The Big Lebowski is a Cult Classic directed by The Coen Brothers. It's a bit hard to describe, but let's call it a Film Noir parody. The film was released on March 6, 1998.
Jeff Bridges stars as a lazy and useless slacker named Jeffrey Lebowski, who prefers to be known as "The Dude". One night, a pair of thugs break into his house, dunk him in the toilet, and pee on his rug, mistaking him for a local millionaire, also named Jeffrey Lebowski (David Huddleston, the eponymous "Big" Lebowski). Said millionaire, who denies compensation for the aforementioned rug, ends up recruiting the Dude to help in the negotiations for his kidnapped wife, Bunny (Tara Reid), and that's when the plot takes off.
This being a Coen Brothers movie, though, the plot isn't what's important. The driving force of the movie is the bunch of various bizarre characters, almost all of whom seem to come from different movies.
Despite being a disappointment at the box office and initially getting a mixed reception from critics, The Big Lebowski has become one of the biggest cult classics in modern film history, to the point that it has a yearly festival dedicated to it, both in America and England. Critics nowadays also look upon it far more kindly as a modern comedy classic.
In 2019, John Turturro reprised his role and directed a spinoff called The Jesus Rolls, a Foreign Remake of 1970s French film Les Valseuses.
Well, sir, it's these tropes I had. They really tied the page together:
- 20 Minutes into the Past: The movie takes a period film approach to the events of the early nineties, with the Persian Gulf War building in the background, but was released just seven years after said war.
- Absurdism: One of the more triumphant modern-day examples, full of offbeat comedy and convoluted plot twists that turn out to signify nothing much in particular. The latter elements are one of several ideas cribbed from The Big Sleep, which the film is named after and to which it serves as a very loose homage. The film also shares some other aspects of the movement, including quirky, repetitive but still naturalistic dialogue and the portrayal of established institutions as empty and corrupt. The Dude himself can be and has been held up as something of an Anti-Nihilist hero: lazy, unmotivated, and bound to no higher purpose, but still kind, loyal, and open to endless possibilities. There's also the random swerve into a musical...
- Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: The Dude suffers multiple home invasions and, getting kinda sick of it, starts to nail a piece of wood to the floor and props a chair between it and the door. It is immediately revealed that the door opens outwards instead of inwards. And later in the film, he trips over it.
- Actor Allusion: Mixed with Mythology Gag and Production Posse:
- Detective Da Fino, the PI hired to find Bunny Lebowski and played by Jon Polito, expresses his admiration of The Dude's apparent playing one side against the other throughout the movie. In Miller's Crossing, Jon Polito plays a mob boss who is victim to and absolutely hates a double-cross.
- Walter's oft-repeated line "shut the fuck up Donny!" is precisely written because Buscemi's character wouldn't shut up in Fargo.
- John Turturro played a paederast in a play called Mi Puta Vida, which the Coens said directly inspired his character here.
- Walter's home security business works under the slogan "Peace of Mind". In Barton Fink, John Goodman's character says he sells peace of mind.
- Peter Stormare's character sits in the diner with the group of nihilists and all of them order pancakes. His character in Fargo was very insistent on getting pancakes as well.
- Jeff Bridges wears the same baseball t-shirt in The Fisher King.
- An Aesop: Although it might seem to just be a random, absurdist farce, the movie ultimately reinforces a pretty clear message of "take it easy and don't sweat unnecessarily over things". Most of the trouble for the Dude kicks off when he forgoes his usual laid-back approach to things and swipes the Big Lebowski's rug in retribution for his own being soiled by the goons who were hunting down the Big Lebowski. He later lampshades this at a point where things have become particularly perilous for him, bemoaning that "I could just be sitting here with pee stains on my rug" instead of having to deal with all the chaos.
- Affectionate Parody: The plot is sort of a meandering gonzo take on Raymond Chandler-style noir detective stories, in particular, The Big Sleep. The Coens have produced their fair share of straightforward examples of the genre, so it's definitely an affectionate one.
- The Alleged Car: The Dude's Torino increasingly becomes this. It wasn't exactly a royal chariot to begin with, but over the course of the film, it is stolen and trashed by a fifteen-year-old, used as a toilet, crashed by the Dude (twice), beaten with a crowbar, and finally set on fire.
- All Germans Are Nazis: The Jewish convert Walter automatically assumes that the Germans are Nazis and that nothing ever changes. When the Dude insists that they're nihilists, Walter notes that that would be worse, since "say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, at least it's an ethos." In the end, though, he calls one of the Nihilists an antisemite, so he apparently hasn't given up on the idea.
- All There in the Script: In an early draft of the script, The Dude's source of income was revealed. He was an heir to the inventor of the Rubik's Cube. It was Joel Coen's idea to drop this and never say.
- Ambiguous Situation: What The Big Lebowski's supposed role in the kidnapping ultimately amounts to. Although Dude's theory that Lebowski used Bunny's "kidnapping" as an excuse to embezzle money is very plausible, it's never outright confirmed by any of the related parties. The closest thing to any form of solid evidence is The Big Lebowski's reaction to Dude and Walter's accusation. He doesn't seem fazed nor does he even bother denying it, but instead simply counters with a "your word against mine" retort.
- Anaphora: The Malibu Police Chief lists every quality he detests about the Dude, starting and ending each sentence with the same words.I don't like your jerk-off name.
I don't like your jerk-off face.
I don't like your jerk-off behaviour.
And, I don't like you. Jerk-off.
- Answers to the Name of God: The Jesus certainly does.The Dude: Jesus.
Jesus: You said it, man. Nobody fucks with the Jesus.
- Antagonist Title: The protagonist is the Dude (although his surname is indeed Lebowski). The other one, the "Big" Lebowski, is one of several antagonists in the film.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Without the verbalization; after another home invasion where The Dude's johnson is threatened by a nihilist ferret (which the Dude mistakenly believes to be a marmot).Walter: Also, let's not forget — let's not forget, Dude — that keeping wildlife, an amphibious rodent, for, uh, domestic, you know, within the city — that ain't legal either.
The Dude: What are you, a fucking park ranger now?
- Artistic License – Gun Safety: Walter is a walking example of this trope, despite supposedly serving in Vietnam, and presumably having been trained in gun handling. Notable examples include threatening someone else with a Colt M1911A1, and, in doing so, racking the slide with his finger on the trigger. There is also the incident with the disguised Uzi submachine gun while Walter and the Dude were trying to make the handoff at the bridge.
- And yet, when Walter's done holding someone at gunpoint over an alleged bowling foul, he unloads the pistol by removing the magazine and then racking the slide to clear the chamber. Even so, rather than point it in a safe direction while doing this, he instead points it at half of the people in the bowling alley.
- Ashes to Crashes: Walter misjudges the wind, and ends up pouring out the ashes from an urn all over the Dude. The Dude appears to be calm at first, but it ultimately becomes a rant-inducing slight.
- Ash Face: The Dude's face gets covered in ash after Walter ends up pouring out Donny's ashes in the wrong direction.
- Ass Shove: The Jesus threatens to do this to Walter with Walter's Colt .45 and yank the trigger "'til it goes click" if Walter ever tries jamming a gun in Jesus's face.
- Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The absurd fiasco of Donny's funeral improbably turns into pathos as a regretful Walter gives the Dude a hug, which the latter grudgingly accepts.
- Babies Ever After: "I happen to know that there's a Little Lebowski on the way." Weirdly subverted, though, since Maude makes it clear that she wants nothing to do with the Dude after the child is born, and just wanted him to impregnate her so she wouldn't have to run into the father of her child everywhere she went. It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context.
- Bears Are Bad News: "Sometime you eat the b'ar, and sometimes, well... he eats YOU!"
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Walter got what he wanted. Donny finally shut the fuck up.
- Berserk Button: The cab driver freaks out and bodily throws the Dude out of his cab just for insulting The Eagles.
- Bilingual Bonus:
- More often than not, the lyrics of the Gipsy Kings' version of the already surreal "Hotel California" are weird or make little sense in Spanish. The song tries so hard to be literal that it becomes a Translation Train Wreck. A very fitting theme for this kind of movie.
- The car that Bunny drives has a license plate that reads "LAPIN", which is bunny in French.
- Bittersweet Ending: The Stranger argues for this right at the end of the movie. Donny is dead and the Dude and Walter will never be able to prove the Big Lebowski's guilt, meaning all they have to do now is contemplate their lives before the big game. And the Dude doesn't even get his rug back. However, we hear there's a little Lebowski on the way, albeit one that won't have the Dude's involvement in his upbringing. In addition, Big Lebowski gets traumatized by Walter for his swindle, the irritating nihilists won't harass the Dude anymore, and the Dude won't take the fall for Bunny's disappearance like the Big Lebowski planned. And, you know, come what may... "the Dude abides."
- Black Comedy: One of the blackest. Even Walter's eulogy/funeral for Donny ends up being hilarious.
- Bookends: When The Dude first meets Maude, she is naked and covers herself up with a robe. The last time he sees her, she takes off a robe and gets naked with him.
- At the climax of the movie, The Dude says "Where's the money, Lebowski?" when confronting the Big Lebowski in the same way the Treehorn's goons said to him in the beginning.
- Bowdlerise: Done almost to satirical levels on TV broadcasts, with intentionally nonsensical replacements. "Do you see what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps?" The TV broadcast version also might benefit from the heavy censorship in the scene where the cab driver throws the Dude out of his taxi and shouts, "Get out of my peaceful cab!" which coincides with the scene, the song being played, and also provides a little Hypocritical Humor. More subtly, it's common for the televised broadcasts to remove The Jesus entirely, given his sexualized behavior, foul language, and implied pedophilia.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: The Stranger talks to the audience at the very end, looking right at the camera and finishing up with one last bit of narration.
- Brick Joke: Walter and Donny praise the In-N-Out Burger in North Hollywood where the Dude located the kid who stole his car. After the Dude's car gets trashed by an angry neighbor, we cut to the three heroes riding in the car with Walter and Donny eating burgers.
- Briefcase Full of Money: Walter replaces the real one with his undies, intending to keep the real briefcase full of money, given to the Dude to make an exchange for Bunny. ... Which turned out to not have money in it at all. Perhaps someone should have opened it. As the Dude puts it, Walter "threw out a ringer for a ringer," with the Big Lebowski hoping that the kidnappers would kill the Dude and take the heat off of him.
- Busby Berkeley Number: "Gutterballs" when the Dude is insanely high.
- By Wall That Is Holey: In the Dude's first dream sequence, he imagines a giant bowling ball rolling over him. He gets saved by fitting through the thumb hole and ending up inside the ball.
- The Cameo:
- Aimee Mann appears briefly as the fourth member of the Nihilist gang, who donates a toe to be sent to the Big Lebowski with the claim that it is one of Bunny's.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea is the Nihilist who gets his chest caved in by Walter's bowling ball.
- Comedian Dom Irrera plays Maude's limo driver, he even performs a portion of his "I can't complain!" routine.
- Porn star Asia Carrera has an uncredited cameo in the Logjammin' sequence.
- Camp Gay: "Knox Harrington. The video artist." Played by David Thewlis. Who giggles madly for no reason at times, much to the Dude's consternation.
- Candlelit Bath: The Dude takes one while smoking a joint to relax, which seems to help. His mood improves further when the police leave the Dude a message that his stolen car has been found. But it's shortly ruined by the nihilists and their "marmot" (actually a ferret).
- Car Radio Dispute: The Dude gets in an argument with a cab driver because he "hates the fucking Eagles", culminating with his getting kicked out of the cab.
- Cassandra Truth/The Cuckoolander Was Right: Walter speculates what really happened throughout the movie and is right almost every time. No one believes him. "Am I wrong?" The only things he wasn't right about was when he thinks the Big Lebowski isn't disabled and throws him on the floor, and about Bunny kidnapping herself, but that wasn't his idea anyway, and he was right that she was safe all along. And he was right that "that's not her toe, dude."
- Catchphrase: A number, which is a pretty big understatement.
- "We believe in nothing!" - the nihilists.
- "Shut the fuck up, Donny." - Walter
- "Am I wrong?" - Walter again
- "Let's go bowling" and variations of it.
- "Fuck it." - The Dude's answer to any kind of adversity, an attitude that gets him criticized by both Walter and Lebowski.
- Celebrity Resemblance: In the bowling montage at the beginning of the movie, the guy cleaning the bowling shoes looks a little bit like Saddam Hussein. Later, during a drug trip sequence, he is Saddam, suggesting that the Dude is aware of the resemblance.
- Censored for Comedy: Since the Coen Brothers knew the scene where Walter destroys a car couldn't be aired on television with its original dialogue, they decided to go for Word-Salad Humor with the ADR.Walter: This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps! This is what happens when you feed a stoner scrambled eggs!
- Chronically Crashed Car: The Dude's poor car. It is in less than stellar condition when we first see it, and over the course of the film, it gets stolen, befouled by transients, the windows smashed in, before finally being torched by the Nihilists.
- Cluster F-Bomb: In total, there are 292 uses of the word "fuck" in the film. Lampshaded by the Stranger.The Stranger: Do ya have to use so many cuss words?
The Dude: ...The fuck are you talking about?
- Come Alone: Immediately defied by Walter forcing his way into the Dude's car, much to his (and the kidnappers') consternation and panic.
- Comically Inappropriate Funeral Urn: One of the most famous examples of this trope, the Dude and Walter can't afford (or maybe Walter just refuses to pay for) even the most modestly-priced receptacle from the mortuary for Donny's ashes, and the mortuary isn't interested in renting it out, so Walter just buys a tin of Folgers coffee to do the job.
- Comically Missing the Point:
- Maude and the Dude as they watch Karl Hungus star in a porn movie as a cable repair guy. Maude comments that "the story is ludicrous" and tells Dude that he can imagine where the plot goes. The Dude ventures, "He fixes the cable?"
- At one point, Maude shows up in the Dude's apartment, shrugs off the robe she's wearing and, completely naked, demands "Jeffrey, love me." The Dude's response? A confused "That's my robe."
- After the Dude informs his friends about the Nihilists dropping a feral ferret into his bath and threatening to remove his johnson, Walter starts to get a bit sidetracked on the fact that bringing wildlife into the city limits is a criminal offense.The Dude: What are you, a fucking park ranger now?! Who gives a shit about the fucking marmot?!
- Complaining About People Not Liking the Show: In-universe. A cab driver has a sudden outrage at the Dude for not liking The Eagles.
- Complexity Addiction: Discussed during the "handoff" scene by Walter, who claims to dislike overly complex planning ("When a plan gets too complicated, anything can go wrong"), and offers an "ingeniously simplistic" alternative to paying the Nihilists their ransom: grabbing one of Bunny's kidnappers and beating her location out of him. The irony that Walter's actions often serve to over-complicate and problematize the Dude's plans is seemingly lost on him.
- Cooldown Hug: Walter gives one to the Dude to stem the Dude's fury after Donny's ashes fly in his face.
- Cultural Posturing: Courtesy of Walter, who was not raised Jewish, but converted to Judaism for his (now ex-) wife. According to most Jewish theologians, he is at least an ideological inheritor of the religion and its traditions, but the Dude is unconvinced.Walter: Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax. YOU'RE GODDAMN RIGHT I'M LIVING IN THE FUCKING PAST!
- Curse Cut Short:Walter: Donny, shut the f— When do we play?
Walter: Who the f— (as in the Dude's "Who the fuck is Arthur Digby Sellers?)
- Cut-and-Paste Note: Lebowski receives a ransom note for Bunny, from the Nihilists.
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: The Jesus' extremely flamboyant threat to our heroes: shoving Walter's pistol up his ass "until it goes click. YOU GOT A DATE WEDNESDAY, BABY!"
- Deconstructive Parody: Of the Film Noir genre and detective stories in general. The "detectives" are made up of a stoner, a 'Nam obsessed lunatic, and a random friend of theirs who is forcibly kept out of the plot. It's actually perfectly in line with most noir, though, that solving the mystery doesn't bring the guilty parties to justice.
- Deranged Taxi Driver: The Dude complains about the Eagles playing in the taxi taking him home from Malibu; the cab driver responds with a Cluster F-Bomb and throws him out on the side of the road.
- Digital Destruction: Universal's Blu-Ray release of the film has been subject to quite a bit of criticism due to its overuse of edge-enhancement and DNR (digital noise removal), which, while removing a lot of film grain, also removes much of the texture and detail from the movie. This was later fixed with the Ultra HD release of the film.
- Dirty Cop: The "fuckin' fascist" chief of police of Malibu, a real reactionary who assaults the Dude after he is drugged and ejected from Jackie Treehorn's party.
- Disney Acid Sequence:
- The "Gutterballs" Busby Berkeley Number dream. And see about two minutes in for Between My Legs.
- Happens earlier, too, when Maude's goons knock The Dude out to take her rug back. It consists of him flying through the air above LA and following Maude on a flying carpet (the Persian rug that was just taken from him), then suddenly having a bowling ball in his hand and falling to Earth.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Walter threatens to shoot Smokey after he tries to mark it eight when he was over the line.
- Distinction Without a Difference: The Dude, when trying to explain his relationship with Maude to a private detective."She's not my special lady; she's my fucking lady friend! I'm just helping her conceive, man!"
- Do You Want to Copulate?: "Do you like sex, Mr Lebowski?""You mean... coitus?"
- Dramatic Gun Cock: Walter cocks his gun dramatically on Smokey in the bowling alley.
- Dreams of Flying: After being drugged by Jackie, the Dude has a flying dream. It also happens earlier, when he is knocked out by one of Maude's goons and his recently acquired rug taken.
- Dress Hits Floor: And Maude gets loved.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Donny's death is a deliberate subversion of the unwritten rule that nobody ever dies for random or plot-unimportant reasons in Film Noir, or really, any genre except weird comedies. "It's a heart attack." Though, considering the scene in which his death occurs, it may be a Double Subversion.
- Dude, Where's Our Car?: The Dude's car is stolen (with the real ransom money briefcase still inside), prompting Donny to ask: "Say, Dude, where is your car?" The title of the movie Dude, Where's My Car? was inspired by this movie.
- El Spanish "-o": You can call him "El Duderino" if you're not into the whole brevity thing.
- Erudite Stoner: The Dude. Has "the occasional acid flashback".
- Establishing Character Moment:
- The first thing His Dudeness The Slacker is shown doing is shopping for half-and-half in his robe, tasting it in the store, then paying for it by writing a check for 69 cents. On further analysis, the check is postdated.
- Walter's first scene is conversing with the Dude about the first home invasion and spouting off various theories and odd phrases, showcasing his Cloudcuckoolander personality.
- Donny's first scene is him scoring a perfect strike while bowling then immediately being ignored or berated by Walter when he asks what's going on, establishing his bowling skills and background character status.
- The Big Lebowski's first real appearance has him berating the Dude for asking for compensation and insulting him for being a bum, all while talking about how amazing, hardworking, and successful he is.
- Maude is introduced performing some sort of ridiculous, self-styled painting method, then awkwardly and nonchalantly asking the Dude if he enjoys sex before going on a small rant about how men are uncomfortable with sex, establishing herself as avant-garde and an opinionated feminist.
- Establishing Series Moment: The film opens with a dramatic shot of Los Angeles following a tumbleweed to the tune of "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" by Roy Rogers & Sons of the Pioneers as Sam Elliott tries giving a dramatic, Western-style introduction to The Dude, only for him to lose his train of thought mid-sentence. This establishes the film's tone nicely, introducing a subverted genre film without a traditional narrative, a humble setting full of off-beat characters and a sarcastic sense of humor.
- Evil Plan: The titular Lebowski's machinations during the kidnapping; If the Dude opened the case and saw that he was never handed the ransom money in the first place, his total lack of credibility ensures that he ends up taking the heat for "botching" the exchange.
- Excrement Statement: A goon pees on the Dude's fucking rug while proclaiming "Ever thus to deadbeats." Walter and the Dude decide that this aggression will not stand.
- Extreme Doormat: The Dude's landlord, who only meekly asks for the rent and does nothing when the Dude defers.
- Fake Band: Autobahn, the extremely obscure '70s synth-pop band that Uli and his nihilist friends were in, is loosely based on Kraftwerk and takes its name from Kraftwerk's best-known album.
- Faked Kidnapping: Walter and then the Dude believe this might be the case."It's like Lenin said. You look for the person who will benefit, and, uh, you know."
- Fakin' MacGuffin: "It's my dirty undies. Laundry, the whites."
- Fanservice: Slow-motion bouncing topless women at a beach party, and Julianne Moore painting naked.
- Fauxlosophic Narration: Parodied; the Stranger tries to present a sage, wise perspective on things, but keeps losing his train of thought.
- Finger in the Mail: The eponymous "Big" Jeffrey Lebowski is sent one of his wife's, Bunny, toes after a botched money exchange. It's later revealed to not be his wife's toe, but rather, the female nihilist's.
- Fish out of Water: What makes the film so funny in the first place; the Dude is stuck in a Film Noir narrative with all the various interests around him (aside from Walter and Donny) behaving accordingly.
- "You guys are dead in the water." Where do Walter and the Dude take Donny's ashes?
- After he fails to strike (for the first and only time in the film) and sits back down near the end, you can see Donny start to wiggle and flail his arm in discomfort. The arms tend to go numb just before someone has a heart attack.
- There's another, surprising one if you think about it: the poster image on this very pagenote .
- Fourth Wall Greeting: The DVD introduction includes a thoroughly bizarre parody of film preservation societies, apropos of nothing. And yet, it's completely in keeping with the film.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- When the Dude picks up Walter for the dropoff, one can clearly see Walter runs a store selling security equipment. Given his devout Judaism and very vocal hatred of Nazism, it's a little weird to see that the logo for Sobchak Security is a big "SS".
- In the beginning, when the Dude is in the supermarket writing a check for the carton of half and half, the date on his check is Sept 11. And President George Bush (the first one, though) is on TV talking about invading Iraq. This is all just a weird coincidence, though, since the movie came out a few years before the Twin Towers fell.
- Freudian Threat: "Tomorrow we come back and we cut off your chonson."
"Ja, maybe we stomp on it and skvoosh it!"
- Also: "I said WE'LL CUT OFF YOUR CHONSON!"
My only hope is that the Big Lebowski will kill me before the Germans cut my dick off...
- Friendship Moment: Happens after the last time the Nihilists show up. Donny gets scared and Walter gently reassures him that they aren't in any real danger. That's it. Just one quick moment, not particularly touching, but if it weren't for this, Walter's a heartfelt eulogy for Donny would seem like it came out of nowhere, seeing as the rest of their interaction in the film is Walter shouting at Donny and telling him to shut the fuck up.
- The "Fun" in "Funeral": After Donny's death and cremation, the Dude and Walter decide to scatter the ashes over an ocean cliffside. Said ashes are stored in a coffee can, Walter's eulogy is a rambling mess that swerves into a rant about The Vietnam War, and the ceremony caps off with the ashes blowing into the Dude's face because neither of them accounted for the wind going the wrong way.
- Funny Background Event:
- While the Dude and Walter bicker in the car after Walter pulled a gun on Smokey, you can see cops pull into the lot and run into the bowling alley in response to the incident being called in.
- You can also see Bunny, presumably as high as a weather balloon on drugs, happily prancing around naked outside in the background while the Dude and Walter confront Brandt on their way to see Lebowski.
- When Walter and the Dude talk, Donny remains in the background but still "participates" in the scene with Facial Dialogue alone, usually the vivid and amusing kind. When Walter pulls a gun, Donny promptly stands up and puts some safe distance between him and the unfolding events.
- Gambit Pileup: Subverted when very little of it ends up mattering.
- Genre Mashup: It's a Stoner Flick masquerading as Film Noir, while the narrator insists it's The Western.
- Genre Refugee: All of the characters seem to have stumbled into this movie from different ones and consequently don't seem to be quite sure of exactly what kind of movie they're in. In addition to the Stranger's confusion over whether this is a Western or not:
- The Dude's walked right out of a stoner comedy or a 1960s New Hollywood-style counterculture flick.
- Walter acts like he's in a Vietnam drama that chronicles the veteran's harrowing struggle to reacclimatize back into civilian society after everything he's seen and done.
- The Big Lebowski, Maude, Jackie Treehorn and Da Fino seem to think and act like they're playing a Film Noir straight (and even manage to convince Walter of this for a time).
- The nihilists believe they're in a quirky-but-dark Tarantino-inspired crime thriller about a gang of eccentric Villain Protagonists, and that they're the protagonists in question.
- Bunny's dialogue and attitude is essentially a porn movie starlet.
- The Jesus mashes up Latin Lover comedies with being the Opposing Sports Team personified.
- Donny is just an ordinary guy who thinks he's in a slightly eccentric bowling team but has an otherwise normal life. He's probably the most wrong out of all of them.
- And on top of all that, there's a comically Westernesque narrator.
- Gleeful and Grumpy Pairing: The Dude, a sanguine, laid back and optimistic slacker, and Walter, a gruff and mean veteran with a Hair-Trigger Temper.
- Glorified Sperm Donor: The Dude for Maude, although the "glorified" bit is definitely averted. "I don't want the father to be someone I have to see socially, or who will have any interest in raising the child himself."
- Good Night, Sweet Prince: "In accordance with what we think your last wish may very well have been, we now commit your mortal remains to the bosom of the Pacific Ocean. Good night, sweet prince."
- Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: The Dude has a flying dream which ends when he notices he's holding a bowling ball and promptly hurtles groundward.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: The taxi driver the Dude takes from his escapade to Treehorn's mansion also really doesn't like people badmouthing The Eagles.
- Hero of Another Story: Da Fino. The real Private Detective who follows The Dude under the assumption he's an investigator like him to return Bunny to her parents. The Dude only meets him face to face once.
- Historical Character Confusion: The Dude is struggling with a Lenin quote ("You look for the person who will benefit...") which he cannot remember properly. Donny, trying to be helpful, repeatedly mentions John Lennon's 1967 song "I Am the Walrus". Considering the context, he is most likely actually quoting Cicero's note "Cui bono?"("to whose benefit?") who used it in the sense "Who benefits from the crime?"; Lenin would later quote Cicero.
- Homage: Lebowski and his family are based on General Sternwood's family from The Big Sleep, which shares a similar noir plot involving kidnapping and pornography in LA.
- Humble Goal: "All The Dude ever wanted was his rug back."
- Hypocritical Humor: Many of the film's ironies can be found in the characters' various hypocrisies, for example:
- Maude expresses disapproval of people who have sex only compulsively, without love or pleasure, and yet she only sleeps with The Dude because she wants his seed.
- Also she is an artsy, Avante-garde type who dislikes capitalism (as most artists do) and materialism, gets involved to protect her family's money... and her mom's rug.
- Walter says pacifism is nothing to hide behind, and yet he's flashing the peace sign when the actual owner of "Larry's" car angrily brandishes his crowbar at him and refuses to retaliate when he begins smashing up the Dude's car.
- Jeffrey Lebowski goes off on a massive rant about how The Dude should get a job and make something of himself, and yet is only what he is because he inherited his late wife's money.
- The Dude maintains that he really doesn't care about what's going on and just wants his rug back. But he still has his rug. His involvement continues because he wants one that hasn't been peed on.
- The Dude is noticeably disturbed by the Nihilists' threat to castrate him, to the point of having a drug-addled nightmare about it, and yet he nonchalantly threatens to do the same thing to Larry, a fifteen-year-old boy.
- The Nihilists constantly say that they believe in nothing, yet, at the end they complain that it's not fair that they didn't get any money.Walter: Fair?! Who's the fucking nihilists here, you bunch of fuckin' crybabies?!
- In the final confrontation between the Dude, Walter and Jeffrey Lebowski, Lebowski insinuates that he's willing to accuse the Dude and Walter of stealing the money. Walter bellows "As if we would ever dream of taking your bullshit money!" ... conveniently forgetting that he did, in fact, intend to steal what he thought was the money.
- One of Those Two Guys working for Jackie Treehorn at one point smugly informs the Dude that "you're not dealin' with morons here." Yes, in fact, he is. As evidenced by the simple fact that in the very first scene they took forever to figure out that maybe the grungy hippy bachelor living in the dive wasn't a married millionaire.
- And of course, Walter screaming, "AM I THE ONLY ONE AROUND HERE WHO GIVES A SHIT ABOUT THE RULES?!" while brandishing a pistol at someone in a bowling alley over a score dispute. It turns out that their league does indeed have a rule against "brandishing a firearm during league play".
- Also, Walter calls out The Dude for using the racial slur "Chinaman", but used the word in the sentences directly preceding and following said calling-out, and is perfectly fine with using the slur "kraut" in casual conversation.
- Maude notes that the word "vagina" makes some men uncomfortable as though it's indicative of some kind of problem in society... while dancing around saying the word "penis" in the same sentence. She also says "beaver" instead of "vagina" later.
- At the end, after learning that their game has been rescheduled, Quintana shows up, throws a flamboyant tantrum about the excuse given (that Walter doesn't bowl on the Sabbath), and makes a big show about how he's going to wipe the floor with them at the rescheduled game — yet one of the things he yells is "I don't care! It don't matter to Jesus!" It very clearly does matter to him, as Walter nonchalantly observes with a calm "He's crackin'."
- Maude expresses disapproval of people who have sex only compulsively, without love or pleasure, and yet she only sleeps with The Dude because she wants his seed.
- I Am Not Shazam: "I am not Mr. Lebowski. Okay? You're Mr. Lebowski. I'm The Dude. So that's what you call me."
- I Have Your Wife: Bunny, the millionaire Lebowski's wife is kidnapped. Or is she? In fact, it turns out that no, she isn't.
- Immediate Self-Contradiction:Big Lebowski: I don't blame anyone for the loss of my legs! Some Chinaman took them from me in Korea!
- Incest Subtext: Maud apparently wants a baby with a man who has the same name as her father?
- Incredibly Lame Pun: "They're Nihilists, Donny. There's nothing to be afraid of."
- Insistent Terminology:
- Walter corrects the Dude because "Chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American, please." Only to promptly subvert it with "The Chinaman is not the issue here!"
- "She's not my special lady, she's my fucking lady friend!" - Similarly, later during this same scene, the Dude himself accidentally calls Maude his "special lady", then quickly corrects himself.
- The Dude: "I'm The Dude. So that's what you call me."
- The police chief repeatedly refers to Malibu by the curiously precise term "beach community".
- Interrogation by Vandalism: This is the reason The Dude's rug gets pissed on at the beginning of the movie.
- Also, the "You see what happens, Larry!?" scene.
- I Resemble That Remark!:Stranger: Do you have to use so many cuss words?
Dude: What the fuck are you talking about?
- Ironic Echo: The Dude, having turned the tables on The Big Lebowski: "Where's the fucking money, Lebowski?"
- I Take Offense to That Last One:Dude: Fuck the Tournament. Fuck you, Walter.
Walter: Fuck the Tournament?
- It Began with a Twist of Fate: The entire plot of the movie gets kickstarted because a pair of Stupid Crooks went to the wrong Jeffrey Lebowski's house to try to collect on his wife's debt.
- It's Not Porn, It's Art:Jackie Treehorn: I deal in publishing. Entertainment. Political advocacy.
The Dude: Which one's Logjammin?
- It's the Principle of the Thing: "They peed on your fucking rug." In fact, most of the film revolves around the fact the Dude wants his rug and car returned or compensated. "That rug really tied the room together."
- Jerkass Has a PointWalter: Am I wrong?
The Dude: No, you're not wrong.
Walter: Am I wrong?
The Dude: You're not wrong, Walter. You're just an asshole!
Walter: Okay then.
- Karmic Misfire: Much of the plot involves The Dude either being abused or held responsible for things beyond his control, mainly due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time and certain parties giving conflicting information. The plot kicks off when he is mistaken for the Big Lebowski, whose wife owes money to Jackie Treehorn, getting violently swirlied by one thug and having his rug peed on by the other. The Big Lebowski, Jackie Treehorn and the Nihilists then make the Dude completely responsible for their transaction of money, Treehorn and the Nihilists routinely intimidating and harassing the Dude over the money they think he has and in the Big Lebowski's case using him as a patsy in a Frame-Up to steal money from his own charity.
- Kill It with Fire: The Dude's car meets its end this way at the hands of the nihilists."Well, they finally did it. They killed my fucking car."
- Knight, Knave, and Squire: Though this movie is not an action movie in the traditional sense, Walter, the Dude and Donny fit this trope surprisingly well (as Knight, Knave and Squire, respectively). note
- Walter is a fiercely patriotic and devoutly religious veteran soldier who always brings the guns into every tough situation, and always charges headfirst into every problem.
- The Dude is a laid-back aging hippy with no loyalty to anything but his own petty self-interest, and he prefers to talk his way out of every situation.
- Donny is just an average guy with no interest in crime or intrigue, and he spends most of the movie completely out of his depth.
- Laborious Laziness: The whole plot might not have happened if the Dude had just bothered to clean his rug after it had been peed on.
- Lame Comeback: "Yeah, well, you know, that's just like... uh... your opinion, man."
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: In-Universe, this is at least partially the reason Walter refuses to explain anything to Donny.Walter: So you have no frame of reference here, Donny. You're like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know...
- Law of Conservation of Detail : Subverted over and over, part of the movie's Deconstructive Parody of the Film Noir genre.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: While Walter does seem less-than-stable throughout the movie, it's mostly in a bombastic and ineffective way that tends to make him less useful rather than more. At the very end in the confrontation with the nihilists, however, he demonstrates how effective he can really be. Although as the other two point out, they are only being shaken down for about twenty bucks (The Dude had $4 or $5, Donny had $18).
- The Load: Walter is less-than-useful to the Dude for most of the film.
- Locked Out of the Loop: "Shut the fuck up, Donny."
- "Donny? Please."
- "DONNY, YOU'RE OUT OF YOUR ELEMENT!"
- "FORGET IT, DONNY!"
- Possibly "Life does not stop and start at your convenience, you miserable piece of shit!" Walter may be replying to The Dude's story about Brandt giving The Dude a beeper so he can be contacted at any time.
- "Donny, shut the f- when do we play?"
- Malaproper: "Mr Treehorn treats objects like women, man!"
- Considering Treehorn mentions electronic innovations in erotic entertainment, this may be a subversion. On the filmmakers' part, at least.
- Male Gaze: Maude during her introduction spends a generous amount of time showing her bare butt to the camera.
- Man Bites Man: Walter bites one of the Nihilists' ears off during their final confrontation.
- Manly Tears: "Do my tears surprise you? Strong men also cry, Mr. Lebowski. Strong men...also cry..." Possibly a subversion since you never see his tears indicating that he either knows she kidnapped herself or that he actually doesn't care about her.
- He sheds a few real ones when Walter tosses him to the floor, but by then we know he's not really a strong man anyway.
- Meaningful Background Event: Donny is seen holding his hand strangely and wincing as he moves it in the scene immediately preceding his heart attack.
- Meaningful Echo: Except the joke lies in the echoes being meaningless, gratuitous and/or random. Several quotes or words are recycled over the course of the so-called story.
- Bush the Elder's speech about "unchecked aggression" is paraphrased later by Walter and The Dude regarding the rug-related invasion, which will not stand.
- The Dude adds Maude's "in the parlance of our times" line to his "young trophy wife" when he is summoned again by The Big Lebowski.
- The only example of a phrase that gets more rather than less powerful by being repeated comes near the end: "Where's the fuckin' money, Lebowski?"
- Misplaced Retribution: Twice in the same scene. Walter assumes the new Corvette in front of a house belongs to Larry, who Walter thinks stole the $1 million (he didn't), so he smashes it with a crowbar. It turns out to belong to Larry's neighbor, who takes the crowbar and starts smashing The Dude's car, which The Dude quickly points out doesn't belong to Walter.
- Mixed Metaphor:Jackie Treehorn: Refill?
The Dude: Does the pope shit in the woods?
- Mood Whiplash: Donny's death. After two hours of intrigue and crazy drug-fueled antics, Walter and the Dude have nothing left to do but solemnly mourn a man who spent the entire movie as a punching bag. The movie ends with the two of them in the bowling alley again, quietly contemplating their lives.
- Ms. Fanservice:
- Maude comes off as a warped version of this trope at times. In general, she takes full advantage of the naked female body to intimidate others.
- Bunny is scantily clad in all of her scenes and can briefly be seen running around in the nude.
- Mushroom Samba: Thrice. "The man in me will do / Nearly any task..."
- "I got up so tight/I couldn't unwind/I saw so much/I broke my mind..."
- Naked on Arrival: We're introduced to Maude Lebowski as she's swinging from a harness completely naked while squirting paint on a canvas.
- Nice Mean And In Between:
- The Dude qualifies for inbetween - snarky, lazy, and will only ever do anything if he's absolutely required to. But The Dude is a generally decent guy, so long as you're willing to move at his pace.
- Walter is mean - quick to threaten violence against anyone who crosses him and is generally a paranoid wreck.
- Donny is nice - perpetually affable-but-oblivious compared to his two friends.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed:
- Jeff Dowd is apparently the Dude in real life with the Seattle Seven, White Russian fixation, and general laid-back stoner attitude.
- Walter was partially based on the director, screenwriter, and gun enthusiast John Milius, who is a good friend of the Coen Brothers.
- Jackie Treehorn appears to be based, in part, on adult entertainment kingpins Larry Flynt and Hugh Hefner.
- Noodle Incident: In-universe; we know how the Dude got bruised by the Malibu Chief of Police but he never finishes explaining to Maude.
- Obfuscating Disability: "I've seen a lot of spinals, Dude. And this guy fuckin' walks." It's left somewhat ambiguous, as The Big Lebowski's leg twitches after Walter throws him to the ground, but it might have not been caught by the editors. Alternatively, there are plenty of disabled people who are able to move their legs but not walk on them.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: It's hinted a few times that the Dude isn't that clouded by a constant haze of pot. During the Dude's encounter with Maude and the viewing of 'Logjammin', which features a stereotypical pornographic scenario of a repairman turning up to fix the cable. When Maude remarks that the film's direction is obvious, the Dude blithely asks "He fixes the cable?" Maude promptly calls him out on this.
- Odd Friendship: The Dude is a laid-back stoner hippy, Walter is a boisterous, obnoxious and tightly wound Vietnam vet with huge anger management issues, and Donny is an easy-going doormat.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: During the "What makes a man" scene, the Lacrymosa from Mozart's Requiem is playing.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: The Jesus - apparently the only real competition the Dude and friends have - takes Walter getting the Dude and Donny a religiously-mandated break very personally, and promises to kick their asses "any day of the week".
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: At the end of the movie, you know that the mood is really low in the wake of Donny's death when Walter actually stops screaming about Vietnam for a minute and tenderly apologizes to The Dude for his behavior.
- Opening Monologue: The Stranger delivers one.
- Outside-Context Problem: Thanks to some Stupid Crooks, The Dude finds himself and Walter caught up in a mess of other people's plots and plans.
- Pedal-to-the-Metal Shot: A shot of Bunny operating the pedals of her car on the way back from visiting her friends is used as a reveal shot to show that neither of her feet were actually harmed at any point.
- Phrase Catcher: The Dude gets this a couple of different times, but the most distinctive is both Lebowski and Walter chastising the Dude for his "Fuck it" philosophy, calling it "[his] answer for everything."
"Where's the fuckin' money, Lebowski?"
- Toward the end, the Dude finally gets to say what everyone else has said to him at some point:
- Pizza Boy Special Delivery: Watching Logjammin'Maude: You can imagine where it goes from here.
Dude: He fixes the cable?
- Police Are Useless: It's implied that the LAPD show up only after an (at least half-an-hour) tournament after Walter nearly shoots a fellow bowler in the face.
- The cop who gives The Dude back his wrecked car, who suddenly turns into a condescending snarker when the Dude asks if they have any leads on who stole his car:"Leads, yeah, sure. I'll just check with the boys down at the crime lab, they've got four more detectives working on the case. They got us working in shifts! [Cop laughing]
- The cop who gives The Dude back his wrecked car, who suddenly turns into a condescending snarker when the Dude asks if they have any leads on who stole his car:
- Police Brutality: The Malibu Sheriff, who throws his mug at The Dude and begins kicking the shit out of him."Stay out of Malibu, dead-beat!!"
- The Precious, Precious Car: The Corvette they find during the attempt to extort the boy who stole The Dude's car. "I'd say he's still got about $960-$970,000 left, depending on the options."My baby! I just bought that fucking car last week!
- Random Events Plot: It's kind of a consequence when your protagonist is a bored stoner. All you can do is hope it's all going to add up in the end... and then it doesn't.
- Ransacked Room: The Dude's eternal curse - thugs breaking into his room and messing it up, or ruining something. Comes to a head when either Jackie Treehorn's thugs or the Nihilists finally smash up the Dude's house for good.
- Ransom Drop: The Dude is tasked to drop the ransom money for the title character's Trophy Wife from a bridge into a river. But then things go sideways.
- Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Used to play up the contrast between the "regular people" and the "film characters". Characters who are obviously played as characters don't stutter, and engage in dialogue - Maude, in particular, speaks like she's just stepped out of an old movie. Characters played as regular people thrust into a movie plot - like the Dude - have conversations, with all the attendant "ums" and misunderstandings. Best demonstrated by this exchange between the Dude and the Big Lebowski:Dude: And, you know, has it ever occurred to you, that, instead of, uh, you know, running around, uh, uh, blaming me, you know, given the nature of all this new shit, you know, I-I-I-I... this could be a-a-a-a lot more, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, complex, I mean, it's not just, it might not be just such a simple... uh, you know?
Lebowski: What in God's holy name are you blathering about?
- It was like that in the script - everything but "you human paraquat" was scripted. The Coens are known for being pretty insistent that lines be delivered exactly as written.
- Maude's line "Little Lebowski Urban Achievers, and proud we are of all of them" is delivered in trochaic and then iambic tetrameter, both to hammer home how alien she is to the Dude and to catch the audience's ear, so we'll notice that she's about to reveal the plot twist.
- Red Herring: Da Fino, the guy following The Dude around in the VW, turns out to have nothing to do with the conspiracy - he's actually following it around.
- Not to mention the toe.
- Also, Jackie Treehorn's hastily-scribbled note.
- The essay in The Dude's car.
- In fact, virtually every single lead The Dude and Walt follow turns out to have nothing to do with anything.
- The Reveal: There was no kidnapping plot and no ransom money. Bunny was just off visiting friends, and Lebowski pretended to have a million dollars given to the Nihilists, giving him a reason to withdraw money out of one of his 'charities' and get rid of two loose ends bothering him.
- Riddle for the Ages:
- Why did Jackie Treehorn draw...THAT?
- Was Smokey really over the line? We never see it for ourselves.
- Royal "We": When The Dude is told to Come Alone, he's forced to bring Walter with him. He then blows Walter's cover by using the pronoun "we". He tries to explain that he was using "the Royal "We"."
- Running Gag:
- Walter mentioning 'Nam whenever it pertains to the given situation. Or when it has completely nothing to do with it at all.
- Donny trying to join in on Walter and The Dude's conversations (regardless of whether he actually knows what they're talking about), only for Walter to shut him up.
- The various acts of violence done to The Dude's car, culminating in the nihilists setting it on fire at the end.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!:
- Jackie Treehorn, according to the police chief. "Mr Treehorn draws a lot of water in this town. You don't draw shit, Lebowski."
- Also how the Big Lebowski gets away with embezzling the million dollars and blaming it on the Dude, "...someone the square community won't give a shit about".
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
- Dude does this a few times throughout the film. The Big Lebowski even lampshades it:"Oh, 'fuck it!' Yes, that's your answer. That's your answer for everything. Tattoo it on your forehead."
- A few scenes later, Walter chastises the Dude for the same reason."That's your answer to everything."
- Dude does this a few times throughout the film. The Big Lebowski even lampshades it:
- Sensational Staircase Sequence: During his Dream Sequence, The Dude stars in "Gutterballs" and briefly swaggers his way down a glittering staircase.
- Serious Business:
- Bowling, to everyone involved. Especially Walter.Smokey, this is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules.
MARK IT ZERO!!!
- Walter, Donny and The Dude play in a league so hardcore, sticking a pistol in an opponent's face over a rules violation not only won't get you disqualified, but the foul will be upheld.
- The whole story is kickstarted by a petty feud over a soiled rug that really tied the room together.
- Bowling, to everyone involved. Especially Walter.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: Despite all that happens, the money and kidnappings that start the movie both turn out to be MacGuffins that never even existed. The Dude loses his rug, his car, and a bowling partner in the process of getting nothing.
- Shear Menace: During The Dude's unconscious fever dream, he's chased by Karl Hungus and his nihilist cronies, all carrying massive shears (a call back to when they threatened to "cut off [his] johnson"), which promptly sends him running and brings him back to reality, running down a Malibu street with cops approaching.
- The line "The Dude abides" is an echo of Rachel's closing line "They abide, and they endure" in The Night of the Hunter.
- Walter's emphasis on the simplicity of his plan is likely a shoutout to the film A Simple Plan, given that its director, Sam Raimi, is friends with the Coens.
- Walter is constantly telling Donny to shut up, which is a reference to Fargo, another Coen Brothers film in which Steve Buscemi's character would not shut up.
- Da Fino drives a VW Beetle, like fellow private eye Loren Visser from the Coens' 1984 thriller Blood Simple. Da Fino's car looks better than Visser's though, reflecting their respective morality: while Visser is a double-crossing Psycho for Hire and the main antagonist, Da Fino does nothing worse than tailing the Dude in the hope that he'll lead him to Bunny, so he can talk her into going home to her parents.
- Uli Kunkel's band Autobahn is a huge nod to Kraftwerk, not just because of the lookalike cover, but also "Autobahn" is the title of one of Kraftwerk's best-known songs.
- After Da Fino shows The Dude a picture of Bunny, The Dude says, "How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Karl Hungus?", a reference to the song, "How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm (After They've Seen Paree)?"
- The farm in question is in Moorhead, Minnesota, which is the twin city of Fargo, North Dakota.
- "I'm as Jewish as fuckin' Tevye!"
- Shout-Out to Shakespeare:
- Amusingly, one thug pronounces "Ever thus to deadbeats" while defacing the rug, as in Sic Semper Tyrannis.
- Likewise, Walter's "Good Night, Sweet Prince" in Donny's eulogy.
- Shrine to Self: The eponymous "Big" Lebowski has one. The Dude is given a guided tour.
- Signature Line: "The Dude Abides" is only said twice, but it quickly caught on with fans of the film.
- Significant Name Overlap: The film's plot hinges around two lead characters both named Jeff Lebowski—one a slacker, one a millionaire. In-story, they are differentiated by the washed-out protagonist being called "the Dude", while the millionaire he is mistaken for is the titular "big Lebowski".
- A Simple Plan: "The best part of my plan is... its simplicity."Walter: No, we can't do that Dude. That fucks up our plan.
The Dude: Well, why don't you call them up and explain that, Walter? Your plan is that fucking simple I'm sure they'd understand.
- Skewed Priorities: When Maude Lebowski's limo driver is forcefully pulling The Dude to The Big Lebowski's limo (after the drop-off), Dude warns the guy, "Careful, man! There's a beverage here!"
- Slice of Life: Aside from the fact that we see nothing of anyone's background, and have no idea what happens to them afterwards, there is very little compelling about the story in and of itself, aside from a brief period of interesting times happening to the characters as they otherwise go about their unchanging lives. Furthermore, we are repeatedly introduced to non-sequiturs such as The Jesus, Da Fino, Knox Harrington, Uli Kunkel, the landlord, etc. etc., who have little to no bearing on anything. It's simply a straightforward slice of the Dude's life, albeit one uniquely splattered with an interesting incident.
- Slipping a Mickey: Jackie Treehorn does this to the Dude.
- Smoking Hot Sex: The Dude is seen smoking a joint after having sex with the titular character's daughter Maude.
- Soundtrack Dissonance:
- In the "family restaurant", during the Dude and Walter's profanity-laced dialogue about kidnapping and toes cut off, Debbie Reynolds' cutesy song, "Tammy" plays in the background.
- Also Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Lookin' Out My Back Door" when the Dude drops a lit joint in his car, causing him to crash. It was, however, Suspiciously Apropos Music for the Beetle following him.
- Spanner in the Works: Nobody really anticipated The Dude and Walter's involvement in, well, anything. Not that it ends up mattering.
- Spit Take: After they have sex, the Dude watches Maude hugging her knees to her chest, rocking back and forth.Dude: What is that, yoga?
Maude: It increases the chances of conception.
(Spit Take by The Dude)
Dude: (coughing) Increases?!
- Stock Foreign Name: The porn movie has the main character Karl and his female assistant Helga, both stereotypical German names.
- Stoner Flick: There is some debate over whether the film is funnier when you're stoned or not.
- Strawman Political: Both Walter and The Dude are different types of Strawman Political stereotypes, the right-wing gun nut and the liberal hippie respectively. However, part of the humour of their characters comes just as much when they subvert these stereotypes as when they play off of them.
- Suddenly Shouting: A couple of instances:The Dude: Hey man, nothing is fucked here...
The Big Lebowski: Nothing is FUCKED?
The Dude: No...
The Big Lebowski: THE GODDAMN PLANE HAS CRASHED INTO THE MOUNTAIN!
- And this one:Walter: Smokey, my friend... (drawing a pistol) You're entering a world of pain.
The Dude: Walter, man...
Walter: You mark that frame an eight, and you enter a world of pain.
Smokey: (starts stammering)
Walter: A world of pain.
Smokey: Look, Dude, he's your partner...
Walter: (stands up, brandishing the pistol threateningly) Has the whole world gone CRAZY? AM I THE ONLY ONE AROUND HERE WHO GIVES A SHIT ABOUT THE RULES? MARK IT ZERO!
- And this one:
- Talking in Bed: Maude and the Dude have a talk in bed after their roll in the hay.
- Tech Marches On: Nowadays, bowling alleys have automated scoring, and fouls would register automatically, so Walter's tirade would not happen... in the same way; Walter being the kind of guy who argues even against machines, would contest it somehow: I saw what I saw. Faulty sensor. Edit the score to zero.
- There Is No Kill like Overkill:
- MARK IT ZERO!
- Walter does it again when the Nihilists show up in person to rob them. He crushes one Nihilist's lung and bites off the ear of another.
- Third-Person Person:
- The Dude prefers referring to His Dudeness as... the Dude."The Dude MINDS, man!"
- The Jesus does this as well.
- The Dude prefers referring to His Dudeness as... the Dude.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!:The Jesus: Let me tell you something, pendejo!
- Title Drop: Towards the end, The Dude refers to the other man as "The Big Lebowski"
- Toilet Seat Divorce: Alluded to when one of Jackie Treehorn's thugs mentions Bunny to the Dude.Do you see a ring on my finger? Does this place look like I'm fuckin' married? The toilet seat's up!
- Tranquil Fury:
- After spending most of the movie exploding in bombastic rage at any slight real or imagined, it's when the nihilists demand the money that the Dude, Walter and Donny have on them in lieu of the ransom that Walter gets quietly, chillingly livid. This precedes his Let's Get Dangerous! moment."Fuck you. What's mine is mine."
- When Walter rants about the Vietnam War during his eulogy for Donny and follows up by scattering the ashes into Dude's face, Dude has a stone-faced response for a few seconds that is clearly brimming with fury.
- After spending most of the movie exploding in bombastic rage at any slight real or imagined, it's when the nihilists demand the money that the Dude, Walter and Donny have on them in lieu of the ransom that Walter gets quietly, chillingly livid. This precedes his Let's Get Dangerous! moment.
- Trash Talk: The Jesus.The Jesus: I see you rolled your way into the semis. Dios Mio, man. Liam and me, we gonna fuck you up!
Dude: Yeah, well, you know, that's just like... uh... your opinion man.
- Trespassing to Talk: The two thugs in the beginning wait for the Dude in his apartment. He discovers them via a Lightswitch Surprise.
- Trophy Room: The wall where the titular Big Lebowski displays awards won both by himself and by his "Little Lebowski Urban Achievers".
- Understatement: "He has health problems."
- The Unreveal:
- Did Walter and The Dude make it to the Finals? The movie ends right before their game starts, so we never find out.
- Is the Big Lebowski really disabled, or is he just highly committed to faking it?
- Unusual Euphemism: Ties in with Goshdang It To Heck in edited-for-TV/aircraft versions, but improves upon it with: "This is what happens, Larry! This is what happens when you feed a stoner scrambled eggs!" (Alternatively "...when you find a stranger in the Alps!")
- Unwanted Assistance: Walter, "helping" with the ransom, much to the Dude's complete and utter annoyance.
- Vandalism Backfire: Double whammy. Walter suspects a kid of stealing a million-dollar ransom from The Dude's car. When they arrive at his house, there's a new Corvette sitting out front, which more or less confirms their suspicions. After a brief interrogation, Walter decides that more severe measures are necessary and begins to smash the Corvette with a crowbar. Turns out it wasn't the kid's car, as the neighbor runs out screaming about his new Corvette. He decides to destroy Walter's car, which of course actually belongs to The Dude.
- Vanity License Plate: Bunny's says LAPIN.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: Many examples. One prominent one is the joke about Saddam Hussein handing out bowling shoes in the dream sequence. Understanding the joke requires some knowledge of the first Gulf War, Arabic, and President Bush's well-known tendency for mispronouncing words.
- The Walrus Was Paul: Some suspect the film was intentionally designed to make a fool of anyone who attempts to analyze it, particularly after the Coens' previous movie Fargo had become a darling among highbrow critics.
- In the first scene with the Jesus, the Dude and Walter are talking about Lenin. Donny, getting the wrong end of the stick, keeps saying "I am the Walrus."
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- Bunny still owes Jackie Treehorn a pile of cash, but that's now a problem for her and the Big Lebowski to deal with.
- After Larry gets introduced, his family's maid just vanishes from the movie. She does not appear again even when Walter starts yelling and cussing at Larry, and then goes to wreck the car.
- Larry himself disappears from the movie after that scene, though the Dude mentions him later to Jackie.
- Where Do You Think You Are?: Walter's obnoxious habit of loudly getting on his high horse leads to people saying this. "This is a family restaurant." "This is a mortuary. Not a rental house."
- "Smokey, this is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules."
- Wimp Fight:
- The nihilists talk a good game but are ultimately revealed to be this since Walter ends up handing them their asses more or less single-handedly over the course of about a minute.
- When the Dude confronts Da Fino, the actual Private Detective, things look they're going to get physical for a moment. And by 'physical', this means they don't actually make contact with each other but sort of flinch.
- With Friends Like These...: The Dude and Walter have a deep friendship, but it's sometimes hard to tell with all that bickering. Even dropped by The Dude at one point.The Dude: With friends like these, huh, Gary?
- Word Salad Title: Par for the course for a Coen Brothers film. The title only makes sense if you know that there are two characters in the movie named "Lebowski", and that one of them is an enormously wealthy businessman with a huge ego.
- Worthy Opponent: Walter calls the Viet Cong this while talking about Vietnam, as opposed to his rather racist dismissal of Saddam Hussein's forces in Iraq. He also doesn't extend the same respect to the nihilists in the scene immediately after.
- Writing Indentation Clue: Subverted; the Dude is in a conversation with Jackie Treehorn when the latter receives a call, writes down something on a notepad, tears off the notepad, and excuses himself. The Dude, in full sneaky investigator mode, grabs the notepad and shades it with the side of a pencil to highlight the impression made on the next sheet of paper. It turns out to be an anatomically exaggerated picture of a man and his...manhood.
- Wrongfully Attributed: Lenin and Lennon quotes are out of your element, Donny.
- Wrong Genre Savvy:
- The Dude thinks all the various threads he uncovers must figure into the big mystery at the center of the plot. They don't.
- The narrator thinks the film is a Western. It isn't.
- You Can Keep Her!: How Lebowski really feels about his wife getting kidnapped, and the reason why he feels no qualms pocketing the ransom money and setting the Dude up to take the fall.
- Far out, man.