Follow TV Tropes


Film / Grease

Go To the word.

"It doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's what you do with your dancin' shoes."

Grease is a musical play and film made in The '70s about The '50s.

Danny Zuko is back in Rydell High School for senior year. He's a bad boy who wears a leather jacket and hangs out with others who do the same. He tells his friends, the T-Birds (or the Burger Palace Boys, if you're going by the play), about the great summer vacation he had at the beach with this girl, Sandy.

As luck would have it, Sandy has just transferred to Rydell High for her senior year, and as she tries to find her place, she regales the Pink Ladies with her own account of her summer romance. The other girls realize she was with Danny Zuko and arrange a reunion — just as he's bragging to his friends about his conquest. Caught between his love and his tough-guy image, he snubs Sandy, who leaves broken-hearted.

She still loves him and he does love her, but there's no guarantee they'll be able to get past their differences before the end of senior year.


The 1978 film version, directed by Randal Kleiser, is more famous than the Broadway musical (or the earlier, off-Broadway version produced in 1971). In the film, Sandy was renamed from Sandy Dumbrowski to Sandy Olsson, and her origin was changed from somewhere else in America to Australia to account for the star cast for the role: Olivia Newton-John. The film also featured John Travolta (in the role that solidified his fame after the 1977 blockbuster Saturday Night Fever) as Danny, along with Jeff Conaway (who, ironically, had played virtually every important male character except Kenickie in the stage musical) as Kenickie, Didi Conn as Frenchy, and Stockard Channing as Betty Rizzo. Golden Age of Hollywood actress Joan Blondell made her last film appearance, as a sassy waitress.

There is a sequel, which carries over almost none of the original main characters (except for some faculty members, and chemistry student Frenchie), but the plot is almost entirely the same except that now the nice foreign kid is male, with a bad-girl love interest played by a young Michelle Pfeiffer. A series, Rise of the Pink Ladies, is in development for Paramount+.


Fox televised a live adaptation of the musical on January 31, 2016, directed by Thomas Kail and starring Julianne Hough as Sandy and Aaron Tveit as Danny. Others included Carly Rae Jepsen as Frenchy, Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo, and Keke Palmer as Marty. Mario Lopez appeared as Vince Fontaine, Wendell Pierce played Coach Calhoun, and Boyz II Men were featured as the Teen Angels. Unlike NBC's adaptations of The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, and The Wiz, Grease: Live featured a studio audience. Jessie J performed the theme song from the film, and DNCE made a special guest appearance.

In December 2020, the 1978 film adaptation Grease was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress for the National Film Registry.

When a guy picks a trope over his buddies, somethin' gotta be wrong!

    open/close all folders 

    Multiple Versions 
  • Accidental Hug: Danny and Kenickie participate in one before the big race, complete with slicking back the hair to regain their cool.
  • Adaptation Name Change: A few of them, from Broadway to film:
    • Sandy Dumbrowski had her surname changed to "Olsen", and is moving from Australia, to accommodate the casting of Olivia Newton-John.
      • Further changed to "Young", this time moving from Utah, for the 2016 TV musical version.
    • Roger (nicknamed "Rump") became "Putzie"
    • Eugene Florzyck had his surname changed to "Felsnick".
    • Miss Lynch became "Principal McGee"
    • The Burger Palace Boys had their gang name changed to "The T-Birds" (which was also used in one of the Broadway revivals). Their rivals, "The Flaming Dukes", became "The Scorpions" and received an on-screen role.
    • The greasers' hangout restaurant is renamed from the "Burger Palace" to the "Frosty Palace", although burgers are still served there, nonetheless.
    • In an example from the '71 Kingston Mines staging to Broadway: Danny's second in command was originally named "Miller" and there was a younger, nerdy greaser named "Kenickie". The Broadway version cut the original "Kenickie" and gave his name to the other guy, and it stuck with all later adaptations (including the brief revival of the Chicago version, where the sixth greaser was called "Miller").
    • In a remake of the Kingston Mines version (produced for its 40th anniversary in 2011), Coach Grabowski was renamed to "Coach Sakowitz".
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the character bios for the musical, Cha-Cha is described as being a plain, slovenly type of girl, and was originally played by plus-size actresses who were otherwise made up to look less attractive. In the film and some stagings of the musical (such as the '94 revival by Tommy Tune), she's made out to be more conventionally beautiful; in the Fox Live version she's a Spicy Latina.
  • Adaptational Nationality: Sandy in the theatrical version was American, but when Olivia Newton-John was cast in the film version, the character was made Australian to account for her accent. In the 2016 version, she's changed to being from Salt Lake City, due to Julianne Hough being from Utah.
  • Adapted Out:
    • The early version of the musical had six greasers, but the sixth was cut when the show went to Broadway. A principal named "Dr. Devlin" was also lost in the Broadway alterations, along with some minor characters like a police officer, and a bum. A coach (Grabowski) was also in the script, but his scene was cut for time in the Kingston Mines production. It was reinstated in the revival.
    • A 40th anniversary re-staging of the original Kingston Mines version originally included adult versions of Marty, Jan, Roger, Kenickie, and Frenchy in the Time Skip framing sequence. These roles were cut in later stagings, to shorten the length of the show. Dr. Devlin was excluded from the remake, as the time skip changed from taking place in 1970 to taking place in 2010 (the director felt Devlin would either be long dead by now or at least much too elderly to be hosting a 40th high school reunion).
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders:
    • Subverted. When Danny is confronted with Sandy in her cheerleader costume in front of his friends, he's embarrassed.
    • Played with in the original Chicago musical. Danny dates Patty Simcox, but it's only in an attempt to get Sandy jealous at him. He later blows Patty off for Sandy, after the latter receives her makeover.
  • Alliterative Name: Marty Maraschino.
  • Ascended Extra: Cha-Cha DiGregorio is simply a dancer invited to the school hop in the musical, and has no previous connection to Danny. Her role was expanded quite a bit in the film.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: When Kenickie drives up to Frenchy's house after the "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee" number, Danny decides to change his mind and leave. Sonny asks him, "What do you mean?" Danny lampshades the idiocy of the question by snapping back, "What do you mean, what do I mean?" He later has the same reaction to Sonny's question about how he knows if the gang will stay together, preceding "We Go Together".
  • Auto Erotica:
    • About as literal as you can get. The song "Greased Lightnin'" is about fixing up a car so they can get women.
    • The scene before it in the film (not in the musical) shows Kenickie and Rizzo interrupted while trying to have sex in the back of his car.
    • Later, Danny makes a move on Sandy while they're at a drive-in movie theater, but she angrily leaves, calling his car a "sin wagon".
    • And if you missed the subtlety of what he's singing because John Travolta's performance is so convincingly sad (including when he's essentially howling at the moon), there's a handy reminder in the background in the form of the commercial showing a hotdog repeatedly jumping into an open bun.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: In the musical, Roger and Jan share a cute, playful duet shortly after insulting each other.
  • Award-Bait Song: "Hopelessly Devoted to You". It was nominated for an Academy Award, but didn't win.
  • Bad Girl Song: Played with and subverted in "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" for Rizzo. Part of the song is about how she refuses to be a good girl and save herself for a perfect man who doesn't exist, but the other part is about how she refuses to lead guys on, lie to anyone, or genuinely hurt them, ending it by admitting that she has feelings too - and she'll be damned if she ever shows it.
  • Beach Kiss: Danny and Sandy homage this with two kisses while they're at the beach with the sun setting behind them.
  • Be a Whore to Get Your Man: Sandy is the Trope Codifier. After spending the movie trying to win Danny over, she succeeds at the end, after she turns herself into a "bad girl".
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Patty Simcox, who is introduced as a bright, peppy cheerleader who wants Sandy on the cheer squad and somewhat of a Butt-Monkey to the Pink Ladies, and who later out of nowhere loudly gossips about Rizzo's pregnancy right in front of her. Downplayed in the FOX version, where she is clearly set up as a neurotic, passive-aggressive Stepford Smiler and is more obviously catty.
  • Brutal Honesty: Since she considers lying to be beneath her, Rizzo has a habit of talking like this.
  • Canon Foreigner: Tom Chisum only exists in the film and TV special, as do Blanche, Couch Calhoun, Vi, Leo, and Mrs. Murdock.
  • Changing Yourself For Love: In addition to Sandy becoming "bad" to impress Danny, Danny himself tried to win her over by getting involved in sports after she expressed interest in a jock, despite that he and the other T-Birds were making fun of the jocks earlier in the film.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Danny trying out for sports, and finding success with track. He does this early on to impress Sandy, and it works. At the end of the year, he reveals that his skill at track ensures his own graduation.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Frenchy's "talents" at beauty school later come back at the end when Sandy ditches her old image and has a makeover to impress Danny.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Putzie/Roger, who is ever-so charming to his beloved Jan despite his allurement to mooning. Lampshaded by his nickname ("Putz"/"Rump"). While the other T-Birds show an expression of shock or surprise at Sandy's wardrobe change, he is the only one who grins!
  • Curtain Call: One of the few Broadway musicals to have one both on stage and on TV.
  • Dark Is Evil: The Scorpions' car is black with flames (painted on and shooting out of the exhausts) and most of the Scorpions dress in black.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Danny tends to dress in black a lot, namely his black T-Birds jacket and trousers, but is a good guy once his Hidden Heart of Gold shows. This could be said for the other T-Birds, and also Rizzo.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Rizzo is sarcastic. All the time.
  • Dirty Old Man: While he wasn't "old" in terms of the accepted definition of the word, Vince Fontaine fits this trope. He talks up Marty at the school dance, and in the film, he hand jives with Sandy for so long, Danny has to tell him to get lost.
  • Distant Duet: “Summer Nights”, where both Danny and Sandy are singing separately to their friends.
  • Doo-Wop Progression: Well, of course, the score is one great big homage to 1950s rock-and-roll, so, of course, this progression turns up in songs like "Mooning", "We Go Together", "Beauty School Dropout", and "It's Raining on Prom Night." And to top it all off, "Those Magic Changes" introduces it with a great big fat lampshade attached - the song's Broadway lyrics sing the doo-wop chords that play through most 1950s songs:
    A-A-A-A minor,
    G-G-G-G seventh,

    A-A-A-A minor,
    G-G-G-G seventh... "etc."
  • Double Entendre:
    • A surprisingly clever one in "bite the weenie, Riz!" "with relish!"
    • Also when Marty is flirting with Vince Fontaine during the prom, he asks for her name and she responds, "Maraschino... Y'know, like in cherry?"
  • Embarrassing First Name: As Miss Lynch likes to point out in the play, Sonny's real name is Dominic. As she points out for Johnny Casino, his is Clarence.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: For Putzie/Roger, "Putz"/"Rump". Partially averted in that he does not seem to particularly mind.
  • Ethical Slut: Rizzo. She explains her views in the song "There Are Worse Things I Could Do":
    I could flirt with all the guys,
    Smile at them and bat my eyes.
    Press against them when we dance,
    Make them think they stand a chance,
    Then refuse to see it through.
    That's a thing I'd never do.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Rizzo mocks a few people, especially Sandy (essentially the point of "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee"), but in "There Are Worse Things I Could Do", she sings that stealing and lying are beneath her.
  • Extracurricular Enthusiast: Patty Simcox, overly-enthusiastic goody-two-shoes cheerleader, nominated for student council, helps set up for the prom, and gossips her way through the whole movie/play.
  • '50s Hair: With the exception of Olivia Newton-John's anachronistic '70s feathered 'do during her bad girl makeover, the hairstyles are as '50s as it gets.
  • The '50s: It's basically a giant nostalgic love letter to the time.
  • Food Slap: Rizzo throws a milkshake at Kenickie when they have an argument in a diner. She gets some on Frenchy to, for which she apologizes.
  • Forever Fling: Zig-Zagged. Danny and Sandy met on vacation and spent the previous summer together, thinking they'd never see each other again... only to discover they now go to the same high school! Initially subverted, since Greaser Delinquent Danny doesn't want to admit he still has feelings for Innocent Soprano Sandy in front of his friends, breaking Sandy's heart. The two struggle with a Will They or Won't They? throughout the play, with Danny trying to become a Lovable Jock for Sandy until Sandy decides to ditch her good girl image and get a Tomboyness Upgrade (by '50s standards, at least) for him.
  • Four-Girl Ensemble: The four original Pink Ladies. Frenchy is the sweet naive one, Marty is the sexy flirt, Rizzo is the admirable wild card (down to a T, actually), and Jan, the silly tomboyish girl.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When we first see Kenickie, he tells the other T-Birds he was working all summer so he could afford to buy a car. A car he intends to race at Thunder Road, which we find out later at the cheerleader tryouts, and which happens at the end.
    • After "Summer Nights", when Sandy mentions it was Danny Zuko she met at the beach, Rizzo remarks how her Prince Charming could show up again. She later arranges to surprise Sandy by reuniting her with Danny, as she knows full well that Danny is also attending Rydell.
    • At the cheerleader tryouts, Tom and Sandy make eye contact and flirty gestures towards each other. Sandy later tries hanging around with him to make Danny jealous and prove his feelings for her are real.
    • It's mentioned early on that someone needs to take care of the Scorpions. This happens at Thunder Road when Balmudo loses the race and Danny wins.
    • Danny tells Sandy he could run circles around the jocks, meaning the one Sandy is trying to make Danny jealous with. He turns out to be right, as he finds success at track, unlike the other sports he tries out for.
    • "If it ran any better, it'd be flying." What happens right at the end?
  • Friendship Song: The gang responds to the prospect of not seeing each other after graduation by singing “We Go Together.”
  • Gainax Ending: When all the Rydell students bid farewells with promises that they'll stay in touch, somehow Danny and Sandy's car lifts off the ground and flies off into the sky. It's so bizarre and out of touch for a 50's musical that many fans regard it as a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.
  • Gay Moment: Danny and Kenickie accidentally hugging due to being overwhelmed with joy.
  • Get Out!: When Rizzo leaves the sleepover at Frenchy's and climbs into the car with Kenickie, he tells the others to get out, leaving them standing in the middle of the street. They decide to go off and get some pizza.
  • Greaser Delinquents: Danny and the T-Birds. It's even alluded to in the title.
  • Groin Attack: Well, maybe not an intentional attack, but Sandy does slam a car door into Danny's hard-on after his abortive attempt at seduction.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Danny, who tries maintaining his bad boy image in front of the other T-Birds when he and Sandy meet again, because he doesn't want to be embarrassed. Sandy is less than pleased.
  • "The Hero Sucks" Song:
    • "Sandra Dee" is a lighter version of this, where Rizzo is spending the time mocking Sandy's "good girl" nature.
    • "Beauty School Dropout" is about how much Frenchy sucks at beauty school.
  • Hidden Depths: Danny turns out to be pretty darn good at track.
  • Invisible Parents: In the 1978 film at least, we hear Frenchie say her parents would flip out if the T-Birds came inside the house. That's the closest we come to seeing any of these kids' parents.
  • "I Want" Song: In the play and TV special (more so than the movie), literally every song serves the purpose of giving the audience insight into a character's (or group of character's) personality. Very few of the songs actually move the plot along in any way.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Danny. He puts on a bad boy persona as a member of the T-Birds and sometimes even talks down to Sandy, but he's also a nice guy who's willing to be a gentleman (Sandy even calls him one after their time at the beach) and change for Sandy. The nice guy part was what attracted Sandy to him in the first place, as she's annoyed with Danny's jerk tendencies.
  • Kiss-Kiss-Slap: Rizzo and Kenickie. They make up at the end.
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: "She was good, you know what I mean..."
  • Last-Name Basis:
    • Betty Rizzo is usually called "Rizzo" or "Riz". When she's making out with Kenickie in his car, she asks him to call her by her first name, but has to tell him what it is. Can also be considered a case of Only Known by Their Nickname.
    • Kenickie too; his first name is never mentioned.
  • Light Is Good:
    • The Teen Angel in "Beauty School Dropout", who encourages Frenchy to go back to Rydell, is clad entirely in white.
    • Greased Lightnin' is white too, with silver lightning bolts painted on it, and it also has whitewall tyres.
  • Meaningful Name: Sandy. Danny meets her at the beach.
  • Minor Character, Major Song: “Beauty School Dropout" is sung by Frankie Avalon in his only role in the movie, but it's what makes Frenchy go back to high-school.
  • Mooning: Putzie/Roger's favorite pastime. Made explicit in the play in a duet where he serenades Jan with a song about mooning. Alluded to in the film as he is the only T-Bird who SHAKES his rear on national television (this is acknowledged by an amused waitress who watches this from the television at the greasers' hangout restaurant).
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Danny after his initial reunion with Sandy goes wrong. After she runs off in tears, he sees Rizzo grinning at him and he is promptly ashamed of himself. He attempts to apologise to her later, but she doesn't buy it until later on.
  • My Hair Came Out Green: Actually, bubble-gum pink, when Frenchy flunks tint.
  • New Transfer Student: Sandy. In the film, she comes from Australia. Her original home is not stated in the Broadway production, but she was meant to be from Joliet, Illinois in the original script.
  • Nostalgia Ain't Like It Used To Be: A fondly nostalgic portrayal of The '50s, bordering on Rose-Tinted Narrative. The era is depicted as some sort of teenage paradise, where the worst that can happen to you is being compared to Sandra Dee.
  • Odd Name Out: In both the play and the movie, Jan is this to the other Pink Ladies, who are named Sandy, Betty (Rizzo), Frenchy, and Marty.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Sandy at the sleepover when Frenchy tells her she doesn't want to get blood on the carpet when she pierces Sandy's ears. Frenchy attempts to reassure her that it only bleeds for a second.
    • Frenchy when the T-Birds pull up in Kenickie's car during her sleepover, saying they can't come inside because her parents would flip out. Thankfully for her, they don't.
  • Operation: Jealousy:
    • Sandy finds herself a convenient jock to date, after Danny rejects her.
    • Kenickie and Rizzo also pull this one on each other at the dance, as Kenickie goes with Cha Cha, and Rizzo goes with Balmudo. Kenickie gets his own back by asking for Balmudo and Rizzo to be thrown out.
    • There's a reversal of Danny and Sandy's situation in the '71 musical: Danny has Patty Simcox be his "girlfriend" so he can make Sandy jealous. Unfortunately for Patty, she doesn't know she's being used.
  • Pink Heroine: Averted. Rizzo won't allow Sandy into the Pink Ladies because she considers Sandy "too pure to be pink."
  • Pink Means Feminine: The Pink Ladies, of course, who sport pink jackets to show it.
  • Power Trio: Greaser boys Doody, Sonny, and Putzie/Roger invoke this. The same can be said for their counterpart greaser girls Frenchy, Marty, and Jan.
  • Pregnancy Scare: Rizzo and Kenickie's pregnancy scare is a major subplot.
  • Really Gets Around: Marty. She has a long list of boyfriends and somehow manages to keep up with all of them.
  • Right Behind Me: Musical version of the trope, as Sandy comes in as Rizzo finishes up "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee", a song that ribs Sandy for being pure and chaste.
    Sandy: You're making fun of me, Rizz?
    Rizzo: [removes blonde wig] Some people are so touchy!
  • Sequel Hook: According to Didi Conn in a May 2018 interview, the references to "see you in summer school" at the end of the film were intended to connect to a direct sequel featuring the original cast, which was never made.
  • Sexy Figure Gesture: Used by Danny Zuko during the "Summer Nights" number, as he sings the line "We made out under the dock".
    • In the 1978 film, he makes the hourglass gesture and follows it with a Pelvic Thrust.
    • In the 2016 TV version, he extends the hourglass gesture so that it has two "waists"...for some reason. No pelvic thrust.
  • Slut-Shaming: Played straight in a brief scene in the film, where Rizzo overhears Patty Simcox gossiping about her with other girls after word of her assumed pregnancy gets out; this scene leads into "There are worse things I could do" directed at a now-absent Patty (and, in the end of the song, Kenickie) after Sandy offers support to Rizzo.
  • That Nostalgia Show: To the '50s, made in the late '70s.
  • Tempting Fate: Frenchy tells Sandy that "beauty is pain" when she attempts to pierce Sandy's ears. Immediately after she says that, we hear Sandy scream and Frenchy opens the bathroom door to ask for ice to numb Sandy's earlobes. Marty tells her to let the tap run and stick Sandy's ear under the cold water.
  • Summer School Sucks: Some of the T-Birds are inclined to throw a pie at the coach (in a carnival game) for telling them they can make up their failing PE grade in summer school.
  • Three Faces of Eve: Sandy is the devoted Wife, Rizzo is the Seductress, Frenchy is the Child.
  • Troubled, but Cute: The T-Birds. Especially Kenickie, who's generally a jerkass but who doesn't hesitate to take responsibility and try to do what he considers the right thing when he thinks he's gotten his girlfriend Rizzo pregnant.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Rizzo reveals to Marty she might be pregnant.
    Rizzo: I feel like a defective typewriter.
    Marty: Huh?
    Rizzo: I skipped a period.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Played with. "Summer Nights" is sung by both Danny and Sandy telling of their summer romance. While it is clear Danny is exaggerating (and even lying) to his friends, one could argue that Sandy's version is a more idealized version as well, though hers is probably closer to the truth.
  • Virgin-Shaming: Female example. Rizzo does this to Sandy in the "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee" number, while Sandy is in the bathroom. Sandy emerges at the end and realises Rizzo is mocking her.
    Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee
    Lousy with virginity
    Won't go to bed 'til I'm legally wed
    I can't; I'm Sandra Dee.
  • Yawn and Reach: Danny does this with Sandy. When he attempts to touch something more than just her shoulder it backfires.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: After Danny's behaviour sends Sandy running away in tears, he catches a glimpse of Rizzo's face. She has a pleased grin on her face, and this seems to disconcert him even more than Sandy's unhappiness.

    Exclusive to the 1971 Play 

  • Abridged for Children: The "School Version" omits any swearing and references to cigarettes and alcohol. The song There Are Worse Things I Could Do is cut entirely.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The 2011 ''Original Grease'' production combined drafts of the Kingston Mines version with those from the Broadway revisions, expanding the total amount of songs from about 19 to 29 (while "Rydell Fight Song" and "Shakin' at the High School Hop" were included in the Broadway staging, they are unlisted due to being left off of the cast album).
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the 2011 staging of The Original Grease, a middle-aged Patty Simcox reveals (in a Time Skip epilogue) that some of the characters (Danny, Sandy, Rizzo, Sonny, and Miller) have long been deceased.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • The Broadway musical was gradually cleaned up over the years to remove most of the profanity and sexually suggestive lyrics. Although the Broadway version itself was also a case of this, as Jacobs and Casey's original script included the kids using even more "f-bombs" and calling each other ethnic slurs (ie: "wop", "polack"). Any references to Chicago (or Illinois in general) were also cut or changed, as it was felt that the musical would be more successful if it didn't take place in a specific area.
    • Due to Grease's popularity with younger crowds, a "kid-safe" version of the musical script exists for schools to perform. It's even more toned down than the modern versions used for Broadway, and is shortened to about an hour. Besides cutting songs down for language and timing purposes, Rizzo's pregnancy-scare is also eliminated.
  • Forgotten Framing Device: The reunion doesn't appear again at the end.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • The Kingston Mines version is said by the creators to have been grittier, more profane, and less colorful. The Broadway run increasingly softened dialogue and made the costumes more mainstream '50s attire (such as giving Sandy a poodle skirt), while the movie played things even campier. One example that Jim Jacobs cited was that the Pink Ladies' jackets went from being black to literally being pink, due to the movie's influence.
    • The later London productions (which started in 1993) are also much more toned down, the costumes were made more colorful, and the directors re-arranged the order and orchestration of some songs to fall in line with the film (such as "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee" being performed at the sleepover instead of towards the end of Act I). Frenchy is even given pink hair throughout the entire play, as an homage to her dye job accident in the film.
  • Odd Name Out: In the play, Roger is this to the other greaser boys, who are named Danny, Kenickie, Doody, and Sonny (in the movie, Roger's name is changed to "Putzie", perhaps to subvert this). It makes sense that Roger and Jan are a couple!
  • Original Cast Precedent:
    • Johnny Casino and the Teen Angel tend to be played by the same actor in most stage productions, since that's how they were cast in the original Broadway show (though they were played by separate people in the Kingston Mines production).
    • Marty will almost always be a blonde, Frenchy a redhead, and Rizzo and Jan will have dark hair.
    • The Burger Palace Boys will all almost always have dark hair, though sometimes a lighter-haired actor will be cast as one (as with Jeff Conaway as Kenickie).
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The original stage play is presented as a high school reunion, remembering things that happened back in 1959.

    Exclusive to the 1978 Movie 
  • Actor Allusion: During the "Greased Lightnin'" dance Danny and the other T-Birds do a few moves straight out of the "Bar-bar-bar, Bar-bar-barino" dance.
  • Adaptational Location Change: The musical took place in urban Chicago, while the film takes place in a more suburban locale. This was done by the director to reflect his own teenage years in suburban Philadelphia.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The musical contains several songs and subplots cut for the movie. "Freddy My Love" (sung by Marty), "Mooning" (sung by Putzie/Roger and Jan), and an instrumental of "Alone at a Drive-In Movie" (sung by Danny) were included on the soundtrack. "Shaking at the High School Hop" (a full-cast number) was not on the soundtrack nor in the movie. The remaining songs of the original were put into the background and incorporated in other ways:
    • "Alma Mater" was originally the show opener sung by Miss Lynch, Patty, Eugene, and the 1959 class of Rydell High, but is heard in the background of the movie when Miss Lynch is doing the school year's first morning announcements.
    • "Alma Mater (Parody)" was originally sung by all of the greasers after "Alma Mater", but is briefly sung in the movie by just the greaser boys before their car pulls up at Frenchy's slumber party. Also, in the original, the slumber party was at Marty's house.
    • "Those Magic Changes" was originally sung by Doody as he played his guitar, but is sung in the movie by Johnny Casino before "Born to Hand Jive". The subplot involving Doody's guitar-playing abilities was also cut out of the movie.
    • "Rydell Fight Song" was originally sung by just Patty and Sandy, but the Rydell Marching Band plays it instrumentally in the background of the movie during the bonfire scene. Both the play and the movie have a brief instrumental rendition play when the rules of the Hand Jive dance contest are given, however.
    • "It's Raining on Prom Night" was originally sung by Sandy and a Radio Singer, but movie!Sandy inserts the song to play in a jukebox when Danny tries apologizing to her at the Frosty Palace.
    • "Rock 'N' Roll Party Queen" was originally sung by Putzie/Roger and Doody-on-guitar, but the movie has it play in the background when the greasers enter the dance.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The film does add some good songs to the repertoire.
    • "You're the One That I Want" and the re-orchestration of "We Go Together" make up for the musical's somewhat lackluster ending (which originally just used a short reprise of the latter after "All Choked Up"). Both have been added to recent stagings.
    • The film also adds a good solo song for Sandy in "Hopelessly Devoted To You". Before this, her big solo number was "It's Raining on Prom Night", which is only heard on a jukebox in the film. The 1994 revival had Sandy performing an adaptation of the pop hit "Since I Don't Have You", while the '71 off-Broadway version in Chicago had her singing a raunchy song called "Kiss It" to Danny (after her makeover).
    • Danny's attempts to get into sports are more elaborated on in the film, and Sandy tries to date a boy named Tom to make him jealous. The Frosty Palace and the car race are other plot elements exclusive to this version.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: As Barry Pearl (the actor who plays Doody in the film) notes in this interview, the greaser boys' personalities are switched from adapting the play to the film. Specifically, film Doody acts like play Sonny, film Sonny acts like play Roger/Putzie, and film Roger/Putzie acts like play Doody.
  • Afraid of Blood: Played with. At the sleepover, Sandy gets sick after seeing her blood when Frenchy pierces her ear. Although she was already feeling unwell from the cigarette (and possibly also the wine) she had choked on earlier.
  • Animated Credits Opening: The opening credits show animated versions of the characters getting ready for school and then out on the streets, and, in Kenickie's case, rummaging around inside a car hood before falling in and reappearing in the driver's seat.
  • Art Shift: Part of the "Greased Lightning" number and the “Beauty School Dropout” number are both filmed like a music video instead of a movie.
  • Attempted Rape: Alluded to at the drive-in, when Marty mentions that she caught Vince Fontaine putting an "aspirin" in her Coke at the school dance.
  • Award-Bait Song: "Hopelessly Devoted to You" was made for the movie and indeed got nominated.
  • Book Ends: As Sandy is Australian in the film, when it opens on her and Danny at the beach, she's lamenting that because she has to go back to Australia, she might never see Danny again. Danny dismisses the possibility and reassures her that it's only the beginning, right before segueing into the Animated Credits Opening. At the end, after "You're the One That I Want", the gang lament that once they graduate, they may never see each other again. Again they go on to dismiss it, and launch into the Friendship Song "We Go Together".
  • Bubblegum Popping: During "Beauty School Dropout", Frenchy blows up a bubblegum bubble. Teen Angel promptly pops it. Unlike most examples of the trope, the gum doesn't go everywhere.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: The Scorpions' car at Thunder Road tears up the side of the T-Birds' car with its Spiked Wheels. It ends up losing the race.
  • Composite Character: As Barry Pearl (the actor who plays Doody in the film) notes in this interview, the greaser boys' personalities are switched from adapting the play to the film. Specifically, film Doody acts like play Sonny, film Sonny acts like play Roger/Putzie, and film Roger/Putzie acts like play Doody.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Rizzo suggests this when Danny leaves the T-Birds at her house after "Sandra Dee". Danny doesn't really care:
    Rizzo: Where you goin', to flog your log?
    Danny: (to her and the other T-Birds) Much better than hangin' out with you dorks.
  • Copycat Mockery: The song "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" is all about Rizzo mocking Sandra by pretending to be her while she is out of the room.
  • Disney Creatures of the Farce: A flock of birds, a small deer and a rabbit show up in the Animated Credits Opening as Sandy gets out of bed and walks over to her mirror.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Danny tries out for track and, while running, realises Sandy can see him from the bleachers while she is with Tom. He mistimes a jump over one of the hurdles, catches his leg on it and falls over.
  • Dumb Muscle: In the first scene in Frosty Palace, Sandy tells Danny she was glad Tom was a simple person. Danny calls Tom this, saying his brains are in his biceps.
  • Electric Love: Pops up in the Final Love Duet, "You're the One That I Want":
    I got chills, they're multiplying
    And I'm losing control
    Cause the power you're supplying,
    It's electrifying!
  • Ending by Ascending: The final scene of the movie is Danny and Sandy riding off in the greased lightning car which magically takes flight into the clouds.
  • Everyone Has Standards: When the rest of the T-Birds see Putzie/Roger lying on the bleachers to peer up girls skirts, they alert the girls to what's going on and call Putzie a 'sick man'.
  • Funny Background Event: As Danny and the T-Birds are singing "Greased Lightning", the other students on the left side of the screen can be seen with rather confused looks on their faces watching the musical number start.
  • Magical Realism: The dream sequence in both "Greased Lightnin`" and "Beauty School Drop Out", as well as the flying car at the end.
  • Morning Routine: The movie starts with cartoons showing everyone getting ready for school.
  • Mythology Gag: In the play, Sandy did not go to the Hand Jive dance and instead sang "It's Raining on Prom Night" while alone in her bedroom. In the movie, Sandy DOES go the dance, so she does not sing this song. What is the Mythology Gag? This song plays as background music on the radio several scenes prior to the dance, foreshadowing that Sandy will not be alone in her bedroom.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Averted, they made Sandy an Australian exchange student instead of forcing Olivia Newton-John to do a painful American accent.
  • Pair the Spares:
    • At the end-of-year carnival, Sonny and Marty become a couple, completing the gang pairing.
    • Also, Patty Simcox, who was chasing Danny, and Tom Chisum, Sandy's Fakeout Makeout boyfriend, appear to be a couple.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • The first time Danny sees Sandy in Frosty Palace, he sincerely tries to apologize to her for the way he had acted towards her before at the cheerleader tryouts, calling his own behaviour unacceptable. She doesn't buy it until he tries out for track and they talk about it after he falls over.
    • Rizzo thanks Sandy for her support after Rizzo skipped a period and became pregnant (or thought she had), especially as she had been quite the Jerkass to Sandy up until then.
  • Product Displacement: Until The New '10s, the diner boasted blurred out Coca-Cola signs. This is because Pepsi sponsored the film and objected to a competitor being shown prominently. The "Sing-Along" version has the sign replaced with the same texture as the wall. The 40th anniversary re-release in 2018 adds a historic Pepsi sign to it as well as digitally changing the Coca-Cola fountains to featureless orange fountains.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • Everyone in the second diner scene does this out of frustration or anger (Kenickie in particular gets a milkshake in his face courtesy of an angry Rizzo), leaving Frenchy on her own and resulting in the "Beauty School Dropout" number.
    • Sandy also has a habit of doing this, as she does it first after she meets Danny again, thinking him a phony for his bad boy persona, at the dance after Cha-Cha starts dancing with Danny, and then at the drive-in after a Yawn and Reach moment from Danny backfires.
  • Seduction Lyric: After Sandy adopts Be a Whore to Get Your Man tactics to catch Danny, "You're The One That I Want" marks the point where she seals the deal.
  • Sequel Hook: Coach Calhoun saying "I'll see you in summer school" was meant to be found a sequel where the gang have to go to summer school but Paramount didn't want to do it and by the time they did get around to making Grease 2, most of the original cast were busy.
  • Sore Loser: Danny tries a few times to try for sports, including basketball, wrestling and baseball, resulting in fisticuffs when it goes wrong for him. Coach Calhoun gets around this by having him try out for track, because it involves no physical contact. This time, Danny turns out to be very good at it.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Out of all the songs on the film soundtrack, the title track — you know, the one that plays during the Animated Credits Opening — doesn't even try to sound fifties-ish. It's basically Frankie Valli doing disco. Director Randal Kleiser actually wanted the song removed for this very reason, plus the fact that he felt that the lyrics sounded too cynical for what was ostensibly a happy film, but producer Robert Stigwood overruled him, as the song had been written by Barry Gibb, whose group, the Bee Gees, were signed to Stigwood's record label, RSO Records, which produced both Grease and Saturday Night Fever.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Danny Zuko, played by a 6-foot tall, young (not to say as young as he was supposed to be, though) and lean John Travolta.
  • "Test Your Strength" Game: There's an end-of-school-year carnival toward the end of the film. Someone rings the bell just before the final number of "We Go Together".
  • Tranquil Fury: Danny spends a lot of the movie blustering, strutting, scuffling, and generally trying to look tough. Then Balmudo laughs at Kenickie's accident, and Danny gets very quiet. Balmudo's pinks were in Danny's pocket before they even got to the starting line.
  • [Verb] This!: In the second scene in Frosty Palace, Kenickie asks Rizzo "How about if I finish with you?" Rizzo snaps, "Finish this!" before throwing a milkshake in Kenickie's face and storming out.
  • Whole Costume Reference: Danny's blue windbreaker at the beginning of the movie was intended as a nod to Jim Stark's outfit in Rebel Without a Cause.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Happens to Eugene at the carnival. He lands a Pie in the Face on Coach Calhoun, who comments that he'd make a great pitcher. Eugene himself receives a Pie in the Face from an angry Sonny.

    Exclusive to the 2016 Live TV Special 
  • Adaptation Expansion: To make the script for the 2016 live show, the script for the film was expanded with parts of the original stage play that did not make it into the film. This resulted in more dialogue and scenes for the secondary T-Birds and Pink Ladies, among other additions. Examples not taken from the play include:
    • Marty is the one responsible for convincing the National Band Stand to film their show at Rydell High. She also gets to sing her song.
    • Much like how the film added in scenes where we see Danny tryout for track, the live show added in scenes where we see Sandy tryout for cheerleading. Sandy is also given a backstory of having overprotective parents who do not even let her go to school dances, much to her chagrin. As a result, her change into the iconic skintight getup at the end of the show feels more like something she did for herself, not her friends.
    • In contrast to Sandy, Danny mentions that he envies Sandy's parents for caring about her, while his do not.
    • Eugene is given a passion for rocket science, and a calm demeanor to go with it. His knowledge is used to boost the speed of the T-Birds' car, allowing Danny to win his race against the Scorpions.
    • Patty Simcox is given extra dialogue to establish that she is extremely competitive.
    • Tom Chisum is given a line of dialogue instead of having no dialogue whatsoever. His dialogue happens when he introduces himself to Sandy, something we do not see in the movie.
    • Frenchie (played by Carly Rae Jepsen) gets a song of her own right before "Beauty School Dropout", called "All I Need is an Angel".
    • The TV version also finally states a theme throughout the movie, which is "What's the point of living if you don't take a few chances?"
  • Adaptation Name Change: Sandy is hit by this again; her last name goes from Dumbrowski (in the play), to Olsen (in the film) to Young (here).
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • The T-Birds gained more redeeming qualities in this version, especially Danny. Examples include being more kind and respectful to the Pink Ladies, and finally repaying Eugene for helping them win the race by welcoming him to their gang.
    • Rizzo, in the original play and 1978, zips from being a Jerkass to a Jerk with a Heart of Gold like a pinball. In this version, she is more established as the latter, as she is shown to be a bit nicer to Sandy, even talking to her about changing after the climatic race. She even asks Kenickie to be careful before his race, despite their earlier fight.
  • Audience Participation: The theater-in-the-round setup posits the audience as various kinds of crowds around the characters. The downside is that they were clearly instructed to not give any kind of reactions outside the musical numbers, which kills a lot of the jokes. You could also tell the difference between extras in the crowd and audience members simply by looking at their clothing; a lot of the studio audience wore modern-day clothing.
  • Bowdlerize: Thanks to starting at 7 PM, there's quite a bit of it in "Greased Lightning," a song notorious for its filthy lyrics that fly by so fast many people don't catch them on their first listen.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Jessie J's opening number blows it apart with dynamite, as she takes the viewers on a backstage tour, to dressing rooms (in one of these, Hudgens recorded this video that she immediately uploaded to Instagram), through a trailer that had sketches of the various sets being used all over the walls (Carlos PenaVega, who played Kenickie, also recorded an Instagram video as Jessie J passed through), and around the set on the Warner Bros. lot while singing the opening song. As she walks on to a platform in front of the school entrance to finish the film, a crew member can be seen in the background, collecting umbrellas from cast members. Later, "We Go Together" starts with the cast singing the song to the Steadicam as they make their way to the studio lot carts. During the "Born to Hand Jive" reprise that closed the show, Mario Lopez can be seen within the group with his phone out, making a video.
  • Colorblind Casting: A good chunk of the cast (including extras) are now played by actors of color. Specifically, Rizzo, Marty, Doody, Kenickie, Putzie, Blanche, Calhoun, Teen Angel (now split into three, as portrayed by Boyz II Men), Cha-Cha, and Vince Fontaine.
  • Dark Reprise: Danny and Sandy have a brief one of "Summer Nights" after they first confront eachother at school.
  • Fantasy Sequence: Marty imagines singing "Freddy My Love" as The Chanteuse in a USO show, with all of the Pink Ladies dressed as Glamorous Wartime Singers.
  • Hotter and Sexier:
    • Doody, in-comparison to the film version, where he was given a lot less attention and not a guitar player. In this adaptation, as Doody plays "Those Magic Changes" on his guitar, a gymnasium audience full of ladies swoon in the background.
    • There's also the addition of female dancers in skintight outfits during "Greased Lightnin'".
  • Instant Costume Change: Several.
    • During the "Freddy My Love" number, Marty removes her nightgown, revealing a red sequined dress underneath. As the song ends, she puts her nightgown back on over said dress.
    • All of the Greasers (with the exception of Danny) change into purple sequined jumpsuits during "Greased Lightning" and change back into their mechanic uniforms at the end of the number. Kenickie's car even gets a quick change during the number.
    • "Those Magic Changes" is aptly named; Danny and Doody both go through several costume changes while the other is on screen.
  • It Will Never Catch On: In a clear nod to modern-day home media, Frenchy wishes that she and Doody could watch movies at home whenever they wanted. Doody replies to her, "We'll probably get to the Moon first."note 
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Twice in the same scene!
    Blanche: A live broadcast? How exciting! But what if something goes wrong?
    Principal McGee: Let's just hope it doesn't rain! note 
    • Later, there's a line ostensibly about the upcoming National Band Stand filming, about how TV networks will try any weird gimmick to get people to watch.
  • No Smoking: All smoking is eliminated from the Live version. It's only mentioned once where Rizzo rightly presumes Sandy doesn't smoke, but no one else is shown with cigarettes either. Frenchy mentions her homeroom teacher, who apparently 'mostly just sits in the corner and smokes,' but he isn't seen.
  • The Oner:
    • The shot used for Jessie J's opening number. After the song concludes, it continues for about another minute after the Pink Ladies and T-Birds walk into the school.
    • Also, when Danny is trying out for different sports in the school gym, the Steadicam alternates between focusing on him, and Doody singing "Those Magic Changes".
  • Papa Wolf: When Rizzo is discovered to be pregnant, Kenickie constantly states that he'll be there and do anything for his unborn child, and cannot bring himself to drive in the Thunder Road because he doesn't want his child to grow up fatherless if everything goes wrong.
  • Product Placement: Coca-Cola sponsored this production, replacing Pepsi, who had visible logos in the film.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Eugene for Patty Simcox; the latter ended up with Tom Chisum in the film.
  • Recursive Canon: The original poster for the 1978 movie appears on a wall during the opening number.
  • Remake Cameo:
    • Didi Conn, the film's Frenchie, as Vi. It's particularly touching during the one-on-one conversation she has with the new Frenchie.
    • Barry Pearl, who played Doody in the movie version plays the producer of National Bandstand.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Eugene has a passion for rocket science, and uses this knowledge by voluntarily revving up the T-Birds car engine so that they can win their race against the Scorpions. For leading the T-Birds to victory in their race, Danny gives his T-Bird jacket to Eugene and welcomes him into the group. By the end of the show, Eugene is asked by Patty Simcox (the head cheerleader) to "see his rocket", and they suggestively and quickly head over to the back of the gymnasium.
    • Sandy acts more rebellious even before her makeover, in order to avoid lots of implications that the film is infamous for. She leaves Danny at the prom not because Sonny pushed her away, but because she was afraid her parents would see her on TV. She told her parents that she was studying, since they never allow her to go to dances. When Sandy and Danny make-up at the movies, Sandy admits that she has always wanted to be free from her parents' control. With this backstory in-mind, Sandy's decision to take on a "bad girl" appearance at the end of the show is clearly not due to the pressure from her friends to fit in, but instead due to Sandy's newfound confidence to be who she has always felt like she was on the inside, not who her parents (or friends, for that matter) want her to be. This is emphasized by Sandy's discussion with Rizzo right before the makeover, where Rizzo makes sure that this is something Sandy wants to do before they go through with it. Pre-made-over Sandy also has enough nerve to confront Patty Simcox after witnessing Patty spreading negative gossip about Rizzo.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: The entire cast. Examples include:
    • Right before his dangerous race with the Scorpions, Kenickie refuses to drive, stating that Rizzo's baby will need him around to take care of him as a father. Even in the graduation carnival, Kenickie tells Rizzo that he does not care if Rizzo's baby has a different biological father: he still wants to be there for her to raise the child. Kenickie also does not lift up Patty Simcox's skirt at prom. Instead, Eugene accidentally rips it off after both of them drink spiked punch.
    • The T-Birds are a lot nicer to Eugene, to the point that Danny gives his T-Bird jacket to him, letting Eugene in the group. It helps that Eugene volunteers to rev up their car engine so that it drives faster during the climatic race. The T-Birds do not toss a pie at Eugene's face, unlike in the movie, where they do.
    • Shortly before singing "Summer Nights", the T-Birds do not make fun of Tom Chisum for being a jock. Instead, they express frustration at him for being a legitimately bad football player.
    • Putzie does not call Jan fat when he asks her out to prom, instead calling her weird. He also buys sweets for her more often, and they end the show licking a snow cone together.
    • Doody's teasing of Frenchy is a lot less one-sided than it was in the movie. For instance, when he dances with her, he initially refuses to vary his dancing (like in the movie) until she tells him to "pluck her like his guitar", which gets a smile from him and leads to his declaration that he is having a great night with her.
    • Sonny is a lot nicer to Marty, even showing her the gift he brought her at prom night, and comforting her at graduation when she expresses sadness at being alone.
    • In the film version, Sandy talks to Frenchie about changing herself after the race. In the TV version, it is Rizzo that Sandy talks to. It helps that Rizzo is nicer to Sandy, to the point where she says that she knows a trick or two that can help Sandy change, when Sandy asks Rizzo for help.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Grease Live


Goodbye to Sandra Dee

Sandy reprises Rizzo's song of mockery to celebrate her imminent transformation.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / TriumphantReprise

Media sources: