Created By: Stormtroper on August 5, 2009
Troped

Captivity Harmonica

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(Prisoner plays harmonica)
Homer: That's sorta nice. What're you in for?
Prisoner: Atmosphere.
The Simpsons, "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish"

You know, that thing where, when there are various characters captive or trapped (say, during a jail scene) the harmonica would be played, as background music if not by an actual character. It's also done in isolation, such as being stranded or lost in the wilderness. Or just camping, which borderline qualifies as the previous.

  • During a Simpsons episode the kids are sent to school by a prison bus rather than the usual school bus, and look as if they were sent to an actual prison. One of the kids play the harmonica.
  • The main character in the No Tip Cartoon Network short does this after being sent to jail.
  • In The Story Of Ricky, our titular character is typically seen blowing on a folded leaf in this manner - and pulls it off fairly well. (Probably because he broke his harmonica killing half the prison population off-screen.)
  • A sitcom episode this Troper saw once - possibly Alice - had a gag wherein someone in jail was playing the harmonica, but it turned out they didn't have a harmonica, the person was just holding their hands to their mouth and making harmonica music. I think the joke went something like this:
    (harmonica player plays)
    Protagonist: You're really good.
    Player: Thanks. (brings hands down from mouth) If I'm in for another two years they'll even let me have a harmonica.
  • The Twilight Zone TOS, episode "Shadow Play". One of the prisoners plays a harmonica.
  • Occurs in Jimmy Neutron: After being thrown into the brig by the Junkman, Sheen does this.
  • When The Joker was sent to a regular prison after being framed for murder (yes, framed), he stuffs the harmonica down the player's throat.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures had Buster producing a harmonica after being framed for theft. When the guard gets sick of it, he stuffs it down Buster's throat (and he spends the next scene with a harmonica-shaped bulge in his neck).
  • Parodied in Chicken Run.
  • Lampshaded in NCIS. Di Nozzo is framed for murdering a woman and is held by the FBI because all signs seem to be pointing to him. Di Nozzo's typical target for jokes, Mc Gee, strolls past the jail cell playing harmonica, then gives it to Di Nozzo as a "present".
  • In the movie Club Paradise, Robin Williams imitates playing a harmonica with his own voice while locked up. I think he did this in Mork and Mindy several times too.
  • While he's not a captive, The Crystal Maze.
  • Lampshaded in The Simpsons, see the quote above.
  • Played with in the Fairly OddParents Wishology: The harmonica turns out to be music coming from a record player, whose turntable is being operated by the captive fairies.
  • Played straight in the film version of South Park, although the harmonica player in question is Ike the baby.
  • In America's Army if you shoot an instructor during the training missions the mission will end, the screen will fade to black and then reveal you to be in a jail cell with harmonica music playing in the background.
  • I think that in Droopy, during some jail scenes somebody would play the harmonica. Can somebody confirm this?
Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • June 13, 2009
    Pyrite
    In The Story Of Ricky, our titular character is typically seen blowing on a folded leaf in this manner - and pulls it off fairly well. (Probably because he broke his harmonica killing half the prison population off-screen.)
  • June 13, 2009
    random surfer
    How could we have missed this?

    A sitcom episode I saw once - possibly Alice - had a gag wherein someone in jail was playing the harmonica, but it turned out they didn't have a harmonica, the person was just holding their hands to their mouth and making harmonica music. I think the joke went something like this:
    (harmonica player plays)
    Protagonist: You're really good.
    Player: Thanks. (brings hands down from mouth) If I'm in for another two years they'll even let me have a harmonica.
  • June 13, 2009
    Arivne
    Live Action TV
    • The Twilight Zone TOS, episode "Shadow Play". One of the prisoners plays a harmonica.
  • June 13, 2009
    DragonQuestZ
    ^^ This isn't about girls, especially since that implies including characters. This is about fans hating the hero for the sake of an antagonist.
  • June 13, 2009
    Pingo T. Best
    Occurs in Jimmy Neutron: After being thrown into the brig by the Junkman, Sheen does this.
  • June 13, 2009
    Silent Hunter
    Do we have an entry on instruments and their associations if a character plays them?
  • June 13, 2009
    Cao Cao
    I believe it was parodied in Chicken Run but could be mistaken. That film played with so many tropes of the escape movie, it's hard to remember them all.
  • June 13, 2009
    Generality
    It's also done in isolation, such as being stranded or lost in the wilderness. Or just camping, which borderline qualifies as the previous.
  • June 13, 2009
    TB Tabby
    When The Joker was sent to a regular prison after being framed for murder (yes, framed), he stuffs the harmonica down the player's throat.
  • June 13, 2009
    Tzintzuntzan
    Tiny Toon Adventures had Buster producing a harmonica after being framed for theft. When the guard gets sick of it, he stuffs it down Buster's throat (and he spends the next scene with a harmonica-shaped bulge in his neck).
  • June 13, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Lampshaded in NCIS. Di Nozzo is framed for murdering a woman and is held by the FBI because all signs seem to be pointing to him. Di Nozzo's typical target for jokes, Mc Gee, strolls past the jail cell playing harmonica, then gives it to Di Nozzo as a "present".
  • July 7, 2009
    Stormtroper
  • July 14, 2009
    Stormtroper
    Once more!
  • July 14, 2009
    Lurkerbunny
    In the movie Club Paradise, Robin Williams imitates playing a harmonica with his own voice while locked up. I think he did this in Mork And Mindy several times too.
  • July 14, 2009
    Andygal
    for the "Stranded in the wilderness" version we have Yamato/Matt of Digimon playing the harmonica by that lake where they got attacked by Seadramon in the first season. Also, he's The Loner, so sort of self-isolated from the rest of the group.
  • July 14, 2009
    Silent Hunter
    While he's not a captive, don't forget The Crystal Maze.
  • July 14, 2009
    JP4490
    The Simpsons had a Lampshading of this in "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish":

    (Prisoner plays harmonica)
    Homer: That's sorta nice. What're you in for?
    Prisoner: Atmosphere.

    Possibly that could be a page quote?
  • July 14, 2009
    dotchan
    Played with in the Fairly Odd Parents Wishology: The harmonica turns out to be music coming from a record player, whose turntable is being operated by the captive fairies.
  • July 14, 2009
    Saintheart
    Played straight in the film version of South Park, although the harmonica player in question is Ike the baby.
  • August 4, 2009
    Stormtroper
    One more bump before launching!
  • February 20, 2012
    desslok
    In Blue Hawaii, Elvis and his band are in Jail after a bar fight and Elvis starts singing. The camera pans over to an inmate with a harmonica . . . but then we see the rest of the with all their instruments, too. They have really progressive jails in Hawaii!
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