emmet's back. It's eventually revealed to be the cap for the Kragle (KRAzy GLuE) tube.
MacGyvering: The key skill of the Master Builders; they have the imagination to make anything out of the pieces around them.
Made of Explodium: Anything that either crashes or falls will tend to explode (into LEGO flames, of course). At one point, even horses explode. Justified when it turns out to be a child's imaginary playtime, and he is using the Rule of Cool.
Magic Realism: It's never really explained why Emmet's still semi-sentient in the real world, despite the whole film being Finn playing with a LEGO set. One interpretation is it's a Calvin and Hobbes-like merging of different viewpoints of reality—so Emmet's not totally imaginary, he just is as far as The Man Upstairs is concerned.
Magical Negro: Played very straight with Vitruvius the wizard, who is the only brown-skinned non-licensed character in the movie.
Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Wyldstyle, to an extent, though it can be argued that Emmet is a Stable Regular Dream Guy for her...
The Man Is Sticking It To The Man: The film heavily satirizes consumerist and conformist culture, but is produced by the LEGO company and contains the brand names of many franchises. This is lampshaded by one of the directors in this interview:
Chris Miller: It's an anti-corporate movie that's all about a huge corporation, and that's a funny synthesis.
Mean Character, Nice Actor: In-Universesubversion. In the Behind the Bricks featurette, the characters are shown to roughly resemble their own actors—Batman is every bit as egomaniacal as he is in the movie, and Lord Business says that his on-set "pranks" were actual attempts to kill his co-stars.
Mundane Made Awesome/Mundane Object Amazement: Several commonplace items that can be found at home (such as glue, a band-aid, a penny, and a Q-tip) are treated as relics in the LEGO world, and some are even used as potentially threatening weapons.
Naked People Are Funny: Emmet at the start of the film. It turns out that his entire body is standard LEGO yellow.
Also true in-universe, as Where Are My Pants? is an extremely popular sitcom.
Name Tron: Many of the robot characters: Executron, Deputron, and the skeletrons. Others have the word 'bot' or 'drone' fitted in their names somewhere.
Narm: Invoked. You'll never look at Lord Business the same way again once you realize his gigantic evil helmet has coffee cups on top of its horns.
Never Live It Down: In-universe. Emmet isn't particularly happy with having to hear again and again - from everyone on both sides of the conflict - how his one creative idea, the double-decker couch, is terrible.
Never Trust a Trailer: A lot of lines spoken in the trailer appear in completely different scenes than how they're shown. Some lines in the trailers aren't in the movie at all.
After the above page quote, Wyldstyle tells Emmet: "Good. You drive." Meaning her high-speed motorcycle currently being chased by the cops. Emmet understandably freaks out.
When Finn is told that - since his dad is more permissive about him playing with the LEGO sets - that his sister will also get free reign. Subsequently, this also occurs when his sister's Duplo creations land in the LEGO world.
Shaq and the others when they find out that their weapons are useless against the Kraggled ships
Ominous Latin Chanting: Parodied in the ocean sequence. Listen closely, the choir shouts "Lego, under the sea, or yo-ho" in tune to the theme of the location.
One Steve Limit: Averted for laughs with the Michelangelos (the artist and the Ninja Turtle).
Emmet:(singing) "Everything is awesome!" Wyldstyle: "I am not singing this..." Robots: (Death Glare) Wyldstyle: (singing) "Everything is awesome!"
Open Secret: Everyone (except Lord Business) seems to know that Batman is Bruce Wayne.
Orange/Blue Contrast: This is true of both the movie's poster and its main character. It fares better than most examples though, as the range of blue and orange is very broad and the colors are overall very vibrant- much as they are on the toys themselves.
Order Versus Chaos: Lord Business is all order ('Use the Instructions'), the Master Builders are all chaos ('Just be Creative'), and Emmet is somewhere in between.
In the broader sense, Lord Business wanting to glue everything together (representing Finn's Dad) is 'Total Order' and Emmet and the Master Builders being Creative (representing Finn) are more in the middle, and going by the Stinger, the aliens that just want to destroy everything (representing Finn's younger sister) are 'Total Chaos'.
Emmet getting distracted when he first meets Wyldstyle: "I guess I'm going to have to report yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy..."
Emmet falling down the hole in the construction site. Down and down and down... and even up for a while.
When Bad Cop loses Wyldstyle and Emmet for the first time, he does what he always does when angry, and beats up a metal chair. For a good long while.
Paper-Thin Disguise: To infiltrate Lord Business's headquarters, they doodle glasses and dollar signs on Uni-Kitty, and Emmet and Wyldstyle wrap themselves in tin-foil.
Parental Bonus: Those parents who used to be (or may still be) Legomaniacs will get a kick out of Bennynote Particularly the plastic chin of the helmet, which was notoriously easy to crack in half, as well as the blink-and-you-miss-them references to Blacktron and Fabuland, two product lines from The Eighties.
Plot Twist: Quite a bigger one than you would expect from this movie, so much so that the post-premiere commercials stress that you should not reveal the ending: The entire movie was the construct of a young boy's imagination as he played with his father's ridiculously large LEGO set that he built exactly according to the instructions. The conflict between Emmet and Lord Business is a metaphor for the boy's troubled relationship with his father; he just wants to be creative, while his dad wants to build everything precisely.
Police State: Here fulfilled by Lord Business's mecha-mooks.
Pop Star Composer: Mark Mothersbaugh, although he's a bit of a borderline example; most famous as a lead member of Devo, he's worked on everything from TV shows and video games before as well as movies.
Product Placement: Besides the obvious, there's Band-Aids, Q-tips, Krazy Glue, etc. Unlike most examples of the trope, rather than being irrelevant to the movie, the products are actually integral to the plot.
Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: How else would a construction worker, a car mechanic/action heroine, a washed-up wizard, a magical cat/unicorn, a cyborg pirate, a retro space guy, and Batman have anything in common?
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Batman tries to initiate this thrice. The first two times, he's persuaded by Wyldstyle to stay with them. But the third time has him leap aboard the Millenium Falcon. Wyldstyle gives him a moment of What the Hell, Hero? when he gets onto it. However, it turns out that he didn't really intend to leave- he had taken the opportunity to steal the Millenium Falcon's hyperdrive for Emmet's plan.
Shaped Like Itself: The coffee shop that Emmet goes to is named "The Coffee Chain". Generic and/or tautological names for things seems to be the theme for a lot of objects in Bricksburg...
Likewise, posters on the wall of Emmet's apartment say things like "A Popular Band" and "Sport!"
Shirtless Scene: In a behind the scenes feature, President Business listed other people who could have voiced him, including Ryan Gosling. Just at that moment, Business had his shirt off and had a ripped torso.
Shown Their Work: Plenty, in fact. The directors and animators really took advantage of the wide world of LEGO when making this film.
Benny, also known as the "1980-something Space Guy", is the Classic Blue Astronaut figure— and much like his figurines from the 1980s, the bottom part of his helmet is cracked and his space emblem is worn.
All the sets and backgrounds are actually made of LEGO.
Keeping with the designs of the LEGO minifigs, none of the characters are able to move their elbows, rotate their upper body right or left, or rotate their heads up and down. A BIT of creative licensing is used since their arms can rotate outward somewhat, for elaborate acting, but it's used sparingly.
Emmet drives a (slightly modified) 3177 Small Car, a real set from 2011.
You can see mold lines, casting imperfections and other "real-world" characteristics on the CGI minifigs. And when the lighting allows it, you can even see fingerprint residue on the minifigs' torsos that Finn would have left from playing with them IRL.
Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: As late as a month before the film's premier, Uni-Kitty barely appeared in trailers and only had one word of dialogue in a TV spot.note That word is "Embarrassing!" Even Johnny Thunder, who has appeared only as a Freeze-Frame Bonus, has gotten more cumulative trailer screentime than Uni-Kitty. This is despite the fact that she features prominently in the tie-in toys and is one of the main supporting characters alongside the likes of Batman, Benny, and MetalBeard.
Skele Bot 9000: The "skeletron" style of henchmen featured in the movie.
Small Name, Big Ego: In the Behind the Bricks featurette, Emmet's "actor" claims that "there were a lot of big egos on set", and he is shown to be right. Batman not only claims to be the main character, he claims he is the main character in every single movie he is ever in. Likewise, Bad Cop/Good Cop also thinks he is the main character (both sides of him argue with each other that they are the lead). President Business, meanwhile, thinks he deserves to be voiced by an acting legend like Robert De Niro and is upset that the studio is "scraping the barrel" by casting Will Ferrell instead.
Emmet and Wyldstyle's LEGO actors both gush about their voice actors—meaning, of course, that Chris Pratt and Elizabeth Banks are basically gushing about themselves.
Solid Clouds: The Master Builder's assembly hall in Cloud Cuckoo Land seem to be built on these.
Soundtrack Dissonance: Touches of it during the "Everything Is Awesome" at the construction sequence. As everyone cheerfully sing the song, a rather menacing billboard of President Business passes by and a surveillance camera watches intently.
Special Effect Failure: Invoked when Vitruvius comes back as a ghost. He is literally just a ghost minifigure being dangled on a string. This is actually a plot point, given that it foreshadows the existence of the real world.
Similarly invoked with the sound effects of some ships flying/sailing away.
Stealth Hi/Bye: As in non-LEGO movies, this is Batman's trademark move.
Strange Minds Think Alike: Both Vitruvius and Emmet think that Wyldstyle sounds like the name of a DJ, and Wyldstyle's comment implies it's come up before. Similarly, everybody things the double-decker couch is a stupid idea and will go at great lengths to harp on it.
Stylistic Suck: There are a few instances, most notably Vitruvius as a ghost, which is literally a figurine on a string, and the separation of Lord Business's fortress, which goes from a dramatic event to a crude stop-motion animation with one-man sound effects. The Reveal means that this was probably intentional.
Take Our Word for It: After hearing Emmet's protests that he's not the Special, Bad Cop states sarcastically: "Yeah, I believe you," with his fingers making air quotes. Except he has to say he's making air quotes with his fingers because, like all mini-figures, he has no fingers.
Technician Versus Performer: The central conflict, Lord Business, The Man Upstairs and initially Emmet are technicians who seek to build according to the instructions, where as the master builders and Finn are performers who want to build their own things.
The Bad Cop/Good Cop blind bag minifigurehas Good Cop's hand-drawn face, instead of his original face.
Surprisingly averted as well, considering that a TV spot even implored audience members not to give away the ending.
Midway through the movie, Batman leaves the main characters aboard the Millennium Falcon. He's not gone long, but still considering that there's a prominent scene from the trailers that hasn't happened yet, everyone knows Batman isn't really gone.
One of the promotional photos that Warner Bros. released prominently shows Ghost Vitruvius.
Transforming Mecha: Metalbeard can transform his massive robot body... into a copy machine.
Trick Bullet: Bad Cop fires a tracking device on Emmet's ankle, which leads the Super Secret Police to Cloud Cuckooland.
Tropes Are Not Bad: A crowning example of this- being completely self aware the film deliciously revels in how absurd it is and the different genres it's parodying. Granted it becomes even more impressive in the ending when everything comes full circle and you realize it's just the playtime of a small boy and those genres are probably what he knows or understands from tv and movies.
True Art Is Angsty: In-universe, Wyldstyle claims that Batman is a 'true artist' because he's dark and brooding. In addition, his song is pretty much entirely about dark places and having no parents.
Two-Faced: Bad Cop/Good Cop, with one on each side of his head that rotates to present the face needed for any given moment.
Lord Business is a Control Freak who instates an oppressively conformist society incapable of original thought or diverging from directions. However, Emmet points out Octan's organization and use of instructions has let them build whole cities, whereas the Master Builders are so individualistic that they're incapable of working together-when a couple of them try to make a submarine together, they just build their own parts and stick them together, and the resulting vehicle falls apart in minutes.
All of Lord Business's criticisms about the double-decker couch are completely valid, though some of them don't apply to LEGO figurines (for example, without jointed legs, they can't hang their feet over the edge).
Walking Spoiler: Talking about the significance of "The Man From Upstairs" or the person that Emmet thought of in his mind (Finn) is a sure-fire way to reveal the movie's big plot twist.
We Can Rebuild Him: Basically the backstory behind Metal Beard. Interestingly, he's the one who rebuilt himself.
Weirdness Censor: Both ways. Finn's dad doesn't notice Emmet's minifigure struggling to move under his own power, though he comes close a few times. Inversely, when Finn's dad personally starts taking apart his son's creations, the minifigures just see it as being swarmed by Micromanager robots.
Emmet waking up to see a basement. As in a real-world basement.
"The Man From Upstairs" coming down... and he's played by Will Ferrell.
All of the LEGO lands we see are perfectly made on tables with signs saying not to touch...except Cloud Cuckoo Land, which is on a small round table off in the corner.
What Measure Is a Mook?: Lord Business' minions are all robots, so the heroes don't have to feel bad about killing them. However, sometimes they seem to show individual traits and quirks, such as happily using a copy machine to print their butts.
Of course, since they are both robots and Legos, it's debatable whether they die or not.
Wingding Eyes: When a character dies, their eyes get replaced with Xs.
World of Badass: Despite all the robots and suppression of creativity, a world where you can build awesome stuff to help you, have specially trained builders who can all kick robot Mook ass and that everyone can make gigantic cool mechas out of everyday objects to kick your ass definitely qualifies.
Year Inside, Hour Outside: Though the characters experience the story as taking place over several years, it's established that Finn has only been playing with the LEGO for a day at the absolute most. It takes Emmet several seconds / minutes to fall through the void, but obviously less than one second for him to fall off of a table; though the story begins "8 1/2 years" ago, Finn probably started that story only a few hours prior, if that. It's also firmly established that he created Metal Beard as well, despite his backstory taking place some time before the events of the movie.
You All Look Familiar: Considering that Emmet's default face is the standard classic LEGO smiley, this trope comes with the product. This becomes a significant plot point early on when Emmet realizes not only is he not special, he is exactly the same as everyone else, causing a Heroic BSOD thus kickstarting the events of the film. It did help him, though - it was hard to catch him because he was so bland that it was hard to track him down.
You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Vitruvius' advice to Emmet, who doesn't believe he's really The Special. Also, Wyldstyle does this to the entire LEGO universe once Lord Business starts using the Kragle, encouraging them to use their own talents to make weapons to fight back against Lord Business.
You Can't Thwart Stage One: The heroes' infiltration of Lord Business' tower to destroy the Kragle once and for all ends in disaster, and Lord Business escapes to unleash his weapon on Emmet's city.
You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry: Kind of self-defeating here; Uni-Kitty's temper is so terrifying because she usually represses anything remotely negative, but at this point all that buried anger has become enough of a mess that it's probably best she just keep up with the cheery act. For everyone else's safety.