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Film / Home Alone

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Making home invaders' lives a living hell since 1990.
♫ This is my home
I'll be standing here alone
And if you're ready to see hell
Come on in and ring the bell! ♫
Cartoon Boyfriend, "My Town"

Home Alone is an American Christmas family/crime comedy film series originally created by screenwriter John Hughes (who produced and wrote the first three installments) and director Chris Columbus (who helmed the first two). It started with the first film of the same title and its sequel, both starring Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O'Hara and John Heard and being memorably scored by John Williams. Both films were huge successes in theaters and remain the most popular from the series, with practically mandatory TV reruns during Christmas times in many countries.

The films' simple premises go like this: a kid protagonist is left alone at his home (hence the title) by mistake and has to defend it against home invaders, usually using a varied set of improvised traps made out of home appliances and other miscellaneous objects. Hilarity ensues as said traps go flying in ever increasingly comical and often painful ways.

The series is the Trope Namer and Codifier of "Home Alone" Antics.

Home Alone media:


Video games

The Home Alone series provides examples of:

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  • The '80s: In the first film, while it's The '90s in the sequels. Technically, the first film is from 1990, but the cultural '80s didn't end until 1992 or 1993. That said, the original movie inspired a bunch of family movies throughout the 1990s that featured clever kids using booby traps and Homemade Inventions to thwart dimwitted adults. Richie Rich, anyone?
  • Adults Are Useless:
    • An essential trope here, since each movie is built around a small child outsmarting an array of dim and gullible adults.
    • Subverted (briefly) by Harry and Marv, who do manage to catch Kevin in both movies. Kevin is rescued by Marley in the first film and the Pigeon Lady in the second.
  • Aerith and Bob: Both McCallister families. The first has Buzz and Linnie along with Kevin, Jeff and Megan. The second has Fuller mixed with Tracy, Sondra, Rod and Brooke.
  • Amusing Injuries: The injuries the villains sustain make up most of the movies' comedy, despite the fact that several of them are pretty extreme for a kid's movie series, and should have killed the villains several times over if used even semi-realistically.
  • Angrish:
    • Harry speaks it often in the third acts of both films, because they couldn't let Joe Pesci swear. Director Chris Columbus suggested Pesci focus on saying the word "fridge"; Pesci joined this film after wrapping up Goodfellas, where his character set the gold standard for Cluster F-Bomb-ing. Pesci had a tough time shaking off the word during his Angrish rants; it apparently took him a single day to fill a Swear Jar Columbus brought on set.
    • Averted by Marv, who utters an S-bomb at one point (and if you can't hear it, it's in the subtitles on the DVD). It's right around when he loses his shoe through the doggy door.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas:
    • The first two films are set in the days immediately leading up to Christmas. In the first one, Kevin puts some presents under the tree after cleaning up from Harry and Marv's break-in and before going to bed. In the second, the toy store owner he befriended has a load of surprise presents delivered to the McCallisters' hotel room.
    • Oddly averted by the third film. The plot does have some holiday trappings; the airport is decorated for Christmas, and the plot is set in motion by a gift Alex receives. Despite this, the movie is explicitly set on and shortly after January 8th.
  • Badass Longcoat: In each of the first two films Kate wears a badass full-length overcoat that subtly underscores her Determinator/Mama Bear nature. Likewise, the burglar Harry's getup in each film consists of a grungy calf-length overcoat, which along with a thick scarf and a wool beanie, is a nice look for him, despite him being a bumbling crook.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • The night before he's left home alone, Kevin becomes completely fed up with his family treating him like trash and hollers that he wishes to be left alone. His mother actually points this trope out before he insists that he wishes to live alone and goes to sleep in the attic. Even if he manages to fend off for himself, he points out to his neighbor that he still misses them.
    • By the time of the second movie, Kevin has gotten enough Aesop Amnesia that he wishes the same thing again and Kate points out what happened the first time he made a wish of that kind. Kevin seriously seems to be regretting it when he has to wander through Central Park at night surrounded by hostile hobos.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Harry is obsessed enough with trying to do in Kevin, but it gets even worse in the first film after Kevin launches a paint can at his face, knocking out Harry's gold tooth.
    • Don't even think about standing in Kate's way when she's looking for Kevin. Bonus points for when she slaps the concierge for advising her against it.
      Kate: The way I'm feeling right now, no mugger or murderer would dare mess with me.
    • The thing which sets Kevin off in Home Alone 2 is learning that the money Harry and Marv are planning to steal from Duncan's Toy Chest is intended for a children's hospital.
      Kevin: You can mess with a lot of things, but you can't mess with kids at Christmas!
  • Big Brother Bully:
    • Buzz to Kevin in the first two movies. The reason why the family gets mad at Kevin at the beginning of both movies is because of something Buzz did to pick on Kevin and make him mad; eating Kevin's cheese-only pizza in the first movie and pulling a prank on him at the school's Christmas concert in the second. Even after Kevin is accidentally left behind, everyone shows concern for him being alone at home. Everyone except Buzz, who is still entirely unsympathetic to him.
    • While Buzz gets more focus, Kevin has other older siblings and none of them are very nice to him. Linnie calls him "les incompétents", while Megan and Jeff call him "completely helpless" and "such a disease", respectively.
    • Alex's two older siblings from the third movie aren't that much better. Stan and Molly pick on Alex, especially after the police fail to catch the spies twice.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In both first movies, Kevin gets caught by Marv and Harry after having put them through the wringer. Before the two crooks could deliver retribution on Kevin, he gets saved at the last second from them. In the first movie, Old Man Marley bashes Marv and Harry in their heads with his snow shovel. In the second movie, the Pigeon Lady mobs them with a flock of pigeons after splashing birdseed on them.
  • Big Fancy House: The McCallister house is certainly appealing to a burglar, and Harry states outright that he wanted it from the second he laid eyes on it.
  • Big "WHAT?!":
    • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York: Peter has one when he discovers Kevin did not accompany the family to Miami.
    • Home Alone 3: Beaupre has this after Alice tells him they lost the toy car after managing to finally find it.
  • Big "YES!": Kevin would often drop a gleeful "YES!" after inflicting his latest amusing injury on Harry and/or Marv.
  • Bloodless Carnage: The Wet/Sticky Bandits get hit by all sorts of painful traps, but the only thing close to bleeding are some internal hemorrhages/bruises, mostly seen on their faces. Not really noticeable except for a few cases, like when a nail goes through Marv's foot and when he gets hit by a brick. Or when Jernigan in the third movie gets hit in the head by a running lawnmower.
    • In Angels With Filthy Souls, Johnny the gangster uses his Tommy Gun liberally on pretty much anyone who pisses him off, usually at point-blank range. No blood whatsoever, when in reality the person would pretty much be shredded and you'd need a mop for the clean-up.
  • Booby Trap: Part of the appeal of the series is during the final segments of the movies, watching Kevin set up some ingeniously nasty traps for Harry and Marv to stumble into. A good number of these traps, particularly in the second movie, would probably kill those who stumbled into them, but Harry and Marv are Iron Butt Monkeys, so apart from getting banged up, neither of them gets fatally hurt.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: In the first two movies, Kate and Kevin the night before their trip. Kate is in the right when she punishes Kevin for acting up, but Kevin also raises legitimate concern for the way she and other family members treat him.
    • In the first, Kate sends Kevin to the third floor for starting a ruckus over the pizza. She tells Kevin that out of the whole family, extended visiting members included, he's the only one causing trouble. He was giving her a hard time when we first saw them interacting, and he wasn't that much better around some of his other family members. Kevin in turn complains that his family hates him, which Kate directly witnessed with Uncle Frank, Buzz and Jeff downstairs but didn't address. Her reaction to this is anything but sympathy; she sarcastically suggests that Kevin wish for a new family.
    • In the second, Kevin refuses to accept Buzz's apology after they ruin the Christmas pageant. Kevin accuses Kate of playing favorites with Buzz and wishes he could spend Christmas alone again. This time, Kate gives Kevin more leeway to think about what he's saying only for Kevin to want no part of it.
  • Butt-Monkey: Harry and Marv. They suffer any amount of Amusing Injures by Kevin's hand.
  • Chekhov's Gag: In the first movie, it's established that Kevin's cousin Fuller is a notorious bed-wetter, and thus, no one wants to share a bed with him. Toward the end of Home Alone 2, Kevin and most of the other McCallisters (besides Kevin's parents, who have a separate room) are seen sleeping squashed together everywhere other than the bed. Guess who's got that huge bed all to himself (with Coke cans all over it, no less)?
  • Clothes for Christmas Cringe: During his conversation with Old Man Marley at church, Marley reveals that he's estranged from his family and that the only contact he has with his granddaughter at Christmas is sending her a check as a gift. Kevin admits he wishes his grandparents did that and that they usually give him clothes, with his gift the previous year being a sweater with a bird design.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Marv, especially in the second film.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: A Trope Codifier for recent times. Kids and teenagers might find it funny at the time, but after growing up and watching it as an adult, the knowledge of all that bodily harm sets in. This article, written by an ER doctor, details the horrific injuries the burglars would sustain from Kevin's traps if they weren't slapstick comedy characters.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The same clip of Johnny Carson reading the letter that a little girl wrote to Santa appears in both Home Alone and Home Alone 2. Its appearance in the second film is a bit of an anachronism, since by late 1992 (when Home Alone 2 was released), Carson had since retired and Jay Leno had taken over.
    • It's a Wonderful Life is watched by the bored kids in both. In the first movie, it's in French (as they're in Paris); in the second, it's in Spanish (as they're in Miami).
    • In both, Kevin is seen watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas! In the second movie in particular, as the Grinch smiles evilly, it transitions to Tim Curry grinning the same way.
    • The 'M' burn mark on Harry's palm, which he received when he grabbed the red hot doorknob in the first movie, is still visible in the second.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • A series of these is what leads to Kevin being left alone in the first movie—the fight between Kevin and Buzz spills milk all over the counter and Kevin's plane ticket, which accidentally gets thrown away when it's cleaned up; him getting in trouble and sent to sleep up in the attic room as punishment keeps him out of sight, out of mind the next morning; the windstorm knocks out the power, causing them all to oversleep; the neighbor kid gets mistaken for Kevin from behind during the headcount; the family is rushed on to the plane and given random seats, rather than being seated together.
    • A few more keep Kevin home alone for three days, as there's not a single responsible adult on hand who might be able to help him. While the McCallisters' entire extended family are in Paris, everyone in the neighborhood is either on holiday or doesn't check their answer machine messages (or even look out of the window to notice that Kevin is still around while the rest of his family aren't). In fact the only local resident even sighted is a creepy loner who Kevin thinks is a serial killer. Meanwhile the local police can't help either as they're so incompetent/nonchalant that the officer who visits the McCallister house to follow up a reported case of a minor left home alone just knocks a couple of times before deciding there's no one home.
    • Peter calls the Murphys and leaves a message on their machine while Harry and Marv are robbing the house. This is how they figure out that their house is empty, although they don't realize just yet that Kevin is tricking them.
    • Two in the scene where Kevin unintentionally steals a toothbrush. Marley's path crosses with Kevin's because he's buying some bandages. After Kevin runs out, a store employee is able to immediately notify the police because an officer across the street pulled someone over for a traffic violation.
    • Several coincidences also help set up the plot of the second movie. The family's alarm clock is unplugged and replugged, disabling the alarm and causing the family to oversleep and rush to the airport to make their flight again. Because the family is rushing through the airport, Kevin is separated from them, and gets whisked away to New York City entirely by accident when he follows a man in the terminal who resembles his dad (and is wearing the same coat) onto the wrong plane. Harry and Marv are in New York too, but they're not chasing Kevin; they've just escaped prison and merely want to score a big heist in the Big Apple. They bump into each other on the street, and Kevin ends up visiting the exact same toy store that they plan to rob.
    • From the second movie, a small joke comes up when Kevin plays the Angels with Even Filthier Souls videotape to fool the hotel staff. Johnny lists off, "Cheeks, Bony Bob, Cliff." Coincidentally, one of the staff in question is named Cliff, and Kevin somehow knows this already so he can pause the tape right after he says "Cliff".
    • To escape from the bandits, Kevin pinches a woman to make her think the bandits did it. The woman turns out to be the same one Marv had earlier tried to make a move on.
    • One of Kevin's relatives just happens to have a household in New York. Played doubly as it also just happens to be under renovation when he needs a house to load his dangerous goodies to get the bad guys with.
    • The only reasons why the art thieves and Finn's paths cross in The Holiday Heist is because Sinclair assembled his team immediately after the initially abandoned house was sold to the Baxter family. They later make a second attempt without knowing that the parents got into a fight with Finn and Alexis, thereby allowing the two kids to stay home instead of attending the party which Sinclair initially expected and hoped they would after he saw the notice on the refrigerator.
  • Counting to Three: Happens and played with in both of the first two movies, through the films Kevin watches (and plays back to unsuspecting people he's trying to convince to leave). The first movie has a count of ten that goes: "One... two... ten! *gunfire*" and the second, a count of three: "One... two... *gunfire* three."
  • Crappy Holidays: The first two films both begin with Kevin being mistreated by Jerkass relatives as they gather for Christmas, followed the next morning by a stressful scramble by the family in order to barely make it on a plane for a holiday trip.
  • Creepy Basement:
    • The first installment contains the furnace that is scary for Kevin (at first).
    • The Holiday Heist also has this when Finn thinks the house is haunted.
  • Curse Cut Short:
    • Averted several times in the first installment. Marv actually gets out an S-bomb (which is in the subtitles on the DVD). Also Buzz says "ass", which might come off as pretty shocking considering the gangster movie says "keister."note 
    • Also played straight in the first installment after Kevin talks to Santa. Santa then drives away in his car and after it stalls, he pounds on the dashboard and yells "Son of a" with the camera cutting to the next scene before he can complete it.
    • Twice in the second installment; the first is when the elevator Kevin is on shuts just before Mr. Hector can finish calling him a "little shit"; the second is when Buzz is about to drop off another instance of the S-bomb, only to be cut off by a Death Glare from Kate. Buzz says the following instead:
    Buzz: All right, enough of this gooey sh... show of your emotions...
    • In the sixth installment, Max is about to say: "I'm sick of this bull..." before stopping himself when he realizes he is standing in front of the Elf on the Shelf.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: Johnny from both Angels With Filthy Souls films gets a kick out of shooting his victims and he's implied to have a vast fortune from organized crime. No wonder Uncle Frank objected to Kevin watching the first.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Harry also has his moments.
    • Kevin himself in several scenes as well.
    • Buzz delivers this gem: "Don't you know how to knock?" towards Kevin.
    • Most of the characters especially Kevin's family make a deadpan remark such as one of Kevin's cousins complaining with so many people in Kevin's house there is no shampoo and Kate sarcastically telling Peter to grow a goatee.
  • Death by Irony: In the Game Boy version of Home Alone, the player can defeat enemies by knocking an item down onto an enemy when they are directly underneath it. Want to know how it's ironic? The item that does them in is more often than not one of the same items that the robbers are intending to steal.
  • Demoted to Extra: While always minor characters, the first film did at least try to give Megan, Linnie, and Jeff some screen time and establish them as individual characters. In the second film, they are all reduced to extras. If you didn't have a cast list in hand, you probably wouldn't even be able to tell which of the children were Kevin's siblings and which were his cousins. The only McCallister children (apart from Kevin himself) who got any significant lines are Buzz and possibly Fuller.
  • Detachable Doorknob:
    • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York: Marv encounters a variant of this trope at the front door of the house he’s trying to break into in the climax. The doorknob has been attached by rope to a staple gun, and Marv’s attempts to get it open cause the staple gun to go off, first shooting him in the behind, then the groin, and finally the nose.
    • Home Alone: The Holiday Heist: A burglar opens the kitchen door when the knob came off in his hand. Not only that, the kitchen door falls into a catapult that launched white goo on the burglar's face.
  • Determinator:
    • The Wet Bandits do not give up, that's the best thing that can be said about them. It's also the worst thing that could be said about them. They're not trying to steal some specific MacGuffin hidden in the McCallisters' home, they're just robbing a bunch of houses for valuables. Once they knew someone was there at all, they should have just written it off as a place that should have been off-limits, and quietly hit the other houses unhindered.
    • Plus, once Harry and Marv started falling for Kevin's traps, they became eager to get back at him. In the second movie, Harry outright says that even the possibility of getting the death penalty won't stop him from killing Kevin.
    • Kate is pretty impressive. She spends both movies trying to get to Kevin ASAP, buying whatever plane tickets she can, pawning her stuff, and hitching rides with strange polka bands.
      Kate: This is CHRISTMAS! The season of perpetual hope! And I don't care if I have to get out on your runway and HITCHHIKE! If it costs me everything I own, if I have to sell my soul to the devil himself, I am going to get home to my son.
  • Deuteragonist: Old Man Marley in the first film, The Pigeon Lady in the second, and Mrs. Hess in the third, with Kevin as the protagonist in the first two and Alex in the third, and their parents as the tritagonist.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: Arguably Die Hard for children. Protagonist accidentally gets left behind, must fight thieves who invade the building on Christmas Eve. He even has a catchphrase from an old movie (no swearing though), which is "Keep the change, you filthy animal."

  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Harry and Marv both lecture Kevin about road safety when they almost run him over by accident... Although they were the ones too distracted arguing with each other to watch where they were going.
    • Harry is disgusted by Marv's penchant for leaving the water running and plughole blocked in all the houses they have robbed, thus flooding them, and tells him, "That's a sick thing to do!" That's not breaking a rule of decorum, though, so much as it's a stupid move on Marv's part, as this M.O. would help the cops track them easily (as noted when they are arrested at the end of the film).
    • Harry is unwilling to follow Kevin into a church, even though he was hiding in the Nativity Scene. So is Marv. Seems more like they were afraid of it, though.
    • Marv is a little reluctant when Harry decided to break into the house despite Kevin being in there, though he changes his mind when he gets hurt.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!:
    • In the first movie, Kevin's mom, Kate, has a horrible feeling that they forgot something, and after going through a small checklist of things, she remembers they left Kevin behind.
    • The first sequel features a more heartwarming example. Kate is on the streets of New York City, one of the most heavily populated cities on the planet, looking for Kevin, and a police officer she gets to help tells her to put herself in Kevin's shoes, where he would go, what he would do, etc. After thinking out loud for a minute, she remembers his fascination with Xmas trees and where the biggest one around is.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • In their haste to capture the kid, the robbers will often enter rooms without taking a second to check for traps first. Taken to an extreme in the second movie, where Marv doesn't notice that the room he's entering lacks any kind of floor.
    • How the main protagonist ends up not with the family in the first, second, and sixth installment.
  • The Family for the Whole Family: Somewhat subverted; in the first two films, Harry and Marv eventually end up outwitting and catching Kevin, they plan on killing him (really slowly in the first one), and they're only stopped by the sudden intervention of Marley, and in the second film, the pigeon lady. However, the fact that they didn't just shoot him or at least tie him up at gunpoint to begin with is less than realistic. The lack of swearing from hardened criminals in terrible pain is also quite noticeable. Word is they had to do quite a few retakes because Pesci couldn't shut his filthy mouth. It's justified both times for why they didn't do the above: in the first film, they don't have a gun (which makes sense, as they expect to be robbing empty houses on an empty street), and by the time they grab Kevin are too pissed off to worry about tying him up. In the second, Harry does have a gun and is prepared to use it...but again, he doesn't get the chance until he's put through hell first and the gun's then rendered inoperable from all the gunk Kevin poured on him.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: The first two films are full of it, Harry and Marv in the second film, in particular, should've been dead before the end. That probably makes it more painful if you're a doctor, a police officer, a paramedic, or anyone with basic medical training. For a better idea of just how many times they would have been killed before the credits rolled, watch this video.
  • Fooled by the Sound:
    • Home Alone: Kevin plays gangster clips, or recordings of his jerkass uncle, to scare away intruders. He even manages to hold a dialogue with a pizza delivery guy, by picking out the right lines from the gangster clips.
    • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York: Kevin uses a voice-changing toy to make his own voice sound deeper, pretending to be his father when he makes his hotel reservation by telephone, which fools the hotel staff.
    • In the fifth installment, Finn Baxter uses his computer and a microphone to alter his voice to trick Sinclair into thinking that ghost is haunting the house he and his crew are breaking into.
  • Freudian Threat: Kevin finds himself on the receiving end of a few of these.
    • In the first movie, Harry is pissed after taking a paint can to the face.
      Harry: You bomb me with one more paint can, kid, and I'll snap off your cojones and boil them in motor oil!
    • In the second movie, Uncle Frank warns that if Kevin sees him in the shower, he'll "grow up never feeling like a real man".
  • Gambit Roulette:
    • The traps in some of the movies require knowing what the thieves will do precisely, far beyond "try to steal X object." This is particularly bad since the maker of the traps is a child. Of course, if it was more realistic, the villains would only have to get caught in one or two of the many traps to be either killed or crippled horribly. Although looking at Kevin's floorplans in the first two movies, it's clear that he put booby traps throughout the house, so that wherever the burglars struck, they would find a trap.
    • A particular example in the third movie is the trick used to switch one of the spies' guns for a fake.
    • Also, in the first film, Kevin's idea of using the gangster movie to scare off the pizza boy relies on the pizza boy saying things that the movie's dialogue would work as a response to.
  • Geo Effects: All of the movies give the preteen protagonist a massive home-field advantage as they trap their house.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Way too many to count... There's at least one groin injury per film.
    • One of the ways to dispatch the enemies (specifically the fat fedora man) in Lost in New York's game adaptation involves firing weapons at him, and he's seen clutching down to a certain area upon being hit.
  • Harmless Electrocution:
    • In the second movie, Marv is shocked by an electrified sink, to the point where he briefly becomes a living skeleton. He turns out to be fine after a few minutes.
    • In the third movie, Jernigan sits on a chair electrified by a golf cart battery and comes out with only some burns on his clothes. Unger also gets zapped when he tries to cut a live wire. Beaupre asks for Unger's status, and Unger replies "I'm all right" in a high-pitched voice.
    • In the fifth installment, Finn Baxter first booby traps his room by triggering a stun gun on his father before the father trips on a rope, triggering a tarp to fall on him.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Kevin has shades of this, as pointed out in the Honest Trailers reel. *
  • Hobo Gloves: Harry and Marv each wear a pair of fingerless gloves, which fit in with their characterization as bumbling thieves.
  • Hollywood Healing: Harry and Marv are electrocuted; set on fire; hit with bricks, tools and other assortments; cut; stabbed; crushed; fall multiple stories (two or three times in a few minutes); hit with a shovel; attacked by a flock of pigeons; hit with paint cans and large metal bar (which was then dropped on them)....and they suffer no serious injuries. At all. Screen Junkies analysed the first two films to see the real life injuries that Kevin's traps would have caused; Harry and Marv would have been killed 9 and 14 times respectively, with Marv's number of real-life "deaths" being higher in part due to all the bricks that Kevin tosses at his head.
    "Skull fracture with epidural hematoma. Marv is dead."
  • "Home Alone" Antics: Home Alone is the Trope Namer and Trope Codifier. While the majority of the film is actually about a boy's attempts to live on his own after accidentally being left behind by his parents, and how he manages to buy food, trick people into thinking there are others in the house, and so on, the movie was overwhelmingly remembered for its ending, which consists of the boy setting traps for robbers that are planning to rob his house, and them getting caught in them. The traps only get more violent and extreme in the second movie.
  • Humiliation Conga: If you're a bad guy, you're definitely going to be on the receiving end of one before the end of the film. Even if you manage to kidnap the boy, there's sure to be a Big Damn Heroes moment waiting in the wings.
  • I'll Kill You!: Harry and Marv in the first two films, mostly when they fall for Kevin's traps.
    • After Marv steps on glass ornaments barefoot, he screams "I'M GONNA KILL THAT KID!"
    • When Harry discovers his gold tooth has been knocked out, he gets off Marv and says "I'll kill him!" twice.
    • Marv when a bag of cement falls on him: "I'm gonna murder that kid."
    • Just before Harry and Marv climb up the roof of Uncle Rob's house, the former says "I don't care if I get the chair, I'm killing that kid!"
  • Implacable Man: In the first two films, Harry and Marv are electrocuted; set on fire; hit with bricks, tools and other assortments; cut; stabbed; crushed; fallen multiple stories (two or three times in a few minutes); hit with a shovel; attacked by a flock of pigeons; hit with paint cans and large metal bar (which was then dropped on them)... and they suffer no serious injuries... at all. Even broken noses are instantly fixed. The 3rd film mitigates this a bit with 4 bad guys, meaning the punishment is spread out more evenly.
  • Improvised Weapon:
    • Most of the booby traps are made from toys and other items that a significant number of households would have.
    • Buzz's tarantula becomes one for Kevin during the battle inside the house during the first installment.
    • In the first installment, Old Man Marley uses a snow shovel to knock out the Wet Bandits.
  • In Name Only: The MacCallisters in Home Alone 4 have little to nothing to do with the MacCallisters from the first 2 movies. Similarly, the Wet Bandits are back (though they're never called that), but Harry has been replaced with Marv's wife. Also, instead of building his own traps, Kevin just relies on a technologically advanced smart home to thwart them.
  • Instant Soprano: In the first film, Harry squeals when Kevin shoots him in the balls with a BB gun. The squeal is considerably higher-pitched than most of the subsequent screams of pain the bandits make as they blunder into the rest of Kevin's booby traps.
  • Jerkass:
    • Harry, Buzz and Uncle Frank. Also, the hotel concierge in the second film.
    • It must be a genetic trait in the McCallister family. Apart from Buzz and Frank who are the most obvious jerks, Kevin can be a bit of a Jerkass too; and then there are Kevin's other siblings: Linnie calls him "les incompétents", while Megan and Jeff call him "completely helpless" and "such a disease," respectively. His younger cousin constantly wets the bed—in the second film, it's implied he does it on purpose, or at least finds it amusing that Kevin might have to share a bed with him for that reason.
    • Kate (Kevin's mom) would also qualify before developing into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. At the beginning of the movie, everyone insults Kevin for not being able to pack his suitcase. Then, Buzz deliberately eats Kevin's plain cheese pizza (knowing he hates other toppings) and mockingly offers to barf it up. Kevin promptly attacks him and the worst he caused was getting milk spilled on the table on some passports the night before the trip, and causing some dismay and chaos. His relatives call him a "Little Jerk" and a disease. Kate's reaction to all of the abuse? Sending him to the attic, telling him "It's too late" when he apologizes and declaring, "There are fifteen people in this house, and you're the only one who has to make trouble."
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Kevin is the first to admit he's not always the best kid and can be a pain sometimes, but he does overall have a good heart.
    • Kate appears to be quite neglectful at first, but both movies show that she really cares about Kevin.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Buzz in the second. Sure, Kevin pushes him down after the electric candle debacle, but Buzz still gets away with conning the whole family with an insincere apology after the fact, and suffers no retribution. (He does later sincerely say Kevin got them a great room).
    • Uncle Frank is a complete and utter ass to everyone (including his own wife and kids) and never faces any consequences whatsoever, though Kevin does use Uncle Frank's Jerkass-ness to his advantage in the hotel.
    • The North Korean mobster in the third movie.
    • Johnny, the Ax-Crazy mobster in the Show Within a Show Angels with Filthy Souls apparently survives, given that he was able to appear in a sequel Kevin watches in the second movie (unless it was a prequel) and isn't shown being killed or arrested in that one either.
  • Kids Shouldn't Watch Horror Films:
    • In the first movie, Kevin watches an old gangster movie that he was previously not allowed to see. It ends up scaring him at first. Then he realizes it has more practical uses: so he orders a pizza and uses the audio of that scene to scare the pizza delivery man (although Kevin does pay for the pizza). Later, he reuses the scene again but adds firecrackers in a pan to the bit where Johnny fires his Tommy gun to make it louder and fool Harry and Marv into thinking that someone else has beaten them to the house.
    • In the second movie, Kevin has another sequel to the same gangster movie (which he still wasn't allowed to see). He uses the same movie to ward off the hotel guys and the bellhop that are out to throw him out for misrepresenting himself using his father's credit card by making them get down on their knees and express their love for him, then making them think a Trigger-Happy maniac is in the room.
    • In the fifth movie, Finn's internet friend initially thinks he's imagining things for watching too many horror films.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After the McAllisters verbally abuse Kevin, chose Buzz's words over his and sent Kevin to bed without dinner, they end up having a miserable Christmas without Kevin both in the first film and the sequel.
  • Last-Second Joke Problem:
    • In Home Alone, Kevin defeats the bad guys, reconciles with his entire extended family, and even helps his neighbor Marley reconcile with his family in the meantime. The moment is suddenly ruined when Buzz shouts, "Kevin! What did you do to my room?!" But we're left to assume that Kevin will be okay in the end.
    • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York does it again. This time everything is wonderful until Kevin's dad suddenly realizes how much money he spent on room service.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: Home Alone 4, The Holiday Heist and Home Sweet Home Alone differ significantly from the first three, starting with the fact that both are TV movies that were made without John Hughes' involvement.
    • Home Alone 4 recasts the original characters with different actors and Retcons a lot of the family's original dynamics (the parents are divorced, two of Kevin's older siblings are closer to his own age and the other two aren't seen or mentioned) and Harry is replaced with Marv's wife, while Marv looks and acts like Harry.
    • Both The Holiday Heist and Home Sweet Home Alone were made well after the series was considered finished, and involve entirely different casts of characters (much like Home Alone 3, but John Hughes wrote and produced that one).
  • Leitmotif: Kevin is usually accompanied by an instrumental version of "Somewhere in My Memory". Harry and Marv have their respective leitmotif too, which we could call the "Harry and Marv Theme". Old Man Marley has the Dies Irae in the first movie, which gets turned into the Carol of the Bells, which starts with the same four notes in a different rhythm, after Kevin learns he was Good All Along
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Kevin says a line of resolution before preparing his traps.
    • In the first film:
      Kevin: This is my house. I have to defend it!
    • In the second film:
      Kevin: You can mess with a lot of things, but you can't mess with kids on Christmas.

  • Made of Iron: The crooks in each of the films all suffer injuries that should have severely/permanently incapacitated or disfigured, if not outright killed, them.
  • Major Injury Underreaction:
    • In the first movie, Marv slips down concrete basement stairs. When he hits the bottom, he lets out a simple "Ow." before he tries to get back on his feet.
    • In the third, Alice falls down the dumbwaiter shaft from the attic all the way down into the basement. She lands with a huge thud and utters a monotone "Ouch."
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: The McCallisters all have large families. Peter and Kate have five children (Buzz, Megan, Linnie, Jeff, and Kevin). Uncle Frank and Aunt Leslie have four (Tracy, Sondra, Brooke, and Fuller). Uncle Rob and Aunt Georgette also have five (Heather, Rob and three younger children who are not named).
  • Multiple Gunshot Death: In both Angels films that appear on the first two movies, Johnny the gangster utterly annihilates whoever pissed him off (another gangster that is asking him for money in the first, a two-timing girlfriend in the second) by shooting them for about a minute straight with a Tommy Gun, while laughing like a madman the entire time. The girlfriend gets it even worse — Johnny gives her two Bond One-Liners ("Merry Christmas, you filthy animal!") and then another burst ("...and a Happy New Year!") and then one last bullet for kicks.
  • No One Should Survive That!: The first film had a variety of traps that would either inconvenience the burglars, or seriously injure them. The sequel however, takes this to absurd heights, when Kevin throws not one, but four clay bricks from several stories up straight at Marv's head. This is not a case of Anthropic Principle or Acceptable Breaks from Reality. A clay brick WILL kill you.
    "Skull fracture with epidural hematoma. Marv is dead." (repeat three times)
  • No Peripheral Vision: Numerous follies would've been easily avoided if the guys had a modicum of vision.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: In the first film, the guy in the Santa suit hastily throws his cigarette away so that Kevin doesn't see "Santa" smoking.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • For Kevin:
      • Played for Laughs at the beginning of the first film when Kevin is told to pack his suitcase.
      • Not so funny later on when Kevin wakes up hearing the Wet Bandits' van door slam shut and seeing their silhouettes through the curtains for the first time.
      • Kevin when he sees Harry in the van smiling with his gold tooth glinting, making him realize he was the same "police officer" in the beginning. Unfortunately, this clues Harry in that Kevin knows about him.
      • Near the end of the second movie. It turned out Harry wasn't bluffing from an earlier scene; he really did have a gun in his coat pocket and fully intended to use it on Kevin. And Harry was also true to his word when he told Kevin flat-out that he had no qualms about knocking off a child on Christmas.
      • When Harry and Marv hang him on the coat hook near the end of the first film and tell him they are going to put him through his own traps. And before that, when Kevin goes through the door at the top of the basement stairs only to run straight into Harry and Marv.
      • At the end of the first film, when Buzz yells from upstairs: "KEVIN! WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY ROOM?!" Uh-oh...
      • When he's standing outside Duncan's Toy Chest and hears "Hiya, pal!" from Harry, realizing Harry and Marv are behind him.
      • When Mr. Hector declares Mr. McCallister's credit card stolen and plans to bring the police. And later, when Harry rips Kevin's plane ticket, leaving him no way of getting home, with Marv throwing in a not so Implied Death Threat just to drive it home.
      • Similar to the one at the end of the first film, Kevin gets another at the end of the second when Buzz alerts Peter to his very expensive room service bill.
        Peter: KEVIN! YOU SPENT $967 ON ROOM SERVICE?!
    • Harry:
      • In the first film just before Marley hits him with a snow shovel.
      • In the second film when he realizes he is standing on a makeshift seesaw and tries to warn Marv not to step on the other end. Unfortunately, Marv doesn't listen in time, lands on the other end, and catapults Harry into the air, and he lands on and crushes a car.
        Harry: *gasp* Marv— !
      • Later when he looks in the mirror and realizes his head is on fire (again).
      • When he chases Kevin up a ladder and realized the ladder is about to break under his weight.
    • Marv:
      • When he notices Harry is about to run Kevin over. He screams "HEY, WATCH OUT!" and Harry brakes just in time.
      • When he sticks his head through the doggy door and realizes Kevin is about to shoot him.
      • In the sequel, every time he sees Kevin about to throw a brick after the first.
      • After he slips on the soap on the basement floor and sees the paint shelf about to topple on him.
      • When he sees the iron about to fall on him in the first film and when he sees the bag of cement mix about to fall on him in the sequel.
      • When he noticed the pigeons surrounding them as Harry was about to shoot Kevin.
    • Both Harry and Marv:
      • In the first film when Kevin is about to cut the rope to the treehouse on which they are climbing.
      • They each get another in the first film just before they get hit with the paint cans.
      • In the second film when he is about to light the rope down which they are climbing on fire and later after they fall off and see the cans of varnish about to fall on them.
    • Kate briefly when she has Kevin's ticket and he's not around. Fortunately for her, he was sitting on the front seat. And again, when they lost him. AGAIN.
  • One-Steve Limit: Peter McCallister and Peter Beaupre.
  • Overly Long Scream:
    • Kevin's famous imitation of "The Scream" or Marv's very female-sounding scream once Kevin puts a tarantula on him. There is also the scream after a nail goes through Marv's foot on the tar-covered basement steps.
    • Marv's other scream when the pigeons swarm all over him and Harry.
  • Parent Service: The last four films all feature attractive female burglars in skintight pants who have various liquids thrown on them.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • In the first film, the police's response to a hysterical mother's report of a child stranded alone for over a day is disinterest and to keep passing Kate on to other (equally uninterested) colleagues. Eventually they grudgingly send an officer round to the McCallister house, but after knocking on the door a couple of times and getting no answer he decides no one is home and suggests the family re-count their children. In reality, they probably would have actually done something like check inside to see if anyone was there. Averted in the climax when Kevin calls 911 while fending off the Wet Bandits; multiple squad cars show up minutes later to apprehend them.
    • Averted in the second film. An officer at the Miami PD takes the McCallisters missing persons report very seriously and gets annoyed with them for joking about forgetting Kevin. He also suggests using Peter's credit cards to locate Kevin if he uses them, and that successfully leads the family to New York. When the NYPD catch the Sticky Bandits, they waste no time arresting them after finding them with incriminating evidence (though Marv doesn't help by revealing their plans). Another officer in New York offers Kate a ride when she realizes where Kevin is.
    • Played straight in the third film where the police let the spies get away twice, prompting Alex to take matters into his own hands.
  • Product Placement:
    • Fuller is shown drinking a Pepsi in the first movie, and then drinking a Coca-Cola in the second.
    • American Airlines is the official airline of the McCallister family and large suburban families nationwide.
    • The VHS for the first film even contains an AA ad featuring footage from the movie!
    • When Kevin goes grocery shopping in the first installment, the viewer can see Kraft Macaroni and Cheese microwaveable dinner, Wonder Bread, and Tide laundry detergent.
    • In the first movie, Kate hitches a ride on a Budget rental truck.
    • The second film contains extensive product placement for the Plaza Hotel, then owned by Donald Trump.
    • The second movie has Kevin tipping the Plaza Hotel bellhop with a stick of Fruit Stripe gum.
    • The sixth movie has some particularly blatant ones, from the scene of Max going to sit in the BMW basically showcasing all the nice features therein, to Max randomly having a box of Froot Loops in his backpack for no discernible reason.
  • Put the "Laughter" in "Slaughter": In both the first and second movie, there's a Gangster Film Within a Film (Angels with Filthy Souls and Angels with Even Filthier Souls) in which a 1930s mobster uses his Tommy Gun to gun down various people while he laughs psychotically.
  • Recycled Premise: The second film was Home Alone in New York, the third film was Home Alone with spies as the bad guys, the fourth film was Home Alone in a smart house, and the fifth film was Home Alone set in Maine.
  • Recorded Spliced Conversation:
    • In the first, Kevin McAllister uses a VHS of the gangster film Angels With Filthy Souls to pull this on a pizza delivery guy—both to hide that he's alone in the house, and to screw with the guy. When the delivery shows up, Kevin plays the movie, pausing or fast-forwarding where appropriate to sound like a conversation with the gangster Johnny... ending with the bit where Johnny pulls out a full-auto rifle and threatens to "pump your guts fulla lead!"
    • In Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Kevin pulls the same trick, this time using the sequel Angels With Even Filthier Souls to scare away hotel staff who realized he was paying for the room with a stolen credit card.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Harry is the red to Marv's blue.
    • Peter is the blue to Kate's red and to Frank's red.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Basically the only reason for Harry and Marv to go after Kevin as much as they do, despite knowing that the kid is fully prepared for them with an array of very painful booby traps.
  • Running Gag:
    • In the first movie, a car running into and toppling the oddly-placed statue on the McCallisters' frontyard. In the sequel, the first van misses the statue... but the second van still manages to hit it.
    • In the first two movies, Uncle Frank insults Kevin:
      • In the first movie: "Look what you did, you little jerk!"
      • In the second movie: "Get out of here, you nosy little pervert, or I'm gonna slap you silly!"
    • In the first two movies, the family watches It's a Wonderful Life in a different language while in a hotel: first French, then Spanish. Likewise, Kevin watches How the Grinch Stole Christmas! while alone.
    • At the end of the first two, one of the other McCallisters would yell at Kevin for something bad he did while they were gone/separated (trashing Buzz's room in the first, and spending "$967 ON ROOM SERVICE!!!!" with Peter's credit card in the second).
    • Regarding the gangster movie Angels with Filthy Souls and the sequel Angels with Even Filthier Souls:
      • Kevin covers his eyes when a character gets shot. Then he uses the movie to trick people, and he mouths the "ya filthy animal."
      • Kevin uses both films to fool people who are after him.
    • Kevin and his family do not understand how to tip people.
  • Say My Name: "KEVIN!!"
  • "The Scream" Parody: Once per movie. As the page image above shows, it's even in the poster.
  • Series Continuity Error: The second film takes place one year after the original and it is stated numerous times that Kevin is 10 years old. In the original, he was 8.
  • Shockingly Expensive Bill:
    • In the first installment, Kate is initially baffled that pizza can cost $120 until Frank explains that it is ten pies total.
    • During the fifth installment, Finn is shocked at the high cash register total at the hardware store when he tries to get supplies to break Alexis out of the safe.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Harry's last name is "Lime".
    • Harry's mishap with the heated doorknob, coupled with the fact that the design on the metal gets seared into his hand and he soothes it by plunging his hand into the snow, are very reminiscent of Toht's hand getting burned by a medallion that had been dropped in a fire in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • Slasher Smile:
    • In both of the gangster spoofs, Johnny sports one before gunning down his victim.
    • Kevin just before he cuts the rope from the treehouse on which Harry and Marv are dangling.
    • Harry and Marv when Kevin discovers them after sneaking in the neighbor's house from the basement.
    • The concierge in the second movie has one when he discovers that Kevin used his father's credit card to check into the Plaza.
    • Harry and Marv when they find Kevin outside Duncan's Toy Chest.
    • Harry and Marv again after Kevin slips on the ice at the entrance to Central Park.
  • Something We Forgot: "KEVIN!!!"
  • Stylistic Suck: The Angels with Filthy Souls films are clearly intended to be both homages and parodies of 1930s gangster films.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Harry gives a couple of these, once in the first film after slipping off the ice-covered steps and landing on his back, and again in the sequel after falling on a car. Played for Laughs, of course.
  • Undercrank: Utilized in the first and second films when the families are scrambling to get ready to go to the airport after oversleeping.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Harry and Marv clearly don't take Kevin seriously as a threat in the first movie and get busted for it, a mistake that Harry acknowledges in the sequel.

"Keep the change, ya filthy animal."


Video Example(s):


Mitch Murphy

A neighborhood kid named Mitch Murphy hangs around the transportation shuttles and gets mistakenly counted during the headcount, inadvertantly causing Kevin to be left home alone.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / SmallRoleBigImpact

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