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Top Ten Film Cliches


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As a student you will find yourself watching loads of films- whether that’s because your housemate is a film freak or you’re actually a student of film. Some will be awful, others might change your life but there’s one thing that is a common denominator in all cinema: clichés.

You’ve all seen them, those cringe-worthy moments for cynics and those moments that 'make it' for fans. A list of the top ten film clichés can be found right here...

1. The bad guy is a bad shot. What could be more clichéd than the bad guy not actually being very good with a gun or a weapon? Even better, what if the bad guy actually can’t physically bring himself to shoot and turns into a... wait for it... good guy.

2. No bullets left. A classic way of killing off the bad guy, usually following a great catchphrase. Equally the device is also used to kill off good guys and make the bad guys look even ‘bad-er’.

3. With patience, a teacher can teach anyone and teach them well. A feature of many ‘school-set’ films.

4. The Prisoner is not guilty. Or the prisoner is actually a potential hero. Think The Green Mile.

5. I still love my ex-wife. The side plotline in tonnes of romantic comedies, girl loves boy, boy loves girl, boy meets ex-wife, boy doesn’t love girl, boy loves ex-wife. Enchanting.

6. Third person shoots. How many times have you seen a stand-off between two guys? Then a random guy who you saw briefly at the beginning suddenly becomes significant by shooting one of the guys in the stand-off, often from outside of camera shot.

7. Dead or alive/ Music versus silence. Many horror movies rely on people/ zombies not really being dead when they appear to be so they can reappear later when the music is building or when silence runs, often from behind a protagonist, and attack!

8. ‘Explosion.’ ‘What explosion?’ ‘That explosion!’ This could just as easily be replaced with ghost or zombie or monster or even 'Look.' 'Look where?' 'There!' The heart of suspense.

9. Aliens in general. Some are human sized, some are smaller, some are shaped like ET. All have a take on the little green slimy cliché. Although some films have funnier interpretations than others- think Paul.

10. And finally we come to perhaps the biggest cliché of them all- the car won’t start/ breaks down. A feature of many horror movies (see The Evil Dead films. It can also be seen in action films, creating suspense and even romcoms- the girl has to call the boy for help, they fall in love and live together forever happily ever after until the next time she breaks down, calls someone else and the circle begins again.

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