Created By: StevenT on July 13, 2012 Last Edited By: StevenT on September 2, 2013

Reading Incantations Out Loud

Someone accidentally triggers a spell by reading the incantation out loud.

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If you find a magical incantation and the effects of said incantation are bad, it might be a good idea to not read it out loud.


  • In The Evil Dead the characters find a recording left by a researcher, which includes the incantation to summon the Deadites.

Western Animation
  • Parodied on Phineas and Ferb in an old mummy movie where an archeologist reads an incantation that will make a mummy come to life and follow his every command. He then exclaims "Well, pummel me with a chicken!" and the mummy proceeds to repeatedly beat him with a rubber chicken.
Community Feedback Replies: 25
  • July 13, 2012
    • Sort of occurs at Moria in the first Lord Of The Rings movie, when Frodo asks Gandalf for "The Elvish word for friend" he seems somewhat surprised when the door opens after he answers. (This word was the password to open the door.)
  • July 13, 2012
    In (almost? I have only read two as an adult and forgot the rest that I read as a kid) all of the "Night of the Living Dummy" books in the Goosebumps books, characters find a piece of paper near a dummy with the words "Karru marri odonna loma molunu karrano". They read them aloud in confusion and the dummies (Mr. Wood and Slappy in the first one, and just Slappy in the sequels) come to life.
  • July 13, 2012
    This was how Imhotep was unleashed upon the world in The Mummy. Evey really should have known better than to read from the Book of the Dead.
  • July 13, 2012
  • July 13, 2012
    There's an episode of The Simpsons where Lisa starts reading something in a musty old tome and some demon starts being summoned behind her, but then she interrupts her reading when she comes across something else and the demon disappears.
  • July 13, 2012
    Ohh this one might have some examples lying around:
    • Literature
      • Happens in the Papyrus of Saqqarah. The prince not only reads it aloud but immediately notices the blunder and tries to protect himself he fails and dooms his family, it shows a bit further than the gods are actually jerks with him at the end.
    • Film/Movies
      • Pretty much most of The Mummy adaptations despite ages (while personally I don't like the last one too much) it is a common issue of it being a key element on said story.
    • Webcomics
    But I don't recall many of them.
  • July 13, 2012
    In an interesting twist, one of the first episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer has a demon who is released into the school internet, by their libraries attempt to scan everything. Nobody read the books words aloud, but scanning was the computer equivalent.
  • July 13, 2012
    I think we may have this but I'm feeling too lazy to look.

    • The Shaggy Dog (the 1959 original): Wilby Daniels finds a ring with an inscription ("in canis corpore transmuto") and reads it aloud several times, turning it into a little song. It turns him into a dog.
      • In the Sequel The Shaggy D.A. when other people read the inscription it continues to turn Wilby into a dog. Late in the story the Big Bad learns about it; he keeps reading the inscription over and over to keep Wilby in dog form. Eventually it backfires on him and turns him into a dog.
    • Angel: in the Backstory Fred accidentally opened a portal into Pylea by reading aloud from a book whose language she didn't know.
  • July 14, 2012
    Web Original
    • Instructions found in "Horror Movie Survival Guides" on the Net.
      • Never read a book of demon summoning or other evil book aloud, even as a joke.
      • Never read aloud, especially if the text is in a language other than Modern English.
    • Instructions for surviving a Cthulhu Mythos story
      • Never read the Necronomicon aloud, even as a joke.
      • Don't repeat any Necronomicon spell wrong. In fact, don't repeat it right either. Burn the damned book and go bye-bye as fast as possible.
  • July 14, 2012
    • On one episode of Scooby Doo, Shaggy and Scooby are reading from a book of spells and read one out loud that turns them into monsters. They then read the counterspell and return to normal before they even realize that they had changed in the first place.
    • On the Looney Tunes short "Transylvania 6-5000", Bugs Bunny is in a vampire's castle reading a book of spells in bed. As the vampire is about to get him, he reads the word "Abracadabra" and the vampire turns into a bat. Bugs continues reading and gets to the word "Hocus-Pocus", which turns the bat back into a vampire, right as he's flying over the moat. This becomes a Running Gag throughout.
    • On The Simpsons, Lisa is reading a book of spell and as he reads one a demon starts to materialize behind her. However, she is distracted by something else and leaves the spell unfinished, and the demon fades away.
  • July 14, 2012
    Perhaps it should be mentioned in the description that no magic powers are needed to do this (i.e. this doesn't include instances when a person whose magic really does work through incantation does this)
  • July 14, 2012
    There's another Simpsons, a Treehouse of Horror, where Bart reads an incantation to bring back the dead. I believe he reads it backwards to send them back.
  • July 14, 2012
    In a Sesame Street Muppet skit, Grover assists the magician The Amazing Mumford in a disappearing pineapples trick. Mumford makes each pineapple vanish by merely reciting "A la peanut butter sandwiches!". After they've all disappeared, Grover casually comments how he is amazed that all he had to was recite the words... (Mumford tries to warn Grover not to repeat them, but does anyway), with ugly results.
  • July 15, 2012
    Another example from Buffy The Vampire Slayer from the episode "Superstar": While researching, Riley asks Willow if the spells really work. She says they do, but that they require concentration and being attune to nature. Xander ties to illustrate with the following:
    Xander: Right you can't just go... (He looks into the book and picks out a random group of words) 'librum incendere' and expect..
    (The page of Xander's book bursts into flames, so he closes it quickly to extinguish it.)
    Giles: Xander, don't speak Latin in front of the books.

  • July 15, 2012
    I'm not sure if this counts because this is an example of someone speaking through a tape recorder as opposed to reading a book, but here goes:

    • An episode of Charmed has Phoebe (IIRC) tell her friend (not a witch) that the words to the spell are wrong and gives her the correct version, which the friend records on a tape recorder. The friend and her 2 other friends then try to do the spell with the wrong incantation. It doesn't work. The friend plays the tape and before she and her friends can do anything, the spell happens. (They were making boyfriends out of animals, if you must know.)
  • July 15, 2012
    In the Inheritance Cycle, Eragon's sword Brisingr bursts into flame whenever he says its name. Scares the bejeezus out of him when he first names it.
  • July 15, 2012
    Have there been any subversions where the baddie tries to trick the hero into doing this, but the hero mispronounces the incantation and nothing happens?
  • July 15, 2012
    In an episode of Xena Warrior Princess, a group of people are reading a magic scroll to no effect. Gabrielle realizes that they are using the wrong meter. When she demonstrates what the correct pronunciation is she accidentally casts the spell herself.
  • July 15, 2012
    In another episode of Angel Angel comes upon some low-level grunts from Wolfram & Hart performing a spell. They don't know what they're saying, they're just under orders following a list of instructions, "like a cookbook."
  • July 16, 2012
    Compare Words Do Not Make The Magic where this cannot occur: just speaking the words doesn't cause magic to occur.

    Or in other words, this trope can only occur when Words Do Not Make The Magic is not in effect.
  • July 16, 2012
    In Dungeons And Dragons, this is exactly how the spell Explosive Runes is supposed to work.
  • July 16, 2012
    In a joke column of one rpg magazine: "This scroll is useless. All it sais is Hastur, Hastur, Hastur..."
  • September 1, 2013
    Also happens in The Cabin In The Woods, when ghostly whispers command one of the characters to, "Read the Latin... out loud..." They do. Zombies ensue.
  • September 2, 2013
    Since the OP Steven T has not posted here since he originally created this proposal in July 2012, it is officially Up For Grabs if anyone wants to prepare and launch it.
  • September 2, 2013

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable