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Tremors is a 1990 horror comedy film about subterranean monsters. It is considered a Cult Classic for the way it plays with the typical monster movie tropes. It was directed by Ron Underwood and it spawned two sequel movies, a prequel movie, and a short-lived TV series.
In the first movie, Tremors, the citizens of the isolated desert town of Perfection, Nevada find themselves under siege by "Graboids" (as they name them) massive subterranean worm-monsters who hunt prey by sensing ground-vibrations. It falls to two redneck handymen, Val and Earl (Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward), to save the town.
In the second movie, Tremors: Aftershocks, filmed and set six years after the first, a group of Graboids is menacing a Mexican oil refinery. The owners hire a reluctant Earl and his hustling fanboy Grady to deal with the problem. But things gets complicated when the Graboids start hatching out Shriekers, two legged critters that hunt by sensing heat. Things get even more complicated later when the survivors realize that the Shriekers reproduce by eating.
In the third movie, Tremors: Back To Perfection, eleven years after the first, the Graboids return to Perfection and it falls to Crazy Survivalist Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) -- the Ensemble Darkhorse from the first two films -- to stop them. The Shriekers turn into a third form, jet-propelled airborne "Ass-blasters".
The fourth movie, Tremors 4: The Legend Begins is a prequel centered around an milquetoast ancestor of Burt's, and set in the 1880s.
The TV series, also called Tremors, directly continues on from the third movie. A new character, Tyler Reed, buys the Desert Jack Graboid Tour business and finds himself unintentionally partnering up with Burt Gummer, who has semi-officially become a go-to-guy for the Government when Graboids are spotted in America. However, it turns out Perfection has some new monsters of its own crawling around, thanks to an abandoned governmental research lab and a mutagenic compound called "Mixmaster".
There is occasional talk of another sequel, but for the moment, it's lost deep in Development Hell. Finally, we got Tremors 5: Bloodlines, focusing on Burt, now the star of a survivalist show, and his cameraman Travis Welker (Jamie Kennedy), being approached to battle a new species of Graboid in Africa.
Tropes used in this franchise include:
- Action Survivor: Most of the characters, save for Earl and Grady in 2 and Burt in general.
- Actor Allusion: In the series, Christopher Lloyd's scientist/hermit is asked whether the lab he'd worked at had ever experimented with time travel.
- Alien Blood: Graboids' blood is a bright reddish-orange, its exact shade varying slightly between films.
- Aliens in Cardiff: Perfection, Nevada. Lampshaded in 2.
Grady: Of course! Stuff like this only happens in the middle of nowhere!
- All There in the Manual: Promotional materials created by Sci-Fi Channel for the TV series give details on Graboid biology. Fun fact: Graboids are Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Bilateria, Class Cephalopoda, Subclass Coleoidea, Order: Sepioida, Family Vermiformidae, Genus Caederus, Species americana.
- Using the obsolete Linnaean taxonomy, this means that Graboids are most closely related to cuttlefish.
- Animal Wrongs Group: In the TV series.
- One of the scientists in the third movie also seems to be the Animal Wrongs type. He gets on Burt's case for making a career out of hunting Graboids and Shriekers, completely disregarding the fact that Graboid encroachment poses a major threat to human life. He later gets his back torn to ribbons by a Shrieker.
- Analogy Backfire: Subverted in Tremors 4:
Juan: This will be our Alamo!
Hiram: We lost the Alamo, Juan.
Juan: Speak for yourself, gringo.
- Arc Words: "Do what we can with what we've got" (in the TV series)
- The line "Doin' what I can with what I got" originates on-screen in Tremors 2 when Burt says it, but is also closely paraphrased some 100 years earlier by another character in Tremors 4.
- Speaking of Tremors 2 and Tremors 4, there's also the term "Dandy"...
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: At the end of the third film, Melvin rants at Burt Gummer for spoiling his plans to turn Perfection into a profitable condo complex, for refusing to kill El Blanco, for being a crazy paranoid gun fanatic, and for wearing a stupid hat.
- Ascended Fanboy: Grady in the second movie certainly acts this way and does have genuine admiration for Earl.
- Asian Store Owner: All the same family/store. The one in the first movie is eaten; in the third movie, his relative comes to take over the store; and in the fourth, it's their ancestor settling in the town.
- Asshole Victim: Tremors 3 has Agent Frank Statler, Agent Charlie Rusk, and Dr. Andrew Merliss, who make the killing of graboids illegal so they can study one and make money off them, thus knowingly risking the lives of innocent civilians. If you've watched Alien: Resurrection and Jason X, you'll know what happens to people who try to make money off horror villains.
- A-Team Montage: The third movie features one, with characters building weapons literally off what they find in a junkyard.
- Bad Vibrations: Caused by the Graboids, but subverted with the first appearance of the Shriekers.
- Badass: Burt Gummer, all the way. He's probably the only character in any franchise who could survive being eaten by the monster without it being implausible - what would have been Fridge Logic with anyone else becomes awesome because it's Burt, that's the sort of thing Burt does.
- Case in point, wiping over two dozen Shriekers singlehandly, his words implying he killed some with his barehands!
- Badass Mustache: Burt, of course.
- Adored by the Network: There was a time in the early 2000s when the Sci-Fi Channel couldn't go a week without showing at least one Tremors movie, or, more than likely, all four. This eventually led to Tremors: The Series, which was...not so beloved.
- Attack of the Town Festival: Happens in the TV series.
- Big Bulky Bomb: 2.5 tons of high explosives.
- Big Red Button: By the third movie, Burt has set up a Graboid detection system, complete with one of these that triggers air-raid sirens when pressed.
- Biological Mashup: In the TV series, created by the Mix Master virus.
- BFG: "Grizzly single-shot BMG based on a Word War I anti-tank cartridge." This gun blew a Shrieker in half, then proceeded to punch holes through the stone wall behind the Shrieker, several oil drums, a tool shed, another oil drum and the engine of their escape vehicle.
- Also, in the first movie, the "Elephant Gun". It was actually an 8-gauge side by side shotgun. In case you were wondering, that means the bore diameter is .835. Let's just say Michael Gross, the actor playing Burt, was lucky he was firing blanks.
- In The Series, Burt has replaced his lost BMG with an enormous Barrett M 82A .50 caliber sniper rifle. He later takes out a target several miles away with it.
- Also, in the fourth movie, Burt's ancestor obtains a 2-inch bore punt gun, a giant hunting shotgun that has more in common with a cannon than a rifle - so named because it was too large to be wielded, and had to be mounted on specially constructed boats, or 'punts'.
- And the gatling gun he gets in the final scene, which is hinted to have sparked the love of guns that would be passed down to Burt.
- Blatant Lies: This telephone exchange in the second film:
Earl: So I guess you've been kinda laying low?
Burt: No, negative. Keepin' busy. Lots of projects. [brushes food crumbs off his shirt.]
- Book Ends: In the 1st movie, the first and fourth (last) graboid both die after ramming themselves through a concrete canal wall and cliff face respectively.
- Breakout Character: Burt, all the way.
- Brick Joke: In the first film, as Val and Earl are about to leave Perfection on horseback, Earl comments that he doesn't believe the "snake creatures" could be fast enough to outrun a horse. Val returns with:
Shit, for all you know, they can fly.
- Cue the third movie, where: Shriekers morph into Ass-Blasters, a heat-seeking, airborne menace.
- Also, in the first movie, Val ultimately defeats the last Graboid by stampeding it off a cliff, shouting, "Can you fly, sucker?!" as it falls to it's demise, making this Foreshadowing.
- In the beginning of the first movie, Val approaches Earl, who is snoozing in the bed of his truck, and wakes him by faking a stampede. At the end, after they have discovered the Graboids are sensitive to loud noises, Val uses the last bomb by lighting it and throwing it behind the Graboid, sending it fleeing in pain to carom out of the side of the cliff--a tactic used by ranchers to direct stampeding cattle.
- Catch Phrase: "Pardon my French."
- Also "We need a plan," and "I've got a plan."
- Grady's sheepish "I forgot..."
- Chekhov's Armory: Burt Gummer's Rec Room is a literal example, as it's a Chekhov's Gun plot-wise while also being an armory.
- Averted, as that side of the Rec Room is never seen until the critical moment.
- Chekhov's Gun: The cliff shown in the very first scene.
- And the lighter that Val and Earl can't keep track of.
- Comically Missing the Point: See Stuff Blowing Up below.
- Conspicuous CG: Avoided at first in the films, which used (extremely good) animatronics for the monsters; more and more CGI crept into the sequels; the Ass-Blasters in Back To Perfection in particular were depicted this way. Played totally straight in the TV series, overlapping with Special Effects Failure: All the monsters were represented with CGI. It looked cheap even when it was originally made, and hasn't aged well.
- Somewhat necessitated. The CGI in the second film was used for things the animatronic Shriekers couldn't physically do (like running) The CGI in the series was actually quite good for a television show in 2003 (the bacterial cloud in "Ghost Dance" still looks pretty good). As pointed out, however, most of it has not aged well.
- The episode "Water Hazard" used an animatronic for the monster of the week. Ironically, the one time they bothered to make a good looking puppet, the audience never saw anything but the very top of it, the entire creature being shown only in production stills.
- In fact, the series has animatronic versions of most of its creatures: the full-sized animatronic Graboid (seen best at the end of "Graboid Rights"), animatronic tongues (seen in the pilot and several times thereafter), animatronic Shriekers and Ass Blasters. Even 412 has an animatronic head, though it's only seen briefly. The only thing they really never had any practical version of was the bacterial cloud, presumably because you can't build something like that.
- Continuity Nod: A couple of particularly notable ones in the second movie:
- When Kate finds evidence of the Graboid's origins, Earl states that he had always thought they were from space - an opinion he had also expressed in a conversation during the first movie.
- The scene in Burt's rec room shows a wall visibly patched in the same spot a Graboid had burst through in the previous movie (of course, there's also the giant stuffed Graboid head mounted on the wall next to Burt).
- There is a short scene where Earl explains how the Graboids got their name in the first movie.
Earl: He named them. Then they ate him.
- A Chang frequently seems to be instrumental in naming the various life stages of Graboids, with Graboid, Ass-Blaster and Dirt Dragon all being coined by a member of the family.
- The third movie has a couple as well:
- Burt's Grizzly from the second movie makes a reappearance. Unfortunately, Burt never gets a chance to fire it.
- Burt uses one of his pipe bombs from the first movie on a spot where he thinks several Shriekers have gathered, with Miguel pointing the reference out.
- The scientist in the Government's team sprays himself with a fire extinguisher in order to escape a group of Shriekers, the same technique employed by Earl in the second film. It worked for a time, but he wasn't fast enough to do what he needed to before the cold wore off.
- The propellent for the potato gun was liquor scrounged from Nestor's old trailer from the first film.
- The fourth film recreates the discovery of Old Fred's head in the first film, even going so far as to use the same name for the owner of a hat found lying on the ground. Except this time the head's not under the hat, it's under the wrecked wagon.
- Crazy Enough to Work: Most of the protagonist's plans are a combination of this and the Indy Ploy.
- Crazy Prepared: Burt Gummer was Crazy Prepared even before he learned his hometown was infested with underground monsters. By the third film, he's ready for anything.
- To give you an example: some people have generators to power their homes, and Burt does too. A few people have backup power in case the main generator gives out, and so does Burt. But only Burt has backup backup power.
- Lampshaded in the third movie when they build a makeshift potato/harpoon gun to shoot down an assblaster.
Jodi: Uh, but do we have a lighter?
Jack: Burt does.
Burt: How do you know?
Jack: Well, 'cause you're... Burt.
Burt: [presents lighter] Damn right I am.
- Crazy Survivalist: Burt Gummer, a heroic version.
- Crippling Overspecialization: Burt tends to run into this problem quite often, and is usually why he isn't able to simply deal with the situations at hand completely on his own. See the Lowered Monster Difficulty entry below for a good example.
- Crying Wolf: Melvin Plug in the first film.
- The Croc Is Ticking: Because Grady left the radio blaring on the ground in the second film.
- The Dandy: Hilariously, gun-nut Burt Gummer's ancestor is one, bordering on Upperclass Twit.
- Didn't See That Coming: Burt Gummer, in the second movie.
Burt Gummer: "I feel I was denied... Critical... Need-To-Know... Information."
- Disney Villain Death: Averted. The last Graboid at the end of the first movie falls to its death, but it's shown onscreen in all its orange, splattery glory.
- Diving Save: Valentine does this to save Mindy from a Graboid in the first movie.
- ~Doesn't Like Guns~: Burt's ancestor Hiram, believe it or not. In Part 4, he only brings along a tiny pea-shooter when searching for the "Dirt Dragons". Towards the end, they start to grow on him. And just before the credits roll, his love interest gets him a present: a gatling gun. He likes it...
- Every Car Is a Pinto: Averted. A car in the second film takes a BFG's bullet to the engine without exploding. When Burt's truck explodes, it's because it was stuffed full of high explosive.
- Which may have more to do with the Graboids' tendency to eat cars than realism. Letting them blow themselves up by chomping on Pintos wouldn't have been as exciting.
- Explosive Breeders: Shriekers.
- Executive Meddling: The studio suggested Michael Gross in the hopes that his Family Ties fame would benefit the movie. Producers were hesitant for that very reason because Steven Keaton and Burt Gummer are practically opposites. However, during the audition, Gross demonstrated his range and greatly impressed them. Effectively a positive example of this trope.
- Extreme Omnivore: Graboids will eat anything that moves, then spit back out anything indigestible.
- Taken to the extreme when in the third movie, El Blanco eats an Ass-Blaster.
- Lampshaded in the TV series, where the Monster of the Week made a wooden fence disappear and the idea that El Blanco ate it is shot down because Graboids don't eat wood, and it's mentioned that these are the same creatures that have been known to happily eat cars.
- Fail O'Suckyname: The fourth movie reveals that "Perfection" used to be called "Rejection". This is lampshaded a few times.
- Fan Service: Rhonda losing her pants in the first film.
- Justified, since her legs were tangled badly in barbed wire with a Graboid closing in on her. But hey, if you're into that sort of thing...
- Also, in the series, Rosalita hid from an Ass Blaster in the water trough. In the next scene, she walked around in a wet T-shirt, and no bra. See  Warning, NSFW.
- Feed It a Bomb: The easiest way of killing Graboids.
- Subverted in the first movie, when Stumpy spits the bomb back at them.
- Foreshadowing: In the third film, one of the comics on the store's rack is "Graboids vs. Shriekers". Desert Jack later takes out the last ass-blaster by baiting El Blanco into eating it, in a comparable display of life-cycle stages turning on each other.
- Gatling Good: At the beginning of the third film, Burt shows us what he can do when given the proper equipment for the job.
- At the end of the fourth movie, Burt's ancestor makes up for his lack of skill with a pistol by learning to shoot a Gatling gun.
- George Lucas Throwback: 1950's monster movies, particularly the first film in the series.
- Giving Them the Strip: See Fan Service, above.
- The Great Politics Mess-Up: In the second film, it turns out that this was the cause for Burt and Heather breaking up.
- Gun Porn: Practically every scene involving Burt.
- Guns Do Not Work That Way: Either subverts, averts, or avoids every single trope on the page.
- Except Steel Ear Drums. Firing that many rounds in an enclosed space such as a basement would've done horrible damage to Burt and his wife's ears. And it probably would've hurt the extremely-sensitive-to-sound Graboid too.
- Which is possibly why it paused in mid-fight to smack its beak against the ceiling, disoriented by the painful racket.
- the Gummers actually open fire on the Graboid during a cut-away. It's entirely possible that a pair of pros like them popped in a pair of ear plugs during the break.
- Even with those, Heather does cover her ears when Burt resorts to the elephant gun.
- Except Steel Ear Drums. Firing that many rounds in an enclosed space such as a basement would've done horrible damage to Burt and his wife's ears. And it probably would've hurt the extremely-sensitive-to-sound Graboid too.
- Grenade Hot Potato: With a pipe bomb.
- Happily Married: Burt and Heather in the first film.
- And dialogue from the second film indicates that Val and Rhonda wound up like this too.
- Heartbroken Badass: Not a very prominent part of his character, but Burt qualifies in the second movie, when he all but admits he's there at least in part to get his mind off of Heather leaving him. The series drops a few hints that he's still not completely over her.
- Heroic BSOD: Burt briefly goes into one in the third movie when he blows up his entire compound, only to be informed moments later that it was completely unnecessary.
- Nancy gets a brief one in the series when the Ass-Blaster she sold at the end of the third movie is stolen and ends up making its way back in Perfection, killing two people before it's found out.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Val and Earl in the first film.
- Hidden Depths: Burt as the films go along, especially after his divorce. He becomes less Crazy Survivalist and more Combat Pragmatist.
- Hot Scientist: Subverted - for Hollywood Homely values of subverted - in the first two films with actresses Finn Carter and Helen Shaver. Neither are glamorous sexpots, they come across as genuinely intelligent, they wear sensible clothes for the circumstances, and Shaver is an age-appropriate match for Fred Ward.
- Slightly played with in Shaver's case -- her character was a Playboy Playmate 22 years prior to the events of the movie, while she was working her way through college. This makes her a realistic hot scientist in her mid-40s.
- Played relentlessly straight in the series. At least four or five female scientists appear at varying points - only one isn't an absolute hottie by pretty much any conventional standards, and even that one isn't too bad looking either.
- Hypocritical Humor: In 2, Earl chastises Grady for not knowing geology terms, and then refers to the seismograph as a "Seismojigger".
- Later on, Burt goes on a rant about how the oil company that brought them in didn't brief them about the Shriekers, something they couldn't have possibly known about. Twice in the movie, once before this point and once afterward, Burt's actions put the group in further danger due to something he couldn't have known about.
- In the series, one episode has the team go out to a town filled solely with UFO-revering conspiracy theorists. Burt finds them all utterly ridiculous, at one point verbally proclaiming they are "all nuts". Then again, they actually accused Burt of being a government cover-up agent, so he kind of had a point.
- I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Heavily averted by Burt Gummer, who shows proper gun-handling technique at all times, and occasionally chastises other characters for not doing so.
- Crowning example? He gives an idiot a revolver to get him to cooperate - an unloaded revolver. After he takes it back, he pops the cylinder just to make sure it's unloaded. This is what you are supposed to do anytime you pick up a firearm, just so you do not Shoot Someone In The Face.
- Unfortunately, they get a little lax regarding this in the third movie. One example would be when Burt finds out that Jack's gun is fake, and hands him a pistol. Jack sticks the thing down his pants, which is a great idea if you plan on blowing your own nuts off, but generally something you want to avoid; Burt doesn't even bat an eyelid at this.
- Oddly, it's also waived somewhat in the rec room scene from the first movie, where the flare gun already has a chambered round when it's taken from the wall.
- Identical Grandfather: Michael Gross plays both Burt and Burt's great-grandfather Hiram.
- Immune to Bullets: Subverted. The Graboid that breaks into Burt's rec room at first appears to be immune to bullets, but Burt is very persistent and VERY well armed. After taking sustained fire from ever-larger guns for two solid minutes of screentime, the Graboid finally goes down.
- Improvised Weapon: The pipe bombs in the first and third movies, and the fire arrow shooting potato gun in the third movie.
- Infrared X Ray Camera: Shrieker vision - though a realistic, non-X-ray version.
- It Can Think: The Graboids learn at a pretty alarming rate.
- It Only Works Once: In the first movie, the Graboids have a tendency to find ways to work around the humans' counter-attacks before very long. In the second movie, one of the more successful methods of destroying the Graboids (tricking them into eating explosives) is used, but is adjusted a bit to prevent the Graboids from having a chance to spit the bombs back out (as had happened in the first film).
- Jerkass: Melvin Plug in all of his appearances. In the series, he even flirts with the Moral Event Horizon a couple times, if not outright crossing it.
- Lampshade Hanging: In the second movie.
Burt: Sure is the middle of nowhere.
Grady: Of course, stuff like this only happens in the middle of nowhere!
- And in the first movie, when everyone keeps asking Rhonda about the Graboids when her guess is as good as theirs:
*Graboids start poking around the foundation of the buildings*
Val: Hey Rhonda, what do you think they're doing now?
Rhonda: ...Why do you keep asking me?
- Living Motion Detector: The Graboids.
- Lowered Monster Difficulty: Totally subverted in the first film, in that the Graboids display the ability to learn from experience and innovate.
"These things are damn smart! They're getting smarter by the minute!"
"That's fine, we've got some new things to teach them!"
- Played with in the second movie. The Shriekers are smaller and considerably more fragile than the Graboids they mutated from, and are easier to fire at since they're above the ground. However, they're also far more numerous and, in that particular situation, Burt had stocked up on low ammo, high impact weapons expecting to deal with Graboids, which results in him burning through his ammo rather quickly once the Shriekers show up.
- Notably, Shiekers seem to be a combination of both remarkably stupid yet incredibly smart. They attack anything that's hot enough to be alive, resulting in them assaulting a radio tower and shredding the electronics within and ripping up the engines of cars. In Grady's own words, "You mean they've been acting so smart because they're so stupid?" At the same time, they're clever enough to prepare ambushes like the one that Burt stumbled into (and apparently the one that killed Pedro), they formed a living ladder to get to the humans on top of the oil tower, and once they were trapped inside the garage they seemed to understand the only way to get out would be to produce enough of themselves to batter down the doors and walls.
- Actually, in the latter example, they weren't likely eating as a means of escape through numbers, but simply because, well, there was food.
- Though a single graboid is always a threat, in a way this seems to apply to the entire series. Each movie introducing a new form, with the previous movies being more common. Culminating in the fourth movie, in which most of the movie involves fighting the form before the "first", with a classic graboid as the final enemy, in the same way the new forms were introduced in the previous films.
- Played straight with the TV series however where El Blanco is only a mild annoyance most of the time and shares no behaviours with other graboids. You can probably blame this on it being sterile.
- MacGyvering: Common in the later films and TV series.
- Magic Bullets: Averted. Bullets behave realistically: small arms can't penetrate the ground to the Graboids, while a massive anti-tank weapon has a little too much penetrating power.
- Lampshaded in the series, Tyler points out that water is really effective at stopping bullets.
- Magic Countdown: Averted/inverted in the second movie; Earl sets a bomb for 2:45 seconds. It explodes 2:15 later.
- Male Gaze: A great example and reversal in the second movie. In one scene, Earl checks out Kate while her back is turned; in the very next shot, Kate checks out Earl in exactly the same way.
- The Merch: In-Universe example. Say, your hometown was attacked by giant subterranean monsters, who kill half of its inhabitants before being defeated by the other half. What do you do? Make money on it, of course! Over the course of subsequent movies and the TV series the main characters have become famous science and pop-culture personas, being featured in magazines and TV shows, starring in commercials and documentaries, opening theme parks, having the exclusive license and producing video games, comics, action figures and other merchandise based on the monsters. All while continuing to fight said monsters first occasionally (Tremors 2-3) and then on a weekly basis. The town of Perfection becomes a tourist attraction, with the store from the first film converted into a gift shop.
- Minimalist Cast: In Tremors 2 only eight actors appear on-screen at all. Two of them never appear again after the first reel.
- Monster of the Week: In the series. Also, as noted, each sequel movie introduces a new mutation of the Graboids.
- Though this is played differently in the prequel movie. It introduces a new larval stage for the creatures, but they only appear in a couple scenes before being replaced by the Graboids again.
- More Dakka: Burt gets More Dakka each film, culminating in the third film with an anti-aircraft turret mounted on a half-track. The turret was actually in working condition and was fired (albeit with blanks) for that scene.
- Also, the 2-inch bore Punt Gun and the Civil War era Gatling gun from the fourth movie.
- More Teeth Than the Osmond Family: Deliberately averted, as no stage of the Graboid life cycle has teeth. Their distinctive mandible/beaks can cut you up pretty good, however.
- The things on the posters and DVD covers for the series usually do, though. Only Tremors 4 has an actual Graboid on its cover, rather than a toothy Sand Worm from central casting.
- Actually, if you look into the gullet of a Shrieker or Ass-Blaster, there are small teeth, or at least tooth-like protrusions.
- The tentacles inside a Graboid's mouth do have these teeth, although the spikes on the sides of their heads are far more noticeable. The toothy heads featured on the covers of Tremors 1 and 3 are actually tentacle heads, expanded to giant size for artistic effect. However, the strange creatures seen on the covers for Tremors 2 and The Series are entirely made-up for the box art.
- Ms. Fanservice: Geez, Rosalita, put a bra on.
- It's also quite odd that she always wears thin T-shirts, as judging by her chest it's very cold in Perfection.
- Taken to its logical extreme in one episode where she dives into a watering trough to avoid being eaten. She actually spends the next few scenes in a soaked white t-shirt. Amazingly, not a single character draws attention to this.
- Mutagenic Goo: Mix Master in the series.
- My Car Hates Me: In the third movie, Desert Jack has a switch in his car that he uses to intentionally invoke this on his "Graboid Safaris".
- NameDar: How the Graboids are named.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Burt occasionally runs into this. In the second film, he uses an anti-tank rifle to take out a Shrieker, and as noted above also accidentally destroys the getaway vehicle they were heading for. Later, he manages to trap a Shrieker pack inside a building, which he only then learns is filled with food (which causes the creatures to multiply rapidly).
"I didn't know, HOW COULD I HAVE KNOWN?" (both times)
- In the third film, he blows up his compound to prevent a fully-evolved Ass-Blaster from reaching his food, only to again belatedly learn that when they overeat they instead slip into a coma:
"What sort of supreme being could condone such irony?"
- In the first film, Burt was angry at Val and Earl for getting them stuck on a huge boulder while on their way to the mountains. A Graboid set a trap while the survivors were riding on a heavy truck.
Burt: So you two screw-ups got us stranded out here for nothing?!
Val: Just back off, man!
- Nothing Can Stop Us Now: Val and Earl each say this while heading for Bixby in the first movie.
- And then again when the survivors finally are able to move out of Perfection... but the Graboids are one step ahead of them.
- Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Perfection, until the Graboids arrive.
- Nothing Is Scarier: In Tremors 4, Juan describes how not seeing what attacked the other workers in the mine made it scarier than if he had.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: A team of three federal agents appear in the third movie to protect the endangered Graboids. Naturally, they're all killed by the things. Lampshaded by Burt when they finally come to him for help and ask what they should do:
Burt: Do what you do best: find something simple, and complicate it!
- Twitchell in the series is always around blackmailing and pestering the town in one form or another. He seemed to be getting nicer as the series went along though.
- Oh Crap: For a creature without a face, the last Graboid from the original film conveyed this trope remarkably well when it burst out of the cliffside and found that it wasn't at the right stage of its life cycle to fly.
- Earl and Grady in the second movie when they find the remains of a Graboid that just gave "birth" to Shriekers.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: See Hot Scientist above. In the first movie, she's a
geographer geologistseismologist grad-student, and just as ignorant about the Graboids as everyone else:
Valentine: What do you think it's trying to do?
Rhonda: Why do you keep asking me?
- Though she's probably good enough at all her guessing and extrapolating to count. Among other things she devises the Graboids' method of propulsion and that they "see" by vibrations.
- Once Per Episode: Most of the movies feature the following gags:
- People being unexpectedly pelted with Graboid/Shrieker/Ass-blaster remains
- Burt being left with the wrong guns for the job.
- In Tremors 4 Black Hand Kelly was the one caught off-guard.
- Trapped individuals seeing or hearing something moving and thinking a monster is on the way only to realize, "It's Burt!"/"It's Mr. Gummer!"
- One Buwwet Weft: One pipe-bomb left. Also, the "Grizzly" anti-tank rifle only carries one bullet.
- Only Shop in Town: Chang's General Store.
- The Other Darrin: Susan Chuang played Jodi Chang in Tremors 3, but was replaced by Lela Lee for the TV series. Charlotte Stewart played Nancy Sterngood in the first and third films, but was replaced by Marcia Strassman in the series.
- Otherwise refreshingly averted. Robert Jayne plays Melvin Plug in the first and third film and as a recurring role in the series, and both Tony Genaro as Miguel and Ariana Richards as Mindy Sterngood appear in the first and third films. However, Mindy was later played by Tinsley Grimes in her one appearance on the series.
- Outrun the Fireball: Subverted. The heroes flee the site of an impending explosion and take cover... then Burt runs past them, yelling "Keep going! It's going to be big!"
- Parental Abandonment: While many viewers of the original film assumed that Melvin was Nestor's son, and had actually witnessed his own father's death, supplemental material reveals that his parents lived in Perfection, but were in the habit of running off to Vegas and leaving him behind.
- Can you really blame them?
- Percussive Prevention: Valentine to Earl in the 1st movie over who gets to run to the bulldozer.
- Planimal: The TV series has the Trope Namer. It's a plant/root/thing, but also has a circulation system.
- Playing Against Type: Michael Gross started playing paranoid survivalist Burt literally the day after finishing up his suburban uber-liberal role on the TV series Family Ties.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Can you fly, sucker? Can you fly?!"
- Which rather becomes a Brick Joke in the third film. No, it can't, but its ass-blaster parents and children could.
- Promoted Fanboy: Grady in the second movie; Larry in the series.
- Properly Paranoid: Though not a straight example, having an underground shelter with a Wall of Weapons and ammo, supplies and power generator in case of World War III served Burt well when his town got attacked by large subterranean carnivore reptiles.
Earl: Guess we don't get to make fun of Burt's lifestyle anymore.
- In the series, whenever Burt is concerned about something, he's usually waved off, despite the fact that he's usually right.
- Burt's (justified) paranoia also came up in the third movie. He spent years preparing for the possibility the Graboids would return to the valley, which they ultimately do - much to everyone else's surprise. When the government shows up to interfere with the residents taking on the worms, Burt remains unsurprised by their actions.
Burt: And people call me paranoid.
- Punctuated for Emphasis: "I feel...I was denied.. CRITICAL .. NEED TO KNOW .. INFORMATION."
- Roof Hopping: Well, Rock Hopping actually; averted in town, where the rooftops in Perfection are too far apart for the trapped residents to do this.
- Sand Worm: The Graboids are probably the best known example next to Dune.
- Screwed by the Network: The TV series. Stiffed in terms of promotion, shown completely out of order, and then canceled out of spite when it got good ratings anyway.
- The series was also filmed at the same time as Tremors 4, which meant that Burt had to be left out of the show at times.
- Sequel Goes Foreign: Tremors 2 takes place in Mexico.
- Short Distance Phone Call: In Tremors 3, Burt Gummer and Jack Sawyer have an angry conversation while Burt is driving. When Burt arrives and parks, he is perhaps ten feet from Jack, yet they continue talking on the phone. At least until Burt hangs up and delivers to Jack's face that classic line "Is your head up your ass for the warmth?".
- Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: He's a co-star.
- Somewhere a Palaeontologist Is Crying: In the second movie, a scientist declares the Graboids to have first evolved in the Pre-Cambrian period. You Fail Biology Forever, lady. The TV series retcons this to the Devonian, suggesting that the Precambrian rock was incorrectly dated. It also implies that, if the original date was right, then the movie's sandworms would have to be extraterrestrial in origin.
- Which would make them even cooler, being borderline Eldritch Abominations instead of odd coelocanth-esque survivors.
- Tremors is actually one of the most popular movie series in the paleontology community. When it originally came out, the entire paleontology graduate community at UCLA trooped out to an afternoon screening at a local theater, filling an entire row, and spent a hugely enjoyable afternoon disturbing the other people in the theater by bursting out laughing at the film, especially at the line "It isn't in the fossil record! It must predate the fossil record!" The dating silliness aside, paleontologists appreciate the fact that the series treats the Graboids as animals whose behavior it is possible to understand, as opposed to ham-handed metaphors for whatever the screenwriter is annoyed at this week.
- In fairness, the "It must predate the fossil record!" bit wasn't played as a major revelation so much as Rhonda just spitballing in an attempt to make some sense of the situation. Plus, she's a seismologist, not a paleontologist, as the movie helpfully reminds us, so it may have also been another reminder that she was out of her depth and no more knowledgeable about the situation than anyone else. Granted, that gets a bit shot in the next movie, when that theory is basically confirmed, but still.
- Of course it would have predated the fossil record. There are probably very few things it couldn't eat.
- Stuff Blowing Up: Burt can always be counted on to bring on the explosions:
Burt: That's two and half tons of high explosives, Earl!
Earl: You mean that's not enough? Oh Burt, don't tell me it's not enough!
Burt: Not enou... Never mind, just run! Run!
- Swallow the Key: Not done intentionally, but El Blanco the Graboid ate a gangster in an early episode of Tremors: The Series, who happened to have the key to a mob safety-deposit box around his neck at the time. In a later episode, the gangster's surviving associate returns to try to kill El Blanco and retrieve the key, hoping to empty the deposit box of its millions.
- Tap on the Head: Valentine uses the "sharp shot to the solar plexus" version on Earl.
- Tempting Fate: "Now there's nothing, and I mean nothing, between us and Bixby!"
- That Poor Car: Vibrations from burrowing Graboids set off the car alarm in the Gummers' SUV, inciting them to destroy the vehicle.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: "Man, Burt, you put a whole new shine on the word 'overkill'."
Burt: Memo: two pounds of C4 may be a bit....excessive.
- In the series, the tables are turned and Burt calls out an military general for wanting to get rid of the current problem with Mixmaster by essentially nuking Perfection.
- There Was a Door: A Graboid decides to pay the Gummers a visit by headbutting through their wall. Not a straight case since Graboids are 1) too big to use doors, 2) have no hands/thumbs, and 3) would be absolutely horrifying if Graboids actually could use doors.
- In the series, Four Twelve was prone to this.
- Too Dumb to Live: Despite living through the original Graboid attack the town of Perfection seems to have forgotten just how deadly they can be and just how close they came to getting eaten.
- First movie: Nestor. Sure, he was terrified, but sitting on a tire? Really?
- Vanity License Plate: Burt Gummer - "UZI 4U"
- Wall of Weapons: In Burt Gummer's rec room. The Graboid that broke in there got more than it bargained for.
- The same Graboid's head can be seen, stuffed and mounted on a wall in the same room, in the second movie.
- In the Attack of the Town Festival episode of the TV series, the heroes have to scrounge weapons from a house in which this trope also applies... with antique black-powder firearms.
- We Need a Distraction: Several times in the first movie the characters have to come up with ways of distracting the noise-sensitive Graboids away from their immediate target; the most basic is simply stomping on the ground.
"Hey, Melvin! Wanna make a buck?"
- It doesn't work with the last Graboid. As Val realizes, "It's not falling for it."
- And this is, of course, also put to use with the heat-seeking Shriekers and Ass-Blasters. A great example of this is in the second movie, when Earl soaks a piece of clothing in hot water to use as a distraction for the Shriekers so he and Kate could move to a safer location. Later on, Burt uses himself as a distraction to lure the Shriekers into the garage to trap them inside, though that doesn't work out as planned thanks to the piles of sweet snack foods, rice, and flour inside.
- What Could Have Been: Had a second season of the series come to pass such proposed developments would've included: more about the origins of Mixmaster; Mixmaster-affected bugs that eat only rubber; Burt trying his hand at online dating and meeting someone... only to learn it's Nancy; Larry taking more of a role in helping defend the town; and Rosalita revealed to have a shady past.
- Concepts for a TV series were developed during production of Aftershocks. This series would've cast Val and Earl as monster hunters facing a variety of creatures. Some of the details are available here. Of interest, El Blanco, the Killer Shrimp from "Water Hazard" and the "fly fishing" method from "Blast from the Past" were originated there.
- Why We're Bummed Communism Fell: Stated as the reason why Burt's wife left him. If the only thing you have in common is your paranoia, then it only makes sense that the relationship would be over once the reason for the paranoia disappeared.
- Villain Decay: Subverted. The Graboids, Shriekers and Ass-Blasters remain quite deadly throughout the series, however they're largely treated like tourist attractions and a source of amusement.
- You Must Be Cold: Earl uses this trope to play matchmaker for Valentine and Rhonda, by borrowing Val's jacket and covering Rhonda with it while she's asleep.