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Film / Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome

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We don't need another hero
We don't need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond Thunderdome
Tina Turner, "We Don't Need Another Hero"

The third Mad Max film, released in 1985.

Many years after the first two films, Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) becomes involved in a power struggle over control of the fledgling new society of Bartertown, between its founder Aunty Entity (Tina Turner) and the duo "MasterBlaster" who control its energy supply. Making a deal with Aunty Entity to recover his stolen vehicle, Max must fight Blaster in The Thunderdome where "two men enter, one man leaves". This eventually leads to Max running into a society of wild children in a hidden valley, who were survivors of a plane crash and believe him to be the pilot they have been waiting for to take them home.

The film is basically an adaptation of Riddley Walker, but with Max as the protagonist.

This film provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Auntie is the most gentle villain in the series. She even lets Max get off alive when she had him at her mercy in the end.
  • All Hail the Great God Mickey!: Kids treat records and radios as magical. They also think Max (aka Walker) can magically make the plane wreck fly.
  • Ambiguous Ending: in the final scene we see Max traipsing over the dunes carrying a bundle of spears. His fate is left unresolved, he may continue wandering, go in search of the escapees in the airplane or return to the feral kids at the oasis. The third alternative is given credence in his speech to the community of abandoned children earlier in the film when he tells them "We're all going to stay right here, we're all going to live a long time and we're all going to be grateful", specifically referring to "We".
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba
    Master: Not pigshit—energy! Me, King A-rab.
    Max: Me fairy princess!
  • Animal Companion:
    • Max's monkey that was with him before his ride was stolen. When he is sent to the desert, Pigkiller sends it after him to bring some water.
    • Scrooloose, the shaman of the feral children, has a pet monkey also. In his shamanic role, it's likely his Familiar.
  • Anti-Villain:
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: Done in a Shout-Out to A New Hope when Max chases Blackfinger in the underworld. After a beat or two, he runs back with a horde of mooks on his heels.
  • Author Appeal:
    • All of the Mad Max films have dealt with the effect of disaster on children; Beyond Thunderdome pushes it to the forefront.
    • This wouldn't be the last time a dwarf and a giant would be a team, as Fury Road has Corpus and Rictus.
  • Award-Bait Song: "We Don't Need Another Hero" by Tina Turner.
  • Babies Ever After: The crowd listening to Savannah in the final speech all have children and infants, including Savannah herself.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Master delivers one on behalf of his Giant Mook bodyguard.
      Aunty: You know the law. Two men enter, one man leaves.
      Master: This Blaster! Twenty men enter, only him leave!
    • Max vs the Tribe.
      (fires warning shot, everyone cowers) Now listen good. I'm not Walker, I'm the guy who keeps Mr. Dead in his pocket.
    • Max delivers another one near the end.
      Jed: Between them and us... not enough runway.
      Max: There will be.
  • Barbarian Longhair: Max sports this at the beginning of the film.
  • Battle Chant: "Two men enter, one man leaves!"
  • Bedouin Rescue Service: It looks like Max has had it when he collapses in the desert, but then Savannah appears and brings him to the oasis.
  • The Before Times: The children, born shortly before or after societal collapse, speak of it this way: "I'm looking behind us now, across the count of time, down the long haul into history back."
  • Big Bad: Aunty Entity, ruler of Bartertown
  • Big "NO!": Savannah screams and sobs "Oh, no! NO!" when her friend is consumed by the sinkhole.
  • Blind Musician: When Max enters Aunty Entity's place, a tattooed blind man dressed in a loincloth is playing the Sexophone.
  • Blood Sport/Gladiator Games: The Thunderdome. It settles disputes and brings entertainment for the spectators.
  • Call-Back: "We Don't Need Another Hero" by Tina Turner is a call back to the first movie, where MFP police captain Fifi wanted to give society back its heroes, via people like Max.
  • Cargo Cult: The film features an isolated tribe After the End who worships a jet airliner as their personal Mecca and its pilot, Captain Walker, as a God who will guide them to "Tomorrow-morrow Land"—that is, the world of skyscrapers and urban life that no longer exists. They treat a children's Viewmaster stereoscopic slide viewer and its reels as holy relics that reinforce their lore, in addition to a salvaged pilot captain's hat that they intend the returning Captain Walker to wear. The local mystic carries a staff with a vinyl record on it, knowing that somehow such things would speak to people.
  • Cars Without Tires Are Trains: The "train" at the end of the film is a retrofitted truck.
  • Central Theme: Children. Aside from the obvious, Master is the height of a child, while Blaster is essentially a brute with the mind of a child. Tina Turner's songs bring up the notion of children in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and Savannah Nix states at the end that they "does the Tell" so that their children and their children's children can pass on the story of their heritage (while playing with her own infant as she speaks). In the end, even civilization is being reborn.
  • Chain of People: The children trying to rescue one of their own from quicksand. It doesn't work. In fact, had Max not come to the rescue, they'd have all been killed.
  • Chainsaw Good:
    • Subverted during the Thunderdome scene. Max manages to grab a chainsaw from the Wall of Weapons and proceeds to use it against Blaster. Unfortunately, it runs out of fuel pretty quickly, given that they live in a fuel-starved society and all.
    • Later on Max and Suzannah Nix slam a heavy wooden door only to flitch back as a chainsaw blade bursts through it.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Blaster is rendered helpless by Max's Bosun's Call, since he has a Weaksauce Weakness against high-pitched noises.
  • The Chosen One:
    • Max as "Walker", of course, but Savannah was chosen to give "The Tell" to Walker, rather than Slake, the leader of the tribe, who usually does it.
    • Savannah was chosen because she found Walker. Slake says as much in his introduction to her Tell.
  • Collapsing Lair: The destruction of methane-factory beneath Bartertown causes various explosions to happen.
  • The Commandments:
    • "Two men enter, one man leaves."
    • "Bust a deal, face the wheel."
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Invoked Trope; Aunty's guards interfere to stop Blaster breaking Max's neck, presenting it as a "spontaneous" quarrel that can only be settled in Thunderdome.
  • Counting to Three: Max has to start a fight with Masterblaster, as a pretext to getting him into Thunderdome, the arena where he can be legally killed. Things don't start well when Giant Mook Blaster grabs him in a Neck Lift.
    Master: Blaster, in three seconds, break neck.—
    (*Click* Hello from Aunty's enforcers intervene just in time)
  • Cool Train: The big chase in the finale revolves around a train made of a truck and a small house that doubled as a methane powerplant.
  • Dead-Hand Shot: Subverted at the end of the film. After Max causes a massive crash, the hand of Ironbar falls out of his vehicle, strokes the woman's dollface on his standard, then turns upwards for a final defiant Flipping the Bird.
  • Death of a Child: One of the kids is swallowed by quicksand.
  • Dedication: The film is dedicated to producer Byron Kennedy, who died in a helicopter crash shortly before the film was made.
  • Defiant to the End: Ironbar's contempt for Max and co. carries to his end.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: At least one of the girls (one among those who left the oasis) is indicated to be pregnant, and a number of the children at the oasis look a little bit too young to have been among the original survivors. Not much later, near the end, we see their still-teenaged or very-early-twenties leader holding a little baby in her lap and several other children holding babies as well. There's pretty much only one way their population could have increased this way. You can see several slightly older fellows in the crowd during the Tell at the oasis who are mature enough to become fathers, besides Slake. Of course, since their parents are gone (and probably dead) and it's basically up to them to repopulate the world, there's no social stigma associated with these youngsters having kids at their age. In fact, it's likely to be very respected.
  • Denser and Wackier: In spades. While the post-apocalyptic tone is still intact, there are noticeably more jokes and broader fight choreography than the previous two Mad Max films. The B-plot of the tribe of lost children is also about as whimsical as this series has ever gotten.
  • Depraved Bisexual: A lot of the bad guys are wearing BDSM-style clothing, and when Max claims to the manager at the trading post (who's just concluded a deal with a trapper for a night in the sack with a real woman in exchange for an animal pelt) that he's got skills to trade, the manager replies "The brothels are full."
  • Descriptiveville: Bartertown. Justified in that it's supposed to have been founded pretty recently.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Bartertown's destruction to the Collector for a couple of seconds, then Auntie lifts everyone's spirits up.
  • Dice Roll Death: Residents of Bartertown must "face the wheel" if they "bust a deal", i.e. break a vow. Said wheel is divided into ten unequal sections (Death, Hard Labour, Acquittal, Gulag, Aunty's Choice, Spin Again, Forfeit Goods, Underworld, Amputation, Life Imprisonment) and is spun to determine the person's fate. Max faces the wheel after he refuses to kill his opponent in the titular Thunderdome, receiving Gulag, a fatal sentence. Subverted, however, since Max survives.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The opening and ending is sung by Tina Turner.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: The film was originally not a Mad Max film, but a post-apocalyptic "Lord of the Flies" film about a tribe of children who are found by an adult. It became the third Mad Max film when George Miller suggested that Max is the man who finds the children.
  • The Dragon: Ironbar, who is the shortest but most tenacious of Aunty's men.
  • Drop the Hammer: A giant hammer is one of the weapons provided in Thunderdome. Max uses it to knock Blaster's helmet off.
  • Dumb Muscle: Master's Handy Helper and Big Dumb Body Blaster. Justified, since he is disabled developmentally, and has a mind of a child.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After three movies worth of hell wandering the wastelands, Beyond Thunderdome ends with Max finally heading towards a place he can call home.
  • Elective Broken Language: Heavily implied with Master; he speaks some kind of broken English until Blaster gets killed, at which point he reverts to a perfect English.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: The minute Max sees that his whistle causes Blaster debilitating pain (thanks to the helmet he wears), he immediately returns to Auntie to accept the deal.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Most of the misery Max ends up enduring through the film lies in the fact that he's perfectly okay with getting involved in Auntie's power plays to get his stuff back, and is okay with fighting Blaster to the death because that's the deal he made (the fact that Blaster is trying to kill him definitely helps), but he throws the fight the very second he notices that Blaster is a man with Down Syndrome.
  • Evil Plan: Auntie Entity seeks to take out Master Blaster and maintain her power over Bartertown.
  • Expy: Subverted with Bruce Spence's character Jedediah, who is not the same Gyro Captain who appeared in The Road Warrior despite the similarities between the two. It's just an example of George Miller hiring many of the same actors.
  • Extended Disarming: Entering Bartertown, a guard tells Max: "Leave your weapons here, it's the law". A twenty-five second disarming sequence follows. The weapons check man is duly impressed. He keeps his fly-swatter though, which turns out to have a knife hidden in the handle.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Invoked in "One Of the Living".
    You can't stop the pain of children crying out in your head
    They always said the living would envy the dead
  • Foreshadowing: The kids believe Captain Walker will help them leave for Tomorrow-morrow-land in a flying machine. That's exactly what happens at the climax.
  • Forced Prize Fight: Max must participate on one against Blaster in the eponymous Thunderdome in order to get his stuff back, along with bonus water and gasoline.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Invoked by Aunty.
    Aunty Entity: Do you know who I was? Nobody. Except on the day after, I was still alive. This nobody had a chance to be somebody.
    • She inverts it as well, basically calling Max From Nightmare To Nobody.
      Aunty Entity: Once cock of the walk, now a feather duster.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Scrooloose wields a metal frying pan during the final chase scene.
  • Future Slang: The children talk like this.
  • Genre Shift: The film does this between its own first and second acts. It goes from a typical post-apocalyptic Desert Punk movie to a much Lighter and Softer adventure film with You Meddling Kids and some religious undertones about a third of the way through.
  • Gilligan Cut: Max sees one of the children scampering after them in the desert and states, "He holds his own." Cut to Max carrying him on his back in the blazing sun.
  • God Guise: Subverted. Though the kids treat him like their messiah, Max keeps telling them that they got the wrong guy. He still ends up helping some of them.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Neither Aunty Entity nor MasterBlaster are nice people, but Aunty's doing her best to restore some kind of civilization, and Master is trying to take care of himself and his mentally disabled friend in a hell of a world. Max is a mercenary who's trading his skills to Aunty, though he ends up helping the lost children out of kindness.
  • Grim Reaper: The kids have a concept of him as "Mr. Dead."
  • Groin Attack: The Collector tries to attack Max with an axe during his "audition" to Aunty. It gets stuck in the floor when he misses and Max kicks under the axe-handle, forcing the end upwards to his groin.
  • Handcar Pursuit: Max and the tribe of desert children are racing away from Bartertown on a stolen train. One of them looks back to see a horde of Desert Punk vehicles led by Aunty Entity chasing them as well as her chief of guards Ironbar frantically working a handcar and keeping up with everyone. Having been knocked into a pool of pig shit last time we saw him, he's so pissed he clearly doesn't need a methane-powered vehicle.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Max buys time for the kids in the plane by hopping into a car and driving right into their pursuers, causing a huge crash.
    • Subverted; Max jumps clear and survives the crash, but is left behind to face Auntie's wrath. However, she lets him live.
  • Hidden Weapons:
    • During the Extended Disarming sequence, Max just keeps piling up gun after gun, and then also a combat knife, a hatchet and a crossbow, all of which he apparently casually carried on himself all the time, fully concealed. Just the firearms alone would weight over 5 kilograms.
    • The fly-swatter that he's allowed to keep has a knife hidden in its handle.
  • Holding Out for a Hero: The children are waiting for the adults who promised to return for them after going to get help. None of them did. It's even lampshaded in the "We Don't Need Another Hero" song.
  • Humiliation Conga: Implied that Master did this on a regular basis with Auntie Entity.
    The Master: Who run Bartertown?
    Auntie Entity: Dammit, I told you, no more embargos.
    The Master: More, Blaster. (power shut off) Who run Bartertown? Who... run... Bartertown?
    Auntie Entity: ...You know who.
    The Master: Say.
    Auntie Entity: Master Blaster.
    The Master: Say loud! (Master turns on the town loudspeakers)
    Auntie Entity: Master Blaster.
    The Master: Master Blaster... what?
    Auntie Entity: Master Blaster runs Bartertown.
    The Master: Louder!
    Auntie Entity: Master Blaster runs Bartertown!
    The Master: Lift embargo.
  • I Gave My Word: Subverted: Aunty hires Max to kill Blaster, but Max refuses to Finish Him! when a Dramatic Unmask shows the Giant Mook to be a simpleton. Because a contract is Serious Business in Bartertown, Aunty is able to use the law to punish Max for his failure to follow through.
  • Imagined Innuendo: When Aunty Entity's majordomo tells Max he's got nothing to trade, Max insists that he's got skills they can use. To this, he rather dryly replies "The brothels are full."
  • I Own This Town: Aunty initially appears to be the uncontested ruler of Bartertown, but MasterBlaster declares a short embargo on supplying methane to the town to drive home the point that they are the true force to be reckoned with.
  • Incessant Music Madness: Some of the kids have run off. The other kids are showing Max which direction they went, and are chanting a lament in the background. Eventually, Max yells, "Stop the noise, STOP THE NOISE!"
  • Indy Ploy:
    Max: So what's the plan?
    Pig Killer: (laughing) Plan? There ain't no plan!
  • Inevitably Broken Rule: In the titular death match, There Are No Rules except for one: "two men enter, one man leaves". A rule that Max breaks when he refuses to keep fighting Blaster after finding out that Blaster is a man with Down Syndrome. This breaks the deal he had with Auntie, which leads to all of the problems he endures for the rest of the film:
    Max: (to Auntie) This wasn't part of the Deal.
    Master: Deal?! What do you mean, "deal"?
    Auntie: You must have tasted it. It was in your hands. You had it all.
  • Info Dump: The first 10 or 15 minutes of Max's encounter with the tribe of kids is basically one solid block of exposition, with the kids explaining the backstory of their tribe. Max is not amused, especially since the kids just won't listen to his objections.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Master gives Max a little salute during the latter's Heroic Sacrifice.
  • It Has Only Just Begun: Master is furious when he realises Max has been hired by Aunty Entity to kill Blaster, thus removing his muscle.
    Master: No more methane! This place, finished!
    Ironbar: No little man. We've only just begun. (shoots Blaster)
  • Large Ham: Tina Turner as Auntie Entity and Edward Hodgeman as Dr. Dealgood, the MC of the Thunderdome.
    • Jedediah's son could be considered a little Large Ham.
  • Last Grasp at Life: There's a Flipping the Bird version when Ironbar is killed in a car crash at the end of the movie.
  • Let Them Die Happy: In a Deleted Scene, Max carries the dying Gekko to the top of a sand dune and shows him the lights of Bartertown, saying that they've found Tomorrow-Morrow-Land.
  • Lighter and Softer: Especially when you consider that the first film was a bleak dystopian revenge thriller, and its sequel about bandits trying to kill people over an oil refinery. Thunderdome starts off dark but gets lighter in tone as soon as Max is rescued by the children, and stays that way for the remaining runtime.
  • A Light in the Distance: Mentioned in the closing words.
    Savannah: And we lights the city ... not just for him, but for all of 'em that're still out there. 'Cause we knows... there'll come a night, when they sees the distant light... and they'll be comin' home.
  • Loud of War: Max uses a bosun's call whistle to defeat Blaster in the Thunderdome arena.
  • Lovely Assistant: The girls alongside Dr. Dealgood in Thunderdome. One of them even spins a wheel.
  • Made of Iron: Ironbar manages to survive falling off a bridge, an explosion, and a head on collision that completely obliterates his buggy.
  • The Master: Master of MasterBlaster.
  • Merchant City: Bartertown. Trading is required to be able to enter, and holding on to the deals is considered sacred and enforced by law.
  • Messianic Archetype: Mad Max is seen by the children as the Second Coming of Captain Walker, complete with a Max-as-Walker picture of him spread out in crucified form carrying the children away upon himself.
  • Motivation on a Stick: Max is sent into "exile" hooded and tied up on a donkey with a small jar of water hanging in front of its head.
  • Mr. Exposition:
  • Mr. Fanservice: Aside from Mel Gibson, Tom Jennings, aka Slake, the leader of The Ones Who Stayed, a muscular college age guy in nothing but a loincloth.
  • Neck Lift:
    • Blaster does it to Max after Max tries to ignore Master's order for him to disarm the truck's booby-trap. And holds him there while Master chews him out and repeats the demand. When Max fails to be impressed, Master decides to have the town's electricity supply choked instead. EMBARGO ON!
    • Becomes Played for Drama the next time they have a confrontation.
    Master: Blaster, in three seconds, break neck.—
    (*Click* Hello from Aunty's enforcers intervene just in time)
  • No Bikes in the Apocalypse: Averted. While there are gas-powered vehicles, they are restricted to the elite; most of the Bartertown citizens are either on animal-driven vehicles or velocipedes, including the fellow hawking (irradiated) water.
  • No-Holds-Barred Contest: Rules cannot be broken in Thunderdome, since there are none.
  • No Name Given:
    • Max's name isn't known to Bartertown's public, forcing Dr. Dealgood to announce him at the Thunderdome as "The Man With No Name" in a Shout-Out to Dollars Trilogy.
    • Many of the character names aren't spoken in the film, and are only listed in the credts.
  • Not What I Signed on For: Max says this after seeing Blaster's true face and refuses to kill him.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • During the Thunderdome fight, Blaster stops dead in his tracks when Max gets his hands on the chainsaw. It shifts over to Max when the chainsaw runs out of gas after only a minute of so of revving its engine.
    • Max has a moment when he nearly kills an unmasked Blaster.
    • Later...
    Jed Jr.: This is a stick up! Anybody moves and they're dead meat!
    (Max and company stare in disbelief, then look behind at the oncoming horde of Aunty's men.)
    Jed Jr.: (wide-eyed) Oh... I think we're ALL dead meat!
  • On Three: Max has to yank an arrow out of Pigkiller's leg, says they'll do it on the count of three, and of course does it on one.
    Pigkiller: ...what happened to two?
  • One-Book Author: Despite being one of the biggest pop singers of the 20th century, this was Tina Turner's only major starring role in a movie (unless one also counts her appearance as part of the ensemble cast in Tommy as the Acid Queen). Though generally considered a good performance, it has yet to earn her more roles.
  • Post-Apunkalyptic Armor: Worn by Aunty's Mooks.
  • Profane Last Words: The Dragon's car crashes and explodes, the wreckage stirs, The Dragon raises his middle finger.
  • The Promised Land: The kids are waiting for Captain Walker to come and fly them to theirs, called Tomorrow-morrow Land. They eventually settle for the irradiated ruins of Sydney.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Blaster.
  • Quicksand Sucks: The Wasteland is filled with this. It eats Max's dead horse, and later one of the kids.
  • Reactor Boss: As soon as Max makes a getaway in the locomotive that fed methane into Bartertown, the whole place starts exploding.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Auntie's laws ("Bust a deal, face the wheel"), but there's a Fridge Brilliance to it: they're easy to remember in a post-apocalyptic society where anyone born After the End is likely illiterate.
  • Ring-Ring-CRUNCH!: A kid smashes a ringing clock he found with a hammer because he has no idea what the ringing sound means.
  • Rousing Speech: A rare villainous example in Auntie, who pulls it off twice:
    • First she turns the Thunderdome crowd against Max:
    Auntie: What's this? What's this?!! Do you think I don't know the law? Wasn't it me who wrote it? And I say this man has broken the law. Right or wrong, we had a deal. And the law says, "Bust a deal, face the wheel."
    Crowd: (chanting) Bust a deal, face the wheel... Bust a deal, face the wheel... Bust a deal, face the wheel...
    • Then she prevents the complete collapse of Bartertown and sets the people after the escaping party:
    Auntie: Bartertown! Listen to me! Where are you gonna run? Where are you gonna hide? Listen to me! Bartertown will live! Find the little man. Bring him back to me. . .alive! We will rebuild! For those who took him... no mercy!
    (Crowd cheers)
  • Sacred Scripture: Not a paper book, but the tribe of children paid comparable homage to a collection of photos they could examine with an old Viewmaster slide-viewer. When someone showed them how to work an old phonograph — with a language instruction record that began "Listen and repeat" — they repeated the record's words as if they, too, were sacred.
  • Second Coming: Max is mistaken for the second coming of Captain Walker, a pilot who left children of a plane crash behind with the promise that one day he will return to take them to "Tomorrow-morrow Land", or back to civilization as it once was.
  • Shoulders of Doom: Worn by Dr. Dealgood.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Max stumbles across a tribe of children who call him "the Walker". Legend goes the film originated as a straight-up adaptation until someone wondered what would happen if Mad Max stumbled across the society from the book, at which point the Bartertown sequences — AKA the part of the film everyone remembers — were plotted out as a framing device.
    • Pigkiller says "No matter where you go, there you are" when Ironbar has him at gunpoint, much to his confusion.
  • Shovel Strike: Ironbar attacks Max with a shovel. Scrooloose then takes a swing on a rope, and kicks him into a vat of pigshit.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: Max encounters a water merchant upon arriving in Bartertown, who tries to sell him water. Max runs a Geiger counter over his wares, only to discover that it's quite heavily contaminated.
  • Solid Gold Poop: Bartertown is fueled by methane, a byproduct of fecal decomposition. This choice of fuels was clearly made just for the arguments that could result.
  • Sword over Head: Inverted at the end, with Max surrounded by Auntie Entity and her armed goons. She lets him go.
  • Take My Hand!: A chain of children are trying to save one of their own from being swallowed up by the same quicksand that earlier claimed Max's dead horse. The human chain is about to break when Max arrives, and he saves them all except for the handicapped teen the others were trying to rescue.
  • Teenage Wasteland: Max discovers a fertile valley where the children of plane crash survivors have been left alone while the adults went to find help. It being After the End, there was no help to be had, and the kids wound up having to raise themselves (there's a brief glimpse of bones in the children's shrines, indicating some adults had stayed with them but later died). They're actually doing fairly well, all things considered, although their limited information about the outside world has led to a rather bizarre belief system.
  • Too Important to Walk: Master goes everywhere on the back of Blaster.
  • Tragic Villain: An odd example in MasterBlaster. The two have been forged by their circumstances into a single, ruthlessly efficient, Genius Bruiser in order to climb to the top of the heap. Alone each would be an easy target for exploitation in a Crapsack World, but together they can intimidate and manipulate any threat into submission. It becomes clear over the course of the film that there is genuine affection between the two, and that everything they do is to protect one another. Even the helmet seemingly made to dehumanize Blaster is revealed to be hiding the child-like features of a man with Downs Syndrome.
  • Vetinari Job Security : Master has this. Justified in that he is likely one of only a handful of remaining people on Earth with a working knowledge of civil engineering, industrial machinery, large-scale power generation, and chemistry. Bartertown likely explodes in part because he wasn't there to stop it; and may have rigged it to do so as they left.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • The Collector seems to have lost the will to live as Bartertown blows up around him.
    • Also the Master between the moments when Max defeats Blaster and the deal with Auntie is revealed.
  • Villainous Valor: Ironbar, especially hanging off the side of the train.
  • Walking Armory: Max is ordered to disarm upon entering a secure area and it takes a full minute for him to drop all his weapons. Given that he only appears to have ammunition for the shotgun, it's likely he has to carry them because he has to scavenge for ammo like he had to scavenge for fuel in the previous movie, and can't be sure what's available.
  • Wait Here: Max tells the children to wait out in the desert while he slips into Bartertown and rescues Master. Irresistibly drawn by the lights of civilization, they follow him in.
  • Wasteland Elder: The epilogue shows that Savannah became one.
  • Weapon for Intimidation:
    • Max's shotgun. The only time it's ever used is to fire off a warning shot.
    • Well demonstrated during his Extended Disarming. Max spends a solid twenty seconds putting all manner of small arms on the table...and then drops about half a dozen shotgun shells with them. It's unlikely that most of them, including the one he points at The Collector, have a round among the lot.
  • Weapon Twirling: Max sticks a pistol in the face of The Collector, then shotguns off the fancy headdress of a mook who comes at him twirling twin knives. The mook slinks off with a pensive look and The Dragon moves in instead; Collector wisely signals everyone to back off until they can come to a more civilized arrangement.
  • Wheel of Decisions: "Bust a deal, face the wheel." One that is filled with all sorts of punishments — and one chance at complete acquittal.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Max asks Auntie Entity why she doesn't just have one of her guards kill the man he's being hired to kill. She says that Masterblaster is "almost family" while the Collector talks of "subtleties"—likely the fact that now Auntie has reestablished the Rule of Law in Bartertown, she can't afford to break it herself otherwise it just becomes Screw the Rules, I Make Them!.
  • Wire Fu: The combatants in Thunderdome are attached to elastic ropes. At one point Max gains a temporary advantage by cutting Blaster's ropes with his Blade on a Stick.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Max delivers a knockout punch to a teenage girl. He hesitates beforehand, but goes ahead and decks her.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Max is about to kill Blaster when he knocks his helmet off and is stunned to realize that the giant brute has Down Syndrome. Master pleads that Blaster has "the mind of a child". Max apparently considers killing a mentally disabled man to be on the same level as killing a child, and is horrified that he nearly went through with it. Despite knowing he'll get in a lot of trouble for breaking his deal with Aunty, Max still refuses to kill him.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: "Methane cometh from pig shit."
  • "You!" Exclamation: The film opens with Max having his vehicle stolen by Jedediah the Pilot, setting all the events in motion. By the time he catches up with the thief a horde of post-nuclear desert punks are on his tail, so Max has more urgent priorities than revenge.
    Max: You!
    Jedediah: Me?
    Max: You. It's your lucky day.
    Jedediah: It is?
    Max: Uh-huh. You got a plane.
    Jedediah: I have? (sound of plane starting up outside)
    Max: It might just save your life.
    Jedediah: It will?
    Max: Uh-huh.
  • You No Take Candle:
    • The tribe of children had only partial educations from their shellshocked parents before being abandoned. Their limited vocabulary, in spite of their intelligence, is an uncomfortable reminder to Max how much the world is still losing.
    • Master also speaks like this, but it's heavily implied to be a subversion — he's highly intelligent, but talks down to everyone, partly for Blaster's benefit. The minute Blaster is taken down, Master rushes to him, crying out, "No! He has the mind of a child...!"