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"Be afraid. Be very afraid."

"What am I working on? Uhh... I'm working on something that will change the world, and human life as we know it."
Seth Brundle (opening line of the film)
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The Fly (1986), the David Cronenberg version, is an adaptation of a 1957 short story of the same name. This was the second adaptation after The Fly (1958).

This time, mild-mannered but brilliant quantum physicist Seth Brundle (played by Jeff Goldblum) is on the cusp of perfecting his matter transporter after meeting reporter Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis), the love of his life. The happiness is too good to last, as he is accidentally fused with a common housefly on a molecular-genetic level in a seemingly successful transportation experiment. Rather than creating an immediate monster, Veronica now must cope with the pain of watching her lover literally fall apart on a physical and emotional level, and the awful uncertainty of whether the child inside her was conceived before or after the fateful transportation...

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It was followed by a sequel, The Fly II, in 1989; Cronenberg was not involved (the director was instead Chris Walas, who supervised/designed the special effects and makeups of the first film). In 2008 it became one of the few horror films in history to be adapted into an opera — no, seriously — with music by the film's composer, Howard Shore.


This film provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Warehouse: Seth has made his home and lab on the top floor of one of these. According to the shooting script he rents out the space; there appear to be no other tenants.
  • Acid Attack: Brundle uses his stomach acid both to externally digest food and, in one stomach-turning scene, as a weapon. It's actually specified as containing digestive enzymes.
  • Adaptation Inspiration: In this In Name Only adaptation, the central premise of a man's body being mixed up with that of a fly's is retained, but changed into a Slow Transformation that serves as a metaphor for aging, disease, and death. Moreover, it becomes the center of a tragic romance that shows how those inevitabilities take a massive toll on the bodies and minds of the afflicted and those who love them, depicted via some of the most graphic Body Horror in film history.
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  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: All the way up through Pogue's original draft of the screenplay, the protagonists were a married couple as in the original short story and 1958 film. One of the key changes — perhaps THE key change — Cronenberg made when he rewrote that draft was to change them into a couple who only meet at the beginning of the story, with their relationship developing alongside the refinement of the telepods.
  • Admiring the Abomination: Seth comes to see himself this way once he realizes he's not just dying but becoming a whole new lifeform. He points out to Veronica that "Most people would give anything to be turned into something else", shows off his Wall Crawl skills to her shortly beforehand, insists that she videotape his eating habits for posterity, and even keeps his discarded body parts in his medicine cabinet. Along with his Gallows Humor streak, the trope is a way for him to cope with his situation, safe in the knowledge that he's been stricken with "a disease with a purpose" even as he tries to find some way to retain, if not regain, his fading humanity.
  • Adorkable: Seth. Being a scientist played by Jeff Goldblum, it's pretty much a given. The whole story begins when Seth awkwardly attempts to flirt with Veronica by teasing his amazing invention and inviting her back to his lab to see it. (On top of that he promises to make her cappuccino.)
  • Adult Fear:
  • Aerith and Bob: Seth, Veronica, and Stathis? Then again, all three of them have unusual last names.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Brundle's decision to test the teleporter using himself comes after he's had more than a few drinks.
  • All There in the Manual: The shooting script, which is available as a bonus feature on the 2-disc DVD edition and the Blu-Ray release, has some additional details about/dialogue from the characters that explains a few minor points.
    • Seth takes Veronica to a fast food place for their discussion about why the telepods aren't ready because that's where he always goes for lunch. The predictability and uniformity of the cuisine appeals to him.
    • What appears to be sweat coming from Seth's fingers during the arm-wrestling match is actually pus, presaging what happens to them the next morning as the fingernails begin coming off.
    • Stathis goes skeet shooting, which is why he has a shotgun on hand for the film's climax.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Stathis Borans does indeed lose one of each in the climax.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: After the disastrous teleportation of the first baboon, Veronica convinces a reluctant Seth to express his thoughts on the matter and what exactly happened for the videocamera. After Seth says the computer doesn't understand flesh, she asks him "Why?" He explains that the computer can only do what he tells it to do, and "I must not know enough about the flesh myself. I'm gonna have to learn." He begs off any further discussion after this — this line of questioning having compounded his sadness over the disaster by reminding him of how isolated he is from the rest of the world and other people. That isolation doesn't last much longer, though.
  • Art Major Biology:
    • Brundle's mishap results from the computer's confusion at the presence of an extra genetic pattern, and its attempt to rectify the situation by fusing them. This conveniently ignores all the genetic material belonging to the bacteria and other microorganisms that make up a sizable proportion of the human body. Probably Artistic License, as otherwise there is no movie. (Though, it could be argued that the fly's genetic structure was sufficiently complex to confuse the computer, while nascent organisms were considered a part of the human body.)
    • Seth's body weight would not allow him to Wall Crawl, even if his bones were hollow at the time.
  • Artistic License – Awards: Seth is mentioned as having nearly won a Nobel Prize. Nominees are not publicly announced and all nomination records are kept secret for fifty years, though it's certainly possible Seth's name was leaked.
  • Author Appeal: Anyone who's watched enough Cronenberg's films can see his love of the concept of the flesh, sex, and machine.
  • Bad Liar: When Tawny asks Seth who Veronica is upon the latter's just-in-time arrival at the loft, he is so surprised, flustered, and embarrassed that he all he can think of to say is "Oh, I forgot to tell you — I live with my mother too. Mom, meet Tawny." Tawny doesn't buy it and takes the opportunity to leave.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: The reason the "monkey-cat" sequence was cut was because test audiences read Seth's actions in it as invoking this trope and lost all sympathy for him (see Trivia for more on this).
  • Beast and Beauty: As Seth slowly becomes the doomed Brundlefly, his and Veronica's relationship heads into this territory, albeit with physical love no longer part of the relationship. As he admits in his "insect politics" speech, however, this cannot hold because his mind is inevitably losing its humanity, so he sends her away. Alas, he then learns that she's pregnant and desperate to have an abortion, and his animalistic need to survive, combined with the thought that he might still retain some humanity by fusing all three of them together, drives her to kidnap her, viciously attack Stathis, and try to force her into the telepods. His metamorphosis becomes complete as he drags her towards it, and in the end, the most loving thing she can do for him is to end his suffering once and for all.
  • Beeping Computers: When Seth's computer displays text or graphics on its monitor (besides anything he keys in himself), it's usually with clicks or a metallic whirr...that sounds suspiciously like buzzing.
  • Bleed 'em and Weep: In the denouement, Veronica tearfully unloads a shotgun into the head of her broken beloved at his silent request.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Flies eat by vomiting acid. David "head explodey" Cronenberg is behind a giant fly movie. Do the math.
  • Body Horror: Just about all of the pain and horror that Seth has to endure through his slow and humiliating metamorphosis. Cronenberg told the makeup team to think of the transformation process as a form of cancer, something Seth actually mentions in the film, and it shows.
  • Break the Cutie: Seth undergoes this. He is shy and awkward around Veronica, but his enthusiasm for his work and desire to share it helps him connect with her, and their blossoming love indirectly helps him figure out how to program the telepods to transport animate objects. But his insecurity over the nature of her relationship with Stathis (which she doesn't go into much detail on because she'd rather not get him involved in that drama) leads him to misunderstand why she leaves on the night of his triumph, resulting in him getting drunk and teleporting himself. He becomes Drunk with Power for a while, but when he realizes what's actually happening to him — that he is mutating and effectively dying — he is brought back to his senses. He tries to see the bright side of his situation ("Don't you think [becoming Brundlefly] is worth a Nobel Prize or two?"), but as he comes to understand that he will not die as himself but an insectoid monstrosity who would harm the woman he loves — the only person he has in the world — he is thoroughly broken.
  • Bridal Carry: Seth can easily do this with his newfound strength. First he does it to bring Tawny up to his loft for their tryst, all the more impressive given that he mounts several flights of stairs with her in his arms, at a bit of a run at that, and later to abduct Veronica from the abortion clinic; later he brings her down from the roof of the loft this way.
  • Canada, Eh?: While the setting is never explicitly discussed by the characters, the CN Tower, Kensington Market, and various other Toronto landmarks are shown throughout the film.
    • Lingo-savvy viewers will note that the local barfly in the arm-wrestling scene uses the Canadian term "chocolate bars" instead of the American "candy bars". Veronica also suggests she and Seth go on a "holiday" rather than "vacation" in an earlier scene.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: A wrenching example in the late going: Veronica, having learned she's pregnant, decides she needs to see Seth again before making a decision on what to do next. She is already misty-eyed as she says "I wanted to see you...before..." Seth then sadly tells her that this has to be their last meeting, leading into the "insect politics" monologue. Between this and her seeing just how hideous he's become since she last saw him, the result is that Veronica breaks down sobbing and leaves the loft as quickly as she can. Unfortunately, the just-as-broken Seth goes to the roof to watch her leave, and sees and hears her arguing with Stathis about wanting an abortion right away...
  • Carpet of Virility: Humorously discussed when Veronica first notices the strange hairs growing from the wound on Seth's back during one of their trysts. Seth not only isn't bothered by them but admits he's "been looking forward to a hairy body" as he ages, being "too boyish" as is. When Veronica decides to clip them while he's eating ice cream, he's annoyed — "Hey hey hey, not my new hairs!"
  • Cassandra Truth: After his O.O.C. Is Serious Business outburst on top of the bizarre changes she's already seen in him, Veronica realizes that something must have gone wrong when Seth teleported himself. While he sets out to find another partner, she takes the odd hairs that were growing out of his back to a lab and returns to him the next day with the news that they are apparently insect hairs, and reiterates that he must be sick and needs help. Between this and her allowing Tawny to leave before he could teleport her, Seth is so furious that he forces her to leave the loft and tells her "Don't come back!" Shortly afterward, though, he gets the Internal Reveal. When he finally reestablishes contact with her, by phone, four weeks later, he admits "You don't know how right you were."
  • Casting Gag: A subtle cameo version — Marky, the barfly whom Seth gruesomely defeats in One-Sided Arm-Wrestling, is played by George Chuvalo, a famous Canadian heavyweight boxer.
  • Character Tics: Seth bites his fingernails when he's nervous, which eventually helps him realize that something went wrong when he teleported when one of them comes off in his mouth. Post-teleportation, he develops a lot of tics foreshadowing his final form:
    • Stage 1 (facial blotches): Whenever he's — effectively — in heat, his breathing and voice tend to become lower and raspier. The rasp becomes permanent come Stage 3, when he allows Veronica to see him again. Come Stage 5, his final humanoid stage, it's clearly difficult and even painful for him to talk and breathe in a human manner and his computer no longer recognizes his voice.
    • Stage 2 (after the night with Tawny): Seth begins clutching the left side of his abdomen. Come Stage 4 he reveals to Veronica that there's a growth there, but he doesn't know what it is. A filmed but deleted scene, part of the infamous "monkey-cat" reel, had a payoff in which an insect leg emerged from it, whereupon he bit it off; in the finished film its right-side counterpart emerges during his One-Winged Angel transformation. Also, when Veronica visits him he takes a bite out of a candy bar and makes a face as if it tastes bad, indicating that his taste buds and digestive tract are starting to change as well.
    • Stage 4 (Wall Crawl demonstration): He has developed a fly-like twitch.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The larger prototype telepod, which Seth describes as "it works, but it's clunky." As his transformation progresses, he refines the prototype to serve as a receiving pod for his final attempt at a cure.
    • Seth rolling atop a circuit board (that somehow ended up in his bed — he had been wondering what happened to it...) leaves him with cuts on his back. After he accidentally merges himself with the fly, the very first physical signs of his transformation are the strange hairs sprouting from the healing wounds. It takes a few days, but Veronica comes to notice them too, and between those and the other changes she's noticing in Seth, begins to suspect that something is wrong with him.
  • Clingy Jealous Guy: Stathis does not take Veronica moving on from their breakup well. In addition to attempting to sabotage her and Seth's relationship, early on he invites himself into her apartment to use her shower when she's away and repeatedly makes lascivious comments towards her. When Seth abducts Veronica from the abortion clinic, rather than calling the police, Stathis shows up to Seth's lab with a shotgun! However, the last note is justified as Seth has become a dangerous monstrosity by that point.
  • Clipped-Wing Angel: At the end Brundlefly ends up getting fused with part of the telepod, leaving it helpless and in terrible, dying pain, although it's clear that it was already a physically and mentally unstable creature before that.
  • Crazy Consumption: Seth's appetite grows exponentially, especially for sugary foods. To say nothing of how he eventually has to break his food down to eat it...
  • Creator Cameo: David Cronenberg appears as the doctor in Veronica's "maggot baby" nightmare, in what is presently his only cameo in one of his own films. Geena Davis actually requested that he play that role.
  • Credits Gag: Not in the actual film, but on the Collector's Edition/Blu-Ray disc releases, the "Attention" copyright screen has a fly buzzing about it.
  • Creepy Souvenir: A tragic version — Seth comes to keep his own rotted-away body parts in his medicine cabinet, calling them "Artifacts of a bygone era."
  • Cry Cute: Veronica does this several times in the film's second half; it first turns up when Seth turns her away with his You're Just Jealous rant.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Even though the transformation makes Seth a diseased mutant, he gains several abilities, such as wallcrawling, corrosive vomit, and superhuman strength. It's unclear what the end result of Seth's changes would have been. The state he ultimately reaches (where he wordlessly begs for death by placing the muzzle of a shotgun to his own head) has at least as much to do with being caught partially outside the teleport pod when it activates as with having genetic problems.
  • Darker and Edgier: Complete with Body Horror and nightmares!
  • Deadpan Snarker: Veronica is this from the get-go, with her response to the opening lines (see page quote) being "Change it a lot or just a bit? You'll have to be more specific." This trait is a stark contrast to Seth's Adorkable nature, and one that Stathis shares with her albeit to a lesser extent ("I'm sure Typhoid Mary was a very nice person too when you saw her socially"). However, as she realizes what's happening to Seth she drops the snark entirely (and Stathis follows suit in turn), while he indulges in Gallows Humor about his situation.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Initially the film follows Seth and his slow transformation into an insect hybrid, but come the third act his mind starts to go, and Veronica becomes the true protagonist on top of being the principal audience viewpoint character.
  • Despair Event Horizon: As Seth's mutation and resultant Split-Personality Takeover progresses he becomes desperate to retain/regain some of his original human self, and failing that simply survive at any cost, just as an insect would. His survival instinct is such that he doesn't reach this point until his attempt to fuse himself with Veronica and their unborn child results in his being fused with part of a telepod instead, whereupon he silently begs for death — and is granted it.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: The first third of the film follows Seth's efforts to perfect the telepods, intertwined with the development of the Love Triangle, with Veronica and Stathis the other corners of it. These three characters are the only major ones, allowing the development to be richer than the norm for this trope, and setting up huge emotional payoffs later.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Cronenberg stated the film was an allegory for getting old. This being The '80s, many critics and fans analogized the film with the AIDS epidemic, and Seth himself compares his condition to "a bizarre form of cancer." Others compared Seth's situation to drug (especially cocaine) addiction, and the fact that Seth does say teleporation has affected him "like a drug, but a perfectly pure and benign drug!" at one point definitely fed into that interpretation.
    • The telepods bear resemblance to cocoons/chrysalises or alternatively, as Los Angeles Times critic Patrick Goldstein noted in his review, "vaporous womb[s]". The latter take is particularly apt as Seth sees himself as reborn in the early stages of his metamorphosis, and later explains his mutation to Veronica as his being "the offspring of Brundle and housefly."
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Downplayed. Upon learning that Seth is mutating and as far as he can tell dying, Veronica tearfully suggests to him that they could seek help from others. He promptly shoots this down, saying that he doesn't want to just be "another tumorous bore" detailing his deteriorating condition — he knows they wouldn't be able to help him avoid his fate, so to them he would only be a figure of pity and analysis. Veronica then asks why he asked to see her given the circumstances. As Seth breaks down in despair upon his right ear falling off (leading into the Mythology Gag described below) it becomes clear that she's the only one who can provide the help he actually needs — help in enduring and accepting the encroaching darkness — because she genuinely loves him, as borne out by her desperate attempts to convince him that he wasn't well.
  • Doomed Protagonist: Seth is one of the most agonizing examples.
  • Downer Ending: If you couldn't guess. Seth mutates near-completely, goes insane, and nearly kills — or worse — his girlfriend. Stathis manages to rescue Veronica, but Seth's attempt to escape before the final teleportation results in him becoming a horrible, mangled jumble of organs, steel rebar and blood. He begs wordlessly for Veronica to end his suffering, and she complies.
  • Drink Order: Seth's preferred tipple is apparently Scotch — he has a glass of it at the Bartok event and, much later, at the bar. That he approaches a woman in both situations helps add to the Tawny interlude serving as a grotesque Foil to how he and Veronica got together (see below). (The opera adaptation has Veronica suggest he needed Liquid Courage to approach her.)
  • Drowning My Sorrows: After Veronica leaves to confront Stathis over the latter's plan to jump her on the telepod story, Seth — who has put two and two together and figured out that Stathis is her old boyfriend as well as editor — gets drunk on the champagne he and she were sharing to celebrate his success. A tragic case of Alcohol-Induced Idiocy ensues.
  • Drunk with Power: Seth works up a huge ego in the second act as he experiences amazing new abilities and stamina as a result of the botched teleportation — not realizing that he's actually mutating (and in the very early stages of a Split-Personality Takeover, which isn't helping his state of mind). Rather, he believes he's created a machine that can improve its users. Veronica comes to realize that something's very, very wrong with him, and between this and her general unease about the machine refuses to be teleported herself. Finally he forces her to leave his loft, telling her he doesn't need her anymore. Shortly afterward though, he realizes that she was right all along and figures out what actually happened to him, which breaks his haughtiness immediately. The reason he doesn't communicate with her for a month after that isn't because he's angry, but rather scared.
  • Dying as Yourself: Tragically, Seth realizes that he cannot do this; by the time he dies as Brundlefly there will be nothing left of his original mind and morals. Or so he thinks. The broken Brundlefly managing to silently request that Veronica end his life with the shotgun means Seth Brundle dies as himself.
  • Ear Ache: Seth's ear falls off during his first conversation with Veronica after their month-long estrangement. It marks the first time he visibly loses his cool over what's happening to him.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: When Veronica comes to see Seth to tell him about her pregnancy, he initially conceals himself (having mutated further since last seeing her) in the shadows provided by a doorway. Just before he explains to her that "I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man, and loved it..." he emerges and she takes a step backward at the sight.
  • Environmental Symbolism: Seth's lab/living quarters, the film's primary setting, is initially tidy. However, when Veronica is finally allowed to visit again after a month in which she couldn't so much as talk to him over the phone despite her efforts, most every work surface and much of the floor is covered in garbage (especially discarded food/soda containers) — and she quickly learns it's a match for the disfigured state of Seth, who no longer cares about tidiness given his situation. By the end of the movie the place is even more of a wreck.
  • Eureka Moment: Seth gets one — a hint as to how to solve the problem of the computer not knowing how to teleport animate objects (or, as he puts it, flesh) — that is entwined with his blossoming relationship with Veronica. Her playful pillow talk about how "It's the flesh — it makes you crazy" inspires him to immediately conduct an experiment in which he cuts a steak in two, teleports one piece, and then cooks both and serves them to her. When she says that the teleported piece "tastes...synthetic", he explains that the computer's "rethinking it, rather than reproducing it" because it doesn't realize what makes flesh unique. "I haven't taught the computer to be made crazy by the flesh." He sets to work to fix this, and soon the telepods work as intended on a second baboon.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: For all this film's darkness and horror, it does have a scene of Jeff Goldblum hugging a baboon...and the baboon has a constant erection in the film. Just listen to the film commentary.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: In the early stages of his transformation Seth believes that his enhanced strength, stamina, etc. are the direct result of teleporting himself, and anyone else who uses the teleporter will be granted the same gifts. Thus he starts pressuring Veronica to do so — "And I won't be able to wear you out; we'll be the perfect couple! The Dynamic Duo!" When she objects he is furious, declares her a coward, and sets out to find "someone who'll keep up with me", leading to his tryst with Tawny. Only Veronica's timely arrival at the loft stops him from forcibly teleporting her; shortly after this he ends up alone and realizes what's actually happening to him, a realization that smashes this trope to pieces with one blow.
  • Exact Words: When the computer says there was a secondary element in the teleportation, Seth asks what it was. The computer can only respond with "Secondary Element is Not-Brundle."
  • Expositron 9000: Brundle's computer.
  • Eye Scream: When Brundlefly's head splits open to reveal his hideous new form, his human eyes ooze away like pus.
  • Face–Heel Turn: By the end, Seth's desperation to retain his humanity combining with his mind becoming more selfish and instinctual like that of a fly's leads him to forcefully trying to merge Veronica and their unborn child with him. Seth himself is fully aware that this is in effect, and urges Veronica to leave him before he hurts her.
  • Facial Horror:
    • In the early stages of Seth's transformation, the most obvious visible sign of it besides the hairs growing out of the cuts on his back is his face growing progressively blotchier over several days. Much, much worse is to come for him, culminating in his entire human head splitting open upon his final transformation into Brundlefly — which in fact is triggered when Veronica accidentally rips his jaw off.
    • Narrowly averted with Stathis. After melting his hand and foot, Seth gets into position to vomit drop all over his face, but thankfully Veronica pleads with him not to.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Considering how confined the telepod is, Seth really should have been able to hear the fly buzzing around.
  • Famous Last Words: "We'll be the ultimate family! A family of three... joined together... in one body. More human than I am alone!!" Seth, after explaining his last-ditch desperate plan to Veronica and right before his final, painful, transformation.
  • Fan Disservice: The rough and animalistic sex scenes after Seth combines with the fly.
  • Fanservice:
  • Fatal Flaw: Seth Brundle's undoing is desire. He needs to follow things that fascinate and matter to him — his work and his relationship with Veronica — to their ultimate conclusions. His fateful teleportation arises from his response to Veronica leaving to confront Stathis just as they were celebrating his successfully teleporting a baboon, a major breakthrough in his work. The careful, patient scientist, out of frustration, gets drunk — loosening his self-control, whereupon he throws caution to the wind for his ultimate professional goal ("What are we waiting for? Let's do it!"). Fusion with a creature that operates purely on instinctual urges causes his self-control to slowly vanish. He's initially euphoric, ready to make the most of his new abilities and energy, and desperate to teleport Veronica believing it will put their relationship on equal terms. When she refuses, he decides he'll soldier on with another woman...until he realizes what's actually happening. Faced with the prospect of a painful, awful metamorphosis and death, he still takes comfort in becoming something that never existed before — and that he accidentally invented a "very good" gene splicer. He's fascinated and even a bit delighted by the process (as when he shows off his Wall Crawl skills to Veronica), but he does want to find a way to retain his humanity. In the climax, with his mind almost completely ruled by insect instinct, he decides fusing himself with her and their unborn child — creating "the ultimate family" and making her part of him forever — will do that. Instead, he ends up only wanting death, and accepts it. He has seen an incredible experience through to its bitter end, a triumph of sorts as Cronenberg points out in his DVD commentary for the film.
  • Female Gaze: With Veronica being the principal viewpoint character this trope ends up applying to Seth. In the middle third, covering the first few days after he fatefully teleports himself, he and she luxuriate in his newfound virility and strength even as his personality begins to darken. He spends much of this stretch shirtless at least. Even when she isn't around the trope gets invoked, as discussed by Emma Westwood in her Devil's Advocates essay; he films his initial teleportation with Veronica's videocamera (noting to her, when she expresses disappointment at missing his feat, "Don't worry, I taped it for you"), and teleports himself again just to show off to Tawny! This significantly adds to the sorrow of the final third, as Seth's beauty and sanity fall to ruin before Veronica and the audience's eyes.
  • Fetus Terrible: The three-foot-long, blood and amniotic fluid-covered maggot Veronica sees in her nightmare.
  • Fingore: After throwing out Veronica, Seth bites his fingernails in frustration...only for them to start peeling off. This snaps him back to his senses and makes him realize that something did go wrong during the teleportation.
  • Flushing Toilet, Screaming Shower: Stathis learns the hard way that if you're going to be a creepy stalker who sneaks into his ex-girlfriend's home, you probably shouldn't be using the shower.
  • Focus Group Ending: The focus groups hated all four of the possible endings, two of which included Veronica ending up with Stathis and all of them including the "Butterfly Baby" dream sequence. The cast wasn't real crazy about the various endings either ( even John Getz, the actor who played Stathis, didn't want Veronica to end up with Stathis). Instead, the film closes on a weeping Veronica, which is really the proper ending to the film.
  • Foil:
    • Seth — Adorkable, shy, gentle — is this to Stathis — smug, bullying, and selfish. By the end of the film, their roles have reversed, with Seth a Villain Protagonist and Stathis a Hero Antagonist, each demonstrating crueler or kinder sides as a result of the former's transformation.
    • After Veronica refuses to undergo teleportation, the Drunk with Power Seth seeks out another partner and — after gruesomely defeating a rival via One-Sided Arm-Wrestling — returns to his loft with Tawny, a looser, flightier, grungier woman who doesn't take their night together all that seriously and takes Seth's strange behavior largely in stride rather than questioning/fearing it the way Veronica did, although she also refuses to be teleported. The entire interlude is a grotesque foil to how Seth's relationship with Veronica began: Where Seth awkwardly used the prospect of a wonderful invention — reflecting his intelligence — to convince Veronica to go back to his loft, and she was the one who made the first move in the escalation of their relationship to a romantic one, he is much more forthright in his flirting with Tawny and uses brute force to claim her. And where he freely, humbly admitted to Veronica he couldn't take all the credit for his breakthroughs, when the awed Tawny asks him "Are you some sort of magician?" after he demonstrates the telepods by sending himself through them again, he declares in a harsh whisper "Yes." as he makes the first move in the resulting tryst.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The opening line of the film (see page quote) foreshadows the entirety of Seth's transformation. What he's working on certainly changes his world and life as he knows it.
    • Seth gets queasy as Veronica drives him to his loft so he can show her the telepods. She comments "You're not a very accomplished drunk" (he had a glass of Scotch at the Bartok event) before he explains that it's actually his chronic motion sickness kicking in. Later Seth actually gets drunk — and decides teleporting himself with no other human beings around is a fantastic idea. Not very accomplished indeed!
    • Seth mentions on the same ride that because of his motion sickness he vomited on his tricycle as a child. His mutation ends up giving him the ability to vomit corrosive substances to digest food as a matter of course. Not to mention that a classic hangover symptom is vomiting, going back to the Alcohol-Induced Idiocy.
    • This might be unintentional, but the song Seth plays on the piano when he first brings Veronica up to his lab to show off the telepods is "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing"...and the movie that song comes from is about Star-Crossed Lovers.
    • When they meet at the Particle offices, Stathis (who at this point believes Seth to be a fraud) makes a smug joke to Seth: "If you plan to make anything disappear, let me know." When they meet again in the climax, Seth uses his vomit drop on Stathis's hand and ankle. Voila! They're gone!
    • Seth rolling onto a circuit board and getting a nasty cut on his back foreshadows him being betrayed by and later fused with his own technology.
    • Seth, during the "high" of his post-teleportation condition, tries to convince the unwilling Veronica to undergo the process so they can become physical equals and starts dragging her towards the telepod before she wrenches herself from his grip; he later attempts this with Tawny even more insistently. In the climax, Seth reveals he IS going to use the pods to fuse Veronica (and her unborn child) with him. And this time she CAN'T escape his grip as his final form emerges, and he tosses her into the pod...
    • The One-Sided Arm-Wrestling match between Seth and Marky, involving a bet the former makes over $100 and a night with Tawny, ends with Seth grotesquely breaking Marky's arm. In the climax, Seth uses his Super Strength to overpower Stathis — the latter having arrived at the loft to rescue Veronica — grabbing his arm and proceeding to use his vomit drop to dissolve the hand.
    • When the now-hideous Seth first allows Veronica to see him again, he ruefully notes that "I'm just going to have to disintegrate. In a novel way, no doubt. And then I'll die and then it'll be over." In the climax, he completely sheds what remains of his human form, piece by grisly piece, as the transformation into Brundlefly becomes complete, and after she mercy kills him with the shotgun that's the end of the movie.
    • Also, during this visit the prototype telepod no longer has the dust cover on it as in previous scenes, suggesting Seth's found some use for it again in the interim.
    • In the original workprint, Seth and Veronica's reconciliation after her confrontation with Stathis was longer, with Seth noting that he regrets that she wasn't around to see him teleport himself. When she isn't around, it feels as if things don't actually happen to him. This suggestion that she was now a part of him would have foreshadowed his attempted Romantic Fusion with her at the end.
  • From Bad to Worse: Seth's progression into Brundlefly, with each new shot of him more disgusting than the last.
    • On Veronica's side of the situation, her discovery that she's pregnant with his child certainly qualifies.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: By the film's climax, Brundle has stopped wearing clothes. Barbie Doll Anatomy is in effect however, due to his genitals being part of the "history museum" in his medicine cabinet.
  • Gallows Humor: Seth makes numerous darkly humorous comments as his transformation progresses.
    "I know an old lady who swallowed a fly, perhaps she'll die."
    • When Veronica goes to Stathis and tell him about Seth's condition, he sarcastically asks if he can claim her body when this is over.
  • Genius Cripple: Played with. When Seth allows Veronica to see him again, he is using two canes to slowly walk because he's now hunched over and cannot maintain his balance otherwise. Notably, at this point he believes he is simply dying. When she revisits him a few days later, however, he has not only adjusted to a Primal Stance but is downright jumpy and spry — due in part to discovering an ability to Wall Crawl as part of a larger realization that he isn't dying but becoming something else.
  • Genre-Busting: It's a science-fiction Body Horror / monster movie, a Psychological Thriller, and a romantic tragedy and has a strong but progressively darker comic streak. Cronenberg's even described it as a Romantic Comedy — and that's very much how most of the opening third plays! 20th Century Fox turned this to their marketing advantage — the initial newspaper ads featured a quote from Time magazine's review: "A gross-your-eyes out horror movie that is also the year's most poignant romance", and a few weeks into the run an alternate tagline was created — "The Fly has everything!"
  • Gibbering Genius: As with many other Jeff Goldblum characters, Seth is this — it probably cemented Goldblum's association with the trope — but tellingly he becomes much more so after he is merged with the fly, as exponentially surging energy affects his brain. In the "high" of the early stages of transformation, he launches into several fast-paced monologues/rants.
  • Goal-Oriented Evolution: Seth comes to see his transformation as this, calling it "a disease with a purpose" — turning him into a new lifeform.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The premise of the entire film.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Almost averted, if not for the sequel. Veronica goes into panicked hysterics after seeing the penultimate stage of Seth's disgusting metamorphosis (and his telling her that he will harm her if she stays) and Stathis immediately rushes her to an abortion clinic, but Seth kidnaps her before it can go forward. At the end of the movie, it's implied that she probably will go through with it — but if the sequel's considered canon then she clearly doesn't, since it's about their son.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: By proxy, Corrupt Corporate Executive Anton Bartok, the head of Bartok Industries and Seth Brundle's employer who helped financed his experiments that is what led Seth to slowly turn into a human fly and would later become the Big Bad in the sequel by trying to deliberately repeat the flaw to create fly hybrid soldiers for his company, would count despite the character not being formulated until the sequel.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Both men in the love triangle are jealous of the other at some point. Stathis's jealousy leads him to try and undercut Veronica's book about Seth's work — and Veronica setting out to confront Stathis leads Seth to become jealous when he assumes the worst about their relationship. Seth's jealousy is only temporary as she returns and explains all, but not before he accidentally sets himself on the path to becoming a literal monster, one who tellingly maims and almost murders Stathis when he tries to rescue her in the climax.
  • Groin Attack: A horrifically and unintentionally self-inflicted one — quite possibly the most humiliating aspect of the mutation is that poor Seth's penis and testicles fall off as part of his degeneration into Brundlefly.
  • The Grotesque: Seth slowly becomes this; once his Drunk with Power "high" has ended and he realizes what's actually happening to him, his sweet Adorkable self re-emerges but is now laced with Gallows Humor, fear, and shame as he continues to deteriorate. Upon re-establishing contact with Veronica, looking far worse than he did before, he initially tries to avoid physical contact with her (concerned he might be Patient Zero at this point), sadly saying in passing "You look so pretty..." at one point. When he finally reaches out to her for an embrace — after he has vomited upon a doughnut and his right ear has tumbled off — she returns it without hesitation. Even though it's upsetting and exhausting for her to be witness to his unfolding tragedy, she loves him too much to abandon him altogether. Ultimately he decides to send her away upon realizing that, due to his mind and morals fading away, he will hurt her if he doesn't.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Brundlefly.
  • Handicapped Badass: Stathis Borans, who rescues Veronica from the Brundlefly after Seth has dissolved his hand and foot with acid.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Early in their relationship, Veronica expands Seth's Limited Wardrobe with a brown leather jacket among other things. He's not seen wearing it until after his trip through the telepods, and then it's specific to his Drunk with Power stretch. For bonus points, that she buys him a leather jacket ties into Seth's growing understanding of and fascination with flesh.note 
  • Hero Antagonist: Stathis Borans is initially a typical Crazy Jealous Guy antagonist but gradually begins to play this role straight, especially at the climax when he comes to Veronica's rescue after she gets kidnapped by Brundlefly.
  • Heroic Second Wind: In the climax, Stathis passes out after Seth dissolves one hand and ankle with vomit drop, but hearing Veronica's screams as she's dragged to and imprisoned in a telepod gives him this. He manages to use his gun to shoot out the cables to the telepod, and then drags himself to it, opens the door and frees her.
  • Highly Visible Password: An early aversion. When Seth starts the telepod-controlling computer up for his demonstration to Veronica, it requests a password, represented on the monitor as a few underscores. The computer can run on his spoken commands, after first speaking his name out loud for the machine to recognize it via a voice match.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: A subtle one, as Seth is merged with his own telepod at the very end. Not only karmic as he was trying to use the pods to merge himself with Veronica and the unborn child, but also sort of Gaia's Vengeance from the start.
  • Hollywood Acid: Seth's vomit drop works in this manner.
  • Hollywood Nerd: At the beginning of the movie, Mr. Brundle is quite muscular for a scientist who doesn't get out much. Not that any of the female viewers are complaining, or anything. (The screenplay did have him as out-of-shape; an apparently unfilmed scene had him getting winded walking up the stairs to his lab/living quarters, which would have been a stark contrast to the later scene in which he manages to Bridal Carry Tawny up them.)
  • Hope Spot: When Seth first emerges from the telepod seemingly fine, and the computer has declared a successful teleportation. Then we get a close-up of the injury on his back and the new hairs growing within...
  • Horror Comedy: A horror-dominant example. The first half-hour is almost completely bloodless, save for the seriously-played disaster of the first baboon, and there's a great deal of comedy as the Love Triangle develops since one corner is Adorkable and the other two are Deadpan Snarkers. Things slowly, inexorably become darker once Seth teleports himself. The snark drains away, replaced by Seth's Gallows Humor as Body Horror firmly takes hold of him. The final 20 minutes are wrenchingly gory and tragic.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Thanks to The '80s.
  • Hourglass Plot: The two men in Veronica's life slowly undergo this once the central disaster happens. At the beginning, Seth is sweet, kind, and respectful, and Stathis a Clingy Jealous Guy stalking and attempting to manipulate her. By the end, Stathis is the one doing his best to help and protect Veronica while respecting her wishes, while Seth goes mad and becomes a literal and metaphorical monster who maims and almost murders Stathis and tries to fuse himself with Ronnie and their unborn child, which only he wants to keep. This is a rare example of the trope in which the two men barely interact with each other. Moreover, Seth knows he is becoming the villain by the end but cannot stave off the Split-Personality Takeover, making matters that much more tragic.
  • Humble Hero: While the plot does get rolling by way of Seth wanting to impress Veronica with his marvelous telepods, after his demonstration of them to her he freely admits that he didn't create them from scratch, saying "I'm really a systems management man" in that their individual components (lasers, molecular analyzers, etc.) were commissioned from people "much more brilliant than I am [...] and I just stick them together." Moreover, Veronica apparently only learns of his noteworthy past (see Noodle Incident below) from Stathis. Seth loses this humility in the Drunk with Power stage of his metamorphosis, becoming a braggart in the wake of his belief that his invention has made him a superman.
  • I Am a Monster: Seth basically warns Veronica of this in his "insect politics" speech.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: In the end, seeing the pathetic creature that was once Seth Brundle crawl out of the third telepod, fused with pieces of machinery and in horrifying agony, is probably sadder than watching the end of Old Yeller. This can obviously end only one way, and in one final display of humanity Brundlefly silently begs a shotgun-armed Veronica to end its life, and after some painful hesitation, she does.
  • I'd Tell You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You: After bringing Veronica back to his lab for the first time, Seth jokingly says that he can't let her leave the room alive now that she's seen the telepods, even though she has no idea what they are or what they do.
  • Idiot Ball: Whichever way you slice it, going after a deranged half-human hybrid that vomits acid and has double the strength of a normal man by yourself is a pretty stupid move. All Stathis Borans needed to do was phone 911 and tell them that a deranged ex-boyfriend abducted his girlfriend from the abortion clinic in a blind rage — the gaping hole in the surgery window should be fairly adequate proof. However, Stathis understandably thinks the police would never believe that said crazed ex-boyfriend was a fly-hybrid monster with super strength! Just a few minutes before he was having a hard time explaining to the abortion doctor Brent just why Veronica needed the abortion immediately in the middle of the night, since he couldn't straight up tell him the baby could be a fly monster, fathered by another fly monster; Brent would think they were both crazy. Also, even if he phoned the police, he most likely knew by the time they got to Seth's apartment it would have been too late for Veronica, so he might as well get there first as fast as he can with or without backup before anything horrible happens to her. Though, Stathis doesn't go unarmed, bringing a shotgun with him.
  • In Medias Res: A rare non-flashback example. As the page quote above shows, the movie starts in the middle of Seth and Veronica's first encounter with each other. Subsequent dialogue explains, in passing, how they got there and why. This is paralleled by the film ending immediately after she mercy kills him.
  • In Name Only: There's a scientist who gets turned into a fly monster in a teleportation experiment. Other than that, it really has nothing to do with the Vincent Price film and even less to do with Langelaan's story. This is not necessarily a bad thing. (The original Charles Edward Pogue draft of the screenplay had more elements of those previous versions in it, and can be read on the Collector's Edition/Blu-Ray DVD releases.)
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Seth tells Veronica that she won't interfere with anything if she chronicles his work for a book because "I don't have a life". Stathis learns that Seth's been working on the telepods for six years, which implies he's been alone at least that long, though earlier in his career he successfully worked with others. However long it's been, by Seth's own admission it's been "too long."
  • Internal Reveal: While Veronica has Cassandra Truth suspicions that something went wrong during Seth's teleportation, what exactly that something was isn't made clear to any of the characters until Seth, horrified by the sight of his fingernails coming loose and the fingers themselves oozing pus, consults his computer and learns there was a "secondary teleportation element" in the pod with him. Four weeks later, he reveals this and furthermore what it means for him to a horrified Veronica.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Veronica is sent to the Bartok Industries party to find a story to report on for Particle, and Seth (blinded by attraction to her) realizes too late that he's said/shown too much to her with his initial demonstration of the telepods but can't stop her from reporting on them if she chooses to do so. So he convinces her to chronicle his refinement of the pods, which will culminate in him teleporting himself, for a book. They end up in a romantic relationship. When her editor Stathis figures out what's going on between them, he jealously has other sources prepare a Particle cover story about Seth that can be rushed to publication and undercut the book.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: During their reunion after a one-month estrangement on his part, Seth softly sings "I know an old lady who swallowed a fly, perhaps she'll die" as he prepares to explain to the horrified Veronica what's happening to him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Stathis Borans, Veronica's ex-boyfriend and boss, appears to be just an asshole who's still bitter about their break-up, but he doesn't hesitate in helping her get to an abortionist when she decides to get rid of Seth's baby, and he comes to the rescue when Brundlefly kidnaps Veronica.
  • Jump Scare: Turns up four times, each time accentuated by the underscore:
    • As Seth kneels in front of the glass door to Telepod 2 to see the result of his first attempt to teleport a baboon, he is startled by a bloody paw emerging from the mist, striking the glass and leaving a grisly smear, whereupon Seth opens the door and the mist clears to reveal the twitching, inside-out creature.
    • When Veronica arrives at the loft in response to Seth's phone call after the one-month estrangement on his part, it initially appears deserted, if a wreck compared to the last time she was there. In a medium-wide shot, she calls out "Seth, I'm here..." With that, the back of Seth's head pops into the foreground as he cries "Stop!" and the score practically cries out in despair to match as the next shot reveals just how badly he's decayed.
    • In a more literal example, the Super Window Jump is played as this (see below).
    • Finally in the climax Seth/Brundlefly dropping upon the distracted Stathis from above, making an unearthly screech as he does so is played as this.
  • Lab Pet: Dr. Brundle is much too attached to his baboons. This leaves him quite distraught when he turns one inside out, and later he drunkenly apologizes to the baboon that's successfully been teleported: "I'm sorry I killed your brother."
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In the denouement, Seth/Brundlefly's attempt to fuse himself with Veronica and her unborn child not only fails, but leaves him accidentally fused with part of a telepod instead.
  • LEGO Genetics: Averted, as the change in DNA affects Seth slowly as his cells replicate, and his final form isn't anything resembling a properly functioning body. (Though being fused with a telepod isn't exactly natural.)
  • Limited Wardrobe: Seth has five identical sets of clothing. He mentions he got the idea from Einstein, who supposedly had five sets of clothes to avoid wasting mental energy on deciding what to wear. Of course, Einstein likely didn't have five jackets and five pairs of shoes!
  • Love Cannot Overcome: Seth's "insect politics" speech is his way of explaining this to Veronica. His humanity is being subsumed by that of the insect, and she needs to leave him before he harms her. She leaves in tears, but alas Seth then sees her with Stathis and learns from their conversation that she is pregnant — whereupon his insect instincts kick in...
  • Love Triangle: The base emotional plot of Veronica choosing either Seth or Stathis as her lover, intensified when she feels the need to comfort the diseased Seth and finding Stathis' kinder side emerging from the conflict. That's probably why they made it an opera.
  • Mad Scientist: Subverted with Seth Brundle. He is a driven scientist, and doesn't have great social skills, and is working on teleportation, but he is a sane man working for the greater good. His decision to teleport himself is an impulsive choice he makes only after getting drunk, and his morals only loosen due to a Split-Personality Takeover (one he eventually becomes very desperate to hold back, leading to the desperate gambit of Romantic Fusion) and the initial Drunk with Power feeling that comes with it. (In an interview John Landis did with Cronenberg for the book Monsters in the Movies, they argue over whether Seth can be called this trope or not. Landis says yes, Cronenberg no.)
  • Magical Computer: Downplayed. A vital plot element is that, as Seth tells Veronica, "Computers are dumb; they only know what you tell them." The telepods can't transport living things until Seth figures out how to program their computer to not merely interpret flesh. He is merged with the fly because he didn't think to program it to transport two living things at once separately, and much later when his attempt to fuse himself with Veronica and their unborn child fails and he has a Villainous Breakdown, the computer just fuses him with broken pieces of his telepod instead.
  • Magic Countdown: In the climax, the countdown to the Romantic Fusion between Brundlefly and Veronica is set for two minutes, but the actual elapsed time to zero is about two minutes and 45 seconds. Beyond it not being that much longer, it could be justified as cross-cutting between the timer, Brundlefly's final transformation, and Stathis managing to come to, get his gun, and shoot out the cables to Veronica's telepod.
  • Meaningful Background Event: In the climax, Seth's shadow can be seen behind Stathis as the latter examines the computer, setting up an ambush moments later. Not on the wall behind Stathis, mind, but the ceiling.
  • Merging Machine: Seth finds out that the teleporters inadvertently merge creatures at the chemical-molecular level if teleported simultaneously because it's only designed/programmed to teleport one at a time. Because Seth has much more mass than the fly he has been merged with, the process only gradually mutates him into a man-fly hybrid rather than instantaneously.
  • Mercy Kill: In the denouement, Seth, in horribly dysfunctional part-fly, part-telepod form and incapable of speaking, begs to Veronica to do this to him, which she reluctantly and grief-strickenly does.
  • Metamorphosis: Essentially how Seth goes through his transformation.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: As Seth's body becomes less human and more insect-like, his mind follows suit.
    "I'm saying I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over, and the insect is awake."
  • Minimalist Cast: Seth, Veronica, and Stathis are the only major characters and the men only interact with each other in two sequences (Stathis's first scene and the climax/finale), so most of the film consists of interactions between two people. Of the six other speaking roles, only Tawny gets more than one scene/sequence during a stretch of the second act, leaving the others with a handful of lines each (and two of them only appear in Veronica's Nightmare Sequence). There are silent extras in scenes where it would be logical to have them. This focus on just a few characters helps with the Psychological Thriller aspect of the film.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: When Veronica abruptly leaves Seth to confront Stathis over the latter's plans to publish a magazine article about the telepods, undercutting the book she's working on, Seth figures out that Stathis must be her old boyfriend. Seth and Veronica reconcile shortly after she returns to the loft and explains everything; unfortunately, while she was away he drunkenly teleported himself, not realizing he wasn't alone in the telepod. As the lovers are passionately kissing, the audience sees several strange hairs growing out of the wound on Seth's back...
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: In addition to the obvious, there's also the "monkey-cat" in a deleted scene that was cut as audiences saw its destruction as a major Kick the Dog act from Seth and he lost all sympathy.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Played straight with an "L-shaped sheet" for Seth and Veronica. When Veronica returns to the loft after her confrontation with Stathis and wakes up Seth, as he gets out of the bed he wraps the sheet around his waist, suggesting that he went straight to bed upon emerging from the teleporter (he had been heavily drinking after all).
  • Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: Between the fate of the first baboon, the One-Sided Arm-Wrestling match, Veronica's nightmare, Stathis losing an hand and a foot to vomit drop, and Veronica ending her beloved's misery, all of which is on top of Seth's horrifying gradual metamorphosis and all the Body Horror it entails, this is a 9. Even in a decade that saw the Slasher Film genre thriving and action movies in a "Can you top this?" competition, this movie stood out for its gruesomeness — and still does today, with new viewers surprised that this was a major studio release that topped the U.S. box office chart for two weeks in a row in 1986.
  • Motifs: Critic/filmmaker Steven Benedict points out in his podcast episode on this film that Seth Brundle is marked by evolution/transformation even before his Tragic Mistake. He lives and works in a converted floor of an Abandoned Warehouse and he has a Significant Wardrobe Shift in the wake of Veronica becoming his lover and expanding his wardrobe. Once he starts mutating, slowly but surely his loft "decays" along with him, and he becomes associated with shadow rather than light (see Orange/Blue Contrast below for more on this).
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: In the climax, the now-crazed Seth attempts to kill Stathis when the latter arrives — armed with a shotgun — at the loft to rescue Veronica. Seth does use vomit drop to destroy a hand and a foot (and as originally scripted and shot ate the foot), but when Veronica begs him not to finish him off he relents.
  • Museum of the Strange and Unusual: Discussed in a Gallows Humor manner — Seth calls his medicine cabinet full of Creepy Souvenirs of his human form "The Brundle Museum of Natural History".
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Seth's eyes widen in horror when the computer states that the telepod merged him with a fly on the molecular-genetic level.
  • Mysterious Mist / Ominous Fog: Mist swirls about any object or being upon arrival in the second telepod, and the larger it is, the more mist there is. When it's just an inanimate object or a properly teleported being, it's the first trope. When the process goes horribly wrong in some way, it's the latter. Part of it stems from the fog initially concealing the result, building suspense. It's also ominous when Seth demonstrates it to Tawny by sending himself a second time — even though it's an unhindered trip, he has already changed so much as a person that it's presented as a dark, alluring moment reflecting his Drunk with Power state.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Veronica refers to the telepods as "Designer phone booths" upon first seeing them. The full-sized teleportation booths in the 1958 film were more or less those and as scripted would have had a similar appearance in this version, hence the line. When the "designer Italian phone booths" the creative team came up with came off as too intimidating, the more-exotic-looking pods of the finished film were conceived, but the line still worked and was thus kept.
    • In the Pogue draft, the principal antagonist was a Corrupt Corporate Executive who cheated the protagonist out of the proper royalties he deserved for his work on the "F32 formula", and went on to try and seize control of the telepods from him upon learning of his tragic plight. In the final film, Stathis tells Veronica that earlier in his career Seth was "the leader of the F32 team. Remember them? An inch away from the Nobel Prize for Physics...he was only 20 at the time." Amusingly, what exactly either version of F32 was is not specified in either script!
    • The big one is done so subtly that it's easy to overlook. That oft-parodied moment from the original where the human-headed fly is caught in the spider web and screaming "Help me! Please, help me!" in its squeaky voice? Seth makes a desperate plea for help to Veronica with those words in one of the film's more emotional moments.
    • At the bar where Seth seeks another romantic partner, "Help Me" is the title and key lyric of the song heard in the sequence's first stretch. (The Bryan Ferry song was originally intended for the film's closing credits, but was delegated to background music because it was too much of a tonal shift from Howard Shore's orchestral underscore...although it was released as a single.)
  • Nature Is Not Nice: Seth explains this to Veronica — "Insects don't have politics" — by way of explaining why she has to leave him for good. As he's becoming an insect creature, he's losing his human reason and compassion. He admits that "I'd like to become the first insect politician", but knows it's not possible.
  • Nausea Fuel: For the first time since The Exorcist, this movie had people literally leaving the theater before it was over and retching. invoked
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Seth Brundle.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: After Stathis sends Veronica a preliminary magazine cover with Seth and the telepod featured prominently, she leaves to confront him. Which leads to Seth putting two and two together, which leads to Seth getting drunk, which leads to his spur of the moment decision to teleport himself. Nice going, Stathis.
  • Nightmare Sequence: After the reveal that Veronica is pregnant with Seth's child, she has a nightmare in which she initially believes she's suffering a miscarriage but instead gives birth to a giant maggot. To make things worse for the audience, it's not revealed to be a nightmare until she awakens in terror. The four filmed but ultimately unused epilogues all involved a Dream Sequence counterpart in which a baby with butterfly wings hatches out of a chrysalis, which is viewable on the Collector's Edition/Blu-Ray releases.
  • No Ending: Hoo boy, like you wouldn't believe. Brundlefly is fused with the telepod, and in his last moments of sentience, silently begs Ronnie to kill him. She obliges. Bam. Movie over. The end. Roll credits.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Sure, Seth may have lived alone and kept the place tidy, but his teleporter really should have been isolated in a cleanroom to prevent any potential contamination during an experiment. There isn't even a basic safety interlock that could abort a sequence if a door opens that could've prevented Seth from being merged with his telepod.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: Brundlefly tries to be this, although he kind of loses it at the movie's climax because of a Split-Personality Takeover.
    • This wasn't true in the original screenplay, which had him vomiting on a homeless woman and preparing to eat her before he realized what he was doing.
  • Noodle Incident: Seth discovers he can't eat solid food "the hard and painful way". We're never told exactly what happened.
    • To be more specific, he mentions he can chew solid food, but not digest it. Which means the discovery was probably made on a trip to the bathroom.
    • The "F32 team" that Seth lead when he was only twenty. Apparently it resulted in a stunning breakthrough in physics, which nearly netted him a Nobel Prize, and it's implied that something happened which resulted in Seth deciding to work alone on his telepod project.
  • Not His Sled: Played With: when Seth enters the transporter with the fly, he doesn't pop out as a human-fly hybrid... at least not right away. As we later learn, while the fusion did occur, due to it happening on the genetic level, the transformation is taking its time...
  • Not Hyperbole: In the opening scene, Veronica is skeptical about Seth's claims; after all, everyone else from Bartok is claiming that their work will change the world. Seth's reply is simply "Yeah, but they're lying. I'm not." She ends up so impressed by his telepod demonstration she wants to go forward with a story immediately, even though Seth isn't ready to have his work revealed to the world yet since it isn't finished.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Seth's absolutely horrified reaction to this exchange with his computer.
    Seth: [typing] If secondary element is fly, what happened to fly?
    Computer: Fusion.
    Seth: [typing] Assimilation? Did Brundle absorb fly?
    Computer: Negative. Fusion of Brundle and fly at molecular-genetic level.
    • Stathis' reaction to Veronica announcing she's pregnant with Seth's baby. He initially gives a sarcastic "Oh no," but a few seconds later, the horror truly sinks in.
    • Stathis gives a horrified "Jesus!" when he finds himself face-to-face with Brundlefly at the end.
  • One-Sided Arm-Wrestling: Seth tears open a man's arm doing this.
  • One-Winged Angel: A truly terrifying example in the film's climax; when Veronica rips off the jaw of Brundle's already heavily deteriorated body while trying to escape Romantic Fusion, it triggers the final phase of his metamorphosis, in which he sheds all of his human skin, including on his head, revealing the fully formed Brundlefly underneath.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast:
    • The computer's screen alternates between teal and orange text and graphics on a black background.
    • Used subtly but extensively to play with the changing personalities of the two men in Veronica's life, as discussed in Emma Westwood's book-length essay on the film for the Devil's Advocates series. In the early going, Stathis is associated with shadows and orange lighting (the best example being her finding him taking a shower in her apartment), while Seth is given more light and blue tones. But then the Tragic Mistake happens. Seth's decaying skin takes on a very reddish-orange, rusty shade as his metamorphosis progresses, and he becomes associated with shadow. Come his penultimate form and the final 20 minutes, which take place at night, blue contrast is brought in by the lighting and Veronica's blue dress, while Stathis gets the light along with a blue-gray sweater as he becomes a Hero Antagonist. The final five minutes push things further as Seth's final Brundlefly form emerges and Stathis shoots out the cables connecting Ronnie's telepod to the others, leaving the entire loft a blue-suffused scene as smoke fills it.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Over the first days following his fateful teleportation, Veronica is puzzled by the changes in Seth (his unusually active libido, his sudden Sweet Tooth, the hairs growing out of the wounds on his back), but not alarmed until she refuses his demand to undergo teleportation herself, wrenching herself from his grip. He profanely, angrily explodes at her for this — and that's when she realizes, and tells him, that something is wrong.
  • Oral Fixation: All three corners of the Love Triangle. Both Veronica and Stathis are smokers. Seth, in what might be a signpost of his relative innocence in matters of the heart compared to them, bites his fingernails — until they come off, anyway; much later he's shown chewing on a pencil as he works at his computer.
  • Painful Transformation: A rare, slow and gradual example. Two, if you count the sequel.
    • Seth's metamorphosis into Brundlefly is an extended, humiliating process where he degenerates from a healthy and muscular man into a diseased monstrosity, his flesh rotting to the point that his extremities fall off (including his teeth, his fingernails, his fingers, his penis...), until his whole formerly-human skin is shed completely and he is ultimately reduced to a voiceless insectoid beast.
  • Patient Zero: Discussed. One reason Seth is nervous about seeing Veronica again — and why he initially tries to shun physical contact with her when she arrives — is that he's worried he might be/become this if his condition turns out to be contagious, and Stathis harbors similar concerns once he finds out about the situation.
  • Phlegmings: Brundlefly excretes a sticky white liquid constantly, which he uses to dissolve and digest his food.
  • The Plague: Discussed — Seth initially worries that his deteriorating condition might be contagious, and Stathis tells Veronica not to see him again out of fear that it could result in an epidemic. Seth eventually figures out that "what the disease wants" is to work a Metamorphosis on him alone, while Veronica and Stathis realize that the real problem facing them is that she's pregnant by Seth and may be carrying a mutant offspring.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Veronica abruptly leaving to go confront Stathis without telling Seth why leads the scientist to assume she's getting back together with her old flame. This prompts him into getting drunk, angry, and making a small but reckless decision that ends up costing everyone very dearly.
  • The Power of Love: Love Cannot Overcome yet its power is ultimately, spectacularly, affirmed at the end. It gives the maimed Stathis the strength to save Veronica from being teleported. It gives Veronica the strength to mercy kill Brundlefly at his request. And that request may be borne as much from Seth's loving trust in her — and remorse for what he's done — as it is from a simple desire to no longer be in pain.
  • The Power of Lust: Seth's at-first-sight longing for the beautiful Veronica is what kicks off the whole movie as he awkwardly flirts with her. It's Played for Laughs but it sets the stage for true, and tragic, romance.
  • Primal Stance: Seth develops this in the later stages of his transformation into Brundlefly. When he first allows Ronnie to see him again it's just beginning to develop and he needs canes to walk as a result, but by the time he can Wall Crawl he's adjusted to it.
  • Product Placement: A lot of sugary products, like Pepsi and Cap'n Crunch, can be seen strewn about in Seth's lab as his condition worsens.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: A rationalized version of this trope. Seth intends to teleport himself as the Grand Finale of his experiments, but shortly after the first time he successfully teleports any living organism he gets drunk and decides he doesn't need to wait on making sure the process doesn't have any aftereffects or anything like that. In fact, he's having a "conversation" with that baboon and tells it "I'm sorry I killed your brother...but he didn't die in vain, if that's any comfort. And as the general said, 'There's nothing I'd ask you to do that I wouldn't do myself, boys.'"
  • Psychological Thriller: Unlike in the short story, 1958 film adaptation, or even this film's sequel, what is happening to the Doomed Protagonist's mind as his Metamorphosis progresses is just as important as what is happening to the rest of his body. Before the Body Horror fully manifests itself Seth develops a hair-trigger temper, egomaniacal attitude, and looser morals as his mind begins to reflect the instincts of an insect, much to Veronica's increasing horror and despair. And even after he realizes what's actually happening to him and reins in this darker nature, he knows that it will eventually conquer him entirely.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Where to even begin? Might as well be Pyrrhic Victory: The Film.
    • Seth Brundle: He manages to make his experiment work and, in a way, prove everyone wrong in the process. He can finally feel proud. Sadly, this same experiment AND his regained pride cost him a lover, his sanity, and eventually, his life.
    • Veronica "Ronnie" Quaife: She got the story she always wanted and sure, in the end, she survived and was able to give Seth a Mercy Kill. But in the end she had to shoot a person she loved and ended up both pregnant and heavily traumatized. If you take the sequel into account, it also eventually claims her life because she dies during childbirth.
    • Stathis Borans: JESUS H. CHRIST. He proved his point of Seth being dangerous... ruining everybody's life in the process, including both his own and his ex-girlfriend's which he wanted back into his life. Sure, at the end he managed to save Ronnie, but at a cost of both an arm and a leg. If one takes the sequel into account it only gets much worse, since he is not only forced into an early retirement, but also the person he saved and still cares for dies in front of him and he's unable to do a thing about it. And then Seth's and Veronica's son, the son of the man that took his arm and leg, the same baby that Veronica died giving birth to, comes begging for help...
  • Precision F-Strike: Delivered by Seth after the disastrous first attempt at baboon teleportation.
    Ronnie: The world would wanna know what you're thinking.
    Seth: Fuck! is what I'm thinking.
  • Romantic Fusion: In the late going, Brundle wants to do this with Veronica and their unborn child. Naturally, with him being a disgusting half-fly Humanoid Abomination, she does not want to go through with it.
  • Roofhopping: This is implied to be how Seth follows Veronica and Stathis when the latter seek an abortion for her, and how he gets her back to his loft, Bridal Carrying her all the way. In both the Pogue and Cronenberg versions of the script, there was to be a whole interlude in which Seth did this across the city, unnoticed by the people below, as a simple, temporary escape from his impending doom, but it was likely cut for being too difficult to realize with the budget and effects the filmmakers had.
  • Sanity Slippage: Brundle's gradual transformation and his futile attempts to reverse it eventually drive him insane, to the point where he decides that the best way to reclaim his humanity is to fuse himself, Veronica, and their unborn baby into "the ultimate family". He lampshades it in his "insect politics" speech, describing himself as "an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over... and the insect is awake."
  • Scale of Scientific Sins: Seth accidentally commits 3.2 (genetic engineering/Mix-and-Match Critters), turning himself into a human-insect hybrid, with a device that falls under 2 (Potential Applications).
  • Scary Teeth: Seth's teeth look a lot nastier in the later stages of the transformation, the result of being corroded by his vomit drop. Several of his front teeth gruesomely tumble out in his final humanoid stage when he pulls a pencil he's been idly chewing on from his mouth. (It says a lot about how far he's come that his silent reaction to the sight of his teeth on his keyboard suggests he's thinking "Well. That's that, then.")
  • Screen-to-Stage Adaptation: The 2008 opera, which is rather faithful to the film although for practical reasons Seth's transformation is more described than depicted. Stathis is a little less obnoxious, and in an Adaptational Alternate Ending the epilogue reveals Veronica has changed her mind and intends to keep Seth's child after all (as the chorus intones the Arc Words "Long live the new flesh..." in a Shout-Out to another Cronenberg film).
  • Second Love: Central to the Love Triangle is the fact that Stathis was (as far as the audience can tell) Veronica's first love, and he can't stand the thought of her not only wanting nothing more to do with him beyond their professional relationship, but also finding a second, true love in Seth.
  • Sex God: Brundlefly becomes a sexual athlete. Subverted in that Veronica can't keep up and it becomes an unpleasant experience.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Several of these with Seth and Veronica. One with Seth and Tawny.
  • Shirtless Scene: Once his romantic relationship with Veronica begins in earnest, and especially after his fateful teleportation and the newfound virility it brings him, Seth has several shirtless scenes/sequences. But this beauty goes to ruin with the rest of him.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Drink deep, or taste not, the plasma spring!" (see Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness) is a slight but bizarre rewrite of a line from Alexander Pope's poem "An Essay on Criticism": "Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring." (Perhaps not incidentally given Seth's situation, it's the second line of the couplet that begins "A little learning is a dangerous thing.")
    • Seth's "I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over... and the insect is awake" is a reference to Zhuangzi's famous philosophical statement:
    "Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awakened, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man."
    • Seth Brundle's surname comes from British race car driver Martin Brundle — David Cronenberg is a serious racing buff.note  Knowing this also reveals it to be an Ironic Name because Seth suffers from chronic motion sickness and hates vehicles of all kinds.
    • Stathis Borans's first name is this to Lou Stathis, an editor of Heavy Metal who greatly admired Cronenberg's work.
  • Show Some Leg: When Seth asks for a personal item he can use to demonstrate how the telepods work, Veronica removes one of her stockings. ("I don't wear jewelry.") He watches intently (if a bit awkwardly) as she does so. It's probably the Goldblumiest that Jeff Goldblum has ever been.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: Seth initially has a nice but very Limited Wardrobe of five identical suits because he doesn't like expending mental energy on choosing what to wear. Keep in mind he's a recluse and it wouldn't matter what he wore most of the time. Veronica decides to change that after learning this and goes out to buy him some new wardrobe pieces — a plaid shirt, a brown leather jacket, etc. The next time he's seen he's wearing said shirt and coordinating pants, suggesting he adopted the new look immediately; the suits are never seen again. It's a sign of how his relationship is transforming his entire life; in fact in the same scene he finally successfully transports a living being through his telepods, which he couldn't have done had his relationship with her not led to a Eureka Moment. But later that night he teleports himself...and the early stages of the Slow Transformation that results have him become more virile, sensual, and aggressive. That's when the audience starts seeing him in that leather jacket — first with a shirt, but later without.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Veronica is initially interested in Seth for professional reasons but his gentle, Adorkable personality and passion for his work is genuinely attractive to her. When she acts on this he — isolated and lonely for so long — eagerly and tenderly responds in kind, having desired her from the moment he met her. He's a sharp contrast to her ex-lover and current editor Stathis, a seemingly confident but Clingy Jealous Guy who is constantly heedless of her wishes and feelings, and even stalks her to figure out the true nature of her relationship with Seth. When he does, his attempts to sabotage it inadvertently lead to the Tragic Mistake that slowly undoes Seth's mind, personality, and body.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: To avoid giving people the wrong idea, executive producer Mel Brooks (yes, that Mel Brooks) tried to keep his name away from the film. When this failed, he attended the premiere and handed out toy antennae, deliberately misleading people into thinking it was going to be a comedy.
  • The Sleepless: Seth becomes this post-fusion, and before he realizes what's actually happening to him happily notes "I hardly need to sleep anymore, I feel wonderful!" as he encourages Veronica to undergo the teleportation process.
  • Slow Transformation: Part of the horror of Seth's transformation — the progression of which currently provides the page image for this trope, and is probably its Trope Codifier for visual media — is how it slowly it unfolds, especially in its initial stages. The first visible sign is a few unusually coarse hairs growing out of the cuts on his back (see Foreshadowing above), which neither he nor Veronica notices for the first few days, during which time his face grows progressively blotchier. After he sends Veronica away with his You're Just Jealous rant, while examining himself in the mirror he finds his electric razor can't trim the hairs on his face anymore. Then his fingernails start coming loose, revealing the fingers themselves are oozing, and he is almost overwhelmed with horror. When he allows Veronica to see him again, with his face now horrifically disfigured, he tells her that every day he saw more and more changes...and the process is still far from over.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Once Seth catches wind that Veronica is pregnant with their child and is planning to abort it, he tries to convince her to keep the baby so that there will at least be something left of him in the world. His increasingly more animalistic mind becoming concerned about passing on its genes likely also has a hand.
  • The Speechless: In his final form, Brundlefly is this. As Cronenberg points out in the DVD commentary, Seth's final metamorphosis only comes after Veronica accidentally rips his decaying human jaw off. Since he's no longer able to communicate with others, there's a tragic sense in the rest of his body giving itself up to the insect form.
  • Spiritual Successor: To David Cronenberg's previous film The Dead Zone, and not just because both are literary adaptations featuring several members of his usual crew behind the camera (casting director, cinematographer, film editor, and production designer) and a minor role played by Les Carlson in front of it. Cronenberg and Jeff Goldblum have both pointed out that each film is about a man who gains extraordinary abilities in an accident, but in the process ends up unable to be with the woman they love. And though the route each movie takes to it is very different, both end on a floor-level shot of the woman grieving the death-by-gunshot of their beloved.
  • Split-Personality Takeover: Seth's mind also gradually changes into that of a brutal insect, initially helped along by the fact that he becomes Drunk with Power in the wake of his new abilities and his assumption that his invention is responsible for them. When he realizes what's actually happening, his better self reemerges, but only for a while. Near the final stages of his transformation, Seth goes so far as to warn Veronica that it is starting to affect his mind, and that he will hurt her if she stays. This speech currently provides the trope's page quote.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: While Drunk with Power, Seth utters some bizarre dialogue. The utterances about the "power of flesh" is pure Cronenberg.
    Seth: You're afraid to dive into the plasma pool, aren't you? You're afraid to be destroyed and recreated, aren't you? I'll bet you think that you woke me up about the flesh, don't you? But you only know society's straight line about the flesh. You can't penetrate beyond society's sick, gray, fear of the flesh. Drink deep, or taste not, the plasma spring! Y'see what I'm saying? And I'm not just talking about sex and penetration. I'm talking about penetration beyond the veil of the flesh! A deep penetrating dive into the plasma pool!
  • Stages of Monster Grief: Seth goes through all of them in his one-month-plus transformation.
    • Denial: He initially denies anything is wrong with him even as his skin develops lesions, strange hairs grow, and his temper grows shorter and more explosive. Once the fingernails start coming off, though...
    • Acceptance: He realizes the true nature of his condition, resigns himself to his eventual fate of disintegration and death, and comforts himself with Gallows Humor and by exploring what he's becoming in the meantime. Veronica's love and presence also helps. However, he does long to be human again as he realizes that he's also losing his mind and morals, resulting in...
    • Defiance: He starts formulating a plan "to reduce the percentage of fly in Brundlefly" at the very least. Alas, this last-hope plan requires him to fuse himself with another human, and with his insect survival instincts starting to kick in he moves to...
    • Betrayal: With his sanity cracking upon learning Veronica is pregnant and intends to have an abortion, he decides to fuse her and the fetus with him. He also maims Stathis — who indirectly set Seth on the path to his Tragic Mistake in the first place — when he tries to rescue her, only for Stathis to get a second wind. The result is that Seth gets merged with parts of a telepod and, now suicidal but unable to kill himself, manages to convince Veronica to finish him off.
  • Super Strength: Brundle merging with the fly gives him a mild form of this, enough to rip open a man's arm in an arm-wrestling contest.
  • Super Window Jump: In act three, at the abortion clinic, once Veronica is left alone in an operating room, Brundlefly does this before abducting her (having overheard her discussion with Stathis and following her to the clinic).
  • Supporting Protagonist: Both Veronica and Stathis fulfill this role as some of Seth's tragic gradual transformation is seen from their viewpoints.
  • Sweet Tooth: Flies love sugar, and one of the first signs of Seth's transformation is that he develops a serious case of this. At the sight of him putting spoonful after spoonful of sugar into his cappuccino:
    Veronica: Do you normally take coffee with your sugar?
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Played with throughout regarding Seth. Initially, his Adorkable nature downplays his attractiveness, as does the fact that Veronica is also tall. When she tells him he's cute, his response is "Am I?" In the first days after he's merged with the fly, the trope is played straight as he explores his new strength and virility and Veronica is more attracted to him than ever...only for his personality to become uglier as the transformation slowly works its dark magic on him. Once it kicks into high gear, Seth's beauty is decimated piece by piece — he succumbs to a Primal Stance, his dark hair gradually falls out, and his face becomes a ruin.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Veronica and Stathis's relationship is suggested to have started this way — she explains to Seth that they met when he was teaching at a college and she was a student, and he helped her get into journalism (her major being science). Interestingly, the opera adaptation explicitly states this trope was in play.
  • Tele-Frag: What Seth considers to be his life's work turns out to be his demise.
  • That Poor Monkeycat: Applies to a notorious deleted scene (see What Could Have Been on the Trivia page).
    • The first baboon doesn't fare too well, either.
  • Teleporter Accident: The test animals (and even a steak) initially come out the worse for wear because the computer doesn't understand living matter. Seth chalks this up to his inability to fully understand "the flesh" himself.
  • Theme Initials: Both of the men in the Love Triangle have the initials S.B. Their first names also share a th sound. (Coincidentally, their actors — Jeff Goldblum and John Getz — also have the same initials.)
  • Time for Plan B: While he doesn't say it, you can tell this thought is going through Seth's mind when Ronnie tearfully says she cannot keep the baby. Plan B, of course, is fusing himself with Ronnie and the baby.
  • Tortured Monster: Brundlefly in the end becomes this when he's merged with his own broken telepod, whereupon he grabs the business end of the shotgun and places it against its head. Tear Jerker moment, indeed.
  • Tragic Mistake: Oh Seth... you really should have waited and run some more tests before trying the teleporter on yourself. Or at least waited until Ronnie returned.
    • Seth had successfully scared Ronnie away through his "insect politics" speech so she won't be hurt by him if the beast within took over... had she waited until after she was far away from the lab to weep in Stathis's arms, Seth would not have overheard her wanting to abort his baby and not given pursuit and ultimately decide to make her his means of regaining humanity, completed his painful metamorphosis and died alone with dignity, instead of causing the monstrously violent tragedy of the finale.
  • Tragic Monster: Alas, poor Seth. Probably one of the most profound examples of this trope ever.
  • Transformation Horror: Seth undergoes the Horrifying Metamorphosis variant of this, and though he knows he's going to become something definite, what exactly that will be is a mystery. Ultimately he ends up with TWO final forms — his "natural" Brundlefly state, and then a further, blessedly quick but painful transformation into a hybrid of that and parts of a telepod.
  • Troubled Fetal Position: Veronica curls up into this upon waking from her nightmare — rather apropos given she was dreaming of giving birth to a Fetus Terrible.
  • Tsundere: Veronica Quaife. Her tsun side initially dominates, and with good reason. With Seth she is initially skeptical of his claims about the telepods, and then frustrated that he doesn't realize she agreed to visit his lab because she was interested in getting a story (he was trying to woo her, not become a subject for an article). Moreover she answers to an editor who is also a very pushy ex-lover, who lords his higher position over her by planning to jump her on the story — she has to stand up for herself. Love for Seth brings out her dere side, but as she realizes before he does that something terrible is happening to him the tsun side becomes a sort of protection for her, though by the end it can only go so far when put up against what Seth becomes and what's happening to her as a result.
  • Uncleanliness Is Next to Ungodliness: Seth is initially a rather tidy man in appearance and the upkeep of his apartment/lab, going so far as to wear a clean set of clothes (one of five identical sets, down to the shoes) every day. As his mutation progresses apace and his mind begins to go, he gives up on taking care of himself and his apartment entirely, the latter becoming a wreck of discarded garbage (especially empty food and soda containers) — which is rather fitting in a sad way, given that flies are commonly associated with garbage and rot. He even turns his medicine cabinet into a museum for his falling-off appendages. During the early stages of his mutation, before he realizes what's happening to him, his lover Veronica notes that he looks and smells bad compared to how he was before, but he brushes off her concerns with "I've never been much of a bather."
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Stathis. He tries to throw a wrench into Seth and Veronica's relationship and hamstring the latter's book deal by threatening to print the story on his own. Veronica goes to confront Stathis about it, but Seth's interpretation of the situation is that she's betrayed him and the two ex-lovers are getting back together. Seth hits the bottle as a result and ends up climbing inside the telepod.
  • Vampire Refugee: Seth becomes desperate to retain, if not regain, some of his humanity and eventually decides to try fusing himself with another human — technically two: Veronica and their unborn child.
  • Vanity Licence Plate: Stathis's car has one: PARTICLE, which is the name of the magazine he edits and which Veronica writes for.
  • Villainous Breakdown: In the climax, Seth/Brundlefly's reaction to seeing Veronica's telepod disconnected from the other two is to smash the glass door of his open so he can at least have vengeance on Stathis. But just as he's partially outside it the countdown ends and the result is not pretty.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Used a lot, especially in the final scenes. Although we never get to see the externally digested food getting reabsorbed. Instead we get to see Stathis looking horrified. An unfilmed scene had Seth eating a bag lady, starting by melting her face.
  • Wall Crawl: Eventually, Seth can do this. He's pretty proud of how quickly he gets the hang of it.
  • Was Once a Man: Poor Seth, whose loss of humanity is such that he describes himself to Veronica as "an insect who dreamt he was a man" when he turns her away for the final time. He currently provides the trope's page quote.
  • Wham Line: At the end, > FUSION OF BRUNDLEFLY AND TELEPOD SUCCESSFUL
  • What Have I Become?: Or rather "What am I becoming?" After Seth forces Veronica out of his loft with a You're Just Jealous rant, he goes into his bathroom and for what's implied to be the first time in a while actually looks at himself in the mirror. He realizes that he does look as bad as she's been telling him, and attempts to shave only to find his electric razor can't cut the stubble on his face. In frustration he hurls it away, smashing it to bits, and as he continues to examine his reflection chews on a fingernail...which comes off in his mouth. From there he realizes all of his fingernails are starting to come loose, and his fingers are dripping with pus. The dawning horror that he might be dying leads him to consult his computer, and at last he learns the horrible truth about his transformation — and that it's just getting started.
  • What If the Baby Is Like Me?: Veronica is terrified at the thought that her child by Seth is a mutant, and knowing that it could appear human in prenatal tests and even at birth but undergo Metamorphosis later is why she is determined to have an abortion. Seth, on the other hand, is horrified by the prospect of her aborting what might be the last remnant of his original human self (making it more "What if the baby is like what I was?").
  • Windows of the Soul: No matter how mutated and diseased Seth's body becomes, his eyes remain human. Only when his eyes melt away into pus in the final transformation does Seth cease to be Seth, and he becomes the Brundlefly in mind as well as body.
  • You're Just Jealous: At the height of feeling Drunk with Power, and right after Veronica has arrived just in time to allow Tawny a way to leave the loft, Seth furiously accuses Veronica of being jealous of what he's becoming when she (having learned that the hairs growing from the wound on his back are insect hairs) reiterates to him that something is horribly wrong with him.
  • You Do NOT Want to Know: At a fast-food restaurant, Seth explains to Veronica why exactly she can't go forward with her story — the telepods can only handle inanimate objects at this point, and he's trying to fix that. When Veronica asks what happens when he tries to teleport something alive, he grimaces a bit and says "Not while we're eating."
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Joked about by the skeptical Stathis in his first scene, when Seth comes to the Particle magazine offices to invite Veronica to lunch. "If you plan to make anything disappear, please, let me know. I've got an assistant editor who's outlived his usefulness."
  • Your Head Asplode: Brundlefly, courtesy of a shotgun blast.


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