10 Movie Clichés to Drive a Sane Person Crazy

We all have them. Pet peeves that drive us crazy. When it comes to movie clichés, some warrant a special place in the storytelling dungeon. Here are ten of the worst.
on Sep 12, 2017 · 3 comments

We all have them. Pet peeves that drive us crazy, ranging from eye-roll status to hair-pulling territory. At times, they drive us to the ice cream bowl or cookie jar to cope with the stress.

Which can be a good or a bad thing. ?

I read a fun post by my writing friend Nadine Brandes, in which she talked about pet peeves in books. I enjoyed it so much it inspired me to write a sort of companion post about annoying clichés in movies.

Note: I’m going to pick on sci-fi and fantasy type movies.

Painfully Annoying Movie Clichés

1. Excessive Fight Scenes

*cough* first-scene-of-Agent-Carter-season-two *cough*. Also, every fight scene in a Jason Bourne movie. Ever.

Let’s not get started on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Or Arrow. 

Yeah it looks cool, but do we really need to see people smashing each other into walls and over tables for two minutes? Or five? Don’t know what vegetables they eat, but shouldn’t they be unconscious after the first thirty seconds?

2. The Terrible Shooting Skills of the Bad Guys

Almost as bad as the excessive fight scenes. Seriously, did NONE of these people ever learn how to aim? And if they didn’t, why in the world does the villain use them? The convenience of such terrible marksmanship is worthy of causing hives in sensitive viewers. You’ve been warned. 😉

3. The Utter Uselessness of the Police Force

Common in superhero movies, where it makes at least some sense. I mean, we all know the cops are inferior to the Avengers. But still, can’t they ever do anything right?

4. Impossible Survivals by Ordinary People

I get it. Our culture feasts on the thrill, the adrenaline rush. But not every character is an indestructible superhero. The car flips across the parking lot, and the person still gets up and walks away. I know eating your Wheaties is important, but come on.

5. World-ending Destruction


Sooo old. Sooo predictable. Commence internal weeping. Don’t get me wrong—I love sci-fi and fantasy, which are often most culpable. But if anyone’s listening, please come up with a new twist, a different motivation, a unique end goal.

After all, how many times can the world be nearly destroyed?

6. The Need to Make Everything Bigger and More Explosive

Schemes that put the entire world at risk. Explosions. Chase scenes that seem bent on going on…and on…and on. Again common in sci-fi and fantasy, this formula is a nasty plague that needs to die. Not every movie needs to be louder and more impressive than the last.

Looking at you, Hobbit Trilogy.

7. Overuse of CGI

CGI can do incredible things. Too often, though, it becomes a crutch, an excuse to make everything too flashy. And unnecessary flashiness = GRRRR! Let the storytelling shine, not the fancy tech skills.

8. Overly Protective Heroes

This one is difficult, because at one level, you’re like, “Okay, tell the person already and stop lying to protect them.” Yet the desire to protect those we love is universal. I just wish these situations were handled in a way that added twists to make them less predictable. Because we know how it goes:

Hero keeps secrets. Eventually people find out. Much emotion and drama (melodrama?) follow. Wash, rinse, repeat.

9. Slow-motion Henchmen

I’ve noticed this a lot. The hero is fighting off a swarm of the villain’s men, who, despite their elite training and supposedly kick-butt skills, flail helplessly at the hero. Forget combat etiquette. Why not rush the guy all at once instead of conveniently taking turns?

Unless we’re talking amazing superpowers on the part of the hero, the henchmen shouldn’t look like amateurs wading through waist-deep molasses.

10. The Chosen One

As a fantasy fanatic, this one hurts, but it also makes me want to cry a river of anguished tears and binge-eat chocolate.

Too many repeats. Too many rip-offs. Watchwords like “destiny” and “calling” are prove to induce pangs of annoyance. It’s waaaay too popular in movies for characters to discover (or be told) that they’ve been chosen for greatness. Or destined for some future.

How about we try something new for a change?

What are some movie clichés that make you cringe?

*This post appeared in original form at zacharytotah.com in February 2016*

Zachary Totah writes speculative fiction stories. This allows him to roam through his imagination, where he has illegal amounts of fun creating worlds and characters to populate them. When not working on stories or wading through schoolwork, he enjoys playing sports, hanging out with his family and friends, watching movies, and reading. He lives in Colorado and doesn't drink coffee. He loves connecting with other readers and writers. Find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, Goodreads, and at his website.
  1. Nicholas Tieman says:

    Subversions that aren’t.

    I saw a trailer for Suburbicon last night and thought, well OF COURSE the white suburbs are a thin veneer over a festering swamp of hypocrisy and hate. That’s not a twist at this point. That’s practically an anti-twist. What would be REALLY surprising is if the criminal element turned out to be a true anomaly and the moral immune system of the community managed to rally against it.

    • Nicholas Tieman says:

      Likewise, damsels in distress. I was watching a show with my children in which a princess rescues a knight. He’s never actually seen a knight rescue a princess, and at the rate things are going, might not ever see that. I don’t want victims allotted by sex, but it’s not really a subversion when you’re doing the same thing as everybody else, to the point where the thing you’re subverting isn’t even available on the modern market.


      • You know what would be really CRAZY? A princess willing to go along with an arranged marriage, because she didn’t live in a cultural void and actually absorbed the ideas and attitudes of those around her.

        A princess who–amazingly–did not have mad martial arts skills she somehow attained in 14th century Europe sans mentor. Who did not have notions of marrying for “love” (or more accurately some warm gooey feeling) which she had pulled out of thin air though she had never watched a Disney Renaissance film and couldn’t get the Hallmark channel from her tower.

        A 15 year old girl who had grown up isolated and overprotected and was actually capable of experiencing crippling fear and agoraphobia outside the castle walls.

        And despite weighing 90 pounds (with no magical powers or MacGuffin) she could NOT easily wallop three burly men.

        New films teach great life lessons for young girls: You don’t have to exercise prudence to protect yourself against ruffians. And winning will come automatically just because you’re a girl. SMH

        Actually if a strong-independent-shero is required there’s nothing wrong with a peasant. For example, Joan of Arc was not royalty. But that would sell a way lot less merch due to a peasant’s lack of bling.

        The recent lack of heroes mentioned by Nicholas is very disconcerting as well. Nearly all male characters are incompetent, evil, or both. Flat caricatures.

What do you think?