1. The film’s most iconic quote—“I see dead people”—was used with a slight variation in a Bruce Willis movie from 1995, 12 Monkeys, Willis’s character utters, “All I see are dead people.”
2. The inexplicable changes of temperature—from normal to so cold that you can see the characters’ breath—can be explained by the fact that it only gets cold when a ghost is upset.
3. Toni Collette, who played Lynn Sear and received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role, says she was so drawn in by the film’s emotional authenticity that she didn’t even realize it was a horror movie until after it was released.
4. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) wears the same set of clothes—although with slight variations, just to give the sense that something is not quite right—throughout the movie as he wore on the day he died.
5. Actor Donnie Wahlberg lost 43 pounds for his role, changing his appearance so much that director M. Night Shyamalan did not even recognize him on the first day of filming.
6. A VHS tape is labeled “Vincent Gray” the first time it appears in the movie; the label is gone during the next shot.
7. Bruce Willis is a left-hander but had to learn to write with his right hand so that viewers wouldn’t notice that he wasn’t wearing his wedding ring on his left hand anymore.
8. As he does in all of his movies, M. Night Shyamalan has a cameo. He stars as Dr. Hill, who examines Cole after an alleged “accident” at a birthday party. Shyamalan, who comes from a family of doctors, was so dissatisfied with his performance that he cut most of it from the film’s final edit.
9. At one point in the film, we hear a voice on a tape speaking in Spanish during Vincent’s session. The voice is saying, “Please, I don’t want to die Lord, save me, save me.”
10. Toni Collette says that some weird things started occurring to her during filming: “In the hotel room I was staying at in Philadelphia, I started meditating a lot, and then I would wake up at night, roll over, and look at the clock, and it was always a repeated number—1:11, 3:33, 4:44. That started to really spook me.”
11. A scene in which Cole (Haley Joel Osment) looks out of a window and sees a hospital wing filled with “horribly disfigured and mutilated people” was cut from the final edit, both in an attempt to rely more on psychological tension rather than gore and to protect a PG-13 rating for the film.
13. On the DVD version, if one leaves the Main Menu on long enough, a sour note will play and a ghost will saunter past the breakfast table on the screen.
12. To give the film’s “spirit spotters” a common physical attribute, Shyamalan gave both Vincent and Cole a small patch of white hair on the right side of their heads.
14. Shyamalan made ample use of the color red throughout the film. In scenes that precede when a dead person becomes close by, something red will appear—a red ball, a red sweater, a red doorknob, etc.
15. The Sixth Sense was one of only five horror movies to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. The others were Jaws, The Exorcist, The Silence of the Lambs, and Black Swan. It was also the only one of these movies that did not win any Academy Awards.
16. Cole speaks a Latin phrase in church upon meeting Malcolm: “De profundis clamo ad te domine.” These are actually the first few words of Psalm 130 in The Bible. Translated into English, thy mean, “Out of the depths, I cry to you, O Lord.”
17. The Sixth Sense opened on M. Night Shyamalan’s 29th birthday, August 6, 1999.
18. In the scene where Cole’s mother watches him from the windows as he goes to school with his friend Tommy, the numeral “6” can be seen on the curtain near her hand.
19. The Sixth Sense was a huge success. Until 2017’s It, it was the highest-grossing horror film of all time. It also sold more DVDs and VHS tapes than any other movie in the year 2000.
20. Director M. Night Shyamalan is from Philadelphia, PA. Much of the location filming for The Sixth Sense was done in Philadelphia. The film also features little location-specific hints such as a glass of Penn Maid Sour Cream, which is available only in the Philadelphia area, as well as the new logos for the Philadelphia Eagles and 76ers from 1996 and 1997.
21. The term “the sixth sense” originated in the 1800s to describe paranormal sensations that could not be explained through the five senses.
22. The film was censored in Italy.
23. Despite the film’s roaring success, the Disney executive who bought the script, David Vogel, was fired because he did not consult his superiors before buying the script.
24. Some fans have pointed out that the plot of The Sixth Sense bears a resemblance to an episode of the iconic Nickelodeon TV show Are You Afraid of the Dark? called “The Tale of the Dream Girl” which aired in 1995. In the episode, a teen named Johnny and his sister Erica have a close relationship and even work together at a bowling alley. Johnny begins seeing a beautiful girl in a letter jacket who calls to him. Erica tells him that the dream girl’s name is Donna and she died in a tragic accident in the recent past. In a variation of the vanishing hitchhiker trope, it turns out that Johnny is also dead and no one other than Erica can see him either. Both Johnny and his girlfriend Donna perished in an accident together. Johnny says goodbye to his sister and joins Donna as they move on to whatever is next for them.
When an interviewer asked M. Night Shyamalan about whether he was inspired by the episode, he said he was unfamiliar with Are You Afraid of the Dark? all together and shared how he conceived of the story:
“That’s really weird. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that show. I don’t want to ignore something that might have been an influence, but nothing rings a bell when you say that. I remember specifically the notebook I was writing in and it was about a little boy at a funeral. That was the first image that came to mind, and he was on the stairs talking to no one. Then, in my mind, I was wondering if he was talking to the person that had died at that funeral. That kind of stimulated the story.”
For what it’s worth, the cult classic horror movie Carnival of Souls was released in 1962 and is widely considered to be the originator of the “they were dead the whole time” twist ending.