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In the roar of an engine, he lost everything. And became a shell of a man, a burnt-out, desolate man, a man haunted by the demons of his past, a man who wandered out into the wasteland. And it was here, in this blighted place, that he learned to live again...
—The Narrator, Mad Max 2, Opening Monologue
A series of films that constitute the most famous things to come out of Australia since kangaroos and sexy women with accents. Starring Mel Gibson in his Australian accent as the title character 'Mad' Max Rockatansky.
The first film, Mad Max, was made with practically no money and released in 1979. Although it was surprisingly successful in Australia it was barely noticed in America - in fact, in the original American release all the characters' voices were dubbed with American accents because distributors thought the audience wouldn't understand what they were saying. In the first film, Max Rockatansky is a cop with the Main Force Patrol in a town that is barely clinging to civilisation, with a wife and young son — until he loses everything, and then goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge in the film's climax.
The second film, Mad Max 2, was released in 1981 and is almost unanimously regarded as better than the first — it was a surprise hit in America, where, out of fears that no one would see it if they hadn't seen the original, it was retitled The Road Warrior. The film is set in a post-apocalyptic Outback, a few years after the original film, wherein Mad Max is now wandering the wastelands in his Cool Car until he runs into a small ragtag group of survivors who are being threatened by a vicious gang of bandits. After at first resisting their pleas for him to help them, he ends up assisting them in their plan for escape to the north, exorcising some of his own personal demons.
The third film, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, is a Dolled-Up Installment: the original idea was of a man in a post-apocalyptic world who came across a group of wild children who were survivors of a plane crash, and series creator George Miller proposed "how about that man is Mad Max?" Unlike the first two films, Beyond Thunderdome was an American co-production rather than a fully Australian film.
A fourth film — a prequel, set in the time when society was just starting to collapse, called Mad Max: Fury Road — has been in Development Hell for years. It was scheduled to begin filming by the end of 2010, but was delayed due to higher-than-normal amounts of rainfall, resulting in the area around Broken Hill being too green. A 3D anime adaptation is also under development and may be released in addition to the live action film.
- After the End: Mad Max 2 and Beyond Thunderdome; The original is Just Before the End
- All Bikers Are Hells Angels
- All Hail the Great God Mickey: Kids treat records and radios as magical in Mad Max 3.
- And Man Grew Proud
- Anti-Hero: Max begins on the more brutal end of the scale, but slides toward the idealistic side in subsequent films.
- Anti-Villain: Aunty Entity. Power-hungry bitch, yes, but she's genuinely trying to restore a little civilization, and is forced to be ruthless to maintain order in a Crapsack World.
- The Apunkalypse: Pretty much codifies the trope, especially in Mad Max 2 & Beyond Thunderdome.
- Attack! Attack! Retreat! Retreat!: In Beyond Thunderdome.
- Awesome Aussie: Max.
- Awesome McCoolname: Max Rockatansky.
- Badass Driver: Max.
- Blood Sport: Thunderdome
- Brains and Brawn- Master Blaster
- Captain Ersatz: Bruce Spence's character in the third film is an odd borderline example, in that, despite their massive similarities, he is evidently not intended to be the same Gyro Captain who appeared in Mad Max 2.
- Car Fu
- Chainmail Bikini: Aunty Entity sports the slightly more sensible chainmail one-piece, which is probably a sensible investment given her position.
- Chain of People: The children trying to rescue one of their own from quicksand in Beyond Thunderdome. It doesn't work.
- Chainsaw Good: Subverted during the Thunderdome scene. Max manages to grab a chainsaw from the Wall of Weapons and proceeds to use it against Blaster. Unfortunately, it runs out of fuel pretty quickly.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- Pappagallo inspecting the egg timer.
- The dog whistle
- Johnny's lighter.
- The Chew Toy: Ironbar
- The Commandments:
- In Beyond Thunderdome. "Two men enter, one man leaves."
- "Bust a deal, face the wheel."
- Cool Car: Max's Pursuit Special, "last of the V8 Interceptors."
- Cool Pet: Dog, proving that blue heelers are fierce (the dingo blood probably doesn't hurt).
- Cozy Catastrophe - According to the second film's Opening Monologue, World War III began shortly after the first film, only semi-nuclear, destroying only what was left of modern industrial infrastructure, and people using up resources that they can't replace - mostly by fighting over the resources. The third is solidly After the End, 19 years in fact.
- Crapsack World: All three films, in increasing severity.
- Depraved Bisexual:
- The bikers in the first movie have distinctly homoerotic overtones, but still find time to rape women.
- Some of the gang in the second, if not completely homosexual.
- Duel to the Death: Thunderdome
- Desert Punk
- Despair Event Horizon:
- Max himself after the deaths of his wife and son. It takes him up until towards the end of Mad Max 2 to regain some of his humanity.
- It's heavily implied that, similar to Max, Humungus was a victim of this and chose to be bad; witness his "We have all lost someone we love" speech and the picture of himself and his wife (or, possibly his parents) that he keeps with his gun. Humungus was originally going to be Goose from the first film, having gone over to the dark side.
- Development Hell: Fury Road has been planned for years. It was last scheduled to be filmed in late 2010, but was called off due to heavy rainfall.
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing: The first film was meant to show the dangers of reckless driving.
- Downer Ending: The original movie. Max got his revenge, but is now en empty shell of a man who cares about nothing.
- The Dragon: Wez. Arguably the most evil and most dangerous character Max confronts.
- Eat the Dog: The Gyro Captain in the second film raises snakes as a food source as well as guards for his vehicle.
- Failure Is the Only Option / Pyrrhic Victory: At the end of each movie, Max has won the fight but lost everything he had. To really salt the wounds, in the second and third movie Max is left in the dirt while the people he's assisted go on to better lives. Whatever pleasure Max takes from helping others is left up to the viewer.
- Fallen Hero
- Fingore: Don't try catching bladed boomerangs with your bare hands. The results aren't pretty.
- Follow the Leader: Responsible for a slew of low-grade post-apocalypse sci-fi movies during The Eighties.
- Forced Prize Fight: Beyond Thunderdome
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Beyond Thunderdome. One of the girls who left the oasis is pregnant, indicating that those kids are behaving like, well, sexually active teenagers.
- Genre Popularizer: For the Scavenger World genre.
- Genre Shift: The first movie portrays Australia as a crime-ridden, crapsack world, and Max is a Cowboy Cop. The second film is post-apocalyptic, and Max is more like a traveling ronin or gunslinger.
- Gilligan Cut: Max sees one of the children scampering after them in the desert and states, "He holds his own." Cut to Max carrying him on his back in the blazing sun.
- Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have!: Tina Turner (age 46 at the time) as Auntie Entity. Not many women in their 40's would dare to wear a one-piece chainmail ensemble.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Max becomes a hard and bitter man by the end of the first film due to his battles with criminals. He quits the force because he's scared this will happen.
Any longer out on that road and I'm one of them, a terminal psychotic, except that I've got this bronze badge that says that I'm one of the good guys.
- Heroic Sacrifice. Ending of the second and third films.
- Hollywood Healing: Averted: Max's arm and leg in Mad Max 2, and his eye in Beyond Thunderdome George Miller, the director, was a practicing emergency medicine doctor.
- Hollywood Police Driving Academy: all members of the Main Force Patrol in the first movie appear to have graduated from the Australian branch.
- Hot Amazon: The Warrior Woman
- Hulk Speak: Master, who must speak this way around Blaster so he'll understand what's going on.
- Humiliation Conga: Implied that Master did this on a regular basis with Auntie Entity.
The Master: Who run Bartertown?
- Hypocritical Humor: The Gyro Captain upon learning that Max has been bluffing him with an unloaded shotgun: "Empty, all this time! That's dishonest! Low."
- In a World: The original trailers played this trope straight
- Impractically Fancy Outfit: Yes, 'Mad' Max is wearing black leather in the scorching hot Austrailian Outback. This is apparently supposed to help in crashes, but Max never rides a motorcycle.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Oddly only seen in villains.
- In the first movie Bubba Zanetti kneecaps Max with a single well-aimed pistol shot at long range.
- The mook shooting down the Gyrocopter with arrows in Mad Max 2 would be nigh-impossible to pull off in real life, too.
- Improbable Weapon User: The Gyro Captain likes snakes- both as a booby-trap device and as a thrown weapon
- Incessant Music Madness: In Beyond Thunderdome, some of the kids have run off. The other kids are showing Max which direction they went, and are chanting a lament in the background. Eventually, Max yells, "Stop the noise, STOP THE NOISE!"
- Indy Ploy:
Max: So what's the plan?
- Ineffectual Loner: Despite his best efforts to keep to himself, Max always winds up allying with/helping out/getting saved by the victimized good guys.
- Infant Immortality: Averted twice - Once in the original, then again in Beyond Thunderdome
- Land Down Under
- Large Ham: Tina Turner as Auntie Entity in Beyond Thunderdome.
- Leather Man:
- Wez, Mad Max 2's Dragon
- Fifi Mac Afee, Max's police chief in the first film.
- Life or Limb Decision:At the end of the original as part of Max's revenge
- Lighter and Softer: Before you say Beyond Thunderdome, Mad Max 2 is this to the terminally grim Mad Max.
- Loud of War: Max uses a dog whistle to defeat Blaster in the Thunderdome arena.
- Locked Into Strangeness: Over the course of the last two films, Max's sideburns become increasingly faded, presumably from the horrors he has witnessed or the great stress he is always under to survive. What with the apocalypse and all...
- Lovely Assistant: In Beyond Thunderdome. She even spins a wheel.
- Malevolent Masked Men: Lord Humungus and many of his gang who wear police helmets and other assorted masks.
- Messianic Archetype: Mad Max is seen by the children in Beyond Thunderdome as the Second Coming of Captain Walker, complete with a Max-as-Walker picture of him spread out in crucified form carrying the children away upon himself.
- Motivation on a Stick: In Beyond Thunderdome, the hero is sent into "exile" hooded and tied up on a donkey with a small jar of water hanging in front of its head.
- New Old West: All of the films have structures similar to Westerns, with motorcycle gangs and post-apocalyptic marauders taking the place of Western banditos.
- Nostalgic Narrator: In Mad Max 2, the narrator is revealed to be the Feral Kid.
- Notable Original Music: "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" from Beyond Thunderdome, preformed by Tina Turner, made #2 in the U.S.
- Not So Different.
Aunty Entity: Well... ain't we a pair? Raggedy man.
- Oh Crap: Several, but a split-second shot of Nightrider's bugged-out eyes as his car careens into an obstruction is an unusually disturbing example.
- The Toecutter has time to rip off his goggles to reveal a similar look before being hit by a truck.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Averted, and how! Max get shot in the leg in first film, rendering him into limping for rest of the series.
- Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Subverted in the second film, as Max doesn't even blink when the crashed semi's long-dead driver falls out of the cab.
- Post Apunkalyptic Armor: Pretty much defines the trope, especially Mad Max 2 & Beyond Thunderdome
- Post-Peak Oil: It is the cause of the collapse of society by the time of the 2nd and 3rd films.
- Product Placement
- The Promised Land: In Mad Max 2, the villagers are trying to locate their own promised land. The kids in Beyond Thunderdome believe that Max is Captain Walker, who will rescue them and take them to Tomorrow-morrow Land, which also counts.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Blaster.
- Rasputinian Death
- Railing Kill: The first shot Max fires during the climax of The Road Warrior takes out the driver of one car, which takes out another vehicle.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Averted. The Gyro Captain uses snakes, but he's a pretty good guy.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: At the end of the first film.
- Rule of Pool: The vats of pig feces in Beyond Thunderdome.
- Sadistic Choice
- Sawed-Off Shotgun: Max's signature weapon.
- Scavenger World: Trope Codifier.
- Shout-Out: Max being referred to as "The Man With No Name" in Beyond Thunderdome
- Solid Gold Poop: Bartertown in Beyond Thunderdome is fueled by methane, a byproduct of fecal decomposition. This choice of fuels was clearly made just for the arguments that could result.
- Star-Making Role: For Mel Gibson.
- Sword Over Head: Inverted at the end of Beyond Thunderdome.
- There Are No Rules: Thunderdome, except "Two Men Enter, One Man Leaves."
- The Thunderdome: the Trope Namer.
- Trailers Always Spoil: In video releases, the packaging revealed that Max's family are killed in the first film, and the fuel was in the bus, not the tanker in the second film.)
- Twenty Minutes Into the Future: The first movie starts with the words "A Few Years From Now..."
- Two-Part Trilogy: The Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome are almost completely different from the first Mad Max film, to the point where the sequels are rarely ever labelled Mad Max 2 or 3, and if collectors edition of the trilogy are made, only the last two movies are included.
- Wasteland Elder
- Weapon for Intimidation: Max's shotgun for most of the second movie. He uses it to bluff Wez into retreating at the start of the movie and rigs it up to keep the Gyrocaptain captured. It's only when he searches some of the bodies by the autogyro and finds a single shotgun shell that we discover that the gun has been empty all along.
- What Could Have Been: In Mad Max 2, it was originally going to be revealed near the end of the film that Lord Humungus was in fact Max's old Main Force Patrol partner Jim Goose, who was horribly burned (but not confirmed to be dead) in the first movie. While this didn't make it into the film, some elements of the final product might be leftover hints:
- Humungus' scoped pistol is a very similar weapon to the standard sidearm used by the MFP (albeit a different model), and other members of his pack use modified MFP patrol vehicles.
- He appears to have terrible burn scars underneath his mask, as evidenced by the back of his head, though the rest of his body is completely unblemished.
- His speeches about losing the people you care about and "ending the suffering" seem to hint at a more conflicted and tragic personality.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Once Max quits the force around halfway through the first movie, Fifi, Roop and Charlie are never seen again.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: All MFP officers carry a S&W .357 Model 28 revolver at all times. This could have been very useful to Max when he dropped his shotgun while facing the bike gang.
- Given the lack of funding that the MFP appears to have (Fifi has to cajole an investor to give him money for a new car for the force), it's possible that Max's pistol wasn't even loaded.
- Wild Child: the "Feral Kid"
- Would Hit a Girl: Max delivers a knockout punch to a teenage girl in Beyond Thunderdome. He hesitates beforehand, but goes ahead and decks her.
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: "Methane cometh from pig shit."
- You No Take Candle: The tribe of children had only partial educations from their shellshocked parents before being abandoned. Their limited vocabulary, in spite of their intelligence, is an uncomfortable reminder to Max how much the world is still losing.
- for the record, MFP's issue weapon is a Smith and Wesson Model 28, the utility version of the Model 27, the first .357 Magnum revolver. Humungus uses a .44 Magnum Model 29.