Created By: Lenoxus on November 15, 2011 Last Edited By: Arivne on June 21, 2015

This Isn't Funny, You Guys!

A character who is all alone when something scary occurs initially assumes it\'s some kind of sick prank.

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Trope
"Whenever someone is alone at home at night and they hear a sound in the house and ask aloud "(Name), is that you?" — it never is."
Ebert's Bigger Little Movie Glossary

It's late at night. Bob has just arrived at his home. As he hangs his coat up, he sees an odd shadow in the distance. He comes closer. It's human-shaped, possibly wielding a knife. He's a bit scared now, but he isn't going to show it, and he also believes (or hopes) that there's a more plausible explanation. So he calls out to the shadow, "Alice! I know that's you. Joke's over. It's not really funny anyway." Unfortunately for Bob, however he words this Stock Phrase, it all but guarantees that no, it's not Alice, or any other pranker, and yes, he should be panicking for his life.


Examples

Live-Action TV
  • The first episode of the New Doctor Who has Rose react this way when the mannequins in her department store come lurching toward her.

Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • November 15, 2011
    dalek955
    • In Night At The Museum, when Larry first notices that the T. Rex skeleton is missing, he initially assumes that the former night guards are pulling a prank on him.
  • November 15, 2011
    Koveras
    Needs a title that doesn't sound like a Stock Phrase.
  • November 15, 2011
    TheThnikkaman
    ^ I think it's fine, but we can use something along the lines of Danger Mistaken For Prank if you want.
  • November 15, 2011
    Psychobabble6
    Video Games
    • In the PC game Donald Duck Goin' Quackers, Donald does this if he touches lava.
  • November 15, 2011
    Psychobabble6
    Oh, ninjas. You accidentally deleted my post, lol.

    Anyway:

    ^^ You may, but Eddie won't. Also, no new stock phrases.

    • The intro to a Criminal Minds episode starts out with a regular prank. Later, this trope is used before the pranker says that he has no idea where the missing girl is. She becomes the primary victim for that episode.
  • November 16, 2011
    Arivne
    Film
    • The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. While spending the night in a Haunted House, Luther Heggs hears chains rattling, thumping sounds and Evil Laugh(ter). He thinks it might be his enemy Ollie playing a joke on him.
      Luthor: Who's there? Is that you Ollie? Ollie? You trying to scare me, Ollie? You in that other room there, you trying to scare me? Darn you guys, I'll show you! [Throws a book at a bookcase, secret passage opens up]
  • November 16, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    Inverted in Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines - A TV crew has got slaughtered after stumbling into a foreign vampire's lair. The sole survivour is a threat toe the masquerade and so you need to lure him back there to be killed - by convincing him that it was a prank.
  • November 16, 2011
    robybang
    What about "Cruel Sick Joke"?
  • November 18, 2011
    Lenoxus
    So a couple days ago I had a longish reply that my browser gobbled up, and that was discouraging enough that I decided not to get back to this for a while. Anyway, I can definitely see why this particular title is problematic -- it could hypothetically apply to other things as well, in particular an actual joke/prank.

    What I liked about the stock phrase format is that it helped capture the "feel" of this trope succinctly, or so I believed; it's so particular and common that setting it up and having it turn out to actually be a prank would almost certainly be a deliberate subversion and not a meaning-free decision of the author, like the subversion of No One Could Survive That. Plus, 90% of the time this happens, we can't help but agree with the character that if it were a prank, it wouldn't be particularly funny, just pointlessly scary. However, like I just said a paragraph ago, a phrase-based title isn't exactly free of ambiguity.

    Anyway, I like Danger Mistaken For Prank. It's only flaw is that it may be too broad -- I feel like this trope should specifically apply to the character, alone, deciding/hoping that the scary stuff around him/her must be a sick joke, and not when various outsiders in broad daylight make that same mistake, and the quote captures this better than something like Danger Mistaken For Prank. But since we're just building this trope now, it may as well be as broad or specific as it likes to be. Either way, there's a degree of overlap with Not A Mask -- in fact, perhaps this is the supertrope to that? Nah, just a sister.
  • November 19, 2011
    randomsurfer
    What about when it really is a prank?
  • November 19, 2011
    aurora369
    ^That'll be a subversion.

    I think Danger Mistaken For Prank is okay.

    An example: In the Lot R fanfic Don't Panic, the main heroine thinks someone kidnapped her from home as a sick joke. She is, in fact, in Middle-Earth right amidst the War of the Ring.
  • June 20, 2015
    Koveras
    Wow, talk about a necrobump. Danger Mistaken For Prank still a valid trope, though, so I hope this gets launched...
  • June 20, 2015
    Laevatein
    Not to be confused with Dude Not Funny.
  • June 20, 2015
    StarSword
    Unhatting. This is nowhere NEAR ready to publish.
  • June 21, 2015
    dalek955
  • June 21, 2015
    Arivne
    • Examples section
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
      • Added media section titles.
      • Namespaced work names.

    The Description is an Example As A Thesis and provides an excellent example of why writing it that way is a bad idea. Not only is it unclear, but it makes it appear that the trope's description is limited to the situation stated.
  • June 21, 2015
    Kartoonkid95
    • Sponge Bob Square Pants: In "Graveyard Shift", after Squidward tells SpongeBob a scary story, the elements of the story appear to be coming true. At first, SpongeBob thinks Squidward is playfully pulling some jokes, but Squidward fearfully tells him that it's not him.
      SpongeBob: I'm just so touched that you would go through all the trouble to dress up as a ghostly fry cook and stand on the other side of the street, just to entertain me. You must really like me!
      Squidward: SpongeBob, there are two problems with your theory. 1) I hate you, and 2) How can that be me when I'm standing right here?!
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