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The early-morning-unbrushed-teeth sex right after waking up to present the protagonist couple as loving and intimate usually makes my head explode. Hey, nevermind that cheese garlic chicken last night, stick your tongue in my mouth and do something that makes the average person breathe heavily.


That is hilarious, I'm inspired to re-write my current script to include ALL of the above!


That and every computer must have sound (beep-beep, treet treeet) in what ever process (displaying search result, search process, zoom in, zoom out), even without the speaker. It's user interface must also be black-green.

Rshorts, I really want to read your script

Daniel Smith

I wonder...have you read any of the Evil Overlord lists? The most well-known is (don't forget the additions in cellblocks A and B) but a quick Google search will reveal others' lists. The one by Peter is also good.

Hope your readers enjoy!

Daniel Smith

BTW, I really, really love #46.

46. If an advisor says to me "My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?", I will reply "This." and kill the advisor.

Rshorts, you should really read some of these. Consider #12:

12. One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.



Some of these seem to be director choices, most especially Chinese from the carton, lame music cues, and the soaring opening/landing on our hero. But you've sure noted some of the most annoying film cliches going. But KICK-ASS isn't responsible for cursing kiddies as a punchline. That one goes as far back as BAD NEWS BEARS and GOOD-BYE GIRL. It's never been funny. @RickRapier


Maybe this isn't a cliche YET, but I'm tired of every action TV show and movie claiming that the FBI and CIA have transparent wall-sized computer monitors where they can drag images from screen to screen.

No joke, I've seen this about 5 times in the last week. Date Night riffed on it amusingly.

Christine Merchant

(Sorry if my English isn’t perfect – I’m French)

Here are a few scenes I wouldn’t mind not seeing again:

Actors/actresses falling on the floor or out of bed because they are surprised or in a rush...

Clumsiness that leads to great things… In Notting Hill, Julia Roberts goes to Hugh Grant’s house to change after spilling coffee all over herself after bumping into him. It’s a cliché, I’m afraid. I’m a very clumsy woman and nothing ever good comes out of it.

Dancing scenes – A guy invites a girl he likes at his place, they feel awkward, are not sure what to do, so they start dancing (with or without music).

Nursing scenes – A girl invites a guy at her place, somehow he manages to hurt himself going through the door, so she rushes to the bathroom to get a cream and applies it for him (a tiny cut on his finger may force him to take his shirt off!).

There are so many!

Thank you for your blog. I find it very enjoyable and interesting to read.


The morning after scene where she puts on his smart white shirt and nothing else.... I have never in my life done this and I'm pretty confident that none of my friends have either.. (wouldn't you just grab his robe or your own clothes?) Plus, it always looks really eighties to me.

David Melkevik

Raised on Hollywood movies but living in the UK I always hated the fact that our chinese takeaways came in tupperware boxes and not cartons. I never realised it was a movie cliche!!!!

I think a little bit of the American dream has just died.

adam torchia

Awesome, and so true. I also would like to use a "movie" cell phone -- or at least find out who the carrier is! I need a phone that gets perfect reception down in a dark, underground parking lot, or ten fathoms down inside a submarine. I'm not asking too much, am I? But then of course, when I REALLY need it, the battery display will suddenly flash one bar, and then cut out when I'm rushing to the airport, trying stop the girl of my dreams from flying back to Europe!


Jo: Ah, yes - the pleasures of TRUE intimacy...

Rshorts: Have you read last year's Black List spec BALLS OUT by the Robartard8000? Sort of what they did.

DMD: I want one of those computers!

Thanks Daniel - funny stuff. BWAHAHAHA indeed.

Hey Rick: For shame! The soaring opening and the music cues, believe it or not, are found ON THE SPEC SCRIPT PAGES, every week. The Chinese cartons, 50-50, but they do get written in (e.g. "Towards midnight, and he's eating food out of his takeout cartons as he compiles the stats..." is not uncommon). If you want to talk about directorial influence, my sobering theory is: these screenwriters have seen movies where hack directors have used such devices, and thus, they're now copying them on the page.

Kristen: True that. Loved the DATE NIGHT homage, especially Carell's reaction shot.

Welcome Christine: Thanks for these. The "clumsy woman" nonsense is way overplayed (especially in rom-coms) and it makes me crazy, too!

Rachael: It's probably due to us testosterone-dumbed males enjoying the sight of a half-naked woman in a man's shirt. There's just something about it... Wait, sorry: What were we talking about?

David, I'm so sorry to drip soy sauce on your dream. The Tupperware thing is great, though - I look forward to a scene where British police detectives all sit around dipping into their open Tupperware containers...

A-man: They're funny that way.

Doug Soesbe

Always annoyed me when the heroine, with a monster lurking nearby, decides to go for a walk alone, usually in a scanty nightie.


After our hero has skidded down a mountain, or escaped a fire with singed hair or has just been dumped by his girlfriend or has just learned he has an STD, someone always says, "Are you okay?" Just once I wish the hero would smack the person who said it. Wait. I think the smack in the head might be a cliche.

Christian H.

Very interesting. Admittedly though I never WRITE the camera directions, I have started two movies at the person's home.

One before breakfast in the bedroom, the other after lunch in the kitchen.

The soar-in is only cool if you're soaring from a plot device: like start at a satellite and zoom to a guy hacking into it.


Mr. Soesbe: This must qualify as the granddaddy of all movie clichés (along with a damsel in distress tied down to the railroad tracks)... Still alive and kicking!

Stephanie: No, I think the smack in the head would be fine. If only the character could smack the writer...

Christian: Starting in the home isn't an issue, it's just "that shot," and I agree: It works (however familiar it may be) if it has a truly specific reason to be.

Lucy V

Kudos Billy for exposing some of the most irritating things to read in the WORLD, right there with you! xx


I need to make a "bingo" compilation. It's an epidemic.


EVERY police car is using a siren after the perp is safely locked up inside (there's no frickin' emergency, NOW?)


Lucy: Happy to have you here (and thanks for your contribution)!

Maryan: Bingo! Aurgh...

Michael: Yup, that's one of those "what are they thinking?" clunkers.

best romance movies

Cliches are funny... not in a good way. Especially, if you are an aspiring screenwriter. Like the T-shirt says, "avoid it like the plague."

Ajf 4

I like romantic poetry, long, but short poems are very simple words, this is I happened to see your blog, I found that you have a blog, I like personality, it makes me happy, may you continue, I'll pay attention to your blog!


To go along with your hated airport chase ending, I would like to add "the chase" in general. It seems every romcom must end with the girl chasing the guy and begging to be forgiven and handed a mulligan (Bridget Jones). Sometimes it's the guy chasing the girl, having just realized he is a dolt and must have her to be complete (Notting Hill).

Too many great movies make me roll my eyes when I see it. "Oh, here it is: the chase scene ending. Geez, I had such great hopes for this one."

There are some without the actual running but a chase of sorts (While You Were Sleeping; You've got Mail).

I've changed endings just to comply and each time I grit my teeth and go, "Why, Hollywood, why?"


Allie, you know I agree. And whenever I read a studio spec that's a rom-com, I now subliminally anticipate what variation on "the chase" the writer will come up with. Rom-coms always earn extra props from me if they do something other than the standard chase, but you'd be surprised (and saddened) to see how rarely this happens!


What a delight to find your site and link it to my screenwriting site. This article alone is worth the effort!

All the best

jana /

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