"I’m having a bad bad day,
The first animated film from Illumination Entertainment, under Universal Pictures, and executive produced by Christopher Meledandri, the former head of Blue Sky. The plot revolves around a Super Villain named Gru (Steve Carell) plotting to steal the moon while he hides underground in a suburban neighborhood.
Unfortunately, a younger villain, Vector (Jason Segel), steals the shrink ray Gru was in the middle of stealing, and he needs to get it back. That's when Gru notices how willing Vector is to let orphans selling cookies into his house and ...lightbulb! Gru proceeds to adopt the three orphans: Margo, Edith, and Agnes (Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier and Elsie Fisher) to carry out his Evil Plan
A sequel, predictably named Despicable Me 2, was released in 2013, followed by Despicable Me 3 in 2017. In 2016, Gru's yellow minions got their own movie, which was a Prequel of sorts to the first film.
- Abusive Parents: Gru's mother - whose every response to Gru's increasingly better accomplishments (such as launching a rocket) gets an "eh". Not that serious, thankfully.
- Gru himself when he first adopts the girls. Although he is more of a "ridiculously clueless parent" at that point.
- Though she's not really the girls' parent, Ms. Hattie certainly counts as an abusive guardian.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Gru's mother, again, when she shows the girls Gru's old childhood photos.
- A Bloody Mess: The incident with the iron maiden. Of course, it turns out to be grape juice.
- Actually Pretty Funny: Gru's response to a Minion making a mocking shadow puppet of him in the credits.
Minion: Hello, I am Gru. Back to work, back to work!
- Adorable Evil Minions: Aww... just look at the little guys above!
- Adult Child: Gru and Vector are not true adults, Gru has Freudian Excuses and Vector still toys with his superweapons. Gru will become a true adult after the movie.
- Adult Fear:
- Having your children kidnapped by a villain obsessed with fish and squids.
- Your kids being taken away period, by someone in the foster-care business.
- Affably Evil/Anti-Villain: Gru. It's even the movie's tagline!
- Air Vent Passageway: Gru and two minions use this while stealing the shrink ray from Vector's house.
- All-Star Cast: Beyond the above, Julie Andrews and Russell Brand also lend their voices.
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: "Good Times (Bad Times remix) by Rip Slyme is the Japanese theme song.
- Art Imitates Life: The picture-book Gru makes at the end. He denies it, though...
- Ascetic Aesthetic: The general look of Vector's designs, compared to the more archetypal camp comic book villain look to Gru's designs.
- Attention Whore:
- Gru doesn’t want to be a villain. He wants to be the number one supervillain. Doctor Nefario assures him he is still number one when he talks to him. His minions are there only to give him the attention his mother denied him in his childhood.
- Vector doesn't want to be a villain, either. He wants to be the number one supervillain. His attempts to get attention are even more pathetic, see What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome? and Getting Crap Past the Radar.
- Bad Boss: Gru is a subversion. He may test his inventions on his minions, but he remembers their names and treats them relatively well -- and apparently pays them enough that they have pocket money to spare.
- Badass: Gru casually punches out a shark as it flies at him without looking at it. It was between him and his kids. That whole scene shows how Gru is this.
- Badass Adorable: Edith
- Bald of Awesome: Gru, although the "awesome" isn't apparent at first.
- Bamboo Technology:
- Kid Gru's drawing and macaroni sculpture of a spaceship seem rather normal things a child would do with their time, until he actually builds a working, unmanned rocket "based on the macaroni prototype!" This still doesn't get a "Well Done, Son" Guy reaction, however.
- Also, the spaceship for the moon mission is made out of whatever they could find to build it, after the bank stopped funding them.
- Becoming the Mask: Gru as the girls' adoptive parent.
- Berserk Button: Vector finds out Gru's button the hard way when he kidnaps the girls.
- Bigger Bad: Although Vector is presented as Gru's primary antagonist, the true villain of the film is arguably Vector's father, Mr. Perkins, who finances his exploits and obviously has a great deal of control over him.
- Big Bad: Gru, until his Heel Face Turn at the climax while saving the girls from Vector.
- Bilingual Bonus
- If you know Spanish, even a few words, you'll know what Gru actually calls Miss Hattie when he tries to flatter her. She later buys a Spanish-English dictionary and finds out he says, basically, "Your face looks like a donkey." A male donkey. Bonus in that he actually asked her if she spoke Spanish implying that he knew what he was calling her.
- In the Latin American dub (the one used in Mexico) what he says is that "She has the figure of a Tololoche". She later claims to have investigated the word.
- The Spanish dub has Gru call Miss Hattie "rucio", which is an antique word for "donkey".
- The minions' language seems to be mostly nonsense, but every time they give someone something, it sounds as if they say "para tú," which means "for you" in Portugese. There's also a scene near the beginning of the movie (the one with the water cooler) where a minion says "espera" ("wait" in Portuguese and Spanish).
- If you know Spanish, even a few words, you'll know what Gru actually calls Miss Hattie when he tries to flatter her. She later buys a Spanish-English dictionary and finds out he says, basically, "Your face looks like a donkey." A male donkey. Bonus in that he actually asked her if she spoke Spanish implying that he knew what he was calling her.
- Bittersweet Ending: There are two villains, one of them (we have as the main character) was a #1 supervillain, but there is also another supervillain who has stolen a pyramid; which has replaced this villain with the other. At the end, The villain sends the villain to the moon for apparent asphyxiation and possibly replaces the villain with well... himself.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: The Minions. Loyal, adorable... and can be shaken and used as a glowstick.
- They can also breathe in space and survive being hit on the head with a hammer.
- Bland-Name Product: At the end when there is a ginormous dance recital turned party in Gru's lair, a minion is shown at a DJ booth that is labeled "Gru-Ray Disc" complete with a similar logo.
- Blatant Lies: The kids have found Gru's lair. He claims that he's actually a spy.
- Book Ends: The television anchor reporting on the theft of the pyramid and the return of the moon.
- Break the Cutie: When the girls have fulfilled their dreams of being adopted, they start to enjoy their exciting new home all until Dr. Nefario calls Miss Hattie to take them back. The little girls beg Gru for this not to happen, but (convinced by Nefario) lets them go. They hate Ms. Hattie and would like to be with Gru instead.
- Brick Joke:
- The anti-gravity minion. Three times .
- Also, the incident under Bilingual Bonus above.
- Both sealife guns.
- The stolen pyramid.
- One Minion tries ballet after watching the girls try it, only to be punched in the face in response by another Minion. At the end, the second Minion tries it out and gets the same response from the first one.
- Bunny Ears Lawyer: Vector as a villain: he likes to wear gaudy tracksuits and use mostly ineffective guns that shoot out some form of aquatic life to do his villainy. Yet he manages to steal the Pyramids of Giza! Possibly a subversion as it is revealed that he has help from his father. To be fair, the Squid Launcher did work and have its uses. Until Gru electrocuted him.
- Calling Your Attacks:
"FREEZE RAY! FREEZE RAY! FREEZE RAY!"
- Later, during Gru's videoscreen presentation to the bank director, the girls start clowning around. Edith and Agnes find the freeze ray, and Edith says "Freeze ray!" just before turning Gru's entire body (minus his head, arms and butt) into an ice cube.
- Subverted in the sequel when Lucy tells him he's giving up the element of surprise, then tases him before smugly announcing "Lipstick taser!"
- Card-Carrying Villain:
- Gru regularly does things just to be a dick. Take parking his giant car at the bank. He finds a parking spot, but pushes back the car behind him a little. Then he rams the one in front, then the one in back, then repeats until he has moved several cars out of position, both wrecking them and giving him more space than he could ever need.
- He gave a child a balloon animal just so he could pop it.
- Arguably all villains in-Universe. They have their own bank.
- Catch Phrase:
- Gru's "Light bulb..."
- "Eh..." says Gru's mother.
- Vector's "Oh yeah!"
- Chain of People:
- At the climax of the film, Margo starts to plummet from several hundred feet, and Gru himself falls trying to catch her. The Minions form a Chain of People to save both of them.
- Occurs earlier in the movie on a smaller scale while Gru is stealing the shrink ray. Although it was kind of accidental here.
- Cheerful Child: Played straight with Agnes. Mostly averted with the offbeat, macabre Edith and the cynical Margo.
- Chekhov's Skill: The minions' ability to form human chains rapidly.
- Children Raise You
- Cloudcuckoolander: Agnes. And it is cute.
Agnes: I hope their house is made of gummy bears. *Beat* I'm just saying it would be nice...
- Contrived Coincidence: The recital on the exact day Gru needs to launch his rocket.
- Cool Car: Gru's giant smoke-spewing and road-hogging airship/tank makes Hummers look inconspicuous and eco-friendly.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Even by the standards of the Bank of Evil, it turns out. Can there be anything more evil than an Evil Banker who used to run Lehman Brothers? And is using his position to promote his own worthless son over the solid efforts of a real villain?
- Crap Saccharine World: Villains ride roughshod over the planet. A rare foiled plot has newscasters declaring "Good triumphs for once!" Even the orphanages are run by Complete Monsters, and the only villain who fails his Karma Houdini is the relatively harmless Vector.
- Creative Closing Credits:
- The credits have the Minions come on screen and attempt to stretch themselves off the screen and into the theater, testing the limits of the 3D effects. One Minion succeeds in launching himself off the screen and into the booth where he begins making shadow puppets.
- There's also a mobile app which allows movie-goers to get a translation of just what the Minions are saying during the course of the credits. The translation provides a hilarious Take That:
Minion #1: Hey, I can hear Twilight in the next theater! Team Jacob rules!
- Creator Cameo: Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud voice almost all the minions.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Believe it or not, Gru. The trailers make him out to be an exceptional villain, but in the film, he's kind of incompetent and far too nice to be an effective villain. It takes Vector kidnapping the kids for his true potential to show up. Dr. Nefario lampshades this quite a few times.
- Curse Cut Short: While Vector is playing with the Shrink Ray in the bathroom.
Vector: Oh, look at you, a little tiny toilet for little tiny baby to-AAAAAAAAAAAAAUUGGH! CURSE YOU, TINY TOILET!!
- Cute Kitten: Much to Gru's disdain.
- Cyclopean Creature: Some of the minions.
- Dance Party Ending: In-canon, even. Interrupting an excerpt from Swan Lake... with what? Something contemporary? A gratuitous rap remix? One better: Disco. Which Gru turns out to be adept at. It's the Bee Gees' song You Should Be Dancing, complete with Gru mimicking John Travolta's moves from Saturday Night Fever.
- Deadpan Snarker: Margo
- Defictionalization: The Sleepy Kittens book can now be found on Amazon. Doesn't come with the little brush though.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Margo.
- Department of Redundancy Department: "Look, Gru, the point is, there are a lot of newer villains out there. Younger than you, hungrier than you. Younger. Than you. Like that young fellow out there."
- Diabolical Mastermind: The main character.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- The filmmakers say that Vector's technology was meant to look like an iPod in contrast to Gru's Cold War-era aesthetic.
- Gru's "pep talk" in the third act hits a little too close to home. He's basically firing the minions and telling them the "company" is shutting down. It got better, but still.
- The bank boss' look. He's basically Dilbert's boss, shoved into a rebar-reinforced suit and given brains and malice. Well, more malice.
- Vector wears a loud, ridiculous orange suit, has a dorky hairstyle and glasses, does hip-thrusts when he's excited...
- Don't Split Us Up: Averted; siblings in foster care are often separated. Even more of an aversion because the junior novelization says the girls "aren't technically sisters, but they spend all their time together."
- Do Not Call Me "Paul": Victor... Er, Vector
- The Dragon: Dr. Nefario, to Gru.
- Dramatic Pause: Parodied.
- Dueling Movies: With Megamind from (of course) Dreamworks.
- Eagle Land: The tourists that visit the (fake) Pyramids of Giza in the beginning are depicted as Flavor 2.
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Elaborate Underground Base: Gru has one.
- Establishing Character Moment: We first see Gru cheerily walking down the sidewalk, when -- oh no! A child's ice cream has fallen off its cone! Thinking quickly, Gru distracts the boy by whipping out a balloon, making an adorable inflated puppy from it -- all the while smiling and making sure the boy is watching -- and handing it to the tyke, who cuddles it. And then Gru pops it with a hairpin.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Gru, of course, but done to a lesser extent with Mr. Perkins. He has a picture of himself giving a young Vector a piggyback ride and both really seem to be enjoying it. A brief but surprisingly touching moment.
- Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: The living room floor in Vector's villain lair is a giant tank with a shark in it.
- As well as his moat and the sewers around his house.
- Everythings Funkier With Disco: The "boogie robots", karaoke that sounds like Copacabana by Barry Manilow, the Dance Party Ending with The Bee Gees... there's a surprising amount of disco in this movie.
- Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods: "SQUID LAUNCHER!" It also makes a surprisingly effective grappling hook.
- Eviler Than Thou
- Evil Versus Evil: Gru vs. Vector.
- Gru's archnemesis, Vector, strongly resembles Mandark.
- The Bank of Evil manager resembles The Pointy-Haired Boss from Dilbert,evenly blended with The Kingpin.
- Miss Hattie strongly resembles Dolores Umbridge in both appearance and in personality.
- Gru also shares many characteristics with Anton Ego from Ratatouille. Both characters are pale, brooding, wear black clothing, have long thin limbs, have long pointed noses, and are villainous characters who turn out to be good guys all along by the end of their respective films. Critics have pointed out similarities between Gru and The Penguin and Dr. Evil as well. Also Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz. See Fan Nickname.
- The personalities of the Minions are very similar to those of The Rabbids, but their appearance hews a lot closer to Servbots.
- Gru's mom looks almost exactly like Granny from Hoodwinked -- they even both know martial arts!
- Doctor Nefario resembles another animated elderly Mad Scientist: Professor Farnsworth from Futurama.
- Face Palm: Gru's reaction to Dr. Nefario's "Boogie Robots" and the "Fart Gun".
- Fake Crossover: Japan only, with Inazuma Eleven in this Eyecatch set seen here and a trailer for the JP release of the movie seen here.
- Fake Video Camera View: At the end. It's notable in that they actually used a 1920x1080 resolution marker in the bottom corner.
- Fat Bastard:
- Mr. Perkins
- Miss Hattie, to a certain degree.
- Foil: Vector and Gru. Gru was a smart kid motivated by "Well Done, Son" Guy from his indifferent mother, who became a supervillain Jerk with a Heart of Gold because of his desire to become an astronaut and go to the moon. He struggled to get where he is, is legitimately talented, and likes to make friends, with the Minions, Nefario, and eventually the girls, functioning as a sort of family. Vector, on the other hand, is a spoiled rich kid who became a supervillain because he was tired of being a nerd. He doesn't have any real goals except to enjoy himself and win at all costs, even going to the length of kidnapping the girls. He has no real talent, presumably getting all the money he uses to buy his nifty toys from his Dad's bank, no non-aggressive contact with anyone in the film other than his father, and no one else is ever invited into his house. Even their houses play off each other; while Gru lives in a normal (though, admittedly, slightly large and foreboding) house with a secret lair underneath, Vector's house just screams "look at me! Look at me!"
- Foreshadowing: The first scenes show a little child who does a perilous thing trying to get the attention from his oblivious father. Later, we will see the real reason why Gru wants to steal the moon.
- For the Evulz
- For Your Own Good: Dr. Nefario's excuse for having the kids taken back to the orphanage so they stop distracting Gru from his evil plan.
- Freeze Ray! Freeze Ray! Freeze Ray!
- Freudian Excuse: Why to steal the moon? Because Gru’s mother belittled Gru’s dream to be an astronaut when he was a child.
- It’s never explored at the movie, but Vector surely would have been better in a job that involves aquatic life.
- "Friend or Idol?" Decision: Gru, when he gives up the shrunken moon to Vector to get the girls back. Though Vector went back on his word, it's actually a good thing that Gru chose the girls over the moon.
- Fun Size: Anything hit by the shrink ray. Temporarily.
- Genre Savvy: Vector prefers to simply steal desired items from people (viz. Gru) who actually have the talent and skill to get them, since he knows it's easier than doing it himself. He does manage to get the Great Pyramid on his own, though. The second he has the moon, he immediately tries to kill Gru.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- Just what exactly is in that baby bottle?
- The scene after Gru and the minions steal the Shrink Ray, Gru actually runs out of the house in his underwear, points back at the door and screams, "We did it!"
- The way Vector acts while wielding the Shrink Ray seems a bit...over-enthusiastic.
- As Vector describes a vector as something with direction and magnitude, he starts hip thrusting.
- This [dead link]. And one smacks the other away a second later. The same two minions can be seen kissing in the background of another scene...except it's the other who starts it.
- Goofy Print Underwear: Gru wears underpants with smileys, as seen in their escape from Vector's fortress.
- Groin Attack: Twice from a robotic arm when breaking into Vector's lair, once later on, and a fourth one at the end..
- Happily Adopted: The girls desperately want this. Being a family movie, they get it in the end, naturally.
- Harmless Villain: Gru and Vector.
- Heartwarming Orphan: Three of them.
- Heel Face Turn: Gru and done in a powerful and believable way.
- Hidden Depths: Gru spends most of the film relying on technology to do his dirty work; in almost every case, it doesn't work properly, doesn't work well enough, or isn't what he needed or wanted in the first place. And then he takes on heat seeking missiles, followed by a shark. Bare handed. And doesn't break a sweat.
- High-Speed Missile Dodge: Gru pulls this off very impressively. Not only are the missiles in question heat-seeking, but he jumps over them and even runs on top of one.
- Hostage for Macguffin: Vector kidnaps the girls near the end of the film, and demands the moon in exchange for their safe return. He gets the moon, but doesn't give the girls back.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Gru can store just about anything in his jacket. Freeze ray, the disintegrator ray at the theme park, THE MOON.
- Idea Bulb: Never shown, but Gru tends to say "Liiiightbulb" when he gets an idea.
- Imagine Spot: Gru, twice.
- Impossible Shadow Puppets: At the end of the movie, one of the Minions makes a perfect shadow puppet of Gru.
- Ink Suit Actor: Dana Gaier looks a lot like Edith.
- Jerkass: Vector. Full stop. Also a little bit of the barker at the carnival when Agnes tries to win her plush.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gru runs on this trope.
- Karma Houdini:
- Miss Hattie. The worst person in the movie simply goes on her way at the end.
- Not quite as glaring, but Mr. Perkins is the closest thing the movie has to a Big Bad - and then he's never mentioned again after his involvement in Vector's schemes is revealed. One assumes he just kept on running the Bank of Evil.
- Kick the Dog: Gru's Establishing Character Moment. No, he didn't have to stop and make a balloon animal for the kid who just dropped his ice cream, only to pop it... but it was funny.
- Licked by the Dog: Sort of. When he shows up to adopt the girls, Edith and Margo look less than excited when they see him. Agnes, however, scampers across the room to cling to his leg.
- Leitmotif: Notice how the James Bond-worthy soundtrack in the initial stages of Gru's villainy turn into something out of Iron Man to mark his Heel Face Turn.
- Let's Get Dangerous: At the climax of the film, Gru pulls all kinds of crazy stunts to rescue the girls from the clutches of his rival Vector.
- Lightning Bruiser: Gru. He's pretty agile for a guy drawn so top-heavy. Of course, this really only comes into play when he breaks into Vector's compound to rescue the girls.
- Looks Like Orlok: Gru: he is bald, has a hooked nose, a hunched back, and a trenchcoat.
- Love Redeems
- Lucky Translation: the scene with the cookie robots, which actually are boogie robots, is rendered very well in the Italian dubbing of the film. They have been renamed "Bisco robots", where "bisco" is short for "biscotto" (cookie), and then revealed as Disco robots, a joke that works as well, if not better, as the original English language pun.
- Macross Missile Massacre: Gru's Villainmobile can do this.
- Made of Iron: While trying to get into Vector's base, Gru gets repeatedly hit with stuff, bitten, and missiled... but suffers no visible damage other than comically blackened skin.
- Mad Scientist: Dr. Nefario; Gru does some work too, though.
- Mad Scientist's Adorable Daughters
- Malaproper: Inverted by Dr. Nefario - everyone speaks clearly, but he sometimes hears what they say wrong, resulting in some...odd creations. Such as boogie robots!
- The Man Behind the Man: Mr. Perkins is not only helping Vector's schemes - he's his father.
- Meaningful Name: Gru grew.
- Meaningful Rename: Vector's original name was Victor before he renamed himself as a supervillain. Victor was the name of his nerdy loser self, while Vector represents direction with magnitude!
- Meganekko: Margo.
- Minions Can Breathe In Space
- Minion with an F In Evil: The minions. They enjoy firing the missiles, and it seems that they're not the sharpest knives in the drawer. They also happily adapt to pretty much any situation.
- One of the DVD mini-movies features some new minions watching an introductory video to working at Gru's "company" which proclaims, among other things, great opportunities for evil. The picture on the screen shows several minions arguing with and slapping each other.
- Monumental Theft: Thefts include the Times Square Jumbotron, a Great Pyramid, and the Moon. And the Statue of Liberty. The small one in Las Vegas. And the Eiffel Tower! Also Vegas.
- Morality Pet: Margo, Edith, and Agnes for Gru.
- Morally-Bankrupt Banker: Mr. Perkins.
- Most Annoying Sound: In-universe; to Gru, that popping noise Agnes makes with her mouth.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Doctor Nefario.
- Never Mess with Granny: Gru's elderly mother takes martial arts classes, and manages to kick a punching bag (along with the martial arts instructor) across the room!
- Never Trust a Trailer:
- One of the original teaser trailers showed none of the major players. Odd, for a start-up studio. It showed the opening sequence from the movie that revealed the pyramid to be stolen. It implies that it was Gru who did this. It was actually Vector.
- The first two or so trailers released told audiences nothing about what the film was about... not even the premise. Later trailers made it seem like the girls were dropped off at Gru's doorstep, when he actually adopted them as part of a scheme.
- Missing Trailer Scene: The scene where the kid whose balloon Gru popped in the beginning of the film comes back to exact revenge on him, with his friends to back him up, and the limp balloon still on his face...yeah, that wasn't in the finished film.
- New Tech Is Not Cheap: A huge part of the plot involved getting loans and necessary capital in order to create the evil inventions for the evil plots. They had their own Villain Bank.
- Nice Hat: Edith. Man walks down the street in that hat...
- Nightmare Fetishist: Edith. "Cool! My pancake's shaped like a dead guy!"
- Noble Demon: Gru is the supervillain who goes out of his way to support a trio of orphans who seem to have become attached to him.
- No Cartoon Fish: Averted with Vector's inventions.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Various villainous schemes are described by a Large Ham talking head on MSNBC with abrupt camera pans...wonder who that could be...
- No Conservation of Mass: Shrunk items don't seem to retain their old mass, instead weighing what you'd expect an object that size to weigh.
- No Endor Holocaust:
- Tides would be the least of the Earth's concerns if the moon suddenly disappeared. The sudden absence (and return) of the Moon's gravitational pull would trigger earthquakes, tsunami, and volcanic eruptions. Also, having the moon gaining its entire mass, shape and size right next to the Earth's surface would definitely Be Very Bad.
- Smaller example of the trope - the roller coaster Gru and the girls had ridden on goes right behind the game kiosk Gru blows away. Let's hope the rails aren't damaged!
- No Kill Like Overkill: Gru and his death blaster vs. the game stand. Bonus points because normal-kill wasn't needed in the first place.
- No Kissing Or Hugging Or Kissing:
- Offhand Backhand: Gru does one...to a shark!
- Off-Model: In the scene where the girls are packing their things, Margo's shadow is off-model. It seems they animated the scene with an earlier Margo model and then reanimated, but forgot to reanimate the shadow.
- Oh Crap: The carnival worker when Gru pulls out his ray gun.
- Vector when Gru assaults his hideout to rescue the girls, and outwits all his traps. "He punched my shark?!"
- Only Sane Man:
- Dr. Nefario seems to fancy himself this.
- Also Margo among the three orphans.
- Orphanage of Fear: The girl's institution is so soul destroying that it's no wonder being adopted by Gru seems like an improvement and truly becomes that in the end.
- Papa Wolf:
- Gru, during the climax.
- A minor example occurs during the carnival game sequence, when the barker nearly makes Agnes cry.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: ON THE PYRAMID.
- Parallel Parking: Gru can't parallel park without demolishing all the cars on either side -- well, he could, but that wouldn't be despicable.
- Parental Bonus:
- One can only hope that the kids in the audience didn't get the Godfather reference.
- And they surely didn't get the "Lehman Brothers" joke, either.
- In a somewhat stranger case, they probably also didn't get the whole "magnitude and direction" thing.
- A villain called Gru posing as cold-war era spy? See Punny Name below.
- Pinky Swear: "Oh, yes, my pinky promises."
- Product Placement:
- Vector has a Nintendo Wii. It's not clear if it's product placement or not, since it happens to go perfectly with the design scheme of Vector's house.
- There's also Agnes' "caterpillar" that never finished its butterfly metamorphosis; it's distinctly referred to as a Cheeto.
- Also, in the scene when Vector goes through his fanny-pack to pay the girls for the cookies, he can clearly be heard saying "Ooh, Tic-Tacs!"
- The stolen Times Square screen has the NBC logo on it (although that is Truth in Television). We're sure it's just a coincidence that NBC, like Universal, who distributed this film, are divisions of NBC Universal. Less coincidental is the use of MSNBC.
- Punishment Box: orphans who disobey Miss Hattie get put in the Box of Shame.
- Punny Name: Gru speaks with a 'Russian' accent. The GRU is also one of Russia's intelligence agencies. When the girls find out about Gru's underground hideout he admits he's not a dentist, but instead a secret agent.
- Punch Clock Villain: All the minions are this.
- Raised by Wolves: Just look at the 'living quarters' Gru made for the girls at first. Two dog dishes and some newspapers, people.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Gru wears a pink astronaut suit by the time he gets to the moon to shrink it. Of course, the reason it's pink is because he washed it in the same load as the girls' pink dancing dresses, but hey, he still wears it! He also attends his daughters' ballet recitals after some resistance that had more to do with being busy than with not wanting to be seen at a ballet class.
- Red Herring:
- The Freeze Ray. When Gru is facing heat-seeking missiles, you'd expect it to make a reappearance. Expecting Gru to simply Bullet Time his way through the missiles, not so much. Even the Shrink Ray would have worked against both the missles and the shark.
- Also subverted with the Fart Gun. Dr. Nefario did wonder "under what circumstances we could use such a thing" when it proves readily capable of stunning a Minion. Yet aside from the demonstration it's not seen for the rest of the movie.
- The Boogie Robots don't appear during the Dance Party Ending, either.
- So many, many things were introduced and then subsequently forgotten in this movie like Gru's mother's kung-fu skills and the anti-gravity serum. There are dropped Chekhov's Guns littered throughout.
- The anti-gravity serum does provide several brick jokes.
- Road Runner vs. Coyote: Subverted. One review called this "Wile E. Coyote vs. Wile E. Coyote".
- Roaring Rampage of Rescue
- Running Gag: Gru popping children's balloons.
- Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: By the end of the film Vector ends up trapped on the moon, as he was caught near it as it was returning to its normal size and orbit.
- Sequel Hook:
- Yes, the setting is a Crap Saccharine World with many a Karma Houdini, but imagine the possibilities now that Gru and his daughters have cut off all ties to the criminal world and now can spend their time in the sequels taking the other villains down.
- And consider the even cooler possibility of Gru apprenticing the girls in the way of supervillainy and pulling off even more epic crimes.
- There are tons and tons of dropped Chekhov's Guns in the movie.
- Shameless Self Promoter: According to Gru, the children's book he reads to the girls at the end is the best book ever written. So who wrote it? Oh yeah! Gru himself!
- Shark Pool: In Vector's lair.
Edith: When we got adopted by a bald guy, I was thinking it'd be more like Annie.
- There's also the scene after the girls are taken away wherein Gru wakes up to find several toys (including a disembodied head) in his bed and screams.
- Gru's Establishing Character Moment with the balloon in the beginning is a reference to a very similar moment in Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train.
- Vector's supervillian name plus his real name (Victor) refer to Airplane!.
- Gru's logo looks suspiciously like the ReBoot logo. This coupled with the fact that the cookie bots' hats look like the security guards' hats makes it look like more than a coincidence.
- The shot of Gru falling off Vector's escape pod looks suspiciously similar to Luke Skywalker's escape from Bespin.
- The scene in which Gru wins the stuffed toy unicorn for Agnes at the amusement park is a reference to Darkman and the pink elephant.
- The cheering control room scene matches the Apollo 13 version, albeit with minions
- Shown Their Work: While Gru is listing the rules, instead of lifting three fingers for the third one, he lifts two and the thumb, that's the Russian way of counting.
- Shrink Ray
- Sigil Spam: Vector's and Gru's logos are everywhere on their houses and equipment. Incidentally, take a look at the V-smile logo.
- Sinister Schnoz: A subversion, that while Gru is a villain, he's actually a good person.
- Scenery Porn:
- Especially in scenes in space, and especially the scene of Earth from the Moon, before Vector comes into shot after being stranded there.
- And the very last scene, again, involving the moon.
- Silent Snarker: Kyle, Gru's dog-thing being The Speechless variation of this trope, while a few of The Minions fit The Unintelligible variation.
- Sink-or-Swim Fatherhood
- Skirt Over Slacks: Edith
- Slapstick: More than the standard CG film.
- Smooch of Victory: One of the minions gets this from Agnes after getting a new unicorn toy.
- Speaking Simlish: The Minions.
- Stage Dad: Mr. Perkins, shown when he tips off his son Vector that Gru stole the shrink ray from him.
- Stepping Stones in the Sky: Pulled off by Gru, on a bunch of heat-seeking missiles. In Bullet Time.
- Stock Scream: The Wilhelm Scream is uttered by Gru-Mama's karate teacher.
- Suspiciously Similar Song: The karaoke song about "Lola Banana" sung by one of the minions in the toy store sounds awfully familiar.
- Take That:
- The Bank of Evil has a disclaimer sign stating that it was formerly Lehman Brothers.
- Also used somewhat against critics that tend to turn things into a Periphery Hatedom, during the scene where Gru is reading to the kids.
- Talking to Himself: In the European Spanish version, actor and humorist Florentino Fernández voices Gru and Gru's mother.
- Taxidermy Terror: Gru's home is full of furniture made from stuffed animals. As the girls walk down the hall, they see a stuffed lion's head. In it's mouth is a stuffed dog, with a stuffed cat in its mouth, which has a stuffed mouse in its mouth.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The owner of the carnival game Gru takes the girls to. They have to knock over a flying saucer that's nearly impossible to hit and a direct hit can't knock down. Gru takes this personally.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
- How Vector deals with Gru's attempt to break into his lair.
- And how Gru deals with the obnoxious shooting gallery barker at the carnival. "Knocked ooooover!"
- The Three Faces of Eve: The girls can be categorized as this, with Agnes as the Child, Margot as the Mother, and Edith as a prepubescent, G-rated Seductress.
- Toilet Humor:
- "I said dart gun!"
- Also a more literal example during Gru's presentation.
- The scene with the minions photocopying their buttocks and yelping "butt!"
- "A lit-tle ti-ny toi-let..." (pipe under toilet squirts in his face) "GAH! CURSE YOU, TINY TOILET!"
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Edith is a naughty and loudmouth kid who has a taste for weapons, although she likes to wear pink all the time, but acts pretty apathetic. Margo is an overprotective older sister of the girls who is also quite bitter, but she could qualify for being a girly girl.
Edith: "Yes! My pancake is shaped like a dead guy!"
- Too Dumb to Live: The little kid in the opening sequence, who slips his leash and promptly runs up a high piece of scaffolding, avoiding the security officers who are trying to save his life and eventually falling towards the pyramid itself. Good thing the pyramid was replaced with an inflatable version after Vector stole the original.
- To the Batpole: The entrance to Gru's underground lair.
- Tranquil Fury: Combined with Unstoppable Rage.
Vector: he punched my shark?!
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid / Freudian Excuse: Adult Gru's desire to shrink the Moon and steal it as a supervillain stems from his childhood desire to be an astronaut and go to the Moon.
- Villain Protagonist
- Villainous BSOD: What happens to Gru when Dr. Nefario takes the girls away for becoming too much of a distraction.
- Viral Marketing: NBC is absolutely determined that you remember the title of this film. The judges of Last Comic Standing ended up going into mass Sarcasm Mode after the advertising department forced them to "audition" someone in a minion suit. ("Nice job, whores.") The NBC logo also shows up prominently near the start of the film - Gru stole the Jumbotron from Times Square.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Gru was/is this for his mother, and to a lesser extent, Vector for his father.
- Weird Moon: As depicted in this poster, the moon is unnaturally large compared to its size in real life.
- Though the biggest moon in the movie was only seen after it had been shrunk, moved, and put back in the sky - maybe it's not as far away as it used to be?
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Vector on his supervillain name and weapons, as well as how many cookies he's ordered.
Margo: Four boxes of Mini-Mints, two Toffee-Totes, two Caramel Clumpies, and... fifteen boxes of Coconutties.
- What Measure Is a Mook?: Surprisingly subverted. Despite being a very nasty villain at least until the girls enter his life, Gru was actually very patient with his minions. He never once yelled at them or insulted them for their antics. He was even surprisingly calm when he explained to them that the bank didn't give him the money for his latest scheme. Even when he was forced to refuse them raises, he did so in a polite manner.
- You!: Gru said this when he discovers Vector stealing the shrink ray from him.
- You Said You Would Let Them Go: Vector kidnaps the girls, holding them hostage in exchange for the moon. When Gru makes good on it and gives it to him, Vector casually says he won't be giving the girls back after all.
Vector: Un - pre - dictable!~
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Gru did plan to use this trope on the girls, but he had so much fun at the carnival with them, that he changed his mind.
- A very much downplayed version though: he was going to leave them behind at said carnival.
- Zeerust: Invoked with many of Gru's gadgets and vehicles, in order to emphasize how behind the times he is. His car, for instance, looks like a "futuristic" tank taken straight out of sci-fi from The Fifties. In contrast, Vector's tech is much more up-to-date for 2010 standards.