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Film / Time Bandits

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Kevin: What are we going to do here?
Wally: A robbery.
Kevin: A robbery?
Fidgit: Of course. We're international criminals. We do robberies!
Randall: Shut up!

A fantasy adventure film produced and directed by Monty Python animator Terry Gilliam, who co-wrote the screenplay with fellow Python Michael Palin.

Kevin is an imaginative and inquisitive child whose interest in history is not shared by his shallow and materialistic parents. One night he is visited by a gang of time-traveling dwarfs on the run from the "Supreme Being" (implied to actually be God). Before Kevin can protest, he's kidnapped and forced to accompany them on their adventures through time. The bandits have stolen a map that reveals all the gaps in creation, which allows them to visit virtually any place or historic personality. How do they use this power? To steal all the treasure they can find, of course! Meanwhile, their journey is being covertly monitored by the so-called Evil Genius (likewise implied to be the Devil), who has his own big plans for the map, not to mention the rest of the universe...

With quirky characters, nice historical backdrops, Indy Ploys, Black Comedy galore, and ultimately a Good versus Evil battle, the film makes for a wacky, humorous yet still dramatic time travel adventure. This was the first part of the "Dreamer Trilogy": Time Bandits represents childhood, Brazil represents adulthood, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen represents old age.

Contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism: Originally a morally-grey figure, usually resulting in his better aspects being thrown out in various adaptations of the Iliad/Trojan War, here Agamemnon's portrayed as a noble hero. It helps that he's played by Sean Connery.
  • Adults Are Useless: Kevin has more common sense and smarts than the other bandits, who were written as dwarfs so that audiences would accept Kevin as their equal. Kevin's parents represent the banal, materialistic existence that Evil wants to promote.
  • Ambiguously Human: The Minotaur that Agamemnon fights looks like a guy with a cow helmet, but it never speaks and instead makes horrible shrieking and moaning noises. Agamemnon removes what appears to be the helmet but we never get a look at the guy underneath to confirm, and he just calls it "The enemy of the people."
  • An Aesop:
    • "I think it's something to do with free will." (Also something of an in-universe, and very literal, Shrug of God.)
    • The Evil Genius is obsessed with efficiency, technology and work. Kevin's parents are hopeless consumers. The morally grey bandits want riches and luxury. Only Kevin, the hero, is interested in the wonders that the world offers.
  • Affably Evil: The Ogres. The Wife may be Faux Affably Evil, but the Ogre himself may be hungry but not ungrateful and is very friendly when offered and given help.
  • Affectionate Parody: Robin Hood is one to Monty Python's "Dennis Moore" sketch, which concerned an incompetent highwayman who stole flowers from the rich and gave them to the poor. That both were played by John Cleese further states the case.
  • All Just a Dream: The film hints that the entire film is Kevin's dream. Both strange occurrences happen just as Kevin dozes off to go to bed, first with a mysterious knight who is a poster figure on Kevin's wall, then when the dwarves arrive. It's seemingly bizarrely subverted. At the end, Kevin apparently wakes up in his bed as his house is burning down, but finds he still has all the photographs he took on his journey, and his parents blow up after touching a piece of the Evil Genius that found its way back with him. Also, a fireman looking suspiciously like Agamemnon (also played by Sean Connery) gives him a knowing wink just before leaving. Even the conclusion may be a part of the dream, as hinted by George Harrison's end credits song "Dream Away".
  • All Part of the Show: The Bandits pretend to be a part of Agamemnon's celebration, performing an elaborate dance routine and pulling Kevin up on stage. Agamemnon doesn't realize that something's wrong until several beats after they all disappear.
  • All There in the Manual: According to a novelization, Kevin's last name is Lotterby and he's eleven years old.
  • Anti-Hero: The eponymous Time Bandits are out for personal enrichment, but it's ultimately up to them to keep the Map out of Evil's hands.
  • Another Dimension: The Time of Legends
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The Evil Genius. Of evil, of course. Also borders on The Heartless and Satan.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Lampshaded when, after the Evil Genius destroys one of his minions who asks him why, if he's the genius, God is still in control of the universe, he nonetheless agrees it's a good question.
  • Army of The Ages: The title characters do this to battle the Evil Genius. Unfortunately, it proves to be fruitless.
  • Artificial Human: The Evil Genius appears human, but seems to be more machine than organism. His fingertips are on hinges that he can bend back to expose nozzles that fire magic. In the final battle he turns himself into an evil merry-go-round to deal with some cowboys.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • Napoleon's whole characterization as The Napoleon. In reality, Napoleon was of average height for his time period, and his reputation as small-statured was an English creation.
    • One scene takes place on the Titanic, which is for some reason labeled as the S.S. Titanic instead of the proper R.M.S. Titanic.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Evil's rant about God "look how he spends his time. Forty-three species of parrots!" : There are actually 410 species of parrots
  • Aside Glance: The Supreme Being at the end:
    C'mon then, back to creation. I mustn't waste any more time. They'll think I've lost control again and put it all down to evolution.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Kevin always loved history; now he gets to see history in the making.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The Supreme Being and the Bandits. Kevin has to stay "to carry on the fight."
  • Asshole Victim: Kevin's parents, who don't seem to care much about him, see a piece of evil in the microwave. Kevin tells them not to touch it. But they ignore him and touch it anyway. They blow up. On the DVD Commentary [not on the 2013 remaster], Terry Gilliam says "Parents have to listen to their children."
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The giant from the Time of Legends.
  • Bad Boss:
    • The Evil Genius, by definition. And that's the way his minions like it.
    • The Supreme Being claims that he gave the Map to the Bandits to test his creation, Evil, causing a lot of unnecessary suffering, then punishes them by docking their pay, all the while stating, "I'm the good one!" When he resurrects one of the Bandits, it's not out of benevolence, but because he wants the Bandit to get back to work.
  • Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad: The Evil Genius and his minions.
    Evil Genius: Suddenly, I feel very, very good.
    Benson: Oh, I'm sorry, Master.
    Evil Genius: No, it'll pass, it'll pass.
  • Bait-and-Switch: We get a shot of Agamemnon's wife looking sour just before Kevin is abducted, suggesting that his abduction is her reaction to the ongoing feud between them, but instead, it's part of an elaborate ceremony by Agamemnon to anoint Kevin his heir.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: The Bandits order around Napoleon's troops so they don't witness them making off with all his loot.
  • Behind the Black: When Wally is climbing up the rope and the other characters are concerned he fell, they only see him there once he appears onscreen. This is despite the fact that there is obviously still weight they can feel climbing up the rope and we are given no evidence of anything obscuring the vision of the characters looking past the bottom of the screen.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • An unintentional version with Kevin, who arrives when Agamemnon's introduction has him fighting a minotaur. His distraction allows Agamemnon to win.
    • The finale features warriors from various parts of history showing up to fight the Evil Genius. And the Supreme Being turning the Evil Genius in a statue.
  • Blindfolded Trip: When Kevin is taken to become the king's son.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Kevin left alone and parentless, back in the normal world. If that isn't still part of the dream his adventure was implied to be, who knows how he'll manage.
  • Book Ends: The opening and closing are reverse shots of each other, from the Map to a zoom in on Earth and on Kevin's English suburb, then a pull back from Kevin's neighborhood to the Earth to the map.
  • Built with LEGO: Evil's inner sanctum is built of giant stone legos, a reference to the many Legos on Kevin's bedroom floor.
  • Butt-Monkey: Pansy and Vincent. Gilliam on the DVD Commentary says "They're gonna be the losers over time."
  • Captain Obvious: Robin Hood's commentary on the Poor.
  • Casting Gag: Terry Gilliam wrote in, with some humor, the detail in the script that King Agamemnon would resemble Sean Connery "or an actor of equal but cheaper stature". To Gilliam's surprise, Connery acquired, read and liked the script, offering to accept less money than his usual pay rate in order to appear in the film.
  • Caught in a Snare: The Bandits are caught and left hanging by snares set by Robin Hood's merry men.
  • The Cavalry: A literal cavalry plus other warriors and technology from different eras. It gets subverted when the Evil Genius makes short work of them all.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Early in the movie, Kevin takes a random Polaroid picture of the dwarfs holding up the map. Later, after Evil has taken the map and caged them all up, Kevin uses the picture to figure out that there is a time hole nearby the cage.
    • In some lost extended scene Agamemnon teaches Kevin an aesop about war and violence (it seems he finds too much amusement in historical wars and fights) and gives him a knife. This token is later used to escape from the cage towards the end.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Vermin can be seen literally doing this to the stage background while the rest of the Bandits perform their musical number for Napoleon.
  • Cool Old Guy: Agamemnon. He's a far better parent than Kevin's parents ever were.
  • Cosmic Flaw: The dwarves are using holes in creation to leap through time and space as robbers. It leads ultimately to bad things for them.
  • Creepy Circus Music: The demented fairground organ music that blares when Evil gets rid of the cowboys attempting to restrain him. Given that he's spinning them around wildly before cutting their ropes and hurling them to their doom, the tune is meant to make it all feel like a nightmare merry-go-round.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Some of the bandits lament Horseflesh not being in charge anymore, and Randall spitefully retorts, "Horseflesh is dead!" We don't get any more detail on who Horseflesh is or what happened to him. His character was originally a turncoat to Evil's side, and he's actually still in the film as the little horned man in Evil's retinue, but he's Demoted to Extra.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Sadly, Evil vs. all the forces that the dwarves recruit to battle him. But then the Supreme Being shows up..
  • Curiosity Is a Crapshoot: Definitely on the "good" side.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: The villain wants to use the map to rule the universe, but the heroes just want to get rich.
  • Deadpan Snarker: All the Bandits do this at one point or another.
  • Death by Materialism: The main enemy in the film is materialism. Evil wants to remake the world according to his materialistic vision of toil and productivity. The dwarves are frequently foiled by their own greed, and their desire for ever-more riches always results in them losing everything they'd previously stolen. Kevin's parents are more concerned with their appliances than their son, which ultimately causes their death as well.
  • Death is Cheap: When God appears and learns one of the dwarves died fighting Evil he says, "Dead? No excuse for laying off work."
  • Demon Head: How the Supreme Being confronts the Bandits when he initially appears.
  • Demoted to Extra: Horseflesh had a big role in the script, but his lines were removed, and he's just more of a background character. The one line referencing him is left as a Cryptic Background Reference.
  • Deus ex Machina:
    • Agamemnon believes that Kevin was sent by the gods to save him from the minotaur.
    • Also: the Supreme Being appears at the end, destroys Evil and cleans up the mess the Bandits have made of things. Which is a Deus Ex Deus.
  • The Ditz: Og.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: "Mum! Dad! It's evil! Don't touch it!" Boom!
  • Downer Ending: In the last minute of the movie, Kevin is left homeless and orphaned. Given the film's criticism of the kind of materialism that Kevin's parents represent, it might not have been intended to be entirely unhappy.
  • The Dung Ages: How the Middle Ages are portrayed. Played for laughs with the contrast between the grimy and violent Merry Men and air-headed Robin Hood in his spotless Lincoln green. Gilliam previously employed it in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Jabberwocky.
  • Emergency Temporal Shift: The eponymous thieves often end up having to access the Time Holes to escape imminent danger, most prominently the Supreme Being pursuing them across history - though they've also needed to escape being arrested by Napoleon's officers, to get away with loot stolen from King Agamemnon, and to avoid drowning in the North Atlantic following the sinking of the Titanic. Though in the final case, they had help from Evil.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: After the end credits, that is.
  • Evil Laugh: Done by, well... Evil.
  • Evil Overlord: The Evil Genius, who else?
  • Evil Plan: The Evil Genius' plans for the world include stripping everything away except cold, logical efficiency.
    Evil Genius: If I were creating a world I wouldn't mess about with butterflies and daffodils. I would have started with lasers, eight o'clock, day one!
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Fortress of Ultimate Darkness. It just keeps on going up...
  • Extreme Omnivore:
    • Vermin. So much so that Randall threatens to feed Kevin to him.
    • The ogres. They apparently eat fish but prefer to eat old boots and other junk they find in the ocean. They're also delighted at the idea of eating every part of the Kevin and the Bandits, including their clothing.
  • Fake Shemp: When the Evil Genius has captured the Time Bandits in the cage, he walks up the stairs. It is not David Warner but a double, because Warner suffers from vertigo.
  • Fallen Angel: Although Evil is the most obvious Satanic Archetype in the film, it is Horseflesh who was an angel and revolted. Though technically all the Time Bandits kinda revolted, but you get the idea.
  • Forced Transformation:
    • Og gets hit by a spell that turns his head into a pig's head. He later gets turned into a pig entirely.
    • Evil turns his minion Benson into a dog, apparently as punishment, but Benson thanks him profusely.
  • Foreshadowing: Check out all the toys in Kevin's bedroom.
  • Gainax Ending: The film gets progressively more surreal as it goes on. The final battle against Evil is super-trippy, and followed by an inconsistent All Just a Dream fake-out, a couple of people blowing up and a fireman who looks suspiciously like Agamemnon winking cheerily at Kevin as he and the other firemen drive off leaving him before the burnt wreckage of his home.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Robin Hood's right hand man is named Marian, apparently replacing Maid Marian in the much more glamorous legends.
  • Genius Ditz: Robert, Evil's horned minion, is generally very slow-witted and is often seen struggling to keep up with Evil's thought processes. However, he seems to be a real whiz about technology. When asked, he's able to seamlessly provide an technical description of various gadgets.
    Robert: A computer is an automatic, electronic apparatus for making calculations or controlling operations that are expressible in numerical or logical terms...
  • Genre Blind: The dwarves don't recognize Robin Hood and don't appear to realize that the Titanic is going to hit an iceberg.
  • Genre Savvy: Kevin does recognize Robin Hood.
  • God: Presented here as a slightly peevish no-nonsense elderly businessman.
  • God and Satan Are Both Jerks: Evil is, well, evil. Literally. He's made of it. The Supreme Being, however, is a rather unpleasant British gentleman with little-to-no regard for human life.
  • God Is Good: Zig-zagged. The Supreme Being is trying to fix things and save His Creations, but is very cold and unpleasant about it.
  • God Is Inept: Also zig-zagged. The Time Bandits claim they stole the map from the Supreme Being, who spends many scenes ineffectually chasing them while nevertheless looking very impressive. Evil calls the Supreme Being a lunatic because of all of his pointless creations, like slugs and nipples for men. Ultimately the Supreme Being does resolve everything and states that it was all according to His plan, saying, "I'm not entirely dim." However, along the way he seems to be a little vague and distracted, doesn't put much effort into explaining why suffering must occur, and doesn't notice that the Bandits leave a chunk of Evil behind. It's also worth noting that he apparently planned the entire scenario simply to test his creation, Evil... whom he then blows up at the end, making the whole thing pointless.
  • Godly Sidestep: God's explanation for the existence of evil is only partial: it has something to do with free will.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: Randall's flight helmet includes a set of goggles that are always pushed up to his forehead, unused. His headgear is purely ornamental, as is all of the Bandits'.
  • Gold Fever: The primary motivation of the Bandits.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: In the final battle with the Evil Genius, the Bandits go to get help from throughout time.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The Supreme Being presents himself as either a menacing face in the heavens or a somewhat stern old man. Kevin is rather horrified to learn that He arranged a lot of death and suffering just to test his creation and doesn't seem at all concerned about it. His first act once the bandits surrender is to order them to clean up the mess and punish them with a salary cut even though he claims that all of their actions were part of his plan.
  • Good Is Old-Fashioned: The Supreme Being is an old-fashioned British gentleman, while the Evil Genius wants to reform the world around lasers and technology.
  • Grand Theft Me: The Evil Genius can do this with weak-willed minds.
  • Great Big Book of Everything: The map, which includes all of the portals through time left over after an overly rushed Creation.
  • Heroic BSoD: Wally after Fidget's death.
  • Historical Hilarity: Kevin and the Dwarves run into Napoleon, Robin Hood, and the Titanic. All of them are played for laughs, especially Robin Hood.
  • Historical In-Joke:
    • Napoleon keeps one hand permanently hidden in the pocket of his jacket, referring to his iconic pose in portraits. It turns out that the reason is because his hand is solid gold.
    • Agamemnon's wife glares at him, and he sentences her three courtiers to execution. These are references to Greek mythology, in which Agamemnon and Clytemnestra hated each other and their marriage ended in murder.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Evil Genius' way of dispatching all of the reinforcements the bandits summon.
  • Hollywood Costuming: Parodied. After the bandits discover that the Merry Men are thoroughly disgusting dwellers of The Dung Ages, Robin Hood emerges in a spotless lincoln green tunic and tights that are straight out of an Errol Flynn film.
  • Homage: When Wally arrives in a spaceship, the musical fanfare is a riff on Also Sprach Zarathustra from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The camera focuses on the the number "201" inscribed on the spaceship. Presumably the number is smaller because Wally and the spaceship are smaller.
  • Human Traffic Jam: When the title characters steal Emperor Napoleon's wealth, they are pursued by the French Army troops guarding him. After they go through a time hole and it disappears, the troops come to a stop where the time hole was, with the troops behind running into the troops in front.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    Randall: You want to lead this gang?
    Strutter: No, we agreed no leader.
    Randall: Right, so shut up and do as I say.
  • I Choose to Stay: Kevin is offered the opportunity to remain in Greece as the king's adopted son, but the Bandits drag him away. Considering what we know will eventually happen to Agammemnon, it's just as well...
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The ogre couple intend to eat the Bandits when they're caught.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The knights' demise. The gruesome-yet-ridiculous tableau of their bodies, tangled up in each other's lances, becomes a fixture for the rest of the film.
  • Improvised Lockpick: Wally uses Kevin's knife to pick the lock of the cage they are trapped in. It works, but the knife's blade is noticeably bent and mangled afterward.
  • Improvised Zipline: What the gang uses to escape the cage in Evil's citadel.
  • Insistent Terminology: The Bandits always refer to their former boss as "The Supreme Being." When Kevin asks if they mean "God," they say that they don't know him that well.
  • Invisible Wall: The bandits run into one and then marvel, "So that's what they look like!" It turns out to be smashable, with something completely different behind it.
  • Irony: Agamemnon, who is often represented as a callous villain, is a better father figure than Kevin's own father.
  • Jerkass: Randall and Kevin's Parents.
  • Jerkass Gods: The Supreme Being created Evil without being able to give a good reason ("I think it has something to do with free will"). Then locked him in the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness and manipulated the Bandits into going there and fighting Evil to "test" him, getting several people killed in the process. He even proves Himself capable of reviving someone from the dead with no ill-effects, but noticeably does not do so to any of the innocent humans killed in the course of His "test". Then He takes away the nearest thing Kevin has to friends, and leaves the poor kid to fend for himself. Even an Omniscient Morality License can surely only stretch so far.
  • Kick the Dog: Evil, being Evil, does this a lot. Including one literal example where he blows up his minion Benson (in dog form) with a Death Ray. We even hear the poor dog howl as it's blown up.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Before the dwarfs turn up, a knight on horseback leaps through Kevin's closet. In the final battle, a whole group of them charge at the Evil Genius. It doesn't really work out though, since Evil just creates a smoke cloud and when it clears, all the knights have somehow impaled each other.
  • The Lancer: Wally to Randall, when they're working together. Wally is always the first to challenge Randall's authority, however.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Kevin stays behind to distract the Evil Genius' pursuing Mooks while the other Bandits get help from other parts of time.
  • Let the Past Burn: The family home burns down at the end. Shortly after the parents pick up the rock of evil that was found in the wreckage and both explode, leaving Kevin an orphan.
  • Made of Evil: The Evil Genius. As in, literally, he's made of pure, concentrated evil, to the point where his alternate name is simply "Evil," and touching a burnt piece of him even after he's dead will turn you into a hermit crab (apparently) or make you blow up.
  • Magical Land: The "Time of Legends" is a brilliant subversion of this trope. At first it is described as a place beyond the regular time-and-space, a mythical age/world where wizards and giants still exist and where the most fantastic treasure in the world is waiting... But when we actually see it, the Time of Legends turns out to be a gigantic foggy wasteland inhabited by creatures ranging from the bizarre (the gibberish-shouting trolls) to the dangerous (man-eating ogres), and if it wasn't enough it is also where the Supreme Being imprisoned the embodiment of pure and absolute evil.
  • Magitek: The Evil Genius is all about technology, and he's fittingly as much machine as he is man. He can tilt up his finger joints to reveal the nozzles of magical cannons that can destroy or polymorph his targets. To fight the Bandits' legions of time, he turns himself into a clockwork merry-go-round and then an inflatable pincushion. His lair is filled with creepy looking machines that are maintained by his Mooks who wear rubber industrial gear. When staring into his black cauldron, he instructs his minions, "Stand by for mind-control!" like a factory foreman.
  • Manchild:
    • Napoleon. The French have conquered Italy, but he's more interested in watching a puppet show.
    • The Time Bandits themselves all behave more like spoiled, bratty children rather than the ancient, immortal beings that they are. This was, in fact, the reason that Gilliam cast small people as the Bandits: so that audiences would accept a child as their equal.
  • Metaphorgotten: The ocean is so damned... wet. So very, very... wet.
  • Mind Control: The Evil Genius does this to Og to lure the Bandits to the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness with the prospect of "The Most Fabulous Object in the World". True to his mechanical nature, he intones, "Stand by for mind control!" before casting his spell.
  • Mind Screw: Holy crap, what on Earth were the makers of this film smoking?
  • Minion with an F in Evil: The most creative thing Benson can think of is to turn beans into peas...
  • Misaimed Fandom: In-universe example. Kevin thinks of Robin Hood as a hero. The bandits are disgusted by him.
  • "Mister Sandman" Sequence: When Kevin arrives in Mycenae, there is a short montage of shots around the city set to music, providing ambiance for the time and place.
  • Moment Killer: Vincent and Pansy are about to kiss when a time door opens above them and the bandits fall on them. Repeatedly.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Evil Genius.
  • The Napoleon:
    • Randall, the pugnacious time bandit.
    • The actual Napoleon is obsessed with height. It's almost all he'll talk about. He's overjoyed to discover the Time Bandits, who are all shorter than him and promptly makes them all generals.
  • Nice Guy:
    • King Agamemnon seems to be a brave and wise ruler who adopts Kevin and becomes his first real father figure, albeit briefly.
    • Robin Hood is impeccably polite and interested only in helping the poor. He's apparently too dim to realize how out of place he is.
  • Non Sequitur: When Robin Hood asks Strutter how long he's been a robber, the bandit replies, "Four-foot-one!" Robin, ever the proper English gentleman, struggles to pretend that this is a perfectly appropriate response to his question. "Good lord! Jolly good. Four foot one? Well... that-that-that is-is- a... long time, isn't it?"
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Randall says to Kevin that they both have a lot in common. But Kevin doesn't buy it. Can you blame him?
    Randall: Look, you and me, we've got a lot in common. Not like that lot. We like a risk. We like adventure! Well, this is it. This is the big one! No namby-pamby time holes here. We risk all. We win everything!
  • Offing the Annoyance: The character Evil does this twice.
    Evil: What sort of Supreme Being created such riff-raff? Is it not the workings of a complete incompetent?
    Mook 1: But He created you, Evil One.
    Evil: What did you say?
    Mook 1: Well, He created you, so He can't be totally...
    Evil: [blasts Mook 1 out of existence] Never talk to me like that again! No one created me! I am Evil! Evil existed long before Good. I made myself. I cannot be unmade. I am all-powerful!
    Mook 2: But, if that's the case, [Other minions edge away from him] why are you unable to escape from this fortress?
    Evil: [blasts Mook 2 out of existence] Good question.
  • One-Sided Arm-Wrestling: One of the merry men tears the arm off the man he's arm-wrestling and throws it into a pile of other arms.
  • Only in It for the Money: The Bandits are traveling through time for no reason other than to steal. Kevin is offended.
  • Only Sane Man: Agammemnon.
  • Out-Gambitted: In the end, the Supreme Being appears and notes that he let the Bandits steal the map, and thus have it fall into the Evil Genius's hands, to test his creation.
  • Parental Neglect: Kevin's parents don't care about him at all. When the house is on fire, his mother is more concerned with running back inside to get the toaster than making sure he's alright, while his father does nothing about it.
  • Parental Substitute: Agamemnon briefly becomes an adopted father to Kevin.
  • Pop-Star Composer: George Harrison, also the film's producer. His 1982 song "Dream Away" is played in the end credits.
  • Posthumous Character: An ambiguous example with Horseflesh, the apparent former leader of the Bandits, who Randall claims is dead. The character was originally supposed to have betrayed the group and joined the Evil Genius, but overtly having seven dwarf characters might have brushed against some legal issues. The character was demoted to an extra, as the dwarf in the Evil Genius's company, who receives no lines and doesn't do anything. It's unclear if the character is still supposed to be the gang's old leader.
  • Potty Emergency: "Pansy! The problem!! It's started again!!"
  • Power Echoes: The Supreme Being being... well, the Supreme Being, his echo is very pronounced, even by this trope's standards.
  • Prisoner's Last Meal: Invoked. After Evil imprisons the dwarves in a cage that's suspended over a dark void, Vermin starts eating a rat before offering the others a bite, this being a possible "last meal" as his justification.
    Vermin: Rat, anybody? Might be the last meal you get.
    Randall: Oi, leave off!
  • Rage Helm: Agamemnon's helm.
  • Reaction Shot: When Evil is speaking, we sometimes cut to Robert reacting in confusion, such as when Evil considers turning Kevin into something that's "half carrot." He's also frequently seen reacting as a Funny Background Event.
  • Real After All: After Kevin is sent back, he appears back in his room. Kevin at first thinks it wasn't real, but he still has the pictures from his adventures. And then a chunk of Evil turns up and makes his parents explode!
  • Really 700 Years Old: The Bandits, being formerly employed by God, are all thousands of years old.
  • Recurring Character: Vincent and Pansy, throughout time.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Really, the Evil Genius's entire face, when he's about to do something really horrific. He never gets to do whatever it was he intended to do: twice.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Kevin admonishes Randall and the bandits several times for using the map to gain wealth and not anything else.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: Robert does this with one of the Evil Genius's questions.
  • Riddle for the Ages: It's never explained why Robin Hood's savage merry men are humoring his charitable leadership.
  • Running Gag: The Bandits dropping onto the heads of Vincent and Pansey throughout time.
  • Schmuck Bait: "The Most Fabulous Object in the Universe."
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Evil Genius can't leave the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness.
  • Shaped Like Itself:
    Robin Hood: Have you met them at all?
    Randall: Who?
    Robin Hood: The poor.
    Randall: The poor?
    Robin Hood: Oh, you must meet them! Absolutely charming people! Of course, they haven't got two pennies to rub together, but that's because they're poor!
  • Signature Headgear:
    • Each of the Bandits wears a hat of some description, from a dusty bowler to a crude mining helmet.
    • The Evil Genius' H.R. Giger-esque headpiece with a skull on the back of it.
  • Sky Cell: After Evil takes the map, he locks the Bandits in a cage hung above a bottomless void.
  • Smoldering Shoes: All that's left of Kevin's parents.
  • The Starscream: Wally makes several attempts to wrestle leadership away from Randall.
  • Stealth Insult: Evil Genius says, "Oh, Benson...dear Benson. You are so mercifully free of the ravages of intelligence."
  • Stuff Blowing Up: This happens a lot when the Evil Genius is around.
  • Subhuman Surfacing Shot: During the exploration of the Time of Legends, the voyage by ship is interrupted when a giant slowly rises from the ocean in a close-up shot. Already thuggish and intimidating, the giant's lack of human reaction is further driven home by the fact that it's using the heroes' ship as a hat and either doesn't notice or just doesn't care.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: Evil has been defeated, the Bandits are back in the Supreme Being's employ, all seems well. Then Kevin wakes up to his house burning down, his parents touch a shard of evil and explode, and Agamemnon seemingly doesn't care and takes off, leaving Kevin an orphan in the remains of his home.
  • Super Villain Lair: The Fortress of Ultimate Darkness.
  • Surrounded by Idiots:
    • Evil is surrounded by incompetent henchmen. At one point, he says to one of them who's just said something particularly idiotic, "Oh, my dear Benson, you are so mercifully free of the ravages of intelligence." This is likely his own doing, however, as both of the Mooks who dare to raise serious questions about Evil's plan are blown to smithereens - even when Evil himself observes that it was a good question.
    • Evil also thinks Kevin is one, too, noting how he's the only one of the Bandits who is actually intelligent.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: Benson points out "the little one" as the one with the map while they all look at a group of dwarfs and a child.
  • Tank Goodness: The first reinforcement sent to fight Evil is a supersized incarnation of Kevin's toy Chieftain tank, which crashes through the wall when all hope is lost.
  • Tempting Fate: Randall asks for champagne "with plenty of ice"... on the Titanic. He also says "nothing can go wrong!" about two seconds before a giant walks off with the boat they're all on as a hat.
  • That's No Moon: A ship ends up being worn as a hat by a giant.
  • Time Travel: The Time Bandits have a map of all the holes in time and space, through which they can pass to steal all the riches of the world.
  • Time-Traveling Jerkass: The dwarves. Becoming Time Bandits and time-hopping through history to plunder the riches of King Agamemnon and Napoleon Bonaparte, among others, definitely qualifies them.
  • Today, X. Tomorrow, the World!: Today the Map, and the day after tomorrow, the world!
  • Too Dumb to Live: For time travelers, the Bandits are remarkably ignorant about famous events.
    • The Bandits are completely blindsided when Robin Hood gives all their stolen loot to the poor. Kevin chastises them, saying everyone knows that.
    • The Bandits don't realize the danger of being on the Titanic. Randall gripes, "It didn't say 'Get off before the iceberg' on the ticket!"
    • Kevin's parents also ignore their son and touch a leftover piece of the burned Evil Genius, which promptly makes them explode. Considering his mother was going to risk her life to save the toaster...
  • Translator Buddy: One of Robin Hood's followers translates for the gibberish-spewing Redgrave.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: The hideous ogre has a normal human wife, played by the middle-aged but still very presentable Katherine Helmond. The character was originally going to be an ogre as well until she was changed at Helmond's suggestion.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Kevin takes everything very much in stride.
  • The Unintelligible: Redgrave speaks only in gibberish, which is translated by Marian.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The Bandits, doubly so. They hand-deliver the map to the Evil Genius in their quest for "The Most Fabulous Object in the World." Meanwhile, The Supreme Being also intended for them to steal the map the whole time to he could test his creation, Evil.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Robin Hood is a chipper gentleman prone to spouting "Jolly good!" and doesn't seem to understand the realities around him.
  • Villainous BSoD: Napoleon goes almost catatonic while watching the Time Bandits do their musical number. They think he hates them until he snaps out of it and becomes ecstatic with joy.
  • War Is Hell: Napoleon's conquest of Italy is shown to be pretty brutal, with shots of soldiers being executed by firing squad in the background. Kevin is fascinated by historical warfare throughout the film, which Agamemnon tries to downplay.
  • War Refugees: Fleeing Napoleon.
  • With Friends Like These...: The Time Bandits' relationship with Randall.
  • What Have We Ear?: Part of Agamemnon's very fatherly behavior toward Kevin is to perform a magic trick. Kevin doesn't think he's very kingly but likes him just the same.
  • You Look Familiar: In-Universe: A man looking exactly like Agamemnon appears at the end as a fireman. It's never explained how or why this is (but reportedly it was Sean Connery's idea).
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Kevin threatens to burn the map unless Evil calls off his creatures. Evil goes a bit overboard and blows up all his remaining minions.


Video Example(s):


Time Bandits

Kevin warns his parents not to touch the rock (a piece of the film's villain) that's in their microwave. They don't listen, and die.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / DontTouchItYouIdiot

Media sources: