YMMV / Se7en

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: William Somerset and John Doe are the only really sane men, knowing well how bad the world is, but differ on how they deal with it (which essentially makes Doe Somerset's Evil Counterpart).
    • Well, from his diaries, we know that Doe is the type of man who would vomit on a guy who just asks him about the weather and laugh about it because he finds the average human being absolutely disgusting, so its not quite the same thing. Both believe they live in a Crapsack World, but Doe believes that because he is a completely egotistical bastard who ignores his own rampant hypocrisy, so he's not really an Only Sane Man (not by a mile) so much as Right for the Wrong Reasons (for a really, really cynical interpretation of "right").
    • So Evil Counterpart is right on point.
  • Anvilicious: We live in a Crapsack World, but people still need to fight for it. The film is not in any way subtle about reinforcing these points.
  • Asspull: Somerset just happens to know a guy from the FBI that is in his debt for no discernible reason. Thanks to the info they get from him, they are able to instantly find John Doe's apartment and even John Doe himself when he comes home.
    • Possibly justified since he is nearing retirement and probably has a lot of potential contacts and markers he can call on.
  • Complete Monster: John Doe is possibly the most twisted and disturbing Serial Killer in film. A Knight Templar who believed himself to be The Scourge of God, Doe targeted people whom he deemed to embody one of the Seven Deadly Sins then horribly murdered them in a way that reflected their vice. He forced Gluttony at gunpoint to eat until he passed out then kicked him to make his stomach rupture; bound Sloth to a bed and kept him alive and immobile for a year, rendering him a mindless, emaciated husk; forced Greed to decide which body part is most expendable then had the victim cut it off himself; forced a man at gunpoint to rape Lust to death with a bladed strap-on; and mutilated Pride's face, giving her the choice between calling the hospital and saving herself or committing suicide to avoid living her life disfigured, knowing that she'd choose the latter. However, it's with his final murder that Doe proves just how completely hypocritical he really is when he murders a woman completely innocent of any sin, Detective Mills's wife. Feeling envious of Mills's "normal" life, Doe decapitated his wife then arranged for her head to be delivered to Mills outside of the city. Goading Mills with his crime and revealing that she was pregnant, Doe succeeded in getting Mills to murder him in revenge, making Mills the embodiment of Wrath and leading to Mills's arrest and the ruination of his life. Disgusted by all of humanity and its excesses, Doe tortured and murdered to show everyone just how awful the world they live in truly is.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: The film is absurdly dark. Although Mills and Somerset remain sympathetic for almost the entirety of the movie.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Mills and Somerset panicking over the legal implications of the FBI secretly tracking potential criminals via certain books taken from the library, and their use of said evidence to track down John Doe. In an age where the War on Terror and the rise of the Internet has turned that kind of thing Up to Eleven, it all seems rather quaint.
  • Ho Yay: Lampshaded a couple of times. When they're waiting for Somerset's FBI contact, Mills asks why they couldn't sit opposite each other because sitting next to each other makes it look like they're dating, and near the end there's a scene where they're both shaving their chests, and Mills jokingly comments that if he keeps coming home late, his wife is going to get suspicious.
  • It Was His Sled: People who don't know who plays the villain, or what happens in the dénouement, are pretty hard to come by.
    • The horrifying Jump Scare of the "Sloth" victim has likewise lost a lot of its power due to this.
  • Memetic Mutation: "WHAT'S IN THE BOX?!"
  • Moral Event Horizon: While most would consider John Doe to have crossed this with his very first murder, torturing and killing someone for merely being gluttonous, in his view his victims were not innocent which makes one particular case stand out since Tracy was completely innocent of everything, so even his own twisted standards couldn't have excused his last killing.
  • Narm: Brad Pitt bleating out "What's in the boooox?" like a kid whining that he wants a cookie. To the point of Memetic Mutation.
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize: Ingeniously averted. The name of the guy you recognize doesn't appear on the poster or in the opening credits, and you don't get a clear shot of his face until the third act.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Michael Massee and Leland Orser.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Just try to watch this movie and not imagine what John C. McGinley's character would say to the situation as Dr. Cox.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Modern viewers might find the notion of a serial killer who implements cruel and elaborate tortures to deliver Karmic Death to his victims to be cliche, but in 1995 it was genuinely horrifying and new. That most of the films inspired by Se7en have been more focused on the Gorn and pure shock value aspects of the film than its meticulously-crafted atmosphere and cerebral tone certainly hasn't helped matters.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped:
    • According to John Doe, part of his motivation.
    • The final words:
    Somerset: Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part.
  • Tough Act to Follow: For screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker. No screenplay he has penned since this one has achieved anything like the kind of critical acclaim and commercial success heaped on Seven (the screenplay that immediately followed it, 8mm, was a rather obvious attempt to recapture the mood and tone of it).
  • The Woobie: Poor Tracy. Moves to a city she can't stand to support her husband's career, winds up unexpectedly pregnant, and debates whether or not to bring a child into a Crapsack World. To say nothing of the ending...
    • Really most of the victims can fall under this, because even without much character development they die horrifically for completely undeserved reasons (undeserved for people who aren't John Doe of course). Gluttony is horribly murdered for being obese, Lust is raped to death with a blade just for being a sex worker, and Pride gets her face ripped off for being a little vain. It's such Disproportionate Retribution for unbelievably minor "crimes" it's hard not to feel bad for them. Only Sloth was actually evil (Greed is a maybe, since we're not told of the victim's reputation).
      • The victims' backstories are more elaborated on in the graphic novel. Gluttony was the biggest woobie of the lot. Both his mother and father died, and he's been trying so hard to stop eating all the time. John Doe doesn't give him much of a chance. Greed was shown specifically to be an Amoral Attorney who defended rapists and mob bosses. And Pride, aka Rachel Shade while definitely a jerkass to everyone around her may not have been all that deserving of what Doe did to her. Even Doe himself undergoes this portrayal, at least before his Despair Event Horizon.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Or in this case, WTH Promotions. David Fincher mentions in a commentary track that for reasons he cannot fathom, the people who went out looking for test audiences for the movie used Driving Miss Daisy and Legends of the Fall as examples of movies that Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, respectively, have been in. So naturally, most of the people in the audience were the kind of people who would watch films like Driving Miss Daisy and Legends of the Fall, and not films like, well, Se7en. Fincher said that after the movie got out, he was standing outside the theater, and three middle-aged women walked past him. As they did so, one said "Whoever made this movie should be shot."