19. How Many Times Does Tyler Durden Appear Before Tyler Durden Appears?
Everyone knows that Fincher spliced subliminal flashes of Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in the first twenty minutes of the film before the Tyler Durden character himself actually makes an appearance… but how many are there?
The first one pops in when Jack is at work struggling to stay awake at the photocopier, Tyler looking equally bored; the second comes at the tail end of Jack’s visit to the hospital with Tyler smirking over the doctor’s shoulder. The third flash comes during the first support group meeting, which is then followed by a fourth flash on the street outside another meeting as Jack looks for Marla.
These are what Fincher refers to as ‘Subliminal Brads’. There’s another one that not everyone picks up on, and that's in the hotel welcome video that he has on in his room while travelling for work. Tyler Durden crops up as one of the waiters in the presentation on the right of the screen.
There is, of course, another appearance - it’s one that might pass you by, as it's not really subliminal. The camera lingers on him this time, showing him on an airport travelator going in the opposite direction to Jack, who has his back to him. It appears to be the first appearance of the Tyler Durden character... but of course we know that there is no Tyler Durden character. If we see him and he’s not interacting with Jack or acting as Jack, it’s an interpolation.