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Film / Ted

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Yeah, he's totally cute until he hires four hookers.

Ted is a 2012 comedy film directed, co-written and co-produced by Seth MacFarlane and stars himself (well, his voice), Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, and is MacFarlane's directorial debut. It focuses on John Bennett, a little boy who receives a teddy bear as a gift and wishes for him to come to life. As luck would have it, his wish is granted on a falling star, and the bear, aptly named Ted, does in fact gain sentience and grows up alongside John as his best friend. 27 years later, they're still together as roommates and still somewhat on the immature slacker side. This is a problem for John's girlfriend Lori Collins (Kunis), who feels that Ted is a poor influence on John, while Ted feels she's going to come between their friendship...

He's right, of course. That's what women do in these romantic comedies with foul-mouthed wastrel teddy bears.

A sequel, Ted 2, was released on June 26, 2015. As of April 2022, a prequel series is in development for Peacock with McFarlane set to return as writer, co-showrunner, executive producer, director, and the voice of Ted.

Tropes contained in the film include:

  • Abhorrent Admirer:
    • Donny and Robert towards Ted.
    • Rex toward Lori.
  • Abusive Parents: Donny's father made him sleep in a hammock and got him a rake for Christmas so he wouldn't have to clean up the front yard by hand.
  • Actor Allusion:
  • Adam Westing: Sam Jones does this.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Rex notes Lori's ambiguous ethnicity, hazarding that she's Baltic or Czech. Kunis was born in Ukraine to Jewish parents.
  • As Himself: Norah Jones. Sam Jones and Tom Skerritt, who are referenced frequently, also appear in person.
  • Astronomic Zoom: The movie begins with a zoom into the Universal logo to zero in on where the hero lives.
  • Author Appeal: It's not hard to notice MacFarlane's love of big band swing in the soundtrack. There's also a ton of Shout Outs to pop culture from The '80s.
  • Badass Adorable: Ted, obviously, being a teddy bear and all.
  • Bag of Kidnapping: Donny and Robert do this to Ted twice, first when they snatch him from his apartment and later when they make their escape from John and Lori.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Ted during his job interview at a supermarket insults the manager Frank Stevens. Rather than the latter asking Ted to leave he hires him much to Tedís dismay. Similarly it seemed Frank was about to fire Ted (and possibly alert the police) he had sex with Tami Lynn. Instead he only promotes him, angering Ted even more. Once more Ted is caught having oral sex with Tami Lynn according to the narrator only to be promoted to store manager.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Ted manages to have sex with a number of women despite not having a penis. He's written several angry letters to Hasbro about it:
  • Beary Funny: Ted is a foul-mouthed, wisecracking teddy bear.
  • Berserk Button:
    • John hates when people say "cunt," though he seems to be more scared of the word than angered by it.
    • When John said he wished he had gotten a "Teddy Rux-fuckin'-pin" for Christmas instead, Ted loses it.
    • Donny hates it when someone curses in front of his son.
  • Be Yourself: Even though John and Lori were happy together at first it becomes apparent their relationship is on the rocks not just because of Ted but because John simply canít be the person Lori wants him to be. For example John simply loved being stoned and drinking none of which Lori shares with him and John only went with Lori to a black tied party with her just to please her. John even lampshades this in the sequel to Sam.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Rex, Donny, and Robert.
  • Bilingual Bonus: During the montage of news reports about Ted coming to life, we get a clip from a Japanese news station. The female news reporter calls Ted an usagi (rabbit), causing the male reporter to slap her and call her a baka (idiot).
  • Blatant Lies: John claims his ringtone is from The Notebook. It's actually "The Imperial March" from The Empire Strikes Back.
  • Born of Magic: Ted was just a normal teddy bear whose owner wished for him to come to life. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the realistic consequences followed.
  • Bowdlerise: The Japanese version premiered a PG-12 version of Ted in July so that younger audiences could watch, toning down and cutting out the film's more raunchy parts. However, the uncut R-15 version is still available for the older audience to see.
  • A Boy and His X: Rather, it's a man and his teddy bear since John and Ted grew up together.
  • Brick Joke:
    • The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue states that Rex died of Lou Gehrig's disease. Earlier in the film, John says to Rex that he hopes he gets Lou Gehrig's disease.
    • At the beginning of the movie, John suggests that Guy is part of a "gay beat-up club", to which Guy says, "Yeah, maybe I'm gay or whatever, I don't really know". Later in the movie, at Ted's party, Guy shows up and introduces his new boyfriend.
    • After sort-of chewing out the late-to-work John, John's boss mentions (as evidence of his success) being a personal acquaintance of Tom Skerritt. At the end, he is seen with Skerritt at John and Lori's wedding. Then Skerritt whispers, "My daughter had better still be alive, you sick son of a bitch" to him.
  • Butt-Monkey: John as a child. Even the Jewish kid everyone bullied hated him.
  • Came Back Wrong: Ted seems to be this way after Lori wishes him back to life due to stuffing being put in the wrong places. Subverted in that he was faking as a joke. "Yoah magicuh wish wuhked! Yeah, I mean, you know, when you sewed me up, you pu' some schtuffing in da wrong places, sho I'm, I'm a li'l fucked up, but wiw you take cayuh of me fo-evoh and evoh?"
  • The Cameo: Ryan Reynolds as Guy's gay lover. Also Norah Jones, Sam J. Jones and Tom Skerritt as themselves. Ted Danson also appears briefly, reminiscing about his years on Cheers.
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • Ted is voiced by Seth MacFarlane. This is lampshaded when Ted says he doesn't sound like Peter Griffin.
    • Lori is played by Meg from the same show, and John's mom in the prologue is played by Lois from said show.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When Ted is kidnapped, and Donny unplugs the phone in the middle of Ted's desperate call to John, John and Lori have no means of finding out where Ted is being held. But then John remembers that earlier, Donny gave him his address and phone number should he decide to sell Ted.
  • Chewing the Scenery: "NO! YOU! CAN'T! HAVE! MY! TEDDY BEEEAAAR!!"
  • Climbing Climax
  • Closet Key: Jared.
  • Country Matters: John hates the c-word so much that it seems to physically pain him.
  • Curbstomp Battle:
    • Robert is in the receiving end of John's fist and goes down with a thud.
    • Though Ted takes a few lumps (and it's more a Sissy Fight than anything), it's inevitable they couldn't resist having John getting his ass handed to him by a cute little teddy bear.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ted. He's voiced by Seth MacFarlane, after all.
  • Deconstructive Parody: You know how as a child, you probably wished that your favorite toy would come to life? This is what happens when the wish comes true, and then followed you into adulthood.
  • Demoted to Extra: John's co-workers Alix and Tanya's sideplot is omitted from the film's final cut.
  • Deus ex Machina: How Ted is resurrected. A guilty Lori wishes on a shooting star, which seems to be just as powerful as a little boy's Christmas wish.
  • Dinky Drivers: Ted drives John's car using built-up pedals.
  • Disney Death: Ted himself at the end.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Lori tearfully kicking John out of their home after she catches him at a party with Ted is very like when a person is caught having an affair.
  • Dramatic Wind: When John meets Sam Jones.
  • Fanservice:
  • Fear of Thunder: John and Ted. They have a special "thunder buddies" song. John gets over it around the end of the movie, noticeably sitting still while Ted is dead as lightning flashes outside the house onto him with accompanying thunder.
  • Five-Finger Fillet: Ted does this with a guy at the drunken party and eventually stabs the man's hand.
    Ted: Well, you never shoulda trusted me, I'm on drugs!
  • Former Child Star: Ted was media sensation when he first came to life, but then everyone got used to him and stopped caring. Now he's a lowly grocery store cashier who spends all of his free time doing drugs and having sex with prostitutes.
  • Friend Versus Lover: John has to choose between Lori and Ted.
  • Genre Shift: The first eight-or-so minutes before the title sequence plays out like a typical family fantasy movie, with the only clue to the Genre Shift being the Lemony Narrator. And then both protagonists grow up...
  • Gift of Song: In an attempt to win his girlfriend Lori back, John goes onstage at a Norah Jones concert and sings the song "All Time High" from Octopussy. It's shown to be a rather embarrassing and pathetic stunt on John's end and he gets booed offstage, but Lori appreciates the thought enough to reconcile with him.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals:
    • Inverted in that Lori is the one who wants to get rid of Ted, while the people who want to kidnap him are male. The general public seems to be about even in their interest in a living teddy bear.
    • A shared image that circled the internet at the time of the movie joked about how males were lining up to see a movie about a teddy bear, whereas women were lining up to see a movie about strippers, Magic Mike, which had been released at the same time.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Donny forbids his son to cuss.
  • Groin Attack:
    • The hotel room fight between Ted and John ends with a TV set falling onto John's crotch.
    • Ted throws a cordless landline set at Donny's crotch when he tries to catch him in the bathroom.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Ted gets ripped in half thanks to a combination of rough treatment by Donny and a large tear he gets on his midsection while escaping.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In-universe example. During a disco in 2008, when John first met Lori, his comment on the song was, "Chris Brown can do no wrong!".
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Ted and John.
  • Hollywood New England: Both John and Ted are this, even though Walhberg is actually from Boston and MacFarlane is from Connecticut.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: John attempting to sing "All Time High." In reality, Wahlberg was a rapper before he was an actor.
  • I Can Change My Beloved: Lori thinks this about John. This ends up causing their divorce in the sequel.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
    • Ted finally realizes that John will always be a little boy as long as he has his teddy bear with him... and made his peace with Lori that he will leave their lives forever if only she would forgive John for his final childish screw-up.
    • John does a variant of this: while Lori hasn't found someone else, he recognizes his responsibility for the events that led to their break-up and wants to at least part on good terms.
    • Lori also: In the end, she recognizes Ted as an essential part of John's and her life, and wishes him back.
  • Inhumanable Alien Rights: Ted never seems to be studied, and he claims he's a U.S. citizen. The fact he can find legitimate employment seems to indicates that to be true. Though, in the end, Ted was torn in half, and all that came out was stuffing, so maybe the scientists figured out early there really was nothing to study.
  • Jerkass: Rex.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: A few:
    • Ted while partly to blame John and Lori broke up after inviting John to his housewarming party was right that John canít take any responsibility in his life.
    • While a creeping stalker Rex wasnít exactly wrong telling Lori she needs a mature relationship particularly as John still hangs out with a teddy bear and acting as a man child.
    • Donny may be a bad guy but even he of all people knows you should never swear in front of children.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ted, but pretty much everyone aside from the villains are this to an extent.
  • Karma Houdini: Donny faces no consequences for kidnapping Ted. He does get arrested for kidnapping a plush toy, but is let off the hook because of how stupid that sounds.
  • Kavorka Man: Ted had sex with numerous attractive women despite being, well, a teddy bear. With no penis.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Exaggerated. The film opens up with a group of neighborhood kids beating up a Jewish kid because it's Christmas Eve. When young John approaches asking if he can play, they all tell him to get lost, including the Jewish kid.
  • Lemony Narrator: Patrick Stewart makes several snarky insults at movies and celebrities in between moments of eccentricity.
    Now if there's one thing you can be sure of, it's that nothing is more powerful than a young boy's wish. (Beat) Except an Apache Helicopter. An Apache Helicopter has machine guns and missiles. It is an unbelievably impressive complement of weaponry. An absolute death machine.
  • Leno Device: Ted appears on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson after being revealed to the world as a living teddy bear.
  • Living Toys: Deconstructed. A lot of the real life consequences of this potentially occurring do happen, mostly concerning widespread media coverage.
  • Make a Wish: It's a childhood wish that starts the story and it's an adult one that saves the day.
  • Manchild: The film is about John's inability to grow up in general, but he has a few instances of actual childish behavior:
    • He's still afraid of thunder through most of the film and needs to sing a song to help him cope with it.
    • He cowers behind a column while Lori cleans up a turd on the floor.
    • He grabs his ears and says, "Ow!" when someone says "cunt" in his presence.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Ted's name refers to the fact that he's a teddy bear and is a less diminutized version of "Teddy," indicating that he's an adult.
    • Rex is a spoiled child with a name meaning "king."
  • Mood Whiplash: This movie can shift pretty violently between melodrama and stoner comedy. And at Ted's party, the mood jerks from joyful exuberance, to a terrifying losing fight against a knife-wielding Ming, and then back to good-time partying within the span of a single minute.
  • Mundane Fantastic: Ted is treated as a normal person who just happens to be a teddy bear (much like Brian Griffin on Family Guy). After 25 years, he's now a faded celebrity as the novelty has mostly worn off.
  • Mythology Gag: Rex has been holding his fart while with Lori, like Martha Stewart did in the Family Guy episode "Mr. Griffin Goes to Washington".
    • Throw in the fact that quite a few significant voice actors from Family Guy have notable roles in this film.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Ted is about to be kidnapped.
    Donny: Hello, Ted.
    Ted: Fuck.
  • Only Sane Man: Poor Lori...
  • Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?: In a scene where John and Lori are making out on the couch, she asks: "Is that a Flash Gordon ray gun,or are you just happy to see me?" John pulls out a Flash Gordon ray gun and pretends to fire it at her.
  • Person as Verb: "Well someone had to Joan Crawford that kid."
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Ted.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Lori doesn't recognize "The Imperial March" from Star Wars (which is her ringtone on John's phone). Well, she never did go see the movie.
    • She believes John when he says that it's from The Notebook, indicating that she hasn't seen that film either.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: When Ted tells John he saw Lori with another man, John thinks he's just making an excuse for the two of them (John and Ted) to get back together and tells him to get out. Ted tells him he's acting like a cock and that he's blaming him for something he did to himself and that Lori was right; John is a manchild incapable of taking responsibility for anything that goes on in his life. At least Ted has a reason for being irresponsible: "I don't have to! I'm a fucking Teddy Bear!"
  • Recycled Premise: Ted becoming a media sensation that the world got used to was originally going to happen to Roger in American Dad!, but they decided to take his character in a different direction.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Ted gets away with grabbing boobs in public! Cos he's just sooo cuuuuute!
  • Room Full of Crazy: Donny's living room wall is completely covered in old newspaper and magazine clippings of Ted.
  • Running Gag:
    • Ted does something that blantantly violates the rules of his job, insults his boss when he confronts him about it and end up being promoted on the spot.
    • John and Ted's fascination with Flash Gordon.
    • People bragging that they had their picture taken with Tom Skeritt.
  • Self-Serving Memory: John's version of his first meeting with Lori.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The way John remembers his first meeting with Lori is almost a shot for shot remake of Stryker and Elaine's first encounter in Airplane!.
    • Shout outs to Flash Gordon become major plot points.
    • When Ted reaches for his ear when he escapes Robert's room, a snippet of the Indiana Jones theme plays.
    • Ted mentions that he looks like "that robot from Aliens", referencing when Bishop gets ripped in half at the end. Earlier, he plays Five-Finger Fillet with another man's hand in another apparent reference to the character.
    • John's mention of a "gay beat-up club" is remniscent of Fight Club, which is about an underground fighting club and has some homoerotic undertones.
    • In one scene Mark Wahlberg's character is reading the Tintin album Destination Moon.
  • The Slacker: John and Ted.
  • Smug Snake: Rex.
  • So Bad, It's Good: In-universe with Flash Gordon, at least to John and Ted.
  • Springtime for Hitler: Ted tries to bomb his job interview at the grocery store deliberately. It doesn't go as planned:
    Manager: You think you've got what it takes?
    Manager: Nobody's ever spoken to me like that before.
    Ted: That's 'cause everyone's mouth is usually full of your wife's box.
    Manager: You're hired.
    Ted: Shit.
    • And later:
    Manager: You had sexual intercourse with a co-worker on top of the produce that we sell to the public?
    Ted: I fucked her with a parsnip last week, and I sold the parsnip to a family with four small children.
    Manager: ... That took guts. We need guts. I'm promoting you.
    Ted: ... You got a lot of problems, don'tcha?
  • Staggered Zoom: On John's face when he finds out who is going to be at Ted's party.
  • Stalker Shrine: Donny and Robert have a shrine of Ted in their house.
  • Stalker Without a Crush: Donny and Robert towards Ted.
  • Starring Special Effects
  • The Stoner: Getting high is a common hobby of John and Ted. Later on, they even try cocaine.
  • Stoner Flick: This is more of Stoner Flick than anything, as many stoners enjoy watching cartoons while high.
  • Straight Gay: Guy is this, and possibly his boyfriend, or you know, whatever, I don't really know.
  • Subverted Kids' Show: Tying in with the theme of growing up the film presents in the opening.
  • Take That!:
    • Patrick Stewart's jab at Superman Returns at the end. This might be motivated by Bryan Singer leaving the X-Men Film Series series (where Stewart plays Professor X) to make the film.
    • "The ladies and I were just watching Jack and Jill. Adam Sandler plays a guy and his sister and it's just— awful. It's unwatchable. But they're hookers, so it's fine."
    • The narration claims that the stupid, evil child Robert grew up to be Taylor Lautner (even though the film takes place in 2012).
    • Ted has a diatribe where he calls women from Boston fat, stupid sluts.
    • "Whether you're Corey Feldman, Frankie Muniz or Justin Bieber, eventually, nobody gives a shit."
    • During John's horrible performance of a song for Lori, Ted remarks that it's still a better performance than Katy Perry.
    • One of the shows that Ted and John watch while high is SpongeBob SquarePants.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Ted for John. He repeatedly talks John into doing really stupid things that jeopardize his relationship with Lori. John calls him out on it later in the movie.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Yeah, let a teddy bear who is simultaneously high off of cocaine and drunk give you a Five-Finger Fillet. Ted has a point when he says the guy never should have trusted him.
  • Tranquil Fury: When Ted and John have a big argument that ends in a fight, Ted reaches the Rage-Breaking Point by simply lunging himself onto John to beat him up, and is pretty quiet throughout the whole fight.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Played for Laughs. Ted's lecherous behavior at work and his audacious responses to his manager's reprimands gets him repeatedly promoted. The Epilogue reveals that he was later caught eating potato salad off of his girlfriend's bare bottom. He was promoted to store manager.
    Manager: You were found having sexual intercourse with a coworker, on top of the produce we sell to our customers.
    Ted: I fucked her with a parsnip last week. And then I sold the parsnip to a family with four small children.
    Manager: That took guts. We need guts. I'm promoting you.
  • Unmasqued World: Everyone knows that Ted is alive to the point where he made an appearance on The Tonight Show.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Ted himself.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: After 27 years, nobody is surprised that a living teddy bear exists.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: John and Ted.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue:
    • John and Lori get married.
    • Ted finally accepts having a life of his own and continues his relationship with Tami-Lynn. He also gets promoted as manager of the grocery store he works at after being caught one day eating potato salad off of Tami-Lynn's bare bottom.
    • Sam Jones attempts to restart his actor career and moves into a studio apartment he shares with Brandon Routh, who starred in Superman Returns, or as the narrator calls it the "god-awful Superman movie".
    • Lori's boss, Rex, gives up his pursuit on her and falls into a depression, later dying of Lou Gehrig's disease.
    • Donny gets arrested by the Boston Police Department for kidnapping Ted. However, they are forced to release him after realizing how ridiculous and unrealistic the situation is, all because Ted is still a plush toy.
    • As for Robert, Donny's son, he hires a personal trainer, loses a significant amount of weight and goes on to become Taylor Lautner.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Thunder for both John and Ted.
  • Would Hurt a Child: John says, "Well someone had to Joan Crawford that kid," about Robert, a spoiled psychopath.
  • "YEAH!" Shot: For Ted and Sam Jones at the end, just like in Flash Gordon.


Video Example(s):



Yes, even a teddy bear can drive a car--regardless how good he is at it.

How well does it match the trope?

4.83 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / DinkyDrivers

Media sources: