The term ‘Chekov’s Gun’ is something that’s quite well known to a lot of those in the industry, as it’s essentially the idea that if something is shown or mentioned in the first act of the movie, then it will need to return in the second or third act. There are dozens of rules in the business, but this is one of them that a lot of people either don’t know that much about or haven’t learned about yet. It’s also one that people still notice no matter their knowledge of the rule or not, since they want to know that every piece of the movie has been accounted for and nothing was shown without a good reason. Even the most innocuous little thing in a movie can become a reason for being frustrated since quite a few people like the order and structure that generally goes with any movie, even if they won’t admit as much. Here are ten great examples of Chekov’s Gun in effect in the movies.
10. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Recall the scene in the warehouse when Eddie and several other detectives were investigating a murder that had been perpetrated by a toon. Much of what is seen lying around, including the mallet with the telescoping boxing glove inside, is used later on when Eddie is fighting the same man that eventually shows up, Judge Doom.
Bo’s water obsession isn’t hard to take note of since everywhere a person looks in the house there’s bound to be at least one or two water glasses that are somehow contaminated, according to Bo, and have been left there for reasons we don’t get to hear about. But later on, when one of the aliens is threatening Morgan, the glasses of water come in handy as a weapon against the alien, as it’s revealed that they can’t stand getting wet.
The alligator that Hook dueled with a long time ago is actually a big feature in this movie since Hook stuffed it and turned the creature into a clock. The funny thing is that he brags about this and then in the end meets his end at the jaws of that same croc. It does leave the question about what Neverland would be like without Captain Hook wide open though since we don’t get to see the result.
7. Shaun of the Dead
Some folks might have thought that this was a throwaway line for Ed to use with Shaun in order to make him laugh and relax. But lo and behold, the Winchester rifle above the bar became an important implement to utilize when Shaun and his fellow survivors needed it most.
6. The Fifth Element
It’s definitely a good thing that Corbin’s mother called when she did, and that the interruptions that had to do with him saving the world started to happen since otherwise, he might have been scratching matches until they were all gone. Instead, he pocketed the last match and didn’t even think about it until the last second when he really needed it. How’s that for fate?
5. Raiders of the Lost Ark
There’s no secret that Indiana Jones hates snakes, but the funny thing about it is that one snake that’s not acting aggressive freaks him out, and an entire room filled with snakes should have left him paralyzed with fear. Yet he managed to get up, steel himself a bit, and coexist with the serpents until he could find a way out.
4. The Shawshank Redemption
“Salvation lies within.” Hoo boy, if only the warden had bothered to try and find another verse for Andy to memorize, he might have found out the truth and the irony of his statement a little too early. As it was this story element became a nice twist that ended up being a giant middle finger to the warden by the end of the movie and a great laugh that the audience was allowed to have at his expense.
In a way, this looked like a way to make sure that Ripley was seen to be useful and could prove that she had some sort of skill that mattered, but it was a big setup for the battle yet to come. If not for this thing and her ability to use it, the fight between Ripley and the alien queen would have gone a lot different, and probably wouldn’t have had the same outcome.
The swords hung on the wall near the front door are what everyone points to because while they look nice, they’re essentially useless until they’re placed in the movie again. There are a few items that are introduced early, but this is what a lot of people focus on.
Memento is a lot of fun since it employs the idea of Chekov’s Gun, but in reverse, since that’s how the story flows, and it’s how everything gets revealed as each new scene is played out. That alone is what makes this movie so much fun.
As I said, there are a lot of rules in show business.