--The Noise An Airplane Makes
The characters board an airplane or other public transport. Almost inevitably, a baby will start crying.
Babies are new to this world
and have no language skills to articulate their discomfort or understand instructions on how to relieve it
. So when they're faced with air pressure changes, unusual loud noises, the presence of strangers and the other hazards of public transportation, they're left with the default of screaming their lungs out. Plus, the child may be ill and in pain, and there's always hunger and dirty diapers to cause further discomfort.
This Real Life
situation is often used in fiction when the characters are forced to take public transportation. It may just be an offscreen wail, or the parent of the child may be shown desperately trying (and failing) to hush the infant, or callously ignoring the kid and the pained reactions of those around them.
It can also be used as a characterization moment, with the character being a Jerkass
to the harried parent, or demonstrating an ability to soothe the child.
A similar effect happens in theaters, auditoriums, churches and other crowded buildings, but in these cases it's usually possible to remove the baby and alleviate the problem.
No Real Life
or Troper Tales
examples, please. If you would like to discuss this phenomenon as it applies in reality and ways to cope with it, please consult our discussion forum
- On Modern Family Mitchell and Cameron try to keep Lily awake before their flight to Hawaii so that she sleeps in the plane and avoid this. Mitchell tells the story of how he sat next to a crying baby on a flight from New York, then revealing that the baby was Cameron whining about how they couldn't get tickets to Billy Elliot.
- An episode of The Ricky Gervais Show had a segment in Karl's Diary where Karl wrote about how he had to sit next to a crying baby on a plane.
- Big Wave Dave's (a short lived CBS sitcom): Marshall has to go back to the mainland from Hawaii for a business meeting. In a throwaway joke he says he doesn't want to, because he knows he'll have to sit between a fat sweaty guy and a mother with a crying baby. In The Stinger he's boarding the plane; when the flight attendant asks him if he'd like help finding his seat, he replies no thanks, he knows where it is. He just finds the fat sweaty guy and mother with a crying baby with a vacant seat between them.
- In one episode of Frasier, Roz dressed up her daughter as a turkey (it was a Thanksgiving episode) for the flight home so people think "Aww, how cute!", and wouldn't be so annoyed if she started crying.
- Dilbert gets stuck behind a whole bunch of them in one strip (their moms are flying to the Mothers of Colicky Babies Convention or somesuch).
- Comedian/folksinger Martin Pearon gives a hilarious account of this on his album Too Close For Comfort.
- Done more than once on Family Guy. In one episode, Peter, Joe, Cleveland, and Quagmire are sapped, and flown to a mysterious island on a private cargo plane. Despite the fact that they're flying to the secret headquarters of a shadowy organization, on a private plane, there is an indignant mother with a crying baby accompanying them, to which Peter replies "Really?"
- The second Family Guy example found (there may be three):
Guy on Airplane: Oh great, I always end up sitting next to a damn baby.
Stewie: What did you just say?
Lois: Stewie, stop fussing.
Stewie: Pipe down Lois. (Slaps guy on head.) Hey big man, turn around. Oh you can't hear me now. I was going to watch the movie, but forget it. For the next 5 hours, you're my bitch.
- Mentioned in the note underneath this Wondermark strip. The characters in the strip obliquely express a desire to shake a crying baby, and the note reads, "Anyone who is offended by this was not on my flight last night."
- In Hannibal (the book anyway) Hannibal Lecter is at one point pestered on a plane by a family consisitng of a mother, a bratty kid, and a crying baby.
- Advertising: An E-Trade commercial features its now-famous stock-trading baby discussing his stratgies on an airplane. He is then interrupted by an offscreen screaming baby, and shortly after, another baby turns around to complain to him about the racket.
- At one point in Mama Is A Fourth-Grader, Natsumi has an Imagine Spot of her potential future career as a flight attendant, and it's her baby (strapped to her back) that starts screaming.
- Played for Drama in the last episode of Mash, when Hawkeye had a Heroic BSOD as a result of this trope: he was trapped on a bus full of refugees who are trying to hide from North Koreans when a baby starts to cry, and the mother chooses to smother her own child rather than risk exposing them to danger.