Just about a month ago, I posted this:
Writer Kevin Lehane, whose script “Grabbers” made the most recent Brit List, the UK equivalent of The Black List, has a blog called The Anthology of Codology. I was bumping around it the other day and hit this post: “The Definitive List of Cliched Dialogue”. The first 10:
- I was born ready.
- Are you sitting down?
- Let’s get out of here!
- _____ my middle name.
- Is that all you got?
I’m just getting started.
- Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
- Don’t you die on me!
- Tell my wife and kids I love them.
- Breathe, dammit!
- Cover me. I’m going in.
You can read the rest of the list — 111 in all! — here.
Got any to add to the list?
Well, two things have happened in the interim. First, GITS readers did come up with some suggestions which Kevin added to the list. Second, since Kevin has become so busy with his writing career, he decided to take a respite from blogging. But that presented a problem: Where to host the list of cliche dialogue? So I get this email from Kevin:
Over the weekend I discontinued my blog. A new beginning and all that. Anyway, it seems a shame to lose some of the posts which people found useful and entertaining, particularly The Definitive List of Cliché Dialogue. So I was wondering if you’d like to post it on your blog, maybe as a guest post from me? If so let me know. It’s now 120 lines and always ever growing. If this sounds worth it to you, let me know and I’ll forward you the full post.
And of course, I said yes. So here is the official list as it now stands with Kevin’s original introduction:
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Don’t even go there! You know as well as I do, I’ve literally been there, done that, bought the t-shirt and to be honest with you at the end of the day when push comes to shove and it all boils down to it if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Know what I mean? Basically, what I’m trying to say is with all due respect between you and me screenwriting is not rocket science, it’s about breaking the mold, thinking outside the box, giving it 110% 24/7. And I think we can all agree clichés suck but, hey, it’s a job. You gotta do what you gotta do. Just remember you’re writing for an audience and there’s no “I” in . . . you get the picture.
Here is my “definitive” list of the worst offenders when it comes to lazy, trite dialogue:
1. I was born ready.
2. Are you sitting down?
3. Let’s get out of here!
4. _____ my middle name.
5. Is that all you got?
I’m just getting started.
6. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
7. Don’t you die on me!
8. Tell my wife and kids I love them.
9. Breathe, dammit!
10. Cover me. I’m going in.
11. He’s standing right behind me, isn’t he?
12. No, no, no, no, NO! I’m not going. [Cut to them going.]
13. No. Come in. ____ was just leaving.
14. You’d better come in.
15. So, we meet again.
16. We’ve got to stop meeting like this.
17. (Greeting) Well, if it isn’t ____.
18. I’m just doing my job.
19. You give ___ a bad name. Calling you a ___ is an insult to ____.
20. You’ll never get away with this!
21. Looking good. [Said into a mirror.]
22. Now . . . where were we?
23. What the. . . ?
24. How hard can it be?
25. Time to die.
26. Follow that car!
27. Let’s do this thing!
28. You go girl!
29. You ain’t seen nothing yet!
30. . . . Yeah. A little too quiet.
31. If I’m not back in __ minutes, get out of here/blow the whole thing up/call the cops.
32. What part of _____ don’t you understand?
33. I’m not leaving you.
You have to go on without me.
34. Don’t even go there.
35. I’ve always wanted to say that!
36. Ready when you are!
37. Is this some kind of sick joke?
38. Oh haha, very funny.
39. Did I just say that out loud?
40. Wait. Did you hear something?
41. It’s just a scratch.
42. How is he?
43. I’m . . . so cold . . .
44. Is that clear?
45. What if? . . . Nah, it would never work.
46. . . . and there’s nothing you or anyone else can do to stop me!
47. You say that like it’s a bad thing.
48. Note to self . . .
49. Honey, is that you?
50. What’s the meaning of this?
51. What seems to be the problem, Officer?
52. What’s the worst that could happen?/ What have we got to lose?
53. I have a bad feeling about this.
54. Leave it. They’re already dead.
55. Don’t you think I know that!
56. Whatever you do, don’t look down.
57. Why wont you die?!
58. I eat guys like you for breakfast.
59. Oh now you’re really starting to piss me off!
60. We’ve got company.
61. Hang on . . . if you’re here then that means . . . uh oh.
62. Oh that’s not good.
64. What just happened?
65. We’ll never make it in time!
66. Stay here.
No way, I’m coming with you.
67. This isn’t over!
68. Jesus H. Christ!
69. It’s no use!
70. It’s a trap!
71. She’s gonna blow!
72. Okay, here’s what we do . . . [and cut to a different scene]
73. Fuckin’ A!
74. I’m getting too old for this shit.
75. Wait a minute, are you saying– ?
76. You’ll never take me alive.
77. Okay, let’s call that plan B.
78. I always knew you’d come crawling back.
79. Try to get some sleep.
80. I just threw up in my mouth a little.
81. Leave this to me. I’ve got a plan.
82. No, that’s what they want us to think.
83. Why are you doing this to me?
84. When I’m through with you (etc.) –
85. Hi, sis.
87. Wait! I can explain! This isn’t what it looks like.
89. You look like you’ve seen a ghost.
90. If we make it out of this alive . . .
91. That’s it! You’re off the case!
92. How long have we known each other?
We go back a long way.
93. Well, well, well . . .
94. Aha! I knew it!
95. Done . . . and done!
96. Leave it. He’s/She’s/They’re not worth it.
97. In English, please.
98. As many of you know (yadda, yadda, yadda).
99. Too much information!
100. Yeah, you better run!
101. . . . Unless?
102. What are you doing here?
I was about to ask you the same thing.
103. So, who died? . . . Oh.
104. You’re either very brave . . . or very stupid.
105. Oh, yeah! You and whose army?
106. Now that’s what I’m talking about!
107. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.
108. It’s not you, it’s me.
109. This just getts better and better.
110. This is not happening. This is not happening.
111. Make it stop.
112. Shut up and kiss me.
113. I’ll see you in hell!
114. Lock and load!
115. Oh Hell, no!
116. Not on my watch!
117. You just don’t get it, do you?
118. I have got to get me one of these!
119. I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you.
120. It’s called ____, you should try it sometime.
121. That went well!
Feel free to disagree.
And to memorialize things further, I’ll create a tab under Lists called “The Definitive List of Clichéd Dialogue”.
Thanks, Kevin, for the inspiration and time to compile the list. And best of luck with your writing. Fingers crossed re “Grabbers” getting made!