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

main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
YMMV: Animal House
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Animal House was the ambitious foray of the National Lampoon magazine into silver-screen entertainment. Universal execs politely allowed the filmmakers to go wild in their own special way, quietly hoping Animal House wouldn't damage the company's checkbooks. Donald Sutherland famously chose several thousand dollars in payment over a percentage of the box-office gross, expecting the film to be a bomb and be quickly forgotten. However, Animal House's charmingly dark and hard-hitting observations on college life, as well as its undeniably quirky brand of vulgar humor, was so refreshing to moviegoers in the late 70s that the film recouped its $2 million budget 50 times over. Donald Sutherland, as you might imagine, was not pleased, and it probably explains why he never appeared in any interviews or in Where Are They Now?: A Delta Alumni Update, a direct-to-DVD short which suggested the film had been a documentary and Landis was catching up with some of the cast (played by their original actors, except for John Belushi, who died in 1982, though it's implied that his character lives on as former U.S. President George W. Bush).
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Otter pretending to be the ex-boyfriend of a dead coed in order to get grief/sympathy sex from her roommate.
  • Designated Villain: The Delta fraternity constantly engages in disruptive behavior and outright acts of vandalism. Its members overall have dreadfully low GPA (which they intend to remedy through cheating). Considering all this, Dean Wormer is perfectly justified in seeking to suspend and disband the fraternity.
  • Don't Shoot the Message: Subverted. Otter's argument in Delta's defense before the tribunal, as he points out that one might as well logically blame the general breakdown of society for the disastrous toga party. But his insistence that Delta consists of a just a few "sick, perverted individuals" is disingenuous: the entire fraternity is like that, except for the relatively straitlaced Robert Hoover (and anyway, Hoover, while the Deltas' nominal leader and ostensibly opposed to every bad thing they do, still goes along with their antics). The boys gladly indulge in all sorts of depravity and then have the nerve to insist "Don't stereotype us like that."
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: John Belushi partied as hard in real life as Bluto did here. Unlike in the movie, John Belushi actually died from it in 1982.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The actor who played the kid who yelled "Thank you, God!" after a Playboy Bunny drops into his room is now a preacher.
    • In the original "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, it's stated that Bluto became a United States Senator. While John Belushi never did get into politics, the idea of a Saturday Night Live cast member becoming a politician is now a reality thanks to Al Franken, who was a writer and feature player for SNL during the first five years [and later from 1985 to 1995, making Franken the longest-running feature player who was never promoted to repertory cast member], which was the same time that John Belushi was a cast member
  • Memetic Mutation: "Assume the position!" "Thank you sir, may I have another!"
    • The iconic image of John Belushi in the "COLLEGE" sweatshirt. If you went to college, you saw the poster on someone's wall. Guaranteed.
      • If you go to THE Ohio State University, it's on the wall of the President's office. Sending what message, it's not exactly clear.
    • Toga parties exist because of this movie.
    • "You're all worthless and weak! Now drop and give me twenty!"
      • Heck, you could say that about the entire Neidermeyer character. He's appeared in two Twisted Sister videos, was mentioned in Twilight Zone: The Movie, and has a trope named after him. Specifically...
    • "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."
    • The concept of "double secret probation".
  • Moral Event Horizon: Through most of the first and second acts of the movie, the Omegas have been sneaky, snotty and slimy. Only Neidermeyer is physically sadistic, though, as shown in the stable scene. The rest don't cross the line into pure evil until the infamous Rainbow Motel incident. Granted Greg had an excuse, but the rest are just,as Otter says, acting like "Hitler Youth". By the end of the movie Neidermeyer is so far gone he's willing to respond to a seltzer bottle with an M-1 bullet. Which is even worse than it first appears, considering how many people are running around, and how easy it would have been to kill one of them no matter how hard he tried to miss.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Kevin Bacon in his film debut as one of the snotty frat dudes. "All is well!"
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: This film was to Comedy what Jaws and Star Wars were to Blockbusters. So many of its tropes (The idiotic but loveable protagonists, the strict authoritarian villains, the final scene where the slobs beat the snobs) have been used so many times it's impossible to see it the way audiences in 1978 saw it. Even worse is that its copiers haven't managed to be anywhere near as witty or talented, leading Animal House to be unfairly lumped in with its unoriginal, unfunny counterparts. Cracked's "5 Works of Art So Good, They Ruined Their Whole Genre" calls Animal House a tough act to follow in college comedy.
    • Within a couple of years, enough ripoffs were created that a new genre name was coined - "Us Against the Assholes" movies.
  • Weird Al Effect: The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue which everyone has mimicked/spoofed was actually a parody of the epilogue of American Graffiti, made just five years earlier.

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