WHEN: 2:56pm EST, October 6th, 2012

WHERE: In the living room of my apartment in Portland, ME (Isla Nublar)

FORMAT: Blu-Ray on a Vizio 32″ LED HDTV, English subtitles on

COMPANY: Becca in and out, not really paying attention, just cleaning the house around me

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Just ate, in my underwear (ladies…), trying to blast this out so I can go see Looper, terrified of screwing up today’s goal. Which is…

TODAY’S GOAL: Count how many times each character says the word “the.”

No. Really.

Okay, I was talking movies with a co-worker, and I can’t remember if Michael Caine came up or Cinema 52 or what, but I revealed that I once counted how many times Tom Cruise blinks in Top Gun. He was fascinated by this (not positively), and I discussed how it was actually sort of revealing that Maverick immediately blinks more after Goose Gooses out. So even the most tedious of viewings still yielded something intriguing about his performance.

I wanted to top that. In sheer boredom. In total uselessness.

People count how many times words like “fuck” are used in movies. Too interesting. Bland it up. We’re counting “the.” Like counting “fuck” makes any more sense.

Nonsexually fuck you, MPAA.


  • The very first use of the word “the” is by Stinger, approximately 6 minutes and 38 seconds into the film. The line is: “What the hell are they doing here?”
  • A lot of the initial uses of “the” are characters saying, “What the hell?”
  • Maverick’s first use of the word “the” is approximately 10 minutes and 41 seconds into the film. The line is: “Maverick has the ball.”
  • I did not count uses of “the” in songs on the soundtrack, but I did if a character sang them.
  • There is no “the” in the portion of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” in the movie.
  • To my ear, Charlie says, “And the second?” but the subtitles read: “And second?” I did not count it, as she sort of mumbles.
  • Maverick seems to say, “It’s the big one, Goose.” The subtitle deems the line to be: “It’s a big one, Goose.” While I give Charlie’s line a pass, I had to think on this one. I suppose the final hop would be “the” big one, while this hop is merely “a” big one. I ultimately did not add this to the tally.
  • The majority of “the” occurrences by unnamed minor characters happen in the flight status scene.
  • Becca joined me for the finale of the film, which was helpful, as the fast-paced technical dialogue, use of radios, and masks over mouths made it fairly difficult to identify which character was speaking. We are confident that we caught each one and attributed it to the right pilot, though we did not go back to check, as I try to avoid pausing or rewinding for my viewings.


Maverick: 42*

Goose: 21

Charlie: 33**

Iceman: 16

Viper: 32

Jester: 18

Slider: 8

Hollywood: 3

Sundown: 3

Wolfman: 1

Cougar: 3

Merlin: 4

Stinger: 21

Air Boss Johnson: 2

Carole: 4

Minor characters: 12

THE GRAND TOTAL: The word “the” is spoken in Top Gun 223 times.

*A disputed line of “It’s the big one, Goose,” would make this 43.

**A disputed line of “And the second?” would make this 34.


Yeah, that was worth it.

As I was adding it up, I was seriously worried it was going to come out to 237. Then the Kubrick nuts would be all over our website.

You’d think pointing out that Stanley Kubrick didn’t direct Top Gun would stop them…

I’m glad the year is almost over.

Number of uses of “the” in this article: 51

Number of nonsexual uses of the word “fuck” in this article: 4