Things That Happen In Every Indiana Jones Movie

One of the most iconic action-adventure film franchises of all time is the Indiana Jones series, created by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, and starring Harrison Ford as the eponymous globe-trotting archaeologist. Beginning with 1981's "Raiders of the Lost Ark," the movies have pit the rugged adventurer against nefarious figures as he braves deadly tombs to recover ancient artifacts, preventing them from falling into the wrong hands. And while each movie features its own dazzling locales and unique treasures, there are recurring plot elements and trends that have consistently appeared in every film in the franchise to date. There is a bit of a noticeable formula to the franchise, retaining those tried-and-true points that have endeared it to millions of fans worldwide.  

From Indy's character arc throughout each cinematic adventure to common oversight shared by the enemies that he encounters along the way, here are all the biggest repeated tropes shared across all of the Indiana Jones movies. 

Indy faces his fear of snakes

For as much as Indiana Jones sets the paradigm for a rugged action hero, he is not without his own personal fears and doubts, with his most notable being his deep fear of snakes. Established in the prologue to "Raiders of the Lost Ark," every Indiana Jones movie has the archaeologist in an uncomfortable situation with snakes, often played for comedic effect. The origins of this phobia are revealed in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," with a teenage Indy falling in a vat of live snakes, traumatizing him for life.

Since that formative episode in his life, Indy is guaranteed to have snakes appear in all of his cinematic adventures. "Raiders of the Lost Ark" takes this to its highest level, with Indy braving an ancient chamber filled with venomous asps covering every inch of the room. While Indiana's subsequent encounters with snakes haven't been as harrowing, he has faced a frightening snake in every movie since.

Indiana uses his whip expertly to save the day

While Jones uses a variety of weapons across all the movies, the one that he is the most closely associated with is the leathery bullwhip he arms himself with at all times. More than just a weapon, Indy also uses his whip as a vital tool to traverse precarious areas or keep objects tied. And more than just being included with his ensemble as a cool accessory, the whip is sure to get multiple moments to shine in each film.

The origins of Indiana's reliance on a whip was revealed in a flashback to his teenage years in "Last Crusade," in which he arms himself with a whip while facing a lion. After accidentally scarring himself, Indy quickly masters use of the whip and is able to use it to drive back the lion and hoist himself out of a train car. Since then, the whip has always come through in a pinch for Indiana, whether it be disarming opponents or climbing up to normally inaccessible areas.

Indiana temporarily loses his hat and recovers it

Indiana Jones' signature adventuring outfit consists of a leather bomber jacket, brown pants, khaki buttoned shirt, and a fedora. Having received the fedora from a rival treasure hunter in 1912, the weathered hat is among Indy's most prized possessions, and he's rarely without it while in action. Of course, given the perilous nature of Indiana's adventures around the world, he temporarily loses his hat often, always narrowly recovering it in the face of impending danger.

The most memorable instance of Indy recovering his hat takes place in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," with the hero snatching his hat back from under a rapidly descending stone door. "Last Crusade" has Indy's hat blown off right before a tank he is riding careens off of a cliff, with Indiana barely able to escape in time. As the battered and bruised adventurer recovers from his near-death experience, a gust of wind fortuitously blows back his hat into his lap.

He starts every movie as a skeptic, despite his past experiences

For as many incredible sights and local folklore proven true that Indiana Jones encounters, he still regards the mystical powers of each relic in every movie with a noticeable amount of skepticism. Being a man of academia, this isn't entirely unbelievable — it wouldn't exactly feel right to have Indy immediately embrace the validity of any myths he stumbles across — but it's still a curious character trait. With "Temple of Doom" taking place before the other films, Indy's skepticism in the supernatural at that point is more understandable, but persists to a surprising degree as the series progresses.

After his showdown with Mola Ram (Amrish Puri) in India during "Raiders of the Lost Ark," Jones laughs off the possibility that the Ark of the Covenant poses a legitimate danger until the film's climax. Throughout "Last Crusade," Indy grapples with his faith over the course of the movie before relying on it to save his father (Sean Connery) through the power of the Grail. While Indiana was aware of the existence of extraterrestrial life at the beginning of "Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," he only comprehends the extent of their power at the climax.

Indiana is paired with an impromptu love interest

Just like James Bond, Indiana Jones is going to be coupled with a love interest in every cinematic adventure to add a little romance to the action-adventure proceedings. No matter how dire the stakes, the ruggedly charming and virile archaeologist consistently finds time for love in between raiding tombs and battling enemies. The first and most memorable romantic partner on screen for Indy was Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), an old flame who reunites with Jones during "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and accompanies him around the world.

"Temple of Doom" sees Indiana pair up with Willie, an American nightclub singer working in Hong Kong who gets roped into his sojourn in India before falling for him. "Last Crusade" would turn this trend on its head, with Indy's love interest Elsa Schneider betraying him to her Nazi associates after their liaison. "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" featured the return of Marion, rekindling her romance with Indy and marrying him in the presence of their son (Shia LaBeouf) by the movie's end.

One of the enemies goes out in a gruesomely over-the-top fashion

One common trait shared by many of the main antagonists in the Indiana Jones movies is that they have a tendency to go out hard, in graphically over-the-top ways. This fate usually befalls the enemies that present Indy with the greatest physical challenge in a given film, often in the midst of a particularly grueling fist fight in a dangerous location. Whether they're being eaten alive by a swarm of ants or plummeting to their death off of a cliff, the exits of these imposing goons are presented with gruesome finality.

Interestingly, actor and stuntman Pat Roach has the distinction of being the henchman to memorably perish twice fighting Indiana Jones as different characters. In "Raiders of the Lost Ark," Roach portrayed the Nazi officer cut to pieces by an airplane propeller, while "Temple of Doom" had Roach play a Thuggee strongman ground to death by a stone wheel. Roach filmed another role as a Gestapo agent fighting Indy on the zeppelin in "Last Crusade," but this portion of his performance was cut from the final film (per

Every main villain is destroyed by their desired goal

Just as every Indiana Jones movie has an especially painful death in store for its most physically imposing enemy, every film also has its primary antagonist killed by the relics they've been seeking all along. "Raiders of the Lost Ark" makes this trope particularly gory, with the three villains overseeing the opening of the Ark of the Covenant viscerally destroyed by the wrath of God. "Temple of Doom" has Mola Ram burned by the Sankara Stones, falling to his death, while "Last Crusade" has Walter Donovan (Julian Glover) rapidly age to death after drinking from the false Grail.

"Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" has perhaps the most non-violent instance of this trend, with Irina Spalko overwhelmed by the sheer amount of knowledge transferred to her mind by aliens, disintegrating in the process. The manner of the main villains' demise further demonstrates the difference between Indy and the enemies that he faces while pursuing the same artifacts. Whereas Indiana respects the power of the relics that he seeks, his opponents underestimate it and pay the ultimate price for their hubris.

Indy escapes death-defying traps

In addition to facing off against small armies preventing him from reaching mythical treasure, Indiana has to outmaneuver the numerous lethal traps of ancient civilizations as he explores the ruins they left behind. These can range from the more mundane deep chasms and spike-filled pits to systems of whirling blades and statues that spit toxic darts. And through a combination of quick reflexes and even quicker thinking, Indy manages to evade a gruesome fate intended for all wayward intruders.

One of the more iconic traps that Indy manages to evade is a rolling boulder in the ruins of a Peruvian temple at the beginning of "Raiders of the Lost Ark," as he barely avoids being crushed. "Temple of Doom" features one of the series' most impressive traps, a sealed room with spikes rapidly extending from the ceiling and floor as it contracts. "Last Crusade" ends with a series of challenges for Indy to overcome, with each trial more harrowing than the last.

Jones braves a different creature-infested area

Not all the traps that Indiana Jones encounters are conventional, inanimate threats, but often consist of various creepy crawlies intended to scare off or kill any intruders. Dialing up the squeamish content for audiences, this precedent was established by "Raiders of the Lost Ark," with Indy enduring both tarantulas and snakes. Subsequent movies would keep these swarms of unfriendly creatures to a single scene, while still playing up the gross-out factor for Indiana to overcome.

"Temple of Doom" features an entire corridor filled with a variety of bugs, with Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) forced to venture inside and free her friends before it's too late. "Last Crusade" has Venetian catacombs bustling with rats, which ferociously panic when petroleum in the crypt is set aflame. "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" has the characters traverse a clearing swarming with ravenous ants. In contrast to the previous films, these bugs are CG rather than being actual insects.

Indy uses his academic acumen to solve an ancient puzzle

As demonstrated by his day job as a college professor, Indiana Jones is a man perfectly capable of solving ancient problems with his intellect rather than solely relying on his fists. As a scholar of ancient civilizations and their respective folklore, it's this impressive amount of research that Indy regularly employs to overcome puzzles and other obstacles in his path. This academic approach sets Indiana apart from his competitors, and has saved his life on more than one occasion.

"Raiders of the Lost Ark" has Indy identify several traps, including one linked to sunlight that previously killed an old rival. Indiana's knowledge of ancient languages, including Hebrew, Sanskrit, and Latin has similarly helped him decipher warnings and instructions, keeping him relatively safe. "Last Crusade" has Jones receive de facto help from his father, using Henry Jones, Sr.'s lifetime of research in his personal journal to solve riddles along his journey to the Holy Grail.