Created By: DmM on June 26, 2012 Last Edited By: DmM on April 6, 2013

Wrong Person Answers Phone

A character discovers a secret because they answer a phone call meant for someone else

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
The phone rings and a character hears it. Maybe it's the home phone, or maybe it's a phone belonging to someone who is close to them, but either way they feel justified in answering it. Unfortunately, doing so causes them to discover a secret (ranging in seriousness from a surprise party to infidelity).

OR:

Type B: Alice calls Bob but Clarice answers, which informs Alice (rightly or wrongly) that Bob is in a relationship with Clarice.

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[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
  • In the The Magic School Bus Fan Fic First Impressions Of Earth Arnold accuses Wanda of cheating on him. She denies it indignantly, until he tells her that he answered her phone to a strange man whose reaction to Arnold's existence was "I didn't know she was married!"

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[[folder:Film]]

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
  • At the end of The Great Gatsby, Nick answers Gatsby's phone. The ensuing conversation makes him realise that Gatsby was a crook.
  • In the beginning of City of Glass, the first part of The New York Trilogy, the mystery novel writer Quinn answers the phone and gets a phone call from somebody looking for the Paul Auster Detective Agency. The next night, it happens again, and he pretends that he is Paul Auster.
  • A variation in Fight Club, Tyler picks up a phonecall from Marla after the narrator leaves the receiver hanging and walks away. This leads to Tyler and Marla hooking up.

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[[folder:Live Action TV]]
  • In Friends, a variation of this is how Rachael discovers Chandler and Monica's relationship.
    • Also in Friends, Rachel finds out that Ross had not annulled their Vegas wedding from an answering machine message meant for Ross.
    • Also on Friends, Chandler hears a message for Monica confirming her registration of a snooty hall for their wedding (when he hasn't even proposed) and freaks out.
  • How Janet in Three's Company finds out Chrissy's friend Darlene is a callgirl.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Music]]

On Pink Floyd's rock opera album The Wall, the phone call at the end of the song "Young Lust" is where the protagonist Pink finds out (or has it confirmed in his mind) that his wife has been cheating on him while he's away touring in the U.S.
Operator: He keeps hanging up. It's a man answering.

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theatre]]

  • Comedian Maz Jabroni has a joke about this
I've never talked to terrorists, not even accidentally. I've never picked up the phone at night and heard "Hello. Hassan? It goes down tomorrow at midnight!" Who is this?" "Oh, sorry, wrong number."

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Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • June 26, 2012
    TonyG
    Also in Friends, Rachel finds out that Ross had not annulled their Vegas wedding from an answering machine message meant for Ross.
  • June 27, 2012
    DmM
    thanks!
  • June 27, 2012
    Alvin
    Slight variation? Radio/Movie Sorry Wrong Number , where a bedridden woman picks up her phone and overhears a plot to kill someone. (Haven't seen it myself.)
  • June 27, 2012
    randomsurfer
    How about the other way around? Where Alice calls Bob but Clarice answers, which informs Alice (rightly or wrongly) that Bob is in a relationship with Clarice.

    ^ In that play the problem is "crossed wires" and it turns out that the person they're planning to kill is the bedridden woman herself.
  • June 27, 2012
    SpiderRider3
    How Janet in Threes Company finds out Chrissy's friend Darlene is a callgirl.
  • June 28, 2012
    DmM
    thanks guys!
  • June 29, 2012
    DmM
  • July 7, 2012
    MetaFour
  • July 8, 2012
    DmM
    thanks!
  • July 8, 2012
    MichaelKatsuro
    In the beginning of City of Glass, the first part of The New York Trilogy, the mystery novel writer Quinn answers the phone and gets a phone call from somebody looking for the Paul Auster Detective Agency. The next night, it happens again, and he pretends that he is Paul Auster.
  • July 8, 2012
    surgoshan
    • Also on Friends, Chandler hears a message for Monica confirming her registration of a snooty hall for their wedding (when he hasn't even proposed) and freaks out.
  • July 10, 2012
    DmM
    thanks guys! @Michael Katsuro: I think there might be another example of this trope in The New York Trilogy, but it's been years since I read it... any ideas?
  • July 11, 2012
    DmM
  • July 21, 2012
    DmM
  • July 21, 2012
    Pickly
    I've never talked to terrorists, not even accidentally. I've never picked up the phone at night and heard "Hello. Hassan? It goes down tomorrow at midnight!" Who is this?" "Oh, sorry, wrong number."
  • July 22, 2012
    robinjohnson
    In Fight Club, Tyler picks up a phonecall from Marla after the narrator leaves the receiver hanging and walks away. This leads to Tyler and Marla hooking up.
  • July 23, 2012
    DmM
    Thanks!
  • July 30, 2012
    DmM
  • July 30, 2012
    Stratadrake
    The "Type B" is almost worth a hard split.
  • August 1, 2012
    DmM
    ^ You think so? Fair enough, but it needs some examples. I can't really come up with any :(
  • December 27, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Maybe we could call it Wrong Answerer?
  • December 27, 2012
    dsollen
    • a variant of this. IN Suits the old best-friend overhears a message left on an answering machine, causing him to learn that [[Spoiler: the main character and his former girlfriend are now dating and no one told him]], he doesn't take it well.
  • December 29, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    Music

    On Pink Floyd's rock opera album The Wall, the phone call at the end of the song "Young Lust" is where the protagonist Pink finds out (or has it confirmed in his mind) that his wife has been cheating on him while he's away touring in the U.S.
    Operator: He keeps hanging up. It's a man answering.
  • April 6, 2013
    MrRuano
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=98x62supan9u73t9d53ylatd