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Film / The Purge

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Let us purge.
"This is not a test. This is your emergency broadcast system announcing the commencement of the Annual Purge sanctioned by the U.S. Government. Weapons of class 4 and lower have been authorized for use during the Purge. All other weapons are restricted. Government officials of ranking 10 have been granted immunity from the Purge and shall not be harmed. Commencing at the siren, any and all crime, including murder, will be legal for 12 continuous hours. Police, fire, and emergency medical services will be unavailable until tomorrow morning at 7 a.m., when The Purge concludes. Blessed be our New Founding Fathers and America, a nation reborn. May God be with you all."
Purge Emergency Broadcast System

The Purge is an American Action Horror franchise, spanning both feature films and a TV series.

The series was mainly created by James DeMonaco, who was partially inspired by the Star Trek episode, "The Return of the Archons". It is produced by Blumhouse Productions and Platinum Dunes Productions, with Universal Studios distributing the film series theatrically, with a tie-in tv series airing on the USA Network.

The franchise presents an Alternate Timeline, set in the seemingly near-utopian, crime-free America in the near-future. This presumed peace and prosperity is attributed to a new, radically conservative political party, the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA), who came to power in 2014, and began a tradition of a national event called Purge Night, or "The Purge". Under this new tradition, a twelve-hour period is enacted annually, in which all crime, including murder, becomes legal. However, in actuality, America has become a totalitarian dystopia, the seeming prosperity and security are nothing but propaganda, and the Purge is not all that it seems...


The entries in the series, in order of release, include:

  • The Purge (June 2, 2013) - Set in 2022. A home invasion thriller that details the experiences of the Sandin family, who intend to wait out Purge night by holing up in their fortified suburban home. Things do not go as planned.
  • The Purge: Anarchy (July 18, 2014) - Set in 2023. The film follows several people, including a couple as they are caught outside during the Purge when their car breaks down, and a man using the Purge as a chance to pursue revenge.
  • The Purge: Election Year (July 1, 2016) - Set in 2040, the film follows an anti-Purge Senator running for President, as she's betrayed on the night of the Purge, and is forced to flee for her life.
  • The First Purge (July 4, 2018) - A prequel set in an alternate 2017, and depicts the origin of The Purge.
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  • The Purge (Series) (September 4, 2018 - December 17, 2019) - A twenty-episode television series that aired through the USA Network. The first season is set in 2027, while the second is set a few years later.
  • The Forever Purge (July 2, 2021) - The fifth film in the series. Set in the aftermath of Election Year, a group of outlaws attempt to establish a new Purge outside of the legal timeframe.
  • Untitled sixth Purge film (TBA) - The film will focus on Leo Barnes and an international version of the Purge.

If you are looking for the Fan Film, which is outside of the official canon, see The Purge: Survival.

If you are looking for the parodies of the film, see the 2016 film Meet The Blacks and the 2020 film The Binge.

The franchise provides examples of:

  • Anarcho-Tyranny: The New Founding Fathers of America established the Purge once they took over the United States. It is an annual nationwide event held every March where most crime, up to and including first-degree mass murder, are legal for a 12-hour period while emergency services are illegal (or enjoying the purge), which began as a way to persecute the homeless and other vulnerable people and to maintain their grip on power by terrorizing everyone else. Naturally, The Founding Fathers and their allies are still protected by the law under the purge and are protected by armies of security personnel. In the third film, they allow Purgers to kill elected officials and nominees in order to publicly assassinate an opposing presidential candidate. This bites them in the ass when the resistance unleashes their decades-long plans to purge them legally.
  • Artistic License – Economics: The Purge is a horrible idea in real life for several reasons (though it should be noted that, in-universe, it is quite firmly established that the government are incredibly corrupt, evil, and lying about its positive consequences, so this is justified):
    • Because of the way the Purge works, the primary targets would be the homeless, poor, and basically everyone working in the service industry. In other words, 80% of all employed and potential employees. This is also reflected in the stated one percent level of unemployment, which signifies a stagnating rather than booming economy. There would still be demand for employees, but very low supply, which drives wages up when businesses compete for employees, and then they are forced to raise prices of whatever they produce to pay these wages. Someone must have realized this (or read this page) when making the second film because the unemployment number is bumped up to five percent. This is why killing poor people, in general, is an economically idiotic idea. It's also why full or near-full employment causes higher wages, as with fewer unemployed people existing workers can demand better pay and benefits without fear of being laid off (this last occurred in the late 2010s in the US).
    • The elderly would be quite vulnerable, which in turn could have negative effects on their incentives to save. Why save your money, when someone could potentially knock you off before you enjoy retirement? On the other hand, the government would save a huge amount on retirement and medical care.
    • A night with no emergency services running would see infrastructure damage of catastrophic proportions. With no firefighters, fires would rage out of control, consuming whole blocks at the very least. This is not even counting forest fires, of which multiple can rage at any given moment in the USA, and require constant attendance from multiple fire departments to even have a chance at being containable. Damage to crucial utilities such as water and power would go unrepaired. Just consider the infrastructure damage caused by the chaos following the overthrow of authoritarian regimes in Iraq (e.g. 2003 Baghdad looting) and Libya, for instance.
    • The movie focuses on violent crimes, ignoring all other forms of crime that would also be legal. Money laundering, bribery, hacking, burglary, insider trading, prison breaks, kidnapping, and environmental pollution would all be perfectly legal until dawn.
    • If businesses are free to conduct espionage and even sabotage one night every year, small businesses and new startups would be terrible investments.
  • Artistic License – Politics:
    • As online critics pointed out, the idea of the Purge takes Hobbes Was Right to its extreme, suggesting most humans have that "every man for himself" mindset when there are no established laws. History tells us otherwise. Humanity wouldn't progress in the very first place if they don't possess any semblance of community. Trust, teamwork, and collaboration are essential to how the human species developed into an advanced society over tens of thousands of years. If the Annual Purge actually happens in real life, the vast majority of people would be far-sighted just enough to recognize their 12-hour "freedom" doesn't mean they are free from the community's treatment for the rest of the 364 days. It is also far more likely a neighborhood would band together to protect themselves from any outside danger. Together with the notion that vigilantes and duty-minded police would be free to do anything to troublemakers they caught, a 12-hour Purge can ironically be a really BAD time to be an asshole. The result would likely be higher counts of violent incidents scattered across different parts of the country, but not any more intense than what normal society regularly faces. The idea that a 12-hour lawless period would have advanced societies descending into mindless violence is ridiculous when you consider that history repeatedly demonstrates less advanced societies can function for longer periods without an established rule of the law. The NFFA would be political idiots in real life for thinking this is an efficient way of killing the poor, and the franchise finally addressed this in The First Purge.
    • The psychology behind catharsis is more nuanced. Generally speaking, greater aggression only increases aggression in the long run... unless the aggressor can truly identify the one and only root cause of his/her anger and act on completely eliminating that root cause - Which isn't as easy as it sounds or might even be impractical because in real life, humans get exposed to way too many events that anger them, and worse still, the "an eye for an eye" idea tends to be ignored and people can often do worse things than what had been done to them. To this franchise's credit, The Forever Purge had shown that in the long run, the violence did become worse and spilled over outside of the 12 hour period, but the takeaway here is still that the film's perception of catharsis isn't fully sound.
  • Big Bad: The New Founding Fathers of America is the primary villain of the series with the antagonists of the films and TV show tied back to them.
    • The Purge - Charismatic Leader
    • The Purge: Anarchy - Big Daddy
    • The Purge: Election Year - Caleb Warrens and Minister Edwidge Owens
    • The First Purge - Arlo Sabian and Dr. May Updale
    • The Forever Purge - Elijah
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Given that live Purge feeds are apparently ubiquitous, it would seem there are a truly absurd number of cameras all across the United States. Furthermore, some loudspeakers broadcast the beginning of the Purge, in addition to Emergency Broadcast Services stating radio and television. Despite doing things differently, the New Founding Fathers are an allegory to Big Brother and the Inner Party.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Any seemingly law-abiding citizen with a Mask of Sanity would show their true colors as being Evil All Along (and at worst Ax-Crazy) once the Purge commences.
  • Car Fu: Cars are used frequently as weapons throughout the series.
  • Cool Mask: Most of the criminals encountered in the movie will wear a mask that's not only scary, but quite cool-looking as well. For instance, there is a Founding Fathers' mask, the beast-looking one with bullets as its teeth, and the list goes on and on.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The future setting in this franchise seems like a utopia, and actually, it almost is. The only catch is, you have to be able to survive the 12-hour period once a year where the government lets the citizens do (almost) anything without any legal repercussionsnote . Of course, it's actually worse than that. If you survive being attacked by someone you thought you could trust, like the protagonists did, you'll never trust them again. It's also hinted that the biggest reason for this event is the government's way of weeding out the poor and the weak. Worst of all, the movie portrays humanity itself in a very grim way, showing that, if given the opportunity to commit murder and get away with it, most will take advantage of the opportunity, simply because they can.
    • The sequel, however, downplays it, with a resistance that rises up against the Founding Fathers who decided that not enough people were dying, so hired some death squads to Kill the Poor.
  • Cruel Mercy: The protagonists give this to the Purgers to demonstrate that they are not like them.
  • Filibuster Freefall: A rare example of this trope actually working out pretty well. The series getting more overtly political in the sequels, and more fully exploring the implications of the Purge and the motives of the people who created it, is often held to be where it finally found its voice after an underwhelming first film.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The basic premise. The monsters in this franchise aren't demons, aren't supernatural, unkillable killers, they aren't The Undead. No, they are normal, regular people who gleefully reveal themselves to be psychopathic sadists. The only reason why America in this movie is so stable is because once a year, everyone can let their pent-up predatory/sadistic instincts for one day.
  • Kill the Poor: The true purpose of the Purge itself. All the propaganda about giving in to your violent urges and the social benefits are pure fiction. The NFFA just want to use it as a smokescreen to eliminate anyone they view as inconvenient or undesirable, with a large focus on the working class and minorities.
  • Legalized Evil: What the film series is essentially centered on. Essentially presenting a scenario that answers the question: "What would happen if the US Government decided to make crime and all manners of wrongdoing legal for a time?"
  • No "Police" Option: An Enforced Trope. In addition to all crimes being made legal, emergency services are also suspended during the Purge, meaning the police won't help you.
  • The Purge: It is in the title after all. The titular event is a 12-hour period with all laws suspended, and the intent behind it is to both get rid of the undesirable parts of society and purge the nation of its violent impulses in one go.
  • Series Fauxnale: The Forever Purge was originally intended to be the Grand Finale, but this was later scrapped after the film was a successful, if modest, hit at the box office.
  • Spree Killer: The series is based around a Dystopian Edict whereby all crime, including murder, is declared legal by the United States government for a set period of twelve hours once a year. By default, many Ax-Crazy or misanthropic individuals go on killing sprees during the Purge. The third film even establishes that this has caused a rise in "murder tourism" where foreign psychopaths travel to America to indulge their fantasies.
  • The Titling: All of the movies are named after the Purge, the special event held every March to rid America of the poor and undesirable.


Video Example(s):


The Purge

The Emergency Broadcast System announcing the commencement of the annual Purge Night, where all crime, including murder, becomes legal within a twelve-hour period.

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