Created By: Yumenoshima on January 15, 2013 Last Edited By: Yumenoshima on January 18, 2013

Daddy, Whats A Trope?

A child overhears a new word, and a simple request for a definition forces the adults to confront a disquieting reality.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
The grown-ups may not think little Timmy is paying attention to the hushed, worried conversations or TV news reports, but little pitchers have big ears. Timmy has overheard a new word, but he doesn't know what it means. Because he is Constantly Curious, he decides to wait until the family is gathered round to ask, "Daddy, what's a _____?"

The word that Timmy wants defined may not necessarily be a "dirty" word. It might be a word that relates to the elephant in the room, the problem that the adults have been trying to avoid thinking about up until now. Or it might just be a complicated or controversial topic that Mom and Dad don't feel prepared to explain. If anyone bothers to define the word at all, expect throat-clearing and an awkward conversation to follow.

The situation can be Played for Drama but more often it's Played for Laughs, especially if the question necessitates The Talk. In this case, the anxiety isn't so much about the topic itself as it is about prematurely shattering Little Timmy's innocence.

Compare to Armor-Piercing Question.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In the manga version of AKIRA, the military declares martial law in Neo-Tokyo just before the second awakening of the title character levels most of the city and things get really ugly. In a cut away from the main action of the comic, an anonymous family wakes up to see tanks rolling down their neighborhood street. At breakfast, one of the children asks his father to define "coup d'etat".

Comedy
  • Comedian Gabriel Iglesias has incorporated his family's experiences into part of his comedy act. Namely, his biological son. Gabriel once told him that if his son had anything to ask him, he'd answer it. One night, his son was watching TV and saw a commercial advertising Girls Gone Wild-esque videos about hookers. His son asked what a hooker was, and Gabriel knew it wasn't right to tell him. He started making a fuss saying that he'd tell him anything if he asked, and Gabriel's girlfriend starts yelling at him for upsetting him. There was no way he could get out of that situation. He eventually tried to tell him in as kid-friendly a manner as possible, all the while his girlfriend was glaring him down.

Comic Books
  • Mafalda : after hearing the weather forecaster talk about "millibars", she asks her father what it means. As he starts to explain it's a unit of pressure, she clarifies that she said "millibars", not "military".

Film
  • In the British nuclear holocaust docudrama Threads, Jimmy Kemp's sudden decision to marry his girlfriend without an engagement prompts his bratty younger brother to ask what an abortion is.
  • Clint Eastwood played Detective Wes Block in Tightrope from 1984. While driving with his two daughters, young Penny Block inquires, "Daddy, what's a hard on?" Cue Eastwood doing a Spit Take into the windshield. The situation is made worse by Penny's older sister, Amanda, giggling mercilessly at her father's discomfort.

New Media
  • Averted in Yu Gi Oh Abridged: playing Ping-Pong Navet for all it's worth, Tristan asks Joey what sex is. Joey is about to answer, but Ta stops him, reminding him Tristan must not be allowed to breed.

Webcomics
  • Parodied in a brief storyarc in IDGet: a father and his toddler daughter watch a baseball game on television, when a trailer for Zack and Miri Make a Porno is played, prompting the girl to ask her father what a "pawerno" is. The father freaks out, and enlists the aide of incompetent superhero, Captain Childcare, who comes up with a series of ridiculous and ludicrous solutions, only to be solved by the girl's teenager brother who explains to her, "It's something you don't need to know about until you're older."
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • January 15, 2013
    Telcontar
    On the one hand, No New Stock Phrases. On the other, this trope name, when combined with the laconic, is hilarious. A name discussion will be needed here.

    Oh, and this can be related to Children Are Innocent.
  • January 15, 2013
    StarSword
  • January 15, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    Webcomics
    • Parodied in a brief storyarc in IDGet: a father and his toddler daughter watch a baseball game on television, when a trailer for Zack And Miri Make A Porno is played, prompting the girl to ask her father what a "pawerno" is. The father freaks out, and enlists the aide of incompetent superhero, Captain Childcare, who comes up with a series of ridiculous and ludicrous solutions, only to be solved by the girl's teenager brother who explains to her, "It's something you don't need to know about until you're older".
  • January 15, 2013
    Yumenoshima
    Maybe "Kids Hear The Darnedest Things"?
  • January 15, 2013
    peccantis
  • January 15, 2013
    Generality
    Related to Constantly Curious.
  • January 15, 2013
    StarSword
    ^^Ooh, I like that.
  • January 15, 2013
    bulmabriefs144
    Call this Childs Question. The adult version is usually Armor Piercing Question.

    (This btw, is not a subversion, since they had to bring up a number of long and annoying explanations, including their past history of slavery)
  • January 15, 2013
    SharleeD
    Awkward Innocent Query?
  • January 15, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    The sad thing is, even though we're not allowed to use the word trope when naming YKTT Ws anymore, nor are we allowed to use stock phrases, Daddy Whats A Trope is just right, I think: it's almost Exactly What It Says On The Tin, it's easy for people to remember, and you get the point right away.
  • January 15, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Clint Eastwood played Detective Wes Block in Tightrope from 1984. While driving with his two daughters, young Penny Block inquires, "Daddy, what's a hard on?" Cue Eastwood doing a Spit Take into the windshield. The situation is made worse by Penny's older sister, Amanda, giggling mercilessly at her father's discomfort.
  • January 15, 2013
    batgirl1
  • January 16, 2013
    dvorak
    One Rodgers Video ad features a child asking "Mommy, do my insides really look like that?" or somesuch.
  • January 16, 2013
    Chabal2
    Often combined with a suversion of a Children Are Innocent, like if the parent quickly makes up an innocent explanation for two dogs mating, the kid answers with something like "Oh, I thought they were fucking".

    Mafalda : after hearing the weather forecaster talk about "millibars", she asks her father what it means. As he starts to explain it's a unit of pressure, she clarifies that she said "millibars", not "military".
  • January 16, 2013
    DRCEQ
    Comedy:

    • Comedian Gabriel Iglesias has incorporated his family's experiences into part of his comedy act. Namely, his biological son. Gabriel once told him that if his son had anything to ask him, he'd answer it. One night, his son was watching TV and saw a commercial advertising Girls Gone Wild-esque videos about hookers. His son asked what a hooker was, and Gabriel knew it wasn't right to tell him. He started making a fuss saying that he'd tell him anything if he asked, and Gabriel's girlfriend starts yelling at him for upsetting him. There was no way he could get out of that situation. He eventually tried to tell him in as kid-friendly a manner as possible, all the while his girlfriend was glaring him down.
  • January 17, 2013
    Chabal2
    • Calvin And Hobbes has a strip where Calvin asks his dad how exactly soldiers killing each other solves the world's problems. Two wordless panels later, Calvin muses that adults only act like they know what they're doing.
      • The usual "how are babies made" situation is also averted, in that Calvin finds his dad's explanation (most babies are delivered by stork, he was unceremoniously dumped down the chimney by a big hairy pterodactyl) much cooler.
    • Averted in Yu Gi Oh Abridged: playing Ping Pong Naivete for all it's worth, Tristan asks Joey what sex is. Joey is about to answer, but Téa stops him, reminding him Tristan must not be allowed to breed.
  • January 18, 2013
    MetaFour
    Yet another Calvin And Hobbes example. Calvin asks Dad where babies come from, and Dad says that most parents just build babies using a kit from Sears.
    Calvin: I came from Sears?!
    Dad: No, you were a blue light special at K-Mart. Almost as good, and a lot cheaper!
  • January 18, 2013
    TheAnswer
  • January 18, 2013
    ZombieAladdin
    Western Animation: An episode of Rugrats has Angelica hearing conflicting stories from adults at a dinner table about how babies are made--some tell her that babies are made via fertilizing eggs, while others tell her that a stork comes by, reaching a compromise that babies hatch out of a stork's egg.
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