Created By: atheist723November 2, 2012 Last Edited By: atheist723December 24, 2012

Ominous Dropped Cell Phone

A discarded cell phone means something bad probably happened to the owner.

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Trope
Cell phones tend to be important to the individuals of the modern society. This trope occurs when someone finds another character's dropped cell phone and deduces that something is wrong. Bonus Points if it is destroyed in some manner.


Examples:

Live Action TV
  • Happens quite often in Smallville:
    • Lana in Slumber after the episode's bad guy tranquilizes her and drags her to a car which he intends to blow up.
    • Chloe in Arrival after being accidentally transported to the Fortress of Solitude and freezes half to death. Clark had to make a Deal With The Devil to save her.
    • In the Grand Finale, Clark finds Tess's cell phone in her car after she is kidnapped.
Literature

Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • November 2, 2012
    surgoshan
    I'm not sure if Final Fantasy Advent Children would fit in here, as I can't recall the exact symbolism, but after his fight with the trio, Cloud's cell phone is shown falling in a very deep pool, playing his voice mail. Probably intended to show that he's not as disconnected as he'd like to pretend.
  • November 2, 2012
    StarSword
    TV:
    • Burn Notice's mad, passionate love affair with the common cell phone means that this was bound to happen at some point. Michael invoked it when he was kidnapped by some Russian mob guys, leaving his cell phone in a planter at the restaurant where he was kidnapped.

    Also, you need to explain those examples: Zero Context Examples are poorly thought of.
  • November 2, 2012
    atheist723
    Just did exactly that, thanks anyway.
  • November 3, 2012
    tardigrade
    In Season 4 of Breaking Bad, Walt deduces that Jesse is in trouble -- he's been taken by Mike -- in this way.
  • November 3, 2012
    TheHandle
    How about "ominous dropped object" in general? From drink glasses to pear collars to spoons.
  • November 4, 2012
    atheist723
    Not sure, as the concentration of phones seems too much higher than other items.
  • November 5, 2012
    tardigrade
    ^ I'll bet this involves spectacles more often than mobile phones, if only because the latter were invented only recently. As for the former, an example is Scott Summers' discarded glasses serving as an ominous indication of his demise in the film X-Men: The Last Stand.
  • November 6, 2012
    Rognik
    I have to agree that this should be expanded so that any significant object of a person, from a stuffed animal they always carry with them to an article of clothing they wore, counts for this trope, not just a cell phone. In fact, I'd be surprised if there wasn't already a trope like that, but I don't feel like searching for it at this point in time.
  • November 6, 2012
    Arivne
    I also agree with expanding, in order to avoid Missing Supertrope Syndrome.
  • November 6, 2012
    aurora369
    Compare Dead Hat Shot.
  • November 6, 2012
    atheist723
    I noticed that it is also similar to but distinct from Empathy Doll Shot.
  • November 6, 2012
    McKathlin
    I'd call this Dead Hat Shot But More Specific, except for one thing: with the cell phone there's the additional implication that if they've lost it, they've lost their means to call for help. So if enough examples are gathered, this may be tropable on this own.
  • November 6, 2012
    polarbear2217
    In The Haunting Hour The Series episode "Grampires", Mike and his Grandpa know that the other vampires have taken Cristen because they find her dropped cell phone.
  • November 6, 2012
    atheist723
    Dead Hat Shot generally implies the character is, well, dead, but Ominous Dropped Cell Phone usually indicates the character is taken away against their will but they are not dead...at least not yet.
  • November 8, 2012
    Chabal2
    So is it the general "kidnapped character loses an item so the heroes know they were there" trope? Because that will get you examples ranging from Lord Of The Rings to Legend Of Zelda.
  • November 8, 2012
    Mozgwsloiku
    In one episode of CSI the group digs through the wreckage of a crashed plane, trying to find the cause and confirm who was present aboard (the force of the impact threw everybody into the front of the plane, where they burned together into an unrecognisible mess). Half way through the investigation they make a phone call to contact an absent team member and her phone rings among the possessions of unidentified victims...
  • November 8, 2012
    atheist723
    Chabal2, from what I heard, no trope is too common.
  • November 10, 2012
    AFP
    At the very least, expand it to include all phones, not just mobile phones. I want to say the shot of the handset hanging in a phone booth used to be a common thing in movies.
  • November 10, 2012
    DanielCase
    The new Hawaii Five 0 has done this a bit with abductors tossing their victims' cells out of cars so they can't be traced. Perhaps this could be a subtrope?
  • November 10, 2012
    DanielCase
    At first I read this as Ominous Dropped Call. That could be a trope in itself, if it isn't already.
  • November 12, 2012
    Mozgwsloiku
    In the season finale of Dexter, he receives a message from his wife. He calls her back and the phone rings next to him. After he sent her away to keep her safe, she came back home due to a minor problem and Dexter's nemesis of the season murdered her.
  • November 26, 2012
    Chernoskill
    Sorry if the following is worded a bit cumbersome, English isn't my first language.

    • In the German comedy film Bang Boom Bang, the owner of a video rental store is driven over by a criminal on the run who is angry at him because he slept with his girlfriend. All we see is the criminal revving the car while his victim stands oblivious in the middle of the street, talking on the phone, when he turns around and sees the car. In the next scene, we just see his cellphone crashing violently on the curb.
  • December 1, 2012
    ZombieAladdin
    Anime/Manga: In Death Note, police chief Soichiro first realizes that something has happened to his daughter Sayu when she doesn't pick up her phone. We cut to her phone ringing--at the side of the road in the rain.
  • December 22, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of Grimm a teenage girl is missing; her father found her room empty & bed unslept in the morning after, along with her cell phone. She never goes anywhere without her cell phone.
  • December 22, 2012
    KTera
    The title screen for XCOM Enemy Unknown shows a dropped phone on the ground and the presumed owner's hand hanging out of an open car door.
  • December 23, 2012
    Chernoskill
    ^^ I am honestly amazed you noticed that tiny detail!

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