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Film / Zombieland

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"My mama always told me someday, I'd be good at somethin'. Who'd'a guessed that would be zombie killin'?"
"Oh, America. I wish I could tell you that this was still America, but I've come to realize that you can't have a country without people. And there are no people here. No, my friends. This is now the United States of Zombieland. It's amazing how quickly things can go from bad to total shitstorm."

Some zombie films strive to evoke the terror of endless hordes of ravenous unstoppable undead advancing upon helpless, hopeless victims. Some show an exploration of the effects on civilization when The Virus moves in. Some spend their time showing military forces overrun by an enemy they're unprepared for. Some use the zombies as a metaphor for victims of a materialistic, consumerism-driven society that gorges itself on pop culture and technology. Some are about a divided capitalist society headed by greedy fat cats, where the poor are exploited, or a desperate battle for survival. Some are even about the socio-political ramifications and aftermath of a zombie outbreak. A few try to trace the interpersonal problems (or lack thereof) that can result from a zombie attack.

Zombieland is a little more concerned with knocking their fuckin' teeth in.

It's the end of the world, so you might as well have some fun. You've seen the movies, now you get to live the life. Load up on shotguns, ammo, sledgehammers and banjos, because this is Zombieland — where your town is your name, you must always beware of the bathroom, and your biggest competition for Zombie Kill of the Week is a cheerful, cardigan-wearing nun.

Released in 2009, Zombieland was directed by Ruben Fleischer and written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (who would later write G.I. Joe: Retaliation and the live-action adaptation of Deadpool) and stars Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin.

A television series was proposed for Fox's 2012-2013 season. Fox passed on the show, but Amazon developed a pilot. The prospective series was then rejected by Amazon after fans voted it down on the website, and it is now no longer available due to licensing concerns.

A sequel, Zombieland: Double Tap, was released on October 18, 2019, around the 10th anniversary of the original film's release, with the original cast, director and writers returning.

A VR game inspired by 90s arcade shooters and racing games called Zombieland VR: Headshot Fever was released in 2021.

Has a Shout Out page.

Has no relation to the similarly named anime series Zombie Land Saga, although the makers of that anime are aware of the similar name and eventually cross-promoted this movie's sequel.

Previews: Trailer 1, Trailer 2.

Trope up, or shut up:

  • Abandoned Playground: Pacific Playland. Nothing says fun like smashing zombies with a tilt-a-whirl.
  • The Ace: Tallahassee. Best gunfighter, presented as supremely cool even from the start, and easily has the highest killcount of the movie given his last stand.
  • Acrofatic: A running example for the fat zombies. They run just as fast as the other zombies, who run almost as fast as Olympic athletes.
  • Action Duo: Tallahassee as the Action Hero, and Columbus as the Action Survivor. They even form the trope image.
  • Action Survivor: Every character. It is a zombie flick after all. Columbus is the stand-out though, as a World of Warcraft-playing dork who managed to be one of the last surviving people on earth just by having a lot of (now-justified) phobias. The only exception being Tallahassee, who was a badass to begin with.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Woody Harrelson managed to survive this apocalypse intact. In his previous film, however, there is the matter of that annoying supervolcano underneath Yellowstone National Park...
    • The zombie apocalypse hasn't stopped Bill Murray of Caddyshack fame from playing golf.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Columbus wants to meet a girl and brush her hair over her ear. At the end of the film, he does.
  • After the End: An unusually chipper take on this scenario.
  • Agony of the Feet: In the 406 flashback, Columbus breaks 406's ankle by repeatedly slamming a door on it.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Invoked. When Columbus asks Little Rock what her sister is into, she says Wichita likes bad boys. He responds by spilling the popcorn they're both eating.
  • All There in the Manual: Not all, actually — there isn't a full list of the original 30 Rules of Zombieland (2 are added during the course of the movie), minus YouTube videos filling in some rules and others besides the original thirty, and Rule #2 was even revised from "Ziploc Bags" to "Double Tap" (though if you pay attention to the 406 flashback, it's still in there).
  • Almost Kiss:
    • Columbus and Wichita, up until Tallahassee walks in and Wichita walks out, unnerved by getting so close to another survivor.
      Columbus: You are like a giant, cockblocking robot, like, developed in a secret fucking government lab.
    • Columbus had been hoping for this with 406, but trying to eat your brains isn't very romantic.
  • The Aloner: Subverted. Columbus thinks he's this at the start of the film, as he states in his narration, only to go on and first meet Tallahassee and then Wichita and Little Rock.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: Pacific Playland, where the film's climax takes place.
  • Anvil on Head: Sister Cynthia Knickerbocker crushes a zombie by dropping a piano on him.
  • Apocalypse How: Societal Collapse, but screw it. Doesn't mean you gotta mope about the whole thing or fill it with political drivel about how we're all to blame.
  • Apologetic Attacker:
    • Columbus the entire time he fights off 406.
      Columbus: Oh my God. I am so fucking sorry.
    • Also done to Tallahassee (involving cologne) and Bill Murray (involving his shotgun).
  • Apocalyptic Logistics: The characters have no real problem getting cars. Food's surprisingly abundant (unless it's Twinkies), and even electricity's shown to be pretty easy to rig (at one point they're able to power up an entire theme park and at another they just chill for a bit watching HD-DVDs in Bill Murray's luxury Hollywood mansion). Possibly justified in that the survivors we follow are well established as being Crazy-Prepared.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Columbus brings up one to himself after learning Columbus, Ohio has been effectively 100% zombie infested.
    Columbus: I'm not sure what's more tragic, that my family is gone, or the realization that I never really had much of a family to begin with.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: After the girls ditch the guys again and head for Pacific Playland alone, Columbus still decides to go after them. Tallahassee is against the idea, right up until Columbus says to him, "You know, their pictures were in someone's wallet too." By referring back to the wallet Tallahassee had made with Buck, Columbus got Tallahassee to change his mind.
  • The Artifact: The original idea for "Zombieland" was a TV series. This is why the otherwise entirely random "Zombie Kill of the Week" scene is in the movie; if "Zombieland" had been developed as a TV show, that would have been a Running Gag. A webseries was planned but not picked up.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Zigzagged. Columbus states that the zombie infection is Mad Cow Disease, describing it as a virus that causes Meningitis (swelling of the brain). Mad Cow Disease is actually a prion disease, not a virus. Prions are malformed proteins that replicate and spread throughout the patient's body after transmission. And yes, it can spread through eating. However, Mad Cow Disease spreading to humans has happened, though it's very rare now. Rather than zombifying people or making them aggressive, it causes dementia-like symptoms and motor issues, and it takes several months to progress.
  • Bait-and-Switch: At the beginning, while Columbus is explaining his rules, Rule #4 looks like it's going to be something about not trusting anyone or the people you loved are no longer human or something like that. NOPE. Seatbelts.
  • Band of Brothers: At the end this is what they become, or in Columbus' words, his "family". This is precisely the reason that all of them survive, and might demonstrate why most people don't make it through a zombie movie.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Tallahassee seems to fill this role for Columbus, with a side-helping of Team Dad once the foursome more or less solidifies.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Columbus and Tallahassee arrive at the theme park just in time to rescue the damsels Wichita and Little Rock, who have become trapped at the top of the drop tower surrounded by very hungry and very persistent zombies. Tallahassee goes on an all-carnival shooting gallery WITH ZOMBIES, while Columbus has to face his greatest fears combined into one: a zombie clown.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: After their Almost Kiss at Bill Murray's mansion, it eventually happens between Columbus and Wichita in the final moments of the film.
  • Big Fancy House: Bill Murray's mansion in Beverly Hills.
  • Big "NO!": Tallahassee when Columbus shoots Bill Murray in the chest.
    • Columbus and Tallahassee do one each at the end when it looks like Wichita and Little Rock are ditching them again. Thankfully, the girls were only pretending this time.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Wichita and Little Rock at first. They pull a Wounded Gazelle Gambit on the boys and force them into giving up their weapons, supplies, and transportation by getting ahold of their guns.
  • Blood Knight: Tallahassee loves him some zombie killin'. Columbus notes that he has some sort of chip on his shoulder for them that goes beyond "it's okay to kill zombies". That's because they killed his son.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Not even followed. The characters usually go for chest shots, as the zombies are still living.
  • Boring, but Practical: Columbus's weapon of choice is a basic side-by-side shotgun. No complex parts or operation, simple to reload, and clearing a jam or misfire is as easy as flipping a switch to operate the break-open action. Subverted by the fact that it runs out of ammo so fast is played for laughs and almost gets him killed, so not very practical in that way.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Columbus uses Tallahassee's catchphrase of "Time to nut up or shut up" when he faces the zombie clown.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted numerous times. Columbus has a double-barreled shotgun, which can only fire two shots in a row, so it runs out many times. The same thing happens with Wichita and Little Rock's guns on the Blast Off ride at Pacific Playland, as they too run out of ammo.
  • Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: They don't show up, but Columbus mentions that in '97, he had his first orthodontist.
    Columbus: Bastard gave me headgear.
  • Brand X: Pacific Playland, as there is no way that they could have gotten permission to use Disneyland in an R-rated zombie flick. But they do tip the hat: "You've just fought your way across a zombie infested country! Where're you gonna go now?" "I'm going to Pacific Playland! Woo!"
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: During Tallahassee's near-incomphrensible fanboy Squee at Bill Murray, he accidentally implies that he wanked off to him.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Columbus and Wichita grow closer, then Wichita rabbits. They make up (and out) by the end.
  • Brick Joke:
    • The Rules, particularly Double Tap. And the phrase "poor fat bastard" -> "poor flat bastard".
    • Not only is the revised "Ziploc Bags" rule in the 406 flashback, it also pops up in present day (Columbus keeps the shells for his double-barrel in them).
    • At the Hostess truck, Tallahassee rolls his eyes at Columbus for limbering up. Shortly after the girls steal their Cadillac, he smashes a van in frustration. As they walk away he mentions he might have pulled a muscle while the words "Limber up" pop up on a car in the background.
    • Through the course of the movie, we encounter the four main characters, and at one point learn of the existence of Sister Cynthia Knickerbocker. When Bill Murray turns out to be alive, Tallahassee seems to be aware of that fact.
      Tallahassee: Six people left alive and one of them is Bill Fuckin' Murray!
    • Early in the film, Columbus annoys Tallahassee:
      Tallahassee: You wanna feel how hard I can punch?
    • Later, he annoys him again:
      Tallahassee: You get, uh...45% power. *PUNCH*
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Columbus was just trying to find a bathroom when zombies attacked. By the time he's safe again, going number two is no longer an issue. Possibly lampshaded because Columbus' pants are actually brown.
  • Broken Heel:
    • Not so much averted as kicked square in the balls and told to go away. Early in the movie, Columbus, chased by zombies, goes for his car and fumbles as he tries to unlock the door, dropping the keys. Rather than stick around and die like a conventional horror movie victim, he just does another lap of the parking lot, gaining enough ground on the zombies in the process to have time to get his keys. And then he finds out the door was already unlocked.
    • 406 can still stagger after Columbus even after he broke her whole foot.
  • Cameo: Bill Murray shows up As Himself in a cameo that was kept secret before the release of the film.
  • Camera Abuse: Blood splatter get onto the camera during the supermarket zombie hunt.
  • The Can Kicked Him:
    • As Columbus explains his rule about bathrooms, we encounter a man finding out the hard way that no place is safe from zombies — not even the stall. This is doubly so when you later realize that this is the same person that got scammed by Wichita and Little Rock earlier in the "lost my ring" bit.
    • When Columbus's next-door neighbor turns on him in his apartment he is forced to brain her with the tank lid of his toilet.
  • Car Fu: In the beginning, Columbus crashes his car to send the zombie in the back seat flying through the windshield. As noted later, one of Tallahassee's signatures is the Toyota Tripwire (aka slamming the door into zombies as he passes).
  • Celebrity Casualty: Bill Murray is shot in the chest by Columbus when he pretends to be a zombie and dies shortly afterwards.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Bill Murray cameos As Himself. But he doesn't seem to notice how much Tallahassee looks like the guy he starred with in Kingpin. There's also a poster for 2012, a film in which Woody Harrelson starred.
  • Celebrity Survivor: Bill Murray. He managed by shambling around and pretending to be a zombie. Also assisted with makeup.
  • Censorship by Spelling: After Wichita and Little Rock make off with Tallahassee's Escalade, Wichita interrupts Little Rock saying she would like a shower before she can finish saying it, saying "Do not say S-H-O-W-E-R, OK?"
  • Chainsaw Good:
    • Tallahassee is Dual Wielding chainsaws. This is to establish his credentials immediately. Similarly, Wichita is shown holding a bloody chainsaw in the movie poster.
    • It's actually averted in the movie proper. Nobody ever wields a chainsaw, preferring ranged weapons such as shotguns and rifles or bludgeoning weapons for close kills.
  • Chandelier Swing: Referenced by Tallahassee when he says he's going to find a new home, where, in his words, he may skinny-dip in the Yellowstone River or swing from the chandeliers in the Playboy Mansion.
  • Character Development: The movie ends with Tallahassee apparently having conquered his grief over his son's death, Columbus learning to break the rules once in a while, and Wichita and Little Rock having learned to trust.
  • Charlie Chaplin Shout-Out: It briefly features a zombie Chaplin cosplayer once the main characters reach Hollywood.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • An actual gun — Tallahassee shows Little Rock how to shoot with her rifle. It comes in handy later.
    • Remember how Columbus is afraid of clowns? Guess what's waiting for him in the end.
    • A subtle one. Tallahassee shows the others a wallet he made with his son, Buck, out of duct tape that had Buck's picture inside. Later, after Wichita and Little Rock leave the next day, Tallahassee is against going after the girls and instead wants to go to Mexico. Columbus tells him the girls' pictures were in someone's wallet as well, and Tallahassee soon changes his mind.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The fat guy who winds up as an example of Rule #1: Cardio and gets his throat torn out on a football field shows up later in the grocery store, where Tallahassee busts his head open with a banjo.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Played straight — Columbus learns Rule #31 "Check the Back Seat" when he is ambushed from there by a zombie in the beginning. Tallahassee fails to do this and Little Rock gets the drop on him. Later, they do check the back seat of a new vehicle, and find an arsenal, prepared by someone who evidently died before they could put it to use.
    • Subverted — Columbus tells Wichita about his seatbelt rule. At the end, when their car is being attacked by zombies, it looks as if she will buckle her seatbelt and crash to drive them off, as he did. But she and Little Rock instead bail out of the car, letting it fly into a lake. And Tallahassee throws out the rule of Double Tap and miraculously survives.
    • Tallahassee teaching Little Rock breathing techniques when using a gun. She's unable to hit a control box to a drop tower until she remembers what she was taught.
  • Cherry Tapping: “You get, uh, forty-five percent power.”
  • Chewing the Scenery: Tallahassee does it when he meets Bill Murray in the latter's mansion: "GODDAMN IT! BILL FUCKING MURRAY! I had to let that out."
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The girls, what with all their taking of the boys' vehicles. Played for laughs at the ending, where they pretend to ditch the duo.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Columbus, with his Boring, but Practical approach to killing zombies ("Double Tap") and his strict list of rules for survival. Also Tallahassee, for whom anything can serve as a melee weapon, be it chainsaw, hedge clippers or a freakin' banjo.
  • Comedic Work, Serious Scene: This is a horror/comedy with an emphasis on the comedy, but the scene where Tallahassee reveals the truth about Buck, who was not his dog, but his son definitely qualifies.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Intentional:
    Columbus: You know, they say "He who seeks revenge should remember to dig two graves."
    Tallahassee: Oh, right, two graves! One for the big chick, and one for the little chick!
  • The Commandments: Columbus' list of rules, which have kept him alive.
  • Cool Car: Tallahassee paints a "#3" (which references Dale Earnhardt) on every car he drives and always chooses the coolest-looking car, regardless of practicalities like gas mileage. First it's the black Cadillac Escalade Tallahassee already owns, then the yellow Hummer H2, and finally the black GMC Yukon they use to get to Pacific Playland.
  • Con Man: Wichita and Little Rock, both before (scamming money from clueless gas station employees) and after (scamming the boys from their gear and vehicles on more than one occasion).
  • Cosy Catastrophe: Granted, zombies mostly aren't fun, but given how every house in the movie still has electricity, the setting avoids hitting the backslide into medieval times that a lot of other Zombie Apocalypse movies present. The gang even winds up chilling in an abandoned mansion for a little while.
  • Counting to Three: Wichita does this in the Hummer when she and Little Rock bail out of it at Pacific Playland to escape from the zombies clinging to the sides and roof.
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • The DVD cover shows Wichita/Krista wielding a chainsaw, but that is never shown in the film.
    • Instead of a lever-action rifle he uses in the film, Tallahassee is holding a double-barreled shotgun.
  • Crapsack World: Surprisingly averted, considering the premise. Despite the destruction and lack of humans, grocery stores are still filled with food, gas stations all have gas, and everything has power.
  • Creator Cameo: Co-writer Rhett Reese appears in the opening credits montage as the guy in the white suit jacket mowing down zombies with an AK-47.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Columbus is a self-described twitchy shut-in with phobias on everything... before the zombie apocalypse. In order to survive he developed a long series of rules to keep himself alive, first of all "Cardio." He is the exact opposite of the borderline psycho Tallahassee is, but is no less an incredibly competent Zombieland survivor.
  • Cut Away Gag: The Zombie Kill of the Week, and several of Tallahassee's "flashbacks".
  • Danger Takes A Back Seat: One of Columbus's rules of surviving a Zombie Apocalypse is to always check the back seat. He likely adopted this rule after failing to do this early in the movie and a zombie managed to attack him.
  • Dangerous Key Fumble: Played with in this movie, when Columbus drops his keys by the car while being chased by a zombie, but is smart enough to circle around the parking lot until he's able to reclaim the keys without getting killed... then he realizes the door wasn't locked in the first place.
  • Dare to Be Badass: "Nut up or shut up." Tallahassee lives by this creed, and it works pretty well.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • When Tallahassee first appears, he's driving a black Escalade. He's a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, however, and he's hurting because he lost his young son to the zombies.
    • Wichita wears a black jacket and boots throughout (save for the white top she has on at Bill Murray's house) and is also a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Dead Weight: Rule #1 of surviving in Zombieland: Cardio. The fatties got turned first. Unusually for the trope, they are not played as any more of a threat than normal zombies, just as a punchline.
  • Deadline News: The movie opens with a news cameraman being killed by a zombie, who then uses the camera lens to check his reflection and pick bits of flesh out of his teeth fastidiously.
  • Deadly Prank: R.I.P., Bill Murray, with a shotgun to the chest.
  • Death by Cameo: Bill Murray, taken out by accident by Columbus.
  • Death Glare: After Tallahassee says that Pacific Playland "totally blows", Wichita gives him one. He has a Verbal Backspace seconds later.
    • Tallahassee after Columbus sprays cologne on him in the wampum shop.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Wichita starts out as a cold Jerkass, but she gradually thaws due to Columbus's Endearingly Dorky charms. She even winds up happily dancing with him after he relays to her his experience of going dateless for a school dance.
  • Destruction Equals Off-Switch: Little Rock is able to shut down the drop tower she and Wichita are in while their seats are out of the zombies' reach, by shooting the control panel.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Wichita's plan to turn on all the attractions at Pacific Playland so she and Little Rock can have some fun. The park itself may have been zombie-free, but the immediate-surrounding area wasn't, and the lights and noise attract hordes of zombies which Wichita and Little Rock can't hope to fight off alone. Sure enough, they eventually run out of ammunition, and they would have been killed or zombified had Columbus and Tallahassee not shown up.
  • Discreet Drink Disposal: "One and done" Columbus says just after tossing his shot out the window.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Demonstrated in a flashback as part of a con.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: One guy in the opening credits doesn't run from the zombies. He has a machine gun and is pumping lead into anything running at him.
  • Does Not Like Spam: Tallahassee can't stand Sno-Balls (due to the coconut). It's not the taste, it's the consistency.
  • Doom Sayer: In the opening sequence a man with a sign saying "The End is Near" is about to be eaten by zombies.
  • The Door Slams You: Columbus does this in the 406 flashback, where he breaks her ankle by repeatedly slamming a door on it.
  • Double Tap: Rule #2 on Columbus's list, verbatim, as he professes that being stingy with ammo is not good for survival.
  • Drop the Hammer: Near the end, Columbus meets his greatest fear, a clown zombie. Unfortunately for fear, this film is not in any way a horror flick, so Columbus grabs a big sledgehammer from a Test Your Strength carnival game and, well...
  • Dual Wielding: Tallahassee. Chainsaws! Sadly not seen in use. He also carries two shotguns later in the film, though he only uses one at a time. He uses two pistols during his last stand at the end of the film.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Invoked The scandalized look Tallahassee gives Wichita after she laughs at Bill Murray taking a second "dying breath".
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Columbus to Wichita, as he rides to save her at the theme park. Invoked by Wichita and Little Rock.
  • Economy Cast: While most are Only Known by Their Nickname and there are plenty of zombies around, there are only seven named characters in the credits, among them Bill Murray and "Clown Zombie."
  • Endearingly Dorky: Columbus, brought to nerdy, loser-like life by Jesse Eisenberg. Tallahassee is eventually won over by his chipper earnestness, and even Wichita warms up to him pretty quickly. Perfectly showcased as Columbus and Tallahassee meet the first time, have a tense stand-off pointing guns at each other... then Columbus sticks out his thumb like a hitchhiker.
  • Everybody Has Standards: Wichita was an unrepentant con artist before the film started, but when she finds out that no one picked Columbus for his 1997 Sadie Hawkins dance, she is so appalled that she offers to make it up for him by dancing with him right then and there, a pretty sweet thing for her to do.
  • Everybody Lives:
    • Unusual (and especially rare) for the film genre, none of the four main characters succumb to the zombie menace during the course of the movie.
    • After the opening (in which a fat man, non-double-tapper, toilet-user and seatbelt-forgetter get killed) there are only two non-zombie deaths seen (406 in the flashback and Bill Murray). Possibly just because humans are pretty scarce by this point anyway.
  • Face Your Fears: Columbus has to face a Zombie-Clown in order to save Wichita.
  • Fan Disservice: The zombified stripper during the opening credits. Sure, mostly naked, but all gross and corpsified.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: After the numerous zombie attacks, the main four are most certainly this.
  • Firing in the Air a Lot: Tallahassee, after finding a Hummer with lots of guns and ammo, takes the time to have a little fun by doing this.
  • First-Name Basis: Wichita tells hers to Columbus. The rest remain nameless, though Columbus nearly tells us his in the intro.
  • Flashback: A couple from before the Zombie Apocalypse. Happier times for Tallahassee, and somewhat less stressful times for Columbus. Wichita and Little Rock are shown pulling one of their cons.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Columbus mentions early on he's more scared of clowns than anything else. He gets confronted with a zombie clown in the climax, blocking his way to Wichita and Little Rock, and chooses to break one of his own rules, attacking the clown and saving the girls.
    • The woman in Columbus's fake sexual encounter was named Beverly Hills. Guess where the quartet of heroes ends up later?
    • Columbus says when he first meets Wichita "Someone's ear is in danger of having hair brushed over it." He does exactly that after rescuing her and Little Rock at Pacific Playland, right before he and Wichita share The Big Damn Kiss.
    • It's small moment, but listen closely when Tallahassee mentions what home was to him before the zombie outbreak. He noticeably pauses before he says "puppy named Buck". That's because he didn't lose his puppy, he just probably couldn't bring himself to say he actually lost his son. We (and Columbus) don't find this out until later when the characters are playing Monopoly in Bill Murray's mansion.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble:
    • The Cynic: Wichita, due to becoming a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
    • The Optimist: Tallahasseenote 
    • The Realist: Columbus, due to being the hero and having his rules for survival.
    • The Apathetic: Little Rock, as the youngest of the four main leads.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Sanguine: Tallahassee is all about having fun in the end of the world, and finds immense joy in taking down zombies.
    • Choleric: Wichita is determined not to get attached to anyone besides her sister, and remains standoffish for the first part of the film.
    • Melancholic: Columbus is a practical and logical survivors, but also laments his lack of human connections.
    • Phlegmatic: Little Rock is clever and more than a little sneaky, but is still a little girl who enjoys having fun.
  • From Bad to Worse: Columbus refers to the trope in his opening narration, as he says about the zombie apocalypse, "It's amazing how quickly things can go from bad to total shit-storm."
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Columbus and Tallahassee answer viewer mail from Caleb, asking what would be a good improvised weapon to use against zombies. Tallahassee suggests a cast iron skillet. While it doesn't have the face-smashing power that other movies would have you believe, if a zombie takes one to the head, it ain't getting up.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • When Tallahassee is smashing up the minivan, the building behind him has several posters in the window related to the plague including one showing a grenade and the phrase "Solve It." It's even funnier when you see it's a bridal store.
    • After Tallahassee jumps off the van, he says he "think[s] [he] pulled something". "Limber up" shows up on the mini van and falls off with a clatter, almost like it was the license plate or the bumper.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: There are four main characters. Columbus and Tallahassee are male, and Wichita and Little Rock are female.
  • Golf Clubbing: Wichita whacks Bill Murray with one when she first sees him, thinking he's a zombie due to his get-up. She apologizes afterwards when he reveals he's still human.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Bill Murray's idea to scare Columbus in zombie getup ends up getting him killed.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Whatever it is that Tallahassee does with the hedge clippers, heavily implied to be beheading a zombie. Well, he said he was just gonna take "a little off the top."
  • Groin Attack: Columbus to the zombie clown in the climax, with a hammer no less.
  • Guns Akimbo: Tallahassee in one scene where he strikes absolutely ridiculous poses while firing into a crowd of zombies with dual pistols. To be fair, the Zombies were packed so tightly together that every shot was bound to hit. If you watch him, it looks like he's doing Gun Kata.
  • Gushing About Guest Stars: Everyone but Little Rock are huge fans of Bill Murray especially Tallahassee. This is something of a reference to the fact that Tallahassee's actor Woody Harrelson is a huge Bill Murray fan and knows him personally.
  • Gut Punch:
    • In the opening credits, amid the Black Comedy a father is desperately trying to get his crying child to safety during a three-legged race, running from zombified competitors. We don't know if they make it but odds are against them.
    • The Reveal that Buck was not Tallahassee's puppy but his "son". Columbus gains a look of understanding when he realizes that Tallahassee has lost his child, and the flashbacks change to him doting on Buck, who was a toddler. Tallahassee then passes around a wallet that Buck made for him of duct tape, and starts crying.
  • Hand Wave: How did the world end up in such a horrific state? The explanation is two lines of dialogue: a guy ate a bad burger. Mad cow disease became mad human disease. That's about it. And then the movie gets back to killing things.
  • Harbinger of Impending Doom: 406, Columbus's neighbor who comes to Columbus's apartment after being attacked by a "homeless person".
  • Haunted House: Played with. At one point, Columbus leads a horde of zombies into an amusement park haunted house. It works both for him (zombies are stupid enough to get caught in one of the things that jumps out at you) and against him (good job, moron, now there's moaning coming from all around you).
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X"
    Columbus: You know, I think sleep deprivation is like the number-one health problem in America.
    Wichita: No, think it might be number two.
    Tallahassee: (laughs) Number two...
  • Heroic BSoD: Columbus has a minor one when Wichita tells him that Columbus, Ohio is in ruins, meaning that his parents are probably dead.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted. You think this is what Tallahassee is doing, but then you remember how awesome he is.
  • Hometown Nickname: All of the main characters never go by their names, only what city they are from.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Averted, which is surprising considering the genre's conventions. Zombieland has a lot more fun and tends to avoid philsophical questions, as noted in the description up above.
  • Humble Goal: Tallahassee just wants one Twinkie before they all expire. At the end, he gets one.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Tallahassee's "Thank god for rednecks!" one-liner. Seeing as he's a man with a Southern accent, was introduced driving an SUV with a dozer blade rigged to the front, paints Dale Earnhardt's NASCAR number on each car he drives, and, of course, has a love of all things that shoot, he doesn't have much room to speak. Although in his defense, he could be praising other rednecks other than himself.
  • Iconic Outfit: Woody Harrelson mentioned that he picked out Tallahassee's hat and clothes with this trope in mind.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Hey, we're in the middle of a country whose inhabitants have been turned into cannibalistic zombies attracted to light and sound. Let's switch on this theme park!
    • Hey, here's a great prank! Let's have the guy convincingly dressed as a zombie scare the jumpy kid who has a shotgun. Admittedly, they were high when they thought that one up.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Little Rock sarcastically credits "violent video games" with teaching her firearm use.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Columbus to 406 after she wakes up a zombie. She's not in there, despite his efforts.
  • Imagine Spot: When Columbus is using the bathroom (after Searching the Stalls to make sure it's safe), he mentions how his biggest fear is clowns, and imagines one crawling under the door, like the zombie in the opening when demonstrating Rule #3 (beware of bathrooms).
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Arguably Tallahassee during the finale. Yes, the zombies were packed in and close range, but he had about one bullet for each zombie rushing him, so every shot had to be a kill shot and no way to obey Rule #2 while he was at it. He pulls it off.
  • Improvised Weapon: A banjo, hedge clippers, car doors, normal doors, toilet seat covers, a toilet cistern lid, a piano... even a carnival ride. The banjo gets bonus points — Tallahassee plays "Dueling Banjos" to attract a zombie before braining said zombie with it.
  • Incongruously-Dressed Zombie: Several examples chase people around in the opening credits, including one that's "dressed" in fire and a father-son duo who were apparently infected while participating in a three-legged race.
  • Indestructible Edible: Averted. Tallahassee is devoted to his hunt for a Twinkie because, as he points out to Columbus, they do have expiration dates.
  • Inevitably Broken Rule: Columbus breaks his own biggest rule, "Don't be a hero," in order to save Wichita and Little Rock.
  • Informal Eulogy: For Bill Murray, as they dump his body off a railing and into the bushes. He also gets a three-volley salute, and it's finished with shots of Purell all around.
  • Instant Marksman: Just Squeeze Trigger!: Used when Tallahassee is training Little Rock, as this is the advice he gives her.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • As the movie starts, Columbus's Rule #17 is "Don't Be A Hero". As the movie ends... let's just say he's made an exception.
    • Used earlier after Tallahassee says he might have pulled something and Rule #18, "Limber Up" appears in the background.
    • During the Rule #1 introduction Columbus says "poor fat bastard". During the cutaway to the Zombie Kill of the Week joke later, he says "poor flat bastard" about the crushed zombie.
  • It Can Think: The zombies are shown to have developed some amount of brainpower. The cop zombie in the intro pretends to be dead dead after getting shot by a woman, another zombie also from the intro crawls underneath a bathroom stall, and they appear to be capable of climbing over obstacles as demonstrated when a horde of them head towards the carnival. Some are even still capable of feeling fear, as the zombie quickly retreating from a chainsaw-wielding Tallahassee shows quite well.
  • The Jaywalking Dead: Tallahassee's Establishing Character Moment has him speeding down the highway, giving the Toyota Tripwire to any zombies that get in his way. This establishes him as the kind of zombie hunter that every awesome zombie story needs.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Tallahassee's Establishing Character Moment is letting Columbus hitch a ride with him and offers him a drink. He later makes a silent gesture to Wichita to indicate to her that she just crushed Columbus's hopes of finding his parents safe, and that it was a crummy thing to do to him. He also warms up a bit to Columbus and starts to form something of an attachment to Little Rock as the film goes on.
      "I haven't cried like that since Titanic!" And then he dries his eyes with money.
    • If anything, Wichita is even worse, but once she learned she had let slip to Columbus that Columbus (the city in Ohio) burned to the ground and his parents are more than likely dead, she has the decency to apologize to him. Also, the scene where she dances with Columbus is particularly sweet of her. Of course, she walks out the next morning. She also clearly cares a lot for and looks out for Little Rock.
  • Jerkass: Wichita for most of the movie. She disarms the guys and leaves them for dead twice, kidnaps them once, and steals their transportation three times over the course of the film. She gets better.
  • Key Confusion: The movie opens with Columbus demonstrating several of the tips he had been relaying while trying to unlock a car, such as the importance of cardio that allows him to do a loop after the initial fumble to evade the pursuing zombies so he can come back and try again instead of dying at the door.
  • Kick the Dog: Subverted. It's bad enough that Columbus shot a box of what is possibly the final box of Twinkies in the world right in front of Tallahassee, but immediately after that, Wichita and Little Rock drive away in their Cadillac! Again! AFTER THEY WERE SAVED BY THEM! But they were just kidding. They even throw him a Twinkie.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: First invoked, then cleverly subverted. Wichita asks Tallahassee and Columbus to perform a Mercy Kill on her infected sister, Little Rock, then stops them and insists that she be the one to do the deed. She then promptly turns the gun on the two men so that she and her NOT-infected sister can steal their weapons and vehicle.
  • Laborious Laces: One of Columbus' rules of surviving Zombieland is tying your shoelaces. It can be a problem if you don't tie your shoelaces because you'll trip and become zombie chow.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Gleefully and repeatedly peppered throughout. The movie takes as many chances to recognize zombie movie tropes as possible, best represented by Columbus' list — rules like "double tap" and "cardio" are all meant to prevent cheap zombie movie deaths.
  • The Last Man Heard a Knock...:
    • Columbus starts the movie believing himself to possibly be the last person alive. Then he sees Tallahassee's truck plowing through abandoned cars on the highway.
    • Inverted when they stumble across the mansion of Bill Fucking Murray, who had been having a pretty comfortable life as one of the last uninfected humans in Beverly Hills.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Sorta.
    Columbus: So, where are you guys headed?
    Little Rock: Pacific Playland.
    Tallahassee: The amusement park?
    Columbus: Wait, outside L.A.?
    Little Rock: Yeah! We went there as kids.
    Tallahassee: That place totally blows!
    [Little Rock and Wichita give Tallahassee angry looks]
    Tallahassee: ... my mind. It's... it's so fun, just good entertainment for the whole family.
  • Last Stand: Near the end, Tallahassee uses himself as a decoy, drawing the attention of every zombie in Pacific Playland so Columbus can rescue the girls. Tallahassee eventually gets surrounded by a horde of zombies in a small booth. He shuts the screens on the windows, pulls out two pistols, sets up ammo cartridges for rapid reload, and opens fire. The last shot of this is the booth surrounded by dead zombies with an unharmed Tallahassee twirling his guns.
  • Law of Inverse Recoil: No firearm in the movie has any real kick to it, shotguns in particular are the most common and the characters are holding them very loose armed. Not to mention Bottomless Magazines.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Columbus going up against the zombie clown in the climax by attacking it with a hammer, so he can save Wichita and Little Rock.
  • Leitmotif: Not a complete one, but the bell sound from "For Whom The Bell Tolls" can be heard in pivotal scenes.
  • Lightmare Fuel:
    • The explanation of Rules #1 ("Cardio") and #2 ("Double Tap") are accompanied by a visual of people being graphically attacked and killed by zombies. They are hilarious and tragic and scary all at the same time.
    • The various "zombie kills" (especially the "Zombie Kill of the Week").
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Columbus tries to impress Tallahassee by describing an imaginary sexual encounter he had. The scattered FedEx packages end up being "the back of a FedEx truck".
  • Little Miss Con Artist: Little Rock. She and Wichita are shown doing at least one con in a cut-away during the movie, with the implication that they've done plenty more.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: The reason why Columbus goes after Wichita after she and her sister have carjacked the boys yet again.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Bill Murray is surprisingly chill for a guy who just took a shotgun shot to the chest. He had just smoked a bunch of weed with Wichita and Tallahassee.
  • Mama Bear: If you are not Little Rock, then it's going to take some very extenuating circumstances for Wichita not to rob you blind and leave you for dead if she gets the chance. If you threaten Little Rock, you've got about the same chance of not being shot.
  • Manly Tears: Shed by Tallahassee when he reveals he lost not his puppy, but his young son to the zombies.
  • Man on Fire: A zombie on fire is chasing a firefighter during the opening credits.
  • Mexican Standoff: One occurs in a car when Tallahassee aims his rifle at Little Rock and Wichita aims a pistol at Tallahassee. Columbus snaps and calls the others out, saying they have bigger things to worry about, which more or less sets them straight.
  • Minimalist Cast: The only living humans we see are the four main characters and Cynthia Knickerbocker. And Bill Murray.
  • Missing Mom: When it's revealed Buck was actually Tallahassee's son, we get no word of what happened to Buck's mother.
  • Mistaken for Undead: Due to his disguise, Bill Murray is confused for a zombie twice, the second time with fatal results.
  • Moment Killer: Columbus and Wichita had an Almost Kiss and then Tallahassee comes in to ask for help moving the couch so he can build a fort. Afterward, Wichita decides it would have been a mistake to get attached and leaves.
    "You are like a giant cockblocking robot built in a secret fucking government lab!"
  • Money to Throw Away: In the Title Sequence a 'businessman' throws away a Briefcase Full of Money as he flees zombies. Anyway, money is Worthless Yellow Rocks in a Zombie Apocalypse. The group play Monopoly with wads of real hundred-dollar bills in Bill Murray's mansion.
  • Monster Clown: Columbus is terrified of clowns more than he is of zombies. Cue a zombie-clown standing in his way in the finale.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • About 2/3 in. After the genuinely tragic reveal that Tallahassee lost his toddler son to the zombies, he sniffles and says "I haven't cried that hard since Titanic."
    • Not to mention he starts wiping his tears with money.
  • Morality Pet: Little Rock is this for Wichita. Being Wichita's 12-year-old sister, it's understandable, and she's the only person Wichita treats with consistent kindness. That is, until she starts warming up to Columbus.
  • More Dakka: "Thank God for Rednecks!" exclaims Tallahassee as he finds a car full of high-powered guns and ammo.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Columbus, after shooting Bill Murray in the chest, and again after shooting a box of Twinkies, which Tallahassee sees.
  • Never Be a Hero: One of Columbus's biggest rules — don't risk your own life just to make yourself look good. He eventually breaks this rule in the end.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Sister Cynthia Knickerbocker, recipient of the Zombie Kill of the Week award. With a piano.
  • No Bikes in the Apocalypse: Discussed and still played straight. The main cast simply uses the abandoned cars with half-filled tanks to move around.
  • Nobody Poops:
    • Averted. One of Columbus's rules to "Beware Of Bathrooms", as demonstrated when a man sitting on a toilet is attacked.
    • Columbus also mentions early on that he has irritable bowel syndrome, finding a place to go number two, and later Searching the Stalls in a restroom to check it's safe to use.
  • No Name Given:
    • At Tallahassee's insistence. They give no real names so they can't form attachments to each other. To no one's surprise, it doesn't work.
    • The girl who used to live in Columbus's building before she became a zombie who Columbus refers to as '406' for her apartment number.
    • Nobody in the movie goes by their real name except for Bill Murray and Sister Cynthia Knickerbocker.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Gloriously averted. It's, well, in the title. Keeping track of the many times the characters say "Zombie" is part of the drinking game.
  • Odd Couple: Columbus and Tallahassee, before Wichita and Little Rock join them.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • As Columbus explains his rule about being wary of bathrooms, the man in the bathroom stall has one when a zombie crawls under the door and attacks him.
    • Columbus when he drives off after evading the zombies in the Garland parking lot, and another zombie attacks from the backseat.
    • Columbus when the zombified 406 attacks him.
    • Tallahassee has a brief one when Wichita and Little Rock get the drop on them the second time: "Don't kill me with my own gun!"
    • The girls, when they notice the hordes of zombies approaching Pacific Playland.
    • Columbus in Pacific Playland when some of the zombies come after him.
    • Columbus has another one later when he sees the clown zombie. It diminishes after he pulls a Let's Get Dangerous! and attacks the clown.
    • Columbus again in Pacific Playland after he sees his shotgun blast hit and destroyed a box of Twinkies in front of Tallahassee.
  • Once is Not Enough: Rule #2 of surviving in Zombieland: Double Tap. Shooting a downed zombie in the head to make sure could be the difference between going on your way and becoming a human Happy Meal. Also demonstrated with a vehicle and a toilet tank lid.
  • Once More, with Clarity: When Tallahassee claims his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the zombies is due to them killing his dog, Columbus is confused, and has an Imagine Spot of the try-hard badass cooing over a little puppy. Later though, when Tallahassee is willing to elaborate, Columbus returns to the Imagine Spot and realizes that replacing the cute dog with an infant son makes more sense.
  • One-Man Army: Tallahassee proves himself to be one in the finale. Two pistols, one locked-off game booth, a horde of surrounding zombies — and one victor.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The entire cast, with the exceptions of Bill Murray and Sister Cynthia Knickerbocker. Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock are their intended destinations. Wichita's name is later revealed to be Krista. 406 is also referred to just by her apartment number, and she refers to Columbus the same way.
  • "Open!" Says Me: How Wichita and Little Rock get into Pacific Playland.
  • Our Zombies Are Different:
    • Act generally like other fast, plague-bearing zombies, but it appears these zombies are actually technically still alive. This makes them easier to do away with than zombies in most media since even non-headshots are sufficient. They do still appear more resilient than normal people though, in the sense that they don't register pain any more.
    • Oddly enough, even though these are supposed to be Technically Living Zombies there are scenes demonstrating that they are as durable as undead zombies, e.g. the zombie cop that gets back up despite being shot point-blank center mass and the zombie on fire to the point of being engulfed that's still moving. So it's possible that these zombies only become undead in the later stages of the infection.
      • Not to mention, Columbus still describes the zombies as undead.
    • They also seem to be smarter than the average zombies, as seen when 406 opens the bathroom door without hesitation, or when another zombie climbs a ladder.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: A great epidemic comes up, and the monologue opening features a mother being forced to abandon her daughter at a birthday party, and in the credits a father is pulling his exhausted son desperately during what's supposed to be a fun race.
    • Sadly revealed to be the case with Tallahassee, as his young son, Buck, was lost to the zombies.
  • Painting the Medium: The "Rules" captions and the opening credits are sent flying by debris and people fleeing the zombies.
  • Parents as People: Columbus implies this with his parents, as he mentions he was never really close to them, implying they were shut-ins like him, and upon being told by Wichita that Columbus (the city) has burned to the ground, he laments that he isn't sure what's more tragic: the loss of his family, or the fact that he never really had much of a family to begin with.
  • Pet the Dog: A minor one. Wichita told Columbus that he has no hope of seeing his parents again because Columbus — the city, not the character — is practically dead, and Tallahassee makes a silent gesture to her what she just did, she makes the connection and apologizes to Columbus.
    • Wichita again to Columbus later when she finds out that, in 1997, no girl wanted to dance with him at the Sadie Hawkins dance, so she decides to dance with him herself, culminating in an Almost Kiss between the two.
  • Played for Laughs:
    • Normally, zombie films focus on the horror of the situation. The horror gets momentary glimpses, but mostly this movie goes for the funny in a big way.
    • Bill Murray's dying moments were so ridiculous that Wichita couldn't help but laugh.
    Wichita: [laughs] I'm sorry, he just gets me. [Beat] But it still is sad.
  • Pretend We're Dead: Bill Murray does this so that he can play golf, and he uses his disguise to scare and play around with the other characters. It works a little too well, though — Columbus mistakes him for a real zombie and shoots him.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Zig-zagged, but largely straight. While there's plenty of postmortem gore, the actual kills are more cartoon-ish than anything. Played particularly straight when Bill Murray takes two shotgun rounds to the chest. That should've been an incredible mess.
  • Product Placement:
    • GM with Cadillac, Hummer, and Chevy. BMW and Chrysler also sneak in.
    • FedEx. More like, "Sex Ed".
    • Mountain Dew Code Red, the nerd's drink of choice.
    • Hostess Sno-Balls and Twinkies (and by extension, Mexican Submarinos). ALL HE WANTS ARE SOME GODDAMNED TWINKIES!!! Which he eventually gets.
    • Columbus played World of Warcraft in his dorm room.
    • 2012, the film that Woody Harrelson had a memorable role in.
    • Columbus offers some Purell hand sanitizer after the group dispose of the dead Bill Murray. Notable in that an earlier movie of Abigail Breslin's featured heavy-handed Product Placement for Purell among other things.
  • Promotion to Parent: Wichita is Little Rock's older sister, but as it's implied they have no one else, Wichita is very much a Mama Bear to Little Rock and can switch back and forth between being a mother and sister to her.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: Despite months after the fall of civilization, most of the places the protagonists visit still have running electricity.
  • Rail Shooter: Tallahassee gets on a roller coaster while drawing the zombies away. It inevitably becomes one for the next couple of minutes.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Tallahasse shows signs of this, recounting that he cried watching Titanic (1997) and listening intently when Little Rock explains the concept of Hannah Montana.
  • Reconstruction: Though it plays many things for laughs, the movie also takes time to show the characters in a realistic light.
  • Red Herring: One of the very first rules Columbus mentions is the importance of seatbelts. A later scene deliberately draws attention to Wichita's ignoring this rule, which seems like obvious foreshadowing for some horrible pay off later in the movie.
  • Replacement Goldfish: There are hints during their stay at Bill Murray's mansion that Little Rock is becoming this for Tallahassee.
  • The Reveal: Buck was not Tallahassee's puppy. Buck was his young son.
  • Road Trip Plot: A post zombie-holocaust Road Trip Plot, no less. The group travels around with the intent of finding Columbus's parents. By the end, they've more-or-less given this up as Columbus accepts that they're probably dead, and his new family is pretty good as it is.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Tallahassee goes after zombies like this because they killed his son. He leads one during the end to distract enough zombies away from Columbus's rescue and survives!
  • Romance-Inducing Smudge: A variation is presented when Columbus discusses how his life's dream is to brush a girl's hair behind her ears.
  • Rule of Cool: Half the movie runs on this, best exemplified by Tallahassee's last stand near the end of the movie, which is full of all kinds of trick shooting.
  • Rule of Funny: Takes care of the other half, as the movie refuses to take itself and the zombie genre very seriously at all.
  • Rule of Three: All three of the cars the group uses have a 3 painted on the side.
    • Considering that was Dale Earnhardt's number, Tallahassee may well be a NASCAR fan. Showing up in a truck worthy of the name Intimidator helps.
    • We see a Dale Earnhardt poster on the wall during the flashback portion in which Tallahassee is feeding his son.
    • Subverted. Wichita and Little Rock steal the SUVs used by Columbus and Tallahassee twice and it looks like they'll do it a third time, but it's a joke.
  • Schmuck Bait: Played with. When Tallahassee and Columbus steal the Hummer and come across Tallahassee's abandoned Escalade, they realise it's a trap set by Wichita and Little Rock, and tentatively investigate the car, but find nothing suspicious. Wichita and Little Rock still get the drop on them, though.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Lampshaded. In the climax, Columbus finds a zombie clown blocking his path to Wichita and Little Rock on the Blast Off ride, and remembers Rule #17: "Don't Be A Hero", as it could get him killed trying to save them. After a moment of deliberation, he decides some rules are made to be broken (they are his rules, after all), changes the rule to "Be A Hero", and attacks the clown.
  • Searching the Stalls: Our hero has to relieve himself, and to be on the safe side, he searches each stall in the bathroom before doing so.
  • Shout-Out: Enough to have its own page.
  • The Shut-In: Columbus before the Zombie Apocalypse, as he spent most of his time in his apartment, playing games like World of Warcraft. He describes his parents as "paranoid shut-ins" as well.
  • Sibling Team: Wichita and Little Rock, both before and during the zombie outbreak, are sister con artists.
  • Skewed Priorities: Columbus, who fears clowns above zombies. Yes, even the normal, non-Monster Clown variety.
    • What causes the Mexican Standoff between Tallahassee and Wichita. Tallahassee is angry that the girls carjacked him and Columbus again, while Wichita and Little Rock have serious trust issues. Columbus angrily calls them all out on it, saying they're in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse and have far bigger problems to worry about.
  • Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror: Mostly comedy, but there's certainly some horrific aspects, but they're almost always played for laughs.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Zombieland plays jump rope with this scale throughout the entire movie.
  • Slo Mo: The opening credits feature a montage of slow-motion clips of zombie attacks.
  • Somber Backstory Revelation: Tallahassee eventually reveals to his fellow zombie plague survivors that he did not lose a dog to the zombies, as he previously claimed; he lost a young son. This tragic story is immediately undercut in a Mood Whiplash moment, when he dries his tears with worthless post-apocalypse $100 bills.
  • Sparse List of Rules: Subverted. Only a handful of rules ("Cardio, Cardio, Cardio") are brought up, but a whole lot more were presented via internet in short promotional clips leading up the the film's release.
  • Squee: Tallahassee has this reaction to BILL FUCKING MURRAY!
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Tallahassee gunning down zombies whilst riding a rollercoaster. It's an on-rail shooter!
    • Tallahassee and Columbus find a car, and a stash of guns, after their old one was hijacked. The only thing that remains of the previous owner is his hands on the wheel. They were gonna have to pry it (and his guns) from his cold, dead hands.
  • The Stinger: Bill Murray un-dies to correct Tallahassee's mangled attempts at language, then dies. Again.
  • Stock Aesops: Friendship. Cardio Fitness. Wear Seatbelts. Oh, and Sunscreen too, though it has nothing to do with anything that happens in the movie.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Played for Laughs, with Columbus dreamily thinking about how he 'kinda liked' Wichita mere moments after she and her sister have pulled guns on him and Tallahassee (for the second time!) and taken them prisoner.
    Tallahassee: You're thinking about fucking Wichita! Hey, wish granted, she spent the last twenty-four hours fucking us both.
  • Survivalist Stash: Tallahassee finds a whole car full of military-grade weapons and ammo.
  • Take That!:
  • Taught by Experience: Columbus developed a series of rules to follow, partially through observation and partially through near fatal mistakes he made. First was cardio, because all the overweight, out of shape people were among the first to be bitten. But after jumping in his car and being attacked by a zombie hiding in the back seat, "Always check the back seat" becomes a new rule.
  • Technically Living Zombie:
    • Sometimes, the zombies aren't dead, so the characters sometimes aim for center mass instead of headshots. For instance, 406 gets bashed with a toilet lid.
    • Played with, as at least some of the zombies in this movie display feats that show them to be just as durable as undead zombies, so it’s a possibility that during the course of infection it’s the mind that goes first, then they die of the disease and turn full undead later on.
    • Another indication that at least some of the zombies are undead are that some of the zombies appear to be much more rotten compared to others, such as some of the zombies that try to get to Wichita and Little Rock during the climax of the movie.
  • Theme Naming: Tallahassee, Columbus, Little Rock, Wichita, 406. Is this a cast or a freakin' road map?
  • Title Drop: Early and often, as Columbus describes the United States as such.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Subverted at first. The sisters' first con job plan on Columbus and Tallahassee seemed to hinge on both of them being unable to bring themselves to shoot Little Rock. If Tallahassee were just a bit less compassionate, he might not have hesitated and instead blown Little Rock's brains out before Wichita could stop him.
    • You're in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse, and you pretend to be a zombie to scare the twitchy guy armed with a shotgun? Really, Bill Murray? Okay, he was high, and the others (also high) were goading him on, but still, getting high during a Zombie Apocalypse is this trope in and of itself.
    • Turning on all the lights and music at the amusement park probably counts too.
    • As is trusting the people who have screwed you over more than once.
    • The woman who flees the zombie princess girls in her minivan in the opening montage doesn't fasten her seatbelt, and promptly pays the price when she takes her eyes off the road for a second too long and crashes into a flatbed truck, causing her to go flying through the windscreen/windshield, leading to Columbus's rule about seatbelts.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Columbus, starting before the film as a shut-in spending all his free time on World of Warcraft, a competent survivor by the time we meet him and ending a big damn hero.
    • Also applies to Tallahassee — A deleted scene reveals that he used to be a sign spinner. A lousy one at that.
  • Totally Radical: Wichita's line that Bill Murray has "a direct line to [her] funnybone" is not the kind of slang someone her age would likely use.
  • Toyota Tripwire: One of Tallahassee's trademarks, and he takes out zombies with the move on several occasions.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Tallahassee makes it his personal quest to find a good Twinkie in Zombieland. He eventually finds one.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Tallahasee reveals that he's kept the last gift his son Buck made for him: a wallet made out of duct tape. He passes it around to the group.
  • Trailers Always Lie: While the trailers make it look like Tallahassee is the big damn hero lead, the honor actually goes to Columbus, the paranoid Action Survivor cum Heroic Bystander.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: One of the main promotional pictures and trailer shots for a while was the zombie clown, ruining that, and a look at the extremely small cast list ruins the big cameo.
  • Trash the Set: The fate of the "Wampum" native American gift shop.
    Columbus: Sometimes Tallahassee's right. You gotta enjoy the little things. Even if that means destroying a whole lot of little things.
  • Travel Montage: When the two men and two women agree to cooperate, each person takes turns driving while talking about random topics like Willie Nelson and Hannah Montana.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: The girls and the boys leave the mansion at least several hours apart, but the guys get to the amusement park less than an hour after the girls (just in time to save them from the zombies attacking the park).
  • Troperiffic: This movie unapologetically takes an almost perverse pleasure in messing with every Zombie trope ever. And it is so much better for it.
  • Troll:
    • Wichita and Little Rock decide to play with Tallahassee and Columbus by making it seem like they’re abandoning them a third time.
    • Bill Murray tries to mess with Columbus by pretending to be a zombie. Not that it ends well for him.
  • Undead Child: Played for Laughs early in the film with a horde of little zombie girls in party dresses charging out of a birthday party after a soccer mom. Also, subverted with Little Rock, as she survives the movie.
  • Unorthodox Reload: Tallahassee prepares for his epic caged booth shootout by standing up numerous magazines of ammo for when he runs out. He then proceeds to just slam the guns into the mags on the counter and he's good to go again. In real life, this is extremely difficult to pull off. But, hey, it looks badass.
  • Violin Scam: In a flashback, the girls are shown doing a variation with costume jewelry.
  • The Virus: Mentioned explicitly early on as the cause of the Zombie Apocalypse. Humorously, as with Solanum being a potato virus, the virus came from a "contaminated" burger at a Gas n' Gulp.
    Columbus: Remember Mad Cow Disease? Well, Mad Cow became Mad Person became Mad Zombie. It's a fast-acting virus that left you with a swollen brain, a raging fever, made you hateful, violent... and gave you a really, really bad case of the munchies.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Colombus wakes up to an infected 406 vomiting on his couch.
  • Walking Armory: Tallahassee during the final battle, armed with a Heckler and Koch MP7, two shotguns, a Colt M1911, and a Sig-Sauer P226.
  • Wham Line: When Tallahassee reminisces about his lost puppy Buck, he says that Buck had every one of his characteristics...including his laugh. Columbus is confused, but then realizes — alongside the audience through a series of Wham Shots re-showing a sequence of scenes with Tallahassee and his dog, except the dog is replaced with a young boy — that Buck wasn't his puppy, but his son.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Columbus gets to face two of his worst nightmares wrapped up into one, the zombie clown, blocking access to Wichita and Little Rock in the climax.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Little Rock. She's able to get the drop on Columbus and Tallahassee, knows how to shoot and even knows how to drive, despite being only twelve years old.
    "Twelve is the new twenty."
  • Women Are Wiser: Columbus references the trope when Little Rock gets the drop on him, saying that girls mature faster than boys, and that Little Rock was way ahead of where Columbus was when he was twelve.
  • World of Jerkass: The main characters are jerkasses who are dishonest and bordering on insane, destroying property and turning on one another for personal gain. Columbus is primarily an exception to this, although he does occasionally display Not So Above It All behavior.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Tallahassee threatens Little Rock for her lack of pop culture knowledge:
    Little Rock: Who's Bill Murray?
    Tallahassee: I've never hit a kid before... I mean, that's like asking who Gandhi is.
    Little Rock: Who's Gandhi?
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Columbus' initial goal is to make it to, well, Columbus in order to see if his family is still alive. Wichita ends up off-handedly revealing that the city has been burned to the ground. The realization that his personal safe haven has been eradicated is his primary motivation to stick with the group.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Tallahassee to Columbus when Little Rock gets the drop on them has this to say:
    Tallahassee: You got taken hostage by a 12-year-old?
  • Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb: Averted all to hell with one exception: the 12-year-old Little Rock is at least as competent as the rest of the cast, but she hasn't heard of Willie Nelson, Bill Murray, or Gandhi.
  • Zombie Infectee:
    • Played hilariously with 406, Columbus' neighbor, whom he lets into his apartment early on in an attempt to finally get close to a woman.
    • Little Rock pretends to have been bitten as part of a con to steal the guys' guns and car.
  • Zombie Apocalypse:
    • 28 Days Later rules, surprisingly, only sometimes.
    • Some of them are technically alive, but infected with a virus that turns them into running, raging, flesh-eating... they're zombies.
    • However, whether they're Technically Living Zombies or undead zombies is often zig-zagged in this movie, because some of the zombies demonstrate that they are still equally as durable as undead zombies, such as zombies that are still moving despite shotgun wounds to areas that would be fatal to humans.
    • And some of the zombies can literally ONLY be killed by fatal impact to the head.
    • So because of all that, it's very likely that these zombies only become undead after they die of the virus and then the virus reanimates them after that.
  • Zombie Gait:
    • Played with. These zombies can move just like regular people so long as all their limbs work.
    • But since they're stupid and don't care about pain, a lot of them have assorted injuries, and groups run the gamut from lumbering to sprinting.
    • The implications that at least some of the zombies literally are undead as shown by some of the zombies having better durability feats than others kinda explains why some zombies move less human-like than others.

"Aha! Found a Twinkie — no, wait, no... It's just Styrofoam... Dammit."


Rule #3

Beware of bathrooms.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / ToiletHorror

Media sources: