Follow TV Tropes


Film / Clue

Go To
Wadsworth: That's what we're trying to find out! We're trying to find out who killed him, and where, and with what!
Professor Plum: There's no need to shout!

Quite possibly 1985's best movie based on a board game, Clue is a Black Comedy murder mystery film based on the board game Clue (or Cluedo, depending where you live). The film justifies the game's premise (a large mansion full of people with silly names trying to solve a murder mystery) by turning all of the characters from the board game into blackmail victims using predetermined aliases.

The six guests travel to the remote mansion after receiving an invitation from the butler, Wadsworth, to expose his employer, Mr. Boddy, as a blackmailer. Mr. Boddy turns the tables on the plan: he gives everyone a weapon and asks them to kill Wadsworth so no one will have their secrets exposed. When the lights go out, someone kills Mr. Boddy; since everyone has both the means and a motive to turn Boddy into a body, everyone becomes a suspect in his murder. The group opts to solve the case themselves rather than call the police, and Hilarity Ensues—and in a good way. While made in The '80s, the film sets its story in 1954 (and in New England) to justify both the large mansion and the politically-charged secrets of its main cast.

That was one way the description could have ended. But how about this?

Clue bombed in theaters, partly because of the movie's Multiple Endings. In theaters, the solution to the murders changed depending on where you saw the movie; viewers couldn't deduce the murderer from the clues presented, since other options had to remain viable in order to accommodate the other endings. This was harshly criticized by reviewers, who apparently didn't know a zany comedy couldn't have a real mystery happening. The home video and TV versions of the film include all three endings; these cuts mark two endings as "how it could have happened", while marking the third ending as "how it really happened". The DVD and Blu-Ray releases enable viewers to play one ending at random or all three endings as described above.

But here's what really happened.

Although it bombed in theaters, Clue eventually became a Cult Classic. Fans regard it as a solid comedy with a mix of clever dialogue and slapstick, and the various solutions to the murders (mostly) hold up on repeat viewings.

Directed by Jonathan Lynn. Members of the cast included Tim Curry as Wadsworth, Madeline Kahn as Mrs. White, Eileen Brennan as Mrs. Peacock, Michael McKean as Mr. Green, Christopher Lloyd as Professor Plum, Martin Mull as Colonel Mustard, Lesley Ann Warren as Miss Scarlet, and Colleen Camp as Yvette the maid. Lee Ving, better known as the singer for punk band F.E.A.R., plays Mr. Boddy.

Do not confuse this film with Cluedo, the 1990–93 British TV adaptation of the board game (which, unbelievably, was a Game Show). The 1992–93 Australian TV adaptation, also called Cluedo, was a kind of game show where pre-recorded scenes showed how a guest star was murdered every week, and the actors playing the six main characters were questioned by a live studio audience, which was also filmed so the TV audience could play along as well (only the week's murderer could lie, all the other suspects had to tell the truth)—which meant that the TV audience had to depend on the studio audience to ask the right questions. Then another pre-recorded section showed the solution.

  • If you would like to read the February 1985 shooting script, click on this link.
  • For the novelization by Michael McDowell click here.
  • For the movie storybook, click right here.

Clue contains the following tropes:

  • The '50s:
    • The communism (though in all three endings it's just a "Red Herring"), nuclear arms race, J. Edgar Hoover, and homosexuals-not-being-allowed-to-hold-government-jobs part of the Fifties, in particular.
    • The soundtrack also establishes the time period from the very beginning. Seeing as how most of the action takes place in an old, creepy house, music is vital to pinning the atmosphere to the subtext of the McCarthy era.
    • Joseph McCarthy himself is briefly seen on the TV in the kitchen near the beginning of the film.
  • Aborted Arc: Two clues from the scrapped fourth ending still remains in the film: eagle eyed viewers can spot that Wadsworth disappears from the study when Mr. Boddy is found "dead" for the first time. According to the script, this was when he would have murdered the cook, using the secret passage while everyone was gathered around Mr. Boddy. He's also initially missing when everyone first enters the kitchen to check on the cook; this would have been when he stayed behind in the study to kill Mr. Boddy for real.
  • Acting Unnatural: When Miss Scarlet and Prof. Plum close the doors to the study and the lounge, they unconvincingly feign nonchalance in how they lean against the doors.
  • Actually, That's My Assistant: In the third/true ending, Wadsworth reveals himself as the real Mr. Boddy, while the man who was murdered at the start of the film was Mr. Boddy's butler.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of the Murder Mystery genre.
  • All Men Are Perverts:
    • Col. Mustard:
      Col. Mustard: What room's this?
      Miss Scarlet: Search me.
      Col. Mustard: All right. (Mustard starts to frisk Miss Scarlet)
      Miss Scarlet: Get your mitts off me!
    • And Professor Plum:
      Wadsworth: Professor Plum, you were once a professor of psychiatry, specializing in helping paranoid and homicidal lunatics suffering from delusions of grandeur.
      Prof. Plum: Yes, but now I work for the United Nations.
      Wadsworth: So your work has not changed, but you don't practice medicine at the U.N.; his license to practice has been lifted, correct?
      Miss Scarlet: Why? What did he do?
      Wadsworth: You know what doctors aren't allowed to do with their lady patients?
      Miss Scarlet: Yeah?
      Wadsworth: Well, he did.
  • All There in the Script: The movie Mrs. White went to see on the night her husband was murdered was From Here to Eternity.
    Mr. Boddy: How very appropriate.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: Mrs. White's late husband's threat.
    Mrs. White: He had threatened to kill me in public.
    Miss Scarlet: Why would he want to kill you in public?
    Wadsworth: I think she meant he threatened, in public, to kill her.
    Miss Scarlet: Oh.
    • Also the whole "No, meaning yes" sequence. Actually, Col. Mustard gets a lot of these.
  • Amusing Injuries:
    • Colonel Mustard opening a cupboard in the kitchen, and an ironing board falls on his head.
    • When Peacock is screaming after finding Boddy's body in the back toilet, Green and Wadsworth both run down from the attic and second floor respectively, and smack into each other in fantastic acrobatics.
    • When Wadsworth is doing his "I'M NOT SHOUTING!" raving, the candlestick falls off a door frame and knocks him out cold.
    • When Mustard and Scarlet are locked in the lounge, Plum and Green trip over each other as Yvette comes out with the revolver.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: A cut line, though it still appears in the shooting script and the novelisation: after the Cop picks up the phone call and is told he's speaking to J. Edgar Hoover, he replies "And I'm Harry Truman."
  • And Then What?: In two of the three endings, this question is raised, and Wadsworth suggests more or less the same thing: stack the bodies in the cellar, have everyone leave at different times, and pretend it never happened, although not necessarily for the same reasons given there are different killers.
  • Angrish: Mrs. White lapses into a version of this when describing her feelings about Yvette in the third ending.
    Mrs. White: Yes, I did it. I killed Yvette. I hated her SO... much, it, it... the f— it, flamed, flames. Flames, on the side of my face... breathing... b- breathle— heaving breaths. Heaving... br—
  • Angry Guard Dog: Three of them. Two German shepherds by the house's main entrance, and a Doberman outside the conservatory.
  • Animal Reaction Shot: After Wadsworth steps in dog poop at the start of the movie, he turns to direct a withering gaze at the animals responsible. One of the German shepherds, happily chowing down on the raw meat he brought them, gives him a very hurt "Who, me?" look.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Inverted when the cop starts listing their transgressions.
    Cop: I'll book you for false arrest, and wrongful imprisonment, and obstructing an officer in the course of his duty, and murder!
    Wadsworth: (opening the door and chuckling nervously) What do you mean... murder?
    Cop: I just said that so you'd open the door.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Nobody in the film uses any sort of gun safety at all. Even the police and FBI agents seen during each ending constantly keep their fingers on the trigger at all times. This includes the Chief and Mr. Green in the third ending, despite them currently pointing their guns at the backs of their fellow agents; the Chief pointing his gun directly at Wadsworth's stomach while arresting Miss Scarlet; and Wadsworth pulling the trigger of a gun to try and prove it's out of bullets (it isn't).
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The guests are all being blackmailed into bankruptcy because they've engaged in some manner of shady activities that are illegal, amoral, or both. The sole exception is Mr. Green, who was being blackmailed for being a homosexual and had to keep it secret to avoid losing his job. (This is Values Dissonance, as in the time of the film's setting, homosexuality was considered amoral, though in the time of the movie's release, it was comparably more accepted.)
    • Mr. Boddy is a sleazy blackmailer who decided to extort six people for engaging in activities he considered "un-American", instead of simply turning them over to the authorities like a true patriot would do. Mr. Green even lampshades this, and Wadsworth explains he decided to use his information to make money, because "what could be more American than that?"
    • Most of the other murder victims are no better than Mr. Boddy and the guests. At the least they informed on one of the guests to Mr. Boddy so he could blackmail them, and some of the victims are themselves complicit in what the blackmail was about, like the Dirty Cop who accepted bribes from Miss Scarlet so she could run a brothel. The exception is the Singing Telegram Girl — the circumstances of her sexual encounters with Professor Plum are vague, but given his lecherous personality, in all likelihood he took advantage of her as her psychiatrist to seduce her. Although given the fact that Plum specialized in treating homicidal lunatics with delusions of grandeur, she might not have been quite as wholesome as she seemed, even if Plum took advantage of her.
    • Mrs. White's husband (well, the one we know the most about) was a verbally (and possibly physically) abusive asshole who threatened to kill his wife in public (that is he threatened, in public, to kill her). The fact he was murdered by being castrated and then beheaded is treated more as a Groin Attack joke than to garner any actual sympathy from the audience.
  • Audible Gleam:
    • The soundtrack actually does one of these when, during The Summation, Wadsworth imitates Yvette smiling. (Which she doesn't actually ever do on camera, her back is to the audience when they are introduced so we only have Wadsworth's word she did so.)
    • There's another one near the beginning of the film, when Wadsworth helps Mrs. White take her coat off, revealing its brilliant white interior.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Wadsworth attempts this in the first ending by saying he kept track of how many times the revolver had gone off during the night and the killer has an empty gun. He miscounted.
  • Batman Gambit: Mr. Boddy attempts one, and it fails miserably, leading to his murder. In the third ending, Wadsworth reveals he is the blackmailer and his victims did all of his work for him in tying up loose ends. It still fails because Mr. Green is actually an undercover FBI agent and Green kills Wadsworth/Mr. Boddy.
  • Battle Butler: Wadsworth doubles as both this and Mr. Exposition.
  • "Be Quiet!" Nudge: When the policeman inspects the body of the Motorist and says he's in no shape to drive:
    Miss Scarlet: Oh, we'll— we'll— we'll get him a car!
    Professor Plum: A long black car! note 
    Miss Scarlet: (lightly jabs him in the stomach) A limousine!
  • Beneath Suspicion: In the first ending, everyone is thoroughly shocked to discover Yvette committed the first two murders.
  • Big Electric Switch: The Jump Scare of the electricity to the house being turned off is shown by a gloved hand pulling down a big lever.
  • Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics: During the scuffle in the dark where Mr. Boddy is killed, someone shoots the Revolver and it breaks a vase on the mantle. However, the bullet also apparently grazes Mr. Boddy's ear. For a gunshot to have hit Mr. Boddy's ear and the vase, it would have had to be fired from his left, which is unlikely given that the Revolver was in the hands of Professor Plum, who was sitting on the sofa directly between Mr. Boddy and the mantle. While it's not impossible that the Revolver ended up in the hands of someone on the other side of Boddy to make the shot, given the short window of events and the position of Mr. Boddy's body when the lights come back on, it's very unlikely. On the other hand the only person to claim the bullet grazed Mr. Boddy is Wadsworth, so he may simply have been mistaken.
  • Black Comedy: One of the genre's more lighthearted examples. This film features murder and blackmail, yet is filled to the brim with fast-paced dialogue and heavy slapstick.
  • Blackmail:
    • This serves as the driving force behind the plot, since Mr. Boddy had blackmailed all of the guests - Wadsworth's wife had socialist friends, Col. Mustard was a war profiteer, Prof. Plum slept with one of his patients, Mrs. Peacock takes bribes on behalf of her Senator husband, Miss Scarlet runs a prostitution ring, Mrs. White is alleged to have killed her husband(s), and Mr. Green is a closet homosexual who works in the State Department. Although the third ending reveals that Mr. Green probably wasn't being blackmailed and isn't homosexual.
    • In the third ending, the real Mr. Boddy intends to blackmail everyone (except Mr. Green, but will likely be alleged) for the murders, since all the evidence of their other crimes were thrown into the fireplace.
    • The Motorist threatened to tell his superiors about Col. Mustard's black market dealings unless he got half the profit.
  • Black Widow: Mrs. White. She's had five husbands, and we learn the fate of two. One was an illusionist who disappeared and never reappeared ("He wasn't a very good illusionist"). As for the other, according to Mrs. White, someone "had cut off his head and his, well, you know."
    "Husbands should be like Kleenex. Soft, strong, and disposable."
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Mrs. White's explanation for what happened to her first husband.
      Wadsworth: Your first husband also disappeared.
      Mrs. White: But that was his job. He was an illusionist.
      Wadsworth: But he never reappeared!
      Mrs. White: He wasn't a very good illusionist.
    • Also, the group Speaking in Unison to answer the Cop's second question ("You all seem to have some kind of disagreement"), since Mr. Green's previous "Yes" would make any subsequent denial of disagreement an obvious lie.
  • Bluffing the Authorities: When The Cop becomes understandably suspicious of the goings-on at the mansion, Mr. Green is commandeered to give a "tour" while the others set up the corpses to make it look as if they're still alive. Professor Plum and Miss Scarlet get off the lightest since they get to make out while pretending the motorist is "dead drunk" who will have "a long black car" sent to take him home.
  • Body in a Breadbox:
    • The Cook's body is found this way. The group heads into the kitchen to find her, but she doesn't appear to be there. Then she topples out of the freezer right on top of poor Mr. Green.
    • This also happens when Mr. Boddy's body is found in the toilet, which falls on Mrs. Peacock as she opens the door; the bizarreness of the location is lampshaded by Wadsworth as he recounts the first ending.
      Wadsworth: The murderer hit him on the head with the candlestick, and dragged him to the toilet.
      Miss Scarlet: Why?!
      Wadsworth: To create confusion.
      Mrs. Peacock: It worked!
  • Brain Food: Monkey brains is apparently popular as a dish in Cantonese cuisine.
  • The Butler Did It: The deleted Ending D has Wadsworth revealing he committed all the murders, driven to insanity after failing to be the perfect husband and butler.
  • Buxom Beauty Standard: Colleen Camp's French Maid Outfit emphasizes her cleavage, which gets stared at by some of the men, particularly Professor Plum.
  • Call-Back:
    • Mrs. White threatens Wadsworth if they're ever alone together; he says that no man in his right mind would end up alone with her. During the search for the killer, the two end up paired off with each other and stare at each other quite meaningfully as a result.
    • "I didn't do it!" In the third ending, "I told you I didn't do it!" — even though he did shoot Mr. Boddy. In the Hall. With the revolver.
  • The Cameo:
    • Nurse Kellye and the rhythm guitarist of The Go-Go's are murder victims, while Dr. Johnny Fever puts in an uncredited appearance as a door-to-door evangelist who's really a police chief.
    • Lee Ving, who played Mr. Boddy, was also the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the punk band Fear.
  • Canon Ending: On the home video version, it is the third ending. See Multiple Endings below.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • Wadsworth (except in the third ending).
    • Yvette (if you don't count her as a Decomposite Character of Mrs. White), the cook, the motorist, the singing-telegram girl, and the cop.
  • Captain Obvious:
    Wadsworth: I was in the Hall. (Beat) I know because I was there.
  • Casting Gag:
    • Mr. Boddy can't stay for very long. In fact, he's just Lee Ving.
    • This isn't the first time Mrs. Peacock's been involved in a manor murder mystery.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue:
    • When the characters are checking on the room they left the bodies in, to make sure another one hasn't mysteriously disappeared (again).
      Mrs. Peacock: Everything all right?
      Colonel Mustard: Yep. Two corpses. Everything's fine.
    • This is lampshaded in the Novelization where Wadsworth thinks to himself incredulously, "Everything's fine?"
  • Character Catchphrase: Mr. Green says "I didn't do it!" and then "I told you I didn't do it!"
  • Chekhov's Armory: Like you wouldn't believe. Even the bit with the Jehovah's Witness, which seems irrelevant, is important later.
  • The Chessmaster: Miss Scarlet in the first ending, Mrs. Peacock in the second ending, Wadsworth/Mr. Boddy in the third ending.
  • Chewing the Scenery:
    • Mrs. Peacock seems to do this nearly every time she opens her mouth.
    • Wadsworth's exposition delves into this as well. Subverted with Mrs. White in the third ending in a rambling, stumbling speech.
  • Closed Circle: Once the characters get to the house, they can't leave. Not only is there a storm outside, but there's angry dogs loose near a couple possible exits, Wadsworth has all the keys, and if anyone leaves, they'll be blamed for the murders.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience/Color-Coded Characters: Each suspect is color coded as in the board game, but it may not always be immediately apparent.
    • Colonel Mustard arrives in a mustard yellow coat and hat, which he takes off. The suit he wears underneath is a mustard seed brown.
    • Miss Scarlet's hair is a fiery red, as are her lips—and we soon learn that she is a scarlet woman. Additionally, in the scene where Professor Plum picks her up from her broken-down car, we see she drives a scarlet Lincoln Continental.
    • Mrs. Peacock is more obviously orange-themed, tying into the peacock's copper-colored down feathers, which she also wears in her hair. Meanwhile, bluish tones appear on her iridescent jacket and printed blouse, and she carries a teal clutch.
    • Though not part of the above loop, Mrs. White is worth noting in that the inside of her coat actually is white, but we only see this for about five seconds, in the process Lampshading her alias. But for the majority of the film, she wears black. She does wear a striking white pearl choker, and have a pale, dreary face, however.
    • Prof. Plum's vest is purple.
    • Mr. Green, however, never actually wears green. Possibly because, as we find out in the third ending, he isn't really Mr. Green.
      • However, even then it's subtly a part of the reveal since he is a plant!
    • The women all wear the inverse of their color names. Miss Scarlet wears green, Mrs. White wears black, and Mrs. Peacock wears orange.
    • The more obsessive viewer will have picked up on the fact that the guests' names all match the colors of their cars: Miss Scarlet drives a 1946 red Lincoln Continental, Professor Plum drives a purple 1949 Pontiac Streamliner Station Wagon, Mrs. Peacock drives a blue 1952 Packard 200 Deluxe club sedan (though admittedly, it isn't peacock blue), Mrs. White drives a black-and-white 1950 MG TD convertible, Colonel Mustard drives a yellow 1954 Cadillac Series 62, and Mr. Green drives a green 1951 Plymouth Cranbrook. Wadsworth himself drives a black 1948 Chevrolet Fleetline Sportmaster, handily referencing the identity of Dr. Black, an alternate name for the perpetual victim Mr. Boddy.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • When Colonel Mustard challenges Mr. Boddy to a fight, Mr. Boddy responds by kicking him in the shin, poking him in the eyes, then beating him more while he's down.
    • Mr. Boddy has to be dragged away by the others, at which point Mrs. White decides to get in on this trope too, by kneeing Boddy in the crotch.
  • The Comedy Drop: When Mrs. Peacock begins to faint, Wadsworth tells her to fall into his arms and he'll catch her. The heavyset Peacock slips right through his grasp to land on the floor. (Which may or may not have been deliberate on his part after we learn that he's Mr. Boddy.)
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • "You see? It's like the Mounties, we always get our man!" "Mrs. Peacock was a man?" (cue Dope Slap)
    • This becomes a Stealth Pun when you realize that the word "peacock" refers to the male of the species. (The females, which are called peahens, lack the bright blue plumage.) (Spoilered because of relevance to the murderer's name.)
    • Colonel Mustard does this frequently while trying to appear intelligent.
      Mustard: Are you trying to make me look stupid in front of the other guests?
      Wadsworth: (dismissively) You don't need any help from me, sir.
      Mustard: [Confidently] That's right!
  • Confusing Multiple Negatives: Particularly when Mustard tries to hide his indiscretions. Which becomes a Double Entendre:
    Mustard: [to Scarlet] Well, you tell him it's not true.
    Scarlet: It's not true.
    Plum: Is that true?
    Scarlet: No, it's not true.
    Green: Ah ha! So it is true!
    Wadsworth: A double negative!
    Mustard: Double negative? You mean you have photographs?
  • Connected All Along: The Summation reveals that every character up until The Reveal was in fact part of the blackmail conspiracy; While the Guests were victims, the others were informants who gave up dirt on the victims.
  • Counting Bullets: The first ending has Miss Scarlet and Wadsworth arguing over how many bullets are left in the revolver, the former insisting one, and the latter insisting none. Scarlet was right.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass/Obfuscating Stupidity: Mrs. Peacock in the second ending and Mr. Green in the third ending.
  • Curtain Camouflage: Subverted. When the group splits up to search the house, Miss Scarlet thinks that there's someone hiding behind the curtains in the Ballroom. However, when she opens them, it's just the wind blowing through a cracked pane of glass.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Wadsworth, more specifically the Gentleman Snarker variety.
      Colonel Mustard: Are you trying to make me look stupid in front of the other guests?
      Wadsworth: You don't need any help from me, sir.
      Colonel Mustard: That's right. *Beat, starts frowning.*
    • Miss Scarlet, to Colonel Mustard's disgust:
      Mr. Green: Who would want to kill the cook?
      Miss Scarlet: Dinner wasn't that bad.
      Colonel Mustard: How can you make jokes at a time like this?!
      Miss Scarlet: It's my defense mechanism!
      Colonel Mustard: Some defense! If I was the killer, I would kill you next!
      The others gasp in shock.
      Colonel Mustard: I said if! If!
  • Death as Comedy: The whole movie, especially as the murders pile up. This is particularly true of the Singing Telegram Girl, whose death and body disposal—dropped unceremoniously in the study—are Played for Laughs at first, though it's later given an actual motive.
    "I am your singing telegram!" <<BANG!>> Drops dead, and the killer slams the door.
  • Death by Recognition: Yvette is killed right after saying, "It's you!", to a character off-screen.
  • Decomposite Character: Of all the characters from the original boardgame, Mrs. White is the most drastically different. In the original game, she was the elderly Maid, but the film recasts the maid as Ms. Fanservice Yvette and reimagines White as a younger Black Widow.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Thanks to being set in The '50s.
    • Wadsworth saying that Mr. Boddy drove Mrs. Wadsworth to suicide by blackmailing her over being a socialist is perfectly plausible for a movie set during the Red Scare.
    • Likewise, Mr. Green's concern about being outed as a gay man comes off as if it's mere public embarrassment or scorn he'd deal with, but since the film is set in the fifties and Mr. Green has a government job it'd almost guarantee he'd be fired. Also reflected in how the other characters treat being too close to Mr. Green; while relatively minor compared to their supposed infractions, they all shrink away from him, a normal attitude for that period.
      • This attitude may cast the reaction of Wadsworth to Mr. Green outing himself in a different light. Some fans point to the reaction as Wadsworth being confused because the claim does not match the notes he has, however given the attitudes of the time and displayed in the movie, he may have just been shocked that Mr. Green would be so brazen as to come out and say it rather than try to hide or deny the accusation (which was why he could be successfully blackmailed).
  • Demoted to Extra/Out of Focus: Not for the characters, but the rooms. While the six characters and six weapons all play equal roles and get equal screen time, very little time is spent some of the nine rooms. Most of the action takes place in the Hall, Lounge, Study, Dining Room, and Library, with additional scenes in the Billiard Room and Kitchen. The Conservatory is featured in just two scenes, and the Ballroom gets The Cameo.
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    • Wadsworth beginning The Summation:
      At the start of the evening, Yvette was here, by herself, waiting to offer you a glass of champagne. I was in the Hall. (Beat) I know because I was there.
    • Col. Mustard on Yvette shooting the door open.
      Col. Mustard: Why are you shooting that thing at us!?
      Yvette: To get you out!
      Col. Mustard: You know, you could have killed us! I could have been killed!
  • Depraved Homosexual: Inverted. Mr. Green says he is being blackmailed for being gay, but is the only one of the main characters who was never involved in any illegal activity. While the others were being blackmailed for things like war profiteering, political corruption, and murder, his only "crime" was being homosexual. Even in the third ending, wherein everyone killed someone, his only victim was the villain, Wadsworth...and then he says he's not really gay.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: When the cop sees the dead motorist disguised as merely drunk, he asks if the remaining guests will give him a ride. Miss Scarlet says they will get him a car and Professor Plum says it will be a long black car (i.e. a hearse) then looks shocked at what he said and throws his hand over his mouth. Miss Scarlet saves the day by saying he meant a limousine.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Wadsworth tells the guests his plan is for all of them to expose Boddy. But Boddy replies that if he goes down, he'll ensure every one of them has their secrets exposed in court. He then says "if one of you kills Wadsworth now... no one but the seven of us will ever know." The screenplay sums up Wadsworth's wide-eyed reaction with "clearly this option hadn't occurred to him."
    • Of course, this then applies to Boddy as it never occurred to him that at least one of the six people he was blackmailing would decide that rather than knock off Wadsworth, it'd be better to kill Boddy instead. Right after he even gave them each a murder weapon and turned out the lights.
    • Both possibly subverted when the "real" ending reveals Wadsworth is the real Boddy and this was part of the plan. On the other hand, his butler not realizing this can still count.
    • A point could be made for Miss Scarlet in her ending as the murderer. Not so much for anything to do about miscounting the bullets, but that she made her case to extort secrets from the other guests at gunpoint with the threat of blackmail to keep them in line. Problem is, she then plans to kill Wadsworth on the spot... with a gun that only has one bullet left. The moment she wasted her bullet on him and lost her immediate leverage, what was to stop any of the other guests from just grabbing her and subduing her?
    • After the first couple murders, Wadsworth plans on locking up the remaining weapons so they can't be used to murder anyone else. This is all great in theory... but he doesn't lock up the Candlestick or the Knife that has already been used. Just because they were used once to kill someone, it doesn't make them any less deadly to be used again. Alternately, the killer in all three endings also never thinks about this, and has to steal the key from Wadsworth (or plan on breaking open the cupboard) instead of just picking up one of the previously used weapons. Or for that matter just picking up one of the numerous candlesticks, kitchen knives, pieces of lead pipe, and other potential weapons that are lying randomly around the house and are not locked in the cupboard.
    • The fake Mr. Boddy in the third ending. His boss is presumably blackmailing him as well, forcing him to pretend to be the real Mr. Boddy around his other victims of extortion. His plan is to give them all weapons and tell them to kill Wadsworth after they've been told he's the one blackmailing them and picking a fight with several of them right beforehand. Did he have a death wish? Given how his efforts to escape earlier did not pan out, this may have been a last desperate attempt to Take a Third Option that turned out poorly.
  • Dies Wide Open:
    • Boddy dies with his eyes open, which bothers Mustard while he's trying to develop a plan, so he closes them.
    • The cook apparently dies with her eyes closed, so forcefully so that Peacock has to keep them pried open during the lounge dancing scene.
    • In the third ending, Wadsworth/Mr. Boddy dies this way when shot by Mr. Green.
  • Disconnected by Death: Twice. Both the Motorist and the Cop are killed while on the phone. The Motorist gets bonus points for being killed mid-sentence just before revealing which of the suspects he was connected to.
  • Discontinuity Nod:
    • Whether or not the brandy's been poisoned is a running point of concern for the characters. In the original edition of Cluedo, poison was included among the possible weapons.
    • It also has the distinction of being the added feature to the 50th Anniversary Edition.
    • In the unused D ending, it really was poisoned.
    • The third ending does this as a subtle joke. Nobody murdered Mr. Boddy, he was shot in self-defense.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Yvette is one of Miss Scarlet's prostitutes and is murdered for knowing information obtained from sleeping with people. When she is found strangled, the guests react with indifference, simply leaving her corpse sprawled on the pool table.
  • Disposable Woman: Parodied with the Singing Telegram Girl. She appears at the door, does a song and dance, "I... am... your singing telegram!" and gets shot dead. She existed solely to give Professor Plum a motive, as an affair with her caused him to lose his license to practice medicine.
  • Dissonant Serenity: She does crack later, but in the initial revealing of everyone's blackmail reasons, Miss Scarlet is simultaneously the most blasé about her own and is inclined to throw innuendo about everyone else's. While there's some comments from others, Scarlet is the only one not particularly disturbed by her own or anyone else's (except Mr. Green's homosexuality).
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Professor Plum.
  • Divided into Disaster: When they draw straws and the groupings are people who openly despise each other and/or have threatened one another with bodily harm. The lecherous Professor Plum is paired with prudish Mrs. Peacock. Wadsworth, the butler, is paired with the murderous Mrs. White, who hates him for drawing them all to the house, and whom Wadsworth had earlier stated no man in his right mind would ever be alone with. Gay (or happily married depending on you interpretation of the ending) Mr. Green with sexpot Yvette. And Madame Miss Scarlet with former client Colonel Mustard.
  • Doctor's Disgraceful Demotion: Professor Plum was a psychiatrist until his lost his license for having a fling with one of his "lady patients."
  • The Door Slams You: When Colonel Mustard is in the library, Wadsworth opens the door (disguised as a bookcase) into him.
  • Dope Slap: Mr. Green, twice in the second ending. by Col. Mustard and Wadsworth.
  • Dropping the Bombshell: In the third and "real" ending, when attempting to deduce who shot the Singing Telegram Girl:
    Mr. Green: The gun is missing! Whoever's got the gun, shot the girl!
    Wadsworth: [pulling out the Revolver and smirking] I shot her.
  • Double Entendre:
    • Throughout the movie, but two Stealth Puns in this dialogue between Mustard and White:
      Col. Mustard: You lure men to their deaths like a spider with flies.
      Mrs. White: Fliesnote  are where men are most vulnerable.
    • Not all of them are outright sexual, but a little crass:
      Wadsworth: But if the payment was made by slipping used greenbacks in plain envelopes under the door of the men's room, how would you describe that transaction?
      Scarlet: I'd say it stinks.
      Peacock: Oh, how would you know, when were you in that men's room?
  • Double Take: Mrs. Peacock has a pretty hilarious one when she meets Yvette for the first time and notices her cleavage, and is left stunned and speechless.
  • Dramatic Curtain Toss: When Miss Scarlet is searching the Ballroom, she throws the curtain aside to reveal a broken pane.
  • Drawing Straws: Used with fireplace matches to determine who gets paired up with whom while searching the house.
  • Eek, a Mouse!!: Mrs. Peacock in the cellar.
  • Empathic Environment: A thunderstorm is raging outside of the mansion during most of the film.
  • The End... Or Is It?: "That's what could've happened. But how about this?"
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • When they arrive at the mansion together, Prof. Plum cops a feel on Miss Scarlet's backside.
    • For Scarlet herself, when her car's broken down, she doesn't flag down the passing Prof. Plum, she simply bends over the car in a more sexualized pose.
    • When Mr. Green arrives, Wadsworth yells "SIT!" at the guard dog, to which Mr. Green suddenly sits down on the bench by the door, showing his timid nature.
  • "Eureka!" Moment:
    • Played with. Mr. Green has two, but one ("Maybe Mr. Boddy killed the cook!") is immediately exposed as false and the other ("Yvette is a link between them!") turns out to be a Red Herring since he's the Wrong Genre Savvy.
    • Col. Mustard. "So... whoever knew that the cook was involved... killed her?" (looking very pleased with himself, except he's being Captain Obvious here)
  • Everybody Did It: In the third ending, all the suspects turn out to have committed a murder each, except for Mr. Green, who ends up killing the Big Bad.
  • Everyone Has Standards: All of the guests have engaged in some manner of morally dubious and underhanded acts, but some of what they learn about each other stuns even them.
    • Colonel Mustard reveals that he's a war profiteer who made his money selling stolen radio parts on the black market during the war (implicitly World War II). Even Mustard himself is ashamed to admit it.
    • Mrs. Peacock is often disgusted with the crimes the other guests have committed, but they then flip this back on her by pointing out she's a Sleazy Politician who accepts bribes on behalf of her husband, who is a Senator.
    • Played with for Wadsworth's wife. The horrible secret Mr. Boddy was blackmailing her over was that some of her friends were socialists! All of the guests are stunned and Mrs. White offers Wadsworth a hankerchief for his tears. While it works as a punchline now, the film is set in the 1950s, and being associated with socialists and communists really was something shameful, and could do serious damage to someone's reputation.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect: This is true throughout the entire film, but only the third ending takes the trope to its full extent. Though, Mr. Green excludes himself from it since he "didn't do it".
  • Everyone Meets Everyone: The movie begins with all the characters assembling at Hill House, meeting for the first time, and learning each other's aliases.
  • Evil Gloating: Wadsworth indulges in this in the third ending, when they smugly reveal to the other guests that they're about to get away with their crimes scott-free. The prior summation was an extended way of him gloating, as he's explaining to the guests that he knows they all killed his informants and that this is exactly what he had planned for them to do.
  • Evil Laugh: Wadsworth gives a sinister chuckle when he's revealed to be the real Mr. Boddy.
  • Exact Time to Failure: An interesting usage; Wadsworth called the police to arrest Mr. Boddy after the reveal of his blackmailing, and when he's dead they now have until the cops arrive to actually find the murderer, with frequent mentions of how much time they have left until they arrive. Only counting 1 ending, the run time Wadsworth's announcement to the police arrival is the nearly exact amount of time it takes for the police to show up in-universe, with the murder being solved only about one or two minutes to failure.
  • Exact Words: This is used twice to refer to people who are dead.
    • Mrs. White states that her husband simply "lies on his back all day." When it's later revealed that her husband is dead, Miss Scarlet lampshades White's exact wording (and very much enjoys the joke).
    • Professor Plum assures the cop that the murdered motorist, who the cop believes is simply drunk (dead drunk!), will not be driving home. Plum even promises to call a car for him—a long, black one.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The whole movie takes place in one evening. Most of the action is packed within the 60 minutes from being called into the study until the police /FBI arrive
  • Eye Poke: Boddy vs. Mustard.
  • Eye Take: Wadsworth's eyes widen when Mr Boddy tells the other guests to kill him. They widen again when he discovers Boddy on the floor, apparently dead.
  • Faint in Shock: Mrs. Peacock begins to faint at the sight of a murder. The butler catches her... and then she slips through his arms and thuds to the floor.note 
  • Faking the Dead: Mr. Boddy does this, pretending to be dead after realizing that the shot in the dark was intended for him, not Wadsworth. It doesn't work for him. Depending on the ending, Yvette, Mrs. Peacock or Professor Plum realizes the fake and kills him for real.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: Colonel Mustard is almost killed by one when Yvette accidentally shoots it down. At the end of the first ending, it happens again with another chandelier.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Namechecked by Plum.
    Plum: Well, what are you afraid of?! A fate worse than death?!
    Peacock: No, just death, isn't that enough?
  • Faux Yay: Mr. Green in the third ending. Maybe.
  • Femme Fatale: Yvette, and Miss Scarlet in the first ending.
    • One of the few tropes played straight. Each ending qualifies; in all three at least half of the murders is carried out by a woman.
  • Film Adaptation (Live-Action): Adaptation based on the game, Clue. Created with Multiple Endings to imitate the game's random solution.
  • Finger Gun: In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, Miss Scarlet makes one to defend herself from Wadsworth's murder reenactment in the second ending.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Invoked deliberately by the script. When straws are drawn to search the house, everyone ends up with the worst possible partner: Mrs. Peacock with Professor Plum (she's already expressed her disgust with his sexual escapades); Mrs. White with Wadsworth (after threatening him with what she'd do if they were ever alone together); Miss Scarlet with Colonel Mustard (after she hinted that she might know more than a few of his dirty secrets, and after he has already said that if he was the killer, he'd kill her next); and the overtly sexual Yvette with the ostensibly gay Mr. Green.
  • Foregone Conclusion: While the film has more victims and invites the prospect of the six guests being in mortal peril from each other, particularly when they split off and worry about being killed alone with another person, the setup of the game already guarantees they're all potential killers and never in danger of being victims since the game operates on one murder that the suspects all work out as a group, with the end having all alive and one proven guilty.
  • Foreign Queasine: The contents of the dinner (monkey's brain) is an important clue tying Mrs. Peacock to the Cook. When Mr. Green finds out what it is in the second ending, he reacts with disgust, going to the bathroom to vomit.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Plum claims during dinner he helps with "family planning". However, he's a psychiatrist. We later find out he's having sex with patients.
    • Colonel Mustard quotes Rudyard Kipling: "the female of the species is More Deadly Than the Male". No matter which ending you watch, a woman is the/a killer, and in the first two they commit all the murders.
    • Colonel Mustard pauses to look up at the chandelier that later almost kills him.
    • The Cook (innocently) points a large knife at Wadsworth when he asks if everything is alright. She is killed with The Knife.
    • Mrs. Peacock grips the dagger rather firmly when she's given it by Mr. Boddy. It's a hint in ending B and C she did kill the Cook.
    • During The Summation, when they reach the point of the cop's arrival, the doorbell rings for real. The Jehovah's Witness that's at the door is really a federal agent himself, a cop of sorts.
    • When Miss Scarlet and Prof. Plum arrive together, Wadsworth is surprised and says "I didn't realize you were acquainted!" Though Wadsworth claims he's acting under the instructions of another, this slip of the tongue shows he actually knows a lot more than he lets on, which is confirmed when he admits he's the one who arranged for all of them to meet tonight.
    • Yvette expresses she is afraid of the dark and is later strangled in the billiard room when the lights are out.
    • When the guests return to the Study after checking on Yvette, we see a quick shot of Mr. Boddy's corpse on the floor. And his neck visibly moves. While this may be an unintentional Blooper, it still serves as a subtle visual clue that he isn't really dead yet.
    • As the guests take Yvette out of the billiard room, Wadsworth calmly and methodically gathers up the reels of the tape recording. Then when he returns to the study, he's suddenly freaking out and rambling before collapsing in a chair. While the reasoning differs depending on the ending, it's a demonstration of him putting on an act to fool the others.
    • A lot of hints point viewers towards figuring out the two major twists of the third ending, which is generally accepted as and implied to be the canonical one.
      • When Wadsworth is taking the guests into the Dining Room, Colonel Mustard asks if the seventh seat at the head of the table for him, and Wadsworth replies no, he's merely the butler. Behind the chair, and directly beside Wadsworth in this scene, is a portrait of a man who looks very much like Mr. Boddy and is wearing the exact same clothes as Wadsworth. This plus the conversation are subtle hints that Mr. Boddy is actually Wadsworth's butler, Wadsworth is the real Mr. Boddy.
      • Wadsworth quotes Alfred, Lord Tennyson: "Ours is not to reason why; ours is but to do and die."note  In the third ending, Wadsworth reveals he was the mastermind behind everything and manipulated the unwitting guests into killing his informants for him now that they had Outlived Their Usefulness.
      • Mr. Green is treated like the Butt-Monkey of the group most of the time, but other times shows himself to be very perceptive, noticing Commonality Connections between the guests that help them realize the full extent of Mr. Boddy's schemes. In the third ending he's revealed to be a plant by the FBI, so this is both him letting slip his deductive observation skills, and may also be him trying to subtly nudge the other guests into realizing things ahead of the plan that's been prepared for them.
      • When Mr. Green reveals he's a homosexual, Wadsworth reacts with shock, staring at him and the notes he was about to read. On the one hand it could be that he's surprised Mr. Green would out himself, or possibly that his homosexuality is not what Wadsworth was going to reveal about him. And in the third ending, this won't be the last time he catches Wadsworth off-guard with something he didn't expect.
      • Wadsworth tells the guests that "Nobody here is being addressed by their real name". That goes for him and "Mr. Boddy" too in the third ending.
      • Both the motorist and the cop are killed while on the phone. However, the killer hangs up the phone after killing the motorist and disconnects the call before killing the cop indicating that the murders were committed by two different people.
      • In the third ending, most of the murders were committed by someone wielding the weapon Mr. Boddy had originally given them; Mrs. Peacock used the Knife to kill the cook, Professor Plum (attempted) to shoot Mr. Boddy with the Revolver, Colonel Mustard killed the Motorist with the Wrench, and Mrs. White strangled Yvette with the Rope. The odd weapons out are the Candlestick and the Lead Pipe; Miss Scarlet used the latter to kill the cop, as the former had already been used by Professor Plum to kill Mr. Boddy the second time.
  • Freak Out: Mrs. Peacock completely loses it on the sight of a murder.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • When the killer is collecting the evidence to throw it in the fire, you can see a picture of Col. Mustard and his driver, The Motorist. Extra points for it being right before the The Motorist himself is killed after saying on the phone that one of the guests was his old boss.
    • When the cook is introduced, a TV can be seen in the kitchen playing the Senator Joseph McCarthy trials.
  • Funny Background Event: Pick a character. Any character. Watch that character the whole movie, even (sometimes, especially) when they're out of focus, and you can depend upon seeing this trope in action. For example, when Mrs. White knees Mr. Boddy in the crotch you can see the normally uptight Mrs. Peacock in the background wildly cheering her on.
  • Gallows Humor: Spread throughout the movie as the body count rises, but briefly deconstructed in this dialogue:
    Green: Who would want to kill the cook?
    Scarlet: Dinner wasn't that bad.
    Scarlet: It's my defense mechanism.
    Mustard: Some defense! If I was the killer I would kill you next! <<Stunned Silence>> I said, "If!" If!
  • Gambit Roulette, with a Spanner in the Works: Mr. Boddy presents all of his blackmail victims with a lethal weapon, tells them to kill the guy who isn't blackmailing them, and then turns off all the lights, while still in the room. To the shock of no one, it doesn't end well for him. Of course, depending on the ending, it was a successful Roulette - in the third ending "Mr. Boddy" was really the blackmailer's butler, and the guy he was telling everyone to kill was, in fact, Mr. Boddy. If anybody had actually done what they were told to, The Chessmaster would have been killed, just as the butler wanted.
  • Gasp!: Mrs. Peacock does a very over-the-top gasp after Wadsworth reveals that his wife "had friends who were...socialists."
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: "Well, I had to stop her screaming."
  • The Glasses Come Off:
    • When Wadsworth accuses Mrs. Peacock in the second ending, she takes off her glasses. This is the only time she does this in any of the endings, because she's the murderer.
    • Nicely Foreshadowed in the dinner scene: When Mr. Green says he recognizes Mrs. Peacock, she takes off her glasses and demands sharply, "How do you know who I am?"—indicating that not only the glasses but her scatterbrained behavior are just a disguise.
    • In the third ending, Mr. Green takes his glasses off before shooting Wadsworth / Boddy to hide the fact that he's reaching for his gun. He never puts them back on, either.
  • Glasses Pull: Mr. Green does this when the gang discovers the dead body of the cop. Mrs. Peacock does this in an even more over-the-top manner in ending #2 when Wadsworth identifies her as the killer.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Administered to Mr. Boddy by Mrs. White. Normally-prim Mrs. Peacock cheers.
      Mr. Green: Was that really necessary, Mrs. White?
    • Also alluded to later in a conversation with Colonel Mustard.
      Colonel Mustard: You lure men to their deaths like a spider with flies!
      Mrs. White: Flies are where men are most vulnerable!
    • And mentioned earlier:
      Mrs. White: His head had been cut off. And so had his... you know...
      Colonel Mustard, Mr. Green and Professor Plum simultaneously cross their legs
  • Guilt by Association Gag: While everyone else is being blackmailed for some crime or unscrupulous activity that they know they shouldn't've done, Mr. Green's just a closeted gay man who's afraid of being outed. This plays into the endings as he's the only one in all of them who never commits any of the murders, and in one is revealed to be a badass undercover Fed. And not a homosexual.
  • Half Empty Two Shot: There's a scene where Miss Scarlet, left alone in the ballroom, nervously checks to see if the mystery killer is hiding behind the curtains. This is made even creepier by the brief tracking shot over her shoulder, which upon first viewing lends the sensation that we're about to see someone come up behind her.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Madeline Kahn, and Michael McKean are all in the same movie. It's inevitable.
  • Hand of Death: Black gloves allow the identity/sex of the murderer to remain anonymous until the endings.
  • Hate Sink: Mr. Boddy. From the moment he's seen on-screen, it is immediately apparent he's a slimy, skeevy dirtbag. All the guests immediately look wary of him even though they don't know who he is yet, and he then sits down and fondles Yvette with a smirk. This is before it's revealed that he's blackmailing the other guests with secrets about their lives, and in the ensuing confrontation he sucker punches Colonel Mustard and invites the guests to kill Wadsworth to help cover up his crimes, telling them that if he's arrested and charged he'll make sure every one of their secrets gets exposed in court. He has no redeeming traits whatsoever, which makes him an Asshole Victim when one of the guests murders him, and makes the murderer (whomever they are) seem sympathetic in comparison.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?:
    • In the third ending, the final line from Mr. Green has him declaring loudly, in front of his boss, that he's going to sleep with his wife. Some viewers take this line at face value, making this an inversion, and thus makes Green a Faux Yay. But the ostentatiousness of his loud announcement (even his boss snickers in discomfort) — in the 1950s, mind you — suggests to others that the line is played straight as this trope.
    • Interestingly, inverted in endings A and B. Unlike everyone else's blackmail subjects, Mr. Green's homosexuality is outed by himself during the confessions then never mentioned again. Everyone else gets two or even three jokes throughout the rest of the film, but Mr. Green says he's gay then the rest of the jokes around him revert to his being a klutz. Except for the third ending, where after shooting Wadsworth and getting asked if he (Mr. Green) is a cop and he replies that no, he's a plant, Miss Scarlet snarks that she thought men like him were fruits.
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: "Oh my. Nobody can get into that position." Plum is eager to show White just how, however.
  • Here We Go Again!: Mr. Green being tossed around by Wadsworth during The Reveal.
    Wadsworth: No.
  • Heroic BSoD: After the power is restored, the entire group gathers together and wanders around the house, noting every new corpse with absolutely no reaction whatsoever, mentally putting more checks on the list. Wadsworth deadpans, "Three more murders... This is getting serious."
  • He's Dead, Jim: Subverted, as Plum gets it wrong. Zigzagged in the third ending because Plum did know, but lied.
  • High-Class Gloves: Mrs. Peacock and Miss Scarlet both wear long satin gloves, standard accessories for women's formal wear in the 1950's, when they arrive at the Boddy mansion, though they soon take them off and remain bare-handed for the balance of the movie.
  • His Name Is...: The motorist is telling someone that he recognized "my old boss from—" when the wrench is cracked over his head.
  • Hitchhiker's Leg: While tending to her broken-down car on the way to the mansion, Miss Scarlet does a Foot Popping version of this when she hears another one coming—it's Professor Plum.
  • Hollywood Darkness:
    • In the latter half of the film, when the electricity is turned off. Even though the moon is out, this occurs in the windowless cellar.
    • This would also seem to be the explanation for the earlier moment in the Lounge, when it takes a flashlight beam for Colonel Mustard and Miss Scarlet to see the body of the Motorist on the floor that is clearly visible to the viewer. (The room is rather gloomy and dim, with only one or two lamps on, but not that dim.)
  • Hypocritical Humor: A running gag is Mrs. Peacock's moral outrage at the discovery of the other guests' indiscretions, even though she herself is guilty of taking bribes on behalf of her husband. And of murder, in two of the endings.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: In the second and third ending, Wadsworth revealed how he guessed that Mrs. Peacock is the/a culprit by recalling how she enjoyed the dinner they had earlier in the film.
    Wadsworth: Monkey's brains, though popular in Cantonese cuisine, are not often to be found in Washington, DC.
    Mr. Green: Is that what we ate? (covers his mouth and runs to the bathroom)
  • Impossibly-Low Neckline: Yvette, Miss Scarlet, and Mrs. White. Yvette's French Maid outfit is cut so low and her bosom is so ample that it's a small miracle she doesn't pop out of it.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Not the cognac - just in case it's poisoned.
  • I Resemble That Remark!:
  • I Surrender, Suckers: The second ending. After Wadsworth fingers the culprit, he declares that nothing more needs to be done. The people killed were a blackmailer and his accomplices, so the murderer clearly did the world a favor, and is allowed to leave first. Naturally, there is a squad of FBI agents ready to make the arrest.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: When the crew discovers that Mr. Boddy's body is gone and Mrs. Peacock takes a stab at Mrs. White for decapitating and emasculating her late husband.
    Mrs. White: Maybe he wasn't dead.
    Prof. Plum: He was.
    Mrs. White: We should have made sure.
    Mrs. Peacock: How? By cutting his head off, I suppose.
    Mrs. White: That was uncalled for.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Mr. Boddy hands lethal weapons out to a half dozen people he's been blackmailing into poverty for years (at least one of whom he already knows to be a murderer), turns out the lights, and expects them to use the weapons on the guy who's trying to help them out of their fix.
    • For that matter: Yvette, in the first ending, is knowingly working for someone who's been killing off all of Mr. Boddy's other accomplices. What did she think would happen?
    • And Mrs. Ho, the cook, understandably would not want her former employer, Mrs. Peacock, to know that she was the cook for the dinner party, since the cook informed on her employer to Mr. Boddy. Yet in at least the second and third endings, she cooks monkey's brains and it's implied that Mrs. Peacock recognized the dish, thus leading to Mrs. Peacock murdering the cook. Did the Cook not realize that preparing a dish Mrs. Peacock would recognize would expose her?
    • Right after finding Mrs. Ho's body, Col. Mustard tells Mrs. White not to touch the dagger, since it is evidence. He then proceeds to grab the dagger with his right hand.
    • Potentially invoked depending on the ending. Wadsworth - a.k.a. Mr Boddy in ending C - invited them all - including the cook, Yvette, and three strangers - there for a reason: they're all connected, with the plan in any ending being to expose them eventually as connected to the blackmailing. That the true suspect(s) would try to kill them to silence their potential involvement is unknown to anyone.
  • Instant Death Bullet: See Killed Mid-Sentence just below. Inverted in the 3rd ending when Wadsworth/Boddy is fatally shot, but keeps on talking.
  • Is It Something You Eat?: When the dinner starts.
    Prof. Plum: Die?
    Wadsworth: Merely quoting, sir, from Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
    Col. Mustard: Hmm, I prefer Kipling myself. "The female of the species is more deadly than the male."
    (Mrs. White glares at him)
    Col. Mustard: You like Kipling, Miss Scarlet?
    Miss Scarlet: Sure, I'll eat anything.
  • It Gets Easier: The characters are wildly hysterical about Boddy's death, then the cook's, but they quickly get hardened ("Two corpses, everything's fine."), and finally, "Three more murders... this is getting serious.") They make no reaction when they find Yvette's body and by the time they get to the Singing Telegram Girl, they just casually drop her corpse among the others as if it were a tiresome chore.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: In the first ending, Wadsworth attempts to pull this on Miss Scarlet, saying that all six shots have been fired and enumerating them. Miss Scarlet disagrees, stating only one shot was fired at the chandelier. When everything is over and the murderer has been arrested, Wadsworth says that they could not have got away in any case because the gun was empty and fires it at the ceiling. Inevitably, it goes off, and triggers a second Falling Chandelier of Doom that narrowly misses Colonel Mustard.
  • Jump Scare: A few of them, which also scare the characters in-universe.
    • During an awkward silence in the conversation, there is a sudden cut to the cook banging a dinner gong fiercely, which frightens Mr. Green, who spills his drink.
    • Yvette screaming from the billiard room.
    • The dead cook falling out of the freezer.
    • In-universe, Miss Scarlet is startled by Colonel Mustard switching on the ballroom light.
    • The electricity being turned off using a Big Electric Switch, just after Mr. Green has suddenly opened a door.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence:
    • The Singing Telegram Girl.
    • Also the motorist who is bludgeoned while talking on the phone, just before revealing which one of the guests is his old boss.
    • Wadsworth/Boddy, in the third ending, who doesn't manage to get out the last word of his sentence before dying.
    • Inverted when the cop's killer hangs up his phone call before killing him.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The story starts out pretty light-hearted until Mr. Boddy arrives and all hell breaks loose. His arrival is also accompanied with sinister music.
  • Knocking on Heathens' Door:
    • Appears as a throwaway gag during Wadsworth's summation.
      Evangelist: Repent! The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!
      Scarlet: You ain't just whistlin' Dixie!
      Evangelist: Armageddon is almost upon us!
      Plum: I've got news for you; it's already here!
      Peacock: Go away!
      Evangelist: But your souls are in danger!
      Peacock: Our lives are in danger, ya beatnik! (slams door)
    • This is yet another cover. The Jehovah's Witness is really the FBI agent's - whether Wadsworth or Mr. Green - boss. And judging by Green's reactions (backing up, removing his glasses), a number of these lines were code words revealing the Feds were nearby and ready to move in. As the Jehovah's Witness says, "Mr. Hoover is an expert on Armageddon".
  • Large Ham:
    • See Tim Curry, below. Especially during The Summation, which could be summed up as "Wadsworth reenacts the entire movie by himself, but in the silliest way possible."
    • Mrs. Peacock too.
    • Martin Mull as Col. Mustard has his moments. "You know, you could've killed us! I could've been killed! I can't take any more scares!"
    • Let's face it, this is a movie almost entirely cast with character actors who are having a blast hamming it up.
  • Leaning on the Furniture:
    • Miss Scarlet casually perches on the desk in the study, while explaining what she is being blackmailed for. Yvette is also seen perching on the billard table, while listening in on this conversation.
    • In the next scene in the study, Wadsworth tells everyone to sit down. Mr Green tries to, but everyone grabs a seat before him; eventually he is reduced to perching on a small table, which suddenly collapses.
  • Left Hanging / Aborted Arc:
    • Before she dies, Yvette the Maid has a very ominous, suspicious conversation with her killer that makes absolutely no sense unless you get a specific ending, where it's revealed the two were working together. Without that ending, it instead becomes a plot point that is never elaborated on.
    • Yvette, however, is surprised by the identity of the person she's speaking to ("It's you!"), so she thought it was someone else.note  note 
    • Both the guard dogs and the poisoned cognac are relics from a fourth ending that was written and shot, but ultimately left out of the final cut.
    • When Mr. Boddy shuts off the lights there's a thud and a groan followed by the gunshot. Those initial sounds are never addressed through the rest of the movie. note 
  • Leitmotif: Sinister music on a rising scale is played while the weapons are handed out. When Wadsworth is frantically recapping the evening, there is appropriately "busy" music.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: Invoked by Colonel Mustard, when he suggests searching the house to make sure there's no one else there that could be behind the murders. However, they make a point to avoid the usual Genre Blindness of the trope by going in pairs, reasoning that if one of them is the murderer, pairing off will make it harder for them to strike again; the other will notice if their partner goes missing for a long period of time, and the murderer killing their own partner would make them the prime suspect. Of course, this logic doesn't work out for several reasons, but at least they tried. The invoking of the trope is also justified - it's a huge three story house with a basement, so if they all searched together, it would both take too long (and they're on a timer to find the murderer before the police arrive) and it would be more likely that someone hiding in the house could slip away.
  • Lights Off, Somebody Dies: Mr. Boddy's murder. He's actually the one who turns off the lights, expecting everyone in the room to attempt to murder someone else. And he was actually faking his death because he realized someone was trying to kill him instead. Said guest succeeds later, but not in the dark.
  • Lightswitch Surprise:
    • After Mr. Boddy has handed round the weapons, told the guests to kill Wadsworth, and switched out the lights, the light is turned on again to reveal Mr. Boddy lying on the floor apparently dead. This is repeated when Wadsworth re-enacts this, with himself on the floor.
    • Later, the cop switches on the study light to find people cuddling in the room, when in fact they are hiding the dead bodies.
    • On two other occasions, the surprise is the light being turned on, when the guests have been nervously creeping around in the dark. This happens when Colonel Mustard and Miss Scarlet enter the ballroom, and when Professor Plum and Mrs. Peacock reach the bottom of the cellar steps.
  • Logic Bomb: The questions Mustard asks Wadsworth in the library are self-inverted as to be effectively unanswerable, which leads to a comedic interchange. In the third ending, it's revealed he did this on purpose, hoping splitting everyone up to search the house would give him an opportunity to kill the Motorist.
    Mustard: Wadsworth, am I right in thinking there is no one else in this house?
    Wadsworth: No.
    Mustard: Then there is someone else in this house?
    Wadsworth: No, sorry, I said no meaning yes.
    Mustard: No meaning yes? I want a straight answer, is there someone else or isn't there, yes or no?
    Wadsworth: Um, no.
    Mustard: No, there is? Or no, there isn't?
    Wadsworth: Yes.
  • Male Gaze:
    • Professor Plum not so subtly gazes at Yvette's cleavage. Wadsworth, Colonel Mustard, and the female guests all take a peek as well, but Plum's is the most obvious.
    • Also All Men Are Perverts between Boddy and Yvette.
  • Manly Tears: Wadsworth, when he speaks of his late wife making the mistake of having friends who were … socialists.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Mr. Boddy, naturally. All of the other guests have these as well, as their pseudonyms reflect their attire, appearance, profession, or personality:
      • Miss Scarlet has red (auburn) hair and bright red lips, and is a madam: a scarlet woman.
      • Professor Plum wears a plum-colored vest.
      • Mrs. Peacock's outfit and accessories are gaudy and ostentatious, her headdress has peahen feathers in it, and she wears a gold peacock pin. The brown tones of her outfit (particularly her wrap and fur stole) could also be seen as matching the plumage of female peafowls. Her name is also a play on the fact that she's implied to be a former Trophy Wife.
      • Mrs. White is pale and tragic, and the lining of her black coat is dazzlingly white. She also has a white hot temper.
      • Col. Mustard arrives in a beige coat and a beige and black scarf, and he wears a yellow tie. Also, he's a high-ranking military official and repeatedly attempts to take charge in various situations, but is generally incompetent and rarely actually does anything; in other words, he can't cut the mustard.
      • Mr. Green is revealed to be a plant in the third ending. Also, it could refer to his clumsy nature, as "green" is often used as a slang term for an incompetent novice. He also is the only one who turns a metaphorical green in the second ending, on learning what they ate for dinner.
  • Minsky Pickup: The singing telegram girl.
  • Mistaken Death Confirmation: When the lights come back on and Mr. Boddy is found face-down on the floor, Prof. Plum examines him and declares that he is dead. He's not. He pretended to be dead when he realized that the shot in the dark was intended for him.
  • Mood Whiplash: The novelization's ending D. Wadsworth, insane after his wife's death, triggers an "Everybody Dies" Ending: first, he takes out Mr. Boddy, the informants, and all the guests, then he gets surprised by a guard dog and dies in a car crash trying to leave. It's the only ending without a trace of the madcap or offbeat humor of the other endings, and the only one that dives straight into Downer Ending.
  • Motor Mouth:
    • Mrs. Peacock at dinner:
      Mrs. Peacock: "Well, someone's got to break the ice, and it might as well be me, I mean, I'm used to being a hostess, it's part of my husband's work, and it's always difficult when a group of new friends meet together for the first time to get acquainted, so I'm perfectly prepared to start the ball rolling, I mean, I have absolutely no idea what we're doing here, or what I'm doing here, or what this place is about, but I am determined to enjoy myself, and I'm very intrigued, and, oh my, this soup's delicious, isn't it?" (finally shuts up and notices everybody staring at her)
    • Also Wadsworth, when recapping the entire evening:
      Wadsworth (very quickly): "I asked you for your coat. And I recognised you as Colonel Mustard. I prevented you from telling me your real name, because I didn't want any of you to use any name other than your pseudonym, and I introduced myself to you as the butler, and I ran across the hall to the library."
  • Ms. Fanservice: Yvette, the French Maid (Colleen Camp), wears a dress that spectacularly shows off her cleavage and legs. Also Miss Scarlet, who wears a stylish, low cut dress, and is played by Statuesque Stunner Lesley Ann Warren.
  • Multiple Endings: The film has three of them. If you watch the film while keeping each ending's evidence in mind—as well as noting the absences of certain characters in certain scenes and specific character interactions—you'll see that all three are at least plausible to an extent. In the "home video" order, they are:
    1. Miss Scarlet and Yvette are responsible for all the murders, and Wadsworth is an FBI agent.
    2. Mrs. Peacock killed everyone, and Wadsworth is an FBI agent.
    3. Everyone except Mr. Green killed someone and Wadsworth is actually Mr. Boddy (and "Mr. Boddy" was actually Wadsworth's butler). Mr. Green kills Wadsworth, reveals he's an FBI plant, has all the others arrested, and says, "I'm going to go home and sleep with my wife." (The "home video" order shows this one last with a tag before it that says, "But here's what really happened.")
    • The Novelization includes a fourth ending left out of the finished film: The brandy was poisoned. Wadsworth knew that inviting the guests to the house, presenting them with their enemies, and supplying them with the means and opportunity to kill would prove too powerful a temptation to resist, so he dosed them with a slow-acting poison and allowed them to do his dirty work for him, knowing they would all drop dead at the end of the night.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Mr. Boddy insists to the party guests that killing Wadsworth is the best way for them to keep their various secrets from being exposed. He even gives them the weapons to do it. Needless to say, that didn't quite work out for him.
  • My Car Hates Me: As Plum and Scarlet get their first sight of the house, Plum's car suddenly stops.
    Scarlet: Why has the car stopped?
    Plum: It's frightened.
  • Mythology Gag: Several, referencing the original board game.
    • The house includes all the requisite rooms, and the two secret passages are taken from the game as well, linking the same rooms.
    • In the quote at the top of the page, Wadsworth describes the primary objective of the game: to find out who's the murderer, where the murder took place, and what weapon was used. And one character eventually gives an answer to each of these, mostly in the form players are supposed to give in the game: "...I did. In the hall, with the revolver." And like the game, he declares the murder in the room where it was committed.
    • The Creative Closing Credits show the guests, Wadsworth, Mr. Boddy, and Yvette on playing cards patterned after those in the game. (The guests are even holding the murder weapons (except for Colonel Mustard), something which also appears on some versions of the game cover.)
    • During The Summation, Wadsworth leads the group in running from room to room to explain his theory of the crime. In the game, players must place their pawns in the room they intend to speak about if they want to name a suspect, and when doing so, they move the suspect into the room with them. Additionally, during this sequence one of the guests accuses Wadsworth of being the murderer, and he incredulously asks why he'd reveal how he did it if he was the culprit; in the real game, it is possible for the killer to win by revealing themselves as the murderer.
    • The main floor has tiling that greatly resembles the tiles of a game board, and each square is even large enough for a person to stand in.
  • Nasty Party: All the guests are invited to the house to face Mr. Boddy, who—unbeknownst to them—is the person blackmailing all of them. Boddy gives each guest a weapon, and suggests they kill Wadsworth so all the dirty little secrets that led to the blackmail won't be exposed. This degenerates into psychosis, with more murders over the course of the movie.
  • Necktie Leash: Mrs. White starts to do this to Wadsworth when she threatens to get back at him for planning the whole disastrous evening. ("One day, when we're alone together...") She immediately lets go when Wadsworth shoots her down. ("Mrs. White, no man in his right mind would be alone together with you.")
  • Necro Cam: When Wadsworth explains the solutions in the various endings, most of the murderers are seen in action, mostly in the comedic style of the film, especially Yvette murdering the cook in the first ending, by sneaking up behind her and stabbing her in the back.
  • Never One Murder: The film has six deaths in total. Seven if you take the third ending into account.
    Wadsworth: Three murders!
    Mr. Green: Six altogether.
    Wadsworth: This is getting serious.
  • No Name Given:
    • Mr. Boddy and the guests are all referred to by their typical names (Mr. Green, Professor Plum, Mrs. White, etc.), but these are just aliases being used to protect their identities. Wadsworth also claims that "nobody here is being addressed by their real name", and it's heavily implied (especially in the third ending) that this goes for everyone, not just the guests.
    • Aside from Yvette and Wadsworth, the other characters are referred to by their role — the Cook, the Motorist, the Cop, and the Singing Telegram Girl. Wadsworth briefly refers to the Cook as "Mrs Ho", so that may be her name, but the credits still refer to her as simply "the Cook".
  • No "Police" Option: No one wants to involve the police because they are all being blackmailed for crimes they've committed, such as running a brothel for Miss Scarlet, accepting bribes for Mrs. Peacock, adultery with a patient for Professor Plum, war profiteering (and soliciting prostitutes from Miss Scarlet's brothel) for Col. Mustard, etc.
  • Non-Answer: This conversation between Colonel Mustard and Wadsworth:
    Colonel Mustard: Well, there is still some confusion as to whether or not there is anybody else in this house!
    Wadsworth: I told you, there isn't.
    Colonel Mustard: There isn't any confusion, or there isn't anybody else?
    Wadsworth: Either. Or both.
    Colonel Mustard: Just give me a clear answer!
    Wadsworth: Certainly! [clears throat] What was the question?
    Colonel Mustard: Is there anybody else in this house?
    All: [shouting] No!
  • Not That Kind of Doctor:
    • Professor Plum evaluates Mr. Boddy after he "dies".
      Green: How did he die?!
      Plum: I don't know! I'm not a forensic expert!note 
    • This comes back to bite Plum in Ending C, when Wadsworth notes that a psychiatrist has more than enough medical training and knowledge to tell if a patient is dead or alive, so there shouldn't be any reason why Plum mistakenly declared that Boddy was dead... unless Plum planned to kill Mr. Boddy himself.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • There is a genuinely eerie scene where Miss Scarlet, left alone in the ballroom, nervously checks to see if the mystery killer is hiding behind the curtains. This is made even better by the brief tracking shot over her shoulder, which lends to the sensation that we're about to see someone come up behind her.
    • The fourth and fifth murders qualify. First, Yvette walks into a dark room. An unknown voice tells them to lock the door, and asks them if anyone saw them. Yvette answers in an different accent, only to switch back to scream "It's you!" as they're strangled with the rope. Then we cut to The Cop telling someone on the phone that they are genuinely afraid, only for the murderer to use the lead pipe to hang up the phone, then bash their head in.
    • The third murder too, to some degree. While the Motorist talks very quietly into the phone about everyone having a party and recognizing one of them as his old boss, the camera lets the viewer see the fireplace rotate behind him so the murderer can come into the Lounge from the secret passage. Then all focus is on the Wrench in their gloved hand, approaching nearer and nearer, all while accompanied by a superb usage of "Psycho" Strings, until...
  • Nouveau Riche: The inscription above the fireplace reads "Nouveau Riche Oblige," which is a take on the phrase "noblesse oblige," meaning that the nobility have an obligation to act as such. Presumably, this inscription means the newly rich should act as such by spending lots of money on Big Fancy Houses.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • This is zig-zagged with Colonel Mustard in the third ending. On one hand, he was bright enough to pick Wadsworth's pocket for the key to the weapons cupboard, substitute the lounge door key to be thrown away, then suggest everyone split up in order to get at the witness against him. On the other hand, he assumes that something perverted is about to happen when Wadsworth declares that, rather than be exposed as the killer, "So I choose to expose myself!"note 
    • Mrs. Peacock in the second ending.
    • Mr. Green in the third ending.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: As mentioned under Bluffing the Authorities, when The Cop becomes understandably suspicious of the goings-on at the mansion, Mr. Green is commandeered to give a "tour" while the others set up the corpses to make it look as if they're still alive. The results are hilarious, partly because of the cop and Green's reactions to Mrs. White and Mr. Boddy apparently making out and Colonel Mustard romancing the dead cook (while poor Mrs. Peacock is stuck on her other side on a window ledge).
  • Off with His Head!: One of Mrs. White's husbands was found dead this way. This was brought up as a bad joke when they find the supposedly murdered Mr. Boddy gone.
    Mrs. White: We should have made sure!
    Mrs. Peacock: How? By cutting his head off, I suppose?
    Mrs. White: That was uncalled for!
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When Professor Plum finds out he didn't kill Mr. Boddy, but his butler, in the third ending he says, "Oh, shucks".
    • Wadsworth's face when Boddy says that each of the six guests are only going to be able to keep their secrets if they kill Wadsworth at once. This makes perfect sense in the third ending. Since Wadsworth is really the blackmailer, the butler he's dressed up as Mr. Boddy is about to bump him off to end the scheme.
    • The blackmailed victims, when they discover the people who were killed (the Cook, Yvette, the Cop, the Motorist, and the Singing Telegram lady) were involved somehow.
    Mrs. Peacock: What I don't understand is why was the Cook murdered? She had nothing to do with Mr. Boddy!
    Wadsworth: Of course she did! I gathered you all here together because you were all implicated in Mr. Boddy's dastardly blackmail. Did none of you deduce that the others were involved, too? (everyone is stunned with silence) Evidently no one had.
    • Yvette is horrified when the noose is thrown around her neck and she sees the identity of her will-be murderer.
  • The Oldest Profession: Miss Scarlet runs a "house of ill fame". Prof. Plum asks for the phone number. Scarlet later mentions the trope name itself, explaining, "Like all members of The Oldest Profession, I'm a capitalist."
  • Ominous Clouds: The dark and ominous skies and pouring rain are early portents of the murderous events that would fall over the mansion of Hill House as six guests arrive and are greeted by a butler. Hilarity and six murders then take place.
  • Once per Episode: Several lines and events happen in all three endings, in similar ways and to similar effect.
    • Someone expresses with surprise that the murder plot had nothing to do with the various characters' government contacts, to which the killer replies, "Communism is just a red herring."
    • After the summation and confrontation, someone says, "There's just one thing I don't understand," to which someone else will quip, "One thing?"
    • "To make a long story short..." "Too late!"
    • "The gun is missing! Gentlemen, turn out your pockets! Ladies, empty your purses! Whoever has the gun is the murderer!" after which the killer will reveal themselves and attempt to escape. Said by Wadsworth in all but the last ending, where he has the gun and Green speaks the line.
    • Wadsworth saying they'll "stack the bodies in the cellar, lock it, leave quietly one at a time, and pretend that none of this ever happened."
  • One Crazy Night: The movie, like the game it's based on, features a cast of colorful characters trying to solve a murder before they're all killed. Hijinks ensue as everyone from a singing telegram to a high-ranking Federal agent show up to interrupt them.
  • One Degree of Separation: The guests aren't supposed to know each other and they're all addressed by aliases, but a little conversation turns up a connection: most of them live in Washington D.C. and all of them make their living from the government "one way or another", which naturally alarms them.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Due to the Of Corpse He's Alive shenanigans, the cop thinks the only thing they were trying to hide from him is some scenes of mild partying. Wadsworth, however, is not aware that the cop was fooled:
    Cop: You're too late, I've seen it all.
    Wadsworth: You have? I can explain everything!
    Cop: You don't have to.
    Wadsworth: I don't?
    Cop: Don't worry, there's nothing illegal about any of this!
    Wadsworth: Are you sure?
    Cop: Of course! This is America!
    Wadsworth: I see.
    Cop: It's a free country, don't you know that?
    Wadsworth: I didn't know it was that free.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • Yvette's French accent occasionally gets shaky. Yvette drops the accent completely right before she's killed, implying her accent was fake.
    • Mrs. White starts off with some sort of accent, which gradually disappears as the movie wears on. This is possibly intentional by the character for concealment.
  • Open Secret: In Ending A, Mr. Green expresses disbelief that Miss Scarlet's brothel operation would give her a motive for murder, saying half of Washington probably knows about it and that her high-profile customers would have too much to lose if they let the cops arrest her.
  • Overly Long Gag: Wadsworth running from room to room with every guest following him as he explains the (possible) sequence of events.
  • Panty Shot: provided by Yvette when she sits down in her French Maid outfit.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Wadsworth says this is Mr. Boddy's motivation for the blackmail.
    Mr. Green: This is ridiculous. If he was such a patriotic American, why didn't he just report us to the authorities?
    Wadsworth: He decided to put his information to good use and make a little money out of it. What could be more American than that?
  • The Perry Mason Method: Wadsworth uses this in the third ending to compel all the guests to confess to their respective murders. Miss Scarlet lampshades Wadsworth's use of this method and even references the Trope Namer.
    Wadsworth: True or false?
    Miss Scarlet: True! Who are you, Perry Mason?
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Mrs. Peacock was concerned about the cook since she wasn't involved in the blackmail conspiracy, but Wadsworth tells her she was involved. Why else would she even be in the mansion? She was one of Mr. Boddy's accomplices. In the second and third endings, Mrs. Peacock is revealed to have killed the cook, who had been her cook (and, presumably, the one who had informed on her to Mr. Boddy), subverting this apparent concern.
    • Ice Queen Mrs. White is the most sympathetic when Wadsworth sobs that his wife was a socialist.
    • Despite his being a pervy Casanova Wannabe and Lovable Sex Maniac being played up throughout the movie, the moment when Professor Plum confesses that the Singing Telegram Girl was a patient he slept with and that was how he lost his license to practice psychiatry is played with genuine sympathy, and it seems likely he had real feelings for her... Although the effect is ruined when he and the others unceremoniously dump her in the study with the other bodies.
  • Pun:
    • "Is the FBI in the habit of cleaning up after multiple murder?" "Yes. Why do you think it's run by a man called Hoover?"
    • Of course, as per the game, the first one to die is Mr. Boddy.
    • The Cop examining the motorist and saying, "This man's drunk. Dead drunk." This is followed by "Dead right."
    • "Communism is just a red herring."
    • Professor Plum works for UNO (the United Nations Organization), specifically for a branch of them called the World Heath Organization. In other words, he works for UNO WHO. The best part? That actually exists.
  • Police Are Useless: The Cop, who shows up to inquire about a motorist that left his car on the side of the road, was apparently incapable of noticing the blood on Mr. Boddy's head or the fact that the man he was talking to wasn't breathing. Miss Scarlet revealed that the Cop is in her payroll.
  • Randomly Generated Levels: There are three different endings for the movie, each with a different person as the killer. In theaters, the film had only one of the endings attached, whereas the TV and home video edits include all of the endings one after the other. If you play the film on DVD or Blu-ray, you can choose to have one ending played randomly or watch the home video "all endings" version.
  • Rapid-Fire Comedy: Some of the jokes in the dialogue happen so fast that you might miss them.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Pretty expected, as one of the murder weapons is a revolver. The attempted murder of Mr. Boddy (in a completely dark room with others standing around) starts things off, Yvette's attempt to Shoot Out the Lock of the lounge later on is a comedy of gun usage errors, and Wadsworth proves to be guilty of the trope in Ending A.
  • Redhead In Green: Miss Scarlet, who wears a dark green dress.
  • Red Herring: All of the characters have some connection to the government, often with ties to the military and the Cold War. None of this is actually important since, as we're told in all three endings, "Communism is just a red herring". Also, we never learned the cause of the broken window in the ballroom. Though it can probably be assumed it was broken by a tree branch during the storm.
  • Revenge Porn Blackmail: Colonel Mustard is blackmailed by Mr Boddy in this way, with photographs of himself and Yvette in Miss Scarlet's house of ill fame.
  • Rewatch Bonus: At several points (though the film doesn't draw attention to it), eagle-eyed viewers will notice that one or two of the guests isn't in view. As Wadsworth explains during The Summation, this is because they were off plotting or committing another murder. These instances serve as further evidence that the third ending is the canonical one; Mrs. Peacock is absent when the guests check on Yvette, which is when she killed the cook, Professor Plum is briefly absent when they go to the Kitchen to check on the cook, which is when he kills Mr. Boddy again since he previously knew he was still alive; and Colonel Mustard leaves Miss Scarlet to look around the Ballroom by herself, which is when he retrieves the Wrench from the cupboard to kill the motorist.
  • Rule of Perception: When Wadsworth throws away the key to the weapons cupboard, the key is seen disappearing into the foliage, with a "plink" audible even above the heavy rain, so the audience knows for certain that a key has been thrown away. It was presumably the lounge key which Wadsworth threw away.
  • Rule of Three:
    • The three endings. Used to full effect in the "home video" version of the film, in which all three endings are shown one after another.
    • Three people in the mansion before the guests arrive: Wadsworth, the cook, and Yvette. Three strangers visit the mansion before the summation: the Motorist, the Cop, and the Singing Telegram girl. Three uses of the revolver before the ending: Mr. Boddy's proposal, the chandelier, and the Singing Telegram girl.
  • Running Gag:
    • Wadsworth steps in dog poop at the beginning of the movie. The first time he speaks to Yvette and each of the guests, they all sniff a few times and check their own shoes.
    • "To make a long story short..." "Too late."
    • "But there's still one thing I don't understand." "ONE thing?!"
    • "I didn't do it!"
    • Mrs. White comes after Colonel Mustard in each character sequence. She is introduced in the trailer after him, she arrives at the mansion after him, Wadsworth discussed her blackmailings after discussing Colonel Mustard's, and in the third ending, after Colonel Mustard turned out to have killed The Motorist, Mrs. White is revealed to have killed Yvette.
  • Scare Chord: Twice. The first is played when Mr. Boddy's corpse is discovered after he's killed for real, while the second is played as Yvette is strangled to death with the rope.
  • Scary Jack-in-the-Box: When the house is plunged into darkness, Mrs. White is searching the nursery. As she is fumbling around in the dark, she triggers a giant jack-in-the-box which springs out; making her scream.
  • Screaming Woman: All four major female characters have a chance to show off their screaming skills: Mrs. Peacock and Yvette when Professor Plum suggests that the brandy they just drank might have been poisoned, Mrs. White when she's frightened by a jack-in-the-box in the dark during the house search, and Miss Scarlet when the cook's dead body falls out of the freezer (and again later on when Wadsworth re-enacts the scene).
  • Secret Underground Passage: The secret passages from the board game also appear here; while in the game no indication is made of how or where the passages are concealed other than in the corners of rooms, here each is hidden in fairly unique ways. The passage from the study to the kitchen opens through a rotating painting in its frame and the back of a cold cupboard, while the passage from the conservatory to the lounge opens through a brick wall next to a set of shelves and...a rotating fireplace.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: The letter inviting the guests tells them that a Mr. Boddy will bring to an end a certain long-standing confidential and painful financial liability.
  • Seven Minute Lull: When the guests first arrive, there is a rather awkward silence between them as they wonder why they are there. When they sit down to dinner, the only sound is the guests slurping soup. Finally, Mrs. Peacock breaks the silence with a long speech, which is followed by another stunned silence. Later, Professor Plum asks Mrs. Peacock if she is afraid of silence, as she tries again to make conversation.
    Mrs. Peacock: (Breathlessly, after a long silence) Well, somebody's got to break the ice, and it might as well be me. I mean, it's always difficult when a group of new friends get together for the first time to get acquainted, but I'm perfectly prepared to start the ball rolling. I mean, I have no idea what I'm doing here, I mean what we're all doing here, but I am determined to enjoy myself; very intrigued, and oh my, this soup's delicious, isn't it? (Silence before somebody else speaks)
  • Share Phrase: The same lines and gags appear in each ending, transposed to different characters (e.g. "Communism is just a red herring," the line "There's one thing I don't understand." "One thing?"). However, when watched together, it comes off as a convincing call back.
  • Share the Male Pain: When Mrs. White indicates that her late husband was castrated during his murder, the three male guests all cross their legs.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Yvette does this to get Miss Scarlet and Colonel Mustard out of the lounge.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Gone with the Wind: Frankly, Scarlet, I don't give a damn." One said by a Butler, the other paraphrased by a butler.
    • The dinner takes place at a mansion called Hill House—named after Debra Hill, the film's producer. It's also a reference to The Haunting of Hill House.
    • A couple to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The motorist's car broke down and he needs to use the phone, and he tells whoever he calls that "there's a whole group of people here having some sort of party".
    • A mixed group of strangers are summoned to a creepy old house by a mysterious host, who provides them all with deadly weapons packaged as gifts. Clue, or House on Haunted Hill?
  • Shown Their Work:
    • A subtitle says the film's events take place in 1954. The TV broadcast playing in the kitchen as the cook prepares dinner uses real Congressional footage aired on the 6th of June 1954.
    • In the third ending, Miss Scarlet references Perry Mason. Although the TV series did not premiere until 1957, it is based on a book series and character that started in 1933, with seven films made between 1934 and 1940 and a radio series that aired from 1943 to 1955.
  • Singing Telegram: During the blackout, a singing telegram inexplicably shows up and is promptly shot by the mystery assailant. Professor Plum reveals that she was a patient he had an affair with, and Mr. Boddy blackmailed him over publicly revealing this.
  • Slasher Smile: Wadsworth gets off a good one in the third ending when he says, "I shot her."
  • Stealth Insult:
    • Upon discovering Mr. Boddy was in fact alive, Mrs. White claims the group should have made sure he was dead. Mrs. Peacock replies that they should have cut his head off, to which Mrs. White snaps, "That was uncalled for!" This doubles as a Call-Back to the mysterious deaths of Mrs. White's husbands; what makes it a Stealth Insult is how Mrs. Peacock is comparing White to a praying mantis.
    • Wadsworth manages to get one past Col. Mustard, but to be fair, it isn't THAT hard:
      Col. Mustard: Are you trying to make me look stupid in front of the other guests?
      Wadsworth: You don't need any help from me, sir.
      Col. Mustard: That's right!
    • And when Professor Plum clarifies that he now works for the U.N. when he used to help "paranoid and homicidal lunatics suffering from delusions of grandeur", Wadsworth quips that "So your work has not changed."
  • Stealth Pun:
    • At dinner, Professor Plum says that he is employed by UNO (United Nations Organization), at a branch called WHO (World Health Organization). Which means he works for U-NO-WHO. Even better? It actually exists.
    • Between Plum and Wadsworth:
      Prof. Plum: Is there gonna be a cover up?
      Wadsworth: Isn't that in the public interest? What could be gained by exposure?
      Prof. Plum: But is the FBI in the habit of cleaning up after multiple murder?
      Wadsworth: Yes. Why do you think it's run by a man called Hoover?note 
    • Miss Scarlet's name seems ill-chosen in the film, as she never wears any red throughout it. But it soon comes to light that she's the leader of a prostitution ring who has "serviced" several high-paying clients. An old term for dubious women with multiple sexual partners is "scarlet woman."
  • Stock Footage: The TV is showing a clip from the Army-McCarthy hearings, and not just any session, but the famous "Have you no decency?" speech. So the film takes place on June 9, 1954.
  • Story Branch Favoritism: A non-gaming example, in which the "C" ending is decidedly more developed than the other two. Whereas the first two endings choose a random character to be the villain – namely, Miss Scarlet and Mrs. Peacock – this ending assigns one murder per board game character with more detailed reasoning than the previous endings as to how they're related to the blackmail, unmasks the prominent Canon Foreigner as the villainous mastermind, and makes a well-earned Brick Joke concerning Mr. Green's sexuality. Ultimately, it's no surprise that the "C" ending is preceded by a title card reading "But here's what really happened!" in home video releases.
  • Straight Gay: Mr. Green is a whiny wimp, but he otherwise has no stereotypical gay traits. In one ending, it's revealed that this is just an act, and he's also actually straight.
  • Stylistic Suck: Jane Wiedlin's cameo consists of a tacky tapdance and a ditty that starts with "I am your singing telegram". She doesn't get to finish it.
  • The Summation: Summations from '80s mystery shows and movies are spoofed by the over-the-top (and unhelpful) way Wadsworth does it. His summation takes twenty minutes.
  • Summation Gathering: At the very end, Wadsworth calls everyone together for The Summation. Further spoofing on the above, they only start in the study... before Wadsworth has them running ragged about the whole house.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    • Wadsworth gives one to the motorist.
      The Motorist: Where is it?
      Wadsworth: What? The body?
      The Motorist: The phone. What body?
      Wadsworth: There's no Boddy. Nobody. There's, there's no Boddy/body in the study.
    • Everyone's body language when The Cop shows up reeks of this, especially the two who slam and block the doors to the two rooms containing corpses. This is especially true when everyone very nervously denies that The Motorist came to the house, only for Mr. Green to sheepishly admit the truth. When the cop states what is essentially a rhetorical Is the Answer to This Question "Yes"? observation ("You all seem to have some kind of disagreement"), they all deny it again, even more nervously...only for Green to again, with grim satisfaction, say yes.
  • Take That!
    • Wadsworth on Professor Plum's new occupation.
      Wadsworth: Professor Plum, you were once a professor of psychiatry, specializing in helping paranoid and homicidal lunatics suffering from delusions of grandeur.
      Professor Plum: Yes, but now I work for the United Nations.
      Wadsworth: So your work has not changed.
    • Plum himself joins in: during one of the endings, he is told that it won't help his career to be implicated in six murders. He responds, "You don't know what kind of people they have at the UN; I might go up in their estimation."
  • Tap on the Head: Wadsworth is briefly knocked out by the candlestick falling off a shelf over a doorway he was standing in. He's back upright in the next scene (although he is holding a napkin with ice to his head for a little while afterwards).
  • Tempting Fate: At one point, Mrs. White threatens to hurt Wadsworth when they're alone. Wadsworth tells her that no man in his right mind would spend time alone with her (because she's a Black Widow). When the guests, Wadsworth and Yvette have to split up into pairs, guess who Wadsworth is paired with?
  • Ten Little Murder Victims: The film is a parody of this kind of movie.
  • That Came Out Wrong: During the third ending.
    Mr. Green: So it was you. I was going to expose you!
    Wadsworth: I know. So I choose to expose myself.
    Col. Mustard: Please, there are ladies present!
  • To Make a Long Story Short:
    • Wadsworth says the phrase as he's telling the story of how Mr. Boddy's blackmail led his wife to kill herself, leading to...
      Wadsworth: And to make a long story short—
      Col. Mustard: Too late.
      [Mrs. White glares at Mustard]
    • At the end of the movie, the events are explained in excruciating detail by Wadsworth, prompting the other characters to yell at Wadsworth to get it over with several times. Once they even do it as a chorus.
      Wadsworth: I'm getting there! I'm getting there!
  • Token Good Teammate: Mr. Green is the only truly innocent person of the suspects, his only "crime" being that he's gay. Which turns out to not even be true in one of the endings.
  • Took a Level in Cynic: Wadsworth and the guests are initially freaked out and concerned by each new murder, but get more dull-faced and unaffected by the night's end.
  • The Un-Reveal: In the second ending, it's never revealed why Yvette is helping Wadsworth expose the blackmail ring that she's part of by recording the confrontation (in the previous two endings, she was likely following her real employer's agenda).
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: In the first two endings, Wadsworth is an FBI agent. In the final ending, Mr. Green reveals himself as the agent just after shooting the real Mr. Boddy. In all the endings, the Jehovah's Witness is the FBI agent's boss.
  • Undercover When Alone: Since the film has multiple endings, this can happen in scenes where the killer appears to be scared for no apparent reason, such as Miss Scarlet being hesitant to look behind a curtain and Mrs. Peacock hitting a furnace she bumps against.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: When the group walks into the Billiard Room and find Yvette dead with the noose around her neck, they just walk out without a single word as if they were used to all the murders happening around them.
  • Wall Slump: In the final ending, Mr. Boddy dies in this way after being shot by Mr Green.
  • Wham Line:
    • When Plum wonders just what Mr. Boddy's secret is.
    Wadsworth: His secret? Oh, haven't you guessed? He's the one who's been blackmailing you all.
    • From the first and second endings, Wadsworth's declaration of who has the gun in their possession is the murderer. It's less a wham line than a wham action when the murderer of the ending reveals themself.
    • From the third and "real" ending:
    Wadsworth: You thought Mr. Boddy was dead, but why? None of you even met him before tonight.
    Green: You're Mr. Boddy!
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The dogs disappear, not bothering the motorist or anyone else that arrives later. Although with the storm raging for most of the night, they would have been hiding in the doghouse, as shown in one shot early on (the never-filmed fourth ending would have had them serve as a Chekhov's Gun, where Wadsworth gets his comeuppance in the end thanks to one of the dogs turning up in his getaway car).
  • When It Rains, It Pours: For most of the movie, it is raining very heavily indeed, with thunder and lightning.
  • Who's on First?:
    • Hilarity and confusion ensue in the following conversation between Col. Mustard and Wadsworth:
      Col. Mustard: Wadsworth, am I right in thinking there's nobody else in this house?
      Wadsworth: Um... no.
      Col. Mustard: Then there is someone else in this house?
      Wadsworth: Sorry, I said "no", meaning "yes."
      Col. Mustard:"No", meaning "Yes?" Look, I want a straight answer, is there someone else, or isn't there, yes, or no?
      Wadsworth: No.
      Col. Mustard: No there is, or no there isn't?
      Wadsworth: Yes.
    • Later on:
      Col. Mustard: Well, there is still some confusion as to whether or not there is anybody else in this house!
      Wadsworth: I told you, there isn't.
      Col. Mustard: There isn't any confusion, or there isn't anybody else?
      Wadsworth: Either. Or both.
      Col. Mustard: Just give me a clear answer!
      Wadsworth: Certainly! [Beat] What was the question?
      Col. Mustard [shouts]: Is there anybody else in this house?
      All: No!
    • When the motorist asks to use the phone:
      Motorist: Where is it?
      Wadsworth: What? The body?
      Motorist: The phone. [Beat] What body?
  • World of Ham: All the actors ham it up to the utmost.
  • World of Snark: All the actors also manage to be a Deadpan Snarker at the very same time, meaning it's not only a World Of Ham, but a World of Cold Ham too!
  • Worthy Opponent: Wadsworth/Mr. Boddy in the third ending, after being shot by Mr. Green:
    Mr. Boddy: Oh, good shot, Green! (slides down the wall to sitting, looks in his suit at the wound) Oh, very good... (dies)
  • Wrench Whack: Depending on the ending, The Motorist is killed either by Miss Scarlet, Mrs. Peacock, or Colonel Mustard with a Billings & Spencer Co. 12" adjustable monkey wrench.
  • "Yes"/"No" Answer Interpretation: When Colonel Mustard is asking Wadsworth about whether there is anyone else in the house, Wadsworth does answer with 'yesses' and 'nos', but they're all so ambiguous as answers to the questions asked that he has to keep asking him for clarification.
  • "You!" Exclamation:
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Yvette in the Miss Scarlet ending, and all the victims (except Yvette this time, who was killed for revenge) in the "Everybody did it" ending, thanks to the Batman Gambit of the real Mr. Boddy.
  • Zany Scheme: The real Mr. Boddy's Batman Gambit in the final ending. Boddy was in charge of a large network of spies who gathered and extorted government information, but when some of his agents (the murder victims) threatened to expose him, he came up with a convoluted plot to kill them all to save his skin. The plot involved bringing in the mutinous agents, none of them knowing that the other was a spy, to his home in the guise of servants and locals. He then called in the six blackmail victims, picking each one of them specifically as each of them had great reason to kill one of his spies. Knowing that Professor Plum had reason to kill him personally, Mr. Boddy swapped placed with his butler, using him as a Sacrificial Lamb, as none of the guests or spies had ever actually met Mr. Boddy in person. Yvette was the only one of those killed who was not an agent, Mr. Boddy only having brought her in due to her association to Mrs. White. Once all of his spies are dead, he intended to continue blackmailing the guests on their secrets and the murders to ensure his identity, business, and crimes remained a secret. Even more insane, is that his plan works. The only thing he doesn't count on is for Mr. Green, one of his supposed blackmail victims, to be an undercover FBI agent.

"Okay, Chief, take them away. I'm going to go home and sleep with my wife."


Lights Off, Boddy Dies

Mr. Boddy switches the lights off, hoping someone will kill Wadsworth. Doesn't quite work out that way.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / LightsOffSomebodyDies

Media sources: