There are so many movies out there that it’s not so surprising we feel like we’ve pretty much seen it all. Some movies will without a care in the world dredge up a familiar plot device to propel themselves forward, resting on tried and tested formula that now nevertheless seems extremely trite and lazy.

These devices might have seemed fresh and exciting the first fifty times they were employed, but now, they’re just irritants and can often result in a groaning audience during an otherwise enjoyable film.

Though it’s hard to choose just 10, I’ve narrowed it down to the 10 I find the most head-smackingly overused. Let’s get on with the list…



10. Ticking Time Bomb

Perhaps the most classic plot device on this list, the ticking time bomb is a famous scenario intended to sustain tension, usually at the climax of a film. The villain will have planted a bomb, and the protagonist will have to find a way to dispose of it or diffuse it.

This trope appears everywhere from the original Batman TV series, to Speed, to The Dark Knight Rises, and contemporary films tend to also fit the bomb out with a handy LED timer, giving the hero an exact idea of how long he has to stop it (which somewhat undermines the tension, really).

It was once upon a time a perfect way to wring thrills out of a film, but it’s simply too played out, and 99% of the time I see this scenario now, it just seems dull and uninspired – the least imaginative way to end a movie for sure.

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This article was first posted on June 25, 2013