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Film / Pulp Fiction

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Honey Bunny: I love you, Pumpkin.
Pumpkin: I love you, Honey Bunny...
(both pull out their guns)
Pumpkin: Everybody, be cool, this is a robbery!
Honey Bunny: Any of you fucking pricks move, and I'll execute every motherfucking last one of you!
(cue "Misirlou")

Describe what Pulp Fiction looks like!

Pulp Fiction is a 1994 black comedy crime drama film directed and written by Quentin Tarantino, told in Tarantino's trademark nonlinear fashion. It covers three stories, all interconnected.

The first is about two hitmen, Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta), who are out to retrieve a briefcase stolen from their employer, Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). This leads into two subplots, one about Vincent being ordered to also take Marsellus's wife Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) out for a night on the town while Wallace is out of town doing business, and another about Jules and Vincent accidentally shooting a guy named Marvin in the face and trying to clean it up.

The second is about an aging boxer named Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) who is paid by Wallace to throw a fight. Instead, Butch bets on himself and wins (the other boxer drops dead of a heart attack during the fight in the process), making swift plans to leave the country straight after. But before he can do this, he has to recover a certain gold watch that belonged to his father, which promptly leads into the weirdest day of his life, involving Marsellus and a pair of seriously nasty hillbillies.

The third story, which bookends the film, is about a pair of robbers called Pumpkin and Honey Bunny (Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer) who spontaneously hold up a restaurant — a restaurant that Jules and Vincent are eating in.

Pulp Fiction is generally regarded as being the film that put John Travolta back on the map as an A-lister after years of slumming it in bomb after bomb, as well as finally breaking Samuel L. Jackson out of being simply a "that guy" character actor and making him a household name. Additionally, Bruce Willis was able to officially put to rest the rumors that him playing John McClane was just a one-off fluke from someone primarily known for comedic roles and gave him the juice he needed to continue on the path of what would eventually become a storied reputation as one of Hollywood's premier action stars.

The film is also somewhat infamous for the controversy over proper writing credits. The "Gold Watch" chapter originated as an original script by Roger Avary. Tarantino bought the script with the intention of adapting it, as one would do a novel. In the final credits, Avary is given a "story by" listing.

Other actors in the All-Star Cast include Harvey Keitel as the Wolf, a crime-scene cleanup specialist; Eric Stoltz as Lance, a drug dealer who helps out Vince in a moment of crisis; Rosanna Arquette as Jody, Lance's girlfriend with a fondness for body piercings; Christopher Walken as Captain Koons, who went to a lot of trouble to deliver a family heirloom to young Butch; and Frank Whaley as Brett, a young punk who tries to double-cross Marsellus.

Not to be confused with actual pulp fiction as a genre (an influence for the film), which is found under Pulp Magazine.

Tropes, muthafucka! Do you list them?!:

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    A to C 
  • The '50s: Jackrabbit Slim's is a theme restaurant based on the decade. All of the staff are dressed as various '50s celebrities, including Buddy Holly and Marilyn Monroe, among others.
  • Actor Allusion: We've certainly seen John Travolta dancing in a couple of movies (Saturday Night Fever, Grease) and winning a dancing contest prize he doesn't entirely deserve.
  • Agonizing Stomach Wound: Marsellus Wallace intentionally shoots his former captor in the stomach with a shotgun so as to prolong his victim's agony (assisted by a pair of pliers and a blowtorch).
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Vincent himself in the end. He may be a hitman, but he really didn't deserve to get blown away so casually by Butch.
  • Alliterative Name:
    • Vincent Vega, continuing the legacy of Vic Vega.
    • Also, Winston Wolfe.
  • All There in the Script:
    • According to the script, the briefcase contains diamonds. Tarantino felt this was too similar to the plot of Reservoir Dogs, and left it ambiguous.
    • The screenplay reveals that Maynard and Zed are brothers.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Butch and Marsellus awaken Bound and Gagged in the pawnshop's basement at the mercy of the deranged Zed, Maynard, and the Gimp.
  • Anachronic Order: Quentin Tarantino's trademark style of storytelling. Here's how the film would play in chronological order:
    1. Prelude to "The Gold Watch" (Captain Koons talks to young Butch)
    2. Prelude to "The Bonnie Situation" (Jules and Vince discuss Europe and foot massages, then kill Brett and retrieve the case)
    3. "The Bonnie Situation"
    4. Prologue—-The Diner (Pumpkin and Honey Bunny discuss the robbery)
    5. Epilogue—-The Diner (standoff between the robbers and Jules/Vince)
    6. Prelude to "Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace's Wife" (Marsellus instructs Butch to throw the fight and Butch has a minor confrontation with Vince)
    7. "Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace's Wife"
    8. Prelude to "The Gold Watch" (Butch and his French girlfriend talk about pot bellies)
    9. "The Gold Watch"
  • An Aesop: Redemption. Jules is a sadistic murderer, but he redeems himself by sparing the robbers and resolving to live a more spiritual life. Butch breaks his word and kills a man by accident, but he redeems himself by living up to the example of "the gold watch" and refusing to leave Marsellus at the rapists' mercy. Both get happy endings. Vincent, who scoffs at Jules's redemption, does not change his ways and does not get a happy ending.
  • And Starring: Bruce Willis gets the "and" credit, as the poster displays. He was the biggest star in it at the time, and took a pay cut to appear in the film.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety:
    • Vincent shooting Marvin in the face is an example of "don't point guns at things you don't want dead" and "keep your finger off the trigger". Justified, as he's a) almost certainly fucked up on heroin at the time and b) an idiot to begin with, and ignorance of basic gun safety principles is extremely in character for him.
    • Marsellus Wallace is guilty as well, leaving a loaded gun unattended while he steps out to get breakfast as Vincent is waiting for an assassination target, resulting in the target returning, finding the unattended gun, and realizing someone's in the apartment quickly enough to use it on him.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: In reality, Mia almost certainly would have died unless 911 was called. The epinephrine may have restarted her stopped heart, but it would do nothing about the heroin still in her system. She'd probably be tachycardic from the epinephrine. Plus that's not how heroin affects the body when inhaled.
  • As Himself: Kathy Griffin is cast as herself. She's the red-haired woman who witnesses the crash Butch and Marsellus are involved in.
  • Asian Store-Owner: The opening conversation includes a lament about how this trope has made knocking over convenience stores nearly impossible; as Pumpkin explains, the small business owners are all either Jewish or Asian. In the former case, the business has been in the family for "fifteen fucking generations," so naturally they're going to be rather defensive when some jerk with a gun comes in. In the latter, they're scared by the gun, but they don't speak English well enough to understand "open the register."
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign:
    • Esmarelda Villalobos. Colombia is the world's leading source of emeralds. Her name is a misspelling of "Esmeralda", the Spanish word for emerald. However, there's always the possibility that her name was misspelled In-Universe.
    • Pumpkin tries to get a waiter to freshen his drink by calling "Garçon! Coffee!". The waitress tells him that garçon means "boy." This case is actually a subversion, as garçon is recognized as a way to address waiters in France - it just happens to be very derogatory, and so isn't commonly used.
  • Assassin Outclassin': Vincent and Marsellus wait at Butch's apartment to kill him after the latter reneges on his agreement to throw a fight. When Marsellus goes to pick up coffee and donuts he leaves his gun on the counter, and Vince happens to be in the bathroom right when Butch shows up. Butch is able to kill Vincent with Marsellus's gun and then escapes the apartment.
  • Ass Shove: Captain Koons describes to young Butch how Butch's father kept the family's gold watch hidden this way until he died in a POW camp. Koons then did the same with it until he was released and could bring it home to Butch.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Jules Winnfield is fond of quoting what he claims is Ezekiel 25:17 before executing someone. He explains to one character that he "always thought it was some cold blooded shit to say to a motherfucker before I popped a cap in his ass," but then he started to think seriously about what it means. The speech is actually lifted almost directly from a Badass Boast in the Sonny Chiba film Karate Kiba, with only the final lines, "And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger [...] And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee," actually taken from the aforementioned passage — though some phrases from the speech such as "the paths of the righteous", "brother's keeper" and "valley of darkness" are Biblical.
  • Audible Sharpness: The katana Butch grabs at the pawnshop makes these sounds.
  • Author Appeal: Mia goes barefoot in at least two of her scenes, and foot massages come up in conversation twice. Esmarelda drives her cab barefoot, as well. Tarantino's foot fetish is well known at this point.
  • Backseat Changing Room: Gender-Inverted Trope. Bruce Willis's character, Butch, who just came from fighting in a boxing match, changes clothes in the back of a cab with the female driver eye-balling him in the rear-view mirror.
  • Badass Back: Butch killing Maynard. After wounding him with a Diagonal Cut, he then moves on Zed and casually shoves his katana backwards into Maynard's stomach.
  • Badass Boast: Marsellus Wallace coolly threatening Zed.
    Marsellus: I'mma call a coupla hard, pipe-hittin' niggas to go to work on the homes here with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. You hear me talkin', hillbilly boy? I ain't through with you by a damn sight. I'mma get medieval on your ass.
  • Badass Bystander: As noted by Honey Bunny when discussing robbing a restaurant as compared to a store, the fact that nobody expects to get robbed in a restaurant would help to "cut down on the hero factor". They then proceed to rob the diner they are currently in, only, by sheer bad luck, Jules and Vincent happen to be eating there at the same time.
  • Bench Breaker: Butch breaks free in the Torture Cellar by ripping apart the chair he's tied to.
  • Berserk Button: Butch completely loses his shit when he learns his girlfriend forgot to pack his father's watch. Granted, some of it may be down to the stress of the situation they're in, but his outburst is still hugely disproportionate.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": During the Mexican Standoff at the end, Vincent warns Jules that he will shoot Pumpkin if Jules hands over his money. Jules yells at Vincent to shut up so he can deal with it.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Just about everyone in the film is morally dubious at best, but only Maynard and Zed are actually treated as villains.
  • Black Comedy: Extreme violence and crime are often treated humorously in the film. All of "The Bonnie Situation" is this, as an extended blackly comedic farce as Vincent and Jules have to deal with a blood- and gore-spattered car after Vincent shoots Marvin in the face.
  • Blah, Blah, Blah: When Honey Bunny and Pumpkin talk about quitting robbing, she affectionately tells him, "You sound like a duck. Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack."
  • Blaming the Victim: Also an example of Grey-and-Grey Morality. When Butch refuses to take a dive in his boxing match, he inadvertently kills his opponent, and reasons that the guy deserved it for being an inferior boxer ("If he hadn't laced his gloves up in the first place he'd still be alive.") Of course, it can also be argued that if the opponent hadn't agreed to a fixed fight in the first place he'd still be alive.
  • Blatant Lies: Early in the film, Vincent claims he doesn't watch television. Later, though, he quotes a story told on COPS, showing that his earlier aloofness was just a pose.
  • Bloody Hilarious: The movie rolls with Marvin's Ludicrous Gibs and its bloody consequences in a humourous manner for several scenes.
    "Ah, man, I shot Marvin in the face."
    "Why the fuck'd you do that?!"
  • Blown Across the Room: One version of the script lovingly describes Vincent Vega being catapulted through the bathroom door and crashing through the glass shower screen after Butch shoots him. However, probably due to the difficulty of shooting such a scene in a cramped bathroom, this was toned down in the film itself to Vincent merely stumbling backward into the shower from shock.
  • Book Ends:
    • The film begins and ends at the diner, but from different POVs.
    • The Ezekiel Bible verse is first used early on in the film, but by the end it takes on a different meaning.
  • Bound and Gagged: Butch and Marsellus get bound and gagged in the pawn shop scene — the intention is to rape them and do them in, most likely.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • The broadcast version of the film goes to extreme measures to eliminate the existence of the character of the Gimp.
    • The broadcast version changes Jules's line to Brett and Roger into "English, little sucker, do you speak it?" — probably one of the few cases where it would have been better for the censors to just cut out that bit entirely.
    • Sometimes, the censorship isn't quite so bad, and in one case it preserves the meaning of one line:
    Jules: My name's Pitt, and your ass ain't talkin' your way out of it.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: When Butch yells at Fabienne for forgetting his father's watch, to the point of making her cry. Next time he sees her, he gives her his first genuine apology.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Does Marsellus Wallace look like a bitch? He does now. Though he certainly makes who did it to him pay.
      Jules: And Marsellus Wallace don't like to be fucked by anybody except Mrs. Wallace.
    • In The Bonnie Situation, Jules tries to (unsuccessfully) placate Jimmie by over-complimenting him on how good his coffee tastes. Later on, Jimmie makes a cup for Winston Wolfe, who upon tasting it is audibly impressed, smiles, and gives Jimmy a silent toast with the mug in approval. Evidently, the high quality of the coffee was no lie.
    • On their way to interrogate Brett, Vincent tells Jules that the Quarter Pounder is called a "Royale with Cheese" in Paris. Jules later mentions this to Brett when they arrive at his apartment to find him having a cheeseburger for breakfast.
    • A subtle one, but in the intro in the diner, Honey Bunny suggests that "you could cut down on the hero factor" by robbing a restaurant. Fast forward to the end of the film during that same incident, and Jules pulls his gun and intervenes.
  • Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: When Vincent needs to use the restroom, he announces to whomever he's with that he's going to take a shit or piss. Mia tells him that it's a little more information than she needed.
  • The Cameo: Steve Buscemi as the Buddy Holly waiter.
  • The Can Kicked Him: Vincent stupidly leaves his MAC-10 on the counter of Butch's kitchen as he uses the bathroom. When Butch comes to his apartment looking for a certain gold watch, he notices the MAC-10, takes it up and blows Vincent away as he leaves the bathroom.
  • Casualty in the Ring: Butch is supposed to take a dive in the fifth round of his fight. Instead, he fights so hard that his opponent dies (according to Butch, his opponent wasn't very good anyways; he probably kept going in for more, expecting a dive that never came, and didn't put up enough defense).
  • Catapult Nightmare: Butch is seen waking up and bolting upright twice. The first isn't strictly a nightmare (he was apparently dreaming about his father's watch and its backstory), while the second isn't shown.
  • Caught Up in a Robbery: The film opens with small-time robbers Pumpkin and Honey Bunny working themselves up into robbing the coffee shop where they're having breakfast. The film's end reveals that main characters Jules and Vincent happened to be eating breakfast at the same coffee shop at the same time when the robbery commences. After taking from everyone in the place, the robbers finally get to Jules and Vincent's table. Jules hands over his wallet, but refuses to turn over the briefcase he has with him and ends up turning the tables on Pumpkin (leading eventually to a Mexican Standoff involving all four characters) when Pumpkin tries to force the issue.
  • Central Theme: Redemption — each of the segments features characters receiving (perhaps undeserved) second chances.
  • Chainsaw Good: Subverted. Butch considers a chainsaw when choosing his weapon for taking down the pawn shop rapists, but ultimately doesn't take or use it (he also sees and discards a carpenter's hammer and a baseball bat before spotting the katana).
  • Chance Meeting Between Antagonists: When Butch is waiting at a stoplight, who should cross the street at that exact moment but Marsellus Wallace, the man who put the hit out on him.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The heroin Vincent buys from Lance, and specifically, the fact that Lance is out of balloons (what druggies normally use to carry heroin) and instead has to give the heroin to him in baggies (what druggies normally use for cocaine). Later, Mia finds it in Vincent's coat, mistakes it for cocaine and overdoses on it. Understably, Vincent has an Oh, Crap! when he realises what's happened.
  • Cliché Storm: In-universe, the Fox Force Five pilot described by Mia Wallace. From what she says, it appears to be a very generic and cheesy Five-Girl Band series that wasn't picked up for good reason.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: One of the prime fucking examples of this trope, bar none. On many TV broadcasts, there's at least one scene where instead of blocking out individual words, the audio just gives out entirely.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: What's going to be happening to Zed. With pliers and a blowtorch.
    Marsellus: You hear me talkin', hillbilly boy? I ain't through with you by a damn sight! I'mma get medieval on your ass.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back: Butch has the opportunity to just walk out of Maynard and Zed's shop, but that would also mean abandoning Marsellus to be raped and murdered. He hesitates at the front door, and then goes back to rescue the man who wants him dead. The DVD commentary states that Butch was reminded of Captain Koons' words from when he was a boy: "When two men are in a situation like me and your dad were for as long as we were, you take on certain responsibilities of the other."
  • Contrived Coincidence: Mia's heroin overdose in "Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace's Wife" is a result of Vincent's dealer, Lance, being out of balloons (the standard marker that allows those in the drug trade to be able to distinguish heroin from other drugs at a glance) and instead selling him the heroin in a plastic baggie which is what cocaine is usually sold in. Finding the heroin-filled baggie in Vincent's jacket pocket, Mia mistakes it for cocaine and snorts it, causing her to OD.
  • Cool Car: Vincent's Malibu and Winston Wolfe's Acura NSX.note 
  • Counting to Three: Pumpkin forces Jules at gunpoint to open the briefcase on a count to three. The latter admits defeat after "three" and opens the case. Soon after, Jules turns the tables and forces Pumpkin to let go of his gun and to sit down on a count to three as well.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • Quentin Tarantino plays Jimmie.
    • Producer Lawrence Bender appears as a long-haired yuppie in a coffee shop.
  • Credits Gag:
    • The manager is credited as "Coffee Shop" because when he's about to say "I'm a coffee shop manager" to Pumpkin, he gets cut off (though you can hear him actually say "manager" if you listen closely).
    • Producer Lawrence Bender is "Long Haired Yuppie-Scum".
    • Emil Sitka is "Hold Hands, You Love Birds!", his "line" in the Three Stooges short Lance watches.
    • The bartender's actual name in the script is English Bob (referenced by Jules in the diner scene), but his "My name is Paul and this is between y'all" line was so entertaining that he's credited as "Paul" instead.
    • During the opening credits, the music switches from the songs "Miserlou" to "Jungle Boogie" over the screen credit for "Music Supervisor — Karyn Rachtman."
  • Cult Soundtrack: The soundtrack of this album was a huge bestseller, and it brought a lot of Surf Rock back into prominence, including "Misirlou" by Dick Dale and his Del-Tones from Surfers Choice.

    D to G 
  • Deadly Euphemism: Subverted. Vincent explains to Jules that their boss Marsellus Wallace asked him to "take care" of his wife while he was going on a business trip. Jules asks if Marsellus meant the lethal kind by making a Finger Gun, but Vincent clarifies that no, he just meant to take her out to a club or something so she doesn't get bored.
  • Deconstructive Parody: Of crime thrillers. Even feared crime lord Marsellus Wallace makes stupid mistakes. If you pay attention, you'll notice that Vince is constantly incompetent, gets indignant at the merest chastening for his incompetence, and is probably riding Jules's coattails in the gangster business. This is all masked by his genre-standard charisma.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Pumpkin and Honey Bunny are the first two people we see. They're a loving couple who suddenly plan to pull an impromptu robbery and reveal themselves to be fairly ruthless criminals. After the credits roll, we switch to Jules and Vincent in their own unrelated conversation, revealing the film to be an ensemble piece.
  • Deer in the Headlights: In an Imagine Spot joke, Jules and Vincent adapt this look after Bonnie comes home to find them dragging Marvin's bloody corpse through her house.
  • Delayed Reaction: After getting shot at by the guy with the Hand Cannon in the bathroom, Vincent and Jules take a few seconds to realize that neither of them has been shot before they shoot the attacker dead.
  • Destination Defenestration: Discussed. Marsellus threw Tony Rocky Horror off a four-story building for unknown reasons.
  • Dictionary Opening: The film opens with both definitions of the word "pulp".
  • Dies Wide Open: When Vincent is killed in Butch's apartment, he dies with his eyes open.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Jules and Vincent discuss a rumor that Marsellus threw Tony Rocky Horror out a window because he massaged Marsellus's wife's feet. Jules thinks it's totally ridiculous, while Vincent argues that he at least understands how inappropriate it would be to massage the feet of another man's wife. Mia ultimately nixes the rumor that it had anything to do with a massage or her at all.
    • The conversation about Vince's Malibu getting keyed has him and his dealer buddy fantasizing about dealing some of this trope out to the offender. "No judge, no jury — straight to the executioner."
  • Divine Intervention: Jules is at least fully convinced that God or some supernatural force saved him and Vincent from being killed by the Fourth Man with the Hand Cannon. Vince is disbelieving but doesn't have much of an argument against it other than "We got lucky."
  • Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male: Marsellus's reaction to the Gimp, and his off-screen screaming while jazzy music plays are not played for laughs. His Major Injury Underreaction is. At the time of the film's release, the only thing that saved the scene from being a sheer horror (and was in fact treated more like Black Comedy) was that Marsellus's male and only slightly more likable than Zed and co.
  • Double Take: Marsellus when he spots Butch in the car, complete with a Precision F-Strike which is improbably precise, for the movie it's in.
    Marsellus: ... motherfucker.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock:
    • During the final confrontation, it's played straight when Pumpkin is telling Jules to put his wallet in the trash bag and he cocks his gun to show that he's serious.
    • Inverted by Jules in the final confrontation; after holding Pumpkin at gunpoint for a speech about how he's changing his ways, Jules uncocks his gun, letting Pumpkin walk away.
    • Played straight when Marsellus rises up from behind Butch holding Maynard's shotgun and cocks it loudly in slow-motion before shooting Zed in the groin.
  • Dramatic Irony: Vincent drives the dying Mia to Lance's house while trying to call him on the phone. At Lance's house, we see him lazily watching The Three Stooges and eating Frute Brute while the phone rings on and on, with no inclination of the chaos that's about to strike him.
  • Driving a Desk: Tarantino chose what looks like a 1940s black-and-white street background for the scene where Esmerelda drives Butch away from the fight. Most likely, it's intended as an homage to the kind of '40s pulp noir films that Pulp Fiction is named in honour of and evokes.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Vincent. After being the central character of the previous story, he comes out of the bathroom and gets shot by Butch before he can even say or do anything.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Mia nearly dies from an overdose, and the off-the-grid "medical treatment" she receives is rather disturbing.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: While Vincent Vega might be an idiot for most of the movie, he is right on the money when telling Jules that they should leave the building where they just shot three people rather than discuss whether divine intervention is behind them being shot at several times and no bullets hitting them.
    Vincent: Do you want to continue this theological discussion in the car, or in the jailhouse with the cops?
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Not only does Butch recover his father's watch and survive battles with four individual enemies, he slaughters two of those enemies and makes peace with a third. Not a bad day's work.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: In one of the most iconic uses of this trope, Jules slow-plays his intimidation of Brett by very politely asking for a bite of his Big Kahuna burger. Then, he politely asks for a sip of his soda but starts layering on the menace by sucking down the entire cup while staring Brett in the eyes. Things only get worse after that.
  • Enemy Mine: When Butch goes back to rescue Marsellus Wallace, a man who currently has a hit out on him.
  • Ensemble Cast: There's no real central character, and each of the major characters gets at least a scene in the spotlight.
  • Epic Fail: The Fourth Man empties a Hand Cannon revolver's magazine at Vincent and Jules. Despite being at point-blank range and having the element of surprise, he doesn't hit them once. Vincent and Jules just look at each other, perplexed, then effortlessly blow the Fourth Man away with their own guns.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Marsellus runs a pretty diverse group for an organized crime outfit. It's especially odd, considering Vince is the brother of a guy working for a more typical Mafia group whose leader makes a few rather unfortunate remarks about black people.
  • Establishing Character Music:
    • Butch and Marsellus are introduced to "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green.
    • When Vincent goes to pick up Mia, "Son of a Preacher Man" by Dusty Springfield is playing in the house.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Marsellus Wallace has his wife, Mia, who Vincent has to look after while Marsellus is out of town. The two can be seen together when Jules calls him for help after Vincent accidentally kills Marvin.
    • When Jules and Vincent are at Brett's place, Jules mentions he has a girlfriend.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • When Butch saves Marsellus instead of leaving him to be raped to death by Maynard and Zed, Marsellus forgives Butch (despite the fact Marsellus is holding a shotgun and could easily complete his own hit), and agrees that in exchange for taking the story of him being raped to the grave and leaving town, he will not retaliate.
    • Jules does not appreciate people blaspheming.
  • Exact Words:
    • When he wakes up Marsellus and Butch, Maynard tells them "No one kills anyone in my place of business, except me or Zed." Guess who gets killed/maimed in their place of business?
    • Jules ironically claims that "Marsellus Wallace don't like to be fucked by anybody except Mrs. Wallace". Later on we see that it literally happens to him, and that he really doesn't.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The whole movie takes place, back and forth, over the span of a couple of days.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • The rape scene.
    • The scene where Mia's shirt is wide open could have been quite sexy, if not for the fact that she's dying from a drug overdose, foaming at the mouth and covered in blood, and is about to have a huge syringe plunged straight into her heart.
  • Fate Worse than Death: What Marsellus has planned for Zed. We don't get the details, but this is the implication.
  • Fetishes Are Weird: Seth's wife is obsessed with piercings to a near-religious degree, implying she has a fetish for them, and Vincent is clearly confused by it and finds her weird.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Jules on Marsellus Wallace, "Does he look like a bitch?" "No." "Then, why did you try to fuck him like a bitch? ... You tried to fuck him. And Marsellus Wallace does not like to be fucked by anybody except Missus Wallace."
    • Before the confrontation at Brett's apartment, Vincent mentions to Jules that one of the men in the apartment is "our guy." Marvin is the only person not killed at the apartment, suggesting he was the spy Vincent was talking about.
    • Near the beginning of Butch's story when Esmerelda asks him what it feels like to kill a man, he can't answer because he didn't do it knowingly. Two corpses later by the end of Butch's story, he can probably describe the feeling in detail.
    • The conversation about Marsellus Wallace's apparent Disproportionate Retribution to the man that allegedly gave Mrs. Wallace a foot massage serves to build up the tension for the temptation and nervousness that Vince feels when he has to take Mia out for the evening.
    • The foot massage conversation also ends up establishing that while Jules works for Marsellus, he doesn't fear him. He openly questions the extremity of the punishment and says with complete confidence that anybody who'd try that shit with him would have hell to pay. This comes into play later, as sure enough, Jules isn't worried at all about Marsellus's reactions to him demanding help with Marvin's body and handing in his resignation.
    • When he wakes up Marsellus and Butch, Maynard tells them "No one kills anyone in my place of business, except me or Zed." That's exactly what happens.
  • Freestate Amsterdam: Vincent tells us about this.
  • Funny Background Event: By itself it's not particularly funny, but the classy party Winston Wolfe is attending when he receives the summons to help Jules and Vincent becomes a lot funnier when you realize it's not even eight o'clock in the morning when it's taking place.
  • Giant Medical Syringe: The syringe saving Mia's life is pretty huge.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Despite the film's reputation for Gorn, a lot of the really shocking visuals are implied. For example, we don't see the needle penetrate Mia's chest. When Butch attacks Maynard, the fatal stab occurs just below the camera's view. All we get is Maynard's reaction. An instant after Vincent accidentally fires his gun at Marvin, the scene cuts to just behind the car and a huge splatter of blood covers the rear windshield; the body itself does not appear on camera until much later, when it's thrown in the trunk.
  • Groin Attack: Marsellus puts a shotgun blast into the groin of his rapist.

    H to L 
  • Halfway Plot Switch: A very strange example. If you put the movie in chronological order, the first half (save for the scene about the watch which would be a distant prologue) is about two hitmen who have a very strange morning with one of them continuing on to have a very strange evening with his boss's wife. Then the second half is about a boxer who double-crosses a powerful gangster and the ensuing hijinks as he tries to get away. In this order, only a few characters show up in the other half and only for brief moments.
  • Hallway Fight: Briefly discussed by Vincent as he recalls an episode of COPS in which a police officer and a criminal have a shootout in a hall, with the cop amazed at the fact that he can't hit his target from close range.
  • Hand Cannon: The giant revolver carried by the third guy in Brett's apartment (not that it helps him), and Jules even explicitly calls it one. He comments, "Did you see the size of that gun? It was bigger than him!"
  • The Hand Is God: God is referenced as the Hand that stopped the bullets from killing Jules and Vincent. Vincent is less than convinced, but Jules decides to change his life over it. The audience is left to decide for themselves, but Vincent's fate tends to indicate Jules was right.
  • Hash House Lingo: The retro Malt Shop Jackrabbit Slim's uses hash house lingo in its menu. Mia orders her milkshake "Martin and Lewis" rather than "Amos and Andy" (vanilla rather than chocolate). Meat is ordered either "burnt to a crisp" or "bloody as hell" (presumably, either well done or rare).
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Maynard (and Zed) get killed by a katana that Maynard had in his pawn shop, presumably owned by him. Not a bright move to keep it sharp.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Butch empties several rounds of a silenced MAC-10 into Vince. Despite being in a condominium surrounded by people, nobody seems to hear them.
  • Hyperlink Story: All the stories intertwine with one another.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Whether it's intended for humor or not, shortly after his Heel–Faith Turn, Jules tells Vincent to stop committing blasphemy by taking God's name in vain. After that scene, however, Jules has no problem using the same language he scolded Vincent for himself.
    • During the opening scene, Pumpkin complains about how "too many foreigners own liquor stores", which makes robbing them harder. Pumpkin is an Englishman in America — a foreigner, in other words.
    • Vincent claims to not watch television. Throughout the film, he easily identifies various '50s celebrities, laughs at Jules' Green Acres reference, and recounts an episode of COPS he watched.
  • Ice-Cream Koan: Deconstructed. At first Jules' Catchphrase seems like this, which Jules even lampshades, but when he's given a reason to think about it he realizes that it's actually highly applicable to his life, just not in the way he expected.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: The Trope Namer, from the scene where Vincent blows Marvin's brains all over the back of Jules's car with a negligent discharge. Please note that although Vincent blames a bump, the car is moving pretty smoothly, and Vincent's finger is clearly pulling the trigger in the shot right before Marvin gets killed. They only get bumpy when Jules is on the phone, after Marvin's brains have been splattered over the back window.
  • Imagine Spot: Jules imagines Bonnie's potential reaction to coming home and finding "a couple of gangsters in her kitchen doin' a bunch of gangster shit."
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Played for Laughs when that one guy misses Jules and Vincent. At point-blank range. Six times. And they don't even flinch. This becomes a Deconstruction when, understandably enough, this causes Jules to suspect Divine Intervention.
  • In Love with the Gangster's Girl: Played with; Vincent senses the rising tension between him and Mia and explicitly warns himself to avoid this trope, not in the least because there's a rumor circulating that his boss Wallace crippled one of his other employees for screwing around with his wife, although Mia herself denies this was the reason and thinks that incident was strictly business-related.
  • Insistent Terminology: Butch insists that Zed's vehicle is not a "motorcycle," it's a "chopper." Choppers are a specific type of motorcycle, so either term is technically correct, but the bike in question is in fact a chopper motorcycle.
  • Instant Death Bullet: The guy on the couch in Brett's apartment dies instantly without a sound after getting shot in the guts by Jules.
  • Intercourse with You: Mia plays "Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon" after a sexually-charged evening while Vincent tries to pep-talk himself into not having sex with her.
  • In the Name of the Moon: Jules's reading of Ezekiel 25:17, especially the last line.
    "If I said it — it meant your ass."
  • Ironic Echo:
    • Butch telling Marsellus "That's pride fucking with you" while beating him up.
    • Jules's (mis)quoting of Ezekiel 25:17.
  • It Was a Gift: Much of the value Butch places on his father's wristwatch is that it was gifted to him at some cost.
  • Karma Houdini: Pumpkin and Honey Bunny are made to give back the MacGuffin briefcase and Jules's wallet... but, other than that, they get to keep all the loot they've robbed, including the contents of the register, several of the other diners' wallets and a cell phone, and walk away entirely unharmed — while, admittedly, looking rather shaken up. Of course, Jules has made it expressly clear that if it were any other day, he'd have just popped them both and finished his coffee, but he's making a conscious effort to change his ways.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Butch chooses a katana over a variety of other weapons, and is clearly awed by it. Justified because it IS the best weapon out of the possible choices in the situation he's in: hammers and baseball bats aren't nearly as lethal, and a chainsaw would instantly remove any element of surprise he might have.
  • Kitschy Themed Restaurant: Jackrabbit Slim's is a restaurant with a heavy 1950's theme.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: When they first meet, Vincent goes out of his way to needlessly antagonize Butch. The second time they meet, Butch has found Marsellus' carelessly-dropped gun in his apartment and points it at Vincent as he exits the bathroom. From the looks on both men's faces just before Butch pulls the trigger, it's clear they both remember the earlier conversation only too well.
  • Left the Background Music On: The music playing during the opening credits comes from Jules and Vincent's car radio.
  • Left Your Lifesaver Behind: Marsellus has left his Ingram MAC-10 on the kitchen counter to go get donuts and coffee. Vincent decides that now is a good time to use the restroom. When he reemerges, he finds Marcellus's submachine gun in the hands of Butch, pointed right at him.
  • Lethally Expensive: Captain Koons's butt-smuggled wristwatch.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again:
    • The first of Marsellus' two things he asks of Butch after Butch saves him from Zed's... attentions.
    Marsellus: This shit is between me, you, and Mr. Soon-to-Be-Livin'-the-Rest-of-His-Short-Ass-Life-in-Agonizing-Pain rapist here. It ain't nobody else's business.
    • Mia and Vincent decide to never speak to Marsellus about what happened on their date, least of all her overdose.
  • Literal-Minded:
    Butch: I'll be back before you can say "blueberry pie".
    Fabienne: Blueberry pie.
    Butch: ...Maybe not that fast, but pretty fast, okay?
  • Ludicrous Gibs: The infamous I Just Shot Marvin in the Face scene ends with Marvin's blood and brains completely obscuring the rear window of Jules and Vincent's car and the two absolutely soaking in gore.

    M to P 
  • MacGuffin: The glowing briefcase, whose contents are never made clear to the viewer but are extremely important to Marsellus, given that its theft was the inciting incident that a third of the movie centers around. At the end of the movie, when Jules acquiesces to Pumpkin's demand to see what's inside, it's apparently something that is both instantly recognizable and also inspires awe in whoever looks at it even if they have no connection whatsoever to Marsellus.
  • Magic Bullets: One of the major plot points involves the "bad bullets" version of this trope, where a man empties a high-caliber revolver at Jules and Vincent (at almost point-blank range), but completely misses them. After killing him, Jules and Vincent examine the bullet holes in the wall, which the camera cannot see until they step back, suggesting that the bullets should have passed through them. Lampshaded and arguably justified, as Jules points out that it couldn't possibly be anything but divine intervention, and Vincent has no better rebuttal than any other Flat-Earth Atheist. However, the commentary points out that some bullet holes were already in the wall when Vince and Jules went in.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: Mixed with Freeze-Frame Bonus, but if you pause at the right time you can clearly see Butch's penis when he's getting out of the shower post-coitus.
  • Malt Shop: Jackrabbit Slim's is a retro theme restaurant modeled after a Malt Shop of The '50s. They use Hash House Lingo in the menu. Given that both Vincent and Mia order nonalcoholic drinks, they might not even serve liquor.
  • Massage of Love: Jules and Vincent talk about how their boss, Marsellus Wallace, threw a guy named Antwan Rockamora off a balcony for giving his wife Mia Wallace a foot massage. Jules believes that Marsellus was a bit overzealous in how he handled the situation, arguing that foot massages don't mean shit, but Vincent, who "has given a million ladies a million foot massages", argues that every one he gave meant something to both the guy and girl involved, that Marsellus knew full well the implications of such a thing, and that "Antwan should have fuckin' better known better."
  • Masturbation Means Sexual Frustration: Vincent spends some time in the bathroom psyching himself up to not give in to the temptation to have sex with Mia Wallace (because she's the wife of his boss), and mentions masturbating to relieve the tension and "get over it" once he gets back home.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • The fact that the mysterious contents of the briefcase glow, cause awe in everyone who sees them, and are locked with the combination 666, suggests that there might be something supernatural about it, but it is never confirmed or denied.
    • The Magic Bullets scene leads to an argument between Jules and Vincent regarding whether or not it was an act of God or pure luck (to be fair, there were bullet holes in the wall directly behind where they were standing, which helps convince Jules). The yellow flashes of light that are placed between cuts during the shooting might link the event to the glowing yellow contents of the briefcase.
  • Meaningful Background Event:
    • In the first scene, when Pumpkin and Honey Bunny are discussing the merits of robbing liquor stores or restaurants, Vincent can be briefly seen heading for the bathroom (specifically, when Pumpkin is talking about how "customers with food in their mouths" are unlikely to interfere with a restaurant robbery), and Jules can be overheard in the background (listen here starting at 3:06).
    • Flipped at the end of the film, where we see the same scene from Jules and Vincent's point of view, as you can see Pumpkin and Honey Bunny having their discussion in the background. Eventually there's a cutaway shot of Pumpkin shouting "Garcon! Coffee!" to make it obvious.
  • Meaningful Name: Butch has a discussion regarding the meaning of names with a taxi driver who has some interest in the subject. He claims that for Americans, "our names don't mean shit." Rather a strange thing for a professional boxer named Butch to say.
  • Memento MacGuffin: The watch, which spent many years up various asses and infected with dysentery in a Vietnamese prison camp.
    "And now, little man, I give the watch... to you."
  • Messy Pig: Jules gives this as a reason for why, despite not being Jewish, he doesn't eat pork.
  • Mexican Standoff: At the end of the film, Jules disarms Pumpkin at gunpoint, Honey Bunny trains her gun on Jules, and when Vincent returns from the bathroom, he turns his gun on Honey Bunny and even threatens to shoot Pumpkin. Jules orders him to shut up so he can resolve the situation.
  • Mirror Monologue: Vincent gives himself a pep talk in front of a bathroom mirror in order to avoid sleeping with Mia.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Captain Koons' speech to young Butch starts off seriously but then takes an abrupt turn for the absurd halfway through. Yet, somehow, the drama is not completely lost, and Butch's obsession with keeping the watch safe seems completely justified.
    • Jules and Vincent's rambling conversations concluding with dramatic assassinations.
    • Mia and Vincent's night together is mostly a fun time of good food, dancing, and winning a trophy. Then with one accidental snort of heroin, suddenly Vincent is scrambling to save her from overdosing for the rest of the segment, and even after she's saved the mood never really becomes jovial again.
  • Moral Disambiguation: The storyline between Butch Coolidge and Marsellus Wallace is initially presented as a conflict between a hardened and unscrupulous prizefighter and a local mobster, with both parties presented as morally flexible. When they are both captured by pawn shop owners Maynard and Zed, the conflict becomes more clear cut in terms of morality, with Zed and Maynard being portrayed as sociopathic sexual predators and sadists, who the comparatively upstanding Butch and Marsellus team up to eliminate.
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • Two robbers try to hold up a professional hitman. Unusually, the conflict gets resolved more or less peacefully because of benevolence on the hitman's part.
    • Zed and Maynard kidnapping a crime boss and a pro boxer. It doesn't go well for them.
  • Multiple Gunshot Death: Both Brett and the fourth member of the group, who tries to avenge him, get gunned down with multiple rounds from Jules and Vince.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted by Vincent. Three times. Also averted with Jules when he and Vincent deliver the briefcase to Marsellus.
  • Noodle Incident: Tony Rocky Horror getting thrown off a building by Marsellus Wallace. Rumor is Tony gave Mia a foot massage but Mia writes it off as bullshit and says she doesn't know why Marsellus chucked him either. It's not totally clear whether or not she's telling the truth, however; Vincent still seems slightly dubious.
  • Number of the Beast: The briefcase Vincent and Jules retrieve is coded "666".
  • N-Word Privileges: Averted. The word is peppered throughout the script, hard "R" and soft, said by (and to) white and black characters alike, and no one bats an eye. The most famous is Jimmie (who is married to a black woman), and his query about whether his garage has a sign saying "Dead Nigger Storage". If you're curious, it doesn't.
  • Odd Couple: What do Butch and Fabienne see in each other? Butch is a crusty American boxer and Fabienne is a childlike and bizarre French girl who doesn't seem to understand much of what he says. He admits that he calls her a "retard," jokes about punching her in the stomach, and spends most of their dialogue yelling at her.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Butch, a faded boxer and "palooka," bets everything, including his life, on winning a boxing match. Not only does he win the bout, he kills his opponent in the process. We see Butch only before and after what must have been one hellacious performance.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The Gimp laughs at Butch trying to break free of his bonds. When Butch does break free, the Gimp's laughter quickly turns to horrified muffled screaming.
    • We don't see Vincent's face when he comes across Mia in the middle of an O.D. on his "madman" heroin, but you know this is going through his mind. "Oh, fuck me...FUCK ME!"
    • The look on Vincent's face when he emerges from the bathroom to see Butch pointing a gun at him. Doubly so given that in their earlier meeting, Vincent went out of his way to antagonize Butch.
    • The moment Butch stops at the light and notices the man crossing in front of him is Marsellus.
    • In the Imagine Spot in "The Bonnie Situation", this is the look on Jules, Vincent, and Jimmie's faces when Jimmie's wife walks in on them trying to dispose of Marvin's body in the living room.
    • During the confrontation between Jules, Vincent, Brett, and Roger, Roger looks visibly frightened the entire time. Brett only really starts showing fear after Jules shoots Roger, but judging by his expression before then, he knows he's screwed.
  • One-Liner, Name... One-Liner: "Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead."
  • Only a Flesh Wound: By the way Marsellus says what specific time period he's going to get on the ass of the guy that just raped him, you get the impression that the guy will live to face it. Despite the fact that he just shot him in his crotch with a shotgun! However, birdshot or anything smaller than buckshot penetrates quite poorly, so the chance of his injuries being fatal may be small.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • The two robbers "Pumpkin" and "Honey Bunny". Honey Bunny's real name is revealed to be Yolanda. Jules calls Pumpkin "Ringo" because of his British accent.
    • "Butch" seems like an unlikely name for someone, but it's never made clear whether this is his given name or a nickname he's had since early childhood. He goes by nothing else throughout the film.
  • Onscreen Chapter Titles: The movie is divided into three chapters, each of which is introduced with a title card.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Vincent loves his car. After it's keyed, he fantasizes about brutally murdering the perpetrator. After Mia overdoses, however, he crashes his car into Lance's house to get there a few seconds sooner.
  • Orbital Shot: The camera circles around Butch when he is in the phone booth calling his agent.
  • Packaged as Other Medium: The poster for the film, and by extension the cover for its DVD and VHS releases, is designed to look like a worn pulp fiction book (including the 10¢ price).
  • Pants-Positive Safety: After ditching their bloodied suits from the Marvin incident, Jules and Vincent are seen carrying their guns in the elastic waistbands of their workout shorts. They really have nowhere else to put them.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: After Butch frees Marsellus (a crime boss), Marsellus shoots his rapist, Zed, in the groin, and describes his plans to give Zed a long and agonizing death. And he makes sure Zed knows it.
  • Pedal-to-the-Metal Shot:
    • There's a shot of Esmeralda's bare foot pushing the pedal as she speeds off with Butch.
    • When Butch steps on the gas to hit Marsellus with his car.
  • Pilot: Discussed by Jules and Vincent, as they've heard Mia starred in a failed pilot for a show Vincent later learns is called "Fox Force Five."
    Jules: Well, the way they pick shows is, they make one show, and that show's called a pilot. And they show that one show to the people who pick the shows, and on the strength of that one show, they decide if they want to make more shows. Some get accepted and become TV programs, and some don't, and become nothing. She was in one of the ones that became nothing.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Marsellus asks Butch to "step aside" just before blowing his rapist Zed away with a non-fatal shotgun blast to the groin.
  • The Precious, Precious Car:
    • Discussed when Vincent mentions in passing that his precious Malibu, which he kept in storage for three years while he was in Amsterdam, got keyed after only five days out.
    • Winston "The Wolf" Wolfe hands out a warning regarding his Acura NSX:
      Winston Wolfe: I get my car back any differently than I gave it, Monster Joe's gonna be disposin' of two bodies.
  • Pride: Discussed by Marsellus Wallace when he talks to Butch: "The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That's pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts. It never helps." He's trying to convince Butch to throw a fight by suggesting that his career as a boxer is essentially over, making this something of a Break Them by Talking. Butch later turns it around on Marsellus while he's beating him up, taunting him with, "You feel that sting, big boy, huh? That's pride... (punch) FUCKING with you!"
  • The Public Domain Channel: Lance watches a The Three Stooges short, "The Brideless Groom". Interestingly enough, this is one of the few instances of this trope where it's entirely plausible for a modern setting, as the Three Stooges shorts were a popular staple of late-night television during the eighties and even into the nineties.
  • Pulp Magazine: The movie poster is designed in the style of a Pulp Magazine cover. In it, Mia is pictured reading a pulp magazine with the title Pulp Fiction. The film itself is influenced by stories from pulp magazines (particularly of the crime and pulp noir genres).
  • Pun: The punchline of Mia's joke, "Ketchup," is such a lame pun that only a near-death experience impels her to tell it.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Does - he - look - like - a bitch!?"
  • Punctuated Pounding: When Butch subdues Marsellus, he delivers an Ironic Echo of the gangster's earlier words:
    Butch: [punch] You feel that sting, big boy, huh? That's pride... [punch] FUCKING with you! You gotta fight through that shit! [punch]
  • Punk in the Trunk: After they kill Marvin by accident, Jules and Vincent toss his dead body in the trunk. They don't feel too bad, as he was just a mole and, according to Winston, "nobody who'll be missed."

    Q to U 
  • Random Events Plot: There's no overarching story. Things just happen to the characters, though several characters do change by the end.
  • Rape as Drama: Marsellus is raped by Zed. After Butch saves him, he gets some proper revenge on Zed, promising to "get medieval on his ass."
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Butch had no qualms over running Marsellus over or later shooting him in the head, but he can't bear to leave him to be raped by Maynard and Zed.
  • Rape Portrayed as Redemption: Inverted, since Butch saving Marsellus from the rapists is more about Butch's redemption than Marsellus'. However, it does demonstrate that Marsellus, portrayed to this point as nothing but a crime boss, is not entirely bad, and in thanks is willing to let Butch leave LA as long as he never comes back.
  • Real Men Take It Black: Subverted. Winston Wolf is a badass among badasses in Marsellus Wallace's crime organization, but when Jimmy offers him a cup of coffee, he tells him he likes it with a lot of cream and sugar. No one dares to question his man card.
  • Re-Cut: Defied. In commentary, Quentin Tarantino mentions that he didn't do a director's cut because: "I made the movie I wanted to make the first time."
  • Reference Overdosed: The Trope Codifier. Tarantino has tons of pop culture references in every scene, often in the background or in random bits of dialogue,
  • Refuge in Audacity: The entirety of the "Dead Nigger Storage" rant.
  • Repeat After Me: On two occasions:
    • After giving Mia the adrenaline boost:
      Lance: If you're all right, then say something.
      Mia: Something.
    • And later at the scrapyard:
      Wolf: Say goodnight, Raquel!
      Raquel: Goodnight, Raquel!
  • Repeat to Confirm: Marsellus makes Butch repeat the line about his ass going down in the fifth, and later in the film (earlier that morning) Marsellus repeats Jules' demands back to him to assure him that he's sending a cleaner as a requested.
  • Retro Universe: The film is filled with references to past time periods. Jules wears a Jheri curl hairstyle, which were popular in the '70s. The soundtrack is filled with a lot of surf rock from the '60s. Clutch Cargo plays on the television in Butch's motel. A '50s-themed diner plays a big part in the plot. The film takes its name from "pulp fiction," a style of fiction popular in the first half of the 20th century. The film poster apes the style of a pulp fiction magazine cover from around the '40s and '50s.
  • The Reveal: Marsellus is either shown only from the back or mostly out of focus for about two-thirds of the movie. Only after he runs into Butch on the street during "The Gold Watch" arc does his face begin to be clearly shown throughout the rest of the film.
  • Revolvers Are for Amateurs: The climactic diner robbery scene eventually pits Ringo and Honey Bunny against Jules and Vincent. The former pair are armed with a pair of worn, small caliber, snubnosed revolvers, while the latter own their polished semi-automatics. It's a clear sign that Ringo and Honny Bunny are just a pair of opportunistic thieves who might not even have the nerve to go beyond threatening their victims, while Jules and Vincent are experienced killers who've already killed four men before they've even had breakfast.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: A minor case with Paul. Whenever saying someone's name, he always finishes it up with a rhyme.
  • Riddle for the Ages:
    • The contents of the briefcase. There is no official answer, though it was originally scripted to be diamonds before the filmmakers decided that a mystery would make it more interesting.
    • How did Vincent and Jules survive from getting gunned down?
  • Rule of Cool: Jules's reason for reciting "scripture."
  • Running Gag: Vincent goes to the bathroom three times, and each time when he comes out, he emerges into a situation where the threat of death is present. The first time (the last one we see but the first one chronologically), Vincent uses the bathroom in the diner and emerges into a Mexican Standoff with Jules and Honey Bunny. The second time, Mia overdoses on Vincent's heroin, giving him an Oh, Crap! (we don't see his face but it's obvious this is happening) when he comes out. The third time, Vincent uses Butch's bathroom and has another Oh, Crap! when he comes out and sees Butch pointing Marsellus's gun at him. Seconds later, Butch's toaster goes off and he blows Vincent away.
  • Scenery Porn: Jackrabbit Slim's. (Nearly literal in the case of the Seven Year Itch-imitating Marilyn Monroe impersonator.)
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: Probably one of the most famous examples in film history.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: A Tarantino staple. One of the most famous conversations from the movie involves the intimacy of a foot massage.
  • Serious Business: Played with in "The Bonnie Situation"; disposing of a body is a pretty serious matter, but the black humour of the situation comes from the fact that everyone regards avoiding Jimmie's wife Bonnie coming home and finding them there as a much more serious matter than, say, someone calling the police.
  • Shared Universe:
  • Share the Male Pain: Immediately after Marsellus shoots Zed in the balls (with a shotgun), you can see Butch with his hands over his balls.
  • Shared Fate Ultimatum: When Lance tries to refuse helping Vincent with Mia when she overdoses, Vincent says that if her husband Marsellus finds out Vincent will be "a fucking grease spot," but he'll make damn sure to tell Marsellus that Lance let her die on his lawn, making sure he'd die slow too.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Vincent and Mia go on a "not-date" that involves dinner and dancing.
  • Ship Tease: Vincent and Mia. Vincent even has to spend several minutes in the bathroom convincing himself that he'll politely leave so not to end up betraying his boss's confidences.
    Vincent: Is this what you call an uncomfortable silence?
    Mia: I don't know what you call this. (they share a Held Gaze)
  • Shot to the Heart: Vincent does this to Mia, since they don't want a crime lord's wife going to the hospital with an OD. In reality, she almost certainly would have died unless 911 was called. The epinephrine may have restarted her stopped heart, but it would do nothing about the heroin still in her system, and she'd probably be tachycardic from the epi. The primary cause of death in a heroin overdose is respiratory failure; the heart only stops when the brain dies due to the lack of oxygen. In real life, one of the primary treatments for heroin OD is a large injection of naloxone, which temporarily reverses respiratory failure caused by opioid overdose. But, like epi, you slam naloxone into a vein or a large peripheral muscle, and very much not into the heart.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Duchess from The Aristocats inspired Uma Thurman's dance.
    • Tarantino has stated that the briefcase was originally meant to be the same MacGuffin suitcase of diamonds from Reservoir Dogs until they changed it to a glowing object instead.
    • The scene where Butch stops at a crosswalk and Marsellus walks by is very similar to a scene in Psycho.
    • Jules's expanded version of Ezekiel 25:17 directly quotes the Sonny Chiba film Karate Kiba (released in the West as The Bodyguard — with "and you will know My name is THE LORD" (one of the few bits actually from Ezekiel) replacing "and they shall know that I am Chiba the Bodyguard". A lot of the original speech is cannibalised from famous Biblical verses, though — "the path of the righteous man" from Isaiah 26:7, "[my] brother's keeper" from Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:9), "through the valley of darkness" from Psalm 23, among others.
    • Charley Varrick: In that film, Boyle tells Young that their bosses will most likely go to work on Young with "a pair of pliers and a blowtorch" for failure on the job and possible betrayal.
    • Jules's blue shirt has a monochromatic version of the current page image for Krazy Kat.
    • Vincent wears a UC Santa Cruz T-shirt.
    • While trying to placate Jimmy, Jules says, "That's Kool and the Gang," referencing a funk band whose "Jungle Boogie" also appears on the soundtrack.
    • A character mentioned several times is called Tony Rocky Horror.
    • When Jules eats Brett's Big Kahuna Burger, moments before shooting him and his fellow dealers sans Marvin (who is implied to be a mole). It's a clear shout out to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, where Angel Eyes does the same thing to Stevens.
    • The entire sequence at Jackrabbit Slim's is naturally full of references to '50s pop culture, not all of them explained. The Douglas Sirk Steak, named after a director famous for his melodramatic style with no half measures, can be ordered "burnt to a crisp or bloody as hell," and the milkshakes come in Amos and Andy or Martin and Lewis, two famous comedy duos, the former performing as black characters and the latter white. The dwarf maitre d' dressed as a bellhop quotes an old Philip Morris cigarette commercial.
    • Jackrabbit Slim's itself is named after an album by singer/songwriter Steve Forbert, although he wasn't recording during The '50s.
    • The adrenaline shot scene is taken almost verbatim from an anecdote told by Steven Prince in the Martin Scorsese documentary American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince. Details including a woman overdosing, using an adrenaline shot to revive her, arguing over who will do it, referencing a medical dictionary, using a "stabbing motion", and marking the target with a magic marker are all taken from Prince's story.
    • Jules references Happy Days in the diner scene when telling Yolanda/Honey Bunny that "We're gonna be like three Fonzies." And what's Fonzie like? "He's cool."
    • In a scene from the shooting script that was not used for the film, Mia gives Vincent a personality test she made up by giving him pairs of choices — Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family, Betty and Veronica, etc.
  • Shower Shy: Referenced; spraying the blood off of Jules and Vince in the backyard is understandably awkward for both of them, but holding the hose, the Wolf remarks, "You both been to County [prison] before, I'm sure. Here it comes."
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Jules refers to his gun as "Mr. Nine Millimeter" to Ringo during the diner standoff; while the gun Jules uses appears to be a .45 caliber 1911 pistol, it's represented by a 9mm Star Model B clone. The only way to identify them at all is by the external extractor, a tiny strip of metal on the right side of the slide, and the lack of a grip safety, a button on the grip covered by the palm when held.
    • Everything Vincent says about Amsterdam was true at the time of the movie's release. Not surprising, since Tarantino apparently spent some time there while writing the script.
  • Signs of Disrepair: As Butch looks for weapons, one sign in the shop reads Kill___ _Ed.
  • Smoking Is Cool:
    • Most characters smoke in the film and look cool doing it. Mia is attracted to the fact that Vincent rolls his own cigarettes. The dwarf bellhop even shouts "Call for Philip Morris!" at Jackrabbit Slim's, a reference to the cigarette company's old commercials.
    • Smoking is apparently permitted in Jackrabbit Slim's even though it was actually illegal in California restaurants in the '90s. This taps right into the idea of recreating the '50s, when it was perfectly acceptable to smoke in restaurants.
  • The Something Force: "Fox Force Five", the failed pilot that Mia was in.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • The romantic, slow dance song that plays over Mia's overdose, especially the rather ironic lyric of "You'll need a man" being the last audible part of the song.
    • The "zany" jazz music heard in the pawn shop while Marsellus is being raped.
  • Speech Impediment: Discussed. Being thrown out of a balcony and falling four stories messed up Tony Rocky Horror really good. He developed a speech impediment from it, according to Jules.
  • Stab the Scorpion: After Butch kills Maynard in order to save Marsellus, he proceeds to threaten Zed. Before Butch can touch Zed, Marsellus (who had earlier been trying to kill Butch) cocks a shotgun and aims it towards Butch... before telling him to get out of the way. Butch complies, and Marsellus immediately shoots Zed directly in the crotch.
  • Stop Saying That!: Jules warns Brett not to say "what" again after Brett can't describe what Marsellus Wallace looks like. When Brett slips up, Jules shoots him in the shoulder.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • The poster has weathered edges to better resemble a battered old pulp magazine.
    • When Butch and Esmerelda are in the cab, there is an obvious green screen behind them showing stock footage of a black and white film. It hearkens back to the golden days of cinema.
  • Suddenly Shouting: Happens quite a bit, most notably when Yolanda and Pumpkin announce to the coffee shop that they're robbing the place and when Jules snaps at Marvin for interrupting him while he's interrogating Brett.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Vincent names a trope by accidentally shooting Marvin in the face during a car ride. While Vincent claims the car went over a bump, he was holding a loaded gun with his finger on the trigger. It was only a matter of time before the gun went off. The immediate shouting by both Jules and Vincent afterwards show that Vincent didn't meant to shoot Marvin, and the subsequent scenes also go into detail about how messy cleaning up a crime scene is and the little things that can cause such a cover-up to unravel.
    • Upon seeing Marsellus out in the street, Butch tries to run Marsellus over with his car. Butch hits and injures Marsellus, but not much, since he barely had any room to punch the gas. Also, Butch injures himself in the collision because he wasn't wearing a seat belt.
    • Marsellus pulls out a gun and shoots at Butch, but his aim is awful thanks to being in a large amount of pain, as can be expected from someone who was just hit by a car. As a result, one of the bullets Marsellus fires hits a random woman in the leg. The woman had nothing at all to do with the conflict; she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    • Firing a large-caliber gun under extreme stress and with no attempt at accuracy is just going to result in an empty weapon and your targets emerging unscathed. This gets a friend of Brett's killed when he emerges from the bathroom firing a huge handgun wildly, with Jules and Vincent standing in place yet still coming out unscathed. The uncomfortable silence that follows shows that even they can't believe they got out of that unhurt, to the point that Jules has a Heel Realization when he came that close to death.
  • Take Our Word for It: The audience never sees what Marsellus Wallace sends Vincent and Jules to retrieve, but, going by the glow that radiates from the briefcase containing it, and the reactions of all the characters who see it, we're to believe it's pretty fantastic. Tarantino originally intended it to be the loot from Reservoir Dogs, but changed it to an unseen light, and has stated that it's "whatever you want".
  • Tantrum Throwing: When Butch finds out that Fabienne forgot to pack his father's golden watch, he goes absolutely berserk and throws a TV set across their hotel room.
  • There Are No Police: Several times, a situation with shots being fired does not lead to any police showing up to the scene. This is most notable after the fight between Butch and Marsellus, in which at least two bystanders are shot and several cars are crashed.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: Poor Marsellus never got to enjoy the donuts and coffee after getting run over by Butch's car. And Butch never got to eat his cinnamon brown sugar Pop-Tarts after shooting Vincent.
  • Third-Person Flashback: Downplayed. The flashback to when Butch is given his father's watch, with Captain Koons telling him the story, begins in third-person, but then goes first.
  • Throwing the Fight: Butch is supposed to take a dive. He does not. Things get out of control from there.
  • Torture Cellar: The basement of the pawnshop, where Zed and Maynard do very bad things to those they get hold of.
    Maynard (on phone): It's Maynard...yeah, the spider just caught a couple of flies...
  • To the Pain: Marsellus is about to "get medieval on your ass".
  • Translation by Volume: When Jules toys with his soon-to-be victim Brett, he employs this approach. He's half-infuriated, half-amused that the confused man answers him several times with only "what?", which leads to this iconic exchange:
    Jules: "What" ain't no country I ever heard of! Do they speak English in "What"?
    Brett: What?
  • Trash Landing: After his plan to lose a boxing match goes awry, Butch escapes from the boxing arena by jumping from a window into a dumpster filled with trash.
  • Treasure Chest Cavity: Captain Koons kept a watch in his rectum to protect it for the son of the former owner, and its former owner did so too.
  • Trunk Shot: Used for showing Jules and Vincent getting their guns from their car.
  • Underdressed for the Occasion: Vincent and Jules wear some very casual clothing to a meeting with Marsellus because their snappy old clothes got Marvin's brain matter splattered all over them.
    Raquel: So what's with the outfits? You guys going to a volleyball game or something?
  • The Unreveal: Assuming Mia is to be believed that the rumor of Marcellus throwing Tony off his balcony on account of giving her a foot rub is false, we never do learn the real reason behind the act.
  • Unreveal Angle: We never get a good look at what's actually in the briefcase Vince and Jules retrieve for Marsellus, but judging from Vince and Pumpkin's reactions, it's certainly something shiny and valuable.
  • The Unseen: We do not see Jimmie's wife Bonnie in reality, but during a hypothetical scenario she's depicted as being an African-American woman returning from work to find Vincent and Jules carrying Marvin's headless corpse.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Jules uses "Holiest of Holies" as a reverent term for something far more vulgar.
    Jules: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Stop right there. Eating a bitch out and giving a bitch a foot massage ain't even the same fucking thing.
    Vincent: It's not. It's the same ballpark.
    Jules: Ain't no fucking ballpark neither. Now, look, maybe your method of massage differs from mine, but, you know, touching his wife's feet and sticking your tongue in the holiest of holies ain't the same fucking ballpark. It ain't the same league. It ain't even the same fucking sport. Look, foot massages don't mean shit.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • As Vincent is walking to his and Mia's booth toward the back of Jack Rabbit Slim's, he passes — sometimes within touching distance — performers dressed as Ed Sullivan, Marilyn Monroe, Mamie Van Doren, Zorro, James Dean, and Jerry Lewis, among other icons. At first he's oblivious, but as he takes in the sights he recognises more of the characters, showing that he is getting the references and warming to the place. When he's seated, he's already had a better time than he first thought looking at the exterior of the place from the car.
    • When Vincent brings an overdosing Mia to Lance's house for an adrenaline shot, Trudi spends the entire ordeal watching whole smoking from a bong and saying nothing.
  • Use Their Own Weapon Against Them: Butch goes back to his apartment to retrieve his father's gold watch. He finds Vincent, one of Marsellus's men, waiting for him. Fortunately for Butch, Vincent was foolish enough to leave Marcellus' gun on the kitchen counter while he used Butch's bathroom, allowing Butch to snatch it up and shoot him.

    V to Z 
  • Verbal Business Card: "I'm Winston Wolfe. I solve problems."
  • Victimized Bystander: A disoriented Marsellus Wallace starts shooting wildly into the crowd around Butch's wrecked car after Butch runs him over, missing Butch but hitting an innocent bystander, who falls to the ground screaming.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Marsellus was literally out shopping for donuts for himself and Vincent when he ran into Butch. Vincent and Jules are out for breakfast during the hold up, and earlier while on the way to Brett's, Vincent tells Jules about his trip to Europe, and the fast food nomenclature in Paris and Amsterdam as opposed to America.
  • Visual Pun:
    • During the "adrenaline shot" scene, there are two board games in the background — "Operation" and "Life".
    • Earlier, Mia attempts to invoke this by telling Vincent "Don't be a..." and then drawing a rectangle shape in the air with her fingers. A rectangle is superimposed on the screen as she does, just in case you didn't get it.
  • Walking the Earth: Invoked, as Jules's retirement plan.
  • Watching the Reflection Undress: Bruce Willis's character, Butch, who just came from fighting in a boxing match, changes clothes in the back of a cab with the female driver eye-balling him in the rear-view mirror.
  • Water Wake-up: Maynard uses water to wake up Butch and Marcellus in the Torture Cellar.
  • Waxing Lyrical: Mia's "I said goddamn, goddamn" is from the chorus of Steppenwolf's "The Pusher."
  • Wham Line:
    • "Garçon, coffee!" The first time we hear it, it puts the robbers' plan to hit the diner in motion. The second time we hear it, it puts us back at the beginning of the film and sets up the final conflict.
    • Jules's affected friendliness in the apartment scene finally breaks when he snarls "I don't remember asking you a goddamn thing!" after Marvin speaks up without his prompting.
    • Butch's "Where's my watch?" when he finds out his most prized possession is missing.
    • If the way Maynard drops the N-word when pointing his shotgun at Butch isn't a clear enough indication he is not just trying to prevent a murder - he might just be kind of racist, after all - then the phone call about how "the spider just caught a couple of flies" certainly is.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Butch has a chance to walk away from the pawn shop, leaving Marcellus to his fate. Instead he chooses a weapon and heads back down the stairs.
  • Woken Up at an Ungodly Hour: As Vincent races over to his drug dealer Lance's to save Mia from an accidental overdose, Lance and his girlfriend Jody do nothing but complain as it is 1:30 in the morning and they don't want to be bothered by people calling or knocking at their house at odd hours of the early morning. Once Vincent points out the severity of the situation if they don't save Mia (as she is his mob boss's wife, and if she dies Vincent is fucked), they agree to help and administer the adrenaline shot that saves Mia from an overdose.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Marketing-wise, Mia Wallace is everywhere, on the posters and the home video release covers, despite the fact that she's a major player in only one of the overlapping stories. This is unusual considering that Uma Thurman had the least star power of the film's major actors at the time.
  • You Must Be Cold: Implied to have happened offscreen, as we see Mia with Vincent's coat when returning from the night out.

"You read the Bible, Ringo?"


I just shot Marvin in the face

The Trope Namer. Accept no substitutes.

How well does it match the trope?

4.99 (78 votes)

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Main / IJustShotMarvinInTheFace

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