This page contains unmarked spoilers. You Have Been Warned!
Galactic Republic. The taxation
of trade routes to outlying star
systems is in dispute.
Hoping to resolve the matter
with a blockade of deadly
battleships, the greedy Trade
Federation has stopped all
shipping to the small planet
While the congress of the
Republic endlessly debates
this alarming chain of events,
the Supreme Chancellor has
secretly dispatched two Jedi
Knights, the guardians of
peace and justice in the
galaxy, to settle the conflict....
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is a 1999 film, and the first installment of Star Wars' prequel trilogy.
After CGI started taking off, in no small part due to the work of his company Industrial Light and Magic, George Lucas felt it was a good time to finish the Star Wars saga. He re-released the Original Trilogy in theaters as special editions to further test the waters for more Star Wars films.
The Phantom Menace then began production after the success of the special editions.
In protest against rising taxes, the Trade Federation blockade the small, peaceful planet of Naboo to make their demands known. The Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic sends the Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi as ambassadors to negotiate the end of the blockade. The Trade Federation invade Naboo and the Jedi are forced to protect the Queen, Amidala, and help her to gain support to protect her people. On the way to the Galactic Capital, they encounter a young boy named Anakin who is extremely talented in the force, and the Jedi do battle with Darth Maul, the apprentice of the Sith Lord who is manipulating the Trade Federation's actions from the shadows to serve his own agenda.
The prequels came about from backstory notes Lucas developed on the first film, and further expanded upon before The Empire Strikes Back came out (hence the retroactive naming scheme using "Episodes"). Unlike the original trilogy, this film was designed from the start as the introduction of a three-movie structure, though this film (and the other prequels, to a lesser extent) is still relatively self-contained.
Followed by Attack of the Clones.
Please move any character tropes to the proper character page.
The Phantom Menace contains examples of:
- Accidental Hero: In the finale, Anakin joins up with Bravo Squadron in a Naboo starfighter, then cripples the Droid Control Ship's deflector shields...by complete accident. He only joined the battle after being flown to the ship by the fighter's autopilot, and after crash-landing inside the ship, fired two stray torpedoes at its shield generator while trying to fire on a battalion of droids.
- Action Girl: Padme definitely counts, participating in the effort to storm the palace during the film's climax. Her handmaidens also definitely count, with several of them participating in the battle alongside their Queen.
- Airstrike Impossible: Bravo Squadron's assault on the Droid Control Ship. It quickly becomes clear that they have the deck stacked against them—the ship's deflector shield is too strong for their starfighters to penetrate, and the ship is heavily armed and has an endless supply of Droid Starfighters to launch against the tiny squadron of royal fighters. It takes Anakin's flight into the ships hangar and sabotage of the ships reactor to turn the tide.
- Aliens Speaking English: Zig-Zagged. Most alien characters speak Basic (the In-Universe equivalent of English), but others, like the Boonta Eve podracers, the Hutts and Wald (a slave Rodian child on Tatooine) are heard conversing in Huttese.
- Always a Bigger Fish: Trope Namer. Qui-Gon says this as he goes along with Obi-Wan and Jar Jar to travel in a bongo sub through the watery core of Naboo, and are saved from a predator by another bigger predator twice in a row.
- All There in the Manual: Exactly what the Trade Federation is and the nature of the original trade dispute are never explained in the movie itself, but the tie-in materials went into greater detail about it. The novelization also explains some plot points in the film—for example, Qui Gon cheated with Watto's chance cube game because he knew that Watto was playing with a loaded die.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: The idea of an elected Queen sounds extremely strange, but, in fact, there are some places that actually did elect monarchy, including the Holy Roman Empire (at least technically, the electors inevitably picked the head of House Habsburg), medieval Ireland and early modern Poland. There are still elective monarchies, including Malaysia, Cambodia (where the King is elected by other members of the Royal Family), and Wallis-and-Futuna, a French territory in the Pacific Ocean, which is divided into three traditional kingdoms each led by a king elected among the local aristocracy. One more that people often don't think about is the Pope, who at one time ruled the Papal States (read: half of Italy) and now rules over the Vatican City, and is elected from the College of Cardinals. Those who know about this generally are skeptical of the idea of a popularly elected monarch; the examples listed above are elected from small cadres of elites, not the general populace, as is the case with Amidala. The fact that she was fourteen when she was elected, and future queens are even younger, also strains credibility; even hereditary monarchs generally had regents until they reached their respective age of majority, rather than letting a child rule unimpeded.
- An Offer You Can't Refuse: Yeah... forcing a ruler to sign a document during war and with a gun pointed to her head. It doesn't matter which galaxy you're in, or how far far away it is, that's not binding because it's clearly under duress. (And why do invasions need to be legal?) The novelization has Sio Bibble lampshade the audacity of this."A treaty?" the governer exclaimed in astonishment. "In the face of this completely unlawful action?"
- Antagonist Title: One is led to think "The Phantom Menace" refers to Darth Maul's secretive actions when really of course, it refers to the subversive undermining of Senator Palpatine a.k.a. Darth Sidious. In an interesting case, this appears to be played straight and subverted at the same time. Due to the ambiguity of the title, it could theoretically be applied to Darth Maul and Darth Sidious (playing the trope straight), or it could be applied to Anakin (subverting the trope since Anakin is decidedly not the antagonist of the film. The meaning of the title has only ever been met with Shrug of God, leaving it entirely open-ended.
- The Artifact: The design of the battle droids was based on an early conceptual design for the Neimoidians, which was scrapped because it was difficult to create. In-universe the droids are made to look like Neimoidian skeletons (since their skulls elongate after death), though this was latter retconned as a rumor spread by the Neimoidians. Attack of the Clones reveals they're actually based on Geonosian skulls, who actually manufacture the droids.
- Artificial Gill: The rebreathers used by Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan to swim down to the Gungan city.
- Artistic License – Geology: Yeah, it's Star Wars, so this is to be expected, but given what we directly see of Naboo's geology, there's no way that the surface could be as verdant, full of life, and most importantly Earth-like as it is. Basically, Naboo is a porous planet with canals filled with water running through the planet's core from one side to the other. The problem is, without a hot, liquid metal core like Earth has, the planet would most likely have no magnetic field, meaning that everything on the surface should be fried by radiation. Furthermore, no hot core means no volcanic activity, which raises the question of how the atmosphere developed.
- As You Know: "Our blockade is perfectly legal, and we would be happy to receive ambassadors..."
- Background Halo: Most of Amidala's outfits.
- Backstory: This movie really only exists to set up all the back story for the following five movies. In fact, Rod Hilton's Machete Order shows how leaving it out of the viewing order altogether doesn't hurt the overarching story at all.
- Beneath the Earth: Of the flooded variety. The hidden Gungan city is actually fairly close to the surface. Below, the planet is a strangely porous tangle of caverns inhabited by gigantic fish and Kaiju-style monsters. Those living on the paradisaical surface apparently never even see these things, as they happily build their cities and homes along the shorelines of bodies of water that lead into this monster-filled underworld.
- Big "NO!": Obi-Wan witnessing Darth Maul land a killing strike on Qui-Gon.
- Big "WHAT?!": Anakin's reaction to Qui-Gon telling him he's been freed.
- Bilingual Bonus: While Anakin is piloting his starfighter to join the fight at the Droid Control Ship, Artoo beeps at him. Deciphered into our alphabet, the Aurabesh letters on his console read out as "ANAKIN TURN THE SHIP AROUND AND GO BACK HOMIE RIGHT AWAY" (in block lettering without punctuation, as indicated). If "HOMIE" isn't a typo, then Artoo is apparently being "cutesy" and talking down to Anakin; something not entirely out of character for him.
- Bittersweet Ending: Trade Federation has been defeated, Naboo regains freedom, but Qui-Gon is dead and Palpatine/Darth Sidious becomes Chancellor.
- Bizarrchitecture: The Trade Federation flagships have a decidedly unorthodox design scheme for a spaceship, having a shape that can basically be described as a half eaten donut with a donut hole in the middle. Attack of the Clones revealed that the center sphere is detachable and can function as a spaceship in and of itself, with the outer ring serving as the cargo holds for their droid army and supplies, complete with two parallel hangar bays on the open ends of the ring.
- Blood Sport: The podrace is a three lap hovercraft race around the desert where murder, sabotage, and aggression are all permitted. It ends up looking like Mario Kart on Steroids.
- Boy Meets Girl: Anakin meets Padmé, who is actually the Queen of Naboo, and his future wife, for the first time.
- Call-Forward: Has its own page.
- Can't Kill You, Still Need You: The Naboo Royal Guard don’t believe that the Trade Federation will kill Queen Amidala, as they need her to sign an invasion legalisation treaty. Qui-Gon Jinn doesn’t believe as such.
- Cheaters Never Prosper: The ruffian known as Sebulba tries to bump the child protagonist's car as soon as the kid takes second place, only for the kid to attach his car to Sebulba's, build up speeding using Sebulba's car, and then rip apart Sebulba's car in the process of breaking off from it, leaving Sebulba miles from the finish line with a third of his car intact.
- Cherubic Choir: At the end of the movie, children sing a major-key version of the Emperor's previously ominous theme. This foreshadows that Chancellor Palpatine's veneer of compassion hides the sinister character that will become the evil Emperor from Return of the Jedi.
- Combat Pragmatist: When separated from Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon manages to hold his own against Darth Maul's lightsaber strikes. So what does Maul do to get the better of him? He butts Qui-Gon in the face with the hilt of his lightsaber to catch him off guard and then impales him through the chest.
- Coming-of-Age Story: For Anakin and Padme. Anakin Skywalker leaves his home and family to begin his training as a Jedi Knight while Padme Amidala has to prove herself as a successful leader. Done as a mirror of their children Luke and Leia from the original trilogy.
- Connected All Along: In this prequel, Anakin Skywalker proudly points to his robotic creation, C-3PO. This seems rather insignificant, except that the first three Star Wars movies never indicated that C-3PO had any connection to Anakin, who had grown into an evil sorcerer bent on ruling the galaxy.
- Contrived Coincidence: The entire Tatooine sequence. To wit, the characters, in need of hyperspace parts, just happen to land near a settlement where the first guy they talk to just happens to be the only person with the right parts for miles, and also just happens to own the probable Chosen One as a slave, who just happens to be good in a Podrace of which there just happens to be one tomorrow. Also just happening to be there is said Chosen One's future wife. Lampshaded by Qui-Gon, who wholeheartedly believes all this was the will of The Force.
- Cool Bike: Darth Maul's Bloodfin speeder bike
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Trade Federation, which is willing to sell itself out to the Sith in return for profit (or in the EU backstory, settling a vendetta against Senator Palpatine).
- Cowboy Cop: Qui-Gon is the Jedi version of this. He goes with his gut feelings, rather than established procedure. He bends the rules to see justice done. He's been passed over for promotion by the suits on the Jedi Council for his actions, and he's willing to challenge their authority. Oddly, by the time we reach Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker seems more like Qui-Gon (who he's never met) than Kenobi or Yoda (who trained him). Later explained in that Obi-Wan and Yoda received training from Qui-Gon's Force ghost and presumably passed his teachings on to Luke.
- Crapsack World: Tatooine. For one thing, it's stated in the movie that it's ruled by the Hutts (whom according to Panaka are gangsters) and it's clear from the movie that slavery is considered acceptable there, including the use of children as slaves. There's also the podracing, which people also bet various things (including the fate of slaves) on. Even putting aside the nature of its society, there's also the weather; dangerous sandstorms can come up on short notice, which the Tatooine residents apparently predict through aching bones, and that doesn't give them much time to find shelter. note
- Crippling the Competition: Champion podracer Sebulba "accidentally" bumps another podracer, messing it up and making it unable to race.
- Damage Control: After Trade Federation battleships shoot out the shield generators on the royal cruiser, R2-D2 and several other astromechs are called out to fix it. R2 gets it done but all the other droids are blown away in the process.
- Darkest Hour: Qui-Gon dies. The Gungans are defeated. Anakin is stranded inside an enemy ship. Amidala is caught by the federation. All at the same time.
- Deadly Dust Storm: One forces Qui-Gon's party to take shelter in Anakin's house on Tatooine.
- Decoy Leader: The Queen is stuck in a tough firefight with a group of murderous robots, only for the Queen's Body Double to walk through the doorway in the full royal regalia, proudly announce that she's the real queen, and duck into the hallway to the left with the robots in pursuit."After her! This one's a decoy!"
- Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Played with in the Podrace; while Podracing is a Blood Sport done at breakneck speeds, Sebulba is more than willing to take time to handicap other racers (i.e. smashing Mawhonic's pod into a cliff wall, incinerating Clegg Holdfast's pod with a flamethrower, throwing a piece of junk into Mars Guo's engine to cause it to jam and explode). Unlike most examples, it doesn't particularly slow him down or cost him a lead; until he tries to pull it on Anakin, which, thanks to their pods becoming intertwined when Sebulba tries to ram him, gives Anakin a chance to boost ahead, thus tearing apart Sebulba's engine cables, triggering a humiliating chain-reaction destruction of his racer.
- Disney Villain Death: Darth Maul falls down a deep shaft after getting sliced in half by Obi-Wan.
- Doing In the Wizard: Downplayed Trope. Midichlorians provide a bit of scientific explanation to why some people are more receptive to the Force than others, and why it can be passed down in a family, but they do not explain what the Force is. In fact, when Qui-Gon explains them to Anakin, he specifically states, that the midichlorians only communicate the will of the Force, making it clear that the Force is higher consciousness, and not the midichlorians themselves, nor is it generated by them.
- Don't Look Back: Said word for word, Anakin's mother gives him the strength to leave Tatooine by telling him not to look back at her.
- Don't Think, Feel: Said almost verbatim by Qui-Gon to Anakin before the podrace.
- Doomed by Canon: No, Qui-Gon. You are not going to train Anakin, since Obi-Wan called Anakin his pupil in A New Hope.
- Dramatic Irony: Anyone who has seen the original trilogy knows what will become of Anakin, Obi-Wan, The Jedi, and the Republic. Fans more familiar with the universe will also know the Secret Identity of the Big Bad: Senator Palpatine.
- Dull Surprise: Since the most prominent characters in the film are monks and composed politicians, much of the dialogue is delivered in a dry, informative monotone.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Anakin owns a statue that looks like Maz Kanata. Star Wars: Complete Locations confirms it is indeed a statue of her.
- Early Installment Weirdness: This is the only prequel shot on film rather than digital video. Also, a sizeable portion of it was shot on location and with real sets rather than extensive Chroma Key like the other two prequels. As a result the film has more of a visual continuity with the original trilogy (especially the Special Editions) than with the subsequent films, which almost look like cartoons by comparison.
- Everything's Better with Spinning: Anakin tries this during the Droid Control Ship battle. "I'll try spinning, that's a good trick!"
- Exact Words: "Stay in that cockpit!" from Qui-Gon to Anakin. Never mind that Anakin accidentally activates the Naboo fighter craft in question, subsequently blasts a few Destroyer droids, and ultimately takes out the reactor core of the orbiting Trade Federation control ship...
- Explosive Instrumentation: The destruction of the control ship's main reactor by Anakin causes the droid control computer to malfunction and explode. The captain and ship staff are in front of the computer when it explodes, killing them all just as the bridge is incinerated.
- Extraordinary World, Ordinary Problems: The invasion of Naboo is sparked by some rather dry and prosaic disputes over interplanetary tariffs and trade. Also, there's a lot of attention focused on how the corrupt and ineffectual bureaucracy of the Republic helped to enable the crisis. The presence of these elements are rather odd given the Space Opera nature of the Star Wars universe.
- Fantastic Racism: The Gungans and the Naboo appear to not like each other very much and live segregated from each other in underwater and aboveground cities, respectively. Later on they form an alliance to end the Trade Federation's occupation of their planet.
- Fictional Sport: Podracing is a sport where contestants race in hovercrafts at breakneck speeds with no restrictions on violence, which becomes a problem when the nine-year-old protagonist has to enter the race to get money for a ride off Tatooine.
- Fighter-Launching Sequence: The Naboo fighter pilots who the heroes rescued during their escape from the planet earlier in the film make off in their fighters during the film's climax. One of them is shot down on takeoff and crashes in a valley below.
- Filk Song: Weird Al's "The Saga Begins" (which Al wrote before the movie using internet spoilers, and he even attended a charity screening to make sure it was accurate!) is a spoof of Don McLean's "American Pie" sung from the perspective of Obi-Wan about "this here Anakin guy."
- Final Battle: There are 4 of them (a 3-way lightsaber duel, a massive ground battle, a big space battle and a smaller ground assault). It's been pointed out that the Star Wars movies had an increasing number of final battles per movie. At an early screening for execs and higher-ups the editor pointed out that because there was so much going on the audience's mood was being pulled from comedy to drama to excitement to sadness so much that it was losing its power. Lucas realized that he had gone overboard and that he couldn't fix it in the editing because all four scenes are intertwined, and in the latter two movies he backed down on it significantly.
- Fixing the Game: Qui-Gon, a religious monk, doesn't hesitate to cheat at dice using the Force if it serves the greater good. The film's Novelization justifies, Watto was using a weighted die and Qui-Gon knew it. No wonder he didn't mind cheating a cheater.
- Force-Field Door: The two-on-one duel in the finale leads the three combatants into a hallway where force fields turn off and on periodically. This separates the two heroes in the duel, allowing Darth Maul to kill the older hero while the latter's apprentice helplessly watches behind a force field.
- Foreboding Fleeing Flock: The Trade Federation's invasion panics the animals of Naboo, who all race to get away, heedless of the Jedi trying to keep from getting trampled, or the Gungan who just stands there like an idiot.
- After Mace Windu wonders if it was the Master or the Apprentice who was destroyed, the scene pans towards Palpatine, and an ominous musical cue is heard while the funeral theme is playing in the background, hinting that Palpatine is the other Sith.
- There's also the first meeting between Palpatine and Anakin; Palpatine pats the young boy on the back, saying that, "-we will be watching your career with great interest."
- At the end of the credits, Darth Vader's breath is heard, giving us a glimpse into what Anakin will become in the future.
- The Novelization has some of this in its version of the "Are you an angel?" scene, during which Anakin tells Padmé that he's sure he's going to someday marry her. It's used playfully as a Call-Back later when Anakin and Padmé are talking aboard her ship.
- If you hadn't watched the original trilogy, the soundtrack makes a foreshadowing. When Yoda talks about Anakin at the end of the film stating that the boy's future is clouded, the Imperial March makes a brief yet meaningful appearance.
- After the podrace Shmi tells Anakin that he "has given hope to those who have none". Anakin will father Luke, the hope.
- Yoda's warning about the nature of the Dark Side ("Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate... leads to suffering") actually predicts Anakin's character arc throughout the films. In Episode I, he's a scared boy. In Episode II, he's an angry teenager. In Episode III, he's a hateful young man. As Darth Vader, he's a suffering man.
- Forgot About His Powers: Darth Maul's opponent has fallen thirty feet down a Bottomless Pit and is barely holding onto an indent in the pit, giving Darth Maul the perfect opportunity to use his Force powers to throw his enemy to his death. Instead, Maul opts for a different strategy, one where he throws harmless sparks at his enemy until the latter gets enough resolve to jump out of the pit, stop to grab his saber, and cut a shocked Maul in half.
- Forgotten Phlebotinum: Deflector Shields are ubiquitous in Star Wars generally, but especially notable here in that the Gungans, alone out of all the races we have seen, have refined the technology for battlefield usage. They have portable shield generators that can provide an army with protection from artillery fire, as well as personal tower shields to allow front line troops to withstand blaster fire at close range. This would have been hugely useful in numerous battles during the Clone Wars, as well as to the Rebels on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. But these technologies are never seen again.
- Four Lines, All Waiting: The climax cuts back and forth between the lightsaber duel between Darth Maul and the two Jedi, Jar Jar Binks's clumsy antics with the Battle Droids, the Queen's attempt to retake her palace, and Anakin's accidental space battle where he destroys the Trade Federation blockade through sheer luck. This ends up creating some Mood Whiplash considering all four of these battles have different tones and stakes.
- "Friends" Rent Control: Shmi and Anakin live in a clean, multi-room house with robot servants while working as slaves, on a desert planet, run by slug mobs. And what's that area where Anakin was building his podracer? Was that, like, a backyard? Possibly justified by their value to Watto as slaves, since he later refused to sell Shmi to anyone, at any price, unless he was certain she would be treated well by her new owner. Sure enough, the guy who eventually was allowed to buy her didn't waste any time in freeing her and marrying her.
- George Lucas Altered Version: Both the DVD and Blu-Ray releases made some changes to the film.
- The puppet Yoda was replaced with a CGI Yoda in the blu ray release. This was because Lucas had always intended Yoda to be fully CGI in the film, but early attempts at it were unsatisfactory, forcing them to use the puppet.
- The DVD and Blu-Ray extends the podrace sequence with new footage, while also removing a shot of Watto cheering "Sebulba!" An effects error causing Fode and Beed's hand to pass through their vest was fixed. And right after Jabba the Hutt's introduction before the podrace, a new voice is heard from a spectator when the camera is focused on the crowd.
- A new air taxi scene is added to the arrival on Coruscant.
- The Blu-Ray alters the Vote of No Confidence scene to remove the "Vote now!" chants from the crowd, leaving a general uproar in its place.
- Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan's Force speed effect in the opening (when they escape the Droidekas) was redone to look more realistic. A close-up shot of Nute Gunray and Rune Haako watching a viewscreen showing the Jedi escaping was replaced for a wide shot with a new effect for the screen itself.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: At one point, Anakin calls someone "bantha poodoo", which is officially translated as "bantha fodder". A couple problems with this translation: first, poodoo sounds suspiciously like a combination of two little-kid fecal slang words (poo-poo and doo-doo); second, later in the movie, Jar-Jar is seen saying "Oh, Poodoo!" as if it were an expletive. Most people, in whatever language, don't swear by animal feed.
C-3PO: Oh, hello, I don't believe we have been introduced.
- When C-3PO and R2-D2 first meet:
[Artoo introduces himself]
C3-PO: R2-D2, a pleasure to meet you. I am C-3PO, cyborg-human relations.
[Artoo chirps to Threepio]
C3-PO: I beg your pardon, but what do you mean, "naked?"
[Artoo beeps to Threepio]
C3-PO: My parts are showing? Oh, my goodness, oh!
- Half the Man He Used to Be: Darth Maul gets (non-fatally) bisected by Obi-Wan.
- Hauled Before A Senate Subcommittee: As Queen Amidala points out, Nute Gunray will have to explain his invasion of her peaceful kingdom to the Galaxy's Senate.
- The Hero Dies: Qui-Gon Jinn is the main character of the film and dies near the end, with 2 more prequels and the original trilogy to go.
- Heroism Equals Job Qualification:
- Jar Jar Binks goes straight from being banished to being a general after helping the Nabooan humans and the Gungans get along. And then soon after the droid threat is gone he becomes a senator.
- Obi-Wan is promoted from Padawan to Jedi Knight following Darth Maul's demise.
- "I Can't Look!" Gesture: As Anakin is preparing to start the podrace, Jar Jar says it's going to be nasty and that he's not watching before covering his eyes.
- Impossibly Cool Clothes: Amidala's wardrobe. Also a plot point, her makeup and clothing was designed specifically to make it impossible to see who was Amidala and who was her decoy. Keira Knightley played her decoy, who does somewhat resemble Natalie Portman.
- The Jail Bait Wait: Padme won't unite with Anakin until a decade later.
- Keystone Army:
- Every unit in the droid army malfunctions as soon as the control ship explodes.
- The Gungan army turns and runs as soon as their shield generator is knocked out. Justified, because while the shield was up the only thing that could get through was the Trade Federation's infantry. After the shield is down their heavy firepower could move in.
- Leitmotif: It wouldn't be Star Wars otherwise. Anakin's theme includes chords from The Imperial March.
- Lighter and Softer: Despite the page quote up top there, children and funny-talking aliens play a large part in the plot. More obviously, the Used Future aesthetic of the original trilogy was done away with in order to help demonstrate that this is the "more civilized age" that Obi-Wan mentioned in A New Hope.
- Locked Out of the Fight: The force-field gates that the Jedi fight Darth Maul through serve to separate Obi-Wan from Qui-Gon; Obi-Wan can only watch as Qui-Gon, fighting alone, falls to Darth Maul.
- Meaningful Background Event: In a couple scenes while characters are going about their business on Tatooine, you might catch an inconspicuous floating droid hover past in the background - or catch a listen to their signature sound effect - which have a striking resemblance to those we saw belonging to Darth Maul...
- Meditation Powerup: When Qui-Gon fights Maul on Naboo, he uses a break in the fight to meditate. It helps, but not enough to survive.
- Mid-Battle Tea Break: Justified in the final battle between Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Darth Maul when the three combatants are temporarily separated by some force fields. Qui-Gon takes a moment to meditate and compose himself, Maul takes an experimental slash at the field before pacing around and giving Qui-Gon a Death Glare, and Obi-Wan just stands around nervously.
- Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: It gets a 4, because of Qui-Gon Jinn being impaled by Darth Maul's lightsaber and Maul being sliced in two at the waist (complete with blood vapor puff), also with a lightsaber.
- Mook Horror Show: Invoked by the creators with the Trade Federation members hiding from the Jedi which nothing could stop. The DVD commentary specifically states this was an inversion of the typical "humans cowering in fear of the unstoppable alien" dynamic from old horror movies.
- The Mothership: The Federation command ship which Anakin destroys.
- Naval Blockade: By the Trade Federation around Naboo, which kicks off the action.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: The manner in which the Trade Federation marched into Theed mirrored the Nazis march under the Arc de Triomphe. In addition, the Trade Federation, after occupying Naboo, also held the various indigenous peoples (Naboo humans and Gungans) in camps that were implied to be death camps/concentration camps. In addition, it is implied that Palpatine orchestrated the Naboo blockade invasion to gain more power, similar to how Adolf Hitler had some of his army pose as Polish people and attack their own key buildings so he'd have the excuse to invade Poland. It might also reference Hitler invading his native land of Austria, seeing how Palpatine was the senator of the same planet that he orchestrated the Trade Federation's invasion of. note
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon both dash at super speed to escape two robots near the start of the film - and never use the power again, not even when it might have been useful during the duel with Darth Maul.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
- Aside from the trouble Jar Jar causes in this movie, there is also the time when Qui-Gon made it his dying wish for Obi-Wan to train Anakin. Those familiar enough with the series' overall story would know that this didn't exactly work out all that well.
- Padme following Palpatine's recommendation to call for a vote of no confidence allowing the villain-in-sheep's clothing to become Chancellor.
- Knowing what led to Anakin turning to the Dark Side, the Jedi not accepting him earlier before Obi-Wan essentially threatened to go against the Order to train him himself also qualifies somewhat.
- More to the point, the Jedi Council knew that Anakin's mother was still a slave, and if they'd just taken half an hour to go and rescue her after the events of the movie, it would have prevented her death and Anakin's first step to the Dark Side.
- Noodle Incident: The specific reasons for Jar Jar's exile, besides his obvious clumsiness, are never detailed. We only get to hear the last bit of the story, which apparently involves blowing something up and crashing Boss Nass' heyblibber.
- No OSHA Compliance:
- A Star Wars staple, which probably reaches its highest point in the area beneath the palace where Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan fight Maul - a series of catwalks with no railings over a bottomless pit. Plus a corridor lined with energy fields that seemingly activate and deactivate according to some computer-controlled pattern and lack any apparent means of detecting whether or not there are people in the corridor. It makes Cloud City look like a model of industrial safety in comparison!
- The Trade Federation's ships are little better, judging by how the designers apparently decided that putting the main reactor right next door to the hangar was a good idea.
- No Poverty: Naboo. It makes The Federation look like the Eastern Bloc during the 1980's in comparison!
- No-Sell: Watto is thoroughly unimpressed by Qui-Gon's Jedi Mind Trick.
- Not-So-Innocent Whistle: Jar Jar whistles any time the circumstance for his exile comes up.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Qui-Gon Jinn notes that, despite the Trade Federation’s demands during their invasion of Naboo, there is no real logic behind it.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Palpatine suggests apathetic politicians rule the Republic with Chancellor Valorum as their puppet, and they are the reason that rather than doing anything about the Naboo situation, the Senate has merely had meetings - and why Amidala says the page quote.
- Offstage Villainy: After the Trade Federation invades Naboo, we keep being told that the people are suffering under the occupation and that the death toll is rising. The thing is, we never actually see any of the Nabooan citizens suffer, which makes the whole thing look more like Gunboat Diplomacy (albeit by a megacorp wilfully manipulated by a Sith lord) than a whole planet being "subjected to slavery and death".
- Off-the-Shelf FX: Qui-Gon's communicator is a re-decoed woman's razor.
- Oh, Crap!:
- A Gungan general's reaction to seeing a huge deployment of battle droids walk right through his army's force-field.
- Panaka and his troops as a whole get one of these moments when they meet Darth Maul.
- The Neimodians when they seal off the bridge and realize the Jedi are still getting through.
- The pilot and co-pilot of the Republic cruiser in the docking bay of the Trade Federation Battleship. They don't even get a chance to finish saying Oh, Crap!.
- Oh, No... Not Again!: "Yousa in big dudu this time!" Also, Obi-Wan's scene with Qui-Gon at the Jedi Temple. ("Do not defy the Council, Master, not again.")
- Ominous Latin Chanting "Duel of the Fates" is a frantic piece with Sanskrit chanting that punctuates the film's climatic Laser Blade duel.
- Pimped-Out Cape: About every other queen outfit Amidala wore had one.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Every one of Amidala's queen outfits.
- Pinball Protagonist: Anakin is obviously a crucial character in the film due to his impossibly high midichlorian count (and thus incredible force wielding potential), but aside from racing and winning the pod race, he has no real control over what's going on around him, due to him being a Tagalong Kid. He ultimately thwarts the Trade Federations' invasion by blowing up their control ship, but even that was a lucky accident.
- Plummet Perspective:
- Power Levels: The film introduces "midichlorian count" for measuring Force potential, which contextualizes how massive Anakin's power is.
- Pretext for War: The Trade Federation uses something about taxation and trade negotiations as an excuse to occupy Naboo.
- Pretty in Mink: Amidala's red dress is trimmed with brown fur.
- Prevent the War: The film opens with the two heroes, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, arriving on a space station to negotiate a peace between the spaceship's owner and the planet it orbits. As soon as gas start pumping into the waiting room, the heroes grab their weapons and leave diplomacy behind for the rest of the movie.
- Prohibited Hero Saves the Day: Anakin is told to stay put in the cockpit of a Naboo fighter in order to keep him out of the line of fire and safely away from battle. Technically he obeys, but that doesn't stop him taking the fighter into battle, destroying the droid control ship and preventing the imminent surrender of the good guys on the ground.
- Punny Name: One of the podracer pilots Anakin competes against is named Boles Roor, an obvious play on "Bull's roar".
- Radio Silence: It's vital that the Queen's shuttle not respond to the distress signals from Naboo to prevent giving away their location. But Darth Maul is somehow able to track them down anyway. The fact that Senator Palpatine is Darth Sidious, and that Maul is himself force-sensitive implies that he found them not by tracking the Queen, but her Jedi escorts.
- Reality Has No Subtitles: Whatever young Anakin says to the Hutts is untranslated.
- Recruited from the Gutter: This is how Anakin Skywalker became a Jedi; the second act is basically devoted to freeing him from slavery so he can be trained as one.
- The DVD release included a few additional moments, mostly ideas they had for the podrace. But a fan made recut of this film inspired a slew of fan made cuts of various films, largely toning down Jar Jar's antics.
- The Blu-Ray also makes changes - most notably trading a much contested puppet Yoda for a digital one similar to the one seen in later prequels.
- Refuge in Audacity: Qui-Gon Jinn attempted to walk up to several battle droids without any stealth, ask permission to go to Coruscant with several POWs, and then cuts him down when the droid, after briefly acting confused, realized that he should arrest him.
- Refusal of the Call: Both Padmé and Anakin. The former is initially hesitant to leave her suffering people on Naboo for Coruscant and the latter has trepidation of leaving his enslaved mother behind in order to become a Jedi.
- Rewatch Bonus: The only time Padmé actually appears as Queen on Naboo before The Reveal is during her meeting with Senator Palpatine (and a single scene after when she is watching the invasion), her plea before the Galactic Senate, and when Anakin asks her to say goodbye to Padmé for him when he thinks they'll never see each other again. If you carefully watch these scenes again, it's pretty clear the Queen's face is Natalie Portman, not Keira Knightley (her Body Double's actress). You can also tell something is up when the Queen is in red and gold when the Federation invades, but has changed completely different dark blue costume shortly after when the Federation captures her. The double is also taking cues from Padmé about what to do next; when she mentions the jounrey to Coruscant will be dangerous, she specifically addresses her 'handmaiden', and Padmé's reply "We are brave, your highness" gives her the go-ahead to agree to accompany the Jedi.
- Right in Front of Me: Queen Padmé Amidala ends up talking about herself with Qui-Gon Jinn while she's disguised as her own handmaiden. It's complicated by ambiguity over when Qui-Gon figured out Padmé's the queen; it may be a straight example or he may be messing with her.Padmé: The queen will not approve.Qui-Gon: The queen doesn't need to know.Padmé: (to herself) Well I don't approve.
- Road Apples: Jar Jar Binks steps in poop and says "icky-icky goo".
- Robot Antennae: B1 battle droids have antennae of this time on their backpacks. They're controlled by a large space station in orbit, so they need it to receive signals.
- Royal Cruiser: The unnamed ship that Queen Amidala uses to escape past the Trade Federation's blockade, which comes complete with a throne room for her.
- Rule of Symbolism: The virgin birth of Anakin Skywalker, who according to an ancient prophecy is said to bring balance to the Force. He also likes to build things and lived in the desert. The image of Darth Maul resembles the Christian Devil as well.
- Running the Blockade: The Jedi and the Queen escape Naboo through the Trade Federation blockade aboard the Queen's royal cruiser.
- Same Language Dub: Darth Maul's voice is dubbed by Peter Serafinowicz (Ray Park's real, fairly higher voice can be heard as Toad in X-Men - not scary at all).
- Schizo Tech: Naboo in general:
- In all respects the human population has technology on par with what is standard for the Republic. But their (non-industrial) architecture looks straight out of the Italian Renaissance.
- The Gungans are even more glaring. They live in spectacular underwater cities composed of transparent bubbles, use deflector shield technology even in place of transparent material on the canopies of their submarines, as well as on the battlefield, and their preferred weapons are spheres filled with ionized plasma. But they use dinosaur-like kaadus and fambaas as mounts and beasts of burden and their only means of "firing" their plasma spheres is through the use of slings or by hand!
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!:
Darth Sidious: This turn of events is unfortunate, begin landing your troops now.Nute Gunray: My lord, is that legal?Darth Sidious: I will make it legal.
- When Sidious orders Nute Gunray to land his troops on Naboo. The following dialogue shows this trope.
- Qui-Gon on hearing that the Jedi Council won't let Anakin become a Padawan says he will take on the boy as his apprentice, stating that Obi-Wan is ready to face the trials to become a Knight. This is against Jedi protocol.
- Shell Game: One of Padmé's handmaidens, elected decoy Sabé, turns up in full regalia, even shooting several battle droids on the spot, fooling the Trade Federation into thinking she's the queen and leaving Padmé relatively unguarded at a key moment.
- The podrace is a space-age Chariot Race, complete with giant engines in place of horses, and the whole sequence is a huge reference to Ben-Hur (1959).
- The podrace scene does also owe a lot to the racing car sequence from Pinchcliffe Grand Prix (a fact that made all Norwegian viewers go "huh", as every Norwegian alive have seen that move at least five times).
- Some of Jar Jar's antics are taken almost directly from the films of Buster Keaton.
- Also as a likely Take That!, the leader of the Trade Federation is Nute Gunray after former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich as well as a reversal of Ronald Reagan, to get back at Project Star Wars, and the Neimoidian senator is named Lott Dodd after U.S. Senators Trent Lott and Chris Dodd.
- The Neimoidians are named after Leonard Nimoy. Even more amusingly, they were called Shatnerians in the earliest drafts of the script.
- The title itself is a reference to the Universal serial "The Phantom Creeps" and its first episode, "The Menacing Power".
- Show, Don't Tell: Padmé says "My people are suffering," and Sio Bibble says "The death toll is catastrophic," but we don't really see the impact that the Trade Federation invasion had on Naboo. Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you realize that, as all communications are blacked out, that conspicuously clear message must be a fake made by the Trade Federation to induce Amidala to reveal her position and there is actually nothing to see.
- Skyscraper City: Large swaths of the planet Coruscant are encrusted with giant skyscrapers... built on top of older skyscrapers... built on top of even older skyscrapers. It's uncertain if the planet even has actual ground anymore. It's said to host one trillion inhabitants. A few of the skyscrapers are the construction droids that build more skyscrapers.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Darth Maul, technically, only has about 10 minutes of screen time and even fewer lines of dialogue. But the sheer importance of his role can be seen in the posters, as one possible interpretation of "The Phantom Menace" is that it is referring to him (other options are Palpatine/Sidious and Anakin). After all, he did kill Qui-Gon Jinn, which forced Anakin unto Obi-Wan Kenobi, who was said to train him in the original trilogy.
- Space Is Cold: Mentioned word-for-word by Padmé to Anakin.
- Spin-Off: Notable for being the movie with the most spin-off video games of any of the prequels: The Phantom Menace, Episode 1 Racer, Super Bombad Racing, Jedi Power Battles, Obi-Wan, and Battle for Naboo.
- Spit Take: Jar Jar does this in regards to how much a Gorgnote cost (7 wupiupi). This actually got him into even more trouble as he ended up spitting it into Sebulba's soup, and likewise resulted in Sebulba beating the crap out of Jar Jar in revenge before Anakin broke it up.
- The Stinger: Sort of: As the credits end, the viewer can distinctly hear Vader's iconic breathing.
- Stock Sound Effects: Aside from the more classic lightsaber sounds, good ol' Wilhelm scream and blaster shots, a few, more generic sounds can be distinctly heard in a few scenes, which can be rather glaring in comparison to the other more decent sound effects of the film:
- When Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Amidala rescue a group of hostages and destroy a few B1 battle droids in order to travel to Tatooine, we're briefly treated to the severed half of a droid which makes a very common electric spark sound. (Heard at the beginning of this video.)
- When Anakin is showing his podracer to his friends on Tatooine, this children laughter sound is heard.
- When Jar Jar is seen exploring Anakin's house on Tatooine, he briefly hits some pieces of junk and a droid and a very familiar cartoon hit can be heard.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: The Trade Federation at the start of the film, relating to the blockade of Naboo.Viceroy: As you know, our blockade is perfectly legal.
- Take That!: One of the early ads for the film spoofed the infamous "Size Does Matter" tagline of the 1998 Godzilla film with the phrase "Plot Does Matter."
- Theme Song Reveal: Anakin's theme including chords from The Imperial March. A more subtle one is the joyful parade tune played during the film's post-climax celebration. It's Emperor Palpatine's theme from Return of the Jedi, in a major key instead of a minor key, with a children's choir backing it.
- Three Stooges Shout-Out: Ody Mandrell's pit droid crew has a brief moment of slapstick reminiscent of Moe, Larry, and Curly.
- This Cannot Be!: Nute Gunray when Qui-Gon continues to cut through the blast doors despite more coming down to block his way.Rune Haako: They're still coming through.Nute Gunray: This is impossible!
- This Is Gonna Suck: Captain Tarpals says "Ouch time" when the battle droids unfold and start marching.
- Three Successful Generations: Anakin Skywalker has always dreamed of having the freedom to become a Jedi Knight, Obi-Wan Kenobi is obedient to the Jedi council and makes a stable father figure to Anakin, and Qui-Gon Jinn is insistent that Anakin become a Jedi Knight and fulfill his destiny.
- Toilet Humor: Mostly courtesy of Jar Jar, and perhaps the first instances of such in Star Wars. Fans were not amused.
- Too Dumb to Live: The captain of the droid control ship should have taken that report of the reactor having a problem seriously.
- Traitor Shot: Done rather subtly. While Mace and Yoda are talking about their discovery that Maul was a Sith and wondering (in view of what they know about the Sith "Rule of Two") whether he was the master or the apprentice, the camera casually pans across all the mourners at Qui-Gon Jinn's funeral, coming to rest only when it reaches the new Chancellor-elect Palpatine.
- Underwater City: The Gungans live in a massive city within the oceans of Naboo. This protects them from the land armies the villains send to Naboo, and since the oceans run through Naboo's core, makes the underwater city the first destination for heroes who need to travel across the planet fast.
- Unlimited Wardrobe: Amidala has a new, elaborate outfit for nearly every scene, despite having fled her home planet after a sudden invasion. This is one of the most famous aspects of the movie. Even subtly lampshaded by Obi-Wan, who says they have nothing to barter with apart from the Queen's wardrobe.
- Wacky Racing: Podracers collide into each other, Tusken Raiders fire at the racers, and the track is filled with obstacles, so Qui-Gon is right when he says that racers need to have Jedi-like reflexes to race.
- Wham Line: Qui-Gon tries to make sense of why Anakin Skywalker is so powerful at the age of ten, and asks Shmi Skywalker about Anakin's father. She answers, "There was no father."
- Wuxia: While the original trilogy is heavily inspired by Jidai Geki samurai films, the prequel trilogy takes more inspiration from the wuxia genre.
- You Are a Credit to Your Race: Watto says this of Anakin.
- You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: The look◊ on Padmé's face when she learns that Anakin has never actually won a podrace, let alone finished one.
- Chancellor Palpatine: And you, young Skywalker. We will watch your career with great interest.