Created By: CaveCat on August 8, 2013 Last Edited By: CaveCat on December 9, 2013
Troped

Unraveled Entanglement

A character gets tangled up in unraveled movie film (rope, tape, etc.)

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Trope
Edit: Crowner for name; add note in title

Description

A character needs to do something with an object, and instead manages to entangle themselves in said object. Not just make a hopeless mess, but making themselves part of the hopeless mess.

The classical version is for Comedy and uses celluloid meant for a film projector, where it was a Stock Joke, but other long, narrow, and possibly sticky objects are also possible to use, eg cassette tape, bandages, duct tape, or just a long string.

This is a Comedy trope where the above will happen to the unfortunate victim, be it a Butt Monkey or The Chew Toy.


Examples

Film
  • In The Muppet Movie, the Swedish Chef has the role of operating the film projector, which goes about as well as you would expect. When the film suddenly stops playing and Kermit inquires what happened, the Chef shows up tangled in film and says, "Derversh de flim go flipflipflipflip!"
  • In Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, Mike and the 'bots get an unscheduled break from the movie when the film comes unspooled and then melts. The scene cuts to Dr. Forrester, whose tie is caught in the projector reel, and his arm is somehow on fire. He uses the film to put out the fire, and just gets his hands tangled in it.
  • In The Three Caballeros, Donald is watching a film about birds; when it ends, he finds the film has unspooled off the projector and is now wrapped around his feet.
  • Star Wars: A New Hope. After the TIE fighter attack on the Millenium Falcon as it escaped from the Death Star, we see C-3PO tangled up in wires as a result of the ship being hit.
    C-3PO: Help! I think I'm melting! This is all your fault.
    R2-D2: [Electronic snickering]

Literature
  • In an invoked example, Victor from Moving Pictures used octo-cellulose film to entangle and restrain the giant Dungeon-Dimensional duplicate of himself that emerged from the theater's screen.
  • In The Night of Wishes, Maurizio and Jacob wants to toss a piece of pergament with a spell on it into the fire. The pergament becomes animate and starts to strangle the two like a python.

Newspaper Comics
  • Poor old Charlie Brown of Peanuts fame not only never manages to keep his kite in the air, but often ends up incapacitated by the kite string, ranging from a few strands wrapped around him to a huge snarl of twine that hides him completely from view.

Puppet Shows
  • In an episode of Thunderbirds, International Rescue erases a television videotape with a remote magnetic pulse device in order to protect their secrets. When the cameraman unloads the (now smoking) tape from the truck-mounted camera, the tape starts to unravel all over the announcer standing below.

Western Animation
  • At the end of the lost episode of Spongebob Squarepants, Patchy the pirate tries to replay the VHS tape of the lost episode, only for the film to become unraveled while the tape is still in the VCR, and for Patchy to get tangled up in the film.
  • Done without a film reel in the Peanuts animated special She's A Good Skate, Charlie Brown. When Snoopy is trying to get the music ready for Peppermint Patty's skating session, the cassette tape breaks with the celluloid getting everywhere and all over Snoopy.
  • Happens in the first act of the Mr. Bogus episode "Class Clown Bogus", where Tommy's teacher is the poor victim of this trope when the tape gets unraveled while in the VCR.
  • Animaniacs: In the first Slappy Squirrel cartoon, Slappy "accidentally" gets a dog wrapped up in a videotape's tape. When she re-winds the tape to get it back in the cassette the dog ends up Trapped in TV Land.
  • At the end of the Roger Rabbit Short "Roller Coaster Rabbit", Roger crashes into the camera and is tangled up in film.
  • Super Friends 1973/74 episode "Dr. Pelagian's War". While Miss Caraway is checking stock market reports on a ticker tape machine, Dr. Pelagian takes control of it and makes it spew out yards of ticker tape that entangles her.

Needs More Examples
Community Feedback Replies: 39
  • August 8, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    Can you call this trope a Celluloid Jam?

    Since Technology Marches On, film reels and cassettes are no long in wide use, so this trope only goes for period pieces from before the digital age.
  • August 8, 2013
    TheTitan99
    I KNOW I've seen this in Looney Tunes before. I'll have to search for the episode when I have some more time.
  • August 8, 2013
    Hodor
    • In The Muppet Movie, the Swedish Chef has the role of operating the film projector, which goes about as well as you would expect. When the film suddenly stops playing and Kermit inquires what happened, the Chef shows up tangled in film and says, "Derversh de flim go flipflipflipflip!"
  • August 10, 2013
    Melkior
    I'd like to see a less specific trope, allowing for when anyone gets tangled up in anything as a plot point (not as something merely incidental). I'm still thinking about possible names.

    I'm thinking of an example from an old mystery-style comic book where the villain protagonist becomes tangled up in a stream of connected computer input/output cards. It's deliberately ambiguous whether the computer somehow managed to do this independently, the honest programmer had somehow anticipated the protagonist's actions and programmed the computer to do this, or it was totally accidental caused by the protagonist not really understanding what he was doing.
  • August 14, 2013
    MetaFour
    • In Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Movie, Mike and the 'bots get an unscheduled break from the movie when the film comes unspooled and then melts. The scene cuts to Dr. Forrester, whose tie is caught in the projector reel, and his arm is somehow on fire. He uses the film to put out the fire, and just gets his hands tangled in it.
  • August 14, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    I like this one. I think you could say that it's related to the idea that technology is overwhelming or incomprehensible to some people (what that trope is called. I can't say offhand).
  • August 15, 2013
    1810072342
    This title just looks like three words strung together. Maybe you want something that makes the meaning more clear.
  • August 19, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Animaniacs: In the first Slappy Squirrel cartoon, Slappy "accidentally" gets a dog wrapped up in a videotape's tape. When she re-winds the tape to get it back in the cassette the dog ends up Trapped In TV Land.
  • August 20, 2013
    TonyG
    • At the end of the Roger Rabbit Short "Roller Coaster Rabbit", Roger crashes into the camera and is tangled up in film.
    • In The Three Caballeros, Donald is watching a film about birds; when it ends, he finds the film has unspooled off the projector and is now wrapped around his feet.
  • August 23, 2013
    SharleeD
    Literature:

    • In an invoked example, Victor from Moving Pictures used octo-cellulose film to entangle and restrain the giant Dungeon-Dimensional duplicate of himself that emerged from the theater's screen.
  • August 28, 2013
    kjnoren
    Agree that the trope should be wider in concept, and not only limited to celluloid. A character being tangled up in any sort of cassette tape, film, duct tape, bandages, or just a long string should all be covered.
  • August 28, 2013
    CaveCat
    ^Why do you think I added the Peanuts example?
  • August 29, 2013
    kjnoren
    Examples are fine, but if the description is overly narrow then you can get into edit wars, or complaining about bad examples. Or you get an unneeded sister trope.

    The trope name is less important in this regard, but I'm afraid celluloid isn't that know a word anymore, but I can't come up with anything else. Perhaps Entangled In Tape?
  • August 29, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    what the hell is a celluloid? sorry, I was born yesterday. >_>

    sarcasm aside, isn't "film" a more familiar term? just like how envelope=message and
    record=casette tape/film reel(sometimes)

    also, pretty sure i saw this used for fanservice in some anime. but i forgot whether it was hentai or not...
  • August 29, 2013
    kjnoren
    Possible new description/definition:


    A character needs to do something with an object, and instead manages to entangle themselves in said object. Not just make a hopeless mess, but making themselves part of the hopeless mess.

    The classical version is for Comedy and uses celluloid meant for a film projector, where it was a StockJoke, but other long, narrow, and possibly sticky objects are also possible to use, eg cassette tape, bandages, duct tape, or just a long string.

    Indexes: Stock Jokes
  • August 30, 2013
    Melkior
    Television Puppetry
    • In an episode of Thunderbirds, International Rescue erases a television videotape with a remote magnetic pulse device in order to protect their secrets. When the cameraman unloads the (now smoking) tape from the truck-mounted camera, the tape starts to unravel all over the announcer standing below.
  • September 1, 2013
    kjnoren
    Have a hat. Only quibble I have right now is the last paragraph, where it's probably better said that this trope is becoming less common, not that is has disappeared entirely.
  • September 11, 2013
    Melkior
    ^ What he said.

    The current name is good, but I think Unravel And Entangle would be clearer without being too long or unwieldy.

    Also, hat time.
  • September 13, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^^ Definitely, it's not gone. Even stories set in the present still have people consulting old filmstrips as a record of fond family memories, as evidence of past crimes or conspiracies, as proof their roommate's cousin's grandpa saw Bigfoot back in 1974, etc.
  • September 18, 2013
    Arivne
    If this is expanded to all characters being tangled up in film/rope/tape/etc. for comedy:

    Film
    • Star Wars: A New Hope. After the TIE fighter attack on the Millenium Falcon as it escaped from the Death Star, we see C-3PO tangled up in wires as a result of the ship being hit.
      C-3PO: Help! I think I'm melting! This is all your fault.
      R2-D2: [Electronic snickering]
  • September 22, 2013
    Arivne
    Film
    • Super Friends 1973/74 episode "Dr. Pelagian's War". While Miss Caraway is checking stock market reports on a ticker tape machine, Dr. Pelagian takes control of it and makes it spew out yards of ticker tape that entangles her.
  • October 2, 2013
    kjnoren
    Possible example, literature:

    • In The Night Of Wishes, Maurizio and Jacob wants to toss a piece of pergament with a spell on it into the fire. The pergament becomes animate and starts to strangle the two like a python.
  • October 2, 2013
    IuraCivium
  • October 7, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ I... couldn't get that right.
  • October 8, 2013
    kjnoren
    ^^ Definitely the most puny name so far! I approve.
  • October 10, 2013
    CaveCat
    ^But it doesn't describe the trope.
  • October 14, 2013
    Delibird
    I agree with those who would like to see this trope expanded to cover all types of accidental entrapment (enwrapment?), not just film reels. Then we could include:

    Newspaper Comics
    • Poor old Charlie Brown of Peanuts fame not only never manages to keep his kite in the air, but often ends up incapacitated by the kite string, ranging from a few strands wrapped around him to a huge snarl of twine that hides him completely from view.

    If this trope is thusly expanded, perhaps it could be called Wrapped Up In Their Work.
  • October 15, 2013
    kjnoren
    ^ Excellent name!
  • November 1, 2013
    OmegaMetroid
    This scene from the Goshuushou Sama Ninomiya Kun anime probably counts. Sorry, I haven't actually seen it, so I can't provide more information.
  • November 5, 2013
    FGHIK
    Maybe name it Literal Red Tape?
  • November 5, 2013
    kjnoren
    Should we set up a crowner with the various possible names? The ones I've seen proposed so far are (I might have missed one):

    Also a few more I'm thinking up: Tape Wrapped; Taped And Entangled
  • November 5, 2013
    DAN004
    This trope is no longer specifically about celluloids so the first option goes away.
  • November 6, 2013
    kjnoren
    Created crowner with all the proposed names listed above.
  • November 17, 2013
    dalek955
    • In the Redwall book Salamandastron, Pikkle tries to fold the sail of the boat they're in and winds up getting buried in it. The others respond by sarcastically complimenting him on how neatly and carefully he's folding it.
  • November 17, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    how the hell is Wrapped Up In Their Work winning? i can barely read it to mean anything else other than "someone is very engrossed in whatever they're doing".

    Reel Inconvenienced sounds awesome to me though. clear, concise, and very witty. we know it's about reels giving someone trouble, which we can narrow down to tangles as that's probably the only way it can be an inconvenience to someone.
  • November 17, 2013
    DAN004
    I'd rather choose Unraveled Entanglement.
  • November 25, 2013
    DAN004
    Launch?
  • November 26, 2013
    kjnoren
    We don't hardly have any consensus on the name.
  • November 27, 2013
    DracMonster
    I threw Caught In Film and Caught In Tape into the crowner.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=slp6udphtivrq67sd47dns7c&trope=UnraveledEntanglement