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Western Animation / Rango

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So you want something to believe in?
"No man can walk out on his own story."
The Spirit of the West

Rango is a 2011 film directed by Gore Verbinski, starring Johnny Depp, Abigail Breslin, Isla Fisher, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, and Ray Winstone, among others. An ode to Spaghetti Westerns, it is Industrial Light & Magic's first feature-length animated film, as well as their only one created as an independent studio. It won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature that year.

An unnamed pet chameleon with an identity crisis falls out of the back of a car and wanders the desert, eventually reaching the town of Dirt. After accidentally killing a hawk that had been terrorising the townsfolk, he attempts to further impress the locals by concocting a badass backstory, adopting the name Rango along the way; this impresses everyone and gets him hired as sheriff by town mayor Tortoise John. But Dirt has its own problems; the town is going through a drought and its water supply is disappearing, and it's up to Rango in his newly-appointed position as the law in Dirt to find the cause—while at the same time convincing the people of Dirt (and himself) that he actually has the grit to be their sheriff and protector.

The film plays out as a loving tribute to Westerns of the past, taking its story beats from the structure of classic films while maintaining its own course. References to great films of the past abound throughout the film, serving as Easter Eggs for fans of the genre.

The movie is also noted for its visual contrast with other wide-release CG animated films. Whereas most other films in the genre tend to go for a clean, idealized look for their world, Rango intentionally avoids this. Most of the characters are based on ugly-looking animals, and the whole world seems to have a layer of dirt and grime on it. In addition, Verbinski filmed his actors performing in live-action, then based the animation on the shots. The result is a setting that looks more "real" in some ways and more cartoonish in others. Either way, it certainly stands out visually.


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  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: While most of the animals are fully clothed, the tip of the hawk's beak is a sharpened metal prosthetic, the armadillo wears a hat and a small band of cloth, and Rattlesnake Jake wears a flat-crowned hat, some bandoliers, and a Gatling gun for a rattle.
  • Accidental Hero: After the hawk winds up dead trying to make a meal of Rango, the chameleon is hailed a hero for "killing" the hawk and made the town's sheriff. This isn't the last of his dumb luck either. Up until his encounter with the Spirit of the West, the only way he accomplishes feats of heroism is by stumbling into them.
  • Acquaintance Denial: Played for laughs. When Ms. Beans finds Rango stranded in the middle of the desert and offers him a ride to the town of Dirt, she then asks him who is, which sends him into a long tirade of the many epithets he calls himself note . She promptly drops him off outside of town to avoid being seen with him because of that, and a few other of his mannerisms that weirded her out a little, and when he later calls out to her just outside of the town's general goods store, the shopkeeper asks if she knows him, she sheepishly denies it.
    Rango: Hey Beans! Ms. Beans!
    Shopkeeper: You know that there fella?
  • Actor Allusion:
  • Actor IS the Title Character: One might be forgiven for looking at the marketing and thinking that the movie's title is "Johnny Depp Is Rango".
  • Affectionate Parody: Of the Spaghetti Western. Rango is to Spaghetti Westerns as Kung Fu Panda is to the Martial Arts Movie.
  • Alien Abduction: Implied to be what Beans thinks happened to her father, because he couldn't have possibly fallen drunk down a mineshaft while having been sober for a month.
  • All Deserts Have Cacti: Despite the accuracy in the appearance of the film's saguaro cacti, this type of cactus does not actually grow in the Mojave desert.
    • Downplayed: They do, however, grow in the surrounding area, and their northernmost limit is a mere twenty miles from the edge of the Mojave.
  • All for Nothing: After stealing back the bank's water jug, the tarp falls away to reveal it's filled with nothing but sand.
  • All There in the Script: Many of the characters' names are never said onscreen. Thankfully, the Closed Captioning gives a lot of the names.
  • American Accents:
    • Aussie Isla Fisher does a pretty convincing Southern twang as Beans.
    • The ultra-British Bill Nighy does a stunning outlaw growl as Rattlesnake Jake.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude:
    • Despite being a non-speaking animal, the red-tailed hawk tries (almost successfully) to get Rango out of a glass soda bottle by dropping it from a great height, and successfully dispenses Rango from a vending machine he chooses to hide in.
    • The bats and the pigs (peccaries?) dragging the carts don't talk either. However, the bats count for this trope too, being able to fly like jet planes and maintain a close-enough formation to look like a hawk.
  • Anachronism Stew: Dirt has all the technological trappings of a 19th-century Western town, but the Mayor gets around on what appears to be an automatic electric wheelchair that would be about a hundred years more advanced than anything else at the time. Played with in that the film takes place in modern times, and most everything about this animal society appears to be scavenged.
  • Analogy Backfire: "Why, we'd turn on each other like a bunch of animals!" Rango is an anthropomorphic animal speaking to an entire town of anthropomorphic animals.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The Extended Cut ends with Rango riding off (into the sunset) to look into trouble that Bad Bill is stirring up in Dry Creek.
  • Animals Not to Scale: While animals like Rattlesnake Jake, the metal-beaked hawk, and the wise armadillo are of the proper size, the citizens who populate the town of Dirt (more specifically a Gila monster, fox, turkey vulture, bobcat, and tortoise) are the size of Rango, the former pet chameleon.
  • Animal Stereotypes: Rango is a chameleon, but he's also a ''social'' chameleon. See Personality Powers below.
  • Anthropic Principle: All but named outright at the start of the film, when Rango declares that his character is undefined and that "the hero cannot exist in a vacuum! What our story needs is an ironic, unexpected event that will propel our hero into conflict!" No sooner does he say this than he is forcibly ejected from his owner's vehicle into the desert, at which point the story begins.
  • Anti Climax Cut: "We RIDE!" Cut to Rango's posse galloping towards... nothing in particular.
  • Arc Symbol: Squares.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Who am I?"
    • "No man can walk out on his own story."
    • "People have to believe in something."
    • One bullet.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • In one of Rango's tall tales, after a chain reaction wherein six Jenkins brothers were killed with one bullet, the seventh Jenkins brother died of infection.
    • "Secure the perimeter, dust for prints, check for fibers, scan for DNA! I want a urine sample from everyone. Get me a latte. Don't mix up the two."
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: The opening of the movie shows Rango in a terrarium that is grossly unfit for a chameleon for several reasons.
    • The tank is completely devoid of any vegetation, which is needed for an arboreal species like chameleons.
    • The enclosure is far too small, as chameleons need ample space to roam.
    • Chameleons are notoriously hard to care for due to the fact that they typically don’t handle captivity well at all, and can actually die from stress because of this, so a few toys and a small puddle of water are not sufficient enough accommodations to help them adapt well to captivity.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The walking desert plants (also referred to as "Spanish daggers" by Beans) are frequently referred to as "cacti". They're actually yucca.
  • Ashes to Crashes: Rango tasting the contents of jars in Beans' wagon. "You eatin' daddy's ashes!" (Subverted — she means his cigarette ashes. They never found the body.)
  • Ash Face: Rango accidentally setting Bad Bill's face on fire only results in two things: covering the Gila monster in black soot, and pissing him off.
  • Ate His Gun: Subverted in a Crosses the Line Twice gag: a kid plays with Rango's pistol, and stares right down the barrel.
    Kid: There's a bullet in there!
  • Audible Sharpness: Before slicing the Pepto-Bismol bottle Rango is hiding in, the hawk brandishes its talons, making a metallic sound.
  • "Awkward Silence" Entrance: When Rango first enters the saloon, the patrons all quiet down, and all eyes turn to him.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Rango and his posse disguise themselves as an acting troupe to arrest the mole clan. Given the lack of acting experience his posse seems to have, Hilarity Ensues.
  • Badass Adorable: Priscilla with the six-shooters. "Can I gut-shoot someone?"
  • Badass Boast: What got Rango into the whole mess that is the main plot of the movie in the first place.
    Rango: You might say I'm from everywhere there's trouble brewin' and hell waitin' to be raised. You could say I'm what hell's already raised up. The name's... Rango.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: After beating the Big Bad, Rango shoves him towards The Dragon upon whom the Big Bad just tried to pull a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness.
    Rattlesnake Jake: What was that you said? Pretty soon, no one will even believe you even existed.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Some of the supporting characters, including Buford the barkeep and Mr. Merrimack.
  • Becoming the Boast: By film's end, Rango lives up to be the hero he made himself out to be, which is made evident when he confronts Jake once again, and Jake no longer sees any fear in his eyes as Rango holds him at gunpoint.
  • Berserk Button: Don't you dare say anything bad about Beans's father. Just don't say anything about him at all. Even if it's perfectly respectful, she'll take it the wrong way.
    Beans: My daddy was not a burden! Keep your blood money, and I'll keep my land!
  • BFG: Rattlesnake Jake has a set of human-sized revolver chambers in place of his rattle. Also counts as More Dakka.
  • Big Bad: Not Rattlesnake Jake, but the genial tortoise mayor (voiced, rather appropriately, by Ned Beatty) who's hoarding the town's water.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • If you know Spanish, listen closely to the mariachi owl band. During their scene in the jail cell, one of the verses in their funeral dirge translates into "Where are your eggs?" ("eggs" is Spanish slang for "balls"). "Cojones" are also mentioned once or twice.
    • The best has to be, though, when Rango makes a crack about Beans's name, he comments that he enjoys a nice puttanesca, but he wouldn't name his daughter that. In Italian, "puttanesca" literally means "whore-styled".
  • Bland-Name Product: The "Golden Guardians". The Oscar is a registered trademark and can't be duplicated, even for novelty purposes; hence, the similar-looking statuettes.
  • Booze Flamethrower: This happens even though there is no liquor; the cactus juice is the gas. The flame is provided by the cigar Rango eats.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • Played with early on in the film. Rango appears to breathe on the fourth wall to fog it up and draw on it. However, it's actually just the glass wall of his terrarium.
    • Done a bit with the Greek Chorus of owls, who generally stay out of the action and don't interact with the other characters — at one point, they don't play an appropriately exciting musical cue on time, so Rango has to repeat his Call to Adventure. Later in the film, Rango uses them as part of his plan.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Rango used to have a girlfriend, but she couldn't keep her head.
    • The Mayor is an avid golfer, having "played the game for years". When Rango learns where the Mayor got his inspiration, i.e. the land development of Las Vegas, one of the most prominent things seen is a golf course, where he most likely discovered the game. "Learned a thing or two" indeed — tips on his swing, no doubt.
    • One for the tie-in video game, as Beans mentions in her first scene that her father was kidnapped by the people of Andromeda 5. Come the game, it turns out she was right.
  • Brutal Bird of Prey: When Rango first arrives in town, it's being terrorised by a brutal hawk. (Logically, in that the inhabitants are all animals who would naturally be a hawk's prey.) Even Rattlesnake Jake is terrified of it. (Which makes Rango's accidental success in killing it unfortunate, as it was the only thing restraining Jake in any way.)
  • Cactus Cushion: The titular chameleon tries to escape a red-tailed hawk early in the film by hiding behind a cactus. The spines dig into him and stick to his body when he pulls himself free, and he tries (and fails) to disguise himself as a cactus because of this.
  • Call-Back: “Thirsty, brother?”
  • Captain Obvious:
    • "Seems to me you folks have a water problem."
    • "The signal! Something must've gone wrong!" (As the posse stands surrounded by a huge clan of hostile moles.)
    • While ducking a Gatling gun, Waffles gives Counselor Troi a run for her money. "I am sensing hostility!"
  • Cargo Cult: The animals' treatment of human articles, like water pipes, because of their "divine" ability to control water. Subverted in that the Mayor and his followers have at least a practical knowledge of the water system, and have intentionally built religious trappings around them to control the town.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Lots! Notice Tortoise John's lackeys and assistant are a gila monster and a desert fox, which eat lizards, rodents, and birds — the types of animals that make up almost the entire town! Also, they're wearing boots, which are made from cow hide (and since no one in their right mind would keep cows in such a sweltering desert wasteland, it enters into Fridge Horror when one has to wonder whether they had to use the skins of the dead to make their products).
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Every critter in the movie (and there are dozens of them) has a very individual face. Even the moles.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: Used masterfully.
    • The climax uses practically everything in the entire film. The road from earlier, the wise old roadkill armadillo, the walking cacti, and the Spirit of the West, all of which are seen or mentioned at the beginning of the film, help Rango out of his Heroic BSoD. The mole family, Jake's fear of hawks, the hole dug by the moles, the pipe underground, and Rango's "one bullet" each play a huge role in defeating the Mayor at the end of the film. The writers practically made everything in the entire film a Chekhov's Gun!
    • Even the little play Rango does at the beginning of the movie turns out to be a plot point during the canyon scene.
    • Inverted: interestingly enough, there is no further mention or reference of the huge eye that Rango and his posse obliviously pass by in the underground tunnels, nor the creature that the eye belongs to. (Seriously, what is that thing?)
    Doc Kenny: That's a big one
    • The Spirit of the West. Rango recites its story at the posse's campfire to make sure we don't forget it.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The walking cacti.
  • Circling Monologue: When Rattlesnake Jake calls Rango out on his lies.
  • Clint Squint: Delivered by both the man himself (well, his animated counterpart) and Rango.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Every person in the posse sans Rango, Beans, and Wounded Bird. Rango and Beans are still only sane by comparison.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • One of the volunteers for the posse, Sgt. Turley, has an arrow through his eye, and Rango sheepishly points out, "You've, uh, got a little something in your eye there." Turley seems to think Rango is talking about his conjunctivitis, in the other eye.
    • "Must be that immersive theater."
  • The Comically Serious: While Rattlesnake Jake definitely adds a sinister touch to the movie, his second faceoff against Rango costs him a little of his mystique. He is quick to gain it back after the Mayor screws up a double-cross, however.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: The Spirit of the West's character design is clearly based on Clint Eastwood, and he's even called the Man with No Name once by Rango. However, he's voiced by Timothy Olyphant rather than the man himself.
  • Community-Threatening Construction: It offers a variation of this. The old-fashioned Western town of Dirt is in the midsts of a severe water shortage, and the Mayor is buying up residents' property as well. When Rango becomes the new sheriff of Dirt and it falls upon him to investigate the disappearance of the bank's water, he finds out that the Mayor had been diverting Dirt's water supply to a newer, more modern town he's in the process of building on the land he snapped up from the people of Dirt.
  • Contrived Coincidence: These shape the film's plot from start to finish. Lampshaded by Rango at the very start of the film when trying to figure out how to use one to put a conflict in his story, right before the Contrived Coincidence does just that for the movie.
  • Conversation Hog: After speaking with the bank manager, Mr. Merrimack, III, Beans goes to Rango, who has been newly appointed as sheriff of the town of Dirt, hoping to have him investigate the ongoing water shortage, which has been causing complete agricultural collapse and resulting in the loss of every ranch in the area, with Beans' ranch being the last holdout. As she tries to get his attention, Rango, being a bit of a ditz, gets distracted with signing autographs, talking about his new suit, and getting Angelique and Beans acquainted (even though they already know each other). Beans soon after gets fed up and gives Rango a very loud tongue-lashing.
  • Crashing Dreams:
    • Rango's fever dream ends with the air around him suddenly turning to water, causing him to choke. In the waking world, his body has been washed down a drainage pipe by a gush of wastewater.
    • The "alabaster chariot" of the Spirit of the West is, in fact, a golf cart from nearby Las Vegas, and his "golden guardians" are ersatz Oscars.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: After crossing the highway, an emotionally-drained Rango collapses on the side of the road. A bunch of pillbugs scoop him up and carry him off as he lays unconscious in such a pose.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Invoked twice — once from the armadillo, and again from the Spirit of the West.
  • Cucumber Facial: Rango is awakened from one of these by an alarm at the bank.
  • Curse Cut Short: The toad Rango meets out in the desert, after he's captured by the hawk, screams, "You son of a b—[hawk screech]" This doubles as Parenthetical Swearing, as the screech of the hawk completes the word and makes it sound like "bitch", as well as a shout-out to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon:
  • Dangerous Workplace: The Sheriff's office has a very high turnover rate. The last sheriff of Dirt lasted from Thursday to Saturday.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Rango receives one from the Spirit of the West.
    Rango: I’m a fraud! I’m a phony! My friends believed in me, but they need some kind of hero.
    The Spirit of the West: Then be a hero.
    Rango: ...But I can't go back.
    The Spirit of the West: Don't know that you got a choice, son. No man can walk out on his own story.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Beans and Priscilla. Also Señor Flan, the leader of the mariachi owls.
  • Death by Looking Up: The hawk getting creamed by a water tower.
  • Decade Dissonance: The movie is obviously set sometime in the past decade, but the Mouse World of Dirt seems to have gotten stuck in the classical Wild West era (roughly 1860 to 1890) — though it does start to modernize over the course of the film.
  • Desert Skull: The owl mariachi band stands on one of these at the beginning of the film while singing about Rango's journey through the desert to Dirt.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Rango at the start. The course of the film follows him finding one.
  • Determined Homesteader: Beans, who clings to her daddy's property even as the water shortage turns the land barren and useless for agriculture.
  • Diagonal Cut: When Rango tries to hide from the red-tailed hawk in an outhouse, the hawk slices it to ribbons with one swipe of its talons.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Rattlesnake Jake is considered to be a Grim Reaper right out of the pits of hell, and he even seems to believe this about himself to some degree. Rango ultimately defeats him in the end with his wits alone. At the end, it becomes more like "Did You Just Save Cthulhu's Ass?" when Rango prevents the Mayor from shooting Jake.
  • Disappeared Dad: Beans's father disappeared under "mysterious circumstances". And most certainly did NOT fall drunk down a mine shaft.
  • Disguised in Drag: Rango puts on Beans' dress to disguise himself as the female leader of a theatrical troupe when he and his posse sneak into the moles' camp.
  • Disappointed in You: After Jake calls Rango out for lying to the townsfolk and runs him out of town, Beans asks him, Who are you?. Even the four owls are just as disappointed in Rango.
  • The Ditz: The little boy that handles Rango's revolver in the clothing store, pointing it at his own mother and himself like it's a toy and staring into the barrel.
    Kid: There's a bullet in here!
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Rango mocks the hawk from inside an empty beer bottle. The hawk responds by carving gouges into the glass with its talons, then picking up the bottle and smashing it.
  • Do with Him as You Will: When the incapacitated Big Bad tries to bargain with Rango, the chameleon replies by kicking him toward Rattlesnake Jake (who the mayor just betrayed), saying "Why don't you take it up with him." The mayor is promptly subjected to a (possibly) metaphorical Dragged Off to Hell fate.
  • Don't Look Down: Briefly and hilariously done by Rango during the posse's search through the underground tunnels for the bank's water.
  • Don't Sneak Up on Me Like That!: Rango gets a bit too deep in character with an autograph-seeker.
  • Doomed Predecessor: Beans warns Rango to think about why the job of sheriff is open, at which point he sees someone working on a coffin. Later, when Rango first hears about Rattlesnake Jake and insists that he has no feud with The Dreaded gunman, Priscilla says the last sheriff said the same thing and then points to his nearby headstone.
  • The Dragon: Rattlesnake Jake.
  • Dramatic Drop: Rango, glass in hand, turns and sees a flattened armadillo talking to him. SMASH.
  • Dramatic Wind: After he's been kicked out of the town and lost hope, once he regains it, Rango returns to Dirt with the wind blowing on him to show his badassery.
  • The Dreaded: Even the Mayor's hired killers are afraid to call Rattlesnake Jake in.
    • While not as feared as Jake by the rest of the characters, in a twist of irony, Jake himself is terrified by the hawk. In fact, the hawk was the only thing keeping him from showing up at Dirt...until Rango accidentally caused its demise.
  • Dream Land: When Rango crosses the highway after Rattlesnake Jake banishes him from Dirt, he seems to have stepped from the real West into the mythical West — which accounts for the encounters with spirits and walking cacti.
  • Driven to Suicide: During his Heroic BSoD, Rango walks across the highway without bothering to look out for the huge vehicles roaring past and over him.
  • Drowning Pit: The Mayor puts Rango and Beans into a makeshift one via the bank's water vault. Too bad for him it's made of old, non-shockproof glass.
  • Dude, She's Like in a Coma: When Beans first freezes up, Rango sniffs her hair, then puts an arm around her shoulders til she snaps out of it. When she does it again later, he uses it as an opportunity to give her a little kiss on the cheek... and then it turns out that this time she was only pretending. The closest he'd come to a woman (or indeed another sentient being at all) inside his terrarium was a headless Barbie doll, so he doesn't have much of a reference pool for proper behavior.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: By Rango's standards at least; he has to be reminded of Mr Johannes "Fluffy Joe" Merrimack's nickname when identifying his body.
  • End of an Age: Evoked by the Mayor during his Chinatown-inspired speech.
  • Ennio Morricone Pastiche: Hans Zimmer's soundtrack consists mostly of this! After all, the movie itself consists partially of one too.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • The Mayor is so corrupt that even Rattlesnake Jake, who claims to be from Hell itself, drags him off after the Mayor betrays him. His dialogue calling Rango out on his lies also implies that he has a sense of honor, and hates a liar.
    • Meanwhile, the Mayor, despite being willing to throw Rango and Beans in a tank to drown, tries to tell Rattlesnake Jake to back off when he's threatening Beans in his office.
    • Even Bad Bill and his gang are visibly disturbed when Jake threatens to kill her.
    • This is more of a case of Even the Alpha Bitch Has Standards, but when the Mayor puts Beans and Rango in the drowning tank, Angelique looks visibly horrified despite clearly not liking Beans.
  • Environmental Symbolism: The portraits behind Rango in the Mayor's office.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Bad Bill's gang have conspicuously non-American accents (British, German, Mexican, and since they're on the Mayor's side, we'll throw in his French secretary), while the people of Dirt all have easily identifiable American Western accents and speech patterns. Averted with Ambrose the owl, who has a British accent and is one of the good guys, and the creepy moles who turn out to be Necessarily Evil and willing to switch sides.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: When the townspeople finally reach their breaking point and start charging the jail with torch and pitchforks to speed up the impending hanging of Balthazar and his two sons, Rango steps out to try and calm everybody down.
    Rango: You too, Spoons?
    Spoons: It's just without that water, we ain't go no hope left!
  • Everyone Is Armed: The townspeople of Dirt may not have much, but they have guns... lots and lots of guns.
    Rango: Does anybody here know how to use a firearm of any kind?
    [all manner of gun noises]
    Rango: All right, then...
  • Evil Cripple: The Mayor is a tortoise in a wheelchair.
  • Evil Laugh: Rattlesnake Jake gives a truly epic one to Rango before he gets ready to duel him in the middle of the town. This is all followed by him slithering out into the middle of the town, taking his time to load his gun (which is followed by a healthy dose of Dramatic Gun Cock), looking over at Rango with a Slasher Smile, and chuckling quietly under his breath. The fact that he's voiced by Bill Nighy when he does this really sells it.
  • Eviler than Thou: Rattlesnake Jake and Tortoise John take turns on this one. It's utilized first by Jake, who demands free rein in coercing Beans; later, Tortoise John gives a "times have changed" speech and attempts to shoot Jake with Rango's gun. It flips back to Jake when Rango defeats Tortoise John and the helpless villain is trying to talk his way out of a well-deserved punishment.
  • Exact Words:
    • Tortoise John (who has Beans hostage) tells Rango to "hand over the gun". Rango has no choice but to do exactly as he says, and hands over the gun... without the bullet inside.
    • Also, the owl mariachi band leader saying Rango is definitely going to die. Well, he is... Everyone does eventually...
  • Expospeak Gag:
  • Exposition Diagram: Using a firelit twig and the night sky, Rango relates the legend of the Spirit of the West.
  • Eye Scream:
    • One member of Rango's posse is a chicken with an arrow sticking into his right eye and through the back of his head.
    • A fly has a taste of cactus juice in the form of a small spill. It gags and collapses dead in the puddle, with one of its eyes popping out.
    • While it doesn't actually happen, Rattlesnake Jake threatens to "squeeze them pretty brown eyes out of [Beans'] skull!"
    • Also happens to Waffles during the campfire scene, when Rango accidentally hits him in the eye with a stick.
  • Eyes Never Lie: The only reason Rattlesnake Jake allows Rango to hold a gun right at his nose and dares him to shoot him is that he "doesn't see the killer in his eyes". He gets an Oh, Crap! moment later when he sees that Rango does have the killer in his eyes when in the same situation at the climax of the film.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Wounded Bird pointing out the escape hole of the alleged bank robbers for the rest of the posse, as somehow nobody else managed to notice it, despite it being uncovered right in the middle of the street.
  • Fake Identity Baggage: When he arrives in the town of Dirt, the titular character pretends to be a tough drifter who somehow managed to kill seven opponents with one bullet. This results in an outlaw named Bad Bill challenging him to a gun fight. Rango is only saved when a hawk that had chased him earlier shows up and frightens Bad Bill away.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Rango stumbles into the role and enjoys its benefits — he even runs a few risks out of the sheer joy of it all. Once Rattlesnake Jake comes to town, Rango must either rise to the role or fall. He falls. At first.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Hugely averted, seeing how Gore Verbinski directed the film. The "45 Colt" engraving on one spent cartridge is even shown up close to the camera at one point.
  • Fantastic Fauna Counterpart: In the town of Dirt, roadrunners are the counterparts to horses, whereas javelinas are the equivalents of oxen.
  • Fantasy Americana: The film is set in a version of the Wild West, and homages about every Spaghetti Western ever made with a cast of anthropomorphic (mostly-)desert animals.
  • Fate Worse than Death: It's not clear what will happen to the Mayor when he's dragged off by Rattlesnake Jake, but nobody expects it to be pretty, and it's best if the answer is left unsaid.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Mayor Tortoise John. He may seem genial, but it's all a facade to get what he wants while dodging suspicion. If someone questions the routine, the facade will drop, and quickly.
  • Feather Fingers: Most of the bird characters. It's especially noticeable for the mariachi owls, who use them to play their instruments, and the red-tailed hawk, who operates a vending machine to get at Rango, who is hiding inside, with a single feather wielded like an index finger.
  • Fish out of Water: Quite literally in the teaser.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: Referenced scornfully.
    The Spirit of the West: If this were heaven, we'd be eatin' Pop Tarts with Kim Novak!
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Jake's behaviour towards Beans. In his first appearance, Jake almost strangles her and licks her face. In another scene, he almost strangles her again.
  • Food Slap: Beans throws a glass of water in the Mayor's face when he tries to get her to sell her ranch.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: The town of Dirt has a Clock Tower, whose bell rings (appropriately for the trope) after the sheriff Rango and his posse have failed to bring the stolen water back, and during the duel between him and Rattlesnake Jake. The clock tower is later destroyed when Rango brings water, and thus life, back to the town.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The dream Rango has before he gets to Dirt.
    • During the chase following the raid on the mole family compound, Ezekiel has no issue firing on the wagon holding the water from the bank. Earlier, he had tried to tell Pappy something was wrong; we find out later that the water's already been stolen.
    • When the Mayor orders his men to call Rattlesnake Jake, they warn him that Jake's a "grim reaper" and, specifically, "never leaves town without taking a soul." The boss waves it off and orders Jake contacted anyway. Indeed, Jake does not leave town until he "takes a soul" — the Mayor himself, who he drags off with him.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The mariachi owls periodically assure the audience that Rango will die soon. This turns out to be a case of Exact Words. Everyone dies... eventually... possibly as the result of a household accident?...
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: The "Spirit of the West", who we see in the form of an animated Clint Eastwood. Later confirmed by the wise armadillo, who muses, "We each see what we need to see."
  • Forgot I Could Fly: The hawk stares stupidly as the water tower falls on it instead of flying away. By the time the hawk has realized it's about to get pancaked, it's too late to do much of anything anyway.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water:
    • The film has at least one unambiguous reference to alcohol, but in the saloon all they have is cactus juice. It's still somewhat averted, since they still treat it like regular alcohol, and it can be set on fire as real alcohol can.
    • Interestingly, the Mayor treats his private stash of water as if it were fine vintage wine or liquor, uncorking a glass stopper to pour drinks and describing the contents' vintage with pride.
  • Fully-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Rango in his Western duds, as well as Beans, Priscilla, Spoons, and the rest of the townspeople of Dirt.
  • Funny Animal:
    • A subversion; the walking, talking, cowboy-hat-wearing animals still happen to realistically resemble their Real Life counterparts. Jake and Rango qualify for Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: most other folks wear clothes.
    • Averted rather interestingly with the hawk, who doesn't talk despite displaying problem-solving intellect and an accessory (its metal beak), which is made even more confusing considering that the avian residents of Dirt have no problem talking. Given that its sole purpose in coming to town is to find food, it's unlikely that the hawk would be interested in starting a conversation.
  • Funny Background Event: There are plenty. In fact, sometimes they're in the foreground. Or the sideground!
    • When the Mayor is telling Rattlesnake Jake that he has outlived his usefulness and that he's not any different from Rango, you can see Rango and Beans in the drowning tank behind him, Rango shaking a catatonic Beans and then administering the Heimlich.
    • This one happens in the foreground (but not at the center of attention): when the tank of water begins to break, the Mayor is seen panicking with his wheelchair for a moment, looking for the lever that moves his chair, and accidentally pulling the one that releases his golf club.
    • While Beans and Rango are discussing his new position as sheriff, one of the town's dimmer children is playing with Rango's gun — admiring it, looking down its barrel ("There's a bullet in there!"), chewing on it — in general, chewing the scenery.
    • Actually more of a Funny Back-sound Event. When the posse introduces themselves as thespians, Waffles can be heard singing "la la la" to the tune that the mariachi owls are playing.
    • Kinda gross actually; in the extended ending, when Beans says, "You come back with all your digits!" there is a gritty-looking child in the back picking its nose.
    • While Rango's being fitted for his clothes, a spider keeps bustling up and measuring the width of his shoulders, sleeve length, etc. He seems to be one of the tailors, until Rango glances aside and sees him busy assembling... a coffin.
  • Furry Confusion: Lots and lots! The intelligent animals like Rango, the shrew girl, the townspeople, and the outlaws wear clothing, wield guns, and have their own American West-style society, while at the same time utilizing roadrunners as horses, bats as flying mounts, and javelinas to pull wagons (which brings up whole new levels of confusion when a javelina-like blacksmith is briefly visible in one scene!). One also can't forget the few bits of "bug confusion" that occur between the dead cricket in Rango's enclosure, the life-size pillbugs used as golf balls, and the anthropod denizens that populate the town of Dirt, including in one scene where Rango tries to emulate the walking style of a clothed beetle. See also Animals Not to Scale above.
  • Furry Reminder: When a dragonfly buzzes past Rango's face, he sticks out his tongue and eats it.

  • Genius Ditz: Rango is very aware that he's only digging himself deeper with his lies, but he's also very aware of his surroundings and is able to competently think up solutions to his problems. He's even able to piece together the Mayor's water-hoarding scheme.
  • Gargle Blaster: Probably the cactus juice. One sip kills a fly (and causes its eye to pop out of its head), and it's flammable enough that combining it with a lit cigar results in a Fire-Breathing Diner-powered Booze Flamethrower.
  • Gatling Good:
    • One of the many enemies Rango encounters is a clan of moles riding bats mounted with little Gatling guns.
    • Rattlesnake Jake having a machine gun for a rattle.
  • Gigantic Moon: One hovers huge over Rango's walk of shame.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Priscilla sports some.
  • Girly Run: Rango. It rather resembles another character of Depp's. Judging from the actor involved and the director of the movie (Gore Verbinski), this was fully intentional.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: In the opening, Rango definitely looks like he's reached this point, and maybe even surpassed it, to the point where every inanimate object in his glass box has a name (even the dead bug) and personalities attributed to them, and he hears them talking to him. Which really isn't surprising, since he's probably spent his whole life stuck in that cage without anyone to talk to but himself.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Rango enlists the aid of the mole family near the end.
  • Government-Exploited Crisis: The town of Dirt is suffering from a drought, causing its water supplies to dry up and jeopardizing its existence. It is later discovered that the drought has been intentionally caused by the town's mayor, Tortoise John, who plans to sell the town's land for a tidy profit.
  • The Great Serpent: Rattlesnake Jake probably wouldn't be that big to a human, but compared to the smaller animal characters, he's enormous.
  • Great Way to Go: "Drowned, in the desert?" "What a way to go!"
  • Gratuitous Mariachi Band: The mariachi owls that follow Rango around and sing about the events of the film.
  • Greek Chorus: The mariachi owls. Since they're Played for Laughs, they aren't very good at it. In fact, at one point they're so disappointed and disgusted by his actions that they just sit there giving him doleful looks.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Rango receives this warm greeting from the folks of Dirt.
  • Grotesque Gallery: All the characters, barring a few exceptions, have a very grimy, dusty, asymmetrical look to them that emphasizes their age, old scars, and poor hygiene. Among them, the moles especially stand out in how ugly they are due to inbreeding.
  • Guns Akimbo: Priscilla shows her Badass Adorable side this way.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: The Colt Single Action Army revolver used by Rango has a swing-out cylinder, which is not what the gun has in real life. It does look cool, though.
  • The Gunslinger: Rattlesnake Jake is a truly terrifying combination of the Vaporizer and the Quick-Draw variety, using his tail gun to deliver a blizzard of bullets in the blink of an eye. Rango is the Trick Shot variety...accidentally.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal:
    • Rango plays this straight at the start of the movie, but almost everyone else is fully clothed, and Rango gets a full outfit before long.
    • Other characters that apply include Wounded Bird, Ambrose, and Waffles.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Rattlesnake Jake initiates Rango's Heroic BSoD with one.
  • Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Rango is wearing a red Hawaiian shirt at the beginning. Once he adapts to life in Dirt, he gets himself several sets of cool cowboy outfits.
  • Heroic BSoD: Rango in spades after Rattlesnake Jake calls him out. He walks across a road full of traffic without looking, and emerges unscathed. He's then brought before the Man with No Name, whose sage advice finally breaks him out of it.
  • Hero Killer: While he doesn't kill any heroes on screen, Rattlesnake Jake is stated to have killed Dirt's previous sheriff, and certainly has the reputation of a classic HK.
  • The Hero's Journey: It's all about Rango's, in a very archetypical way. In the Extended Cut, Priscilla explicitly lampshades this.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Mayor really should've known better than to turn on Rattlesnake Jake...
  • Hollywood Chameleons: Rango averts this; although he can change his color, he can't do it easily, and he certainly can't fool a sharp-eyed hawk. Both of his attempts to blend in by changing colors fail.
    Rango: It's an art, not a science!
  • Humanoid Female Animal:
    • Beans is considerably more anthropomorphized than Rango, though they're both lizards.
    • Angelique is also more humanlike than the rest of the cast, be they male or female.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: Subtle, but definitely there. The road and cars, while mundane to humans, are enough of an incomprehensible barrier for the animals to become integral to a spiritual quest. The Mayor talks of controlling water as divine power, and the glimpse of Las Vegas and its sprinklers is like seeing Cthulhu's city. Plus, humans stole the water from the valley in the first place, have enough of it to just dump in the desert, and human artifacts like pipes get the Cargo Cult treatment, although this last bit is implied to have been started by the Mayor as a method of controlling the townsfolk.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Wounded Bird to Rango, if only by comparison to the highly incompetent Rango.
  • I Ate WHAT?!:
    • The cactus fruit...
    • Rango also decides to sample the contents of one of Beans' jars without asking first.
      Rango: Mmm, spicy.
      Beans: You! Eatin! [Daddy's]! Ashes!
      Rango: AAHH! Ughhh! You carry his remains?
      Beans: No, his ashes. He loved to smoke. They never found the body.
  • I Have Many Names: The lizard who will become Rango says he has a stage name, a pseudonym, an avatar, and even a maiden name, but he never says them on camera. He claims to have all these to avoid actually stating his real name. If he has one.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: When Jake creepily licks Beans while partially strangling her.
  • I Want Them Alive!: Balthazar clobbers his son for unloading bullets at Rango's wagon. He won't risk hitting the water.
  • If You Die, I Call Your Stuff: Priscilla nonchalantly lays claim to Rango's boots in the event of his inevitable death just after he becomes sheriff.
    Priscilla: Ya got any gold fillin's?
  • In the Style of: "Walk Don't Rango" is the Rango theme in the style of Dick Dale — specifically, it sounds suspiciously similar to his cover of "Misirlou", better known as the theme from Pulp Fiction.
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: Rango dropping his badge in the dirt after being ousted by Jake. Once his confidence is restored, the wind uncovers the badge just in time for Rango to walk up and reclaim it.
  • Insult Backfire:
    Beans: Go to hell!
    Rattlesnake Jake: Where do you think I come from?
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Rango is a chameleon and Beans is an iguana. Both are lizards, but of very different species.
    • One of Rango's lies is that he and Jake are brothers, and his mother had an active social life.
  • Ironic Echo: Done with several lines, each of which changes in significance:
    "Thirsty, 'brother'?"
    "Soon no-one will believe you even existed."
  • Kansas City Shuffle: Rango doesn't go into his final showdown with Rattlesnake Jake without a plan. However, their duel is interrupted by the miraculously revived hawk! Jake is thoroughly rattled by the reappearance of his dreaded nemesis, but catching a window's reflection reveals that the "hawk" is in fact the mole family's bats flying in tight formation. Enraged at the affront to his mystique, Jake unloads on the skies, seeking to shoot down every bat he can... which causes him to run out of ammo, allowing Rango to safely walk up to him with his One Bullet and plug him dead. Or at least, that was the plan...
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Rattlesnake Jake.
    • Also the Mayor's goons.
  • Killing Intent: Rattlesnake Jake blows open Rango's Fake Ultimate Hero act by daring him to shoot him point-blank with a revolver, and observing Rango's terrified expression. As Jake puts it, "You got killer in your eyes, son? I don't see it." In the final confrontation, Rango again has Jake at gunpoint, and while the rattlesnake attempts to call it a bluff, he balks after getting a look at Rango's unflinching stare.
  • Knight of Cerebus: After Rattlesnake Jake shows up, the movie's tone suddenly becomes a lot darker.
  • Kubrick Stare: About half of Priscilla's screen time is of her looking up at the camera like this.
  • Large Ham: Rango. Not even as Jack Sparrow have we seen so much scenery-chewing from Johnny Depp!
  • Law of Conservation of Detail : Pay attention to everything. Almost every plot element will come up again somewhere. See Chekhov's Armoury for more details.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo:
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • Moments before falling out of the car, Rango announces he's had an "epiphany" that what his story needs is something to "propel our hero into conflict!"
    • The Spirit of the West to Rango: "No man can walk out on his own story."
    • The mariachi band is constantly following Rango around singing about his exploits as they happen. The other characters are all aware that they're there, but generally ignore them.
  • Lecherous Licking: Jake creepily licks Beans' cheek when he's partially strangling her.
  • Left the Background Music On: Most of the film's music is supposedly provided by the mariachi owls or similar music-playing critters. During the mole family's air chase, some of them are even playing "Ride of the Valkyries" ... on banjos.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Done powerfully in the film's finale once Rango has dedicated himself to becoming a hero, for real this time.
  • Liar Revealed: Near the film's end, resulting in his exile from Dirt, this happens to Rango by Jake.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Averted with Rango, since he starts with the Hawaiian shirt, gets his hat, then long-johns, a full caballero outfit, and then the cowboy outfit and poncho. It's true for everyone else, though.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: "Rango" isn't the main character's real name. He just saw it on the back of his cactus juice bottle: Hecho en Durango (Made in Durango). He had no real name before this (according to the DVD commentary, there was a misconception about his real name being Lars; Lars is actually just another background character Johnny Depp voiced).
  • Linked List Clue Methodology: Muddy shoeprints at the site of Mr. Merrimack's murder, and his glasses left behind in an empty water jug.
  • Little Miss Badass: Priscilla wants to be one, and shows Rango she's got a lot of spunk. However, he tells her to stay behind, perhaps too afraid of endangering her. On a side note, their entire dynamic resembles that of Mattie and Cogburn in True Grit.
  • Little "No": Used with a double meaning when Rattlesnake Jake terrifies Rango into a confession. On one level, he's honestly answering "no" (as quietly as possible) to Jake's question; on a deeper level, he knows this is the end — the crushing, self-inflicted end to all the friendships and respect that he's received from the citizens of Dirt.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: It's a Western. What would a Western be without one?
  • Logical Weakness: Rattlesnake Jake's extreme fear of hawks, which allows Rango to get the momentary advantage over him in their final showdown. However, it turns out to be bats flying in a hawk-shaped formation.
  • Loud Gulp: Rango, several times.
  • Low Clearance: During the bat chase, Waffles tangles with one of the moles atop the wagon. The rodent has Waffles pinned, and it looks like it's all over for him until Rango accidentally blows up a rock spire, forming a low bridge.
    Waffles: [points behind the rodent] Headache!
  • Ludd Was Right: The evil Mayor is trying to create an industrialized city by coercing land from the inhabitants of Dirt.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Lampooned by Rango trying to back up his claims of being Rattlesnake Jake's brother. "Mama had an active social life."

  • Made of Explodium: Apparently the bats the moles have domesticated are rare Explodium Bats.
  • Magical Native American: Parodied with Wounded Bird's character.
    Rango: [as Wounded Bird scatters feathers into the wind] I see you're communicating with the great spirits.
    Wounded Bird: No. I'm molting. It means I'm ready to mate.
  • Magic Realism: It's all over the place, from a giant eye underground to walking cacti.
  • Malaproper: Spoons is prone to them. "It's a puzzle! It's like a big old mammogram!"
  • Masochist's Meal:
    • Rango snatching Bad Bill's cigar and eating it.
    • He claims to sweeten his coffee with snake venom for "tang". This is brought back when Jake delivers Rango a glass of his own venom....
  • Messianic Archetype: After Rattlesnake Jake's Hannibal Lecture, Rango drops his sheriff's badge among the tombstones on Boot Hill; the invented character of "Rango" is dead. He crosses to the other side, and after his encounter with God — wait, we mean, the Spirit of the West — he returns to the cemetery just as the wind exhumes the badge for him to pick up again in a symbolic resurrection.
  • Metaphorgotten:
    Rango: Unless he controls the water... like a monkey's bladder!
    Beans: But how does he control the water?
    Rango: Well, you gotta spend some time and train them. Cause you know, monkeys, when they do go, you rub their nose in it.
  • Miles Gloriosus: How Rango gets into the whole mess that is the plot of the movie in the first place.
  • Mind Screw: A good portion of the beginning of the movie, particularly Rango's Dream of Foreshadowing.
  • Mirror Character: Rattlesnake Jake and Rango. Both are larger-than-life "legends" who derive a fair bit of their influence from their fearsome reputations which they themselves have bought into, to a degree. The key difference is that unlike Rango, Jake can actually back his boasting up, at least until the end, when Rango gets serious. Jake even acknowledges this by tipping his hat to Rango after the final fight, one "legend" to another.
  • Misplaced Vegetation: The saguaro cacti featured throughout the film grow in profusion only in the Sonoran Desert, not the Mojave desert.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Priscilla is, according to Gore Verbinski himself, an aye-aye. As in, the type of lemur found in Madagascar.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: According to a special on the DVD, Beans has the traits of at least two different lizards. To be fair, the character designers admitted that they were going for Rule of Cool on the species types.
  • Motor Mouth:
    • Beans can really churn it out when flustered.
    • Some of Rango's boasts are also shot out like crazy.
  • Mouse World: Dirt is your typical Western town, but for desert critters, and built out of scrap.
  • The Münchausen:
    • Rango, who is very good at telling tall tales about himself. This tendency keeps digging him into deeper and deeper holes as he tries to make himself sound cooler and cooler.
    • Some wizened old guys in Rango's posse.
      Buford: I once coughed up a Dalmatian.
      Elgin: One time I coughed up an entire tribe of pygmies. They started lookin' at me funny.
      Spoons: I found a human spinal column in my fecal matter once.
      [everyone stares at him]
  • National Animal Stereotypes: The burrowing owls are Mexican sombrero-wearing mariachi musicians. The crow is a Native American.
  • Near-Miss Groin Attack: While attempting to board a moving stagecoach, Rango briefly straddles between the coach and his roadrunner steed. A stalagmite-like rock formation protrudes from the ground, and he almost runs groin-first into it before narrowly jumping to avoid it.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted, in spades. It can be quite surprising how many times death is either explicitly mentioned or threatened in a movie that was marketed towards kids.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • One of the townspeople has a voice that vaguely sounds like Pat Buttram's.
    • The Spirit of the West physically resembles Clint Eastwood, specifically his "Man with No Name" character from various Spaghetti Western movies.
  • Noble Demon: Rattlesnake Jake is bloodthirsty and murderous... but he is true to his word, and genuinely admires the few who are willing to stand up to him.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: Rango pretends to be a cactus to hide from the hawk. A badly-dressed cactus.
  • Non-Mammalian Hair: Lizards, birds, reptiles, amphibians, all the citizens of Dirt have hair. This also leads to...
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries:
    • Plenty of 'em on all the women, regardless of species.
    • The lady frog in the bar has a large endowment.
    • Similarly, Rango has a belly button.
  • Not Used to Freedom: Rango the chameleon initially lives in a box, but then is forced to live in the desert. He has trouble both fitting in and surviving.
  • Obligatory Joke: Rango giving direction to a plastic tree. "You were wooden. There, I said it."
  • Obviously Evil: The Mayor. It must be the voice. Especially when he sounds and dresses like Noah Cross.
  • Office Golf: Tortoise John, using pillbugs as golf balls. Later, he invites Rango to join him out on the "green".
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: When Rango claims to have killed the Jenkins brothers with a single bullet, a patron asks him how he was able to do so, seeing as there were seven of them. The next time we see Rango, he's just finished telling an elaborate tall tale, which he made up on the spot, explaining how the bullet killed each brother, and everyone present is fully convinced by it.
  • Oh, and X Dies: Subverted; the mariachi owls say many times all throughout the film that Rango is going to die, but he doesn't. At the end, they justify it by saying that (obviously) he will die... someday.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The hawk has one just before it's smashed by the falling water tower.
    • Rango's face when Rattlesnake Jake makes his epic entrance.
    • Rattlesnake Jake's gets a close-up when Rango points his gun at him during the climax, this time with no fear in his eyes.
    • Rattlesnake Jake gets an epic one when he sees a hawk in the sky, although he quickly discovers the ruse.
    • The Mayor after double-crossing Jake when he discovers that his gun is empty.
  • One Bullet Left: A running theme in the movie based off Rango's lie that he killed seven men with one bullet (sorta... the seventh one "died from infection"). During the hawk chase scene in town, he accidentally kills it by shooting the licorice that was wrapped around him. The bullet ricochets and hits the tower, causing it to fall on the bird and kill it. During the climax, Rango uses his one bullet to intimidate Jake, then shortly after uses it to get out of the drowning pit the Mayor put him and Beans into. Jake also uses this line when it comes to giving Tortoise John his due.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: After apprehending the "bank robbers", Rango has a "friendly" game of golf with the Mayor and his staff. The difference in skill levels is obvious from the start, which is commented on, and these comments can also apply to both Rango and the Mayor's skill in political influence.
    Rango: You've... Obviously mastered this game.
    The Mayor: Well. I've been playing it for many years, sir.
  • One-Hit Polykill: Rango claims to have killed the Jenkins brothers with one bullet. All seven of them. The last one died of infection.
  • Orphaned Etymology: An expended revolver cartridge can be seen with the "45 Colt" label on it. Do animals have their own version of Samuel Colt, or has Colt's Manufacturing Company begun making guns small enough for them to use?
  • Ow, My Body Part!: "I think the metaphor broke my spleen."
  • Personality Powers: In Rango's case, he has a (rarely-used) ability to change color and a stretchy tongue; he's also a Motor Mouth actor who punctuates his arrival in Dirt by trying to blend in with the town personalities.
  • A Pet into the Wild: Rango starts out as someone's pet lizard, but then his tank falls off the back of their car and he's left stranded in the desert.
  • Practical Currency: Water is what the people in Dirt use as money. Dialogue in the extended cut's ending implies they've switched to a more fiat form of currency, what with water being so plentiful now.
  • Precision F-Strike: This film isn't shy about swearing despite being a family film. One particularly jarring scene is when Rattlesnake Jake is squeezing Beans to death and says, "Sign the damn paper, woman!" And her reply of "Go to hell!" That said, Jake does have the most swearing of any character, which is part of what makes him the Knight of Cerebus.
    Rattlesnake Jake: If I ever see you again I'll take your soul straight down to HELL!"
  • Prematurely Marked Grave: After Rango takes on the job of the new sheriff of Dirt, the citizens are already preparing for his demise, including the undertaker constructing a new coffin for him to measure.
  • Pun: "What's an aquifer?" "Well, it's fer aqua."
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Scan for D! N! A!"
  • Putting the Pee in Pool: In the extended ending, we get this exchange between Furgus and Buford as they're relaxing in the public pool...
    Furgus: This water thing's great.
    Buford: I'm urinating right now.
  • Quest for Identity: Isolated in his terrarium his whole life, the titular chameleon has no true identity of his own until he is thrust into The Outside World. His (and the film's) ultimate Driving Question is "Who am I?"
  • The Quiet One: Wounded Bird barely speaks except to dispense deadpan one-liners.
  • Railing Kill: During the final showdown between Rango and Rattlesnake Jake, Wounded Bird attempts to shoot Jake from the clock tower. Jake shoots him, and he topples over the railing and falls to the ground. Wounded Bird's comment?
    "That was a bad idea."
  • Rain Dance: To Hank Williams' "Cool Water".
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Or at least will not hesitate if he has to kill.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Rango telling a boy to hold his gun while he signs an autograph. "There's a bullet in there!"
  • Recurring Extra: Even the townspeople who don't speak or interact with Rango-like the javelina blacksmith, a vulture saloon patron, and a swaggering beetle-tend to recur in several scenes throughout the film.
  • Re-Cut: There's an extended version with an ending that makes much more sense than the theatrical cut.
  • Recycled INSPACE: Kind of. Much of the film's plot owes a lot to Chinatown.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The song which plays during Rango's highway crossing isn't on the soundtrack, because it's "Finale" from the war drama The Kingdom (2007).
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Rattlesnake Jake has Sauron-esque mottled orange and yellow eyes that look like windows into the fires of Hell.
  • Red Herring:
    • The mole family who try to rob the bank. While they actually were trying to steal Dirt's water reserve for themselves and appear to have a water jug when Rango and his posse arrive, at the end of the long chase sequence, everyone learns said jug was empty by the time the moles got there. The Big Bad is revealed soon after.
    • Rango's final showdown with Jake. He scares Jake by having the bat-riding moles fly in a hawk-shaped formation, and when Jake figures it out he gets cocky and empties all his ammo into the sky, allowing Rango to stroll right up to him and point his revolver right between his eyes.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Played with. Rattlesnake Jake, Bad Bill, and the Mayor are evil, and their reptilian features emphasize that. On the other hand, the protagonist Rango and his love interest Beans are also reptiles.
  • Riddle for the Ages:
    • So who did kill the seven Jenkins brothers? Bad Bill’s reaction when he’s told Rango did it implies he at least knows who it was, but whether it was Bill himself, Jake, or someone else is left unsaid.
    • What creature did that giant eye belong to?
  • Riding into the Sunset: It's a Western, so of course someone does (although only in the extended cut). It even receives a lampshade.
  • Rule of Cool: Moles riding bats. That have mounted Gatling guns. And explode. While "Ride of the Valkyries" plays. On banjos.
  • Run or Die: Rango's stratagem when dealing with the hawk.

  • Scavenged Punk: The town runs entirely on this trope. It's never alluded to, but the whole town seems to be scavenged. The outhouse is an old Pepto Bismol bottle, one building is made from a mailbox, the bank's vault is a water tank such as might be found on an office water cooler, and so on.
  • Scenery Porn: There are many absolutely stunning settings — lots of mesas in the sunset and such. One notable scene is a vast salt flat with the silhouettes of clouds blowing across it.
  • The Seven Western Plots: The film is a Marshal story, where the titular character becomes the sheriff of Dirt and tries to uphold his image as a badass gunslinger when he's really just a former housepet in over his head.
  • Shout-Out: There are so many, they have their own page.
  • Shouting Free-for-All: After the posse catches the bandit family, the whole town of Dirt riots and storms up to the Sheriff's door shouting.
  • Showdown at High Noon: Done twice in the film with Rango and some of his foes.
  • Shrouded in Myth:
    • Rango, out of desperation, becomes The Münchausen to get the rougher element in Dirt to regard him as too dangerous to handle.
    • Rattlesnake Jake has already attained this status (in a dark way), as has the Spirit of the West.
  • Slasher Smile:
    • Rattlesnake Jake does a really good one.
    • Same for the coffin-making spider.
  • Slippery Skid: Mr. Merrimack and a loose set of golf balls.
  • Slow-Motion Fall: When his aquarium gets smashed, Rango is sent flying as "Ave Maria" plays.
  • Small-Town Tyrant: The mayor, Tortoise John, is stealing up the water from the townsfolk so he can kick them out and steal their land to use for his currently-in-construction new city. He's pretty handy with a firearm, so it's probably best not to get on his bad side.
  • Snakes Are Evil: Rattlesnake Jake plays it very straight, very darkly.
  • Somewhere, a Herpetologist Is Crying:
    • Rango's tank at the beginning of the film is a horrible environment for a chameleon. Then again, he does start the film acting crazy.
    • Rattlesnake Jake has very intensely expressive and focused eyes.
    • Beans' eyes look more like a human's than a lizard's, with huge white sclerae and brown irises.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: As the unlucky toad is being carried away, he cries, "You son of a bi—"[hawk screech]
  • Spaghetti Western: Despite being a family animated film, Rango is a straight-up love letter to all those classic Spaghetti Westerns.
  • Spontaneous Choreography: When the townsfolk do the Water Dance, they perform an intricate dance number seemingly out of nowhere which is never brought up or discussed again.
  • Standard Snippet: "Ride of the Valkyries" during an aerial chase. It's even diegetic, as the moles start playing it as they ride the bats. Played on banjoes and moonshine jugs.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Rango's out-of-control ego manifests once in casually telling Beans she'd clean up real nice if she put some effort into it.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • When Rango first arrives in Dirt, he makes it a point to imitate the walking style of whoever he sees so he can fit in with his Western surroundings. In other words, Rango's trying to get into his stride.
    • A quite clever, very easy to miss one. When Rango is getting his new clothes before the water ceremony, he tells Bean he got "a ten-gallon hat marked down from fifteen." The citizens of Dirt use water, which can be measured in gallons, as currency.
    • Rango himself isn't just any kind of chameleon, but an aquatic chameleon. He's literally a fish out of water.
    • During the extended ending, Beans tells Rango that she put lotion in his saddlebag. He then "clarifies" that it is gun lotion. Much like another cosmetics product related to guns: gun powder.
    • While assigning tasks within the posse:
      Rango: [to Wounded Bird] As my deputy, you'll be in charge of all tracking and finding abilities, using your well-developed sense of Injun-uity. No offense taken.
    • There is a scene where Beans reveals that there is no water in the bank. One could even say that Beans... spilled the beans.
    • Rattlesnake Jake has a revolving machinegun where his rattle should be. In other words, it's a Rattling Gun.
    • After Beans accidentally swallows the bullet during the water tank escape, Rango quips "No need to panic, but I think you just swallowed Plan B." One type of a birth control pill is also called Plan B.
  • Stock Sound Effects: For once, the stock call of a red-tailed hawk is used for a red-tailed hawk.
  • A Storm Is Coming: A furious dust storm precedes Rango's return to Dirt.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: While not actually exploding, the destruction visited upon Dirt by unstopping the valves and letting a flood of backed-up water inundate the town invokes the image, with it bursting out of every weak patch of ground or construction it can get to.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Double subverted. The metal-beaked hawk pursues Rango all-out at first, until it ends up grabbing the desert toad instead. Later, the hawk makes a return appearance, chasing him through the town until Rango's one-bullet accident drops the town's water tower on it.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Beans saying "My daddy was not drunk when he fell down that mine shaft!"
  • Take Off Every Zig: The mole family's squadron of fighter bats.
  • Take the Wheel: Rango handing the reins of the wagon over to Beans in the canyon chase.
  • A Tankard of Moose Urine: "Cactus juice is what we got."
  • Tap on the Head: Rango clocking a woman in the face during the Rain Dance. He's very apologetic.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • "What our story needs is an ironic, unexpected event that will propel the hero into conflict!"
    • "You keep thinkin' like that, and your hat's gonna catch on fire!"
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Beans, as she only wears a dress and has a full head of human hair styled in coiled ringlets.
  • Thirsty Desert: As the owls sing, the desert and death are the closest of friends.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: Parodied shamelessly. At the start of the film, the lead mariachi owl who serves as the narrator informs us that Rango is going to die. At the end, Rango is still alive and well, and the narrator simply points out that his prediction will come true sooner or later, since Rango is as mortal as the next guy.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: The townsfolk of Dirt get irritable when Rango is slow to find their water.
  • Too Much Information: The posse's campfire discussion.
  • Trailers Always Lie: A rather bizarre example. In one of the trailers, Rango is shown talking to the one-armed torso of a Barbie doll, which has a bra covering its chest. In the movie, it's not wearing anything.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: One trailer all but confirms that the Mayor is a bad guy. It's not a huge spoiler, since we find out there's something fishy about him in the first scene he appears in.
  • Troperiffic: All the requisite Spaghetti Western tropes, except strangely everything involving train robbery. (However, Bad Bill tries to hijack the water train in the video game.)
  • Truth in Television: Yes, you can die in the desert by drowning.
  • Tsundere: Beans. She makes it plain she's frustrated by Rango's antics, but beneath her anger is a soft spot that she hides less and less as the movie goes on.
  • Twilight of the Old West: The town is slowly dying, along with the old way of doing things. A big deal is made of traditionally Western figures fading into myth and the arrival of modernity.
  • Unflinching Walk: Used in conjunction with Heroic BSoD during Rango's walk across the highway, and in conjunction with Let's Get Dangerous! during the final showdown.
  • Un-Paused: A variation. A couple of times, when she comes out of her trances, Beans says something that sounds random but might just be related to whatever she was saying beforehand.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The mariachi owls; see Oh, and X Dies.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee:
    • Rango's plot to steal back the water jug.
    • Invoked again when Rango enlists the help of the moles to save their imprisoned kinfolk.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: While transversing an underground cavern, the townspeople pass... something subterranean... with a luminous alien-looking eye about fifteen feet across. All anyone has to say about it is "That's a big one."
  • Verbal Backspace:
    Rango: Now listen to me! We have got six days of water—
    [Rango leans against the jug, causing the water to shrink down to the five-day mark]
    Rango: ...We have got five days...
  • Visual Pun:
    • Angelique, the only character in the entire film approaching conventional attractiveness, is a fox.
    • The Magical Native American could be from the Crow people.
    • Rango trying to escape from a flooded water tank while clenching a bullet between his teeth — that's right, he's literally biting the bullet.
    • The Dirt post office is a mailbox.
    • Also, its tower clock is mounted in an old tin box marked "thyme".
    • An outhouse in Dirt is a bottle of Pepto-Bismol.
    • Wounded Bird gets winged by a bullet in his wing/arm.
  • Villain Respect: After Rango escapes the bank's vault as it's filled with water by using a single bullet to shatter the glass, and in doing so saves Rattlesnake Jake from being killed by the Mayor, Rattlesnake Jake develops a respect for Rango, enough for Rattlesnake Jake to salute him as a fellow legend of the West.
  • Volleying Insults:
    • Rango's first encounter with Priscilla.
      Priscilla: That's a funny-looking shirt.
      Rango: That's a funny-looking dress.
      Priscilla: You got funny-looking eyes.
      Rango: You got a funny-looking FACE!
    • Put plainly, Beans and Angélique aren't the best of friends. "Tart." "Floozy." "Trollop."
  • Waking Non Sequitur: Beans has occasional catatonic fits. When she snaps out of them, she never quite seems to be carrying on the same conversation she left off on.
  • Wasteland Elder: The oldest people in the drought-stricken desert town seem to be Mayor John Tortoise (who hires Rango) and the Prospector Spoons, both of whom talk a lot about how important it is to keep the town alive. Only Spoons is sincere, and only Spoons remains in town at the end of the film.
  • Water Tower Down: Rango accidentally uses one against the hawk. It doesn't contain water, just dirt, but it's more than heavy enough to crush it.
  • We All Die Someday: The mariachi owls insist from beginning to end that Rango is going to die... because everyone does eventually, often from household accidents, which is their excuse when he reaches the end of the film very much alive.
  • We Can Rule Together: With Rango ousted and the town in shambles, the Mayor offers Beans one last chance to sell her ranch. She responds by tossing a glass of water in his face when he insults her father by calling him a bruden.
  • Weird West: Talking animals, prophetic dream sequences, spirits, walking cacti, and that giant, unexplained eyeball.
  • The Western: The film largely takes place in The Wild West town of Dirt in a Weird West setting, but the film has elements of the New Old West, in particular the Mayor and the sight of glittering Las Vegas.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Angelique kinda disappears at the end, although she does show up before the Mayor puts Rango and Beans in the vault to drown. Despite all the bickering she and Beans took part in before, she genuinely seems horrified that her boss is about to kill them. She appears again in the Blu-ray version's extended ending, apparently getting along fine with everyone else... apart from the fact that there's a porcupine enjoying the rapidly-deflating kiddie pool.
    Angelique: We have a problem.
    • The Giant Eye of Doom that the posse all just casually dismisses down in the caverns, although it's likely meant more as a throwaway gag.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Thoroughly subverted — almost none of the characters, good or bad, could be called "cute" or "cuddly", with the possible exception of Abigail Breslin's aye-aye character, but the nice ones are still very likable. There do seem to be very few carnivores amongst the townspeople, as most are herbivores or insectivores, while carnivores are treated as villains and brigands. There is a bit of an edge case of this in the movie, as carnivores are seldom seen as "cute", and the only two carnivores are "cute carnivores" (a cat and a fox).
  • What's a Henway?: "What's an aquifer?" "It's fer aqua."
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Delivered by Rattlesnake Jake to Rango when he calls him out on lying to the good people of the town about his exploits and making them believe in a fraud.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Rango, as a part of his disguise in the mole family plan. Hardly has a male hero kicked so much butt while wearing a dress.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Rango asks this when Beans reveals her name, and she replies that her father loved beans.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Ironically, Rattlesnake Jake. He is deathly afraid of hawks, what with them being his natural predator. This is used against him in the climax; the moles and their bats ride in a formation that casts the shadow of a hawk. It works initially, but Jake sees through it pretty quickly.
  • Wild West Armadillo: An armadillo wearing a sombrero is the first real character the titular protagonist meets.
  • Wise Serpent: Rattlesnake Jake, despite on the surface appearing to be just a vicious brute, proves to actually be highly intelligent. During their first encounter Jake utterly tears Rango apart purely through accurately psychoanalysing him as a fraud despite never having actually met, even forcing a loaded gun into his hand because he knows Rango doesn't have it in him to pull the trigger, and giving a public display that crushes his reputation. Likewise, even whilst panicking at the end, he almost immediately realises the "hawk" is a fake.
  • Worthy Opponent: Rattlesnake Jake's impression of Rango by the end of the film.
    Rattlesnake Jake: I tip my hat to you. One legend to another.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Rango himself pulls one off in the climax. Even though Rattlesnake Jake eventually realizes the "hawk" is actually a flock of bats, Rango still succeeded in making him waste all his ammo.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Mayor tries to pull this on Rattlesnake Jake at the end of the film. It doesn't work.
  • You Remind Me of X: Beans confiding that she doesn't meet a lot of folks down on the ranch. "Sorta like being sealed up in a little box." Rango chuckles unconvincingly and claims he wouldn't know anything about that.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Jake pulls this on Rango the first time they face off, knowing he doesn't have the nerve to pull the trigger. When they end up in that situation again, he now sees that Rango does have the nerve and backs off.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Rango looks uneasy during Spoons' prayer to the Spirit of the West thanking him for sending a brave sheriff to town.


Video Example(s):


Okay, Maybe not that "Great"!

Enjoying the water perhaps a bit too much, Buford blatantly exclaims this to Furgus in the extended ending.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / PuttingThePeeInPool

Media sources: