Freeze Frame: The Most Paused Movie Moments
Any great scene in a movie demands to be watched again and again, right? Plus, watching movies at home gives you the chance to catch all the details you may have missed in the theater.
Whether it’s a racy scene with your screen crush, a blooper you missed or a funny Easter egg in a frame jam-packed with visuals, some scenes deserve repeated viewing. Curated by hardcore film fans, this list features some of the most popular paused movie moments in pop-culture history.
Star Wars: Stormtrooper Head Bump
It's the most famous blooper in the original Star Wars: A New Hope. As Luke and Han are out trying to rescue Leia, C-3PO and R2D2 lock themselves inside a room. Suddenly, stormtroopers arrive to investigate.
Deadpool 2: The Not So Invisible Man
In Deadpool 2, Deadpool goes to great lengths to recruit mutants (and Peter) for his intrepid X-Force. Their first mission was to parachute into harm's way on a rescue mission. It couldn't have failed more spectacularly, with almost every member of the team dying in unlikely mishap after mishap.
Ready Player One: Every Car You Remember from Childhood
In Ready Player One, the entire movie is a virtual love letter to everything from ‘80’s and ‘90’s pop culture. One scene pops out early in the film — when all the race cars are gathered for the racing challenge.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Who Cast the Patronus?
There are many pause-worthy moments in the Harry Potter film series. One of them is the epic "Silver Stag" scene in the Prisoner of Azkaban. As the "Chosen One" is clinging to life, someone casts a stag Patronus to save him from the soul-sucking dementors. Who is the hero behind the spell?
Basic Instinct: "That" Scene
Paul Verhoeven, the director of Basic Instinct, was already no stranger to controversy, but his choices in this movie seemed to be deliberately engineered to shock unsuspecting audiences. In "that" scene — you know the one — the suspected killer, Catherine Tramell, is questioned by the cops.
The Cabin in the Woods: The Whiteboard of Death
The Cabin in the Woods is a genius deconstruction of horror films — and a great horror film itself. The workers in the underground office have a strange job (spoiler alert): engineer horror scenarios to kill innocent teens in human sacrifices to prevent the end of the world. It all starts with a cabin in the woods, but the scenario is different every time.
Three Men and a Baby: Spooky Boy
For the longest time, an urban legend claimed the ghost of a young boy was unexpectedly caught on film peeking from behind the curtains in a scene in Three Men and a Baby. The truth was something far less spooky. It was actually a standee prop of Ted Danson.
Raiders of the Lost Ark: They Go Way Back
When it comes to making films, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are a partnership made in heaven, as evidenced by the incredible Raiders of the Lost Ark. As a gag, they often put hidden Easter eggs in shots that reference each other's work.
Avengers Endgame: All Hands on Duck
As far as superhero movies go, it's hard to imagine a more satisfying scene than when the cavalry arrives to fight Thanos in Avengers: Endgame. Just as Thor, Iron Man and Captain America imagine they are beaten, Dr. Strange's portals appear, and every single Marvel hero from the last 20 movies comes pouring in.
TRON: Pac-Man Has Entered the Grid
TRON was the first movie that used mostly computer-generated graphics, a technique that later became standard fare for special effects. In a movie about a genius hacker sucked into a computer world to play video games in first person gladiatorial style combat, it seemed appropriate that some reference to popular video games of the era would pop up.
Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan Is Dr. Mantastic
Watchmen was adapted from a graphic novel that imagined an alternate 1985, where superheroes actually existed and had real human problems. Among those heroes was Dr. Manhattan, a being of such immense power that he was practically a god.
Aliens: It's Game Over Man
It's a tense moment in the movie Aliens when the remaining heroes, led by Hicks and Ripley, are holed up in a room deep within the facility. Their motion detector tells them the aliens are closing in — so close they should be inside the room — but they can't see them. It finally dawns on them to check the crawl space above.
The Usual Suspects: The Bulletin Board of Lies
The Usual Suspects has one of the best climaxes in any thriller from the '90s. It's that beautiful moment when Detective Kujan stares at the bulletin board and realizes that Verbal Kint has been snowing him for the last hour and a half.
Dangerous Liaisons: Up Close and Personal
Uma Thurman was already an established actress with great credits under her belt, but it wasn't until Pulp Fiction that her fame was launched into the stratosphere. New fans who didn't know her past work fell in love with her watching Dangerous Liaisons (1988), the film with her first topless scene.
Star Trek: Where No Astromech Droid Has Gone Before
J.J. Abrams' winning pitch for the reboot of Star Trek was to make it more like Star Wars. That meant more high-octane action, explosions and lens flares than anyone had ever seen in a Star Trek movie before.
Fight Club: I Am Jack's Coffee Cup
Fight Club was a breakthrough film on many levels, and many people have written about the layers of meaning in the film. One of the coolest details that has been overlooked, even by the most intense fans, is the prevalence of Starbucks coffee cups throughout the film.
Deadpool: Credit Where Credit Is Due
Ryan Reynolds spent years trying to get the Deadpool movie made, and when it was finally released, it proved to be worth the wait. The movie starts its irreverent R-rated poke at the superhero genre right from the opening credits, which themselves are a spoof. In case you didn’t notice, it stars "a perfect idiot," "a hot chick" and "a CGI character" and is produced by "a**hats."
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: Another Old Fossil
Spielberg continues paying homage to Lucas' Star Wars characters in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. As Indiana Jones makes his daring escape from the club in Shanghai, we see the name of the club on the marquee: OBIWAN.
Scanners: Killer Headache
The movie Scanners has a shocking head explosion that is still infamous among horror fans. Back in 1981, there was no such thing as CGI in movies, so everything had to be done with practical effects. Pulling off a believable head explosion was no small feat.
The Exorcist: The Demon's Face
The Exorcist was a surprise hit for its time, and it’s widely considered to be one of the most terrifying stories ever filmed to this day. The demon itself is mostly unseen and only demonstrated indirectly through the suffering of Regan.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Naughty Students
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was hailed as one of the best movies in the series, initiating a stylistic departure and a darker turn than the previous films. One of the magical tools in the film is the Marauder's Map, which shows every room in Hogwarts and every person's live location by name.
The Departed: X Marks the Shot
Scorsese is a masterful director who made another hit film with The Departed. In it, he plays a fun visual trick that makes the movie worth rewatching. Every time a character is about to die, a prominent "X" is seen somewhere in the scene. Sometimes, it’s a pattern on the floor or tape marks; sometimes, it’s crosshatched beams or something on a wall.
The Rescuers: The Banned Scene
Somehow, a photographic image of a topless woman appeared in a few frames of Disney's The Rescuers, prompting Disney to recall the home video version of the movie in 1999 in order to get ahead of a potential scandal. About 38 minutes into the movie when Bianca and Bernard take a steep dive on the albatross, the woman can be seen in the background through a window.
Interstellar: Through the Wormhole
There’s a lot of buildup in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar. At the center of the plot is a wormhole in space, a sort of warping of space-time that can allow anything that travels through it to shortcut instantly across great distances — in this case, 10 billion light-years.
Frozen: It's a Small World
Many Disney fans have speculated about how the different Disney princesses might be connected. In Frozen, Disney spells it out directly with a fun cameo. Near the beginning of the film, after the castle has been opened to throw a giant party and Anna is singing "For the First Time in Forever," she passes by Rapunzel and her boyfriend, Eugene.
Return of the Jedi: Ill-Fated Dancer
In Return of the Jedi, everyone in Jabba's palace knows about the trap door in the floor that leads to the savage, hungry Rancor beneath. Oola, the Twi'lek slave dancer, infuriates Jabba by refusing his advances, so he sends her falling through the floor into the dungeon.
Terminator 2: The Fate of the T-1000
Still considered the best Terminator movie by legions of fans, Terminator 2: Judgement Day more than holds its own as a sci-fi classic. In the climax of the film, the T-1000 and the old-school Terminator have an epic showdown inside a steel factory, with the Terminator seemingly down for the count.
An intense movie, Apocalypto isn't for everyone. However, no matter what you might say about director Mel Gibson, you can't say he doesn't have a sense of humor. In one scene, where the hero Jaguar Paw is running from his enemies in a warring tribe, he stumbles into a pit of dead bodies.
Watchmen: Bruce Wayne Never Becomes Batman
In the opening credits, Watchmen clearly spells out that the heroes in its universe stopped Batman from ever existing. While it seems like a cheesy shot of an armed criminal getting punched out by the Nite Owl, a closer look says something different.
The Cabin in the Woods: The Monster Menagerie
The Cabin in the Woods earns extra points for trying to visually include every favorite monster from horror films. Dana and stoner Marty find themselves in a weird elevator descending through a nightmarish menagerie of cubes containing every horror creature imaginable.
Jurassic World: The Margarita Man
Jurassic Park taught us that bringing back dinosaurs is a terrible idea. Jurassic World showed us that humans haven't learned anything from their mistakes because they open a dinosaur theme park. To no one’s surprise, the dinos escape their cages and attack guests.
Signs: The First Time We See the Alien
Signs starred Mel Gibson, whose character lives on a remote farm with his son and daughter. The film teased audiences with large crop circles, strange clicking noises and mysterious, dark figures hiding in the cornfields. But we didn't see the actual creatures that were tormenting the family until the middle of the film.
Toy Story 3: References From an Iconic Horror Film
Believe it or not, children's film Toy Story 3 has a disturbing reference from the not so family-friendly film, The Shining. When you pause the scene of Woody rescuing Buzz from Sid’s house, take a look at the carpet. Does it look familiar?
Star Wars - The Phantom Menace: E.T.s Make a Cameo
Did E.T. really go home? No one knows, but audiences can clearly see him and his squad in the Star Wars prequel, Episode I – The Phantom Menace. In the scene, three E.T.s sit in a pod during one of the galactic senate meetings.
I Am Legend: The Batman v Superman Poster Was Originally a Joke
Released in 2007, I Am Legend starred Will Smith, whose lonely character lives in a post-apocalyptic time period. After he tries hunting a deer in New York's Times Square, the scene prominently displays an old movie poster of Batman v Superman.