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Film / Reservoir Dogs

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"Fivenote  men team up to commit the perfect crime. They don't know each other's name. But they've got each other's color."

Reservoir Dogs is a 1992 crime film which most notably marked the debut of Quentin Tarantino as a director and a screenwriter.

The film largely takes place in the aftermath of a jewelry heist gone wrong. After the robbery (which we never see on camera) is interrupted by the police, the surviving criminals — all of whom are using color-based pseudonyms, and none of whom knew the others before this job — escape to an abandoned warehouse and try to work out what went wrong, eventually deducing that there must be an undercover cop in their midst.

Frequent flashbacks give the backstory of several of the characters and fill in the details of the crime, telling the story in a non-linear fashion, which would go on to become Tarantino's Signature Style. In fact, the movie contains a lot of elements Tarantino would use in later films, such as brutal violence, profanity, and Seinfeldian Conversations (though not at the same time).

A licensed video game was produced that followed the plot of the movie and allowed the player to actually commit the heist that was only alluded to in the film. On a similar note, Lionsgate collaborated with Overkill Software on December 2017 to create a free update to PAYDAY 2 which paid Whole-Plot Reference homage to this film, and stars a few of the characters to boot!note  The heist also reverses the day order, keeping in tune with the non-chronological nature of the film.

Alright tropers, let's get troping:

  • 2 + Torture = 5: Lampshaded by Nice Guy Eddie.
    Eddie: If you fucking beat this prick long enough, he'll tell you he started the goddamn Chicago fire. Now, that don't necessarily make it fucking so!
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Eddie Bunker appears as Mr. Blue. Bunker was a former criminal who wrote a semi-autobiographical crime book titled Little Boy Blue. After the film, he wrote a follow-up titled Mr. Blue: Memoirs of a Renegade.
    • Joe, played by veteran actor Lawrence Tierney, says at one point that Mr. Blue is "as dead as Dillinger". Tierney's first major film role was playing John Dillinger in Dillinger (1945).
  • Affably Evil:
    • Mr. White. He's the most likable of the thieves, sticks his neck out for Mr. Orange, and expresses moral disgust at Mr. Blonde's behavior, but he's also a cold-blooded murderer who slaughters several cops and has no qualms with brutalizing people for their money. "Nice Guy" Eddie is also nice to his friends… but isn't quite as nice to cops or people threatening his closest friends or his father.
    • All the robbers, save for Mr. Pink always tip their waitresses on principle. Even Grumpy Old Man Joe Cabot forces the stubborn Mr. Pink to throw in his dollar like everyone else.
  • Agonizing Stomach Wound: Mr. Orange is slowly bleeding out from being gut-shot and spends a lot of his on-screen time screaming and moaning. It's bad enough that when the cop is sobbing after having his ear cut off, Mr. Orange screams at him that his pain's worse.
  • All Issues Are Political Issues: Mr. Pink does this at the beginning as he explains the political philosophy behind tipping.
  • All for Nothing: Mr. Orange/Freddy kills Mr. Blonde to save Marvin's life, only for Nice Guy Eddie to shoot and kill Marvin anyway in a fit of rage.
  • Alliterative Name: Vic Vega, played by Michael Madsen.
  • Alone with the Psycho: The cop being tortured by Blonde.
  • AM/FM Characterization: The pairing of Mr. Blonde's Torture Porn with "Stuck in the Middle With You" by Stealers Wheel is the perfect complement for how seriously he doesn't take the situation.
  • And Starring: And Tim Roth. However, the poster and seemingly all of the promotional materials are: And Michael Madsen, giving Madsen the special billing credit everywhere but in the film itself.
  • Anyone Can Die: And they all do, except for Mr. Pink.
  • Artistic License – Law Enforcement: In Mr. Orange's story about encountering several police officers, one of whom has a canine with him, he talks about how he has to play it cool when the dog starts growling and getting aggressive towards him (implying it's a narcotics dog and he's carrying drugs). In reality, dogs that are trained to sniff out narcotics, explosives and contraband do not behave this way. It's a very bad idea, as it would make a tense situation even worse. In reality, such dogs are trained to simply sit down next to the person or object where they've detected something. This is an extremely common trope in movies and television. Mr. Orange's story is entirely made up and he's actually an undercover cop, so he may actually be relying on this common misconception to fool the criminals he's talking to. None of them call him out on it, hinting that these robbers don't have much experience in the drug business.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: When Mr. White badgers "Nice Guy" Eddie to get some medical help for Mr. Orange.
    Eddie: I will call someone.
    White: Who are you gonna call?
    Eddie: A fucking snake charmer! Who do you think? I'll call a doctor.
  • Asshole Victim: Many characters are this.
    • Mr. Blonde botched the heist by starting a shootout in the jewelry store, killing several cops and innocent bystanders; Mr. White and Mr. Pink note that one civilian was barely twenty years old. Furthermore, Blonde is a sadist who tortures and nearly immolates a cop for no reason whatsoever. Only "Nice Guy" Eddie is saddened by his death.
    • Mr. White, despite being the most likeable of the lot, hates cops to the point that that he immediately turns on his protegé Mr. Orange when the latter reveals his true identity as an undercover cop and (possibly) shoots him in cold blood.
    • Mr. Pink also falls under this, although, unlike Mr. White, who antagonizes Mr. Blonde at every turn and tries to rein him in, Pink's overall spinelessness keeps him under Blonde's radar, allowing him to escape the Mexican Standoff near the finale alive (albeit in police custody).
    • "Nice Guy" Eddie initially seems to live up to his nickname, but is in fact as ruthless as Mr. Blonde. His reaction to the others telling him that Mr. Blonde jeopardized the heist by going Off the Rails is basically a "So what?" In addition, when Mr. Orange tells Eddie that Mr. Blonde tortured a cop and nearly set him on fire, as justification for shooting Mr. Blonde, his reaction is to shoot the cop Blonde maimed without a second thought. There's a reason he and Blonde were best friends.
  • Awesome McCoolname:
    • Discussed. Joe actively avoids this, on the grounds that the groups working for him always gets hung up on who gets to be "Mr. Black" if he lets them choose their own code names.
    • And then subverted, both as a trope and within the group, by a discussion about being named "Mr. Pink", as Mr. Pink immediately gets into an argument with Joe about it, saying he might as well be "Mr. Pussy". Joe points out why he picks the names for them in the first place, and tells Mr. Pink that he should be glad he's not Mr. Yellow.
  • Ax-Crazy: Mr. Blonde's trigger-happy behavior leads to Mr. Pink's realization that they were set up when the cops show up early. He's the only member of the team that Pink declares that he absolutely trusts not to be a rat —- "He's too damn homicidal to be working with the cops!" And, well, just in case some of the viewers might be inclined to dismiss all that as hearsay, he finally gets to prove himself onscreen...
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Most of the cast, complete with Cool Shades.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Mr. Blonde really doesn't like alarms. While his reaction to the alarm is left off-screen, it's discussed at length by the other characters (he apparently began going on a rampage that involved unnecessarily shooting people), and is responsible for the situation everyone's in.
    • Mr. White gets defensive every time someone questions Orange's loyalty or shows a lack of concern over his well-being.
      • Likewise, Nice Guy Eddie clearly does not like the idea of suggesting Mr. Blonde/Vic would rip off him and his father because of their friendship to Vic and Vic's loyalty to Joe and Eddie.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The aptly-named "Nice Guy" Eddie (who is really only comparatively nice) is chubby, goofy, really doesn't look too threatening, especially when surrounded by cool criminals in suits and ties, and has a higher-pitched and lighthearted manner of speaking. When shit hits the fan and he gets really serious, however, his voice changes to something deep and more diabolical.
  • The Big Board: One showing the layout of the diamond wholesaler is set up behind Joe in the code-name assigning scene.
  • Big Damn Heroes: A variation with the cops staking out the warehouse. However, nobody had any intention of them being this until Mr. Blonde showed up with a kidnapped cop, at which point, for Mr. Orange, it becomes a game of keeping himself and the cop alive until Joe arrives and the cops arrive as planned to arrest the crew. They come too late to save said cop.
  • Boom, Headshot! What happens to Mr. Brown. Unlike many other movies, he doesn't immediately die from it, and it takes a few minutes before he succumbs to his wounds.
  • Bottle Episode: Quentin Tarantino has said he wrote the script like this to keep the costs down so it would be more likely to be filmed. The majority of the movie takes place in the warehouse, while Mr. Orange's apartment and Joe's office were located in the same building. The building was a former funeral home, which is why there was a hearse and coffins inside.
  • Brutal Honesty: Mr. Blonde explains to Marvin why he's torturing him, which is that he feels like it.
  • Butt-Monkey: Marvin. He's brutally tortured by Mr. Blonde for no other reason than the fact he's a cop and then shot dead by Eddie mere minutes after Mr. Orange saved him.
  • The Cameo:
  • The Caper: The movie does an interesting subversion by completely skipping the caper itself. Instead, all we see are some of the preparations and the disastrous aftermath.
  • Captain Obvious: When Mr. Blonde is asked about Mr. Blue's fate.
    Mr. Blonde: Either he's alive or he's dead, or the cops got him, or they don't.
  • Celebrity Paradox: During the famous opening scene where the guys have a Seinfeldian Conversation about the true meaning of Madonna's "Like a Virgin", nobody seems to notice that Madonna's former brother-in-law is sitting at the table sipping coffee; Nice Guy Eddie is played by Chris Penn, the younger brother of Madonna's ex-husband Sean Penn.
  • Character Filibuster: The random talk at the diner early on, which involves a debate over Madonna's "Like a Virgin" and its true meaning, and whether or not one ought to tip their server.
  • Chromosome Casting: All of the characters are men, except for the unnamed carjacking victim and the woman that gets dragged out of the car that Mr. Pink steals.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: It's a Tarantino film, what did you expect? One representative gem:
    Mr. Orange: Fuck you! Fuck you! I'm fucking dying here! I'm fucking dying!
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The infamous scene where Mr. Blonde slices the bank cop's ear off and slashes his face.
    Mr. Blonde: Listen, kid, I'm not gonna bullshit you, all right? I don't give a good fuck what you know, or don't know, but I'm gonna torture you anyway, regardless. Not to get information. It's amusing, to me, to torture a cop. You can say anything you want cause I've heard it all before. All you can do is pray for a quick death, which you ain't gonna get.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Played with; although each of the robbers has a colour-based codename (Mr. White, Mr. Orange, Mr. Pink, Mr. Brown, Mr. Blue, and Mr. Blonde), they all wear identical black suits, shades, and have their (mostly dark) hair slicked back in order to make identification more difficult for witnesses.
  • The Comically Serious: The voice-over of the K-BILLY DJ. His lines are written like the typical radio jive, but — played as he is by Steven Wright — the DJ sounds bored out of his brains delivering them. Which is the joke.
  • Cop Killer: None of the guys really care about a dead cop or two.
    Mr. Pink: I tagged a couple of cops. Did you kill anybody?
    Mr. White: A few cops.
    Mr. Pink: Any real people?
    Mr. White: No, just cops.
  • Covers Always Lie: "Five total strangers team up for the perfect crime." There are actually six of them: White, Orange, Blonde, Pink, Blue, and Brown. Not to mention Joe and Nice Guy Eddie, who technically bring the count to eight.
  • Cowardly Yellow: "Mr. Pink" objects to the color he gets for a codename, saying it makes him sound like a pussy. Joe Cabot, his boss, retorts that he should be thankful he's not "Mr. Yellow".
  • Creator Cameo: Quentin Tarantino plays Mr. Brown, and producer Lawrence Bender plays one of the cops chasing Mr. Pink.
  • Cult Soundtrack: As with most of Tarantino's soundtracks. "Little Green Bag" by the George Baker Selection and "Stuck In The Middle With You" by Stealers Wheel especially gained new popularity and even Pop-Cultural Osmosis thanks to this picture.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everybody gets their shot in at one point, but especially Mr. Pink (notably including the "world's smallest violin" bit).
  • Death by Disfigurement: The cop is killed after he receives facial scars and loses an ear, even pointing out that he's "deformed" before he's killed.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Mr. White is the clear protagonist of the first part of the film, but drops out of the story for a while, during which Mr. Orange seems to shift to the protagonist role. The climax of the film revolves around the two of them, and thus they share the spotlight.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Albeit with a twist. Mr. White, who is holding Mr. Orange, attempts to shoot Orange while he's holding him, though the movie ends before it becomes clear whether he succeeds or not.
  • Downer Ending: All of the sympathetic characters have died by the end, including the entire caper crew except for possibly Mr. Pink.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • After shooting down Mr. Blonde, Mr. Orange reveals to Marvin (and the audience) that he is an undercover cop. When he comes back to the warehouse, Mr. White goes to great lengths to protect Mr. Orange, and even finally kills an old, reliable friend to save him.
    • Mr. Orange promises that he won't tell the cops about Mr. White if White gets him to a hospital. But Orange is an undercover cop.
    • Mr. Pink keeps on saying that they should just get out of the warehouse and go into hiding, but goes along with Mr. White anyway. If he'd made good on this, he wouldn't have been arrested.
    • Mr. Blonde went on a killing spree at the diamond store. He's never seen killing anyone onscreen.
    • Marvin swears black and blue that he doesn't know about any setup, even when he's being doused with gasoline. He does know, and even recognises Mr. Orange.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: Here, it's specifically for restraining captured police officers.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Chesterfield cigarettes, a real brand, appear instead of the fictional Red Apple brand that is the go-to cigarette brand in all of Tarantino's later works. Also, no foot shots in this movie.
  • Edgy Backwards Chair-Sitting: Mr. Pink does this during the team briefing scene.
  • Establishing Character Moment: We learn everything we need to know about the main four criminals in the opening diner scene.
    • Mr. Pink refuses to tip the waitress, and explains he'd only do so if she did a fantastic job, showing that he's self-centered, a perfectionist, and has little sympathy for others. He's also very high-strung; he guzzles coffee like a fish, prompting Nice Guy Eddie to tease him that coffee is "the last thing you need."
    • Mr. White gets angry at Mr. Pink's stinginess and passionately explains why waitresses need tips, showing that he's good-natured, a bit of a hot-head who'll go to bat for others, and sympathetic. He's also no-nonsense, cracking that all he retained from the previous Seinfeldian Conversation is "Madonna's big dick coming out of my left ear," and he's the most likely to stand up to Joe; he grabs Joe's notebook away and refuses to give it back.
    • Mr. Blonde jokingly offers to shoot Mr. White for not returning Joe his notebook, hinting at his eventual reveal as a violent psychopath, and establishing his laid-back personality… which he keeps even as he brutally tortures a cop.
    • When Joe asks the crew which one of them didn't tip, Mr. Orange immediately rats Mr. Pink out —- foreshadowing the revelation that he's an undercover cop. Earlier, he's the only one to change his mind and ask for his dollar back after Mr. Pink's ranting.
    • To add to this, both Mr. Brown, and especially Mr. Blue, speak the least of the six characters, fitting their minimal role in the plot. Notably, what part they do have in the conversation is completely irrelevant: Mr. Blue casually makes a mention of Vicki Lawrence's "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia," and Mr. Brown goes on a long, ranting, rambling deconstruction of Madonna's "Like a Virgin."
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Nice Guy Eddie and Joe clearly do love each other, and Eddie flips out when Mr. White points his gun at Joe near the end. Eddie also seems to care about Mr. Blonde too. When Eddie sees Blonde's dead body on the floor, he is noticeably upset and almost on the verge of tears.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Though both are hardened criminals who will kill people if they have no other option, both White and Pink are disgusted by Blonde's pointless killing spree and consider him a psychopath.
    • Subverted by Nice Guy Eddie; while he's quite angry that the robbery turned into a bullet festival, he barely has any reaction when told that his friend Mr. Blonde is the cause of the shooting spree. Upon discovering that Blonde sadistically tortured the cop he kidnapped, he casually executes the cop.
    • Most of the crew are also disgusted at Mr. Pink's refusal to tip the waitress; even Mr. Blonde, the guy who kills and tortures purely for fun, calls him out on it.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect: A villainous version. Mr. Pink deduces that the diamond job was a set-up, and starts asking the real important questions: who tipped off the police to the heist? The only person he can rule out is himself.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The majority of the movie is set during the scant few hours immediately following the heist.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Averted. Mr. Orange, Mr. White, and the cop break down into hysterics when shot or tortured. Not that anyone could blame them.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Mr. Blonde cheerfully cuts off a struggling cop's ear while dancing to "Stuck in the Middle with You." This only serves to amp up how much of a psychopath he is.
  • Fingore: Mr. White advises Mr. Orange to do this if ever faced with an uncooperative civilian during a robbery.
  • Flashback: Several, for most of the main characters. Denied by Tarantino, who claims to hate these scenes being referred to as flashbacks, and prefers to think of it as a particular order that the audience will receive information in, similar to reading a novel. Lending credence to this is the fact that none of the flashback scenes are preceded by a character reminiscing about past events.
  • Flipping the Bird: How Mr. Pink plays the World's Smallest Violin just for the waitresses he refuses to tip —- an eagle-eyed viewer will notice that he rubs his thumb and middle finger together as he does so.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Nice Guy Eddie. Also, all of the robbers have names like "Mr. Pink" and "Mr. Blonde".
  • Foil: Everybody acts as a foil to Mr. White. Whereas Mr. White is a relatively moral guy, Mr. Blonde is a cheerfully amoral psychopath. Whereas Mr. White is governed more by his emotions (as evidenced by his attachment to Orange), Mr. Pink is a logical and professional guy. Whereas Mr. White is very experienced and knowledgeable, Mr. Orange is very inexperienced, which is understandable considering he's an undercover cop.
  • Foreign Remake: The 2002 Kaante and the 2014 Avenged are foreign versions of this film which have the same concept. Kaante has been explicitly noted as having direct Reservoir Dog influences; Tarantino has named it as one of his favorite movies to take influence from one of his own.
    • To some controversy, the film takes a lot of elements from the Hong Kong crime-thriller City on Fire.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Orange's faked flashback foreshadows the ending: in it, a cop repeatedly tells a suspect that he's going to blow him away if he keeps moving to apparently draw a weapon. Another cop tells White the exact same thing as he pulls out his gun to kill Orange.
    • During the dining scene, Orange snitches on Pink by telling Joe Cabot about his philosophy on tipping (that is, "he don't tip"), to the point where Joe straight up tells him to shut up as Pink can talk for himself. Guess who ends up being the rat?.
    • The warehouse, where the majority of the film takes place, is practically empty except for a random selection of coffins.
  • For the Evulz: Mr. Blonde states bluntly that he's going to torture the cop purely because he enjoys it, and he doesn't give a damn about any information the cop may or may not have.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The four main gangsters:
    • Choleric: Mr. Pink, the obsessive perfectionist.
    • Melancholic: Mr. Blonde, the stone-cold, introverted badass with a psychopathic streak.
    • Leukine: Mr. Orange, the naive rookie who remains trusting when he gets in over his head.
    • Sanguine: Mr. White, the charismatic veteran who sticks up for the rookie.
  • Funny Background Event: During the tense standoff between Mr. White and Mr. Blonde, when Mr. Blonde repeats his remark of "Are you gonna bark all day, little doggy, or are you gonna bite?", Mr. Pink facepalms at the overwhelming display of testosterone.
  • Gay Bravado: Between Mr. Blonde and Nice Guy Eddie in the former's introductory chapter.
  • Geek: Mr. Orange. In a flashback, model painting kits and Silver Surfer posters can be seen in his apartment, and he is also knowledgeable about pop culture, like mentioning the Fantastic Four in one scene.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The camera pans away and looks at the ramp while Mr. Blonde torturously cuts off Marvin's ear. However, the aftermath is shown somewhat frequently.
  • Guns Akimbo: Mr. White has a scene where he uses a pair of pistols to shoot some policemen through the windshield of their cruiser.
  • Hollywood Law: Because the movie wouldn't work the way it did if it were true to reality. No police unit is ever going to let an undercover cop actively participate in a large-scale crime with the criminals that they are supposed to bring down such aa robbery, as it can put their life and the life of innocent victims at risk, which is exactly what happened, and undercover officers are supposed to follow very strict protocol if they are forced to engage in such a role. Mr. Orange would certainly have to answer why he tried to carjack the woman which ended up killing her and putting him at risk, if they found out. On top of that, the cops almost certainly would have already raided the hideout upon finding out that an officer was kidnapped by one of the criminals. In short, everything ends up going bad for the police because they didn't do their job properly.
  • Human Shield: Mr. Pink escapes the shootout by using a cop as one; the same cop Mr. Blonde later tortures.
  • I Have a Family: The cop that Mr. Blonde tortures uses this to try to get Mr. Blonde to back off, which, unfortunately for him, doesn't work. The line is actually improv, and made finishing the scene more difficult for Madsen, as at the time he was a new father of a two-year-old son.
  • I Knew There Was Something About You: During the final standoff, Joe tells everyone that Mr. Orange was the one guy that he wasn't 100% on.
  • The Infiltration: Mr. Orange is a cop who has infiltrated Joe's organization.
  • Insists on Being Suspected: Mr. Pink tries explaining this to Mr. White about there being a mole in the gang.
    Mr. Pink: For all I know, you're the rat.
    Mr. White: [offended] For all I know, you're the fucking rat!
    Mr. Pink: All right, now you're using your fucking head!
  • Instant Death Bullet:
    • Famously averted with Mr. Orange throughout the movie, and at the end, Mr. White.
    • Averted with Mr. Brown, who takes a bullet to the head. In an unusually realistic manner, he lives long enough to drive away from the scene of the crime with blood streaming down his face. The wound is clearly playing havoc with his perception and/or cognitive processes, but he does okay until he crashes into another car.
  • Internal Reveal: When Mr. Orange reveals to Mr. White that he is a cop.
  • Ironic Nickname: Nice Guy Eddie is most definitely not actually nice.
  • Irony:
    • The undercover cop is fatally wounded by a random civilian.
    • Mr. Blue, the most professional-looking criminal is among the firsts to die, and the only one to kick the bucket offscreen.
  • It Amused Me: "It amuses me to torture a cop."
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique:
    • This is proposed, but shot down by Nice Guy Eddie. See 2 + Torture = 5 above.
    • Referenced, but never practiced, by Mr. White:
      Now if it's a manager, that's a different story. Managers know better than to fuck around, so if you get one that's giving you static, he probably thinks he's a real cowboy, so you gotta break that son of a bitch in two. If you wanna know something and he won't tell you, cut off one of his fingers. The little one. Then tell him his thumb's next. After that, he'll tell you if he wears ladies' underwear.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Mr. Pink may not be the nicest guy in the world, but he is the first one to point out that the robbery was a set-up, and in general is right about a lot of other things, such as pointing out to Mr. White that he shouldn't have given his name to Mr. Orange on the off chance he is the rat. Mr. Orange is later revealed to be an undercover cop, proving him right.
    • The entire "tipping argument" is this for Mr. Pink. While his beliefs on the issue are rather callous, he's completely right to point out how arbitrary the system is (since it's what allows employers to pay waitresses so poorly, and doesn't apply to other people working in similar jobs).
  • Karma Houdini: Narrowly averted. If you listen closely, you can hear Mr. Pink get caught by the police.
  • Karmic Death: The robbers held a jewellery store hostage and got many people killed. All of them save for one die after the fact. Special emphasis goes to Mr. Blonde's Multiple Gunshot Death, as he had the highest body count.
  • Kick the Dog: Mr. White, Mr. Pink, and Mr. Brown's brutal beatdown of Marvin the cop.
  • Killed Offscreen: Of the two robbers who are revealed to have been killed in the fallout of the jewel store robbery gone wrong, one of them was witnessed by two others (and shown in flashback), but nobody has any clue what happened to Mr. Blue until the end of the movie, when Joe confirms that Blue was killed by the cops.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: After the Establishing Character Moment, the opening credits shows all actors with their names, "and Tim Roth" at the end, hinting that he is not like the others.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: Nice Guy Eddie does this twice:
    • First when he discovers that Mr. Pink doesn't believe in tipping:
      Nice Guy Eddie: Let me just get this straight. You don't ever tip?
    • Later, when he refuses to believe Mr. Orange's explanation for why he had to shoot Mr. Blonde:
      Nice Guy Eddie: Okay, let me just say this out loud, cause I wanna get this straight in my head. You're saying that Mr. Blonde was gonna kill you, and then when we got back he was gonna kill us, take the satchel of diamonds, and scram. I'm right about that, right, that's correct, that's your story?
  • Meaningful Background Event:
    • Mr. Pink's arrest. It takes place off-screen at the exact moment that Mr. Orange confesses to Mr. White that he's an undercover cop.
    • In the scene where Eddie talks on the phone in the car, an orange balloon passes by. That actually wasn't in the script.
  • Meaningful Name/Bilingual Bonus: Joe and 'Nice Guy Eddie' Cabot. Cabot is a slang word for 'dog' in French. See the Word Salad Title entry.
  • Mexican Standoff: Two — one between Mr. Pink and Mr. White when an argument between the two gets heated, which is one of the most famous examples in film history, and another one caps off the film, with Joe holding his gun on the wounded Mr. Orange because he believes Orange is The Mole, Mr. White holding his gun on Joe because he doesn't believe there's a mole, and Eddie holding his gun on Mr. White to defend his dad. Ultimately, the first case winds down with neither man shooting the other, and the second ends with Joe shooting Mr. Orange, Mr. White shooting Joe, and then both he and Eddie shooting one another, though both Mr. Orange and Mr. White survive.
  • Minimalism: The movie doesn't actually show the jewel heist, nor in fact does it show much of anything. With the vast majority of the film set in an empty warehouse that is serving as the gangsters' hideout, we don't get to see the elaborate planning, how exactly it went wrong, or much of the shootouts that ensued; instead, what we get to see is the crooks sitting around discussing the aftermath. The film also has no orchestral score, relying instead on select songs to carry the audience through quiet passages. In fact, it's easy to imagine this as a play.
  • Mirror Monologue: Orange has one before going to meet the group, pumping himself up and assuring himself that the others have no idea he's a cop.
  • Monochrome Casting: The only non-white speaking role goes to a black cop that is not directly involved in the heist or its aftermath. The white robbers talk about characters of a variety of races, though entirely in slurs and stereotypes.
  • Moral Myopia: Mr. White is sickened by the fact that Mr. Blonde killed random innocent civilians just because someone pulled the alarm, yet kills cops without remorse and claims he will easily shoot or harm anyone who gets in his way during an escape.
  • Mutilation Interrogation:
    • During a planning scene for the heist, Mr. White mentions this to Mr. Orange:
      If you wanna know something and he won't tell you, cut off one of his fingers. The little one. Then tell him his thumb's next. After that he'll tell ya if he wears ladies' underwear. I'm hungry. Let's get a taco.
    • Defied by Mr. Blonde in the torture scene. He starts cutting pieces off the cop he captured (Marvin Nash), but he specifically notes beforehand that he doesn't care at all about any information the cop might tell him; he's doing this just for fun.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • We also see a flash of this on Orange's face after he kills the woman who was defending herself against their carjacking. She shot him first, but still, he's a cop who just killed a civilian in the heat of the moment.
    • In the scene where Mr. White kills two policemen, Mr. Orange clearly feels remorse for not being able to stop him.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: Quentin Tarantino has dropped a few hints that this takes place at least a little later in the '90s than when it was released. A notable example includes references in Pulp Fiction to the Vega Brothers having returned from Amsterdam, which had to have happened before Vic took the fall for a crime that sent him inside for a four-year stretch. Given that a 2nd-generation Ford Probe, which debuted in August 1992, appears in Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs cannot take place any earlier than late 1996.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Subverted. The opinionated Mr. Pink (who later turns out to be one of the more levelheaded robbers) doesn't believe in tipping just because "society tells him to," but the rest of the criminals, some of them pretty rough customers, are all united in finding that behavior unacceptable, except an undercover cop.
  • Noble Demon: Mr. White may be the most honorable of the bunch, but he's still a ruthless criminal who will shoot any "dumb motherfucker" in his way to get out clean.
  • Noodle Incident: We see the planning and we see the aftermath, and we get plenty of hints about what went down, but the actual heist itself goes unseen.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The previews make it look like an action-packed thrill ride, but in actuality it's a very slow drama that barely has any action.
  • No Name Given: Mr. Pink, Mr. Brown, Mr. White, and Mr. Blue, although we find out that Mr. White's first name is "Larry". A deleted scene reveals Larry's last name is Dimmick. We also find out that Orange's name is Freddy Newandyke, and that Blonde's real name is Vic Vega.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Mr. Orange/Freddy kills Mr. Blonde to save Marvin's life, only for Marvin to get killed anyway; see All for Nothing. It also leads Nice Guy Eddie to immediately become suspicious of Orange/Freddy. Orange basically wound up blowing his cover just to save Marvin.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Kinda taken to the next level. White takes a bullet trying to convince Joe that Orange is not the rat. Orange feels indebted... problem is, he actually is the rat.
  • Only Sane Man: Mr. Pink spends a lot of time playing this role ("Am I the only fucking professional here!?") as things get more heated between the other thieves. As a reward for his sanity, he's the only one who lives, though it doesn't save him from the cops.
  • Onscreen Chapter Titles: After the prologue, the film is divided into three chapters named after characters ("Mr. White", "Mr. Blonde", and "Mr. Orange").
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: There are a few moments where you can really tell Tim Roth is not American (pay attention to the way he says 'dog' in the commode story), but it becomes very obvious whenever Mr. Orange is in enough agony for it to alter his speech.
  • Orbital Shot: The opening scene at the diner, where the protagonists are having a Seinfeldian Conversation while the camera spins around the table.
  • The Penance: It only really becomes clear after watching it a second time, but by the end of the movie, it's clear that the robbers are actively being injured according to who they've hurt/killed:
    • Mr. Pink is shown shooting a cop in the arm during his escape and is shot non-fatally off-screen.
    • Mr. White kills three cops (including Mr. Orange) and is shot three times.
    • Mr. Blonde (off-screen) goes on a homicidal rampage, killing several innocents, and is shot 12 times by Mr. Orange.
    • Mr. Orange shoots and kills a woman and Mr. Blonde. He is shot twice.
    • Nice Guy Eddie, while not a robber, shoots and kills Marvin Nash. He is shot once by Mr. White.
    • Joe Cabot shoots Mr. Orange once, and is also shot once by Mr. White.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Pink uses the butt of his pistol to smash the window of a car and pull the driver out through the window.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Ethnic slurs abound, and several characters, both sympathetic and unsympathetic, display casual racism and sexism in conversation. They are all Villain Protagonists, after all.
  • Power of Trust: Subverted and played horribly straight in the same action. Orange tells White that he's a cop, obviously upset and feeling indebted due to White having taken a bullet to defend his innocence. White, horrified at the revelation, points his loaded, cocked pistol at his head.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Mr. Pink expresses outrage over Mr. Blonde's killing spree, but it's mostly because the murders weren't "professional," having no practical purpose to getting them closer to their goals. Mr. White expresses his Opposition along more overtly moral grounds.
  • Protectorate: Mr. White is very keen on protecting Mr. Orange, and this strong desire is what leads to a Mexican Standoff, the subsequent deaths of Joe and Nice Guy Eddie, and Mr. White himself getting shot in what appears to be an eventually fatal wound.
  • Psycho for Hire: Mr. Blonde is described as having gone berserk during the robbery, and the other robbers take him to task for being a "psychopath" instead of a "professional." The "ear" scene is one of the most twisted scenes in film history, and during it, he even managed to disturb his own actor, thanks to an ad-lib by his victim. Ultimately deconstructed, as the fact that Blonde is pretty Ax-Crazy leads to far too many problems for his employers than they can handle, and his associates would never have done a job with him if they knew, because someone who enjoys what he does that much is just inherently unpredictable.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "I. Won't. Tell. Them. Anything!"
  • Punk in the Trunk: Nash, the cop that Mr. Blonde grabs as a hostage during the robbery.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: While Mr. Orange's undercover ploy succeeded in bringing down Joe, Eddie, and the rest of the robbers, it led not only to his own slow, agonizing death, but also to a violent botched robbery where multiple civilians and cops died in the process.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The fact that Mr. Brown was able to drive a car some distance and get in some last words after being shot clear through his brain isn't as remarkable as it seems at first; though the bullet played a key part in his demise, any medical professional will tell you it was a lack of medical attention that did him in.
  • Red Herring: Mr. Blue disappears during the heist, and Mr. Pink straight-up questions if he's the rat. Nope, he's dead. Orange is the rat.
  • The Reveal: The undercover cop is Mr. Orange.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The bulk of the main story takes place in an old funeral home. None of the main characters, save for Mr. Pink, make it out alive.
  • Seamless Spontaneous Lie: Mr. Orange is shown practicing tirelessly so that he'll be able to improvise answers when telling his fake bathroom anecdote. When it comes time to tell it and his audience asks for details, he answers their questions flawlessly.
  • Security Cling: Mr. Orange begs Mr. White to hold him, 'cause he's so fucking scared. The latter complies several times.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: The film opens on one about the meaning of "Like a Virgin" and why Mr. Pink doesn't tip waitresses, among other things. Those first two conversations are loaded with double meanings and Foreshadowing, however.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: In the end, not only do the police show up, everyone involved in the heist (besides Mr. Pink) is killed, rendering both the mission of the police (to bring in Joe Cabot and potentially get more information from him in addition to taking him out of the crime syndicate) and the mission of the criminals (to steal the diamonds and get paid) completely moot. All the effort is completely wasted, and the whole thing goes down the toilet.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sole Survivor: Mr. Pink, though he does not escape justice.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • "Stuck in the Middle" plays during the torture sequence.
    • "Coconut" playing over the final credits. Going from "PUT THE GUN DOWN ON THE GROUND!" BAMBAMBAM to Put da lime in da coconut is very strange indeed. It may be an intentional joke, as Mr. Orange has something of a bellyache throughout most of the movie. Further, White has a gun pressed to Orange's head and very obviously pulls the trigger before he's shot down by police and it fades to black, which might be darkly joking that White's bullet was the lime, put into Orange's head (the coconut), and being fatally shot, Orange's bellyache from his bullet wound is officially cured.
  • Spotting the Thread: The fact that the cops showed up immediately when Mr. Blonde started shooting tipped Mr. Pink off that there's a mole in the group.
  • Stock Scream: The infamous Wilhelm scream can be heard as Mr. Pink flees the scene of the crime.
  • The Stoic:
    • Deconstructed with Mr. Blonde. He's an unflappable, perma-cool stoic… because he's also a psychopath.
    • Mr. Blue fits this, considering he barely has any lines.
  • Story Within a Story: Even as Mr. Orange is relating his story about running into four cops in the bathroom with a bag full of drugs, one of the cops in the story is talking about how he nearly blew away someone who was reaching for his license and registration.
    • Both of which are in a story that Mr. Orange is telling… which is in the Mr. Orange story… which is part of the Reservoir Dogs story.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Mr. Blonde gets ventilated as The Reveal that Mr. Orange is the cop.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: Intentionally utilized with the character of Mr. White. Most of the film's first half is told from his perspective, and he comes off as a much more sympathetic and heroic character than both Mr. Pink and Mr. Blonde as a result. Later on, however, we get to see flashbacks from other characters' perspectives that show him to be a cold-blooded killer and arguable misogynist. He's still more sympathetic than most of his accomplices, but it becomes clear that he is also not the straightforward Anti-Villain he was first presented as either.
  • Team Power Walk: The opening credits intercalate the gang walking with closeups of the characters, to the tune of "Little Green Bag". This is probably one of the most famous images from the movie.
  • Ten Little Murder Victims: The film's main plot, after a fashion. A couple of criminals are holed up in a warehouse after their attempted robbery went horribly wrong thanks to a set-up, and they have to figure out which of them is the rat.
  • Theme Naming: Mr. Orange, Mr. White, Mr. Pink, Mr. Brown... you get the idea. It's even lampshaded by Mr. Pink and Joe.
    Joe: No, no, no. Tried it [letting people pick their own names] before, doesn't work. You end up with four guys all fighting over who gets to be Mr. Black. Nobody knows anybody else, so nobody wants to back down. No way. I pick. You're Mr. Pink. Be thankful you're not Mr. Yellow.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: Meta example — the film's violence caused Wes Craven to walk out in disgust.
  • Torture Always Works: Averted; despite being beaten and having petrol poured on him, uniformed officer Marvin Nash doesn't give away that Mr. Orange is an undercover police officer. Nash knew who Orange was and recognized him on sight, having met him before at another police officer's party. This also gets discussed prior by Nice Guy Eddie when he points out that even if the guys do get the cop to talk, he'll start telling them outright nonsense if they beat him enough just to get a break.
  • Torture Is Ineffective: According to Eddie, not that Mr. Blonde actually cares.
  • Tranquil Fury: In spite of being a psychopath, Mr. Blonde never raises his voice, and has a perpetually casual, yet irritated air about him. He was relaxed enough after the botched robbery to stop for a post-shootout snack with a cop in his trunk.
  • Trunk Shot: This is the first movie Tarantino used it in, in fact. Here, it appears when Mr. Blonde reveals that he's kidnapped a cop and brought him along to the warehouse.
  • Tuneless Song of Madness: Mr. Blonde's famous use of "Stuck In The Middle With You" while torturing the policeman, illustrating his utter psychopathy.
  • Two Words: I Can't Count: Mr. Pink says the line "Two words: learn to fucking type."
  • The 'Verse: Word of God is that this movie takes place in the same universe as Pulp Fiction and True Romance. Vic Vega/Mr. Blonde is Vincent Vega's brother. Mr. White's reference to pulling jobs with Alabama is a reference to the original ending of True Romance in which Clarence dies and Alabama goes into a life of crime. The briefcase in Pulp Fiction was originally supposed to hold the diamonds from this movie's heist before Tarantino changed it to an Unreveal.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: Mr. Orange gets two: one just after killing Mr. Blonde, and again after Mr. White gets shot and seriously wounded defending Mr. Orange from accusations of being the rat.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • When Eddie gets involved in the Mexican Standoff between himself, his dad, and Mr. White, his composure slowly breaks down, and finally he screams at Mr. White to stop pointing his gun at his dad before shooting him.
    • Mr. White when he finds out that his newfound friend —- for whom he just killed a well-trusted friend and defended to the very last —- was actually a policeman all along.
  • Villain Protagonist: Pretty much everybody, as the main characters display Black-and-Gray Morality at best, although White is a Noble Demon and Orange is arguably good, being a cop.
  • Visual Gag: The warehouse, where the majority of the film takes place, is practically empty… except for a random selection of coffins.
  • Wham Line: "Listen to me, Marvin Nash. I'm a cop."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Mr. Pink makes off with the suitcase, and we never learn what happened to him, although background noises as Mr. White cradles Mr. Orange suggest he is shot and possibly arrested. The mysterious suitcase in Pulp Fiction was originally supposed to have contained a cache of diamonds, which has led many fans to speculate that it's the same suitcase as in this movie (which would mean that someone managed to sell the diamonds sometime after the robbery, or Mr. Pink did manage to escape the cops and sold off the diamonds).
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Mr. Pink asks Mr. White if he had to kill anyone. White admits to killing a few cops, to which Pink replies, "Any real people?" The response: "No, just cops."
  • Whip Pan: One is used when Mr. Orange is telling his bathroom anecdote (encountering the cops in a restroom while he's toting marijuana).
  • Wild Mass Guessing: In-universe, Mr. Brown expounds upon his unique perspective on "Like a Virgin"; specifically, his theory that it's actually about how the pain the main character of the song, a sex maniac, feels during her recent act of sex is the same as the first time she had sex. "Hence, 'Like a Virgin'."
  • Word Salad Title: "Reservoir Dogs" comes from Tarantino's video store boss referring to Au revoir les enfants as "that reservoir dogs movie." Tarantino simply liked the phrase, and it has no official meaning in regards to the film, which features zero real dogs (the only one we see is in a false recollection by Mr. Orange) and zero reservoirs. Unless you count it as a pun on "dam(n) sons of bitches".
  • World's Smallest Violin: Mr. Pink plays the world's smallest violin for the underpaid waitresses he refuses on principle to tip.
    Mr. Pink: You know what this is? The world's smallest violin, playing just for the waitresses.
  • Would Not Hit a Girl: Seems to be Mr. White's policy, as he prefers to shut up any women who give him grief during the raid by pretending he's going to hit them in the face rather than actually doing so.
  • Wring Every Last Drop out of Him: Mr. Orange gets shot early on and spends the rest of his screen time (barring flashbacks) dying in agony until he's finally shot again near the end. This is deliberate, since he's The Mole, and desperately hoping for the sting operation he's a part of to go successfully.


Reservoir Dogs

The trope namer, courtesy of Mr Pink who doesn't tip.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

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Main / WorldsSmallestViolin

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