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Film / 12 Angry Men

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"Suppose we're wrong."
Juror #8

12 Angry Men is a 1957 drama film directed by Sidney Lumet, adapted by screenwriter Reginald Rose from his own teleplay of the same name. It stars Henry Fonda and a veritable All-Star Cast of character actors as the eponymous jury.

The plot concerns a seemingly straightforward murder trial. An eyewitness, forensic evidence, and the accused himself all seem to clearly point toward an adolescent boy from the slums having murdered his father with a switchblade knife. In the deliberation room, most of the jury pushes for a quick "guilty" verdict — but a single juror, known only as Juror #8, holds out and insists that they reexamine the evidence thoroughly to make damn sure the accused actually deserves his punishment: a mandatory death sentence.

This work is best known for popularizing the Rogue Juror trope, and most of the other works on the Rogue Juror page will reference it, either directly or indirectly. There is even a redirect to the trope in reference to this film: One Angry Juror.

Rose's original teleplay, which aired on CBS in 1954 as an episode of the live dramatic anthology series Westinghouse Studio One, starred Robert Cummings as Juror #8. The broadcast earned Emmy Awards for Rose, Cummings, and director Franklin Schaffner.


12 Angry Men provides examples of:

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  • Abusive Parents: It's revealed that the murder victim was an abusive dad to the accused.
  • Actor Allusion: Juror #3 sarcastically refers to Juror #12 as "the boy in the grey flannel suit." Lee J. Cobb (Juror #3) appeared in the film The Man In The Grey Flannel Suit in the previous year.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Downplayed as the character doesn't seem to consider it actually funny, but after the knife display (see Dude, Not Funny! below) juror #8 doesn't even blink, and agrees that there was no harm done.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Of all people, Juror #4. In the original 1954 TV movie, when Juror #10 goes on his racist rant towards the end, Juror #4 basically intimidates him into shutting up by telling him that if he open his mouth again, he (#4) will "split his skull". This makes it seem like #10 only relents because he's too terrified not to. But in the movie, when Juror #10 asks why they aren't listening to him, #4 merely says quietly "We have. Now, sit down and don't open your mouth again." This seems to make #10 realize at last just how much the others despise him, and he shuts up not because he's frightened but because he's ashamed to realise that he doesn't speak for anyone else.
  • Affably Evil: For a flexible definition of "evil", since he is more of an antagonist than a villain (although his actions would lead to the death of a kid): juror #4 is calm, polite, doesn't mock juror #8 or his doubts and only bring up logical and factual arguments for his position. He doesn't act out of malice or prejudice, but because he sincerely believes the kid to be guilty
  • Aggressive Categorism: Juror #10 is one of the last holdouts for a guilty verdict. As time goes on it becomes clearer and clearer that he doesn't care about the evidence; the defendant is a Ambiguously Brown young man from a slum, and for #10 that is enough to think he's guilty. None of the other jurors, even #3 and #4, agree with him and instead ignore his last rant about the defendant until he runs out of steam.
    Juror #10: Look, you know how these people lie! It's born in them! I mean, what the heck? I don't have to tell you! They don't know what the truth is! And lemme tell ya: they don't need any real big reason to kill someone, either! No sir!
  • Ambiguously Brown: The defendant has a slightly darker skin color than the rest of the cast, and is referred to as being part of an unnamed ethnicity that lives in a New York slum, though implied to be Puerto Rican due to the constant stereotypes against him. The actor, John Savoca, is of southern Italian descent (his surname is a toponym that ties his family origin to Savoca, Sicily).
  • Ambiguous Situation: The killing itself. The audience is never shown if the defendant did murder the victim or if he's innocent. But that's the entire point of the movie, which leads to the Aesop below.
  • An Aesop: Jury duty should never be taken lightly, and a man should never be convicted of a crime unless his guilt can be proven without a reasonable doubt.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • Juror #8 catches #10 in a bit of a contradiction early on, which earns him a cold, sarcastic reply.
      Juror #8: I'd like to ask you something: you don't believe the boy's story, how come you believe the woman's? She's one of "them", too, isn't she?
      Juror #10: (smile fades; angrily) ...You're a pretty smart fellow, aren't you?
    • A very intense one happens after #8 baits #3 into lashing out at him.
      Juror #3: Lemme go! I'll kill him! I'll kill him!!
      Juror #8: You don't really mean you'll kill me, do you?
  • Artistic License Law: Juror #8 pulling out the second switchblade would have been immediate grounds for a mistrial, as the second switchblade was not presented in the courtroom. The discovery process of a criminal trial demands that both the defense and the prosecution be aware beforehand of every piece of evidence that is to be presented, and a jury is instructed to only consider evidence presented in the trial proceedings. In real life, if the defense attorney was worth his salt, buying the identical switchblade to show it's not unique would have been one of the first things he'd have done to poke holes in the prosecution's case (although, it must be pointed out, the defense attorney not being worth his salt is one of the first reason brought up by juror #8 for his doubts).
  • Ask a Stupid Question...:
    Juror #6: "What kind of a bum is the defense attorney?"
    Juror #7: "That's exactly what I've been asking."
  • Asshole Victim: The murder victim was an abusive father.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Juror #9, who provides great insights on the eyewitnesses based on their appearances at court, and in turn gives fairly logical reasons for why their testimonies might not be truthful.
  • Believing Their Own Lies:
    • At the start of the deliberations, Juror #3 opens by claiming to have no personal bias towards the case. It quickly becomes apparent that this is far from the truth, and #3 himself is the last one to realize it.
    • Juror #9 also suggests that this trope could explain why the old man testified that he saw the defendant fleeing the murder scene, when his ability to have done so was severely in doubt. He was so eager for the chance to be part of a murder investigation and trial that it overrode his good sense.
    • Also, for the bespectacled woman who claims to have witnessed the murder itself. At no point does anyone allege that any witnesses deliberately lied, only that they thought they heard or saw something near that time, or heard/saw something that was obscure, and convinced themselves it was the murder.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Juror #4 is soft-spoken, calm, polite. He is also the one who sternly answer juror #10 when he goes on his racist tirade and shut him up for good. In some versions, it's taken further as he threatens him with physical violence.
  • Blind Without 'Em: An important plot point: Juror #9 recalls that a key witness in the murder case had marks on her nose suggesting that she usually wears glasses, though opted not to in court. #8 points out that she was unlikely to be wearing them in bed late at night when she claims to have seen the murder from all the way across the street, thereby making her less than credible as a witness.
  • Break Them by Talking:
    • Played straight initially when Juror #8 baits #3 into lashing out in a rage (thus proving his point about Ineffectual Death Threats).
    • Inverted when Juror #10 goes on a bigoted diatribe, is shunned by everybody in the room one by one, and spends the rest of the film in defeated silence.
    • Inverted again when Juror #3 breaks himself by going on a similar rant, only to find that the room has gone dead silent over the pitiable wreck he has made of himself.
  • Building of Adventure: Except for the opening and closing scenes in the courtroom itself, the story never leaves the jury room.
  • Character Filibuster:
    • Juror #10 has a particularly nasty, racism-filled rant against "the likes of him [the accused]" that causes the other jurors to turn away from him one by one, until #4 shuts him up:
      Juror #10: Listen to me!
      Juror #4: I have. Now sit down and don't open your mouth again.
    • Juror #3 has a smaller one, but in his case he breaks down all by himself afterwards.
  • The Charmer: Juror #12, a smartly-dressed Motor Mouth adman, presents this way early on. He is very friendly to the other jurors and tries to defuse the tension when they fight. He loses this trait and turns hesitant and unsure later on, flip-flopping his vote according to who cowed him last.
  • Chromosome Casting: All of the jurors are male, since only men served on juries when it was written. It's right in the title. However, theatrical adaptations now often avert this.
  • Clueless Mystery: An interesting twist on it: the details all appear on screen, but in the end, we never learn the truth about the murder that led to the trial in the first place, as the ending is ambiguous as to whether or not the defendant was truly guilty.note 
  • Cool Old Guy: Juror #9, the oldest member of the cast and the first to support #8. He is also an excellent observer, even better than juror #8 himself, and the key to winning over some of the staunchest supporters of a guilty verdict.
  • Corner of Woe: Juror #10 retreats to one when, after one of his racist rants goes too far, Juror #4 shuts him up. From that point on, #10 rarely participates in any of the deliberations, only weakly showing an acknowledgement that his vote is "not guilty" when a poll is taken (ironically, after #4 changes his vote upon the woman's testimony about clearly seeing the killing is discredited).
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Juror #4, who quips back at some of the less-than-logical theories.
    • #7 is a less subtle version, whose hostile wisecracks contribute little to the proceedings except added tension in the room.
  • Dingy Trainside Apartment: This is discussed as a plot point in the testimony of a witness: she supposedly heard and saw a murder through a passing elevated train going by between her window and the accused's.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Juror #8 remains calm when Juror #3 is pretending to stab him (the other jurors are standing up, worried that #3 is actually going to stab him).
    Juror #3: Now...nobody's hurt...right?
    Juror #8: Right. Nobody hurt.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: The other jurors' reaction to #3 pretending to raise the knife to stab #8, considering the tensions between them.
  • Empathic Environment: The rainstorm. And to a lesser extent, the fan, which finally starts up when the votes start to swing in favor of acquittal.
  • Environmental Symbolism: As tempers rise, the room seems to get more and more claustrophobic. That's not just an effect of the camera: the actual walls of the set were gradually moved closer in as the film goes on, making the room smaller and smaller.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Juror #8 is first seen pondering at the window of the jury room before being called over to begin deliberations. Notably, he isn't shown speaking and chattering excitedly like most of the jurors, hinting that the majority sentiment won't go through as easily as previously thought.
    • During the initial vote, some jurors raise their hands right away to vote guilty, while the rest except for #8 are more reluctant, showing who will be the hardest to win over.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Juror #3 may be vicious and want to see the defendant executed, but even he is unwilling to listen to #10's bigoted tirades. Even Juror #4, who comes off as a Jerkass at times, and is strongly convinced of the defendant's guilt, has had enough of #10's bigotry, and tells him as such in no uncertain terms.
      • Juror #3 is also the first to jump on Juror #7 for changing sides for no reason, and makes it clear that he respects the jury system throughout. He simply doesn't realize that his subconscious bias is the reason he's pushing for conviction. Once he figures it out, he changes his vote to Not Guilty.
    • Juror #8 (and #10) doesn't look too impressed when the jurors (note #1, #3 and #12) are playing a game rather than listening to the evidence.
    • Interestingly, juror #11 provides an heroic example when juror #7 switches sides to what seems to be the new winning one. Realizing that he is only interested in cutting it short, juror #11 is utterly apalled by his attitude and refuses to accept it.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Juror #3 is at first adamant that the old man's testimony is a vital part of the trial, but when it becomes clear that the old man may have been exaggerating what he saw, he says "Half the time he was confused. How can he be positive about anything?" and immediately realizes that he just discredited his own argument.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: It's not established exactly at what time deliberations started, but it's implied they started no later than noon, through a rainstorm that started late in the afternoon, and finally winding down sometime after 6 pm, of the same day. The editing makes it feel like it's happening in Real Time, but the outside lighting and weather reminds us that it's actually taking a bit longer.
  • Foreshadowing: #3's breakdown is set up very early in the movie, when he first goes to the cooler and stares at the photo of his son.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Jurors #8 and #9, who were the first to vote "not guilty" and swayed most of the others with their arguments, exchange names at the end, implying they've formed a bond through the rigorous deliberation.
  • Freudian Excuse: Juror #3 spends the movie continuously trying to convict a young man where there is more and more reasonable doubt for his guilt because his relationship with his son appeared to have gone very sour. It's a classic case of Psychological Projection. He realizes this at the end, though, and changes his stance.
  • Fulton Street Folly: The film is set in a New York City courtroom, and the opening and closing scenes were shot on location at the New York State Supreme Court Building in Lower Manhattan.
  • The Generic Guy: The jurors don't all get the same amount of focus, but most of them get at least one moment or trait to really set them apart from the others. Juror #1 doesn't really get this so much. He's one of the jurors with the fewest lines and mostly just serves as the one who will officially read out the verdict once it's reached but plays very little role in actually reaching it. Juror #6 also gets very little characterization; the only thing that's ever really revealed about him is the fact that he works as a interior painter.
  • The Ghost: The witnesses mentioned are never shown, only described by the jurors—specifically Juror #9, who does so to make observations and hypotheses about them.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Juror #3 set out to toughen his son up after seeing him run away from a fight. He succeeded; his son got into a fight with him, punched him out, left, and they haven't spoken to one another for years.
  • Graceful Loser: When his argument is refuted, Juror #4 simply says "I'm convinced. Not guilty."
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Though the pro-acquittal side is painted A Lighter Shade of Grey.
  • Guile Hero: Juror #8. His smarts kick-start the plot.
  • Heat Wave: One of the jurors remarks that it's supposed to be the hottest day of the year, and most of them are sweaty and agitated in the poorly-ventilated deliberation room. Things get a little better once they manage to get the wall fan running.
  • Heel Realization:
    • When, in the middle of his furious insistence that the defendant is guilty, Juror #3 sees the picture of his estranged son and rips it to pieces, you can see in his face that he has just figured out what he was really doing.
    • Vaguely implied for Juror #10. When he rants at length about how "they" (the unspecified ethnic group the defendant belongs to) are by nature nothing but a bunch of hotheaded liars and killers, the way all eleven of the other jurors respond with silent open contempt for his views, followed by #4's command to sit down and not say another word causes him to go practically catatonic. He spends the remainder of the deliberation silently staring at nothing, and after #4 changes his vote to not guilty, #10 soon follows. It is left ambiguous, if this means he was actually rethinking his views, or if he just felt defeated. The original teleplay and the Showtime version aren't as ambiguous; when the final vote is taken, #10 flat out says he believes the defendant is guilty, he's just voting "not guilty" cause he's done butting heads with the others.
  • Hollywood Law:
    • Juror #8 states that he went walking in the defendant's neighborhood, and found a copy of the supposedly unique switchblade knife in a local store. He presents it to the jury to prove his point. In a real jury proceeding, the term for this is "juror misconduct." Jurors are not permitted to perform their own investigations, or admit their own evidence (the second knife), and they're really not supposed to consider evidence not presented in court. If it were to come out that #8 did all this, it's possible (though unlikely, given the double jeopardy prohibition) the verdict could be set aside, and #8 could be charged for his actions. There is at least an acknowledgement that #8 broke the law by buying the knife, but nobody brings up that searching for a knife is misconduct. Of course, none of the jurors are lawyers, so it's possible that they didn't recognize the acts as such.
    • In addition to considering evidence not introduced in court, the jurors outright disregard many of the witness testimonies that were introduced in court, for reasons that the prosecutor and defense attorney never actually brought up as possible issues (like the fact that one of the witnesses may or may not have been nearsighted). In Real Life, only a judge has the final say on whether or not statements in court can be considered credible, and jurors aren't supposed to disregard witness testimonies unless a judge instructs them to disregard them. That said, this doesn't always stop it from happening, since once someone has witnessed something, it can't just be erased from their mind. This is why both prosecution and defense have to be careful not to cause situation or statements that could influence the minds of the jury to give their side a disadvantage.
    • The jury seems to be operating under a "slightest possible doubt" basis instead of beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Hypocritical Humor: This exchange, which is even funnier when considering that Juror #11 is an immigrant to the US from Europe.
    Juror #10: He's a common, ignorant slob. He don't even speak good English.
    Juror #11: He doesn't even speak good English.
  • I'll Kill You!: The jurors talk about how the accused shouted, "I'll kill you!" at the victim shortly before the murder. Juror #3 insists that no one would say such a thing unless he means it, but is ultimately forced to back down when he shouts the same thing at Juror #8.
  • Immigrant Patriotism: Juror #11 takes a moment to gush about the jury trial system, and how it could only happen in a democracy like the United States. They never say where he came from, but the implication is that the country he was from is not a democracy. He also berates #7 for refusing to take the process seriously, and makes a point to make sure he is speaking English more properly than the bigoted natural-born #10.
  • Ineffectual Death Threats: Invoked. Juror #3 fixates on the evidence that a neighbor heard the defendant yell "I'll kill you!" during a fight, and when it's pointed out that people say that sort of thing all the time and don't mean it, Juror #3 says, "Oh no... if you say that, you mean it." Juror #8 baits him with insults until Juror #3 attacks him and must be held back by the others.
    Juror #3: I'll kill him! I'll kill him!
    Juror #8: You don't really mean you'll kill me, do you?

  • Jerkass:
    • Juror #3 is argumentative, dismissive of others, and voraciously adamant in seeing the defendant get executed.
    • Juror #10 doesn't have any logical reason for his guilty vote; he's just extremely racist, to the point where he eventually drops all pretenses and goes on a lengthy bigoted tirade to which the other jurors refuse to listen.
    • Juror #7. Aside from constantly insulting the other jurors with his constant pithy remarks, he doesn't care what the decision of the jury is. He's only concerned with catching a baseball game. At least the most vicious jurors voted guilty because they believed in it. That said, when called out on this, he does say that he doesn't believe the accused is guilty. Fortunately, the game is rained out during the deliberation, so he can relax and pay attention for once.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Juror #4 initially comes like a bit of an aloof jerk, but by the end he proves to be one of the more reasonable jurors, calling out #10 for his bigoted rant, changing his verdict when given sensible reason to do so, and clearly regretful at the end when he realizes where he went wrong with his reasoning prior.
  • Jury Duty: Well, yeah. The characters run the whole gamut of taking the duty very seriously (Juror #8's stance on this drives the whole plot, and Juror #11 later claims the responsibility to be one of the greatest things about American democracy) to being almost entirely dismissive of it (Juror #12 is more concerned with doodling and talking about his work than he is with the deliberations, and Juror #7 is mostly upset that he's missing a baseball game; both get called out for this). Notably, Jurors #3 and #10 are taking it seriously, but are too hung up on their own emotional baggage to approach it objectively.
  • Karma Houdini: All the Jurors in the end give the same verdict: "not guilty". If the kid is actually guilty, he gets away with murdering his father. If he is genuinely innocent, the real killer is still at large and unsuspected. Of course, within the realm of the movie, the investigation would be considered ongoing, so it's more of a matter of them not covering the part where someone actually gets caught and convicted as guilty, since that's not the focus.
  • The Lancer:
    • Juror #9 acts as this, to some extent, to Juror #8. #9 is the first person to side with #8, and helps him out when he's arguing with the others.
    • As does #4 to #3. #4 provides logical reasoning for all of #3's passionate arguments, and is one of the last people to change his mind.
  • Lampshade Hanging: "You know, it's interesting he'd find a knife exactly like the one the boy bought!" Double lampshaded by #3's response asking what's so interesting about it.
  • Lawful Neutral: The entire point of the movie: Juror #8 only wants the procedure to be done thoughtfully and respectfully, with the adequate care. Juror #11 also counts,often defending the american judiciary system and chewing into juror #7 for not voting according to conscience. And of course juror #4, always following factual evidence and listening to all arguments.
  • Let Me at Him!: Juror #3, after being provoked by Juror #8, lunges at him out of rage, only to be held back by Jurors #5, #6 and #7.
  • Locked in a Room: A deliberation room. Lampshaded by #5 and #10.
    Juror #5: I never knew they locked the door.
    Juror #10: Sure, they lock the door. What'd you think?
    Juror #5: I don't know. It just never occurred to me.
  • Meaningful Echo: During Juror #10's racist rant, each of the other jurors turns away from him in disgust and eventually tell him to shut up. When Juror #3 starts shouting at the end, the other jurors listen in silence, as they realize that #3 is in the middle of an emotional breakdown and needs time to let it out and process it.
  • Minimalism: Apart from a very short prologue and epilogue, the entire play/film takes place in the jury room (and an adjacent bathroom).
  • Minimalist Cast: At the beginning of the film, other people (such as the defendant and the judge) are briefly shown, but for the rest of the film, we only see the twelve jurors (and the bailiff, briefly). The play doesn't show anyone but the jurors and the bailiff, with the judge's voice only being heard from off-stage.
  • Monochrome Casting: Perhaps unsurprisingly for a film made in The '50s, the jury is all-white (although one is an immigrant with a noticeable accent). Later productions often avert it.
  • Motive = Conclusive Evidence: This is used as one of the main thrusts behind the drive to convict the defendant. The defendant had yelled "I'LL KILL YOU!" at the victim shortly before the victim had died, and this was taken as "evidence". Juror #3, the one most adamant for a conviction, argued that no one says something like that unless they truly mean it, and during the course of the film, Juror #8 gets #3 so angry that he lunges at #8, screaming "I'll kill him! I'LL KILL HIM!" before #8, remaining calm and cool, throws this line of reasoning right back in his face: "You don't really mean you'll kill me, do you?"
  • Named by the Adaptation: None of the jurors were named in the play. In the film, two of them are given names in the epilogue.
  • Nameless Narrative: No names are used for any of the jurors, and not even for the victim or defendant. The film added an epilogue not in the play that gives last names for Juror #8 (Davis) and Juror #9 (McCardle).
  • Non-Specifically Foreign: Several characters are noted for their ethnicity or nationality, but what ethnicity or nationality they are is never stated. Most notably, the defendant is of some sort of ethnic minority and lives in a low-income neighborhood, which has several of the jurors, particularly #10, predisposed into mistrusting him. Juror #5 is noted several times to have a similar economic background to the defendant and is implied to be an ethnic minority as well, while #11 is from an unspecified European country and is proud to be taking part in an American democratic process. The vagueness allows stagings of the play to get creative. The film's interpretation has the defendant appearing to be Latino or Italian; #5 is played by Jack Klugman, who is Jewish; and #11 is played by George Voskovec, who is Czech (born in what was then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire).
  • Notably Quick Deliberation: If not for Juror #8, the jurors would have declared the kid guilty in five minutes, tops.
  • "Number of Objects" Title: 12 Angry Men.
  • Oh, Crap!: Juror #3's face when he realizes that he's just contradicted his own argument subtly, but wonderfully, evokes this sentiment.
  • The Oner: A few, such as one towards the beginning, in which each of the jurors establishes himself as the camera pans around the room and focuses briefly on several different conversations; and one when Juror #8 goes to wash his hands and other characters duck into the bathroom to chat with him.
  • Paper Destruction of Anger: Juror #3 rips up a photo of his son during his breakdown and then he finally votes not guilty. He was voting "guilty" simply because of the bad relationship he has with his estranged son, not because of the facts.
  • Perfect Health: Averted. Juror #10 has a head cold. It's not a plot point or anything. He just has a head cold. It's one of many distractions that cause some jurors to want to rush through the deliberation and go back to their lives.
  • Precious Photo: Juror #3 tears up his photo of himself with a young man (assumed to be his son, who has either left home after a fight or died) in a fit of rage, and quickly regrets it.
  • Profiling: The defendant's skin color is the main reason Juror #10 wants a guilty verdict.
  • Psychological Projection: It becomes clear by the end that the real reason Juror #3 is so insistent on a guilty conviction is because he's projecting his own problems with his son onto the case.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: While there are plenty of impassioned speeches, the trope is less severe than most examples since the characters often stutter or pause at key points.
  • Reality Has No Soundtrack: The music plays four times.
  • Real Time: Fully in the play, the film takes it even further, with not only almost all of the movie taking place in real time, but almost all of that period is set in one room. Even more remarkably, it had to be shot four times, each from a different angle with one of the walls removed to accommodate the camera, with the jurors getting progressively more sweaty and dishevelled. When all four angles were cut together it worked perfectly in continuity.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Juror #11 to Juror #7, after the latter changes his vote just to break the deadlock:
    Juror #11: What kind of a man are you? You have sat here and voted guilty with everyone else, because there are some baseball tickets burning a hole in your pocket? And now you've changed your vote because you say you're sick of all the talking here?
    Juror #7: Now listen, buddy!
    Juror #11: Who tells you that you have the right to play like this with a man's life? Don't you care?
    Juror #7: Now, wait a minute! You can't talk like that to me!
    Juror #11: I can talk like that to you! If you want to vote not guilty, then do it because you are convinced the man is not guilty, not because you've had enough. And if you think he is guilty, then vote that way. Or don't you have the guts to do what you think is right?
  • Remake Cameo: More like Remake Reappearance. Joseph Sweeney (Juror #9) and George Voskovec (Juror #11) reprise their roles from the 1954 TV version.
  • Reverse Grip: Used as a point of contention between the jury. Allegedly the accused stabbed downwards into the victim using the reverse grip. However, Juror #5, who is from the slums, points out that nobody who has experience in knife fights would ever use this with a switchblade, as it would be suicide to pause for a second to change to it in a fight.
  • Rhetorical Request Blunder: A plot point: The defendant was overheard yelling "I'll Kill You!!" to the victim, who later ended up stabbed to death. Rogue Juror #8 points out that this doesn't necessarily prove the defendant was the murderer, as anyone might say something like that in a fit of anger. To prove the point, Juror 3 later becomes so angry at 8 that he yells "I'll kill you!", to which 8 retorts, "You don't really mean you'll kill me, do you?"
  • Riddle for the Ages:
    • Who killed the man if the defendant was not guilty? For that matter, is the defendant not guilty in the first place? We never get an answer. Even Juror #8 acknowledges the kid probably is guilty, it's just that "probably" is not "beyond a reasonable doubt."
    • What are the names of the 12 angry men in particular? The movie adaptations add the names Davis and McCardle to Jurors #8 and #9 respectively, but the names of the remaining 10 jurors are left unrevealed.
  • Rogue Juror: If not the Trope Maker, definitely the Trope Codifier. Juror #8 is the sole holdout on a case which appears to indicate that the accused is definitely a murderer. However, as the jury is forced to analyze the evidence in detail, they slowly discover that almost all of it is flawed in some way. Worth noting that, unlike some other examples, the rogue juror isn't convinced of the suspect's innocence either; he just wants to make sure they've done their job properly, as the accused is facing a mandatory death sentence. It leaves the question of the suspect's guilt or innocence ambiguous in the end. However, because there was reasonable doubt, a verdict of "not guilty" is appropriate.note 
    • Towards the end of the film, Juror #3 becomes this for the other side, after all the other jurors have decided there's enough doubt that they can't justify a guilty verdict.
  • Sadist: Juror #8 deliberately calls Juror #3 one to rile him up to make a point, that people don't always mean what they say.
  • Scary Minority Suspect: Very little is known about the defendant except that he's some kind of ethnic minority. Despite this, most of the jurors are eager to say he's guilty and get the trial over with, although only the most vindictive juror admits to outright racism.
  • Secondhand Storytelling: Since the film is about a jury deliberating a crime, we only ever seen them talking. All information about the crime is related to us by them discussing it amongst themselves.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Juror #10 digs his own grave when he starts shooting his mouth off about how inferior the lower classes are. By the time he's finished, when everyone has clearly stopped listening, this trope — delivered by #4 — is all it takes to shut him up for the rest of the movie.
    Juror #10: Listen to me! Listen!
    Juror #4: I have. Now sit down and don't open your mouth again.
  • Silence, You Fool!: In the 1957 film, Juror #3 impolitely orders Juror #2 to be quiet, when he interrupts him:
    Juror #3: Okay, let-let's get to the point. What about the switch knife, they found in the old man's chest?
    Juror #2: Uh, wai-wait a minute, there's some people who haven't talked yet. Shouldn't we go in order?
    Juror #3: They'll get their chance to talk — BE quiet a second, will ya?
    Juror #2: (sags his head a bit)
  • Silent Treatment: How everyone reacts when Juror #10 flies off the handle about the inferiority of the lower classes. Even the ones who were still in favor of conviction. It shames him enough that he stares off in space quietly in the corner for the rest of the film.
  • Sinister Switchblade: The murder weapon is a switchblade, but the blade's reputation even extends to its non-usage; Juror #4 is appalled when Juror #8 pulls out an identical blade to prove that there are more copies of the supposedly rare knife than previously thought.
    Juror #4: It's against the law to buy or sell switchblade knives.
  • Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality: The only characters are the members of an all-male jury. Some modern versions try to correct this by making the judge a woman. Others simply opt to re-title the play "Twelve Angry Jurors" just so that some of the jury can be women.
  • Speech-Centric Work: The film consists of the twelve jurors debating whether or not the defendant is guilty.
  • The Spock: Juror #4 is certainly the most rational of the group, concerning himself purely with the facts. Despite being one of the last holdouts in favor of conviction, he listens to all of his opponents' arguments with an open mind. Once all of his objections have been rebutted, he changes his vote without complaint.
  • The Stoic: Similar to the above, Juror #4 is also the most calm and collected of the jurors, never raising his voice or showing strong emotions of any kind. He's not completely stoic, though, as a few scenes evidence. He becomes visibly unnerved while being interrogated by Juror #8, and towards the end, expresses annoyance towards Juror #3 (for his obnoxiousness), Juror #9 (for badgering him with seemingly-inane questions instead of getting to the point), and Juror #10 (for being obviously prejudiced against the defendant, instead of arriving at that conclusion by the exercise of logic).
  • Stoic Spectacles: Juror #4 is a "rational stockbroker, unflappable, self-assured, and analytical".
  • Thunder = Downpour: One thunderclap, cue rainstorm.
  • The Unreveal: Did the boy really kill his father? If he didn't, who did? Since the play and film only see the case from the jurors' perspective (not the police's), it is never discovered. All that is known is that there is reasonable doubt as to the boy's guilt — which, under the laws of the United States, is enough to keep him from being convicted. Truth in Television, of course — jurors not working on an obvious open and shut case rarely get "closure" as to whether or not they were right.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Near the conclusion, when Jurors #3 and #4 are the last ones still arguing for conviction, #4 is clearly annoyed at having his rational arguments undermined by #3's not-so-rational cheering from over his shoulder.
  • Verbal Tic: Juror #10 seems to have one of these, you know what I mean? *sniff*
  • Video Credits: Although the jurors each have a number, and they sit in order, these are used to help distinguish the names of actors with their faces.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • When Juror #10 delivers his famous rant. "Listen... listen to me...."
    • And Juror #3 shortly afterward. Made somewhat more poignant by the reactions of the other jurors; where they reacted to #10's breakdown with silent anger, they watch #3's meltdown with something closer to pity, as most of them realise why he is really pushing for a guilty verdict even as he denies the true reason, not just to the other jurors but to himself.
  • Wham Line: Each time a piece of evidence is found to be wanting, a Wham Line usually reveals the flaw, i.e. "No one who had used one of these knives would hold it like that." "What movie did you see that night?" etc. One especially notable one (for how thoroughly it demolishes a key piece of evidence):
    Juror #8: The old man according to his own testimony — "I'm gonna kill you", body hitting the floor a split second later — would have had to hear the boy make this statement with the el [elevated train] roaring past his nose! It's not possible he could have heard it!
  • Wham Shot: Juror #8 pulls out a switchblade and sticks it into the table right next to the "unique" murder weapon, showing that they are identical.
  • Worthy Opponent: Both Juror #8 and #4 debate their points without getting too personal, each seems to be just as factual as the other, and #4 certainly seems to view #8 this way.
  • You Are Number 6: The jurors are only ever referred to by their numbers, though Jurors #8 and #9 introduce their names to each other at the end of the film adaptations.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me:
    • Juror #3 is asked to re-enact the stabbing process on Juror #8. Given the tension between the two men, and #3's almost maniacal bloodthirstiness, there's a definite tension as to how "real" #3 will make the re-enactment. Lampshaded by the alarmed reactions of most of the other ten jurors as he draws back the knife.
    • Referring back to the I'll Kill You! example above, Juror #8 afterwards remarks, "You don't really mean you'll kill me, do you?"

Alternative Title(s): Twelve Angry Men


"You're a sadist!" (1957)

Juror #7 lets Juror #3 have it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheReasonYouSuckSpeech

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