Clue (film)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Whodunit? I haven't a clue.

Wadsworth: That's what we're trying to find out! We're trying to find out who killed him, and where, and with what!
Professor Plum: There's no need to shout!

Possibly the best movie based on a board game ever made, Clue is a murder mystery/comedy film based on the board game Clue (or Cluedo, depending on where you live).

The movie justifies a large mansion full of people with silly names trying to solve a murder mystery by turning all of the characters from the board game into blackmail victims using predetermined aliases. The six guests have been invited to the mansion by Wadsworth (Tim Curry) in order to expose his employer, Mr. Boddy, as a blackmailer. When the lights go out, Mr. Boddy is killed—and since everyone has a motive to kill Mr. Boddy, everyone is a suspect in his murder. The group opts to solve the case themselves rather than call the police; Hilarity Ensues—but in a good way. The movie was made in The Eighties, but set in The Fifties (and in New England).

Clue bombed in theaters, and part of the blame lies with the hype surrounding the movie's Multiple Endings. In theaters, the solution to the murders changed depending on where you saw the movie—in other words, there was no real way to deduce the murderer from the clues presented, as other options had to be viable in order to accomodate the other endings. (Apparently, the studio didn't know a screwball zany comedy isn't supposed to be a real mystery, and many reviewers felt the same way.) On the VHS and TV version, all three endings are shown, with the first two endings marked as "how it could have happened", while the third ending is "how it really happened". On the DVD, the film can play one ending at random or the VHS version (with all three endings).

Although it did poorly in theaters, Clue is now something of a Cult Classic: it's a solid comedy with a mix of clever dialogue and slapstick, and the various solutions to the murders all (mostly) hold up on repeat viewings.

This should not be confused with the UK adaptation of the board game (which, unbelievably, was a Game Show).

Tropes used in Clue (film) include:
  • Absolute Cleavage / Of Corsets Sexy: Yvette, and how.
  • Affectionate Parody
  • All Women Are Lustful: Miss Scarlet. The fact at least part of this is attributed to her blackmailable life as a brothel madam only compounds the issue, since presumably one in that line of work needs to maintain some degree of division between their personal and professional lives. Used to justify her making out with Professor Plum when trying to hide the bodies of the murdered informants from the cop. (See Of Corpse He's Alive.)
    • Led to quite the gem in the Novelization, however: in the scene in the kitchen, where Mrs. White reveals her Black Widow nature, her recitation of how men are like Kleenex is corrected by Miss Scarlet thusly: "Their slogan is Soft, Strong, and Pops Up, Too."
  • And Then What?: Every Big Bad in each ending is asked this by someone (usually Green) after admitting guilt. They always suggest, more or less, the same thing: stack the bodies in the cellar, have everyone leave at different times, and pretend it never happened—and that the rest of them will all continue to be blackmailed, although not necessarily for the same reasons or by the same person.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Inverted when the cop starts listing their transgressions.

Cop: I'll book you for false arrest, and wrongful imprisonment, and obstructing an officer in the course of his duty, and murder!
Wadsworth: (opening the door and chuckling nervously) What do you mean...murder?
Cop: I just said that so you'd open the door.

    • Invoked with the crimes that the various people got blackmailed for: theft, prostitution, bribery, murder and being homosexual.[1]
      • Or, "worst of all", being ... socialist.
      • Justified, it was set in The Fifties during the Red Scare.
  • Attack! Attack! Retreat! Retreat!: Colonel Mustard and Ms. Scarlet are locked in the lounge with the dead motorist. Wadsworth, Prof. Plum and Mr. Green are trying to open it from the other side:
  • Audible Gleam: The soundtrack actually does one of these when, during The Summation, Wadsworth imitates Yvette smiling. (Which she doesn't actually ever do.)
  • Awesomeness By Analysis: Wadsworth attempts this in the first ending, claiming that he has kept track of how many times the revolver has been fired, and that the killer is holding an empty gun. He miscounted.
  • Bad Liar: Mrs. Peacock. Except in the second ending.
  • Battle Butler: Wadsworth doubles as both this and Mr. Exposition.
  • Be Quiet Nudge: When the policeman inspects the body of the Motorist and says he's in no shape to drive:

Miss Scarlet: Oh, we'll-- we'll-- we'll get him a car!
Professor Plum: A long black car!
Miss Scarlet: (punches him in the stomach) A limousine!

  • Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics: It isn't physically possible that a bullet fired from inside the study could have grazed Mr. Boddy's ear and shattered a vase on a mantelpiece on the other side of the room from where Mr. Boddy was standing.
    • It is possible, however, that after shutting off the lights Mr. Boddy started walking across the room, thus putting him between the murderer and the fireplace.
  • Black Widow: Mrs. White. "Husbands should be like kleenex. Soft, strong, and disposable."
    • "His head had been cut off...and so had know."
  • Blackmail: This is the driving force behind the plot, as all the guests except possibly Mr. Green in the third ending were being blackmailed.
  • Blatant Lies: Mrs. White's explanation for what happened to her first husband.

Wadsworth: Your first husband also disappeared.
Mrs. White: But that was his job. He was an illusionist.
Wadsworth: But he never reappeared!
Mrs. White: He wasn't a very good illusionist.

  • Brain Food: Monkey brains is apparently popular as a dish in Cantonese cuisine.
  • Brick Joke: Colonel Mustard quotes Kipling, "The female of the species is more deadly than the male." In two of the three endings the murderers were all women.
  • The Butler Did It: In the third ending, Wadsworth, or rather, Mr. Boddy pretending to be Wadsworth, shot the singing telegram girl; it also inverts this trope, as the butler, pretending to be Mr. Boddy, was a victim.
    • During his summation of the murders, Wadsworth reveals that he's known about the secret passages in the house, so Mr. Green says Wadsworth could be the murderer. His reply to the accusation? "Don't be ridiculous. If I was the murderer, why would I reveal to you how I did it?" When you keep the third ending in mind, it becomes much more amusing.
    • But, even with that, he never did the "it" that started this whole bloodbath: Mr. Boddy's murder.
    • And in point of fact, he didn't do any of the things he was explaining, save for the final murder, which didn't really bear explanation. Someone simply picked up the gun, answered the door, and shot the girl.
  • Butt Monkey: Mr. Green.
    • Colonel Mustard at times.
  • Call Back: Mrs. White threatens Wadsworth if they're ever alone together to which he replies no man in his right mind would be alone together with her. Later the two are put alone together to search the house.
    • Actually, everyone got paired up with the worst partner imaginable for that scene. Arguably, Yvette and Mr. Green are perfect.
    • "I didn't do it!" In the third ending, "I told you I didn't do it!" - he did shoot Mr. Boddy, however. In the Hall. With the revolver.
  • The Cameo: Nurse Kellye and the rhythm guitarist of The Go-Gos are murder victims, while Dr. Johnny Fever puts in an uncredited appearance as a Jehovah's Witness.
  • Canon Foreigner: Wadsworth (except in the third ending).
    • Also Yvette, the cook, the motorist, and the cop.
  • Casting Gag: Mr. Boddy won't be staying with us for very long. In fact, he's just Lee Ving.
    • Professor Plum was played by Christopher Lloyd, who played Doctor Brown in Back to The Future.
  • Catch Phrase

Mr. Green: I didn't do it!

Mr. Green: I told you I didn't do it!

  • Chekhov's Armory: Like you wouldn't believe. Even the bit with the Jehovah's Witness, which seems like a Non Sequitur Scene, is important later.
  • The Chessmaster: Miss Scarlet in the first ending, Mrs. Peacock in the second ending, Wadsworth/Mr. Boddy in the third ending.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Mrs. Peacock seems to do this nearly every time she opens her mouth.
    • Wadsworth's exposition delves into this as well. Subverted with Mrs. White in the third ending in a rambling, stumbling speech.
  • Closed Circle: Once the characters get to the house, they can't leave. Not only is there a storm outside, but there's angry dogs loose near a couple possible exits, Wadsworth has all the keys, and if anyone leaves, they'll be blamed for the murders.
  • Cold War: The politics of the '50s plays a part in the story, although mainly so the writers could make it look like there's a political conspiracy behind the murders and actually have a backstory for the film. But Communism was just a Red Herring
    • When Wadsworth enters the kitchen, there's a television set with the McCarthy inquiry playing, which took place June 6, 1954. Shown Their Work indeed.
  • Comically Missing the Point: "Like the Mounties, we always get our man!" "Mrs. Peacock was a man?" (cue Dope Slap)
  • Confusing Multiple Negatives: particularly when Mustard tries to hide his indiscretions. Which becomes a Double Entendre:

Scarlet: No, it's not true.
Green: So it is true!
Wadsworth: A double negative!
Mustard: Double negative? You mean you have photographs?

  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass/Obfuscating Stupidity: Mrs. Peacock in the second ending, Mr. Green in the third ending.
  • Curtain Camouflage
  • Death as Comedy: And how.
  • Demoted to Extra / Out of Focus: Not for the characters, but the rooms. While the six characters and six weapons all play equal roles and get equal screen time, very little time is spent some of the nine rooms. Most of the action takes place in the Hall, Lounge, Study, Dining Room and Library, with additional scenes in the Billiard Room and Kitchen. The Conservatory is featured in just two scenes, and the Ballroom gets The Cameo.
  • Dies Wide Open:
    • Boddy dies with his eyes open, which bothers Mustard while he's trying to develop a plan, so he closes them.
    • The cook apparently dies with her eyes closed, so forcefully so that Peacock has to keep them pried open during the lounge dancing scene.
    • In the third ending, Wadsworth/Mr. Boddy dies this way when shot by Mr. Green.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Professor Plum.
  • The Ditz: Colonel Mustard.
  • Does Not Like Men

Mrs White: Husbands should be like Kleenex. Soft, strong, and disposable.
Miss Scarlet: I think most men could use a little practice.

  • Dramatic Curtain Toss
  • Drawing Straws: Used with fireplace matches to determine who gets paired up with whom while searching the house.
  • Eek! A Mouse!: Mrs. Peacock in the cellar, which causes her to attack a heating pipe.
  • Eureka Moment: Played with. Mr. Green has two, but one ("Maybe Mr. Boddy killed the cook!") is immediately exposed as false and the other ("And Yvette is a link between them!") turns out to be a Red Herring.
    • Col. Mustard. "So... whoever knew the cook was involved... killed her?" looking very pleased with himself, except he's being Captain Obvious.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect: This is true throughout the entire film, but only the third ending takes the trope to its full extent.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The whole movie takes place in one evening. Possibly Real Time.
  • Eye Poke: Boddy vs. Mustard.
  • Faking the Dead: Mr. Boddy does this, pretending to be dead after realizing that the shot in the dark was intended for him, not Wadsworth. It doesn't work for him. Depending on the ending, Yvette, Mrs. Peacock or Professor Plum realizes the fake and kills him for real.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: Colonel Mustard is almost killed by one when Yvette accidentally shoots it down. At the end of the first ending, it happens again.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Namechecked by Plum.

Plum: What are you afraid of?! A fate worse than death?!
Peacock: No, just death, isn't that enough?!

  • Faux Yay: Mr. Green in the third ending. Maybe.
  • Femme Fatale: Yvette
  • The Fifties: The communism (though in all three endings it's just a "Red Herring"), nuclear arms race, J. Edgar Hoover and homosexuals-not-being-allowed-to-hold-government-jobs part of the Fifties, in particular.
  • Foreign Queasine: The contents of the dinner ( monkey's brain) is an important clue tying Mrs. Peacock to the Cook. When the other guests find out what it is, they react with disgust and horror.
    • In the novelization (3 times, it's part of all the endings). "Is that what we ate?" Said Mr Green, green.
  • Foreshadowing: Colonel Mustard's quoting Rudyard Kipling. The women in the house are significantly more dangerous and threatening than the men. No matter which ending you watch, a woman is the/a killer.
    • A rather more blatant example occurs several lines earlier when Wadsworth is quoting Alfred, Lord Tennyson:

Wadsworth: "Ours is not to know why; ours is but to do and die."

    • Also Colonel Mustard looks up at the chandelier that later almost kills him.
    • Mr. Green reveals he's a homosexual, Wadsworth reacts with shock, staring at him and the notes he was about to read, implying that what Green said was not what he expected. This foreshadows the third ending with Mr. Green being an FBI agent.
    • The Cook (innocently) points a large knife at Wadsworth when he asks if everything is alright. She is killed with The Knife.
  • French Maid: Yvette who isn't really French or a maid. But that's okay. Currently the page picture.
  • Gag Boobs: Yvette.
  • Gainaxing: A rare live action example courtesy of Yvette.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: "Well, I had to stop her screaming."
  • Get On With It Already: At the end of the movie, the murders are explained in excruciating detail by Wadsworth, prompting the other characters to yell this several times.

Wadsworth: And to make a long story short--
Col. Mustard: Too late.

    • Once they even do it as a chorus.

Wadsworth: I'm getting there! I'm getting there!

  • Good-Looking Privates: One of the pictures burned is of Colonel Mustard and his driver the motorist in full US Army dress uniform.
  • Groin Attack: Administered to Mr. Boddy by Mrs. White. Normally-prim Mrs. Peacock cheers.
  • Hand of Death: Black gloves allow the identity/sex of the murderer to remain anonymous until the endings.
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: "Oh my. Nobody can get into that position."
  • Here We Go Again: Mr. Green being tossed around by Wadsworth during The Reveal.

Wadsworth: No.

  • He's Dead, Jim: Subverted, as Plum gets it wrong. Zigzagged in the third ending because Plum did know, but lied.
  • Hypocritical Humor: A running gag is Mrs. Peacock's moral outrage at the discovery of the other guests' indiscretions, even though she herself is guilty of taking bribes on behalf of her husband. And of murder, in two of the endings.
  • I Ate What?: In the second and third ending, Wadsworth revealed what they ate earlier in the film.

Wadsworth: Monkey's brain, though popular in Cantonese cuisine, are not often to be found in Washington, DC.
Mr. Green: That's what we ate? (covers his mouth and runs to the bathroom)

  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Not the cognac - just in case.
  • I Resemble That Remark: "What do you mean, don't deny it? I'm not denying anything."
  • Idiot Ball: In what may be the most stunningly foolish move in the history of cinema, Mr. Boddy hands lethal weapons out to a half dozen people he's been blackmailing into poverty for years (at least one of whom he already knows to be a murderer), turns out the lights, and expects them to use the weapons on the guy who's trying to help them out of their fix.
    • However, one can understand this far better if one takes the third ending into account. Imagine that "Mr. Boddy" is another blackmail victim, whose only condition to earning his freedom is to deliver those packages filled with weapons. "Mr. Boddy", sick of his life of blackmail and knowing "Wadsworth"'s true plan, tries to get the guests to kill their true blackmailer. Then again, he could have told the guests the truth, so he held an Idiot Ball either way.
    • "Mr. Boddy" probably thought they would not believe him. Also he said that killing "Wadsworth" would make sure that their dirty secrets wouldn't get into the papers. If they did kill him however, the press would be all over it, exposing them anyway. Makes this a bit of a Xanatos Gambit when you think about it
    • For that matter: Yvette, in the first ending, is knowingly working for someone who's been killing off all of Mr. Boddy's other accomplices. What did she think would happen?
  • Instant Death Bullet: See Killed Mid-Sentence just below. Inverted in the 3rd ending when Wadsworth is fatally shot, but keeps on talking.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: The Singing Telegram Girl.
    • Also the motorist who is bludgeoned while talking on the phone, just before revealing which one of the guests is his old boss.
    • Inverted when the cop's killer hangs up his phone call before killing him.
    • Wadsworth, in the third ending, who doesn't manage to get out the last word of his sentence before dying.
  • Knocking on Heathens' Door: Appears as a throwaway gag during Wadsworth's summation.

Evangelist: Repent! The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!
Scarlett: You ain't just whistlin' Dixie!
Evangelist: Armageddon is almost upon us!
Plum: I've got news for you; it's already here!
Peacock: Go away!
Evangelist: But your souls are in danger!
Peacock: Our lives are in danger, ya beatnik! (slams door)

    • This is yet another cover. The Jehovah's witness is really the FBI agent's - whether Wadsworth or Mr. Green - boss.
  • Large Ham: See Tim Curry, below. Especially during The Summation, which could be summed up as "Wadsworth reenacts the entire movie by himself, but in the silliest way possible."
    • Mrs. Peacock too.
  • Left Hanging / Aborted Arc: Of a sort. While the movie is... decent at consistently making sure all the points of each ending work, there is one that doesn't: before she dies, Yvette the Maid has a very ominous, suspicious conversation with her killer that makes absolutely no sense unless you get a specific ending, where it's revealed the two were working together. Without that ending, it instead becomes a plot point that is never elaborated on.
    • Yvette, however, is surprised by the identity of the person she's speaking to ("It's you!"), so she thought it was someone else.
    • There was a fourth ending written and shot, but ultimately left out in the final cut.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: Invoked by Colonel Mustard.
  • Logic Bomb: The questions Mustard asks Wadsworth in the library are self-inverted as to be effectively unanswerable, which leads to a comedic interchange.

Mustard: Am I right in thinking there is no one else in this house?
Wadsworth: No.
Mustard: So there is someone else in this house?
Wadsworth: No, sorry, I said no meaning yes.
Mustard: I want a straight answer, is there someone else or isn't there, yes or no?
Wadsworth: Um, no.
Mustard: No, there is? Or no, there isn't?
Wadsworth: Yes.

  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Professor Plum tries to put the moves on every woman in the film except Mrs. Peacock and the singing telegram girl who, it turns out, he had an affair with.
    • Even his hand somehow ends up on the dead cook's ass.
  • Male Gaze: Professor Plum not so subtly gazes at Yvette's cleavage.
  • Meaningful Name: Mr. Boddy, naturally. All of the other guests (except Mr. Green) have these as well, as their pseudonyms reflect their attire or appearance: Ms. Scarlet has red hair, Professor Plum wears a plum-colored vest, Mrs. Peacock's outfit and headdress are loud and multicolored, Ms. White looking pale and tragic.
    • Mr. Green being a plant in the third ending.
  • Minsky Pickup: The singing telegram girl.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Colleen Camp as Yvette. Justified, she's actually one of Miss Scarlet's prostitutes.
    • For that matter, Miss Scarlet.
  • Multiple Endings: Three of them. In the order they appear on the "home video" version of the film, they are:
    • 1. Miss Scarlet and the maid Yvette are responsible for all the murders, and Wadsworth is an FBI agent.
    • 2. Mrs. Peacock killed everyone, Wadsworth still works for the FBI.
    • 3. Everyone except Mr. Green killed somebody, Wadsworth is actually Mr. Boddy (and 'Mr. Boddy' was actually his butler), Mr. Green kills Mr. Boddy, reveals he's an FBI plant, has all the others arrested, and declares he is "going home to sleep with my wife." (The home video lists this one as "But here's what really happened.")
    • Listed as "Ending A", "Ending B" and "Ending C" in the original theatrical newspaper ads.
    • There was a fourth ending scripted and filmed, but dropped from the final cut. In it, Wadsworth is the killer, and did it out of a sick need for perfection. He reveals he poisoned everyone, then locks everyone inside when the police arrive and tries to escape in a police car, only to discover a Doberman in the back. This ending was not included in the DVD release.
    • The Vanilla Edition DVD version has only one special feature - it will select one of the endings at random if you choose it to before you start the film.
      • Since the film had multiple endings, it was important that each one was actually plausible in order for them to work. If you go back and watch the film with each ending's evidence in mind, noting the absences of certain characters in certain scenes as well as specific character interactions, you'll find that all three are almost completely plausible (and equally implausible).
        • Though notably some of the endings are more plausible than others - in particular, Ms. Scarlett's ending is the only one to adequately deal with the killer being able to do the equivalent of running a marathon, without the Xanatos Roulette of the everybody did it ending: in this case she had help, which also accounts for Yvette the maid's presence (or lack thereof) in the plot, as well as explaining the dialogue before Yvette's death.
        • Ending C is also the only one with a plethora of flashbacks, and a Mythology Gag in which a character declares who did it, where and with what, just like a player does in the actual game.
        • For one more also, certain characters disappearing at certain times, or finding certain weapons and secret passageways feels ridiculous if Ending C isn't true.
  • My Car Hates Me

Scarlet: Why has the car stopped?
Plum: It's frightened.

  • Mythology Gag: "If you want to know who killed Mr. Boddy, I did. In the hall, with the revolver."
  • Nasty Party: All the characters are invited to the house to face Mr. Boddy, who (unbeknownst to them) is the person blackmailing each of them. Boddy gives them all weapons, and orders them to kill the butler so that what they're being blackmailed for won't be exposed. This degenerates into psychosis, with more murders over the course of the movie.
  • No Name Given: All of the characters from the game (Mr. Green, Professor Plum, Mrs. White, etc.) are revealed to be going by aliases so as to protect their real identities.

Mustard: That's not my name, my name is Colonel--
Wadsworth: Forgive me, sire, but tonight you may feel obliged... for the use of an alias.
White: Do you know who I am?
Wadsworth: Only that you are to be known as Mrs. White.
White: Yes, it said so in the letter. But why?

  • Non-Indicative Name: Mr. Green is the only guest whose pseudonym does not reflect his appearance or attire. He wears a blue suit, red tie, and white shirt and has blue eyes and brown hair. Subverted in the last ending, since plants are green.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Professor Plum evaluates Mr. Boddy after he "dies".

Green: How did he die?!
Plum: I don't know! I'm not a forensic expert!

  • Nothing Is Scarier: There is a genuinely eerie scene where Ms. Scarlet, left alone in the ballroom, nervously checks to see if the mystery killer is hiding behind the curtains. This is made even better by the brief tracking shot over her shoulder, which upon first viewing lends the sensation we're about to see someone come up behind her.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Zigzagged with Colonel Mustard in the third ending. On the one hand, he was bright enough to pick Wadsworth's pocket for the key to the weapons cupboard, substitute the lounge door key to be thrown away, then suggest everyone split up in order to get at the witness against him, but on the other hand, he assumes that something perverted is about to happen when Wadsworth declares that, rather than be exposed as the killer, "I choose to expose myself!"
    • Mrs. Peacock in the second ending.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: When the cop becomes understandably suspicious of the goings-on at Hill House, Mr. Green is commandeered to give a "tour" while the others set up the corpses to "make it look convincing" they're still alive. The results are hilarious, if not half because of the cop and Green's reactions to Mrs. White and Mr. Boddy apparently making out and Colonel Mustard romancing Mrs. Ho (while poor Mrs. Peacock is stuck on her other side on a window ledge). Professor Plum and Miss Scarlet get off the lightest since they get to make out while pretending the motorist is "dead drunk" who will have "a long black car" sent to take him home.
  • Panty Shot: Yvette the Maid.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Mr. Boddy's motivation for the blackmail.
  • Pet the Dog: Mrs. Peacock was concern about the Cook since she wasn't involved in the blackmail conspiracy. But Wadsworth tells her she WAS involved, otherwise why else would she even be in the mansion? She was one of Mr. Boddy's accomplices.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: The cowardly Mr. Green, except in the third ending.

"Sorry, I'm a bit accident-prone."

  • Red Herring: All of the characters have some connection to the government, many of them with ties to the military and the Cold War. However, none of this turns out to be important because, as we're told in all three endings, "Communism was just a red herring".
    • Also, we never learned the cause of the broken window in the ballroom. Though it can probably be assumed it was broken by a tree branch during the storm.
  • Rule of Three: The three endings. Used to full effect in the "home video" version of the film, in which all three endings are shown one after another.
  • Running Gag: Wadsworth steps in dog poop at the beginning of the movie. The first time he speaks to Yvette and each of the guests, they all sniff a few times and check their own shoes.
    • Also, "To make a long story short..." "Too late."
    • "I didn't do it!"
  • Scenery Porn: Shot on location in an authentic New England mansion.
  • Share Phrase: The same lines and gags appear in each ending, transposed to different characters (e.g. "Communism was just a red herring," the line "There's one thing I don't understand." "One thing?"). However when watched together, it comes off as a convincing call back.
  • Share the Male Pain: When Mrs. White indicates that her late husband was castrated during his murder, the three male guests all cross their legs.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Yvette does this to get Miss Scarlet and Colonel Mustard out of the Lounge.
  • Shout-Out: "Frankly, Miss Scarlett, I don't give a damn."
    • The dinner takes place at Hill House, named after Debra Hill, the film's producer.
    • During The Summation, Wadsworth leads the group running from room to room to explain his suspects. In the game, to suggest a suspect, players must place their pawns in the room they intend to speak about.
  • Shown Their Work: A subtitle proclaims that the film takes place in 1954. The TV broadcast playing in the kitchen as the cook prepares dinner uses real Congressional footage which was aired June 6, 1954.
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: In the third ending, Wadsworth grabs Mrs. White's hand and leads her up the stairs, only to drop her for no apparent reason.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Neil Simon's Murder By Death—the movies share a similar setting, sense of humor...and Eileen Brennan.
  • Stealth Pun: At dinner, Professor Plum says that he is employed by UNO (United Nations Organization), at a branch called WHO (World Health Organization). Which means he works for U-NO-WHO.
    • See also Casting Gag.
    • Wadsworth's name. Early firearms used wadding in the barrel to help igniting the black powder. Wadsworth's name implies that he's worth shooting. Especially true in the third ending.
  • Invisible to Gaydar: Mr. Green, unless the third ending is the correct ending, in which case he was a plant ("A plant? I thought men like you were usually called a fruit.") from the FBI pretending to be gay so he would be blackmailed, and is in fact "going home to sleep with [his] wife".
    • So he says. He couldn't very well have told his boss something else, could he? All the evidence that he was gay burned up earlier in the movie.
  • The Summation: All such summations from 80s mystery shows are totally spoofed by the over the top and ultimately unhelpful way Wadsworth does it.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial

The Motorist: Where is it?
Wadsworth: What? The body?
The Motorist: The phone. What body?
Wadsworth: There's no body. Nobody. There's, there's nobody in the study.

Wadsworth: Professor Plum, you were once a professor of psychiatry specializing in helping paranoid and homicidal lunatics suffering from delusions of grandeur.
Professor Plum: Yes, but now I work for the United Nations.
Wadsworth: So your work has not changed.

    • Plum himself joins in, when he is told that it won't help his career to be implicated in six murders. He responds, "You don't know the kind of people we have at the UN - I might go up in their estimation."
    • "Even a psychiatrist can tell the difference between patients who are alive or dead."
  • Throw It In: The famous "Flames! Flames on the side of my face! Breathing...breathle-...heaving breaths..." scene resulted from Madeleine Kahn forgetting her lines and improvising. You can see Tim Curry trying not to laugh, while Martin Mull and ChristopherLloyd are look around wondering who gave her those lines.
  • Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: When Colonel Mustard challenges Mr. Boddy to a fight, Mr. Boddy responds by poking him in the eyes, kicking him in the shin, then kicking him again when he's down.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: In the first two endings, Wadsworth is an FBI agent. In the final ending, Mr. Green reveals himself as the agent just after shooting the real Mr. Boddy.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: When the group walks into the Billiard Room and find Yvette dead with the noose around her neck, they just walk out without a single word as if they were used to all the murders happening around them.
  • What Could Have Been: The director was a fan of Rowan Atkinson and wanted him to play Wadsworth, but the producers said that Atkinson wasn't a big enough name for American audiences. So instead he cast lifelong friend Tim Curry.
    • A fourth ending was filmed, but left out because it is less humorous than the others. In this one, Wadsworth killed all the victims due to his disgust at their behavior and a sick need for perfection, and reveals that he has poisoned the other characters as well. The FBI shows up, and Wadsworth confesses by beginning to reenact the plot again. When he gets to the part where he answers the door for Colonel Mustard, he flees. Wadsworth attempts to get away in a police vehicle, but hears a doberman growling from the backseat, and is attacked.
  • W Hhat Happened To The Mouse: It is never explained why Mr. Green has blood in his hands or how the candlestick got to the top of a door frame.
  • Worthy Opponent: Wadsworth/Mr. Boddy in the third ending, after being shot by Mr. Green

Mr. Boddy: Oh, good shot! *slides down the wall to sitting, looks in his suit at the wound* A very... *dies*

  1. This is Truth in Television though, people who were homosexual in the era this film is set in were often blackmailed, and homosexuals could be fired if anybody found out about their sexual orientation.