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Film / Final Destination

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"Whatcha have to realize is that we're all just a mouse that a cat has by the tail. Every single move we make, from the mundane to the monumental; the red light that we stop at, or run; the people we have sex with, or won't with us; the airplanes that we ride, or walk out's all part of Death's sadistic design leading to the grave."

Final Destination is the first film in the Final Destination series, released in 2000.

Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) and his classmates are going on a trip to Paris when he receives a horrifying vision of the plane exploding soon after take-off. He causes a scene that ends with several other high schoolers, and one of their teachers avoiding the disaster. When the survivors start dying off one by one, Alex realizes that Death itself is coming after those who escaped their fates.

Also stars Ali Larter, Kerr Smith and Seann William Scott. Tony Todd has a memorable role as a coroner called William Bludworth.

This film provides examples of:

  • 1-Dimensional Thinking:
    • At one point, Alex Browning runs away from a falling tree in a straight line, which gets him stuck in a mud puddle that he eventually gets out of alive.
    • Averted later when Alex jumps to the side away from a bus after Clear Rives alerts him.
  • Accident, Not Murder: Alex is suspected of having (somehow) killed a couple of the people who were hunted down by Death. With Ms. Lewton, Alex grabs the knife that plunges into her chest and they think he killed her.
  • All There in the Script: The disabled man in seen on the plane is credited as "Lou Gehrig's Man," which is also known as ALS.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Subverted with Carter Horton. The openly and proudly insensitive prick of a boyfriend amongst the leads, with seemingly not one decent and good bone in his body. Throughout the movie, Carter performs a gradual Heel–Face Turn and becomes a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, even saving Alex's life in the ending.
    • Played straight by Ms. Lewton, who blames Alex for the crash so she doesn’t have to deal with her own Survivor's Guilt (she's the only one who actually caused a death of someone who would have survived - talking the pilot into letting Larry back on after the fight) and actually leads the FBI to suspect him out of pure spite. Thus, she gets the worst and most drawn out death in the whole franchise.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The doomed Flight 180 was run by Volée Airlines. Volée is French not only for 'flight' or 'flown', but also for 'stolen'. Highly appropriate given that Death's attempting to claim everyone's lives after the explosion. Also see Meaningful Name below.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The three females in the cast. Terry Chaney is the blonde, Valerie Lewton is the brunette and Clear Rivers is a light brown substituting for redhead.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Anyone notice the seemingly large stain on Carter's pants after Billy's decapitated?
  • Bullying a Dragon: Bludworth's warning really sells it.
    Bludworth: "But remember, the risk of cheating the plan, of disrespecting the design... could incite a fury that could terrorize even the Grim Reaper. (Beat) And you don't even want to fuck with that Mack Daddy."
  • Bury Your Disabled: A disabled man is shown on Flight 180, and George uses this as a way to say they'd easily survive the flight. The man does not get off the plane.
  • Call-Back: The original, unused ending features the photograph of Alex being handed the rose by Clear that was snapped at the school's wake.
  • Car Fu: Terry Chaney vs. a city bus. Guess who wins? We'll give you a hint: It's not Chaney.
  • Cheated Death, Died Anyway: Obviously the premise, but more specifically Carter is saved from his death and thus skipped over until Alex and Clear manage to escape a second time as well—at which point Death circles back to start with him again.
  • Catchphrase: "Carter, you dick!" may as well be Billy's.
  • Clawing at Own Throat: Tod gets a rope wound around his neck and flails around clawing at his neck to get it off. He fails.
  • Cymbal-Banging Monkey: One of these was among the toys panned over during the opening credits.
  • Death as Comedy: To some degree. The ending has Carter get hit by a falling sign in a freak accident. Although the sequels were way more filled with comedy, even the first had this as a moment. The way he gets hurt was played off for comedy. It's because Carter kind of acts dismissive towards Alex about the death design thing, however it was more rough love than malice. Contrast to the more serious original ending of the movie where the survivors who weren't killed survive and Carter warms up to Alex and is appreciative. In the original version of the end, Alex dies saving Clear. Mind you it's still a frightening scene and not as comedic as the ending in the sequel but it's still kinda funny in a dark way. Terry randomly getting struck by the bus was also pretty funny in a dark way.
  • Death by Pragmatism: Was going to be subverted in the first movie, but they made them reshoot the ending.
  • Death of a Child: Both an infant AND a physically-disabled patient wearing numerous breathing tubes die in the plane crash/explosion, even when one of the characters declares that the plane can't possibly crash due to this trope (Mercifully, their deaths aren't shown):
    [Alex sees a crying baby upon boarding the plane]
    George: Good sign. Younger the better. It would be a fucked-up God to take down this plane.
    [Passing through the bulkhead to the next compartment, the duo see a man with motor neuron disease and his caregiver in the front row.]
    George: A really fucked-up God.
  • Death's Hourglass: Some DVD menus use this theme, showing a clock ticking by the hours with an eerie, deterministic theme in the background, visualizing the survivors' limited time until Death catches up with them.
  • Delayed Explosion: The explosion of the plane is a case of Realistic Delay, though some say it's exaggerated given the short distance involved.
  • Died Standing Up: Billy Hitchcock, who stays standing after his beheading for a few seconds before his body realizes he's dead.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: For some odd reason, after the Flight 180 disaster, Mrs. Lewton begins to act cold and dismissive to Alex after he accidentally got her and the others off the plane. It's implied she's either afraid of him due to the fact he knew the plane was going to blow up, or she's using him as a scapegoat so she doesn't have to deal with her guilt of sending a fellow teacher back onto the doomed flight. She even calls the agents on him when he goes to check on her!
  • Due to the Dead: Carter of all people. They find him preparing to carve Terry's name onto the memorial for the students killed in Flight 180.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • In this film, there's often a black shadow on a reflective surface seen when Death is coming for someone, sometimes accompanied by gusts of wind from nowhere. The first of these omens wasn't used in any of the sequels.
    • An odd case of this happening within the film itself. For the first death, it's made to look like a suicide - with the water that Tod slipped on vanishing after he's killed. Early on in production, filmmakers abandoned this idea and had the rest of the deaths as more obvious accidents.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Alex has two.
    • First, while watching a news report about what led to Flight 180 exploding, he lines up the explosion's diagram with the seating chart of his class, which helps him not only figure out what Bludworth had meant by "Death's design", but also helps him figure out who’s next.
      Alex: That's Tod's seat. The path of the explosion... They're dying in the order they would’ve died. That's Death's design!
    • Then later, upon seeing a newspaper article about Christa and Blake, the two girls who asked him to trade seats with them on the plane, he has this mixed with an Oh, Crap! as it makes him realize that he never traded seats with them like in his premonition, which means that he's not the one who's next on Death's list... Clear is.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: The plane explosion and decompression is actually based on TWA Flight 800, where the effects on passengers would have been very similar.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Alex does this at his second "Eureka!" Moment, as shown above.
    Alex: I never moved. Christa asked me to change seats, but I never moved. I would have been up next to Tod. Fuck! Why didn't I remember that? I never moved, Clear's seat was in front of mine. She's next.
  • Final Girl: Clear considering Alex's fate.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • A very subtle example. When Terry dies, blood sprays on Alex's face. One of the blood stains looks like a 7. Later on, Alex thinks he's second to last to die on the plane. However, he realizes that in his premonition, he moved his seat, making him sixth to die, but he never moved from his seat, therefore making him officially seventh and final on Death's List.
    • In the beginning of the movie Billy Hitchcock stares out the window at the plane he and the others were just kicked off of, the reflection of the plane's lights crosses from one side of his face to the other marking the exact spot where a jagged piece of metal hits him and decapitates him later on in the film.
    • After the plane exploded and the scene cuts to the individual reactions of the survivors, Terry's scene has a picture of a bus behind her in the background. She met her end when a bus comes out of nowhere in the street she was crossing and runs her over.
    • Additionally to Terry's reaction is Clear's. Behind her individual reaction of the plane explosion is the imagery of fires and something that vaguely resembles an explosion or even lighting the former of which is what eventually kills her in the second movie. Even further with that is the foreshadowing with Clear being involved with a vehicle and fire is somewhat connected with the same shot with Terry above.
    • In the opening disaster, Tod is killed first when a stereo whacks him on the head. This foreshadows that he'll be the first to die after the accident.
    • Ms Lewton's rather rude response to the man who hands Alex a pamphlet in the airport - mouthing "fuck you" after she's told him off - foreshadows that she'll switch that antagonistic attitude to Alex after the disaster.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Clear Rivers is a teenager who's been abandoned by her parents for years and she lives alone. Yet she has a decent-sized house, with her own car and pool. There's no mention of her having a job or getting support from the government or other family members. She does mention her mother and stepfather "taking off" so that would imply the house is her parents' old one.
  • Hero Antagonist: The FBI agents, Weine and Schreck, surveil and arrest Alex, only letting him go for lack of evidence, but they also have very good reason to suspect him - he desperate to get off the flight that crashed, and admitted to knowing how it would happen. He's later assumed to be stalking Ms. Lewton, again based on him being outside her house and inspecting her car, and when she dies he gets his bloody footprints on the floor and fingerprints on the knife. Even after the plane crash is ruled an accident, it's hardly implausible for them to think he's had a mental break from seemingly cheating death and is convinced he has to "set things right". They're last seen trying to resuscitate him after he's electrocuted, and before that promised to take him into protective custody (though whether they were telling the truth is unclear).
  • Insane Troll Logic: Almost everyone blames Alex for the plane crash based on how he predicted that it would happen. George and Tod’s parents and Ms. Lewton are especially spiteful towards him, placing the blame entirely on him. Subverted by the FBI agents, who are well aware that he didn’t cause the crash and only blame him for the deaths when they find evidence.
  • Ironic Last Words: More proof that Death has a sense of humor:
    • After surviving the plane crash, Terry and Carter see Alex on the street. Jerk Jock Carter starts harassing Alex, at which point Terry tells him that she isn't interested in wasting her life on stupid fights, and if he wants to, he "can just drop fucking dead." And then she walks out in the street and gets instantly hit by a bus.
    • Billy has a breakdown and yells at Carter that "you're dead. You're dead. And you ain't fucking take me with you!" And then is decapitated by a speeding train.
  • Jammed Seatbelts: A car stalled on train tracks has one seatbelt jam, trapping Carter until the very last minute. Possibly justified, since every death in the series is set up in a Rube Goldberg style relying on a series of coincidences.
  • Jerk Jock: Carter, initially. He gets better. Unfortunately, he's also the last to die.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Billy Hitchcock, cut off in mid-rant.
  • Look Both Ways: Terry steps out right in front of a speeding (and oddly silent) bus without even looking once.
  • The Lost Lenore: Clear's father for her mother. She became a Broken Bird and ended up in a relationship with a man who didn't want to be saddled with a daughter - so she abandoned her. It's also implied that Terry becomes this for Carter.
  • Meaningful Background Event: The airplane explosion that kicks off the plot happens in the background just as characters are mocking Alex's premonition of it.
  • Meaningful Name: "Tod" means "Death" in German. Additionally, all the main characters share names with well-known horror directors.
    • Also, Flight 180. To go 180° is to turn around. Only those who turned around and got (kicked) off survived.
  • Mistaken for Terrorist: Alex ends up being the target of two police agents who suspect that he caused the Flight 180 explosion due to getting the others off the plane and knowing about the explosion.
  • Murder Water: Tod is stalked by a leak from his toilet which follows him around the bathroom until he slips on it, falls into the clothesline, and strangles himself.
  • Never Suicide: After Tod dies from the garrote, the water he slipped on magically recedes back to the toilet, hiding the slip and making it look like a suicide.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted. The buildup to Tod's death involves him using the toilet, which then starts to leak. Even before that he and Alex take an extended dump in the airport bathroom before getting on the plane.
  • Noose Catch: While Tod is in his bathroom, his toilet leaks. When he finishes, the water flows across the floor and almost makes him slip several times. While Tod takes the clothes off a clothesline over the bathtub, he slips on the puddle from the toilet leak, falling into the bathtub as the clothesline coils around his neck. Tod struggles to get up due to the shampoo and conditioner spilling into the tub as the wire begins to tighten around his neck and slowly begins to suffocate him.
  • Oh, Crap!: Carter at the end when he realizes the sign is about to hit him.
  • Off with His Head!: Billy Hitchcock loses half of his head due to a piece of metal from Carter's car being sent flying towards by a passing train.
  • Porn Stash: Alex has an adult magazine stuffed in a dresser drawer.
  • Rasputinian Death: Ms. Lewton's death. She gets stabbed in the throat by shards of her exploding computer screen, knocked to the ground by an exploding Vodka bottle, stabbed in the chest by a large kitchen knife when she was trying to grab a cloth to stop her hemorrhage, but it takes a chair falling on her and hammering the knife deeper in her chest to kill her. And Death, not satisfied with that, blows up her house! It helps cement Death's position in the series as a sadistic bastard that loves making its victims suffer for shits and giggles. The last part also qualifies for There Is No Kill like Overkill.
  • Red Herring: The amount of focus given on the nose hair scissors in Tod's death scene implies that they'll play some factor in it - but they don't. It's all about that clothesline. It happens again, as special focus is given to the scissors when Tod is being strangled - as a possible way he can free himself. But it's just a Hope Spot.
  • Sacrificial Lamb:
    • George is given a significant amount of lines and screen time in the first part of the film, and then is abruptly killed in the plane crash. Same for Christa and Blake, though they do also provide a "Eureka!" Moment for Alex later in the film.
    • Tod is presented like he'll be a major character as Alex's best friend. He however is the first to get killed off.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Ms Lewton is planning to move due to the trauma of the event.
  • Significant Birth Date: Alex Browning, born on September 25, was scheduled to leave to Paris at 9:25 PM. The plane, in which his seat was I25 (I being the 9th letter of the alphabet), of course, exploded on take off.
    Baggage Attendant: (to Alex) Your birthday is the same as your departure time.
  • Shout-Out: The scene of the plane's actual explosion, seen by a female character staring out the airport windows, is an apparent homage to the classic Twilight Zone episode "Twenty-Two'': a story which, in itself, could be the inspiration for this film.
  • Shout-Out Theme Naming: A lot of the protagonists are named after famous figures in classic horror movies. Alex's last name is Browning (after Tod Browning), Terri's is Chaney (after Lon Chaney), Tod's is Waggner (after The Wolf Man director George Waggner), Billy's is Hitchcock (after Alfred Hitchcock) and the French teacher Larry Murnau (after Nosferatu director F.W. Murnau). Ms. Lewton's first name is Valerie, after director Val Lewton - and she's called Val by the police. Tod has a brother named George, making him a full example too. Clear Rivers is the odd one out; she was just named after the director's assistant.
  • Slashers Prefer Blondes: Even when the slasher is death it seems; the blonde is the second killed off. In the sequel Clear is now blonde and dies.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The uplifting record playing during the teacher's death.
  • Source Music: "Rocky Mountain High" is a weaponized version. It's even lampshaded by Alex near the beginning.
    "John Denver... he died in a plane crash."
  • Title Drop:
    • A tag an airport employee attaches to Alex's bag has "Final Destination" written on it in big, bold letters. The camera lingers on it for a few seconds.
    • Also, "Into the Void" by Nine Inch Nails plays in Carter's car, which contains the lyric "Pictures in my head of the final destination..." (alongside a chorus of "Tried to save myself but myself keeps slipping away", another clever lyric.)
  • Ungrateful Bastard: One would think most of the main cast would be a little more grateful to Alex for saving their lives. But no - at the memorial, Carter acts like a dick and Ms. Lewton tells him that he scares the hell out of her. Clear is the only one who expresses any gratitude to him (Terri looks like she's about to say something to him, but thinks better of it.)
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The plane crash at the start of the first movie is obviously based on TWA 800 — the plane is an old 747 flying from JFK to Paris that explodes shortly after takeoff, even featuring a group of high school students on a class trip, just as the real flight 800 did. Some of the TV news footage in the movie is the real coverage of that disaster.
  • Worst Aid: When Alex finds Valerie on the floor of her home with a knife sticking out of her torso, his reaction is to pull the knife out of her. You should NEVER do this with stabbing victims, as it can cause them to bleed out immediately (instead, call 911 and let the professionals handle it.) Not that this would have saved someone marked by Death, anyway…
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Bludworth breaks it down on the top quote.
    • Actively, if futilely, defied by Alex.
      Alex: (to Clear) The mortician said that Death has a design, right? Now, what if you, me, Tod, Carter, Terry, Billy, Mrs. Lewton messed up that design for whatever reason; I-I saw Death's plan and we cheated it. But what if it was our time? What if we were not meant to get off that plane? What if it still is our time? If it is, then it's not finished and we will die, now, not later - unless,...unless we find the patterns and cheat it again.


Video Example(s):


Terry's Death

Terry Chaney from "Final Destination" wants to move on with her life. The bus thinks differently.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / LookBothWays

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