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  • Adaptation Displacement: Unless you're a fan of TCM (Turner Classic Movies) you've most likely never even heard of the original non-musical movie (1927). Or the 1926 play (now known as Play Ball) the film was based on, whose story was actually Ripped from the Headlines.
  • Angst? What Angst?: The one innocent inmate in the "Cell Block Tango"; while the film averts this, the original Broadway recording features her sounding more frustrated and annoyed by her situation than anything and sounding rather deadpan and matter-of-fact when delivering the line, "Uh-uh, not guilty".
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  • Award Snub: The original production was nominated for eleven Tony Awards and didn't win once. (To be fair, it was up against A Chorus Line.) This was rectified with the revival, which won six out of the eight Tonys it was nominated for.
  • Cliché Storm: "Press Conference Rag" starts with one. It is not immediately recognizable as such to a modern audience, but Roxie's entire Back Story as given (girl from the sticks, rich family, dead parents, convent education, Vague Age, Shotgun Wedding) was, for The Roaring '20s, a condensate of what every woman entering show business claimed about her background. By 1927 (when the original play was written) it was such a cliché that, had the author tried to play it any other way than a blatant attempt by an Amoral Attorney to drum up cheap sympathy for his client, the audience's reaction would be eye rolls and "And I'm the Queen of Sheba".
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  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: The legal system is a farce and a circus, and fame will let you get away with anything. Additionally, if you are falsely accused of murder, you're more likely to get executed than someone who did. The saddest thing is that much too often this is true.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: Roxie snarks at Velma to "lay off the caramels". On the other hand, Roxie isn't exactly a nice person, and might just want to snub her back because Velma insulted her before. The film fits this trope even better than some of the stage versions, because in the movie, the line comes right after Catherine Zeta-Jones completes a rather intricate and impressive one-woman dance routine... while several months pregnant.
  • Hollywood Thin: Meanwhile, Roxie—played by the shapely Renée Zellweger—is told that no one wants to see her "scrawny legs" on a stage.
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  • Magnificent Bastard: Billy Flynn is Velma Kelly's greedy, smooth-talking lawyer. After learning of Roxie Hart's incarceration and seeking to earn more money, Flynn decides to become her lawyer as well. Over the span of several weeks, Flynn teaches Roxie how to earn sympathy from the public whilst also manipulating multiple reporters into thinking she killed her victim in self-defense. During Roxie's trial, Flynn cajoles Roxie's husband, Amos, into forgiving Roxie and accuses a district attorney of tampering with evidence incriminating Roxie—evidence Flynn fabricated himself. Due to Flynn's conniving words, Roxie is declared not guilty, and Flynn walks away having won another case.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "He ran into my knife ten times."
    • "Number 17: THE SPREAD EAGLE!"
    • "Give 'em the ol' razzle dazzle."
    • "HE HAD IT COMIN'!" is often used when someone gets royally burned.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Before getting the Amos role in the 1996 revival, Joel Grey used "Razzle Dazzle" in 1976 to teach Gonzo the Great how to do a show-stopping act.
  • Signature Scene: Cellblock Tango.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: The musical is no less troublesome for those seeking family-friendly entertainment. After all, it takes place in Prohibition-era Chicago, home of gangsters, flappers, illegal booze, and murder. Several numbers take place in a murderer's prison, and there's cursing in some of the lyrics. This doesn't deter some middle schools from performing it.
  • The Woobie:
    • At live shows, Amos's Woobiedom can be measured empirically by listening to the audience's "Awwww"s after "Mister Cellophane". "My exit music, please." (silence) He tends to get lots of applause after leaving the stage, though. Alternately, playing Amos (and Mr. Cellophane) for laughs is a valid choice, and could be pulled off well.
    • Poor Hunyak as well.
    • Jerkass Woobie: Depending on how sympathetic you find her character, Roxie herself.


  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Was Velma aware that Roxie stole her underwear from the Hunyak in order to suck up to her?
    • Did June kill her husband in a panic over him discovering her affair, or was she a faithful wife defending herself against an insanely jealous husband?
  • Award Snub: Richard Gere was not nominated for Best Supporting Actor, despite getting rave reviews for his wildly against type turn in this.
  • The Cast Showoff: John C. Reilly is a huge clowning aficionado, and the make-up he puts on for "Mr. Cellophane" was designed by him specifically for that act.
  • Heartwarming Moments:
    • Amos taking the initiative to pay for his wife's lawyer. He's not conned into it; he does it without any promise that Roxie has changed.
    • Roxie is shown being perfectly civil to the Hunyak. Everyone is also saddened when the latter is executed.
    • Billy Flynn despite berating Amos for not bringing enough money takes the $2,000 and tells him, "Your devotion to your wife is very touching." While Flynn later does a song and dance around Amos to win Roxie's case, he seems sincere in that moment at least.
  • He Really Can Act:
    • A variation. Richard Gere showed he could carry a tune quite well, as well as dancing. He even learned to tap dance for the film.
    • Catherine Zeta-Jones in the same vein was trained as a dancer, but this skill was not known to the public before now.
  • Hype Backlash: Soon after it won big at the Oscars (it beat The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Pianist and Gangs of New York for Best Picture), this set in.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Because it's such a good and passionate song, "Cell Block Tango" is seen as some sort of anthem... except that most of the song is sung by unrepentant murderers.
  • Tear Jerker:
  • Tough Act to Follow: This was such a success that Rob Marshall's next musical - Nine - was seen as a huge letdown. He had a little more success with his third - Into the Woods.
  • Uncanny Valley: Roxie, as well as the reporters, in "We Both Reached For the Gun" in the 2002 film version. Oddly enough, the reason it's so eerie is because it's actual people made up, dressed up, and choreographed like marionettes (or a ventriloquist dummy in Roxie's case), making them inhuman enough that it's just plain creepy.
  • Win Back the Crowd: Along with Moulin Rouge!, this revived interest in movie musicals.


  • Accidental Innuendo: Before they even became the Chicago Transit Authority, they went by the name "The Big Thing", which apparently caused some controversy in the Chicago club circuit (they were forced to perform in some clubs as "The Big Sound").
  • Awesome Music: Progressive Rock and jazz-rock fans will find the first three albums to be a veritable goldmine, as well as (probably) quite a lot of Chicago VII. Steven Wilson (of Porcupine Tree fame) recently remixed the second album, in case you needed more evidence of their prog cred.
  • Broken Base: Their stuff post-Kath era divides the fanbase, especially the 80's "power ballad" era.
  • Critical Dissonance: Their first album garnered positive reviews, but overall, they were never the darlings of the music press.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Robert Lamm's Author Tracts on the first few albums. Hearing Peter Cetera of all people singing about the need to "tear the system down" can be a bit jarring for younger listeners.
  • Epic Riff: "25 or 6 to 4".
  • Face of the Band: Averted for a while, then in The '80s, it was Peter Cetera. Who then left halfway through the decade.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The inside gatefold photo of their eleventh album, which was released in November 1977, features the band, in an antique car, being chased by a group of policemen(some of whom are firing guns)in another car. One of the guns seems pointed at the head of Terry Kath, who is driving the band’s car. In January 1978, Kath died of an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Kath replacement Donnie Dacus lasted for only two albums (Hot Streets and Chicago XIII), and was later acknowledged as "a mistake".
    • Jason Scheff for Peter Cetera fans.
    • Tris Imboden, who replaced founding drummer Danny Seraphine in 1990. Doesn't help the fact that Seraphine's departure remains the most controversial in history of the band, with differing sources claimed either he quit or he got fired.note 
    • Unfortunately, this goes for any lead vocalist whose name isn't Terry Kath, although Peter Cetera and Bill Champlin avert this.
  • Signature Song: Depending on whom you ask, "25 or 6 to 4", "Saturday in the Park", or "Hard to Say I'm Sorry".
    • Following the release of Elite Beat Agents, "You're the Inspiration" has joined the list.
    • "If You Leave Me Now" is another.
  • Tear Jerker: "Little One", from their eleventh album, features Terry Kath on lead vocals and was a minor hit shortly after his death in early 1978. Although it was written by drummer Danny Seraphine for his two girls, Terry clearly sang it with his own toddler daughter in mind. One might get the feeling that he somehow knew he wasn't going to be around to see her grow up.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Their '70s fans cried this when they started focusing more on soft rock ballads in the '80s.


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