The title character is V (Hugo Weaving), a government experiment Gone Horribly Wrong. Armed with extraordinary intellect and fighting skills, along with some home-made high explosives, he escapes from the facility that created him and sets about committing terrorist attacks against the fascist government of Britain. He is The Faceless throughout the film, wearing a Guy Fawkes mask in order to conceal his true identity. The fact that Guy Fawkes was arrested for trying to blow up the king has something to do with it, of course.
Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman), who works at a TV channel, is rescued from rapist policemen by V, and this act of kindness starts the film. She is taken to his Elaborate Underground Base, and, although scared by V at first, she decides to join his campaign to bring down the Government, replacing it with an anarchist society.
Where the original comic was influenced by Alan Moore's fears of Thatcherite Britain becoming a repressive dictatorship, the film owes more to critics of the second Bush administration along with several other changes with the characters and plot to condense the story and reconfigure it to resemble a more standard superhero tale, complete with super powers for V.
This film provides examples of:
- Adaptational Heroism: In this film, V is presented as a rather dubious hero who, despite his quirks, is acting against a clearly and absolutely villainous regime. The comic, on the other hand, depicts him as a ruthless anarchist who, while he is similarly striking against a murderous tyranny, is of highly questionable sanity. The overall results from his actions are treated with much more moral ambiguity.
- Adaptational Villainy: The Norsefire Party are a totalitarian regime in the movie just like in the comic, however in the latter, certain members had sympathetic traits including the Big Bad of all people, though not enough to be considered redeemable. The movie does away with them entirely.
- Adaptational Wimp: The movie turns Gordon Dietrich into a chubby, middle-aged comedian (played by Stephen Fry, no less) when he was a younger, more physically imposing career criminal in the book. Then again, the film also has him defying the Party's laws by hiding banned books and films in his house, and openly mocking Chancellor Sutler on his show, which is far more badass than anything the character did in the book.
- Added Alliterative Appeal:
- V's opening monologue to Evey involves 50 words that begin with V, and provides the trope's page quote.V: Voilà! In View, a humble Vaudevillian Veteran, cast Vicariously as both Victim and Villain by the Vicissitudes of fate. This Visage, no mere Veneer of Vanity, is a Vestige of the Vox populi, now Vacant, Vanished. However, this Valorous Visitation of a bygone Vexation stands Vivified, and has Vowed to Vanquish these Venal and Virulent Vermin Vanguarding Vice and Vouchsafing the Violently Vicious and Voracious Violation of Volition! The only Verdict is Vengeance; a Vendetta held as a Votive, not in Vain, for the Value and Veracity of such shall one day Vindicate the Vigilant and the Virtuous. Verily, this Vichyssoise of Verbiage Veers most Verbose, so let me simply add that it's my Very good honour to meet you and you may call me V.
- "Vi veri veniersum vivus vici".note
- It's possible that the above monologue was inspired by a similar one made by Finch in the comic, which was also heavily laden with words beginning with V.
- V's opening monologue to Evey involves 50 words that begin with V, and provides the trope's page quote.
- After the End: At least according to the Government.
- All There in the Manual: The novel based on the film goes into a lot more backstory.
- The Alternet: The monolithic computer from the comic book is replaced with something called the Interlink, more or less implied to be the same as the Internet (minus the free speech aspect, of course).
- Aluminum Christmas Trees:
- Some contemporary reviewers find the idea of "concentration camps" for homosexuals, eradicate homosexuality even as an abstract concept, etc. to be sort of an invocation of Godwin's Law by comparing Thatcher's Britain to Nazi Germany. However, in the early 1980s one of Margaret Thatcher's advisors did indeed make the suggestion, as a public health policy, that all gay men should be put into quarantine in closed institutions as a strategy to stop the spread of HIV infections. Alan Moore's Word of God says this aspect of the dystopia was a direct commentary on the implications of such proposals. The real life idea never took off.
- Although Moore wasn't referencing it, gay concentration camps really did exist for a time in communist Cuba.
- It's also important mention that gay men, like Jews, were not safe from persecution in the Third Reich and were, in fact, sent to concentration camps.
- Anti-Hero: V. The movie softens him to a Pragmatic Anti-Hero.
- Apocalypse Anarchy:
- Invoked by V, who's trying to bring about the end of a fascist system by increasing the amount of disorder. He inspires the population to more acts of violence and vandalism, which causes the government to crack down, which leads to more uprising...
- Inverted in the backstory, in which a minor apocalypse brings about not anarchy, but fascism.
- Apocalypse How: Class 1 — Societal Disruption or Collapse on a Regional or Continental scale.
- Arc Words: The repeated V/Five motif.
- Armies Are Evil: Subverted. The British Army is called out at the end to defend Parliament, but they actually stand down in the face of the civilian rebellion.
- Ask a Stupid Question...: When Evey first meets V she asks him who he is, to which he comments:V: "Who" is but the form, following the function of "what", and what I am is a man in a mask.
Evey: Well I can see that.
V: Of course you can, I'm not questioning your powers of observation, I am merely remarking on the paradox of asking a masked man who he is.
- Attempted Rape: V meets Evey when he saves her from a police gang-rape. Later, the Archbishop tries to rape her when he mistakens her request for help as roleplay
- Audible Sharpness: Whenever V breaks out his knives expect lots of "cutting the air" noises. In V's grand battle they even have visible sharpness.
- Author Filibuster: There's still technically the question of is this right or is this mad, but the film really really wants you to cheer on the anarchists. In the montage, as narrated by Mr. Finch, where V's plan involving the masks and the train cars is coming to fruition, a quick exchange takes place as such:Mr. Finch: This is what he wants.
(cut to convenience store being robbed)
Fawkes-masked robber: ANARCHY IN THE UK!
(robber shoots revolver in the air and leaves)
(cut back to Mr. Finch)
Mr. Finch: Chaos.
- Badass Boast:Creedy: You've got nothing. Nothing but your bloody knives and your fancy karate gimmicks. We have guns.
V: No, what you have are bullets, and the hope that when your guns are empty I am no longer standing, because if I am, you'll all be dead before you've reloaded.
- Only Creedy and one Mook manage to reload their weapons. V kills the Mook before he can fire, and Creedy's shots don't slow him down.
- Badass Long Robe: V.
- Batman Gambit: On a massive scale. V's entire plan involves manipulating the government heads into national collapse, and requires not only the police and Norsefire, but the population of London to react as he expects. The giant falling-domino puzzle he creates is the perfect metaphor.
- Beard of Evil: Invoked by V's mask.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil/He Who Fights MonstersV: What was done to me was monstrous.
Evey: And it created a monster?
- Beware the Superman: V, if you consider him a villain. His backstory is basically the archetypal superhero origin story in its most distilled form (downtrodden man is injected with experimental chemicals that give him peak-human abilities, dons a costume and goes off to fight evildoers) but his experiences also drive him insane, leading him to become an anarchist terrorist instead of a crime fighter.
- Big Bad: Adam Sutler is the movie's obvious antagonist.
- Bittersweet Ending: Britain is free of the dictatorship that had been ruling the country, but V lost his life in the process, and we don't know how well Britain will be able to take care of itself without a government in charge. The comic also ends with Evey possibly training the future government as the second V, potentially leaving the identity to a third party.
- Black Market Produce: On Evey's first morning in the Shadow Gallery, she is given toast with her breakfast and is astonished to find real butter. V explains that he stole it from the Chancellor's supplies.
- Blown Across the Room: V does this to two of Creedy's guards with thrown knives in the film's climax. The early fight scene with the police also has bodies flying further than you'd think.
- Body Horror: The descriptions of what happened to the people tested are enough to make you want to smack the lead scientist, Delia Surridge, but MAYBE not kill her.
- Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: V, though he certainly has some goals beyond simply blowing stuff up.
- Book Ends: The 1812 Overture. The film opens with the first notes and ends with the crescendo.
- Bottomless Magazines: Averted. V mentions that when the mooks are out of ammo, they'll be dead before they can reload.
- Broken Aesop: The movie goes for a pretty unambiguous Aesop about the importance of individual freedom and thinking for yourself, portraying V as a "freedom fighter" hero. Fine...but his crusade against Norsefire still relies on kidnapping and torturing an innocent girl to make her more sympathetic to his methods, and it ends with him being hailed as a martyr by a mob of his devoted supporters, who proceed to show their devotion by donning identical black outfits and marching in lockstep towards the nation's capital. You know...for freedom. Re-made once Parliament goes up in flames; when they take off their masks, they are revealed as every non-Norsefire character in the movie - with a focus on those who died. If you truly want to be free, You Are Not Alone.
- Bulletproof Human Shield: V uses this tactic to outmaneuver the constables in Jordan Tower.
- Bulletproof Vest: V wears one. While it does a fine job of keeping him standing, nearly a dozen men with automatic weapons are too much for even a thick metal plate. V pulls together enough Heroic Resolve to kill every one of his attackers, but he pulls off his bloody, bullet-riddled armor and dies of his wounds shortly thereafter.
- Bullet Time: Well, Throwing Knife Time in this case.
- Byronic Hero: V, perhaps moreso in the comic than the movie.
- Captain Obvious:Evey: I don't see any instruments.
V: Your powers of observation continue to serve you well.
- Coat, Hat, Mask: V.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: From both sides, although opinions vary on whether V was justified with his.
- Conspicuous Gloves: The protagonist wears gloves and a mask at all times because he was tortured and disfigured as a prisoner.
- Cool Mask: This movie is one of the main reasons why people still know what a Guy Fawkes mask is.
- Corrupt Politician: Norsefire were corrupt bastards.
- Crapsack World: The second coming of the Nazis has taken power over Britain, and the only person who dares to stand up to them is an apparently insane terrorist who wants to replace them with... nothing. Though it mainly focuses on Britain, the movie also frequently hints at the chaos breaking out in the rest of the world. Apparently, America is now in the middle of a second civil war, it's described as "the world's biggest leper colony," and its leaders beg for humanitarian aid from the UK, sparking Lewis Prothero's rant about how they should dump the cargo of a ship sent from America into the ocean as revenge for the Boston Tea Party. Then again, considering Prothero and the network are a Propaganda Machine, we don't actually know if they are telling the truth.
- Crapsaccharine World: Especially compared to the graphic novel's post-nuclear wasteland, Britain in the film is a seemingly lively and prosperous place (for example, while in the GN the government gets rid of the elderly, a retirement house is shown several times in the film). But it's still ruled by a totalitarian Nazi-esque party.
- Crazy-Prepared: V's plan was setup more than a decade in advance. By the time of the story, V only has to put a select few pieces into play to make the whole thing fit together, along with some revenge on the side.
- Dark Messiah: V can be interpreted as this.
- Demoted to Extra: Conrad Heyer, the head of The Eye, briefly appears near the beginning when Sutler's advisors are assembled, but the subplot about his wife manipulating him into trying to usurp the government is cut.
- Did Not Get the Girl: In Evey's case, she did not get the guy, since he died in the end.
- Dirty Coward: Sutler pathetically weeps and begs when brought before V.
- Disaster Dominoes: V sets this in motion for Norsefire. Scenes of the effects are interspersed with him setting up and toppling a massive number of dominoes shaped as his logo.
- Dissonant Serenity: V's rampage at the very end can come across as this, probably because of that mask. Also, massive explosions set to gorgeous music.
- Distant Prologue: The movie starts with Evey Hammond narrating the story about Guy Fawkes failed Gunpowder Plot and his execution.
- The Dog Bites Back: Creedy killing Adam Sutler, with V purposefully arranging for increased surveillance on Creedy precisely to foster these feelings.
- Do Not Adjust Your Set: Justified when V broadcasts his communiqué over BTN's network, which has been designed to monopolize all the screens in Britain.
- Doomed Moral Victor: As a part of the Thanatos Gambit.
- Double Entendre: "Pucker up, here comes the Finger."
- Dragon Ascendant: Invoked to Creedy, but he gets killed before he can really take over.
- Dual Wielding: V's main weapons are half a dozen knives. The version has a coat full of 'em.
- Dude, Not Funny!: Invoked. Evey tells Gordon to stop joking around when she notices he makes eggs-in-a-basket the same way V did, and he starts to claim that he is V.
- Elaborate Underground Base: The Shadow Gallery.
- Enemy Rising Behind:
- Played straight at the climax of the TV tower fight, when V tricks the police into thinking he is a hostage and a hostage is him. He falls past the police, who stop the actual hostage. The hostage's mask is removed and V stands.
- V does this in the climax of the film, though he actually rises in the middle of a ring of men looking around the room for him.
- Even the Rats Won't Touch It: A rat sniffs the food offered to Evey in her cell, and promptly returns to its hole in the wall.
- Everyone Has Standards: Creedy's a bastard and he knows it, but when V gives the cue for him to off Sutler, he clearly displays contempt for the High Chancellor's lack of composure in the face of death.
- Evil Laugh: More crazy than evil, but V's maniacal laughter in the beginning as the Old Bailey explodes comes close.
- Evil Overlord: Sutler.
- Evil Sounds Deep: V.
- Exact Words: Sutler gives us this, not knowing just how close to home it will hit:Sutler: Tonight, I give you my most solemn vow: that justice will be swift, it will be righteous, and it will be without mercy.
- Expressive Mask: V's mask never moves, but it still manages to convey emotion through shadow and angles.
- The Extremist Was Right: The film presents V as more of a good guy and Norsefire as 100% evil, resulting in a more black and white view.
- The Faceless: V
- Fallen States of America: Prothero claims that the 'Ulcered Sphincter of Arse-erica' has become the world's biggest leper colony, and what remains of its government is desperately petitioning Britain to provide them with humanitarian aid and medical supplies. It's not clear whether or not this is true or fascist propaganda.
- False Flag Operation:
- Norsefire rose to power by poisoning a school and a water plant with a virus they secretly engineered. Then they swooped in and provided an antidote to the poison, but not before it had killed millions in both the UK and Ireland. It was all then blamed on a few terrorists who quickly confessed and were put to death. Of course their being terrorists and confessing (at least without torture) would be pretty doubtful after learning this...
- V plants suspicion in Creedy's mind about Sutler by having the investigation team spy on Creedy and convincing him that it is Sutler doing the spying. This and Sutler's own actions eventually lead to Creedy turning on him.
- Fast-Forward Gag: Complete with "Yakety Sax".
- Females Are More Innocent: All but one of V's targets are male. All but one of V's targets are complete monsters.
- Fictional Political Party: Norsefire. They're explained to have been originally-Tory extremists who came to power after a democratic election - which was rigged, by dint of orchestrating an act of bio-terrorism designed to push the electorate in Norsefire's direction.
- Fire/Water Juxtaposition: The scene of Evey basking in a rainstorm outside the Shadow Gallery following her "rebirth" late in the film is contrasted with a flashback of V experiencing a similar moment of renewal in the fiery ruins of Larkhill. The scene provides the page image for this trope.
- Flaming Emblem: The Title Sequence does this. V also forms his logo in fireworks explosions twice in the film, near the beginning and at the end.
- Foregone Conclusion: V is dressed in a Guy Fawkes mask, and is blowing up outdated symbols of the UK Government with hidden explosives. The Houses Of Parliament are pretty much GUARANTEED to be going up in flames by the end of the film.
- Forensic Accounting: After the Norsefire bureaucracy stonewalls his investigation when it treads too close to the uncomfortable secrets surrounding Larkhill, Inspector Finch goes to the tax office to look through their records.
- When V knocks over his massive domino set up, there's one domino which remains standing at the end. This makes V realize that despite having perfectly prepared the country for revolution and delivered the stroke that sets it in motion, he can't complete it by himself; someone will have to finish what he started.
- The conversation that V and Evey have after watching The Count of Monte Cristo.V: Did you like it?
Evey: Yeah. But it made me feel sorry for Mercedes.
Evey: Because he cared more about revenge than he did about her.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: The man (in shadows) who tries to talk an "imprisoned" Evey into confessing is Hugo Weaving himself, out of costume except for V's gloved hands. Also, William Rookwood (V in a mask) resembles an older Weaving.
- Gag Dub: My Way Entertainment does this for the first meeting of V and Evey in "V for Vocabulary". Randy Hayes did his long-winded version entirely on the fly.
- A Glass in the Hand: Sutler does this with his glass of warm milk after watching Gordon's unscripted show thoroughly mocking him. Humorously, one of the things it mocks him for is drinking a glass of warm milk.
- Gambit Roulette: Everyone is manipulating everyone else. V is, more often than not, the puppet master though.
- Genre Blind: Gordon. He thinks his reputation is enough to shield him from Sutler's wrath. It is not.
- A Good Way to Die: V's death.Evey: I don't want you to die!
V: That is the most beautiful thing you could have ever given me...
- Gory Discretion Shot: When the Fingerman who shot the little girl is cornered by angry citizens, one of the men swings a wrench at the Fingerman's face. The shot cuts away before it connects but it's easy to imagine what happened.
- Particularly since there's a metallic impact sound when the scene shifts.
- Great Offscreen War: It's heavily implied that the United States are (or were) in the throes of a second civil war at the time of the film, in addition to being devastated by a plague. In his opening monologue, Prothero refers to the country as "the former United States", in the style of "the former Soviet Union".
- Happy Ending: Lampshaded for The Count of Monte Cristo, as V and Evy watch the 1934 adaptation together in V's hideout.Evey: Does it have a happy ending?
V: As only celluloid can deliver.
- Harmful to Minors: One of the police spots a young girl in a V mask, and shoots her. This kicks the revolution into full swing.
- Held Gaze: Happens twice between V and Evey, at one time verging upon an Almost Kiss. Somewhat subverted in that the film shows that V is always wearing his mask which conceals even his eyes but the romantic tension created is still clear.
- Hellhole Prison: Larkhill detention center, where 'undesirables' are imprisoned and experimented on.
- Heroic Sacrifice: V himself goes through an anti-heroic sacrifice.
- Heroic Willpower: V manages to hold off on any penalty to attack or agility for what looks like several minutes after being pumped full of bullets that penetrated a metal chestplate in at least two dozen places. Since the entire scene is in slow-motion, it's probably only about thirty seconds, but that's still more than most people would be likely to manage. Ten fingermen, all armed with Beretta Inoxes with 15 round magazines, and Creedy with his magnum, empty their magazines into him... he takes at least a hundred-fifty bullets and still manages to kill them all. However, after that... he's spent.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: The film did this for Guy Fawkes, even though that was never Moore's intent. In reality, his "hero" status is highly dubious. The Gunpowder Plot wasn't really to strike a blow for freedom, they simply wanted to replace the Protestant king with a Catholic one. Further, they packed in so much gunpowder that hundreds (possibly thousands) of innocent civilians would have been killed, including many children — the only thing the plotters worried about was whether too many Catholics would be taken out (which was what caught them up, since they sent a letter to warn the Catholic Lord Monteagle not to attend Parliament on that day, who then told the authorities). By modern standards they were depraved terrorists, and just to put the cherry on top, Fawkes wasn't even a core member of the conspiracy, but a mercenarynote hired for his experience with gunpowder.
- Icon of Rebellion: Guy Fawkes masks and the letter V in general.
- Illegal Religion: Islam has apparently been outlawed by the Norsefire regime, since Gordon is shot just for possessing a Quran (even when he's not Muslim). Presumably all Muslims have been killed or imprisoned by them.
- Infant Immortality: Averted. A little girl being gunned down for dressing up as V is the last straw that starts the revolution.
- Ironic Echo: "Spare the rod..."
- I Will Show You X: After V's first attack, Sutler demands he be captured so they can show him what terror really is.
- Kick the Dog:
- The policemen who corner Evey, a scared young women, make it clear they'll have their way with her for merely threatening them with mace.
- Initially, it's made apparent the government makes people disappear for "crimes" such as protesting (e.g. Evey's parents), but it's later done again harder when Gordon is detained simply for mocking Sutler, and V says after they found a Quran in his house, they ordered him shot. So apparently being a Muslim or possessing articles of Islamic faith is a capital crime (it's explicitly the case in the original graphic novel).
- In-Universe the Fingerman who shot the little girl is clearly agreed upon as this by the surrounding crowd, it ends up being the last straw that starts the revolution.
- Kick the Morality Pet: V admits that he is angry with himself for torturing Evey after kidnapping her the second time. He knows very well that he destroyed and rebuilt her without consent, and nearly compelled her to leave after she found out the whole session was a charade and Valerie had been dead for years.
- Kill the Poor: Along with other "undesirables", the homeless are rounded up and placed in death camps.
- The Kindnapper: V kidnaps Evey twice, both times motivated by some form of benevolent intentions. The first time, he saves her after she is knocked out helping him escape from the news station. The second time, he is testing her — albeit in a horrible way — to see if she is worthy of being his successor.
- Kingpin in His Gym: There's one scene in which V has some fun fencing with a suit of armour. As he exists somewhere in the fuzzy border between Anti-Hero and Anti-Villain, he's probably villain enough to count.
- Kirk Summation: It's scarily reminiscent of the trope-naming Hannibal Lecture, except that the guy he's delivering it to is so much worse.
- Knife Nut: V. He keeps six on his belt in case he needs to throw them.
- Knight In Sour Armor: Eric Finch.
- Landslide Election: Norsefire came to power with 87% of the vote.
- Latex Perfection: On close inspection in daylight, V's William Rookwood mask is pretty easily seen to be plastic. However, in the dark, partially covered by glasses, a fake beard, and a hat, it's enough to fool Mr. Finch.
- Liberty Over Prosperity: One of V's points during his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to all England (and/or humanity in general) is that they have accepted trading their freedoms in exchange for security. He does mention that he doesn't mean that they should go back to the Stone Age, but that they need to stop stagnating.
- Lipstick and Load Montage: Evey does this while V gets his gear ready to fight.
- Living Legend: V deliberately invokes this so that he can inspire people.
- Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: Give the Man in Room Five a garden plot, he'll grow roses. Give the Man in Room Five some gardening chemicals, he'll make napalm and mustard gas.
- Make an Example of Them:
"Tonight any protester, any instigator or agitator WILL BE MADE AN EXAMPLE OF!" (during his last talks with his subordinates)
- Sutler was about to do it:
- Averted, because the commander of the troops guarding Parliament, faced with opening fire on unarmed civilians, decides not to shoot — at the very last moment, by the way.
- Meaningful Echo: Evey's rebirth is meant to echo V's "birth"; the movie makes this abundantly clear by using the footage of V at Larkhill merged into Evey on the roof.
- Meaningful Name: William Rookwood, a man who did a Face–Heel Turn from Norsefire and gets impersonated by V shares a surname with another one of the gunpowder plotters, Ambrose.
- Mirror Scare: The murder of Lewis Prothero.
- Monumental Damage: Bye bye, Big Ben! And Parliament.
- Morality Pet: Evey is the only person whom V treats with anything close to kindness.
- More Dakka: V finds himself at the apex of a ten-way full-auto firing squad.
- Mortal Wound Reveal: A subtle one in the great big showdown, where V appears to survive a No One Could Survive That!, but turns out to be only human after all — albeit something of a Determinator.
- Mythology Gag: Several of the words used above in Added Alliterative Appeal are also the chapter titles from the graphic novel.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: It's against a country's best interests to elect a man named Adam Sutler.
- Narcissist: Lewis Prothero's bathroom is walled by mirrors and he has a series of televisions playing his show while he recites his own lines along with it.
- No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me: V takes revenge on those involved in the concentration camp and the experiments which created him.
- No Endor Holocaust: At the climax of the movie the Houses of Parliament are destroyed by a massive bomb on a tube train beneath them. An explosion of such size would devastate a wide area around it, but miraculously the thousands of be-masked V supporters watching the show from only a few metres away are completely unharmed, rather than being shredded by flying debris. Also, the likelihood of the government falling overnight is seen as very positive with no drawbacks.
- No Name Given: V. He states: "I do not have a name. You can call me V." Even Delia Surridge doesn't know his real name, calling him just "the subject" or "the man from room five", and recalls that during her experiments, "The subject stated he could no longer remember his name, or where he was from."
- No Place for Me There: V sees himself unfit to live in the world to come after Evey blows up Parliament.
- Not Afraid of You Anymore: The Fingermen have absolute authority to detain, rape, and kill. People are terrified of them. After V's speech, building tensions, and one stupid Fingerman gunning down a little girl with glasses who was wearing a V mask and vandalized a Norsefire poster, leads to the people of that neighborhood surrounding that man and killing him.
- Not Afraid to Die:
- V's torture of Evey was meant to push her to this point. It works.
- At the climax the V-mask wearing protesters walk calmly towards the armed army defending Parliament clearly not caring if they open fire or not. They will continue walking.
- Not His Sled:
- Subverted in one scene, where it briefly looks like they're actually going to reveal V's identity. Finch sets up a meeting with a mysterious informant named William Rockwood, who turns out to be played by an unmasked Hugo Weaving. At first, we're led to believe that V has finally been unmasked...but then "William Rockwood" turns out to be a pseudonym, and the face that looks like Hugo Weaving turns out to be another of V's masks.
- Played straight with V and Sutler's deaths. In the book, V was killed by Finch, and Sutler ("Susan" in the book) was killed by Rosemary Almond, the disgruntled widow of the first head of The Finger. In the movie, V and Sutler are both killed by Creedy's troops.
- Oh, Crap!:
- The security guard's reaction to seeing V's rather incendiary undershirt."Fuckin' 'ell."
- Later, when the police realize the man they thought was V was a security guard and the real V rises behind them, an officer has a look of complete horror on his face.
- The General in charge of defending Parliament at the end when he sees just how many V's are showing up."Jesus bloody Christ."
- The look on every one of Creedy's men when V's cutting his way through them.
- The security guard's reaction to seeing V's rather incendiary undershirt.
- Older Than They Look: A rough estimate of V's age puts him at anywhere from 30s to 60s. However, due to the experiments conducted on him, V can still move like an Olympic athlete.
- One-Letter Name: V.
- Orange/Blue Contrast: A rare non-advertising, non-simultaneous example for cinema, Evey's "awakening" takes place in a very blue rain storm and it is interspersed with images V's "awakening", which took place in a raging inferno.
- Pair the Spares: Implied via Freeze-Frame Bonus. During Finch's monologue about everything being connected, there's a shot of future-Evey with her hair grown back, next to a vase of Scarlet Carsons. The mirror on the wall shows a reflection of a relaxed-looking Finch drinking some wine.
- Passing the Torch: Evey becomes V.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: V does this to Prothero, Lilliman and Creedy. While his torture is undoubtedly cruel, their deaths are nothing short of a relief. Delia Surridge subverts this, because she makes a sincere apology and V responds by giving her a quick, painless death instead.
- Pet the Dog: Unlike his other targets, V doesn't violently kill Delia Surridge, but instead chooses to inject her with a lethal poison while she sleeps, because she was the only one to express genuine remorse for her actions. He even seems sorry that he had to do so.Delia: Are you going to kill me now?
V: (holds up syringe) I killed you ten minutes ago, while you slept.
Delia: (fearfully) Is there any pain?
Delia: Thank you. ... Is it meaningless to apologize?
Delia: I'm so sorry... (dies quietly)
- Playing with Syringes: V's origin. This is more overt in the movie since the tests apparently gave him Super Strength and possibly other powers.
- Police Brutality:
- Norsefire Fingermen make a habit of it, and the regular police gun down an innocent man (admittedly he was disguised as V) when V takes over a news studio.
- The Fingerman who shoots the little girl just for spray-painting graffiti.
- The rapist policeman, one of whom shot said little girl later.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Norsefire. All of Norsefire.
- Pompous Political Pundit: Prothero, a talk show host who staunchly supports the Norsefire regime's Nazi-esque policies and calls out its opponents with a lot of macho bluster. Likely a Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh satire.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: V gets two within a few minutes, first against Creedy's men then Creedy himself.
- Pretty Little Headshots: Creedy kills Sutler with one.
- Promoted to Love Interest: Inverted with Gordon. He and Evey were explicitly attracted to each other in the book (Evey even fantasizes about having sex with him at one point). In the movie, he's gay.
- Punch-Clock Villain: Eric Finch qualifies, at least at the start. Finch says he's been a party member for twenty-seven years, but it's probably not unfair to assume that joining Norsefire was the only way to have anything resembling a career in law enforcement, and it's certainly clear that Finch thinks of himself as a copper first and foremost.
- Putting on the Reich: Norsefire are Neo-Nazis, so it's not too odd.
- Psycho Serum: The testing V endures while at Larkhill drives him a little insane.
- Rage Against the Reflection: V does this.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Interestingly for a dystopia, the General whose soldiers are guarding Parliament sees hundreds if not thousands of unarmed Vs walking at them. His orders were to open fire and his men were asking for confirmation. After no response from Sutler or Creedy, he orders his men to stand down and let the crowd pass through without trouble.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: V gives one to the entire country by taking over the Norsefire equivalent of The BBC.
- Redemption Equals Death: Delia Surridge, who tells V she's sorry for what she's done to him. V shows mercy to her, and gives her a quick, painless death.
- Redemption in the Rain: Evey after her "birth"."God is in the rain."
- Refuge in Audacity: Gordon's last-minute script-change to his show, assuming that he was too famous to just be disappeared. He was wrong.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: The revolution against the government is seen as completely positive. They kinda handwaved the fact that depending on your position a "revolutionist" is either a "freedom fighter" or a "terrorist", and there can be no argument whatsoever against the fact that Norsefire is a corrupt and oppressive regime that is guilty of terrible crimes against humanity. But there's also no argument that the comic's deliberately ambiguous morality is replaced in the movie with a much more black-and-white version of the conflict.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: After V convinces Creedy to turn on Sutler and kill him, he immediately reneges on his deal and kills Creedy as well, knowing that he is just as guilty of Norsefire's crimes.
- Right Behind Me: When Prothero finishes watching the propaganda programme he made attacking V, he turns off his TV and sees V's distinctive mask reflected in the now-blank TV screen.
- Rule of Symbolism: V's (impressively large) line of dominoes ties in perfectly with Finch's "everything's connected" speech, but there doesn't seem to be much in-universe justification for V doing it. Unless the ever theatrical V decided to invoke the symbolism anyway.
- Screw the War, We're Partying!: When V gets his preparations done for his revolution's masterstroke, he has one request for Evey:V: Would you... dance with me?
Evey Hammond: Now? On the eve of your revolution?
V: A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having!
- Secret Identity Identity: V, to the point that we the viewers never learn his original identity. Still he is very clear that the V mask is his true face:V: There is a face beneath this mask, but it's not me. I am no more that face then I am the muscles beneath it, or the bones beneath that.
- Shout-Out to Shakespeare:
- To MacbethV: Disdaining Fortune with his brandished steel / that smoked with bloody execution.
V: I dare do all that become a man, he that dares more is none.
- And to Richard IIIV: And thus I clothe my naked villainy / With old odd ends stolen forth from holy writ/ And seem a saint when most I play the devil.
- And to HamletV: We are oft to blame in this / 'Tis too much proved, that with devotion's visage / And pious action we do sugar o'er / The devil himself.
- To Macbeth
- Society Is to Blame: During his speech to the public, V bluntly blames them for allowing Norsefire to come to power, regardless of the circumstances. Then he offers them the chance to fix it by joining him next year for Parliament's destruction.
- Sociopathic Hero: V. Literally. Finch describes him as being a clinical psychopath.
- Speak of the Devil: Lewis Prothero is listening to a recording in which he talks about V (specifically about how he wishes he could fight him man to man) only for a Mirror Scare to reveal V standing there. Just for clarification, there is nothing magical in this case, and it is just a coincidence (or possibly the ever-theatrical V was waiting for the perfect moment), but the look on the man's face suggests it might as well have been this trope.
- The Starscream: Creedy, as engineered by V. Creedy already had the pieces in place, but V gave him the necessary push.
- State Sec: The Norsefire government consists of five groups: the Eye, visual surveillance; the Ear, audio surveillance; the Mouth, the Propaganda Machine; the Nose, regular police; and the Finger, who serve as State Sec.
- Sub Text: During Finch's monologue about everything being connected, there is a brief shot of future-Evey with her hair grown back, next to a vase of Scarlet Carsons. The mirror on the wall shows a reflection of a relaxed-looking Finch drinking some wine.
- Super Reflexes: V is extremely fast and precise with his knives, well beyond human reaction time.
- Synthetic Plague: The St. Mary's Virus.
- Thanatos Gambit: As his final stroke, V convinces Creedy to turn on Sutler, and in exchange V will give himself up. V does this because he could never get to Sutler otherwise, and Creedy wouldn't turn on Sutler for anything less. When the time comes, Creedy delivers, but V wears a Bulletproof Vest so he'll live long enough to kill Creedy in turn.
- Those Wacky Nazis: The Head's name was changed from Adam Susan in the book to Adam Sutler in the film. Truly, there never was a subtler pun on Hitler.
- Too Dumb to Live: Gordon Dietrich switches out the state-approved script for his show with one mocking the Chancellor. Though the public certainly found it funny, said Chancellor is the ruler of a totalitarian society, a bigot, a zealot, and a complete monster who is willing to abuse his vast power for the pettiest of reasons. Gordon boasts that the worst that will happen is a fine and he'll be forced to write a letter of apology. He's arrested and then shot for all the banned material in his home. It's hinted from earlier comments to Evey that this might be an intentional Suicide by Cop.
- Tranquil Fury: Vengeance with a smile.
- Traumatic Haircut: Evey's torture.
- Trophy Room: The Shadow Gallery.
- 20 Minutes into the Future: The film was made in 2005 and is set in the 2030s.
- Undercrank: Gordon uses this in his comedy show when he throws out the approved script, right down to playing "Yakety Sax".
- The Unreveal: The identity of V is now simply "V". He removes his mask once, but his face remains unseen by the audience.
- Viking Funeral: V gets a modern take on one-laid to rest on the train that delivers his bomb to Parliament.
- Villain Ball: As V pushed the city more towards chaos and anarchy by giving everyone masks and cloaks like his, Finch realizes the "powder keg" will be blown by someone in the government doing something stupid. As he says this, we see a Fingerman shoot the little girl with glasses, who was wearing V's mask, for putting V's mark over a Norsefire poster.
- Villainous Breakdown: Creedy suffers a nasty one after V rips his henchmen to shreds and is still strong enough to send Creedy to hell before expiring.
- Villains Out Shopping: "Creepy" Creedy loves his botany and Sutler still enjoys a glass of warm milk.
- Water Source Tampering: Norsefire released the virus into a water treatment plant, in addition to a tube station and St. Mary's School, the latter being where it got its name.
- We All Live in America: Mostly averted (like V saying "lift" instead of "elevator") but not always — several uses of "cop" which is generally an Americanism (Brits prefer "copper"), Finch pronouncing lever as leh-ver instead of lee-ver. Additionally, Lewis Prothero was based more on American television pundits (like Bill O'Reilly) rather than anything off British TV. The colors of the national postal carrier are based on USPS rather than Royal Mail. In the freight yard a bell is heard from a moving locomotive, not a UK requirement.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: V himself is a rare Anti Heroic example. He kills without restraint, has no plans beyond his endgame, and his plan at points seems to count on the fact that civilians likely will suffer for his acts.
- What the Hell Are You?: Creedy's reaction after V survives a hailstorm of bullets and proceeds to kill every last one of the men shooting at him. V insists that he's an idea, not a man, though the thick armor plate sure helped.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Evey's initial reaction to V's torture of her and when he kills the Bishop. She forgives him for both times, though.
- When All You Have Is a Hammer...: As Finch lampshades, Sutler only knows one solution to any problem: force. All of V's acts are met with crackdowns, arrests, surveillance, and so forth, because Sutler simply cannot conceive of any other option.
- Why Won't You Die?: Because beneath his mask is more than flesh, beneath his mask there is an idea, and ideas are bulletproof. Also: an armored breast plate. Which is not entirely bulletproof, but does stop V from dying where he stands, instead allowing him to slowly bleed out as he stumbles his way back to his lair. What, you thought they'd pull the Only a Flesh Wound card?
- Withholding Their Name: Even in the film version, V refuses to share their name because they discarded their old name/identity to become a symbol of revolution.
- Would Hurt a Child:
- Norsefire deliberately released their virus into a school full of young children to maximize the impact it would have on the citizenry.
- One of the Fingers guns down the V-dressed glasses girl when she tries to run from him. It earns him a presumably very painful death by angry citizens armed with wrenches and such.
- World Half Full: At the end, Sutler is finally brought down, Norsefire dictatorship is toppled, the military refuse to shoot at the demonstration proving that they aren't so evil... and Evey finally meets Finch.
- You Are Already Dead: In V's final conversation with Delia Surridge, he reveals he's already given her a lethal injection.V: I killed you ten minutes ago, (reveals syringe) while you slept.
- You Are Number 6: Played straight. The camp dehumanized V to the point where nobody knew him as anything but the Man in Room Five, so he took it as his new identity.
- You Can Not Kill An Idea: After taking dozens of bullets and killing a dozen men before they could finish reloading (as per his Badass Boast), V approaches The Dragon-in-Chief, who asks, in disbelief, "Why Won't You Die?!" His response? "Beneath this mask is more than flesh; beneath this mask there is an idea, Mister Creedy — and ideas. Are. Bulletproof."
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In turning Creedy into The Starscream who actually acts, V tells him that when V does blow up Parliament, Sutler's only viable option to retaining his power is to offer the masses someone to blame. V points out that would be Creedy. Being a smart man, as V notes he is, Creedy sees that Sutler would ensure his last "useful" act would be to keep Sutler in charge.
- You're Insane!: After V's Added Alliterative Appeal (see above).Evey: Are you like a crazy person?
V: I'm sure they would say so.
- Zerg Rush: V sends everyone in London Guy Fawkes costumes so they could overwhelm Norsefire troops by sheer numbers.
And as always, England prevails!