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  • The Rocky series is frequently bashed for creating a genre of sports movies in which an underdog protagonist wins against a far superior opponent based on sheer willpower alone, with little consideration given to real skill and strategies. This ignores the fact that in the original film, Rocky lost the match against Apollo, despite his hard work, and prior to being chosen for the promotional bout, he was a loser who had to break the law to put food on the table. He initially refused to go back to the ring in the second film because he was exhausted and preferred to settle down with Adrian despite calls for a rematch with Apollo. He only chose to return because of the family's need for money when his new son was born. He actually loses in the third film, which shows the consequences that success has on a Determinator, and the rematch is not decided by willpower alone, but by a strategic approach based on avoiding the opponent and wearing him out gradually. While the fourth film would repeat the underdog and willpower tropes, it deconstructs them in the first half when Apollo (a fighter whose physique was designed for agility and maneuvering, not for ground-and-pound like Rocky's own) fights the antagonist of the film and refuses to throw in the towel, later dying from his injuries. The fifth film deconstructs the trope further, as a doctor's appointment shows that Rocky has serious injuries as a result of the damage cause by boxing and will not be able to box anymore. His obsession with trying to revive his boxing career via proxy through Tommy Gun, who he adopted as a foster son, strains his relationships and backfires. In the sixth Rocky film, he loses a fight once again despite showing even more resilience than in the first film because age is catching up with him. Creed almost averts the film's Determinator reputation when Rocky refuses to go into treatment for cancer since he has nothing left to live for. It is only the begging of his new apprentice, Adonis Creed, that ultimately makes him seek treatment.
  • Charlie Chaplin was the first major movie star to direct his own films, as well as one of the first to produce them with some degree of independence from the Hollywood studio system. Which is all the more impressive because Chaplin was one of the first movie stars ever.
  • Along with Cecil B. DeMille, D. W. Griffith was one of the first of the big-shot Hollywood film directors. He shaped nearly every aesthetic aspect of the American motion picture as we understand it today. And yet as early as the mid-1910s, Griffith was already experimenting with editing styles which would not catch on with filmmakers in his own country for nearly half a century, and to a great extent are still not common today. His “art-house” masterpiece, Intolerance, showcased a rapid-fire montage style that defied conventional Hollywood editing techniques — techniques that, by and large, Griffith himself had invented.
  • Although the giant monster movie genre has come to be synonymous with gleefully watching the invincible monsters tear apart the puny human cities, some of the earlier ones had a far more "realistic" and nuanced view of this. In The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, half of the movie consists of the hero, labeled as a delusional foreigner, trying to convince the American authorities that the rhedosaurus really exists at all. And when it shows up, it's not Immune to Bullets, but – being a recently-resurrected dinosaur – carries all manner of hideous diseases we've never seen. The Amazing Colossal Man, one of the earliest (if not the earliest), is about the giant's slow Sanity Slippage as the mental and physical strain of his transformation takes its toll, complete with a Downer Ending.
  • The Cowboy Cop trope has been deconstructed multiple times before it was ever played straight later on without a hint of irony primarily in the action movies of the 1980s and 1990s.
    • Where the Sidewalk Ends, from 1950, predates the more famous examples below, and deconstructs the genre to an absolutely brutal degree. The protagonist is a true Cowboy Cop, rampaging all over the city in his pursuit of justice — or he would be, if he didn't have to spend so much time dealing with the consequences of his actions.
    • Bullitt was actually the first Cowboy Cop movie, but seen today, it looks like a deconstruction of the genre: the cop (Steve McQueen) ignores his superiors and dismisses the quite reasonable demands of a slimy politician (Robert Vaughan) out of distrust, but accidentally kills all the witnesses and ruins any chances of finding the real mob bosses. The film ends with him staring into a mirror, realizing just how badly he's screwed up.
    • Dirty Harry also qualifies as an unbuilt trope. Harry's methods aren't actually shown all that positively; he's treated (both in-universe and by the film itself) as someone who is useful only under the most extreme circumstances and otherwise borderline unfit to be a policeman. His Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique on the Scorpio Killer is downright horrific and ends up doing no good. And in the end he throws away his badge after disregarding orders and endangering innocents, although it's not necessarily clear that he is punishing himself, rather than rejecting the system that would not have stopped Scorpio. The first sequel, Magnum Force takes it Up to Eleven by having Harry face off against a squad of motorcycle cops who carry out summary executions of criminals, which Harry himself realizes is merely an extreme extension of his own methods. The later sequels, however, play the Cowboy Cop tropes straight, losing the moral ambiguity of the first two films and painting Harry as a more conventional action hero.
    • The French Connection did something similar. Popeye Doyle is The Shield's Vic Mackey before Vic Mackey – goes against the books, quick to jump the leash, and at least a little bigoted. And what happens when he goes in guns blazing in the final Darkened Building Shootout? He kills a police contact, providing enough chaos for the kingpin to get away, and a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue explains that he ended up getting transferred out of Narcotics for the clusterfuck.
  • Found Footage Films became big during The New '10s. Three early examples seem like answers to the likes of Cloverfield, [REC], Diary of the Dead and The Devil Inside.
    • Cannibal Holocaust in 1980 was arguably the first found-footage horror film ever made. It's also the first found-footage film to be as much about how the footage was found as the actual content of it (predating Sinister by over thirty years), with the main story concerning an anthropologist and a TV network recovering the missing film crew's surviving reels, examining them, and debating whether to show them on television. We see that the film crew had staged horrific abuses against the native peoples for the purpose of capturing violence on film and exploiting stereotypes of Amazon tribes, the fact that they had cameras at all being a major contributing factor in their uncivilized actions. After watching it, the network executives are so disgusted that they refuse to air the footage, instead choosing to destroy it.
    • The Blair Witch Project was the Trope Codifier for the found-footage genre, but when compared to the many slick, big-budget imitators that followed, it feels like a deconstruction. For one thing, Heather's insistence upon filming everything even when logic suggests she put the camera down for once, a staple (and common criticism) of found-footage horror movies, is suggested by Josh to be her way of coping with the fact that she's lost in the woods — the screen on the camcorder all makes it feel less real. This also causes a rift between her and the rest of the group, with Mike and Josh telling her several times to turn the camera off, and even attacking her over it. Furthermore, the film's tiny budget, rambling improv style, and Enforced Method Acting mean that the camera catches as many mundane events as it does exciting action beats — exactly what you'd expect to find on a camcorder that's been lost in the woods. Finally, it actually looks and sounds like amateur footage in the production values, not like a traditional film with professional lighting and sound design. This episode of RedLetterMedia's re:View details how little The Blair Witch Project has in common with modern found-footage horror films, which are mostly just traditional films done in a first-person POV style.
    • Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County is a Made-for-TV Movie that predates Blair Witch by one year but is presented as a TV broadcast about the protagonists' disappearance — and it has several segments with talking heads who discuss whether the footage we're watching is real. Like Blair Witch it misses many action beats, with the only major one being Renee's death — which it's implied that the camera just about catches. Everything is done with practical effects in order to try and preserve the realism. It also includes a missing persons notice at the end — and a (fake!) number to call in the event of any of them being sighted.
  • Girls Behind Bars would become a famous subgenre of exploitation movie — showing women's prisons as dens of kinky torture and lesbianism. But the two earliest appearances of the trope in mainstream media are quite different.
    • Caged is a dark drama that follows a young housewife sent to prison for being an accomplice to her dead husband's crimes. Her corruption to hardened jail bird is played straight — she goes off the Despair Event Horizon after her mother refuses to take care of her newborn baby, she's denied parole twice, she's abused by the cruel matron and she ultimately loses a Cute Kitten as her only Morality Pet. It's more like a Film Noir than exploitation.
    • The other So Young, So Bad, a movie about a girls' reform school, reads almost like a deconstruction of the stock characters that would pop up in later movies — the blonde sexpot is a wannabe Fille Fatale who's implied to be a former prostitute, and has to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. The 'innocent' is implied to be mentally ill. The Ambiguously Gay couple aren't exploited for Fanservice and their relationship is relegated to subtext — but still based on caring and an emotional connection.
  • Many early Italian Exploitation Films tried to paint themselves as "True Art", rather than just shocking for the sake of shocking. Indeed many sub-genres of Exploitation have their origins in Italian "art films", only to be copied by other lesser film makers who just didn't care. Ever hear of Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom? While being one of the most disgusting, shocking, and offensive movies ever made, it's not pointlessly so, but rather a satire on Italian Fascism. Anyone going into Cannibal Holocaust will expect disturbing and gorny. But a thought-provoking commentary on Imperialism?
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged is also unbuilt, as many early examples use it to mock and/or criticize society unlike later examples that would be the basis of award-winning tales of inspiration.
    • The Miracle Worker: Helen Keller is a logical consequence of putting a disabled person on a pedestal. Her parents refusal to discipline their disabled daughter turned her into a violent brat. Annie's therapy to bring Helen out of her darkness, far from being clean and organized, is horrifically excruciating for both Helen and her.
    • Being There is remembered as the 1979 smash hit about a mentally-challenged gardener who ends up earning the favor of the US President with his profound wisdom. The truth is Chance lacks any profound wisdom, introspection, or intelligence because of mental illness, his few social cues he has from watching television. Chance only gets as far as he does because his soft-spoken ways make him seem like a man of great insight. The film is more a satire of how society's perceptions of an individual end up mattering more than the individual itself.
    • The Elephant Man: It more or less comes across as a sad Deconstruction of the concept. Yes Merrick is a very cultured individual underneath his deformities. Yes, he is getting better treatment than he got at the sideshow. However, it is pointed out that holding him up as a symbol is not that different from putting him in a sideshow because as Mothershead said "He's just getting stared at again". Not to mention that his deformities end up killing him in the end.
    • Rain Man was possibly the first major Hollywood movie to explore autism, thus also being the Trope Namer for an autistic individual with sharp skills. But it's clear that Raymond is too low-functioning to use his skills practically. Charlie does become less of a Jerkass through his bond with Raymond, but part of his growth is realizing that Raymond isn't cut out for a normal life, and that Charlie has to change to help him. In the end, putting Raymond back in the mental hospital was considered the correct decision.
  • Several works explored the ramifications and possibilities of the Reality Show, years before Big Brother and Survivor, the Trope Codifiers for reality television, were a speck in anyone's eyes:
  • The Screwball Comedy is this to the Romantic Comedy. Furthermore, characters like Katharine Hepburn's in Bringing Up Baby are this for the Manic Pixie Dream Girl; she's less the reward to the stuffy, nerdy male lead and more his crucible. The humor comes from just how much havoc she can wreak on his life. Likewise rather than livening up David's life, Susan instead yanks him into hers.
  • Several films explored violence in public schools years before Columbine and other school shootings brought the issue into public consciousness.
  • Even after the release of Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980) (the latter of which has its own section below), it still took a few years before the most iconic tropes of the Slasher Movie genre really became settled. As a result, many early slashers, especially from before those films came out, often broke the "rules" of the genre because there often were no rules to follow yet. The Final Girl, for example, wasn't part of the genre at first; in Black Christmas (1974), for example, the character who most obviously fits this archetype winds up being the first one killed, and it wasn't until that the early '80s that the idea of a heroine who was a paragon of feminine virtue really took over. Furthermore, the police, far from being bumbling idiots who existed only to give some armed opposition to the killer, actually served a major role in the story more often than not. Many early slashers were whodunits as the killer's identity served as a mystery, as opposed to the "icon" slashers (Jason, Freddy, Michael) with their own trademark outfits, masks, and weapons who came to predominate around mid-decade, and they often took their cues in that regard from the Police Procedurals and Mystery Fiction of the time (especially the Italian gialli, important progenitors to the slasher), with police investigating the murders and racing to stop the killer before the next person dies.
  • The Terminator is the Trope Maker and Trope Namer of the Terminator Twosome. However, Kyle Reese is not the typical time-travelling hero who goes out to Set Right What Once Went Wrong; his stated mission is the one of a Time Police. The T-800 is out to Make Wrong What Once Went Right. It also turns out that Reese fails to destroy the T-800, forcing Sarah Connor to defeat it single-handedly; Reese's destiny is instead to father John Connor. While the sequel Terminator 2 plays the trope a lot straighter, the T-800 makes a Heel–Face Turn between the films.

     Individual Films 
  • 12 Angry Men is the Trope Codifier for the Rogue Juror trope. However, Juror #8 isn't really convinced of the defendant's innocence; he just wants to make sure the jury does its job properly in considering all the evidence. And even though he convinces the other jurors to acquit the defendant, the audience never finds out whether the defendant was actually innocent, and there are no clues about who the real culprit might have been.
  • 28 Days Later codified the trope of the Technically Living Zombie, but also deconstructed the very idea. The people infected by the rage virus still have physical needs, but are too insane to address them. It doesn't take long for all of the infected to die of mass starvation and sleep deprivation a few weeks after the initial outbreak. This is what also helps the protagonists realize that, despite claims, it's not The End of the World as We Know It. Since those with the rage virus are too insane to operate vehicles, this also means that they can't go any distance a human couldn't travel on foot, so England has effectively been put under quarantine to prevent the outbreak from spreading.
  • 42nd Street: Julian Marsh is the ur-Secretly Dying show director who stays with the job even though it is killing him. Except that the producers know about it, but go on with the show because they need him, at least one major reason he's doing the show is he needs the money and he doesn't die at the end, though it's hard not to get the feeling that there's a part of him that wishes he did.
  • 48 Hrs. is commonly viewed as the Ur-Example of a buddy cop movie, but it's quite different from the typical example in a few ways.
    • An increasingly common twist on the "buddy cop" formula is to have one of the "cops" not actually be a cop. This actually got its start here: Eddie Murphy's character, Reggie Hammond, is a convicted criminal on prison furlough. Not only that, but he used to be a partner to the main antagonist, Albert Ganz.
    • The movie is a good deal more violent and grim than most examples of the genre, with Reggie being the only real source of comedy. And even he has a number of moments where he's completely serious. The tone, in addition to being darker than most buddy cop films that came afterwards, is also more grounded. This can be seen in how the antagonists are portrayed, as well as the tone of the conflict against them. The bad guys are cruel and ruthless people whose crimes are portrayed with serious gravity, and their final showdown with the heroes is not some glorious action set piece, but relatively subdued, with greater emphasis placed on tension and suspense.
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension practically defied classification when it was first released in 1984, but in hindsight, it can actually be seen as a Deconstructive Parody of the kinds of superhero franchises that would come to dominate Hollywood in the decades after its release. Part of the movie's gimmick is that it's a standalone film that's deliberately made to look like one installment in an expansive saga, complete with a complex backstory that's never fully explained, references to important characters who never appear, and even a Sequel Hook for a sequel that was never made; many of the jokes are essentially Mythology Gags for a mythology that doesn't exist. The movie was made decades before those very sorts of films—sprawling multi-part epics with Loads and Loads of Characters, constant Mythology Gags, and never-ending Sequel Hooks—actually became commonplace, but it manages to demonstrate how bizarre the average franchise film would look if it didn't have a franchise to go with it.
  • Airport codified many conventions of the Disaster Movie, especially those set in planes. Yet many of these same tropes were used some fifteen years earlier in the 1954 film The High and the Mighty about the struggle of an airliner's crew to get its plane and passengers to a safe landing after an engine fails midway through a flight from Honolulu to San Francisco. Some may see it as being a deconstruction of the genre, considering that nobody dies or is even injured, and that the plane, in the end, lands safely at the San Francisco airport.
  • Part of Alien's enduring success was how many tropes it either inverted or highlighted in a unique way before they became popular in media.
    • While it didn't codify the Final Girl trope (Halloween and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) had done so in the five years prior to its release), most final protagonists were set up with some degree of focus and major development. In stark contrast, Ripley was played by Sigourney Weaver, who (at that time) was the least-known member of the cast, had a handful of film cameos to her credit and is Out of Focus for a third of the film. No one expected that the cast would be killed off in descending order based on their star power (John Hurt and Harry Dean Stanton were the biggest stars in the cast at the time), and which still hasn't been replicated in films that feature a Dead Star Walking.
    • Whereas most modern films have a self-destruct that is triggered by entering commands into a computer or flipping a switch, Alien's self-destruct sequence is played as realistically and procedurally as it can in a science-fiction film. The procedure requires Ripley to read the directions before she initiates the process, which entails slowly pulling out rods and inserting them in four reactors. The process takes a solid minute to initiate, and has a Failsafe Failure that causes Ripley to just miss the window of opportunity when she tries to reverse it after encountering the xenomorph. Likewise, the Exact Time to Failure tells Ripley how much time she has before the failsafes are rendered inoperable, in stark contrast to any film that has a countdown. The self-destruction also results in the ship going up in several pieces, rather than the "single explosion" that has been seen in most modern films. Notably, when this same sequence was repeated verbatim in Alien: Isolation, some players found it to be too drawn-out and slow given the action taking place on-screen at the time.
  • Aliens:
    • The film is credited with kick-starting the gritty, grizzled Space Marine trope that's permeated science fiction and popular culture for decades afterwards. A group of hardened veteran soldiers (or just one) mow down hordes of mooks/aliens/monsters with their advanced weaponry, saving civilisation while spouting boasts, one liners, and snark left and right. It's easy to forget then that the Colonial Marines in Aliens are portrayed as arrogant, trigger-happy jarheads who, despite their overwhelming confidence, had never faced anything even remotely like the xenomorphs, and suffered for it. They collapsed into panic and disarray the moment they made actual contact, they got slaughtered because they had no idea what they were up against, and their incompetence resulted in the entire facility being blown to pieces by accident. It's not a display of badassery so much as it is a sci-fi version of 'Nam. Furthermore, the only marine who survived the ordeal was the one who followed the orders of Ellen Ripley, who is not only a civilian but also a woman and the main character, something rare even today in similar genres. The final confrontation is between two Mama Bears, Ripley and the alien queen, completely counter to the hyper-masculine narratives permeating the versions that followed.
    • The film also subverted the Punch-Clock Hero trope long before it became commonplace in television and film. When Ripley is court-martialed and drummed out for destroying the Nostromo in the previous film, she simply picks up work at Gateway Station's docks and doesn't make any waves for a fair stretch of time. Even when Burke and Gorman come to recruit her for the mission, she refuses on the grounds that it's not in her job description and the mission sounds uneventful. It takes another bad dream to convince her to go, and even then, she acts largely as a civilian advisor (who doesn't like the soldiers she's traveling with) until two-thirds of the way through the film.
    • While a handful of films released around this time were beginning to embrace the Kid Sidekick/Tagalong Kid tropes (most notably Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom two years earlier), Aliens was actively subverting it via the Newt character. While most kid characters simply existed to be rescued or provide witty comebacks, Newt is the only one of the group who fully understands the danger on LV-426. She listens to commands and follows them, has a wry sense of humor at times, and at one point, Ripley and the others defer to her judgement (in the maintenance ducts after fleeing from the attack on Medical). All this for a kid who's no more than ten years old.
    • The famous walking-and-grabbing Power Loader was exactly what it was — a power loader used to haul heavy equipment and supplies, hence why no armor or long-range artillery. It was never designed for combat despite Ripley using it as an Improvised Weapon against the Alien Queen. Later works (like some of the arcade games) and its copycats would use it more of a Humongous Mecha-styled weapon.
    • Vasquez Always Dies is credited as starting with this film. Except unlike most examples of the trope, Vasquez not only proves to be very competent and important to the protagonists, but she dies near the very end of the film after taking out so many aliens and is the last female to die (she is actually the most masculine woman in the film and several of the other female marines died as they lacked the toughness and trigger-happy personality of Vasquez). In addition every female in the film is a straight-out action girl (or at least received sufficient combat training or experience). Even the sole survivor, Ripley, was only less masculine in the sense that she's a civilian but in every other way proves not to be your traditional feminine Action Survivor. Ripley not only survives the horrific events of the first film but in this film she actually proves to be manly in many ways outside of combat such as taking charge of the marines as the leader when their officers are knocked out and the survivors panicking. Other than being a civilian without military training, Ripley herself is just as tomboyish as the traditional Vasquez archetype
  • While it has a lot of funny moments, American Graffiti could act as a thorough deconstruction of nostalgic teen flicks, especially Grease. The cool drag racers are a Jerk with a Heart of Gold and a straight-up Jerkass, and both of them are losers whose lives are going nowhere (Milner, at least, is self-aware enough to know this). The mysterious DJ on the radio turns out to be... an ordinary middle-aged guy (albeit one who has some wisdom through his experiences). One of the heroes and his girlfriend are going through a rough patch, and it's portrayed in a mature and realistic way. The climactic drag race lasts all of fifteen seconds, and ends in a near-fatal crash. The main hero doesn't get the girl; in fact he never even learns her name. It's made very clear that Our Heroes will not always be together. In fact, this is probably the last time they'll all be in one place at the same time. This was made five years before Grease was released. Although the original musical hit theaters in 1972, American Graffiti was already in late pre-production by then.
  • Animal House:
    • It actually does a lot in deconstructing Wacky Fratboy Hijinks, as it's pointed out how the wild and destructive Deltas do things that would get real college students arrested, which no sane college administration would allow. Though the Deltas do ultimately get their revenge on the Dean and the snobbish Omegas by the end, it's a Pyrrhic Victory –- in spite of it all, they're expelled from the college, and it's heavily implied that at least some of them end up drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam. As Dean Wormer perfectly puts it, "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."
    • It also shows that the Deltas are not quite Cool Loser types; they just think they are. For example, the band they hire to play doesn't actually like them, and it's strongly implied that Otis Day sees the Deltas as little more than a steady booking that he tolerates. Likewise, Otter, the basis of the teen comedy version of The Casanova, is not a slick ladies' man and is perceived by most of the women in the film as a desperate lech. Even the Official Couple, Boon and Katy, are ultimately shown to be a poor match due to their immaturity, and the end credits imply that they have a tumultuous, unhealthy, and ultimately short-lived relationship. Much of this is because the film is actually an irreverent satire of the nostalgia-driven teen dramas of the 1970s, most notably American Graffiti, something later teen Sex Comedies missed because they were merely aping the surface features of Animal House.
  • The DeLorean from Back to the Future is seen as the Trope Codifier of the "cool car time machine". But in much of the series, it was anything but. It had its mishaps and breakdowns much like the real-life version of the vehicle. From the first film, the car shut down multiple times, including a critical point when Marty had to race to the clock tower for the lightning bolt to power the flux capacitor. In the second film, Doc Brown pointed out how fragile the car was when Marty asked why he couldn't crush Biff's 50's-era car. And in the third film, the car was so broken-down (from a busted fuel line and Doc's meddling to fix it) that a train was needed to give it a push to get Marty back to the present. It was likely that Doc Brown used the DeLorean "for style"note  because of his Mad Scientist persona.
  • Imagine that you're watching a film about a bunch of grown-up Baby Boomers looking back on their youth and activism in The '60s and how awesome they were back then, all set to a soundtrack of awesome period music... and the entire dramatic thrust of the film is about how they completely sold out their ideals, which were hollow to begin with and ultimately ruined their lives, and that they're all clinging to the past. It sounds like something a disgruntled younger filmmaker might make to dismantle everything that their parents' generation stood for... except that the film in question is 1983's The Big Chill, which basically codified "Baby Boomer nostalgia" as a creative industry! Director and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan (then 34 years old, making him, if anything, one of the older Baby Boomers) was making a movie about his own generation, not that of his parents.
  • A film by the director of Rebel Without a Cause (see below), Nicholas Ray, Bigger Than Life is cited as one of many films made in The ’50s that cast a darker light on some of the obsessions of that decade: namely, the suburban "keeping up with the Jones" mentality (here shown as an attempt by a family straining themselves and living out of their means) and the Nuclear Family (which amounts to a father becoming a tyrant of the home). Moreover, it deals with prescription drug abuse far before it became a major public issue in American society.
  • Blackboard Jungle is the Trope Codifier for Save Our Students movies. However, it feels almost deconstructive today. Progress is slow and difficult, and the ending isn't a final triumph, but only the beginning of victory.
  • While Blade Runner (1982) is the Trope Codifier of Cyber Punk films, it is essentially a Film Noir remade with a cyberpunk backdrop. It also takes the Artificial Human concept further than most later works; when the film starts, replicants have already been invented, extensively introduced, and gone rogue. The plot is about destroying rogue replicants, a literal deconstruction. Fantastic Racism is also lampshaded in the introduction, before any replicant even enters the set. Also, unlike a lot of "emotionless Killer Robot" sci-fi movies, the Replicants are depicted tragically as, essentially, just young children lashing out against their inevitable deaths. Deckard, meanwhile, is shown as a bit of a scumbag and potentially a rapist.
  • Blow-Up contains the Unbuilt Trope version of the Enhance Button. It's based on the realistic version of the trope: a photographer in a dark room. Unlike most other versions of the Enhance Button, enhancing the image is a time-consuming process, and the final result is so grainy that the photo might not show what it seems to show. Ultimately, it's like two mimes playing tennis.
  • The Bourne Identity is celebrated for revolutionizing the spy thriller flicks. However, the first film itself is not about spying; Bourne is an assassin, and a rogue one at that. Instead of taking down terrorists or criminals, Bourne is only interested in his survival, the primary Big Bad in the movie works for the U.S. government, and he himself is not killed by Bourne, but by a backstabbing partner of his. Likewise, the film goes to great lengths to not only subvert most conventions of the genre, but show (contrary to every spy flick made before or afterwards) just how terrifying someone with such a set of skills can be, even to the main character himself. The people who seem to be the most terrified are the average government workers themselves, who can only sit and watch in horror as one man effortlessly dismantles most of their operations and assets on his own. The main character is incredibly disturbed that he can analyze places and people so efficiently, and can't comprehend basic concepts like just asking someone for a pair of keys. One of the assassins is a university professor who moonlights as a silent, stalking assassin, who expresses remorse upon his plight when fatally wounded. It's the complete antithesis of the following films, which fall into much straighter spy thriller tropes.
  • Brazil was one of the big Codifiers of sci-fi Dystopia stories, but feels like a savage deconstruction of them, especially of later Young Adult Literature dystopias: The government/Mega-Corp isn’t some big evil force of oppression, just an incompetent Vast Bureaucracy that’s grown too byzantine to function properly. The rebellious hero is a pathetic, middle-aged loser who revolts more as an excuse to indulge his hedonism. The revolutionaries are psychotic terrorists that cause mass destruction and may not actually exist, instead merely being an invented scapegoat for Central Service’s criminal incompetence. The “advanced” technology is not only poorly designed, but also falling apart because nobody’s maintaining it and the infrastructure is just far too ambitious for it to support.
  • Carrie, both the original 1974 novel and its 1976 film version, showed how brutal teenage bullying could get, and how hard it can be for bullying victims to deal with it, as many teachers don't think anything about it, and her fundamentalist mother also abuses her. It was telling that the 2013 film version had to put greater emphasis on the wrongness of bullying than before.
  • Citizen Kane. It Was His Sled is a Trope Namer, but the sled is actually the unbuilt trope of the MacGuffin, long before Alfred Hitchcock coined the term.
  • That paragon of 1980s action flicks, Conan the Barbarian (1982) is an introspective, dialogue-light opera exploring Nietszchean ideas about Man versus Society.
  • For all of its flaws, Daredevil was ahead of its time in many ways, and its deconstruction of Matt Murdock's life and the realities of his chosen path was one of the biggest ones. Instead of glossing over or paying lip service to the life of a (mostly) unpowered vigilante, it dives headlong into it. Matt and his criminal defense practice are financially distressed due to his refusal to represent clients who he knows are guilty, his powers make sensory overload a constant issue (forcing him to sleep in a sensory deprivation tank, and making loud noises and areas with lots of noise sources a Kryptonite Factor), his relationships with others are badly strained and usually transient, and Matt himself is badly scarred, pops painkillers like Skittles, and is barely able to drag himself back into his apartment by the end of the night due to pain and exhaustion, and an Establishing Character Moment involves Matt spitting out the fragments of several broken teeth before downing painkillers. Furthermore, Elektra's saga is in the same vein: hungry for blood, she trains extensively in order to get her revenge on her father's killer, only to get the wrong guy before starting a fight with the right guy, who takes advantage of her impulsivity and blind rage and effortlessly and sadistically defeats and mortally injures her before leaving her to die (and she does). While the film has quite a few rough spots that are emblematic of the early 2000s that even the Director's Cut doesn't entirely nix (the overuse of nu metal and post-grunge, the costuming, some of the campier dialogue choices and action scenes), general consensus is that it did a lot of things right and has aged surprisingly well in many ways.
  • The first Death Wish film pioneered the urban Vigilante Man concept, but it also showed how dangerous it would be. The protagonist is not a hardened One-Man Army, but an architect who feels very sick the first time he actually kills a man, and has to rely on dirty sneaky tactics to dominate his enemies. His vigilantism also quickly gets the attention of the police, who progressively close on him. The thugs who kill his wife and rape his daughter are not moustache-twirling archvillains, they're a couple of random lowlifes who disappear into the night and are never seen again without a dramatic confrontation with Paul, because he has no idea who they are or what they looked like and has no way to track them down. The original book was even more blunt about these themes, and its author Brian Garfield was so disappointed with its Misaimed Fandom that he wrote a sequel, Death Sentence (which was later also adapted to film), that straight-up portrayed the vigilante as the villain.
  • Desert Heat is one of the first mainstream Hollywood movies about an LGBT love affair... where neither dies, there's No Antagonist, and no Downer Ending, elements which have appeared in many, many gay romance films since to the point of cliché.
  • Die Hard:
    • The original film actually does a lot to deconstruct the Right Man in the Wrong Place and Action Survivor tropes, which it helped to popularize. It was originally something of a deconstruction of the Hollywood Action Hero popular in The '80s, showing what it would actually be like for a normal police officer to take on a whole gang of terrorists while trapped in a building with no backup (though many of its imitators ignored this, as did some of its later sequels). When John McClane realizes that Nakatomi Plaza has been taken over by terrorists, he immediately realizes that he's in over his head and tries to call for help—but the police don't believe him. And although he wins in the end, a night of battling terrorists with bare feet and no armor leaves him badly roughed up. By the end, he's seriously injured and grateful that it's finally over.
    • The movie was the Trope Codifier for An Asskicking Christmas, and it remains the most famous example in film history. Unlike a lot of its imitators, though, the story actually has an explicit reason for taking place during the Christmas holiday. The Big Bad Hans Gruber chooses Christmas Eve as his date for robbing Nakatomi Plaza's vault because he knows that the CEO will be hosting a Christmas party on the 30th floor—conveniently allowing him to round up all of the employees in one place and take them hostage (which is vital to his plan).
  • Dracula (1931) is the Trope Codifier for the Classical Movie Vampire. But it's heavily implied that this version of Dracula adopted the outfit and demeanor he's seen with in the movie to better fit in with English high society — after all, many scenes of him socializing after arriving in London have everybody wearing evening dress. In other words, Dracula's not dressing and acting the way he does because it's his personal style or because he wants to identify himself as a vampire — he's doing it because he wants to blend in.
  • Dr. Strangelove: The movie created General Ripper. But the Trope Namer isn't a bombastic military man, but acts calm, collected, and suave. The keyword being "acts". Ripper's ability to hide his nervous breakdown from the psychological evaluations, Mandrake, and everybody else allowed him to be in the position of power he needed to be in to set his demented plot into motion. The news of his insanity was a shock to everyone involved. Buck Turgidson could be seen as the more standard version of this trope, with his loud threats against Communism, but was (wisely) ignored by the diplomatic President Muffley. And ultimately, Turgidson came to realize the disaster that would unfold.
  • Drunken Master, the first film of the "Jackie Chan learns Kung Fu" series. In it, Jackie's character was very good at fighting to begin with (he bests his teachers), and was actually sent to the Training from Hell as punishment, though ultimately he ended up becoming much better at Kung Fu than before. But in many subsequent films, Jackie plays an absolute novice with no previous fighting skills who suddenly becomes the best fighter in a very short time, much less time than in that first movie.
  • While the 1969 film Easy Rider was not the Ur-Example of the Badass Biker, it became the Trope Codifier, and an inspiration for biker culture since that year. While the main characters get rich from drug trafficking, and occasionally provoke and scare people along the road, they are mostly good-natured, in contrast to the intolerant, violent locals. While the bikers have their moments of joy on the journey, it does not turn out nearly as glamorous as they had hoped for, with a seemingly pointless Downer Ending.
  • Equilibrium:
    • As the Trope Codifier for Gun Kata, unlike the many works that since imitated it, it actually provided an in-universe explanation for the fighting style. Since the Grammaton Clerics are agents with perfect emotional control, they are able to use that ability to perfectly read what the attacker's next move is going to be, and thus position their bodies out of the predicted trajectory of return fire, resulting in the many poses and stances the art creates. Notably, the art performed by the main protagonist, John Preston, gradually becomes less robotic and more fluid as he starts to become attuned with his emotions, culminating in the hallway fight, where he exceeds the other Clerics due to channeling all his emotions into Tranquil Fury. Very few works give such an explanation for this fighting style beyond Rule of Cool (though considering how implausible it is, the explanation given in the film may also come across as simple cool factor as well).
    • Looking at the movie now, in the wake of the wave of teenage dystopia novels and films that have saturated the market following the runaway success of The Hunger Games, it can also come across as a subversion of several of the cliches present in those works. The main hero, John Preston, is not a young teenager, but rather a full grown single-father, and one of the head agents of the totalitarian regime at that. Rather than being some sort of Messiah or rebellious spirit, blessed with either a unique special ability or personality trait, Preston is more or less the same as the other Grammaton Clerics, and his Gun Kata skills, while no doubt impressive, are hardly noteworthy in the context of the film's world, where such an art is mandatory for the defensive arts of the Clerics, and he is also completely loyal to the cause of the government at first. While other such stories have the main character motivated to go against the system by the words of a rebel or love interest telling them of their uniqueness, Preston's comes about as a result of a complete accident; missing a dose of Prozium. The character that does fit into more of the molds of the typical YA dystopian hero, Errol Partridge, is killed by Preston not a third of the way through. Instead of herding dissenters and children into some sort of separate society or murder arena like in so many other YA Dystopia stories, the rebels are instead dealt with by either straight up execution or, in the case of the children, educated from birth to follow the system blindly. Furthermore other films portray the main hero or heroine as being in a forbidden romance that manages to pay off in the end, with said love interest also being extremely admirable and able to relate to the protagonist. Here however, the one presented as the possible love interest, Mary O'Brien, is portrayed as being rather unstable and violent because of her rebellious nature. Ultimately, she is killed via live cremation before a romance could've bloomed between her and Preston, with the latter failing to save her. Finally, the rebellion, which is usually spearheaded by the main character, has already started before the events of the movie, and their victory only comes about due to one of the members of the totalitarian regime joining them. In fact, this is even the plan of the villain, so as to have Preston unknowingly act as a sleeper agent. The only thing that saves him and the resistance is by modifying his emotions to allow him to perform the same acts of Gun Kata he used when purged of feelings. It can be a bit surprising then to find out that the film was released in 2002, about a decade before the YA Dystopia trend took off.
  • Escape from New York:
    • It features one of the (if not the) earliest uses of an Explosive Leash in fiction, but actively subverts the concept of it. Unlike most modern works depict it as the main tool to keep slaves and prisoners in line, it's used as a last resort option by Bob Hauk and Dr. Cronenberg when it's made clear that Snake isn't going to be compliant. Even then, Cronenberg is extremely dubious about the leash's potential, and has to be coerced into it by Hauk. The device itself isn't so much an "explosive" as a tool that bursts the implanted individual's main arteries, which won't instantly kill him but will cause him to bleed out in under a minute. Cronenberg also makes it clear that the device can't be disarmed until it hits a 15-minute window just before detonation, which is the only point at which the leash can be demagnetized. Finally, unlike most "leashes", the devices can't be permanently removed from the subject once they're implanted.
    • More generally, it can also be seen as the prototype for an archetypal '80s action movie plot, in which a lone American operative is sent into a dangerous enemy territory to either rescue someone (in this case the President) or recover something valuable (in this case a breakthrough in unlimited clean energy). Yet Snake Plissken is anything but the sort of gung-ho hero commonly seen in such movies. He has to be coerced into it via the aforementioned Explosive Leash, as he was originally being sent to Manhattan as his prison sentence. Furthermore, he's played by Kurt Russell, who in 1981 was still seen as a clean-cut Disney starnote , and even now that he's better known for his roles in action movies, he's hardly what most people picture when they think of a muscle-bound Hollywood Action Hero from The '80s. Moreover, having been written in the aftermath of Watergate, it has no time for the Patriotic Fervor that was characteristic of the genre. The US government in Escape is shown to be corrupt and authoritarian, its decision to wall off Manhattan and turn it into a prison island portrayed as proof of such, and when Snake finally rescues the President, his moral code causes him to screw him over out of spite at the end rather than remain complicit in a system he sees as evil. And that's before getting into the sequel, Escape from L.A., in which the government was explicitly villainous.
  • The Exorcist is one of the all-time classic Religious Horror films, and codified the Demonic Possession/exorcism subgenre in particular. However, as opposed to most films in the genre, the priests who exorcised the antagonist demon were killed in the process rather than living out to the end to proclaim God's victory. In addition to the Bittersweet Ending, the film's conclusion gives out an eerie tone rather than one of triumph; the good guys win, but they've a lost a lot in the process, and the sequels would show that the battle against Pazazu had not ended. It plays out like a Catholic version of a Cosmic Horror Story, one in which humanity is weak and small in the face of terrifying demonic forces and can only claim minor victories at best. Also, rather than merely showing a stage of supernatural phenomenons directly leading to the exorcism, the film deconstructs the process required for an exorcism to be ordained. The victim Regan has to go through extensive psychiatric evaluation and physical examinations — including two brutal scenes where she's given a spinal tap, a painful procedure that has her cringing in pain — before the priests risk subjecting her to a dangerous ritual.
  • Gangster films are often accused of glorifying crime, violence and overall amoral behavior. However, many of the most famous films are either deconstructions or subversions that show just how depressing, stressing, and painful the criminal lifestyle can be once things start to go wrong. Most end with the Villain Protagonist falling hard from grace, often leading to their death, and everything they built getting destroyed as a result. Rarely do any of them accomplish what they truly set out to do before things start to fall apart. And despite being surrounded by every vice and pleasure a person can want, they're often never truly happy with it. Some quick examples:
    • Tony Montana in Scarface (1983) is an iconic movie bad guy many people admire and want to be like. He is often mentioned in many rap songs and other music genres, as well as famous lines like, "Say hello to my little friend!", are often mentioned and played for laughs in other movies, shows, and video games. However, many either overlook how Tony Montana ultimately failed in his dream to be the biggest drug dealer in the world (the world is yours), was rejected by his mother, gets his sister killed, kills his best friend for really nothing, and is all alone to face a cartel army by the end, and predictably loses, despite taking a badass last stand.
    • In the The Godfather films, Michael Corleone is praised for being a Magnificent Bastard and a brilliant strategist. What's not focused on, is how he didn't want to live that lifestyle at all. Believed he was forced to do so because of his father being in danger. Everything he does is a desperate attempted to fulfill his father's wish to make the crime family legit. Makes decisions that haunt him despite appearing to be cold and ruthless. And by the final film in the trilogy, he is a emotional, guilt-ridden, man. The stress over the years have caused him to become diabetic and suffers from attacks. He still finds that he can't get out of the criminal lifestyle, despite appearing to finally succeed. and the film ends with his daughter taking a bullet that was meant for him, finally breaking him.
  • Falling Down: The character of D-Fens is seen as a precursor to "angry white males", a victim of economic injustice who lashes out at what he deems to be an unfair world. But he is largely a deconstruction of such a mentality: Foster himself wasn't a victim, but he was already an ill-tempered bigot who scared his ex-wife and his mother. At the end of the movie, Prendergast tells him that his frustrations didn't justify his horrible behavior.
  • Watching the original Friday the 13th (1980) today, it can be strange to note just how unlike many other '80s slasher movies it actually is.
    • The Friday the 13th series is widely seen as a Trope Codifier for the Death by Sex trope in the slasher genre, but the original film actually had a surprisingly nuanced (and justified) take on it. The killer, Pamela Voorhees, specifically targeted lustful teenagers because her son Jason drowned in Crystal Lake after his camp counselors snuck off to have sex when they were supposed to be watching him. Even in later movies, where Jason became the Breakout Villain, it was heavily implied that Jason targeted lustful teenagers partly to uphold his mother's legacy, and partly because he was essentially a traumatized child who never got to grow up, and sex was so far beyond his comprehension that it terrified him. When later slashers from outside the Friday series took the more surface-level elements of this trope, they were often accused of misogyny and reactionary fantasy. It's ironic that most of them were inspired by a film about a mother on a bloody Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    • Speaking of Pamela Voorhees, she was almost an inversion of many of the tropes of the slasher villains who followed in her wake. For one thing, she was a middle-aged woman, which is still a rarity in the genre. Furthermore, many '80s slashers wore masks but otherwise had their identities known for much of the film. Not only did Pamela not wear a mask or otherwise try to conceal her identity, but while we get several Murderer P.O.V. shots, the killer's identity is a mystery for most of the film, a setup that wouldn't really become popular in slasher films until the '90s when Scream popularized it. While Michael Myers had a profound influence on many later slasher villains, including Pamela's son Jason, Pamela herself did not, to the point where "who was the killer in the original Friday the 13th?" became a common trick question (as seen in the aforementioned Scream).
    • There's also the fact that the original film actually gave Pamela Voorhees a surprisingly coherent and logical (well, logical to her...) motivation for her bloody rampage, as well as a well-defined reason for targeting the specific people that she did. Since then, it's become something of a widely accepted convention that "true" slashers don't need a reason for killing people, and that they're just evil for the sake of being evil. The first movie's attempt to explain Pamela's murderousness might seem like a subversion of this idea—but since Friday the 13th (along with Halloween) created the archetypal slasher film, the filmmakers were free to tweak their conventions as much as they wanted.
    • Alice is the Final Girl of the first film, but lacks a few of the obvious traits associated with that character type. For one, she has no problem smoking and drinking with the rest of her friends, and doesn't seem to be any more of less responsible than them; in fact, it's hinted that she could be having an affair with Steve. She's also blonde, while the rest of the female victims are brunette. While she doesn't show her breasts on camera, she does appear in a bikini and is about to stripnote  when the storm interrupts her. Laurie Strode from Halloween is a far more archetypal Final Girl than Alice.
    • A pretty widely recognized cliché of slasher films is that slashers are both unstoppable and impossible to kill—partly to make them seem scarier to the audience, and partly because they wouldn't be able to make any more sequels if the heroes ever killed them. It's easy to forget that the Friday the 13th series didn't really start portraying Jason as a superhuman killing machine until Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives—and even then, they actually bothered to explain why he was like that. Jason actually dies in the fourth movie, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, the fifth movie Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning has a Copycat Killer as the villain, and the whole premise of the sixth movie is that he gets resurrected as an unkillable zombie after his corpse is struck by a bolt of lightning.
    • Another slasher film cliche is the killer moving slowly. But Jason runs full-tilt on multiple occasions throughout the franchise, especially in the early movies.
    • Ralph serves as the Harbinger of Impending Doom in the first film, warning the counselors that they're going to die — and as a result, becomes one of the main suspects the minute people start dying.
  • Gunnery Sergeant Hartmann from Full Metal Jacket is the Trope Codifier for Drill Sergeant Nasty in American film, but rather than being portrayed as a necessary evil whose methods come through in toughening up the recruits, his methods lead to one of the recruits snapping and killing him, then committing suicide, while the rest are decidedly unhinged afterwards.
  • Funny Games plays like a Genre Deconstruction of the torture porn genre that was popular in the mid-2000s... except that it was made in 1997, as a testimony against any violent media. In fact, the popularity of the genre during this period may have been what prompted its Shot-for-Shot Remake in 2007.
  • Garden State helped codify the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope with Natalie Portman's character Sam, a free-spirited woman who helps a depressed loner rediscover the joy in his life. While she plays the trope completely straight, her romantic foil's emotional issues are played much more seriously than you might expect. Andrew "Large" Largeman isn't just an awkward nerd looking for love—he suffers from a legitimate brain disorder that makes it nearly impossible for him to feel emotion, thanks to his psychiatrist father prescribing him lithium as a child. Despite the film's generally humorous tone, it examines the implications of this in full: Large's father is taken to task for what basically amounts to Parental Abuse, and it's heavily implied that Large cuts himself off from his emotions to avoid facing his guilt over accidentally paralyzing his mother as a child. Plenty of Manic Pixie Dream Girls might fall for guys with depression, but it's rare to see them fall for a victim of severe emotional trauma.
  • Get Carter feels at times like a deconstruction of the Brit gangster flick that emerged in the late 90's due to directors like Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughan. The villains are shown as ruthless and incredibly sleazy, the killings are done in a very matter-of-fact manner with little blood and no dramatic tricks, it's set in bleak Newcastle rather than London, there is a complete absence of any pop soundtrack or any form of music and the lead character is cold-hearted and utterly ruthless, not shown as any better than the men he kills. Were it made today, it would almost certainly be a Genre Deconstruction. Yet it was made in 1971, long before British Gangster films became big, and was instead a reaction to the increasingly lighthearted caper films of the previous decades. Michael Caine is said to have insisted on making a film to depict gangsters the way he knew them as a condition for appearing in The Italian Job (1969).
  • Glengarry Glen Ross does this for the motivational coaching genre and its usefulness as a whole, years before it was commonplace and glamorized by films like Boiler Room and The Wolf of Wall Street. In the film's most famous scene, hotshot salesman Blake (Alec Baldwin) delivers a blistering "reason you suck" speech to a group of sad-sack real estate brokers, imploring them to "Always Be Closing" and motivating them to do better with the promise of access to better leads. While the scene is typically held up as the most memorable thing in the film (to the point that it was an Adaptation Expansion added into the original stage play because of its popularity), it reads like a subversion of the industry it was designed to puff up. For all the popularity that Blake's scene has received, one would be surprised upon actually seeing the film to find out that it was a complete failure: Blake's speech doesn't help the protagonists to make good sales — only to make more bad sales, and eventually perform a theft that results in two of them getting arrested. Blake's speech focused only on motivation and failed to acknowledge the protagonists' real problems: they lack the necessary skill, and (as later events in the film show) they are being held back by bad leads. Giving them motivation, and only motivation, would not help if they still don't know how to sell and their leads are bad anyway. It also doesn't help that, due to events revealed later in the film, the stakes are even worse than the three men thought — Ricky Roma (Al Pacino) is so far ahead of them in terms of sales that they're not fighting for two spots at the company, but one.
  • Gojira:
    • The originator of the Godzilla franchise is nothing like the kaiju genre it spawned. Godzilla is a clear metaphor for the horrors of nuclear weaponry, with the nuclear bombing of Japan less than 10 years past at the time. Godzilla is an evil abomination of nature, and his rampage is not treated as a gleeful spectacle of destruction, the film including extended scenes of little kids painfully dying of radiation burns and other horrors.
    • Both the Trope Maker and the Trope Namer for the Godzilla Threshold, it went much farther in examining the moral and psychological implications of such an idea than many works that came after it. In addition to examining the political ramifications of the Oxygen Destroyer used to kill Godzilla, its inventor, Dr. Daisuke Serizawa, is depicted as a tragic, self-loathing figure who genuinely hates the fact that his only great creation is a horrific weapon of war, as he's also a battle-scarred veteran who witnessed the worst of World War II as a young man. Serizawa's hatred of his Oxygen Destroyer is so great that it destroys his relationship with his intended bride, Emiko, and he's so devoted to protecting the world from his creation that he only agrees to use it against Godzilla after destroying his notes, ultimately committing a Heroic Suicide in the final scene so that the secret of the Oxygen Destroyer dies with him.
  • The Graduate:
    • It popularised the Runaway Bride trope — and the sequence of Benjamin convincing his love interest to run out on her wedding is iconic. But its numerous imitators forget to include the part that happens next; once they're on the bus and the thrill wears off, the two share a look that says "did we really do the right thing?" — and the film ends ambiguously.
    • The film was the Trope Namer for Mrs. Robinson. But it isn't portrayed just for fanservice, although Mrs. Robinson is certainly attractive, but also for drama. Mrs. Robinson was forced into a Shotgun Wedding after having a child out of wedlock, and she wants to have an affair with Ben out of dissatisfaction with her marriage. It also portrays the consequences of a young man having an affair with a married woman: when Ben falls for Elaine, Mrs. Robinson lies and tells Elaine and Mr. Robinson that he took advantage of her. The latter threatens to sue him if he ever comes near his family again, and Elaine initially wants nothing to do with him.
  • The Green Mile is the most famous cinematic example of the Magical Negro trope, but it tempers the trope much more negatively than future imitators. Rather than a saintly, elderly old man who dispenses wisdom to the white characters, John Coffey is a simple-minded manchild rapist and murderer or so everyone assumes at first. In addition, his magical abilities that help the white people are shown to be agonizingly painful for him, to the extent that he tells them his execution would come as a mercy for all the pain he's been forced to absorb. Most other examples of the trope also forget the fact that John Coffey is capable of harming as well as helping the white people around him, like when he uses his powers to force Percy to gun down the real killer, Wild Bill Wharton, destroying Percy's mind in the process. The white main character gets immortality from Coffey's powers, but he views it as a curse rather than a blessing, telling his friend that he feels God is punishing him for allowing John Coffey's execution.
  • Groundhog Day: The film is the Trope Namer for the plot in which a person repeats the same day over and over. Of course, being a selfish and cynical man, Phil milks it for all its worth: robbing from an armored truck, sleeping with random women, and stuffing his face with junk food. Of course his attempt to get close to Rita by exploiting the loop to learn about her fails because she thinks he was stalking her. He quickly driven over the edge and desperately tries to kill himself, to no avail. The original idea was that Phil was cursed by a jilted ex-lover. He eventually uses the time to learn about the people in Punxsutawney, as well playing the piano and learning poetry. Stephen Tobolowsky, the guy who played Ned Ryerson, guesses that Phil spent 10,000 years in the loop, since it takes a lot of time to learn those skills. Harold Ramis puts Phil's time at about ten years.
  • Halloween (1978) played a major role in defining the Slasher Movie… except the killer's not all that invincible, the main adult character is actively hunting the killer down instead of being useless, the violence is almost bloodless by modern standards, there are only four onscreen deaths, the killer has nothing even resembling a Freudian Excuse, and he turns out to be very normal-looking under his mask.
  • On paper, Maude from Harold and Maude sounds like a textbook example of Manic Pixie Dream Girl, a quirky, spontaneous love interest who gives the bleak male protagonist a new hunger for life... except the film was released in 1971, she's at least forty years' Harold's senior, and that oh-so-charming spontaneity leads to her suddenly committing suicide.
    • Harold is notable for being an Emo Teen back before emo was even a thing. He's rich, very depressed, and obsessed with death, to the point of repeatedly staging his suicide.
  • Home Alone was the movie that kickstarted the "kid empowerment" genre of the 1990s, but at the same time, it felt like a deconstruction. Instead of having wild and improbable fantasies like most other kid-empowered films, Kevin does mostly rather mundane things around the house, such as... jumping on the bed, sledding down the stairs, or eating tubs of ice cream while watching (somewhat) violent films. Also, because he was, well, home alone, he needed to find food and steal Buzz's money to survive. Furthermore, Adults Are Useless not because of plot stupidity but because Kevin refused to trust them: he hated his extended family (especially Uncle Frank); he was scared that the police — who were trying to help — would arrest him after he (accidentally) stole a toothbrush; the Wet Bandits were constantly stalking him; and he was downright terrified of Old Man Marley. And despite all the traps and hilarious injuries Kevin inflicted on Harry and Marv, he actually failed to stop them in the end, and would have been killed if it weren't for Old Man Marley coming in to rescue him.
  • The Fifties Alien Invasion craze began with It Came from Outer Space. (The War of the Worlds came first, but was an adaptation of a 1897 novel.) Thing is, the "invasion" in the film is nothing of the sort. The aliens are neither conquerors nor infiltrators, but stranded travelers trying to repair their ship. While they do take hostages, they're more then willing to release them in exchange for a promise of safety. The vigilante mob led by the local sheriff turns out to be a much more serious problem. The film was a reaction to the xenophobia that dominated the American consciousness during the early 1950's; portraying the outsiders as being as scared of us as we were of them was a fairly bold statement for its time. But as the Cold War worsened, the genre's priorities shifted to milking the Red Scare for all it was worth.
  • Part of the reason why It's a Wonderful Life is a holiday classic is that it's one of the first – and very few – films to tackle the subject of holiday depression, long before cynical takes on Christmas became common in pop culture. And unlike many of those later films, this one does not play the depression for comedy, although there are some welcome moments of comic relief here and there.
  • The 1979 film Kramer vs. Kramer is the Trope Codifier of Taking the Kids and custody drama, which, as Society Marches On, has become an established trope. However, Mr. Kramer's Character Development creates a plot twist which does not change the legal situation, although it is enough to change Ms. Kramer's mind. It is also an early depiction of yuppies one year before The '80s, focusing on the shortcomings in their personal lives rather than their professional success.
  • Despite its influence on the modern-day slasher film genre and kickstarting the career of Wes Craven, the original The Last House on the Left really bears no similarity to modern-day slasher films at all. There is no shocking out-of-nowhere "jump scenes" or tension that has become a trademark of the genre, the killings are slow, obvious and fairly realistic and shocking in that manner. The Soundtrack Dissonance is quite obvious and fairly odd, as is the comedic bits sprinkled throughout. Furthermore all the killers including the gang and parents are both seen as normal people, not almost supernatural and indestructible beings. By today's standards it'd almost be seen as a dark comedy instead of a horror film.
  • Despite being considered the archetypal example of the buddy cop film, Lethal Weapon and its sequels subvert and deconstruct many aspects of the genre. There are undercurrents of drama, but these are played with realistic seriousness rather than the campy melodrama of later examples. Roger Ebert argued that direct parodies of these films don't work for this reason; the creators are trying to introduce jokes into a film series that already has tons of jokes, with things like exploding toilets and guys eating dog biscuits.
    • Unlike most main characters in cop films, the lead (Riggs) suffers from suicidal tendencies and post-traumatic stress as a result of his wife's death, so much so that he nearly kills himself multiple times over in the course of his work.
    • The characters routinely get called out for their antics, to the point that they're demoted several times. In Lethal Weapon 4, the Chief gives them a promotion under the express order that they'll stay away from field work. The characters also repeatedly face serious consequences for acting like cowboys, and they have reputations in the precinct for being reckless in the line of work.
    • The series played with the concept of the Bulletproof Vest long before it was prevalent in most crime works. In the first film, Riggs wears a vest and survives a drive-by shooting, but endlessly complains about how much the impact hurt for the rest of the film. In the third, a character survives an impact from a "cop-killer" bullet by using two vests at the same time, although this still causes injuries.
    • The Plucky Comic Relief is forced on the characters against their wishes, and although he does have some legitimate skill, he's kidnapped and suffers in Lethal Weapon 2 before being rescued by the main characters.
    • The second film has one of the most famous examples of Diplomatic Immunity being exploited in fiction. Yet the climax subverts it, with Murtagh just shooting the bad guy dead and not getting in trouble for it due to the guy being a criminal who was attacking the duo, just like what would happen in real life.
  • George A. Romero's Living Dead Series:
    • Despite Night of the Living Dead (1968)'s reputation as the Trope Codifier for modern-day Zombie Apocalypse media, the film's take on the genre is significantly different compared to the way zombies are portrayed today. For starters, the zombies are instead referred to as "ghouls"note . On top of that, the zombies were fairly agile, showed some signs of intelligence, and the film had the main characters be wiped out by their own incompetence while the rest of the world outside quickly figured out what was going on and was systematically wiping out the last of the zombies by morning. Both sequel series retcon this in different ways, but as a standalone film it's completely clear that the disaster is over. Later films either always treat zombie uprisings as an apocalyptic event, or joke about how stupid that is (like Shaun of the Dead).
    • Dawn of the Dead (1978) implied that the only reasons why someone would actually want a Zombie Apocalypse or some other doomsday disaster to happen are because they hold a grudge against some part of society, fantasize about being a badass, want to run wild, or some mixture of such – all the way back in 1978, three decades before Cracked said the same thing. To demonstrate this, the film has a racist cop who uses the zombie outbreak as an excuse to shoot minorities and immigrants without consequence, rednecks who treat zombie killing as an excuse to get drunk and party, and lastly, the biker gang that loots the mall. The zombie apocalypse doesn't happen overnight, either. The film starts three weeks into it, and while the fabric of society is clearly fraying, public services are still functional enough to keep the power on, the television stations broadcasting (even if they're switching to emergency broadcasting), and law enforcement in one piece. Also (especially in the extended versions of the film), the zombie apocalypse comes with a lot of ennui — the protagonists slowly develop cabin fever as they're boarded up inside the mall trying to survive, with increasingly little to do to let off steam once the novelty of having a mall all to themselves wears off.
      And finally, the opening of the film shows what the zombie apocalypse would look like through the eyes of people in the ghetto, beyond just news reports showing violence and zombie mayhem in the overrun downtowns and inner cities, a perspective that's only rarely seen in zombie films even today. The classic zombie movie trope of people being unable to shoot their infected loved ones clashes hard with the orders of the police and National Guard to execute all infected people, which itself clashes with decades' worth of boiling fury over Police Brutality, leading Philadelphia's black and Puerto Rican communities to defy the emergency measures and flat-out revolt due to the fact that they do not trust the authorities to have their best interests at heart. As far as they're concerned, the official line that infection can only be 'cured' by Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain is just an excuse for the police to put their jackboots on their necks, and given that even the authorities are shown to be in bitter disagreement on what's even causing the zombie plague and struggling to convey the most basic facts to the public, and that (as noted above) there really are some bad apples on the police force that see them as their lessers, they aren't lacking in reasons to be paranoid. (Just weeks before the film premiered, a Philadelphia-based black liberation/anarcho-primitivist group called MOVE had gotten into a high-profile confrontation with the police, which would serve as a prelude for a far greater disaster seven years later.)
  • Man of the Year was made in 2006, 10 years before the 2016 election in which Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, and it explores what would happen if a major television personality ran for president. Ronald Reagan had famously started out as an actor prior to entering politics, but he'd long since retired from show business by the time he'd become president, and had earlier served two terms as Governor of California. Tom Dobbs is a late-night talk show host akin to Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, who is persuaded to run for the presidency, running on a populist platform based around a high dissatisfaction with the American two-party system, arguing that neither party truly serves their supporters. And when he wins thanks to a glitch in the voting machines, he finds that he's totally unprepared for the responsibilities of the presidency and declines to run again for another election.
  • If you primarily know of John Wayne's work through Pop Culture Osmosis, watching his 1962 film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance can be a bit jarring. While not Wayne's first movie as a leading man (that was The Big Trail), it's largely responsible for solidifying American pop culture's image of him: it was the first movie to cast him as a Lovable Rogue cowboy in a ten-gallon hat and a neckerchief who defends the weak while snarking cynically, and it spawned his iconic Catchphrase "Pilgrim", among other things. It's also a vicious Genre Deconstruction of Westerns that's ultimately about the death of the Old West, and it ends with Wayne's character dying alone and unremembered after succumbing to his alcoholism, while another man marries his only love and takes the credit for his final heroic deed.
  • Mary Poppins uses the When You Coming Home, Dad? trope quite heavily, and the Aesop is that George should devote more time to his children while he can. But the film also teaches the children a similar Aesop; that just because their father doesn't always have time for them, it doesn't mean he doesn't love them. They're also taught that raising a family while working a high-paying job is really hard work, so it's best not to judge someone too much. This is decades before countless '80s and '90s media featured neglectful parents Cutting the Electronic Leash to spend more time with their kids.
  • The Matrix was the Trope Codifier for Bullet Time, though many forget that Neo didn't completely dodge all of the bullets fired at him, getting grazed badly enough for the Agent to almost corner him for the kill. And the Agent's own Bullet Time actually screws him over, he gets so focused on overcomplex dodging that he fails to notice Trinity sneaking up on him and shooting him in the head point-blank. Furthermore, unlike many of its imitators, the film actually provided an in-universe explanation for the effect; since Neo is The One, he is able to bend the laws of the system, which includes the ability to move faster than bullets, and be able to see and manipulate them. Notably, the sequences involving the effect only occurred inside the simulation, demonstrating its artificiality, and providing both the main heroes and villains something to show that they are not slaves bound by the rules of the program. Very rarely does a film actually try to explain a special effect like this beyond simple Rule of Cool.
  • After reading books and watching shows from the 2000s like The Clique, Pretty Little Liars, and Gossip Girl in which high school Alpha Bitches and their Girl Posses served as cool, sexy, glamorous Villain Protagonists if not outright protagonists, one might be inclined to view Mean Girls as a response to such stories. The catty heroines and antagonists are shown the damage that such soapy high school backstabbing does to young people, the Girl Posse's infighting is portrayed as pointlessly self-destructive, the Alpha Bitch is a villain to be pitied and hated rather than loved and feared, and the Cool Loser heroine's plan to unseat the Alpha Bitch leaves her coming off no better. The solution to it all is to just get rid of the entire system and stop caring about who's in or out of the "cool" clique, with all of the main characters ultimately finding greater happiness and validation by channeling their energy into more productive pursuits. And, it was Based on an Advice Book that explored school bullying and cliques, drawing from its author's own real-life experiences with such as a teenager and interviews with actual teenage girls. Actually, the movie was made in 2004, and a case could be made that its success directly inspired the aforementioned books/shows and their imitators (including, ironically, its own sequel).
  • Metropolis is one of the first science fiction movies ever, set in a futuristic city dominated by technology. It uses this backdrop to comment on unionized labor, pointing out that such a majestic city would probably be built on exploitation of workers.
  • Mission: Impossible: The famous "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop scene was the result of the heroes with their high tech gear breaking into a high tech vault nearly getting screwed because there was a rat in the vents, which made Krieger, the guy holding Ethan Hunt's rappelling rope, sneeze. At the end of the scene, they're nearly done in by simply dropping something (Krieger's knife).
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail helped pioneer the Seinfeldian Conversation two decades before Seinfeld was a thing, most memorably in the famous "African Swallow" conversation. But unlike later works that did it, Holy Grail's Seinfeldian Conversation is also a deconstruction of the movie's setting, and it starts when a random extra picks up on the fact that he's in a ridiculously low-budget movie, and points out the many weird implications of the production's cost-saving measures.note  Arthur also reacts just like anyone in the audience would: he quickly gets sick of the conversation and tries to steer the plot back on track, then finally walks away when the guards won't stop yammering about coconuts and migratory birds.
  • The Mummy (1932) is the Trope Maker for mummy. But Boris Karloff's Imhotep is very different from your stereotypical mummy. He's intelligent and speech-capable (and pretends to be a 20th-century Egyptian), doesn't stay in wrappings after he wakes up, doesn't shamble, and generally acts more like a sorcerer. His motivation is also different than you'd expect: he's not out to kill people for defiling tombs, he wants to be reunited with his lost love.
  • Network, a 1976 satire of television news, has been described as one of the most chilling movies ever made due to its deconstruction of a lot of the tropes present in 24-Hour News Networks – nearly two decades before such networks were an omnipresent force in news reporting. Howard Beale, for one, predates most examples of the Pompous Political Pundit, both real and fictional. It's also shown that his "mad as hell" attitude comes not from political extremism or another nefarious purpose, but is the result of him literally going mad as a result of working in television for too long. The network, meanwhile, is happy to feed his insanity in the name of the ratings that his unhinged rants produce, using it as an excuse to dissolve the news department and place it under the control of its entertainment division.note  As noted above, it also takes aim at Reality TV, long before it ever became a phenomenon.
  • North by Northwest was a major inspiration for many Spy Fiction works, such as James Bond and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and yet watching it reveals a lot more original and deconstructive touches:
    • Cary Grant as Roger Thornhill is The Everyman and not a super-spy. Likewise, espionage is generally treated realistically. Eve Kendall points out that she was a wealthy socialite who knew Vandamm in social occassions and the US Government turned her as a spy for them by largely continuing as his girlfriend and remaining close to him. Most espionage usually happens in social conditions and spies largely pose as civilians. It is the elaborate and baroque plot that really forces characters into action sequences.
    • The film make it clear that a government spy agency, even the "good" guys, really do value the mission and intelligence gathering and they will be willing to let innocent people die rather than compromise the cover of their mission. Both the US government and Eve Kendall herself were willing to leave Roger to die by Van Damm's forces to better preserve Eve's cover. The only reason they resort to help Roger at the end, is because he's attracted too much heat and attention, and is phenomenally lucky as an Action Survivor.
    • More important, Hitchcock and Lehman sternly attack the entire profession of espionage and the Cold War. Roger Thornhill's main motivation in the final scene isn't stopping the Big Bad, it's rescuing Eve Kendall. Eve is the one who cares about the mission. The Big Bad gets captured, and The Dragon gets killed by a random sergeant.
    Roger Thornhill: "If you fellows can't lick the Vandamm's of this world without asking girls like her to bed down with them and fly away with them and probably never come back, perhaps you ought to start learning how to lose a few cold wars."
  • Now, Voyager has one of the first instances of the Beautiful All Along trope. Charlotte loses weight, plucks her eyebrows, gets a stylish new haircut and more fashionable clothes. But despite these physical changes, she still remains the same awkward repressed woman she was at the beginning — and her life doesn't improve until she changes her attitude. So the external transformation is less important than the internal transformation.
  • The Producers: The film is a Trope Namer for Springtime for Hitler, but it also shows the consequences of Bialystock and Bloom making an unexpectedly successful play. Having oversold shares in the production of the play, they now have obligations they can't pay back, and face charges of fraud. Finally, in a last desperate attempt to avoid responsibility, they try to blow up the theater, and that doesn't work either. Their impassioned plea in court is ignored, they are found "incredibly guilty" by the judge, and both of them go to jail.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark:
    • Raiders is one of the most influential action movies ever made, and Indiana Jones himself is the modern Action Hero. Viewed on its own, though, it's a surprisingly deconstructive take on adventure stories. Indy ends the movie just as bruised and battered as you'd expect him to be, and the famous opening sequence ends with him anticlimactically giving up the precious Macguffin—demonstrating that his smarmy rival often outsmarts him through his Pragmatic Villainy. And despite showing enormous courage and fortitude, Indy nonetheless fails in his mission: the Nazis ultimately succeed in getting the Ark of the Covenant, and are only defeated because they didn't realize that the Ark kills anyone who opens it.
    • Indiana Jones may not have been the very first Adventure Archaeologist in the history of fiction, but he's definitely the definitive example that all later ones are compared to. But Raiders of the Lost Ark, unlike most of its imitators, actually addresses a lot of the misconceptions about archaeology spawned by movies. After Indy loses the Macguffin in the opening sequence, he proudly shows Marcus Brody a vast collection of smaller, less flashy archaeological finds that Belloq didn't bother to notice because he was only looking for treasure. And in the same sequence, Indy lectures his archaeology class about a valuable archaeological site that was nearly destroyed by careless treasure-hunters who (wrongly) believed a local legend about a golden coffin that was supposedly buried there. The Last Crusade continues the trend, with Indy explicitly telling his students that archaeologists are scholars, not treasure-hunters, and most of their work is done in a library. Even though this is mocked as one of the places on the trail is literally under a library, it is established they are only able to accomplish the Grail Quest due to Indiana's father spending decades studying Grail Literature.
  • Thanks to his Actionized Sequels, Rambo is shorthand for a badass soldier who takes on whole armies and wins while suffering only minor setbacks at best, and when the average person thinks of his films, they think ultra-patriotic war movies in which the enemies of America are destroyed. With this, it's easy to forget that the first film, First Blood, was an anti-war film protesting the degree to which veterans of The Vietnam War were dehumanized and mistreated. Rambo here is a homeless man unable to keep a job thanks to his now-useless skill set, who is tormented daily by PTSD from the war and the fact that he is the only survivor of his squad (he learns right at the start that the only other survivor he knew of is dead), but keeps his feelings bottled up just to function as a human being. His enemies are not a foreign army, but local small-town policemen who abuse him for no good reason, symbolizing the civilian mistreatment of veterans returning from the war and how veterans felt about it.

    The one time Rambo is against a group of enemies, it is a single-digit number and he takes them on one at a time using stealth and cunning. When faced with 200, he backs down and surrenders with encouragement from his ex-commander, and his reign of terror ends in him suffering a mental breakdown where he lets out all his bottled-up feelings summarizing how tormented and unable to live as a civilian he's become. What's more is that throughout the film, he goes out of his way to not kill anybody because he just wants the abusive cops to leave him alone; the only exception is both a complete accident and a Karmic Death. That's not even getting into how the film was intended to end with Rambo killing himself because he can't adapt to civilian life, or how it was based on a novel where Rambo does kill lots of people but is portrayed as a villain! The overall impression one gets from First Blood is a deconstruction of Rambo's popular image—or it would be, if it weren't his debut.
  • Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon actually deconstructs many aspects of the oft-imitated plot structure that it lends its name to. Instead of using its famous "Three contradictory flashbacks" format as a simple plot gimmick, it's a deeply philosophical character study that uses the format as a vehicle for discussing human beings' inherent inability to tell the truth, examining the moral implications of this idea in full. At one point, one character even concludes that almost all of mankind's evils arise from their attempts to avoid confronting the truth by lying to themselves. By the end, the story has ceased to be about a murder trial at all, and become the story of said character's struggle to regain his faith in humanity. Notably, the traditional "Fourth true flashback" is also strongly hinted to be another lie. We're initially led to believe that the Woodcutter (a neutral witness to the murder) is the only one telling the truth...until it turns out that he also left out several details to cover up the fact that he was the one who stole the murder weapon.
  • Rebel Without a Cause is often cited as the definitive teenage delinquent/teen movie, dealing with teenagers as protagonists, forming gangs and resisting their parents. Yet unlike later teen movies which glorify teenage years and high school life, the film is a good deal more serious, touching on the loneliness and alienation that troubled kids face, how self-destructive and wasteful teen gang fights are. The famous planetarium scene even touches on the ideas of Existentialism, with kids being made aware that they live on a fragile planet in an formless universe with no real place to house ideals.
  • Viewed today, Michael Bay's The Rock can come off as a deconstruction of the mindless action and gung ho American patriotism that Bay's films are frequently criticized for—even though it was the second movie of his career, and his first military thriller. For one thing, the main antagonists are American terrorists fighting for an unusually sympathetic cause, with the Corrupt Bureaucrats that motivated them presented as the true villains. For another, the movie spends almost as much time condemning America's treatment of veterans and presenting a damning view of government secret-keeping as it does on action. Furthermore, the heroes aren't military types — once a Navy SEAL team is slaughtered, it's up to what the general in charge describes as "a 70-year-old convict and a lab rat" to save the day.
  • Saturday Night Fever portrays the disco lifestyle in a manner that is decidedly unsentimental and depressing enough to be labeled as a grim deconstruction. A slew of imitators that followed were unapologetically feel-good escapist fantasies – which SNF isn't.
  • Screwed in Tallinn (Swedish original title Torsk på Tallinn) is a 1999 mockumentary which indulges in all the awkward aspects of the Mail-Order Bride phenomenon while it was still rather uncommon in Sweden, both in Real Life and in popular culture.
  • The Shawshank Redemption is the Trope Namer and arguably the Trope Codifier of Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook. Indeed, Andy is an innocent man who is sent to a corrupted prison, but Andy works the system to bring Laser-Guided Karma on the wrongdoers. The narrator, Red, also resists the corruption, finds redemption, and leaves prison as a free man.
  • The Siege is a movie that looks at how a major terrorist attack in New York would disrupt life greatly... three years before September 11, 2001.
  • The use of Alucard as a Sdrawkcab Alias first arose in Son of Dracula in 1943, the middle of the monster movie craze. Every single character figures it out almost immediately.
  • Smokey and the Bandit was the first mainstream feature film to use citizen-band radio as a plot device. CB radio became used among truckers only with the 1973 oil crisis, four years before Smokey was released, and it was one of the works which popularized the technology and the community around it. In contrast to Hollywood CB, Smokey gives a realistic depiction of the technology. A few decades later, wireless communication devices and social media became commonplace; making the film's depiction of the CB community, and its social implications - used as a tool for crime, law enforcement, entrapment and social resistance - seems Hilarious in Hindsight (see Asimov's Three Kinds of Science Fiction).
  • Ginny from Splendor in the Grass unbuilds the Quirky Ukulele trope. She's a liberated Flapper girl who wants to be an artist and is far hipper than anyone else in her small town, and her main hobby is playing the ukulele, which she plays along to Jazz records. She dates many men, who clearly see her as a fun breath of fresh air, but unlike in later examples she's not a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Instead, her promiscuity ruins her reputation and it and her "quirkiness" are implied to stem from mental issues.
  • Starship Troopers:
    • This Cracked article makes an interesting case that, viewed today without context, the film could easily be mistaken for a satire on the War on Terror. A militaristic right wing government, complacent in its own superiority, suffers a devastating disaster that destroys a major population center. They blame a race of far off aliens on an isolated desert planet that couldn't possibly be responsible, and go to war, egged on by media saturated with propaganda. They quickly get bogged down in a quagmire. After capturing the leader, and torturing it horribly, they declare victory. Except it was made in 1997.
    • The film inadvertently breathed new life into the Space Marine trope when people didn't catch that it was a Stealth Parody of the original novel. The "hardened badass" marines are actually unquestioning drones who are poorly trained and get slaughtered by the thousands because of their incompetent strategies and leadership. The buglike monsters they're mowing down are strongly implied to be a formerly innocent and peaceful race who are defending their homes from the xenophobic humans, who are using them as a scapegoat for their personal woes.
  • Star Wars:
    • When the Millennium Falcon first made its debut in A New Hope back in 1977, the thing seemed to utterly defy classification: in keeping with the film's role as a Genre Turning Point for science-fiction cinema, it was one of the first spaceships in the history of film that didn't look like either a Flying Saucer or a rocket ship. Given that George Lucas was one of the first filmmakers to give the Epic Film treatment to a fantastical sci-fi adventure set in another universe, he was also one of the first filmmakers to truly experiment with the design of a spaceship—singlehandedly inventing the Cool Spaceship trope in the process. With that in mind, Luke Skywalker's famous reaction to the ship ("What a piece of junk!") can seem much more understandable, considering neither Luke nor the audience had ever truly seen anything like the Millennium Falcon, and it really did look like a random assemblage of parts that couldn't possibly fly across the galaxy.
    • By now, absolutely everyone knows the famous twist at the end of The Empire Strikes Back, to the point that it singlehandedly made it a cliché to have a dramatic Reveal where the villain turns out to be the hero's father. It can be hard to remember that, by today's standards, the big reveal actually reads like a deconstruction of the Luke, I Am Your Father trope, as it deals with its inherent complications far more handily than most of its imitators. The revelation that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father isn't just a surprise — it explicitly contradicts what Obi-Wan tells Luke about his father's fate in the previous film, carrying the disturbing implication that he hid the truth from Luke so that he wouldn't have any qualms about murdering his own father. note  As you might expect, this leads to a severe case of Broken Pedestal, and one of Luke's final lines in the movie is an anguished "Why didn't you tell me?" as he realizes that he was lied to by the person he trusted most in the world. And of course, the twist is only a twist because Anakin Skywalker was rechristened after he fell to the Dark Side, and refused to answer to his old name. Later, Lucas would devote another four films to showing just how far a person would have to fall from grace before they — and their loved ones — genuinely considered their old self dead.
    • If your first exposure to the Japanese jidai geki genre is from reading up on George Lucas' inspirations for Star Wars, actually watching a few of the films that inspired him can be a bit of a shock. note  The most well-known jidai geki films in the West had more than their share of action and spectacle, but many of them were also Deconstructions of the glory days of Feudal Japan, portraying the twilight years of the samurai and openly questioning whether the lofty ideals of bushido had any real meaning in the modern world (especially since World War II had ended only a decade or so beforehand). Star Wars was—among many other things—a Lighter and Softer tribute to the work of filmmakers like Akira Kurosawa and Masaki Kobayashi, emphasizing the romanticism of their films while downplaying their tragedy and cynicism.
    • The original trilogy is generally cited as the Trope Codifier for The Empire, but it can be surprisingly nuanced in its depiction of life in an authoritarian state. It's pretty strongly implied that most Imperial troops are just Punch Clock Villains from backwater planets who enlisted in the military to make a decent living while seeing the Galaxy, and even The Hero initially plans to enroll in the Imperial Academy to escape the drudgery of life as a farmer on Tatooine; as revealed in a Deleted Scene, his best friend even outright joins the Imperial fleet before having a change of heart and defecting. Rather than being a dictatorship from the beginning, the Empire is (ostensibly) run by an Imperial Senate and a bureaucratic council for around 20 years before the Emperor finally dissolves the Senate. Moreover, Darth Vader is the only member of the sinister Sith Order who actually serves in the rank and file of the Imperial military, and it's shown that many ordinary officers openly hate the Sith just as much as they hate the Jedi, dismissing them as superstitious old holdovers from an ancient religion.
    • The assault on the Death Star is arguably the first Aerial Canyon Chase in a motion picture, having been copied and parodied in countless works, usually to show off Ace Pilot skills. In this original setting, the trope was Recycled In Space (assuming that Space Is Air), and just as suicidal as it would be in Real Life, with many experienced pilots on both sides crashing their fighters into the Death Star. Luke and Darth Vader survive through their connection to the Force.
    • There Is Another is generally a trope used to create hope or optimism. But the trope-naming instance in The Empire Strikes Back was partly used to remove Luke's Plot Armor. When Yoda said there was somebody else, it was to reassure Obi-Wan that they'd still have a chance if Luke was captured, corrupted, or killed. This meant that the audience knew Vader could win at Cloud City without completely jeopardizing the good guys, and so the suspense would be increased.
  • Samuel Fuller's The Steel Helmet is seen as the first fiction film about The Korean War and its commercial success inspired a slew of films in the Korean War. But in sharp contrast to what came later, and what you would expect from a war movie in The ’50s, it is a film that is pointedly anti-racist, that features a Politically Incorrect Hero, and it attacks the sentimental tropes of the war movie genre, and even the ideology of the Cold War.
    • It has a squad of multi-racial figures, including an African-American and Japanese-American and unlike later American war movies which features this multi-cultural team as a given, this film addresses the tensions in a newly desegregated institution at a time when much of America is still segregated. It also addresses the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. The film's social and political criticism is such that it got invited to the Pentagon.
    • This film is known via Pop-Cultural Osmosis for Short Round, the Korean Boy who the White American Action Hero befriends and serves as his Kid Sidekick. Steven Spielberg offers Homage to this film with "his" Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but unlike that film which sentimentalizes their interaction, Fuller's film has Zack having a condescending relationship to Short Round (calling him "gook" at first which the boy objects to) and who eventually dies in the skirmish, insisting that a child has little to no place in such a conflict.
  • Targets is widely viewed as being the movie that ushered in a wave of horror films revolving around ordinary and human evils. But it's quite different from many of those that came after it; hero Byron Orlok is an aging actor, while villain Bobby Thompson is a normal-looking, seemingly friendly man whose weapon of choice is a gun. The bad guy's also not an unstoppable physical menace either, but a borderline Non-Action Big Bad: his initial murder spree consists of him shooting at passing cars from on top of an oil storage tank, he's forced to flee to a Drive-In Theater when the police start closing in on him, and he's rendered no threat when Orlok disarms him.
  • Taxi Driver: The final shootout looks like a deconstruction of every action film shootout ever made: There are no flashy edits or jump cuts, no musical cues, no improbably cool weapons or marksmanship and it barely lasts two minutes. There is nothing but raw violence, and yet it was made long before many films that used all those techniques.
  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) is an early Slasher Movie that's credited with originating multiple elements of the genre. However, when viewed today, it comes off as an unconventional example of a slasher flick.
    • For one thing, the movie's nowhere near as gory as its title would suggest, quite different from many later movies in the genre, which are full of blood and guts. In fact, the movie only used two pints of blood. It also doesn't have as many chainsaw deaths as you'd expect.
    • This movie's bad guy, Leatherface, isn't your typical slasher villain. Most bad guys of the genre are at least somewhat clever, but he's Dumb Muscle and heavily implied to be mentally handicapped. Moreover, while he's certainly tough, he lacks the apparent invincibility of many later slasher villains, as shown by the cut on the leg he receives from his own chainsaw at the end of the movie. On the flipside, he's considerably faster than your typical slasher villain, as shown in the chase at the end. Unlike most slasher villains, he's fat rather than muscular. Perhaps the biggest departure, however, is the fact that unlike most slasher villains, who generally work independently, Leatherface is in fact the "muscle" of a larger group. Which leads us to the next point...
    • It's not common for slasher movies to feature an entire group of bad guys, but this movie features a Cannibal Clan as its antagonists. Leatherface isn't targeting the protagonists out of revenge or just because, he's acting on orders. In fact, it's left ambiguous how much agency he actually has. Even today, it's not common to see a slasher villain kill his victims because he and others want to eat them. The protagonists are marked for death by a Hostile Hitchhiker, a gas station attendant catches Sally and acts as the group's cook, and it's The Patriarch, "grandpa", who runs the whole show. This is partly because the movie's plot draws deliberate parallels to the meat industry, with Leatherface representing the slaughterhouse worker who kills and butchers the livestock. He's only part of the process, albeit an important one. Today, a Slasher Movie where there are multiple villains, not all of them slashers, would be considered a very unconventional one.
    • The movie's climax breaks certain rules too. While he does get injured, Leatherface isn't seemingly killed at the end of the movie. It's the Hitchhiker who dies, and not at the hands of Final Girl Sally, the authorities, or an expert on the bad guys. He gets run over by a trucker, who goes on to attack Leatherface with a pipe wrench. Sally's other rescuer is another random motorist who lets her take a ride in the bed of his pickup truck. The movie ends on the implication that the justice system will deal with the remaining villains, including Leatherface (though the sequel would ignore this).
  • Them! came out in 1954, when the giant monster movie was still new, and the first half of the movie is clearly... a Police Procedural (just with really bizarre clues), until we finally see what 'they' actually are. Them! itself was extremely influential. A number of its successors imitate the police procedural structure... even when, in terms of the plot, there's actually no mystery as to what's going on. Both Police are Useless and Cassandra Truth are heavily averted; initially the police actually put up a decent fight against the ants, but when it becomes clear the problem is far beyond them, they call in the army, who believes them without question. The professor is not an Ignored Expert, and both the police and army defer to his knowledge throughout the film.
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs, a sequel to In the Heat of the Night, predated Shaft by some years and was a more conventional crime drama than later street-crime-seen-through-the-eyes-of-a-black-protagonist productions. Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song came out shortly after Tibbs and added, among other things, the fast-paced action scenes with funk music backgrounds that later became really popular through Shaft.
  • This Is Spın̈al Tap is the Trope Maker for the Mockumentary. However, it is not a straight parody of the Rockumentary shot at the band's Glory Days; instead it's a deconstructed Rockumentary where the characters are Jaded Washouts. Also, it was Played for Laughs while later mockumentaries might be more serious.
  • To Sir, with Love is a Save Our Students movie where an educated, determined black teacher is helping out a bunch of troubled, inner-city, mostly white youths. Sounds like a response to movies in the genre being criticized for perceived use of Mighty Whitey and White Man's Burden, right? Well, it came out in 1967, decades before the movies being criticized for it were made.
  • Toys unbuilds the Attack Drone, showing their cynical side, before the technology broke through in Real Life.
  • Trading Places: The 90s and 2000s would later feature lots of comedies where a Jive Turkey of a black man is made part of a white world and 'shakes things up'. In this film from 1983, there's less making fun of 'stuffy white people' and the black character, Billy Ray Valentine, actually proves to be a good businessman - fitting very well into the world. After going from Rags to Riches, Billy Ray throws a party for his lower-class friends, but he realizes that he doesn't get along with them anymore, and he has them thrown out.
  • TRON has cyberspace before cyberspace was invented. In fact, the digital world isn't referred to as "Cyberspace" at all; the creators seem to favor the term "Electronic World".
  • Unbreakable is a deconstructive film that explores what a "realistic" superhero would actually be like, long before ‘realistic’ superheroes were even a thing in motion pictures. It’s older than Batman Begins, preceded only by actual comic book deconstructions such as Watchmen. It also goes even further than later deconstructions: David is entirely human, has only some above-average abilities and no super-gadgets, and struggles with accepting his role because he thinks heroes are just the stuff of stories, whilst his Eccentric Mentor Elijah speculates that heroic characters are in fact inspired by real-life heroes such as him. Elijah proves how dangerous applying tropes to real life can be; to force it into a narrative that makes sense to him, he arranges the deaths of hundreds of people to cement himself as a super-villain and find his natural opposite, David’s superhero.
  • The movies in Kevin Smith's View Askewniverse can be a bit strange to watch in the wake of the Marvel Cinematic Universe making it big. Almost everything that the MCU did in the 2010s was also in the View Askewniverse two decades earlier. It featured multiple films set in a shared universe with a well-established canon, several recurring characters and continuity nods between films, frequent esoteric references to comic books and science-fiction, encounters with divine beings, a cameo from Stan Lee (yes, really), and even a movie about a group of Unlikely Heroes uniting to stop a villain called "Loki" from destroying the world. Yet, in spite of all that...they were comedies about the humdrum lives of ordinary people, and their ambitious world-building just underscored how comically mundane the characters' lives really were. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back even openly satirized superhero stories with the characters "Bluntman and Chronic", complete with a Hollywood studio attempting to cash in on them.
  • WarGames: Every hacking-related trope from the past 30+ years owes its existence to this film, right down to the first cinematic reference to the term "firewall". Yet the hacker boy who saved the world nearly precipitated its destruction in the first place (way to save on major characters). Plus, even though the film helped popularize the Everything Is Online trope, WOPR wasn't supposed to be accessible from the outside. It was a grave switching error at a phone company that made it possible. It doesn't help that much of what gave WarGames its punch is fading from collective memory. Having a plucky young hacker almost precipitate World War III was an allegory on how nonsensical the Cold War was to the average person.
  • Whatever Happened To Baby Jane was the Trope Maker for the bizarre "Psycho Biddy" subgenre of horror, wherein the villain is a woman from middle age to very old, usually played by a former movie star who can no longer find work as a main actress. What other movies forget, though is that in that movie, the victim is older than her tormentor, and bound to a wheelchair - it was as much about an "evil old lady", as it was about a frail, forgotten and helpless one being humiliated by her younger sister. That's probably why it's the one movie on the genre that recieved critical praise.
  • 1939's The Wizard of Oz popularized, if not introduced, the visual effect of portraying mundane life in monochrome or bland lighting and using lush color to present the more exciting and wonderful world of freedom and adventure. In reality, it was just being faithful to the Frank L. Baum book which described Kansas as being completely "gray". However, most later films and commercials that use the technique don't center the plot around a protagonist who specifically desires to return to her relatively uneventful and colorless life in the end.
  • Wolf Creek is one of the codifiers of the Torture Porn genre of horror movies, but relies less on showing horrific pain and/or large amounts of gore, focusing instead on the suspense of what tortures might happen to the protagonists. What happened to Kristy is never shown, and the horror is only implied. Also, the victims all escape the traps, and while some of them still die, they have rather mundane deaths that aren't particularly gratuitous or gory. Also, the villain isn't given any sort of Freudian Excuse as to why he does what he does; he's just a racist asshole who tortures and kills people because they pressed a Berserk Button of his or got in his way.
  • Zelig was a Mockumentary, but it also featured the unbuilt trope of Know-Nothing Know-It-All, a deconstruction before the original Trope Namer (The Clavin) debuted on Cheers.
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