One of the biggest advancements the VCR era brought to the lives of film buffs was that suddenly a movie could be paused and favorite moments re-watched. It was also about being able to replay a confusing scene where you had no idea what actually happened. It might be news to many millennials, but pausing was not always around – it is a relatively novel human achievement.
With the advent of DVDs, Blu-Rays and streaming, this became even easier. Now you can even remember the exact timecode you need to go to in order to see a famous or infamous scene – you should see how much time and effort it took to do that with a VHS tape!
Although there are literally hundreds, maybe thousands such moments in movie history, we’ve selected 28 of the most paused scenes by movie lovers.
1. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
When Phoebe Cates exits the pool in her tiny red bikini before removing it completely is ingrained in collective VCR memory.
2. Basic Instinct (1992)
On the other hand, the scene where Sharon Stone’s character crosses and uncrosses her legs during an interrogation to reveal everything is part of collective human memory.
3. Scanners (1981)
At one infamous moment during this mystery horror film surrounding psychic powers, a young Michael Ironside makes a man’s head explode with his powers. It happens so quickly and gruesomely, it just has to be re-watched.
4. Cabin in the Woods (2012)
While the scientists are betting on the outcome for the protagonists, a white board is filled with lists of monsters and villains. The movie was stopped time and time again so viewers could read what other weird creatures the lab had planned.
5. Wizard of Oz (1939)
The background of one scene in the timeless classic has caused much controversy over the years. It appears as if one of the munchkins has hung himself, but the official story is that it’s just a bird.
6. Teen Wolf (1985)
Somehow, a frame of a background actor with his pants pulled down made it into the family-friendly movie, right before the credits start to roll.
7. The Little Mermaid (1989)
When Ariel is finally getting married, something about the priest caused a few replays. Let’s just say he was pretty excited that they finally got together.
8. Fight Club (1999)
It’s not just the spliced in pornographic material that made people rewatch this David Fincher book adaptation, it’s also Brad Pitt’s brief appearances before his character is even introduced.
9. She’s The Man (2006)
When a 19-year old Amanda Bynes lifts her shirt to show the boys that she is, in fact, a girl, teenagers across the country were smashing their pause buttons to try to get a glimpse in vain.
10. Total Recall (1990)
Arnold Schwarzenegger gave us many moments of violence and destruction through the years, but it’s a glimpse at a three-breasted woman that made viewers stop in awe and uncontrollable laughter.
11. Psycho (1960)
In this classic horror film, Alfred Hitchcock gives us plenty of pause-able moments, but one stands out in particular. When Norman Bates is eventually arrested, he looks directly into the camera and a human skull is superimposed over his face for just a moment.
12. Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Following in Cates’ and Stone’s footsteps, Margot Robbie had a turn as the sex icon of a generation in the Martin Scorsese film. She induces a handful of heart-stopping moments, including unwittingly showing off to the security team.
13. The Lion King (1994)
Everyone knows the word “SEX” can be seen in the Disney classic. According to a statement, it’s actually “SFX” but we still have our doubts.
14. Boogie Nights (1997)
Yes, it’s a prosthetic. When Mark Wahlberg drops his drawers for the camera in this Paul Thomas Anderson movie inspired by the adult-film industry, audiences gasped at the size of his equipment and quickly stopped the tape to have a better look.
15. Tron (1982)
A movie filled with easter eggs for the arcade culture of the 80s, if you pause it at a certain point you can even see Pac-Man.
16. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
Wait, did a stormtrooper just smash his head while coming through the door? I guess that’s why they wear helmets.
17. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
George Lucas decided to throw a reference to his good friend Steven Spielberg in the first of the prequels when he added E.T and his family into the Galactic Senate.
18. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
At the very end of the film, when Rey hands Luke Skywalker his old lightsaber, there is a small stone to his right that looks like it may be a gravestone. Fans everywhere have come up with a million reasons why Luke was standing up there alone, but there’s no evidence to support any of the theories.
19. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)
In a certain scene in one of the most sexualized cartoons in history, Jessica Rabbit is thought to have gone commando.
20. Three Men and a Baby (1987)
Another Leonard Nimoy’s movie. The scene where a boy is standing behind the characters, watching from another dimension was frequently paused. Turns out it’s just a cardboard cutout of Ted Danson.
21. Jurassic World (2015)
While the Pterodactyls attack and terrorize the park, one man is seen saving two giant margaritas. That’s none other than Jimmy Buffett himself, still searching for that lost shaker of salt.
22. Iron Man (2008)
Before Marvel would fill up their movies with references to one another, they slipped in a few that went relatively unnoticed. In this scene, a prototype of Captain America’s shield sits unfinished. Chris Evans wouldn’t debut as the character for another three years.
23. Man of Steel (2013)
Not to be outdone, DC also slipped a similar reference in their Superman franchise reboot which told fans to expect a Batman crossover in the future. The satellite that Supes grabs while fighting in outer space has a Wayne Enterprises logo on it.
24. The Rescuers (1977)
The Disney animators put a couple of frames of a naked woman in the window the characters are flying by. Pretty innocent by today’s standards but this was 1977.
25. Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
The first Indy film had a ton of memorable moments, but Belloq delivering a line while a fly crawls into his mouth definitely takes the cake.
26. Signs (2002)
The first glimpse at the aliens in M. Night Shyamalan’s sci-fi horror is as quick as it could be and made a lot of people rush for the rewind button.
27. Burn After Reading (2008)
When Brad Pitt gets shot in the closet in this Coen Brothers black comedy, you may miss the whole thing by just blinking.
28. Wild Things (1998)
Take Phoebe Cates’ pool scene we mentioned above, turn it up to 11 and add in a second woman – you have Wild Things. The moment Neve Campbell and Denise Richards kiss is one of the only reasons this movie was successful.