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Film / Inglourious Basterds

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We're gonna be doin' one thing and one thing only: killin' Nat-zis.

"We ain't in the prisoner-takin' business. We're in the killin' Nat-zi business. And cousin, business is a-BOOMIN'."

Inglourious Basterds (2009) is the sixth film by Quentin Tarantino. It is told in five chapters:

  1. Chapter 1: Once Upon a Time in Nazi-occupied France
  2. Chapter 2: The Inglourious Basterds
  3. Chapter 3: A German Night in Paris
  4. Chapter 4: Operation Kino
  5. Chapter 5: Revenge of the Giant Face

Set in World War II, this movie is about a group of Jewish-American commandos and their loose-cannon hillbilly leader and numerous plots to assassinate the Nazi leadership. The Jewish soldiers are known to the Germans as "The Basterds," a terrifying group who massacre as many Nazis as they can find, scalping each one but leaving a single man alive to spread the word of their deeds. Oh, but not without carving a swastika into his forehead with a bowie knife.

A young German sniper finds himself the subject of Goebbels' latest propaganda film, Stolz Der Nation, the premiere of which he decides to relocate to a small cinema owned by a woman he takes a liking to. Unbeknownst to him, this woman is a Jew whose family was massacred by the Nazis four years earlier, and she takes the opportunity of so many Nazi leaders coming to her cinema to take revenge. Upon finding out about the premiere, the Basterds also plot to destroy Hitler and his high command at the event despite being pursued by the SS officer who slaughtered the cinema owner's family.


This being Tarantino, an orgy of violence is inevitable and duly happens.

A large source of confusion derives from Tarantino letting the script get out of hand (read miniseries). This planned miniseries was scrapped when a friend of Tarantino told him he's the only director who actually gets him to go to the theater. So he scrapped most of the plot and backstories, and what was left was a movie in which the titular Basterds were not quite focused on.

On a sad note, the film is the final collaboration between Tarantino and editor Sally Menke, who edited all of his films until her death in 2010.

Huge spoilers lie ahead.


The Basterds provyde inglourious exampels of the following troeps:

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  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: For a supposed action film, its quiet (and often dramatic) moments seem to outnumber the actual action parts of the movie.
  • Adolf Hitlarious: "NEIN!—NEIN!—NEIN!—NEIN!—NEIN!—NEIN!—NEIN!" The entire sequence to follow is filled with enough gags (visual and audible) to please Mel Brooks himself.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • This isn't the first movie where Brad Pitt fights in a basement.
    • Pitt also played a soldier who cut off German scalps in Legends of the Fall, though in World War I that time. Aldo Raine also mentions a past in bootlegging, something Brad Pitt's character in the former was also involved in.
    • Eli Roth gets to do some of the more gruesome killings in the film. Coincidence? And this isn't the first time he's played a "bear"—in Death Proof, his character was named "Dov," which means "bear" in Hebrew.
    • Mike Myers doing a character with a faux-English accent who's involved with international espionage? Yeah, baby.
  • Actor-Inspired Element: Shosanna's film for the Nazis was originally going to be in French. Melanie Laurent felt it would have more of an impact if it was in English, and it was changed as a result.
  • Advertised Extra: A commonly cited complaint against the film is that the Basterds themselves come off as this.
  • Affectionate Parody: Way too many people, possibly those who haven't watched a lot of old movies, don't realize that most of this movie is composed of send-ups of classic scenes from World War Two movies (particularly the bar scene, with the SS officer noticing the accent and the massive shootout, with even the bartender taking out a gun), all done on a bigger, flashier, and more melodramatic scale. It also includes music from Kelly's Heroes in the scene where one of the Basterds in the movie theater is going upstairs back into the theater to alert the other to get ready to kill Hitler. As they say, Quentin Tarantino isn't in the business of making movies about anything in particular. He is in the business of making movies about movies.
  • All Germans Are Nazis: Zigzagged. On the one hand, Aldo treats even ordinary German soldiers like they were Nazis, but on the other he accepts Stiglitz into the Basterds since he's obviously not, having killed 13 Gestapo officers. Von Hammersmark provides another notable exception.
  • Alternate History: There are a few conscious deviations from history, with the largest being Adolf Hitler and most of the Nazi leaders are killed in a French movie theater in June 1944.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Aldo Raine is an interesting case. He's placed in charge of a unit of commandos who are all Jewish, but we never learn if he's Jewish himself. Nothing about his name or personality suggests that he's Jewish, but he does seem to have a personal hatred for Nazis that goes beyond simple enemies of war. Tarantino says his hatred of Nazis has to do with his years fighting The Klan (who, ironically, were despised by the Nazis despite their common antisemitism). The scar on his neck was likely from a lynching. Whether this is because he's Jewish, part-Native American, or some other reason is unknown.
  • America Won World War II:
    • Subverted. On the surface, it looks like a group of Jewish American commandos is going to turn the tides of WWII. In reality, their plot to kill Hitler and other high-ranking Nazis would have failed spectacularly; the Basterds win only thanks to a Nazi turncoat (whose very presence would have wrecked the plan if he didn't decide to become a Glory Hound), a vengeful French Jewish woman and her French African partner — who will quite possibly never get the credit for their exploit. In fact, their involvement almost thwarts the plan. Had the Basterds not tried anything, Shosanna would have killed the Nazi leadership without a hitch. On the other hand, had Landa done his duty as head of security then probably nobody would have succeeded, and he needed the Basterds to make the deal that motivated him not to do said duty, so the Basterds were necessary in a way. Double subversion?
    • On the other hand, Shosanna's plan was somewhat poorly thought out: while she has trapped the bulk of the audience in the burning auditorium, it is very likely that Hitler and his men would have escaped from the opera box, especially with the aid of the two armed guards shooting out the glass door that would be the only thing between them and freedom. Had the Basterds not killed Hitler, he would have escaped; and in fact had the Basterds not opened fire on the panicked auditorium then the bulk of them would have likely broken down the doors through sheer numbers (or found the stage door Marcel left open). The Basterds' plan was entirely independent of Shosanna's and killed Hitler with more finality minutes before the exploding cinema could have done that.
  • American Accents: Brad Pitt speaks in a thick Appalachian accent. It's actually pretty accurate to the time period.
  • Anti-Hero
  • Anyone Can Die: Up to and including HITLER. Oh, and only three characters out of an enormous ensemble make it out of the movie alive. Four, if you count Marcel. Although he's not shown leaving the cinema, he enters via the back door to set the fire, leaving it open and presumably exiting the same way. Also counts as an inversion of Black Dude Dies First.
  • Artistic License – Military: Hugo Stiglitz killed 13 Gestapo officers, then was broken free by the Basterds. His picture was already shown on the newspaper seen in the film, so unless the Gestapo hushed his breakout up to avoid embarrassment (and you'd assume they'd be care more for their own skin than the embarrassment, given his Gestapo-killing tendencies), his face would be on wanted posters - the military would at least be on a lookout for him, if not the general populace (and even then the Gestapo may have weighed up embarrassment-versus-survival and told them too). With all this in mind, he walks into a bar full of German soldiers (and one SS who sits down with him and refers to him directly when talking about accents) and no one recognises him. And this is on top of Sergeant Rachtmann's assertion that 'everyone in the German army has heard of Hugo Stiglitz'.
  • Author Appeal: Quentin Tarantino's foot fetish pops up again: see Insert Cameo.
  • Autobiographical Role: In-Universe.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Hugo Stiglitz, who killed 13 Gestapo officers in various ways and is visibly creepy.
    • Lt. Aldo Raine also counts. In spite of his rank and all-American good looks, he is little more than a bloodthirsty sadist who really gets off on carving swastikas into the heads of German prisoners-of-war regardless of whether or not they are Nazis. The rest of his team count as well, from baseball-bat executions to scalping the dead.
  • Badass Boast: "We will be cruel to the German, and through our cruelty he will know who we are. And he will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered, and disfigured bodies of his brothers we leave behind us..."
    Shoshana: I have a message to Germany: that you are all going to die.
  • Badass Mustache: Aldo has one.
  • Bathos:
    • The first scene is quiet and brimming with deadly tension. In the middle of it, Landa smokes from a very large and flashy pipe.
    • Arguably done in the restaurant scene where Landa is talking to Shosanna about her cinema. The scene spends ample time watching Landa order dessert and coffee, sweeten his coffee, and eat his dessert while interrogating the young Jewish lady, and all the while the audience shares Shosanna's palpable terror that any second, Landa will miraculously discern her true heritage.
  • Batter Up!: Sgt. Donny Donowitz's preferred method of killing German soldiers, signed by every Jew in the Boston metro area. Played by Eli Roth. How appropriate.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted with young Shosanna, whose face is full of dirt and blood as she escapes from her hideout in the Action Prologue.
  • Best Served Cold: Shosanna's plot. Well, probably not too cold, but at the very least, lukewarm. Or burning hot with hellfire. And somewhat dead, but then undead, given that she was killed right before it began.
  • Bilingual Backfire:
    • The Basterds' and Frau von Hammersmark's plan of infiltrating the theater involved them speaking Italian as the Germans do not know the accents (and they wouldn't have to repeat the bar incident), but one of the people they meet is Hans Landa, who knows Italian and is pretty much able to confirm his suspicions about them by their atrocious accents.
    • Earlier in the film, Landa was cautious about this trope but finds that he didn't need to be concerned because the family under the floor didn't react to any of the English he and Pierre La Padite spoke.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Some scenes with foreign language are deliberately left without subtitles, in particular the one with Shosanna and Zoller in the cafe where none of the German is subtitled. Since it's from Shosanna's point-of-view, it is somewhat justified.
    • Landa's French is very good, and when he makes his excuse that he's "run out of French," he's actually quite articulate. This is an early clue, in fact, the only one, to warn us that he only is doing it because he is aware that the Jews hiding under the floorboards do not speak English.
    • Mainland Europeans (or people who understand Germany very well) will quickly pick up on Hicox's accent and the wrong hand gesture he uses (which ultimately gives him away as a spy) before any of the characters do.
    • Also rather hilariously inverted with the Film Within a Film Nation's Pride, in which dialogue spoken by American characters are in English and subtitled in German.
    • In the subtitles, select words are untranslated because Tarantino apparently decided that their English meanings are easy to translate. "Merci" and "Oui" for instance.
    • Landa calls all of his military assistants "Hermann," which means "army man."
    • The Basterds' plan to kill the German high command at the movies is "Operation Kino." "Kino" is German for "cinema."
  • Bittersweet Ending: On the one hand, Hitler's dead and the war's over. On the other, pretty much every sympathetic character (and most of the unsympathetic ones, and a couple of guys we really didn't know that much about...) had to die to make it happen. And Landa will get away with everything he has done with almost no consequences (aside from getting a swastika painfully carved in his forehead.)
  • Black and Gray Morality: The film shows how war fosters brutality on both sides.
  • Black-Tie Infiltration: Three of the surviving soldiers masquerade as cameramen to get into the big movie opening in order to assassinate Hitler. It might have worked, if only they hadn't run into Colonel Landa...
  • Blast Out: The tavern's (first) Mexican Standoff ends this way. Everyone is killed in the course of a gunfight that lasts only 15 seconds.
  • Blatant Lies: In the opening scene Hans Landa speaks impeccable, erudite and near-native level French with Monsieur Lapadite, only to very politely inform him at one point that he's 'exhausted' his 'limited' abilities in French, and that the two should go on speaking English. Even if that should have tipped off the Dreyfus family hiding under the floorboards, from their point of view staying put was likely still far more prudent.
  • Blood Knight: The Basterds are a squad of them. Their one mission is to kill as many Nazis as possible and cause fear and mayhem amongst them.
  • Brawn Hilda: The female soldier, Beethoven, in the tavern demonstrates her willingness to kick the asses of her male compatriots.
  • Break the Haughty: This happens to Landa at the end when he gets a swastika carved into his skull.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: It's unclear whether Landa recognizes or suspects who Shosanna is when they meet at the restaurant. His politely pushy demeanor to her and his order of milk might be deliberate callbacks to their prior meeting, or he could have no idea who she is and simply be behaving normally. She, on the other hand, remembers exactly who he is.
  • Cacophony Cover Up: Happens accidentally when Shosanna shoots Zoller in the projection booth. Her gun goes off at the same time a shoot-out occurs in the movie screened which avoids arousing suspicion in the audience.
  • The Cameo:
  • Call-Back: Hicox notes that Stiglitz isn't quite the loquacious type, then when called on it, admits the loquacious type isn't who he needs for this mission. When they get to the "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner (below), he knows exactly who should deliver the line.
  • Carved Mark: Swastikas carved into the foreheads of surviving Nazis.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: The entire Mexican Standoff. And they need a freaking drink!
  • Catch-Phrase: At least three times during the movie, there is a scene where one character asks another if they understand, and then says "Can you explain..." Happens so frequently that it really makes you wonder why any of them ever asks the question in the first place.
  • Censored Title: The announcer in TV ads for the movie in the UK before Watershed would just call the movie Inglorious. Some of them, mysteriously, showed the full title onscreen; note however that whilst the spelling of "Basterds" doesn't match the spelling of the curse, the pronunciation does, which is probably why only a verbal censor was used pre-watershed (as failing to fully advertise the title would only serve to confuse). In the UK the film is shown on Sky Movies and it is titled Inglourious B***s on Sky's Planner/TV Guide.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: Several Chekhov themes are prevalent throughout the film:
    • Chekhov's Gunman: Major Dieter Hellstrom is given a brief introduction, and makes another unimportant background appearance, but later serves as the initiator of the first Mexican Standoff in the bar after Hicox accidentally blows his cover.
    • Chekhov's Gun:
      • von Hammersmark's autograph and missing shoe leads to her capture and death.
      • Shosanna is briefly shown loading the pistol that kills Zoller.
  • Closest Thing We Got: The Basterds take Von Hammersmark to a vet after she gets shot.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Two of them. The first is at first unwilling, the second has his ass beaten by Shosanna and Marcel. Three, if you count Francesca Mondino, Goebbels' translator/mistress.
  • Compensating for Something: After watching Perrier LaPadite smoke a standard corncob pipe for several minutes during the dairy farm scene, Landa asks if he might join him.... and produces a ludicrously huge, Sherlock Holmes-style calabash. Raine's Bowie knife is also exceptionally larger.
  • Continuity Nod: The only black person in the film is named Marcel. Also, Sgt. Donny Donowitz, aka "The Bear Jew," is reported to be the father of Lee Donowitz from True Romance, which Tarantino wrote.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Landa's whole ploy to get La Padite to tell him the Dreyfuses' whereabouts works only because La Padite just happens to be fluent in English (something extremely rare for a French farmer in the 1940s).note 
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Aldo expresses a desire to force Nazis to wear their uniform for the rest of their lives, so everyone will know they were a Nazi. However, he freely admits that simply isn't practical, as sooner or later they'd have to take it off. So he gives them a little something they can't take off...
  • Cool Guns: The Sedgley OSS .38 caliber glove pistol that is used to take out the guards outside the theatre box. You punch it into the target to fire the bullet. It's awesome and based on a real OSS weapon.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: With disastrous results. In the tavern scene, Lt. Hicox seems to avoid this until he orders three Scotches using his index, middle and ring fingers — supposedly like a Brit — as opposed to his index, middle and thumb — like a German. This blows his cover and results in everyone in the bar except Hammersmark and a Heer grunt dying in a 15 second shootout.
  • Covers Always Lie: Shosanna is actually not a Basterd. And the Basterds are much less prominent than you'd think (see also Never Trust a Trailer).
  • Creator Cameo: Tarantino's head is the first one seen being actively scalped in the film and his hands can be seen in Chapter 5 doubling for Christoph Waltz's (See Insert Cameo). He also plays an American soldier in the Nation's Pride film.
  • Critical Research Failure: In-Universe. Hicox was not ready to go on a spy mission. He was fluent in German, but not flawless and as a result his accent was easily spotted by an untrained enlisted man. Likewise he did not know to watch for certain tell-tale mannerisms and was ultimately undone by using the wrong gesture for three. He also is noticeably uneasy and impatient at the meeting in the tavern. Compare this to Bridget who is very relaxed. Granted she did not have to worry about passing for German. But she knew to be friendly with everyone around here and act like she was just out for a drink with old friends as opposed to acting like it was a serious meeting. She even tells them how suspicious it would be if they met in a bar and didn't have a drink. However this is all justified as British high command recognized that they had a golden opportunity to take out the entire German high command, but only a short time to prepare for it. An Lt. who speaks fluent German and is well versed in German Cinema was the best option they had at such short notice and had a group of soldiers, and the SS officer watching over them, not been at the tavern they likely would've been fine.
  • Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: Aldo Raine when Landa is surrendering.
  • Darkest Hour: Happens for the Basterds after the bar scene, where they lose their German-speaking members and their mole is shot in the leg the day before Operation Kino.
  • Death by Pragmatism: Bridget von Hammersmark
  • Decapitation Strike: "Operation Kino", a joint SOE/OSS plan where almost the entire Nazi high command - including Goebbels, Goering, Bormann, and even Adolf Hitler himself - is to be blown up while attending the premiere of a major propaganda movie in Paris. Surprisingly, it goes off almost without a hitch.
  • Deconstruction:
    • Some people see this movie as a deconstruction of the traditional Hollywood historical epic, particularly those about World War II. Such movies often play faster and looser with history than the average viewer realizes, and can be unintentionally insulting in their reductiveness. By intentionally writing an alternate history, and going for fun action over a serious statement, Tarantino disputes whether such movies really work as actual history lessons, or at the very least, mocks how seriously these movies take themselves.
    • Or, if you take it as straight-forward, the film is formatted in the style of a World War II propaganda movie made as though it was made in 1944-45 just as the Normandy Landings are happening. In this, Inglourious Basterds is no different than Mrs. Miniver, Casablanca, Desperate Journey, or other war films made while the war was still raging, meaning the real ending of Hitler committing suicide in his bunker hadn't happened yet. Meaning the Basterds could depict its version of the war however it liked.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The Basterds take up far less screen time than you might expect.
  • Deep Cover Agent: When Hans Landa switches sides, he demands to be given a cover identity as one.
  • Desecrating the Dead: Sergeant Donowitz has the pleasure of killing Adolf Hitler. The theater is burning, the exits are blocked, and bombs are set to detonate. But that's not enough for "the Bear Jew," who repeatedly changes magazines to continue pumping bullets into Hitler's body.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: SS Colonel Hans Landa uses such a large and ornate pipe that it seems that he's trying too hard for this trope.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The scene where Nazi High Command desperately tries to escape a burning cinema, only to encounter locked doors and machine gun fire, are reminiscent of Jews dying in gas chambers. Especially better since the people who plotted their deaths were mostly Jews.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Zoller. Until he suddenly stops being nice. See Kick the Dog.
  • Doomed by Canon: Magnificently subverted.
  • Doppelgänger: Hellstrom acts a lot like Landa... Without his cleverness, politeness towards his victims and self preservation sense though. The kind of behavior that makes you say "auf wiedersehen" to your Nazi balls.
  • Downer Beginning: Chapter 1 - "Once Upon a Time in Nazi Occupied France", has Shosanna's parents and siblings being exterminated by Landa's troops, while she is either allowed to escape or Landa's gun could not reach her at that distance.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Zoller gets the premiere of his movie, along with all its high prestige guests, moved to a theater of a woman he doesn't even know.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Donny, Omar, Stiglitz, Hicox, Zoller. And, for some people, Rachtmann.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: All the basterds (save Raine himself) seem to have pale skin and very dark hair. Quite possibly a Phenotype Stereotype intended to mark them as Jews.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Landa uses this to get under Utivich's skin, telling him that he thinks it's unfair that Utivich has been nicknamed "The Little Man" by the Wehrmacht, when he's not really that little. Given that it's Landa doing the talking, it's not clear if he was serious or not.
  • Ensemble Cast: Mélanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, and Brad Pitt.
  • Entitled to Have You: Zoller, when he finally gets fed up with Shosanna's rebuffs. He's gotten used to being treated like royalty for his heroic actions in the war, and he becomes violent after one too many snubs from her. It's especially jarring because before this he's been portrayed as a pretty nice guy and rather humble about his "heroism", although his absolute refusal to take "no" for an answer or show any respect for Shosanna's feelings makes him come off as a menacing Stalker with a Crush.
  • Establishing Character Music: Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz is introduced with an electric guitar riff to cement his badassery.
  • Evil Laugh: Landa explodes with diabolical laughter at least twice. Later, Shosanna indulges in this in her message for the Nazis as the film burns and the Basterds kill the crowd.
  • Evil Overlooker: This movie poster.
  • Eye Scream: A soldier or two in the Nation's Pride film get Moe Greene Specials.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Sergeant Rachtman, the Wehrmacht soldier that Donny beats to death with a bat.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner:
    • Stiglitz tells Hellstrom to say "auf Wiedersehen" to his Nazi balls.
    • Hicox says, "There's a special circle in Hell for people who waste good scotch. Seeing as I may be rapping on the door momentarily..." and downs the glass.
    • Rachtman is asked if he got his Iron Cross for killing Jews. He simply states "Bravery" before Donowitz beats him to death.
  • Fanservice: The under-dressed cigarette serving girls at the movie premiere. This is entirely in-keeping with the standard Nazi decadence, so it's Truth in Television.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Landa switches sides to the Americans and has a swastika carved into his head. Now he can never return to Germany and will spend his life in America as a pariah.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Landa is a pretty genial man whenever he wants to be, unfortunately the fact he's a master Nazi interrogator with a horrifying reputation (and the Red Baron nickname "The Jew Hunter") means that even when he's not actively using said affability as a weapon in his mind games, there is a pretty dreary aura dangling over the scene.
  • Final Girl: At different points, both Shosanna and Von Hammersmark take their turns in this role, although neither survives to be the last to kill the killers. Then again, arguably they each do, as both of their plans come together to murder all the Nazis in the theater, including Hitler and Goebbels.
  • Food Porn: That scene with the strudel. Also has to count as some sort of dissonance considering Shosanna's state of mind during this part (to pour salt on the wound, there's a lot of dairy involved as well).
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Hitler expresses fear of the "Bear Jew" and the idea that he's a golem summoned by the Jews. At the end of the movie, the Bear Jew mows Hitler down with gunfire and continues to blast his head to a fine jelly.
    • There's quite a bit of evidence that Landa isn't that in line with Nazi ideology, foreshadowing his betrayal of them. In the opening scene, he speaks negatively of Reinhard Heydrich, saying that he deserves his nickname "The Hangman", and admits that he doesn't like Hitler's propaganda about the Jews. In his scene with Shosanna, upon learning that she employs a black projectionist, he admits that they might do well in that line of work. He does tell her that Goebbels wouldn't trust Marcel to do the job right, but it would still be quite unorthodox for a Nazi to suggest that a black man might be suited for a job other than manual labor.
    • "I look forward to seeing you face-to-face as well."
    • A very brief Reaction Shot of Hellstrom's expression as Hicox orders three drinks foreshadows the fact that he's discovered Hicox's true identity.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Averted. The audience assumes that the plan to kill Hitler will fail because of history but Tarantino doesn't really care much about that.
  • For Want of a Nail: The existence of Colonel Hans Landa and the Basterds results in Hitler getting machine-gunned to death and the war in Europe ending a year early. This also seems to imply that Inglourious Basterds is the start of the hidden Shared Universe that Tarantino's films had mostly taken place in. Hitler's assassination in a movie theater inspires Americans to become (even more) obsessed with pop culture and partake in long-winded discussions about them.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Sort of. In the lightning-fast testicles shooting contest involving Hicox, Stiglitz, and Hellstrom, you can see how Von Hammersmark's wound is made. Now it all happens in 15 seconds, so....
  • Funny Background Event:
    • Just watch Brad Pitt's face from the moment Landa approaches them in the cinema and he realizes their plan is a terrible idea.
    • Any scene where Stiglitz is around Nazis or they're even mentioned in passing. His murder-face throughout the whole bar scene is downright hilarious, and the viewer can clearly see how much he wants to maim and kill everyone around him. To a lesser extent, Hicox's pained facial expressions when an SS officer joins their table are pretty priceless, too.

  • Gambit Pileup: Subverted. Everyone's made separate plans, but they're all trying to do the same thing.
  • Genocide Backfire: The Jews are sent to fight back against the Nazis. Hitler gets killed by two Basterds and a French Jew who lost her family to Landa.
  • Gilligan Cut: "She was picking a place that's isolated, and without Germans". Cuts to tavern full of partying Germans.
  • The Girl Who Fits This Slipper: Bridget von Hammersmark gets killed by Landa because the shoe she left behind fits perfectly.
  • Golem: Donny Donowitz, the Bear Jew himself, is thought to be a golem by several Nazis.
  • Gorn: The scalpings, carved swastikas, and Hitler and friends getting blown apart by MP-40 fire.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The introduction of the forehead swastika is possibly the sole example in a movie filled with dead soldiers getting scalped and bodies being shredded with gunfire all within full view of the camera. Then again, that was probably just an artistic choice to hide what was actually being done until it could be revealed dramatically. A Nazi officer has a swastika carved on his head at the end of the movie, and it is shown in gruesome detail.
  • Gratuitous English: Subverted by the justifying revelation that Landa picked a language that the Jews he was hunting could not understand. He's also quite fluent in it.
  • Groin Attack: How the first Mexican Standoff is begun. And ends.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The Bear Jew's clinking bat in the tunnel.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: The Basterds are on a mission that requires them to perform atrocities, and they seem to take great pleasure in it, from scalping the dead to mutilating prisoners to beating the rest to death with a bat. However, because they're fighting Nazi soldiers, they occupy the "hero" slot by default. On the other hand, Fredrick Zoller is presented as one by Nazi propaganda, but his actual reaction to the footage shows that he is not proud of having killed so many.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: A number of examples:
    • Shosanna died while attempting to kill the entire German high command.
    • Donny and Omar in the theater die in a suicide mission to kill the entire German high command and end the war.
    • The German soldier who refuses to put German lives at risk, even though he technically isn't a hero (he's got medals for bravery though). Aldo Raine lampshades his heroic sacrifice for his country when calling in Donowitz to execute him.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: Hans Landa switches from French to English during his conversation with the farmer in the opening scene. He claims it is because his French is limited, even though he's obviously fluent; he is in fact making sure the Jews hiding under the floorboards can't understand the conversation.
  • Historical In-Joke: Goebbels freaks out at the mention of Lilian Harvey's name. It makes sense if you know that she had an acrimonious relationship with the Nazi party and allegedly helped some Jewish filmmakers escape Germany. Even then, it still works as a Noodle Incident.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: While no time travel was involved, the cardinal "Don't kill Adolf Hitler" rule is broken.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Nazis were trapped in a theater and burned - gunned down if they tried to escape - just like they had done to Jews in synagogues.
  • Honor Before Reason: In the shooting script, Landa gives this as the reason he let Shosanna go, saying that shooting her in the back wouldn't be fair (and it's unlikely she would survive long anyway).
  • Humans Are Basterds. Even Marcel, the nearest thing to a straightforwardly good person in the movie, is an Anti-Hero of type IV. Discounting the peasant families in the first chapter, of course.
  • Hypocrite: Landa strangles Von Hammersmark to death for treason, and yet immediately goes on to sell out the Third Reich himself.
  • I Am Very British: When Hicox is getting briefed for his mission, they all sound so English it hurts. Then you suddenly recognize Dr. Evil talking, and you realize that everyone in the room is a Fake Brit. Sort of Truth in Television — there are still people in the UK who talk that way, they're just few and far between (see Stephen Fry for a famous example outside the Royal Family). 70 years ago, even more people talked like that, and whilst the common soldier would sound far more ordinary, the top brass would be more likely to be made up of the upper classes.
    Hicox: What shall we drink to, sir?
    Fenech: Well, um... "Down with Hitler".
    Hicox: All the way down, sir. [they clink glasses.]
  • Ice Queen: Shosanna is this Up to Eleven with Frederick, for very understandable reasons.
  • Idiot Ball: The Allied commander in Nation's Pride refuses to destroy a tower that houses a Nazi sniper who is decimating his men only because the tower itself has historical significance. This actually has basis in real life where Allied defenders of Singapore didn't bombard the Johor Sultan's palace which was being used as an artillery-observation post because they didn't want to peeve the local authorities.
  • I Hit You, You Hit the Ground: Donnie says this to a Nazi soldier as he's taking him to be interrogated by Aldo.
  • Incoming Ham:
  • Informed Judaism: The Basterds themselves don't appear to be practicing Jews, just Jewish by descent. This has been criticized by some reviewers, compared to other films like Munich.
  • Inherited Illiteracy Title: The spelling is visible on a gun's buttstock near the beginning of the film. It goes by very quickly, so it counts as a Freeze-Frame Bonus.
  • Insert Cameo: When Landa kills Von Hammersmark, his hands are Tarantino's own.
  • Italians Talk with Hands: The three American soldiers who have to impersonate Italians (without speaking a word of it) at a Nazi party punctuate every sentence with arm gestures. The guy they're trying to fool isn't (primarily because of his own mastery of the language), but goes along with the act since it's so funny.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: On Von Hammersmark, via Aldo pressing down on her gunshot wound until she tells him what actually went wrong inside the bar (Hicox doing some tell-tale non-Germanic gestures, rather than her betraying the operation like he thought she did).
  • Karma Houdini: Landa almost gets this until Aldo shoots his fellow defector and carves a swastika into his forehead.
  • Karmic Death: At the end, the Nazi high command is essentially locked in a room under (half)-false pretenses and murdered. By Jews and a black guy no less. Death by Irony indeed.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Fredrick Zoller is presented as a sympathetic character in spite of being a German soldier until he finally has enough of Shosanna's rejections and goes into an aggressive tirade about how she should be thankful to him.
    • The scene where Aldo digs his finger into Bridget von Hammersmark's bullet wound to make sure she's telling the truth about the basement. In a film full of brutality, it's this scene that tends to make audiences wince the most, and it's done to a sympathetic noncombatant on his own side.
  • Kill 'em All: In the penultimate scene, two of the Basterds start firing indiscriminately into the crowd. They have TNT strapped to their legs, not to mention the theater is already burning and Landa's TNT under the booth, which ensures no one is getting out of there alive. Of all the main characters introduced, the audience sees only Raine, Utivich, and Landa alive by the end of the movie.
  • Kill It with Fire: The entire Nazi high command. And their friends and family. And some random low-level officers. And people they had sex with.
  • Kink Meme: This one gets a special mention because Eli Roth found it. Then promptly linked to it on his Twitter. Then forwarded it to Quentin Tarantino. Amusingly, their reaction amounted to 'wtf, the Bear Jew always tops'. Omar Doom probably reached for the Brain Bleach though. And Christoph Waltz's reaction must be seen to be believed.
  • Knife Nut: Raine and Stiglitz love their knives very much. Stiglitz dies stabbing the holy hell out of Gestapo noggin during a crazed shootout. He died as he lived, and doing what he loved.
  • Large Ham: Brad Pitt as Aldo Raine and of course Martin Wuttke as Der Fuhrer himself. Although Aldo is played for laughs especially during the premiere, Hitler is played halfway seriously.
  • Laughably Evil: When Landa excuses himself to laugh himself almost into convulsions about the paper-thin excuses of Von Hammersmarck and the Basterds, you cannot help yourself but laugh along with him.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The very last scene, after Aldo carves the swastika into Landa's forehead, he comments to Utivich that "this might just be [his] masterpiece". This could be interpreted as him, or more likely Tarantino himself, referring to the movie instead.
  • Lipstick and Load Montage: Shosanna before the premiere. Complete with applying makeup like it was war paint.
  • Living MacGuffin: Hitler. Every single heroic character (and one opportunistic evil one) wants him Deader Than Dead.

  • The Man They Couldn't Hang: Lieutenant Aldo Raine, at least if the scar on his neck is anything to go by.
  • Matzo Fever: Shosanna, for Zoller (though he doesn't realize it) and for a lot of male fans. Also, Donny, apparently.
  • Mexican Standoff: It's a Tarantino film, what did you expect? It happens several times, and lampshaded/discussed in the basement tavern, where Raine talks with Wilhelm about how they can avoid the situation. This discussion then becomes moot when Von Hammersmark subverts the trope by killing Wilhelm.
  • Mood Whiplash: In a rare example of the tragedy-to-comedy version, Shosanna's beautifully shot death scene, with Ennio Morricone's beautiful "Un Amico" building to a heartbreaking climax.... Smash cut to the Bear Jew- "After I kill that guy, you have 30 feet to get to that guy. Can you do it?"
  • Mook Horror Show: The approach of the Bear-Jew from the tunnel, and Shosanna's projected face laughing at the theater crowd. The Basterds' entire mission could be seen as an invoked example.
  • More Dakka: Hitler, Goebbels, Goebbels' translator, and a good portion of the crowd die in a massive hail of gunfire.
  • Most Writers Are Writers : Hicox was a film critic before the war. An expert on German cinema.
  • Multiple Gunshot Death: Happens to multiple people throughout the film, but Hitler takes the cake by getting several full MP-40 magazines at point-blank range until his head explodes like a gore piñata.
  • Nasty Party: Shosanna plans to implement her Roaring Rampage of Revenge the Nazis come to her theater to view Frederick Zoller's film, and once the film ends kill them all by trapping them in the burning theater.
  • Nazi Hunter: All of the Basterds. It is a less-common form of this trope in that they are active during the war as opposed to after it.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers, with its machine-gun firin' and Nazi stabbin' and Tarantino-directin', promised two-and-a-half hours of violent Nazi-slaughtering that would make Wolfenstein look like Nazi Propaganda. The trailers don't give away the movie/theater secondary plot (which is never alluded to in the trailers) that take up such a significant portion of the movie, and the actual film takes a far more suspense/drama-driven style. The Basterds themselves share the spotlight with an ensemble cast and have a smaller role than the trailers imply.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Hicox not being as good an infiltrator as he probably thought he was almost annihilates Operation Kino before it can truly start.
  • '90s Anti-Hero: The Basterds. Their campaign of brutal terror behind enemy lines is deliberate and pretty effective.
  • Noble Bird of Prey: During his conversation with LaPadite in Chapter 1 - "Once Upon a Time in Nazi Occupied France", Landa names the devious and predatory hawk as the animal with closest similarity to the German people. Admittedly, this puts the Nazis at a disadvantage since hawks are too "dignified" to hide, and thus ill-equipped to find "rats", i.e. Jews.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • After Shoshanna puts several rounds into the back of Zoller after he shows his true colors and snarls at Shoshanna for ignoring him, she pauses, and slowly approaches him, apparently regretting her action and to check on him. He's alive enough to fire back some rounds through her, killing her.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine:
    • Normally this requires the protagonist get captured, but when Landa invites himself into LaPadite's dairy farm to share a saucer of delicious milk, and a smoke and chat about missing Jews, the power that the Fuhrer gives him in occupied France makes the home a prison.
    • Played fairly straight in Shosanna's meeting with Landa in Chapter 3, though it's not certain if Landa fails to recognize Shosanna or if he just decides to let her go so he could mess with her head.
  • Nonverbal Miscommunication: A variation where it is the sender (Hicox) who has knowledge of German culture yet uses the wrong hand gesture. It's an understandable mistake, as Hicox's knowledge of German culture comes entirely from watching movies, and even people who study German for years in school and have impeccable accents (which Hicox does not, in another major plot point) often give themselves away by this mistake. Of course everyone else realizes the mistake, which ends up becoming a Poor Communication Kills and for Hicox, one spectacular Critical Research Failure.
  • No Swastikas: Averted in the movie, naturally, but in German posters for the movie, it's played straight, due to certain laws in Germany. Same thing goes in France.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent:
    • In a Crowning Moment of Funny, when trying to pass off as an Italian in front of Landa, Raine speaks a few words of I-Talian in an American southern accent ("Bon-jer-no"). Which is kinda correcto, but also sad since Omar (who can't even speak Italian) had a better accent than he did. But, you might forget thinking to feel bad for Omar, since Landa asks for all of them to repeat their names several times, and actually congratulates Omar for his pronunciation.
    • Inverted a second later when Donny does a hilariously over-the-top American stereotype of an Italian accent.
  • Not His Sled: They succeed in killing Hitler. Instead of, you know, failing.
  • Not So Different: Though Raine says that "the Nazi ain't got no humanity," and Nazis are shown to be pretty evil, it's also clear that this film does seek to humanize German soldiers. Frederick Zoller dislikes watching a movie of himself killing. Private Butz is just a scared boy who wants to survive the war and hug his mother. Sgt. Wilhelm is shown celebrating the birth of his son and is killed (perhaps unnecessarily) on the same night. Sgt. Rachtman is shown to be a brave soldier, willing to sacrifice his life for his comrades in arms.
  • Not So Stoic: Perrier LaPadite listens impassively to Landa talk of how he's looking for a missing Jewish family, until he realises that Landa has deduced that they're hiding under the floorboards, whereupon tears start streaming down his face and he confirms what Landa suspects.
  • Not Worth Killing: Landa spares the young girl in the beginning. The decision comes back on him in the last chapter.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The looks on Raine and Von Hammersmark's faces after they realize Landa speaks very fluent Italian (the Basterds' cover was that they were Italian, most Germans wouldn't know Italian to converse with them). Then as Landa basically spends the next few minutes essentially mocking them about their poor Italian, Raine and Von Hammersmark clearly know things are about to go downhill.
    • Von Hammersmark when she reaches into Landa's coat pocket and finds one of the shoes she lost at the tavern shootout.
    • Landa's face when Raine asks him if he plans to take off his uniform. Priceless. Since Landa had interviewed all of the Basterds' "survivors", he knows what happened to Pvt. Butz after he said he intended to take off his uniform...
    • The looks on the Basterds and Hicox's faces when they see the Germans in the bar.
  • Ominous Walk: Donny does this as he walks out of the tunnel, complete with slamming his bat against the walls, to beat Sgt. Rachtman to death for refusing to give up information on the nearby patrol. Mind you, it takes almost a full minute from when you hear the ominous tapping sound to when Donny actually appears.
  • Omniglot: Herr Landa speaks everything. In Real Life, the need for the actor playing Landa to speak four languages was a serious casting issue for Tarantino, one which he claims almost made him give up on the project at one point. In the script, it's hinted he speaks even more languages (albeit not as fluently).
  • One Last Smoke: Marcel, right before he uses it to light the film on fire and bring down the house.
  • One-Man Army: Zoller, at least according to Nazi propaganda. Arguably played with in his death since he is shot in the back by... a woman who runs a theater.
  • One Steve Limit:
    • Averted. There are two guys in this film who are named Wilhelm; one is a Basterd (Wicki), and the other is a German, which can get a little confusing.
    • Also, if you speak German, you'll notice that Landa addresses all his underlings as "Hermann", which is kinda funny. Shows he doesn't care about them at all (his final "I made a deal with your General for that man's life!" is even more hollow). This is particularly funny in the scene where he introduces the last Hermann. He even pauses for a moment to remember his name, and then just decides to go with Hermann.
  • Only Sane Man: Hicox, once he joins the Basterds.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: In-Universe, Hicox speaks German pretty well but his accent is shaky; he comes up with a cover story about his accent coming from an obscure Swiss village but it still apparently arouses suspicion.
  • Overly Long Gag: Tapping the bat in the tunnel. It lasts almost a whole minute before you see Donny appear.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil:
    "They're the foot soljers of a Jew-hatin', mass-murderin' maniac, and they need to be dee-stroyed. That's why any and every sumbitch we find wearin' a uniform... they're gonna die."
  • Playing Possum: Fredrick Zoller gets shot In the Back by Shosanna and sinks to the floor lifelessly but when she comes closer to check up on him, he turns around and shoots her as well before dying.
  • Poirot Speak: Recognizable non-English words like merci and wunderbar are frequently (though not consistently) left untranslated in the subtitles. Not quite a straight usage, but the effect is similar.
  • Propaganda Piece: In-Universe; Goebbels' film is a glorified account of German sniper Zoller killing Americans.
  • Pull the Thread: Landa does this to Frau von Hammersmark and the Basterds at the theater lobby. First he puts holes into her l-broke-my-leg-mountain-climbing story and then he exposes the Basterds as fake Italians.
  • Punch-Clock Villain:
    • The rank-and-file German soldiers are shown to be regular people with loyalty to their comrades and families.
    • Hans Landa claims that he's hunting Jews simply because Hitler called him down from the Alps to do the job, and that he has no personal grievance against them. He does take a sadistic glee in his job, however.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Shosanna's ultimate fate, shot dead by a mortally wounded Zoller when she examines the body.
    • Operation Kino, while a brilliant plan, also wasn't dependent on other variables. To start; Bridget tries meeting with the other agents in a secluded bar, never anticipating that German soldiers would be there around the same time due to different circumstances. Gazpacho officers would be suspicious of accents, such as the British accent Hicox uses when speaking German, along with the way Hicox orders three glasses. Cue massive shoot off that kills almost everyone in the bar.
      • The Basterds interrogate Bridget over the above shootout, initially thinking that she set a trap (Bridget is a double agent) until she is able to convince them otherwise.
      • Due to the shootout killing the only agents who could speak German fluently, Raine and two of his men are forced to garble through Italian, since Bridget notes that no one at the premiere has a good ear for Italian. They still don't anticipate Landa speaking Italian fluently and outright mocking them in the process.
      • The thing about a shootout is that any evidence can be traced back to the source if it isn't taken care of. Landa is able to identify Bridget as a double agent due to an autographed handkerchief she signed and kissed as well as a shoe that she left behind. He strangles her in private and simply orders men to capture Raine. Had Landa not wanted to negotiate his safety and killed the remaining Basterds, Operation Kino would have been a failure. All because Hicox blew his cover.
    • Bridget tries to pass off her leg injury from the shootout as a result of mountain climbing. Landa questions where she went mountain climbing in Paris the day previous. There are no mountains in Paris.
    • Even though Marcel is a talented man, Shosanna is told that she is to man the reels during the premiere, since Goebbels refuses to let his premiere's success to rest in the hands of a black man in the 40s.
    • At the end of the film, Operation Kino was a success and Hitler was killed. Landa seems to be a Karma Houdini, as he negotiated getting credit and protection for being apart of the plan in the beginning in exchange for the plan to go off without a hitch. Unfortunately, for him and the man he also negotiated the safety for, Landa had just been handcuffed by Raine, a violent man with a distaste for Nazis thinking they can leave their past behind. He shoots the other man and brushes off Landa's threats that Raine will be shot as punishment, and says that he'll probably just be "chewed out." Raine also states that unlike Landa, no one wants or cares about the other man he tried keeping safe. There is a world of difference in discipline between the U.S. and Germany. Raine then proceeds to carve a swastika into Landa's forehead.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Some viewers complained that Brad Pitt's (pretty much spot on) Appalachian accent was too over-the-top.
  • Red Baron: Landa is known as the "Jew Hunter," Aldo Raine is known as "Aldo the Apache," and Donny Donowitz is known as the "Bear Jew." Less-impressively, Smithson Utivich is known as "The Little Man."
    Utivich (incredulous and annoyed): "The Germans' nickname for me... is... the Little Man?"
  • Red Shirt Army: The American soldiers in Nation's Pride, gunned down one after another by Zoller.
  • Remake Cameo: Although this isn't really a remake, Enzo G. Castellari, director of the namesake film The Inglorious Bastards, appears as a German general.
  • Repeat Cut: At least one example occurs that is the result of stylistic shoutouts to the Spaghetti Western genre. Namely, in Chapter 1, the timing it takes for Landa and the soldiers on the motor vehicle to arrive at the dairy farm is completely inconsistent. When the camera shows them approaching the farm in the distance, they are shown passing the same tree next to the road three times.
  • Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: Despite being set in a Nazi occupied France during WWII, there's still the occasional comedy gem. Since the examples are mainly occasional comedy in a drama, see this subpage for examples (as someone's mileage will undoubtedly vary).
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves
    • The Allies avert this with respect to Hans Landa until Aldo Raine plays it straight, carving a swastika into Landa's forehead to permanently mark him as a Nazi. Of course, with the fortune Landa has bargained for, he will be able to get plastic surgery easily enough. 1940's technique was well up to turning the swastika into a less conspicuous scar. Until then he can just wear excessive bandaging.
    • This also seems to be Landa's attitude when he kills Bridget with his own hands.
  • Right Hand vs. Left Hand: Figuratively throughout the film with two separate plans moving toward the same goal. Interestingly, both plans work and complete each other, rather than putting each other in jeopardy. And both groups never communicated, ever.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Basterds on a colossal scale, also Shosanna. Roaring fire? Rampaging Bear Jew? Revenge of Shosanna? Check, check, and check. Tarantino is good at this one.
  • Rousing Speech: "My name is Lt. Aldo Raine, and I'm puttin' together a special team, and I need me eight soldiers. Eight. Jewish. American. Soldiers. You mighta heard rumors about the armada happening soon. Well, the truth is we'll be going in a little earlier. We're gonna be dropped into France dressed as civilians, and once we're in enemy territory, as a bushwhackin' guerrilla army, we're gonna be doin' one thing, and one thing only: killin' Nat-zees."

  • Satellite Character: Marcel to Shosanna, though he does bring up his own points and characterization during his time on-screen.
  • A Scar to Remember: Lt. Aldo Raine's calling card is to carve swastikas into the foreheads of German soldiers ready to give up the uniform, to give them "something [they] can't take off."
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: When Landa spends a ridiculously long time talking about how he wishes to switch to English or during the explanation of precisely how flammable the old reels of film were. Possibly subverted in that those end up becoming important to the plot a bit later.
  • Shaped Like Itself: What's Raine's problem with the choice of tavern where they have set up the meeting with Bridget von Hammersmark? It's that "Fighting in a basement presents several difficulties, the first of which being... you're fighting in a basement."
  • Shout-Out: This being a Tarantino film, there are many:
    • Brad Pitt's character Aldo Raine is likely a reference to film actor Aldo Ray, known for playing tough guys in war movies in the 1960s (mostly notably John Wayne's The Green Berets).
    • Hugo Stiglitz shares a name with a Mexican mexploitation (yes, there is such a thing; Tarantino's old buddy Robert Rodriguez is a huge fan) actor.
    • Tarantino is a well known fan of B movies. Hugo Stiglitz was famous because of Tintorera and other action/adventure movies. There is a reason his name is actually presented with a visual fanfare (camera settles on him, the image freezes and his name is superimposed on screen).
    • Eli Roth's character takes the pseudonym of Antonio Margheriti, the name of a noted Italian B-movie director. This is particularly appropriate given that Roth's movies Hostel and especially Hostel Part II are homages to the Italian Giallo genre.
    • Brad Pitt's character makes a comment about how he doesn't like to fight in basements.
    • If you pay attention to the room itself, you'll notice it's identical to one in Schindler's List.
    • Also, being manhandled while wearing a white-jacketed suit and a black bag over his head hearkens back to Fight Club.
    • There are several references to Fight Club: A projectionist sneaks in a hidden message, a random bit of sex spliced incongruously into a scene, and the same upward angle shot of Pitt menacing another character with a knife.
    • Shosanna's floating head over the roaring fires and booming voice scaring the absolute bejeezus out of the fleeing Nazis in the theater could well be an homage to The Wizard of Oz, or the Phantasmagoria.
    • The first scene, where Landa arrives at LaPadite's home to interrogate him, is eerily reminiscent of Angel Eyes's visit to Stevens in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
    • When the Basterds bust Stiglitz out of the clink, the music playing is Ennio Morricone's "Algiers November 1, 1954", from The Battle of Algiers (AKA Most badass commando-music ever. You have to see the original scene.)
    • Film Within A Film Pride of A Nation includes at least two shout outs to Battleship Potemkin.
    • The film (Basterds, not Nation) features at least two songs from Kill Bill. Those are more likely shout outs to the Spaghetti Westerns they were originally taken from.
    • The conversation in which a character tries to pretend he was born in a mountain village, and citing a popular skiing resort as proof, strongly resembles a scene in Marathon Man. In that film, however, the Nazi/Allied roles were reversed in the conversation.
    • The music played while Marcel is heading behind the cinema screen (and while Zoller is on his way to see Shosanna in the projection booth) is lifted directly from the Kelly's Heroes soundtrack.
    • Donny blasting the hell out of Hitler's corpse with a furious grimace on his face is straight out of Come and See.
    • In the tavern, Landa is pointing out that Wicki and Stiglitz have been known to don German uniforms to ambush squads. This includes a cut where they are standing on a dirt road, stopping a truck. When the soldier speaks, Stiglitz, Wicki and Omar let loose their submachine guns, killing the soldiers in the truck in a Bonnie and Clyde style attack.
    • Tarantino must have been watching Carrie when he wrote the climax. Both the theater scene in Basterds and the prom scene in Carrie revolve large groups of people gathered in one room, their attitude going from perverse enjoyment (of Nation's Pride in Basterds, of the title character's humiliation in Carrie) to panic as the building is set ablaze, with them locked inside. And it is all being caused by a vengeful young woman, holding a preeminent position at the center of the chaos (even if it was just the recording of Shosanna in Basterds).
    • In Hans Landa's first scene, he makes accurate deductions while holding a large calabash pipe, made famous by the detective Sherlock Holmes. The screenplay makes this homage explicit.
    • The pounding musical cue that plays when Shosanna encounters Landa in the restaurant is from the 1982 film The Entity, in which a woman is repeatedly raped by a demonic presence. Since Landa's sudden, traumatic reappearance in her life could be compared to a haunting, the connection is most likely deliberate.
    • Among the celebrity names written on the cards in the tavern scene are the now largely-forgotten American film actress Pola Negri and German actress Brigitte Helm. Negri's inclusion is especially appropriate since all her movies were lost in a vault fire because they were printed on nitrate film, the flammability of which becomes a crucial plot point.
    • According to Broken Lizard, Hellstrom's glass boot beer mug is a reference to Beerfest, which Tarantino even screened for the crew.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The flammability of the old film reels, which becomes a major plot point. Also, the differentiation of German and British hand gestures. And the explanation afterward from Von Hammersmark.
    • In-Universe, when General Fenech and Winston Churchill are testing Lt. Hicox's knowledge of cinema.
    Fenech: This little escapade of ours requires a knowledge of the German film industry under the Third Reich. Explain to me UFA, under Goebbels?
    Hicox: Goebbels considers the films he's making to be the beginning of a new era in German cinema. An alternative to what he considers the Jewish German intellectual cinema of the twenties, and the Jewish controlled dogma of Hollywood.
    Churchill: How's he doing?
    Hicox: Frightfully sorry sir, once again?
    Churchill: You say he wants to take on the Jews at their own game? Compared to say, Louis B. Mayer... How's he doing?
    Hicox: Quite well, actually. Since Goebbels has taken over, film attendance has steadily risen in Germany over the last eight years. But Louis B.Mayer wouldn't be Goebbels proper opposite number. I believe Goebbels see's himself closer to David O.Selznick.
    Churchill: Brief him.
    • The spy-busting techniques are very accurate. Hicox being suspicious due to his accent and then giving himself away by using the British gesture for three would've been pretty far-fetched in any other movie. But other spies are trained to look very carefully for such minor details which are so ingrained into our cultural brains. German spies had it even tougher since they had to learn proper accents, dialects, phrases, and mannerisms for Americans, British, Irish, Australian, Canadian, etc. English-speakers. It was very easy for a German spy to say "lift" instead of "elevator" around a group of Americans. Or "loo" instead of "washroom" around a bunch of Canadians.
  • Signature Item Clue: The shoe and autographed napkin left behind by Bridget von Hammersmark when fleeing a bar where several of the Basterds were involved in a fatal shootout with a German officer let Colonel Landa know she was present, when he investigated the scene. The shoe is brought up again later, to Von Hammersmark's dismay.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Shosanna, who takes up half the plot by herself, is conspicuously absent from the Brad Pitt-centric trailers and promos. At the very least, she's shown getting ready for the premiere of Stolz der Nation, or firing her PMM. Probably because most of Shosanna's lines in the film are in French.
  • Slower Than A Speeding Bullet: An artistic example of a Subverted Trope.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Maj. Dieter Hellstrom, with his detective skills and cocky, smug attitude, clearly thinks he's some sort of Col. Hans Landa. That's the kind of thinking that will make you say "auf Wiedersehen" to your Nazi balls by a bullet to them at point-blank range.
    • Bridget von Hammersmark is a rare heroic example who sneers at the unfortunate and fatal mistakes made by Hicox, but who then doesn't think to take back her shoe or the autograph she gave Wilhelm. It gets her killed.
    • She was dead either way. The horrible accents would have given the Basterds away to Landa anyway, or at least given Landa enough of a reason to check her leg to see if it had really been broken in a mountain-climbing accident - and even if he didn't, he would almost certainly have recognized Stiglitz from the papers.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: All the Basterds can qualify for this, though Hugo Stiglitz is the one that really takes the cake.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The scene where Shosanna gets shot and killed in slow motion versus the rather romantic music being played over the top of it. Then the immediate cut to Omar and Donny preparing to take out the guards to Hitler's box with much different music.
  • Southern-Fried Private: Lt. Aldo Raine, of course. He even mentions on his Establishing Character Moment that he's a descendant of Jim Bridger and that he comes from the Appalachian mountains.
  • El Spanish "-o": Aldo's attempt to speak Italian. The result is quite... err.... incorrecto....
  • Spare a Messenger: The Basterds usually leave a survivor when they slaughter a German patrol, as they want to spread fear through the ranks—but not before carving a Swastika into their foreheads, so even if they don't tell the story, other people will know it. That's how the story goes, anyhow. The Basterds actually spare the first Nazi willing to betray their side by telling the Basterds what they want to know. Obviously, this cowardice would be punishable by execution if the Nazi's superiors knew about it, to discourage other cowardly Nazis from doing it in the future. Hence, the official reason they're spared is to spread the word, and the Nazi's superiors are content to order them not to tell anyone.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Christoph Waltz as Landa.
  • The Starscream: Landa, who has put explosives in Hitler's box, though this is actually just a backup plan in case the Basterds' plan fails. Either way, he hopes to take the credit for Hitler's death and be glorified by the Allies, instead of being tried for war crimes when the Germans inevitably lose, like the brilliant schemer he is.
  • Stealth Parody: Of WWII movies, especially of behind-the-enemy-lines variety.
  • Stealth Pun: Ed Fenech to Lt. Hicox during his briefing: "The Basterds will be waiting for you."
  • Steel Ear Drums: Landa can hear Shosanna escaping and does not even flinch after a few of his soldiers spray up the floorboards in a confined space. The soldiers might be wearing hearing aids, but Landa sure isn't.
  • Stock Scream:
    • The infamous Wilhelm Scream is in a scene of Nation's Pride when a soldier is shot and falls into a fountain. Hitler reacts with laughter. This may seem like Anachronism Stew at first because the Wilhelm scream was first recorded to be used about a decade after the movie is supposed to have been set, in 1951. It's not wrong being present, because the entire movie plays fast and loose with history, so the first movie to use this stock scream probably copied it from Nation's Pride in this version of history.
    • When the theater explodes, it sounds like they're using it again: actually, that time, it's Kurt Russell screaming at the end of Death Proof.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Hicox. Realizing he's been found out and is about to die, he nods, apologetically switches back to speaking English, and takes time to finish his drink, saying that "There's a special ring in Hell reserved for people who waste good Scotch."
  • Stylistic Suck: Nation's Pride, the Show Within a Show, can be watched in full as a special feature on the DVD release.
  • Switch to English: Colonel Hans Landa starts speaking to LaPadite in French, and he suggests that they switch to English because it is better than his French. This is a lie, of course. The real reason is that the Jews that LaPadite is hiding do not speak English, and Landa doesn't want to alert them to his suspicions too soon.
  • Sycophantic Servant: Goebbels is clearly this to Hitler.
  • Tears of Fear: Pvt. Butz when he hears Donny tapping on the wall of the tunnel and anticipates what's coming.
  • There Is No Kill Like Over Kill: In the climax, a crowd of people is locked in a cinema that is burning down on top of them while getting shot apart by two men with submachine guns until the whole damn building just blows up. During the same scene, Donowitz continues to pump bullets into the already very dead Hitler's face and head region; this was allegedly Eli Roth's idea — he told Tarantino that if he were in his character's place, he'd want to make absolutely sure the son of a bitch was dead. It also makes sense historically, since Hitler had already survived a number of assassination attempts.
  • Third Act Stupidity: Hans Landa is made out to be a smart mind, but in the final chapter he decides to trust his opponents' words and delivers himself to them without a backup plan. Of course he possibly had no idea who he was dealing with. His deal with the Allies was legitimate and any normal soldier probably would have delivered him and the other Nazi soldier to the Allies as he had planned. Unfortunately for him, Aldo wasn't any normal soldier.
  • This Means Warpaint: Shosanna nods to this trope in the middle of her Lipstick and Load Montage as she's preparing for her revenge against the Nazis, sharply smearing rouge across her cheekbones like it's warpaint before fading it in.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: It could be a second title as this movie is the epitome of the trope.
  • Translation Convention: Notably averted, unlike most more "serious" World War II movies. The Germans speak (subtitled) German, the French speak (subtitled) French, and the Americans and British speak English. In cross-cultural conversations, in one case it is outright stated that they will use English as a median language to accommodate both parties' unease with the other's language, in two cases interpreters are used, and in most other cases the German party yields to their counterpart's language, being that in most cases whomever they're talking to doesn't speak a word of German. Certain instances are pushing it, however, although not to a degree which breaks the suspension of disbelief.
  • Trunk Shot: Another Tarantino favorite.
  • Truth in Television: Winston Churchill (who has a cameo) actually commissioned a team of British soldiers for special assignments behind enemy lines. The official records remain sealed to this day. Among the members were cousins Ian Fleming and Christopher Lee.
  • Two Shots from Behind the Bar: The shotgun-wielding bartender is among the victims of the bar Blast Out.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Landa made a deal with Aldo's superiors (who knew exactly what kind of man he was and the atrocities that he'd gotten away with) to escape to America to a feathered nest. However, Aldo's superiors (fully aware of how Ax-Crazy Aldo was) knew that he'd be transporting Landa away from Germany. Do you think the possibility of Aldo finding a way to fuck with Landa never occurred to them?
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: When Landa arrives behind Shosanna in the restaurant, there is a flashback to Shosanna running away from Landa. Given the aesthetic of the film, it may be one part Stylistic Suck and three parts intentional reinforcement of Shosanna's straight-faced but otherwise absolute pants-wetting terror.
  • Villain by Default: Hitler.
  • Villains Out Shopping: The Nazis. They are shown having fun in a bar, attending a movie premiere, not to mention Hitler asks his SS guards for chewing gum. Lampshaded by Hicox, who dryly refers to the movie premiere as, "The Master Race at play."
  • Villain Respect: Landa considers Raine a Worthy Adversary and is a bit disappointed to discover that they simply aren't operating on the level of mutual respect he assumed.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Landa has one at the very end of the film.
  • War Is Glorious: Extensively played with.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Basterds to the core.
  • Wham Line: "So, gentlemen, what shall the history books read?"
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: There are nine original Basterds total. Wicki dies in the bar, Aldo and Utivich survive, a minor Basterd is seen in the background at the animal clinic and Donny and Omar die in the theater. This means there are four Basterds unaccounted for by the end of the film. The one in the background at the animal clinic, Kagan, also mysteriously vanishes between that scene and the final scene in the cinema According to Word of God, any Basterds not seen in the bar or subsequent scenes were dead.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: In-story, the German radio operator is shot by the Basterds because they wanted another dead Nazi. Aldo explains that the brass only needs Landa, and will only "chew him out" for the action.
  • Wicked Cultured: Landa personifies this trope, having fluency in multiple languages among other skills.
  • World of Ham: Oh come on! We have Brad Pitt, Adolf Hitler, and a lot more out there.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Zoller thinks he's in a Romantic Comedy where Shosanna is his reluctant, Tsundere love interest. He's just one more dead body in a revenge epic.
    • Landa is also this when it comes to Aldo. Based on his experience as a German Army officer, he believed that orders are obeyed without question or deviation, and after making a deal with Aldo's superiors, it would be adhered to rigorously. Unfortunately, he never realized until too late that American military personnel in general, and Aldo in particular, are masters of Exact Words, Loophole Abuse, Taking A Third Option, etc...
    Aldo: If I had my way, you'd wear that God-damn uniform for the rest of your pecker-sucking life. But I'm a realist. You're gonna have to take it off sooner or later. So I'm gonna give you something you can't take off.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: As stated in the trailer, the Nazis "conquered Europe through murder, torture, intimidation, and terror. And that's exactly what [the Basterds] are gonna do to them." Landa says of Operation Kino that "some would call it [a] terrorist plot." The Basterds' attack on the movie theater? Yep, they're suicide bombers.

Alternative Title(s): Inglorious Basterds