Us tv tropes

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Fridge / Us

As a Fridge subpage, all spoilers are unmarked as per policy.You Have Been Warned.

Fridge Brilliance:

  • When Red and the Tethered versions of the Wilson family invade the house, Red tells a story about a girl and a shadow. She talks about how, unlike her, the girl got warm food and presents on Christmas. We later learn that the Tethered were trapped underground by their link. So how did she know about the world above ground? It's because she's actually the real Adelaide, who as a child was forced underground by her Tethered counterpart.
  • Adelaide knowing about and explaining the Tethered's Kill and Replace plan to her family makes a surprising amount of sense, considering the Adelaide we've been following for the whole movie is a Tethered.
  • The poster depicts Red looking out from behind a mask of Adelaide's face, in reference to the Tethered's goal to Kill and Replace their counterparts. It's also foreshadowing the fact that Red was the original all along, which is further foreshadowed by her crying.
    • Another poster merely consists of scissors in someone's grip. The gloved one is covering the ungloved one, possibly foreshadowing the reveal that the Adelaide we've been following the entire time is the Tethered. Bonus points for the ungloved hand being the one to actually hold the scissors.
  • The way that Red tells her story as a little fairy tale makes sense because she spent her childhood speaking in the real world. Once she was kidnapped she entered a world with no speaking and so her storytelling would be childlike.
  • The Tethered's weapon being golden shearing scissors. In Greek myth, the Fates cut the thread of a person's life - what tethers them to this world - with scissors. The Tethered want to kill their originals to destroy the Psychic Link, hence cutting the thread, making this especially meaningful.
    • Also the scissors are symmetrical, with the handles resembling two heads back to back made of two identical pieces bound together to move in tandem. A very apt icon of the Tethered and their nature.
  • Jason's Ambiguous Disorder behavior is because he's half tethered. If Red's story about her children being born odd is true, then it implies that those born with Tethered genetics are born with high chance of behavioral issues or disorders.
    • Hitching off of this, and while not as obvious as Jason, Zora&#;s behavior hints at her being half tethered as well. She displays a severe lack of empathy to the Tylers after they die (asking if they could have their car since they were all dead, for example) and she tends to act in a similar way to her mother, being very quiet and non talkative with the twins, as well as killing off the twins&#; Tethereds a bit too easily.
  • It makes sense why the Tethered were considered a failure if Red's theory on them being made by the government is true. They're too dependent on others, judging from the influence they receive from their counterparts and electing Red, the original, at an implied young age to be their leader. It's made clear from the first Tethered appearance at the end that he's been standing in place for an entire day without any food or water. Barring the fact they seem to have a natural desire to Kill and Replace their real selves, it would be especially difficult for the government to pull a Kill and Replace with a clone who needs 24/7 supervision especially one that can't speak or talk like a normal human being who would needed to have to be taught.
    • The man was standing in place because he was the Jeremiah Tethered. It looks as though Red commanded each Tethered to take their place in the Hands Across America recreation once they killed their counterpart.
  • Notice how Jason's Tethered counterpart is named Pluto. Like his sister Umbrae (Tethered Zora), Pluto's name sticks to the theme of shadows and darkness (Umbrae means shadow) as the dwarf planet Pluto is the furthest from the sun and gets its name from the Roman god of the underworld. Pluto is also the name of a well known Disney character. Pluto the dog walks on all fours in contrast to the other animal characters in the Mickey Mouse cartoons. Similarly, Pluto is the most animalistic of the Tethered, shown several times walking on all fours himself.
    • The names of Red gave her family also make some sense when you realise that she's the real Adelaide. Abraham would be a reference to Abraham Lincoln, probably the most iconic US president and no doubt someone Adelaide would have learned about before being replaced. Pluto, as mentioned above, is the name of a Disney character as Adelaide could have been a fan of Disney cartoons. Umbrae's name however is the odd one out as Adelaide wouldn't have knowledge in Latin unless by some strange miracle she is naming her after the home decor company Umbra from Toronto, as the company opened in and she was replaced in , giving her enough years to remember the name of said company.
  • In the climax, Adelaide enters the Hall of Mirrors and immediately heads toward a hidden door in the wall that hasn't been seen before. Of course she knows about it, she's actually the original Tether and came out that door when she swapped places with the real Adelaide.
    • It should also be noted that although we see a bunch of doors and other passages in the underground, Adelaide doesn't even check any of them, but heads straight to the Tethered base.
  • The Tyler's Tethered don't immediately attack the Wilsons or tries to murder them. This is because they must be friends with their version of the Wilsons thanks to the Tethered's Psychic Link and with Red, being the leader of Tethered society. They would know how important killing their counterparts would be to their friends.
  • When Adelaide kills Red, she turns downright feral and even after impaling her and then going the extra mile by wrapping her handcuffs around her neck till it snapped. It also the last sign outright telling the audience that Adelaide was the Tethered the whole time. So far with all of the other tethered whose not the Wilsons are shown to waste no time in killing their counterparts as shown on the news report and with the Tylers however Red wants her counterpart to suffer before killing her as shown in their final fight where she obviously could have finish Adelaide at anytime unlike Adelaide who waste no opportunities in trying kill her. A clone created to Kill and Replace a person would have a natural instinct to quickly kill their target so they can take control of their life.
    • Related to it one might wonder as to why Red was toying so much with Adelaide, considering that the entire plot was kickstarted by her wanting revenge on her clone, but when you think about it, this may very well be part of the revenge, Red wants Adelaide to become feral, in a twisted way to show both of them who is the real one, aka. The one who doesn't get an unnatural urge to kill the other, in short, Red wants to unmask Adelaide as the true monster all along.
  • When the family is eating together Adelaide is eating strawberries while the rest of the family are eating fast food, demonstrating how she is not like the rest of her family.
    • After having been forced to eat nothing but raw rabbit meat for the first ten years of her life she's probably a vegetarian.
  • The Itsy Bitsy Spider is relevant to the plot when you think about events from Red&#;s perspective. She gets out of the underworld (climbs up the water spout). Then, she&#;s lured back down there by Adelaide and nearly beaten (down came the rain and washed the spider out) but then Red kills Adelaide (Out came the sun and dried up all the rain) and then Red returns to the surface (The itsy spider went up the spout again).
  • In the last fight Red gracefully dodges Adelaide's attacks and slices at her, a marked contrast to the other Tethered's fighting style, running at their victim and stabbing them in the head or neck. This is because Red is a normal human, she can't take the damage a Tethered can. She also knows she can't take Adelaide out in a single stab, so she weakens her before attempting to land the killing blow.
  • The Tethered specifically using rabbits as their sole source of food makes some sense. Rabbits are infamous for being notoriously fast breeders, meaning that a large rabbit population can provide a theoretically endless supply of food.
  • Red's line of "We're Americans". makes perfect sense. They were created by a government cloning project that uses American citizens to be used, ostensibly, by the United States for control. They were literally created by Americans for Americans.
    • It's also clever wordplay: United States. "US".
  • The reason the real Adelaide is behaving like a Tethered throughout the movie is because she was trapped in a hellish world for over 30 years, it drove her completely mad. Being cooped up underground with no real human contact made her animalistic and psychotic. She was so insane that she convinced herself that she is a Tethered.
  • Josh Tyler's Tethered counterpart Tex, while still terrifying as the rest of the Tethered, also comes off as sorta comical and even a bit cartoony. He shares a name with well-known animator Tex Avery, and Tex Watson - the right-hand man of the Manson Family.
  • Ophelia, the Alexa equivalent device the Tyler's own, is more than a coincidental name. In Hamlet, Hamlet's love interest Ophelia goes mad with grief after her father, Polonius, is killed. In her grief stricken state, she hands out flowers, with the flowers being symbolic for different things. She later drowns herself. The namesake of Kitty's Tethered, Dahlia, is also a flower. While Dahlia does not kill Kitty herself, Kitty is killed while asking Ophelia for help by someone named after a type of flower.
  • Why is Jason the only one who seems to suspect that Adelaide is a tethered that swapped places with her original? With how much he loves trying to preform stage magic, it&#;s likely he knows & recognizes a few tricks - such as swapping objects & people with identical ones in such a way that no one noticed the switch.
    • Additionally, the place Red takes Jason to requires going through a house of mirrors, which are important for several tricks involving optical illusions.
    • Another connection between stage magic & the Tethered&#;s plan to swap places with their originals: By the time of the Tethered's attack, the House of Mirrors has since been renovated with a theme based on Merlin the Wizard. &#;Wizard&#; and &#;Magician&#; are synonyms, and as such, are used interchangeably in some cases, and only when &#;Adelaide&#; goes back to the hall of mirrors is she finally able to finish her &#;trick&#;.
  • Why is Red the only Tethered to speak? Because she's the only one who ever learned how.
  • The significance of Luniz' "I Got 5 On It" as a motif: in the family unit of four (Adelaide, Gabe, Zora and Jason), Red, more than the other Tethered, is the fifth 'family member'.
  • Thinking more about the house of mirrors:
    • The original dressing as a Native American "Vision Quest" complete with a feathered Chief hints at themes of colonialism and cultural appropriation - the way that Adelaide stole Red's identity.
    • Later, it's been updated to a magical forest with a Merlin-esque wizard - hinting that the final act of the story is akin to completing a ritual/spell, but also that the confrontation between Red and Adelaide is akin to a magic trick - for instance, a shell game
  • All of the Alice In Wonderland motifs.
    • The infamous White Rabbits, being seen everywhere throughout the movie. Alice famously follows the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland. The tunnels under the carnival are filled fit to burst with rabbits, and rabbits are naturally burrowing animals who make tunnels to begin with.
    • In Alice in Wonderland, the two characters of The Red Queen and the King of Hearts are often mistaken for one another despite being from two entirely different books. Much like how Addy and Red could be mistaken for the same person.
      • The Queen of Hearts is famous for her proclamation of "Off With Her Head". Throughout the movie, Red is seen cutting the heads off of things with her scissors: the rabbit doll, the paper dolls she makes, and even how she focuses on slashing the throats specifically with their scissors.
      • Red's name could be taken from The Red Queen specifically in Through The Looking Glass. In chess, a Pawn piece can become a Queen if it crosses the board to the other side. Much like how Red, after being made a pawn in Addy's ploy to gain access to the surface, became the Queen of the Tethered.
      • The name "Adelaide" is taken from Adelheid, meaning "noble kind or type".
    • The second book, where the Red Queen is from, specifically has Alice go through a magical looking glass to enter the dream world where the book takes place. And how does Red first end up in the underground? Walking through a funhouse full of mirrors!
  • Adelaide's ballet recital solo that we see flashbacks to was a modified version of a pas de deux, a dance that usually requires a partner - unbeknownst to anyone present, she did have a partner, since Red was following her motions underground. This is spelled out a bit more in an extended version of a scene where Kitty asks Adelaide about her dancing, since Adelaide mentions it being a pas de deux and explains what that means.
  • Ignoring the Fridge Logic, it does make sense why rabbits were chosen for being the Tethered's meal, rabbits are infamous for being able to multiply quickly.

Fridge Horror:

  • The fact that the kids are technically half-Tethered due to being born of Adelaide. Whether that will cause any issues down the line in their life has yet to be determined.
  • Why is Red&#;s voice so hoarse? Because when the Tethered!Adelaide choked her Untethered counterpart, she likely crushed her throat and permanently damaged it.
    • Alternatively, her voice is just hoarse from lack of use after so long among the non-vocal Tethered.
  • Red's coming upon the hide-a-key during the home invasion is surely no coincidence. This is her family's house. She knows where to find the key because she's seen it there before.
  • Remember when Red talked about that creepy fairy tale? How the princess met a prince and had kids? And her shadow met a brute and had monsters? Considering their Psychic Link, how do you think they came together and had kids?
    • Take this another step further what does the very existence of the kids imply? if we take Red's story at face value then the kids aren't clones, but rather the "mirroring" shown in the Tethered goes all the way to reproduction, meaning that when the two Tethered come together in the same way as their "original" counterparts then they make the exact same kids, with the exact same link. If that's the case how many generations of Tethered have there been since what ever government facility abandoned them? Has the government even been monitoring them, or did they assume they couldn't reproduce and would die in a single generation?
  • When the Wilsons drive up to their burning car, they don't notice Red sneaking up behind them. Was she simply planning to to grab and subdue the closest one, or did she know that Jason had figured out their mirroring and let her son die so she could capture Adelaide's?
  • All of the rabbits will most likely die from starvation in the underground because all the Tethered moved above and there is no one left to take care of them. The Tethered have no reason to go back below for their original food source, so unless the rabbits have access to food and water, they will most likely all die.
  • It seems like the Tendered can easily track down their counterparts due to their psychic link. If that's true, then there is no place on earth to hide from those monsters. You can have plastic surgery and change your name, your clone will still be able to find you.
  • If what the main entry says re: Evil Feels Good, then every single loving, fun, gratifying sexual experience Adelaide ever had up top was the equivalent of rape and sexual assault for Red.
  • Red was handcuffed to one of the bunk beds but isn't given a key; likely she had to break the bones in her hand to get free.
  • The Tethered only take their place in the Hands Across America recreation after killing their above-ground counterpart. So when the helicopter shot at the end shows hundreds - if not thousands - of Tethered linking hands and covering miles of territory, that's basically the movie's body count.
  • The very troubling implication that, up to the final minutes of the movie, Adelaide had repressed her own memories of escaping the Tethered shelter and swapping places with Red until just after killing Red. Especially because, with Red's theorizing that Tethered's and their counterparts share a soul, Adelaide will have felt an unexplainable sense of dread and pain her entire life - the way a Tethered experiences their counterparts' on the surface - which ended the instant Red was dead. In the final moments of the film, what she's feeling, having killed her double, is elation and relief.
  • Further to the above point - horribly enough, Adelaide is living proof that the Tethered experiment can work, and a Tethered can replace the original human they copied, so long as it happens early enough in development. Unlike other Tethered, Adelaide can socialize, resist (most of) her violent urges and speak intelligibly (even if she retains certain personality traits such as a proclivity to violence and an estrangement from non-Tethered humans). But this success is a hollow victory, since the cost is condemning Red to the life she would otherwise have led.
  • If you want to have sympathy for the Tethered or Red in particular, consider this: The Loma Prieta earthquake happened while she was in those tunnels, keyword being tunnels, tunnels running less than 10 miles from the epicenter of California's second "Big One". Honestly, it's amazing all those tunnels didn't collapse.
  • Both Fridge Horror and Fridge Logic, We know the Tethered ate rabbits, but what did they drink? If they are clones, shouldn't they need water too? If not? How did they deal with dehydration?

Fridge Logic

  • After meeting up with Red in the classroom Red spends several minutes explaining the origins of the Tethered Why does she do this? Both Red and Adelaide know all of this given the fact that Adelaide was the Tethered one all along. Nothing Red says should be much of a revelation to her.
    • It seems possible that Adelaide may have repressed bits of her past.
    • Adelaide was only a child when she switched places with Red. While she may have understood how horrible the underground was she may not have understood why she existed. Red could also be using this as a "remember who you really are" Breaking Speech.
    • Adelaide had no language until she came above ground. It's possible there was information about the Tethered and their origins underground somewhere, but until Red went down there none of the Tethered (including Adelaide) could understand it.
  • The Tethered eat nothing but rabbits, but what do the rabbits eat? For that matter, if The Tethered truly are an abandoned Government project and thus no longer receiving funding or oversight, who or what is supplying them with exact or close-enough replicas of their human counterparts' clothing? Where did they get that many matching red jumpsuits, fingerless gloves, and fancy pairs of scissors?
    • Not sure about the rabbits, but it's been suggested that the scenes where the Tethered are wearing the same clothes as their regular counterparts are just how Red pictures it and not what it actually looked like.
  • The Tethered badly break Gabe's leg upon breaking into the house. He's shown limping several times, but other than that, it never affects - or it seems, even clouds - his ability to perform extremely brutal stunts such as killing Abraham (especially on the water!) or Tex. Sure, it's a shout out to Funny Games, but just seems to create unnecessary plot holes.

WMG / Us

Exactly what ARE the Doppelgängers?

  • Aliens: People that look exactly like you wanting to kill you? Smells like a reimagining of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
  • Clones with an extreme case of Cloning Blues: The reason they're attacking the originals is to become their own person, free from the shackles of being identified as a copy.
    • Confirmed-ish. The Tethered are, in fact, clones who resent their originals, but their motivation is less about not-being allowed their own identity (although that's part of it) and more about not being afforded the same luxuries as their counterparts (IE sunlight, good food, etc).
  • The original family, caught in a Stable Time Loop who are hoping to kill their younger selves to break the cycle.
  • Their literal personal demons, who have taken on their forms.
    • Jossed, except metaphorically.
  • They're nightmares that have seeped into the real world.
    • Jossed, except in the metaphorical sense.
  • They are the actual Wilsons, who have been forced to watch an idyllic, dream version of themselves as a form of torture by an unknown entity. This has driven them to kill the "good" Wilsons, so they can stop being reminded of what they aren't.
    • Confirmed, but only Red (Adelaide's doppelganger) is the original
  • Clones created by white people as a more acceptable substitute. This is Peele, after all.
    • Unlikely, since Peele has explicitly stated that this film's commentary isn't about race.
    • Plus, a foreground shot in one of the trailers of the red jumpsuited Tethered holding hands shows that one of them is white, suggesting that one or both of the Tylers is also affected.
    • The Tethered are clones, but they weren't specifically created by white people so much as the whole government in order to control everybody, not just black people. The experiment failed and the Tethered were abandoned.
  • Anthropomorphic Personifications of people's darkest traits, maybe due to the collective unconscious "leaking" into our world for one reason or another.
    • Jossed in the literal sense, but the themes are there.

Adelaide used to be involved in the cult that created the doppelgängers

  • In the trailer, she warns her children about the doppelgängers and how they won't stop until they kill the family or the family kills them. Although this could simply sound like a mother preparing her children to be strong against their new enemies, it could also be foreshadowing that Adelaide knows about the functions of their evil twins and why they work that way. Also in an interview, Lupita mentions that Adelaide has a dark and tragic past which could tie in with the activities of the presumed cult.
  • She also seems to be the most frightened of the doppelgängers out of the whole family the soonest, in a way that seems like more than just caution or old wounds being poked by a sudden creepy presence-see her tone of voice and her expression when she tells her kids to put on their shoes.
  • In the trailer, there are also several shots of a young girl who has her own doppelgänger but isn't involved with the Wilson family in the present. It's quite possible that the girl was Adelaide from the past.
    • Continuing this thread, the girl and her doppelgänger dancing on the stage/in the hallway has been assumed to be Zora and Umbrae, but perhaps it's actually Adelaide and Red, between when Adelaide first encountered her doppelgänger and the present day, showing us how much Red adheres to what Adelaide does outside the facility. Lupita mentions in an interview that she had to train some ballet skills to assist in Adelaide's physicality.
  • Confirmed, although it was not a cult but the results of a failed experiment. Adelaide is a Tethered who swapped places with her aboveground counterpart, but to what extent she actually remembered this is left ambiguous, as it's heavily implied she came down with a case of Believing Your Own Lies and only realizes the truth because of the events of the movie. She did at least remember enough to fear her double returning for vengeance, though.

This takes place in a "modern" section of Westworld. The doppelgängers are just unused cyborgs from a Horror Storyline that was abandoned due to how horrifying it was to the clients.

The film will have a Downer Ending.

The cult who created the Tethered are the Order of the Coagula.

  • Assuming that Us takes place in the same universe as Get Out. The Big Bad might even be a member of the Armitage family. In that case, the events of this film would be an experiment using both the Wilson and the Tyler families as test subjects.
    • Jossed. It was the government who created the Tethered.

The Tylers are more involved in the plot than they might let on.

  • In the trailer, the Tylers seem very buddy-buddy with the Wilsons, just like Armitages were to Chris in Get Out (). Even more so, there are clips of Mrs. Tyler with a pair of Tethered shears, implying she either has a clone of her own to worry about or is involved with the Tethered somehow.
    • Jossed, sort of? Mrs Tyler does have her own clone (as do all the Tylers), but the only scene they're in that isn't in some way involved in the trailer is their deaths at the hands of their Tethered.

Tethered!Jason might be a Minion with an F in Evil.

  • Other than helping the Tethered!Wilsons mess with the real Wilsons, he doesn&#;t seem to be actually violent. He doesn&#;t show any physical hostility towards the real Jason during their Mirror Routine, and in the part where he&#;s walking out of the flames, playing it backward makes it look like he&#;s walking backwards into the flames and burning himself alive instead of doing Adelaide any more harm.
    • Confirmed that he is walking backwards into the flames, but because Jason is controlling him. Left ambiguous whether he has an F in evil. He is a pyromaniac, but there isn't much else known about his character.

The Tethered are the Wilson&#;s shadow archetypes.

  • Adelaide was mentioned to have a Dark and Troubled Past in an interview with Lupita, and her Tethered version looks well, dark and troubled. She may be trying to suppress a traumatic event in her childhood and doesn&#;t want to come to terms with it.
    • Confirmed. It's that she kidnapped the real Adelaide and switched places with her.
  • Jason wearing a Halloween mask all the time is pretty odd, especially when he takes it to the beach and even to bed. This might be indicative of a learning or developmental disorder, which in turn might make him feel alienated. The Tethered!Jason, on the other hand, acts almost animalistic but wears a human mask, like he&#;s trying to fit in with the rest of his family.
  • Adding to this, Jordan Peele said that the movie was about how "we are our own worst enemies." When a person says that, they usually mean that a person's own characteristics work against them. Therefore, that could be represented by the Tethered showing characteristics that work against the Wilsons, whether they're just things they don't like or outright flaws.

The Wilsons can feel the Tethered's pain

  • Which is why Adelaide is screaming after (presumably) stabbing her doppelgänger at the end of the trailer.
    • Taking it a step further, this is why the Tethered!Wilsons don't immediately try to kill their counterparts. They'd die too.
      • Which leads into the Downer Ending, in which Adelaide realizes this too late to save her own life.
    • That would also explain why they're called the Tethered — they're bound to their originals.

Adelaide was replaced by her Tethered version

  • The little girl shown in the trailer is Adelaide as a child. She found a portal to the Tethered world, where her doppelgänger replaced her. This is the dark past refereed to in her actress' interview. Now the original Adelaide has come with the Tethered version of her family to take her place back.

&#;I Got Five On It&#; might be foreshadowing.

  • My first thought was that not only do the Wilsons survive the events of the story, but manage to rescue one of the Tethered and adopt them into the family. Due to the injuries he sustained in the film, Gabe is prescribed medical marijuana.
    • Alternatively, there are more than four Tethered running after the Wilsons. Mrs. Tyler had scissors and the glove, too.
      • Confirmed, actually. Mrs Tyler's gloved alternate is actually her Tethered.

If this film decides to be a Spiritual Successor to Get Out (), it will be also be its Spiritual Antithesis.

  • Get Out () uses the concept of Grand Theft Me as a metaphorical representation of the horrors of western colonialism and the way that the supposedly tolerant white liberal ideology is not free of racism. Assuming that Us will also tackle themes of race relations, then it will instead focus on the equally unhealthy extreme of exclusionary practices within African-American culture. At one point, the protagonist realizes that there is something wrong with the Armitage estate because their live-in servant "Logan King" is acting like The Whitest Black Guy - he misreads a fist bump as a handshake, dresses like an old white man, and speaks in an antiquated fashion. When Chris discerns this, it is portrayed as reasonable suspicion, and is justified because Chris knew Andre before he became "Logan King", and he presumably acted more "black". Us, by contrast, will focus on the Unfortunate Implications of taking that concept to its illogical extreme.
  • The Wilsons appear to be a family of upper middle class suburbanites who seem to fit perfectly into the predominantly white suburbia they call home. By contrast, the Doppelgängers invoke the Uncanny Valley; they seem to be incapable of truly belonging in that world. The hints that Adelaide has a trouble past, and that the Doppelgängers are Shadow Archetypes, suggest that the Doppelgängers are defined entirely by awful things that should be left in history. The Doppelgängers are, on the surface, the Anthropomorphic Personification of the idea that black people should "act black", and their attacks are metaphorical of black people being treated as "not really black" for living their lives a certain way or holding certain views. Like someone holding an extremist viewpoint, they seem incapable of being reasoned with. As Adelaide puts it in the trailer, "They won't stop until they kill us, or we kill them." However, that might not be entirely true.
  • A shot late in the trailer has real!Jason and clone!Jason interacting peacefully, mirroring each others' movements, and with more overt symbolism, looking under the masks they both wear to see their true faces. This shows that maybe the two groups can, in fact, accept the differences between each other by finding meaning in their many similarities. The trailer alone has tons of symbolism of a similar nature:
    • One location in the trailer is a massive, seemingly endless hallway full of rabbits. Every single one of them is white, except for a single black rabbit. For obvious reasons, all of the rabbits coexist and do not care about the color difference. Another shot shows cages of rabbits, and again only one of them is black, but now you can see rabbits of other colors, including white ones with black spots. Whatever the rabbits are going through, they are going through it together, and the color differences again mean nothing.
    • The Doppelgängers, clone!Adelaide in particular, are associated with a small pair of scissors as their signature weapon. What are scissors used for? Separating things that would otherwise stay together. A shot late in the trailer makes this even more overt, with clone!Adelaide holding up two paper people and splitting them apart. One shot of the trailer features people holding both hands and scissors as they stand over a (white) corpse on the beach.
    • At the point in the trailer where Adelaide says the words "They won't stop until they kill us", the shot shown directly after the word "Us" in the trailer is of a white woman, presumably Elisabeth Moss' character, covered in blood and crawling on the ground, presumably after having been attacked by the Doppelgängers. The Tyler family whom the Wilsons share a bond with are implicitly identified as "us" in regards to the Wilson family, and are very clearly shown to be suffering alongside them even though no doppelgängers of the Tylers have been shown up to that point.
    • A Match Cut is shown of Zora dancing ballet in both the strange hallway and on a stage. Presumably the former is of clone!Zora dancing in a cloning facility while the real Zora dances in a public place, implying that the doppelgängers inherit the hobbies and interests of the originals, showing that they're actually not so different. For bonus symbolism points, ballet was originally developed throughout France and Russia, two countries with a more than 80% white population.
    • The films tagline, "We Are Our Own Worst Enemy", may actually be completely literal. Adelaide and her clone seem more obviously hostile to one another than the other three pairings, and it is suggested that Adelaide's Dark and Troubled Past may be relevant to the plot. By contrast, Jason is the youngest family member and can reconcile with his copy. Perhaps the hate that you have for what you see in yourself when looking at one of the Tethered is a bigger danger than the Tethered themselves. Alternatively, this might be why the Tethered are attacking: they are blinded by hate.
    • Whether "The Tethered" are actually the originals or really are just clones, the use of that term is telling: The more aggressive, damaged of the two Wilson families are the ones that are tethered, bound, perhaps even enslaved.
    • The movie's logo is a Rorschach painting featuring a mirrored face on either side:. The face on the left is entirely black, while the one on the right is slightly white. People (who have English as their first language anyway) are inclined to view the image left to right, subtly implying that the first face is the original and the second is the copy. This might actually be a Bait-and-Switch, and the "pure black" face represents the Tethered while the real Wilsons are actually identified as "mostly black with just a bit of white in them."
  • In short, If Get Out () was a Deconstruction of Positive Discrimination towards Black People by White People, and the idea that being "blind to race" or Innocently Insensitive might not be so innocent, Us will be a Deconstruction of No True Scotsman directed at Black People by other Black People, and the idea that acting like Everything Is Racist might be unhealthy in a situation where race genuinely doesn't matter. By that same token,Us is also a Reconstruction of the Token Minority, with the message that identifying with a group that is not predominantly of your race is a perfectly acceptable way of life.
  • Jossed; Peele has said in interviews that the film is not about race, neither in actual plot or subtext.
    • And now that the film has been released, Peele was right.

The film is unrelated to Get Out, and is actually set in the world of The Twilight Zone ()

.Everyone's expecting this to be a Stealth Sequelto Get Out, so what if it's related to Peele's other big project?

Chris and Rod survived the Untethering

Due to Chris' experiences with the Armitages, he'd be more used to the supernatural and could kill his doppelganger more easily, and Rod is Rod.

Pluto replaced Jason by the end of the film.

From Reddit: Coming from how it's implied that Jason knows his mom is the Tethered version of Adelaide, but refuses to say anything, instead flipping his Wolfman mask back down and caring for his new pet rabbit. This is his way of giving a quiet tell that while he's not happy that he had to kill his original and he's mad that Red is dead, he recognizes it was the only way to be free for both of them and so he remains mum - not that he speaks English anyway.
  • Unlikely seeing as how Pluto has a very large burn on the bottom half of his face, and Jason does not.
    • That is rather a significant flaw.
    • To be completely fair, Pluto could have switched out with Jason during a previous summer vacation. It helps that IIRC, it was mentioned that Jason was quiet for a while, and Jason is making sand tunnels at the beach. However, there are logical flaws with this theory: Adelaide knows all about the Tethered, being one herself, so she would immediately know something was up once Jason was suddenly unable to speak. It also seems unlikely that Pluto would be as feral and animalistic as he is if he was the original Jason that was switched out recently, and it's odd that Pluto doesn't once ever verbally communicate with the regular Wilsons, given that Red still retains her ability to speak even after spending almost her entire life down in the Tethered facility.

Many of the stranger elements of the climax can be chalked up to an Unreliable Narrator.

  • Many of the film's more confusing elements are introduced in the climax (such as The Tethered wearing clothes similar to their counterparts, the Tethered suddenly gaining access to millions of jumpsuits, etc..) However, most of the flashback elements are coming from Red, who is quite clearly insane. So, we may be seeing the world of the Tethered as she sees it, not how it actually is.

Jason's playing with the trick lighter is what burned Pluto.

  • Early in the film, Jason offhandedly mentions that his lighter trick worked the previous year, and he's often shown flicking it quite close to his face. It's possible that, each time it "worked" the year before, Pluto was hurting himself with real lighters or matches.
    • This makes a lot of sense and does explain why he is burned in the first place. Red doesn't mention him being burned while she gave birth, only that he was, to paraphrase, "touched by fire". And it adds to the mirroring actions Pluto does.

The "Hands Across America" stunt has doomed the Tethered's invasion.

  • The Tethered are tougher and stronger than normal humans, but they're feral and their primary weapon is scissors. Logistically, there is just no way that they could have numbers equal to the population of the United States down in the tunnels, living on rabbits. Yes, they hit hard and fast and by surprise, but by stopping and standing in a big line, they've given the normal humans a chance to rally and get out the machine guns. Sanity Has Advantages.

The real Adelaide wanted to die

  • She's not Tethered, and she knows it. She's too broken to be human anymore. All she lived for was revenge, which she achieved by showing Jason his mother is Tethered, and unleashing the Tethered on the surface.
    • It's also possible she was counting on Abraham, Umbrae, and Pluto to be killed by the Wilsons. Maybe Red hated them so much, she sent them out on a suicide mission. She knew they would be eliminated by their superior counterparts. She wanted to rid herself of her monstrous abomination of a family before getting herself killed.

Whoever created The Tethered wanted them to take over the world.

  • The government thing is just a cover-up. This is all the work of a madman who wanted to be ruler of a world full of mindless clones. He thought lowering their IQ would make them easy to control. Unfortunately, his plan backfired when The Tethered rebelled against him. The creator was brutally murdered by his own creations.

The Tethered have no plans after holding hands

  • Their mission is to kill their real copies and hold hands. Once they perform the "hands across america" thingthat's it. They'll stand like that until they starve to death (or die by other means).

Adelaide isn't attracted to her husband Gabe

  • She didn't marry Gabe out of love. She wanted to experience a family life like a real human. Notice she didn't kiss Gabe when he asked for a smooch. Later when Gabe hinted sex, she flats out ignore him. She just wanted a family, and nothing more. Since she is a Tethered, she probably isn't capable of falling in love.
    • It's also possible that she doesn't have a clear or healthy understanding of what love is and the reason she married Gabe is because in terms of his personality he is astonishingly similar to Adelaide's father. They are both extremely immature, selfish and slightly dumb but good natured and because Adelaide had no understanding of love until her adolescents so she might have have pursued a relationship with Gabe because she assumed that romantic love was similar to the first love she ever felt; the love for her parents.

The film is about the failure of the American Dream.

Details here.

The Tethered haven't been completely abandoned

  • Ever wonder why you don't see urine, feces, and half eaten dead rabbits on the floors? That's because each secret tunnel has a janitor who clean up after them. The remaining scientists refuse to leave the Tethered to die underground, so they send as many rabbits, janitors, and water down there as possible to keep them alive.
    • And why would these janitors do that with no incentive?
    • Pretty sure the janitors would be paid by the scientists if this were to be the case.
    • But wouldn't they have said or done something if one of them found out about Red's plans of organizing the Tethered to conquer the surface world?
    • I assumed the Tethered world hadn't deteriorated to that state because the Tethered were able to learn to do most of the "basic" stuff themselves. If they can wield a pair of scissors and plot their escape from underground, they can probably clean and could've copied the scientists' method of giving them rabbit.

Adelaide actually IS the real Adelaide

  • However, Red planned on turning her family against her by making her doubt her humanity.

Red, the real Adelaide, was full of shit.

Red's claims that Tethered are soulless monsters with no emotions is something she made up so she could feel superior to them. Notice that Adelaide's half human children act almost indistinguishable from humans while Red's half human children act exactly like Tethered even though both are the same type of being. Furthermore, Adelaide is shown to have sympathy for Red's Tethered children even though they aren't even her kids and are trying to murder her family. Tethered probably do have some differences from normal humans (note Jason's Ambiguous Disorder and that most Tethered seem to be Made of Iron), but they do seem to be capable of emotions and love in contrast to what Red claims.
  • I would&#;ve assumed this was canon.

The Tethered aren't supernatural.

  • Their Super Strength and the fact that they seem to be Made of Iron is rooted in the fact that they've had much, much harder lives than their counterparts. It's not that a fire poker to the brain (in Tex's case) doesn't hurt or injure them, it's a combination of that and The Power of Hate that leaves them determined to cause as much destruction as possible which gets them through.

The Tethered are not clones.

The word cloneis never used in the movie, and the only explanation for their existence comes from Red, who is an Unreliable Narratorat best and completely insane at worst. All we are told is that the government wanted to create copiesof people in order to control them. Copy,not clone. That is significant as it could mean literally anything: Beings spawned from people's souls being drawn away from them? Alternative versions of people created by messing around with space-time/something to do with quantum entanglement? Who knows? Whatever they are they are definitely Humanoid Abominationsabove and beyond what a normal clone would be like.

Red waited for her parents to pass away first before initiating the Untethering.

It seems to be implied in a deleted scene that the ballet dance was what severed the connection between Red and the Tethered Adelaide, as Red is laying down exhausted while Adelaide strikes a pose at the end of her dance. However, while training the Tethered to break free of their connection and learn how to sneak up and kill their original counterparts may have taken some time, perhaps Red, who was down there and missing her parents this whole entire time, wanted to spare them from being murdered by their own Tethered, or possibly even witnessing or hearing about who they thinkis their daughter getting killed.

Red was the first/only success of the government project

Every subject before her could only mimic the whim of their real counterpart. Red was the first to influence her real counterpart instead, which is how Adelaide ended up separating from her parents.

The film takes place in a Shared Universe with Get Out ()

The mind control and body swapping procedures of the Order of Coagula was based on insight from the failed government experiment that created the Tethered. Roman Armitage was on the staff of one of the facilities like the one in Santa Cruz.
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Useful Notes / United States

"Oh, there it is. Notice Alaska? Yeah, it really is that big."

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Preamble to the United States Constitution

E Pluribus Unumnote "Out of many, one"

Useful information on American life and the United States for those who are not American.

The United States of America — also known as the United States, the US, America, the USA, the Union (especially when discussing the Civil War), or just the States — is a constitutional federal democratic republic occupying a large part of the continent of North America. Its mainland borders Canada from the north and Mexico from the south in its main territorial area. Outside of this territory, the nation also contains the states of Hawai'i in the Pacific Ocean and the vast but mostly unpopulated Alaska between the northwest of Canada and North Asia, which shares a sea border with Russia. In all, the country consists of fifty states,note It's a surprisingly common misconception that there are actually Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Kentucky call themselves "Commonwealths" instead of "States" as nothing but their long-form title that every state has; these four simply use "Commonwealth of ____" instead of "State of ____." the state-neutral capital of Washington, D.C. (for "District of Columbia"), and assorted commonwealths and protectorates. As the name of the country implies, these states are more than just regional districts; each has its own distinct character and history, and state governments have a good deal of autonomy as well as influence on the rest of the nation.

The United States is the third largest country in the world in terms of population ( million, a very distant third behind China and India, which both are over a billion ahead of that mark) and fourth largest in terms of total area ( million square kilometers/ million square miles, behind #1 Russia, #2 Canada, and #3 China).note And if you only count land area, Canada gets bumped from the #2 spot, putting the US in third. It's so huge, in fact, that it takes three to four days on end to drive from one opposite end to the other; a flight from London to Moscow is almost miles shorter than one from Los Angeles to New York. One state of the fifty, Texas, the largest state in the mainland and second largest overall, is almost three times as large as the entire United Kingdom, or (for another European comparison) only slightly smaller than France (the largest country in Western Europe). Alaska, the largest overall, is about the same size as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan combined.note Without this state inflating its size, the U.S. mainland would rank fifth in size behind Brazil. If you're planning to come here, don't expect to hit all the widespread landmarks in one trip unless you have a lot of time to spend and don't mind paying for many flights or sitting through long car drives or train rides (and if you opt for the latter, don't expect the trains to run on time; public transit has always been low on America's priority list).

Colonized by Europeans from the 16th century onward, thirteen of the British-ruled colonies on the eastern coast declared independence in and combined to form their own country under the protection of the kingdoms of France and Spain. The new settler government then removed the natives from their lands as it expanded westward, killing many of them directly when they resisted and indirectly by forcing them into places where they couldn't get enough food or shelter; Native Americans now have U.S. citizenship, comprise roughly 1% of the population, and mostly live outside of the reservations, which still exist. The government also purchased land from France, Britain (not Canada), Russia, and Denmark, annexed the Kingdom of Hawaii, and conquered territory during wars with Mexico, Spain, and (much later) Japan.

Most of the country's first century was marked by fights over the institution of race-based slavery, a legacy of European colonialism that the states fought over in Congress before eventually fighting over on the battlefield. The American Civil War, the deadliest conflict in the nation's history, eventually ended with emancipation for millions of enslaved people of African descent (the vast majority of which had been born in America) and provided them with citizenship. African-Americans continued to experience second-class citizenship, persecution, and violence in the years since, and while the end of legal segregation won by the Civil Rights Movement in the s and the election of Barack Obama to the highest office in the land in were signs of incredible progress, ensuring true equity for this group of Americans (roughly 12% of the population) continues to be an important issue today.

Starting around the end of the 19th century, the United States' resources and transcontinental territory situated them to become a true power on the world stage. From the end of World War II, if not before, the United States became a superpower and is now one of the most powerful and influential countries on the planet — for a time after the Cold War, it was viewed as the only true superpower on Earth (with the United Kingdom losing its superpower status after the Suez Crisis of and the Soviet Union collapsing in ). While some bodies have recognized China as joining the US as a competing superpower in the last decade, it still has a lot of advantages that few other countries can compete with. It is technologically advanced and possesses a large industrial base, a large military, and great financial wealth and is also one of the largest exporters of modern media, with its products being seen the world over.

The United States has a very diverse population, as its history of expansion, international prominence, job opportunities, and promises of freedom have resulted in many different groups of people either immigrating to or being absorbed into the populace. The majority of American citizens are of European descent, as the government has historically placed few restrictions on immigration from that continent. However, their majority grows smaller every year as migration patterns and immigration laws have changed, and Caucasians are projected to no longer be the majority within the next few decades. Americans of Hispanic descent make up around 17% of the population, a legacy of the war with Mexico and the two nations' shared border and also of Puerto Rico, which America has claimed as a territory for over a century. Asians have been immigrating to the U.S. from across the Pacific in large numbers since the 19th century, and though the U.S. government long attempted to limit this, the Asian American population has grown to around 5% of the nation's total since restrictions were mostly lifted in the mid-twentieth century.

The country's government consists of three branches, the legislative branch, the judicial branch, and the executive branch. The leader of the executive branch has commonly been viewed as the country's main political leader and (supposed) role model for the American people: The President of the United States.

The Parts of the United States of America
  • Cities:
    • Albuquerque, NM
    • Atlanta, GA
    • Baltimore, MD
    • Boston, MA
    • Chicago, IL
    • Cleveland, OH
    • Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
    • Denver, CO
    • Detroit, MI
    • Houston, TX
    • Indianapolis, IN
    • Kansas City, MO/KS
    • Las Vegas, NV
    • Los Angeles, CA
    • Miami, FL
    • Milwaukee, WI
    • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
    • Nashville, TN
    • New Orleans, LA
    • New York City, NY
    • Oakland, CA
    • Orlando, FL
    • Other Cities in Texas
    • Philadelphia, PA
    • Pittsburgh, PA
    • Portland, OR
    • Richmond, VA
    • Rochester, NY
    • San Francisco, CA
    • Santa Fe, NM
    • Seattle, WA
    • St. Louis, MO
    • Toledo, OH
    • Washington, DC
  • States and territories:
  • Regions and concepts:

American Culture and People

American Sports

  • Andre Agassi (tennis great)
  • American Football
  • Auto Racing
  • Baseball
  • Boxing
  • Tonya Harding (figure skater more remembered for a tabloid-friendly scandal in )note Associates of Harding attacked rival skater Nancy Kerrigan in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to knock her out of the Winter Olympics. While Harding herself was never charged in the assault, she was banned from the sport for life.
  • Caitlyn Jenner (before becoming an out transwoman, was Olympic decathlon gold medalist Bruce Jenner, who married into the Kardashian family)
  • Major League Soccer (23 US teams, three Canadian, with three more US teams joining by )
  • National Basketball Association (30 teams, with all but one in the US)
  • National Hockey League (founded as a Canadian league, but now has its HQ in New York City, and 24 of its 31 teams are in the States, with a Seattle team joining in )
  • NCAA (the main governing body for U.S. college sports)
  • Jack Nicklaus (golf legend)
  • Ultimate Fighting Championship (the world's largest mixed martial arts promoter, based in Las Vegas)

American Government and Politics

American History

American Media and Communications

See Media Classifications for American (and other) video game and movie rating systems.

The American flag
The blue field represents freedom and independence, the white stripes represent peace, and the red stripes represent the blood shed to earn and keep both. The flag's thirteen alternating red and white stripes symbolize the original thirteen colonies that declared independence from Britain on July 4, — Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, South Carolinaand Virginia— and the fifty white stars on the blue canton reflect the Union's current composition of fifty states. In the case of a fifty-first state joining the Union (most likely Puerto Rico), there is a star flag on standby.

Great Seal of the United States
Click here to see the reverse version

It was adopted in (6 years after the United States declared independence on July 4, ).

The American National Anthemnote Most folks only sing— and know— the first verse.

O say can you see, by the dawn's early light,

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,

O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,

Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,

What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,

As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?

Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,

In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:

'Tis the star-spangled banner, O long may it wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore

That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,

A home and a country, should leave us no more?

Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their loved homes and the war's desolation.

Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

  • Federal presidential constitutional republic
    • President: Joe Biden
    • Vice President: Kamala Harris
    • House Speaker: Nancy Pelosi
    • Chief Justice: John Roberts

  • Capital: Washington, D.C.
  • Largest city: New York City
  • Population: ,,
  • Area: 9,, km² (3,, sq mi) (3rd/4th)
  • Currency: United States dollar ($) (USD)
  • ISO Code: US
  • Country calling code:1

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Pledge of Allegiance

Alternative Title(s):United States Of America, US, USA, The United States

The Smart Girl Trope, Explained

America Saves the Day

"I'm the hero!"

Aliens have come from outer space. They've landed in the outback of Australia. They proceed to destroy all of the Southeastern Asian region and begin marching through Europe and Africa, but the combined military might of these continents is unable to defeat them.

Guess it's all up to the good ol' US of A.

This trope describes any instance where, because the story was made for American audiences, the writers create a world-wide problem to be solved by Americans (and typically Americans alone). The reason for this is simple. The movies are made for Americans and most Americans want to see other Americans as the heroes; also, most of the available actors are American. Whether or not the problem actually starts in the USA doesn't matter. Americans always save the day when this trope is invoked.

This often happens because the US military pays films to do so. If you show them in a very positive light, they'll let you borrow top notch military planes, ships, and tanks to film, which would normally cost you millions to get access to. So long as you make sure that evil military general is French, and the army that stops him isn't, you go a long way towards making your film within your budget. Not that this is an uncommon practice or restricted to America.

A Super-Trope to America Won World War II (intersecting this with World War II). Compare Mighty Whitey, Creator Provincialism, and Homegrown Hero.


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    Anime and Manga 

  • America attempts to do this at the end of the AKIRA manga but are promptly chased away by the Neo-Tokyoites, who declare the ravaged town to be a new country.
  • A recurring theme of Bio-Meat: Nectar, starting with Part II. Subverted or truly the case, sticking mostly to either extreme. Couples with Adults Are Useless.
  • Used and tweaked around in Death Note. Most of this Japanese series features a handful of Japanese police working with L to find Kira, though justified by the fact that Kira is in Japan, which L quickly deduces. At the same time, the America-specific version of this trope is invoked by several prominent appearances of American FBI and CIA agents, particularly Raye Penber and Near's SPK task force, who work independently of Japan. Light proves to be aware of this trope as well, as he considers it a crowning victory when the American president finally announces that his country will no longer try to oppose Kira.
  • Mercilessly lampshaded in Hetalia: Axis Powers as seen here.
  • Subverted in Read or Die. At the end of the anime movie the US military shows up to save the day, only to be easily defeated when the villain's naval fortress annihilates their entire force with one shot. The (British) main characters then go on to save the day themselves. Nonetheless, the real rulers of the world (the British Library) seem to assume that America is the World Policeman.

    Comic Books 

  • Subverted in Mark Waid's Empire, where the villain Golgoth begins his world conquest in Australia and continues until only the U.S. remains as a beacon of hope. Then America falls too and everyone is screwed. Justified in that if you're doing world conquest and starting from nothing, it makes sense to build up a powerbase somewhere else first and save the toughest target for last, after you've assimilated everyone else into your forces.
  • Played out rather jarring in the Squadron Supreme limited series. The Earth is on the brink of total collapse, but the Squadron is composed entirely of either Americans or otherworldly beings. Creator Provincialism also results in all of the story's events taking place in the United States, with problems elsewhere barely mentioned at all.
  • In the Strontium Dog "Max Bubba" story, while Johnny and his Vikings are pursuing Bubba's gang, an American military helicopter from The Vietnam War suddenly appears through a temporal rift. When Johnny explains the situation, the crew decide to help, reasoning that they're Americans, so they have to save the day.
  • Though Tintin was a Belgian comic, it had already become considerably popular in America by the time The Red Sea Sharks was written. This has been offered as an explanation for why the plot culminates with the USS Los Angeles coming in to rescue the heroes from submarine attack.
    • As a reversal of their being the bad guys of The Shooting Star, perhaps later editions replace the stars and stripes of the rival ship with an anonymous white star on black. The villain is still a gangster stereotype with Unfortunate Implications given later world events (fat, balding, black suit, little glasses, big nose and lips), but now is not explicitly identified as American.
  • Discussed in The Ultimates by the Colonel after his defeat, as he sarcastically asks Cap if he's going to drop any John Wayne quips on him, maybe finish him with a witty barb. Cap's response is to silently stab him through the heart.


  • Deconstructed in Truth and Revelations when the Chinese ambassador for the IOA contemplates arranging for the program to be transferred to another nation, such as China. Daniel Jackson points out that the various planets SG-1 has already made alliances with are used to dealing with the U.S. government and military. Thus, another nation will be wasting precious time reestablishing ties to worlds who would be suspicious of them (the fact many of these worlds have only one central government and thus confused why Earth would have another nation-state taking this program over complicates matters).

    Film &#; Live-Action 

  • is a subversion of this trope. It is clearly shown that the U.S. cannot prevent the apocalypse single-handedly, and global cooperation is a major, if not very subtle, theme of the movie. The scientists who first discover the coming apocalypse are Indian, and the Arks that allow some of humanity to survive and so rebuild are built by the Chinese. Presidential adviser Carl Anhauser declares that only the Chinese could have got the project built in time.
  • Painfully subverted in 28 Weeks Later in which US troops help reinhabit a small portion of London amidst a previously rage infested United Kingdom. Needless to say a sane rage host inadvertently infects her husband, resulting in a mass reintroduction of rage to the barricaded refugee population.
  • The trope's presence in Armageddon is sensible (but also heavilyLampshaded). As one of the few space faring nations, only America has the necessary technology and infrastructure to build the equipment necessary to destroy the asteroid. The Russians do provide support in the form of a refueling station. The team NASA sends is purely American, except for the Russian cosmonaut from the station.
  • Parodied in A World Gone Mad. After the American military suffers almost total defeat at the hands of an alien invasion, the entire crisis is resolved off-screen, with the solution only being mentioned in a brief newscast as having been "A clever scheme by the Australians involving their local frog population".
  • Battle: Los Angeles has American troops discovering the aliens' vulnerability, and transmitting that information to the rest of the world.
  • Black Hawk Down: Inverted. The Americans are only able to get their besieged men out of the city with the help of mechanised units from the Malaysian and Pakistani army. Of course, the Malaysian units never make an appearance, and the Pakistani unit is shown to be as useless as possible (which going by the accounts of the people there is Truth in Television - they conducted themselves very poorly).
  • Justified in Contact by showing some of the background politicking and controversy over the US dominating the construction of the Faster-Than-Light Travel machine. In an attempt to alleviate this an international committee is used to select Earth's ambassador, but it's mentioned that the Japanese (who are also contributing significantly to the trillion dollar project) are bought off from insisting on their own candidate by promising them a significant percentage of the technological spin-offs from First Contact. Presumably other behind-the-scenes deals were made to ensure an American candidate was sent.
  • Armageddon's Dueling MovieDeep Impact also had an all-American crew of astronauts heading out to destroy the world-ending comet, notwithstanding the token Russian cosmonaut. Worse, the smaller comet landed in the Atlantic; that this also affected Europe, Africa, South America and the Caribbean was passed over in one line of a speech.
  • In the film version of The Day of the Triffids, it's an American scientist (who didn't exist in the original novel) who figures out how to defeat the triffids.
  • Independence Day: Everyone who takes part in devising the plan to save the world is American. There is no international committee or involvement of the global scientific community. The capper comes at the end of the movie when the Americans discover how to destroy the alien ships and send the message out to everyone else in the world. When a British officer is informed that the Americans have devised a solution, he snaps, "It's about bloody time!" Many audience members interpret that to mean that the world was just sitting around waiting for America to solve things.
  • In Man of Steel, the Kryptonians are clearly a global-level threat, but you wouldn't get the impression that any armed forces exist outside of American ones. No other country's military gets involved at all. This is almost plausible since most of the conflict takes place on American soil, but at one point, a World Engine is deployed on the other side of the globe, and not one non-American military force even investigates it.
  • Transformers Film Series: The Autobots work together with the American military during several of the battles, so human soldiers are shown helping to take down several Decepticons. While the first two films require the military to use heavy duty weaponry (degree magnesium burns from sabot rounds in the first film to take down Blackout and weaken others, a railgun to the head to knock Devastator off of a pyramid with the ensuing tumble finishing him off), they gain smaller weapons specifically designed to kill Transformers by the time of the third film to increase their effectiveness in dealing with their alien invaders.
  • Stargate Continuum: Subverted. The American heroes need help from the Russians to reverse the Goa'uld invasion of Earth. President Henry Hayes also notes to Ba'al that the U.S. is just one of many sovereign nations when the latter essentially treats him as humanity's representative.
  • Team America: World Police: This trope is mercilessly lampooned as a satire on America's interventionist foreign policy during the s. American forces are shown meddling in foreign affairs, causing in huge amounts of carnage, and then joyously declaring victory while ignoring the wreckage they leave behind.

    America, fuck yeah!
    Coming again to save the motherfucking day, yeah!

  • U is vaguely based on events that really happened. The USN did indeed capture a Kriegsmarine Enigma code machine and books from a U-Boat in They did deliver it and the resulting intelligence did aid the Allied cause materially. However, the movie was based on real life incidents where the British Royal Navy had captured Kriegsmarine Enigma code machines and books in and , enabling the more efficient decoding of enemy transmissions to begin, and the code had already been cracked by Bletchley Park building off of Polish prewar work.
  • In Pacific Rim, although it's shown that there are Jaegers and Jaeger pilots from all over the world, the one to defeat the final enemy and close the Rift is the American Jaeger Gipsy Danger. Downplayed, in that while one of the pilots, Raleigh, is American, his co-pilot Mako is Japanese, and their commander Marshal Stacker Pentecost is British and dies in a Heroic Sacrifice alongside Australian pilot Chuck Hansen.


  • Subverted in John Wyndham's Cosy Catastrophe novels The Day of the Triffids and The Kraken Wakes in which blaming Russia for the disaster and waiting for America to save the day when you could be planning survival strategies is a bad idea.
  • Tom Clancy, being a fan of Eagleland, loves this trope.
    • Fully half of the novels in his Ryanverse feature American firepower saving the day. In the other half, it's American know-how, American hard work, or American honesty, as long as they aren't sabotaged by Strawman Liberals. Sometimes a combination of these is thrown in for the sake of variety, and in fairness, other countries do get to help out from time to time.
    • In The Bear and the Dragon, the US sends an armored division and a fighter wing to help Russia hold off an invasion from China. It's made plain that the Russians wouldn't have won without US aid.
    • Rainbow Six actually subverts this; the guy who ends up saving the day is a Russian who eventually alerts the Rainbow agents of the plot to spread viral agents at the Olympics.
    • Also subverted in Red Storm Rising when the USS Chicago is saved from a Soviet attack submarine by the British submarine HMS Torbay.
  • Zigzagged in Matthew Reilly's novels, where the most common plot thread is probably "good America saves the day from evil America". In no novels are Americans solely good, while Seven Ancient Wonders is the only one where they're solely bad.
  • Discussed in Antti Tuuri's The Winter War, when the war breaks out. There's a rumor that America is coming to Finland's help since they will not have small, free nations attacked like this.
  • Inverted in Christopher Ruocchio's The Sun Eater sci-fi (sci-fantasy?) series. The Americans (as well as any other Earth-based) nation no longer exist in the far future, because the Americans accidentally unleashed an A.I. takeover that reduced humanity almost to ashes (only far-flung human colonies weren't annihilated by the machines). The American space empire was by far the largest in human history, but there's such a dim view of them that the name American is forgotten, instead the memory was bastardized and they're known as the Mericanii (and Mericanii colonies have long since been divvied up by the human survivors). It was Great Britain (or rather one of their space colonies) that saved the day with their Windsor royal-in-exile who became the God-Emperor of humanity.

    Live-Action TV 

  • 24 employs this trope in the sixth season, where the American CTU not only has to save America from terrorists, but also has to recover a device stolen from the Russians by the Chinese, to stop World War III from happening. Yes, really.
  • Subverted in the Spetsnaz vs. Green Beret episode of Deadliest Warrior, but played straight in every other encounter.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Doctor Dances": Despite the episode being set in , mere months before the Americans officially joined the Allies and came to Britain's direct aid, the most obvious use of the trope is never discussed. On the other hand, Rose is confident enough that the swaggering (fake) American (from the distant future) will come through that she insists on the Doctor taking a break for a bit so they can dance.
    • Subverted in "The Christmas Invasion". When Major Blake informs Prime Minister Harriet Jones that the US President wants to take control of the possible invasion, Jones answers, "You can tell the President &#; and please use these exact words &#; he's not my boss and he's certainly not turning this into a war."
    • "Turn Left" subverts it again: After Britain is devastated by the crash of the starship Titanic, America promises a large amount of aid money to help. But then 60 million Americans are turned into Adipose, so they have to focus on recovering from that disaster instead.
  • In Helix, this is lampshaded by Dr. Sarah Jordan when she points out to their army liaison that neither the CDC nor USAMRIID should have jurisdiction over an outbreak at an Arctic Biosystems research facility, as its in international territory. Major Balleseros handwaves this away, noting they've been allowed temporary access as the first to receive a distress call.
  • A piece of animation on Monty Python's Flying Circus starts with a secretary at her typewriter and is overcome by a sea of Communist Chinese nationals. This leads to a segment that is a commercial by Uncle Sam for American defense which uses an x-ray of a decayed tooth as a metaphor for a small country overrun by Communism (and the ensuing Domino Effect it has on the others) and how American defense fights the decay and protects the tooth. (Which leads to a Crelm toothpaste commercial using two cars which leads to a Shrill petrol commercial)
  • Space: Above and Beyond: The war with the Chigs is a United Nations operation, and the People's Liberation Army, Coldstream Guards, and Finnish Air Force all make appearances. However, the US Navy and Marine Corps forces are both the focus of the series and consistently the most successful combatants.
  • Generally played straight with the Stargate franchise, with the US Air Force gathering alien technology and allies to fight in defense of the Earth. At the same time, it justifies this by acknowledging the mistrust, politicking, and power struggles that would occur if other nations learned about it which is exactly what happens when the Russians start running their own program, and together they let other major world powers in on the secret. Eventually the Stargate program goes international, but it's still supervised by the US, and most of the characters are Americans. Specifically, going from the Stargate Wiki's list of main characters:
    • In Stargate SG-1, six main characters were Americans and three were aliens.
    • In Stargate Atlantis, six main characters were Americans, one was Canadian, one was Scottish, two were aliens, and a major recurring character was Czech.
    • In Stargate Universe, six main characters are Americans and one is Scottish.
      • The Battle of Antarctica in the TV movie/two-parter "Lost City" is all about America coming to save the day, as Prometheus and its squadron of Fs fight the first (and only) straight-up battle against the Goa'uld on Earth.
  • Besides hating the Theme Song, another issue some fans had with the opening credits of Star Trek: Enterprise was that, in its attempt to highlight human enterprise and vessels similarly named "Enterprise", it seemed to only detail American achievements in naval, aerial, and space exploration (excepting the H.M.S. Enterprise). No mention of Sputnik, or even a glimpse of Yuri Gagarin.
  • Discussed in Chernobyl: While brainstorming possible ways to source a robot to clear the most radioactive section of the reactor building roofnote A West German police bot used earlier was fried in seconds thanks to the Soviet government massively understating the radiation levels it would be exposed to, Shcherbina suggests asking the Americans as a last resort. General Tarakanov shoots the idea down, pointing out that even if the Americans had the technology and were willing to lend it, the Central Committee would never stoop so low as to ask their enemy for help.

    Tabletop Games 

  • In Pandemic, the object of the game is to save humanity from various diseases that have sprung up worldwide. The players start in Atlanta, headquarters of the US Center For Disease Control, implying that they are part of that organization, rather than, say, the World Health Organization.


  • The story for ZombieLab is set in a quarantined Hong Kong, yet a civil combat group comes all the way from (the also-endangered) America to help.

    Video Games 

  • Played so straight in America's Army, to the point that players always see themselves as U.S. Army infantry, while the opposing team appears as terrorists. This isn't surprising given that it's openly a propaganda tool authorized and funded by the United States Army.
  • Call of Duty: World at War also subverts this, with the final mission of the Americans being more of a portrayal of rest of the Marines being fortunate enough to survive and go home after a final massive assault against; whilst they spend their missions clearly struggling and being ground down by the resilient and fanatical Japanese defenders. The final mission of the game which better evokes a feeling of victory is won by the Russians taking the Reichstag in Germany. To be technical though, the American Marines chronologically finish the war. On the other hand, the Russians' missions themselves make their front seem pointlessly brutal.
  • Subverted in Command & Conquer: Generals: Zero Hour. America virtually defeats the GLA and saves the world during the US campaign. The GLA makes a comeback and drives the US out of Europe during their campaign, and China comes in to save the day during their campaign. That's right, America is handed its own ass and Communist China are the big heroes. All that and it still wasn't enough to keep it from getting banned in China.
  • The universe of Metal Gear plays with this trope like a cat's cradle. The times when Snake (any of them) is acting as an American agent, the trope is played straight; when Snake is a free agent as part of Philanthropy, the American military is sometimes portrayed as not helping with or contributing to a problem (like the tanker incident in MGS2), and sometimes as coming to Snake's aid (like the U.S.S. Missouri's Big Damn Battleship moment in MGS4). In the end, the United States is just as much at the mercy of the machinations going on behind the scenes as the rest of the world. What it really boils down to: Snake Saves The Day From The Metal Gear Solid 3 Cast.
  • Heavily subverted in the Modern Warfare series of games:
    • In Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, it's the Americans who get screwed over by their "no man left behind" policy. Your character's chopper is turned around to rescue a fellow pilot, which means that your squadron isn't out the blast range when a nuclear bomb goes off. There's also the fact that the entire sequence is played up to show how bull-headed and belligerent the US is compared to the methodical British SAS. It's the British SAS who save the day, though the American military does help some near the end - a joint Marines/SAS mission to avoid nuclear strikes on both Moscow and Washington D.C. The Brits still fire the final shot of the conflict though. There's also cooperation from the Russian Federation's government itself, which aids the SAS in its ongoing Civil War. The Spectre gunship is not normally available to the British armed forces. Fortunately we have allies with a big stick, and leaders who know a good weapon when they borrow one.
    • In Modern Warfare 2, it's the British again, this time working on taking down a rogue American general who was in command of the troops that got nuked from the first game. That's right, not only is it American Doesn't Save The Day, it's The British Save The Day From America. Granted, General Shepherd's plan has more-or-less succeeded, and the open war between the US and Russia that he wanted is pretty much a guarantee, but still
    • In Modern Warfare 3, it's played more straight, with the Americans doing the bulk of the fighting throughout World War 3, sending large numbers of US troops over to Europe to help fight against a Russian Invasion, which to be fair, would be Truth in Television in reality. However, the main focus of the plot is once again on the British (assisted by a couple of Russians no less) trying to capture and stop Ultranationalist terrorist Makarov who played a role in the previous games, although the Americans do help on multiple occassions, including rescuing the Russian President. Ironically, the final act of the game, and the trilogy, focuses on a British soldier (Price) fighting alongside one of the before mentioned Russians to finish Makarov off once and for all.
    • Again happens in Modern Warfare , as the US is playing a more underhanded role alongside the UK in Urzikistan in assisting a resistance group called the ULF against both a terrorist faction and a rogue Russian Force, both to help in freeing the country and the recovery/destruction of a chemical weapon. Towards the end of the story, officially at least, the US brands the ULF as a terrorist group, leaving British SAS operatives and a few Americans to unofficially assist the ULF in the finale. Yes. It's a Resistance group, branded terrorists by the US, that saves the day, albeit with unofficial assistence. Albeit given the nature of this particular game, it's hard to say if it's really 'saving the day' due to the more underhanded nature of it.
  • Saddler hangs a lampshade on this trope in Resident Evil 4, but it's hardly a subversion since Leon, an American agent, promptly kicks his ass and saves the day. This is even more notable because it a game released by a Japanese company although Americans were the primary intended audience.
  • Resistance: Fall of Man, an Alternate History game based on World War II, with The Virus in place of Nazis and a different timeline. Initially, in the game, the US was an almost totally ineffectual faction whose involvement was restricted to providing supplies due to strong isolationist tendencies. At the last minute, the Americans finally get seriously involved, and have a major role in finally winning things.
    • Resistance 2 goes all out with this trope, though; even the main character's superhuman abilities are quickly revealed to be due to experimentation by the U.S. Army, rather than the random fluke they appeared to be in the original game. Although, it's ultimately subverted, as they end up messing up badly.
    • Not to mention they get steamrolled, like everyone else.
  • Subverted in the original Shin Megami Tensei: the US Army occupies Japan because it's been invaded by demons. In the end, the US ends up nuking Japan, and you play through the rest of the game in the aftermath of the nukes.
  • Subverted and attacked in Spec Ops: The Line. Both Konrad (leading the 33rd) and Walker continually disobey their orders in an attempt to help the people of Dubai after a sandstorm strikes the city, but their efforts are driven more by a Power Fantasy of becoming a hero than by any genuine sense of altruism, and ultimately they only succeed in making a bad situation even worse. Meanwhile, the CIA also has a plan to "save the day" in Dubai: namely, killing every survivor of the sandstorm so that the truth of the atrocities the 33rd has committed in Dubai in the name of maintaining order will never get out, for fear of this causing a war between the US and the Middle East.
  • Subverted in X-COM, where the manual to the game specifically notes that several national governments attempted to confront the alien threat individually and were ineffective; the X-Com project controlled by the player is therefore, at least initially, an international organization funded and supported by every nation on Earth (and keeping their support is a major part of the game.) The United States does realistically (or at least, realistically in terms of what would likely be possible in such a scenario) contribute more money than any other nation, though.
    • Given the similarity of X-Com to Gerry Anderson's UFO, it's not surprising the accents are American.
    • Also in the novelization (yes, there is one) one of the main X-Com bases is in Morocco.
    • The logic behind this trope - and the downfall of thinking like that - is demonstrated in the backstory. The whole in-universe idea of X-COM originally came from a Japanese unit called the Kiryu-Kai, who were disbanded after five months with no success in intercepting UFOs precisely because the aliens are a worldwide threat that everyone needs to contribute to solving, thus leading to the formation of the multinational X-COM after Kiryu-Kai's disbandment.


  • Subverted like crazy in PiLLI ADVENTURE, where more often than not the Americans (usually two NASA agents) show up just as the day is about to be saved and completely and totally screw things up. They also cause the problem on occasion.

    Web Original 

  • Sardonically referenced in dark comedy podcast, Fat, French and Fabulous. Janel, one of the hosts, is particularly skeptical of American military adveturism, as she herself works with veterens.

    Janel: "We have orange juice and tomato juice and we also have intercontinental death and destruction. Would you like cookies or pretzels? Or a forever war against terrorism?"

    Jessica:Forever war? Okay, well, I'm going to give you another napkin. That could get messy."

  • This is, depending on who you ask, either harshly subverted or simply averted in Survival of the Fittest. Averted because, well, the marines haven't come storming onto the islands to rescue the children at any juncture in any of the three games. However, a subversion could be argued in that, on a number of occasions, a rescue has been teased or hinted at, only for it to prove to be a hallucination or dream.
    • Finally played straight in v4.

    Western Animation 

  • Parodied in the American Dad! episode "Tearjerker" where Stan tries to fulfill this trope, even shouting "America to the rescue!" as he does it, but instead ends up crushing the James Bond-style British agent with a snowmobile:

    British dude: Smith! I don't need your help!
    Stan: Nobody needs America's help! Until they need it!


Tropes us tv

Who Would Want to Watch Us?
"It seems to me that neither I — nor for that matter anyone else — will be interested in the unbosomings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl."

Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl (June 20, )

The most common gag that leans on the fourth wall is when the characters are associated with a movie or TV production of their own adventures. If the idea is not just laughed off, the adventurous group have Hollywood types wanting to make an adaptation of their exploits. Further fourth wall fun can be had if the production crew within the show are made to resemble the production crew of the show itself, or parodies of them.

Expect Executive Meddling, dismissing of the unrealistic issues, Flanderization of characters, and if the show does get produced, a show that bears little resemblance to the stories we're used to (possibly it creates a rival show as a Take That). A subset of Show Within a Show. Often an excuse for Recursive Canon.

Compare the Documentary Episode and I Should Write a Book About This. Compare and contrast Direct Line to the Author, in which the book/film/show/etc. about the cast's adventures is the actual book/film/show/etc., or Literary Agent Hypothesis, for when that is stated by fans instead of creators. May overlap with Film Felons if the character is using the production as part of some other plan. May overlap with Self-Parody if the in-universe show is Played for Laughs or indulges in melodramatic excess. See also Oh, Crap, There Are Fanfics of Us! and Other Me Annoys Me for cases where the character doesn't appreciate the way he's being portrayed.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

  • Sailor Moon and Codename: Sailor V, the series of which is a spin-off, have this as somewhat of a Running Gag:
    • In Codename: Sailor V Minako is confronted with the Sailor V Game before becoming famous. Justified as Artemis had it made as a simulator because he had realized she learns a lot from video games. The Sailor V Game would return in the Sailor Moon manga and both anime;
    • In the Sailor Moon manga, a Sailor Soldiers franchise (somehow spun-off by the Sailor V Game) shows up statutorily, with a side story showing the existence of a cosplay shop dedicated to them.
    • Episode 21 of the first anime has Usagi (after seeing the Sailor V anime) wishing someone would make an anime of her, to which Luna replies that nobody would be interested. This episode was also a small Take That at the fact there was supposed to be a real life Sailor V anime (or at least an OAV) but the creator was asked to expand the series into a team format and ended up creating Sailor Moon;
    • In the S season Sailor Venus, (badly) disguised as Sailor Moon, convinces Kaolinite and the Outers that Usagi is not Sailor Moon, and in the process dismisses the Cosmic Heart Compact as merchandise.
    • In the Cloverway dub version of episode , the Shin-chan Expy is a Sailor Moon fan who shows off his Sailor Moon underwear to Rini, which disgusts her.
  • In Haruhi Suzumiya, the characters are the one putting on the production. In this instance, however, Kyon does have a point.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • A Filler bit of the anime has Gohan, to his surprise, run across a movie being made about his superhero alter-ego, the Great Saiyaman. The director mistakes him for Saiyaman's stunt double, and Gohan, being Gohan, decides to go along with it. Until he realizes it's getting late and he still has to visit Krillin, so he flies off.
    • There's also the Super Sentai parody/remake (complete with rubber masks and obvious special effects) of the Cell Games shown at the Tenkaichi Budokai that year, which horrified the main characters (except for Goku, whose response was "Well, it was ridiculous and untrue, but it kept me entertained"). Even Hercule, the one being celebrated by the movie, finds it cheesy and low budget.
  • 20th Century Boys features a supporting character who is a manga writer and often comments that the events seem like something out of one of his stories. The best comes halfway through the story, when it seems like everything's over but there are still a few unanswered questions, and he says that if the story stopped now, it would be like a manga that didn't sell well and had to rush its ending.
  • In Naruto, during the chunin exam arc, Chouji comments that Naruto could not be the main character of his own life, let alone a series.
  • When Asakura of Negima! Magister Negi Magi first confronts Negi about being a mage, she immediately proposes the scenario of Negi becoming popular enough to have his own TV series, novels, and movies. Naturally, Negi was absolutely horrified about the idea and its repercussions.
  • The start of volume 3 of Hidamari Sketch has the four girls discussing yonkoma manga, the format of their own series. They try their hand at drawing it, with varying results. In the end, Miyako says, "Nothing around here happens that would make a good manga."
  • Spider Riders: The episode "Hero Act" has the main characters viewing a play detailing the exploits of a legendary Spider Rider, only the real actors decide to quit before the next showing. So Hunter (naturally) volunteers himself and Shadow as replacements. And as one would expect Character Exaggeration and bad acting ensues.
  • In Rave Master there's a village of "manga-publishing demons", and one of them has a weekly series known as Rave Master, a story about a blond sword fighter with magical stones. It's apparently based off a true story. To the cast's despair, the characters are far from accurate (with the exception of Ruby).
  • Sgt. Frog:
    • Parodied in an episode where they try to make an anime as part of one of Keroro's plans to invade the Earth.
    • And Aki Hinata, manga editor, uses Keroro as the basis for a new series. Keroro, his mind and body reactions sped up from the rainy weather, reads one chapter

      Keroro:WHAT THE HELL IS THIS CRAP?! This 'Baron Keroro' character is a buffoon!!!

  • In the first season of Slayers, Lina comes across a somewhat insane playwright who is producing a theatrical adaptation of her life. Given that Lina is also known as "The Dragon Spooker" and "The Natural Enemy of All That Live", she is portrayed as a terrifying monster in it.
  • In an early episode of Pokémon: The Series, Pikachu is cast to star in a movie by an Akira Kurosawa look-alike. Ash is enthused but Misty responds "Who'd want to watch a film about us?" And the kicker? The episode takes place at close to the same time as Pokémon: The First Movie.
  • In Monster, a Czech artist who has a puppet show with the premise identical to the series at large bemoans the lack of people's interest in his story, especially since he finds it to be so good.
  • In Sket Dance, a manga artist wants to make a manga based on the Sket-dan. Eventually he decides that nobody would read that and does one based on the student council instead.
  • In HeartCatch Pretty Cure!, Tsubomi and Erika find out that a fellow student is making a manga series based around them — or at the very least, them as if their hero identities were also their civilian identities. The interesting thing about this is that the girls aren't weirded out by it, they actually help him finish an issue by acting out a scene then helping him ink it and, for the rest of the series, we watch him expand it, adding Itsuki and Yuri once they take on Cure personas.
  • In the Neon Genesis Evangelion AU manga Shinji Ikari Raising Project, during a field trip to see the Humongous Mecha Jet Alone, one of the students wonders why such a thing would be used. Shinji speculates that it could be used if giant monsters attacked, but Asuka interrupts, saying that it sounds like the plot for a cheesy, pseudo-symbolist anime, with a low budget and ambiguous ending.
  • When the You and Me characters try to make a manga, Chizuru changes the genre from action-fantasy to school drama. The others get confused to why anyone would want to read such a boring concept.
  • The very first scene of the anime adaptation of Joshiraku has Tetora questioning why anyone would want an anime version of a dialogue heavy manga based on an obscure form of Japanese wordplay comedy.
  • Genshiken: In the bonus content included in Volume 6, one of the guest artist omakes is "The st 'Could they actually make a manga about the Genshiken?' Meeting", where Madarame, Sasahara, and Kugayama discuss whether their lives would make a good manga.

    Comic Books 

  • Spider-Man:
    • Spider-Man was once asked to star in a movie about himself — the offer turned out to be a trap set (somewhat ironically) by the Green Goblin, who made his debut in that issue.
    • In Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man finds a movie about himself being made by none other than Sam Raimi, Avi Arad and starring Tobey Maguire. Since he is not an official entity of any kind and is not willing to reveal his secret identity, he is unable to stop the movie from going into production. The movie later becomes a hit, incorporating real life footage from the ensuing Spidey-Doctor Octopus fight, much to Peter Parker's chagrin. He ends up confronting the movie crew about this situation, but unfortunately does so utilizing his powers, mainly leaping about and sticking to things. The director simply has his crew start filming and he thanks Spidey for all the free footage he can now put, at no cost, into his film.
    • This is further touted some arcs later when it is revealed that Magnificent BastardThe Kingpin buys the company that produced the Spider-Man film and all merchandising rights. This means that every Spidey T-shirt and toy sold in the Ultimate Universe is funding the Kingpin's operations. And what is worse, Kingpin did it solely to spite Spidey.
    • In JMS' Spider-Man, Aunt May jokes about someone making a movie about Spider-Man. Eventually they go to Los Angeles to visit Mary Jane, who is starring in a moving called "The Amazing Lobster-Man". Production is complicated by the filmmakers' debating whether the title character should be bitten by a radioactive lobster or something more important like a lobster god, and by Dr. Octopus.
  • The Fantastic Four have also had this pulled on them; the villain behind it was the Sub-Mariner.
  • She-Hulk also had this pulled on her; the villain behind it was Warlord Krang. Waitaminute
  • The Ultimates: The team discusses who would play themselves in a film adaptation.
  • Mojo used films of the X-Men as TV shows on his world. This became a problem when Onslaught had seemingly destroyed them all.
  • Asterix:
    • In Astérix and the Cauldron, Astérix and Obélix are in need of money and discuss what to do:

      Obélix: Suppose we tell stories about our adventures? People would pay to listen!
      Astérix: I'm not much of a business man, but I have the feeling that that wouldn't work.
      Obélix: We could call it The Adventures of Obelix the Gaul and
      Astérix: Oh, shut up.

    • In Astérix and the Roman Agent, Impedimenta yells at Vitalstatitistix: "If anyone were fool enough to write the story of our village, you can bet they wouldn't call it The Adventures of Vitalstatistix the Gaul!" This is possibly unique among examples on this page in that it is accurate. The previous pitch, where Astérix shoots down the idea for a story about Obélix, is just garden-variety Dramatic Irony like almost everything here: the main characters of the series doubting that one of them is interesting enough to carry the series. Impedimenta and Vitalstatistix, though, really are secondary characters, and apparently they realize it!
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
    • The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck episode "The Vigilante of Pizen Bluff": At the end of their adventure, Scrooge's uncle (a writer of dime store novels, mostly grossly distorted retellings of his adventures with Scrooge with himself as The Hero) explains the details of his new project: "Imagine this -- my adventures told in a series of drawings, and the dialogue written in some kinda bubbles!"

      Uncle Pothole: Nephew, how about if you finance my new magazine! I'd agree to make you one of my new characters!
      Scrooge: Not a chance! Not only do I not have the money, no-one would be interested in reading the adventures of a rough-and-tumble prospector like me.

    • In another story, Donald Duck makes some rather pitiful attempts to write a novel, and at first only gets ideas that have already been used in Romeo and Juliet and Moby-Dick, which Huey, Dewey and Louie happily point out. Donald eventually turns to them and sarcastically suggests he could write about something no-one has thought of before: an average duck who lives with his three annoying nephews. The nephews are quick to tell him that the idea is simply too bad for anyone to think of it.
  • Happens in the Angel sequel comics. After Los Angeles gets dragged to Hell and back, some bright spark gets the idea to do a movie based on Angel's adventures there called "Last Angel in Hell", with Nicolas Cage as Angel, which Angel and Spike go and see in the course of an adventure, and which has a Comic-Book Adaptationin our world as an Angel annual. Angel was offended by how inaccurate it was, while Spike thought it was funny how his counterpart in the movie was a woman and Angel's love interest. A man named Jeremy Johns who had personally been rescued by Spike during the crisis also protested how inaccurate the movie was.
  • In the final issues of Peter Milligan's Shade, the Changing Man after DC had decided to cancel, Lenny is describing Shade to her father.

    Lenny's father: What is he, Superman?
    Lenny: If he were, his comic would probably be canceled.
    (both look out of panel)

  • Y: The Last Man:
    • A theatre company stages a play called "The Last Man" that resembles the plot. When Yorick hears the ending, in which the last man commits suicide, he comments that it's a terrible ending. During his suicide intervention, he admits that he actually thought it was perfect and was just being his Sad Clown self.
    • Later on, the same duo who wrote the play make a comic book about a world where all of the women except one are wiped out. Yorick reads it, and his response is "Meh."
  • In the last issue of the miniseries Batman: Harley and Ivy,Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy go to Hollywood and take over a movie of the same title—at first to skim off the production budget and revenge themselves on the leading actresses (who call Harley a "dumb blonde" and endorse perfume made from endangered flowers, respectively), but then Harley takes the director's place and revamps the film to include things like a bling-covered costume for herself and a Chew Toy Batman who requires a procession of stunt doubles. At the end, she's been allowed out of Arkham for long enough to accept an Oscar.
  • A Billy & Mandy story in Cartoon Network Block Party has Grim conveniently using his scythe to find out what Nostradamus is talking about, prompting Mandy to turn to the reader and comment "Doesn't this comic have any standards?"
  • Italian stories of the Disney Mouse and Duck Comics have this as a somewhat recurring plot:
    • Most of the times someone decides to use the image of Paperinik (Donald's superhero alter-ego) to make a movie, a video-game, a reality show, or, in one occasion, a rock singer playing with (fake) martians. It almost always ends with Paperinik taking offense at something and sabotaging everything (the most epic being the rock singer, sponsored by Scrooge: Paperinik staged a fake alien invasion to force Scrooge to call everything off and refund whoever had been at one of the concerts), the exception being the movie where Donald himself played the lead role (after initially being cast as the stunt double), in which Paperinik only forced a change of script;
    • In an in-universe example of Ripped from the Headlines, one story of Paperinik New Adventures has the writer of a soap opera put the Evronians in the plot. It worked;
    • The Papernovela (a parody of South-American soap operas written and drawn by a woman who is either a genious or completely insane) had the in-universe cast blatantly based on Scrooge and family plus friends and some enemies, and played by them. One episode also had superheroes playing themselves, and another did the same with the Yeti.
  • The original comic book version of W.I.T.C.H. had its fun with this trope:
    • In a possible future the girls learn that Will is publishing a fantasy novel, However Magic, based on their adventures, with the stated intention of starting a series. She had been working on it for years;
    • in the short stories published alongside the New Power saga, Will was roped into writing the script for a musical. It was blatantly based on the Twelve Portals arc, with the actresses for the five main roles being very similar in personality to the girls (Will's actress was so like her that the girls were creeped out before asking her to do the part), and Hay Lin as the costume designer catching some flak by the rest of the staff because the outfits for the members of the Congregations were plain white tunics just as with their originals;
    • in a later story the girls find themselves on a world where they have a massive franchise (including at least one movie) and equally large fandom. And, in one of the funniest examples of Your Costume Needs Work, an Irma cosplayer doubted their identities because Civilian!Irma didn't look like her (to be fair, the cosplayer really looked like Guardian!Irma).

    Comic Strips 

  • In the comic strip Bloom County, Opus gets a job as a cartoonist, and is pitching Milo on ideas for a comic strip:

    Opus: It stars two young boys, a guy in a wheelchair, a big-mouthed lawyer with sunglasses, a little hacker, a flightless Antarctic waterfowl, and a long-tongued, occasionally-dead Communist cat who barfs a lot.
    Milo: Needs work.
    Opus: Right.

  • About the time Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy movie came out, there was a storyline in the comic strip about Tracy getting involved with a movie being made about his life, which somebody is trying to sabotage. The saboteur turns out to be The Blank, who is mad about being left out of the film — very likely a comment on the fact that the villain of Beatty's film is The Blank In Name Only.
  • MAD has engaged in a lot of this over the years. Often coupled with quite blatant Self-Deprecation.
  • When The Hunchback of Notre Dame came out, Disney did a comic advertisement in Disney Adventures featuring the characters from Gargoyles. In it, Elisa Maza, Brooklyn, Lexington, and Broadway have just seen the film, and the Trio express displeasure with the way that gargoyles are portrayed therein, prompting them to muse that someone should make a movie or TV show that portrays their kind accurately. They laugh it off as a crazy idea, but Elisa remarks (while looking into camera, no less), "I don't know. Stranger things have happened."
  • In the third issue of Nodwick, Piffany asks Artax if he remembers the evil adventurers they defeated "about two months ago" (i.e., in #2):

    Artax: Why yes, I often mull over that tale! In fact, I wish I had it in a printed form, about 32 pages long, with pictures, clever drawings, and even a letters page. I'd buy as many copies as I could for about three silvers eachnote About $ They'd be a great gift for people of all ages!

    Fan Works 

  • Dragon Ball Abridged gives us the Ginyu Force's Wheel of Death. The mere concept sends Vegeta's blood pressure through the roof again.

    Vegeta:When did you have time to set this up? Is that a camera? What kind of sadistic retard watches this crap?!
    Frieza:Love this show.

  • Lampshaded by Da Chief in Death Note: The Abridged Series (kpts4tv) when he declares that watching his family on the surveillance cameras is "ridiculously boring."
  • The Cat Tales series by Chris Dee spends a great deal of time dismissing any Batman/Catwoman continuity the author dislikes as fabrication by a scurrilous tabloid or an equally irresponsible "true" crime writer named Frank Miller. But most recently, one of its spin-off series has had Batman having to protect the makers of a close facsimile of the most recent Batman movie from the Joker, and as usual footage from the resulting fight ends up in the movie.
    • The whole series starts because of the Frank Miller continuity on Catwoman, which forces Selina Kyle to defend her good name. In an off-Broadway show.
    • Catwoman even gets a chance to get even with "F. Miller" in a later story, with everyone you can think of helping out, including Wonder Woman, Black Canary, Oracle, and Batman. Not to mention Selina having a 'brainstorming' session with Joker, Two-Face, and a couple other Rogues. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In Equestria: A History Revealed, the Lemony Narrator remarks on one of the theories brought up being like "the premise of a bad fanfiction", and later remarks on her distate of fanfiction writers.
  • One chapter of Parsec's PowerPuff: Altered Destiny: Fame Over has the girls go into a dimension seemingly based on the real world where they of course find out about the TV shows based on their lives (as well as the fanfiction that usually comes with a famous property. Buttercup isn't amused). The show's creator, Craig McCracken, also turns out to be a evil mastermind bent on world domination. Yeah, wrap your head around that.
  • Weiss Reacts has the eponymous Weiss react to the fanfiction RWBY fans make and wonder why anybody would want to see her and Ruby together, among other things.
  • In Juxtapose, everyone jokingly discusses what their lives would be like as a manga series after the Sports Festival. They immediately peg Izuku as the main character.

    Ojiro: Midoriya, has anybody ever told you that you&#;re like some kind of shonen protagonist? I can completely imagine it, with you being on the front of a shonen manga&#; [everyone except Izuku bursts into laughter]

  • Us and Them: In the side-story "D-List Celebrities", Aeris' daughter Remi wonders why she keeps getting calls from TV networks wanting to do a reality show about their family.
  • Battle Fantasia Project: A number of Magical Girls has entertained the idea, with the Sailor Senshi having actually done it (Minako sang her own image songs), including a manga drawn byNaoko Takeuchi, Will Vandom (as in canon) keeping notes with the explicit purpose of doing this (as she actually did in a possible future) and the G1 of My Little Pony being based on Megan's own memories (under a false identity and a good disguise), with Friendship Is Magic being adapted by tales coming directly from the protagonists.
  • It happens in Worm/DC Universe crossover Echoes of Yesterday. After being told her life's history is probably a fictional tale in another universe, Taylor Hebert wonders: "Dear god, what sick twisted person would want to read something that dark and depressing?"

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Happened in Shanghai Knights, where Roy (Owen Wilson) tries to sell Jackie Chan's character, a Chinese cowboy named Chon Wang, on the idea of the then-new "moving pictures", even going so far as to suggest, "You could do your own stunts!" In a subversion, Chon nods and replies:

    Chon: Chon Wang, movie star? It could work.

  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Sam speculates on what his and Frodo's adventures would look like in songs and tales — Frodo heartwarmingly insists that Sam and his bravery would be of as much note as him.
  • Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back uses this gag frequently.
    • When Jay and Silent Bob confront Holden over image rights for the upcoming Bluntman and Chronic movie, Holden says, "A Jay and Silent Bob movie? Who'd pay to see that?" (All three then glance silently at the camera; Jay winks, and Silent Bob grins comically.)
    • At some point, Marshall Willenholly reacts to hearing a rather asinine plot point with, "Sounds like something out of a bad movie." (All characters in the scene then again glance at the camera.)
    • At the end, while walking out of a movie theater, Alyssa (the female lead from Chasing Amy) says, "Chasing Amy? That would never work as a movie." (Amy is in fact the most critically succesful of Smith's movies)
  • Parodied in the Super Mario Bros. Movie. Anyone who stuck around for The Stinger was treated to a clip of two Japanese businessmen talking to the two "heroes" offscreen, proposing to make a video game based on their adventure. The "heroes" are then revealed to be Iggy and Spike (King Koopa's nephews), whose suggested title for the game is "The Super Koopa Cousins".
  • In the late second/early third act of Top Secret!:

    Nick Rivers: Listen to me Hillary. I'm not the first guy who fell in love with a woman that he met at a restaurant who turned out to be the daughter of a kidnapped scientist only to lose her to her childhood lover who she last saw on a deserted island who then turned out fifteen years later to be the leader of the French underground.
    Hillary Flammond: I know. It all sounds like some bad movie.
    (long pause; both look at camera)

  • Zack and Miri Make a Porno:

    Miri: No-one wants to see us fuck, Zack.
    Zack: Everybody wants to see anybody fuck!

  • In In Bruges, in a way: the protagonists meet a dwarf who's working on a film which mirrors the ending of In Bruges. He describes the film within the film as "a jumped-up Eurotrash piece of fucking bullshit."
  • Pee-wee's Big Adventure ends with a producer turning his story into a movie - an action thriller with James Brolin as "P.W.", Morgan Fairchild as his geeky girl-pal Dottie, and a high-end motorcycle as his bike. He leaves early at the premiere:

    Dottie: But Pee-Wee, don't you wanna watch the rest of the movie?
    Pee-Wee: I don't have to watch it, Dottie I've lived it!

  • At the end of Entourage (based on the tv series of the same name), Billy Walsh proposes creating a tv show based on Vincent Chase and his entourage of friends and associate's experiences in Hollywood. Ari Gold thinks it's a terrible idea.


  • A serious version appears in The Lord of the Rings, when Frodo and Sam spend some time discussing whether or not their adventure would make a good story in the future, and who would be people's favourite character. More importantly, they wonder if it has a happy ending.
  • As the page quote demonstrates, Anne Frank wrote that she could not imagine anyone finding much interesting to read about in her diary. Several decades after her death, this has proven not to be the case.
  • Adrian Mole:
    • At the end of Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction, the protagonist's wife asks him why he's starting another diary despite having just ended the previous one saying that "diaries are only for unhappy people". Adrian replies he is thinking of writing an autobiography but his wife says that other people would find him uninteresting.
    • This was inverted in Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years where Barry Kent writes a novel named Dork's Diary with a loser protagonist named "Aiden Vole". The book becomes a best selling success, much to Adrian's chagrin.
  • Combined with Direct Line to the Author in Jennings Goes to School:

    Jennings: [Mr Carter]'s super screwy-squared! Why, I bet you a million pounds no-one would ever want to read about chaps like us!
    Mr Carter: (overhearing) Wouldn't they? I'm not so sure

  • In one of The Littles books, Lucy Little wrote to an author of books about giants suggesting she write a book about little people with tails. The writer likes the idea of little people, but finds the idea of them having tails silly.
  • In Merry Wives of Maggody, a Deadpan Snarker dismisses the possibility that an inquisitive visitor might be writing a book about the town, on the grounds that nobody would want to read one.
  • In Snuff, while talking to budding authoress Jane Gordon, Commander Vimes blurts out an idea for a book about "the relationship between the hunter and the hunted, the policeman and the mysterious killer, the lawman who must think like a criminal sometimes in order to do his job, and may be unpleasantly surprised at how good he is at such thinking, perhaps," which is pretty much what author Terry Pratchett does in the later City Watch books.
  • This happens a lot in Sherlock Holmes, where Holmes frequently alludes to Watson's stories during his cases, e.g., wondering what his readers would think if Watson described the screw-up Holmes just committed in one of his future memoirs; or chiding Watson for "sensationalizing" cases that, to Holmes, are simply cold, dry facts to make them into exciting mystery stories. And since the Sherlock Holmes stories are Watson's memoirs, that means Watson records Holmes' suggestions or comments about his stories into his next stories, apparently for his fictional readers' amusement. Watsonception!

    Live-Action TV 

  • They do this in Walker, Texas Ranger, where Trivette, using another one of his Get Rich Quick Schemes, suggests they make a show about their lives as Texas Rangers. The rest of the cast wave him off; however, they do play with the idea of who would play their characters if the show was real, ironically using their actual actors' names.
  • During the first series of Big Brother Australia, the contestants had to write a song about their time in the house. The song ended up revolving around this trope.
  • Seinfeld: NBC execs are skeptical about Jerry and George's "show about nothing" idea. Which resulted in a Defictionalization of something that already really existed. Jerry and George's concept represented Seinfeld itself, but later on it became Curb Your Enthusiasm.
  • Mid-nineties Venezuelan Soap OperaLos Amores de Anita Peña (roughly "Anita Peña's Beloveds"), after an All Just a Dream revelation, spends half of its last episode with the title protagonist telling a man (the original author and main writer of the show, in a cameo) all her (dreamed) history. Later, the man is seen presenting "his" idea in a meeting with producers and executives of the TV channel which actually produced and broadcast the soap opera and the meeting ends with the writer literally kicked out, his idea dismissed. Since this show, while very funny and based on the subversion and parody of every trope related to the Latin American take on soap operas, was not as popular as the executives wanted, it can be seen as a subtle revenge or as the awful truth.
  • The first run () of Arrested Development ends with Maeby pitching her story to Ron Howard, who says he doesn't "see it as a series — maybe a movie". note While years have passed since the first run of the series ended - accompanied by speculation over the movie - it returned as a Netflix-exclusive series in and is slated for a new comeback in Indeed, one of the main driving forces of the fourth season of the show is about Ron Howard wanting to make the said movie and hiring Michael Bluth as its producer.
  • In an episode of the lampshade-riffic Community, Abed and Troy use this virtually word-for-word with reference to their fake morning show, "Troy and Abed in the Morning." It's made doubly ironic since there's a crowd of fans watching them in the background, though they may have just been paid to do so for effect, given that it was 6am.
  • ALF: In one episode, after confessing over the phone using his "real name" Gordon Shumway, to an NBC executive about having manipulated the ratings readings of his favorite show to prevent it from being cancelled, Alf suggests the idea of making a show about "a lovable alien who crashes into Earth and lives with a human family". The exec immediately dismisses the idea claiming it's "too far-fetched".
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • The th and th episodes of deal with Wormhole X-treme, a TV series created by an alien based upon his subconscious knowledge (his memories had previously been erased) of the Stargate Program. The two Wormhole X-treme episodes are exercises in wall-to-wall Lampshade Hanging (indeed, in "" the producer character even references that trope, though he calls it "hang[ing] a lantern on it"), taking great and obvious joy in spoofing every Stargate trope they possibly can, and laden with vast numbers of in-jokes and shout outs. Not to mention that the production crew of Wormhole X-treme is actually the crew of Stargate SG-1 too. In a statement that makes you wonder about the entire series, the US Airforce decides not to axe Wormhole X-Treme as it will give them Plausible Deniability. Anyone coming forward with details of the Stargate program or other alien encounters can be accused of having watched the show. Hmmmm
    • Another episode, "Citizen Joe", features a barber receiving psychic flashes of Jack O'Neill's missions and writing them as short stories. He submits them to literary magazines, all of which turn the stories down. However, one can easily tell which episode he is referring to, because his titles, like "Holiday" and "Hathor" are the same as the titles of the episodes all those seasons back. At the end of the episode, the cast realizes that O'Neill has spent the past few years having psychic flashes of being a barber. When asked why he never told them, he answers, "It was relaxing."
  • In the last Blackadder the Third episode, despite being unaware of the future medium of television, Edmund nonetheless hopes that "Hundreds of years from now I want episodes from my life to be played out weekly at half past nine by some great heroic actor of the age." (To which Baldrick replies: "And I could be played by a tiny tit in a beard.")
  • In one episode of Farscape a producer of virtual reality "game blobs" uses the memories of Crichton to produce a game based upon the adventures of him and Moya's crew leading to a rather bizarre episode that begins with Crichton being rescued from Scorpius by a minigun-toting Stark and only gets stranger from there.
  • The X-Files episode "Hollywood A.D." has "The Lazarus Bowl", an episode where a movie is being made about Mulder and Scully (and getting them very wrong). The real Tea Leoni, David Duchovny's wife, was cast as Scully. When Scully observes that Leoni seems to have a crush on Mulder, he scoffs: "Like Tea Leoni would ever be attracted to me." When discussing about who to cast as Mulder, he suggests Richard Gere. Garry Shandling was cast instead.
  • The O.C. has a long-running in-world version of their show, The Valley. They go out of their way to create similarities between the shows: The Summer character is named April, the Seth character ad-libs his lines, the Seth and Summer actors dated in "real life," until they broke up, a reality show about "The Real Valley" was created after Laguna Beach happened. Was lampshaded in the series finale, when Summer states that The Valley had been picked up for seven more seasons.
  • Boy Meets World has an episode where Eric becomes an actor on a Boy Meets Word-style sitcom. The sets from Boy Meets World are shown as actual sets, and it is explained that the classroom is made to look bigger through camera angles.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys has two episodes that used this premise as a plot: "Yes Viriginia, There is a Hercules" from season 4 and "For Those of You Just Joining Us" from season 5.
  • In one episode of The Lucy Show, Lucy mistakes actor/producer Sheldon Leonard for a bank robber and sets traps for him. After the requisite hijinks and clearing-up of misunderstandings, Leonard confesses that Lucy's antics gave him an idea for a new TV show about a "kooky redheaded girl" who "gets into all sorts of impossible situations" but instantly dismisses it as too unbelievable. This was in , making it a fairly old example.
  • Early Edition: Chuck tries pitching a series about a guy who gets tomorrow's newspaper with no success.
  • Star Trek:
    • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Far Beyond the Stars" does some Fourth-Wall busting by putting Sisko through a Cuckoo Nest plot of being a black sci-fi writer in the s who comes up with a great idea about an alien space station commanded by a Black man. Of course, his editors reject the stories.
    • Star Trek: Voyager. In "Muse" a playwright on a pre-industrial world discovers B'Elanna Torres in her crashed shuttle and starts writing a play based on her logs. His muse is not amused by the blatant Shipping.

      B'Elanna: Well, you're going to have to do a lot better than Harry Kim kissing the Delaney sisters.
      Kelis: Why?
      B'Elanna: Because when you think that you are surrounded by enemies, when you're up against the Borg, or Species , the last thing on your mind is romance!

  • In Corner Gas, Hank describes what Brent's life would be like if it were a TV show, causing him to respond:

    Brent: My life as a TV show? Who would want to watch that?
    Hank: Well, maybe if there were some really cool cameos
    Random Woman: Hi there! I'm 6-time Olympic Medallist Cindy Klassen!
    Brent: Hi, we're just kinda in the middle of something
    Cindy: Oh
    Hank: Good job, though!

  • In the Kamen Rider Den-OSpin-OffImagin Anime, one episode of the second season has the Taros' cast as the staff of their own show, coming up with the idea for it while sleep deprived, bored and desperate. The short ends with a card stating "Who knew the show would still be on the air two years later?"
  • Both Married with Children and Sanford and Son had plots in which unscrupulous TV executives stole their lives and made a sitcom out of it.
  • In Sanford and Son's case, a cousin of Rollo's creates a show about a Jewish version of Fred's life. When asked why he didn't just make it a black version, the cousin replied this trope's title as Fred turns to the camera in disbelief. Of course the Sanfords already are the "black version", of the English Steptoe and Son.
    • Then in the very next scene, they find out the show was quickly cancelled due to low ratings.
  • Supernatural:
    • It turns out that a prophet has been writing a book series about Sam and Dean (with titles the same as those of the respective episodes). It was only popular with a cult following, and got cancelled after "No Rest for the Wicked" (the book), but Chuck keeps writing since he still gets the visions. In "The Real Ghostbusters" (about a third of the way through season five), Chuck says the book series is going to be revived. Chuck vanishes before that ever happens, but his ex-girlfriend fangirl posts his stories online.
    • There's also a couple of incompetent ghost hunters who make a film including Sam and Dean, and on one occasion Sam and Dean rescue a Hollywood director from a ghost and he gets inspiration for his movie from that.
    • And again when Sam and Dean are transported to an alternate universe where they're actors named Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles on a TV show called Supernatural.

      Dean: Why would anybody want to watch our lives?
      Sam: Well, I mean, according to the interviewer, not very many peopledo.

  • In That's So Raven, when Eddy gains psychic powers and one of his many friends he gained with this suggests that he gets his own show, Raven comments: "That is ridiculous! Who'd want to watch a show about a teenage psychic?" along with an Aside Glance.
  • In Flight of the Conchords, the last episode has the protagonists appearing in a musical as themselves. The real Bret and Jemaine play themselves in the show, so it's two guys playing themselves playing themselves.
  • In the NUMB3RS episode "Graphic", after Don and Charlie have returned a rare comic to its artist, said artist begins drawing them and suggests a complete comic series about an FBI agent and his Mathematician brother. Cue Don's line of "Aw, no-one would believe it."
  • A long-running plot in The L Word concerns Jenny's writing of a novel which is a thinly-disguised autobiography with very unflattering (though fairly accurate) depictions of all the other characters. It's a huge success, and gets picked up to be made into a film, which leads to a very confusing fifth season in which we see the original characters hanging out with the actresses playing the fictional versions of the characters, and also some reconstructions of the events of the first season played out with different actresses and slightly different dialogue designed to make Jenny look good, of course.
  • Recent promos for USA Network's Psych have Shawn and Gus wrestling with this question.
  • At the end of one Murder, She Wrote episode set around a TV studio, one of the characters proposes The J.B. Fletcher Mystery Hour, a series based on the true-life adventures of a crime-solving author.

    Jessica: I don't write gunfights, car chases or bedroom scenes, so who would watch?

  • Baywatch spent an episode on this. In the end the show isn't picked up for national broadcast but does get sold to foreign markets.
  • On a notoriously anvilicious episode of Saved by the Bell, "No Hope with Dope", someone from NBC suggested producing a show about high school kids while creating an anti-drug use PSA with the gang. They all remarked that it was a bad idea. Saved by the Bell was on, of course, NBC, and, in fact, the person in the episode suggesting the idea was then NBC Entertainment president Brandon Tartikoff.
  • One episode of One Foot in the Grave has the Meldrews' cleaner writing a play about their life, which is then acted out on stage by actors suspiciously similar to the real Meldrews. Everything that happens in the play actually happened to the "real" Meldrews, including the utterly unexplained appearance of a giant, lifelike housefly, but a producer who has come to watch the show claims it's utterly unrealistic and silly, and refuses to endorse it for a "proper" theatre.
  • Black Books:

    [discussing what film to see at the cinema]
    Bernard: Whats this? "Blue Tunes — Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver
    Fran: Oh, I hate her.
    Bernard: "Grouchy Leonard Blue runs a second hand record shop with his half-wit mustachioed assistant Danny. (Manny tuts) When this zany pair team up with bitchy, neurotic neighbour Pam things are sure to be a riot of laughs". Where do they get this crap?

  • The Power Rangers Dino Thunder episode "Lost and Found in Translation" plays with this, turning an episode of Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger into a Japanese TV series based off of the Dino Thunder Rangers. Conner initially dislikes it because he thinks they're making fun of the Rangers, but eventually he recognizes it as different, but not bad. This was intended as a poke at the "Sentai purists" who despise Power Rangers as an embarrassment to Super Sentai; ironically, their attitude towards this episode was nearly identical to Conner's In-Universe reaction.
  • In Blossom, a friend of the family who's a producer tries to start a show based on their lives, called "Rosie". Blossom's best friend Six gets cast as the lead, causing a good bit of jealousy, but several rounds of Executive Meddling distort the show to where it eventually becomes a show about a crime-solving chimpanzee.
  • In one episode of Drake & Josh, Drake watches a TV show called Drew and Jerry (who were their friends) with Josh. The actual show had the EXACT SAME premise as the fictional one. They end up laughing at how stupid it was and saying "Who would watch this?"
  • In the beginning of an episode of Coach, the coaching staff is discussing their lives as a TV show. When Hayden asks who'd want to watch a show about Minnesota football coaches, Luther and Dauber both say they'd watch it. Hayden immediately points out they're both Minnesota football coaches.
  • Pair of Kings: King Brady and King Boomer invited the host of one of their favorite shows to the island. When complaining about the island's weirdnesses to his agent, he was asked about making a series off it and he didn't find it a good idea.
  • At the end of The Nanny episode "Frannie's Choice", Fran is shown speaking to a CBS executive explaining how her life would make a great sitcom, quoting the first few lines of the title theme. This is based on how Fran Drescher actually first pitched the idea of the show to a CBS executive.
  • Ellery Queen: In "The Adventure of the Sinister Scenario", Inspector Queen and Ellery go to Hollywood to watch the filming of movie based on one of Elley's novels that features both of them as characters. Neither is impressed with the casting.
  • UFO. Played for Drama in "Mindbender". Alien crystals make Commander Straker hallucinate that he's an actor in a sci-fi television series. As he remembers being Straker, but can clearly see the cameras and backstage crew around him, he naturally starts to go insane.
  • Dream On has a couple-episode plot of a movie being made of the protagonist's ex-wife's perfect husband's life. Protagonist falls in love with the woman playing his ex-wife.
  • Israeli sitcom Shemesh had a rather strange version of this: while the first season featured the occasional Breaking the Fourth Wall moment, includingLampshadedGilligan Cuts, the second season had a dialogue between Eti, a waitress working for the eponymous protagonist, and a regular client, about they might be living in a TV series or something, but bring up this trope as a counter argument; then they come up with the answer, &#;Channel 2&#;, because &#;they&#;ll air anything&#;, and use a Slapstick gag taking place behind them as evidence.
  • The Borgias had an example in the episode "Banquet of the Chestnuts." The title banquet was organized by Giulia Farnese as a gambit to compromise the cardinals' morality and therefore create loyalty. It worked splendidly. Pope Alexander VI tells the chronicler to put the record away for history, but doubts future generations will actually be interested in such a thing. This actually overlaps with It Will Never Catch On, as even before this particular show, the Borgias remained infamous and popular HistoricalDomainCharacters and that specific event was one of the most mentioned.
  • Murdoch Mysteries:
    • In "The Filmed Adventures of Detective Murdoch", Murdoch is baffled by the idea of a moving picture based on his cases.
    • In "Elementary, My Dear Murdoch", Arthur Conan Doyle suggests that forensics may one day be the future of entertainment. Murdoch says the public would find it "too dull and too bloody".
  • Sherlock does this. Watson proposes writing a blog, and Sherlock says "nobody wants to read this". Watson writes the blog and it goes viral. Then at various points in the series Watson "edits" the adventures so that they're better for the blog and Sherlock dislikes the edits. Also, Sherlock gets approached by fans a lot. All of this is an excessively elaborate setup for a moment when Sherlock puts on the famous hunting cap, thinking it will make him inconspicuous. Predictably enough, it becomes his new trademark and he has to start wearing it all the dang time. Sherlock is completely baffled by this whole thing, which is a really really obtuse way of showing why he's the hero despite being well, as he puts it "I'm not a psychopath, I'm a high-functioning sociopath".
  • In one of the host segments in the Mystery Science Theater episode "The Slime People", the Bots pitch a TV show to Joel about a man trapped by two evil commodores on a desert island and forced to watch bad old TV shows with only a pair of mechanical friends made out of pieces of his boat for company. Joel doesn't think anyone would be interested in a show like that.
  • In an episode of Columbo, Lt. Columbo is investigating a Hollywood director for murder. The director tell Columbo he always wanted to make a detective film and suggest that Columbo's job would make an interesting film. Columbo responds that he doesn't think most people would find what he does all that interesting.
  • Lucifer () has in one episode,¡Lieutenant Diablo! which has the same premise as the show, except Lucifer's character ("Diablo") is much more heroic and Chloe's character ("Detective Dancer") is a former stripper.


  • Random Assault: Many times the cast asks why anyone is even listening to the show.

    Puppet Shows 

  • The Muppet Show:
    • In the Zero Mostel episode, Statler and Waldorf watch television. They change channels, and:

      Statler: WHAT is THAT?!
      Waldorf: It looks like two ancient old guys sitting in a theatre box watching television!
      Statler: That's crazy! No one would watch junk like that!

    • In a more meta-example, in the Senor Wences episode, upon hearing Kermit's explanation on puppets (dolls being made to move about), Gonzo comments on how stupid that sounds and that he would never try it.
  • In Thunderbirds, Scott and Virgil are offered a chance to star in a movie about Martians, to which Scott replies "I guess we're not the movie star type." Despite this, they became stars in not one but two movies afterwards. (Well, technicallythree)
  • In the Sesame Street20th aniversary special, Ernie is using a video camera to record things on the street. Bert says no-one will want to see Sesame Street on television.


  • In Season 3 of Bleak Expectations, Pip writes his autobiography: My Life and Some or Indeed Most of the Things That Have Happened in It Up to a Certain Point by Pip Bin. The publisher likes it, but isn't sure about the title:

    Printy Bookington: Let's change it to something a bit more snappy like, er, Bleak Expectations.
    Pip Bin: Doesn't work.


  • Julius Caesar, act III, scene I, after killing Caesar, Cassius says: "Stoop then and wash; how many ages hence / Shall this our lofty scene be acted over, / In states unborn and accents yet unknown!"
  • The musical Avenue Q, about a recent college graduate named Princeton looking for his purpose in life while struggling through post-college poverty, ends with another recent college graduate showing up. Princeton realizes he could really teach this person something about life after college, and realizes his purpose is to take everything he's learned and put it into a Broadway show. Brian comments "Are you high?" and the kid flips him off and runs away.
  • [title of show] asks this, as the actors look over the plot of the musical they're writing, which is about "two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical".
  • Twelfth Night, Act III, scene iv: "If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction."
  • The Phantom of the Opera, where they actually conclude people would want to watch it:

    You'd never get away with all this in a play
    But if it's loudly sung and in a foreign tongue
    It's just the sort of story audiences adore
    In fact, a perfect opera

  • The Trail to Oregon! directly addresses the audience in the opening number when warning them that it's too late to change any of the characters' names and that they should probably go see a broadway musical instead.

    Video Games 

  • The epilogue to Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door shows White-Dwarf Starlet Flurrie making a triumphant return to the stage in a stage adaptation of the game's events. We see her and a Mario stand-in AKA Doopliss fighting a battle on a stage (which looks identical to every other battle in the game, all which inexplicably take place on a stage in front of an audience).
  • Guild Wars Nightfall:
    • The Player Character is invited to a play based on the plot of the first campaign, Prophecies.
    • And if you finish Nightfall, your companion Norgu (an actor and playwright) invites you to see his latest work, "Norgu's Nightfall".
  • The hero of Shining Force comes across an (extremely) short play about himself. Except this is in a neutral nation, and he's cast as a weakling. Once he saves the village, though, the play is rewritten with him as the hero.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, in a conversation about films, Para-Medic tells Snake that in the future there will be films where you control the characters. Snake responds by expressing his disbelief.
  • Mass Effect 2 uses this for a brief gag. While passing through cities, you can hear advertisements for Citadel, a movie adaptation of the events of the first game. From the snippets we hear it's not good.


  • Bang turns down the hermit's offer for an apprenticeship at the end of Clash at Demonhead so he can make a game based on his adventure.
  • The FarmVille-esque iOS game The Simpsons: Tapped Out begins with Homer playing on his "myPad":

    Homer: This Happy Little Elves game is so stupid! You tap and wait and tap and wait! And for what? So Pretend Town can have more Pretend Flowers and Pretend Friends! What a colossal waste of time!

  • In the third case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney &#; Dual Destinies, Athena, Apollo and Klavier reenact a mock trial in a way that serves as a parody of the courtroom segments found in all Ace Attorney games. Athena and Klavier have fun with it, but Apollo doesn't understand the appeal.
  • In Muppet Monster Adventure, Robin's exploits in the game turn out to just be a dream (or maybe not). As he describes it to his Uncle Kermit and the others, Pepe the King Prawn remarks that it could be a good video game plot. Everyone then takes to the camera.
  • Two NPCs in Dragon Age: Origins have a conversation about "sublime, enlightened beings" who have invented their entire world, and they are just like "players in a play". One of them is not impressed.

    NPC: I got a boil the size of your nose on my big toe, and some "beings" are enjoying this? Disturbed, sick bastards if you ask me!

  • Many of Zachtronics's Programming Games feature dialog to this effect, pointing out the fairly niche appeal of their subject matter.

    Ember 2: "Hmm. Thisgame isn't about hacking at all, is it? They took a lot of dramatic license. It's probably for the best. Way more people will enjoy a game like this as opposed to a game that would require you to put programs together Can you even imagine?"

    Web Animation 


  • Shortpacked!:
    • Used in this strip, where Jazz and Bumblebee of the Transformers watch Pixar's Cars and complain about the silliness of a planet of vehicles without any drivers.
    • There's a followup gag strip for Cars 2 in which they also poke fun at a race of machines with two genders but a seeming male:female ratio.
  • Done in the very first strip of Life With Kurami, combined with I Should Write a Book About This, as a means of introducing the strip's premise in a very meta way:

    Bree: Ana, I'm wanting to create a comic strip. It'll focus on your blind baby cousin, Kurami, and our big struggles as busty, plus-size women.
    Ana: That's a silly concept, Bree. Who will read a comic about THAT?
    Zane: Let's ask the readers.

  • In Sluggy Freelance, Zoe retells her friends' adventures on the radio, only changing their names slightly (Gwen instead of Gwynn, for example). Her friends are all humiliated by this, with Riff being extra-pissed that she claims he threw poop at a monkey. (He actually built a poop-hurling ballista.)
  • Gene Catlow uses it in the last two panels of this strip.
  • This strip of Brawl in the Family has taken this and manages to make it even more meta than it already is.
  • In Schlock Mercenary, the title amorph sells the image rights to make a TV show about Tagon's Toughs. No-one's too impressed to begin with; less so when it turns out they went with a kids' show where the Toughs are melonheaded cartoon characters enacting plots that have almost nothing to do with actual events. Comes back to bite them once when Schlock tries to join a circus as part of an undercover operation only to find out that the circus had amorphs who are now all out of work because none of them can compete with what his cartoon alter-ego can do.
  • In Sabrina Online, Sabrina is either oblivious to or in complete denial about the fact that her webcomic is a thinly-veiled retelling of her life.
  • The Polandball comic Art tripping has the countryballs visiting the Louvre and seeing famous works of art. The final exhibit is a Polandball comic that is immediately hated by everyone. Subverted when it turns out that they all secretly loved it.
  • All New Issues, now in indefinite hiatus, has one character become a regular reader of a blog. A friend suggests starting a blog of their own, to which he replies "Who'd want to read about us? We're pretty boring". There's a twist: the blog is about them — it's written by a common acquaintance who draws from their everyday lives, embellishing them to the point it takes them a while to recognize themselves.
  • Girl Genius: In this strip Dupree lampshades that, if someone wrote their history, it wouldn't be named after Gil.

    Dupree: You're surprised? She's outsmarted us before, right? I mean, if they write this down, they ain't gonna be calling it "Boy Genius."

    Web Videos 

  • Played for drama in Marble Hornets during Tim's "What the Hell, Hero?" rant to Jay.

    Tim: All you ever do is point your camera at every little thing that happens! How does that help anybody?
    Jay: In case something happens, I want people to know.
    Tim: Like who?! Who the hell is gonna' care?

    Western Animation 

  • The Powerpuff Girls: An episode features a con-artist "director" allegedly making a movie about the girls. (The initial broadcast of this episode was suspiciously close to the release of the actual movie.)
  • Kaeloo and Stumpy discuss Stumpy's bedtime story the morning after in Let's Play Once Upon a Time, eliciting this response from Mr. Cat.

    Kaeloo: You know, Stumpy, I'm really happy you made me a superhero!
    Stumpy: I was thinking Frog, transforms, when she gets mad I think it'd make a pretty dope kids' show.
    Mr. Cat:(looks up from newspaper at viewer)Who in their right mind would watch crap like that?

  • Kim Possible has the season three episode "And the Molerat Will Be CGI", which was written to poke fun at a cancelledLive-Action Adaptation of the series (which ended up being reworked into "So the Drama"). Kim is surprised that anyone would want to make a movie about her and is not at all bothered when it gets cancelled by the end of the episode. The episode would become Hilarious in Hindsight over a decade later, when the series did get a live-action adaptation. And yes, the mole rat was CGI.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: In the episode called "Who's Running the Show?", Ted Turner (playing himself) proposes making a series about the central pollution-fighting hero team. Wheeler replies, "It has a nice ring to it."
  • Codename: Kids Next Door offers a variant: "Cable TV" sees a guy giving the KND a TV show, which turns out be a saccharine Variety Show. They end up having to stop the guy from turning everyone into children (long story) using his de-aging device and their satellite network — he offered the KND a show to get access to the satellites.
  • In ReBoot, they had a group called the Mainframe Strolling Players, who would re-enact moments of the series as "True Stories of Mainframe". A Running Gag that averted the general use of this trope, but done most memorably at the end of the third season with a musical recap of the season that parodied "Theatre/The Major General Song" from The Pirates of Penzance.
  • In Men in Black the series, an episode ends with the Worm characters shown to have gone to Hollywood to make a movie called Men In Black. The clip of it has a Jay and Kay made to resemble more their movie counterparts. Unlike the real movie, though, the Worms themselves took a lead role

    K: We'll neuralize the town. Won't be the first time.
    J: So that's why they keep making the same movie!

  • Done twice in Jackie Chan Adventures, both involving Jade pitching the idea of a show based on her uncle's kung-fu hijinks. Jackie however doesn't want to be a Hollywood star (a contrast to the real Jackie Chan) and in the end things happen that stall any talk of a show.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: "The Ember Island Players" has the main characters viewing a play detailing their exploits up to that point, as based on the accounts of "singing nomads, pirates, prisoners of war, and a surprisingly knowledgeable merchant of cabbage". Their displeasure begins with their own Character Exaggeration:
    1. Aang as a Woman (actually a small woman playing a boy a la Peter Pan — and in a case of life imitating art, a woman did many of Aang's stunts in the live-action movie);
    2. Katara as a much older (and chubbier) melodramaticham;
    3. Sokka as an idiot only concerned with food; Sokka's only offended that his punchlines aren't more varied.
    4. some obvious Ho Yay;
    5. and putting Zuko's scar on the wrong side of his face, along with an obsession with Honor well more than the real thing.
    6. As for the playwright's shipping habits, Zutara makes The Hero cry and the characters in question cringe. Hilarity Ensues. And so do grief and regret.
    7. However, Toph, being such a Tomboy, was completely fine with being portrayed as a huge hulking man. Which was also a minor Development Gag, since "huge hulking man" was the original plan for Toph. (The character design was reused as The Boulder, a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of professional wrestler The Rock.)
  • Darkwing Duck episode "Kung Fooled" ends with Darkwing discussing an offer he received to do a thirty-minute martial arts instructional home video, to which Gosalyn responds: "Who would wanna watch you for a half an hour?"
  • One episode of the extremely creepy stop-motion comedy What Its Like Being Alone has the character Aldous having nightmares that she was a stop-motion animated doll. We also got a shot of who was "behind" the fourth wall: puppeteers in black top hats, with monocles and long cigarette-holders, cackling maniacally.
  • The Life and Times of Juniper Lee: Juniper Lee gets cast for a TV show about herself fighting monsters in "Star Quality".
  • Alias the Jester had a tongue-in-cheek version in which robbers pose as a documentary film crew to get access to the castle. Almost too late, the time-traveller protagonist realises what's been bothering him all episode: this is the Middle Ages, so film hasn't been invented yet!
  • Batman Beyond: In "Out of the Past", Terry takes Bruce to watch Batman the Musical. He is not amused, not least because it more resembles the '60s TV show than his own life.

    Bruce:(deadpan) You hate me, don't you.
    Terry: Come on, lighten up, it's your birthday.
    Bruce:Don't remind me.
    Terry: Hey, it took me weeks to get tickets to this show. It's shway!
    Bruce: It's shw-arbage.

  • A particularly recursive example: The Real Ghostbusters has an episode called "Take Two", in which the first Ghostbusters movie is supposedly being made. Points that were altered in the animated series are lampshaded as "inaccuracies" in a fictionalized account of the main characters' adventures. The broadcast version even used actual clips from the film to represent the movie, although these were later cut for syndication.

    Peter Venkman: That guy [Bill Murray] doesn't look a thing like me.

  • Arthur
    • In the episode "The Making of Arthur", an animalized version of Matt Damon comes to Elwood City after a video contest, which Arthur loses. Interested in Arthur's life, he has an idea for a new show. Cue the theme song.
    • "Buster's Growing Grudge" used this literally, with Buster and Binky speculating that their comedy skills could get them their own TV show:

    Buster: You and me and Arthur
    Binky: Us maybe. But I don't know about Arthur. Who'd want to watch him on TV?

  • In the Code Lyoko episode "Contact", Odd offers to Sissi a role in his next film, which is about " a girl, driven by a mysterious being, who tries to make contact with humans, all of which takes place in a virtual universe full of danger." (which is what just happened in the episode). Sissi's response: "No-one would ever believe such a ridiculous story."
  • CatDog once did a gag revolving around the popularity of its characters. One character is told that no-one likes him. Cut to some (live-action) children watching the show saying "We do!".
  • Subverted; The Drinky Crow Show has the characters inventing theatre (it's that kind of show) after realizing that Drinky's story of losing his girlfriend is captivating, in a tragic way. The local townspeople LOVE it.
  • The Simpsons have flirted with this at various times.
    • Either the family gets famous ("A Simpson on a tee-shirt? I never thought I'd see the day") or the Simpsons is symbolized by Itchy and Scratchy ("What? Cartoons don't have any meaning. It's just stuff that happens, like people getting hurt and stuff. Stuff like that. OUCH!")
    • To say nothing of the many potshots taken atFox.
    • The Movie: "I can't believe we're paying to see something we get on TV for free! If you ask me, everybody in this theater is a giant sucker! Especially you!"
  • A gag in Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi features the girls sitting down for a rest after a long day of trying to please an unseen producer who wanted to change their cartoon in verious ways. They turn on the TV and see their live-action counterparts sitting with their animated manager. The girls wonder who those two women are, and who would want to watch a show with them in it.
  • "Someday maybe I'll have my own TV show like Edgar Eagle. We'll call it Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog!"
  • Pinky and the Brain:

    Brain: Pinky, who would want to read about two lab mice trying to take over the world? Who would want to read about my failures?
    Pinky: Oh, believe me, Brain, to a human, our nightly exploits would be a humorous diversion that would magically transmute the dreary workaday world into a fanciful realm of zany hijinks!

    • In another episode, Brain is trying to take over the world with a new TV pilot. At the end, their main rivals end up with the job (thanks to finding Brain's hypnotizing dentures), and create a show about two lab mice trying to take over the world.
    • In the final episode, "Star Warners", the title characters are re-imagined as robots in a parody of Star Wars. When the Once an Episode "Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?" gag comes up, Pinky replies "I think so, Brain, but a show about two talking lab mice? It'll never get on the air!"
  • Johnny Test
    • After watching a cartoon he couldn't stand, Johnny asks the question, "A cartoon about a boy, his dog, and his genius older twins? Who would watch that?" Then he and Dukey look at the screen.
    • Johnny mocks the idea of "a show about a kid whose sisters do weird experiments on him."
  • Time Squad: The episode, "Child's Play" had Shakespeare create children's plays. While looking for a new idea, the Time Squad introduce themselves, with Shakespeare replying that, while the premise isn't exactly new, the characters are interesting. His plays end up being ruined by Larry (who acts as a Moral Guardian) and Shakespeare's agent wanting the plays to be merchandise-driven.
  • Episode 19 of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated has the Rodney Dangerfield-like producer of a reality show muse about the potential of a show about meddling kids and their dog trapping knuckleheads in rubber masks; the gang's response is to laugh and say "Naaahhhh!!!" in unison after which the man says that nobody in their right minds would want to see that.
  • A blink and you'll miss it example in Danny Phantom, where Danny, after his identity is exposed, finds that a comic about his exploits has already been released. He complains about how no one asked for his approval.
  • In the The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Tape", the title character introduces his classmates to the tape he's making, saying "And introducing all my other friends in 'The Amazing World of—'. Forget it, who's gonna watch that?"
  • A sorta-kinda example in an episode of Rocko's Modern Life; After Peaches fails to bring Heffer to Heck, he is punished by being forced to star in a show called "Peaches' Modern Life". Rocko, Heffer and Filbert watch the program and mention how lousy it is.
  • This was actually used in a Krazy Kat animated series. Kokonino Kounty is bankrupt and characters start throwing suggestions on how to gain money. Ignatz suggest that they sell themselves to television. Officer Pup laughs it out, only for Ignatz to throw a brick at him and say "Go ahead and laugh! They laughed at Al Brodaxnote the show's executive producer, too!"
  • At the end of the Mr. Magoo short "When Magoo Flew", Magoo remarks that there was no cartoon with the movie he was watching (actually an airplane flight).

    Magoo: Do you ever run those cartoons about that ridiculous, little, nearsighted old man? You know the one that goes [performs his trademark grumble]

  • A Christmas Episode of South Park had the boys attempt to get people to remember the Christmas spirit (commercialism) by making a video Christmas card the exact same one that in real life featured the boys in their first appearance. When it winds up being successful, the mayor asks if they're interested in her funding them to make an ongoing TV series. They have absolutely no interest in doing so.
  • The narrator on Danger Mouse would often kvetch about why we would bother to watch the show.
  • Miraculous Ladybug episode "Animaestro" is centered around the premier of a Ladybug & Cat Noir movie (Apparently made in the same style as the original preview). Upon being told that it's an animated feature, not live-action (And not staring the actual heroes), a doorman for premier remarks that no one would want to see Ladybug and Cat Noir as cartoon characters.

What a mess. Who'd want to read this page?

TV TROPES: ‘The Chair Turning Reveal’

We All Live in America

Every country in the world has a unique series of cultures and traditions, and even the smallest ones in the world (e.g. Singapore) have numerous diverse cultures and traditions. However, National Stereotypes and personal experience aside, you probably couldn't tell that just from consuming entertainment media.

Often, when writing a story set in another country, the writer basically takes their own country and substitutes in some foreign (or 'foreign') names, and might refer to a famous local festival or two if you're lucky. If you're not, it will be the writers' own country half-dressed-up as a Land of Hats in "the local style". And then, there are works that barely try at even that. If you find an author who demonstrates a more-than-superficial understanding of other countries and cultures, cherish them - for they have a gift.

The title is inspired by (but is not a direct quote of) a line in the Rammstein song "Amerika", which is about the spread of American values and culture across the globe.

Please note that, despite the trope name, this is not an exclusively American phenomenon; writers from other countries will often project their own cultural mores, vernacular, and sense of geography onto countries other than their own, including the United States, as well. Most common is the strange tendency to treat all the landmarks and major cities of a country that spans an entire continent as if they are within a couple hours' drive of each other. Another is to set a work in an American Informed Location whose inhabitants all speak in Britishisms. However, writers from non-American English-speaking nations writing chiefly for an American audience will often do this too.

Super-Trope of Hollywood Provincialism, when American media, most of which is produced in or around Los Angeles, wrongly assumes that aspects of life in L.A. are the same at a national level.

Compare Creator Provincialism (where nothing important happens outside the writer's home country), Politically Correct History (the temporal version of this) and Canada Does Not Exist (a weird mutation of this trope that Canadian TV producers often impose upon themselves in order to sell their shows in America).

Contrast Eagleland Osmosis, where the influence of another country's media (chiefly the United States') causes people to do this to their own society. See also Values Dissonance, which is perhaps the most compelling reason why this trope doesn't work.

Related to Culture Chop Suey, which is about fictional locations that are based on cultures of several different real-life locales, often accidentally including the author's own. When a dub attempts to make it seems like the series takes place elsewhere, but the numerous set pieces make it apparent that's not the case, see Thinly-Veiled Dub Country Change.

For when we all really do live in America, see America Takes Over the World.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

  • The Asterisk War: Volume 7 has the Girl Group Rusalka try to exploitContractual Purity to ruin their rival Sylvia Lyynneheym's career by starting a scandal with the rumor that she has a boyfriend. While this might work in Japan due to the culture surrounding Idol Singers in the region, Sylvia explicitly has a worldwide fanbase and Western audiences would overall be at worst apathetic towards the news.
  • In the Chri-, er, Heaven's Day episode of The Big O, despite Paradigm City clearly being future New York, the celebrations do seem to emphasize romance more than family.
  • The Opening Monologue of Code Geass makes a big deal about how the Britannian Empire has suppressed Japanese culture. However, the school system we see has almost nothing in common with the British or American systems; it's really just the Japanese system with funny uniforms.
  • Death Note has some of the most Japanese "Americans" ever seen. At least once, a member of a crime family bows to another member - his subordinate, no less. Every mafia thug knows exactly what a Shinigami is.
  • In FAKE, Ryo (who is half-Japanese, but was brought up in the USA) and Dee, two New York cops, celebrate Christmas the Japanese way, with a romantic date. This could happen in the USA as well, but it probably isn't popular.
  • In Gintama, when it comes to the Earth dealing with the Amanto, it's more like Japan dealing with the Amanto. When talking about "international relations" with the Earth, the Amanto basically exclusively bring up people from Japan and things happening in Japan, as if it was the world stage.
    • Also, this quote from Bansai summarizes the goal of Takasugi's faction to a tee, and delightfully highlights how it's slightly nonsensical precisely because it plays this trope completely straight:

    Bansai: We will defeat the Bakufu and rebuild the world.

  • Gunslinger Girl, though it's set in Italy, had many of the adult handlers be quite reserved towards their charges, probably causing Values Dissonance for any Italian viewers (though it can be justified as the handlers aren't comfortable around Child Soldiers and they all have troubled backgrounds). They even bow sometimes. The girls don't act much like typical Italian girls, either.
  • In the Iron Man manga, Tony Stark works hard to curtail his American sensibilities (especially his womanizing) while in Japan, knowing it won't win him any points with the locals. His behavior, however, more closely resembles what a Japanese writer would guess an American hotshot would act like. For example, at one point, he is sparring with a Japanese fighter and compliments the man on his Japanese Spirit&#; before cheating and then proclaiming that as an American, he instead has "Pioneer Spirit". Not only is Japanese Spirit something most Americans have vaguely heard of, at best, but no American would ever use the term "Pioneer Spirit". The "American Way" maybe, but in this context, even that's a stretch.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has characters from all around the world, but many still use expressions or have norms that are rather specifically Japanese.
    • Polnareff of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders is French, but tells a villain that he will be judged in hell by Yama and mentions the Red String of Fate when hoping to find a girlfriend. While there was ample opportunity for Polnareff to have learned of Asian tropes like the Red String off-panel (either in causal conversation with his Japanese friends Jotaro and Kakyoin or during his travels through China prior to meeting them), it would be rather rare indeed for a Frenchman to actually believe in East Asian mythology's judge of the dead to the point of using judgement by Yama as a threat against a villain.
    • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Vento Aureo:
      • The main characters are Italian gangsters who despise the drug trade. Such beliefs are commonly attributed to Yakuza, but aren't generally associated with organized crimes much of anywhere else.
      • While doing math, Narancia draws a henohenomoheji on the side of his paper (which is made of Japanese characters).
      • Guido Mista has a deep superstitious fear of number four, as if he were Japanese. Italians actually fear seventeen the most. The In-Universe explanation is that his tetraphobia originates from his neighbor being attacked by a kitten who was born in a litter of four, which is a rather weak justification.
    • In Steel Ball Run, Sandman's Stand involves materializing Written Sound Effects in the form of Japanese characters. It's not explained why a Native American in the 19th century would know Japanese well enough to have it be an integral part of his ability.
  • Kaleido Star does this a couple times. It takes place in America, but the characters who are supposed to be non-Japanese occasionally do Japanese things, like bowing. One of Sora's friends, Mia, uses the Japanese gesture for "come here" (the maneki neko paw gesture), in an episode of Kaleido Star New Wings, but it may not count since she was signalling Sora.
  • Little Witch Academia () is set in the United Kingdom and for the most part, the writers did do their research. However, the lone episode set abroad (in Finland, home to Lotte's parents) shows Lotte's family have very typical Japanese traits, such as bowing and saying "Itadakimasu" before the meal. Also, in what may or may not be a parody of this kind of thing, the same episode shows that the lone Japanese character (Akko, the protagonist) strongly dislikes the typical Japanese tradition of having long, hot baths.
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!: Fortune Lover is set in a Medieval European Fantasy universe, but its Japanese roots can be seen from the fact that Keith is adopted as heir — a very common Japanese practice, but virtually unheard of in post-Roman Europe. There are of course also things like tools, architecture details (despite ostensibly having "European" aesthetics) or even such silly things like desserts - all of which quite blatantly show its Japanese origin.
  • Red Garden is set in New York and does a good job of reflecting that, but a few bits of Japanese society leak through: people bow to each other, students have access to the roof of their school, the metric system gets used casually, etc.
  • Studio Ghibli's anime adaptation of Ronja the Robber's Daughter is set in medieval Sweden. And yet Mattis and his crew can sometimes be seen wearing what looks like Japanese "Oni" type masks.
  • Shootfighter Tekken has a Tournament Arc set in the US and falls into this trope hard, with the announcer denouncing modern problems such as high-school girls going out with older men for money. Not exactly as common in the US as it is in Japan.
  • In Soul Eater, it's implied that the school is located in Nevada in the US, since Spirit is the local Death Scythe of North America, and there aren't many other deserts that fit the bill (why the author didn't go with Death Valley, in California, is anyone's guess). Yet there are certainly a lot of Japanese cultural tropes at work, such as the bento lunches, students can go anywhere in the school (barring the underground Sealed Evil in a Can), group baths, etc. Soul Eater Not! states that Death City has its own culture independent of its surrounding, but Japanese culture is still represented disproportionately both with locals (like Maka) and characters from other countries.
  • Spy X Family is normally pretty good at avoiding Japanese cultural traits where they would differ in what appears to be central Europe, but the beginning of Chapter 26 shows test papers look exactly like Japanese ones, only in English, with a series of pre-printed multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questions with a score out of written on a space on the upper-right corner. In particular, Anya gets a score of 13 on a history test with the reader expected to understand this is a failing grade; tests done in western schools are not necessarily out of , and a score of 13 may be a passing grade (such as if it's out of 15). In addition, wrong answers are marked with a check; teachers in western schools instead most often use an "X" for a wrong answer while a check mark, if used at all, is for correct answers.

    Comic Books 

  • Frequently in U.S.-set comics of The Beano and The Dandy. For example, steering wheels are often portrayed on the right side of the car. The Mayor of Cactusville in Desperate Dan dresses like the Lord Mayor of London, complete with gold chain of office and tricorn hat. Even British mayors don't really dress like that, except on special occasions.
  • Judge Dredd occasionally shows people driving on the left side of the road in America (there is one part of America that drives on the left: The U.S. Virgin Islands, which drove that way before America bought them in and just never bothered switching). Also, background text tends to use U.K. spellings.
  • The Muppet Show Comic Book: On The Road has a brief reference to replacement comedian Mitch Wacky getting his gags from Christmas crackers; a UK and Commonwealth tradition that barely exist in the US, where the Muppets live. (Writer/artist Roger Langridge is British.)
  • El Libro Vaquero is an erotic Mexican graphic anthology of stories that take place in the American Wild West, and most of the characters are Americans. The problem is, most of the American characters act and behave like Mexicans and this was completely deliberate, according to the creators, as they didn't like the way how American creators of Wild West stories write them. Basically, the Wild West depicted in El Libro Vaquero is basically the Mexico from the same time period, with more romance and soft-core eroticism.
  • Neil Gaiman briefly but memorably flirts with this in The Sandman. In #7, the American John Dee calls Morpheus "a spittle-arsed, poxy pale wanker", which is a string of British-specific oaths. Dee's mother was English, but it's unlikely that any American-raised person would say this in the heat of passion.
  • There's a number of instances of British terms and phrases used in Top 10 despite the American setting of Neopolis. For instance, Neural 'Nette compares the Libra killer's Razor Floss to "candy floss", which any American would call "cotton candy." Oddly, this seems fairly unique to Top Ten — Alan Moore has written dozens of comics set in the US without running into this problem.
  • In an issue of Ultimate Avengers, War Machine tells the second Black Widow not to refer to their teammate Tyrone (the original Hulk) as an "African-American" since he comes from England. Widow responds by saying she's still not comfortable saying "black", and asks if she can just call him "African-English".
  • The comic book W.I.T.C.H. tends to hint it's set in America (currency, American flags, law enforcement with US-like uniforms and cars and, in one vacation town, being led by a sheriff). The problem is the human members of the cast act as generic Europeans (with a light leaning on how Italians act), and the traffic signs are obviously European.
  • In Wonder WomanVol 4 #50, a young boy in England whose father died of cancer is worried about how his mum would pay the medical bills. Nobody in the UK actually has this worry thanks to the NHS, which (usually) covers stuff like this. Britain does have private healthcare with higher out-of-pocket cost, but it's a choice rather than the default. One reviewer looked at this and a few other oddities in the storyline, and came to the conclusion that, in the DCU, Britain actually is a US state, where everything is exactly the same except they drive on the left.
  • In Werewolf by Night volume 2, Jack is shown to have a bidet in the bathroom of his small New York apartment. The issues were penciled by Leonardo Manco, an Argentine artist. In Argentina, bidets are a standard feature of homes but they are rare in North America.

    Films — Animated 

  • In Scooby-Doo! and the Loch Ness Monster, The Mystery Machine drives past a road sign for the A83 towards Loch Ness. The road number is right - but the sign is an American-style shield, not the road signs used in the UK.
  • While Belleville isn't explicitly referred to as being in America, it's an ocean away from France and clearly modeled after New York City. But it's a very French version of New York City. Aside from the name:
    • The chase scene at the climax of the film takes the characters through the kind of narrow, steep, cobblestone-paved streets you'd find all over old-world cities but never in America. (Not to mention the streets are nearly deserted at night. New York is called the "city that never sleeps" for a reason.)
    • The opening scene depicts a broadcast from Belleville, including a fully-topless Josephine Baker in her famous banana skirt. While Baker was born in America, she had moved to France decades before the era of television and had dropped that persona by the time she (very briefly) returned to the States. Not to mention that having a topless dancer on live television wouldn't be legal in the US today let alone in the black-and-white era.
    • Then there's the whole business with the frogs. It's probably not inconceivable that ponds with a healthy frog population exist somewhere near New York City, or that someone sufficiently poor might try to catch them for dinner, but well, you'd never expect to see it in a movie that wasn't made in France.
  • Overlapping with Misplaced Wildlife, Disney in general had a habit of sticking New World animals in their adaptations of Euripean fairytales, starting with the raccons and California quails in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. See that trope page for more.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Aquaman (): One of the water-breathing Atlanteans plunges his head into a toilet bowl to avoid asphyxiating. Toilet bowls in Europe aren't filled with as much water as in America, so he would likely not be able to completely submerge his head as shown.
  • The Avengers (): The German company being guarded by security officers complete with SMGs may be somewhat believable in an American setting, but in Germany, most private security firms would get into trouble issuing as much as tasers to their personnel.
  • Best of the Best: The South Korean Tae-Kwon-Do team cheered for their country as "Korea, Korea!", but "Korea" is an exonym. It should've been "Hanguk, Hanguk!" (Korea) or "Daehan Minguk!" (South Korea).
  • In the first Bridget Jones adaptation, American actress Renée Zellweger absolutely nails playing the very British lead character and does this so convincingly she could pass for a native. Except for the inserts where she is getting angsty about her weight and she panics that everyone is aware she's putting a little on. Suddenly and jarringly her weight is presented in the American manner, for no readily discernable reason. A Brit would never give her weight as a hundred and six pounds; this means bugger all if you're British. Nine stone two, on the other hand, does.
  • Deadpool (): After being diagnosed with cancer, Wade says that Vanessa is working on Plan A, Plan B and all the way to Plan Z, pronounced "zee". Being Canadian, he should have pronounced it "plan zed." However, Deadpool may have spent enough time in America to adapt his expressions, and many Canadians already pronounce it "zee", partially due to Eagleland Osmosis. What makes this doubly odd is that Ryan Reynolds, like Deadpool, is originally from Canada.
  • The British movie The Descent is set in North Carolina, but was filmed in Britain and has British flora, fauna, and vampire-like cave monsters typical of European folklore.
  • Geostorm shows a Chinese car with a thermometer showing temperature in Fahrenheit rather than Celsius.
  • The film adaptation of The Girl on the Train moved the setting from the suburbs of London to the suburbs of New York City, and changed little else. At least one critic noted that the very English names of some characters (like "Hipwell"), while not particularly unusual to the ears of British readers, can sound like Preppy Names to Americans even though the characters aren't supposed to be upper-class.
  • Gladiator:
    • Most characters have an anachronistic willing for democracy and speak of a return to Republican rule as a realistic alternative to the Empire, which is in turn painted like a purely monarchical institution. The Roman Senate is portrayed, likewise, as a much more powerful institution than it was and is free to take over after Commodus is killed, something that obviously didn't happen in reality.
    • Maximus's full name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, which is consistent with modern American (or generically Anglo-Saxon) naming conventions. However, in the Ancient Roman system "Maximus" was a cognomen, which was said last. So his name should be Decimus Meridius Maximus.
  • Godzilla (): Jean Reno's French secret service agent character travels to Tahiti to investigate Godzilla's recent attack on a freighter. Upon arrival he is hounded by members of the US Navy who demand to know who he is and what he is doing there, apparently unaware that Tahiti is an island in French Polynesia and that it should be him asking them those questions, not the other way around.
  • The Great Muppet Caper is pretty good about this. Yes, the take on London is a bit touristy, and all the Muppets who supposedly live there still have the same accents as they did on The Muppet Show (this also happens in The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island). And then Beauregard shows up driving the only yellow cab in the city. It's particularly confusing and distressing for Sam the Eagle, an in-universe moral guardian who is deeply patriotic toward America.

    Sam the Eagle: Mm, you will love business. It is the AMERICAN WAY!
    Gonzo: [whispers] Sam
    [whispers in Sam's ear]
    Sam the Eagle: Oh It is the BRITISH WAY!

  • In Mortdecai, the flashback scene showing Charlie, Johanna, and Alister at university clearly shows them in an American-style college dormitory of a type not really present in the UK, despite the fact that all three characters are British and therefore are (presumably) being educated at a UK institution.
  • Oscar Pistorious: Blade Runner Killer, the Lifetime Movie of the Week about the Reeva Steenkamp murder, has the trial lawyers pacing around the courtroom and talking to other people besides the judge. They didn't in real life, because South African trials have no jury.
  • Titanic (): When Rose asks Thomas Andrews where she may find Jack, he tells her to take the elevator, despite being an Irishman who would say lift. The next scene does feature a crewman correctly using "lifts." Then again, Andrews may have said "elevator" for Rose's benefit, since she's American.
  • Vantage Point:
    • It's set in Spain, yet the Secret Service (the U.S. President's bodyguards) are seen seizing cars from the locals, as well as chasing, arresting, and shooting them, even cops. Plenty of wars have started over much less. Such a policy was proposed in real life when the USSS asked Britain to allow its agents to shoot to kill when protecting the US president in the UK. The British said no.
    • The film's setting is an international summit, but it is presided over by the city's mayor (with no member of the Spanish national government apparently present), the President of the United States is the absolute star, and the public waves a zillion Spanish flags at him - but only Spanish flags, something much more reminiscent of Eagleland. This level of flag waving is generally looked down upon in Europe, unless it's the national football team playing. And the film's scene is excessive even for that. Plus, if they want to honor the POTUS and Spanish-American relations, shouldn't they be at least Spanish and American flags? And what about the other foreign representatives there? Does nobody care about them? It's painfully evident that the writer had in mind an American president giving a speech in the US and only painted a light coat of "but in Spain" over it. The cherry on top of the cake is that the original script was apparently set in Madrid and was written right after the train attacks, when the popularity of the American president in Spain couldn't be lower. The only reason the movie took place in Salamanca was because the studio felt that Madrid was not "exotic" enough.


  • The original Aladdin is often said to be set in China, as this was the most distant and magical land that most Arabs had heard of. The character's names, the genies, and so forth all seem Arabian, however. Almost every single character is a Muslim (except for one Jew), even though Muslims then — as now — made up a phenomenally small minority in China. note  A good argument can be made that Aladdin takes place in East Turkestan, a Muslim area which is today mostly in China (the famously restive Xinjiang province), or possibly somewhere a little farther west on the Silk Road, like Afghanistan or Samarkand.
  • The Alex Rider series of children's books subverts this this trope at one point. The British main character, who is undercover as a kid from the United States, uses language that is obviously not American and is chastised for breaking his cover. However, played straight for nearly every other scene set in the United States.
  • It's a minor point, but the American character in Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down refers to his apartment as a "bedsit", a very British term. It is set in England, so it's possible he just picked up the term, from his real estate agent or neighbours, perhaps.
  • Artemis Fowl and the Eternity Code has Chicago Police Officers referring to an elevator as a "lift". note  The term "lift" most definitely exists in America, but it tends to be used for simpler "open" or portable systems (not enclosed cars), like for moving equipment or the disabled a small amount.
  • Dan Brown's rulebook for writing foreign locales usually boils down to "America, but everything sucks and is deadly", when not pulling from the drawer of Dark Ages stereotypes.
    • Angels & Demons has a British camerawoman for the British Broadcasting Corporation referred to as "African American". Her partner is also allegedly British, but seems to think and speak using an awful lot of American terminology and in an Imagine Spot he likens himself to Dan Rather — who is almost totally unknown in Britain. Even if the reporter has heard of Rather, if he were really British he would have likened himself to Trevor McDonald.
    • Perhaps the most ridiculous, out of left field claim about Spain in Digital Fortress's many misrepresentations of Spain, is that cranberry juice is a very popular drink in the countrynote Dan Brown's way of making even this disgusting is to invent that Spaniards always take it with vodka, of all things. Not only is cranberry a crop mainly grown and consumed in the United States, but Spain is one of the few European countries where cranberry (or similar fruits) is neither grown nor consumed much. In fact the plant barely even grows in the wild there.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey is written by an English author but allegedly set in America. Despite this, there is no concession to the setting whatsoever.
    • People refer to "exams" (not "mid-terms" or "finals")
    • The very British "do go through" shows up.
    • Fifty Shades Freed:
      • It gets a bit funny in Chapter Nine, when one of Ana's bodyguards, realizing that someone has smashed a lot of furniture and knick-knacks in the hall outside the penthouse elevator, yells, "Code Blue!" In the U.K., that's a common general code for "Emergency!" In America, that's a common hospital code for "cardiopulmonary arrest".
      • Chapter Ten talks about the villain being "released from hospital". An American would be more likely to say "released from THE hospital". This mistake recurs throughout the book, too. Earlier in that chapter, a bodyguard says the villain will "have an aching skull when he wakes" instead of "when he wakes UP."
      • In Chapter Thirteen, Ana refers to Grey leading her from the ground floor of his Aspen mansion to the first floor. In the U.K., that would be correct. However, in America, the ground floor IS the first floor. Ana and Grey would be headed up to the second floor.
      • In Chapter Fourteen, Ana, her friend Kate Kavanagh, and Ana's sister-in-law Mia all refer to dancing as "throwing some shapes" &#; which is Irish slang that has penetrated Britain but is virtually unknown in America.
  • For Want of a Nail is an Alternate History by American author Robert Sobel that depicts the world after a failed American Revolution. The British government sets up their colonies as the Confederacy of North America, which possesses a parliamentary government. Nonetheless, later on in the book, articles of impeachment are drawn up against this system's equivalent of a Prime Minister despite the earlier confirmed existence of a vote of no confidence. note  Could technically still work, as these are two distinct things &#; a no-confidence vote merely forces a PM to step down; an impeachment, by contrast, is a legal trial presided over by a judge where conviction typically results in the accused being banned from ever holding public office again.
  • A minor example from the Iron Druid Chronicles: In Trapped, Atticus and Granuaile raid a sporting goods store for all manner of equipment, including guns and ammo. These are only sold in gun stores in Greece.
  • Older Than Steam: The Chinese Epic Journey to the West assumes that all countries have the same kind of governors and imperial courts as China and that all countries in the world recognize a monkey-faced being as looking like a thunder god (among many other We All Live In China examples).
  • Left Behind has references to "Captains" and "Lieutenants" at Scotland Yard — in the British police they would be "Chief Inspectors" and "Inspectors".
  • Moonrise by Sarah Crossan has the narrator, who lives in the U.S., spell the word "curb" with a K and an E—"kerb."
  • Pittsburgh Backyard and Garden, a short story by Wen Spencer set in the same world as her Tinker series, featured a Scottish naturalist reminiscing about how the platypus family in Mister Rogers' Neighborhood inspired him to become a biologist. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was never broadcast in the United Kingdom.
  • The British Saffy's Angel series has a recurring character who is a visiting Americanand who speaks in distinctly British slang.
  • The Sum of All Fears mentions that the Super Bowl will be broadcast in Spain "in five different dialects" - implying that the event has a following there far larger than it actually does. In reality, American football is so small in Spain that when mainstream news covers the event, they only talk about the musical numbers during the halftime show. That's right, the sport part of the sporting event goes unmentioned.
  • Tom Clancy's Op-Center: Balance of Power:
    • Aside from being actually Spexico, the Spain of the book has a government just like the US one, only with a king replacing the president. Spanish provincesnote Not even autonomous communities, the real life highest ranking subdivisions which go unmentioned are apparently as powerful as US states and have their own National Guards, and congressmen (read: deputies) have their own limos and drivers (in Real Life they don't).
    • Even though the book is supposedly about an ethnic war, there are actually no separate ethnicities in the world of the book: everyone speaks Spanish, has Hispanic names, lives more or less mixed together all over the country, has the same religion, and identifies with the same historical figures. The only basis for the groups and the reason they hate each other is skin color and social class, which sounds rather like
    • In the opening, an African-American agent poses as a born and bred Spaniard and nobody finds it unusual. In 90's Spain, black people were either a phenomenally small minority with recent origins in former colonies like Cuba and Equatorial Guinea, or new immigrants from Latin America and Africa.
  • The Night's Dawn Trilogy had a character who had served in the Australian Marines in The Vietnam War. Australia does not have a dedicated marine unit, just army and navy units trained in amphibious warfare.
  • Likewise Hannibal by Thomas Harris has an offhand reference to "an Australian quarter" — there's no cent coin in Australian currency.
  • "Rule Golden" by Damon Knight has a BBC news reporter say "In Commons today" But omitting the article like that is an Americanism; any real Brit would at least say "in the Commons", and a BBC announcer would more likely say "in the House of Commons", which after all takes only about half a second longer.

    Live-Action TV 

  • In an episode of Alias, Sydney and Vaughn waterboard an enemy in the toilet of an Ibiza nightclub's restroom. There is no way they could do this in a European toilet, as they use less water than American ones.
  • The Agency: During a mission in Spain, the field agents buy tapas in a brown paper bag, rather than white plastic with handles. There is also an AdaliaCansino Montes who is married to an Efron Montes, implying she added her husband's name to her own, but this isn't customary in Spain.
  • The A-Team also had a brown paper bag in Spain.
  • In the Bones episode "Mayhem on a Cross", Norwegian police are depicted as wearing what appears to be riot gear and guns, violently kicking in the door spurring a fight between policemen and musicians and concert goers. In reality, Norwegian police are typically unarmed and many policemen may only arm themselves in extreme situations, such as when approaching a suspect they know to be armed.
  • In Chernobyl, Craig Mazin wrote a scene where a Kind Hearted Cat Lover left extra pet food for his cat before committing suicide. The Russian consultant pointed that there was no market pet food in the Soviet Union, so it was changed to the character leaving extra plates with scraps.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • In Season 1's "Machismo", where the BAU helps the police of a small Mexican town find a serial killer targeting elderly women, the BAU realizes that the victims are the mothers of young women attacked by an unreported serial rapist when they notice that the surnames of the younger victims match the elderly women's maiden names. Problem: Maiden names don't exist in Mexico. Mexican women keep the same name until they die. Latino people usually have both their parents' last names (father's, then mother's) so it could still be recognized that way.
    • An important childhood event for Dr. Tara Lewis is that, while at a school in Germany, she had to correct everybody's pronunciation of her name since they automatically pronounced it wrong ("Terra"). In real life, the pronunciation she insists on is the one that would come natural to native German speakers. A German boy teased her by repeating the "wrong" pronunciation over and over, escalating to that boy beating up Tara's brother and painting a swastika onto her locker. The swastika would get a student onto the short list for being expelled, given that the symbol is outlawed and even scribbling it into one's own papers would get a student into trouble. Also, German schools don't have lockers, making the whole event appear to be scripted for a US school and then moved to Germany.
  • The international sequel, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, often got criticism from applying the original formula to foreign locales and appearing to give FBI agents an authority (or entitlement) in places they shouldn't have any. Foreigners also tended to follow American naming conventions, like Spaniards with a single surname and women who adopted their husband's name, or Russian women without the -a added after a surname ending in -ov.
  • CSI: NY: In the episode "Unfriendly Chat," Adam slacks at work by chatting with a French girl who is promptly murdered on camera. The only clue about where the murder took place is a TV in the background noting the temperature outside, so the team checks climate reports from all over the world to know what place had that temperature at the time. At no point do they notice that the temperature is in Fahrenheit, which is only used in the United States and four small island countries (the murder turns out to have happened in their own Manhattan). note Some American news sources geared towards jet-setters give weather reports for various world cities using Fahrenheit; they may or may not also give the metric equivalent that would actually be used in those places.
  • In the Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary special, the War Doctor sarcastically refers to his successors as "Sandshoes and Dicky-Bow", referring to Tenth's trainers and Eleventh's bow-tie. Steven Moffat was embarrassed to later learn that "sandshoes" for rubber soled shoes worn in primary school is a specifically Scottish thing - in England they're plimsolls.note Sandshoes is a common (if slightly old-fashioned) term in Australia, so it passed completely unnoticed there.
  • Heroes: A major element of the Irish arc in S2 involves gangsters robbing what is referred to repeatedly by Irish characters as a "sports book". This is an exclusively American phrase that is not used in any other form of English. Irish people would refer to such an establishment as a "betting shop" or "bookies". Also it is implied that it is a "dodgy" establishment that would be unwilling to seek police help, when in Ireland sports betting is a legal and entirely respectable business.
  • Lost: In one particular episode, a woman is on life support and her doctor says that she will be well looked after, the which the patient's sister comments that they can't pay for that. The issue: The hospital is in New South Wales, Australia, where Medicare (or the SIRA, given that it was the result of a car accident) would take care of the bills.
    • In a flashback, Claire uses the term "drapes" to refer to what Australians call curtains.
    • In another flashback, a policeman visiting a character himself as "officer". The correct term in Australia is "constable".
  • Played for comedy in The Office (US) when Andy refers to the South African singing group Ladysmith Black Mambazo as "Ladysmith African American Mambazo". The "black" in the group's name doesn't even refer to the race. It's a reference to the black ox, the "strongest farm animal" according to the group's founder.
  • Discussed on RuPaul's Drag RaceUK. The Vivienne was initially concerned that the other contestants would put on a show for the cameras and spout American drag slang ("Yaasss hunty!") that British queens don't actually say. To her relief, that didn't happen nearly as much as she feared.
  • USA High is about a school for Americans in Paris, but even the non-American characters speak American English (in silly versions of their own accents).
  • On World's Craziest Fools, a British show hosted by the American Mr. T, Mr. T is made to use British terms for things.


  • In the days when Cracked was a MAD knockoff, it ran a parody comic strip of Star Trek: Generations, including a take on the scene where Picard reminisces about his ancestors, where the joke is that the Discard family were all responsible for famous military defeats. However, they're all American military defeats. The Picards (and presumably the Discards) are French.


  • Done intentionally in the song "Breakfast in America" by the British band Supertramp to show the narrow worldview of the singer, who thinks people in Texas are so rich they probably have kippers for breakfast all the time.

    Mythology & Religion 

  • Heliand, an Old Saxon poem the 9th century AD, paraphrases the Biblical story of Jesus's birth, adding local flavors. So the shepherds would not care for sheep. They obviously care for horses. Steeds. Stallions. The Saxons at the time had only recently been Christianized, so the poem downplays the "meek" aspects in favor of the mighty.


  • The Mikado intentionally invokes this, as the Japan of the setting is meant as a satire of Victorian English society, separated by a thin layer of "exotic" Japanese paint over it.

    Video Games 

  • Black Mesa, which takes place in New Mexico, clearly employed a Brit as one of their asset creators:
    • The vending machines are stocked with Brand X versions of brand-name snacks specifically, British and European brands like Walker's, Malteasers, and (the British version of) Smarties. Even John "Totalbiscuit" Bain, a Brit himself, knew this was wrong and called it out when he recorded a playthrough of the game in its beta form. The digital readout on the machine itself says "Feeling peckish?" which is not an expression Americans use.
    • There's also a Chuckle Brothers mug in some of the offices.
  • The Crash Bandicoot series is ostensibly set in an Australian archipelago, but since the series was made by American company Naughty Dog, most of the characters speak with American accents and the locations are quite unusual for the setting.
  • In the Crazy Cars games, developed in France by Titus Software, all the races take place on American roads, but speeds are only given in kilometers per hour.
  • While Fate/Grand Order's home base Chaldea has employees and summoned heroes from all over the globe, they only ever celebrate Japanese holidays.
  • Granblue Fantasy takes place in a vaguely European setting, with many of its places and characters given western names. While there is a Japan-like country among the floating islands, and the vast amount of trading done implies some of the cast should be familiar with some concepts, there's still a few times when their knowledge is well over what one might expect. Everyone participates in White Day in March, two of the Dragon Knights go off to a hanami event in spring, New Years tends to follow Japanese customs (the main cast even gets special kimonos as an alternate skin), and the few private schools we've seen all match up to Japanese high school stereotypes.
  • The Grand Theft Auto series of games is, in theory, set in America, but is made by Scottish developer DMA Design/Rockstar North; Americans who play it can tell this is neither real America nor quite Hollywood America. A lot of place-names in San Andreas are thinly-disguised ones from Scottish cities, and there's even an exact replica of the Forth Rail Bridge. Rockstar are based in Edinburgh and Dundee, and evidently like their Creator Provincialism in-jokes.
    • The games frequently use the term "car park", which is commonly used in Britain but not in America, where "parking lot" or "parking garage" are much more likely to be heard. As of V, they seem to have caught on, however.
    • One of the trailers for Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony is done in the style of a celebrity news program. The (American) announcer refers to television as "the telly".
    • At certain points, the words "pedophile" and "pedo" can be heard pronounced with a long "e"; the pun in the name of the Speedophile jet ski only works with the British pronunciation. Likewise, in Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned, Johnny Klebitz's brother refers to Billy Grey in an e-mail as an "arsehole". "Asshole" would be the more American term.
    • In Grand Theft Auto V, the pop music station Non Stop Pop FM features tracks by Mis-Teeq, N Joi, Modjo, and All Saints (with the Updated Re-release including Bronski Beat, Moloko, Morcheeba, and Simply Red), all of whom were successful in the UK but fairly unknown in the US, despite the station being based in a pastiche of Los Angeles. It's also hosted by the thickly-accented English model/actress Cara Delevingne, though her case is admittedly justified; she came to America to pick up the newRighteous Slaughtergame early. (It might also explain the large number of British pop stars on the station.)
    • In Grand Theft Auto III and Liberty City Stories, The Yardies exist in the New York pastiche of Liberty City, despite being a primarily British criminal trope.
  • Fahrenheit and Heavy Rain are set in New York and Philadelphia, respectively, but were made by a French company, and there are a bunch of telling details — for example, both games feature apartments with the bath/shower and toilet in separate rooms, which is not unheard of in Europe but is never seen in America.
  • The arcade version of Ninja Gaiden, a Japanese game where you play a NINJA IN U.S.A. Signs with Engrish aside, some levels have random oil drums labeled "Esso Gus (sic)". While Esso is still a brand of gasoline around many parts of the world (including Japan), in America, it was replaced with Exxon in Also in Stage 2, where you are in New York City, the cars are driving on the left, as if in Japan.
  • While the ObsCure games are set in the United States, they were made by a French developer, and it shows.
    • Metric measurements are frequently used in place of American Customary Measurements, the parking lot has a large bike shed (most American schools have, at most, a small rack to park bicycles), dates are rendered in the form of "DD/MM" rather than the "MM/DD" format used in the U.S., British spellings are employed frequently, and a notice makes reference to the "Ministry of Health" (the U.S. equivalent is the Department of Health and Human Services). On top of that, one of the calendars still has the French names for the months of the year (octobre, janvier, avril), though that could just be something that the translators overlooked. If it weren't for the American flag in the gymnasium in the first game and the brief reference to Principal Friedman being born in Iowa, one might guess that the games took place in Quebec rather than the US.
    • Likewise, with the exception of the Friedmans (whose last name implies a German background), every single character who's not explicitly specified as being non-white (Mei and Jun) or otherwise foreign (Sven) has a last name from the British Isles, like Matthews, Thompson, Jones, Carter, Brookes, or Wilde. No corner of the US was exclusively settled by people from the British Isles; even those parts of the country with substantial levels of British heritage (like New England, Utah, and the Southeast) tend to have plenty of German, Dutch, Scandinavian, Italian, Polish, and other mainland European ancestry mixed in as well, especially in more recent years as people have moved across the US, and that's just the people who are visibly white. To British ears it probably wouldn't be out of the ordinary, but it certainly stands out to Americans.
    • One of the weapons available in the second game is a flashball gun, a less-lethal riot control weapon (though for the game's light-intolerant monsters, it is far deadlier) designed by a French company that is widely used by law enforcement and gendarmes in France and the rest of Europe, but is virtually unheard of with American law enforcement.
  • Onmy&#;ji has Christmas and Thanksgiving events despite their being Western holidays with the latter not celebrated anywhere outside America. The fact the game is set in Japan in theHeian period just makes it weirder. Subverted in that the developers aren't Westerners. Which makes it even more bizarre.
  • Pokémon:
    • Characters from Unova (based on New York), Kalos (France), Alola (Hawaii), and Galar (Great Britain) sometimes bow, most commonly the Pokémon Center nurses.
    • Bede from Pokémon Sword and Shield grew up in an orphanage. Unlike Japan, modern Britain doesn't have orphanages anymore.
  • Raccoon City in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is a supposed to be a modern Midwestern American city, but the size of the streets and presence of extensive alleys and shopping arcades are clear evidence that Raccoon was based on a contemporary Japanese city. For reference, many of the streets are blocked by a single longitudinal car across the road. In America, the only roads that narrow are called "back alleys", and you're not likely to see them outside of the downtown cores of larger older cities. Further games in the series that revisit Raccoon City, however, seem to retcon it to a more American layout.
  • SimCity:
    • There is a very mild &#; and entirely justified (though not Justified) &#; version of this by having the police be run and funded by the city government. On the one hand, this just isn't true in many places, where either the national (as in France) or state/provincial/what-have-you government (as in Germany) is responsible for the police. On the other hand, this is SimCity we're talking about. What national government? Simnation's, of course.
    • SimCity also has the city responsible for power plants and many other things that would in most American cities (and, more recently, in many non-American cities) be run by private companies or are municipal services. Admittedly, big plants are mostly in private hands.
  • While the The Sims series is generally good at avoiding this trope due to intentionally creating its own rules to apply within its universe and localized versions correcting slang terms to aptly fit their countries' own, there are occasional slip-ups that can stick out to non-American audiences:
    • Your sims can get fired one day without warning, often due to a bad work performance. In many places in Europe, firing doesn't happen that quickly, as there are many procedures to be made beforehand that ensures the firing is made for a legitimate reason, in neutral favor of both the employer and the employee.
    • Maternity leave is only for about an in-game week. This is alleviated a bit by a Sim's lifespan being much shorter than a real life person's, but even then it's considered outrageous in many other places in the world wherein paid maternity leave can be up to 4 months.
  • Sonic and the Black Knight has Sir Gawain, a knight, try to kill himself after being defeated by the lower-ranked Sonic. While Seppuku was common amongst samurai, honor suicides were something a knight was unlikely to do for various cultural and religious reasons.
  • The Story of Seasons games are apparently set in Europe or America, but the characters retain certain Japanese mannerisms such as bowing, a lot of the characters love Japanese foods, and some of the plants are native to Japan. The fact Muffy from Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life is having severe difficulties keeping a man due to being 30 is confusing in a western setting.
  • Having been made in the UK, all the cars in TimeSplitters: Future Perfect have their steering wheels on the right side. However, one of the missions takes place in Russia, where cars should have their steering wheels on the left side. note  It's actually fairly common to see right-hand-drive cars in the Russian Far East due to its proximity to Japan. Japanese import vehicles are easier to obtain (thus cheaper) and more reliable than domestic models. A move by Moscow to ban them led to protests.
  • In the PAL English version of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, released in the UK and Australia, Wailord's trophy mentions that it can dive down a distance over twice the height of Ben Nevis. Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles and well known in the UK, but almost unknown outside of it. The NTSC English release uses general terms for this trophy, which makes you wonder why the PAL writers didn't do the same.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X takes place in a human settlement on an alien planet. Despite the fact it is New Los Angeles and most characters are American, you can see weather in Celsius and characters bow to each other.


  • In one Cyanide & Happiness strip (written by Dave Mc Elfatrick, who is Irish), a kid asks the jock pestering him about who his favorite "footballer" is. Nothing wrong so farbut the next panel makes it clear they're talking about American football. In real life, American people talking about football players would just say "football players".
  • In one baseline arc Arthur, King of Time and Space strip, Lot of Orkney decides it's time to attack Arthur when he sees the first robin of spring. While some European robins (a completely different species to American robins) are known to spend the summer in Scandinavia and the winter in North Africa, across most of Europe, including the British Isles, they're non-migratory, and are a popular symbol of winter in the UK. The bird that heralds spring in Britain is the cuckoo.

    Web Original 

  • Parodied in Nyan~ Neko Sugar Girls. It supposedly takes place in Japan but they seem more like Japan-obsessed Americans. One character even almost accidentally refers to their country as America before doing a Last-Second Word Swap.
  • Carmilla the Series takes place at a fictional "Silas University" in Styria, Austria, which is basically portrayed as an extension of Canada (the show's country of origin), only with more Überwald tropes and Magic Realism laid on.
  • Sailor Nothing is supposedly set in Japan, but the characters constantly refer to American media and pop culture. Some of this is understandable, such as namedropping popular writers like Hunter S. Thompson. Others decidedly aren't, such as a character describing something as being the "NBC Mystery Movie of the Week".
  • In the Strong Bad Email "more armies", Strong Bad takes offence at the email sender leaving out the full stop in "Mr.", believing he is calling him "mere Strong Bad". However, this particular email sender is from Australia, where it is perfectly acceptable to leave out the full stop.

    Western Animation 

  • The Amazing World of Gumball is made in Europe, mostly London, but set in the United States &#; Elmore is eventually shown to occupy the space that is taken up in real life by Vallejo, California (the place where most of the show's photographic backgrounds come from). It's convincing enough that the majority of American viewers don't notice this, but several things slip by, mostly background details like cars sometimes driving on the left or signs using British word spellings. There are so many examples for this show that it actually has its own page.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy's Christmas Episode had the Kanker sisters play with Christmas crackers, a tradition common in Canada (where the show is made) but mostly unheard of in the U.S. (where the show is set).
  • Right near the beginning of A Goofy Movie, Max turns off the alarm on his clock. Though the movie is set in the United States, the clock uses a split-flap display popular in central Europe at the time rather than the strictly digital display on a screen that's the standard in the US. (The film was animated in Paris.)
  • Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi is about a real Japanese pop duo. Or so we're led to believe. The characters themselves say and do things easily identifiable with American culture as all the writers and animators are from North America. They attempt to remind the viewers that Ami and Yumi are from Japan by having them speak in Gratuitous Japanese, use chopsticks to eat, obsess over sushi, and spend yen (even though there doesn't seem to be any rate of conversion), but it doesn't go much deeper than that veneer.
  • A minor example happens in Justice League Unlimited: the Injustice League tries to rob a trainload of euros, but when we see some notes, they look more like American dollars.
  • Kaeloo: The English dub is made in Paris, France using British voice actors, and the characters are supposed to act like Americans. However, they do screw up at times, like saying "rubbish" instead of "trash".
  • Other than cultural references, Kappa Mikey falls into this headfirst with people getting fired and rehired constantly. In Japan, a job in a company is considered a lifetime occupation. Instead of being fired, you're usually just demoted, with further failure resulting in getting demoted even further in a manner that all but says "we'd like you to resign".
  • The Simpsons:
    • During a trip to the UK, Bart and Lisa visit a Candy Store, rather than a Sweet Shop.
    • Similarly when they go to Ireland they are arrested by the "police" instead of the Gardaí. While the American characters calling them "the police" out loud is acceptable (and not uncommon in Ireland anyway) the vehicles having POLICE written across them in big friendly letters is completely wrong.
  • An episode of The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries set in Australia featured a sign in miles rather than kilometres (Australia metricated in the lates, and usage of Imperial measurements is banned there), and a character with a thick "Australian" accent talking about putting something up in aluminum (not aluminium as any Australian would say).
  • Tarzan and Jane's London is mostly okay, but there's a few oddities like cars sometimes driving on the right, a low bridge which has a yellow-diamond warning sign on the lead up (but a British red-triangle sign on the bridge itself), and a poster saying "Visit the London Zoo" (a real poster might say "London Zoo" or just "the Zoo", but never both.)

Coca-Cola, sometimes war!


It is the American way!

Sam the Eagle plays the role of Scrooges headmaster, and is quite focused on America rather than Britain, Gonzo has to correct him on something, which then makes him say: "It is the British Way!"


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Film / Us

We are our own worst enemy.

"They look exactly like us. They think like us. They know where we are."

Adelaide Wilson

Us is a horror science fiction film written and directed by Jordan Peele, and his second cinematic production after 's Get Out.

Married couple Adelaide and Gabe Wilson (Lupita Nyong'o and Winston Duke) decide to take their children to a beach house to unplug and unwind with their family friends, the Tylers (Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker). Unfortunately, some uninvited guests come and turn the situation from serenity to chaos.

Previews:Trailer (preview), Super Bowl TV spot.

Us contains examples of:

  • The '80s: The prologue of the film is set in
  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: Really, the only things keeping the Tethered from escaping to the surface were a combination of their lack of motivation and an escalator that only goes down.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The scissors the Tethered use have unusually sharp points. Umbrae manages to pierce through a car window and windshield with one despite having the same teenage physique as Zora.
  • Adult Fear:
    • The fear of your daughter being traumatized and struck mute, the fear of your son wandering off on the beach
    • Fear of home intruders breaking into your house and harming your family.
  • Aerith and Bob: The tethered have names which are generally out of fashion to the s (Abraham, Umbrae, Dahlia, Nix, etc, most are named after Greek or Biblical characters). And then you have Dustin Ybarra's tethered: Brand.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: All in all, the Tethered wants your life, and so your house.
    • The Wilsons are intercepted by their Tethered in their summer cabin. Gabe refuses to surrender his cabin to the Tethered Wilsons, but he does start offering money, his car and yacht for them to go away.
    • The Tylers' doubles are able to break silently into their home. Dahlia even gets a chance to enjoy a taste of the Tylers' lifestyle in their luxurious mansion by putting on Kitty's lipstick.
  • The Alleged Car: Gabe's boat is older and prone to stalling out, far less impressive than he thinks it is. Its unreliability comes into play when Gabe is fighting Abraham.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: To younger viewers and non-Americans watching the film, it seems like the "Hands Across America" commercial in the prologue was some kind of Retraux throwback to charity drives in the s due to how impractical pulling that sort of thing off would be. Except that the drive was something that actually happened in real life.
  • Always Someone Better: The main dynamic between the middle-class Wilsons and the richer, but not happier, Tylers.
  • Ambiguous Ending: The Wilsons kill their doppelgangers and escape Santa Cruz alive and for the most part healthy. However, the audience and apparently Jason know that Adelaide is actually the doppelganger of the original Adelaide, who we knew the entire movie as Red. In response to Jason's glare, Adelaide just smiles. And the rest of the US seems to be in shambles as the final shot is of the countryside with a long line of doppelgangers holding hands, with smoke seen rising in the distance.
  • Ambiguously Evil:
    • With the reveal that Adelaide was actually the doppelganger all along, with Red being the original Adelaide who was forced by doppelganger Adelaide to live underground, we don't really know what is going on in Adelaide's mind at the end. As they drive away from Santa Cruz, Jason is seen glaring at Adelaide, implying that he learned the truth from Red after being taken underground. Adelaide just gives him a small smile then returns to driving the car. One presumes that she genuinely does love her family, but the fact remains that she still as a child replaced her real self then later killed her "real" self. And the cackle she gives after doing it
    • While some of the Tethered, including Red and her family, intend to kill their counterparts and whoever gets in their way, it's debatable whether all or even most of them are particularly violent by nature; the majority of the Tethered we seen onscreen do nothing but stand around as part of the Hands Across America-inspired chain, which could be their equivalent of a peaceful demonstration against the government.
  • Ambiguously Human: The Tethered; a group of red suit-wearing doppelgangers who live underground that are obsessed with killing and replacing their overworld/real counterpart. They are failed clones created by the government and they are spiritually connected to their originals.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Just how many of the Tethered are there. The ending reveals it is a lot, but as they are a government experiment, the scope is unlikely to have involved everyone. Then again
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Gabe shows shades of this when he gleefully shows off his new boat to the (unimpressed) family.
  • And I Must Scream: Generations of Tethered have lived their entire lives underground, unable to make any real choices for themselves as they are forced to mimic whatever the person they're a duplicate of is doing above ground without ever being able communicate their suffering.
  • Animal Motifs: Rabbits. There&#;s one on Zora&#;s shirt when Gabe is showing off his new boat, her green sweatshirt has the Vietnamese word for rabbit on it ("th&#;") and they're a staple food of the Tethered. Honest Trailers suggests that it might be a reference to the African folktales of the trickster Br'er Rabbit.
  • Anti-Villain: The Tethered are sentient beings who are sick of being stuck in abysmal conditions underground, and want to kill their counterparts so they can live outside the complex and stop being forced to mimic their actions. Depending on how sympathetic you are to them, both Adelaide and Red can be interpreted as this.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 0. Everywhere outside of America is implied to be fine, but everyone inside of America is being chased by evil replicas of themselves. The result is cities like Santa Cruz apparently left deserted. Also mitigated a little in that news stations are still on the air and several news helicopters can be seen at the very end, and the reason Santa Cruz is deserted is because it housed a massive facility full of Tethered and was a ground zero for the attack, so some cities are likely better off than others.
  • Arc Number: 11, which resembles two identical bodies. A variant, , also represents families of four.
  • Arc Words: "Find yourself."
  • Artistic License &#; Biology: The Tethered subsisted entirely on raw rabbits. It's not possible for humans to do so because rabbit meat is so exceptionally lean. Eating too much of it will lead to protein poisoning, which is also called "rabbit starvation" for good reason. This could be potentially handwaved for the Tethered, since they're artificial copies of humans who are shown to have greater resistance to injuries, though this still applies to Red, who is the original Adelaide with the same biology of other original humans.
  • Artificial Stupidity: An In-Universe example. Kitty is killed when she tries to get her digital assistant Ophelia to call the police, only for the stupid thing to start playing N.W.A's song "Fuck tha Police.&#;
  • Asshole Victims: Downplayed and a weird case of this, as the Tylers are only cantankerous within the family, and they're genuinely nice to the Wilsons.
  • As the Good Book Says The guy in the Boardwalk holds a sign reading "Jeremiah &#; And it is a scripture with quite the foreshadowing: "Therefore thus says the Lord, 'Behold I am bringing disaster and suffering on them which they will not be able to escape; though they cry to Me, I will not listen to them.'".
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Played with. Adelaide's Tethered succeeds in killing her original and escaping with her entire family still intact (if a bit bloodied), but how bad she really is is up for debate, since Adelaide&#;s doppelgänger is who we&#;ve been watching furiously defend her family for the entire film, having switched places with the real Adelaide when she was a child. And at this point, the majority of the United States population is probably dead by now because of the surprise scissor stabbings their Tethered inflicted to replace them.
  • Badass Family: The Wilsons, who manage to kill their Tethered counterparts.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Done twice in the fight between Gabe and Tex: at first, it seems that Dahlia, in overhearing the fight, "screams" in despair over the horror and the belief that Tex is being killed, and then begins to "laugh,&#; knowing full well what he's going to accomplish. Then, although by his cries of pain, we are led to believe that Gabe is on the losing end of the fight (especially after misfiring the flare gun). We then see him limp out as the living victor.
  • Batter Up!: Gabe attempts to intimidate the Tethered versions of his family with a baseball bat, only for his counterpart to end up with it.
  • Battle Couple: Despite how dangerous and surreal their situation is, Adelaide and Gabe will do whatever it takes to keep their children safe.
  • Bickering Couple, Peaceful Couple: Although, unlike Josh and Kitty, Adelaide and Gabe both become very violent to protect their children, they have an extremely peaceful relationship, while their wealthy friends, Josh and Kitty, are arguing in all their appearances.
  • Bilingual Bonus: At one point, Zora wears a shirt that says "th&#;" - "rabbit" in Vietnamese.
  • Beard of Evil: Gabe's Tethered counterpart has a much larger beard than Gabe himself.
  • Black Comedy: A lot of it, but a big moment would be when Kitty, bleeding out of her neck from getting stabbed, is crawling across the floor, and tries to get their voice-activated system to call the police, the system misunderstands and plays "Fuck tha Police" by NWA instead. She is killed moments later.
  • Bland-Name Product: The Tylers' smart home is managed by a digital assistant called Ophelia, which is as likely as an Amazon Echo/Alexa to misunderstand what you're saying.
  • Bloody Horror: This movie doesn't get its scares from its gore, but there's still plenty of blood, particularly when the Tylers are murdered.
  • Body-Count Competition: It's briefly brought up near the end of the second act when Zora thinks she has the lead against the Tethered, since she killed both the Tyler twins. Adelaide corrects her, since she finished off Nix. Jason chimes in that he killed Kitty's clone, before Gabe tops all of them by pointing out that he killed both Josh's clone and his own. By the end of the film, the Wilsons are literally and symbolically tied at two kills each.
  • Bookends: Adelaide whistles The Itsy Bitsy Spider right before she and her doppleganger meet for the first time as children. She whistles it again as Red right before "our" Adelaide strangles her to death as adults.
  • Bunnies for Cuteness: Subverted generally, as the rabbits are shown in deeply sinister circumstances. However, played straight at the end, when Jason is shown taking one of the rabbits with him and stroking it. Unless, of course, this is all a case of History Repeats.
  • Call-Back: To Peele's previous film Get Out (). At the Tylers' house Jason eats dry Froot Loops from a bowl just like Rose did in the former.
  • Cat Scare: The animatronic owl in the Hall of Mirrors. Both times. Viewers likely empathise with Adelaide when she smashes the damn thing off its perch.
  • Changeling Tale: Russell and Rayne Thomas never learn that their daughter was replaced by a doppelganger at some point in her life and raised her as normal.
  • Chain of People: The Tethered work to revive Hands Across America from the s as a means of a protest toward the United States government for their cruel treatment and incarceration of them.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Red and Adelaide's ballet, which rebounds at least once. A handy way for Adelaide to escape, the way in which Red showed the other Tethered she was special, and Red's preferred defence method when she reveals she's the real Adelaide.
  • Chekhov's Gag: The boat with the less-than-stellar engine Gabe buys, which he uses to kill Abraham.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Played with as Josh mentions the flare gun on his boat. When Gabe gets onto the boat with Tex chasing him, he finds the flare gun and attempts to shoot Tex with it. It just bounces off the doorway next to Tex, and Gabe is forced to beat him to death by hand.
  • Chekhov's News: A young Adelaide watches a "Hands Across America" commercial in the very first scene of the film. In the present, the Tethered's goals are to murder their surface selves and form a human chain stretching from the West to the East Coasts of the United States. In fact, it was Adelaide who suggested it; the commercial was among her last memories in the surface before she was forced to live underground.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Whenever they are face to face, Pluto always mimics Jason's movements. Jason uses this to his advantage when Pluto attempts to set the Wilsons' car on fire by walking backwards, forcing him into a nearby car fire where he perishes.
    • Invoked by Red, who forces Zora to try to outrun Umbrae, and Gabe has been unhappy with Zora's refusal to practice running earlier.
    • Ballet, which gives Adelaide aka real Red the flexibility to escape after Red forces her to handcuff herself to the table.
    • Red is the only Tethered that can speak. Because she was raised in the real world and was taught to speak.
  • Cloning Blues: The Tethered are not happy about being discarded copies.
  • Comically Missing the Point: After hearing Red's Motive Rant, Gabe is under the impression that the Tethered want their money or property.
  • Confronting Your Imposter: Inverted with the Tethered, who decide to go after the originals. Except Red, who is the real Adelaide who was replaced by her copy. And played straight in that all the Wilson family copies are killed by the originals - see Killing Your Alternate Self, below.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: At the end, Red comments the whole mess could have been avoided and they could have been sisters if Adelaide chose to come with her to meet her parents instead of knocking her out and switching places with her.
  • Creepy Ballet: It is revealed that Adelaide's doppelganger was able to copy her performance of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy when they were children, and their deadly fight is intercut with flashbacks to the ballet.
  • Creepy Child: Pluto and Umbrae, the Tethered versions of Jason and Zora. We also see a younger version of Red, Adelaide's doppelganger, in the movie's first scene.
  • Creepy Twins: Io and Nix, the Tethered versions of Becca and Lindsey.
  • Creepy Shadowed Undereyes: Umbrae has them, which she accentuates by turning toward the camera while sporting these. Her mother, Red, and Kitty's Tethered, Dahlia have them too, but to a much lesser extent.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Red says that the above-ground Tethered did this by living happy lives. But it's much more literal in that this is literally what Adelaide did: she kidnapped her original and imprisoned her below-ground, thus leaving a Dark Messiah.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Gabe seems like your typical corny joke-telling and goofy dad, but he still manages to single-handedly kill both his and Josh's doppelgangers and ultimately survives the film. And with a broken knee, to boot.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The Tethered versions of Gabe (ripped apart by a motorboat's engine) and Zora (thrown at high speed from a braking car, which impales her into a tree and basically breaks her body in half).
  • Dance of Despair: Not Adelaide's, but Red's mirror dance in the underworld appears to be this, as one of the few organic expressions of her trauma at being switched with her Tethered, and it's the only way the Tethered can tell that she's "different".
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Adelaide was traumatized as a child by her encounter with her Tethered. As it turns out, her Tethered has one too; the one we see for most of the movie isn't the real Adelaide, who was switched with her Tethered in the hall of mirrors and went mad in the underground society.
  • Dark Messiah: Red to the Tethered, chosen because she is not a clone like them.
  • Dark Reprise: The trailer begins with a diegetic playing of Luniz' "I Got 5 on It." As it progresses, the song is substituted for a darker, string-led horror version. Both versions — the regular in the scene from the trailer and the Tylers' abandoned home, and the variant as Red and Adelaide duel — show up in the film proper.
  • Deadline News: When the Wilsons are at the Tylers' house after having defeated their Tethered, they turn the TV on to try to understand what's going on. There's live coverage of a Tethered attack downtown, and suddenly one of the Tethered comes out of nowhere and starts walking menacingly towards the camera, presumably manned by his "original." The scene switches from the TV feed to the Wilsons on the couch, with Adelaide turning the audio off so that her children won't hear the cameraman's screaming (though why she didn't just turn the TV off or change the channel is anyone's guess).
  • Death of a Child: Umbrae and Pluto are killed off quite gruesomely; Umbrae is thrown from a moving car, breaks her back hitting a tree, and dies slowly, while Pluto is burned alive. Becca and Lindsey are also killed in front of their parents. A teenage boy is also seen dead along with his parents when the family drives into town at dawn.
  • Daylight Horror: Several of the most horrifying scenes take place in sunshine.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: In , the attraction housing the hall of mirrors has a hokey Native American theme. By the modern day, it's been converted to an equally hokey but less culturally offensive "Merlin the wizard" theme.
  • Diabolus ex Nihilo: Who created the Tethered, what practical purpose they served, and why they were abandoned is not elaborated upon beyond Red claiming that they were meant to control their originals in some way and that it didn't work.
  • Dissonant Serenity: After the initial shock of battling the Tethered wears off, the Wilsons harden to the situation rather quickly with the exception of Adelaide herself who only gets more and more stressed in the film's second and third act with very good reason. The Tethered themselves also completely embody this trope.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Red's description of her life — no freedom, no joy, forced to marry a man she didn't love and bear children she didn't want — brings to mind the horrors of American slavery, such as forced marriage and forced breeding.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Us" both refers to the horrifying "Tethered," who look like replicas of the main characters, and the United States; at one point, Red says "We're Americans". Even the film's theme is titled "Anthem".
  • Dumb Blonde: Mrs. Tyler is set up to be this. Ironically, she comes the closest to actually keeping her family from getting killed by the Tethered.
  • Dumb Muscle: Abraham and Tex serve as this, slowly lumbering towards their targets without much in the way of strategy.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: The fact that Adelaide is a Tethered throws a lot of what Red says about Tethered being emotionless, soulless copies into doubt, as well as whether or not they're justified in wanting to replace their originals.
  • Evil Doppelgänger: The Wilsons have their own set. They then discover that many other people in America also have one.
  • Evil Feels Good: Deconstructed. While the Tethered seem to enjoy tormenting and killing their above-ground counterparts, this is because everything that feels "good" to them feels horrible to their Tethered, and vice versa.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Apart from the prologue and Adelaide's flashbacks, the film takes place over about 24 hours.
  • Facial Horror:
    • Jason's counterpart, Pluto, has burn scars that resemble the shape of the Wolfman mask that Jason wears.
    • Kitty's counterpart, Dahlia, slices her face with scissors to mimic Kitty's cosmetic surgery.
  • The Family That Slays Together: The Tethered versions of the Wilsons are set up to be this. Along with the Tylers. And possibly thousands, if not millions, of other Tethered.
  • Fantastic Racism: Adelaide views the Tethered with contempt, viewing them as nightmarish predators bent on killing their counterparts. Ironically, this segues to boomerang bigotry as the end reveals Adelaide as being a Tethered the entire time.
  • Fauxshadow: The storm in the opening, the Bible quotes, and Adelaide's speech about coincidences seem to imply a biblical or apocalyptic reason for the Tethered's arrival, helped by Red's speech about seeing God's purpose for her. Nope. Besides the "soul" explanation, it's purely science fiction, and the Tethered are the result of US government experimentation.
  • Fingerless Gloves: The above poster features one of the Tethered wearing a single glove that is fingerless and also lacks knuckles. In the movie, each of the Tethered also wears a single one of these gloves on their right hand.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Kitty asks Josh to turn off the second generator, which is unexpectedly switched on, and check if people are outside. The Tylers' Tethered versions show up not too long after and murder everybody.
  • Foreshadowing: Has its own page.
  • For Want of a Nail: Had Adelaide's father been watching her like he should have been instead of being engrossed in his carnival game, she wouldn't have wandered off, gone into the Fun House and been captured and replaced by her Tethered self, setting off a clone apocalypse across the entire country 30 years later.
  • Gilligan Cut: When Jason tells Adelaide and Gabe that there is a family outside on the driveway, Gabe doesn't believe him. Cut to the trio seeing the family on the driveway.
  • Golf Clubbing: Zora picks up a putter at the Tylers' home and uses it as her primary weapon of choice, most notably killing one of the Tyler twins' Tethered with it.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Surprisingly justified. The Tethered have "evil scars", because they've been abandoned, alone, and forced to perform various surgical processes on themselves, which is at least part of the reason they've gone mad. For instance, Kitty's Tethered, Dahlia, has intense "evil scars" on her face, but because she performed the operation on herself and had no choice but to take care of them the best she could.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: After over 30 years of being trapped underground and forced to mimic the movements of her double with no one to talk to the original Adelaide has lost much of her sanity. It's unclear if the Tethered have gone mad from the isolation, or if they were born wrong, or if they were actually happy before Red intervened. Or if they even are able to feel happy.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Some of the more gruesome deaths are not shown in detail, such as Abraham's death by boat motor or Zora's brutal beating of one of the Tethered Tyler twins.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Subverted. At one point instead of saying "kiss my ass" to his sister, Jason says "kiss my anus" instead. This weirds out Gabe and Zora (and makes Adelaide laugh in spite of herself) and Gabe says in this particular case, he would have actually preferred "kiss my ass."
  • Government Conspiracy: The US government was engaged in human cloning and mind-control experiments on the clones in a gargantuan facility beneath Santa Cruz, California, and likely elsewhere.
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • The person or people that created the Tethered, implied to be a government agency of some kind. They're long gone by the time the film begins, but their creation and abuse of the Tethered is what made the events of the film possible.
    • Equally, Red heavily implies that whoever created them did so with the purpose of controlling the entire world. It's just left ambiguous whether they succeeded. So the odds of that goal being noble seems extremely limited.
    • At the climax, Red mentions an encounter she had with "God" that inspired her to begin her crusade against non-Tethered. Assuming she wasn't speaking metaphorically, who or what this being might have been is never explained.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: The opening credits manage to make the sight of bunnies in cages very creepy.
  • Half-Human Hybrids: The children of Red and Abraham and Adelaide and Gabe are Human-Tethered hybrids.
  • Humble Goal: Played with. The Tethered's only goal after killing everybody is to stand across America a la Hands Across America. However, as this is the assertion of their whole identity, it may seem like a fairly humble thing to do after mass murders committed across the country.
  • Iconic Item: Jason is always shown with a mask modeled after the Wolfman. Gabe wields a bat. When attacked by the Tethered Gabe still has his bat while Adelaide wields a fireplace poker and gold handcuff chains, Zora wields a golf club and Jason has some sort of paperweight. On the opposite end, each of the Tethered seems to wield a pair of golden scissors along with their single glove.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: A few, mostly with the scissors brandished by the Tethered, though the fire pokers used by Adelaide's family also play a part.
  • Info Dump: Near the end, Red explains that the doppelgangers were all part of a failed government experiment to control the minds of the country's citizens, but the experiment failed, so they were left to languish underground.
  • Inspired by&#;: The central concept bears similarities to the popular works of Edgar Allan Poe:
    • William Wilson, in which the titular character is haunted by a doppelganger of the same name who torments him for his sins and speaks only in a whisper. After defeating him in a duel, Wilson's double finally speaks aloud, telling him: "In me didst thou exist&#;and in my death, see how utterly thou hast murdered thyself."
    • The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether - in which the inmates of an asylum subdue and replace the doctors, but are given away by their distracted and violent nature.
    • The Casket of Amontillado - in which the narrator tricks an enemy into descending below ground and chains and imprisons him there, leaving him for dead.
  • Invaded States of America: The United States is ravaged by Tethered clones created by the government running around stabbing US citizens with scissors.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: Adelaide (and Red) had an affinity for whistling "Itsy Bitsy Spider" as a child, and the last thing Red does before Adelaide offs her is attempt to weakly whistle the song again.
  • Jerkass: The Wilsons' so-called friends the Tylers are not a very sympathetic family. Kitty is very shallow and self-obsessed, blaming her children for being born at the wrong time for ruining what she thinks could have been her chance to be a movie star, Josh loves to flaunt his money in front of his friend Gabe and harasses Gabe for not being able to afford things as nice as him, both of the above don't really get along at all and are both alcoholics, and their Alpha Bitch twin daughters are both rather cruel, insulting young Jason despite being older teenagers. It means the audience probably won't feel too bad when their dopplegangers suddenly kill them.
  • Karma Houdini: Adelaide successfully managed to replace — and later, kill — her normal counterpart and faces no repercussions from it other than it being implied that Red tells Jason the truth before dying.
  • Key Under the Doormat: Abraham gains entry into the Wilson's house by finding a spare key hidden in a fake rock. That he knows where to find it is a clue that the Tethered and their counterparts have a kind of mental link.
  • Killing Your Alternate Self: The Tethered's whole plan. And the Wilsons end up killing their copies: Gabe turns on a boat engine on his, Zora brakes a car and throws her copy which hangs from the windshield away, Jason makes his walk into a fire, and Adelaide impales Red. Or is it the other way around
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Discussed a great deal.
    • The Tethered believe they're doing this by killing their originals, who have (up until this point) all had cosier, happy lives while the Tethered suffer for them. On the other hand, the originals didn't know they existed, but the plot is clearly much more allegorical about the parts of labor that aren't publicly seen.
    • Adelaide is a much more literal example of this. She's the real Red, and she got away by violently kidnapping, and swapping places with, the real Adelaide. She lived a happy years as Adelaide above ground before Red came back, leading a revolution that upended Adelaide's life. However, subverted in that Adelaide doesn't lose anybody personally - her husband and both her children survive, but everything she knows is gone.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The US Government created the Tethered in an attempt to mind control its citizens, only for the Tethered to develop free will themselves. They then proceeded to throw the Tethered into abysmal living conditions and forget about them, only for the Tethered to escape and overthrow the government in the process of claiming the lives they feel should be theirs.
  • Little Useless Gun: Gabe triumphantly pulls out a flare gun when facing Tex, Josh's doppelgangeronly for it to miss, bounce off the wall, and sputter to the ground uselessly.
  • Made of Iron
    • The Tethered are extremely resilient. Tex shrugs off a fire poker to the brain.
    • Gabe takes a good amount of damage throughout the film, managing to survive a slash to the head by Abraham, at least an injured knee, a brutal beating from both Abraham and Tex, and being thrown into the ocean by Abraham.
    • Adelaide manages to defeat Red after receiving several wounds, then track down Jason and make her way back to the surface.
  • Mama Bear: Played straight, then possibly deconstructed. Adelaide is willing to go to hell and back for her children and even for Gabe, but does she want to protect them or the life she stole from the original Adelaide over 30 years earlier?
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Zora's name means "dawn." Umbrae means "shadows."
    • Jason is a character from Greek myth who starts out as heroic but did questionable stuff later on.
      • Also, Jason is named after Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th, who was also once upon a time a sweet, strange boy who turned out to be a psychopathic killer after his death during a summer camp vacation, and whose mom kills to avenge and protect him.
    • Pluto is the Roman version of Hades, who has an unsavory reputation but is nicer than the rest of the pantheon. Pluto is also a dog from classic Disney cartoons, which is a fitting name for a boy who walks on all fours and growls like a dog.
    • Gabe is short for "Gabriel." The archangel Gabriel was one of the three angels who informed Abraham of the birth of his son. Abraham was also the father of the chosen people in the Hebrew Bible, while Abraham is Gabe's Tethered double.
    • Tex Watson was one of the members of the Manson Family, responsible for the Sharon Tate murders. The Family had wanted to use the murder to kickstart a war and take over America.
    • Dahlia can possibly refer to Elizabeth Short, nicknamed the Black Dahlia, who was murdered and bisected at the waist (fitting for the movie's theme of duality/doubles).
    • And Red is the color of blood. The fact that Adelaide has a less esoterically named Tethered than the rest of her family - or the rest of the Tethered altogether - may be a hint at The Reveal.
  • Mercy Lead: Red tells Zora to run, giving her an approximate thirty-second head start before allowing Umbrae to chase her.
  • Mirror Routine: There is a scene where Jason does this with his Tethered counterpart. This is later weaponized by Jason in a successful attempt to kill his double.
  • Mole Men: The Tethered count, as they were bred underground and are noticeably distinct from human beings.
  • Money Is Not Power: Gabe, thinking the Tethered are just burglars, tries to offer them money, his car, and yacht to leave them alone. Unfortunately, the Tethered don't care about these things. Gabe mentioning the ATM only makes Abraham scream for some reason. Abraham does however take Gabe's glasses.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The trailer opens with a bright and warm atmosphere of the Wilson family going on a fun vacation together. Then things take a dark, psychological turn when night falls and the family gets a good look at their antagonists.
    • In the middle of Kitty getting murdered by her Tethered, the stabbing victim desperately calls out to the Amazon Alexa Expy to call the police. It mishears this and instead plays the song "Fuck Tha Police" by N.W.A, ruining the mood for a moment. It's a moment of pitch-black comedy in the middle of an otherwise brutal and intense scene.
  • Moody Trailer Cover Song: Luniz's "I've Got 5 On It.&#; An instance of this trope where the original song appears in the film itself, along with the moody variant.
  • Motive Rant: Red gives a harrowing one to the Wilsons after the Tethered corner them in the living room. Red and her family had to live without freedom, love, or material comforts, knowing that another family just like theirs enjoyed all of those things. It eventually drove them insane.
  • Nature Versus Nurture: A key theme.
    • The Government Conspiracy believes that the Tethered cannot learn to be human and are doomed by nature to be only shadows of their original selves. However, the ending, which reveals the Adelaide we've spent the movie with was secretly her Tethered version and vice versa, leans heavily towards "nurture.&#; Despite being born underground, "Adelaide" is able to learn speech and attain her own agency when removed from those terrible conditions. Conversely, "Red" carries her childhood memories with her below ground and is able to both maintain the speech and self-awareness needed to inspire the revolution.
    • This is also shown in the Wilson children and their doppelgangers. All four of them are half-Tethered, but Zora and Jason turned out alright. Jason is considered a bit "weird,&#; but in ways that aren't too uncommon for a boy his age. By contrast, Umbrae and Pluto were raised among the Tethered by a bitter and vengeful mother who saw them as monsters, and they act accordingly.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: If you consider the original Adelaide to be more evil than the replacement, then Adelaide saved herself from a terrible situation but, in doing so, sent down a future cult leader who would return with the express goal of wiping out humanity.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: If you consider the replacement Adelaide to be more evil than the original, then the replacement Adelaide abandoned the original with the intention of taking over her life and so willingly surrendered her to a lifetime of torture. In this case, it may be Disproportionate Retribution but she's still giving a voice to the people she deliberately imprisoned.
  • Nightmare Face: All of the Tethered, but special mention goes to Pluto, Jason's double, who appears disfigured and burned.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: Adelaide finds a crayon picture Jason drew of the man with a bloody hand at the beach.
  • No Brows: The Tethered version of Zora lacks any eyebrows.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Happens several times in the movie.
  • Once More, with Clarity!:
    • The opening credits shot of the rabbits in the cages actually takes place underground. The rabbits are the Tethered's food resources.
    • Young Adelaide meeting her Tethered in the hall of mirrors is shown again at the end of the film. The extended scene reveals that during the 15 minutes she went missing, they switched places; the Tethered forced Adelaide underground and strapped her to a bed. She then went above and took her identity.
  • Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending: The Wilsons succeed in killing off their Tethered and drive an ambulance, but Jason (the son) is going to have to live with the fact that his mother was one of the Tethered all along (she defected) for the rest of his life and keep it a secret from her that he knows. Many more people in the United States are or will be dead after being offed by their Tethered clones with scissors and the only known survivors are those on aircraft such as the news helicopters seen at the end.
  • Opening Scroll: The film opens with three lines of text on a black screen, explaining the creepy real-life fact that there are thousands of miles of subterranean tunnels beneath the U.S., and that many of them have no publicly known purpose.
  • Our Souls Are Different: While the American government managed to clone the human body, they couldn't clone the souls of the people they were copying. Efforts to use this to control people failed, and the abandoned Tethered were doomed to imitate the actions of their above-ground doubles in the horrific and squalid conditions of their tunnels.
  • Papa Wolf: Despite being easy-going, Gabe will mess you up when push comes to shove. Just ask Abraham and Tex.
  • Parents as People:
    • The start of the trailer has Gabe singing along to one of the songs he loved when he was younger, except now that he's a parent and the song's about smoking weed, he can't play that anymore. Fortunately, Adelaide saves it a little when she's teaching the kids to keep rhythm.
    • Adelaide's own parents. From what little we see of them, her father is implied to be emotionally distant and an alcoholic and her mother is implied to be self-centered and bossy. They also spend most of their time arguing with each other and even while at the carnival, she is seen walking behind her parents instead of besides them. While later on the film, Adelaide expresses admiration for her mother, because it was really Red, who was saved from nothingness due to swapping lives with the real Adelaide, it's entirely possible that she still feels animosity towards them, particularly since it was their inattentiveness caused her to be abducted.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Gabe has to keep hitting the boat's engine to get it to work, and Abraham mindlessly does it after dragging Gabe aboard. As the two struggle, Gabe headbutts the engine and throws Abraham overboard just as it starts up, chopping him to pieces.
  • Police Are Useless: They certainly don't come around to help the Wilsons when they're dealing with a home invasion. Because they're dealing with dozens of others at the same time and are completely overwhelmed. At the amusement park, we see an empty police car and a dead cop on the ground.
  • Prim and Proper Bun: Zora wears her hair in one, and Adelaide did so as a child. Justified, as Zora is a track athlete and Adelaide was a dancer: buns keep one's hair out of the way when performing athletic feats or intricate dance moves.
  • Production Throwback: The iconic shot from Get Out, with Chris staring wide-eyed as thin streams of tears run down his face, is replicated in the poster and echoed by one of the shots in the trailer. It happens in the film proper with Red as she gives the Wilson family a fairy tale style Motive Rant that turns out to be a thinly-veiled metaphor for her hell growing up in the tunnels.
  • Protect This House: Adelaide and Gabe attempt to do this when doppelgängers invade the house. It fails, and they ultimately have to leave the house. Later on, Gabe suggests they do this with the Tylers' house. Adelaide shoots that suggestion down.
  • Psychic Link: Somehow the Tethered are "connected" spiritually to their other selves that causes them to imitate the life and actions of their other selves and know wherever they are no matter the distance between them. This plays into Red's motives, as she was forced to marry a "brute" and give birth to "monsters,&#; mimicking Adelaide's happiest moments as another torture for the hell she had to live through.
  • Psychopathic Womanchild: Red is extremely violent and childlike in her behavior. She has been trapped in underground facilities since she was a child and went insane.
  • Red Right Hand: Literally. All of the Tethered have scarred right hands, which they cover with a single glove. Adelaide, despite being a Tethered, lacks the scarring, suggesting it isn't natural.
  • Red Is Violent: The Tethered's combination of red clothes and golden scissors makes that pretty clear.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Tethered's uprising has shades of this. Red's Motive Rant has a lot of class rhetoric, and the massive human chain that the Tethered form is at least partially a political statement protesting their treatment by the government.
  • Rewatch Bonus: The film has lots of foreshadowing and themes of doubles that you might miss on the first viewing.
  • Rule of Cool: The Tethered all use fatally sharp, long scissors that can make loud knife-like sounds. These scissors are even more effective than typical pocket and kitchen knives as with just one stab they can swiftly go deep through a human neck and easily swing back up, making the human victim quickly perish (most knives don't work that way even after multiple jabs).
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • At some point a clock displays
    • The Tethered's weapon of choice are a pair of golden scissors. A symmetrical object made from two identical pieces bound together so they move in tandem. When held in hand point down the handles resemble two heads back to back, something illustrated in one of the posters. With which they intend to un-Tether themselves.
  • Safe Zone Hope Spot: Gabe believes this of the Tylers' house, but the Tethered seem to void and deconstruct this trope, if Adelaide is right when she says that, because the Tethered think like they do, they know where they will be, and therefore no place in America is safe.
  • Screaming Warrior: Adelaide turns into this over the course of the film, ferally yelling when finishing off her attackers; this is a sign that she's not quite alright.
  • Shear Menace: The Tethered's weapons of choice are golden scissors.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Gabe and Zora are left in the dust during the film's third act when Adelaide runs off to try and rescue Jason from Red.
  • Shout-Out:
    • C.H.U.D. is one of the VHS tapes on the shelf in the prologue. Pretty apt foreshadowing, with that movie dealing with underground entities rising up to attack people on the surface.
    • Adelaide's dad wins her a Thriller shirt in the opening. It's implied that Michael Jackson's red jumpsuit and single glove helped inspire the Tethered's ubiquitous outfit, and the "Thriller" music video also ends with the reveal that Michael was a monster the whole time, much like how Us ends with the reveal that Adelaide was a Tethered the whole time. Jason also wears a Wolfman mask throughout the film.
    • The Tethered's outfits also seem to take influence from slasher films of the 80s, with their solid jumpsuits evoking Michael Myers and their single brown leather gloves calling Freddy Krueger to mind. Young Adelaide may have known about these films and used them as inspiration for the costumes once she was switched with her Tethered and became Red, using imagery that scared her as a child in hopes of intimidating people once she returned to the surface.
    • Gabe mentions Home Alone when suggesting that they set up traps in the home they're staying at to fend off the Tethered.
    • There are multiple references to Funny Games (reportedly one of this film's biggest influences). The Wilsons like the Farbers/Schobers are a well-off family taking a vacation at their summer home. The home invasion of the Tethered family begins with the original family's patriarch getting his leg broken by weaponized sporting-equipment, and the Wilsons getting held hostage in the living room. Also, when Abraham plans to kill Gabe, he drives him out in his boat with a bag over his head, which also happens to a character in Funny Games. Finally, Zora wields a golf club as a Weapon of Choice for the latter portion of the film.
    • After Red reveals the Tethered's plan, she states, "Now it's our time, our time up there," referencing an iconic line from the Goonies. A copy of the Goonies can even be seen next to the VHS copy of C.H.U.D..
    • The dead bodies of the twins Becca and Lindsey are positioned like the bodies of the murdered twins in The Shining.
    • Also in the opening mention is made in passing of a film being shot at the boardwalk. This would be The Lost Boys, which was filmed in Santa Cruz in
    • The Tethered are forced to live their entire lives in terrible living conditions in overcrowded underground bunkers and ultimately start a revolution against those living above ground much like the workers in Metropolis.
    • According to the credits, the young couple playing rock-paper-scissor on the Boardwalk in are named Syd and Nancy. This is likely a reference to the movie Sid & Nancy (about Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen), which was released in
    • During the climax, Red says of the Tethered: "We're all mad down here." Bonus points for being surrounded by white rabbits when she says it.
  • Sickening "Crunch!": Adelaide breaking Red's neck via strangulation. And it is very loud.
  • Slashed Throat: How Kitty is ultimately dispatched.
  • Slasher Smile:
    • The Tethered version of Adelaide.
    • Likewise, the Tethered version of Zora spends every minute we see her smiling creepily.
    • The Tethered version of Kitty also sports one, especially after applying some lipstick.
  • The Speechless: The only Tethered shown to be capable of speech is Red and even she seems to have trouble with it. All the others speak animalistic howls and growls. This is because "Red" is the real Adelaide. Her strained speech is the result of permanent damage from being strangled by her clone and/or years of disuse.
  • Spoiler Title: A very mild example, but the soundtrack album contains a track titled "Death of Umbrae,&#; spoiling that Zora's Tethered counterpart dies at some point in the movie. Not that you'll even know who Umbrae is if you don't look at the cast list before viewing.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Nothing like "Good Vibrations" from The Beach Boys to play over a scene of the Tethered Tylers committing familicide. Shortly afterward, N.W.A's "Fuck tha Police" plays as our heroes kill the Tethered versions of the Tylers.
    • For some reason the docile "Les Fleurs" by Minnie Riperton plays during the end credits.
  • Surreal Horror: What else would you get when your family is attacked by violent, scissor wielding clones?
  • Symbolic Glass House: Although it's actually a rental home for their vacation, miserable rich family the Tylers are staying in a stylish all-windows house that juxtaposes with the protagonist Adelaide's mom's cozy house.
  • Systematic Villain Takedown: The Tethered are established early as the evil versions of each of the family members. At first, they attempt to separate the family and kill them one by one, but the family manages to regroup and turns this around by taking them out separately first over the course of the movie, with each Tethered being killed by their respective family members. Abraham is the first to go clubbed to death in a boat by Gabe. After running for their friend's house, they kill their tethered one by one as well, and in fleeing there, with Zora driving, she runs over Umbra. On their way out of town, Jason tricks Pluto into setting himself in fire, leaving the final fight in the Tethered's home base between the Big Bad Red and Adelaide.
  • Title Drop:
    • After the house invaders finally break into the house, Jason observes them and makes a startling revelation

      Jason: It&#;s us.

    • Later, Red drops the title again while telling Adelaide about their connection.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Adelaide is a Tethered and Red was the real Adelaide.
  • Tragic Monster:
    • All of the Tethered. They were abandoned by the government as a failed experiment and left underground, living in squalid conditions, carrying out a twisted form of their counterparts' lives with little choice, and eventually going insane. Arguably worse since even though Red said they're soulless, they're shown to be capable of emotion - Adelaide's doppelganger was able to adapt to life as her and having meaningful relationships, Tex and Dahlia show affection for each other, and Tex and Abraham even have some friendliness.
    • It turns out Red in particular was the original Adelaide, and the Adelaide we had been following the whole movie was the doppelganger. Red wants vengeance on Adelaide for taking everything from her.
  • Trailers Always Lie:
    • A sly example. There's a shot in the trailer of young Adelaide getting attacked by her double. The film makes allusions to Adelaide's PTSD after that incident, thus implying that the attack shown in the trailer was the cause of her disorder. It turns out that that scene wasn't just showing Adelaide getting attacked, but also replaced by her double.
    • One shot in the trailer shows Pluto walking out of the fire of a burning car, as though to say he's immune to fire. That footage is actually being played in reverse, in the movie proper, he's walking backwards into the fire, copying Jason's movements. This is what ultimately kills him.
  • Trap Is the Only Option: At one point, the Wilsons need to take the Tylers' car. When Adelaide goes back into the Tyler house to get the keyfob, it's not in the bowl where she knows it goes, it's sitting in the kitchen out on the previously bare counter, and the doppelganger who fell onto the coffee table is missing. Adelaide clearly knows something's up, but traveling on foot is too dangerous, so she grips her poker and just tries to grab the fob as fast as possible. Sure enough, the doppelganger is alive and was using the fob as bait.
  • Twist Ending: The Adelaide we have been following was actually born Tethered, and replaced the original at the fun house in
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Adelaide or rather her doppelganger, only wanted to be free above ground rather than live in hellish conditions underground. She swaps place with the "original" Adelaide, and takes her place. Original Adelaide, furious at everything that had been taken from her and the new hell she was living in, rallies all of the Tethered living underground together, and causes them all to rise up from below and find and kill their "real" counterparts all across America. Adelaide couldn't have possibly known how much would happen from that one action.
  • Vapor Trail: Played with. When the family encounters Pluto in the middle of the street, Adelaide leaves the car and tries to reason with him, at which point Jason senses a trap and gets Gabe and Zora to evacuate the car. It's at this point that we see a thick fuel trail between the car and Pluto, who's holding a match. While most examples of this trope involve malfunctioning cars spewing fuel, the Wilsons' car runs fine, and it's implied that the trail was Pluto's doing.
  • Virtual Assistant Blunder: When Kitty is attacked by the Tethered, she calls for her digital assistant, "Ophelia", to call the police. The device plays "Fuck Tha Police" by N.W.A.
  • Wham Line:
    • Jason asking &#;How many of everyone is there gonna be?&#; after finding out they are not the only ones with Tethered doubles.
    • Red telling Adelaide that she could have taken her with her that night on the beach.
  • Wham Shot:
    • When the Tylers are killed, not by Red and her family as expected, but by doppelgangers of themselves. This is the first indication that the horror extends beyond the immediate protagonists.
    • The final flashback, as Adelaide remembers strangling the original Adelaide and imprisoning her underground so she could escape and live her life.
    • The line of Tethered holding hands across the country that ends the movie.
  • What Are Records?: When Gabe and Adelaide are arguing on if they should put out some Home Alone-esque traps to stop the other beings, with her saying that Micro Machines aren't going to get rid of them, Jason (understandably) doesn't know what are Micro Machines and Zora doesn't know what Home Alone is.
  • With My Hands Tied: One of the first things Red does to Adelaide is handcuff her. Thus she spends the rest of the movie with severely impaired hand mobility (while still being able to kill Nix, with her own scissors nonetheless!), which only ends as she kills Red and takes the key from her. And the flashback revealing Adelaide is the Tethered shows that it was retaliation, as Red handcuffed Adelaide to a bed before leaving to steal her identity.
  • White Shirt of Death: Adelaide wears a white shirt and hoodie when the Tethered invade, which gets progressively blood-soaked as the film goes on, foreshadowing that she is a Tethered.
  • Women Are Wiser: Along with Red leading the Tethered attack and Adelaide being forced to step up for the protection of her family, all the dads do sillier things than their wives.
  • The Worf Barrage: Justified with Zora and Jason, played straight with Gabe. Zora and Jason survive their encounters with their Tethered, and Zora's is an extremely vicious killer and very fast. However, this makes at least some sense because Zora and Jason are half-Tethered. Gabe, however, is cornered by Tex, Tethered Josh, with a broken leg, and somehow manages to get the upper hand on him and kill him, despite the fact that Tex apparently has the ability to pull a fire poker out of his brain.
  • Would Hurt a Child: We see one boy's corpse had its neck severed and he perished, confirming that even children are being killed by the Tethered!
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Zigzagged with Adelaide. While she did kill one of the Tethered Tyler twins (albeit in self-defense), she couldn't bring herself to finish off a dying Umbrae (who was critically injured after Zora violently threw her off of the car) and tried to reason with Pluto not to harm them (who ultimately died by inadvertently backing into the fire he started by mimicking Jason's actions). She even said a few Little Nos as he was doing it.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: When the Tethered first break into the house, Gabe immediately tries to offer them money, his boat, etc. Notably, he still does this even after Red makes it very clear that it is not a regular home invasion.

"Be careful."


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