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File:BetterOffDeadPoster 1758.jpg

Better Off Dead is a 1985 comedy film directed by Savage Steve Holland and starring John Cusack.

After being dumped by his utterly-unfaithful girlfriend, luckless teen Lane Meyer makes several futile attempts to kill himself, while wandering in and out of a series of encounters with the residents... inmates of his bizarre hometown. These include his super-genius younger brother Badger, his severely-underachieving best friend Charles, a pair of Korean car-racing enthusiasts who learned English by listening to Howard Cosell, and one very determined paper-boy. Lane's life finally begins to turn around when he meets Monique, a comely French exchange student who has been sentenced to live with Lane's grotesque neighbors.

Probably doesn't quite make it to classic status, especially the ending which veers off into painfully straight teen-movie win-the-athletic-competition territory, but mentioning this film or quoting from it is very likely to bring a smile to the face of Tropers of a certain age. It does have a pretty strong cult following due to the fact that aside from that ending, it has a different sense of humor than most 80's teen comedies and seems far less dated than other films of its type.

Tropes used in Better Off Dead include:


 Lane: Gee, I'm real sorry your mom blew up, Ricky.

  • Burger Fool: Lane has to wear a hideous pig-themed hat, even though he works back in the kitchen.
  • Cameo: Twiki from Buck Rogers in The 25th Century appears in the background of the Christmas scene.
  • Claymation: A brief sequence set in the burger joint where Lane works.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Lane's mother Jenny.
  • Cool Car: Initially averted with Lane's canvas-draped, cobwebbed (and nonfunctional) Camaro. But once Monique gets her hands on it, it goes from aversion to expression.
  • Dawson Casting: Charles. Explicitly justified:

 Charles: I've been going to this high school for seven and a half years! I'm no dummy!

 Lane: My little brother got his arm stuck in the microwave. So my mom had to take him to the hospital. My grandma dropped acid this morning, and she freaked out. She hijacked a busload of... penguins. So it's sort of a family crisis. Bye!

  • Instant Expert: "Go that way, really fast. If something gets in your way, turn."
  • Insult Backfire: Played with when Stalin insults Lane and Charles at one point during the New Years dance; Lane is insulted, but Charles finds it hilarious, even interrupting Stalin's dance with Beth because he's still laughing.
  • Interrupted Suicide
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Lane's mother serves Monique "Frahnch Fries", etc.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Of course, Lane comes to his senses in time.
  • Jerk Jock: The villain, such as he is.
    • His name? Roy Stalin.
  • Language of Love: Subverted, when it turns out that Monique speaks English fairly fluently.
  • Lethal Chef: Hoo boy. Jenny. Lane pokes one of her creations with his fork, and it starts moving away.

 "It's got raisins in it. You like raisins."

 How are we going to get real drugs in this town? We can't even get cable!

    • Snorting real snow seems to work for him.

 This is pure snow! Do you have any idea what the street value of this mountain is?

 And dying when you're not really sick is really sick, you know. Really!

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