The Big Lebowski Script Teardown - Featured - StudioBinder

The Big Lebowski script is one of the most quoted screenplays ever to be produced. Lottas ins, lotta outs. It also created some of the most beloved movie characters ever to be crafted.

Check out the script for The Big Lebowski

Click to view and download the entire The Big Lebowski script PDF below.

Click to view and download the entire The Big Lebowski script PDF below.

The Big Lebowski Teardown - Joel Coen - StudioBinder
The Big Lebowkski Teardown - Ethan Coen - StudioBinder

WHO WROTE THE Big Lebowski SCRIPT?

Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

Joel and Ethan Coen grew up in Minnesota. Joel was an assistant editor on The Evil Dead and wrote scripts with the director Sam Raimi.

The pair have gone on to write No Country for Old Men, O’ Brother Where Art Thou, Fargo, A Serious Man, and Burn After Reading, as well as writing Bridge of Spies and Unbroken.

The Big Lebowski PLOT

Story for the The Big Lebowski script

Like most of the best scripts, The Big Lebowski screenplay follows general story structure and the classic Hollywood beat sheet. 

Script Teardown

Script Structure of The Big Lebowski

1. EXPOSITION (BEGINNING)

The Big Lebowski script begins with The Dude being assaulted by two men looking for a millionaire with the exact same name as The Dude. They pee on his rug.

2. INCITING INCIDENT

The Dude meets Jeffery Lebowski at his home. The Dude takes one of his rugs as payment. He also meets Bunny.

3. CLIMAX OF ACT ONE

The Dude goes back to Lebowski’s house to learn that Bunny has been kidnapped and held for ransom. They offer to pay him to be the bagman for the exchange. 

4. OBSTACLES (RISING ACTION)

The Dude convinces Walter that Bunny kidnapped herself. The ransom drop goes awry. Then The Dude’s car is stolen with the ransom money still inside.  

5. MIDPOINT (BIG TWIST)

Lebowski confronts Dude about the money. The Dude thinks Bunny kidnapped herself, but then Lebowski shows The Dude a severed toe belonging to Bunny.

6. DISASTER & CRISIS

The Dude is threatened by Nihilists. Walter mistakenly destroys a Corvette. Jackie Treehorn drugs The Dude.

7. CLIMAX OF ACT TWO

We see Bunny with all her toes. The Dude returns home to find Maude. The Dude learns that The Big Lebowski is broke and that Bunny is a runaway from Oklahoma.

8. OBSTACLES (RISING ACTION)

The Dude and Walter confront Lebowski. The entire thing was a set-up. Walter throws Lebowski on the floor.

9. CLIMAX OF ACT THREE

The Dude and his friends battle the Nihilists in the parking lot. Donny dies from a heart attack.

10. RESOLUTION

The Dude and Walter spread Donny’s ashes in the pacific ocean. The human comedy keeps perpetuating itself… like a tumbleweed… or a bowling ball. 

The Big Lebowski Script Takeaway #1

The Big Lebowski quotes

The Big Lebowski is one of the most quotable movies ever made. There is something about the nuance of many of the lines along with their repetition that makes this one of the funniest films ever made.

Read the Bowling Scene — Scroll to Version 2 

Some of the best Big Lebowski quotes are so simple, you often confuse “civilians” when you bust one out in a normal conversation:

The Best of The Big Lebowski

  • Am I wrong?
  • Lotta ins, lotta outs
  • This aggression will not stand
  • The Dude abides
  • Where’s the money?
  • We Believe in nothing
  • Do you see what happens?
  • Let’s go bowling

What’s interesting is how many of the best Big Lebowski quotes are questions, and basic questions at that. I think the real genius is how these conversations are very alive, and how you have to pay attention to each character who possesses their own unique train of thought.

The Big Lebowski Script Takeaway #2

The Big Lebowski characters

To continue on the last point, there is a lot of Jungian subtext and symbolism in this film. The tumbleweed, the bowling ball, almost everything The Stranger says, as well as the nihilists — all of these are placed in the script to build an acutely philosophical story.

Read the Another Toe Scene — Scroll to Version 4 

There is a distinct treadmill quality to this film, an ouroboros effect where we learn things, move forward, but never seem to make progress. The conversations often keep having their point and payoff delayed and interrupted. What’s your point, man? Yeah, what is your point, Walter?

The Big Lebowski In Extended Interview | TODAY

The Big Lebowski characters are both hyper-specific and intentionally enigmatic. We learn their backstories all throughout the film, rather than being front loaded with information. We only learn that Donny loved to surf after he had already died, and we learn Walter had been divorced for five years until the group drive to confront The Big Lebowski.

The Big Lebowski Script Takeaway #3

Where’s the money Lebowski? 

The Big Lebowski has a line that is spoken over and over again by various characters, and it’s not only a message to The Dude but also a constant reminder to the viewer. The story goes in many odd places but we are always brought back to wondering where the money has gone.

Read the Marmot Scene — ​Scroll to Version 3

One of the best parts about The Big Lebowski is that it is ultimately a story about a guy who just wants to replace his rug. That’s sort of the “simplistic” beauty of this story, and it really ties the room together.

Where's the MONEY Lebowski?

Another great thing about the dialogue in the script is how many of the lines are influenced by previous lines used by other characters. The Dude takes the “aggression will not stand” line from George H.W. Bush talking about Iraq and Kuwait. The “parlance of our time” is used my Maude but then adopted by The Dude in the next scene. 

It’s almost as if the lines were all shared by “the royal we”.

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See our analysis of the Good Will Hunting script so you can write your own Oscar winning screenplay. 

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