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Film / Last Action Hero

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"Ey, Claudius? [lights cigar] You killed my fadda. Big mistake."
Arnold Schwarzenegger's rendition of Hamlet

Released on June 18th, 1993note , Last Action Hero is one of the few movies whose genre is accurately described as "other".

An early-'90s-era Genre Savvy young action movie fan is sucked into the latest film of his favourite hero, Jack Slater, and proceeds to lampshade all manner of tropes. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays an action movie hero played by Arnold Schwarzenegger (who gets to enter the real world and meet Arnold Schwarzenegger himself!).

It was directed by John McTiernan, previously known for such films as Die Hard (1988), The Hunt for Red October (1990) and Medicine Man (1992) and written by Shane Black, most notable for penning Lethal Weaponnote , and would later go on to write and direct Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

This was not only Schwarzenegger's first film after Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but also the debut of the Sony Dynamic Digital Sound (SDDS) system. Made to appeal to a bigger family audience than most of his films had been up to that point, the wave of hype promised that it would be, as the trailers put it, "The big ticket for '93!" However, it was released the weekend after the opening of Jurassic Park, which turned out to be a far bigger hit than Columbia Pictures expected, and thus it failed to live up to the hype at the box office. While it was eventually profitable, the film was widely regarded as a bomb, but it's become something of a Cult Classic for its freewheeling send-ups of action movie tropes.

This movie provides examples (primarily parodies) of the following tropes:

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  • Accidental Kiss: Whitney kisses Danny when she believes he's the freshman she's been assigned to kiss when he comes to her door. Danny is more than pleased.
  • Accidental Passenger: During a Car Chase Shoot-Out in the movie Danny is watching, the golden ticket is activated, making a pack of lit dynamite sticks tossed by the bandits fall from the screen. When Danny notices it, he screams and runs in panick, but is caught by the explosion and everything goes white. He wakes up into Jack Slater's car while the latter is still being pursued.
  • Acme Products:
    • The guys in the red pick-up truck have a crate of Acme Dynamite.
    • There are ACME™ products all over the place, including in the Real World.
  • Action Duo: Jack and Danny, the action hero and the Kid Hero Trapped in TV Land.
  • Action Girl: Deconstructed. Slater tells Danny that he wishes his daughter, Whitney, was more normal. He later tells Danny that she has no friends or social life, and spends all her spare time with her guns. Also a possible subversion, given that Whitney hardly does anything, despite her actress receiving top billing alongside Schwarzenegger (in Jack Slater IV, that is). It's possible that Danny stepping in meant he took over her role as Slater's sidekick.
  • Actor Allusion:
  • Adam Westing: Taken to meta-levels. Arnold plays himself in the real world as a flighty celebrity led around by his wife.
  • Adrenaline Makeover/Anachronism Stew: Played for laughs during the Arnold as Hamlet dream sequence. It starts off with Hamlet killing people with thrown skulls and swords before responding to the line "Stay thy hand, fair prince" with a "Who says I'm fair?" and slaughtering an entire castle full of guards with a submachine gun before blowing the castle up.
    Hamlet: To be, or not to be...not to be. *lights cigar as an explosion goes off behind him*
  • All Fiction Is Real Somewhere: The premise is that all movies exist in parallel fictional universes.
  • All Part of the Show:
    • Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Jack Slater IV premiere assumes this is the case with the Slater/Ripper fight in the balcony. When Slater runs out of the theater afterward, the throng of paparazzi assumes he is Schwarzenegger.
    • Tom Noonan's agent thinks The Ripper is Tom. It gets him killed.
    • Averted later in the film, when a whole theater of frightened people runs away from the Grim Reaper. The fact that they actually saw him walk out of the movie and into the theater probably helped a good deal.
  • And This Is for...: Jack smacks the shit out of Benedict with a bunch of "And this is for!" statements - except for his ex-wife's home, which he gives a little slap on the wrist for.
  • Angrish: Slater's captain. In fact, you can probably count on one hand the times where it is possible to make out what he is saying.
  • Anti-Hero: Parodied. Turns out that Jack Slater has some Hidden Depths that Danny never saw, but they are weird thanks to him being a film character.
  • Apathetic Citizens:
    • In the film's real world New York, Benedict conducts an experiment:
    Benedict (shouting in the street): Hello! I've just shot somebody and I did it on purpose! (silence) I said, I have murdered a man and I want to confess!
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: There were no dinosaurs trapped by the La Brea tar pits, only mammals from 11,000 years ago.
  • Aside Comment: One scene where The Starscream Benedict is declaring himself the new villain of the picture and ends with him staring at the camera and saying "If God were a villain, he'd be me."
  • Aside Glance
    • The Grim Reaper looks at the audience before he comes out of The Seventh Seal.
    • Benedict has a positively wicked look at the audience when he realizes that the rules of the Slater films don't apply in the real world.
  • Audience Surrogate: Danny is a literal one. Naturally, like everything else in the film, this is lampshaded.
  • Award-Bait Song: Two Steps Behind by Def Leppard.
  • Ax-Crazy: The Ripper. He's a Serial Killer who hacks people up with an ax.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Slater and Danny, respectively.
  • Badass Boast: A genuine one by Jack Slater.
    Benedict: I snap my fingers again and tomorrow you emerge from several canine recta. Or you and Toto can go back to Oz. Questions?
    Jack: Yes. Two of them. Why am I wasting time on a putz like you when I could be doing something dangerous like rearranging my socks? (smokes cigar) And how will you snap your fingers after I rip off both your thumbs?
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: Parodied. Practice is about to make good on Danny's advice to just shoot him and Jack, but several gunblasts later, Practice falls over dead, with Whiskers the cartoon cat visible behind him.
    Whiskers: Sorry I'm late, Jack. Had a little furball problem! *coughs*
  • Beard of Evil: Benedict has a well-maintained beard that, red as it is, just makes him look more Satanic.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Lampshaded. Danny tries convincing Slater they're in a movie by pointing out that all the female passersby are insanely hot, and that there are no unattractive women in existence.
    Danny: (indicating the video clerk) She is too attractive to work here.
    Jack: I agree. I think she should work with us. Undercover of course.
    Danny: The point is, there are no unattractive women here. Where are the everyday, ordinary women? They don't exist, because this is a movie.
    Jack: No, this is California.
  • Better than a Bare Bulb: Enough lampshades to open a shop.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Benedict, who's become the Big Bad of Slater IV (and Last Action Hero itself), and Ripper, the apparent Big Bad of Slater III, are both loose in the real world running amok in the final act.
  • Big Bad Friend: John Practice. Danny even lampshades that Practice is Obviously Evil by virtue of the fact the man who portrays him gets these kind of roles often.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: The depiction of New York City in the real world, at least the part where Danny and his mom's apartment and the movie theater are. Run-down, crime-ridden, and dirty.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Slater to Dekker at the end.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Jean-Claude Van Damme's line "I would never miss the premiere for a second" note 
  • Blasphemous Boast: As noted, if God were a villain then he would be Benedict.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: In a blink-and-you-miss-it scene during Slater's and Danny's encounter with Vivaldi, the mobster briefly threatens Danny with a gold-plated, ornately engraved pistol.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Even when Whiskers shoots Practice. It makes sense: despite More Dakka, Jack Slater IV is still a PG-13 film.
  • Blown Across the Room: Parodied. At one point Jack gets shot point-blank by a goon with a shotgun (a Bulletproof Vest saves him), which sends him across the kitchen of his ex-wife's house... and right into arm's reach of his gun, which he uses to blow the goon away.
  • Bond One-Liner: Yep, the bad puns go flying thick and fast. Lampshaded and taken to the most absurd extreme in several cases, most notably a scene in the car chase where Slater kills a henchman with an ice cream cone and says, "I iced that guy... to cone a phrase!"
  • Bottomless Magazines: Lampshaded, particularly in the climax. And played straight in the movie whenever possible, sometimes to ridiculous degrees.
    Jack: Did you make another movie mistake? You forgot to reload the damn gun!
    Benedict: No, Jack. I just left one chamber empty. (BLAM!)
  • Brick Joke:
    Danny: You think you're funny, huh?
    Jack: I know I am. I'm the famous comedian, Arnold Braunschweiger.
    • Later, in the Real World...
    Jack: Hello Ms. Maddigan [offers handshake]. Arnold Braunschweiger.
  • Buddy Cop Show: Parodied and lampshaded in a hilarious scene with a line of cops being paired up with ethnic stereotypes culminating ridiculously with a female cop being paired with an animated cat detective.
  • Bullet-Proof Fashion Plate: Played with: Jack falls into a tar pit, comes out completely covered in tar, and begins to wipe himself off. The camera cuts away briefly, and when it cuts back he's completely clean. Danny remarks, "You know, tar actually sticks to some people."
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Played with. Danny warns Slater not to trust Practice, because he's played by F. Murray Abraham, who killed Mozart. When Slater later repeats the accusation, misremembering it as "you killed Moe Zart," Practice is confused, but concedes it's possible: "I kill a lot of people. I can't remember half of them."
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: Inverted, as Danny's mom says to Jack that he's far more handsome than the real Arnold.
  • Call-Back: Jack gets to listen to music by the real Mozart, and loves it.
    Jack: The guy Practice killed?
  • The Cameo:
    • As Danny walks into the LAPD police station for the first time, Catherine Trammell and the T-1000 can be seen walking out.
    • The officer that shouts "Hey Slater! It's your ex-wife on two!" when Slater and Danny show up at the police station is played by Mike Muscat, who had previously played Moshier in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, as the Cyberdyne Systems security guard who calls the police to say, "I think it's that guy from the mall. Him and the woman" when Miles Dyson shows up with the Terminator and Sarah Connor in tow. Muscat was also Edward Furlong's (John Connor) acting coach.
    • The Jack Slater IV premiere apparently desires to showcase as many celebrity cameos as possible, including a few who have connections to Schwarzenegger: Little Richard, Entertainment Tonight host Leeza Gibbons, James Belushi (who starred with Schwarzenegger in Red Heat), Damon Wayans, Chevy Chase, Timothy Dalton (the James Bond actor at that time) and Jean-Claude Van Damme (who worked with John McTiernan on Predator as the original Predator before dropping out), who delivers a Bilingual Bonus joke.
    • Joan Plowright, Laurence Olivier's wife, is the teacher who introduces his version of Hamlet and says the kids might recognize him as Zeus from Clash of the Titans and some Polaroid camera commercials.
    • In a blink-or-you'll-miss-it cameo, Tina Turner plays the Mayor at the climax of Jack Slater III.
    • Sir Ian McKellen plays Death from The Seventh Seal.
    • Danny DeVito as the voice of Whiskers.
    • Professor Toru Tanaka, who appeared in The Running Man, appears as Tony Vivaldi's butler.
    • One of the henchmen trying to shoot Slater during the first Car Chase, one with long hair and a mustache, is played by the same actor who played one of Hans Gruber's henchmen in Die Hard.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Benedict. He even boasts that if God was evil, he would be that God.
  • Cassandra Truth: At first, neither Jack Slater nor Da Chief believe Danny's claims that he's from outside the movie.
  • Catchphrase: "I'll be back."
    Jack: Hah! You didn't know I was going to say that, did you?
    Danny: That's what you always say.
    Jack: I do?
    • Parodied:
      Jack: "Rubber baby buggy bumpers!" Didn't know I would say that, did you?
    • Jack also has his own: "Big mistake." His daughter seems to have inherited it.
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • Averted when Danny finds a poster for Terminator 2: Judgment Day with Sylvester Stallone as the T-800, presumably meaning Arnold Schwarznegger doesn't exist in the Jack Slater universe.
    • Danny's teacher does a presentation on Laurence Olivier's version of Hamlet, without acknowledging the fact that she's played by Olivier's real-life third and last wife.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Jack reveals later in the film that most of his wisecracking exterior is all a ploy. His supposed clingy and talkative ex-wife is really a convenience store clerk that he pays to call him, just so that his coworkers think that she still cares about him. He is still suffering Heroic BSoD from his son dying, and he fears that his daughter is so obsessed with being an Action Girl that she's going to die alone.
  • Chandler's Law: Averted. Once Big Bad Benedict ditches Slater in the real world, he decides against giving him a new lead in the form of a hitman who'll almost definitely fail. He just executes his plan while Slater lampshades this, waiting for said killer to show up.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The key thrown to Danny by the burglar to free himself from the handcuffs during the robbery attempt. He keeps it and, after Practice handcuffs him in the film-within-a-film, uses it again.
    • When Nick tears the magic movie ticket in half while admitting Danny in to see the new Slater film. During the ending, the Grim Reaper tells Danny to find "the other half of that ticket".
    • In-universe, a wad of counterfeit bills that Jack keeps in his house, notable for burning with an odd colored smoke. When Danny tries to convince Benedict to take the money and leave, he calls his bluff and orders the money burned... which serves as a signal to warn Jack that something's wrong.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Whiskers shows up to save Slater and Danny when Practice handcuffs them again and attempts to kill them.
  • Closet Shuffle: Mooks hide in Slater's closet to ambush him so often that he shoots his closet every time he comes home just in case.
    Danny: How did you know he'd be in there?
    Slater: There's always a guy in there. It's costing me a fortune in closet doors.
  • Could Have Been Messy: Lampshaded. Jack comes off a car crash in the real world hurting but when Danny berates that he would have been killed, Jack points out that the car he took (and then played chicken with) was a model with an airbag and the other car (a '52 Checker Cab) didn't had it. Sure enough, Benedict's Battle Butler was killed.
  • Cosmic Plaything: When Slater finally has a chance to confront Arnold Schwarzenegger in the real world, he gives the actor an angry rant about turning him (Slater) into one of these for the amusement of others without giving any consideration to how Slater might feel about having to go through so many ridiculous (and sometimes tragic) action movie situations.
    Slater: (to Schwarzenegger) "You've brought me nothing but pain."
  • Cowboy Cop: The character of Jack Slater plays with this trope. Within barely a minute of his introduction, it's exaggerated to a comical degree; he punches the Lieutenant Governor in the face ("When the Governor gets here, call me."), launches a hapless SWAT officer into the air with a kick to the gonads after he attempts to stop Slater from entering the crime scene, and then threatens to do worse to any other officers Dekker might send after him. This is how he treats the good guys.
  • Close on Title: The Last Action Hero title itself doesn't appear until the closing credits.
  • Crapsaccharine World: In Jack Slater's world there are "no unattractive women", cartoon cats work for the police department and the good guys always win, but there is apparently no classical music, things blow up with the slightest bit of impact and the hero's son and favorite second cousin and regular uniform cops are killed just for the entertainment of people in the real world.
  • Crapsack World: The real world. Benedict comes to like it because it means he can go kill-crazy and "win".
  • Cult Soundtrack: The soundtrack, full of new tracks by well-known rock bands (Ac Dc's "Big Gun" even has Arnold appearing in the music video), was better received than the movie upon its release.
  • Da Chief: A comic character with No Indoor Voice whose yelling at Jack Slater can get so loud he can shatter glass windows.
  • Damsel Fight-and-Flight Response: While invading Jack Slater's house, one of the bad guys takes Slater's daughter Whitney into another room to rough her up. Unfortunately for them, she's daddy's little ass-kicker, and proceeds to brutalize the poor Mook all while still screaming at the top of her lungs to fool the others into thinking she was on the receiving end of the sounds of violence.
  • Damsel in Distress: Parodied like everything else in this film. Slater's daughter is attacked by a bunch of thugs and screams in terror..... while actually being the one kicking their asses. At one point she breaks one of their necks right before letting out another scream.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Whitney easily beats up the goon Benedict orders to beat her up when they're alone in her room, frees herself and comes to help her dad with his gun.
  • Darker and Edgier: Jack Slater III is implied to been this to the Slater franchise, given it featured a terrifying axe murderer and the death of Slater's son. Jack Slater IV seems lighter-hearted with the villains snarky mob goons, as a likely studio response to fans hating the forced Downer Ending of the previous film.
  • Deadly Dodging: Slater dodged the bullets from the helicopter which then kill the mooks behind him.
  • Deadly Gas: Benedict and Vivalid plot to unlease nerve toxin against a rival mafia group at a funeral so they can wipe out them in one go. Jack and Danny manage to foil it though.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Benedict throws out a few of these.
    Jack: Sir, are you a henchman?
    Benedict: No, I'm afraid I only go so far as lackey.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: The first half of the film makes light of action movies, straying it heavy deconstruction for the second half. But there some elements of reconstruction at the end, as Jack becomes savvy to the real world elements. In particular, he starts as an Invincible Hero and Anti-Hero to become more of a Dented Iron or Classical Anti-Hero.
  • Deconstruction: A fascinating form of it: While most action tropes are simply lampshaded to the point of lunacy when Danny is dropped into "Jack Slater IV", when the characters are turned loose into the Real World, things go nasty. In one moving scene, still inside the movie world, Jack Slater reveals that under his Deadpan Snarker typecasting he's mostly just tired after repeatedly surviving implausible, stressful scenarios while everyone around him dies. Among other things, he's got a cashier at his drug store calling him at the police station so that his colleagues think he has a life and make everyone think his ex-wife still cares about him (she's remarried and moved on), and he's deeply depressed that his Action Girl daughter Whitney skipped her prom to field-strip an AK-47 (he fears she'll grow up alone or die at a young age). This is a side of Slater that Danny was shocked to see, but nevertheless, he was able to get him out of this funk to continue the action of the movie.
    Jack: I just want to be a good cop! Instead I keep getting caught up in these crazy adventures!
  • Destination Defenestration: In the Arnie as Hamlet sequence, Schwarzenhamlet picks up Claudius and throws him through a stained glass window.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: In-universe, at the end of Jack Slater III. Lampshaded by Jack.
    Jack: Let us push his son off the building. You will have eternal nightmares, but you are fictional, so who cares?
  • Did You Actually Believe...?: An early scene has Slater at the police station when his ex-wife calls. He puts on a recording of himself as she rambles about alimony, their daughter and more as the tape just grunts an occasional "Yep" and "sure." Later, Danny tries to cheer up Slater by saying his ex-wife must still care if she keeps calling him.
    Slater: Danny, do you think I'd marry someone so stupid she doesn't know the real voice from a taped one? I pay a cashier at the drugstore every so often to call me at the station so the guys think I have a private life. My ex-wife is happily remarried, she never calls.
  • Did You Just Have Sex?: Played rather subtly, this being a PG-13 movie, but Danny's usually bitter and world-weary widowed mother is awfully cheerful the next morning after meeting this Jack Slater guy her son has just befriended. Very likely subverted, however, in that Jack later remarks how happy he was to spend time just talking with a woman for a change.
  • Different World, Different Movies: Mixed with Celebrity Paradox. Because Slater is played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the main character of Terminator franchise is played by Sylvester Stallone. Apparently Robert Patrick is still the T-1000 in Judgment Day since he has a cameo.
  • Dirt Forcefield: Jack Slater is spotless within seconds of crawling out of the La Brea Tar Pits; naturally this is Lampshaded by Danny.
  • Dirty Cop: FBI agent John Practice, a friend of Jack's, is revealed as in league with Vivaldi, a sicilian mobster (being paid very well for it). He also says that he's killed so many people Practice simply can't remember them all.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: At first it seems that Vivaldi, the mob boss, will be the main antagonist (He is, after all, the main antagonist of Jack Slater 4), with Benedict as The Dragon; however, when Benedict, far more competent than his boss, realizes what's going on, he shoots his boss and becomes the real threat.
  • Distant Reaction Shot: When the detective finds Benedict's missing glass eye, he turns it and it reads "Vengeance is Mine". Slater yells, "Don't touch it!" and the scene promptly cuts to a distant view of the hillside as a giant fireball appears.
  • Double Meaning: A reference to both Mr Benedict's glass eye and the the practice in commerical aviation of catching a flight late at night / early morning.
    Jack: Gotta catch the redeye
  • The Don: Tony Vivaldi. The plot of the Jack Slater film Danny drops into involves him planning on killing all of the other Dons in Los Angeles so he will be number one.
  • Downer Ending: While this is averted by the actual film, it applies in-universe to Jack Slater III, which ends with Slater managing to take down the Ripper, but the Ripper managing to pull a Taking You with Me that ends up killing Slater's young son.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Mr. Benedict is introduced as Vivaldi's right-hand-man. However, he turns on his employer immediately after finding much better prospects. Apparently, he didn't notice until he found the ticket.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Jack, and since he has no regard for other drivers, he's a Walking Disaster Area.
  • Elevator Failure: Slater falls out of a broken elevator.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Slater is characterized as a parody of a Cowboy Cop by the fact that he enters the scene of a hostage situation ignoring his superior officer and throwing his badge in his face when ordered to stand down. He keeps walking as the mayor tries to dissuade him by bringing in the Lieutenant Governor, whom he punches in the face, and then beating down the officer the chief ordered to keep him from entering the building. This is generally par the course for his behavior, but in his case it's because his son is the hostage in this situation.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: After Benedict arrives in the real world, he's propositioned by an underage junkie prostitute in downtown New York. Even a bonafide Card-Carrying Villain from Movie Land such as he is disturbed by this, and voices his disgust by asking her how old she is. Seconds later, he's similarly shocked that a homeless man was murdered by two others for his shoes. This makes sense - Benedict is the villain of a PG-13 action movie, where such things are unimaginable.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto:
    • Parodied, also by taking it to the extreme. Later, Deconstructed and averted as they go to the real world.
    • A particularly egregious example is when a henchman gets shot, flies through the air, and through the windshield of an ice cream truck... which inexplicably explodes with no obvious source of fuel. One could blame it on the dynamite he was holding at that moment, but still...
  • Everyone Is Armed: The rooftop funeral scene. Fortunately for Jack, everyone there is also a graduate from the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy.
  • Evil Brit: Benedict, played by a deliciously hammy Charles Dance.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: After catching on quickly about the powers of the ticket (in addition to already having near-superhuman accuracy with a gun) Benedict realizes his skills make him vastly overqualified to be taking orders from his dumb and unappreciative boss, Vivaldi.
  • Evil Learns of Outside Context: After Danny Madigan is given a magical movie ticket, he finds himself unexpectedly transported inside the movie, Jack Slater IV. Unfortunately the ticket ends up in the hands of the villain, Benedict, who after learning that he's actually a movie character, escapes into the real world. Worse, he quickly learns that here, the bad guys can win, and plans to recruit other movie villains to wreak havoc.
  • Explosion Propulsion: Slater is propelled into the air while attempting to outrun a Time Bomb.
  • Extended Disarming: During the opening scene, Jack is told to disarm. The Ripper (having apparently heard of some of Jack's exploits), isn't satisfied with him just dropping the pistol in his hand, and insists on seeing the rest of it. Jack takes quite some time removing his knife, and then the rest of his pistols, and the Ripper is only duly impressed after double-checking whether that really was all of it. Slater tells him it is.... unless a "grenade" with a blade that pops out of it counts.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Benedict sports various brightly coloured (and occasionally explosive) glass eyes to good dramatic effect. The fact that his eye collection appears to be made of a stack of spoons hints to Eye Scream in his past.
  • Fantastic Racism: Jack accuses Danny of this after he points out that Whiskers the cat shouldn't be a police detective because he's a cartoon.
    Slater: He's supposed to be back on duty! He was only suspended for a month! So what's your point?
  • Feet-First Introduction: Although we've already seen him in the movie proper, Slater's first appearance in Jack Slater IV is his iconic snakeskin boots followed by a slow pan as he saunters onto the scene.
  • Fisher Kingdom: The different rules of the movie universe change the characters to fit; for instance, Slater gets a deadly gunshot wound in the real world which becomes Only a Flesh Wound when he returns to the movie universe.
  • 555: Lampshaded: "That's why we have area codes!" Actually, more like Comically Missing the Point, even most people who are math challenged know that there would not be enough numbers to go around if every three-digit Central Office code was 555.
  • Flesh and Bombs: In a variation, Vivaldi and Benedict rig a nerve gas bomb inside of a dead mobster's body (who they murdered), so this will go off at his funeral, killing the rest of his mafia family.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer: When Jack finally gets home, he still remembers that he's a film character. He deliberately lampshades the nearest comedy trope character (his boss), then winks at the audience.
  • Fridge Logicinvoked: A rare in-universe Invoked Trope. Death calmly comments that Danny is an idiot because he hadn't bothered to look for the other half of the magic ticket, which is still safely contained inside the locked ticket box in the theatre lobby. Danny gives himself a mental Face Palm.
  • Funny Background Event: After Slater has momentarily escaped the villains by ramping his convertible through the air and landing safely, while he and Danny have a leisurely chat about the fruits of life, we watch as the black minivan that was chasing them attempts to copy Slater's stunt, fails, and crashes in a massive fireball behind them. Neither notices.
    • Also, when Jack and Danny are driving to the funeral they are conversing in his car. In the background you see cars crashing the entire time, most likely because of Jack's driving.
  • Gatling Good: The black van with the sawed-off minigun in the door. And two of these are mounted on the helicopter at the funeral. And naturally, none of them sounds like it's shooting at a realistic firing rate.
  • Genius Bruiser: Jack Slater may be a muscle bound, gun toting movie cop, but he's also extremely intelligent. Even in the real world, he knows the makes and models of cars by year and knows that one car has an air bag and the other doesn't. He also is charming and witty when he's no longer bound by the conventions of an action film.
  • Genre Blind: Inverted. Slater is entirely Genre Savvy about how action movie world works, but is relatively clueless in the real world because the real world doesn't behave like an action movie.
  • Genre Savvy: First Danny, then Benedict and later Jack Slater. The Ripper himself notes that the rooftop scene is exactly like Jack Slater III, so he decides to skip the talking and just toss the kid (Danny in this case) right away rather than wait.
  • Glass Eye: Benedict has a collection of them, which he switches between on a whim: one of them even doubles as an example of Anatomy Arsenal, when a clueless cop picks up one that's he's left behind and twists it so that he can read the text on it, causing it to blow up, as described above.
  • A God Am I: Benedict after discovering the magic ticket.
    Benedict: If God were a villain...he'd be me.
  • Good Night, Sweet Prince: Parodied. If Arnie plays Hamlet, no one's going to tell this sweet prince goodnight!
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Lampshaded, of course. Jack refuses to say any serious swear words; Danny points out that he can't because "this movie's only PG-13."
  • The Grim Reaper: Plucked by the magic ticket from The Seventh Seal. And played by Sir Ian McKellen, no less! Instead of being another fictional character, he's indicated to be the real Grim Reaper. He even knows when Danny will die, and when he touches a man in the street, said man starts coughing.
  • Groin Attack
    • When Jack Slater tries to enter a building to confront a criminal, a police officer tries to stop him. Slater kicks him in the balls. "You want to be a farmer? Here's a couple of achers!"
    • During the attack at Jack's home, his daughter Whitney is slapped by one of the thugs in her bedroom. She says "big mistake" and kicks him in the groin, causing him to fly over her and crash to the floor. She then jumps on him and stomps him.
  • Guns Akimbo: Jack does the Matrix version with dual SMGs.
  • Hand Cannon: Jack Slater's Desert Eagle and Benedict's Dan Wesson revolver.
  • "Hell, Yes!" Moment: Danny has one of these when Whitney escapes her captors and pulls a gun on the guys holding him. Everyone notices.
  • Hero Insurance: Lampshaded, of course in the scene where Slater is being chewed out by his hammy boss. Danny tells Slater, "He's only mad because you destroyed more of the city than usual..."
  • Hidden Depths: Jack Slater. He's leading a pitiful life that even his screenwriters didn't expect.
    Danny: Look on the good side. You have a great daughter. And your ex-wife wouldn't call if she didn't want you back.
    Jack: Danny, do you think I would have married someone so stupid who can't tell my real voice from a taped one? I pay a cashier to call me at work, so the guys think I have a life. My ex-wife is happily remarried. She never calls. And Whitney—why can't she be a normal teenager? On prom night she stays home to field strip an AK-47! She's going to die a young maid, I know it. I'm going to buy it soon, too.
    • The movie itself surprisingly has its share of hidden depths. For instance, Danny's adoration of Slater is due to Jack being all he has for a father figure.
    • Jack is also apparently very charming when not having to exercise action movie tropes 24/7 - and pleased to realize it, too.
    • Lt. Dekker (Da Chief) spends most of his screen time screaming his lungs out and chewing out Slater for the excessive amounts of carnage his Cowboy Cop antics leave behind... and in one of the previous films, one of the sub-plots was his marriage going through a rocky state and Jack helping him. Dekker even called Jack "his best friend" at that time, which probably explains why Dekker has given Jack his badge back every time he takes it Once an Episode (In-Universe). When Danny brings this up, Dekker turns to Jack and gets angry because they were going to keep it a secret between them.
  • High-Voltage Death: How Slater dispatches the Ripper. While on a rainy rooftop together, the Ripper throws an axe at him; Jack takes the axe and uses it to chop open a nearby powerbox, then climbs onto the side of the building and pushes the cut power lines into the puddles the Ripper is standing in.
  • Hollywood Homely:
    • In-universe. Danny explicitly points out how there are no "unattractive people" in Jack's world. Jack sees nothing unusual about it.
    • Averted when Benedict gets to our world, on the other hand: he gets to see some of the real thing, particularly a young prostitute who rather half-heartedly tries to solicit him.
  • I Am Not Leonard Nimoy: In-universe: The opening credits of Jack Slater IV give an And Introducing credit to Meredith Caprice, the fictional actress who plays Whitney. When he actually meets her, Danny keeps accidentally calling her Meredith.
  • Idiot Ball: "You're a very brave young man. Unfortunately, you're not very bright. If I were you... I might be looking for the other half of the ticket."
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Invoked when Danny growls at Benedict when he has Whitney in his clutches, "If you harm one hair on her—" Benedict interrupts, "Stop!", deliberately plucks a hair out of her head, then snaps it in front of Danny, daring him to finish his threat.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Jack. During a conversation with Danny, he admits that all he really wants is to be a good cop, and hates how he keeps getting tangled up in "crazy adventures". He also desires this for Whitney, unnerved by how his lifestyle has affected her.
  • IKEA Weaponry: The Ripper's axe.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The thugs in the beginning. Again, lampshaded as usual. Happens again later when the mooks use their machine guns on Slater as he escapes with the corpse.
  • Impressive Pyrotechnics: Every explosion features a far-larger-than-life fireball as if the exploding object was filled with gasoline.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Averted in Jack's world, played straight in Danny's.
  • Indecisive Parody:
    • While obviously sending up action films of the 1980s and early '90s, this film can't seem to decide what kind of spoof it is. The premise is a self-aware action comedy having fun with the Arnold Schwarzenegger formula (while also having its moments of seriousness and self-reflection), but it often goes into straight up farce that even the worst exploitation B-movie wouldn't have (as they wouldn't have the budget to include a cartoon cat or black and white Bogart). The movie bounces between the two approaches and suffers for it, a flaw most of its detractors point out, if they're even aware that it's a parody at all!
    • Something that further muddies the waters is that the "real world" segments feel less like going from a typical action movie to the real world, and more like going from a ludicrously silly and over-the-top action movie to a more standard-issue late 80s/early 90s action movie. The setting's a lot grittier and Jack picks up injuries more easily, but he still gets away with performing insanely risky stunts with little to no consequence, and his second fight with the Ripper somehow seems even more absurd than the one which took place in Jack Slater III.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Benedict's test kill is this. One of the few tropes in this movie played straight in the real world section (we don't see where he shoots the guy, but he was using a match-grade revolver at close range and might have aimed for the head).
  • Instant Emergency Response: Lampshaded in that same scene. Benedict is shocked to discover that you can steal a car in the real world without police sirens instantly sounding. To test this new situation, he walks up to a man and shoots him, then waits for the sirens. When that doesn't work, he yells that he's just shot and killed someone and wants to confess, to which the only response is someone off-screen yelling at him to quit making a racket. Cue the Aside Glance and Evil Grin.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • Danny tries to make one out of John Practice's Catchphrase ("How do you get to Carnegie Hall?"), with little success.
    • When Benedict escapes from the movie, Danny suggests leaving after him. When Jack asks if he has a way to get back, Danny tells him he can't nitpick every single little thing. Upon reaching the real world, they find that Benedict's nowhere to be found, and Danny promptly wonders how Jack can get back. "That's a good question. But we wouldn't want to nitpick."
  • It Is Not Your Time: In Danny's encounter with the Grim Reaper, he worriedly asks if he's going to die soon. The Grim Reaper says no, he'll die as a grandfather.
  • It's Personal: Invoked in the Hamlet parody.
    Arnold Schwarzenegger as Hamlet: Oh, Claudius? You killed my father. (picks up guy) Big mistake. (Flings Claudius out the window).
  • Just Between You and Me: "Since you're about to die anyway, I may as well tell you the entire plot."
  • Karma Houdini:
    • The burglar since this is real life and not a movie; kind of a What Happened to the Mouse? example because he's about as petty as a crook can get (didn't even find much to steal) and far worse things were about to happen.
    • Also, two petty thugs Benedict happened to see beating and possibly killing a man for his shoes, which was part of his education in how unresponsive police in some parts of our world are to crime.
  • Lampshade Hanging: More lampshades than a Shriner Convention. Mostly by Danny pointing out how crazy the film world is.
  • Large Ham: The chief of police and Benedict. The chief apparently can only talk in incoherent angrish.
  • Law of Inverse Recoil: Played straight naturally in the Movie world. In the real world, Jack fires his Desert Eagle pointed up and is knocked down.
  • Left the Background Music On: Slater apparently changes music CDs during his action scenes.
  • Licensed Pinball Table: Released by Data East in 1993. Click here.
  • Lighter and Softer: In comparison to most of Schwarzenegger's other movies.
    • It still manages to have its share of grim moments, due to several examples of Would Hurt a Child, with Slater's son being killed by the Ripper in the third movie and Danny put in danger a few times, including an encounter with a robber.
    • The PG-13 world of the Jack Slater movies is this to the (unrated) "real world", to the point Benedict is initially shocked at the sight of underage women prostituting themselves and people being murdered for their shoes.
  • Limited Wardrobe: While not pointed out in dialogue, the brief look in Slater's closet during the once-a-movie "shoot the assassin hiding in the closet" sequence has a line of identical outfits (complete with an entire shelf of Desert Eagle pistols).
  • Lonely Bachelor Pad: In the movie-within-a-movie, Jack Slater's apartment is unfurnished, and very unremarkable, besides the ninja hiding in the closet and the closet full of identical outfits.
  • Made of Iron:
    • Slater, at least in the movies. When he arrives in the real world, he's genuinely shocked that punching out a car window with his bare hand hurts. A case of Reality Is Unrealistic subverts this, unique to Schwarzenegger — he famously punched out a real car window by mistake in True Lies, and didn't notice.
    • Also, Danny, to an extent, as he manages to brush off falling off a rooftop and crashing through a house with little to no injuries.
  • The Mafia: Vivaldi, the Big Bad of Jack Slater IV, is a Sicilian mobster who's seeking control over drug trafficking on the US West Coast. To that end, he's made peace with his rivals the Turelli Mob (another example) while actually plotting their murders.
  • Mage in Manhattan: Benedict uses the magic ticket to leave his movie and enter the real world. He realizes that outside of movies bad guys can win and plans to take over the world by releasing villains from various horror films. Luckily the heroes stop him.
  • Malaproper: Vivaldi, who keeps mixing metaphors and getting idioms wrong, which finally gets him killed by an exasperated Benedict. In the opening scene of Jack Slater IV he even raises his thumb instead of his index finger when claiming himself to be "Number One."
  • Match Cut: Danny's Imagine Spot of the castle in Hamlet blowing up to a cartoon explosion in a Wile E. Coyote & Road Runner cartoon.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • If you're going to employ a Dragon, don't pick a guy named Benedict! There's also the Pandora Theater. And stay away from gangsters named "The Fart".
    • Oddly, while the Pandora is a real theater in Los Angeles - and the film was shot in it - there is no Pandora Theater in New York.
  • Medium Awareness: Danny, justified as he is literally trapped in a movie. However, this only extends to the Jack Slater movie he finds himself in; he never shows any awareness of his "real world" being a movie from our perspective.
  • Medium Blending: Danny sees an animated cat interacting with regular people once he's within the film, as well as a digitized black-and-white image of Humphrey Bogart.
  • Men Are Tough: Parodied. After returning to the real world, Danny wakes up to find that Jack has been spending time talking with his mother, he enjoys the Mozart music playing in the background, and he joins her in lecturing him for going to the theater that night.
    Danny: Moooooom! You turned him into a wimp!
  • Metal Head: Slater's music of choice is heavy metal. Late in the film, Danny actually reacts with dismay when he witnesses Slater enjoying classical music (which does not exist in Slater's world).
  • Mob War: Sicilian mobster Vivaldi is plotting to kill off the Turelli Mob with a gas bomb, after making a fake peace with them.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Danny's encounter with the burglar, which leaves a Chekhov's Gun (the key to the handcuffs) and gives Danny and Jack an explanation for the latter's presence to his mom.
    • Also when Danny and Slater enter the real world, Slater's acts of Genre Blindness are initially played off for laughs. The duo chase Benedict through New York in stolen cars, ending up in a back-alley where they are challenged to a game of chicken. The scene is tense, Danny warns Slater he could die, but Slater drops off Danny and speeds off. However neither vehicle manages to build much speed (unlike in the movie world). Compared to all the things Slater has survived up to this point, as well as what most action heroes survive, most viewers won't be expecting much of a crash, even if it is the real world. Cue the actual crash at around 40 kPh which causes the cars rears to lift off the ground. It does not help that Slater's taillights go out and one of the car horns goes off.
    • The Ripper, knowing he's a fictional character, is a sociopathic even in the context of being in the real world, and decides to forgoe movie tropes and just off Danny immediately.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: In-Universe, Jack's reaction to hearing Mozart, or classical music in general, for the first time.
  • More Dakka:
    • At Leo The Fart's funeral, when Jack steals the corpse, every single guest, even the priest, the nuns and several little old ladies pull out military grade automatic weapons. Then again, it was a Mafia funeral.
    • The goons in the black van shoot at Slater with a Gatling gun.
    • How about the helicopter that shoots through an entire building?
    • Jack's glove compartment contains an arsenal of handguns.
  • Motor Mouth: Da Chief. At one point, he starts speaking so fast and so angrily that smoke literally starts coming out of his ears and Danny and Jack actually ask each other if they can get what he's saying.
  • The Movie Buff: Danny
  • Mr. Exposition: Jack's favorite second cousin, Frank, who conveniently expires after delivering a Red Herring.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Whitney, courtesy of skin-tight shirts and Leg Focus. It's probably why Danny is so moony-eyed when meeting her, since he's seen her actress in other media (it's implied she's a teen model.)
    Danny: (swooning) It's her first film.
  • Mundane Fantastic: The Jack Slater series is apparently more over the top than its premise as action films would suggest. When Danny points out a cartoon cat and black and white officer on the force, Jack doesn't think anything of it besides Danny sounding discriminatory.
  • Musical Gag:
    • After Danny says, "They always look dead. In Die Hard, a guy is hung and at the end of the movie, he comes back.", the soundtrack plays a few notes from the Die Hard score. Both films were composed by Michael Kamen.
    • After Frank's home is blown up at the opening of Jack Slater IV, one of the Red Shirt cops (an old man that resembles Danny Glover) lives long enough to say he was two days from retirement before expiring. Right as he does, a saxophone riff from Lethal Weapon plays.

  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize: In-universe, Danny pegs John Practice as The Mole based solely on the fact that he's being played by F. Murray Abraham, who played Salieri in Amadeus. He's right!
    Jack: Danny said not to trust you. He said you killed Moe Zart.
    Practice: Moe who?
    Jack: Zart.
    Practice: (shrugs) Ah, you know, I've killed a lot of people, I can't remember half of 'em.
  • Never Recycle Your Schemes: Discussed in-universe, where Slater suspects Benedict planted a bomb inside the gangster called "The Fart" to kill the other mobsters attending his funeral. Danny points out that it wouldn't be a regular bomb, since they've already had a lot of explosions in the movie. An annoyed Slater tells him not to start the "movie talk" again, then recalls a break-in at a chemical factory, and believes that Benedict planted a gas bomb inside "The Fart".
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: Benedict's explosive eyeball wipes out Jack's ex-wife's home in a gigantic fireball. Cut to next scene and Jack and Danny have a lot of soot on them but they are otherwise perfectly okay.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Lampshaded and mocked. Danny points out that Slater's thick Austrian accent is weird for a native Angeleno. Slater's response? "Egghcent? Vaht egghcent?"
  • Noticing the Fourth Wall: Half the plot of the movie revolves around this, with fictional police officer Jack Slater not only having to face the repercussions of being transported to the real world, where the physics of his overblown action film world do not apply, but eventually even bumping into the actor who plays him. Hilarity Ensues. Naturally, Slater does not take any of it well.
  • Off on a Technicality: In Jack Slater III the Reaper mentions he got only ten years in prison after his bloody ax was ruled inadmissible since Jack found it due to an illegal search, which presumably would have put him away for far longer otherwise.
  • Oh, Crap!: Slater has a moment of this when clinging onto a piece of metal from the broken elevator which eventually gives in and let's him fall in slow motion.
  • Once per Episode: Jack appears to randomly shoot into his closet when he comes home, but then a dead assassin falls out. Apparently there's always one in there. He then says it costs him a fortune in closet doors.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Played with and lampshaded: Slater suffers a gunshot wound from Benedict in the real world, causing a race against time to get him back into the movie world, where the doctor "wouldn't even call it a flesh wound."
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Lampshaded - since the screenwriter for Jack Slater IV never bothered to give the nerdy freshman "Skeezie" an actual name, he doesn't have one. "Skeezie" is the full name he gives on a police report.
    Skeezie: (to policeman) Skeezie. S-K-E...
    • He doesn't even know how to finish spelling it. "I-E... no, 'Y'."
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Danny warned Jack that Practice is The Mole (see Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize). After telling him of Benedict's plan, Practice says they should take the side entrance, which alerts Jack because...
    Jack: Who do you work for, Practice?
    Practice: What do you mean?
    [Both walked into a dead end.]
    Jack: I mean we both know there's no side entrance to the building.
    [Practice pulls a gun at him]
  • Parental Bonus: Sharon Stone has a brief cameo as the same character she played in Basic Instinct.
  • Parody Assistance: A film originally written as a parody of the kinds of action movies that Shane Black wrote and John McTiernan directed wound up with Black doing rewrites on the script and McTiernan directing it.
  • Plot Armor: Lampshaded. When Slater is shot in the real world, part of the post-climax is getting him back into the movie world, making this a rare case where the trope is actually invoked!
  • Plucky Comic Relief: The kid realizes he is this during a game of "Chicken" with a car, while riding a bike.
    Danny: I'm the comedy sidekick... Oh, shit, I'm the comedy sidekick! This isn't going to work!
  • Poirot Speak: Vivaldi has a thick Italian accent and frequently butchers idioms, much to Benedict's annoyance.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Buckethead teamed up with Michael Kamen to score the film (Buckethead did the guitar solos while Kamen composed everything else).
  • Post-Kiss Catatonia: A mild version—Danny becomes quite...introverted after Whitney mistakenly kisses him, complete with stumbling walk and goofy smile, "reminding" himself that it all goes downhill from there....
  • Power Perversion Potential: In-universe, upon learning that the ticket actually works, Nick considers the possibility of visiting Greta Garbo and Jean Harlow.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: A rather nonsensical one: "You want to be a farmer? Here's a couple of acres."
  • Precision F-Strike: Subverted. Danny tries to get Slater to say a certain word - and he can't... because it's a PG-13 movie. Later Double Subverted when Danny gets an "Oh shit!" line. Then triple-subverted with Da Chief because in fact you can drop one F-bomb in a PG-13 movie.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "No sequel for you."
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The soundtrack has plenty of bits from real classical music. Most notably Mozart.
    • Stealth Pun: There's a ton of metal versions of Mozart in the soundtrack.
  • Pun: Lampshaded. The movie delivers them by the truckload.
  • Punny Name: Lampshaded, as both Jack and Practice both make jokes on the latter's last name.
    Jack and Practice: How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
  • Rage Against the Author: Slater's got some pretty understandable anger against the writers who killed off his son in the third movie. He also rips into Schwarzenegger when he finally meets him.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Danny gives one to Death as he approaches Slater. Seems like he hasn't gotten over his father dying.
  • Recursive Reality: There are movies in Jack Slater's universe, making them movies within a movie ... within a movie.
  • Red Right Hand: Benedict's glass eye, which he usually changes and has a lot of custom eye designs including one with a powerful bomb and one with a bull's-eye.
  • Red Shirt / Retirony: Lampshaded by an old cop that gets killed by Frank's house exploding, who was two days away from retiring. And just to cement the lampshade, a brief saxophone snippet from the Lethal Weapon soundtrack sounds off as he dies.
  • Remember the New Guy?:
    • At the end of Jack Slater III, Jack's son Andrew is killed. Jack Slater IV introduces Whitney, Jack's daughter who has been living with his ex-wife. Oddly, this is never lampshaded, aside from her And Introducing Meredith Caprice credit.
    • This trope is probably in play with Practice, as the friend Slater has but never seen before makes him the perfect mole.
  • Replacement Goldfish: The movie incorporates Danny into the plot by turning him potentially into this for Jack.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Used to maximum effect by Benedict. Not only is his a Hand Cannon, but in the climax he's able to get the drop on Slater by leaving a chamber empty and making him think he ran out of ammo.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: Lampshaded. Detective Whiskers is a cartoon cat in a detective outfit, but nobody but Danny sees anything weird about him.
    Jack: He was supposed to be back on duty. He was only suspended for a month. Now shut up!
    Danny: Listen to what I'm saying: an animated cat just walked into the squad room. Hello!
    Jack: He'll do it again tomorrow. So what's your point?
    Lt. Dekkar: That cat is one of the best men I've got!
  • Rooftop Confrontation: Three of them: two Hostage Situation moments that bookend the film and a rooftop "running away from trigger-happy Mob shooters" moment in the middle.
  • Schizo Tech: Danny's Hamlet starring Arnold fantasy starts out with Hamlet throwing skulls at people and slashing them up with a sword before he whips out a submachine gun, slaughters everyone in the castle and then blows the castle up.
  • Screaming Woman: Played with with Whitney when Benedict assigns one of his mooks to beat her up in a separate room. Initially, it looks like she's screaming with terror... until she whispers "Big mistake" after the guy hits her. She then proceeds to beat the crap out of him, screaming all the while so that as far as Benedict and all the other henchmen in the next room can tell, it'll seem like the mook is continuing to beat and terrify her, and not that she's snapped his neck, grabbed his gun, and is about to go back out and ambush the rest of the bad guys.
  • Self-Deprecation: Aside from the Self-Parody of his films, Arnold shows up at the film premiere, answering questions and hamfistedly promoting his Planet Hollywood chain of restaurants, to the embarrassment of his real-life wife Maria Shriver.
  • Self-Parody: For co-writer Shane Black, director John McTiernan, and above all else the star Arnold Schwarzenegger, all of whom were spoofing the action movies they made their names with.
  • Sequel Escalation: Jack moans that his adventures seem to get more and more difficult to deal with. Danny tells him that the sequels have to get harder and more exciting. Jack's not amused.
    • By the time we get to Jack Slater IV, it seems many of Jack's immediate family have already been killed; the first casualty that will apparently do the most damage to Jack is his "favourite second cousin".
  • Sequence Breaking: Lampshaded as well. Danny's presence speeds the plot faster than the film had originally intended.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A visual gag referencing ET when Danny figures out that his attempt at playing chicken with Benedict won't work (there's your evidence that you're the comedy sidekick, kid).
    • The two beat cops at the beginning are very reminiscent of Riggs & Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon, complete with saxophone riff and "three days 'till retirement".
    • Jack's slow motion fall from a building is a direct visual reference to Hans Gruber's plummet in Die Hard.
    • Continuing the above point, Jack's son being dragged to his death by the Big Bad as he falls off the rooftop in Jack Slater 3 references what happens to the daughter of The Hero in Nobody Lives Forever (the book the first Die Hard is based from).
    • Jack Slater IV is presented as "A Franco Columbu film". Columbu is a longtime personal friend and bodybuilding buddy of Arnold's, who also had bit parts in other Arnold movies.
    • When Benedict is looking through newspaper movie listings to find new villains he can bring into the real world with him, all of the movie ads are for Columbia Pictures films.
  • Snarky Inanimate Object: The magic ticket that transports Danny into the movie is said as having a mind of its own. When Danny attempts to get it to take him back to the real world, it reverts to being inactive. Only after it falls into the hands of the film's villain does it decide to stay on all the time. Of course, it decides to momentarily turn off again at the exact moment Benedict needs it to escape being killed by Jack.
  • Soft Glass: Lampshaded. While in the real world, Jack notes that his hand really hurts after punching through a car window.
  • Standard Cop Backstory: Parodied and implied with Jack saying that he's been friends with Practice ever since they served together in Vietnam.
  • Stripperiffic: Parodied with the female police officers' Custom Uniforms.
  • Stepford Smiler: Under Jack's cool attitude and action hero behaviour lies a broken man who is still suffering from PTSS, resulting from his son's death.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: With several Lampshade Hangings, such as when Danny insists that the trouble at Leo Le Fart's funeral can't possibly be "just" another explosion, because the Slater film has had several explosions already.
  • The Starscream: Benedict to Vivaldi.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: In-universe. The entire second half of the film revolves around both Slater and Benedict realizing that the rules of their world don't coincide with that of the real world. Slater discovers that his gunfire won't automatically blow up a vehicle, that his hand hurts when he punches a window out, and that car crashes are much more dangerous than he thinks. Meanwhile, Benedict discovers that he can kill with impunity and no one notices.
    • This also applies to Jack's world in a rather unusual way. While all the action movie tropes are firmly set in place, reality still ensues as well as possible within the confines of the said tropes. Jack's cool action hero behaviour? Only a facade to distract others from his PTSS and loneliness. His sexy Action Girl daughter? Yes, she is an Action Girl and enjoys it, but she misses out on basically everything else in life, so it will later come back to her with revenge. His never-seen ex-wife? She actually doesn't give two patoots about Jack, and Jack just has someone call him to pretend she's his wife so he can keep a brave face at the precinct.
    • They are both shown that the women in the real world aren't anything like the movie in their world. In Slater's case he's more at ease in just having a conversation with Danny's mom, who, though not unattractive (being played by Mercedes Ruehl), but hardly the supermodels he normally meets, while Benedict was caught off guard by the appearance of a very young prostitute, coming from a PG-13 world.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: When Benedict realizes the ticket is magic, the theme from The Twilight Zone plays on the television behind him.
  • Take That!:
    • Part of the playful feud Arnold has with Sylvester Stallone is played out here; when Danny goes to the video store to show Jack the guy who played him in another movie, he finds an advertisement for Terminator 2: Judgment Day starring Stallone.
      Jack: The man is an artist. It's his best performance ever!
      • He's either saying he'd have played it better, or that it was his best performance because it didn't happen.
      • You could infer he's praising himself, since in the real world, Arnold played the Terminator; and it was his immediately preceding picture, so up to that point, for Arnold, it was HIS best performance.
    • The La Brea Tar Pits was a Take That to another 1993 film, Jurassic Park. The Take That was made during production of both films; Last Action Hero was assuming it would be a blockbuster hit as well, so it ended up as being the equivalent of the Star Wars "billboard" being blasted by Billy in Laserblast.
    • The Hamlet parody, in addition to ribbing both the original play and Schwarzenegger movies, was also a potshot at Mel Gibson's Hamlet (1990), directed by Franco Zeffirelli.
  • This Is Reality: And Benedict likes it. His Just Between You and Me speech is terrifying:
    Benedict: Gentlemen. Since you are about to die anyway, I may as well tell you the entire plot! Think of villains, Jack. You want Dracula? Dra-cool-la? Hang on, (takes out the ticket) I'll fetch him. Dracula? Huh. I can get King Kong! We'll have a nightmare with Freddy Krueger, have a surprise party for Adolf Hitler; Hannibal Lecter can do the catering, and then we'll have a christening for Rosemary's Baby! All I have to do is snap my fingers and they'll be here. They're lining up to get here, and do you know why, Jack? Should I tell you why? Hmm? Because here, in this world, the bad guys can win!
    • Also just about weaponized by Jack at one point, showing he was getting almost as savvy as Benedict, in the chicken scene listed under Mood Whiplash. He realizes full well the dangers of a head-on collision in the real world, but also realizes the goon he's staring down doesn't. He explicitly points out (after the fact) the model vehicle he had was better designed for a head-on collision and he was wearing a seatbelt and had an airbag, while the bad guy wasn't and didn't. He just underestimated HOW MUCH it was going to hurt.
  • Time Bomb: Played with. Slater realizes a bomb is about to go off when a series of cards show decreasing numbers counting down.
  • Title Drop: Averted. The teacher refers to Hamlet as one of the first action heroes.
  • Trapped in Movie Land: Happens to Danny for approximately half of the film.
  • Troperiffic: The whole point of the movie is lampshading, deconstructing, reconstructing, subverting and inverting as many action movie tropes as possible.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Complete with smoke coming out the ears.
    Danny: He only took your badge because you destroyed more of the city than usual.
    • Also during the opening of the film, Slater willingly tosses his badge to his Captain before taking on The Ripper.
    • Jack and Da Chief also note Whiskers is back on the force after some Noodle Incident forced him to turn in his badge.
  • The Unreveal: Danny wrote something on a notepad and tells Jack to say the word. Jack doesn't say it nor do we see what was written. But it's presumably a F-word, which Danny uses as another "movie proof". Jack refuses to say it for that reason and thinks it's childish, but Danny thinks Jack is unable to say it because the movie is PG-13 (which only allows "shit" at its strongest).
  • The Unpronounceable:
    • Believe it or not, Arnold Schwarzenegger; Jack can't even pronounce the name of the actor who plays him, and ends up calling him "Arnold Braunschweiger" most of the time. Danny corrects him once, and Jack's response?
    Jack: Gesundheit.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Even in a loopy action film, it's bizarre to see 1) a talking animated cat, 2) Catherine Trammell and the T-1000 strolling around, 3) a black-and-white Humphrey Bogart, 4) steam literally coming out of a man's head when angry and 5) every woman with model looks. But being a live-action cartoon world, no one (but Danny) seems to even think it's slightly out of place.
  • Villain Team-Up: Between Benedict and the Ripper.
  • Visual Pun:
    • Audio pun, anyway. All of the incidental music is revamped classical music, such as "Moonlight Sonata".
    • How does Benedict trigger the bomb hidden on Louie the Fart? He pulls his finger.
  • Wait Here: Lampshaded when Jack tells Danny to stay in the car while he goes off to locate a bomb:
    Jack: Stay in the car.
    Danny: No, I am coming with you.
    Jack: (annoyed) Let us say this is a movie; if someone says "stay in the car" and the guy does not, what happens?
    Danny: He saves the day.
    Jack: Or gets killed.
    Danny: Good point; I will stay.
    (Jack begins walking off)
    Danny: Wait a minute! What if staying in the car is what gets me killed?
    Jack: (aggravated) ...There's a gun in the glove compartment!
  • Weaker in the Real World: When Slater escapes his over-the-top action movie world and lands in Danny's "real world" he finds that he's suddenly stripped of his Plot Armor, a lot of action movie cliches that he relies on (like blowing up a bad guy's car by shooting it or punching out a window) don't work, etc., and as a result he's far weaker than he is in his home dimension. However, this is inverted by Benedict, who finds that he's no longer held back by a lot of the tropes and cliches that favor the heroes in the movie, and as such he is much more dangerous in real life than the movie world.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Grim Reaper advises Danny to use the other half of the ticket to bring Jack Slater back to his movie, and then walks out. Does the Reaper keep the first half of the ticket and use it to return to The Seventh Seal from which he was accidentally taken from? The movie doesn't tell us.
    • The ticket fell on the ground outside the arthouse theatre shortly before a stampede and was presumably lost. Death never had it, it just affected his theatre long enough to get him out.
  • Wall of Weapons: Jack's car's glove compartment is full to the brim with guns, to Danny's surprise. Jack also holds about a dozen spare Desert Eagles inside of his apartment's closet.
  • When Dimensions Collide: Although Jack Slater loses his action-hero resistance to pain when he visits the real world, Death is not so restricted, apparently carrying the laws of his home reality with him. Perhaps because in his home universe Jack is only an exceptionally athletic man, while Death is a powerful supernatural being by the standards of his universe.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Lampshaded and inverted when John Practice turns against Jack; Danny's explanation of this trope is long enough for the bad guys to get the drop on him as well. ("You ain't no genius yourself, kid.")
    Danny: (to Jack) I don't see you coming up with ideas.
    • Then double-inverted, as the bad guy does the exact same thing, except he actually gets shot, because the one who shot him is the previously-mentioned animated cat detective who is bound only to Toon Physics and Rule of Funny.
      Jack: Whiskers! What kept you?
  • Wicked Cultured: Benedict, who is way more worldly than any other character, especially Vivaldi.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Ripper takes a bunch of them hostage, kills Jack's son then attempts to recreate the murder with Danny, and Benedict seriously threatens and brutalizes Danny several times throughout the movie.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Benedict orders a thug to take Whitney aside and slap her around; she turns the tables on him easily, but continues screaming as if she's the one being attacked, letting her get the drop on Benedict. Later on in the real world, Benedict smacks Danny into a nearby wall; Danny starts crying over a broken arm the treatment gave him, and Benedict turns his attention back to Slater, letting Danny then resume rushing him.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy:
    • Danny realizes almost too late that he's just the Plucky Comic Relief to Jack, so the bad guy car won't swerve out of the way of the kid playing chicken with it on a bicycle.
    • Benedict actually. He's under the impression he can control the ticket, and tries to use it to warp out when he's about to lose. Unfortunately for him, the ticket only does things when it wants to.
  • You Are Already Checked In: Played with when the fictional villain "The Ripper" shows up to a movie premiere (of a later movie in the same series) and is briefly interviewed by a reporter, who thinks it's Tom Noonan (the real-life actor) dressed up as the villain. Then, the real Tom Noonan appears, dressed as himself, confusing the heck out of the reporter.
  • You Bastard!: Slater doesn't particularly like being sucked into a new highly dangerous adventure each time the audience in the real world demands it. When he meets Schwarzenegger at the movie premiere, the character accuses his actor of being responsible for his suffering.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Danny desperately tries to tell Slater and anyone else listening that they live in a movie world by pointing out certain things. Of course, they either miss the point, make Logic Bombs, or think he's nuts. Danny gets annoyed and frustrated.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Benedict does this to Vivaldi after he learns of the magic ticket's power.


Video Example(s):


Last Action Hero

It may sound like Whitney is taking a beating, but she's actually the one delivering it.

How well does it match the trope?

4.85 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / DamselOutOfDistress

Media sources: