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Film / Ready Player One (2018)
aka: Ready Player One

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Ready Player One is a 2018 film based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Ernest Cline. Directed by Steven Spielberg, from a screenplay co-written by Cline, the film was released on March 29, 2018.

In the year 2045, overpopulation has forced most of the world to live in crowded, polluted slum cities where the only escape from reality is the OASIS, a virtual world filled with games and social connections. When the owner of the OASIS dies, he leaves behind an Easter Egg somewhere within the virtual world that will grant its finder ownership of the OASIS and half a trillion dollars to go along with it. Now, Ohio-based teenager Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) and a few friends seek to discover the treasure amongst the hordes of players who are looking to seize control of the OASIS.

The film also stars Olivia Cooke as Samantha Cook/Art3mis, Ben Mendelsohn as Nolan Sorrento, Lena Waithe as Helen Harris/Aech, T.J. Miller as I-R0k, Simon Pegg as Ogden Morrow/the Curator and Mark Rylance as James Halliday/Anorak the All-Knowing. Also, like the book it's based on, Ready Player One is Reference Overdosed, featuring important plot elements from other aspects of pop culture, such as The Iron Giant himself.


Previews: Teaser, Trailer 1, Trailer 2, Trailer 3.

The film version of Ready Player One provides examples of:

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    Tropes # to G 
  • 1-Dimensional Thinking: Wade runs the length of the shadow of his home stack after Sorrento blows it up in his ill-informed attempt on Wade's life instead of running to the side and out of the way, but then, given the densely packed zoning of the Stacks, it's probably justified.
  • 1-Up: When the Cataclyst is detonated, every avatar on Planet Doom is vaporized. Parzival survives thanks to the quarter the Curator gave him, which has "Extra Life" written on the back.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • In the book, Wade starts out a pudgy and acne-ridden teenager with messy hair. When he does decide to get in shape, he combines it with shaving off all of his head and body hair to be compatible with a haptic suit. The film has him portrayed by a slender, clear-skinned, fair-haired Tye Sheridan from the get.
    • Art3mis gets a double shot of this when she tells Parzival that he'd be disappointed by her looks in reality if they ever met. Not only is she portrayed by the very attractive Olivia Cooke as opposed to the "rubenesque" description of her in the book, the port wine stain birthmark, which covers the whole left side of her face in the book only covers above and below her right eye. Some have even likened it to the war paint worn by Kratos, given her feelings towards IOI.
    • Similarly, in the book Wade's and Art3mis' avatars are described as slightly prettier versions of themselves. In the film, they look like a Final Fantasy protagonist and a literal Manic Pixie Dream Girl, respectively.
  • Adaptational Badass:
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: In the book, Wade and company don't meet Sho and Daito until they appear on the scoreboard and the "High Five" start becoming public figures. Here Aech regularly fights alongside them on Planet Doom and is at least acquainted with Daito before the first trial.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In the book, Alice was addicted to drugs and pawned Wade's stuff off to pay for rent. Here, while she's still abusive to Wade, some of her negative traits are removed and given to Rick, and she is actually working to collect enough money to move her family out of the stacks they're living in, and she's only furious at Wade because he has been taking stuff from her, and at Rick because he used all their life savings on a Relic Hunt and lost. This is perhaps to make the audience feel a bit sorry for her when she and Rick are killed by the bombs the IOI drones placed around the stacks.
  • Adaptational Nationality: Akihide Karatsu is a Japanese character in the novel. The film version changed his name to Zhou, who is Chinese.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • I-R0k, who in the books only plays a small role as the one who blabs about what he knows of Parzival, becomes The Dragon to Sorrento's Big Bad.
    • The film also chooses not to incorporate Sorrento's tragic backstory from the Andy Weir Ascended Fan Fic story Lacero.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • In the novel, Og was effectively a god within the OASIS due to being one of the game's creators, and extremely wealthy and well-connected in the real world even after (voluntarily) leaving Gregarious Simulation Systems. In the film, a big deal is made of the fact that he was forced out of the company, and in the OASIS he's just the museum curator over Halliday's memories. His major role from the novel, providing the High Five a safe place in the real world during the final stages of the competition, is partially played by Samantha and the resistance, but mainly left out entirely to provide more real-world tension in the climax.
    • OASIS is not given quite as much importance as it is in the book. There is no mention of it encompassing the school system, for example (although Planet Ludus makes a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo in an early montage), and in the end it can be apparently put on hold for two days each week without any calamitous consequences.
    • Nolan Sorrento is nowhere near the mastermind he is in the book. He is neither savvy in the OASIS or anywhere outside of his building, hiring I-R0k and F'Nale to take care of such matters respectively. He has to have his password written down for him on a sticky-note (B055MAN69) and has to have all of his pop-culture trivia fed to him through an earpiece by his hired-experts.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The timeline of the story as a whole is cut down from months to days, with many changes made to help it fit:
    • Wade begins his story just outside of Columbus, Ohio instead of starting in Oklahoma City and then moving to Columbus later.
    • The competition is cut down from 6 trials to 3 by omitting the corresponding gates to each key that the novel included. In addition, none of the key trials are similar to the ones in the book: a car race replaces the Tomb of Horrors and Joust, The Shining experience instead of the Zork house and War Games, and instead of having to find the Les Paul guitar, the last task is about finding the Easter Egg from Adventure, losing the Schoolhouse Rock riddle (though Schoolhouse Rock is part of the clue leading to the final challenge, it's never explicitly stated as such), the Tempest playing and the Monty Python and the Holy Grail playacting.
    • Some of the worldbuilding is also cut too. For example, one of the early plot points in the book is how Wade is stuck on the starting planet because he doesn't have enough money to use a teleporter, but in the film he is apparently able to go anywhere he needs to without a hitch. Wade going to a virtual reality school is also cut, probably to age the character up (but there are mentions that VR schools exist, and the planet Ludus is passed in the opening sequence). Another bit of worldbuilding is how there are PvP and non-PvP zones, and anti-tech zones, anti-magic zones, and zones where neither tech nor magic function; it's a big deal when Wade has to venture out into areas where he can be killed for "real", yet this distinction is never made in the film. The distinction between PVP and Non-PVP zones is never explicitly made, but a few areas have blink-and-you'll-miss-it banners running in the background that indicate that they're PVP Zones.
    • In the book, there is an entire subplot about Wade moving out with his newfound money and status, buying advanced gear, losing weight, fortifying his new home against IOI, and even visiting virtual reality brothels.
    • The final battle takes place in real time and takes maybe 20 minutes in real time, but in the book it was more like a weeks-long siege that Wade broke by bringing down the shield.
    • Also cut was the subplot in which Wade worked for IOI as an indentured slave, experiencing such things as a company-made sitcom that was basically glorified training videos, as part of his plan to bring down the shield around Castle Anorak. This was replaced by a subplot in which Art3mis works for IOI as an indentured slave instead, and getting captured was not part of the plan.
    • In the movie, Wade is given the quarter that grants him an extra life by the Curator after he is the first to reach the copper key. In the book, he wins it after playing a perfect game on a Pac-Man arcade after following a wrong lead for the keys.
    • In the book, the members of the High Five are only able to meet in person when Og personally arranges for them to be picked up and brought to his house in private jets, since they all live in different cities or even different countries and traveling has become so expensive most people can't even afford a bus fare. In the movie, they come together on their own, so they evidently all lived in the same city or close to it.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The motivation behind the three trials. Spielberg expanded the contest to more accurately encompass Halliday's Anti-Escapism Aesop; understanding Halliday's passions is how gunters discover each trial, as that was the only way Halliday knew to interact with the world. However completing each trial requires an understanding of Halliday himself — specifically, his deepest regrets.
    1. The first trial appears to be a Bullet Hell race through a Death Course filled with pop-culture references that no-one has been able to successfully navigate in five years... because the only way to complete it is to literally go "Backwards really fast, as fast as we can — really put the pedal to the metal", which leads to an Extradimensional Shortcut that bypasses all of those hazards; this symbolizes Halliday's regret for drowning in nostalgia. It's also an elegant way of adapting the first key being on the school planet to maximize potential to access it; even if someone figured out the clue, they'd be unlikely to attempt it unless they were low-level and had nothing to lose.
    2. The second trial appears to be a Dungeon Crawl based on The Shining; the movie he and his only love watched on the only date they ever went on. However, every game-style puzzle and enemy in the simulation itself is undefeatable; the solution is to rescue the Damsel in Distress from the ballroom and ask her for a dance; this symbolizes Halliday's regret for letting the horrors of the world keep him from seeking love.
    3. The final trial is an Atari 2600 and a library of every single game ever made for the system. It can only be completed by finding the Easter Egg in the Trope Namer, Adventure — symbolizing his love of games as things to play instead of just win — but the real test is the Magically Binding Contract offered at the end; it is a re-tread of how Halliday forced Ogden Morrow to sign over his shares in Gregarious Games, rejecting his intervention and retreating into the OASIS for the remainder of his life. It's actually a Secret Test of Character, symbolizing Halliday's regret for turning his back on his best friend, and with him all contact with the world in general. Wade refuses to sign, which is the true solution.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: The film never explains how IOI happens to find the first key. In the book, this is done through a combination of artifacts and one character, namely, I-R0k, with a spectacularly big mouth and no chill. In the film, though, Wade says "There's five of us on the big board now" after he wins and then proceeds to explain who and how, but no mention is made either by Wade or any of the IOI people of how THEY found the first key.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection:
    • Art3mis lost her father to IOI in the film
    • Sorrento is a former intern for Halliday.
    • Daito and Sho are already friends with Aech and Parzival by the time the first key is found in the film. They also know each other in real life, unlike the book in which the two, despite being as close as brothers, never actually met outside of cyberspace.
  • Adult Fear:
    • IOI's blasé attitude towards who they hurt in order to get the egg, including blowing up Wade's stack and full well intending to kill the High Five retroactively causes this once it's revealed Sho isn't even a teenager yet.
    • Speaking of Wade's stack, despite being abusive to Wade, Alice sounds concerned when she tries to get Rick to speak to her nephew on her earpiece just before the explosion.
  • Advert-Overloaded Future: One of the reasons Sorrento wants control over OASIS is to repeal its strict controls on advertisements. In a presentation to the board, he demonstrates how they could spam up to 80% of a user's HUD with advertisements without causing seizures.
  • An Aesop: The film has one on video game addiction. Wade claims that the OASIS is too addictive and people cannot control themselves from playing it their whole lives, which is why he decides to close it on Tuesdays and Thursdays when he becomes the new owner of the OASIS.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Parzival dubs Art3mis "Arty", and likewise, Art3mis shortens Parzival to just "Z." This also gets Played for Laughs in reality when Samantha instinctively calls Wade by this nickname during their first real-life meeting, and he tries to call her "Sam," which she summarily rejects with a flirtatious smile.
  • Age Lift: Sho is an eleven year old kid in the film, while in the book he was roughly around the same age as Wade.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: In spite of all the terrible things he's done, it's hard not to feel sorry for Sorrento when he accepts defeat and is arrested.
  • Allegedly Free Game: OASIS can be played for free by anyone, and the credits earned through the game can be exchanged for goods in the real world. The reverse is also true, however. Wade's aunt's boyfriend blows their house payment on upgrades and gets beaten anyway. Sorrento's vast wealth has allowed him to collect a vast supply of rare items, which he demonstrates in the climax by deploying Mechagodzilla against Aech's homemade Iron Giant. When he worked for Halliday, Sorrento tried to suggest adding paid accounts with better features, which he would presumably add were he to gain control of the game for himself.
  • All for Nothing: Even if Sorrento managed to get the last key, he'd still have failed Halliday's final test and lost his chance at the Egg.
  • Alphabet Architecture: As part of its acute case of Sigil Spam, the main building for Innovative Online Industries follows an "IOI" shape.
  • And Mission Control Rejoiced: All members of the IOI headquarters celebrate when Parzival unlocks the third magic gate.
  • Annoying Pop-Up Ad: One of the things that IOI plans on doing upon taking over the OASIS is to install these on players' goggles, to the point where it could cause sensory overload.
  • Anti-Escapism Aesop: Halliday's final message and his biggest regret; spending his life indulging in pop-culture obsessions and not building meaningful relationships with the people around him.
  • Anti Poop-Socking: Enforced by Wade when he closes down OASIS two days per week.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Parzival apologizes to Art3mis before zeroing her out, because she's reluctant to leave the battle in OASIS even though Sorrento is very close to finding her in the real world, and he can't risk her being caught again.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Parzival's rallying speech against IOI rightly accuses them of real-world murder and slavery before ending with "and now an impenetrable force field around the last challenge." In a way this is a subversion, as in a world where people essentially live in a MMO, perceived cheating (item abuse) has to be one of the gravest sins you can commit.
  • Artistic License – Economics: Besides being an overwhelming large chunk of the "real" economy, the OASIS has players running night clubs, repair shops/manufacturing and mercenary services. It also sells, from an in-game store, very dangerous griefing weapons that someone could use to kill all the players in a large area — and combat is enabled in places including a very high-end nightclub. Yet there's no sign of anyone offering banking or insurance, both of which are more central to any economy than service businesses.
  • Ascended Extra: I-R0k, who was just an annoying guy in the book, is now The Dragon for Sorrento.
  • Ascended Meme: When the book was first released, numerous reviews compared it to Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory; to acknowledge this, the teaser trailer features a score snippet similar to "Pure Imagination". And before his death, Willy Wonka himself, Gene Wilder, was also considered to play James Halliday.
  • Ash Face: Wade's face is full of dust after narrowly surviving the blow up of his home stack.
  • Aside Glance: A subtle one. At the end, Halliday thanks Wade for playing his game, then turns and gives a brief nod to the camera, as if to thank the audience as well.
  • Asshole Victim: Like the original novel, it's Deconstructed with Wade's aunt, Alice, and her boyfriend, Rick. Even if they're harsh on Wade (and Rick's the one who ends up getting them killed thanks to his assholery), he admits that they didn't deserve to die.
  • As You Know:
    • During Sorrento's Virtual Reality Interrogation, Parzival explains the setup to his team mates as if they haven't been around the whole time.
    • When Parzival visits Halliday's Journals, the Curator gives a long monologue about what the archive contains, where the various media are located, and how the scenes of Halliday's life have been recreated. Partially justified as this would be useful information for a first time visitor, but Parzival has been there numerous times before and the Curator is well aware of that fact.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: For the grand battle royale's opening charge, natch. Possibly the most fitting use of Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" since the original music video, which itself featured an Actor Allusion Shout-Out to Animal House. Bonus points for a Say Anything... boombox homage, and for having Optimus Prime himself among the many, many classic 80s cameos who rock out to the beat!
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The full-body VR suits. They provide tactile feedback to in-game contact, which is advertised as being able to react faster to incoming threats. Pretty cool if you're on a date and getting intimate. If you're fighting, the suits are good enough to cause a decent amount of pain, which is just as distracting as it is in real life (and who in their right mind would make the suit capable of inflicting a full-impact kick to the balls?).
  • Badass Boast: Wade, upon seeing through Sorrento's fake interest in the world of the OASIS: "A fanboy knows a hater."
  • Bald of Evil: Subverted. The character in question, though played up as an agent of IOI, is actually one of Samantha's fellow members of La Résistance.
  • Ballroom Blitz: The attack on Parzival and Art3mis on the dance floor.
  • Battle Cry: "First to the key!" "First to the Egg!"
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Right before F'nale blows up their stacks, Rick spitefully tells Wade over the phone that he doesn't want to hear the latter's voice ever again. Barely an instant later, the bombs go off.
  • Behind the Black: When they first meet in real life, Wade doesn't see Helen though she was coming straight at him from the left side of the screen.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The final battle between the OASIS players and IOI forces.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Iron Giant arrives to fight Mechagodzilla and help Wade complete the game. Also applies to the RX-78 Mobile Suit Gundam, which Daito transforms into when the heroes are on the ropes in the final boss fight.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Wade and Samantha, twice, after Wade gets the Egg (combining this trope with Smooch of Victory).
  • Big "NO!": I-R0k yells "No" when his arm gets cut off by Sho.
  • Big Red Button: After Wade opens the final door, Halliday explains to Wade that he programmed the OASIS to shut down and release hidden programs that would completely delete any remaining code and prevent the OASIS from being rebuilt. He set it up as a big red button on the wall. Wade is inside a moving vehicle at this point, and IOI's own forces are trying to ram it off the road. Wade just narrowly avoids hitting it. Halliday asks him to try not to shut down the OASIS on his first day.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Invoked by Halliday, who was tired of all the blood, and had the OASIS avatars explode into their inventory when they die. This doesn’t stop an entire river of blood from being depicted in The Shining sequence, among other realistic injuries the characters suffer in the real world.
  • Brain Upload: Implied with Halliday's presence at the end. He never clarifies what he is, leaving it an Ambiguous Situation.
  • "The Breakfast Club" Poster Homage: As part of the film's advertising, there was a whole slew of posters that were send-ups of iconic posters, including one of The Breakfast Club.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Zig-Zagged all over the place. In the OASIS, you can engage in any number of activities to earn coins, loot, and XP to improve your avatar. You can also spend real-world money on in-game upgrades. In the real world, you can buy better VR gear that's more reliable and responsive. The OASIS is saved from being pure Pay To Win by skill being heavily implied to still be the final deciding factor. Rick blows a house payment on in-game upgrades for a match he loses anyway, blaming the loss on substandard VR gear, but Wade counters even with boosts and top-line suit Rick would get creamed in the content he was attempting to play. I-R0k isn't dangerous because he has ten years of accumulated loot and coin, he has ten years of accumulated loot and coin because he's one of the most dangerous players. Meanwhile, Sorrento clearly spared no expense on both his VR rig and his avatar, but because he considers the OASIS nothing more than a silly but lucrative gold mine, he gets curb-stomped by Parzival, a player who started the film so broke he was scavenging coins from zeroed racers.
  • Broken Aesop:
    • One of the morals of the film is that you shouldn't play games to win, you should just play them for fun. However, if you lose in the OASIS, you "zero out" and lose all the money and items you've obtained. It gets worse since the OASIS currency is just as valuable as real-world money, meaning you can potentially lose all of your savings and go broke, as seen when Aunt Alice's boyfriend zeroes out and loses all of her savings. Additionally, Halliday left his fortune and control of the OASIS to whoever wins his extremely dangerous contest, which also conflicts with his "play for fun" message.
    • Moreover the film ends with Halliday advising Wade to avoid his mistakes and find fulfillment in real life instead of video games, which Wade does by turning off the OASIS a few days every week so people will experience reality instead. Fair enough. But Wade found everything Halliday didn't (mainly a circle of close friends and a girlfriend) exactly because of his devotion to the game. It's the whole basis of his Gondor Calls for Aid speech.
  • Bullet Time: The action slows down during Awesome Moments like Art3mis' Ramp Jump, when Parzival catches her mid-flight to save her from King Kong or when I-R0k gets his arm cut off in battle.
  • Call-Back:
    • Just before Wade and Samantha share The Big Damn Kiss, Wade mentions he is going to take the leap — referencing how the second clue mentioned how Halliday did not do that by kissing his date.
    • Wade's apology for shooting Art3mis to prevent her discovery by Sorrento is a callback to his being locked out of the hideout when IOI burst in and captured everyone.
  • The Cameo: An absurd amount from all across pop culture, given the premise of the story. For a more comprehensive list, see the Shout-Out page. What is especially notable is that, normally, it is very difficult to get permission to show material from such a vast spectrum because you have to get permission from each copyright holder, which often comes with its own limitations note . The end credits comes with The Long List of "Special Thanks" to various studios and production companies for letting them use their materials, covering everything from films, television, anime and video games. It probably helps that it is a Steven Spielberg movie, as he would have that kind of pull.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Variant: Revealing your real-life name in the OASIS gives IOI easy leverage to hunt down your real identity. Wade found that out the hard way when he revealed his actual name to Art3mis which allowed IOI to bomb his home, killing his aunt.
  • Canon Foreigner: F'Nale Zandor doesn't appear in the original book.
  • Casting Gag:
    • In the Japanese dub, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Sho) got stuck in yet another online game. The same goes for Ai Kayano (F'Nale Zandor) and Kōichi Yamadera (Morrow), at least regarding Sword Art Online in Yamadera's case.
    • The same goes with the same dub with Maaya Sakamoto as Samantha, albeit with a very different franchise.
    • The Latin American Spanish dub also brings back six cast members from Sword Art Online, albeit in different roles. Jocelyn Robles (Lisbeth's voice actress) voices Helen, José Gilberto Vilchis (Nobuyuki Sugou's VA) plays Ogden and Kerygma Flores (the LA voice for Sakuya) voices Alice. Alejandra Delint (Asuna Yuki) and Miguel Ángel Ruiz (who provided additional voices) voices two of the three IOI employees and José Luis Piedra (the voice of Shinichi) plays the young boy in the X1 commercial.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Nolan Sorrento is played by Ben Mendelsohn. Mendelson appears in both Rogue One and The Dark Knight Rises, both of which are from two franchises (Star Wars and Batman) that exist within the film's world.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Sorrento's post-it note with his account password. Wade sees this during Sorrento's recruitment pitch, which allows Aech to hack Sorrento's feed and interrogate him as to Samantha's whereabouts in the loyalty center after she's captured.
    • The Curator's Quarter is actually an Extra Life.
    • When Wade goes on a shopping splurge in the OASIS, he passes by "The Cataclyst", a bomb that destroys any avatar in the area, including the user. Aech wonders why it would even be allowed to exist. Sorrento uses it as a last resort, figuring he can make it back first after respawning, and wipes out thousands of players on Planet Doom in the process. Eventually, everything Wade purchases at the store ends up being used including the X1 haptic suit, the Holy Hand Grenade from Monty Python and the Holy Grail during the Battle of the Third Gate, and the Zemeckis Cube during the Distracted Globe assault by the IOI.
    • The Clark Kent glasses allow Parzival to travel the OASIS in cognito so as to avoid being mobbed after he becomes famous. They also allow him and Daito to look like their real-world selves when interrogating Sorrento for Samantha's location in the loyalty center.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • The guy with the tattoo watching Wade as he goes to his hideaway turns out to be one of Art3mis's friends in real life, and he is there to get Wade away after IOI destroys his stack.
    • The Curator is revealed to have been Ogden Morrow in disguise.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Aech's ability with mod-construction, which gets shown early when he repairs Art3mis's bike, proves fundamental to trick Sorrento into believing Wade and Daito have infiltrated his office, when in fact he hasn't left OASIS.
  • Chest Burster: Art3mis surprises Parzival with an Alien chestburster bursting out of her Avatar's Goro skin. It turns out to be a sock puppet when she reverts to her normal avatar.
  • Clark Kenting: Played with; when Parzival becomes a celebrity after finding the first key, Art3mis loans him a pair of "Clark Kent glasses" from her inventory so he can travel the OASIS incognito. This disguise acts more like a rubber/latex face, though, when Art3mis takes it off Parzival.
  • Coins for the Dead: We see Halliday with coins on his eyes when lying in the coffin.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Not with Daito himself, but when he transforms into Gundam, he gives his Gundam persona the chiseled, dramatic features of Toshiro Mifune.
  • Completion Mockery: Implied at the end of the game by Halliday, as part of encouraging people not to rely on Oasis.
  • Composite Character:
    • The RX-78-2 Gundam strikes the signature pose of its distant descendant, the ZZ Gundam.
    • Mechagodzilla is given an updated design with elements from multiple incarnations.
  • Compressed Adaptation: From start to finish, the whole movie appears to take place over the course of one week, as opposed to years in the novel.
  • Continuing is Painful: OASIS is free to play and players can respawn endlessly if their avatars are killed, but they lose everything they collected up to that point and it can be looted by other players, so the odds of recollecting their stuff are almost non-existent.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • Sorrento discovers that he's been tricked by the High Five to think that he's back in the real world at roughly about the same time Samantha escapes from her cell, so he conveniently leaves his personal rig unsupervised to check on Samantha, allowing her to sneak into his room and free to use his rig.
    • The members of High Five, who previously only knew each other inside OASIS, all turn out to live within driving distance of each other in real life. Justified in that Columbus, Ohio is identified as the city where Gregarious Games started. Since the High Five are all experienced gunters it is reasonable to believe they would have migrated to the birthplace of the OASIS.
  • Convenient Photograph: The heroes are caught in the The Shining when one spots a large framed photograph of a group of people in the Ballroom. This comes in handy later when they examine the photo after putting it back together and recognizing a woman who is a clue to their treasure hunt.
  • Cool Bike: Art3mis's bike from AKIRA.
  • Cool Car:
  • Coolest Club Ever: The "Distracted Globe" is the coolest club at the OASIS, designed by Halliday himself.
  • Cool Starship: Among the others, Daito shows up in Serenity.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: There's no other way to describe The Iron Giant and the Gundam fighting Mechagodzilla, or the battle around it, where nearly every pop culture icon fights corporate forces.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Zig-Zagging Trope.
    • On one hand, Nolan Sorrento knows the usual stereotypes associated with being a businessman, and lampshades it to the hilt. When he has a one-on-one talk with Wade, he acknowledges that he knows he's the "Bad Guy" who tries to buy out anyone who stands in his way, but he's a businessman and that is his job. That said, he intends to fully monetize the OASIS with advertisements and Pay To Win business models if IOI unlocks the easter egg.
    • On the other, he's a Deconstruction; where most corrupt CEOs are full-bore Magnificent Bastards, Sorrento Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training; his only talents are schmoozing investors and administrating a company, which he does excel at. He can't even use a gun properly. He keeps the password for his VR throne on the head-rest — enabling the High Five to hijack his OASIS account.
  • Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears: When The Big Damn Kiss finally happens, Aech and Daito know enough to turn away to give privacy, but they have to physically turn Sho around because he's gaping, being only eleven years old and unversed in romance despite his Child Prodigy status in the OASIS.
  • Crapsack World: The real world. This is the main reason why OASIS is so wildly popular. Wade makes some off-hand comments about an energy crisis, the wars around it, and economic crashes — and, of course, the pollution and overcrowding, which we see in his run-down makeshift mobile home. Having said that, however, the movie does make it clear that Wade lives in the ghetto, and shows brief glimpses of life outside of his small slice of it that implies the rest of the world is doing somewhat better.
  • Creepy Twins: Appear at The Shining hotel.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Wade realizes that Samantha is still inside IOI using their VR systems, and that Sorrento is searching for her personally. She refuses to bail out, feeling that the team still needs her. After refusing Wade's request to get out and run, he shoots her himself, apologizing in the process.
  • Curse Escape Clause: Although the shield surrounding Castle Anorak would hold up for 10 million years, I-R0k explains early on that there is a spell that can bring the shield down. Guess what happens at the end.
  • Cyberpunk: The world of 2045 suffers from overpopulation, which causes numerous economic and social crises, including but limited to omnipresent poverty, although the technologies are developing very quickly (high tech, low life). Mega-Corp Innovative Online Industries (IOI) has enormous power and wealth, easily neglects human rights and freedoms and is able to turn everyone into a debt slave and will go to any crime for profit. The generation's technological miracle, OASIS, affects every aspect of the life of the world's population. This is the most important economic resource in the world. All this happens in a film inspired by the culture of The '80s, the time in which cyberpunk was born. There is a suggestion that the Halliday Parzival speaks with is an Artificial Intelligence or a Brain Upload.
  • The Dead Can Dance: The Gold Room within the Overlook Hotel's simulation has waltzing zombies overlooking a Bottomless Pit. To get the key, one must navigate and use the zombies to reach the Damsel in Distress and ask her for a dance.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Dying in OASIS costs you all your loot, custom items, etc, but there's nothing stopping you from re-spawning and starting over. You can't be killed for real in the OASIS.
  • Decomposite Character:
    • Nolan Sorrento is split into three. Nolan Sorrento himself, representing his greed and backstory. I-R0k picks up his video game skill and OASIS savvy, including figuring out who Parzival is. And F'Nale takes over his real-world exploits, most notably setting up the bombs to blow up Wade's stack.
    • Wade's skillset is split up among the High Five as well. Aech has his hacking and tech skills, Art3mis gets the idea to bring down IOI from the inside, and Daito uses the artifact that turns the tide of the final battle by changing him into the RX-78-2 Mobile Suit Gundam instead of Wade using a different artifact (the Beta Capsule from Ultraman).
  • Defiant to the End: Daito flips the bird to Sorrento and yells "First to the Egg!" right before getting zeroed out of the final battle by Mechagodzilla's atomic breath.
  • Deflector Shields: The Orb of Osuvox is a high-level magic artifact that creates a spherical barrier around whatever location it's activated in. The barrier cannot be brought down by outside forces, requiring an incantation to be spoken within ten feet of it.
  • Demoted to Extra: Ogden Morrow only appears in Halliday's Journals and at the end of the movie, when in the book he was a key member of Wade's forces. He does, however, help them as the Curator.
  • Destination Defenestration: A Japanese guy who was playing the OASIS just had his avatar killed, which means everything he earned is gone. Subverted since someone rams him into the ground just in time.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Just because you're the head of the second most powerful company in the world doesn't stop Sorrento and his goons from being arrested for the attempted murder of a van full of kids, in broad daylight, in front of dozens of witnesses, in an IOI-branded vehicle no less.
  • Disco Dan:
    • Likely due to his admiration of Halliday, Wade is obsessed with '80s culture despite the film taking place in 2045.
    • Most of the world is like this also, as a large percentage of OASIS players having avatars who are characters from movies and games from the 1980s to the 2010s.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: To complete Halliday's quest, one has to find three keys scattered around the OASIS.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Played with: Alice threatens to kick Wade out of the trailer if he touches her stuff again because he borrowed her VR gloves to play in the OASIS... but because him taking the VR gloves lead to her Bastard Boyfriend, who had bet all their life savings on a Relic Hunt and lost, losing the Hunt and wiping it out. It illustrates just how serious and pervasive the OASIS is for something as simple as VR.
  • Dissonant Serenity: During the climax of the film, chaos breaks out inside IOI's war room as Sixers are battling players everywhere... except for one who is playing Adventure on an Atari 2600 for the final challenge. Sorrento himself finds it amusing how this one single Sixer hasn't been fazed by everything else going on around him.
  • Down in the Dumps: Where Wade lives.
  • Dramatic Wind: Parzival has a hair mod which causes his hair to ruffle as if wind is blowing through it. Art3mis runs her hand through his hair to disable the effect while they're in Aech's workshop.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Proxima Midnight made her first cinematic appearance here, just a month ahead of Avengers: Infinity War bringing her into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • Earpiece Conversation: When Sorrento is trying to convince Wade to join him, he makes many references to things he likes from the 1980s in order to gain Wade's trust. The reality is that Sorrento's being fed all of his dialogue through an earpiece, which Wade quickly picks up on.
  • Easily Forgiven: After calling him out on being scared of zeroing out and then later for being immature, making the newbie mistake of telling her his real name, and being in the hunt because it's "cool" instead of something important (such as, say, her plans to gut IOI for killing her father, Wade forgives Samantha pretty much instantly when they meet in reality. Then again, the boy is head over heels in love with the girl. For her part, Samantha reverses her chewing out of Wade.
  • Easter Egg:
    • Halliday hid one somewhere in the OASIS and presented a challenge upon his death: Whoever finds the three hidden keys will be able to unlock Halliday's Easter Egg, giving them a controlling interest in Gregarious Games worth a substantial amount of cash, plus direct control of the OASIS. The search for this Easter Egg is the impetus for the entire plot.
    • The original video game Easter Egg from Atari game Adventure unlocks the final key.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Samantha has one of these when she and Wade are about to kiss in the real world, realizing that this is what Halliday’s clue for the second challenge really meant: he was too afraid to kiss Kira when they both went on a movie date together, and the movie they watched (The Shining) is where Halliday hid the Jade Key somewhere in the VR version of it.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When Sorento starts to activate the Cataclyst, I-R0k, who's had no problem with anything his boss has done up to that point, starts to strenuously object, not only because it'll zero him out, but also because it's "a camper move."
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Sho's car catches fire and exploded when he reaches the destination of the first key.
  • Everything Is Online: Surprisingly enough, subverted in the movie. It's shown that within OASIS you are genuinely anonymous and no matter how much money and resources a corporation has you cannot be tracked down in the real world purely by your avatar. Wade makes a very taboo mistake by sharing his real first name with Art3mis, in conjunction with mentioning that he bought a tactile responsive VR suit. With that information, I-R0k is easily able to coordinate real-world databases and shipping records to find his home address.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: When Parzival makes his big announcement over the OASIS, inviting players to join the big battle at Castle Anorak against the Sixters, Sorrento scoffs at the idea, apparently thinking it as misplaced idealism. As it takes a few minutes afterward for the players to react and assemble, Sorrento seems convinced that none will show up, and he's utterly shocked when a huge army of avatars is trampling toward his forces. This shows how completely disconnected Sorrento is from the common mindset of the OASIS users: such a call would be absolutely irresistible for many players, with a promise of a huge battle, the prize of the Easter Egg in sight, and the opportunity to bring down IOI, which most users certainly hate with a passion.
  • Evil, Inc.: Innovative Online Industries has the real-life manpower and online omnipresence to force people into "Loyalty Centers" to work off any debt accrued to the company. They have the authority to violate basic human rights by not giving them any choice in the matter and resetting any money they've saved up from labor if they make any mistakes. It's implied that they can fabricate the debt
itself if they want to get someone in particular.
  • Evil Plan: Sorrento wants to get the Easter Egg so that he has controlling interest in the OASIS and can fill it with so much advertising that players will be on the verge of a seizure just looking at it all. Regardless of how elastic the market is, this would presumably be very profitable due to lack of competition.
  • Evil Weapon: Downplayed. Chucky the Killer Doll is an in-game weapon that is programmed to attack indiscriminately, stabbing the nearest player to death with a knife. He is passed off by Aech to Art3mis and Parzival, desperately trying to keep him from hurting them before throwing it onto a group of unsuspecting Sixers where he manages to successfully take a few of them out.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Nolan Sorrento. In the scene where he tries to convince Wade to join IOI, he acts pretty friendly, offering Wade rewards beyond his imagination in exchange for joining IOI and finding Halliday's Egg for him. He even pretends to lament how he has to put on a Corrupt Corporate Executive face because that's what people like him do in this business, and that he's actually a pure-hearted gamer who knows all the trivia and references in movies like this. In reality, he knows nothing about it and needs his support team to provide information through his earpiece. Wade sees right through him and calls him out on it, so he drops all pretense of friendliness and outright threatens to ruin Wade's life. Wade even lampshades that Sorrento changes his acts so suddenly when it's clear that he cannot convince Wade to join him.
  • Fearsome Foot: When Mechagodzilla enters the scene, the camera focuses on its foot as it stomps forward towards the enemy.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: Parzival mentions that he and Art3mis have this thing going which offends Aech who claims that it was a defining feature of THEIR relationship.
  • First Name Ultimatum: Sorrento and I-R0k seem to use this with each other when either is annoyed with the other, Sorrento when I-R0k is running off on tangents about his repetitive stress neck injury or waxing nostalgic, and I-R0k when Sorrento shows his utter lack of even basic OASIS knowledge or gets impatient with him.
  • Flight of Romance: Between Parzival and Art3mis in zero gravity at the night club. From Wade's point of view anyway.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • There are clues that the Curator is more than an NPC. The first happens when he mistakenly thinks that Art3mis was speaking to him when they were checking for the first clue. Also, the fact that if he was just an NPC he would have known that Halliday only mentioned Kira once in the archives without having to search manually. The movie also makes it seem like he can only attend to one visitor's requests at a time.
    • During the High Five's trip to The Shining simulation, Sho mentions that he ended up watching the film through his fingers, hinting at how he's actually way too young to watch something like that.
    • It also explains why he was the one of the group to total his car in the race despite the total lack of obstacles on the correct path, as children are not usually known for their driving prowess.
    • Aech's hate for scary movies like The Shining.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: So many of the cameos require this to catch them, including but not limited to Supergirl in the mob of people trying to get Parzival's autograph in the Halliday Journals building, and Ruby Rose in a literal blink-and-miss-it moment during the final battle.
  • Geographic Flexibility: All the characters seem to live in the same place, unless real-life travel is super easy. IOI even has its headquarters and detention center in the same place, though it's implied that they have detention centers across the globe.
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: Mechagodzilla crushing Parzival and Art3mis under its foot is only narrowly prevented by a Big Damn Heroes moment from Gundam.
  • Gilligan Cut: Art3mis holds up a business suit for Parzival to wear with his Clark Kent glasses. Parzival says he is not wearing the suit. Cut to him in the Journals lobby with the suit on.
  • G.I.R.L.:
    • During his expository speech, Wade notes that people can take any avatar they please, from another gender to a wholly fictional character.
    • Aech posits that Art3mis could be a guy in real life.
      Aech: She... could be a 300-lb dude who lives in his mama's basement in Suburban Detroit. And her name is Chuck.
    • Inverted with Aech herself. She's a girl IRL playing as a guy in the OASIS.
  • Girls Are Really Scared of Horror Movies: Aech, even before her gender is revealed, admits that she really hates scary movies.
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: During Sorrento's interrogation, he spots a reflection of the heroes' avatars, and realizes he's still in the OASIS.
  • Go Through Me: After Wade reveals to the OASIS what Sorrento has done, a crowd of people form at The Stacks to confront Sorrento, knowing he's behind the explosion that killed Wade's aunt and boyfriend. Subverted when Sorrento pulls a gun and everyone backs off, nobody wanting to be the first one to get shot.
  • GPS Evidence: I-R0k is able to locate Wade by cross-checking his first name with recent purchasers of a new X1 bodysuit.
  • Gratuitous Disco Sequence: After pulling out an instant dance floor from his inventory, Parzival, along with Art3mis, dance to the tune of the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" at the Distracted Globe.
  • Gravity Screw: The Distracted Globe nightclub has at least one zero-G dance floor over a Bottomless Pit.
  • Groin Attack: As Sorrento can attest, if you get kicked in the groin in the OASIS while wearing an X1 bodysuit, you'll still be feeling it in real life after you take the suit off.

    Tropes H to Z 
  • Hand Cannon: When Parzival and Daito hold Sorrento at gunpoint while seemingly hijacking his office, they wield a HK Mark 23 and a Desert Eagle, respectively, two of the largest handguns in existence made even larger by their mounted suppressors. Probably an intentional example since as impractical as both guns may be, they do look plenty intimidating, especially when you're on the wrong end of those gaping muzzles.
  • Handshake Refusal: Becomes a Running Gag. Parzival' high five to Art3mis and Curator is not being reciprocated.
  • Hand Stomp: A variant. When the Iron Giant uses his body to build a bridge over the lava chasm at Castle Anorak, I-R0k shoots his fingers off one by one.
  • Hate Sink: It's one thing that Rick bullies Wade in the real world, but when Wade tries to call his Aunt Alice and warn her that their home is going to be blown up, Rick, who has stolen Wade's X-1 bodysuit, intercepts the call and speaks for Alice saying they don't need Wade anymore. All the while, Alice worriedly insists to speak with her nephew. Sorrento may have killed Aunt Alice and Rick, but it's Rick who thwarts Wade's attempt to save them (or failing that, reconcile with his Aunt).
  • Heroic BSoD: Wade's ashen face and hundred-yard stare as he walks away from the stacks after they get destroyed says it all.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Daito controls the RX-78-2 Gundam to fight off Sorrento's Mechagodzilla to distract it while Parzival, Sho, and Art3mis head for the fortress. Even as his time limit is running out, Daito continues to fight the Mechagodzilla until his Gundam form wears off and he is finished off by Sorrento, but not before providing enough time for Aech's Iron Giant avatar to recover and attack the Mechagodzilla from behind.
    • Aech controls The Iron Giant avatar to help Wade and Art3mis cross the chasm created by I-R0k during the final battle before he is zeroed out.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The Golden Egg is somewhere in the godawful mess that is Halliday's childhood bedroom.
  • Hide Your Lesbians: In the book, it's an important plot point that Aech's player, Helen, is a lesbian. The movie largely glosses over this — the conversation in which it comes out in the book never happens in the movie. However, during the exploration of The Shining, Aech is shown to be quite willing to go along with being vamped by a naked woman, until she turns out to be a zombie.
  • Highly Visible Password: Sorrento leaves the password for his account on a sticky note attached to his VR rig, though admittedly the odds of anyone seeing it in his private office are rather low. So of course he invites Wade up in hologram form to get a good look.
  • Holding the Floor: Samantha lets herself get captured to buy Wade time to escape via an air vent that leads to an alley.
  • Hologram Projection Imperfection: The projection of Parzival at Sorrento's office is pixelated at the fringes.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: The Trope Namer itself makes an appearance early on, and is used to great effect in the climactic battle. It's never actually stated whether it deals holy-element damage, but given the context of the OASIS, it'd be surprising if it didn't.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Implied with Wade, who still decides to go after Art3mis even when Aech warns him that she could really be "a 300-pound man named Chuck who lives in his mama's basement in Detroit."
  • I Know Mortal Kombat:
    • Downplayed. While hours of playing in the OASIS have allowed Toshiro/Daito and Samantha/Art3mis to have the fighting skill to at least fight F'Nale Zandor for a moment, they are quickly beaten and have to be saved by Zhou/Sho, who uses his wits instead.
    • Played straight with Parzival, who handily uses his knowledge of video game fight moves to beat Sorrento's avatar inside Castle Anorak. He even combos into a hadouken before finishing with a Guile-esque, Flash Kick-style Groin Attack.
  • Impossible Hourglass Figure: The striped Cat Girl avatar at the dance club, who has a pipe-thin waist to go with her large breasts.
  • Instant Convertible: While Art3mis manages to slide Under the Truck, one of the Sixers rides his car right into the truck, turning his car into a convertible. He doesn't survive the stunt though.
  • Interrupted Suicide: During Wade's narration about the consequences of a player's avatar being killed, a Japanese office worker is zeroed out and tries to jump out a window, only to be tackled by one of his coworkers.
  • Ironic Echo: Before shooting her in-game so she can escape IOI's headquarters, Parzival tells Art3mis the same words she told him when she stayed back so he could escape IOI.
    "You'll forgive me for this, I promise."
  • It's Personal: Art3mis' beef with IOI is escalated because her father died of neglect as an indent.
  • I Work Alone: When Art3mis asks Parzival if he and Aech are a team, he tells her that he doesn't clan.
  • Jaw Drop: Art3mis has a pretty impressive one when she learns that Halliday once went on a date with the woman who would later marry Ogden Morrow, his best friend.
  • Kamehame Hadoken: Parzival pulls out an actual Hadoken in his one-on-one confrontation with Sorrento on Planet Doom. And naturally, with Ryu himself being in the film, he is shown using it as well.
  • Kidnapped by an Ally: Wade gets kidnapped by a Tattooed Crook and we are to believe it's for his worse. Turns out the kidnapper was part of La Résistance and captured Wade so he can join them in their fight against IOI.
  • Kids Driving Cars: Subverted. The reveal that Sho is an 11-year-old boy definitely explains why he's not the best driver. He may be stalwart, but that doesn't necessarily mean he has driving skills.
  • Kill 'Em All: The Cataclyst kills every avatar in the sector when deployed, including its user.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Sorrento's entire motivation is to get the egg and control the OASIS, something he is willing to do anything for, up to grabbing a gun and going after Wade himself when his real-world henchmen and his OASIS plot both fail. He finally corners Wade only to realize that Wade has just gotten the Egg and won. Without hope of getting the Egg himself, Sorrento gives up the fight and surrenders to the police who arrive right after.
  • Laughably Evil:
    • I-R0k, due to being played by T.J. Miller.
    • Even Nolan Sorrento has his moments.
  • Lava Adds Awesome: Castle Anorak, the location of the third key, is surrounded by lava caves.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Odd, given the nature of the story. But during The Shining level, we only see Jack Torrence from the back, meaning we never see Jack Nicholson's face.
  • Leonine Contract: IOI forces those indebted to them to work in loyalty centers to pay off their debt. However, the debt they pay off includes interest, expenses, and so forth, creating a cycle of debt that they simply cannot escape. Samantha's father died in a loyalty center because he couldn't afford to pay for medical treatment when he got sick.
  • Letting the Air Out of the Band: The soundtrack dies this way when Wade mention's Halliday's death.
  • Lighter and Softer: In comparison to the book.
  • Linked List Clue Methodology: Each key comes with a scroll hinting to the location of the next key.
  • Literal Disarming: During the Final Battle, I-R0k gets his arm chopped off by the Glaive from Krull.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Most of the avatars in the OASIS are from different forms of media, such as Halo, Looney Tunes, Hello Kitty, The Iron Giant, etc.
  • Loose Lips: While I-R0k eavesdrops nearby, Wade lets slip only two hints about himself in Real Life: the fact that he recently bought a brand-new top of the line haptic suit, and that his first name is Wade. From this, I-R0k is able to figure out his real identity simply by looking at recent purchases of the (very expensive) suit by anyone named Wade. The danger of giving out personal information like this is lampshaded very vocally by Art3mis as soon as Wade lets his name slip.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Having fallen for Art3mis, Wade decides to reveal his real-life first name to her, which is something you're not supposed to do in the OASIS. Because of this, he ends up getting his aunt killed.
  • Loving a Shadow: Art3mis accuses Parzival of this when he professes his love for her, pointing out that they only know each other by their avatars in the OASIS. Later when Wade and Samantha meet in real life, they fall in love with each other for real.
  • Lower-Class Lout: Aunt Alice's boyfriend Rick qualifies, he wears a shirt with no sleeves, has long hair, a messy beard and an unkempt appearance and is a Bastard Boyfriend.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Sometimes real-life movements affecting the game world and vice versa are implied to be close to one-to-one, while other times this cannot possibly be true. Basically the answer to the question is, "As much as the story needs it to."
  • Magic Skirt: While floating in mid-air at the night club, Art3mis's wavy dress still manages to conceal her modesty at all times.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Features a ton of characters from various franchises.
  • Matching Bad Guy Vehicles: The Sixers have a virtual version, in that their avatars in the OASIS and the vehicles they drive there are all identical. This is in contrast to the Gunters, who design their own avatars and vehicles.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Halliday's avatar in OASIS is "the great wizard Anorak". "Anorak" is British slang for a person obsessively interested in niche subjects, somewhat synonymous with "Geek" or "Otaku".
    • When the top five scoring Gunters begin to start working more closely together, trading information to outsmart IOI in the Easter egg contest and become more of an unofficial clan (despite all of them never "clanning up") they are referred to as "The High Five"... Parzival has a running habit of asking people for high-fives (which is of course a symbolic social gesture which links two people in celebration).
  • Medium Blending: This otherwise live-action movie has lots of scenes that are fully CGI-animated while in the Cyberspace of the OASIS.
  • Mega-Corp: The company that developed OASIS is the largest company in the world, and Halliday's shares of the company alone is said to be around 500 billion. The Big Bad is the CEO of the second largest company, IOI.
  • Mickey Mousing: All the trailers make use of this at least once, most notably with RUSH's "Tom Sawyer" syncing with Aech's gear-shifting during the Bullet Hell race to the Copper Key, and Van Halen's "Jump" fitting multiple moments.
  • Moment Killer: Samantha's "Eureka!" Moment doubles as this. Also, people will insist on ruining the moment Samantha and Wade keep trying to have in the van at the end by opening the closed-for-a-reason van doors.
  • Money Spider: When avatars in the OASIS die, they drop all their collected items. I-R0k, having not died for over ten years, releases a veritable mountain of items and coins when Sorrento uses the Cataclyst.
  • Mook Horror Show:
    • Literally with the unfortunate IOI Sixers who get slaughtered trying to win Halliday's second challenge in The Shining VR mode.
    • A minor, straighter example occurs in the climax when Parzival tosses Chucky into a group of Sixers who then proceed to die in horrible ways.
  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: Aech scans Parzival while he is in the workshop, and notes that his pulse is off the rocker thanks to Art3mis. Aech also sees that her pulse is neutral meaning she isn't falling for him yet.
  • Mouthing the Profanity: Parzival mouths the word "fuck" before encountering King Kong during the first race.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • When Ogden Morrow arrives, he claims that he flew in on a magic sleigh. In the book, Morrow was described as resembling Santa Claus.
    • Tracer's second appearance in the movie is in the club where she's chatting with another girl. Tracer is a lesbian in the source material that she comes from.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Some trailers that mention how people can be anything they want in the OASIS insinuate that the screaming blond girl is actually using King Kong as an avatar when he's actually an AI obstacle in the First Challenge.
  • Newspaper Backstory: Wade keeps a collection of newspaper clips and photos about Halliday in his van which provides some exposition like the death of Ogden's wife, Karen, who turns out to be Halliday's first and only love.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Parzival tells Art3mis his real name, which is overheard by I-R0k, who tells Sorrento, who's able to locate Wade's trailer home.
    • Also, Wade's superkick finisher at Castle Anorak lands Sorrento within arm's reach of where the Cataclyst landed when Wade started the fight.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • Had Sorrento chosen to keep his conversation with Wade within OASIS, instead of bringing him as a hologram to his office, Wade would not have learned Sorrento's password.
    • The High Five would have been unable to bring down the shield that prevented them from reaching Castle Anorak if Samantha had not been taken by the IOI grunts to their Columbus Loyalty Center — when the other High Five managed to get her out of her restraints, Samantha was able to sneak into Sorrento's rig and learn how to deactivate the shield, then use one of the rigs for their grunts to log in behind the shield so she can shut it down.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The OASIS's Big Red Button is simply mounted on a wall, with no safety cover, guard, or any other form of protection against it being hit inadvertently. Nor is any mention made of having to hold the button down, press it multiple times in quick succession, answer "Are you sure?" affirmatively, etc. before the process begins. Predictably, mere moments after being shown the button, Wade loses his balance and comes within inches of wiping out the entire OASIS by accident.
  • Not a Game: Art3mis tells this to Parzival after the ambush in the Distracted Globe. She takes the hunt for the egg personally, since IOI's apathetic attitude towards their indentured servants led to her father's death, and tells Parzival that he thinks the Egg Hunt is just a game and she can't afford to let him distract her.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Wade panics after he realizes that Sorrento and IOI are going to kill Alice and Rick.
    • One of the Sixers when the High Fives use Chucky on him to zero out his avatar.
    • Art3mis when she sees Sorrento is using the Mechagodzilla avatar.
    • Sorrento when Art3mis tosses a Dust Brain Madball into Mechagodzilla and destroys it.
    • Art3mis again when Parzival is forced to zero out her avatar to ensure her safety.
    • I-R0k and Parzival share a moment of panic when they realize that Sorrento is about to use the Cataclyst to kill every avatar on planet Doom.
    • The stack residents when Sorrento pulls out the pistol he borrowed from one of the IOI guards, causing everyone to step away.
    • Samantha and Helen when Sorrento opens the postal van and trains the pistol on Wade just as the latter receives the Golden Egg.
  • Outrun the Fireball: I-R0k tries to outrun a massive fireball created by Sorrento opening the Cataclyst. When he gets to the portal, however, it's too late; he's zeroed out of existence along with all of the other avatars on Planet Doom.
  • Parental Neglect: The OASIS is so addictive that even parents are neglecting to look after their children just so they can spend the whole day playing the game.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Some of the many, many pop culture references aren't in the film due to legal complications. To get around this, the movie makes use of substitutes instead (mostly in-house franchises from Warner Bros.), such as The Iron Giant taking the place of Ultraman. Steven Spielberg also confirmed he willingly excluded most references to his own filmography to avoid "vanity." Tracer is one such substitute; Overwatch wasn't conceptualized until a couple of years after the book came out.
  • Precision F-Strike: A random Sixer uses the PG-13 movie's one-allowed "F" word when attacked by Chucky, fitting considering the nature of the character and the fact the R-rated franchise he comes from features more "F" words than this one.
  • Prisoner's Work: "Loyalty Centers". Anyone who is sent to one is forced to work manual labor inside the OASIS for IOI. They're allowed mandatory 10 minute breaks, but they'll be punished if they go even a second over.
  • Punch-Clock Villain:
    • The Sixers are basically your stock-standard corporate drones, and most likely couldn't care less about Sorrento's lofty goals. When Wade wins the Challenge, the IOI researchers break out in rambunctious cheering, with one of them even landing a Smooch of Victory on her coworker's cheek.
    • I-R0k himself, while a Hyper-Competent Sidekick, is expressly only working for Sorrento for money. To the extent he'll fight to the death in his job, it's only because he enjoys it and (having not zero'd-out for at least ten years) is confident he won't lose. Once actual avatar death is on the table due to the Cataclyst, I-R0k runs for it.
  • Put on a Prison Bus: At the end of the film, the local police place Sorrento and F'Nale in their car and drive away from the truck.
  • Race Lift: While Sho in the original novel is a Japanese character, being played by Chinese-American Philip Zhao changed the character to match; appropriately enough, Sho's real name is Zhou. He says "Xiexie" ("Thanks") when Aech saves him on Planet Doom at the start of the film.
  • Ramp Jump: Art3mis jumps a huge gap with her bike this way during the first hunt.
  • Rapid-Fire "No!":
    • Art3mis says "No" repeatedly before Parzival zeros-out her avatar.
    • Sorrento in the Oasis, when he sees the hordes of players Wade rallied with his Rousing Speech.
    • Parzival when he realizes that Sorrento is going to use the Cataclyst to wipe out all of the avatars on the Oasis.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Alan Silvestri incorporated the "DeLorean Reveal" cue from his previous film, Back to the Future, when the DeLorean appears. He also included the Godzilla main title theme by Akira Ifukube for Mechagodzilla's appearance.
  • Red Herring: Nearly every key-challenge is designed to be unsolvable if done as expected. Since Halliday designed each task to impart a lesson to the players and because he hated rules, every challenge is designed for the player to cease playing the intended course via an Outside-the-Box Tactic to find the secret.
    • At first it is believed that winning the New York Race is the way to get the copper key. While the race itself is a test of patience, endurance, wit, reflex and courage due to its various hazards, the final obstacle (King Kong) has no means of getting past, crushing any vehicle that attempts to make it to the gate. It is not until Parzival finds a clue in the Halliday Museum does he discover that the only way past Kong is to drive backwards into a secret roadway beneath the coded race-track safe from the hazards in the race.
    • The Distracted Globe Night Club as the location where the second challenge is supposedly hidden. According to Art3mis, it's the first virtual club that Halliday built in OASIS so that he could take Kira on further virtual dates there, but the first date with Kira went nowhere, and Kira eventually marries Ogden Morrow instead, so Halliday never got a chance to take her there. Hence, Art3mis thought the line "A creator who hates his own creation" in the clue refers to this club. The club is actually unrelated to the quest at all as the actual challenge is hidden within The Shining VR in Halliday's archives, the movie which he and Kira watched on their first date. "A creator who hates his own creation" actually refers to how Stephen King, the writer of The Shining novel, hates the movie adaptation of it.
    • Even more so the challenge itself does not follow the plot of the movie at all, any attempts at veering from the challenge resulting in being hounded by unkillable NPCs and obstacles. Instead, the challenge is set in the Overlook Hotel's ballroom, the challenge itself based off of a zombie level in Mayhem Mansion, a game Halliday himself programmed in the early days of his career.
    • The third challenge is to play an Atari game at Castle Anorak. A television, an Atari 2600 and every game the console had is set over an ice-cap. Playing the wrong game for more than a minute causes the ice to collapse. Playing the right game (Adventure) and winning causes the ice to collapse. Using clues from Halliday's funerary video and the lessons he had learned from previous challenges, Parzival correctly deduces that the way to win the challenge is to find the Easter Egg within Adventure.
    • After winning all three challenges, Anorak appears to him in a room full of treasures and presents him with a contract that gives him absolute control of the OASIS and the riches that come with it. Parzival is quick to recognize the contract as the same contract Morrow signed to give away his share of the company and realizes that it is just another test. It is not until then does Anorak give him the real Easter Egg.
  • Reference Overdosed: Just like the novel, expect many a Shout-Out. There were so many in the teaser alone that author Ernest Cline could not identify all of them in one go.
  • La Résistance: The group around Samantha seeking to keep IOI from finding the egg.
  • Riddle for the Ages: After Wade obtains all three keys and unlocks the final door, he's greeted by Halliday himself, who explains a few things before handing over control of the OASIS and leaving for good. Wade wonders who he is. He asks Halliday if he’s an avatar, to which he responds "no". He asks if Halliday really is dead, to which he responds "yes". Wade asks who, or what, Halliday really is, but is only given a final goodbye.
  • Riddle Me This: The clues pointing to the location of each of the three challenges. One has already been cracked as of the beginning of the movie.
    • The clue leading to the second challenge states "A creator who hates his own creation / A hidden key / A leap not taken / Retrace your steps / escape your past / And the key of Jade will be yours at last." The clue refers to the date Halliday had with Karen Underwood, with the first line identifying the movie they watched: The Shining. The rest of the clue refers to him wishing he had taken a chance with Karen, guiding the player to do so in his stead with Karen's virtual doppelganger.
    • The clue leading to the third challenge reads "If you know the answer ultimate / Divide it by the number magic / And everything you, need, want and desire will be found in the fortress tragic." The first line is — as anyone familiar with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy will know — 42, and the number magic is 3. Dividing the first by the second yields 14, the sector the challenge is located in. The final line refers to Halliday himself, and points to the castle of his own avatar Anorak.
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: A physical version. When Parzival activates the Zemeckis Cube at the night club, everybody moves 60 seconds backwards except for him and Art3mis.
  • Robot Maid: The Curator of the Halliday Journals is designed to look like a robotic butler, and he acts like every Servile Snarker merged into one mind.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: In a couple of scenes, the CGI avatars of OASIS are paired next to actual actors and locations. It's shown that OASIS can produce photo-real replicas, but the population prefers the slight Uncanny Valley effect.
  • Rousing Speech: Wade rallies all of the OASIS players to fight back against IOI with an impassioned speech to join him on Planet Doom.
  • Rubik's Cube International Genius Symbol: The Zemeckis Cube is associated with James Halliday, the genius behind the OASIS.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Whilst speaking with Parzival, Sorrento has his suit jacket off to feign a relatable atmosphere. When Wade turns down his offer, Sorrento resumes wearing it, dispensing with his friendly exterior.
  • Scenery Censor: During the scene between Aech and the naked woman from The Shining, Aech's arms perfectly blocks out the naughty bits of the woman.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When I-R0k realizes Sorrento plans to detonate the Cataclyst that will wipe out everyone's avatars, including his own that he worked on for 10 years and undoubtedly spent a good fortune on, he tries to run for the nearest portal, but doesn't make it.
  • Secret Test of Character: A rare case of the hero figuring out that there was one before they make the big decision. After the final gate is solved, Anorak gives Parzival a contract to sign to obtain complete power over the OASIS. Parzival realizes this is mirroring Halliday and Ogden's falling out and refuses to sign, valuing friendship over control, which is the right answer.
  • Serial Escalation: In the book, Halliday's fortune is estimated at $240 billion. In the film, his Video Will states it is half a trillion dollars, and a WIRED magazine cover dubs him, "Game Designer. Trillionaire."
  • Serkis Folk: The character avatars in the OASIS are rendered in CGI animation and played by their actors on-set/site. Within the film, the avatars in the OASIS capture the movements of their real-life counterparts and translate it to action in the simulation.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Sigil Spam: Innovative Online Industries puts its "IOI" acronym absolutely everywhere, whether in the real or virtual world — equipment, drones, cars, Faceless Mooks helmets, mechas, etc. Even on the CEO's tie. The society's main building is even shaped like "IOI".
  • Single Tear: Wade in real life after Halliday gives him the Egg.
  • Sinister Surveillance: The heroes are not safe from the IOI drones roaming the city.
  • Skewed Priorities: When an IOI hit squad ambushes Parzival and Art3mis in the night club, Art3mis is busy fighting for her life while Parzival is doing his best to flirt with her and confess his feelings. Art3mis is not impressed.
  • Smooch of Victory: The evil Mega-Corp that is opposing the heroes employs a team of oologists who try to solve the puzzle that Halliday left in the Oasis. Oddly, these oologists cheer when Parzival succeeds in opening a locked door behind a puzzle that they weren't able to solve, and part of that cheering involves one female oologist kissing a male one. It's not entirely clear why they cheered when one of their rivals succeeded: it could be because they were so interested in the puzzle itself that, when anyone succeeded in solving it, they regarded it as a huge victory. Or it could be because they knew the Mega-Corp paying them to try to solve the puzzle was evil and would rather they didn't acquire the prize. Or even a mix of the two.
  • Spanner in the Works: The only reason Wade survives the attack against his stack home is because he is away from it when it happens.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Daito stays alive throughout the entire movie, while in the book he is murdered by the IOI on Sorrento's order both in the Oasis and the real world.
    • Wade's friendly neighbor Mrs. Gilmore, who dies in the trailer stack explosion in the book, shows up alive and well among the other stack residents towards the end of the film.
  • Spontaneous Crowd Formation: At the end, when Sorrento shows up Down in the Dumps, he quickly gets surrounded by concerned inhabitants, stopping him from challenging Wade.
  • Stab the Scorpion: After getting Kidnapped by an Ally, Wades's blinds are removed and he sees a Tattooed Crook with a knife approaching his face. Then the man proceeds to use the knife to free Wade from his handcuffs.
  • Stacked Characters Poster: The poster has the cast piled up around the Easter Egg.
  • Stealth Mentor: In the book, the only way you really need to beat the challenges of the contest is to be an expert gamer and have an encyclopedic knowledge of Halliday's personal interests. In the film however, the challenges are made to act more as tools to teach the players lessons Halliday himself wished he learned when he was younger.
    • The race track teaches the player to think critically and not simply do what others do, ignoring the intended track in-favor of going a different way.
    • The second challenge encourages the player to take a leap of faith to be with the ones you love, basing it off of the one moment he himself chickened out of his chance for love with Kira.
    • The third challenge teaches the gamer that the point of a game is not to win it, but to play it, the only way to win the challenge being to explore the game rather than win it.
    • The Secret Test of Character acts as a sort of Final-Exam Boss. A contract is provided that will give complete ownership of the OASIS and Gregarious Games, based off of the contract that Ogden signed but Halliday did not. By refusing to sign it, it shows that you have learned that the experience of the game and the value in being a part of it is worth more than personal monetary gain (a lesson that Sorrento would have failed if he had won the challenges).
  • Stupid Evil: In the book, it isn't until Wade turns down Sorrento's offer for a small fortune in favor of help in finding the Easter Egg does he have his aunt's home destroyed in a drone-strike. In the film, Sorrento doesn't try cutting a deal with Wade until after destroying the stacks and attacking him in the OASIS.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: The building of IOI is this despite their massive enforcement power that works outside of their offices and having prisoners in the same building as Sorrento's personal office. Sorrento's office is actually just two levels above the loyalty cubes, which allows Samantha to sneak in and use Sorrento's rig to find out how to bring down the shield.
  • Taking You with Me: The Cataclyst is essentially a WMD that, once triggered, wipes out every avatar on the field including the user's, so whoever fires it for whatever reason inevitably takes down anyone with them no questions asked.
  • Tempting Fate: I-R0k tells Sorrento not to worry about the shield surrounding Castle Anorak, because it will hold up for 10 million years. Not even a minute later, Art3mis uses her speaker drone to recite the incantation that brings the shield down.
  • This Cannot Be!: Sorrento's reaction three times:
    • First, when Parzival gets the Jade Key after the attack on the stack he lived in.
    • Second, when Art3mis appears in front of him during the Final Battle while wearing a Sixers' uniform, which makes him realize she is still in IOI.
    • Third, when Parzival survives the Cataclyst.
  • Totally Radical: Inverted. Sorrento attempts to woo Wade into working for IOI by acting as well-versed and obsessed with '80s pop culture as he is. In reality, he's being spoon-fed the references through an earpiece by Halliday scholars. Wade sees it as the shallow imitation it is.
  • Trust Password: When Wade meets Aech in the real world, they repeat an earlier private conversation about Art3mis to verify that they are both who they think they are.
  • Truth in Television: IOI's "Loyalty Centers", where IOI's debtors are imprisoned while they Work Off the Debt... though most never do due to their debts accruing interest. There are numerous corporations currently making a killing by buying the debt of municipal violators and charging ridiculous interest rates until they end up in prison. Using prisoners for forced labor is entirely legal in many countries including the US, and there's even a corporation — Federal Prison Industries — that traffics in prison labor. FPI isn't directly connected with the first set of corporations, but there's no legal reason they couldn't be.
  • Try Everything: IOI figures out the first part of the clue for the third key, but can't determine which of the many castles it's hidden in. So they just employ their massive army to search everyone and find it through a process of elimination.
  • Under the Truck: At one point during the first hunt, Art3mis slides with her bike under a truck that's crossing her way.
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal: Discussed when Aech tries to warn Wade that Art3mis could be some overweight guy living in his mother's basement in Detroit. Wade is taken aback when Aech reveals herself in the real world as Helen Harris.
  • Unwinnable by Design: All three trials, if played simply as tests of skill or pop-culture knowledge, are completely impossible. The real solutions for all three are what would be Easter Eggs in other games.
    • The race for the first challenge. It chews everyone who tries to pieces; though a rare skilled few have seen the finish line, nobody has been able to get past King Kong at the end of the race in the five years that it existed. Until Wade figures out the first clue: that the way to win is a Dungeon Bypass.
    • The second challenge, a recreation of the Overlook Hotel from The Shining, is one huge death trap. The solution is not to find a MacGuffin in the maze of deadly rooms, but accept a dance from a beautiful woman in the ballroom despite being surrounded by threats.
    • The third challenge, the Atari game Adventure, can't be completed by winning it. The goal is not to beat the game, but to unlock its Easter Egg. And even that is a trick; once completed, Halliday's avatar offers not the Egg that has become a public icon, but to sign over control of his company. Recognizing that reference — Halliday forcing Morrow to sign over control of GSS — and refusing to sign is the true solution.
  • Video Will: Halliday leaves one behind where he reveals the existence of the Easter Egg that would give the finder a controlling interest in Gregarious Games worth a substantial amount of cash, plus direct control of the OASIS.
  • Villain Ball:
    • Sorrento talks to Wade using a hologram to project him into his own office. He tries to convince Wade to work for IOI and even lets him check out his personal rig, offering to bribe him with one of his own. He has a note with his password in his rig that he didn't remove, allowing Wade to hack it later on. Even more so, it's clearly a customized password (B055man69) rather than a random string of letters, numbers, and symbols that would be difficult to remember. What makes it this trope is that he was only making the sales pitch because the board expected it and he had hoped that Wade would refuse. When Wade tells him that he's not home, Sorrento just makes a Pre-Mortem One-Liner and doesn't even consider that Wade is telling the truth.
    • It would be a much better idea to lock up the elite gamer that is notorious in part for having an axe to grind with your company in somewhere disconnected from the OASIS entirely than, oh, your headquarters with numerous high-quality connections. Especially if your plan only requires stalling and can only be stopped from the inside.
  • Villain Has a Point: Sorrento at one point remarks how unreasonable Halliday's plan to find a successor is.
  • Virtual Reality Interrogation: The heroes hijack Sorrento's account and reroute his connection so he ends up in a virtual recreation of his office, held at gunpoint by Wade and Daito using skins that make them look like their real selves. They end up exposing their ruse because Wade forgets to close the door behind him when he leaves the simulation and removes the skin, allowing Sorrento to catch a glimpse of his avatar reflected on the surface of his rig.
  • Wardens Are Evil: IOI's Guards take glee in punishing the wage slaves if they do anything vaguely out of bounds — taking too long in menial tasks, looking the wrong way, for the Hell of it...
  • We Have Reserves: When a Sixer is defeated, they're evacuated from their station in the War Room and immediately replaced by another waiting on standby. The original then goes to the "respawn room" and waits to take over for someone else.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: After Samantha gets captured by IOI, she is forced to do hard labor in virtual reality.
  • White Male Lead: The High-5 includes two girls (one of which is a black lesbian) and two Asian guys, but its leader (the protagonist) is a white straight guy.
  • Whole Plot Reference: There are some definite parallels with Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory — an eccentric industrialist lays down a challenge to the people of the world to complete a task in return for a fabulous prize, with the ultimate winner being decided by a Secret Test of Character. The main difference is that in Willy Wonka the ultimate prize is a secret, whereas it's public knowledge in Ready Player One.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Sorrento doesn't say this in so many words (towards every avatar in the final fight, including Ir0k and all the Sixers) as he does it with his actions when he activates and then detonates the Cataclyst.
    Sorrento: I'd just as soon never set foot in the OASIS again, but I know how important it is to you....
  • You Killed My Father: Wade confronts Sorrento about killing his Aunt.
    Wade: You killed my mom's sister.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Sorrento's avatar head explodes when Art3mis's Dust Brain Madball blows him and Mechagodzilla up.
  • Zerg Rush: This is basically IOI's approach to the trials: Hire a bunch of gamers and use a big budget to fast-track their respawn and leveling so they can throw an endless stream of bodies at each challenge. It works effectively in finding the location of the third challenge, which is inside a castle dedicated to Halliday's avatar Anorak. They manage to crack the first line of the clue, narrowing it down to sector 14, and then just send every sixer they have to scour the whole sector until they find it.

Ask yourselves, "Are you willing to zero out for the OASIS? Are you willing to fight?"
In the name of James Halliday himself... Help us save the OASIS!


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Ready Player One


The Holy Hand Grenade

Parzival uses the Holy Hand Grenade at the Battle of Castle Anorak.

How well does it match the trope?

4.6 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / HolyHandGrenade

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