Created By: TheHebon on April 27, 2014 Last Edited By: Arivne on May 1, 2014

Answering Machine Escalation

One character leaves a series of messages on someone\'s machine or voicemail, and they get progressively more desperate or panicked.

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One character will check his voicemail and find that he has a few messages. The first one will seem insignificant, but the second one will be from the same person and about the same subject, but slightly more demanding, panicked, excited, etc. This continues for a few messages until the indication of the messages' content begin to affect the listener.

Can double as an example of an Apocalyptic Log.


Live-Action TV
  • In one episode of Breaking Bad, Jesse gets multiple messages from Saul asking him to come see him. Each subsequent message is more demanding and more worried-sounding.

Western Animation
  • In The Incredibles, near the end, Helen checks her messages to see multiple from Kari about Jack-Jack. The first is a calm report that Jack-Jack is acting slightly abnormally. Subsequent messages are extremely unsettled when Jack-Jack's more interesting powers manifest, until she starts screaming into the phone with terror. The final message is a disturbingly calm thanks for the replacement sitter... who wasn't hired.

Community Feedback Replies: 9
  • April 27, 2014
    • Reversed in Swingers, Mike's friends tell him to wait three days to call the girl he met. However, since he's desperate for companionship after his recent breakup he winds up calling her that night. He leaves a message, but gets cut off at the end. So he calls her back. Multiple times. Eventually he's talked himself into saying that it wasn't going to work and he shouldn't ever call her again.
  • April 27, 2014
    Recorded comedy:
    • In The Dead Alewives' "Answering Machine" Bill comes back from vacation to find a bunch of messages on his answering machine, detailing several plots which happened while he was away:
      • Bill's friend, who housesat for him, had a big party and destroyed the place. The friend has joined the army to get away. The man's landlord evicts him, and is coming over with the cops to throw him out.
      • Bill's girlfriend was expecting a big dinner for their six month anniversary, and when he doesn't show up she throws it in his face that she slept with his friend (the first guy). She calls back later, apologizing, and is going to come over.
      • Another friend calls Bill and has a spat with his wife while on the line; this friend ends up murdering his wife. He tries to fake a robbery but can't. He digs up his wife from where he buried her and brings the body over to the man's house.
    Everyone shows up at Bill's place at the same time, ending in a violent shootout.
    • Barry and the Bookbinders' "You Have 257 Messages." An obsessive girlfriend leaves 257 messages on her ex-boyfriend's machine.
    Western Animation:
    • An in person version on The Simpsons "Homer the Smithers." Homer is filling in as Mr. Burns's assistant while Smithers is on vacation, and at one point gives Burns his messages.
      Homer: Here are your messages: "You have 30 minutes to move your car." "You have 10 minutes." "Your car has been impounded." "Your car has been crushed into a cube." "You have 30 minutes to move your cube."
      [phone ringing]
      Homer: [answers] Yello, Mr. Burns' office.
      Burns: Is it about my cube?
  • April 27, 2014
    • An old promo for The Powerpuff Girls has the girls returning home from a vacation and checking their answering machine. They had more than 100 messages, all of which were from the Mayor calling to save him.

    P.S. The Incredibles babysitter was named Kari.
  • April 27, 2014
  • April 28, 2014
    There was a Cracked photoshop contest on villain's emails, the killer from Se7en has repeated messages from the public library telling him The Divine Comedy is overdue, the last one being "You know what, just keep the damn thing".
  • April 28, 2014
    • Removed unnecessary Pot Holing of Apocalyptic Log.
    • Examples section formatting.
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
      • Changed double curly braces to Wiki Word(s) in media section title(s).
      • Added a space between the * and the first word of examples.
    • Namespaced work name(s).
  • April 30, 2014
    This is pretty common in romances, when one character has been ignoring the other.
  • April 30, 2014
    The Walking Dead: Clementine's mother leaves some messages for her daughter as she and her father are off on vacation, each getting more frantic as the Zombie Apocalypse gets underway.
  • May 1, 2014
    In Pedro Almodovar's Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Candela leaves tons of increasingly frantic messages on Pepa's answering machine (worried that her lover is actually a terrorist), using up all the tape so that Pepa misses an important message from her lover. In The Musical, this is made into a Crowning Music Of Awesome with a song "Model Behavior".