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  • Accidental Aesop:
    • Life isn't black and white. Acting like it is will just cause problems for yourself. Also if you find some money near some dead guys, for God's sake leave it the hell alone! Or at the very least, search the contents, in case there's a tracker in it...
    • Once you're free and clear, try not to go back to the crime scene later on.
  • Adaptation Displacement: The film is far better known than the novel, and many consider it to be superior.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
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    • Mostly of Anton Chigurh. Those characters who know about him act like he's an unstoppable badass, but think about it. Sure, he kills plenty of people, but always by taking them by surprise/attacking them while they're unarmed/using an exotic weapon that most people wouldn't recognize/all three at once. When he finally confronts someone who is ready and able to put up a fight, he is wounded and loses his quarry. When he is faced with the prospect of a fight with Sheriff Bell, he runs away. Finally, at the end of the movie he murders Moss' innocent, unarmed wife, and then just barely escapes the police with the help of two children, who he bribes to keep quiet about it in part because it would be humiliating and damaging to his reputation if it got out. The guy isn't a badass; he's just a cowardly psycho with delusions of magnificence.
      • He's also a scarily good planner. The scene in the hotel allows him to figure out how to attack the Mexican's hotel room down to every detail. Doesn't make him necessarily any more badass, just makes him good at figuring out his arenas.
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    • Chigurh's final interaction with Carla Jean. The only reason for the murder is a promise he made that he has no real incentive to fulfill beyond satisfying his own "code." In spite of this, he still deviates from that promise and offers her the coin toss and he even says that it's "the best [he] can do." It can be considered an exceptionally twisted act of mercy that he worked in as a loophole to his code, especially because he didn't have to offer to do that. On the other hand, this can be seen as an utterly pathetic action with him having to hide behind his "code" to justify his own unjustifiable behavior. Carla Jean does after all say, "It's not the coin, it's you."
    • Is Sheriff Bell the last of a dying brand of justice, incapable of containing a rising tide of evil, or a self-pitying old man so preoccupied with the past that he has become ineffectual in the present?
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  • Awesome Music: After almost exclusively diegetic music note  for the whole film (and barely any of it, at that), Carter Burwell's bone-chilling theme finally plays during the credits, and it is perfect. Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to hear without simply playing the scene over and over on your DVD, because no soundtrack was released. It can, however, be heard in its entirety on Youtube here.
  • Complete Monster: Anton Chigurh is a hired assassin defined by his nihilistic personal code. Compared to the Bubonic Plague by his former associate Carson Wells, Chigurh is an emotionless killer with no regard for human life, occasionally deciding his victims' fates with a coin toss. Introduced by strangling a police officer to death with handcuffs, Chigurh proceeds to murder an innocent man to steal his car, repeating this crime later in the film. Employed to recover $2 million lost in a drug deal gone bad, Chigurh murders two of his employer's men and relentlessly hunts for Llewelyn Moss to retrieve the money. Along the way, Chigurh murders several Mexican criminals who are also pursuing Moss, shooting one of them as he surrenders, and later kills a hotel clerk and a random motorist who get caught in a gunfight between Chigurh and Moss. Chigurh later kills Wells and the man who hired them both, intending to keep the money for himself, and promises to kill Moss's wife Carla Jean unless Moss surrenders the money, making it clear that he intends to kill Moss regardless; Wells had previously commented that even if Moss gave up the money, Chigurh would kill him anyway for "inconveniencing him". After Moss is killed, Chigurh murders Carla Jean, attempting to justify this senselessly cruel act by claiming to be keeping his promise. A chilling psychopath devoid of humanity, Chigurh is presented as an unstoppable force of evil, a monster without empathy or remorse.
  • Creepy Awesome: It's not for no reason that Anton Chigurh is largely considered to be the creepiest movie villain since Hannibal Lecter. Between Barden's nightmarish acting, his unique choice in weapons and murder strategies, the bad haircut, and the fact that he spends pretty much the whole movie running circles around the protagonists, this is not the kind of bad guy you're going to forget any time soon.
  • Designated Hero: Llewelyn Moss is far from heroic, he accidentally causes the deaths of innocence as Chigurh hunts him down. On top of that, he's nothing more than a common thief.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Delivered to the sheriff near the end of the film: you can't stop bad things. Or more specifically, you can't when you've gotten too old and the world has changed from when you were younger and could stop them.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: Regarding the haircut, in the actor's words, "I'm not going to get laid for three months." Unlike most examples of the trope, it actually makes Anton scarier instead of laughable.
  • Fridge Brilliance: Even if Llewelyn didn't go back to check on the injured gangster, he would've been caught by the cartel. The cartel was already aware of the gps hidden in the briefcase and would only have to search around town until they got a signal from it. So if anything bringing the injured man water might've prolonged Llewelyn's life since it led to him getting out of town.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones co-starred in Men in Black 3, with Brolin playing an uncanny younger version of Jones. This means this is another film where they don't share a scene together.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • The Implied Facepalm. When it's not even worth facepalming at.
    • Anton Chigurh, likely inspired by the coin toss, became the memetic host of "kek or cringe," a meme grading show with memes deemed "cringe" resulting in its participants being killed. As the meme got more popular, many began applying the formula to other fictional universes with different hosts.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The Mexican mobsters cross it when they murder the woman by the hotel pool in their attempt to kill Moss. Chigurh also kills anyone who gets in his way as he moves around the country, and in one case kills an innocent person purely on principle.
    "Can you get those chicken crates out of the bed?"
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Stephen Root's character, the mysterious boss who hires Carson Wells, is never named and has only two scenes.
    • Barry Corbin as the maimed former deputy Ellis has one scene with Sheriff Bell after most of the story is over.
    • Gene Jones as the befuddled old gas station attendant who Chigurh comes this close to killing over a coin toss.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • Squick: Somewhat of a Fridge Squick. In the hotel shootout scene, when Llewelyn tumbles out of the pickup truck, he's covered in blood. It takes a second for it to sink in that it's not HIS blood.
    • Chigurh cleaning his wounds. As well as the bone sticking out of his arm.
  • Tear Jerker: Carla Jean's death. She'd lost her husband and mother and had just returned from the latter's funeral when she finds Chigurh in her room. Even Chigurh sounds rather sad knowing that — by his code — he "has" to kill her, although he clearly could really care less about her life and is merely self-pitying about having to do the deed.
  • Uncanny Valley: Anton Chigurh, good lord. There's nothing outwardly odd about his looks, but between Javier Bardem's chilling performance, the freaky moral code he goes by, the bizarre haircut, and undefinable accent, he comes across less like an assassin and more like an alien imitating a human being. Which is a big part of what makes him so unspeakably terrifying.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • The cop at the beginning. How bad at your job do you have to be to nonchalantly turn your back on a suspect whose mobility is in no way impaired? Never mind strangulation by handcuffs, he could have just as easily sneaked out the door.
    • The victim whose car is stolen shortly after the above. What was this guy thinking? "Guy in cop car pulls me over, looks like death personified, no badge, carrying a white fire extinguisher thingy. Seems legit."
  • The Woobie: Carla Jean Moss. She is completely innocent, has a Jerkass husband who orders her around without telling her anything, and an useless old mother with cancer. Her husband is killed because of his hubris, her mother dies of cancer, and she is finally killed herself by Chigurh.

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