14 Most Paused Movie Scenes of All Time
Throughout cinematic history, movies have delivered some of the greatest scenes ever filmed. Ranging from blockbuster summer releases to indie horrors and erotic thrillers, there are hundreds of movies with visually stunning, eye-opening, captivating, or shocking scenes that draw people in. Many of these scenes are so outrageous or surprising that people can’t believe what they have seen and feel the need to pause the movie and make sure what they witnessed actually happened.
The most paused movie scenes are also moments viewers stop to find hidden messages, marvel at the incredible special effects, or perv on the anatomy of their favorite celebrity. Many of the most paused movie scenes are well-known to movie fans. Examples include the meeting between Han Solo and Greedo in the Mos Eisley Cantina to see who shot first in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, and Sharon Stone’s titillating crossing and uncrossing of her legs in 90s favorite Basic Instinct. But there are also several other scenes from a variety of successful movies many movie fans aren’t aware of.
With this article, we are looking at some of the most paused movie scenes of all time and why they have captivated audiences over the years. From Phoebe Cates’ bikini drop to The Cabin in the Woods whiteboard of monsters, these scenes will have you hitting pause the button and double-checking what you’ve just watched.
1. Basic Instinct Leg Crossing Scene
Does this really need explaining? In a scene that shocked audiences, Sharon Stone’s Catherine Tate is being interrogated by Wayne Knight’s John Correli as Michael Douglas’ Detective Nick Curran looks on. As she answers the questions directed at her while puffing on a cigarette, Tate uncrosses and crosses her legs, revealing to everyone that she isn’t wearing any panties.
This caused quite a stir in 1992, with people amazed director Paul Verhoeven could get away with something so brazen in a commercial film. Given an R-rating, the scene has also been criticized by Stone, who has said she was unaware the scene was being filmed from that angle.
In her 2021 memoir, The Beauty of Living Twice, Stone says she couldn’t believe Verhoeven had filmed her pantieless and details how she “went to the projection booth, slapped (director) Paul (Verhoeven) across the face, left, went to my car, and called my lawyer, Marty Singer.” In the end, she decided against taking things further as she knew the actions of her character fit with the script.
For his part, Verhoeven has always denied Stone didn’t know she was being filmed. “Sharon is lying,” he told ICON in 2017. “Any actress knows what she’s going to see if you ask her to take off her underwear and point there with the camera.” Whatever the case, there is no doubt this is one of the most paused moments in movie history and no doubt ruined a few VCRs back in the day.
2. The Godfather Dead Horse Scene
The Godfather is a movie full of iconic scenes, but the one that has fans hitting the pause button most is when movie studio president Jack Woltz wakes up to find the head of his favorite racehorse sharing his bed. It’s a truly memorable scene made even more famous thanks to the fact that the head horse in the scene is real.
A fake horse head was used during rehearsals, but to elicit a more life-like response from actor John Marley, the man playing Woltz, the fake head was substituted with a real one. As you can see when watching the scene, Marley is understandably shocked at the horse’s head in his bed, helping make this one of the most paused scenes of all time.
3. Fast Times at Ridgemont High Pool Scene
Phoebe Cates became the dream girl of every young boy in the 1982 high school comedy-drama Fast Times at Ridgemont High after getting her kit off. In this famously paused moment, Cates’ character, Linda Barrett, gets out of the pool and takes off her bikini, much to the surprise of the characters in the film and those watching at home. It got a lot of attention and helped make the movie a success and put Cates on the map.
4. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Private Parts
Based on the novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, this movie combines live-action with animation and is set in an alternative world where cartoon characters actually exist. While that in itself is strange, it’s not the reason why this movie makes the list. Early on there is a scene where a car driving cartoon character Jessica Rabbit (Kathleen Turner) and human Eddie Valiant (Bob Hopkins) crashes into a tree. As Rabbit is thrown through the air her dress opens to reveal her private parts.
When the movie was released on LaserDisc, word got around that the scene could be slowed down to 24 frames per second, revealing a nude Rabbit in all her glory. When this became public knowledge the LaserDisc version sold out immediately. Whether this was intentional or an editing error nobody quite knows, but it remains a scene many people have paused over the years to see if they could see what Jessica Rabbit has under her red dress.
5. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope Who Shot First Scene
In this famous scene from the first Star Wars movie, the bounty hunter Greedo corners smuggler Han Solo in a booth at the Mos Eisley Cantina on Tatooine. As Solo tries to talk his way out of the situation, the two end up having a shootout, with Solo killing Greedo. This scene caused years of chatter among fans about who shot first. Some claim Solo actually pulled the trigger before Greedo got his shot off, while others liked to think Solo was just a better aim.
The scene caused so much contention that director George Lucas addressed the entire incident in the re-release version of the movie in 1997. In the original scene, it appears as though Solo kills Greedo in cold blood, but in the updated version you can clearly see that Greedo gets the first shot off. Solo just has a much better aim.
6. There’s Something About Mary Testical Scene
This scene will have all the men in the world wincing. In the opening moments of Peter and Bobby Farrelly’s hilarious comedy, There’s Something About Mary, Ben Stiller’s character is reliving himself in the bathroom when he manages to get his testicles stuck in his zipper. It gets worse as more and more people pour into the bathroom to try and help, creating even more laughs until an image of Stiller’s balls stuck in the zipper is shown, which is sure to have you squirming in your seat.
7. Iron Man 2 Activity Map Scene
Marvel movies are full of Easter eggs and hidden objects. One that had many people hitting the pause button occurs in Iron Man 2 when Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, meets up with Nick Fury for a chat about the fate of the world. Look closely and you will see an electronic activity board in the background with a map that highlights several key areas that feature in other movies.
Pause the scene at the right moment and you can spot the Mjolnir impact site from Thor, the area where Captain America was found, and even the mystical land of Wakanda from Black Panther, a movie that didn’t come out until eight years later.
See more about - 16 Movies With Real Sex Scenes
8. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope Stormtrooper Hits Head Scene
This scene from A New Hope didn’t cause any controversy, just plenty of laughs. At one point in the movie, a group of Stormtroopers is racing to confront Luke Skywalker and his merry band of rogues. As you can see in the short clip above, one of the Stormtroopers hits their head on the top of the door as they are walking through the scene.
It’s a blink or you’ll miss it gaff, but one that has provided plenty of laughs for moviegoers over the years. Even the actor who played the Stormtropper, Laurie Goode, couldn’t believe it got kept in the movie. In a 2017 interview with Variety, Good discussed the often paused incident in detail.
“On the second day of filming, I developed an upset stomach,” he told the publication. “By mid-morning I had paid three-to-four visits to the loo/bathroom. Having re-dressed myself and returned to the set, I felt the need to rush back to the gents’ toilets, but I was placed in shot. On about the fourth take, as I shuffled along, I felt my stomach rumbling, and ‘bang’, I hit my head! As I wasn’t moving too fast it was more of a scuffed bash, so it didn’t hurt, but as no one shouted ‘cut’ I thought the shot wasn’t wide enough for me to be in frame.”
9. Deadpool 2 Cameo From Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt was unknowingly cast as the Vanisher, an invisible supervillain who appears in Deadpool 2. As part of Deadpool’s motley X-Force team, the Vanisher doesn’t last long and is electrocuted when a bowling gale forces his parachute into telegraph wires. As he is being electrocuted, the normally invisible Vanisher’s face is revealed, and low and behold it’s Hollywood superstar Brad Pitt.
Speaking about the role, Pitt had this to say; “What was shooting that like? Pretty much, [the] easiest thing I’ve ever done. Dave’s an old friend of mine and he used to be… he was my stunt double starting with Fight Club and all the way up till about 2004. And then he went off and became a really good director, which is rare. Rare. Ryan called and like, why not?”
10. The Wolf of Wall Street Nursery Scene
Nudity features quite a lot on this list as it seems people are obsessed with seeing their favorite Hollywood stars in the buff. Case in point Aussie starlet Margot Robbie in Martin Scorsese’s fantastic The Wolf of Wall Street. Although this is a movie about the rise and fall of former Wall Street guru Jordan Belfort (an incredible Leonardo DiCaprio), many remember it for the scene where Robbie teases DiCaprio in their infant daughter’s room.
Calling DiCaprio “daddy,” Robbie tells him she no longer likes to wear panties and begins to play with herself while crossing and uncrossing her legs, warning him there’s “no touching.” Although Robbie isn’t naked in the scene (she does show off the goods in another scene), it’s a hot and steamy moment that many people paused to see if they could catch a glimpse of her naughty parts.
11. The Cabin in the Woods Whiteboard Scene
Few horrors have flipped the genre on its head like Drew Goddard’s 2012 movie The Cabin in the Woods. The film follows a group of stereotypical horror characters who are stalked by various evil beings that are actually being manipulated by a group of technicians in an underground bunker. The film subverts the usual horror tropes and plays up the stereotypes in a wonderfully funny yet horrific movie with some of the best evil creatures seen on film.
The scene that stands out as one of the most paused involves a whiteboard listing all the monsters available to the technicians to hunt and kill the teens. Some of the creatures include “Werewolf,” “Snowman,” “Angry Molesting Tree,” “Unicorn,” and someone named “Kevin.”
12. Wild Things Kissing Scene
As a movie, Wild Things is a B-grade neo-noir thriller elevated by a fantastic cast that includes Kevin Bacon, Neve Campbell, Matt Dillon, Denise Richards, and Bill Murray. What got people talking about this flick when it came out in 1998 is the scene where Campbell and Richards are swimming together in the pool.
What’s so pause-worthy about two attractive women swimming in a pool? Well, things take a step in a different direction when the two begin to fight, with Richards attempting to drown Campbell before the two end up making out. Yep, the two go from enemies to lovers in just seconds. The look on Bacon’s face, who is filming the two women, says it all. Hot stuff.
13. Fight Club Tyler Durden Flashes
This isn’t one scene but several quick flashes throughout the movie that give away the twist: Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden is actually Edward Norton’s character the Narrator. While there are several clues during the movie that suggest this, director David Fincher went one step further by adding Pitt to several scenes in the movie that flash by so quickly it’s hard to spot them. The video above details them all so next time you are watching you can try and spot them.
14. The Exorcist Captain Howdy Reveal
When it comes to the scariest movies ever made, The Exorcist is right up there. Director William Friedkin’s horror classic about a young girl possessed by a demon had audiences throwing up in the cinema and walking out when first released in 1973. Even by today’s gory standards, The Exorcist holds up thanks to its well-written script, haunting score, and terrific performances from its leading cast.
One scene that still has people reaching for the pause button on their remote occurs when Jason Miller’s Damien is running down the street in a panic. There’s a flash of the demon’s face that is easy to miss, but if you catch a glimpse, it will frighten the living daylights out of you and have you checking under the bed before turning off the lights.
See more about - 26 Movie Mistakes You Probably Never Noticed