Are All the Timepieces in Pulp Fiction Really Set to 4:20?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: All of the timepieces in Pulp Fiction are set to 4:20.

A very popular “true movie fact” is that all of the clocks in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction are set to 4:20.

4:20, of course, is a popular reference for marijuana enthusiasts (the term has evolved from a meeting time for a group of teens in California in pursuit of marijuana to a code term used to refer to marijuana in general – a term popularized by the magazine High times – to the point where April 20th has practically become a holiday for fans of marijuana).

Is that true? Are all of the clocks in Pulp Fiction set to 4:20?

No, it is not true.

It reminds me a lot of a Comic Book Legends Revealed I did a few years back that said that there is a Superman reference in every episode of Seinfeld (either the character being mentioned by someone or Jerry’s Superman refrigerator magnet being shown). As I pointed out then, that is an exaggeration based on a true fact. Superman was referenced on Seinfeld a lot, but obviously someone along the line felt that it wasn’t enough for Superman to be referenced a lot, he had to be referenced in every episode.

Similarly, a number of clocks were set to 4:20 in Pulp Fiction. There are a couple in the pawn shop where Butch Coolidge is going to rescue Marcellus Wallace.

However, even in those very scenes, there is also a clock that is not set the 4:20.

In addition, the most famous timepiece in the entire movie, Butch’s watch, is shown not set to 4:20 when it is given to him as a child.

Plus, of course, there are other clocks not set to 4:20 in the film.

Obviously, at some point the telephone game came into effect and instead of people simply noting the interesting little bit of trivia that a number of clocks in Pulp Fiction were set to 4:20 (which presumably is a reference to the marijuana term) it soon became the more interesting (but also more false) trivia that all of the clocks in Pulp Fiction were set to 4:20. And then it just stuck and has become accepted as fact.

The legend is…


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