Movie Clichés: Not Quite Dead

Movie Clichés: Not Quite Dead

You know that moment when the movie lies to you saying someone died only to bring them back to life five minutes later? Don't you hate that? This is my article going over the cliche that annoys me perhaps the most.

There are a lot of movie cliches out there. Some cliches are awesome, like the final showdown between the good guy and the bad guy, exploding cars, slow-mo, etc. Some annoy us. To me one of the worst offenders than even some of the best movies have is this "Not Quite Dead" cliche. This cliche is when the movie lies to the audience, using sad music, fraudulent cutting of shots, and dialogue and tears from other characters to tell you that someone is dead. Then the movie shows the character alive again within five minutes after your moment grieving, making you feel like an idiot for actually believing that the movie was brave enough to kill off the main character.

The Avengers performs this horrible cliche in its most simplified form. It happened so quickly and it happens so often "you may not even notice it... but your brain did." Iron Man carries the bomb through the portal and wipes out the mother ship. As a result, the chitari deactivate and Iron Man falls back down to Earth. The Hulk catches him in mid air and rips open his mask. Oh no! Iron Man's dead. He won't wake up! Shoot! How are they going to make Iron Man 3 without him?

But then the Hulk yells at him, he wakes up and everyone's all happy. Let's go get some shawarma.

You knew he wasn't going to die. I knew he wasn't going to die. So why have the tears, the sad music, the wasted five seconds of my life being forced to think that someone's dead when I know darn well he's not? The movie is lying to you just to cheaply invoke an emotional response. It's cheap. It's easy. It's stupid.

The Avengers wasn't even that bad. The Hulk yelling and then Iron Man gasping, "What the hell?" are great bits. Comedy tends to lessen the annoyance invoked by this "mostly dead" cliche.

The worst in recent memory of this is The Dark Knight Rises Unlike Iron Man who everyone knew had to come back and wasn't dead, this movie makes a HUGE deal out of Batman's sacrifice. The way he "dies" should be an absolute confirmation of death... unless you're in a fridge. Apparently the Bat was lead lined. The fact is we see Batman in the cockpit the shot before the nuke goes off. Catwoman tries to stop him from killing himself. They make several points that the autopilot doesn't work. Alfred cries at Bruce's grave! It's the perfect bitter sweet ending. Batman makes the ultimate sacrifice for the city.


Bruce Wayne is sight seeing with Selina Kyle... why?! Why bring him back? This is the end of the "Dark Knight Legend." There's no need to keep him alive. His fake death makes no sense. Essentially the movie lies to you. It uses dialogue, music, and editing to tell you that Batman is undeniably dead only to tell you later that he's not. It's a cheap gimmick

Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon appears to be dead before gasping back to life. Ash dies only to be resurrected by Pokemon tears. Jason Bourne gets "shot" only to start paddling later at the end of Bourne Ultimatum. Thor gets bitch slapped to death only to come back.

My problem is not in the pattern of death and coming back to life in itself. But how big of a deal the movie makes out of the death that isn't permanent.

The ultimate problem with this is that it indicates either bad writing, bad directing, or cowardice on both accounts. Like I said before, it's a cheap way of invoking tears from the audience that often fails to work because we're so use to the cliche that we know they aren't really dead. It could also be a coward's way of "killing off a character" without actually doing it. I would have given mad props to Nolan if he actually killed off Bruce Wayne. When a main character dies and the death remains permanent, that takes guts. When a main character "dies" temporarily, it pisses me off.

Does this bother anyone else? Has anyone else noticed this? Also, what is your most hated cliche? Comment below and thanks for reading
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Member Since 11/5/2010
Filed Under "Fan Fic" 12/4/2012
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