Here are some of the most commonly paused scenes in cinematic history, from crafty Easter Eggs to embarrassing mistakes that evaded the filmmakers’ notice.
Fast Times At Ridgemont High
In 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Phoebe Cates’ character Linda appears to drop her bikini in a dream sequence. Unsurprisingly this has become one of the most-paused moments in cinematic history.
Phoebe Cates later commented, “I was only 17 when I did my nude scenes in Paradise. They were serious and more difficult because they were not easily justified. But the topless scene in ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ was funny, which made it easy.”
The Wolf of Wall Street
The Wolf of Wall Street is a biographical drama based on a memoir by the stockbroker Jordan Belfort. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie as a couple in a steamy relationship. The film divided critics, with Dana Stevens of Slate describing it as “epic in size, claustrophobically narrow in scope.”
The most racy scene of this movie takes place in the couple’s home nursery room. Naomi teases Jordan as she reveals she isn’t wearing underwear. But soon afterwards, to her horror, Naomi realises that the moment has been caught on a hidden camera.
It’s one of the most recognisable silhouettes of all time, and you can spot it at some point in nearly every Disney movie. Mickey Mouse’s public debut was in the short sound cartoon Steamboat Willie, which came out in 1928. He starred in more than 130 films in the following decades, and he is the world-famous mascot of the franchise.
Even the 1982 sci-fi movie Tron paid homage to this Hollywood icon. As the solar sailer is hijacked, we can see a background image of Mickey’s unmistakeable ears and rounded nose.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Disney’s Touchstone Pictures released Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1998, to critical acclaim. The film shows a private investigator who is trying to help a cartoon character escape a murder conviction.
Never one to shy away from a crude joke, the movie includes a moment when Jessica Rabbit’s car crashes into an electricity pole. As the heroine tumbles through the air, for a brief moment her dress flies up to reveal that she isn’t wearing any underwear.
Basic Instinct is the 1992 neo-noir erotic thriller about a police detective investigating the violent murder of a rock musician. The detective (played by Michael Douglas) finds himself embroiled in a passionate love affair with the case’s prime suspect, Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone).
During her first interrogation, Tramell taunts the assembled detectives and exposes herself by crossing and uncrossing her legs. It has become a widely famous and much-parodied moment, and unsurprisingly it has many viewers grabbing the remote.
The Lion King
There is a popular conspiracy theory that cartoons have, for decades, added deliberate subliminal messages to manipulate the population. In particular, people have theorized that Disney movies contain hidden sexual messages, despite their content often being aimed at young children.
Fans have noticed that during The Lion King, a swirling constellation appears to spell out the word S-E-X. In reality, this is an innocent bit of fun by animators. On closer examination, you can see that the stars actually spell out S-F-X, an acronym for Special Effects.
The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid, based on the fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Anderson, is one of Disney’s most successful and recognised works. Released in 1989, it featured such beloved tunes as Under The Sea, Part of Your World and Poor Unfortunate Souls and won two Academy Awards.
But this film’s respected status struggled when fans noticed a questionable moment. In the original VHS release, the clergyman at Eric’s and Ursula’s wedding appears to have a protruding manhood under his robe. In reality, it is just the outline of his knobbly knee. Disney erased this in later releases.
Deadpool 2 came out in 2018, with the return of the beloved wise-cracking antihero portrayed by Ryan Reynolds. When Deadpool recruits a mutant team known as X-Force, in order to break into a maximum security jail, he introduces a running gag: The Vanisher.
The Vanisher never seems to appear for his job interview – until Deadpool pays closer attention to his name and declares him the perfect fit. The Vanisher is never seen until he crash-lands into power lines. In the moment before he dies, he becomes visible – revealing a cameo by Brad Pitt.
With apologies in advance for talking about the Fight Club (including major spoilers), this other much-paused movie is laden with secrets. This 1999 movie, based on Chuck Palahniuk’s novel of the same name, reveals in a twist ending that the character Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) is just a figment of the Narrator’s imagination.
This revelation is foreshadowed as Brad Pitt appears momentarily on four occasions before his character is formally introduced, cropping up on the subway and around town.
One blooper from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope accidentally made it into the final cut. An Imperial Stormtrooper based on the Death Star marches along with a squad before catching his helmeted head on a doorway. The actor is noticeably stunned by this moment.
It has been speculated that the actor Laurie Goode, who has recalled an on-set head bump, may have been this clumsy Stormtrooper – but it has never been proven. With a sense of humour, George Lucas edited this moment in later releases with an added bump sound effect.
In one of the stranger moments of sci-fi spectacle Total Recall, the heroes encounter a sex worker who has three breasts. This much-paused moment is a cameo by Lycia Naff, wearing heavy prosthetics.
Naff is a dancer and actress who starred as Ensign Sonya Gomez on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and later became a journalist. She is known for interviewing victims of Bill Cosby, including Barbara Bowman.
The Wizard of Oz
In a much-mythologized moment from The Wizard of Oz (1939), Dorothy (Judy Garland) paces down the Yellow Brick Road along with the Scarecrow and Tin Man with an ominous sight on the horizon.
People have claimed you can make out the silhouette of a hanged Munchkin in the distant trees. It is actually the accidental shadow of a crane from the film set. However, Judy Garland reportedly did have dark experiences on the set, with her ex-husband Sid Luft later writing of the Munchkin actors, “They would make Judy’s life miserable on set by putting their hands under her dress. The men were 40 or more years old. They thought they could get away with anything because they were so small.”
Three Men And A Baby
Another much-paused, double-take moment occurs in the movie Three Men and a Baby. This comedy stars Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg and Ted Danson as three unlikely co-parents of a newborn baby. It topped the US box office in the year of its release.
At one point, a ghostly figure of a boy seems to appear in the corner of the screen. This creepy moment attracted a litany of fan theories. However, it was simply a cardboard cut-out that was left on the set accidentally and escaped the filmmakers’ notice.
When Jurassic World came out in 2015, it became the fourth instalment in the Jurassic Park franchise – but it also became the first of three planned Jurassic World movies, and was later followed by Jurassic World: Dominion. In competition with Easter Egg-laden rival franchises like Marvel, the creators of Jurassic World clearly wanted to create some fleeting moments that would have eagle-eyed fans chuckling.
When a pterodactyl ploughs into terrified crowds in a recreational area, a man in a bright orange shirt grabs his margheritas before running away. At a closer look, you can see this was a cameo by the singer Jimmy Buffett.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones faces off with the Nazis in the desert, threatening to blow the Ark to smithereens with his grenade launcher. Nazi archaeologist René Emile Belloq (Paul Freeman) calls his bluff and defies Jones’ order to release his comrade Marion Ravenwood.
While this scene was being filmed, a fly landed on Freeman’s face and even crawled into his mouth. To his credit, Freeman didn’t break character at all, and this gross moment made it into the final cut.
Man of Steel
In the climatic battle of 2013’s Man of Steel, Superman (Henry Cavill) fights General Zod (Michael Shannon) in outer space, after devastating the city of Metropolis. They unwittingly crash into a satellite as they wrestle with each other.
In a nod to the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe, you can spot a logo on the satellite that forms the word Wayne. This is a reference to Bruce Wayne of Wayne Industries, a front for the secret identity of Batman.
Ghostbusters is one of the best-loved summer blockbusters of all time, with Newsweek‘s David Ansen describing it as “wonderful summer nonsense”. The movie was pitched at adults as well as kids, and so this family movie includes a cameo that only older viewers will likely spot.
As the crowds in New York City marvel at the supernatural events unfolding on their streets, among them is a tall moustachioed man. Closer inspection reveals that this figure is played by the famed adult film star Ron Jeremy.
Teen Wolf often plays second fiddle to Michael J Fox’s far more famous works, such as Back to the Future. But it’s a beloved romp nonetheless, showing the antics of high school students who become embroiled in the world of the supernatural.
But did you notice a questionable moment at the movie’s end, as crowds celebrate on the bleachers by a basketball match? One character appears to have his fly down and he stands and cheers. Contrary to popular belief, the figure in question is actually a woman.
Iron Man came out in 2008 and quickly cemented itself as a Marvel fan favourite. In another classic Marvel Easter Egg, as Tony Stark busies himself in his workshop, you can catch a glimpse of Captain America’s half-finished shield in the background.
Other hidden comic book references include the naming of two fighter jets, Whiplash 1 and 2, which are named after a prominent villain who doesn’t feature in this movie.
Just as Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller Psycho is winding to a close, we have a final shot of the villainous Norman Bates’ face. Eerily, a skull hovers over it, superimposed on his deadening stare.
This ghoulish vision – a reminder of the character’s violent atrocities earlier in the movie – clearly chills fans to this day, and it has become one of the most-paused moments in movie history.
This 2002 sci-fi horror offering from M Night Shyamalan begins with an Episcopal priest named Graham Hess (Mel Gibson). The unsuspecting hero finds a creepy crop circle in his own fields and begins to uncover an extra-terrestrial conspiracy.
The alien invasion in question shows only glimpses of these disturbing creatures at first, and you’ll need your finger ready on the remote to catch them. These moments have the creepy aura of subliminal messaging, cropping up fleetingly to give you the chills.
The Cabin in the Woods
The Cabin in the Woods is the 2011 offering from Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon, who previously collaborated on the beloved Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s a horror comedy classic in which college students come under attack from monsters during a forest cabin stay.
The movie loves to parody horror and slasher tropes, and it is considered a classic work of satire. In one moment, we catch sight of a whiteboard covered with a broad list of the most famous horror archetypes.
It’s one of the most popular dark comedies of all time, and Mike Nichols won the 1967 Academy Award for Best Director thanks to this movie. In 1996, The Graduate was selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry.
But it’s this film’s most racy and provocative moment that garners the most pauses. It’s the famous moment when the young graduate Benjamin Braddock begins an affair with the glamourous older lady Mrs Robinson at the Taft Hotel.
There’s Something About Mary
Opening in the heady days of 80s high school, There’s Something About Mary follows the life of a young man who’s unlucky in love. Cameron Diaz stars in the title role, and the movie’s slapstick comedy was surprisingly popular with critics.
The most-paused moment in this movie happens right at the start. Ted Stroehmann (Ben Stiller) is preparing for a prom date when he accidentally catches his privates in his zipper, to excruciating effect.
The Back-up Plan
Originally entitled Plan B, The Back-up Plan is a romantic comedy starring Jennifer Lopez and Alex O’Loughlin. It follows the tale of a lady hoping to become a single mother, before she develops a crush on her donor. The film was a disaster with critics and has a 17% fating on Rotten Tomatoes, but it was still a box office success.
The filmmakers relied heavily on body doubles for Jennifer Lopez. As a result, viewers often pause this film throughout in order to take a second look: was that a shot of JLo, or just a very convincing lookalike?
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
In the 1996 animated movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the long-suffering hero Quasimodo sings from the cathedral tower over the city of Paris. As we see soaring scenes of the city below, Disney animators decided to pay homage to the franchise’s magnificent renaissance.
In the streets, you can spot Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Poomba from The Lion King. Strangest of all, you can also spy one of Disney’s most charismatic figures lying inert: the playful Magic Carpet from Aladdin.
Thor: The Dark World
No franchise loves an Easter Egg more than Marvel. With a sweeping cast and countless convoluted relationships to document, the Marvel Cinematic Universe contains various visual clues to treat their most dedicated fans.
In Thor: The Dark World, Dr Selvig has covered a whiteboard in a mental health unit with his innermost thoughts and theories. His writings contain many mathematical equations and astronomical data – but you can also catch sight of the world Nidavellir, which is a key location in Avengers: Infinity War.
Iron Man 2
In another classic Marvel Easter Egg, a hi-tech screen reveals details about various figures never seen in this particular movie. Iron Man 2, the 2010 blockbuster starring Robert Downey Jr and Mickey Rourke, sees our hero battle an evil scientist with a vendetta against his family.
As the adventure winds down, Tony Stark meets with Nick Fury for a mission debrief. As they discuss the politics of S.H.I.E.L.D., viewers catch glimpses of a background map that highlights the locations of Captain America’s frozen body, Thor’s hammer and Wakanda.
Boogie Nights is the 1997 movie about making adult movies. It follows the misadventures of a dishwasher-turned-adult movie star Dirk Diggler. This film, starring Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds and Don Cheadle, earned an impressive trio of Academy Award nominations.
But the moment that attracts the most pauses is a view of Dirk Diggler’s dressing table – laden with mysterious paraphernalia.
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
From its toe-curling script to some pretty wooden acting, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is no favourite among fans. It introduced Jar Jar Binks, possibly Hollywood’s most hated figure, to the franchise, and a slew of criticism for the young Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) led the child actor to quit the industry two years later.
But this film also contains one moment that makes viewers linger. In a nod to his friend Steven Spielberg, director George Lucas included a single glimpse of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in this movie.