Though the Fast & Furious franchise is mostly known for its slow shift from movies about street racing to high octane vehicular heists, there’s far more to it. There’s a number of contributing factors that make the films so successful, unlikely though their popularity may seem. Though the franchise’s metamorphosis is well-documented, the best Fast & Furious trope is actually its most consistent.

The first movie, The Fast and the Furious, was a relatively straightforward crime thriller about a gang of street racers. However, the transformation of the Fast & Furious movies saw them become larger-than-life action flicks following the vehicular exploits of an ever-growing family who are regularly tasked with toppling despots, terrorists, and kingpins. The path from where it started has been a long and winding one indeed.

Though the franchise has become synonymous with this shift of focus, it’s actually more consistent than it seems. The Fast & Furious movies perpetuate a number of action movie tropes, but there’s one that it has secretly turned into one of the franchise’s core tenets. In all of the best Fast & Furious movies, the gang turns an enemy into a friend who last aids them in their exploits. Their knack for it is uncanny, really.

Turning Enemies Into Heroes Has Always Been The Best Fast & Furious Trope

Fast & Furious cast

In the first film, Brian O’Conner works undercover to bring down a gang of street racing thieves. However, after befriending Dominic Toretto, O’Conner finds himself unable to bring him in. (It’s like Point Break with cars.) Though the two spent the movie on opposing sides of the law, they become friends. This is where the trope starts.

The subsequent two movies struggle with the idea. O’Conner former friend Roman butt heads throughout the film, but they’re hardly enemies. Even so, Roman is later inducted into the gang. Tokyo Drift sees the trope go out the window, but the gang still earns a new member (retroactively, because there’s some weird timeline stuff). After that, the fourth movie sees Gisele (Gal Gadot) join the gang, Fast Five sees Hobbs and Elena go from hunting Toretto to joining him.

The sixth film sees a brainwashed Letty rejoin the gang after working against them, the seventh sees Ramsey join them. The eighth film has former antagonist Deckard Shaw team up with Dom and co., and the ninth sees long-lost brother Jakob Toretto go from enemy to ally. In other words, it’s a narrative idea that the franchise can’t seem to leave alone. However, it’s actually the best Fast & Furious trope – it reinforces the idea that the gang is a family. Subtly implanting their forgiving nature into the story helps us forget that they’re essentially career criminals. Makes sense then, really.