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Film / The Darwin Awards

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The Darwin Awards is a 2006 American adventure comedy film based on the website of the same name written and directed by Finn Taylor. The film features Joseph Fiennes, Winona Ryder, David Arquette, Juliette Lewis, Wilmer Valderrama, Chris Penn, Julianna Margulies, Robin Tunney, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Brad Hunt, Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman and Metallica.

To investigate bizarre insurance claims that transpired in either accidents, death or both, a former cop and an insurance investigator travel throughout the country to look at the cases up close.


  • Afraid of Blood: Burrows gets demoted from his detective position as he faints at the sight of blood. This allows a suspect to escape when he faints at an inopportune time.
  • The Alleged Car: The two Metallica fans offer to swap their van to a concertgoer for his concert tickets. The concertgoer takes one look at the van, bursts out laughing, and walks off.
  • A Bloody Mess: Siri ditches Burrows—who is Afraid of Blood—by squirting ketchup on to her palm and pretending to cut her hand. She then holds it up to show him and he faints. She then squirts ketchup on his shirt while he is passed out and leaves.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Burrows obsession with the Darwin Awards causes him to attempt to be prepared for as many freak occurrences as possible. This includes travelling with a harness to prevent slips when showering in strange bathrooms, and a helium balloon with a long wire to act as extension antenna for his mobile phone. These preparations prove less helpful than he might have liked.
  • Death by Looking Up: Perp dies when he and Burrows fall off his apartment building and land on the pavement. The heavy stone planter their rope had been wrapped round topples off the roof after them. Burrows rolls out of the way while Perp lies on the ground watching the pot plunge down on top his head.
  • Explosive Stupidity: A pair of men attempting to ice fish become frustrated and use a stick of dynamite to blast a hole in the ice. The problem is their dog plays fetch with the lit dynamite and runs it back towards them. They shoot at the dog in an attempt to dissuade it, and it hides under their brand-new SUV. The dynamite goes off and sinks the SUV into the frozen lake.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: This is Harvey's motivation for strapping a JATO to his Chevy, and trying to break the land speed record, only to become a stain on the side of a mesa.
  • No Name Given: The North Side Killer is only identified in the credits as 'Perp'.
  • Oblivious Janitor Cut: When Emile is lying on the floor with his arm trapped in the vending machine, he screams at a passing janitor who is wearing headphones and does not hear him.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The documentary maker accompanying Burrows and Siri is only ever referred to as "NumbNuts". This is not an affectionate nickname.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: After accidentally sinking his truck with dynamite while attempting to ice fish, Tom falls through the hole in the ice into the frozen lake. Stan goes to rescue him and extends his rife, butt first, to Tom to pull him out. Tom grabs the rifle and accidentally pulls the trigger; shooting Stan in the shoulder.
  • Serial Killer: Burrows is dismissed from the police force after his hematophobia causes him to faint and allows a serial killer he had just captured—the North Side Killer—to escape. After the killer strikes again, he becomes determined to bring him to justice.
  • Short Cuts Make Long Delays: Burrows refuses to take the interstate highway because he considers it "too dangerous". Instead, his route along backroads causes the car to crash through a broken cattle grid and get stuck: stranding them in the middle of nowhere.
  • Slippery Soap: Inverted. Burrows insists on using liquid soap in the shower specifically to avoid this trope, and even constructs a bizarre apparatus to prevent himself from falling down in the bathroom (where most home accidents happen). Of course, the apparatus winds up presenting problems of its own.
  • That One Case: Burrows captures the Serial Killer known as as the 'North Side Killer', only for the killer to escape when Burrows faints due to his fear of blood: the whole event being captured on film by a documentary maker. After his dismissal, Burrows becomes obsessed with fixing his mistake and bringing the North side Killer to justice.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: Burrows is able to overcome his hematophobia when the North Side Killer is holding Siri hostage and cuts her: expecting Burrows to faint. Burrows remains conscious and is able to rescue Siri.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Every subject of the accidents investigated by Burrows and Siri. Burrows goal is to construct a psychological profile of those who qualify for the Darwin Awards.
  • Vapor Trail: Burrows carries a leaking gas can from the stranded car to where Siri is trying to start a campfire. They use to gas to light the fire, which immediately ignites the trail of spilled fuel which burns back to car which blows up.