WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Zombieland: Double Tap, in theatres now.
Every individual fictional apocalypse tries to make itself stand out from the others, usually using the construction of the world around it. From major new locations or different language tics, these little touches are common ways to show just how much the world has changed since the end of normal society.
One such phrase has a specific definition, though, that not only references one of the most famous scenes from the original film but also makes for a solid addition to the overall end-of-the-world lexicon.
When Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) Wichita (Emma Stone) and Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) first arrive at Graceland, they're brokenhearted to find the former home of Elvis Presley -- and the last known location of Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) -- in ruins. Disheartened, they go into the nearby Dog House hotel to spend the night. While playing the piano and singing some Elvis songs, Tallahassee is surprised by Nevada (Rosario Dawson). She ultimately doesn't attack him but admits she almost killed him out of concern that he was a zombie who had snuck into the building, pointing out that she almost "Murray-ed" him. When the group asks her to explain what she means by that, Nevada reveals that the phrase has been spread by some survivors.
It stands for when you murder someone you thought was a zombie, only to learn the truth after you've already pulled the trigger. It specifically refers to the death of comedy actor Bill Murray, who was shot and killed by accident in the first film. The entire sequence has an additional level of terror for Columbus as Nevada tells the story (and threatening to kill whoever killed Bill Murray) because she's unaware that Columbus was the one who actually pulled the trigger himself.
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THE ORIGIN OF 'MURRAYING'
The death of Bill Murray was one of the most famous sequences in the original Zombieland. Coming to the West Coast to find Pacific Playland, the group ends up hunkering down in the mansion that belongs to Bill Murray. Murray is revealed to have survived the events of the zombie apocalypse, mainly by staying indoors and even disguising himself as a zombie when he's out in public, avoiding detection from the undead.
After smoking marijuana with Tallahassee and Wichita, Murray decides to play a prank on Columbus by dressing up as a zombie and sneaking up on him to scare him. Columbus immediately pulls out his gun and shoots him in the chest. This proves to be a fatal wound, although Murray does accept Columbus' apology, saying it was his own fault for pulling the prank on him in the first place. After he dies, the group wraps up his body and even gives him a 21-gun salute as a sign of respect.
The fact that everyone apparently knows what happened to Bill Murray suggests someone from the group told the story (minus the specific names of the group involved) to someone at some point, and it quickly spread from survivor to survivor in the damaged world. In a world without the Internet, phones or any modern form of communication, it's all the more impressive that the story has spread so wide, even changing the established lexicon of the future.
Directed by Ruben Fleischer from a script by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and David Callaham, Zombieland: Double Tap stars Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin. The film is in theatres now.
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