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Goth children, rejoice! The last costume you will EVER need is here!

"Buildings burn, people die...but real love is forever."
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The Crow, released in 1994, is a Cult Classic adapting James O'Barr's comic book of the same name for the silver screen. David J. Schow and John Shirley wrote the screenplay, Alex Proyas directed, and Brandon Lee (son of Bruce Lee) starred in what would be his final role.

A year after a group of gang-bangers kill him and his fiancée on their wedding night, Eric Draven (Lee) rises from his grave to extract revenge. Now invulnerable and super-powered, he hunts down and slaughters his murderers with the aided of a crow that serves as his Magical Guide. Along the way, he befriends a local beat cop, Albrecht (Ernie Hudson), and reconnects with a troubled local teen, Sarah (Rochelle Davis), forcing him to remember that there was more to life than hatred.

While the film is notable for its stylish action, gothic art direction and energetic industrial soundtrack, it's destined to be forever overshadowed by the tragic accidental on-set death of Brandon Lee by a failed special effect.

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The film proved to be a hit and was followed by a sequel, The Crow: City of Angels, two spin-off films, The Crow: Salvation and The Crow: Wicked Prayer, and a TV series The Crow: Stairway to Heaven that returns Eric Draven to life (with a new actor) to serve as protagonist.


This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Eric Draven blows up Gideon's pawnshop by spilling gasoline all through it and firing a blast from a shotgun he'd stuffed with dozens of pawned/stolen rings (although it did have a normal charge in it as well).
  • Actor Allusion: Ernie Hudson asks if Eric is a ghost.
  • Adapted Out:
    • The Skull Cowboy. Scenes with him were filmed, but they ended up on the cutting room floor.
    • Tom-Tom, another member of the gang, was omitted and his role transferred to Skank, who was a minor thug in the comic.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
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    • Eric and Shelly aren't the random victims of a drive-by crime here. Instead, they are brutalized and killed after Shelly protests against wrongful tenant relocation.
    • Top Dollar was changed from just being a low-level drug dealer to being a twisted crime overlord with the gang as his hit squad and Myca and Grange backing him up.
    • Sherri in the comic book becomes Sarah in the film, and has a much larger role. She was friends with Eric and Shelly while they were alive, and at the climax of the film Eric has to save her life when she is threatened by Top Dollar and Myca. Sarah's drug-addicted mother (now called Darla) is much the same character in the comic, but a scene shows her having turned over a new leaf after Eric confronts her over her neglect of Sarah, and hints a reconciliation between mother and daughter.
    • A lot of drama was added to the climax, unlike in the comic where Eric just rampages unstoppably through the criminal underworld. On the other hand, Tom-Tom was removed, Funboy was given a much smaller role and any scenes of Eric in the afterlife were excised.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Sherri became Sarah in the film, in addition to her increased role.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Eric Draven is more human and less amoral than his comic book counterpart.
  • Adaptational Job Change: Eric was a mechanic in the comic. In the film, he was made a rock musician as a nod to James O'Barr's musical influences.
  • Adorably Precocious Child: Sarah. Justified in that she lives in a gritty underworld and no one takes care of her, so she has to get by on her own.
  • Agony Beam: Eric defeats Top Dollar with this trope by Agony Beaming his fiancée's experience of being gang raped, beaten and dying from her injuries over 30 hours later into Top Dollar's mind, rendering him incapacitated and vulnerable to the final blow.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: T-Bird pretty much loses his mind when he recognizes Eric and realizes how far he's come. "There ain't no comin' back," indeed. David Patrick Kelly's performance makes it surprisingly moving.
  • All There in the Manual: Top Dollar, Myca, and Grange are never named in the actual film itself.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Devil's Night is a real thing in Detroit. Things have gotten better in the 21st century, thanks in large part to community groups that formed specifically to prevent the arsons, in an effort known as "Angel's Night".
  • Animal Eye Spy: Eric Draven has among his powers the ability to see through the eyes of the title bird.
  • Arc Words: "It can't rain all the time."
  • Arch-Enemy: Eric Draven has Top Dollar, the crime boss who had him and his fiance murdered.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • In the comic, there's that one little girl whom Eric helps that has a name similar to his dead fiancee's. She gets a name change (Sarah), a big role in the film (the bestest buddy of Shelly and Eric), and her mom's involvement with Funboy is upped. From there, she becomes the love interest in the sequel and once again is in the series.
    • Top Dollar was a pretty minor villain in the comic and dies pretty early on. In the film, he's the Big Bad.
  • Award-Bait Song: "It Can't Rain All the Time" by Jane Siberry.
  • Badass Boast: This exchange with Albrecht.
    Albrecht: You're the guy that murdered Tin-Tin.
    Eric: He was already dead. He died a year ago the moment he touched her. They're all dead. They just don't know it yet.
  • Badass Longcoat: Eric takes it off Tin Tin and sets it aside when he finishes the goons off...and after it's filled with holes from about five hundred bullets.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Top Dollar is well dressed, even as he throws down with Eric.
  • Barbarian Longhair: Eric has a heavy metal mane. Interestingly, in the comic he had a mullet, but subsequent re-editions made his hair longer.
  • Bare-Handed Blade Block: Eric used this technique to catch a knife thrown at his head, after dodging one such knife and deflecting a second.
  • Battle in the Rain: Despite being set in a city of perpetual rain, this only happens during the climatic fight between Top Dollar and Draven.
  • Battle Trophy: Eric Draven's Badass Longcoat is taken off Tin Tin, the very first target of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge. He later takes Funboy and T-Bird's guns.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: From Myca to Top Dollar, after he wished he was hungry again.
    Myca: Be careful what you ask for.
    Top Dollar: Yeah, or you may get it, I know.
  • Big Bad: Top Dollar reveals he was behind everything near the end. He ordered Eric and Shelly's murders, and even started Devil's Night in the first place.
  • Big Damn Hero: Albrecht. Just as Grange is about to kill the raven, and by extension, Eric, Albrecht bursts in with a shotgun, has a firefight with Grange and manages to pump two rounds into his chest. Unfortunately, he is shot by Myca soon after and is down, but survives.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Technically Eric and Shelley die first but this film follows the spirit of the trope and Tin-Tin, the one black member of T-Bird's posse, is the first to die. When the climactic battle starts, Grange is the first one to go down - shot, ironically, by the other black guy.
  • Blame Game: Skank does this when he realizes the reason why Eric wants him dead.
    Skank: It's not fair! It was Funboy's fault. That boy was outta control! T-bird, he came in there, (whistles) "Waste 'em both". Now this ghost's gonna kill my ass, next!
  • Blood-Stained Glass Windows: After a shootout inside, the final fight takes place on the roof of a neo-Gothic church, in a rainy night, overlooking the graveyard.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Eric kicks off the battle with Top Dollar's goons by shooting one of them in the head while under the table.
  • Bottomless Magazines: In a particularly egregious example, during the shootout with the gangsters, Eric manages to fire several dozen bullets each from a pair of revolvers.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: Top Dollar is a collector of antique weapons, and he uses a rapier to execute Gideon. Eric also steals a katana from his collection while in the midst of mowing through his goons.
  • Bring It: Eric Draven comes into a room looking for Skank. Finding him, he asks Top Dollar for him, and he'll go away. When Top Dollar responds in the negative, Draven replies: "Well. I see you've made your decision. Now let's see you enforce it."
    • Also, when Eric politely asks Albrecht to shoot him when they first meet.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Top Dollar and Myca are half-siblings who are open about their sexual relationship and their villainy.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Top Dollar and his half-sister, Myca, are in charge of Top Dollar's criminal syndicate, and she serves as his advisor on supernatural matters. Because they're villains, their relationship is openly incestuous.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Played with. Tin-Tin didn't seem to recognize Eric, nor his description of the rape and murder of his girlfriend Shelly, handwaving it as if he does that stuff all the time, but it doesn't stop him from taunting Eric about it. Funboy was the only one Eric didn't bring it up to, not that it mattered since he killed him in the middle of a Morphine bender. T-Bird does remember, but considers it ancient history, playing the trope somewhat straight. Skank remembers enough to know that he's next after seeing Eric kill T-Bird. Top Dollar, seeing as he was the one who cleared that building, does remember it vividly but treats it as business, snidely apologizing for spoiling Eric and Shelly's wedding plans.
  • Calling Card: Eric leaves a crow symbol by the bodies of his victims, usually in blood, but on one occasion in fire.
  • Canon Foreigner: Top Dollar's henchman Grange and his sister-consort Myca, were created for the movie.
  • Catch and Return: Eric to Tin-Tin, after dodging his first two knives. Then he closes in for the kill with this memorable line: "Victims... aren't we all?"
  • Chekhov's Gun: By laying hands on Albrecht, Eric is able to psychically absorb every agonizing detail of Shelly's 30 hour ordeal, because of the fact that Albrecht stayed with her the whole time. Eric bottles it up until his battle with Top Dollar at the end, when he lays hands on him and transfers all 30 hours all at once.
  • Cigarette Burns: In a bar scene, T-Bird puts a cigar out on his own tongue for laughs.
  • City Noir: Detroit, in a heightened and stylised manner.
  • Climbing Climax: The final fight between Eric and Top Dollar takes place atop the bell tower of an abandoned church.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Done on purpose by Top Dollar to show his lack of concern when Gideon and Grange first tell him about the Crow:
    Grange: I saw him too. He had a guitar, and he winked at me before he jumped out of a fourth story window.
    Top Dollar: He winked at you? Musicians!
  • The Commissioner Gordon: Officer Albrecht becomes Eric's biggest ally. Unfortunately, his aiding a vigilante who is on a murder spree against Top Dollar's gang eventually gets him suspended, at which point he takes a more active hand in things.
  • Composite Character:
    • Officer Albrecht in the comic is a white rookie patrolman, and reports to a black detective by the name of Captain Hook (ha, ha). If you're gonna pay for Ernie Hudson, you might as well use him.
    • Top Dollar in the film was also sort of a mash-up of several gangster characters from the comic - though his role in the story mostly stands him in for T-Bird (who, in turn, was relegated to being Top Dollar's lieutenant) and turns him from a drug kingpin into an almost ludicrously depraved monster.
  • Cool Guns:
    • Both the Beretta and Taurus varieties are used. Notably, the bad guys and Eric carry Tauruses, and the cops carry Berettas.
    • Funboy uses a Smith and Wesson stainless steel model 629. Due to a combination of a blank cartridge and a squib-loaded bullet lodged in the barrel, this is most likely the weapon that killed Brandon Lee.
  • Cool Old Guy: Mickey, who runs a hotdog stand across the street from Gideon's pawn shop.
  • Cool Sword: Top Dollar has a large display of swords. His sword of choice, in the center of the display, is an ornate Royal Rapier. The prop is the same one used for the six-fingered sword in The Princess Bride.
  • Crapsack World: The world of Detroit is a nocturnal hellscape of crime and urban decay.
  • Create Your Own Hero: Top Dollar unwittingly created his own nemesis when he orders T-Bird's gang to lay waste to several apartments and murder their residents to create chaos. He never paid it any second thought until Eric Draven returns from the dead to exact revenge on his killers.
  • Creator Cameo: O'Barr himself appears in the film as one of the looters robbing Gideon's store: he's the long-haired guy with the TV.
  • Creepy Cathedral: True to its gothic aesthetic, the final battle between Eric Draven, Top Dollar and his minions takes place in an abandoned cathedral.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Eric Draven was held up like this by his murderers before being blown out the window. One year later, upon returning from the dead to avenge himself and his girlfriend, he goes into one of these as he takes every bullet Top Dollar's gang has to offer in the boardroom. His powers have made him bulletproof, and so this doesn't stop him for long.
  • Cultured Badass: Eric Draven, at least while he has crow powers. He's a guitar playing undead ninja who quotes Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven and William Makepiece Thackeray's Vanity Fair.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: The Anti-Hero version, done by Eric to T-Bird.
  • Dark Chick: Myca is an interesting example. She at first appears to be in the film only for Fanservice, and tends to come off as The Ditz because at first she makes a show of barely being able to speak English ("I like the pretty lights"). But she proves to be a Magical Asian, having dark knowledge about the occult and black magic that the other gang members can't possibly understand - and it is she who divines that the titular black bird following Eric Draven around is the source of his zombie-like power, and nearly helps her half-brother triumph by kidnapping the bird, rendering Eric mortal and capable of bleeding when he gets shot.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Eric and Shelley were goths, but otherwise nice, normal people. Eric looks particularly menacing in his black leather outfit and sparse, harlequin-inspired makeup, but he doesn't let revenge stand in the way of his morals.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Eric in Gideon's shop. Gideon himself too. And Top Dollar. And Albrecht. You know what, pretty much everybody.
  • Deadly Euphemism:
    • "Looks like he zigged when he should've zagged."
    • And later, after T-Bird's very grisly vigilante slaying: "They had to ID his teeth."
  • Depraved Bisexual: Myka, Top Dollar's sister and supernatural knowledge broker, is in an incestuous relationship with him. They have a threesome with a girl whom they accidentally kill, and Myka decides to take her eyes.
  • Destination Defenestration: Eric is sent right out of the window of his and Shelly's apartment after getting shot when he and she are murdered. One of Eric's revenge kills serves as something of an "eye for an eye" for this namely, Skank, who he sends out a window in the aftermath of the big shootout at Top Dollar's place.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Obviously nobody from T-Bird's gang expected they would get viciously murdered by a person they killed one year ago. Best seen with T-Bird who is deep in denial when he recognizes Eric.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation:
    • In the comic, Eric merely shoots Tin-Tin. In the film, he stabs him with his own blades.
    • In the comic, Eric shoots Gideon. In the film, he lets him live so he can tell the bad guys that he's coming for them. Then Top Dollar stabs him in the throat, then shoots him.
    • In the comic, Eric kills Skank with a sword. In the film, he throws him out a window.
    • In the comic, Eric merely shoots Top Dollar. In the film, he plants Shelley's trauma into his head, which causes him to fall off a building and get impaled on a gargoyle.
    • The comic ends as Eric is about to kill T-Bird with a hammer. In the film, he blows him up in his own car.
    • Eric was originally merely shot in the head by the goons. In the film, he was stabbed, shot and thrown out a window.
    • Eric's and Shelley's deaths are somewhat reversed. In the comic, Eric is shot and paralyzed and forced to watch Shelley's rape, and later dies in the hospital; Shelley dies during her assault. In the film, Eric is killed during the gang's attack, and Shelley survives her assault to die later in the hospital.
  • Digital Head Swap: Brandon Lee's face was digitally grafted onto a stunt performer's body for a small smattering of scenes not yet shot at the time of his death. Most notable is the Becoming the Mask scene. From the time Eric enters the apartment until the end of the obligatory "runs along the rooftops" scene, a stunt man was playing Brandon Lee.
  • Dirty Coward: Skank. He spends most of his screentime whining or crying. When Eric interrupts Top Dollar's reunion, Skank immediately tries to escape by using one of the serving girls as a Human Shield.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: T-Bird seems to be the Big Bad, as the leader of the gang who killed Eric and Shelley, but it's shown halfway through the film that he works for a crime boss known simply as Top Dollar.
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted when Eric fills Top Dollar's head with "Thirty hours of pain!", causing him to reel backwards and fall off the roof of the cathedral they were fighting on — only to be impaled on the huge curved horns of a gargoyle half-way down.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Judging by Top Dollar's comment, "I think we broke this one," the dead woman in his bed was a random prostitute.
  • The Don: Top Dollar apparently has authority over all major crime in the city.
    Top Dollar: Nothing happens in this town without my say-so.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: "So many cops, you'd think they were giving away doughnuts".
  • The Dragon: Grange is Top Dollar's bodyguard and the one tasked to find out more information about Eric.
  • Dragon Lady: Myca, played by Bai Ling, is a forceful queen of crime and black magic who sports a giant, colorful dragon tattoo.
  • Dragon Their Feet: Eric kills off the gang who attacked him and Shelly, eventually killing the leader, T-Bird. Skank, his right hand man, is the last member of the gang to die. While the gang might be considered a Quirky Miniboss Squad to Top Dollar, they were Eric's initial targets.
  • Dramatic Thunder: The final fight against Top Dollar takes place on a church roof during a thunderstorm. The storm ends as The Crow stands victorious...
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous: As part of his Establishing Character Moment, Top Dollar realizes that the naked woman in his bed died at some point in the night. He's unfazed.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Sarah's mother Darla spends her time shooting up with Funboy. Eric cures her of her addiction, tells her that morphine is bad for her and that her daughter is waiting for her. He then proceeds to kill Funboy via overdose.
  • Empathic Environment: It finally stops raining after Top Dollar is dead, and Eric returns to his grave at peace.
  • Enemy Mime: Played With and lampshaded when Albrecht facetiously refers to the chalk-faced Eric Draven as "a mime from Hell."
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The criminal gangs in the various movies were pretty ethnically diverse. Even the brother/sister team in the first film were of different ethnicities (they're half-siblings).
  • Even Evil Has Standards: T-Bird appears annoyed by the chaotic crowd in The Pit.
    T-Bird: Look at this mess. What's the world coming to?!
  • Eye Scream:
    • Myca has a fondness for eyes. When a prostitute dies in her bed, she decides that he likes the dead girl's eyes and cuts them out. We later see her burning an eyeball in a saucer.
    • Myca's own eyes are later pecked out by Eric's crow, causing her to fall to her death.
  • Fake Shemp: Since Brandon Lee died in an accident with dummy bullets, they had to use a stand-in for some of the scenes and used CGI to composite Brandon's face over his. It mostly worked unless you were paying close attention.
  • Fat Bastard: Gideon. Possibly also an incompetent one.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Top Dollar usually has a very amiable disposition, speaking casually about horrible topics and even complimenting Eric before he prepares to kill him. However, his total lack of empathy suggests that he does this simply because he's so confident in his hold on the city that he doesn't need to impress anyone.
  • Finger in a Barrel: Eric plugs Funboy's gun barrel with his palm, which he casually fires through. Cue the Oh, Crap! when the bullet hole instantly heals.
  • Flaming Emblem: Eric did this using explosives and gasoline to turn T-Bird's own car into a bomb. When the car explodes, a trail of flames spread across the pier in a pattern created by Draven's accelerant, creating the crow emblem. This is an interesting case in that the character did not really have an emblem in-universe. The emblem was used in marketing and the film's logo.
  • For the Evulz: Top Dollar's speech about Devil's Night is about his belief that Devil's Night should be about pointless destruction, not profit.
    Top Dollar: Greed is for amateurs. Disorder, chaos, anarchy... now that's fun!
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Grange sports a rather stylish pair of round-frame glasses.
  • Freudian Excuse: The villainous Top Dollar brings up his apparently abusive father several times in the film, ultimately revealing that he's killed him.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Eric is a heroic example. A murdered goth-rocker is resurrected as a superpowerful avenging angel.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Eric Draven's return from the grave gifts him with a healing factor that prevents him from gaining any new scars - but the scars from the bullet wounds that killed him remain clearly visible on his chest when shirtless.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Eric's default strategy despite his fighting prowess. Officer Albrecht even lampshades this when his plan is for Eric to draw the bad guys' fire until they run out of ammo. Too bad his Healing Factor has been disabled at this point.
  • A Good Way to Die: After being done with his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, Eric Draven lies against his tombstone dying, but right before death, he is visited by his lover Shelly's spirit, and he dies fully content that both his revenge was done and that he was reunited with his lost love.
  • Gothic Punk: The film exposed millions to the Gothic Punk aesthetic.
  • Groin Attack: Where does Eric place the stick of dynamite when he blows up T-Bird? Between the legs, of course.
  • Guns Akimbo: Eric blasts off with both guns blazing during the boardroom shootout, while Top Dollar gets his moment during the church shootout near the end of the movie.
  • Guttural Growler: Top Dollar, as played by the prodigiously raspy Michael Wincott. Even in other foreign dubs of the movie he maintains this kind of voice.
  • Healing Factor: Eric seems to possess this ability. Right to the point of making a very bad religious joke in between successive on-target revolver blasts. Too bad the actor wasn't so endowed.
  • Heel Realization: T-Bird dies quoting (in earnest, this time) Lucifer's Heel Realization from Paradise Lost.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Eric wears a whole leather outfit.
  • The Hero Dies: Eric Draven returns to the grave after avenging his murder.
  • Heroic Bloodshed: The action in this movie is very reminiscent of Hong Kong Blood Opera. It certainly helps that Brandon Lee's first movie was a Heroic Bloodshed flick.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Top Dollar is defeated by the misery he caused to Eric and Shelly.
    • Tin Tin is killed with his own knives, Fun Boy by his own gun and syringes, and T-Bird by his T-Bird and explosives. The only member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad who isn't Hoist by His Own Petard is Skank, who gets a Karmic Death by getting thrown out the window, just like Eric was.
  • Holy Backlight: During the "I do care" scene in the movie, with Eric silhouetted by the sun in the big window.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Eric's death and return from the grave take place on Devil's Night, the night before Halloween.
  • "I Am Becoming" Song: The Cure's "Burn" (the movie's unofficial anthem) thunders on during the sequence where Eric makes himself into the Crow. Interestingly, the lyrics use the comic's plot, not the movie's.
  • I Think You Broke Him: Said by Top Dollar when he observes that the woman who'd recently been in a threeway with him and Myca has died. Neither are exactly broken up by the realization.
  • If We Survive This: Suddenly finding the taste of cigarettes disgusting after being shot, Albrecht mutters, "I'm quitting as of now. If I live." This is also a Call-Back to Draven, a walking dead man, chuckling after stealing Albrecht's cigarette, that "You shouldn't smoke these. They'll kill ya."
  • Impaled Palm: Eric Draven first demonstrates his regenerating powers by impaling his hands on shards of glass lining the broken window he was thrown through.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Eric kills Tin-Tin by stabbing all of his major organs. In alphabetical order, no less. Plus, Top-Dollar is impaled on a gargoyle statue after being thrown off the chapel roof by Eric.
  • Improvised Weapon: During his final duel with Top Dollar on the roof of a cathedral, Eric rips off an ornate iron spire to use as an improvised sword against Top Dollar's katana.
  • In the Back: During Eric and Top Dollar's battle on the church rooftops, Eric is momentarily distracted by a distressed Sarah. Top Dollar takes a cheap shot by sneaking up behind him and stabbing Eric through the back with his sword.
  • Ironic Echo: Albrect confronts Eric, saying "you move and you're dead". Based on his current situation, Eric's reply is "I'm dead and I move".
  • Irony: Eric is immune to bullets after rising from the dead and laughs about how bullets can't hurt him. Considering that Brandon Lee was accidentally shot and killed during production, this is both sad and ironic.
  • It Always Rains at Funerals:
    • Inverted. It's raining when Eric crawls out of his grave.
    • Subverted at the end of the film after Eric returns to the grave, the rain is easing off when the crow gives Shelly's ring to Sarah. It can't rain all the time, after all.
  • It's Snowing Cocaine: Top Dollar is seen with a ludicrously large pile of coke from which he occasionally snorts as he gives directions to his underlings.
  • Jerkass: Albrecht's superior Jenson.
  • Junkie Parent: Sarah spends a lot of time running around unsupervised thanks to her mother's morphine addiction. A confrontation with Eric does prompt her to try going clean and being a parent again.
  • Just Between You and Me: At the end, crime lord Top Dollar gives the avenging Eric Draven the speech after he impales him through the back. He admits that he's ultimately responsible for the death of Eric and his girlfriend Shelly, and expresses admiration for what he considered a Worthy Opponent. As he gets ready to slit Eric's throat, Eric gives back what Top Dollar's owed - the combined memories of 30 hours of pain experienced by Shelly as she died on the operating table.
  • Karmic Death:
    • "I have something for you. I don't want it anymore".
    • Basically everyone from T-Bird's gang:
      • Tin-Tin, as Knife Nut, is killed by being stabbed by pretty much all of his knives.
      • Fun Boy, apparently heavy user of metamphetamine, is killed when Eric overdoses him with it.
      • T-Bird is blown in his own car with explosives he planned to start fires with.
      • Skank is sent out a window, much like he and his buddies did to Eric himself.
    • Myca likes to takes eyes. She gets hers pecked out by the crow.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Top Dollar has an entire cabinet full of swords, but uses a katana to fight Eric during the climax. Eric grabs one from the cabinet himself during the gang boss massacre. Ironic since Michael Wincott, the actor who plays Top Dollar, is an accomplished fencer in real life. The trope is somewhat averted earlier in the film, when a rapier (the Six Finger Sword) is shown to be the centrally placed in Top Dollar's sword cabinet, and is selected to kill Gideon.
  • Knife Nut: Tin-Tin, whose predilection for knives is so great, he's the only gangster in all of Detroit who doesn't carry a gun. In a bit of cruel irony, Eric uses these same knives to take Tin-Tin's life (and his jacket) after beating him in a fight.
  • Kubrick Stare: Post-mortem Eric Draven is quite fond of this.
  • Lack of Empathy: Top Dollar cares absolutely nothing for the pain he causes. His only reaction to a lover dying in his bed is, "I think we broke this one." He slaughters Gideon for backtalking him. His little heart-to-heart with Eric in the climax betrays no regret over his actions. He even has no reaction to the death of Myca, his sister and consort.
  • Large Ham:
    • Top Dollar, especially in his Motive Rant scene.
    • Eric himself on occasion, such as when he tortures Gideon for information.
    • T-Bird and his gang.
  • Le Parkour: Eric leaps and sprints across the city rooftops in two highly atmospheric scenes.
  • Licked by the Dog: During Eric's transformation, he pauses to scratch Gabriel the cat that was left to fend for itself after he and his fiancee were murdered. Gabriel, in turn, licks his hand, apparently recognizing him even after he's been dead and buried for a year. (Cats have eyes, and cats have long-term memory, but Draven likely doesn't smell like he used to, besides having put on Harlequin-mask face paint.)
  • Lighter and Softer: Comparably speaking. The movie is very dark, but the character is less manically sociopathic than his comic book counterpart, and the violence is less extreme. For example, the film has a touching scene where Eric gives Albrecht a meaningful speech about how "nothing is trivial" and how you have to treasure each moment as they come. In the comic he shoots up drugs and self-mutilates in a frenzy of grief and anger, repeatedly.
  • Lipstick-and-Load Montage: In a non-comedic male example, Eric has one of these right before going out to avenge his and Shelly's deaths, including putting on the famous black and white makeup.
  • Looks Like Cesare: Eric doesn't just have pale skin but also white facepaint.
  • The Lopsided Arm of the Law: Detroit has a one-night surge of arson the cops can't do a thing about. A double-murder of a public advocate and her boyfriend rates a couple of squad cars that only show up long after the violence. Start killing off criminals, though, and we have multiple squad cars, a large armed response, a helicopter...
  • Madness Mantra: T-Bird's "There ain't no comin' back, there ain't no comin' back...." And for him, this was true.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Top Dollar wears very fancy, expensive vintage clothing and keeps an array of antique swords nearby. This contrasts with his mooks who all dress in average clothing (jeans, jackets, etc.)
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
  • Meaningful Echo: "It can't rain all the time".
  • Meaningful Name: Eric Draven's surname contains "raven," another type of black bird similar to a crow.
  • Meta Casting As Himself: O'Barr supposedly based the look of Gideon in the comic on the actor Jon Polito. Jon Polito played the part of Gideon in the film.
  • Mexican Standoff: T-Bird and his gang briefly have one amongst themselves while drunk. It ends once T-bird shows he's just playing around.
  • Mind Rape: Hero on villain example: Eric Draven can experience the sensations and memories of others through touch. When he picks up from Officer Albrecht what his fiancee Shelly went through before she died (thirty hours of surgery and intensive care), he's staggered by it all — though he recovers, as he's already undead and probably quite insane from a certain point of view. He also demonstrates another ability — to transfer the things he knows through touch, which he uses to full retributive effect on Top Dollar, whose orders were responsible for Shelly getting raped and beaten to death, and Eric himself being gunned down. Top Dollar, who while evil is quite alive and mostly sane, proves to be unable to stand "thirty hours of pain," all in one shot...
  • Mood Dissonance: Eric Draven's interactions with the gang that killed him jump sentence-to-sentence between silly jokes and brutal violence.
  • Mook Horror Show: The much more elaborate re-creation of the shootout on the street from the comic, set this time up in Top Dollar's penthouse suite above the nightclub he owns. Unlike in the comic, here Eric doesn't actually want to kill anyone except for Skank, one of his fiancée's rapists (all of whom were acting on Top Dollar's orders, but Eric doesn't know this yet) - and was willing to let everyone else live, including Top Dollar and Myca, if they would just hand Skank over to him. But Top Dollar's extreme arrogance drives him to immediately order Eric's execution - and the inevitable result is what looks like two dozen henchmen being slaughtered either by gunfire, Top Dollar's stash of antique weapons, or simply being thrown out the window. Ridiculously, they all keep coming at Eric even when it should be clear that they are absolutely no match for him even when all together, yet alone as one or two stubbornly persistent men.
  • Named by the Adaptation: In the original graphic novel, Eric and Shelly's last names went unmentioned. The film gave them the surnames of 'Draven' and 'Webster' respectively.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: When he comes back from the dead, Eric is completely invulnerable to being shot or hurt, until a mystic determines killing the man's crow companion leaves him vulnerable.
  • No Name Given: Top Dollar, Myca and Grange are never named in the film. Similarly, the gang members who kill Eric and Shelly are known only by their nicknames (Tin-Tin, T-Bird, Funboy and Skank).
  • No-Sell: Eric is a walking example of this, since he's a dead man come back to life; while it's implied he still feels the pain from being wounded, at least briefly, said wounds eventually heal themselves. Subverted near the film's end when Top Dollar and his gang realize that by taking out the crow itself, they'll be able to finish off Eric, as the crow is Eric's link to our world.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Skank is a whiner and a coward. He's clearly the low man on the totem pole in T-Bird's gang, and compared to Top Dollar and Eric he's downright pathetic. You almost feel sorry for him. Then he gets hit by a car, and when the driver steps out to inflict more damage, Skank beats him down in seconds. The weakest of a gang of brutal thugs is still a brutal thug.
  • Oh, Crap!: Pretty much everyone from T-Bird's gang gets one when confronted by the titular character, to varying degree. Also Gideon when Eric No Sells his gunshot.
  • One Last Smoke: Subverted. After having shared a smoke with Eric, who ironically tells him "You shouldn't smoke these. They'll kill ya," Albrecht gets wounded and asks for a cigarette, but he spits it out and decides to quit. He lives, but hopefully it was still his last cigarette.
  • One-Man Army: Eric, when taking out the gangsters in Top Dollar's headquarters. Being invincible probably helped.
  • One-Woman Wail: Not surprisingly, the Graeme Revell score has a lot of this going on.
  • Out of Continues: Eric suffers this while his bird is being held by Myca. He got better, and then he didn't.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The gang who killed Eric and Shelly were employees of Top Dollar. Played with in that while Top Dollar is technically the Big Bad of the film, they are the targets of Eric's revenge.
  • Parrot Pet Position: The crow can sometimes be seen perched on Eric's shoulder.
  • Percussive Therapy: Eric plays his guitar and then smashes it in a fit of grief and anger.
  • Pet the Dog: A rare anti-hero centric example, as Eric's relationships with Sarah and Officer Albrecht humanizes him and keeps him from becoming the borderline monster that he is in the comics.
  • Photo Doodle Recognition: Albrecht figures out that Eric Draven is the vigilante that's been killing Top Dollar's gang when he draws the distinctive marks from the vigilante's face on the eyes and lips of a picture of Eric.
  • Posthumous Character: Eric's girlfriend Shelly Webster was given this treatment, both in flashbacks and from the other characters, such as Eric himself, who came Back from the Dead in order to avenge them both:
    Eric: Little things used to mean so much to Shelly. I always thought they were kind of trivial. Believe me, nothing is trivial.
  • Post-Rape Taunt: Tin-Tin taunts Eric Draven, whose girlfriend he and his buddies gang-raped, by telling him "I shagged her pink ass and she loved it!" Draven soon gives him reason to regret this taunt.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    • "Victims...aren't we all?"
    • "Is that gasoline I smell?"
      • Subverted. Gideon survives.
    • T-Bird gives one to himself that is rather fitting, as it was from Shelly's book that he took on the night he and his colleagues murdered her: "Abashed the devil stood, and felt how awful goodness was."
  • Prepare to Die: When Eric Draven faces down Top Dollar's entire gang at the club, just before the biggest shootout of the movie.
    You're all going to die.
  • Properly Paranoid: Skank, while not very smart and a coward. The second he sees a picture of Eric without the make up he instantly knows who it is and reacts in fear.
  • Psycho for Hire: Tin-Tin, Funboy, T-Bird and Skank, Eric Draven's targets of vengeance, who do particularly brutal jobs for the city's kingpin, Top Dollar. In something of a subversion of the trope, Top Dollar is far more evil than even these psychotic killers.
  • Psychometry: Eric has the ability to pick up on memories related to his past by touching things related to said past—including ones that didn't originate with him, as seen with the scene with Gideon when he sees Shelly's final moments through the cop's eyes. He eventually develops the ability to transfer memories and the pain that comes with them by touch, which he uses to completely wreck Top Dollar in the final battle.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Skank is a rapist and a murderer. He also frequently acts like a brain-dead hillbilly and is treated as a Butt-Monkey mascot for the rest of the gang, and he cries like a little boy whenever he's in danger. He eventually becomes so cowardly and pathetic that he essentially turns into an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, and the film has to flash back briefly to Skank's rape of Shelly to justify Eric's killing of him.
  • Purpose-Driven Immortality: As long as the titular Crow is alive, the person they brought back is immortal and has a Healing Factor. This becomes a problem when Eric loses his immortality because he's already finished off every member of the gang who previously killed him and his girlfriend, but the crime lord who ordered the murder (and was thus indirectly responsible even if he might be the most culpable) is still breathing, so Eric's soul still can't rest in peace.
  • Pyromaniac: Crime lord Top Dollar is a gangster who institutionalized the yearly arsons of Devil's Night that plague Detroit by starting the first fires and then expanding the idea each year while reaping profits on the side. At a conference between the major gang leaders he announces that he's grown bored of it all, and to top himself declares that he's going to burn down the whole city purely for his own amusement.
  • Race Lift:
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Eric Draven smashes the vanity mirror before applying the trademark makeup of the titular avenger, suggesting a severance with his past self in order to avenge the murder of himself and his fiancée.
  • Rape and Revenge: Expanded into rape-and-murder and revenge-from-beyond-the-grave
  • Rapunzel Hair: Top Dollar has long black hair (worn loose), which is basically Anime Hair in real life.
  • Redemption in the Rain: Especially moving when Eric crawls out of the grave and returns to the cemetery in the end of the film, all the time accompanied by heavy rain. In fact, there's so much rain in the film that it originated one of its most important lines: "It can't rain all the time".
    • Also inverted. At the end when things have finally been put right and Eric is at peace, it stops raining.
  • Relative Button: Tin-Tin doesn't seem to recognize Eric's description of the rape and murder of Shelly, but he uses a Post-Rape Taunt to distract Eric and briefly gain an advantage in their fight.
    Eric: Her name was Shelly. You cut her. You raped her.
    Tin-Tin: Shelly, yeah. I shanked her pink ass and she loved it! *headbutts a distracted Eric*
  • Reusable Lighter Toss: Eric tosses a reusable lighter after killing T-Bird. The flames make a crow outline.
  • Revenant Zombie: Eric is a quintessential revenant but, unlike most, retains compassion for the living as well as a semblance of his former personality. This is less true in the original comics.
  • Rise from Your Grave: Eric rises from his grave in the beginning, literally crawling out of the ground.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Such an extreme case of it that the protagonist comes Back from the Dead to accomplish it.
  • Rockers Smash Guitars: After performing the solo of his (un)life on the roof of his old apartment building, Eric Draven smashes his guitar.
  • Roofhopping: Eric Draven uses this to get around Detroit and get the drop on Tin Tin, and to escape from the cops after the big shootout with Top Dollar's men.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: The final battle between Eric and Top Dollar takes place on the roof of a church.
  • Royal Rapier: Top Dollar is the king of crime in his city. He's not interested in mere financial gain, however. He and his sister live a bacchanal of evil and want to spread discord purely for its own sake. He dresses in fine, outdated outfits and has a whole wall of various swords. His weapon of choice is an ornate rapier. Interesting trivia: his rapier is the Six-Fingered Sword from The Princess Bride.
  • Russian Reversal: Played With:
    Albrecht: (pointing gun at Eric) You move and you're dead!
    Eric: I am dead, and yet I move!
  • Scary Black Man: Grange. Well, he is played by Tony Todd, so it's a given.
  • The Scourge of God: Eric is a far more altruistic example than most, with the sinners in question being some of the most depraved, murdering, raping sadistic scum you're likely to ever meet, and he even helps a drug addict who he justifiably sees as more a victim than anything..
  • Serial-Killer Killer: Eric, though not just any serial killer will do. It's Personal.
  • Shaped Like Itself: When Eric catches up to T-Bird, it takes a while for T-Bird to realize who he is. This is doubtless partially due to the makeup Draven wore, but it might also have been denial, as when he realizes it, he's so confused and frightened he fires off five of these statements in a row.
    ... I know you. I knew I knew you; I knew I knew you... But you can't be you. This is the really real world. We killed you dead! There ain't no comin' back..."
  • Shocking Voice Identity Reveal: Eric was good friends with Sarah before his murder. Upon returning as a super-powered revenant based on vengeance, he winds up meeting her again. He speaks to her a bit then quotes one of his songs, at which point he escapes into the night and she loses sight of him. The girl calls out, "Eric?"
  • Shower Scene: Myca, Top Dollar's consort/sister is introduced taking a shower.
  • Sliding Scale of Undead Regeneration: Eric gets Type IV, thanks to the titular crow which accompanies him (having brought him back from the dead). But he's brought down to a Type II for the final showdown after one of the villains severely injures the bird.
  • The Slow Walk: Occurs when Eric fights Tin-Tin. He dodges one thrown knife, and stalks towards his opponent, teeth bared. He bats the next thrown knife out of the air, and eggs Tin-Tin on to try again. He catches the third knife, then throws it back.
  • The Sociopath: Top Dollar, a crime boss who decides to burn his city to the ground For the Evulz.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Top Dollar is amazingly charismatic and calm almost all the time. Though he does have a couple moments where he loses his temper and hollers, even when being outright insulted and disrespected by Gideon he keeps his cool and even agrees maybe he's "not as big as he thinks." Then he tosses Gideon someone else's torn out eye and, still being chillingly calm, tells the man that's what happened to the last guy who talked back to him like that. Then he runs him through the throat with a sabre for the hell of it, without ever once breaking composure.
  • Something Only They Would Say: "It can't rain all the time."
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Eric does that a lot to people. It's lampshaded by Albrecht four times. It's ultimately subverted when, after a particularly emotional conversation, Albrecht asks if Eric is going to just vanish out a window or something, and a tearful Eric says that he'd rather use the front door.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: What Top Dollar and his Devil's Night gang like to do. Eric blows up Gideon's pawnshop as well as T-Bird's car with him inside.
  • Tempting Fate: When confronting Eric, Tin-Tin takes out his knives and boasts he never misses. Eric dodges his first throw, slaps his second one aside, and pulls a Catch and Return on the third.
  • This Cannot Be!: As Eric Draven is about to dispatch T-Bird, T-Bird recognizes him:
    "I know you. I know you. I knew I knew you, I knew I knew you. But you ain't you. You can't be you. We put you through the window. There ain't no coming back. This is the really real world, there ain't no coming back. We killed you dead, there ain't no coming back! There ain't no coming back! There ain't no coming back!"
  • This Is Reality: Or so T-Bird keeps telling himself after he recognizes Eric.
    "There ain't no coming back. This is the really real world, there ain't no coming back."
  • Together in Death: "Buildings burn, people die, but real love is forever". The theme of the film, increasingly amplified throughout the subsequent franchise, is that "If two people are truly meant to be together, nothing can keep them apart. Not even death."
  • Tomboy: Sarah, who wears hoodies, ripped tights, rides a skateboard and is into Eric's rock music.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Gideon, literally so. Just could not shut up when dealing with either Eric or Top Dollar. Eric blew up his shop. Top Dollar rammed a rapier through his throat and shot him twice.
    • For that matter, Top Dollar himself showed he was just Too Dumb to Live by getting himself involved in the first place. He was never on Eric's target list, ever. Had he stepped back and let Eric finish off Skank like Eric wanted to, Top Dollar would have no doubt lived a long and fruitful life as Detroit's chief boogeyman. But no... he just had to stick his nose in.
    • Sadly, Eric and Shelley themselves: the happy couple, while being aware of Top Dollar's reputation as a violent gangster, decide to remain well within his sphere of influence after reporting on his crimes officially, as opposed to fleeing the immediate area, or at least using an alias. T-Bird waves the paperwork (presumably complete with Shelley's name and address) in Shelley's face before he and and his gang rape her to death.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Bai Ling has a serious moment in her Shower Scene, showing off Myca's tattoo.
  • Totalitarian Gangsterism: Top Dollar's crime syndicate regularly engages in arson around Detroit and has the citizens living in those buildings robbed, brutalized, and murdered on a regular basis. At a conference, he suggests that he and his fellow gangsters should just forget about actually profiting from their crimes and instead burn the entire city to the ground for shits and giggles.
  • Touch Telepathy: Eric develops this power after he gets psychometry, and uses it to GREAT effect in the end, completely wrecking Top Dollar by forcibly giving him the memories of the last 30 hours of Shelly's life (since his orders were responsible for Shelly getting raped and beaten to death, and Eric himself being gunned down). Top Dollar, who while evil is quite alive and mostly sane, proves to be unable to stand "thirty hours of pain," all in one shot...
  • Tranquil Fury: The beginning of Eric's fight with Tin Tin, he never says a single word or expresses a sound, even when Tin Tin punches him. Then when he finally has Tin Tin pinned to the wall, he screams, "Fuck you... murderer!"
  • Trashcan Bonfire: Tin-Tin is killed while hanging out around one.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: The various flashbacks from Eric and Shelly's life together before it was all ripped apart. May well be the codifier for the trope's use in horror movies.
  • Unhand Them, Villain!: Makes a brief appearance. Eric shouts "Let her go" and Top Dollar responds by shrugging and saying "All right".
  • Vigilante Man: Eric Draven. Although, since he's already died and has resurrected as an unkillable zombie, he's technically a Vigilante Thing.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Just as Eric Draven is closing in on Skank, he finds himself in a conference room where Top Dollar and what appears to be about two dozen of his fellow criminals are holding a meeting. Top Dollar taunts Eric and then orders the whole crew to open fire on him - which, of course, touches off a frighteningly violent from-beyond-the-grave vigilante massacre that persuades Top Dollar, Myca, and Grange to flee the scene long before Eric has slaughtered the last baddie. The thing is, Top Dollar never even had to flee in the first place: Skank was there too, and Top Dollar could have just saved his own life and that of almost everyone else in the room if he'd simply let Eric take Skank. Even then, Top Dollar would probably have lived if only he hadn't kidnapped Sarah - not to mention that he outright admits that he was the one ultimately responsible for Shelly's murder once he (supposedly) has Eric beaten.
  • Villainous Breakdown: T-Bird pretty much loses his mind the moment he recognizes Eric. Considering the verses he's quoting from John Milton's Paradise Lost ("Abashed the Devil stood ..."), this might also qualify as a Heel Realization.
  • Villainous Incest: Top Dollar and his half-sister Myca. They're both into it, they just both happen to be evil.
  • Villainous Valour: Top Dollar braves Draven's fury by refusing to hand over Skank, a low-level thug and Boisterous Weakling.
  • Wall of Weapons: Top Dollar pulls his katana from a pleasantly mounted wall-cabinet full of wonderful toys.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: Myca comments to a kidnapped Sarah, "Her eyes are so innocent..." This is played for horror, as Myca has a habit of collecting people's eyes, and Sarah is a young girl.
  • Whodunnit to Me?: Eric Draven rises from the grave to hunt down the criminals who murdered him and his fiancée.
  • Why Won't You Die?: Funboy shoots Eric several times, only to watch in horror as his Healing Factor kicks in and closes the wounds right before his eyes, leading him to cry "Don't you ever fuckin' die?" Subverted with Top Dollar, since he stabbed Gideon in neck with his rapier is dying, just not quickly enough, so he shoots him twice for good measure to finish him off.
  • Worthy Opponent: This is Top Dollar's feeling towards Eric by the end, saying, "You've got a lot of spirit, son. I am gonna miss you."

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