Pulp Fiction (Film) - TV Tropes

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Film / Pulp Fiction

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Honey Bunny: I love you, Pumpkin.
Pumpkin: I love you, Honey Bunny... [both pull out their guns] Everybody, be cool, this is a robbery!
Honey Bunny: Any of you fucking pricks move, and I'll execute every motherfucking last one of you!
(cue Misirlou)

Pulp Fiction is a darkly humorous 1994 crime drama told in the Quentin Tarantino trademark nonlinear fashion. It covers three stories, all interconnected.

The first is about two hitmen, Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta), who are out to retrieve a briefcase stolen from their employer, Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). This leads into two subplots, one about Vincent being ordered to also take Marsellus's wife Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) out for a night on the town while Wallace is out of town doing business, and another about Jules and Vincent accidentally shooting a guy named Marvin in the face and trying to clean it up.

The second is about an aging boxer named Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) who is paid by Wallace to throw a fight. Instead, Butch bets on himself and wins (the other boxer drops dead of a heart attack during the fight in the process), making swift plans to leave the country straight after. But before he can do this, he has to recover a certain gold watch that belonged to his father, which promptly leads into the weirdest day of his life, involving Marsellus and a pair of seriously nasty hillbillies.


The third story, which bookends the film, is about a pair of robbers called Pumpkin and Honey Bunny (Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer) who spontaneously hold up a restaurant — a restaurant that Jules and Vincent are eating in.

Known for its rich, eclectic, pop-culture-laden dialogue, and mix of humour and over-the-top violence, Pulp Fiction is known as one of the best, most iconic films to come out of The '90s, and was thus included on Time Magazine's 2005 list of their 100 Timeless and Essential Movies. The film is also significant in launching (or at least cementing) the careers of Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, and Tarantino himself, as well as the second (and usually more highly-regarded) stage of John Travolta's career. Also somewhat infamous for the controversy over proper writing credits. The Gold Watch chapter originated as an original script by Roger Avary. Tarantino bought the script with the intention of adapting it, as one would do a novel. In the final credits, Avary is given a "story by" listing.


Other actors in the All-Star Cast include Harvey Keitel as the Wolf, a crime-scene cleanup specialist; Eric Stoltz as Lance, a drug dealer who helps out Vince in a moment of crisis; Rosanna Arquette as Jody, Lance's girlfriend with a fondness for body piercings; Christopher Walken as Captain Koons, who went to a lot of trouble to deliver a family heirloom to young Butch; and Frank Whaley as Brett, a young punk who tries to double-cross Marsellus.

Not to be confused with actual Pulp Fiction as a genre (which was what influenced the film), which is found under Pulp Magazine.

Tropes, muthafucka! Do you list them?!:

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    A to C 
  • The '50s: Jack Rabbit Slim's is heavily inspired by The Theme Park Version of this.
  • Actor Allusion: We've certainly seen John Travolta dancing in a couple of movies... (Saturday Night Fever, Grease) ... as well as winning a dancing contest prize he didn't entirely deserve.
    • Several years earlier, Samuel L. Jackson was instigating an armed robbery at a restaurant.
  • Adult Fear: Drug overdose. Or on the flip-side, getting sub-par medical treatment that could easily kill you with a single slip.
  • Affably Evil:
    • Jules and Vincent.
    • Winston Wolf, a dapper, elegant gentleman with excellent manners who will dispose of dead bodies to "solve problems" — possibly the nicest thing he does for a living.
  • Afro Asskicker: Jheri Curl flavor.
  • Agonizing Stomach Wound: Marcellus Wallace intentionally shoots his former captor in the stomach with a shotgun so as to prolong his victim's agony (assisted by a pair of pliers and a blowtorch.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Vincent himself in the end.
  • Alliterative Name:
    • Vincent Vega, continuing the legacy of Vic Vega.
    • Also, Winston Wolf.
  • All There in the Script:
    • According to the script, the briefcase contained diamonds. Tarantino felt this was too similar to the plot of Reservoir Dogs, and left it ambiguous.
    • The screenplays reveal that Maynard and Zed are brothers.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Butch and Marsellus awaken Bound and Gagged in the pawnshop's basement, being at the mercy of deranged Zed and the Gimp.
  • Anachronic Order: Quentin Tarantino's trademark style of storytelling. Here's how the film would play in chronological order:
    1. Prelude to "The Gold Watch" (Captain Koons talks to young Butch)
    2. Prelude to "The Bonnie Situation" (Jules and Vince discuss Europe and foot massages, then kill Brett and retrieve the case)
    3. "The Bonnie Situation"
    4. Prologue—The Diner (Pumpkin and Honey-Bunny discuss the robbery)
    5. Epilogue—The Diner (standoff between the robbers and Jules/Vince)
    6. Prelude to "Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace's Wife" (Marsellus instructs Butch to throw the fight and Butch has a minor confrontation with Vince)
    7. "Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace's Wife"
    8. Prelude to "The Gold Watch" (Butch and his French girlfriend talk about pot bellies)
    9. "The Gold Watch".
  • An Aesop: Redemption. Jules is a sadistic murderer, but he redeems himself by sparing the robbers and resolving to live a more spiritual life. Butch breaks his word and kills a man by accident, but he redeems himself by living up to the example of "the gold watch" and refusing to leave Marsellus at the rapists' mercy. Both get happy endings. Vincent, who scoffs at Jules's redemption, does not change his ways and does not get a happy ending.
  • And Starring: Bruce Willis gets the "and" credit, as the poster displays. He was the biggest star at the time and took a pay cut to appear in the film.
  • Anti-Hero:
    • Butch, Pragmatic Anti-Hero
    • Vincent & Jules are Villain Protagonists or Nominal Heroes, but Jules acquires shades of a Disney or Pragmatic near the end.
  • As Himself: Kathy Griffin is cast as herself. She's the red-haired woman who witnesses the crash Butch and Marsellus are involved in.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety:
    • Vincent shooting Marvin in the face is an example of "don't point guns at things you don't want dead" and "keep your finger off the trigger". Justified, as he was a). almost certainly fucked up on heroin at the time and b). was an idiot to begin with, and ignorance of basic gun safety principles was extremely in character for him.
    • Marsellus Wallace is guilty as well, leaving a loaded gun unattended while he steps out to get breakfast while Vincent is waiting for an assassination target, resulting in the target returning, finding the unattended gun, and realizing someone's in the apartment quickly enough to use it on him.
  • Artistic License – Law: Mia and Vincent smoke in Jackrabbit Slim's, located in the Los Angeles area, but California had a law banning smoking in restaurants by this time.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: In reality, Mia almost certainly would have died unless 911 was called. The epinephrine may have restarted her stopped heart, but it would do nothing about the heroin still in her system. She'd probably be tachycardic from the epi. Plus that's not how heroin affects the body when inhaled.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Jules Winnfield is fond of quoting what he claims is Ezekiel 25:17 before executing someone. He explains to one character, he "always thought it was some cold blooded shit to say to a motherfucker before I popped a cap in his ass," but then he started to think seriously about what it means. The speech is actually lifted almost directly from a Badass Boast in the Sonny Chiba film Karate Kiba, with only the final lines, "And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger [...] And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee," actually taken from the aforementioned passage - though some phrases from the speech such as "the paths of the righteous", "brother's keeper" and "valley of darkness" are Biblical.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign:
    • Esmarelda Villalobos. Colombia is the world's leading source of emeralds. Her name is a misspelling of "Esmeralda", the Spanish word for emerald. However, there's always the possibility that her name was misspelled In-Universe.
    • Pumpkin tries to get a waiter to freshen his drink by calling "Garçon! Coffee!". The waitress tells him that garçon means "boy."
  • Asian Store-Owner: The opening conversation includes a lament about how this trope has made knocking over convenience stores nearly impossible; as Pumpkin explains, the small business owners are all either Jewish or Asian. In the former case, the business has been in the family for "fifteen fucking generations," so naturally they're going to be rather defensive when some jerk with a gun comes in. In the latter, they're scared by the gun, but they don't speak English well enough to understand "open the register."
  • Assassin Outclassin': Vincent is sent to kill Butch after the latter reneges on his agreement to throw a fight. While lying in wait at Butch's apartment, Vincent leaves his gun on the kitchen counter while he goes to the bathroom. Butch comes home, finds the gun, and uses it to shoot Vincent as he's coming out of the bathroom.
  • Asshole Victim: Brett. As Jules tells Brett before executing him, "Marsellus Wallace don't like to be fucked by anybody except Mrs. Wallace." Zed even moreso, though his death isn't seen.
  • Ass Shove: Described as happening twice during Captain Koons' "your father's watch" speech.
  • The Atoner:
    • While Butch claims not to care about killing his opponent, he mutters, "Sorry, Floyd," to the air when he hears the news. His compulsion to save Marsellus may be connected.
    • While we don't see it, it seems Jules is starting down this path.
    "The truth is, you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo, I'm tryin' real hard to be this shepherd."
  • Audible Sharpness: The katana Butch grabs at the pawn shop makes these sounds.
  • Author Appeal: Mia goes barefoot in at least two of her scenes, and foot massages come up in conversation twice. Esmarelda drives her cab barefoot, as well. Tarantino's foot fetish is well known at this point.
  • Badass Back: Butch killing Maynard. After wounding him with a Diagonal Cut he then moves on Zed and casually shoves his katana backwards into Maynard's stomach.
  • Badass Boast: Marsellus Wallace coolly threatening Zed.
    Marsellus: I'ma call a coupla hard, pipe-hittin' niggas, who'll go to work on the homes here with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. You hear me talkin', hillbilly boy? I ain't through with you by a damn sight. I'ma get medieval on your ass.
  • Badass Bystander: As noted by Honey-Bunny when discussing robbing a restuarant as compared to a store, the fact that nobody expects to get robbed in a restuarant would help to "cut down on the Hero Factor". They then proceed to rob the diner they are currently in, only by sheer bad luck they run afoul of Jules and Vincent.
  • Bald, Black Leader Guy: Marsellus Wallace, clearly.
  • Berserk Button: Butch completely loses his shit when he learns his girlfriend forgot to pack his father's watch. Granted some of it may be down to the stress of the situation they're in but his outburst is still hugely disproportionate.
  • Big Bad: Marsellus Wallace. Most of the time at least. This trope gets taken to some really crazy places...
  • Big "SHUT UP!": During the Mexican Standoff at the end, Vincent warns Jules that he will shoot Pumpkin if Jules hands him over his money. Jules yells at Vincent to shut up so he can deal with it.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Just about everyone in the film is morally dubious at best, but only Maynard and Zed are actually treated as villains. Marsellus Wallace could be considered black as well, though he does at least have some redeeming qualities.
  • Black Comedy: Extreme violence and crime are often treated humorously in the film. All of "The Bonnie Situation" is this, an extended black comedy as Vincent and Jules have to deal with a blood- and gore-spattered car after Vincent shoots Marvin in the face.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Double Subverted. Marsellus's reaction to the Gimp, and his off-screen screaming while jazzy music plays are not played for laughs. His Major Injury Underreaction is. At the time of the film's release, the only thing that saved the scene from being a sheer horror (and was in fact treated more like Black Comedy) was that Marsellus's male and only slightly more likeable than Zed and co.
  • Blah Blah Blah: When Honey Bunny and Pumpkin talk about quitting robbing, she affectionately tells him, "You sound like a duck. Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack."
  • Blatant Lies: Early in the film, Vincent claims he doesn't watch television. Later, though, he quotes a story told on COPS, showing that his earlier aloofness was just a pose.
  • Bloody Hilarious: "Ah, man, I shot Marvin in the face." "Why the fuck'd you do that?!"
  • Blown Across the Room: One version of the script lovingly describes Vince Vega being catapulted through the bathroom door and crashing through the glass shower screen after Butch shoots him. However, probably due to the difficulty of shooting such a scene in a cramped bathroom, this was toned down in the film itself to Vincent merely stumbling backward into the shower from shock.
  • Book-Ends:
    • The film begins and ends at the diner, but from different POV's.
    • The Ezekiel Bible verse is used early on in the film, but by the end it takes on a different meaning.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • The broadcast version of the film goes to extreme measures to eliminate the existence of the character of The Gimp.
    • The broadcast version changes Jules's line to Brett and Roger into "English, little sucker, do you speak it?" — probably one of the few cases where it would have been better for the censors to just cut out that word entirely.
    • Sometimes, the censorship isn't quite so bad, and in one case it preserves the meaning of one line (which involved self-naming rhyming slang or whatever it's called):
    Jules: My name's Pitt, and your ass ain't talkin' your way out of it.
  • Bound and Gagged: Butch and Marsellus get bound and gagged in the pawn shop scene — the intention is to rape them and do them in, most likely.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: When Butch yells at Fabienne for forgetting his father's watch, to the point of making her cry. Next time he sees her, he gives her his first genuine apology.
  • Brick Joke:
    Jules: And Marsellus Wallace don't like to be fucked by anybody except Mrs. Wallace.
    • In The Bonnie Situation, Jules tries to (unsuccessfully) placate Jimmy by over-complimenting him on how good his coffee tastes. Later on Jimmy makes a cup for Winston Wolf who, upon tasting it is audibly impressed, smiles and raises the mug slightly in approval. Evidently, the high quality of the coffee was no lie.
    • On their way to interrogate Brett, Vincent tells Jules that the Quarter Pounder is called a "Royale with Cheese" in Paris. Jules later mentions this to Brett when they arrive at his apartment finding him having a hamburger meal.
    • A subtle one, but in the intro in the diner, Honey Bunny suggests that "you could cut down on the hero factor" by robbing a restaurant. Fast forward to the end of the film during that same incident, when Jules pulls his gun and intervenes.
  • Bumbling Sidekick: Vincent to Jules. Notably, Vincent's incompetence gets him killed barely a day or two after Jules retires.
  • Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: One of Vincent's more... endearing qualities.
  • The Cameo: Steve Buscemi as the Buddy Holly waiter.
  • Casualty in the Ring: Butch was supposed to take a dive in the 5th round of his fight. Instead, he fights so hard that his opponent dies.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Butch is seen waking up and bolting upright twice. The first isn't strictly a nightmare (he was apparently dreaming about his father's watch and its backstory), while the second isn't shown.
  • Cavalier Consumption: While Jules and Vincent are putting on a hit. Man, Big Kahuna Burgers are tasty.
  • Central Theme: Redemption - each of the segments features characters receiving (perhaps undeserved) second chances.
  • Chainsaw Good: Referenced, then averted: Butch considers a chainsaw when choosing his weapon for taking down the pawn shop rapists (he also sees and discards a carpenter's hammer and a baseball bat before spotting the katana.)
  • Chance Meeting Between Antagonists:
    • When Vincent Vega is caught unexpectedly by Butch. Vega was waiting in Butch's apartment to kill him, but has to use the bathroom. By chance, Butch shows up at that exact moment to find his gold watch. He decides to have a quick snack... and notices Vega's submachine gun lying on the counter. Cue toilet flush, Vega walking out, both men being startled... (Word of God states that the SMG was actually Marsellus's. Vince took his gun with him to the toilet, but Butch was quicker on the draw.)
    • The scene where Butch is waiting at a stoplight. Who should cross the street at that exact moment but Marsellus Wallace, the man who put the hit out on him.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The heroin Vincent buys from Lance. Later, Mia finds it in Vincent's coat, mistakes it for cocaine and overdoses on it. Understably, Vincent has an Oh, Crap! when he realises what has happened.
  • Cleanup Crew: Harvey Keitel plays the genteel Winston Wolf. Wolf takes charge and "solves problems," including corpse disposal.
  • Cliché Storm: In-universe: the Fox Force Five pilot described by Mia Wallace. From what she says, it appears to be a very generic and cheesy Five-Girl Band series that wasn't picked up for a good reason.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Butch's girlfriend Fabienne has shades of being weird with the things she talks about. She wants to have a pot belly because she thinks it's attractive for women to have one and she's really into blueberry stuff for breakfast. A common theory is that she's actually pregnant, with the pot belly comment being a subtle hint-dropping and the blueberry-heavy breakfast being Wacky Cravings.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: And fucking how, you fucking motherfucker fucking piece of motherfucking fuckshit. On many TV broadcasts, there's at least one scene where instead of blocking out individual words, the audio just gives out entirely.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: What's going to be happening to Zed. With pliers and a blowtorch.
    Marsellus: You hear me talkin', hillbilly boy? I ain't through with you by a damn sight! I'm-a get medieval on your ass.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back: Butch going back to save Marsellus after escaping The Gimp.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Marsellus just happens to be crossing the road when Butch is waiting at a red light.
  • Cool Car: Vincent's Malibu, Winston Wolf's Acura NSXnote 
  • Creator Cameo:
    • Quentin Tarantino plays Jimmie.
    • Producer Lawrence Bender appears as a long-haired yuppie in a coffee shop.
  • Credits Gag:
    • The manager is credited as "Coffee Shop" because when he's about to say "I'm a coffee shop manager" to Pumpkin he was cut off.
    • Producer Lawrence Bender is "Long Haired Yuppie-Scum"
    • Emil Sitka is "Hold Hands, You Love Birds!", his "line" in the Three Stooges short Lance was watching.
    • The bartender's actual name in the script is English Bob (referenced by Jules in the diner scene). But his "My name is Paul and this is between y'all" line was so awesome that he's credited as "Paul" instead.
  • Cult Soundtrack: The soundtrack of this album was a huge bestseller, as it brought a lot of Surf Rock back into prominence, including "Misirlou" by Dick Dale and his Del-Tones, from Surfers Choice.

    D to G 
  • Deadly Euphemism: Subverted. Vincent explains to Jules that their boss Marsellus Wallace asked him to "take care" of his wife while he was going on a business trip. Jules asks if Marsellus meant the lethal kind by making a Finger Gun, but Vincent clarifies that no, he just meant to take her out to a club or something so she doesn't get bored.
  • Deconstructive Parody: Of crime thrillers. Even feared crime lord Marsellus Wallace makes stupid mistakes. If you pay attention, you'll notice that Vince is constantly incompetent, gets indignant at the merest chastening for his incompetence and is probably riding Jules's coattails in the gangster business. This is all masked by his genre-standard charisma.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Pumpkin and Honey Bunny are the first two people we see. They're a loving couple who suddenly plan to pull an impromptu robbery and reveal themselves to be fairly ruthless criminals. After the credits roll, we switch to Jules and Vincent in their own unrelated conversation, revealing the film to be an ensemble piece.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Zed and his buddies who take Butch and Marsellus captive and intend to rape them. Butch was luckier than Marsellus because he was supposed to be the second...
  • Deranged Taxi Driver: Downplayed with Esmerelda Villalobos. She's perfectly lucid and transports Butch with no trouble... but she's also very interested in discussing how it felt when he beat a man to death in a boxing match.
  • Destination Defenestration: Discussed. Marsellus threw Tony Rocky Horror out a four-story building for unknown reasons.
  • Dies Wide Open: When Vincent is killed in Butch's apartment, he dies with his eyes open.
  • Dictionary Opening: The film opens with both definitions of the word "pulp".
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Jules and Vincent discuss a rumor that Marsellus threw Tony Rocky Horror out a window because he massaged Marsellus's wife's feet. Jules thinks it's totally ridiculous, while Vincent argues that he at least understands how inappropriate it would be to massage the feet of another man's wife. Mia ultimately nixes the rumor that it had anything to do with a massage.
    • The conversation about Vince's Malibu getting keyed has him and his dealer buddy fantasizing about dealing some of this trope out to the offender. "No judge, no jury - straight to the executioner."
  • Does Not Like Shoes: A Tarantino standard. Mia Wallace spends the majority of her screen time barefoot, to which she, apparently, is quite used to. And so does Esmeralda, who drives her taxi without shoes.
  • Double Take: Marsellus, when he spotted Butch escaping. Complete with a Precision F-Strike which, if you consider the movie, is improbably precise.
    Marsellus: ... motherfucker.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock:
    • During the final confrontation, it's played straight when Pumpkin is telling Jules to put his wallet in the trash bag, and he cocks his gun to show that he's serious.
    • Inverted by Jules in the final confrontation; after holding Pumpkin at gunpoint for a speech about how he's changing his ways, Jules uncocks his gun, letting Pumpkin walk away.
    • Played straight when Marsellus rises up from behind Butch holding Maynard's shotgun and cocks it loudly in slow-motion, before shooting Zed in the groin.
  • Drives Like Crazy:
    • Winston Wolf doesn't treat speed limits with an awful lot of respect.
    • Vincent doesn't treat his car very well when he's panicking over Mia's overdose.
  • Driving a Desk: Tarantino chose what looks like a 1940s black-and-white street background for the scene where Esmerelda drives Butch away from the fight. Most likely, it's intended as an homage to the kind of 1940s pulp noir films that Pulp Fiction is named in honour of and evokes.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Vincent. After being the central character of the previous story, he comes out of the bathroom and gets shot by Butch before he can even say or do anything.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Mia nearly dies from an overdose, and the off-the-grid "medical treatment" she receives is rather disturbing.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Not only does Butch recover his father's watch and survive battles with four individual enemies, he slaughters two of those enemies and makes peace with a third. Not a bad day's work.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: In one of the most iconic uses of this trope, Jules slow-plays his intimidation of Brett by very politely asking for a bite of his burger and then slurping down the rest of his soda. Once he's finished, things all go downhill from there.
  • Enemy Mine: When Butch goes back to rescue Marsellus Wallace.
  • Ensemble Cast: There's no real central character, and each of the major characters gets at least a scene in the spotlight.
  • Epic Fail: The Fourth Man empties a Hand Cannon revolver's magazine at Vincent and Jules. Despite being at point-blank range and having the element of surprise, he doesn't hit them once. Vincent and Jules just look at each other perplexed, then effortlessly blow the Fourth Man away with their own guns.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Marsellus runs a pretty diverse group for an organized crime outfit. It's especially odd, considering Vince is the brother of a guy working for a more typical Mafia group whose leader makes a few rather unfortunate remarks about blacks.
  • Establishing Character Music:
    • We're introduced to Vincent and Jules on their way to Brett's place engaging in chit-chat set to Kool & the Gang's "Jungle Boogie".
    • Butch and Marsellus are introduced to "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green.
    • When Vincent goes to pick up Mia, "Son of a Preacher Man" by Dusty Springfield is playing in the house.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Marsellus Wallace has his wife, Mia, who Vincent has to look after while Marsellus is out of town. The two can be seen together when Jules calls him for help after Vincent accidentally kills Marvin.
    • When Jules and Vincent are at Brett's place, Jules mentions he has a girlfriend.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • When Butch saves Marsellus instead of leaving him to be raped to death by Maynard and Zed, Marsellus forgives Butch (despite the fact Marsellus is then holding a shotgun) and agrees that in exchange for taking the story of him being raped to the grave and leaving town, he will not retaliate.
    • Jules does not appreciate people blaspheming.
  • Exact Words:
    • When he wakes up Marsellus and Butch, Maynard tells them "No one kills anyone in my place of business, except me or Zed." That's exactly what happens.
    • Jules ironically claims that "Marsellus Wallace don't like to be fucked by anybody except Mrs. Wallace". Later on we see that it literally happens to him and that he really doesn't.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The whole movie takes place, back and forth, over the span of a couple of days.
    • For Butch and Marsellus, only 45 minutes pass between them coming into Maynard's pawn shop to Butch leaving to get Fabienna, according to the clock behind the counter.
  • Famous Last Words:
  • Fan Disservice:
    • The rape scene.
    • The scene where Mia's shirt is wide open could have been quite sexy, if it hadn't been for the fact that she's dying from a drug overdose, foaming at the mouth and covered in blood and is about to have a huge syringe plunged straight into her heart.
  • Fate Worse than Death: What Marsellus has planned for Zed. We don't get the details, but this is the implication.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Jules when he and Vincent show up at Brett's apartment. Jules comes in, acts civil and friendly, and even politely asks Brett if he can take a bite of his burger and a drink of his Sprite. Of course, throughout the entire discussion, everyone present knows that Jules and Vincent are hitmen who, at best, are here to recover the glowy thingy in the briefcase, and at worst, are here to kill them, so Jules's act of civil politeness just serves to ratchet up the tension, until Jules finally dispenses with the whole thing and breaks Brett's concentration by shooting his buddy.
  • Fictional Country: Brett claims to be from What.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Jules on Marsellus Wallace, "Does he look like a bitch?" "No." "Then, why did you try to fuck him like a bitch? ... You tried to fuck him. And Marsellus Wallace does not like to be fucked by anybody except Missus Wallace."
    • Before the confrontation at Brett's apartment, Vincent mentions to Jules that one of the men in the apartment is "our guy." Marvin is the only person not killed at the apartment, suggesting he was the spy Vincent was talking about.
    • Near the beginning of Butch's story when Esmerelda asks him what it feels like to kill a man, he can't answer because he didn't do it knowingly. By the end of Butch's story and two corpses later, Butch could probably describe the feeling in detail.
    • The conversation about Marsellus Wallace's apparent Disproportionate Retribution to the man that allegedly gave Mrs. Wallace a foot massage serves to build up the tension for the temptation and nervousness that Vince will be feeling when he has to take Mia out for the evening.
    • When he wakes up Marsellus and Butch, Maynard tells them "No one kills anyone in my place of business, except me or Zed." That's exactly what happens.
    • Listen closely during the Diner Robbery prologue, and you can hear Jules and Vincent talking in the background. You also briefly see Vincent from behind heading to the bathroom in one shot of Honey Bunny.
  • For Want of a Nail: All over "The Gold Watch":
    • All Fabienne had to do was remember to grab Butch's watch. All Butch had to do was skip the poptarts and go get breakfast with Fabienne.
    • Butch only got out of his apartment alive due to Vincent picking the absolute worst time to use his bathroom and not taking the gun with him. (Justified when you realize the gun was Marsellus's)
    • Butch and Marsellus only cross paths following the fight because A) Marsellus went out to get donuts and B) Butch had to stop at the light. Likewise, Butch would've just kept on going after mowing him down had the oncoming car not slammed into him.
    • The last act of the segment only occurs because Butch happened to enter Maynard's pawnshop.
  • Freestate Amsterdam: Vincent tells us about this.
  • Funny Background Event: By itself it's not particularly funny, but the classy party Winston Wolf is attending when he receives the summons to help Jules and Vincent becomes a lot funnier when you realize it's not even eight o'clock in the morning when it's taking place.
  • Genius Ditz: Vincent isn't completely dumb: he can speak a little French. Plus:
    [Vincent points at the various Jack Rabbit Slim's servers.]
    Vincent: That is Marilyn Monroe. And that is Mamie Van Doren. I don't see Jayne Mansfield, so it must be her night off.
    Mia: Pretty smart.
    Vincent: Yeah, I got my moments.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Despite the film's reputation for Gorn, a lot of the really shocking visuals are implied. For example, we don't see the needle penetrate Mia's chest. When Butch attacks Maynard, the fatal stab occurs just below the camera's view. All we get is Maynard's reaction. An instant after Vincent accidentally fires his gun at Marvin, the scene cuts to just behind the car and a huge splatter of blood covers the rear windshield; the body itself does not appear on camera until much later, when it's thrown in the trunk.
  • Groin Attack: Marsellus puts a shotgun blast into the groin of his rapist.

    H to L 
  • Hallway Fight: Briefly discussed by Vincent as he recalls an episode of COPS in which a police officer and a criminal have a shootout in a hall with the cop amazed at the fact that he can't hit his target from close range.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: A very strange example. But if you put the movie in chronological order the first half (save for the scene about the watch which would be a distant prologue) is about two hitmen who have a very strange morning with one them continuing on to have a very strange evening with his boss' wife. Then the second half is about a boxer who double crosses a powerful gangster and the ensuing hi-jinx that happen as he tries to get away. In this order only a few characters show up in the other half and only for brief moments.
  • Hand Cannon: The giant revolver carried by the third guy in Brett's apartment (not that it helps him). Jules comments, "Did you see the size of that gun? It was bigger than him!"
  • The Hand Is God: God is referenced as the Hand that stopped the bullets from killing Jules and Vincent. Vincent is less than convinced, Jules decides to change his life over it. The audience is left to decide for themselves, but Vincent's fate tends to indicate Jules was right.
  • Hash House Lingo: The retro Malt Shop Jackrabbit Slim's uses hash house lingo in its menu. Mia orders her milkshake "Martin and Lewis" rather than "Amos and Andy" (vanilla rather than chocolate). Meat is ordered either "burnt to a crisp" or "bloody as hell."
  • Hate Sink: Zed and Maynard are two brothers whose favorite hobby is kidnapping and raping various men. When boxer Butch Coolidge and crime boss Marsellus Wallace end up in Maynard's pawn shop during an unrelated conflict, Maynard locks both in his basement and calls Zed in. The two elect to rape Wallace first, referring to him by a racial slur when they decide, while forcing Butch to wait for his turn under guard of their personal Sex Slave the Gimp. They are so cruel that Butch can't bring himself to leave Wallace in their clutches despite the crime boss trying to kill him that same day.
  • Hates Small Talk: Mia Wallace prefers silence to meaningless conversations.
  • Heel Realization: The entire final part of the movie involves Jules's realization that he was, in fact, a tool used by wicked men. It's left unknown whether or not he helped Pumpkin and Honey Bunny have the same sort of realization as well.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Butch empties several rounds of a silenced MAC-10 into Vince. Despite being in a condominium surrounded by people, nobody seems to hear them.
  • Holy Hitman: Jules plays this trope straight.
    Jules: And you will know My name is the Lord, when I lay My vengeance upon thee!
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Maynard (and Zed) get killed by a katana that Maynard had in his own shop, presumably owned by him. Not a bright move to keep it sharp.
  • Hyperlink Story: All the stories intertwine with one another.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Whether it was intended for humor or not, shortly after his Heel–Faith Turn, Jules tells Vincent to stop committing blasphemy by taking God's name in vain. After that scene, however, Jules has no problem using the same language he scolded Vincent for, himself.
    • During the opening scene, Pumpkin complains about how "too many foreigners own liquor stores", which makes robbing them harder. Pumpkin is an Englishman in America — a foreigner, in other words.
  • Ice-Cream Koan: Deconstructed. At first Jules Catchphrase seems like this, which Jules even lampshades, but when he's given a reason to think about it he realizes that it's actually highly applicable to his life, just not in the way he expected.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Trope Namer, from the scene where Vincent blows Marvin's brains all over the back of Jules's car with a negligent discharge. Please note that although Vincent blames a bump, the car is moving pretty smoothly, and Vincent's finger is clearly pulling the trigger in the shot right before Marvin gets killed. They only get bumpy when Jules is on the phone, after Marvin's brains are splattered over the back window.
  • I'm Okay!: In Marsellus Wallace's own words following his rape: "Naw, man. I'm pretty fuckin' far from okay."
  • Imagine Spot: Jules imagines Bonnie's potential reaction to coming home and finding "a couple of gangsters in her kitchen doin' a bunch of gangster shit."
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Played for Laughs when that one guy misses Jules and Vincent. At point blank range. Six times. And they don't even flinch. This becomes a Deconstruction when, understandably enough, this causes Jules to suspect Divine Intervention.
  • In Love with the Gangster's Girl: Played with; Vincent senses the rising tension between him and Mia and explicitly warns himself to avoid this trope. Not in the least because there's a rumor circulating that his boss Wallace crippled one of his other employees for screwing around with his wife, although Mia herself denies this was the reason and thinks that incident was strictly business-related.
  • Insistent Terminology: Butch insists that Zed's vehicle is not a "motorcycle," it's a "chopper." Choppers are a specific type of motorcycle, so either term is technically correct, but the bike in question is in fact a chopper motorcycle.
  • Intercourse with You: Mia plays "Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon" after a sexually charged evening while Vincent tries to pep-talk himself into not having sex with her.
  • In the Name of the Moon: Jules Winnfield's (mis)quoting the Biblical book of Ezekiel before pulling the trigger.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • Butch telling Marsellus "That's pride fucking with you" while hitting him in the head.
    • Jules's (mis)quoting of Ezekiel 25:17
  • Jerkass: Vincent's behavior is particularly obnoxious as he outright antagonizes others without a real reason, including when they are helping him clean up his messes.
  • Just for Pun: The punchline of Mia's joke, "Ketchup," is such a lame pun that only a near-death experience impels her to tell it.
  • Karma Houdini: Pumpkin and Honey Bunny are made to give back the MacGuffin briefcase and Jules's wallet... but, other than that, they get to keep all the loot they've robbed, including the contents of the register, several of the other diners' wallets and a cell phone, and walk away entirely unharmed - while, admittedly, looking rather shook up. Of course, Jules has made it expressly clear that if it were any other day, he'd have just popped them both and finished his coffee, but he's making a conscious effort to change his ways.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Butch chooses a katana over a variety of other weapons, and is clearly awed by it. Justified because it IS the best weapon out of the possible choices in the situation he's in: hammers and baseball bats aren't nearly as lethal, and a chainsaw would instantly remove any element of surprise he might have.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": While Vincent and Jules are established early on to be very seasoned and brutally efficient mob hitmen, they themselves are completely awestruck later when they have the opportunity to meet Winston Wolf, who is apparently a well-respected veteran within Marsellus' criminal organization. Even later while eating breakfast at the diner, the two continue to gush over how cool and awesome it was to work with him.
  • Large Ham: Jules at many points, such as the ending and of course the infamous "Describe what Marsellus Wallace looks like!" bit. Given that Evil Is Hammy, deliberate - and it works.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: When they first meet, Vincent goes out of his way to needlessly antagonize Butch. The second time they meet, Butch has found Marsellus' carelessly-dropped gun in his apartment and pointing it at him as Vincent exits the bathroom. From the looks on both men's faces just before Butch pulls the trigger, it's clear they both remember the earlier conversation only too well.
  • Left the Background Music On: The music playing during the opening credits comes from Jules and Vincent's car radio.
  • Left Your Lifesaver Behind: Marcellus has left his Ingram MAC-10 on the kitchen counter to go get donuts and coffee. Vincent decides that now is a good time to use the restroom. When he reemerges, he finds Marcellus's submachinegun in the hands of Butch, pointed right at him.
  • Lethally Expensive: Captain Koons's butt-smuggled wristwatch.
  • Lethally Stupid: Vincent accidentally kills Marvin and spatters the car with blood, in the middle of a talk.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again:
    • The first of Marsellus' two things he asks of Butch after Butch saves him from Zed's... attentions.
    Marsellus: This shit is between me, you, and Mr. Soon-to-Be-Livin'-the-Rest-of-His-Short-Ass-Life-in-Agonizing-Pain rapist here. It ain't nobody else's business.
    • Mia and Vincent decide to never speak to Marsellus about what happened on their date. Least of all, her overdose.
  • Literal-Minded:
    Butch: I'll be back before you can say "blueberry pie".
    Fabienne: Blueberry pie.
    Butch: ...Maybe not that fast, but pretty fast, okay?
  • The Load:
    • Vincent is never much more than a liability in whatever he's involved in. He fails to locate the hiding man in the bathroom while Jules is interrogating the others, accidentally shoots Marvin, gets into a pointless and time-wasting argument with Wolf, almost screws up Jules's peace negotiation with Pumpkin and Honey Bunny, and gets himself killed waiting for Butch. It's his heroin that Mia overdoses on as well, though he can hardly be blamed for leaving it in his coat or her decision to take it.
    • Fabienne is also the load to Butch. He would have just skipped town and avoided all the trouble in his plot line, except that she accidentally left his most valued possession behind in their apartment when she packed their stuff (even though he specifically reminded her to get it). Also, when he shows up at the end, beaten and bloodied and riding a stolen motorcycle, she ignores his repeated pleas for her to hurry up and get on, and just stands there in the parking lot asking him questions. She may also be aware of it; she takes such specific offense to being called "retard".

    M to P 
  • MacGuffin:
  • Magic Bullets: One of the major plot points involves the "bad bullets" version of this trope, where a man empties a high-caliber revolver at Jules and Vincent (at almost point blank range), but completely misses them. After killing him, Jules and Vincent examine the bullet holes in the wall, which the camera could not see until they stepped back, suggesting that the bullets should have passed through them. Lampshaded and arguably justified, as Jules points out that it couldn't possibly be anything but divine intervention and Vincent has no better rebuttal than any other Flat-Earth Atheist. However, the commentary points out that some bullet holes were already in the wall when Vince and Jules went in.
  • Malt Shop: Jackrabbit Slims is a retro theme restaurant modeled after a Malt Shop of The '50s. They use Hash House Lingo in the menu. Given that both Vincent and Mia order nonalcoholic drinks, they might not even serve liquor.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Mia is a version of this. Vincent assumes he wouldn't get along with her for real as she is his boss' wife. However upon getting to know her, he has a good time with her to the point that it's almost ship teased between them. However, her overdose and Vincent's death prevent the relationship from going too far.
  • Massage of Love: Jules and Vincent talk about how their boss, Marsellus Wallace, threw a guy named Antwan Rockamora off a balcony for giving his wife Mia Wallace a foot massage. Jules believes that Marsellus was a bit overzealous in how he handled the situation, arguing that foot massages don't mean shit but Vincent, who "has given a million ladies a million foot massages", argues that every one he gave meant something to both the guy and girl involved, that Marsellus knew full well the implications of such a thing, and that "Antwan should have fuckin' better known better."
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • The fact that the mysterious contents of the briefcase glow, and cause awe in everyone who sees them, and are locked with the combination 666 suggest that there might be something supernatural about it, but it is never confirmed or denied.
    • The Magic Bullets scene leads to an argument between Jules and Vincent regarding whether or not it was an act of God or pure luck (to be fair, there were bullet holes in the wall directly behind where they were standing, which helped convince Jules). The yellow flashes of light that are placed between cuts during the shooting might link the event to the glowing yellow contents of the briefcase.
  • Meaningful Background Event:
    • In the first scene, when Pumpkin and Honey Bunny are discussing the merits of robbing liquor stores or restaurants, Vincent can be briefly seen heading for the bathroom, and Jules can be overheard in the background (listen here starting at 3:06).
    • Flipped at the end of the film where we see the same scene from Jules and Vincent's point of view, you can see Pumpkin and Honey Bunny having their discussion in the background. Eventually there's a cutaway shot of Pumpkin shouting "Garcon! Coffee!" to make it obvious.
  • Meaningful Name: Butch has a discussion regarding the meaning of names with a taxi driver who has some interest in the subject. He claims that for Americans, "our names don't mean shit." Which seems rather a strange thing for a professional boxer named Butch to say.
  • Memento MacGuffin: Butch's watch.
    And now, little man, I give the watch... to you.
  • The Men in Black: Jules and Vince dress in matching plain black suits for their visit to Brett's apartment, giving them a uniform and intimidating effect as representatives of Wallace.
  • Messy Pig: Jules gives this as a reason for why, despite not being Jewish, he doesn't eat pork.
  • Mexican Standoff: At the end of the film, Jules disarms Pumpkin at gunpoint, Honey Bunny trains her gun on Jules, and when Vincent returns from the bathroom, he turns his gun on Honey Bunny and even threatens to shoot Pumpkin. Jules orders him to shut up so he can resolve the situation.
  • The Mole: It's implied that Marvin, one of Brett's friends at the apartment, is actually an informant of Jules and Vincent sent to spy on Brett, and like Jules and Vincent, is also on Wallace's payroll.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Captain Koons' speech to young Butch starts off seriously, but then takes an abrupt turn for the absurd halfway through. Yet, somehow, the drama is not completely lost, and Butch's obsession with keeping the watch safe seems completely justified.
    • Pleasant, polite Honey Bunny transforming into a shrieking, swearing robber
    • Jules and Vincent's rambling conversations concluding with dramatic assassinations.
  • Moral Dilemma: The main characters struggle with these, as Tarantino explains.
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • Two robbers try to hold up a professional hitman. Unusually, the conflict gets resolved more or less peacefully because of benevolence on the hitman's part.
    • Zed and Maynard kidnapping a crime boss and a pro boxer. It doesn't go well for them.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted by Vincent. Three times. Also averted with Jules when he and Vincent deliver the briefcase to Marsellus.
  • Noodle Incident: Tony Rocky Horror getting thrown by Marsellus Wallace. Rumor is Tony gave Mia a foot massage but Mia writes it off as bullshit and says she doesn't know why Marsellus chucked him either. It's not totally clear whether or not she's telling the truth, however; Vincent still seems slightly dubious.
  • N-Word Privileges: Averted. "Nigger" is peppered throughout the script, said by (and to) white and black characters alike and no one bats an eye. The most famous being Jimmie (who is married to a black woman), and his query about whether his garage has a sign saying "Dead Nigger Storage". If you are curious: it doesn't.
  • Odd Couple: What do Butch and Fabienne see in each other? Butch is a crusty American boxer and Fabienne is a childlike and bizarre French girl who doesn't seem to understand much of what he says. He admits that he calls her a "retard," jokes about punching her in the stomach, and spends most of their dialogue yelling at her.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Butch, a faded boxer and "palooka," bets everything, including his life, on winning a boxing match. Not only does he win the bout, he kills his opponent in the process. We see Butch only before and after what must have been one hellacious performance.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The Gimp laughs at Butch trying to break free of his bonds. When Butch does break free, the Gimp's laughter quickly turns to horrified screaming.
    • We don't see Vincent's face when he comes across Mia in the middle of an O.D. on his "madman" heroin, but you know this is going through his mind. "Oh fuck me...FUCK ME!"
    • The look on Vincent's face when he emerges from the bathroom to see Butch pointing a gun at him. Doubly so given how in their earlier meeting Vincent went out of his way to antagonize Butch.
    • The moment Butch stops at the light and notices the man crossing in front of him is Marsellus.
    • In the Imagine Spot in "The Bonnie Situation", this is the reaction on Jules, Vincent, and Jimmy's faces when Jimmy's wife walks in on them trying to dispose of Marvin's body in the living room.
  • One-Liner, Name... One-Liner: "Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead."
  • Only a Flesh Wound: By the way Marsellus says what specific time period he's going to get on the ass of the guy that just raped him, you get the impression that the guy would live to face it. Despite the fact that he just shot him in his crotch with a shotgun! However, birdshot or anything smaller than buckshot penetrates quite poorly, so the chance of his injuries being fatal may be small.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • The two robbers "Pumpkin" and "Honey Bunny". Honey Bunny's real name is revealed to be Yolanda. Jules calls Pumpkin "Ringo" because of his British accent.
    • "Butch" seems like an unlikely name for someone, but it's never made clear whether this is his given name or a nickname he's had since early childhood. He goes by nothing else throughout the film.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Vincent loves his car. After it's keyed, he fantasizes about brutally murdering the perpetrator. After Mia overdoses, however, he crashes his car into Lance's yard to get there a few seconds sooner.
  • Outlaw Couple: "Pumpkin" and "Honey Bunny", two Sickening Sweethearts who have robbed banks and stores together.
  • Packaged as Other Medium: The poster for the film, and by extension the cover for its DVD and VHS releases, is designed to look like a worn pulp fiction book (including the 10¢ price).
  • Pants-Positive Safety: After ditching their bloodied suits from the Marvin incident, Jules and Vincent are seen carrying their guns in the elastic waistbands of their workout shorts. They really have nowhere else to put them.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: After Butch freed Marseullus (a crime boss), Marseullus shot his rapist, Zed, in the groin and stated he planned to give Zed a long and agonizing death. He also made sure Zed knew it.
  • Pedal-to-the-Metal Shot: When Butch hits Marsellus with his car. What's interesting about this instance is that it was shot from behind the pedal rather than from somewhere in the driver's lap as usual.
  • Persona Non Grata: After Butch saves Marsellus from Zed and Maynard, Marsellus reduces Butch's death sentence to revoking his "L.A. privileges." As long as Butch stays out of Los Angeles, he'll be safe, in contrast to Marsellus's earlier proclamation to hunt him down to Indochina if necessary.
  • Pink Mist: Happens with Marvin.
  • Police Are Useless: Several times, a situation with shots being fired does not lead to any police showing up to the scene. Most notable after the fight between Butch and Marcellus, in which at least two bystanders are shot and several cars are crashed.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Jules's reading of Ezekiel 25:17 (which can be found on the quotes page), especially the last line. "If I said it — it meant your ass."
  • The Precious, Precious Car: Winston "The Wolf" Wolf's Acura NSX:
    Winston Wolf: I get my car back any differently than I gave it, Monster Joe's gonna be disposin' of two bodies.
  • Pride: Discussed by Marsellus Wallace when he talks to Butch: "The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That's pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts. It never helps." He's trying to convince Butch to throw a fight by suggesting that his career as a boxer is essentially over, making this something of a "Break Them by Talking". Butch later turns it around on Marsellus while he's beating him up, taunting him with "See that? That's pride fucking with you."
  • The Public Domain Channel: Lance watches The Three Stooges short "The Brideless Groom".
  • Pulp Magazine: The movie poster is designed in the style of a Pulp Magazine cover. In it, Mia is pictured reading a pulp magazine with the title Pulp Fiction. The film itself is influenced by stories from pulp magazines (particularly of the crime and pulp noir genres).
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Does!? He!? Look!? Like!? A bitch!?"
  • Punk in the Trunk: After they kill Marvin by accident, Jules and Vincent toss his dead body in the trunk. They don't feel too bad as he was just a mole and, according to Winston, "no one who will be missed."

    Q to U 
  • Random Events Plot: There's no over-arching story. Things just happen to the characters, though several characters have changed by the end.
  • Rape as Drama: Marsellus is raped by Zed. After Butch saves him, he gets some proper revenge on Zed, promising to "get medieval on his ass."
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Butch was ready to shoot Marsellus in the head, but he can't bear to leave him to be raped by Maynard and Zed.
  • Rape Portrayed as Redemption: Inverted, since Butch saving Marsellus from the rapists is more about Butch's redemption than Marsellus'.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Vincent names a trope by accidentally shooting Marvin in the face. While Vincent claims the car went over a bump, he was still waving around a loaded gun with his finger on the trigger. It was only a matter of time before somebody got shot.
    • Upon seeing Marsellus Wallace out in the street, Butch tries to run Marsellus over with his car. Butch hits and injures Marsellus, but not much, since he barely had any room to punch the gas. Also, Butch injures himself in the collision because he wasn't wearing a seat belt.
      Later in the same scene, Marsellus pulls out a gun and shoots at Butch, but his aim is awful thanks being in a large amount of pain, as can be expected from someone who was just hit by a car. As a result, one of the bullets Marsellus fires hits a random woman in the leg; the woman had nothing at all to do with the conflict, she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Real Men Take It Black: Subverted. Winston Wolf is a badass among badasses in the Marsellus Wallace crime organization, but when Jimmy offers him a cup of coffee, he tells him he likes it with a lot of cream and sugar. No one dares to question his man card.
  • Re-Cut: Defied. In commentary, Quentin Tarantino mentions that he didn't do a director's cut because: "I made the movie I wanted to make the first time."
  • Reference Overdosed: The Trope Codifier. Tarantino has tons of pop culture references in every scene, often in the background or in random bits of dialogue,
  • Refuge in Audacity: The entirety of the "Dead Nigger Storage" rant.
  • Retired Monster: Jules presumably becomes one after the movie finishes.
  • Retro Universe: The film is filled with references to past time periods. Jules wears a Jheri curl hairstyle, popular in the 70s. The soundtrack is filled with a lot of surf rock from the 60s. Clutch Cargo plays on a Butch's motel television. A 50s theme diner plays a big part in the plot. The film takes its name from "pulp fiction," a style of fiction popular in the first half of the 20th century. The film poster apes the style of a pulp fiction magazine cover from around the 40s and 50s.
  • The Reveal: Marsellus is either shown only from the back or mostly out of focus for about two-thirds of the movie. Only after he runs into Butch on the street during "The Gold Watch" arc is his face clearly shown throughout the rest of the film.
  • Riddle for the Ages: The contents of the briefcase. There is no official answer, though it was originally scripted to be diamonds before the filmmakers decided that a mystery would make it more interesting.
  • Rule of Cool: Jules's reason for reciting "scripture."
  • Rule of Three: Vincent goes to the bathroom three times and when he comes out, he emerges into a situation where the threat of death is present. The first time (the last one we see but the first one chronologically), Vincent uses the bathroom in the diner and emerges into a Mexican Standoff with Jules and Honey Bunny. The second time, Mia overdoses on Vincent's heroin, giving him an Oh, Crap! (we don't see his face but it's obvious this is happening) when he comes out. The third time, Vincent uses Butch's bathroom and has another Oh, Crap! when he comes out and sees Butch pointing Marsellus's gun at him. Seconds later, Butch's toaster shocks Butch and he blows Vincent away.
  • Running Gag: There are three times when Vincent goes into a bathroom and shit happens when he returns. The last one kills him.
  • Scary Black Man: Jules and Marsellus. Jules is a hitman and Marsellus is a mob boss. Both have violent tempers.
  • Scenery Porn: Jack Rabbit Slim's. (Nearly literal in the case of the Seven Year Itch-imitating Marilyn Monroe impersonator.)
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: Probably one of the most famous examples in film history.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: A Tarantino staple. One of the most famous conversations involves the intimacy of a foot massage.
  • Serious Business: Played with in "The Bonnie Situation"; disposing of a body is a pretty serious matter, but the black humour of the situation comes from the fact that everyone regards avoiding Jimmy's wife Bonnie coming home and finding them there as a much more serious matter than, say, someone calling the police.
  • Shared Universe:
  • Share the Male Pain: Immediately after Marsellus shoots one of the rapists in the balls (with a shotgun) you can see Butch with his hands over his balls.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Vincent and Mia are on a "Not Date." That involves dinner and dancing.
  • Ship Tease: Vincent and Mia. Vincent even has to spend several minutes in the bathroom convincing himself that he'll politely leave so not to end up betraying his boss.
    Vincent: Is this what you call an uncomfortable silence?
    Mia: I don't know what you call this. (They share a Held Gaze)
  • Shot to the Heart: Vincent does this to Mia since they don't want a drug lord's wife going to the hospital with an OD. In reality, she almost certainly would have died unless 911 was called. The epinephrine may have restarted her stopped heart, but it would do nothing about the heroin still in her system, and she'd probably be tachycardic from the epi. The primary cause of death in a heroin overdose is respiratory failure; the heart only stops when the brain dies due to the lack of oxygen. In real life, one of the primary treatments for heroin OD is a large injection of naloxone, which temporarily reverses respiratory failure caused by opioid overdose. But, like epi, you slam naloxone into a vein or a large peripheral muscle and very much not into the heart.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Duchess from The Aristocats inspired Uma Thurman's dance.
    • Tarantino has stated that the briefcase was originally meant to be the same MacGuffin suitcase of diamonds from Reservoir Dogs until they changed it to a glowing object instead.
    • The scene where Butch is stopping at a crosswalk and Marsellus walks by is very similar to a scene in Psycho.
    • Jules's expanded version of Ezekiel 25:17 directly quotes the Sonny Chiba film Karate Kiba (released in the West as The Bodyguard—with "and you will know my name is THE LORD" (one of the few bits actually from Ezekiel) replacing "and they shall know that I am Chiba the Bodyguard". A lot of the original speech is cannibalised from famous Biblical verses, though — "the path of the righteous man" from Isaiah 26:7, "[my] brother's keeper" from Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:9), "through the valley of darkness" from Psalm 23, among others.
    • Charley Varrick: In that film, Boyle tells Young that their bosses will most likely go to work on Young with "a pair of pliers and a blowtorch" for failure on the job and possible betrayal.
    • Jules's blue shirt has a monochromatic version of the current page image for Krazy Kat.
    • Vincent wears a UC Santa Cruz T-shirt.
    • While trying to placate Jimmy, Jules says, "That's Kool and the Gang," referencing a funk band whose "Jungle Boogie" also appears on the soundtrack.
    • A character mentioned several times is called Tony Rocky Horror.
    • When Jules eats Brett's Big Kahuna Burger, moments before shooting him and his fellow dealers sans Marvin (who is implied to be a mole. It's a clear shout out to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, where Angel Eyes does the same thing to Stevens.
    • The entire sequence at Jack Rabbit Slim's is naturally full of references to '50s pop culture, not all of them explained. The Douglas Sirk Steak, named after a director famous for his melodramatic style with no half measures, can be ordered "burnt to a crisp or bloody as hell," and the milkshakes come in Amos and Andy or Martin and Lewis, two famous comedy duos, one black and one white. The dwarf maitre d' dressed as a bellhop quotes an old Philip Morris cigarette commercial.
    • Jackrabbit Slim's itself is named after an album by singer/songwriter Steve Forbert, although he wasn't recording during The '50s.
    • The adrenaline shot scene is taken almost verbatim from an anecdote told by Steven Prince in the Martin Scorsese documentary American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince. Details including a woman overdosing, using an adrenaline shot to revive her, arguing over who will do it, referencing a medical dictionary, using a "stabbing motion" and marking the target with a magic marker are all taken from Prince's story.
    • Jules references Happy Days in the diner scene when telling Yolanda/Honey Bunny that 'We're gonna be like three Fonzies'. And what's Fonzie like? 'He's cool'.
    • In a scene from the shooting script that was not used for the film, Mia is giving Vincent a personality test she made up by giving him pairs of choices - Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family, Betty and Veronica etc.
  • Shower Shy: Referenced; spraying the blood off of Jules and Vince in the backyard is an understandably awkward scene, but holding the hose, the Wolf remarks, "You both been to County [prison] before, I'm sure. Here it comes."
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Jules refers to his gun as "Mr. Nine Millimeter" to Ringo during the diner standoff; while the gun Jules uses appears to be a .45 caliber 1911 pistol, it's represented by a 9mm Star Model B clone. The only way to identify them at all is by the external extractor, a tiny strip of metal on the right side of the slide, and the lack of a grip safety, a button on the grip covered by the palm when held.
    • Everything Vincent says about Amsterdam was true at the time of the movie's release. Not surprising, since Tarantino apparently spent some time there while writing the script.
  • Sickening Sweethearts: Pumpkin and Honey Bunny, who refer to each other by these nicknames.
  • Signs of Disrepair: As Butch looks for weapons, one sign in the shop reads Kill___ _Ed.
  • Smoking Is Cool:
    • Most characters smoke in the film and look cool doing it. Mia is attracted to the fact that Vincent rolls his own cigarettes. The dwarf bellhop even shouts "Call for Philip Morris!" at Jackrabbit Slim's, a reference to the cigarette company's old commercials.
    • Smoking is apparently permitted in Jack Rabbit Slim's even though it was actually illegal in California restaurants in the 90s. This taps right into the idea of recreating the 50s, when it was perfectly acceptable to smoke in restaurants.
  • Soul Brotha: Jules wears a Jheri curl hairdo and Porn Stache and speaks with a bit of Jive Turkey. Tarantino is known for his 70s throwback embellishments (the hair was supposed to be an afro, though, but it was decided that the Jheri curl looked better).
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The "zany" jazz music heard in the pawn shop while Marsellus is being raped.
  • The Something Force: "Fox Force Five"
  • Speech Impediment: Discussed. Being thrown out of a balcony and falling four stories messed Tony Rocky Horror really good. He developed a speech impediment over it, according to Jules.
  • Stop Saying That!: Jules warns Brett not to say "what" again after Brett can't describe what Marsellus Wallace looks like. When Brett slips up, Jules shoots him in the shoulder.
  • Stupid Crooks: Vincent has a large number of personal What an Idiot! moments, two of which are directly in relation to his job as a hitman and enforcer for Marsellus Wallace's criminal empire. Not only does he provide us the Trope Name for I Just Shot Marvin in the Face, but Vincent also leaves Marsellus' submachinegun in plain view while he goes to the bathroom at Butch's apartment when he's supposed to be waiting for Butch to show up and kill him. Butch does show up, and, upon noticing the gun, picks it up and shoots Vincent dead after he steps out of the bathroom.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • The poster has weathered edges to better resemble a battered old pulp magazine.
    • When Butch and Esmerelda are in the cab, there is an obvious green screen behind them showing stock footage of a black and white film. It was made to hark back to the golden days of cinema.
  • Take Our Word for It: The audience never sees what Marsellus Wallace sent Vincent and Jules to retrieve, but, going by the glow that radiates from the briefcase containing it, and the reactions of all the characters who see it, we're to believe it's pretty fantastic. Tarantino originally intended it to be the loot from Reservoir Dogs, but changed it to an unseen light, and has stated that it's "whatever you want".
  • Tantrum Throwing: When Butch finds out that Fabienne did not pack his father's golden watch, he goes absolutely berserk and throws a TV set across their hotel room.
  • There Are No Police: The characters worry about run-ins with the "John Q. Laws," but we never see a cop despite multiple shoot-outs, deaths, injuries, and accidents.
  • Third-Person Flashback: At flashback to when Butch is given his father's watch, with Captain Koons telling him the story, starts in first-person but then goes third.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Jules and Vincent are hitmen partners and (two of) the main characters.
  • Throwing the Fight: Butch is supposed to take a dive. He does not. Things get out of control from there.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Vincent, so very very much. He lasts about a day without his Hypercompetent Sidekick Jules after he finds religion and retires. Vincent knew Butch could be coming back at any moment, yet decided to take his time on the pot while Marsellus was out of the building... and leaving Marsellus's loaded weapon on the kitchen counter.
  • To the Pain: Marsellus is about to "get medieval on your ass".
  • Torture Cellar: The basement of the pawn shop, where Zed and Maynard do bad things to those they get hold of.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Why Butch is so protective of his father's watch.
  • Translation by Volume: When Jules toys with his his soon-to-be victim Brett, he employs this approach. He's half-infuriated, half-amused that the confused man answers him several times with only "what?", which leads to this iconic exchange:
    Jules: "What" ain't no country I ever heard of! Do they speak English in "What"?
    Brett: What?
  • Treasure Chest Cavity: Captain Koons keeps a watch in his rectum for the son of the former owner.
  • Trunk Shot: Shown when Jules and Vincent get their guns from their car.
  • Underdressed for the Occasion: Vincent and Jules wear some very casual clothing to a meeting with Marcellus because they had to change out of what they were wearing due to the old clothes having Marvin's brain matter splattered all over them.
  • Unishment: Butch may have done Marsellus a good turn by saving him from rapists, but he still cost the man a lot of money by not throwing that fight. What punishment does Marsellus choose? Banishment from Los Angeles on pain of death should he show his face there ever again. Considering Butch was planning to skip town anyway...
  • The Unseen: Bonnie.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: As Vincent is walking to his and Mia's booth toward the back of Jack Rabbit Slim's, he passes - sometimes within touching distance - performers dressed as Ed Sullivan, Marilyn Monroe, Mamie Van Doren, Zorro, James Dean, and Jerry Lewis, among other icons. He doesn't give any of them a second glance, though he later catalogs a number of their characters, showing that he is paying attention and getting the references.

    V to Z 
  • Verbal Business Card: "I'm Winston Wolf. I solve problems."
  • Victimized Bystander: A disoriented Marsellus Wallace starts shooting wildly into the crowd around Butch's wrecked car after Butch runs him over, missing Butch but hitting an innocent bystander who falls to the ground screaming.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Marsellus was literally out shopping for donuts, for himself and Vincent when he ran into Butch. Vincent and Jules also go out for breakfast prior to the hold up and earlier on while on the way to Brett's, Vincent was telling Jules about his trip to Europe, and the fast food nomenclature in Paris and Amsterdam.
  • Visual Pun: During the "adrenaline shot" scene, there are two board games in the background - "Operation" and "Life".
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Jules and Vincent, again. You only need one line to understand that.
    Jules: We just witnessed a miracle, and I want you to fucking acknowledge it!
  • Walking the Earth: Invoked, as Jules's retirement plan.
  • Waxing Lyrical: Mia's "I said goddamn, goddamn" is from the chorus of Steppenwolf's "The Pusher."
  • Wham Line:
    • "Garçon, coffee!" The first time we hear it puts the robberss plan to hit the diner in motion. The second time we hear it puts us back at the beginning of the film and sets up the final conflict.
    • Jules's affected friendliness finally breaks when he snarls, "I don't remember asking you a goddamn thing!"
    • Butch's "Where's my watch?" when he finds out his most prized possession is missing.
    • The way Maynard drops of the N-word when pointing his shotgun at Butch is clear indicator he is just not trying to prevent a murder.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The last we see of the Gimp, he's hanging unconscious by his leash. It's unclear whether he asphyxiated or recovered after Butch leaves. note 
  • What You Are in the Dark: Butch has the opportunity to just walk out of Maynard and Zed's shop. He hesitates at the front door, and then goes back to rescue the man who wants him dead. The DVD commentary states that Butch was reminded of Captain Koons' words from when he was a boy: "When two men are in a situation like me and your dad were for as long as we were, you take on certain responsibilities of the other."
  • Wolverine Publicity: Marketing wise, Mia Wallace was everywhere, on the posters and the home video release covers, despite the fact that she's a major player in only one of the overlapping stories.

"You read the Bible, Ringo?"

Video Example(s):


Divine Intervention

One of Brett's minions attempts to kill Jules and Vince but SOMEHOW missed them all point-blank.

How well does it match the trope?

4.87 (31 votes)

Example of:

Main / ImperialStormtrooperMarksmanshipAcademy

Media sources:

Main / ImperialStormtrooperMarksmanshipAcademy