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This movie series pastiches horror film tropes in the vein of Airplane! and The Naked Gun (whose ZAZ team was in charge of the third and fourth movies). The first movie was mainly a parody of the first Scream, although it also heavily spoofed I Know What You Did Last Summer and took jabs at various other films, and not necessarily just from the horror genre. Depressingly, the writers seemed to miss the irony of parodying the first Scream movie, which was that it was itself a parody of the Slasher Genre; just not one in particular.
Unfortunately, this film's success is largely to blame for the later careers of Seltzer and Friedberg, who had been part of the writing team on the original film  and proceeded to co-opt the idea with more and more puerile iterations of it in different genres.
On a happier note, it also launched the career of Anna Faris.
- Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: In Scary Movie 3, the protagonists are shown boarding over a cellar door to keep aliens out (in a parody of Signs). Cue Cindy opening the door with no problem. It turns out they'd just nailed some planks to it without fastening them to the wall.
- All Part of the Show: Parodied in the first movie.
- Aliens Speaking English: In the third film.
- Aliens Steal Cable: an important plot point in the 3rd movie
- Asshole Victim: Played for Laughs in the first film. One of the teenagers being stalked by the masked killer is watching a movie in a crowded theater; she's being loud and obnoxious, ruining the movie for everyone else. The masked killer is then shown to be sitting in the seat next to her... but before he gets the chance, one of the other moviegoers steals his knife and stabs her. He then just sits and drinks his soda while all the other audience members continue to stab her to death. When she stumbles in front of the screen and finally falls dead, they applaud.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Parodied in the fourth movie, when the ghost boy (from The Grudge) and Cindy have a conversation in "Japanese" that is really just random product names and commonly known Japanese words.
Cindy: Harro? Subtitles: Hello?
Japanese Boy: Nissan Honda Mitsubishi Subaru! Subtitles: I was killed and my soul walks the earth!
Cindy: Harikari tsunami kamikaze banzai. Subtitles: How sad, my life is also tragic.
- Awful Truth: Parodied mercilessly.
- The Bad Guy Wins: In the first film
- Big No: Which will always end with someone getting run over.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Buffy, especially to her parents.
- Black Best Friend: Brenda (to Cindy) and Mahalik (to George). Heavily parodied
- Black Dude Dies First:
- Defied in the first film, when the black news crew leaves as soon as the deaths start.
Black news reporter: Reporting live for Black TV. White folks are dead, we're getting the fuck out of here!
- Also lampshaded in the second film, as Brenda yells at the white folks for suggesting they split up.
Brenda: Uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh UH! Now wait a minute, hold up! How come when anytime this scary shit happens, and we should stick together, you white people always say "let's split up"?
Theo: She's right, we should stick together.
Dwight: She's right. Okay. You three, follow me! *Points to white people, leaving the three black people in another group*
Shorty: Ain't that a bitch.
Brenda: We gonna die, y'all.
- Ironically, its also inverted in the first movie. The last victim of the killer is Ray, who is black (though he's gotten better in the next movie).
- Played straight in the third movie, when Brenda is the first main character to die because of the tape. (Cindy would have helped her if not for the boy-who-cried-wolf scenario of the scene).
- Brainless Beauty: Buffy Gilmore & Greg Phillippe.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In a scene in Scary Movie 4 parodying |The War of the Worlds, Tom is discussing the alien invasion with a man holed up in house. Then the man throws this line out there:
This ain't a war, anymore than there's a war between men and maggots. Or, dragons and wolves. Or, men riding dragons, throwing wolves at maggots.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Lots. In the first movie alone, the film's crew is featured in one scene, and when the Dawson's Creek theme song starts playing during another scene, James Van Der Beek shows up, only to realize he's on the wrong set.
- Happens in-universe in the second movie, where Cindy is singing along (badly) to Vitamin C's "Graduation (Friends Forever)" on the radio. Eventually, Vitamin C stops the song to tell Cindy to "shut the fuck up and let me sing!".
- Breast Attack: Scary Movie 4 has a torture machine designed to do this.
- Also, Carmen Electra getting stabbed in the breast by Ghostface, and her breast implant popping out leaving her relatively unharmed and Ghostface rather perplexed.
- Brother Chuck: Most of the characters from the first two films.
- Butter Face: Parodied with the ghoul that attacks Shorty in the second film. At first he's horrified and it looks like she's strangling him, but he's actually having sex with her, solving the problem with a paper bag ("No no, no kissing!"). They're still together at the very end.
- Butt Monkey: Cody and Rachel. Apparently, David Zucker has a fetish for child abuse.
- Cat Scare: Parodied several times, first with a character checking for a noise finds a cat, then a dog, then a horse, and later, with the found cat beating up the hero with a broken bottle.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Virtually every character.
What I'm trying to say Tom, is that you and I should be fighting these things, it should be us coming up out of the ground. Of course we'll have to bury ourselves first, but it'll be worth it. Cool breeze, no sunblock, worms. When we build our tripods, they'll have four legs.
- Continuity Nod: In Scary Movie 4, Cindy got hid on the face with a baseball.
"I've taken balls to the face before."
- Covers Always Lie: In this case, Posters Always Lie. King Kong appears on the poster for Scary Movie 4 but is not even referenced once in the film itself.
- Crazy Cultural Comparison: The aliens greet each other by getting the person they're greeting in a choke hold. They say goodbye with a Groin Attack.
- Curtain Camouflage
- Dawson Casting: Lampshaded in the first film when the characters talk about how, if they were in a horror movie, they'd be played by people in their 20s and 30s (which all of the actors are). They all stop for a moment, letting that sink in.
- Dead All Along: In the alternate ending to 2, Cindy was the only one alive as everyone else are ghosts.
- Death by Genre Savviness: Parodied with Buffy's death scene.
- Death Trap: Most present in the fourth movie's Saw parody, though true to the nature of the series, several traps are quite silly (example: The Nutcracker, a device that kicks a victim in the groin).
- Deconstructor Fleet: The entire series of films.
- Delusions of Eloquence: In The Village parody, an entire series of jokes is built around this:
Brenda: This is shit up with which we will not put!
- Dem Bones: in 2.
- Depraved Homosexual: Ray.
- Development Hell: A fifth film was in development since late 2006. It was finally released on April 12, 2013.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Parodied in the second film with Dwight, a wheelchair-bound cripple, who gets offended every time someone offers to help him with anything. He does this even when it makes no sense or is ridiculously hard to do by himself, such as giving himself a blowjob and going up two flights of stairs.
- Dramatic Gun Cock: Parodied in the third movie. One of the characters dramatically cocks... a shovel. A shell falls out.
- Dressing as the Enemy: Parodied in the fourth movie, when Cindy and Brenda pull two "village" women into the bushes, and after a brief scuffle the women emerge looking disgruntled, followed by Cindy and Brenda, who were the ones actually beaten up. They later settle for spare garments on a clothesline.
- Driven to Suicide: Parodied in the first movie, where the main character yells into the air "What are you waiting for?!" in frustration. Little does she realize that on the roof behind her a man is actually getting ready to jump to his death. Upon hearing her he asks "What am I waiting for? WHAT AM I WAITING FOR?!" and jumps.
Principal: F*** YOOOOOUUUUUUUU!!! Splat
- Dumb Blonde: Cindy Campbell in the later films.
- DVD Bonus Content: Alternate endings not included in the theater release (including one in Scary Movie 3 parodying The Incredible Hulk).
- The Ending Changes Everything: The first film parodies the ending of The Usual Suspects, by revealing that Officer Doofy actually isn't retarded at all, and was the mastermind behind all the murders, and ends with him being picked up and driven away in much the same manner as that film's main character.
- Enemy Mine: Suggested in the Detroid gag in the fourth movie. (see You Fail Geography Forever below)
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Averted--despite what the title says, this is NOT a Scary Movie, but a comedy.
- Scary Movie was the original intended title of Scream, a genuine horror film despite its parodic elements.
- Expressive Mask: Ghostface in the first film, who actually gets visibly stoned.
- Extra Y, Extra Violent: Referenced in the third movie.
- Eye Lights Out: Parodied in the third movie.
- Finishing Each Other's Sentences: Subverted.
- The Fool: Just about every main character, most notably Cindy Campbell.
- From the Mouths of Babes: Played with and occasionally played (relatively) straight.
- The Fun in Funeral: Most notably in the third movie.
- Gag Penis: The fourth movie teaches us to never try swallowing all of the Viagra pills.
- Genre Blindness: Most characters, most blatantly parodied in the first movie when a character sees two signs pointing towards "Safety" and "Death" while running from a killer. Guess which one she chooses?
- Hand Wave: Happens to Brenda repeatedly. She got stabbed to death in the first movie, but then comes back for the 2nd with no explanation. And then in the 3rd movie, she dies again. In the 4th, Cindy finds her on crashed plane. The following exchange occurs.
Cindy: Brenda! I thought you were dead!
Brenda: Oh Cindy, I thought you were dead too.
- Found in 2 as well.
Cindy: Oh, my God, Ray! What are you doing here?
Ray: It's the sequel.
Cindy: Oh... right.
- She also dismisses forever the facts that Ray slept with her ex-boyfriend and tried to kill her.
- Hey, It's That Guy!:
- Hypocritical Humor: Whilst inside the theater in the first film, Brenda warns the rest of the audience not to talk during the movie, while merrily doing so herself. Her behavior is so obnoxious that they resort to murdering her so they can enjoy the remainder of the presentation.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Shorty in 2; after watching the deformed butler molest the turkey (ruining everyone's appetites), he reaches for a bottle of red wine and quickly polishes it off.
- Lampshade Hanging: Scores of them.
- Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: In the second movie, Cindy takes various random items and somehow creates a bulldozer out them after being locked in a refrigerator while hiding from a ghost.
- Look Both Ways: Every movie ends with someone getting hit by a car or a bus.
- Lovable Sex Maniac: Brenda Meeks.
- Lying Creator: The tagline of the first movie was "No mercy. No shame. No sequel." The tagline for the second was "We lied."
- Make-Out Point: Spoofed.
- Make Way for the Princess: Buffy, with Brenda and Cindy following close behind.
- The Mean Brit: Simon Cowell as himself in the rap battle scene in Scary Movie 3.
- Misplaced Sorrow: One girl is outraged to find a fellow student has been murdered...because she planned to cheat off said student's test that day.
- Missing White Woman Syndrome: Parodied when Cindy sends an email to the police reading "White woman in trouble!" and the next shot shows the house surrounded by police cruisers.
- Also in the third movie
Brenda: Another little white girl fell down a well! Fifty black people got their ass beat by the police today, but the whole world gotta stop for one little whitey down a hole!
- Mugging the Monster: Second movie, the scary clown doll pulls Ray Wilkins under the bed and gets a major surprise.
Clown: Come on. Lets play.
Clown: Hey, what are you doing?
Ray Wilkins: Uncle Ray-Ray's got a game for you.
Clown: Hey, get your finger out of there!
- Narrator: Several, including James Earl Jones in Scary Movie 4 who, at the end of the movie, is hit by a bus.
- Never Trust a Trailer: One trailer for Scary Movie 4 suggests that Shaquille O'Neill and Dr. Phil are trapped along with the main protagonists.
- No Dress Code: Buffy arrives at school dressed modestly in a cardigan. Once her father is gone, she changes into a Stripperific outfit and attends school that way.
- No Fourth Wall: Repeatedly and gleefully broken, often with an Aside Glance.
- Nostril Shot: Parodied in the first movie, where the character talking to the camera has a runny nose that just keeps running.
- No Time to Explain: Parodied in the fourth movie, when the Tom Cruise/|War Of The Worlds character says "We're leaving this house in 30 seconds, there's no time to explain," and a random passerby runs up to the window and screams "Alien Attack!". Tom admits that that pretty much covered it.
- Nobody Ever Complained Before: In the third movie, the aliens appear to attack the protagonists, who then kill one of them in retaliation, but the aliens inform them that strangling each other is their standard way of saying hello. A kick to the groin is how they say goodbye.
- Not Quite Dead: The guy they ran over in the first movie in the flashback.
- Nuclear Candle: In the second movie, when Cindy shows Buddy the secret study, he lights one candle, which then illuminates nearly the whole room.
- The Nudifier
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Can you believe Doofy?
- Offscreen Teleportation: The first movie plays with this, where the killer shows himself to the main character and is seen scurrying back behind the tree when she looks away.
- Oracular Urchin: Cody in the third movie.
- Overly Long Gag: Literally every second gag in every movie. It is repeated four times at times, taking any humor from it in the process. Additionally, some of course are not funny, making it all the worse.
- Parallel Porn Titles: Actually, "ghetto" versions of Christmas songs seen in the second movie -- "I'm Dreaming of a White Woman", "All I Want For Christmas Are The Charges Dropped", "Santa Clause Is Cumming On Mom", etc.
- Peaceful in Death: Parodied in the third movie: "My sweet sweet Brenda---She looks so peaceful..." (cut to Brenda with a horrified expression and hands like claws)
- Pillow Fight: Between Jenny McCarthy and Pamela Anderson in Scary Movie 3.
- Plot Induced Stupidity: Spoofed in the first movie when Buffy doesn't believe that the killer exists, apparently forgetting that her boyfriend was murdered by the killer in front of her eyes earlier.
- Prop Recycling: The wrecked plane set from Scary Movie 4 was originally used in the movie they were parodying, War of the Worlds.
- Likewise, the Saw parody bathroom was later used by the producers of Saw III in their movie to save money.
- Black Comedy Rape, Double Standard Rape (Male on Male): Quite literally in the second movie, particularly the Poltergeist spoof involving Ray and the Clown Doll.
- Real Trailer, Fake Movie: The trailer for Amistad II in the first film.
- Refuge in Vulgarity: Several times, but the award goes to the onscreen trepidation of a character's skull by an erect penis. He gets better.
- Reset Button: Parodied in the context of dead characters being alive in the next movie with little (or no) explanation. It often gets a Lampshade Hanging.
- Running Gag: Several throughout the series and many in individual films, most notably Cindy constantly changing her career, Brenda's promiscuity, and the fact that someone always gets hit by a vehicle at the end of every movie (and right after a Big No, too!).
- Also, Cindy's many boyfriends and a powerful... uh, spooge.
- Sassy Black Woman: Oh, Brenda...
- Seinfeldian Conversation: About issues such as whether one can wake up dead, the difference between mice and rats, or the paradox of turning up missing by Mahalik and CJ.
Damn, that is some quantum shit!!
- Sequel Snark: The Tagline of the first movie was "No mercy. No shame. No sequel." This didn't stop a sequel from being released the very next year (with the Tagline "We Lied").
- Sexy Shirt Switch: Parodied.
- Shout-Out: Among other things, to the Zucker brothers' film Airplane! which also starred Leslie Nielsen in an Actor Allusion:
President Harris: I just wanted to wish you both good luck, we're all counting on you.
- Also of note is Brenda, named after Regina King's character on the 80's sitcom 227 (yes, that was her as a child).
- The character of Buffy Gilmore.
- "Hell House," the setting of the second movie is a shout-out to Hill House, the main location in both versions of The Haunting (and not the Richard Matheson novel Hell House, as some have claimed -- the Wayans Brothers had never heard of that novel when they made the film).
- Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Trailer: See the poster up there? Protagonist Anna Faris is eschewed in favor of Carmen Electra (dies in the opening scene) and then-popular Shannon Elizabeth. (the DVD adds her, though)
- Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror
- Slow Motion Drop: Parodied in the first movie, when Cindy drops a coffee cup after realizing the identity of the killer, and a goldfish is seen flopping around in the contents.
- Take My Hand: Parodied when Dwight falls out of a two-story window because he refuses to take the disfigured hand of the perverted Hanson, despite Hanson insisting it's his "strong hand".
- Take That: Doofy, a parody of David Arquette's character Dewey.
- Also "MJ" in the third film, a parody of Michael Jackson, albeit implied to be gay rather than a pedophile in order to try and avoid pissing off Jackson too much. It didn't work and Jackson threatened a lawsuit anyway, so when the next movie came around the character was actually called "Michael Jackson" and shown to be a full-on pedophile.
- Teacher-Student Romance: In the first movie, a teacher is shown breastfeeding her baby, she then hands him to a student, saying "Here, spend some time with your Daddy." She then points to another student and says "I'll see you after class," rather provocatively.
- Teeny Weenie:
Greg: A small dick's like a disability, man! Would you make fun of a guy in a wheelchair?! Huh? Where are you, you sick fuck?! I'll kick the shit outta you, all right?! It's not the size of the hammer, it's the nail you're throwing it at!
- This Way to Certain Death: Parodied in the first film when Carmen Electra's character is faced with an actual road sign clearly marked 'Death', and still follows it.
- Too Dumb to Live: Frequently.
- The first film opens with Carmen Electra's character being menaced by a serial killer while her parents are out. She glances to the side, where a table has things like a revolver, a knife, a grenade, and a banana neatly laid out. She takes the banana. And while running away, she comes to a fork in the road where there are two signs. One points towards "Death", the other one towards "Safety". Guess which path she chooses?
- Exaggerated with Buffy Gilmore, who's convinced that the serial killer is a prankster even as he cuts her head off and throws it into a bin.
- Transparent Closet: A Running Joke with Ray in the first film. Throughout the movie he does many questionable things such as tucking his shirt like a Camp Gay, describing a male character as having "long hair", a "pretty little mouth", and a "perfect ass", and show enthusiasm at the prospect of going to prison on account of the sex-starved convicts looking for a fresh piece of meat, among many others. In spite of this he has a girlfriend who he apparently makes out with regularly, and denies it when somebody points it out to someone else. The second movie makes him out-and-out gay, while he still has a girlfriend.
Bobby: But abstinence makes you discover new things about yourself. That's right Cindy - I'm gay. And in case you haven't noticed, so is Ray.
Ray: [confused] What? I ain't gay.
Bobby: What are you talking about? You took me to that club.
Ray: So? They play good music.
Bobby: Well, what about our trip to San Francisco then?
Ray: I wanted to go shopping.
Bobby: [on the verge of crying] But... you made love to me.
Ray: No hohoho, first of all you sucked my-
Bobby: Whatever Ray!
- Troll: The parrot.
- Uncle Tomfoolery: Brenda Meeks, Mahalik and CJ play this role, though the characters themselves seem aware of it and Lampshade it.
- Unexplained Recovery: It's never explained how Brenda came back on a plane in the fourth movie even though she died in the third.
- Or indeed, how most of the cast of the first movie came back for the second after they'd all been killed.
- Even prior to the sequels, the first movie has Ray impaled through the head, but he turns up a few scenes later entirely unharmed save for a small bandage over one ear.
- Unintentional Period Piece: A big problem with Scary Movie 2, even taking into account the fact that spoof movies generally don't age too well. In addition to the film featuring a lot of spoofs of adverts and music videos from 2000--2001 (which are a lot less likely to be remembered than films from the same time period), most of the films being spoofed got horrible critical receptions and were quickly forgotten, which hurts the film quite badly these days.
- Scary Movie 4 also suffers from this, as a result of a lot of references to pop cultural things that are now widely considered to be Deader Than Disco, such as Myspace and the original iPod. Fortunately, most of the films being spoofed are still well-remembered and well-regarded (with the arguable exception of The Grudge and The Village), so the film doesn't feel quite as dated overall.
- What Could Have Been: Kevin Smith was in talks to write and direct Scary Movie 3 at one point...
- White Dude, Black Dude: Done in the basketball scene for Scary Movie 2, where the Wayans brothers are shown dancing very suavely... and immediately followed by Cindy and Buddy dancing very awkwardly, with the Wayans looking on in silent disapproval/disgust.
- White Mask of Doom: the mock Ghostface.
- Whole-Plot Reference: the first two mostly follow one movie in the central plot, Scream and The Hauting (while the third mixes The Ring and Signs and the fourth is an amalgam of four pictures).
- You Fail Geography Forever: A sight gag involving Detroit before and after the alien attack in which the only difference is the presence of alien invaders, the city already being a violent hellhole even before the attack. Too bad the city they show is actually San Diego, not Detroit.
- In the vaguest sense -- they wrote the initial script, which the Wayans Brothers jettisoned and rewrote from scratch. That never stopped them from putting the tagline "From two of the six writers of Scary Movie" on their films, however.
- Apart from number 4; originally it was supposed to end with James Earl Jones getting hit by a bus, but a postscript sequence parodying that interview with Oprah and Tom Cruise was filmed and added fairly close to the film's release.