Bethany Sloane: For the record, I work in an abortion clinic.
The Metatron: Noah was a drunk, look what he accomplished. And no-one's asking you to build an ark, all you have to do is go to New Jersey!
Late one night, abortion clinic employee Bethany receives a visit from The Metatron, the angel who acts as the voice of God ("Any documented occasion when some yahoo claims God has spoken to them, they're speaking to me")note . The Metatron tasks Bethany with a holy mission: she must visit a Catholic church in New Jersey on a specific day to prevent disgraced angels Bartleby and Loki from taking advantage of a special absolution ceremony being held there. The ceremony would grant forgiveness to anyone for any sin, and because the Bible says God must hold true in Heaven what holds true on Earth, this ceremony would allow the angels to return to Heaven.
The angels' potential absolution presents a big problem: God had specifically barred them from ever returning to Heaven, so their dogmatic absolution would disprove God's infallibility—and bring an end to all existence. Since God cannot directly interfere with the angels' plan, Bethany must do the job herself.
Jay and Silent Bob turn up as "prophets" sent to guide Bethany, and the trio later finds allies in disgruntled apostle Rufus and muse-turned-stripper Serendipity—but even with God's blessing on their side, the group's mission grows more difficult thanks to someone working behind the scenes to ensure the absolution of Bartleby and Loki...
Around the time of the film's release, Kevin Smith heard of a group of people planning to picket Dogma at a theater near his hometown, so he decided to go and help picket his own film. When he arrived, less than two dozen people had actually showed up for the "protest", including the reporter and camera crew for a local TV station who recognized him.
Dogma gives holy blessings to the following tropes:
- Actor Allusion:
- Salma Hayek plays Serendipity, a muse from Heaven who works as a stripper on Earth. In From Dusk Till Dawn, she plays a stripper from Hell.
- Loki and Bartleby are Mistaken for Gay on more than one occasion, which mirrored the then-prevalent rumors about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.
- Another one was written into the script, but orphaned by a cast change. The original actress chosen to play God was Holly Hunter. When she appears, Jay angrily asks "What the fuck is this, The Piano? Why ain't this broad talking?" The actress for God was changed to Alanis Morissette, but the line stayed in.
- Actually Pretty Funny: Just to show how off Jay is."I get it! 'Holey Bartender!' That's a great one!"
- Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Loki and Bartleby's expulsion from Heaven resulted from this: while no longer taking vengeance out on mortals wasn't a bad idea, quitting by telling God off definitely was. This led to angels being forbidden from consuming alcohol.
- The Alcoholic: Metatron. Unfortunately for him, angels are forbidden from imbibing alcohol thanks to the Loki incident, and he's resorted to spitting out the drinks afterward just for the taste.The Metatron: "...so Loki, very inebriated, throws down his flaming sword, tells God he quits, and then gives Him ... the finger."
- Alternative Character Interpretation: Invoked on behalf of numerous Biblical concepts; the characters in the film are quite different from how typical depictions go.
- God for example turns out to be One of Us; a big fan of skeeball.
- And God gives all his tickets and winnings to local children. What a deity!
- The Bible is interpreted in a decidedly un-Catholic way. (Specifically, no, indulgences do not work the way the movie says they do, but the Protestant interpretation of Matthew 6:19-21 explains how Dogma's indulgences work. This is lampshaded in the airport scene.)
- Of Hell, instead of being a place of damnation for horrible people, it is for people with huge Heroic Self-Deprecation that God can never forgive them so they opted to take eternal suffering for their guilt.
- Or as Azrael said, it became a place of eternal damnation because humans thought they deserved it. Before that, it was just a place where God had no presence, which sucked, but it wasn't torture.
- God for example turns out to be One of Us; a big fan of skeeball.
- Ambiguously Gay: Jay. Apparently Word of God has said that Jay is bisexual but closeted (he thinks), mainly for more room for jokes.
- Angelic Transformation: The plot of the film centers around a pair of disgraced angels planning to reenter heaven by entering an arch that has been blessed by a clueless Cardinal to forgive all sins of any who walk through. In order for the blessing to work, they have to become human. Jay accidentally does this for them by shooting off their wings.
- Apocalypse How: Metaphysical annihilation on at least a universal scale, depending on whether or not there's more than one universe, and if a God can be reborn.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:Loki: But you didn't say 'God bless you' when I sneezed...
- Also, "What Jesus doesn't like is all the shit you people do in his name. Wars! Bigotry! Televangelism!"
- Fridge Brilliance: The last time He was here, Jesus took a "whip of cords" to a bunch of people who were using religious authority to take advantage of the rubes. While He might not mind televangelism as a concept, He'd have a big problem with a lot of televangelists.
- Though said whip may just have been used to drive the animals out of the temple while the people were chased out less violently.
- Also, "What Jesus doesn't like is all the shit you people do in his name. Wars! Bigotry! Televangelism!"
- Artistic License: Automotive. You couldn't even start a standard shift car, let alone get out of a parking lot and onto the highway, without stepping on the clutch, and thus realizing it wasn't an automatic transmission.
- Artistic License – Religion: The concept of Plenary Indulgence is portrayed completely wrong. Multiple characters who should know better (angels and a cardinal) describe it as a clean slate, and the forgiveness and removal of all sins. It is not. Plenary Indulgence is the removal of the need for temporal punishments of sins that have already been forgiven. It does not remove nor wipe out a person's sins. One might argue that Bartleby and Loki failing to understand the concept properly is part of the joke. Also, Metatron calls himself a "seraphim" and reveals two wings. The singular of "seraphim" is "seraph," and they have six wings.
Bethany: How do I know you're an angel?Metatron: You mean aside from the fiery entrance and the expansive wingspan?
- As Rufus mentioned at the end, though, through his line about God not being a woman OR a man, it's likely that incorporeal beings like God, Serendipity, Metatron, etc. just assume A Form You Are Comfortable With, and Metatron thought two wings would be enough to convince Bethany along with his entrance.
- Interestingly, a lot of the film's plot runs on the fact that Azrael, through Bartleby and Loki, is intentionally exploiting loopholes and using everyone's beliefs against them. The Cardinal is using the concept of Plenary Indulgences wrong, the whole "God is infallible" idea being proved incorrect has no basis in any official teachings, and half the stated rules and consequences happened (in-universe at least) centuries after the Bible began to be written. It's a humongous Batman Gambit running on nobody being 100% in the know about what was and wasn't possible, with the only omnipotent being in existence (God Him-/Herself) being stuck in a coma. It's entirely possible that Azrael's entire plan would have turned into a big pile of nothing anyway, with God just being mildly miffed that Bartleby and Loki were schucking God's edicts again, but having some sympathy once Loki actually got the chance to realize his wrongdoings and repent.
- The rite of purification to make holy water is a little more involved than making the sign of the cross over some water. Granted, Bethany has that whole divine descendant thing going for her, but still.
- Ask a Stupid Question...: On the train, Bartleby tells Loki that Bethany has just told him about being on a mission to stop a pair of angels.Loki: Do you think she means us?
Bartleby: No, two other fucking angels. Of course she means us!
- Asshole Victim: Definitely the executives of the corporation, except for one woman. The adulterer on the bus also seemed to be a jerkass.
- A-Team Firing: "COUNT THE SHELLS, SUCK-A-DUCK!" Granted, Jay actually did hit the target, but exclusively the parts of Bartleby's body that weren't detrimental to Jay's plan and beneficial to Bartleby.
- Award-Bait Song: "Still," written and performed by God herself.
- Ax-Crazy: Loki against the board of executives, Crossing the Line Twice. Also, Bartleby when he goes off the deep end.
- Babies Ever After: At the end, God conceives a child within Bethany in order to continue the Scion's line.
- Badass Longcoat: Seems to be standard attire for angels and demons, with angels (Metatron, Bartleby and Loki) getting black and white for Azrael.
- Badass Normal: Silent Bob holds his own against demons, renegade angels and poopmonsters.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: When he first appears to Bethany she thinks the Metatron is a rapist that broke into her apartment. He responds by dropping his trousers and showing her that angels have no genitals. Rickman even lampshades it, saying "he's as anatomically impaired as a Ken doll." Unfortunately, this bit was censored in many versions of the film, cutting out the part with Rickman in a flesh-colored codpiece. Some of Loki and Bartleby's dialogue, as well as the fact that Serendipity flashed Bethany to prove that she's a muse, imply that it holds true for all angels.
- Batman Gambit: Serendipity pretty much relies on Azrael giving Silent Bob a free shot.
- Berserk Button: Better not hit Jay if Silent Bob is around.
- Big Bad: Azrael, in a "The Man Behind the Man" sort of way.
- Big Damn Heroes: Jay and Silent Bob of all people get one of these.
- Big Good: John Doe Jersey, it was told that after his Skeeball game, he likes to give the prize tickets to the local kids.
- Black Comedy: The boardroom scene, especially the ending.Loki: You didn't say "God bless you" when I sneezed. (raises gun as woman cowers)
Loki: (hesitates and lowers gun) ....you're getting off light!
- After the angels' massacre at the cathedral, the huge Catholicism Wow! banner has been torn so that it reads Catholicism- Ow!
- Also, Azrael's "holy/holey bartender" joke.
- Bling of War: Angels have shiny silver breastplates hidden under their street clothes.
- Board to Death: The board of the Mooby corporation is killed by Loki because he felt God would appreciate it. And if he didn't, no harm no foul thanks to their plan.
- Bond One-Liner:
- Loki after destroying the speakerphone in the Mooby boardroom scene.Loki: All lines are currently down.
- Followed shortly thereafter by another:Loki: But I do believe in this.
- Loki after destroying the speakerphone in the Mooby boardroom scene.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: Averted and lampshaded by Azrael.Azrael: I've seen way too many Bond movies to know that you never reveal all the details of your plan, no matter how close you think you are to winning.
- Brick Joke:
- When Bethany takes Jay and Silent Bob to a diner to ask their help, Jay propositions her in response. Bethany turns him down, but Jay persists: "What if there's a bomb about to go off or something and we're all gonna die? Would you fuck me then?" Mostly to shut him up, she agrees. Flash forward all the way to the end of the movie, when Bartleby is close to un-making reality, and Jay drags Bethany behind some overturned equipment to make good on the deal.
- Early in the movie, Rufus rants about the Bible being edited to say that Jesus was white, when he was, in fact, black. Then much later in the movie, Rufus reveals that Bethany is the great-great-great-etc.-grand niece of Jesus. Then, stoned out of his mind, Jay responds "Wait, does that make Bethany part black?"
- And again at the end of the credits in the DVD. Jay: "So, Bethany... part black?"
- The best part? Not only does the (real-life) Bible never actually specify Jesus's ethnicity, but the facts that Judas had to single him out with that Kiss, that His family and friends are openly amazed at just how mundane a person he seemed (aside from the sinlessness and Miracles, of course) on several occasions, and the fact that he lived in the Middle-East mean that he was Arabic.He dies at the end, though.
- Brown Note: The true voice of God, which explodes the head of any mortal which hears it. They went through five Adams before figuring that one out.Metatron: Anyone who isn't dead or from another plane of existence would do well to cover their ears... right about now.
- Call-Back: "No harm; no foul." First used by Loki to justify going after sinners in an attempt to resume his job - either God will be happy that he's fulfilling his purpose again, or the indulgence from passing through the arch will absolve him if God isn't. Used in a much darker sense later by Bartleby, who cites it as justification as to why he and Loki should kill the Last Scion and continue on their plan.
- The Can Kicked Him: A gang member is killed by the Golgothan in a public restroom.
- Casting Gag: George Carlin (who had several stand-up routines about being Raised Catholic and subsequently lapsing) as a Cardinal.
- Celestial Bureaucracy: The whole premise revolves around a loophole in Catholic Dogma.
- Chekhov's Gun:
Serendipity: You hit a demon with an instrument of God, the pure side's always going to do the most damage.
- The inability of humans to withstand hearing God's voice is revealed early on in the plot. It turns out to be how God dispatches Bartleby at the film's climax.
- Also, the blessed golf clubs.
- The most important Gun in the film are the facts that God is missing, God loves skee ball, and there's an anonymous old man in a coma who got beaten up in the very first scene and happens to be in a hospital down the street from the church...
- The Chessmaster: Metatron. Azrael is also one, despite being an Omnicidal Maniac.
- Christianity Is Catholic: Catholic law is the main reason why the universe is in peril.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Cardinal Glick is "the kind of asshole who would bless his own clubs for a better golf game." Azrael found that out the hard way.
- Cloudcuckoolander: God, played by Alanis Morissette, is revealed to be a young and very quirky female.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Jay is a master of this specific art; one standout example is his Daffy-Duck-working-blue rant at the end, delivered in front of God Herself no less.
- Continuity Nod:
- Jay & Silent Bob have the tickets to Illinois in their pocket during their scene in Chasing Amy.
- When Bethany tells Jay and Silent Bob that she didn't take them out for sex, Jay says he's okay with head.
- When talking to "Larry" and "Barry", Jay talks about trying to wreck the Dating Game stage in Mallrats. Another reference to that film is one of the news vans at the church has "KREL 6 News" on it; they were the station that produced Truth or Date (or at least broadcast it).
- In the end, Jay says they should go to the Quick Stop.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: The whole Mooby boardroom, minus the woman, are involved in various disturbing activities. Surprisingly, only a few are actually indicated to be corrupt in the actual corporate sense. The others are just perverts, pedophiles, or generally terrible people.
Loki: "You're his father, you sick fuck!"
- While the CEO has done something so terrible, the audience never even learns what it was, all that is said:
- Crapsack World: Quite a few of the characters believe this to be the case.
- Creator Cameo: Besides the obvious (Smith as Bob), producer Scott Mosier is the adulterer on the bus.
- Creepy Child: The Stygian triplets, particularly the long haired one.
- Crossover Cosmology: Loki is the name of the Norse god of mischief and muses come from Greek mythology.
- Mildly inverted, though, with Loki and Azrael. In this movie, Azrael is the trickster and Loki is the angel of death, while normal mythology has it as the reverse.
- A Date with Rosie Palms:
- Deadpan Snarker: Pretty much the entire cast, but most notably the Metatron and Liz. Type-casting anyone?
- Deal with the Devil: Conversed Trope – Serendipity tells Bethany someone did this to get the grosses up on Home Alone.
- Death Glare: Silent Bob deploys this frequently, usually on Jay. Given Jay's cluelessness, it has no effect on him most of the time.
- Death Takes a Holiday:
- God frequently takes human form to play skeeball.
- Also, Bartleby says that no one has taken over Loki's job as Angel of Death. While this doesn't mean no one can die, it does mean God will no longer smite those who anger Him.
- Dictionary Opening: The film opens with "Disclaimer: 1) a renunciation of any claim to or connection with; 2) disavowal; 3) a statement made to save one's own ass."
- Didn't See That Coming: Among Azrael's shortcomings is that he never predicted that Jay and Silent Bob would have stolen a golf club that was blessed by Glick, which would make it a perfect weapon to use against Azrael. The Oh, Crap! face that he has after Bob's blow with it blows a hole right through his chest shows that he still can't grasp it.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Jay and Bob make their entrance by beating up three demons, for crying out loud. Badass Normal indeed.
- Dirty Coward: Azrael is considered this for not taking part in the conflict between God and Lucifer because he was a Muse despite other Muses fighting, causing him to be cast from Heaven along with the actual traitors. Even Jay is disgusted by the reveal.
- Dissonant Serenity: Bartleby’s response to Loki slaughtering the Mooby the Golden Calf executives is to sit in the corner and read a comic.
- Divine Race Lift: God as a woman, Jesus (and Rufus) being black. Since it's God in disguise, that's pretty much adding more to the niceness.
- Dramatic Irony: The scene on the train where our heroes and the angels meet, yet don't realize who the other group is until well into the scene.
- Another example is the (presumably) Christian folk protesting pulling the plug on the John Doe who turns out to be God Herself. If only someone had told them that pulling that particular plug would save reality as we know it...
- Drives Like Crazy: Jay burns out the transmission on the heroes' car going around 100mph.Bethany: What gear are you in?
(cut to hood open, smoke pouring out)
Jay: Well, what do I know about shifting?
- Dumbass Has a Point: It is Jay who recommends the idea of trying to get Glick to close the church. Even the Metatron is surprised. No one seems to notice that it's Silent Bob's idea. Since Jay and Silent Bob are along for the ride specifically as "prophets", this was probably intentional.Metatron: Good lord, the little stoner has a point.
- Dynamic Entry: Jay and Silent Bob during their Big Damn Heroes moment.
- The End of the World as We Know It: The total cessation of existence that would occur if Bartelby and Loki complete their plan.
- Enfant Terrible: The Stygian Triplets. In the original script, Rufus explained that they're three teenagers who, while alive, beat a toddler to death. The actors who played them were only fifteen or sixteen at the time the film was made.
- Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: In-universe example—Loki explains to a nun at the beginning that the Walrus and the Carpenter scene from Through the Looking Glass is a scathing attack on Christianity, which she finds so compelling that she abandons the cloth. Subverted, though, when it turns out that Loki doesn't really believe his little explanation. He's just screwing with her for kicks. He also says it's a scathing attack on Buddhism and Hinduism, and by relation, the very concept of religion.
- Everyone Knew Already: Rufus knows a lot about the main characters due to being able to watch them from Heaven. One of the things he knows is that Jay masturbates more than anyone on the planet...which everyone knows, according to Jay.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Implied by Azrael that Lucifer doesn't like the loophole plan, because it makes him look bad. Of course since Azrael set the whole thing up, it's quite likely that it's a lie. Even if it was true, it seems Lucifer would be upset because he would be wiped out of existence just like everything else.
- Exposition of Immortality: Various conversations between characters evoke this. Bartleby and Loki idly discussing the tiring nature of raining fire and brimstone at Sodom and Gomorrah whilst purchasing handguns and their later argument about Bartleby reminding Loki of Lucifer.
- Face Palm: Bethany's reaction to Rufus trying and completely failing to terrify Cardinal Glick into acquiescing to his request to close the church.
- Famous Last WordsAzrael: But... I'm a fucking demon...
- Fate Worse than Death: Bartleby and Loki were forced to stay on Earth (Wisconsin, to be more precise) until the Rapture—and then, they have to stay outside Heaven for all eternity. This was fully explained in a deleted scene where it was revealed that Hell was originally "just" the absence of God; because humans believe that God would never forgive them for their sins and (subconsciously) beg to be punished, Hell gradually transformed into a "suffering pit" where horrible things happen—things so horrible, even the fallen angels can't stand the howling of the damned.Azrael: Human, have you ever been to Hell? I think not. I'd rather not exist than go back to that.
- Faux Symbolism: Invoked and Played for Laughs, the angels' see religious parallels throughout popular culture, but it's at least partially them just screwing with humanity. Take Loki's "interpretation" of "The Walrus and the Carpenter" from Through the Looking-Glass:Nun: Let me get this straight: you don't believe in God because of Alice in Wonderland?
Loki: No, "Through the Looking-Glass". That poem, "The Walrus and the Carpenter," that's an indictment of organized religion. The walrus, with his girth and his good nature, he obviously represents either Buddha, or, or with his tusks, the Hindu elephant god, Lord Ganesha. That takes care of your Eastern religions. Now the carpenter, which is an obvious reference to Jesus Christ, who was raised a carpenter's son, he represents the Western religions. Now in the poem, what do they do? What do they do? They, they dupe all these oysters into following them and then proceed to shuck and devour the helpless creatures en masse. I don't know what that says to you, but to me it says that following: these faiths based on mythological figures ensures the destruction of one's inner being. Organized religion destroys who we are by inhibiting our actions, by inhibiting our decisions out of, out of fear of some, some intangible parent figure who, who shakes a finger at us from thousands of years ago and says, and says, "Do it... do it and I'll fuckin' spank you."
- Flat-Earth Atheist: Parodied.Bartleby: Here's what I don't get. You know for a fact that there is a God. You have stood in His presence, He has spoken to you personally—and yet I just heard you claim to be an atheist.Loki: I just love fucking with the clergy, man. I love it, I love it. Gotta keep those fuckers on their toes.
- Flies Equals Evil: The buzzing of flies accompanies the Stygian Triplets wherever they go.
- Flipping the Bird: The jaywalking bit of Loki's resignation as the Angel of Death.
- Foreshadowing: In the airport at the beginning of the film, Loki and Bartleby are introduced with their subtitled names on screen; later on, the demon Azrael gets the same intro. The only other character who gets a subtitle intro is Bethany, who seems to be an ordinary human, but turns out to be the Last Scion; another supernatural being.
- Funny Background Event: While Loki and Bartleby are on the moving sidewalk in the airport, the nun from Loki's earlier conversation is apparently drunk and running away with a big mug of beer.
- Genre Savvy: Subverted in that Azrael is smart enough to not tell the heroes his plan before it completes, but not quite savvy enough to realize that he shouldn't brag about this before killing them all or allow someone to take a free swing at him. Justified in that, prior to Satan's rebellion, he was a muse; of course someone responsible for inspiring art would know their tropes.Serendipity: How? That's the only thing I couldn't figure out.Azrael: Oh no, I've seen way too many Bond movies to know that you never reveal all the details of your plan, no matter how close you may think you are to winning.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: Bethany and Bartleby have a heart to heart talk on religion, while Loki and Jay bond over smoking joints on the train; each unaware that the other is one of the people they're trying to track down.
- God: Played by two people: an old man who loves to play Skee-Ball, and later by a woman who has no understanding of irony, Alanis Morissette.
- God in Human Form: How God indulges the obsession with Skeeball .
- God Is Inept: Played With. The plot is based on a contradiction between God's actual laws of Creation and what the Catholic Church say the laws are.Bethany: What the FUCK kind of deity gets kidnapped?!
- Godly Sidestep: After the heroes save God, the day, and the universe, the main character asks to be told the meaning of life. But since God can't speak without somebody's head exploding, She simply giggles and runs away.
- Gods Need Prayer Badly: While God, Angels, and Demons apparently exist independently of humans, they're definitely affected by the way humans believe in them.
- Gory Discretion Shot: When Loki slaughters the Mooby executives, there's a shot of some blood spatter on the door handle.
- Gratuitous German: Ben Affleck apparently decided that German was the language of angels. When Bob is throwing him from the train, he yells "I'll get you, Schülernote Bob!", apparently assuming it meant "Silent." Or possibly because they sound somewhat alike and he thought Bartleby would have misheard Silent Bob's name or something.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Lucifer is busy ruling Hell during the events of the film, and is of course mentioned as having led a rebellion in Heaven; but he isn't behind this plot, as Bartleby and Loki's plan would wipe him out of existence too, so when Rufus brings him up Metatron dismisses him as a candidate. Azrael was actually the Big Bad, and even after he's defeated Lucifer's still down there.
- Guns Do Not Work That Way: Loki's single-action Desert Eagle somehow manages to fire without having the hammer cocked. The behind-the-scenes reason for this is that the gun is a non-functioning prop. and the shooting all happens offscreen, so it never has to actually work.
- Have You Seen My God?: The main plot driver (aside from the cardinal's driver).
- Heel–Face Door-Slam: At the climax of the film, Loki has a change of heart and tries to stop Bartleby. Bartleby promptly and unrepentantly murders him. Before this, Bartleby lampshades Loki's change of heart by explaining since his wings were cut off and he became human, he now has a conscience.
- Heel Realization: Loki has this with the simultaneous realizations that what they're trying to do would cause a Reality-Breaking Paradox if successful and Bartleby's acting like Lucifer did right before he rebelled against God. Bartleby responds by Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and bullying Loki into staying the course.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Bethany eventually cracks under the sheer burden she's been put under, though is persuaded to resume her mission.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Invoked and lampshaded: "I'm Jay, and this is my hetero lifemate, Silent Bob." Bartleby and Loki would count, except that neither of them have dicks, making them asexual life partners.
- Hollywood Atheist:
- Bethany, but she slowly regains her faith during the movie.
- Also Liz, her friend from the abortion clinic.
- Holy Burns Evil: The triplets are killed when Bethany blesses the sink at the bar and their heads are dunked in. Glick's blessed golf club does in Azazel.
- Homoerotic Subtext: Bartleby and Loki; so very much subtext, which is mentioned and played with throughout the movie.Bartleby: And quit leering at me. People are gonna think I just broke up with you.
- I Know Madden Kombat: The Hockey Demons - their style of attack appears more or less to be that of a hockey goon.
- "I Am" Song: The end credits song "Still" by Alanis Morrisette is about God seeing Herself manifest in all human virtues and vices.
- I Resemble That Remark!: When Loki accuses Bartleby of being anal-retentive (i.e, pedantic), Bartleby's response is "you can't be anal-retentive if you don't have an anus".
- Ironic Echo: After Silent Bob offs Azrael with Cardinal Glick's stolen (blessed) driver:Serendipity: He said it himself; [in Azrael's voice] "I'm a fucking demon."
- Insistent Terminology: Rufus corrects Jay's characterization of him as "undead" by saying "not the undead, the dead."
- In the Back: The long-haired Stygian triplet kills a woman by stabbing her in the back with a hockey stick.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Metatron. When he first talks to Bethany, he's rather rude and snarky, and refuses to give her questions any straightforward answers. Later, though, it's revealed that he has nothing but sympathy for her. Jay and Silent Bob are more obvious examples.
- Jesus: The Early Years: The Metatron told Jesus who He was at the age of 12; the gap is the result of one enormous Heroic B.S.O.D. as He tries to come to terms with that fact.
- Jesus Was Way Cool: Even if He does owe Rufus twelve bucks.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Bartleby absolutely flips after he finds out about what will happen if his quest for absolution is complete.The humans have besmirched everything bestowed on them. They were given Paradise, they threw it away. They were given this planet, they destroyed it. They were favored best among all His endeavors, and some of them don't even believe He exists. And in spite of it all, He's shown them infinite fucking patience at every turn. What about us? I asked you, once, to lay down the sword because I felt sorry for them. What was the result? Our expulsion from Paradise. Where was His infinite fucking patience then? It's not right! It's not fair! We've paid our debt! Don't you think it's time? Don't you think it's time we went home? And to do that, I think we have to dispatch our would-be dispatchers. (...) Don't let your sympathies get the best of you. They did me, once. Scion or not, she's still just a human, and by passing through that arch, our sins are forgiven. No harm, no foul.
- Just Between You and Me: Defied and lampshaded, when the Big Bad begins talking about his plan, he only reveals the details of what they already know about, he pointedly doesn't give them any hints about what he did to incapacitate God.Azrael: Oh no. I've seen way too many Bond movies to know that you never reveal all the details of your plan, no matter how close you may think you are to winning.
- Kick the Dog: Bartleby massacring dozens of innocents at the church to draw the police, followed by telling Bethany that, unlike him, she doesn't know the man that abandoned her is perfectly happy without her—and by the way, he is. Plus, when he ran out of people to kill from the congregation, he started picking up random folk off the road and dropping them to their deaths.
- King of All Cosmos: God is best expressed as a wide-eyed, giggling, beautiful young woman, played by Alanis Morissette. (Alternately, as a cheerful, fat old man who likes playing skee ball.)
- Knight Templar: Bartleby and Loki's original plan, which has Gone Horribly Wrong.
- Kubrick Stare: This seems to be the default expression for the long-haired Stygian triplet.
- Large Ham: Glick, Azrael and special mention to Metatron, whose entrance is the very epitome of this trope, but the rest of Rickman's performance is surprisingly un-hamlike.
- Loki is an in-universe example during the Mooby boardroom, Bartleby tries to dial him back.
- Lampshaded by the commentary during the climax when Smith comments that Affleck's deliver of the line "Soon a cadre of police will arrive..." is quite Shatner-like.
- At some points, the Stygian triplets actually manage this, despite the fact they never speak. The fact they don't speak might actually be the reason why - it leaves them with nothing but facial expressions and body language. The fact that one of them seems to be almost constantly sporting a Kubrick Stare doesn't help.
- Late to the Punchline: Jay's reaction to Azrael's "Holey Bartender" routine, a good minute or two after the fact (combined with Dude, Not Funny! looks from his companions, as said joke was a Bond One-Liner towards an innocent victim).
- Like an Old Married Couple: Jay and Silent Bob, Bartleby and Loki.
- There is a bizarre subtext between God and Metatron that implies this, despite Her being The Voiceless. Particularly the look that crosses God's face when Metatron complains about Her voice causing him to be covered in Ludicrous Gibs again, making him spit-polish it off with Her dress for a moment, before realising what he's done.
- Literal-Minded: Silent Bob knocking out the Golgothan with a spray. "Knocks strong odors out!" Could also be interpreted as Exact Words.
- Ludicrous Gibs: The fate of Bartleby.Jay: "What the fuck happened to that guy's head?"
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Bartleby says all Loki did at Sodom and Gomorrah was light a few fires. Loki's defense of his work at the famous disaster is decidedly more supernatural in response.Loki: I rained down sulfur, man. There's a subtle difference.
- Meaningful Name: Played with. One of the Skater Triplets wears a "Hellboy" T-shirt. Doubles as a Shout-Out.
- The Meaning of Life: Bethany asks the question when she meets God at the end. God responds by tweaking her nose. This can be interpreted as either a polite snub or an answer to the effect that the point of life is to be silly and enjoy yourself. Bear in mind that God's voice would cause any mortal's head to explode, so there's a limited range of responses in this case.
- Mistaken for Gay: Bartleby and Loki, who appear to be a random gay couple who met in the military to Bethany when they first run into each other.
- Molotov Cocktail: Serendipity starts to make one when they are being attacked by the Golgothan.
- Moral Guardians: Catholics protested this movie. Kevin Smith actually joined them.
- It was also one of many films that came under fire for "promoting violence" post-Columbine.
- Must Make Amends: Loki leading to his Redemption Equals Death moment.
- N-Word Privileges: Rufus referring to Christ.Bethany: Christ? You knew Christ.
Rufus: Knew Him? Shit, the nigga owes me twelve bucks!
- Naked on Arrival: Rufus' entrance (Guys like us just don't fall out of the fucking sky, you know.)
- Leading to Jay's Funny Moment.
- Nailed To The Wagon: As a consequence of Loki mouthing off to God when the former was blind stinking drunk, angels are not allowed to drink alcohol (even if in exile, like Loki and Bartleby). Metatron gets around it by spitting it out after tasting it, and Bartleby fakes drinking it when with Bethany on the train.
- Nay-Theist: Bethany, who by now has seen the Metatron and thus is pretty sure God exists:Bethany: When some quiet little infection destroyed my uterus - where was God? When my husband decided he couldn't be with a wife that couldn't bear his children - where was God? ... To Hell with Him.
- Neck Snap: The unlucky security guard who gets his head torqued 180 degrees by Bartleby. With one hand.
- Neutrality Backlash: Azrael stayed neutral during the war in Heaven, but was lumped in along Lucifer's side afterwards.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
- Bethany has a drunken conversation with a stranger on a train, via which said stranger, Bartleby, learns that she is the Last Scion and is on a mission to stop him from completing his quest- potentially by killing him. Prior to this, his plan likely was to simply walk into the cathedral. The revelation that Bethany has been set to oppose him pushes Bartleby over the edge, and he eventually stages a violent rampage.
- Also when Jay shoots off Bartleby's wings; by destroying them, he had become human, and by crossing the arch as a human, he can be absolved from his sins, thereby bypassing God's judgment. He doesn't get to actually do it, though.
- No Biological Sex: God. Most characters say "He" (including Bartleby and Loki's Jumping Off the Slippery Slope argument), but Serendipity insists on "She", and Bethany follows suit. At the climax, God chooses to look like Alanis Morissette. Also applies to all divine beings, as Metatron explictly shows with Barbie Doll Anatomy (Bartleby, Loki, and Serendipity all imply that they too qualify).
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The Stygian Triplets do this to God, of all people at the beginning of the film.
- No More for Me: Toyed with. The characters, including Jay and Silent Bob get teleported by an angel from the middle of the woods to a fancy restaurant. Jay looks at the joint he had been smoking and says, "Damn, I think this shit just kicked in!" and continues puffing away.
- Non Sequitur, *Thud*: Jay's rather disturbing line when he wakes up on the train. This is the drug-induced version of the trope, naturally.Jay: I swear I didn't come on you, Pete...
- Noodle Incident: Whatever deeds the CEO of the corporation did; Bartleby claims "I cannot even mention them aloud".Loki: You're his father, you sick fuck!
- In case anyone wanted to know... Ben Affleck says that the Mooby guy had sex with his son.
- Not So Invincible After All: Azrael's talk of being "a fucking demon" meant nothing when Silent Bob smashed his chest (literally) with a blessed golf club.
- The Nothing After Death: Hell was cold and solitude before humanity started showing up, their collective corruption turning it into Fire and Brimstone Hell.
- Office Golf: Cardinal Glick does this.
- Oh, Crap!: Three of them. Azrael and Bartleby both discover their plans have Gone Horribly Wrong in the worst way.
- Loki has the biggest one in the movie when he realizes that Bartleby hasn't just decided to say Screw Destiny, but has actually become a Fallen Angel and is planning on declaring war on God. God himself does one when he is attacked on the boardwalk and finds himself face to face with the Stygian Triplets, who proceed to beat him into a coma.
- Ominous Pipe Organ: As Bartley and Loki arrive at the church and Bartleby condemns the crowd.
- Omnicidal Maniac:
- Azrael. He'd rather see all of existence snuffed out then have to return to Hell.
- Bartleby, too, by the end. His original goal of returning home becomes secondary to making all of humanity suffer.
- One-Hit Polykill: Loki shoots the adulterers on the bus with one bullet, judging by the fact that he puts his gun to the male adulturer's head and the female doesn't leave the bus with everyone else when they flee the bus screaming.
- Open Shirt Taunt: The Big Bad does this, because he's "a fucking demon" and has no reason to expect it to work.
- Our Angels Are Different: To start with, they have no genitals...
- Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: Pretty much the opening minute of the film.
- Outside-the-Box Tactic: "Air freshener defeats Golgothan" fits the pattern quite nicely.
- Palette Swap: Bartleby and Loki's clothes under their Badass Longcoats. Bartleby wears a red hoodie and grey shirt, Loki has a grey hoodie and red shirt.
- Pals with Jesus:
- Rufus, in the most literal sense, as he was the 13th Apostle.
- All of the other deuteragonists to a lesser degree, due to Bethany's divine heritage.
- Pass the Popcorn: When Loki talks a nun into becoming an Atheist (using an analysis of Alice in Wonderland, of all things) Bartleby watches with box of popcorn in hand, very obviously amused.
- Pet the Dog:
- Metatron comforts Bethany when she breaks down over what's being asked of her, that Christ reacted the very same way when Metatron told him of His own destiny and that He'd one day have to die to save the world. Metatron then softly tells her that he's never told anyone, but even he questioned God's decision, feeling it wasn't fair to deliver this cruel news to a poor, scared child, and admitting that he regrets not being able to take away Christ's destiny and give him a normal life.
- Bartleby's sole non-jerkass moment in the film is stopping Loki from gunning down the woman in the boardroom whose only fault was not saying "God bless you" after Loki sneezed.
- Place Worse Than Death: Loki and Bartleby were banished to the one place worse than Hell: Wisconsin.
- Post-Kiss Catatonia / "Shut Up" Kiss: In the middle of a rant over what's just happened, Jay receives a kiss on the cheek from God and passes out.
- Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: Loki: "But I do believe in this." Lampshaded by Bartleby, who is sitting in the lobby: "'I do believe in this'? What does that mean?"
- Psychopathic Manchild: Azrael, whose plan is one big Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum because of a "disagreement" with God. Serendipity even calls him a child.Azrael: I'd rather not exist than go back to that. And if I have to drag everyone else down with me, SO BE IT!Serendipity: Still thinking only about yourself, you fucking child!
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "...flew to Thailand on the company account to have sex with an eleven. Year. Old. BOY!
- Quit Your Whining: When Bethany gives her story (Barren, husband left her, etc.) Metatron is less than impressed.
- Rage Against the Heavens: Bartleby finally loses it close to the end.Loki: I've heard a rant like this before.
Bartleby: What did you say?
Loki: I've heard a rant like this before.
Bartleby: Don't you fuckin' do that to me.
Loki: You sound like The Morning Star.
Bartleby: You shut your fucking mouth!!!
Loki: You do! You sound like Lucifer, man! You've fuckin' lost it!... You're not talking about going home, Bartleby, you're talking about fucking war on God! ... Well, fuck that! I have seen what happens to the proud when they take on the Throne! *Bartleby just stares at him with a quiet glare* I'm goin' back to Wisconsin.
Bartleby: (grabs Loki and pushes him to a wall) WE'RE GOING HOME, LOKI. And no one, not you, not EVEN THE ALMIGHTY HIMSELF... is going to make that otherwise!!
"When some quiet little infection destroyed my uterus - where was God? When my husband decided he couldn't be with a wife that couldn't bear his children – where was God? ... To Hell with Him."
- Bethany has a much quieter and more subdued one that borders on Tear Jerker territory:
- Raised Catholic: At the beginning of the film, Bethany doesn't believe in God anymore and works at an abortion clinic but still goes to Mass on every Sunday. In a deleted scene she's the only one who pays attention to the clergy while everyone in Mass are either uninterested, indifferent, or apathetic. This follows Serendipity's discussion of how people treat religion as a burden.
- Reality-Breaking Paradox: Azrael's whole plan hinges on this occurring if Loki and Bartleby manage to receive plenary indulgence (which would, in theory, prove God wrong; since one of the underpinnings of reality is that God is supposed to be infallible, reality would collapse). See Artistic License – Religion above as to how sound this plan is.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: In-Universe - Jay is disappointed that the town of Shermer, Illinois only exists in John Hughes movies.
- Zig-zagged on a meta level. Mc Henry, Illinois is a real city, it just looks nothing like how it's depicted in the film.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:Serendipity: Elvis was an artist. But that didn't stop him from joining the service in time of war. And that's why he's The King, and you're a schmuck.note
- Redemption Equals Death:
- Hinted at for Bartleby, who breaks down in tears and tells God he's sorry before he dies.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Well, that's a bit of a stretch using the term, but while Loki starts off as Red and Bartleby as Blue, their roles end up being reversed once they realize the implications of their quest.
- Refusal of the Call: Bethany, initially, but of course the Call knows where she lives and attacks with demonic hockey players. Thankfully Jay and Silent Bob act as the Big Damn Heroes.
- Rule of Symbolism: Mooby's mascot is a mix between the Golden Calf and Mickey Mouse.
- The hoodies the angels wear under their suit jackets represent their halos.
- Sanity Slippage: For most of the movie, Bartleby is Loki's reasonable, levelheaded straight man, often shaking his head in exasperation at his more impulsive and violent partner's detrimental antics. Once Bartleby snaps, his change in attitude terrifies Loki into quiet submission.
- Screaming Warrior: "SNOOTCH TO THE MOTHERFUCKIN' NOOOOOOOTCH!"
- Self-Inflicted Hell: A deleted scene had Azrael describe that Hell was originally just "Nothingness", with its inhabitants completely removed from God's gaze – "punishment enough" for anyone who'd actually been in His presence. Humans made it worse by believing that they deserved to be punished for the smallest sins, which then turned Hell into an infernal suffering pit filled with the screams of the damned.Azrael: I'd rather not exist than go back to that.
Bartleby: Mister McGee, don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.
- The common View Askewniverse shout outs to John Hughes films, here made simple and explicit by just talking about a John Hughes film.
- The origins of the Mooby franchise, as related by Loki, include allusions to Mickey Mouse (the bi-coastal theme parks), McDonald's (the fast food restaurants), Barney And Friends (created by a school teacher) and various doll lines for little girls like Barbie and My Little Pony (whose creators are mostly known only to fans of the respective franchises).
- A fairly obscure one: The Golgothan's first line — "Not born, shit into existence." — is taken verbatim from Grant Morrison's Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. It pertains to a very disgusting-looking Clayface in that, if you're wondering. The next line — "No man of woman born" — is an odd shout out to Macbeth.
- Silent Bob throws the angels off the train, then points and says "No ticket!".
- Bartleby gives a shout out to the Incredible Hulk before he kills a police officer.
Jay: You think someone threw him out of a plane with a message written on him like in Con Air? Did you ever see that flick?
- Immediately after Rufus falls to Earth, Jay speaks up standing over the body.
Metatron: She can rebuild you. She has the technology. She can make you better... stronger... faster.
- After God revives Bethany at the end:
- A poster for Darkstalkers 3 can be seen.
- Shown Their Work: That throwaway line about the five Adams is a legitimate piece of Kabbalistic lore.
- Sibling Rivalry: Azrael and Serendipity, technically. Serendipity berates him for refusing to pick a side in the war between God and Lucifer, believes Azrael deserved his banishment to Hell, and hates his "life isn't fair" speech.
- The Silent Bob: Three guesses, no prizes.
- Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter!: Bethany, when she finds out she's a descendant of Jesus.
- The Metatron mentioned Jesus himself did the same at age 12 when He learned He was the son of God.
- Sophisticated as Hell: Jay, discussing women's rights. "What a woman does with her body is her own fuckin' business!"
- Spit Take: The woman on the elevator has this reaction to the Uncomfortable Elevator Moment.
- Stating the Simple Solution: When brainstorming on how to stop Loki's plan, Silent Bob's (as relayed by Jay) is to just convince Cardinal Glick to not go through the ceremony that would grant plenary indulgence to whoever passes through the church doors. Metatron even notes that "the little stoner's got a point" and they go with the plan. It doesn't work, but it at least was sensible.
- Stealth Pun: The Stygian Triplets first appear on roller blades, carrying hockey sticks, in New Jersey. For non-ice hockey fans, they're the New Jersey Devils.
- Stopped Reading Too Soon: Lampshaded:Loki: "Cardinal Glick cuts ribbon on Catholicism, Wow! campaign." And?
Bartleby: [sighing] You have to keep reading.
- Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum:
- Azrael is willing to condemn the entire universe to non-existence in order to escape Hell. Serendipity lampshades that this is incredibly selfish and childish of him.
- Bartleby decides to declare war on God in hopes of ensuring his return to Heaven. Three guesses how that worked out in the end.
- Suicide by Cop: Bartleby's plan once he passes through the arches, since actual suicide is a sin and he knows he has to die with a pure soul.
- Take That!:
Jay: You know what we found out when we got there? There is no Shermer in Illinois. Movies are fuckin' bullshit.
- For movies in general, and the films of John Hughes in particular:
- Serendipity the Muse is adamant that she had nothing to do with Home Alone. She claims that someone involved with that film made a Deal with the Devil in order to get the grosses up (and who wrote it? John Hughes again!).
- Wisconsin: Worse than Hell.
- In a deleted scene, Bartleby asks Azrael how bad Hell is. Azrael answers "They have been showing Mrs. Doubtfire continuously for five years." Kevin Smith sure has it in for Chris Columbus.
- Tempting Fate: Officer McGee.Bartleby: Mr. McGee, don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.McGee: Is that so?Bartleby: [Grabs McGee's forehead and performs a one-handed Neck Snap]
- That Was Not a Dream: Bethany wakes up as if from a dream after her first conversation with the Metatron in the Mexican restaurant... then finds the maracas the Metatron had under her pillow.
- Uncomfortable Elevator MomentLoki: Our last four days on Earth; if I had a dick, I'd go get laid. But we can do the next best thing.
Bartleby: What's that?
Loki: Kill people.
[cue Spit Take from lady in between them)
Loki: Oh, not you.
- Visual Pun: Since he’s constructed from the human excrement from Golgotha, the place where Jesus was crucified, the Golgothan is the closest anyone can get to “holy shit”.
- The Voiceless: Silent Bob (subverted, of course) and God (who speaks through the Metatron because her own voice is fatal to humans).
- Winged Humanoid: The angels have the traditional white, feathered wings...which they have to rip off in order to become human.
- You Need to Get Laid: People on both sides tell this to each other. When Bartleby goes really nuts at the end, Loki notes that it's just eons of repression being purged. "If only they'd let us jerk off..."
- Your Head A-Splode: This occurs if a living human hears God's true voice. Finally shown in the climax.Metatron: Human beings have neither the aural nor the psychological capacity to withstand the awesome power of God's true voice. Were you to hear it, your mind would cave in and your heart would explode inside your chest. We went through five Adams before we figured that one out.