Movie Props They Sneakily Reused In Multiple Films

Making a movie requires a mind-boggling assortment of assets, including costumes, sets, props, and other equipment—all of which can send production costs skyrocketing. For prop rental companies, this means business is always booming. To save time and money, sometimes movie and television productions will opt to reuse props or set pieces from other films instead of making their own. Additionally, sometimes directors or producers will use a specific prop from an older film as a throwback, tribute, or Easter egg for viewers to discover. Let's take a look at some of the best, worst, and most comical prop rehashes in history.

Frankenstein's lab equipment

When director Mel Brooks collaborated with Gene Wilder for 1974's Young Frankenstein (that's Fronkensteen!), reusing props was all part of the plan. Brooks was so dedicated to the authenticity of his Frankenstein spoof that he actively sought out set pieces used in the original 1931 film. If you compare the two closely, you'll find that many of the props used in the laboratory for both films are identical.

The M134 minigun

This scary-looking weapon is an actual firearm designed for combat use, and it's appeared in not one, but two Arnold Schwarzenegger films. We first saw the M134 on the big screen in 1987's Predator, during a sequence in which Jesse Ventura's character, Blain, wields his minigun "Painless" during a jungle battle with the titular alien antagonist. Four years later, the M134 reappeared in Schwarzenegger's hands during Terminator 2: Judgement Day. The Terminator uses the minigun to great effect in the film, raining down a hail of bullets at Cyberdyne's headquarters. As a throwback to the original Predator, the M134 was also used in the capable hands of Spetsnaz soldier Nikolai in the 2010 film Predators. While we don't know the origin of this particular prop, given Schwarzenegger's hobbies (like crushing things with his tank), we like to think that the M134 was a part of his personal arsenal that he decided to bring to the set for funsies.

Robby the Robot

While technically also a character and not just a prop, Robby the Robot first appeared in the 1956 film Forbidden Planet. His unique legs and glowing blue faceplate became standards of 1950s sci-fi filmmaking. Robby later made multiple appearances in films and on TV, albeit usually without any reference to the original "Robby" name; you can spot him in The Invisible Boy, My Little Margie, The Thin Man, Columbo, The Addams Family, Lost In Space, Twilight Zone, The Man From U.N.C.L.E, Mork & Mindy, and Gremlins, among others. If you'd like to see Robby in person, drop a line to director William Malone. The House on Haunted Hill filmmaker carefully restored Robby from original spare parts supplied by MGM, and now has the robot on display in his personal collection.

Ed O'Neill's newspaper

Apparently, Ed O'Neill has been reading the same newspaper for over 20 years. First created by a prop company in the 1960s, this fake rag appears in the hands of Al in Married With Children as well as Jay in Modern Family. It's much cheaper for a production company to buy a fake paper prop than negotiate rights with an actual newspaper to use a copy in their show or film; as a result, you can find the same dark-haired woman gracing page three on papers all across Hollywood. The paper has been used in countless movies and television shows, including No Country For Old Men, Scrubs, Desperate Housewives, That '70s Show, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Everybody Hates Chris, Lucky Louie, and many more.


Just like fictional phone numbers beginning with "555", filmmakers usually opt for fictional license plate numbers in their movies. One of the most commonly-used plate numbers is California plate 2GAT123. Found in dozens of movies and television shows, you've probably seen 2GAT123 before without realizing it. Some (but definitely not all) of the productions that have used this plate as a prop include L.A. Story, Beverly Hills Cop II, K-9, Eve of Destruction, When a Man Loves a Woman, Go, Pay It Forward, The Perfect Nanny, Traffic, Mulholland Drive, Training Day, Be Cool, Harsh Times, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Role Models, New Girl, Curb Your Enthusiasm.

The Wilhelm scream

If you've watched basically any action or battle scene in the last 30 years, you've heard the "Wilhelm" scream at least once. This stereotypical scream issues forth from extras and main characters as they are stabbed, shot, fall from high places, or are otherwise maimed. Since 1951, the scream—named for Private Wilhelm, a character in the 1953 western The Charge at Feather River—has appeared in more than 225 movies and television shows. It gained attention in popular culture when sound designer Ben Burtt used the scream in Star Wars, during a scene in which Luke Skywalker shoots a stormtrooper off of a ledge. Burtt later incorporated the scream into other films he worked on, including the rest of the Star Wars original trilogy, the Indiana Jones series, and more. Other sound designers began to use the sound effect in their productions, and by 2011, the scream had become something of a cliché and in-joke in the filmmaking community. Some directors—including Quentin Tarentino, Tim Burton, George Lucas, and Peter Jackson—include the scream in almost all of their movies. Watch the YouTube video we've included here for a great compilation of the Wilhelm scream in action.

Van Nuys High School

This real-life high school in Los Angeles, California should really be named "Movie High": It's been used in numerous films, television shows, and music videos over the years. The school's campus was used as a primary location in the 1982 movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, as well Christine, Sleepwalkers, My Stepmother is an Alien, The Wonder Years, Rock 'n' Roll High School, Highway to Heaven, and many more. If you're a millennial, you may also recognize the school as the location featured in the video for Vitamin C's hit 1999 single "Graduation (Friends Forever)."