Demolition Man

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Demolition-man 8081.jpg

Send a maniac to catch a maniac...


A Sylvester Stallone movie in which he plays loose cannon policeman John Spartan, who is dedicated to hunting down psychopathic and master criminal Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes), causing havoc and property destruction every time they face off. This earns Spartan the nickname "Demolition Man". Their final confrontation goes a little too far, resulting in the deaths of several dozen innocent hostages. Luckily Phoenix was finally captured in the chaos, but both men are condemned to Human Popsicle-ization.

Flash forward Twenty Minutes Into the Future (actually 36 years) when Phoenix is released from his ice prison, and proceeds to go on a rampage. Since this brave new world is a parody of Mary Suetopia, Phoenix's old school brutality is unheard of by the wimpy future police and they are easily outmatched. Figuring they need an old school police officer to deal with an old school thug, they thaw out Spartan.

The rest of the film is an action based Fish Out of Temporal Water where Phoenix has already committed a MurderDeathKill. Hilarity Ensues, and a fight all over San Angeles that, as it should, results in an insurance nightmare. Spartan wouldn't have it any other way.

Not to be confused with the Demoman, or Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man.

Tropes used in Demolition Man include:
  • A-Team Firing: Used abundantly by both Phoenix and Spartan, but most notably when Phoenix fires an automatic weapon at Spartan while he's confined in a vise, and still doesn't hit him—although that may have been deliberate, to prolong Spartan's torment.
  • Adam Westing: Edgar Friendly basically is Denis Leary in a dirty coat.
  • Affably Evil: Dr. Raymond Cocteau. Friendly, fatherly, cares about the well-being of the utopia he's made... and plans to keep it that way by unleashing criminals on the underground populace that causes problems for his utopia. Lampshaded by Phoenix, who calls him "an evil Mr. Rogers"
  • Alien Lunch: "It's a ratburger?" (Beat) *munch* "Mmm... best burger I've had in years".[1]
  • Alternate Universe: Los Angeles, 1996, looks as devastated by violence as Sarajevo - and gang members have anti-aircraft capabilities. It's gotten to the point the police are using humvees and had to track Phoenix via satellite. According to Dr. Cocteau, between 1996 and 2032, It Got Worse.
  • And I Must Scream: Criminals aren't supposed to be aware of the time spent as a Human Popsicle. John's malfunctioned, and he was awake the entire time, lucidly dreaming of the innocents that he didn't save, and watching helplessly as his wife pounded on the ice cube he was in.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: One of Phoenix's crimes in his brought-up file, in the midst of rape and random murder, is littering.
    • Well, it's not like he cleans up all those bodies he leaves in his wake, after all...
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: San Angeles.
  • Ax Crazy: Phoenix. It's used as a plot point; Spartan noted that someone like Phoenix wouldn't hesitate to kill Cocteau, unless there's a sinister reason.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Huxley wishes for "some action".
  • Beneath the Earth: Home of everyone who doesn't want to be a part of San Angeles, in an Absurdly Spacious Sewer.
    • Truth in Television: Sewers underneath major cities are often huge, and Los Angeles isn't much of an exception.
    • The movie notes that part of them are the ruins of Los Angeles from the last earthquake.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The people of San Angeles and the people who live beneath it will have a heck of a time adjusting to each other, and Spartan will try to find peace in this strange time with a new woman in his life, but he will probably be forever estranged from his daughter.
    • Debatable. The worst criminals are all dead, the moralistic elite are in disarray without their leader, and the sewer people, the only ones who have upgraded their situation, seem all-round good sports (if a little rough around the edges). Spartan has killed his nemesis, demolished the broken institution that sent him in the cryo-prison, and has a new peaceful life all ahead of him with a woman who seems to genuinely care for him.
    • The novel even clears up the matter of his daughter: she's a Scrap, and she's always believed in him and is glad he's back.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: Phoenix, again.
  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: Variant, Huxley doesn't get 90's slang.
  • Brick Joke: Set up during the initial confrontation in 1996:

Spartan: Where are they, Phoenix?
Phoenix: Now where did I put them? I swear, I'd lose my head if it wasn't attached.
Spartan: I'll keep that in mind.

  • Car Fu: The chase sequence with Phoenix and Spartan near the end.
  • Catch Phrase: Simon says...

Phoenix: Simon says BLEED!
Phoenix: Simon says DIE!

  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: And useless! They demand that Huxley and Spartan be under arrest. At least Friendly's uprising has an excuse, being, uh, underground and without vehicles and right after Phoenix caused a mess.
    • And the police only turn up because Spartan has crashed into the fountain at the front of their HQ.
  • Celebrity Paradox: When Phoenix steals a gun from a soldier mannequin in the Hall of Violence, he says, "Excuse me, Rambo, I need to borrow this."
    • Adapting the logic for Celebrity Paradox used in Last Action Hero, Rambo in the world of Demolition Man would have been one of the former roles of President Schwarzenegger.
  • Chessmaster: Dr. Cocteau.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: John Spartan to the machine that dispenses fines so he can use them as toilet paper.

Spartan: Thanks a lot, you shit-brained, fuck-faced, ball-breaking, duck-fucking pain in the ass.

  • Coca-Pepsi, Inc.: Taco Bell, the only survivor of the Franchise Wars, is now the only restaurant chain in existence (in some cuts and localizations of the movie, it's Pizza Hut instead). Spartan notes that, ironically, whatever they're serving isn't tacos (or pizza).
  • Cold Sleep, Cold Future: Inverted.
  • Convection Shmonvection: Phoenix holds a blowtorch inches away from a pool of gasoline, notwithstanding that the fumes are far more flammable than the liquid itself.
  • Cool Car: The awesome (doomed) Oldsmobile 442.
    • The novelization specifically refers to one customer at the dealership staring after it and, some innate car-lust of yesteryear stirring and igniting inside him, declares "I want one of those!"
  • Cowboy Cop: John Spartan arguably both plays it straight and deconstructs it. He's got all the extreme combat skills, the Bond One Liners, the trail of destruction in his wake... but he's also uncomfortable with a lot of his reputation, and clearly doesn't love violence for the sake of it. He is distinctly bothered with Lenina casting him in this mold, going so far as to sulkily protest that "I just do my job... and things get demolished."
    • Lampshaded. Huxley changes her assessment of Spartan from (paraphrased) "Macho he-man" to "Sulking gunslinger with a troubled past who only draws his gun when he needs to".
    • Furthermore, going in half-cocked all action movie style at the beginning is partly what gets Spartan frozen in the first place; in originally apprehending Phoenix, he's led into a trap, and people die because of it. Although he is later revealed to have been framed.
  • Crapsack World: Los Angeles, 1996. And how. The opening sequence shows the Hollywood sign on fire, along with maybe 10% of the entire city, and anti-aircraft fire all over the place.
  • Cryonics Failure: Presumably, a lot of the occupants of the cryo-prison destroyed in the final battle had their sentences extended permanently, with no hope of parole. It's certainly what happened to Simon Phoenix, courtesy of John Spartan's boot.
    • They'd already had their sentences extended permanently with no hope of parole by Cocteau. The Warden even begins to explain the law that did so before Simon shuts down his speechifying.
  • Dark-Skinned Blond: Simon Phoenix. Of course, he dyed it.
  • Destructive Saviour: There's a reason why he's called the... IT'S IN THE TITLE! It's one of the reasons why he's put into cryo-freeze as well.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: After Spartan's car crash, Huxley comments that his uniform is in shambles.

Spartan: I can fix it later. All I need is a needle and thread. [[[Beat]]] Did I really say that?

  • Didn't See That Coming: Cocteau reprogrammed Simon so that he wouldn't kill him, but didn't anticipate that Simon would have someone else do it. Way to not see that one. Simon lampshades it.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Averted. They tried this in the museum; we see Spartan reload his shotgun as he walks towards the next room and we get the crescendo, telling us that it's about to get awesome. It culminates in Spartan darting around the corner and snapping his barrel back up... and it falls back down, forcing him to do it manually.
  • Eternal Prohibition:

Huxley: Smoking is not good for you. Anything not good for you is bad. Hence, illegal. Alcohol, caffeine, contact sports, meat... bad language, chocolate, uneducational toys and spicy food. Abortion is illegal, but so is pregnancy if you don't have a license.

  • Even Evil Has Standards: Phoenix invokes this several times on Cocteau, and in the end seems to kill him as much because he detests Cocteau's prissy brand of fascism as much as anything. Made even more explicit in the novelization.

Phoenix: Why the hell did you follow that guy around, anyway?
Associate Bob: Well, sir, you see, he had me... castrated.
Phoenix: Shit! He took your balls?!
Bob: Yes, sir. To limit any aspirations of power I might have.
Phoenix: Well, don't you worry, man, I'm gonna get you some new ones.

    • And from the movie:

Cocteau: Now I'll have carte blanche to create the perfect society. My society. The harmony of an ant colony and the purity of a flawless pearl-
Phoenix: Yeah, but you can't take away people's right to be assholes! That's who you remind me of. An evil Mr. Rogers. Will you please kill him? (throws gun to Mook) He's pissing me off.


"Is it cold in here, or is it just me?"

  • The Evils of Free Will: Cocteau believes in this. Of course, it means turning Southern California into Sissy Land.
  • Eye Scream/Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Simon Phoenix pulls the eye out of a warden with a pen and uses it on an eye-scan to escape. We see the moment when the pen nears his eye, and then (after, thankfully, a Gory Discretion Shot), a close-up of the eye getting scanned. We then see the eye still stuck on the pen. Later we see the warden laying on the floor dying from, among other injuries, "severe eye trauma".
    • Borrowed Biometric Bypass is referenced later in the movie, when the police note that Phoenix is unable to pay for any food or shelter, nor can he mug anyone to get the money, as all transactions are done using the chip implanted in people's hands. Spartan immediately realizes a way around this and simply notes that "Let's just hope that he doesn't figure that one out."
  • Fan Disservice: The 2032 method of having sex. It's less erotic than a block of wood.
    • Not to mention it could lead to epileptic seizures...
  • Fan of the Past: Lenina Huxley collects 20th Century memorabilia; her superior calls it an "addiction" at one point. She rather shamefully admits to Spartan that she had to use not-strictly-legal means to buy some of it.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Guns only exist in museums in San Angeles. Unsurprisingly, Phoenix and Spartan head straight for it.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Simon Phoenix. He seems like a real fun guy to be around. Too bad he's a psychopath who'd probably maim you twice for shits and giggles.
  • Fetal Position Rebirth: John Spartan as he's unfrozen from cryosleep.
  • Fish Out of Temporal Water: Spartan and Phoenix; Spartan, especially.
  • For Inconvenience Press One: "Greetings and salutations. Welcome to the San Angeles Emergency Line. If you would like an automated response, please press '1' now."
  • From the Mouths of Babes: In the video of Spartan rescuing a girl.

Reporter: John Spartan, how can you justify destroying a seven million dollar mini-mall, to rescue a girl whose ransom was only twenty-five thousand dollars?
Girl: Fuck you, lady!


Phoenix: Wait a minute... this is the future; where are all the phaser guns? (Then he finds one)

  • Genre Shift: There's nothing funny about the prologue of the movie, taking place in 1996 in Los Angeles. It gets funnier than hell in 2032 in San Angeles, though.
  • Got Volunteered: The San Angeles police realize they don't know how to deal with Phoenix, but luckily, the guy who beat him last time is also in the cryo-prison. Despite otherwise being a Chessmaster, Cocteau is visibly surprised that they thought outside the box like that, but hides it well enough.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: In one scene, Simon uses an innocent bystander not actually as a weapon, but as a smashing tool to break a museum glass box.

Bystander: What seems to be your boggle?
Phoenix: My boggle? Oh, brother. [[[Beat]]] Hold on... how much do you weigh?
Bystander: Well... I happen to weigh exactly... *GRAB* WAAAUUGGHH *SMASH*


News reporter: How can you justify destroying a $7,000,000 mini-mall to rescue a girl whose ransom is only $25,000?
Girl: Fuck you, lady!
John Spartan: Good answer.

  • Horrible Judge of Character: Cocteau overestimated Friendly and underestimated Phoenix even more.
  • Human Popsicle: Spartan, Phoenix and the paroled cryo-cons, of course.
  • Humans Are Morons: The film provides the unique depiction of a Future where humanity has eradicated all the things that make humans bastards in the Present Day, but has become more paranoid, inexperienced, and clueless as a trade-off.
  • Innocent Innuendo: In-Universe: Huxley often mangles 20th century sayings into... something else, prompting Spartan to react with irritation/disgust and correct her.
  • Insult Backfire:

Taco Bell patron: What would you say if I called you a brutish fossil, symbolic of a decayed era gratefully forgotten?
John Spartan: I don't know... thanks?

  • Ironic Echo: Spoken by Phoenix before blowing up his fortress in 1996, and later by Spartan during their final fight in the cryo-prison:

"Is it cold in here, or is it just me?"


Huxley: I thought you wanted to make love!
Spartan: Is that what you call that?!

  • I Want My Jetpack: After Phoenix finds a stash of rifles (in a museum). "If this is the future, where are all the phaser guns?"
    • Cool but Inefficient: Partly. When he actually finds an energy gun, it takes 2.6 minutes to reactivate.
    • Awesome Yet Practical: But once the gun is activated, it basically causes an amount of matter about the size of a baseball to explode like a grenade. Phoenix is so impressed by how awesome the gun is that he stands there singing the gun's praises, allowing Spartan to tackle him and knock the gun away.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Phoenix killing Cocteau, who went to extreme, disgusting lengths to create a saccharine dystopia.
  • Light Is Not Good: Cocteau, who dresses in white, speaks calmly to everyone, encourages peace and well-being, and dreams of an utopia.
  • Literally Shattered Lives/Off with His Head: Phoenix in the end, as a result of the contact with cryogenic "seed" and, seconds later, Spartan's boot.
  • Lockdown: Phoenix is locked in the armory after killing (at least) two people in that room. This goes about as well as you'd expect.
  • Malaproper: Lenina frequently attempts to use 20th century slang, resulting in accidental innuendos.

Huxley: He finally matched his meat. You really licked his ass.
Spartan: That's met his match, and kicked, KICKED his ass!
Huxley: Let's go blow this guy!
Spartan: Away. Blow this guy away!
Huxley: ...Whatever!
Huxley: Chief, you can take this job, and you can shovel it.
Spartan: ...Close enough.

  • Manchurian Agent: The reason Cocteau thaws out Phoenix to begin with. "Don't you have someone to kill? Mr. Edgar Friendly?"
  • Meaningful Name: John Spartan is a mighty warrior. Simon Phoenix is raised from death-like cryo-sleep. Lenina Huxley lives in the regimented, eugenicised future.
  • Mental Affair: Spartan and Huxley, until he realizes that's all there is to it and promptly removes his headgear.
  • Minion with an F In Evil: Administrative Assistant Bob.
    • With Phoenix, he has no choice. He would have killed him too. And Phoenix needs an assistant, anyway.
  • Mirrored Confrontation Shot: In the poster.
  • Mismatched Eyes: Phoenix.
  • Monumental Damage: As we swoop over the hell of 1996 Los Angeles, we see that the Hollywood sign is on fire.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: John accidentally sets the building, used as Phoenix's base, on fire. The firefighters found dead bodies in the rubble, bodies of the hostages he was trying to save. However, they were already dead when he arrived to capture Phoenix.
    • Phoenix later states explicitly that he knew Spartan would use a thermal scan to check for hostages, which is why they were "cold as ice". You'd think that kind of thing would come up during the investigation, but Spartan's superiors seem to have been looking for an excuse to get rid of him.
  • No-Paper Future: Dollars have been replaced by credits, and currency is exchanged through subcutaneous microchips in people's hands. Toilet paper doesn't exist, either.
  • Nobody Poops: Spartan excuses himself to use the bathroom, starting the Running Gag of the "three seashells" that have replaced toilet paper.
  • Noodle Implements: "You don't know how to use the three seashells?"
    • Stallone revealed the mystery of the three seashells in an interview (Question #9). Warning: contains Squick.
      • From the interview, I-Mockery created this 'handy illustrated instructional guide' for the seashells. Warning: as above, contains Squick, and a (not so graphic) drawing of human buttocks and feces.
  • No Sex Allowed: Sex is performed via electronics, since fluid transmission causes horrible diseases and pregnancy, the former of which is extremely feared in San Angeles and the latter of which needs a license.
    • Kissing is not allowed either. Presumably, not even a peck on the cheek. Even the word "kiss" disgusts Huxley like a school... person would be disgusted by the word "penis".
      • Even touch is avoided, two character even give a "high-five" without hand contact. When Spartan gives someone an actual high five, the other guy is visibly revolted by the physical contact.
  • Nothing Can Stop Us Now: Phoenix after gathering his old gang together and after killing Cocteau.
  • Oh Crap: John specifically snaps out an "Oh shi-!" when he hears Phoenix's blaster rifle reach full charge. The look on Cocteau's face when Phoenix tosses a gun to an unrehabed cryo-con is a suitably epic one as well.
  • Order Versus Chaos: Spartan versus Phoenix - and Cocteau versus Friendly, respectively.
  • Outside Context Villain: Simon Phoenix.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: While eating a rat burger, he mentions to the cook that it was "the best burger he'd had in years." Despite it had having been over thirty years since he had even seen one, he seemed to be sincere about the compliment.
  • Override Command: Simon Phoenix tries to activate an electrical anti-graffiti system to zap a cop behind a wall. It detects the policeman and refuses to activate, so Phoenix overrides it with the password 7777777 and kills the cop. "Lucky Number Seven!"
  • Perfect Pacifist People: Subverted and deconstructed. Due to the lack of crime and war, neither the police nor anyone else have any idea how to take care of Phoenix, and shit hits the fan.
  • Police Are Useless: A variant: the police genuinely do want to do their jobs and protect the citizens, but their society has grown so pacifistic that they honestly have no idea how to actually deal with violent criminals. This is most obvious during the police's first encounter with Phoenix, where the lead officer has to get advice word-for-word just on how to approach the guy - and is completely at a loss when Phoenix blows him off.

Erwin: We're police officers! We're not trained to handle this kind of violence!

    • "Maniac is imminent; request advice."
    • Even earlier: "Thank you for calling the San Angeles Police Department! If you would prefer an automated response, please press one now!"
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: Essentially the entire plot setup. San Angeles is a place where attempting not to offend anybody and maintaining civil, peaceful coexistence has arguably usurped the value of life in importance. San Angeles is what would happen if the people who organize proper workplace behavior seminars went mad with power.
  • Politically-Incorrect Villain: Phoenix mocks some Asians at the San Angeles museum.
  • Population Control: Implied; pregnancy is illegal without a license, and fluids are cleaned and transferred by authorized medical personnel.
    • Eugenics is also at work, since the fluids are purified and perfected, according to Huxley.
  • Product Placement: The only existing restaurant chain is Taco Bell, unless you're watching the European version, where it's Pizza Hut. (Taco Bell barely exists outside the USA. Oddly enough, the British version is unchanged; Britain doesn't have Taco Bell, but does have Popcultural Osmosis.) Spartan is noticeably confused when everyone dresses up.
    • In some TV versions, the name of the restaurant is unmentioned altogether.
    • The first thing Spartan wants after being defrosted is a Marlboro.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Bob. In the novel, it's revealed he's been castrated for this purpose.
  • Psycho for Hire: Phoenix is initially this to Doctor Cocteau, but then, like many psycho henchman, he turns the tables becoming The Starscream.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Associate Bob. He basically just serves whoever's in power, regardless of their alignment, because that's his job.
  • Punched Across the Room: When Phoenix first attacks the SAPD officers at the information booth, some try to flee in their car. Phoenix smashes the windshield, grabs one of them by the jacket one handed and throws him across the street.
  • Ragnarok Proofing: Friendly's 1970 Oldsmobile works just fine 62 years after it was built, thanks to constant repairs.
  • Red Alert: The Chief, surrounded by the police force, calls for a "Defensive Red Alert" when Edgar Friendly and the scraps start coming (Spartan chills them out).
  • Restraining Bolt/Real Men Wear Pink: During their ice rehab, they were programmed with skills to be more productive to society. Phoenix is unable to kill Cocteau (he gets around it by having one of his goons do it), whereas Spartan tends toward knitting.
  • Running Gag: The machine which dispenses fines for saying bad words. John and Simon noticed it the first time, but ignore it through the entire film. The buzz can be heard at all the right points.
  • Sarcasm Mode: When the police are out of leads on where to find Phoenix, the chief's plan is to simply wait until the next "MurderDeathKill" and zero in on that, leading Spartan to sarcastically remark "Nice plan". Nobody gets it.
    • From Lenina's snicker, it hints that she is the only one that does.
  • Saw It in a Movie Once: How Huxley learned to kick like that. "Jackie Chan movies". It's a Shout-Out to the fact Jackie Chan and Stallone are friends... Jackie was originally slated to play the villain, even.
  • Scary Black Man: Simon Phoenix.
  • Schmuck Bait: As John eats the burger underground, Lenina tells him, "Just don't ask where the meat comes from." Of course, he immediately does.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Practically everyone in the cryo-prison, but Phoenix especially. Cocteau seems to have been planning to open Phoenix's can for some time if he ever had need of someone with his... leanings.
  • Shoulders of Doom: Simon Phoenix and some of the scraps.
  • Shout-Out: This film features references to Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World: Lenina Huxley was named after Lenina Crowne (a major character in the novel) and Aldous Huxley, John Spartan is named after John the Savage (on a side note, Chief Earle and later Huxley, called Spartan a savage), and Simon said during the fight at the Museum (before firing his AcMag gun):

Simon Phoenix: It's a brave new world! Sorry you gotta go!

  • Slobs Versus Snobs: Edgar Friendly's dirty gritty freedom-fighters against Dr. Cocteau's relentlessly clean neat orderly society.
  • Sound Effect Bleep: When shown on TV, the news report where a girl says "Fuck you lady" is bleeped out, giving a stylistic and unique twist to the trope.
  • The Swear Jar: Every time you curse, a machine pops out a ticket. Do it enough, it calls the cops. Unless you're already a cop, of course. When Spartan can't figure out the "three seashells", he swears at the machine until it gives him enough tickets to use as toilet paper.
  • Technical Pacifist: While nonviolent, all the San Angelinos are this by default since, as Lenina points out, the society can only exist because of the cryo-prison. Note that even before San Angeles evolved, it was possible to get a life sentence to cryo-prison, no rehab, no parole... effectively a death sentence with the technicality of the person not actually dying. Add to that, anyone sentenced before San Angeles was established is effectively auto-denied parole and has their sentence commuted to life, meaning that anyone who went in for any reason, despite having served their sentence and having been rehabbed, effectively sentencing them to death for no longer fitting in.
    • The Scraps are a sort of inversion. While they appear threatening and have weapons (including guns) and want to be seen as tough and threatening, they seem really uninterested in hurting anybody. Edgar could have blown a barn door in Spartan's chest at the Taco Bell with no risk to himself, and instead elects to retreat. Apparently, most of their "violence" involves graffiti.
  • Terminator Twosome: Inverted, in that both time-traveling warriors go from the present into the future.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Followed immediately by I Did What I Had to Do:

Huxley: That man has died at my hands.
Spartan: It was him or us.
Huxley: ...There is that.

  • Too Dumb to Live: For starters, nobody has any idea how to deal with violent criminals or anything at all that is not perfect and ordered. And secondly, they place loaded guns, including an energy weapon that makes a roughly baseball-sized area explosive, among other things inside a museum behind only glass. Of course, this wasn't expected in a society where everyone is completely non-violent.
    • "I told everyone not to come down here! Postmen figured it out! Policemen figured it out! But the goddamn bus drivers just wouldn't listen!"
  • Totally Radical: Lenina often sounds like this to Spartan when she tries to use 20th century slang and Spartan instantly corrects her.
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future: Southern California became a very different place, no thanks to a major earthquake and several pandemics - and, of course, Dr. Cocteau's guidance.
  • The Un-Reveal: Huxley starts to explain the 61st Amendment to the Constitution that allowed Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger to become President, but Spartan cuts her off. In the last lines of the movie Huxley whispers the secret of the three seashells to Spartan, who replies "No way! That's much better than toilet paper!"
    • Despite some plans (see the trivia page) and the obvious set-up, the movie never follows up on the fate of Spartan's daughter.
  • Upgrade Artifact: The rehabilitation programs that all frozen convicts go through. Spartan learns elite knitting skills, much to his annoyance. Phoenix got hacking skills as part of the villain's plan.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Subverted, as the "utopia" turns out to be way too passe.
  • Veganopia: San Angeles is one.
  • Video Phone: Present in the future, naturally. John Spartan even gets a wrong number from a topless chick.
  • Villain Ball: Cocteau gets called out on this, and is promptly dumped in a fire.
  • Villains Blend in Better: Phoenix happily hacks his way into electronic systems and has no trouble finding his way around the city and calling up information on prominent people; meanwhile, Spartan cannot even use a futuristic toilet. Justified as there's a Chessmaster. Phoenix's "rehabilitation program" was altered to give him inside knowledge of computers and hacking in preparation for him being sent to kill Edgar Friendly, which in turn would mean he could easily access maps and personal data, while Spartan's program taught him how to knit.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Dr. Cocteau.
  • Walking Disaster Area: Both John Spartan and Simon Phoenix.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Cocteau tries to get rid of Edgar Friendly, the only thorn in his side and the closest thing San Angeles has to a supervillain, by taking an already psychotic criminal genius and making him worse.
  • We Will Use Wiki Words in the Future: MurderDeathKill MurderDeathKill MurderDeathKill
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Phoenix defrosts somewhere between 8 and 12 of his old buddies, one looks to die in the sewer fight, another three go down to Spartan and Huxley, and the rest are never seen again, and presumably eliminated when the cryo-prison explodes.
    • Spartan's closest friend, Zachary Lamb, last appeared in a scene where he drops off Spartan, Huxley, and Garcia before their descent into the Wasteland. He was not seen again. In a deleted scene and the novelization (based on the original shooting script), Phoenix kills Lamb before taking Huxley's car.
  • What Year Is This?: Spartan, naturally, asks this question upon getting thawed out.
  • You Are Too Late: Phoenix killed the hostages before Spartan even arrived; either he'd get away with murder (literally), or Spartan would get framed and imprisoned for his own crime. Either way, he wins.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Spartan comes to this realization after noticing that Friendly's gang only wanted the food from a truck. Spartan called Cocteau out on this, but he didn't care either way.
  • Zeerust: The Future is round and chrome.
    • There's also an element of this in how Los Angeles is depicted to have become all round-and-chrome—the urban unrest the movie depicts, to date, hasn't been quite as bad as that.
    • "You're even better live than on laser disc!"

I've seen the future. You know what it is? It's a 47-year-old virgin, sitting around in his beige pajamas, drinking a banana-broccoli shake, singing, "I'm an Oscar Meyer wiener."