13 Films That Show How Serious An Outcome Can Be Through The Butterfly Effect

I assume you are familiar with The Butterfly Effect. The Butterfly Effect is a part of the Chaos Theory, which contends that tiny, nearly undetectable adjustments made to one area of a complex system can have enormous, unanticipated effects in other areas. And most movies don't actually have the time or the desire to delve into chaos theory and real quantum mechanics. However, storytelling on the big screen often employs the technique of a tiny event leading to a much larger one - a butterfly effect. If you pay attention to small details in movies, you will often see that a single decision can change the protagonist's history.
Their characters don't seem to understand the first rule of any self-respecting time traveler: don't alter any aspect of the past, no matter how minor or seemingly unimportant, because doing so would have disastrous repercussions in the present and future. Instead, they continually "correct" their prior decisions in an effort to achieve a better result. It appears as though they had never seen Back to the Future.
Scroll down to see more examples of The Butterfly Effect in movies.

#1 'The Big Lebowski' - The Whole Plot Only Happens Because A Guy Pees On The Dude’s Rug

Butterfly Effect, butterfly effect roommate, butterfly effect showSource: Gramercy Pictures

The Big Lebowski, one of the most iconic cult comedies of the 1990s, proved to everyone that Jeff Bridges is awesome and established the Coen Brothers as a writing/directing team that was here to stay. But have you ever taken some time to consider the movie's story? When two thugs enter Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski's home and demand money, it all starts with a case of mistaken identification.
The fact that one of the thugs defecated on The Dude's beloved rug prevented him from letting it all go. We're off to the races after the Dude is forced to act as the courier for a ransom drop due to this. The Big Lebowski wouldn't be the neo-noir classic that it is if that enforcer had just had the decency not to urinate on the item that "really tied the room together."

#2 'John Wick' - The Whole Plot Only Happens Because Of An Awkward Gas Station Conversation

Butterfly Effect, butterfly effect roommate, butterfly effect showSource: Lionsgate

It's quite simple to forget how the entire thing got started given the enormous success of the constantly growing John Wick franchise, which debuted under the radar in 2014. Sincerely, do you still remember how everything starts to move? You may recall that Keanu Reeves's main character went on a murderous rampage after his dog was slain, but why did that happen in the first place?
John, however, declines to sell his 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 to an arbitrary stranger at a petrol station. Basically, this is what any rational person would do if a sketchy person approached them and offered to buy their automobile off the street. The Russian gangster Iosef Tarasov, who desired the car, sends his thugs on a vengeance mission where they kill John's dog and seize the vehicle. Bring on the bloody mayhem.

#3 'Home Alone' - The Whole Plot Only Happens Because Kevin Spills Milk All Over The Dinner Table

Butterfly Effect, butterfly effect roommate, butterfly effect showSource: 20th Century Fox

Everyone is aware that in Home Alone, Kevin McCallister's family abandons him when they depart for a Christmas vacation in Paris. It is difficult to emphasize how popular the film was in 1990, and ever since, it has been a holiday standard. But Kevin is just taken to the attic as punishment because of the temper tantrum he has after spilling milk all over the place at dinner.
The following morning, when the family oversleeps, they forget Kevin is in the attic. His cousin then unintentionally counts the neighbor's child during the ensuing commotion, leading everyone to believe Kevin has been there the entire time. If you look closely enough, you can see that Kevin's father actually tosses away his son's ticket in the milk-spill commotion; if Kevin had made it to the airport, it would have been a fairly serious problem.

#4 'The Gods Must Be Crazy' - The Whole Plot Only Happens Because Of A Coca-Cola Bottle

Butterfly Effect, butterfly effect roommate, butterfly effect showSource: 20th Century Fox

The Gods Must Be Crazy from 1980 might rank as the biggest surprise in the history of sudden global hits. The picture didn't arrive in the United States until 1984, but it still amazes me how a South African production could earn $30 million and run nonstop for 635 days in the middle of the 1980s. Simply put, that sort of thing didn't occur back then.
The plot of the film also gets off to an intriguing start. The main character, Xi, is forced into action when the settlement of his desert-dwelling people is overrun by pandemonium as a result of a pilot throwing an empty Coca-Cola bottle out of his aircraft. Xi embarks on a pilgrimage to the edge of the known world because his people, who believe the bottle is from the gods, are unsure of what to make of it.

#5 'Fargo' - The Whole Plot Only Happens Because Carl Forgets To Swap Out The Dealer Plates

Butterfly Effect, butterfly effect roommate, butterfly effect showSource: Gramercy Pictures

Fargo was a critically appreciated 1996 Coen Brothers film before it was a critically acclaimed television series on FX. The black comedy follows pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson as she embarks on a crazy journey with some seriously incompetent criminals as a result of her investigation into a dead state trooper.
How clumsy? The reason Steve Buscemi's Carl accidentally broke the law by failing to display the temporary registration tags on the new car he was driving at the beginning of the film is the only other reason the state trooper is knocked off. They wouldn't have been stopped if the dealer plates had been changed!

#6 'Brazil' - The Whole Plot Only Happens Because Of A Typo

Butterfly Effect, butterfly effect roommate, butterfly effect showSource: Universal Pictures

The man Terry Gilliam is a little peculiar. At the very least, he tends to produce oddball movies. Anyone who has seen 12 Monkeys, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Time Bandits, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas can clearly see that. But if there is one movie that represents Gilliam's pinnacle of strangeness, it is Brazil from 1985. In essence, the absurdist satire on corporate culture and the surveillance state is just bizarre.
The movie's story begins when a fly gets stuck in a teleprinter unintentionally and causes a misspelling on an arrest warrant. It reads "Archibald Tuttle," rather than "Archibald Buttle" and Sam Lowry, played by Jonathan Pryce, is the one to catch the mistake. It should be emphasized that because of this mistaken identity, Archibald Buttle passes away. The rest of the movie is difficult to summarize, but this is when Sam's bizarre (and ultimately depressing) adventure begins.

#7 'Adventures in Babysitting' - Most Of The Plot Only Happens Because Of A 'Playboy' Magazine

Butterfly Effect, butterfly effect roommate, butterfly effect showSource: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

The majority of Adventures in Babysitting centers around a stolen copy of a Playboy magazine, however, it's not the entire plot in this instance. Yes, that is accurate. A Playboy magazine plays a significant role in the plot of a 1987 film by Touchstone Pictures, a Walt Disney Company company (and director of Home Alone and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone).
The second half of the film's plot is largely focused on certain crooks seeking to reclaim their magazine, which contains crucial information. The fact that the babysitter looks just like the centerfold of the magazine is the only way our motley crew of teenagers was able to obtain it in the first place. When one of them takes it and the bad guys demand it back, an initially orderly but ultimately unimportant night turns into a life-or-death situation.

#8 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' - The Whole Plot Only Happens Because A Meeting Runs A Few Minutes Long

Butterfly EffectSource: Paramount Pictures

The torturous voyage You wouldn't want Neal Page's adventures in "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" on your worst enemy. By the end of the movie, he might become friends with Del Griffith, played by John Candy, but that obnoxious man is still there. And their joint road journey is a monumentally awful experience because of the bad weather (and a whole host of other issues). All of their money is eventually taken from them. When Del travels the wrong way on a freeway, they nearly die. Del unintentionally sets fire to their rental automobile with a wayward cigarette.
Funny enough, Neal and Del's journey begins when Del takes a taxi from under Neal's nose early in the movie. This only happens because Neal's work meeting extends for a few minutes.

#9 'Unhinged' - The Whole Plot Only Happens Because Of An Ill-Timed Car Honk

Butterfly EffectSource: Solstice Studios

Don't intentionally treat other motorists badly on the road. Simply inhale deeply, count to 10, and then carry on with your day. At least, it seems to be the main takeaway from Unhinged. That honk may be coming from a psychologically deranged person who just murdered his ex-wife and her partner with a hammer. He can very well interpret that particular honk adversely and use it as motivation to harm you without any justification at all. It's possible that he will torment you and everyone you know until you stab him in the eye socket with a pair of scissors as he attempts to get rid of you.
Kids, always remember to only honk at other drivers when it is appropriate to do so. In real life, everything that occurs in movies also occurs!

#10 'Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl' - The Whole Plot Only Happens Because Elizabeth Swann’s Corset Is Too Tight

Butterfly EffectSource: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Nobody anticipated that Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl would become a worldwide sensation before the summer of 2003. How could Disney have believed that a $140 million movie based on a theme park ride from the 1960s would be profitable? It was a significant swing, and the House of Mouse managed to make it work. Additionally, the initiating action is rather unimportant for a movie with such a lofty subject.
The cursed pirate medallion Elizabeth Swann discovered on the shipwrecked Will Turner at the opening of the movie wouldn't have been lost and the pirates wouldn't have known where to look for it if her corset hadn't been a bit too tight. Will Turner would have become a menial blacksmith, she would likely be married to Commodore Norrington, and Jack Sparrow would either be in prison or dead.

#11 'Changing Lanes' - The Whole Plot Only Happens Because Ben Affleck Briefly Gets Distracted And Crashes His Car

Butterfly EffectSource: Paramount Pictures

If you can get past the artificiality of the opening sequence of events, the sometimes-forgotten 2002 movie Changing Lanes is actually rather good. Before they collide owing to Affleck's distracted driving role, Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Affleck play two very different guys with very different lives who are both having very crucial days.
The two guys get into an accident, and the repercussions in their life set off a series of illicit acts as a means of retaliation. We wouldn't have a movie if Affleck's character had simply been paying attention to the road while driving since they would have never met and everything would have been perfect!

#12 'The American Friend' - The Whole Plot Only Happens Because Of A Refused Handshake

Butterfly EffectSource: New Yorker Films

The 1977 thriller The American Friend, which is half English and half German, only starts underway as a result of the smallest slight in movie history: a handshake that isn't accepted. Yes, this lapse in traditional civility offends a sleazy American outsider, who sets off the movie's intricate narrative.
Because of his poor reputation, Tom Ripley's Jonathan Zimmermann flatly declines to shake hands with him, and Ripley determines to exact revenge on the man. How? by persuading a different felon that Zimmermann is the ideal person to hire to kill a rival for a significant quantity of money. In the end, Zimmermann agrees since he needs to provide for his family and doesn't know when he will pass away; even his own doctor is unable to offer him a schedule. From there, everything start to fall apart, but if he had simply shaken the man's hand, everything would have been OK!

#13 'After Hours' - The Whole Plot Only Happens Because A Guy Tries To Get Laid (Under The Guise Of Buying A Paperweight)

Butterfly EffectSource: Warner Bros.

Who comes to mind immediately when you think about black comedies? The Coens, perhaps? Tarantino, Quentin Robert McDonagh? With a filmography as extensive as his, Martin Scorsese is one of the most well-known dark humor directors, yet it's rather simple to forget. Scorsese has made films like The King of Comedy, The Wolf of Wall Street, and After Hours, so he obviously knows what he's doing. Particularly After Hours tends to tilt considerably toward the comic end of the spectrum.
You can already tell that things will get worse when the main character, Paul Hackett, pretends to be purchasing a paperweight from the roommate of a woman he just met in order to be laid. And they do, sending him on a bizarre, sleepless night in which, among many other things, his money flies out of the window of a speeding cab and he earns the fury of a makeshift neighborhood watch due to a case of mistaken identity.
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