Created By: SKJAM on August 16, 2009
Troped

Playing Doctor

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
I'll show you mine if you show me yours!

Young children looking at each other without any clothes on.

Children tend to be very curious about things, including what the opposite sex looks like under their clothes. So naturally, sometimes they try to satisfy that curiousity by negotiating with someone roughly their own age. It's called "playing doctor" since it's frequently put in the form of a game where one child is the doctor, and the other the patient, who takes off their clothes for examination like at the real doctor's office.

For legal reasons, this game is almost never played all the way in visual media, being mentioned off stage, or interrupted before too many clothes come off. A common "bit" is for a parent to catch the children doing this, and completely overreact making the kids more confused and traumatized than the game ever would have.

It's considered kind of cute for very small children to do this, less so as they get older, and if either participant has hit puberty, they've lost the Children Are Innocent excuse. Indeed, if anyone past puberty suggests "playing doctor," it's an Unusual Euphemism. And if one child participant is significantly older than the other, it's usually a bad sign.

Not to be confused with I'm Not a Doctor, but I Play One on TV.

Examples:

  • In the Philip K. Dick novel "Eye In the Sky," a little boy is disappointed when he finally convinces the neighbor girl to show him hers--and there's nothing there. Which turns out to be the same thing he's got down there! They're in a Fisher Kingdom run by someone who finds genitalia icky.
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • August 16, 2009
    random surfer
    South Park episode "Hooked on Monkey Phonics:"
    Mr. Cotswolds: Mark, where's your sister?
    Mark: She's upstairs playing Doctor with that Kyle boy.
    Mr. Cotswolds: Oh, all right.
    Mr. & Mrs. Cotswolds: What?! they dash to her room
    Mrs. Cotswolds: Rebecca! Aaah! Aaaaah! Noo-hooo!
    Mr. Cotswolds: Rebecca, don't play that perverted game! reaches the door and opens it. Before them is Kyle on his back on a low table covered by a blanket. Rebecca, in scrubs, stands on a chair cutting away at Kyle's hat. Both look at her parents
    Rebecca: I have to extricate a rr-region in his cerebral cortex, or risk ih-nfection to the synaptic responses.
  • August 16, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Subverted in a Fox Trot comic in which Jason and Eileen simply talk to each other as doctor and patient and then declare "I don't see what all the fuss about playing doctor is."
  • August 16, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Obligatory The Very World Of Milton Jones example and subversion: he takes it extremely seriously, ordering various things of his "nurse" (oh yeah, they're technically playing "doctors and nurses", behind the bike sheds, natch); his final line is
    ...and for GOD's sake put your knickers back on, this is a sterile environment.
  • August 16, 2009
    feo takahari
    Referenced in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, of course. As children, Willow and Xander played doctor in the same way as the Fox Trot example, and Willow doesn't know that there's another way to play it, leading to a bit of confusion when she references those games.
  • August 16, 2009
    Nasrudith
    Subverted in Ozy And Millie as it's used to parody health insurance. They wonder why they're so concerned about playing doctor and conclude it's out of worry it'd make them cynical.
  • August 16, 2009
    sgamer82
    An episode of Maude had parents reacting to finding their kids, a boy and a girl, naked playing doctor.
  • August 16, 2009
    random surfer
    Please someone inform me that at least once in a fictional setting some kids were found playing "Doctor."
  • August 17, 2009
    vp21ct
    They did this in Rugrats, sans the Doctor role-play.
  • August 17, 2009
    Chabal 2
    Saw a very dark take on the concept once by a French comic guy, one kid asks the other to play doctor, he replies "Sure, I got a surgeon's costume for Halloween." Next panel has the parents congratulating themselves on getting the kid such an intellectually-stimulating toy (the surgeon outfit), while a large pool of blood leaks out from behind a closed door.
  • August 17, 2009
    SKJAM
    Any more "straight" examples, by chance?
  • August 17, 2009
    STUART
    Calvin And Hobbes had Calvin playing doctor with his neighbor Susie Derkins. Of course, this being Calvin and Hobbes, it is presented in the style of Rex Morgan MD, and Susie storms off due to the excessive treatments Calvin suggests from the symptom of "my foot hurts, doctor".

    The only example of "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" that I can think of is from the movie "The Ice Storm", starring a young Christina Ricci (the only reason I know this is because it's consistently the most popular clip on Hulu).
  • August 18, 2009
    Arilou
    I know there was one example in Young Spirou... Only it turned out both of them were cheating.
  • August 18, 2009
    Arivne
    Film
    • Blade Runner. While talking to Rachael about her memories, Deckard reminded her about the time she and her brother played doctor. Her brother showed her his, and when it got to be her turn, she chickened and ran. The memories were actually implanted in her: they came from Tyrell's niece.
  • August 18, 2009
    JethroQWalrustitty
  • August 18, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    I think this is a Discredited Trope, I can't think of any straight examples. It's always either a subversion or a euphemism (used by adults referring to adolescents who are engaged in a less innocent game).

  • August 18, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    If there are literally no straight examples, it is a Dead Unicorn Trope.
  • August 18, 2009
    lukebn
    That's what playing doctor means? I guess I've only ever seen subversions!
  • August 18, 2009
    johnnye
    I don't think it's possible to have a Dead Unicorn Trope that's Truth In Television, is it? (And it is T in T, trust me) Surely it's just an inherently funny scenario, so all the straight uses are in Real Life. It'd be like saying "walking into a lamppost" is a Dead Unicorn Trope.
  • August 18, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    In one of the Omakes for Black Lagoon, Hansel and Gretel play doctor with little Garcia, Roberta's young master. Hansel and Gretel being...you know...Hansel and Gretel, they decide to play the real kind of doctor with him, much to poor Garcia's distress.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=nhtdbzlxcbqgpv8teuafa9az