Embarrassing Ringtone YKTTW Discussion

Embarrassing Ringtone
A character's ringtone is something they are embarrassed about or inappropriate to the situation.
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(permanent link) added: 2012-07-25 11:30:09 sponsor: BrokenEye edited by: Lythande (last reply: 2015-06-08 00:38:59)

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Nothing says terrifying assassin like The Village People.

A character's cellphone goes off at an inconvenient moment, and the song they use is their ringtone is something they'd be embarrassed by. The Jerk Jock might have the Theme Song from some incredibly geeky television series as his ringtone. The Wicked Cultured villain's ringtone may be a crappy auto-tuned pop song. The Heteronormative Crusader's ringtone may be a song about having Intercourse with You. The ringtone of Colonel Badass may be something uncomfortably cute and cheery. The Evil Luddite will be embarrassed to have a ringtone at all. Or one could always just go with a ringtone that anyone would be embarrassed by.

If the character is attempting to be mysterious or intimidating at the time, or attempting to win the trust/approval/respect of someone who find's the song's content objectionable, this is doubly likely to happen. Expect them to answer the phone as quickly as possible just to end the song, and be very grumpy towards the caller.

It isn't always the character's actual phone, but may be instead be a phone belonging to someone else that they're holding onto for some reason. At times it may be a ringtone that wouldn't usually be embarrassing, but the situation makes it inappropriate.

Indexes: Cell Phone, Rule of Funny, Distraction Tropes?
Related Tropes: ???


  • A beer commercial featured a guy trying to prove to his ex-girlfriend that he's matured enough to hook back up with her ... until his cellphone rings, with Baby Got Back as the ringtone. Oops.
  • In a T-Mobile myFaves commercial, a guy is asking his friend why his girlfriend is in his "Five" on his phone. His friend tells him he's being paranoid until his phone starts ringing "Secret Lovers" by Atlantic Starr which indicates the guy's girlfriend calling. He promptly takes back his phone.

Anime And Manga
  • Tentai Senshi Sunred. The nominal head villain gets a new cell phone with a ringtone that pegs him as an old guy—and later it goes off when people are trying to hide, and of course the hiding people can't figure out how to turn it off.

  • One of Deadpool's attempts at a stealthy assassination was spoiled by his agent calling him, his ringtone was "YMCA".
  • Quai D Orsay. Arthur's ringtone is a Metallica song. Not the best way to be taken seriously when it rings in the middle of a diplomatic summit.

  • In The Astronaut Farmer one of the two government agents who are trying to prevent the titular farmer from building his rocket and going into space has The Imperial March as his ringtone, as part of their gradual decent over the course of the film from genuinely intimidating antagonists to Those Two Guys.
  • In Confessions of a Shopaholic, Becky's ringtone for her banker says "Don't answer this call; it's Derek Smeath." It goes off while Mr. Smeath is in the vicinity.
  • In Inside Man, the thieves taking hostages in the bank demand that everyone turn over any cell phones. One executive (read rich white guy) claims he left his phone at home, but the Genre Savvy thieves grab the phone of one of the guy's coworkers and dial his number. It rings and loudly plays Kanye West's "Gold Digger". Surprisingly enough for a few seconds the thieves seem like they're going to let the whole thing slide, perhaps out of sheer amusement at the incongruity of the ring tone... then the leader of the group drags the guy off into another room and beats the crap out of him.
  • This sort of happened on Megamind. When Megamind and Minion were suiting up to create a new superhero to replace Metro Man, the cell phone Megamind had stolen earlier went off, ruining the villainous pose scene.
  • This happens repeatedly to the titular character in Paul Blart: Mall Cop, but only because his phone was lent to him by a teenager.
  • In She's The Man, Olivia has Aqua's Barbie Girl for her ringtone. This causes some problems when she's impersonating her brother Sebastian and she forgets to change it.
  • White House Down: The ring tone on the cell phone of The Mole, who assisted those who took over the White House by becoming Acting President, so he could send them the access codes to launch nuclear missiles to the Middle East, is the main theme of "The Dating Game" (Herb Alpert's "Spanish Flea"). This creates Mood Whiplash during the denouement, where he's exposed to the President of the United States by redialing the terrorist Big Bad's cell phone.

Live-Action TV
  • An early episode of Burn Notice features Michael using a ring tone on his phone as an alarm for when someone sets off a motion sensor he sets up at a safe house for the clients of the week. It's from some flash in the pan girl group.
    Teen girl: Nice ring tone.
    Michael: It came with the phone.
  • In Hannah Montana, season 2 episode 27, "The Test of My Love", when Miley is dating a rich boy and she meets his parents, his parents act rude to her because she's from Tennessee and they see her as a bumpkin. When Miley tries to prove she's sophisticated, her ringtone goes off playing country music which she set to because she felt homesick.
  • Completely subverted in House who has a string of seemingly embarrassing ringtones that he uses completely shamelessly.
  • Invoked offscreen in the Frasier episode "Taking Liberties". Niles' wife Mel, as part of a domestic conflict, sets his ringtone to "La Cucaracha" before they go to a society funeral.
  • On an episode of Judge Judy, a plantiff's phone went off in the middle of Judge Judy's ruling. The ringtone was a mooing cow. Her Honor mocked him for it while she was chewing him out for not turning it off.
  • An episode of The Newsroom sets Jim up on a date with Maggie's girlfriend, which introduces her ringtone as a Chekhov's Gun. Apparently she's a fan of Rod Stewart.
  • On Scrubs, while being told that one of his patients has died and that a Morbidity and Mortality conference will be held to figure out who's responsible Turk's phone starts playing the first few bars of Beethoven's 5th symphony. He immediately remarks that he needs to change it.
  • Sherlock
    • In "A Scandal in Belgravia", Irene Adler replaces Sherlock's ringtone with the sound of her orgasmic groaning.
    • Moriarty's Staying Alive ringtone also qualifies. It's hard to be menacing with The Bee Gees providing a bouncy little riff.
  • In one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Worf's son Alexander joins his father aboard the Enterprise. Everybody was trying to reach Worf about his son through his communicator. Unfortunately, he was with Captain Picard who was explaining him some assignment. It looked like the communicators couldn't be turned off, and both Picard and Worf got really annoyed.
  • In the Supernatural episode, "The Real Ghostbusters", evil spirit children trapped Sam and Dean along with many patrons at a hotel convention. To get the spirits to free everyone, Sam and Dean recruited an actress to play the ghost of the stern, turn-of-the-century school mistress (who Sam and Dean mistakenly banished earlier) to scare the ghost boys into releasing the hold on the hotel. Everything was going well until the actress' cell phone rang with a jaunty hip-hop tune. Cue her Oh Crap! moment as the evil spirit children smiled menacingly, realizing she wasn't the school mistress and they had no reason to be scared.
  • Oddly averted on the Israeli sitcom Traffic Light: Khefer's ringtone is that of a woman moaning aloud in the throes of passion, but he is never embarrassed about it. Although he does change it to Samantha Fox's 'Touch Me', so a moment like this might've taken place offscreen...

  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "Ringtone" is about this:
    "Why did I buy the stupid ringtone?
    I just can't imagine now
    what I was thinking at all!
    My friends all stare at me whenever I get a call!
    When everybody (everybody)
    everybody (everybody)
    everybody in the world really hates my ringtone!"

Newspaper Comics
  • In My Cage Norm's secretary Ashley once changed his ringtone to "Barbie Girl". Another time it was shown that Rex's ringtone for his Alpha Bitch girlfriend was "Taps".
  • One Nemi strip showed a LARP gathering, which was interrupted by a ringing cellphone. Last panel has the guilty party telling that, worst of all, the ringtone was a Britney Spears song.

Western Animation
  • A minor Running Gag on The Spectacular Spider-Man was Peter's cell phone going off at inconvenient times. One memorable instance had it go off in the middle of Spider-Man's fight with Electro...to the tune of Ba Ba Black Sheep. It was Peter's designated "Aunt May Alert".

Web Original
  • One "learn from my fail" entry in Fail Blog mentioned an "Another one bites the dust" ringtone going off during a funeral.
  • There is an exchange on bash.org that involves a girl speaking to the storyteller while they're in high school. The girl says she always thought of him as a nerdy type, but the guy says he really isn't a nerd at all. Immediately after saying this, his cell phone plays the Final Fantasy VII victory ringtone.
  • In the Flash series Cactuar And Tonberry by Crazy Boris, Cactuar (actually a criminal identical to Cactuar) busts into a heavily guarded vault to steal the last bottle of A1 steak sauce. As he sneaks past some guards, his cell phone inconveniently rings, playing a minimalistic, beeping version of Barbie Girl.

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