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Film / Dead Man on Campus

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Dead Man on Campus is a 1998 dark comedy film starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Tom Everett Scott. It centres on the urban legend that a student will get straight As if his or her roommate commits suicide.

Cooper (Gosselaar) and Josh (Scott) are both in danger of flunking out of college and so attempt to find a depressed room-mate in order to push him over the edge and thus get them through the year on a technicality. Hilarity Ensues.

Tropes Appearing in Dead Man on Campus:

  • Asleep in Class: Josh suffers from this after too many late nights.
  • Asshole Victim: While nothing too bad happens to him, Cliff could count as this. Fortunately, he's Made of Iron.
  • Black Comedy: Nobody actually dies but the whole subject of suicide, a normally very serious issue, is treated incredibly glibly.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Cooper in a nutshell.
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: Kyle seems to think so.
  • Class Clown: While we never see him actually attend a class, it's a safe bet Cooper would be this if he bothered turning up.
  • Cloudcuckoo Lander: Lucy. No real surprise, given that she's played by Alyson Hannigan.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Buckley. BIG time. He thinks Bill Gates is trying to steal his brain, and has already been 50% successful.
  • Credits Gag: The names of various film personnel and crew are given a suicidal twist.
  • Goth: Matt Noonan with his dark clothing, hair and makeup along with his Goth Rock band 'Kiss My Ass'. Turns out that Matt was faking being depressed, a Goth, and being British in order to reinvent himself for college from his cheerful persona in high school. In the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue it is shown that his band also changes genres from Goth Rock to a style that sounds alot more cheerful, yet seemingly using the same lyrics for their song 'Sperm', which mentioned suicide among other things, before the band's genre shift!
  • Groin Attack: Inviting these seems to be Cliff's equivalent of a handshake.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Cooper and Josh's angry conversation with each other after ditching Cliff leaves their dorm-mates somewhat taken-aback. See also Mistaken for Gay, below.
  • Ironic Echo: After confronting Matt Noonan about being a fake, Cooper sees his girlfriend Kristen kissing Matt and later learns she is sleeping with him in the dorm when Kyle suddenly and angrily shows up and Cooper uses this opportunity to punish both of them while using a line that Matt used when he dismissed his band after a practice in the dorm that Matt was disappointed with.
    Kyle: Where is my stuff and who are those people FUCKING IN MY ROOM?!
    Cooper: There's people fucking in your room? (Kyle opens the door to reveal Matt and Kristen in bed together)
    Matt: You can't throw me out, this is my room! Cooper tell him I'm your roommate.
    Cooper: *While addressing Kyle* My roommate is an impressive rock star. *Points at Matt* YOU are a candyass, show tune singing, HIGH SCHOOL CHEERLEADER!
    Kyle: You're dead! *Enters the room*
    Cooper: *Using a fake British accent while closing the door on all three of them* Piss off! Off you go now! Lovely, lovely!
  • Large Ham: Cooper. Or, at least, a medium-sized ham.
  • Loophole Abuse: A loophole in the college rules (that in the event of a student suicide, all roommates of said student will get automatic passes for the year) is what fuels the plot.
  • Made of Iron: Cliff O'Malley, who regularly invites people to kick him in the nuts, and who shrugs off getting shot by a cop like it's no big thing.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Happens to Cooper and Josh, first after being caught in a clinch behind a hedge, then later when overheard angrily accusing each other of "pulling out too soon" and being "too anal", etc.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Matt when confronted by Cooper about being a fake.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The film as a whole has elements of this, while Cooper seems to use this trope pretty much as his default setting.
  • Scholarship Student: Josh. Fear of losing his scholarship due to flunking his classes is what drives him to agree to Cooper's insane plan.
  • The Slacker: Cooper again. The plot basically revolves around his plan to pass the year without doing any actual (academic) work.
  • Suicide as Comedy: The entire movie is driven by this trope.
  • Textbook Humor: The opening credits are styled as textbook questions and problems, themed around suicide.
  • Urban Legends: The one about the suicidal students rule is important to the plot. It is actually discussed as something too ridiculous to be true before Cooper exposes that he didn't believe it, either, but it's right there in the campus rulebook and Ain't No Rule that says it can't be exploited... somehow... right? In real life, no college has a rule of this type.