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The Plot Thickens

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The plot "thickens," as they say. Why, by the way? Is it a soup metaphor?
Gustave H., The Grand Budapest Hotel

Stock Phrase often said after a turning point in the plot.

It usually refers to things becoming overly complex or mysterious. Today this term is often Played for Laughs. Coined in the 17th century, it originally described the plot of a play that was overly intricate, and by the late 1800s it was used for increasingly complex mysteries in detective stories.

The phrase is sometimes parodied as "The plot sickens." You may also hear "the plot thins" - usually uttered after a major Anti-Climax.



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  • In Face/Off, Castor Troy's response upon walking in on Jamie wearing just her panties and a cropped t-shirt.
  • Shadowlands
    C.S. Lewis: He comes; he sleeps; he goes. So the plot thickens.
  • In Kill Bill, Bill proves himself to be a lover of tales. So of course he says this.
  • Discussed in The Grand Budapest Hotel.
    M. Gustave: The plot "thickens," as they say. Why, by the way? Is it a soup metaphor?


    Live Action TV 
  • Hawaii Five-O (1968) pilot episode.
    Wo Fat: As we clever Chinese say, "The plot thickens..."
  • Knight Rider episode "Mouth of the Snake"
    Michael Knight: So, the plot thickens. I bet this guy David Dalton is not down in Mexico looking for the world's biggest burrito.
  • The League of Gentlemen
    Pauline: It's about Mickey. He's getting married.
    Ross: Oh-ho. The plot thickens.
  • M*A*S*H: Inverted as Hawkeye, Henry, Trapper, Klinger and Radar are watching home movies of Frank's wedding.
    Hawkeye: The plot thins.

    Newspaper Comics 

  • Roald Dahl used this to customary darkly comic effect in his retelling of Cinderella
    Ah ha, you see, the plot grows thicker,
    And Cindy's luck starts looking sicker.

One episode of I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again, had this exchange between the narrator and a character:
Narrator: The plot thickens
Other voice: And tho do the joketh

    Video Games 

    Western Animation