[[quoteright:316:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/bewarepenguins.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:316:[[CatchPhrase Doo-by dooby doo]]...]]

-> "''Jess, the caller is in the house. [[TropeNamer The calls are coming from the house!]]''"
-->-- '''Sargeant Nash''', ''Film/BlackChristmas1974''

This is a classic [[UrbanLegends urban legend]] horror scenario: A young woman who is home alone. Often she is a baby sitter. She gets a [[HarassingPhoneCall creepy phone call]] asking, "Have you checked the kids?" She calls the police. They trace it and they tell her, "The calls are coming from inside the house."

This is a partly DiscreditedTrope, because the whole urban legend relies on a myth about old analog land lines: the idea that you could, by tapping the receiver button carefully, manage to dial the telephone number of the building/home you were occupying at the time. [[note]]Tapping the switch-hook is electrically no different than what the dial does: It momentarily opens the circuit. Two momentary openings in quick succession registers at the exchange as the digit "2", six momentary openings registers as "6", and so on with ten momentary openings regissting as "0" (except in New Zealand where it is backwards - two openings is "8", six openings is "4", and ten openings is "0"). The dial just does it more conveniently. And if you dial the number of the line you're on, whether with the dial or the switchhook, whether or not there are other extensions on the line, you get a busy signal; that line ''is'' off-hook, after all. Nor is it electrically possible for the exchange to ring the other extensions on a line when one of them is off-hook; the low impedance of an off-hook phone will essentially short out the ring voltage.[[/note]] However, in at least some areas of the U.S., it has been and still is possible to dial your home phone number, hang up on the busy signal and get a ring to your own line. The reason the phone company allows this isn't clear, however it has been used by some as a poor-man's home intercom. On a line which does not have caller ID, it could be used to pretend to be calling from outside the house while actually calling from another room.

The sense of dread that a phone call is coming from the very building you are occupying may be lost on people who are used to being able to call anyone from anywhere at any time. However, learning that instead of being safe in your home, you're actually locked in the building with the psycho who's been making threatening calls, can still be pretty scary, cell phone or not.

This trope predates the adoption of 911 services, (as well as Caller ID and Call Waiting,) especially as the original version of the legend usually highlights that the victim has to "call the operator". The terror in the trope comes from the fact that [[TechnologyMarchesOn before cellphones]] the "caller inside the house" would presumably have to be using the house phone line[[note]]Possible, but required knowing how[[/note]] or a second phone line[[note]]a luxury in pre-dialup Internet days[[/note]], so most people couldn't call someone else in the house - inside the house was the last place expected.

For the more modern variant, see ICanSeeYou. See also ShortDistancePhoneCall, EvilPhone. Not to be confused with TheCallKnowsWhereYouLive.
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!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Advertising ]]
* The page image comes from the Budweiser ads which spoofed this trope with penguins calling some guy from upstairs and asking him how his Bud Ice is. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVWtq-_VYk8 Beware of the penguins.]]
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[[folder: Film ]]
* Played for laughs in the second Beatles movie, ''Film/{{Help}}'' John uses this to prank the other Beatles with an alarm clock.
%%* The premise of the movie ''Film/WhenAStrangerCalls''.
* Inverted in ''Film/LostHighway'': "I'm there right now. Call me."
* ''Film/BlackChristmas1974'' was the first known film to use this line. The cast has been receiving disturbing phone calls throughout the movie, and when the police with the help of the phone company investigate the matter, this is the conclusion.
* Used in the first ''Film/UrbanLegend'' movie. A character gets a call in his house during a party, checks the ID and proclaims it's this trope. He starts up the stairs when the killer on the phone corrects him with: "Wrong legend. This is the one about the old lady who [[MicrowaveTheDog dries her wet dog in the microwave]]."
%%* Spoofed in the first ''ScaryMovie''.
%%* Spoofed in ''Film/WetHotAmericanSummer''.
* In the 2011 remake of ''Film/TheMechanic'', the hitman uses this to get the mark out of the building, by making him think the call is coming from a room above -- in actuality the hitman has rigged the switchboard to give a false signal.
* Spoofed in ''Film/ShriekIfYouKnowWhatIDidLastFridayTheThirteenth'' when the killer stumbles into the backyard pool while menacing a girl over the phone.
* Used loosely in the first ''Film/{{Scream 1996}}''. In the age of cell phones and caller ID, however, the trope was lost in the sequels.
* Near the end of ''Open House'', the killer's call is traced to the very radio station whose show he is phonning into.
* ''Film/NorthByNorthwest'' has a variant of this. Thornhill gets a call from the bad guys while casing "Kaplan"'s room at the Plaza Hotel. He then finds out from the hotel's switchboard operator that the call came from the lobby.
* Another variation happens in ''Film/{{RED}}'', where after capturing the female lead, the antagonist receives a phone call at work. It's the protagonist, telling him of how bad one can feel when their loved ones are threatened, and how he'd be capable of anything if she ever gets hurt. When his colleague announces he has traced the call, the antagonist learns to his horror that it came from his own house, giving him a taste of "how bad one feels".
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[[folder: Literature ]]
* Done with a supernatural twist in Peter Crowther's "Ghosts with Teeth." The poltergeists keep calling the protagonist on his own phone line.
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[[folder: Live-Action TV ]]
* Used in the ''OnlyFoolsAndHorses'' episode 'Modern Man' where Rodney, annoyed with Del Boy, calls an ad in the local paper to apply for another job, not realising that the ad has been placed by Del who is taking the call in the other room. Although Rodney is ignorant to this Del is fully aware of who he is talking to and milks the situation to optimal comic effect.
* Spoofed on ''Series/ThirtyRock''.
* ''Series/{{CSI}}'' did this once. [[spoiler: Justified, because the caller had tapped into the victim's second line.]]
* ''Series/CriminalMinds'': in the episode "Somebody's Watching." Justified because the caller was using a cell phone.
* Frequently spoofed on ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'', usually when a character in the movie being skewered is holding a phone and looking worried about what they are hearing. For example, in the movie ''TheGiantSpiderInvasion'', when a NASA scientist is answering a phone call about giant alien spiders invading northern Wisconsin:
--> '''Tom Servo:''' The calls are coming from inside NASA!
** Kevin Murphy continues this joke on {{Rifftrax}}, as in this quote from one of ''Film/{{Alien}}'''s many cat-seeking scenes.
--> '''Kevin''': The cat noises are coming from '''''INSIDE THE CAT'''''!!!
** ...and in ''When a Stranger Calls Back''.
--> '''Kevin''': The steam is coming from '''''INSIDE THE KETTLE'''''!!!
--> '''Kevin''': The tea is coming from '''''INSIDE THE TEABAG'''''!!!
--> '''Kevin''': The ennui is coming from '''''INSIDE THE TEENAGE GIRL'''''!!!
* Spoofed on ''{{The State}}'', with the call [[spoiler:"coming from inside your pants. YOU'VE GOT TO GET OUT OF YOUR PANTS!!!"]].
* Parodied on ''Series/HowIMetYourMother''. Ted, working out of his home, gets a call from his personal assistant saying he's sick and won't be coming in. Ted accepts it, but then notices on his cell phone's caller ID that the call came from INSIDE HIS HOME. [[spoiler:The assistant is in the next room sleeping with his roommate Robin.]]
* Played straight in the ''Series/TheTwilightZone'' episode "The Living Doll", when a man receives a phone call from his daughter's evil doll, who threatens to kill him.
* Spoofed during ''Series/TheDailyShow'', when Jon announces his Rally to Restore Sanity only to have it be interrupted by Colbert over the phone. It takes Jon a minute or two to realize that Colbert is, in fact, calling from inside the studio. The punchline? They were talking on an aluminum can walky-talky the entire time.
* One of Creator/AlFranken's "Daily Affirmation With Stuart Smalley" segments on ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' tells a scary story in a HalloweenEpisode based on this. The mysterious caller was [[TheUnintelligible completely incomprehensible and mumbling]] and the big, scary reveal comes from the phone operator responding to one of the mysterious calls to warn the girl, "The caller is inside the house! It's your father, and he's been ''drinking!''"
** SNL also did a short sketch using only close-ups of the ringing phone handset and the worried face of the woman getting the threatening calls. Eventually the police call to warn her that ''the calls are coming from inside the car!'' and the camera pulls back to show her sitting in a parked car as the would-be assailant jumps out of the trunk and runs off.
* Also PlayedForLaughs in ''DropTheDeadDonkey''. Damien has received death threats from a South American drug cartel after doing a story on them. He gets a phone call from a heavily-accented man claiming to be looking at him through a telescopic sight, but halfway through the call his colleague Dave turns round and we see it's him on the phone.
* Non-threatening game show examples: ''HeSaidSheSaid'' and ''It's Your Bet'' (as well as its original version ''I'll Bet'') used telephones to communicate with the players in some manner.
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[[folder: Music ]]
* Aqua's song "Halloween"
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[[folder: Radio ]]
* An episode of ''Radio/{{Suspense}}'', "Sorry, Wrong Number", starring Agnes Moorehead. Probably the oldest use of this trope in the media, it was so popular when it aired, the next week a new episode was preempted so that the radio play could be rebroadcasted. Eventually, it was made into a feature length movie.
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[[folder: Video Games ]]
* ''{{Hydrophobia}}'' has a variant where the [[HollywoodHacking hack]] is coming from inside the ship.
* Happens with TheReveal in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2'', when Raiden finds out that the Codec calls from his two [[MissionControl mission contacts]] are coming from inside the Big Shell, since they're actually both AIs put there to manipulate him. Everything becomes clear when he tries to crash the Big Shell's computers with a virus, and his contacts suddenly start blurting out random gobbledegook ([[MemeticMutation "I need scissors! 61!"]]).
** Happened in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'' too, when it's revealed Master Miller [[spoiler:actually Liquid Snake in disguise]] is calling Snake from inside Shadow Moses.
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[[folder: Visual Novels]]
* ''VisualNovel/UminekoNoNakuKoroNi'' takes place on an island cut off from the mainland by a typhoon, both passage and communications. So when a stranger calls, they know it can only come from one of the few occupied buildings, [[ParanoiaFuel probably the one they're in]]...
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[[folder: Web Comics ]]
* Spoofed in ''Webcomic/BasicInstructions'', when Scott tries this on Rick while the later is out of the house. [[http://basicinstructions.net/basic-instructions/2010/12/16/how-to-create-a-tale-of-suspense.html It wasn't very effective.]]
* ''Webcomic/{{xkcd}}'' uses [[http://xkcd.com/742/ a modernized version.]] (See also the AltText.)
* [[ChoppingBlock Butch]] tried this once. [[http://choppingblock.keenspot.com/d/20000810.html Caller ID foiled him.]]
* Variations on this theme are a RunningGag in ''SentFromTheMoon''.
* ''Webcomic/{{Mulberry}}'' had a variation during a story where StrawFeminist Jezebel slandered Jack on her website. Eventually, she starts replying to Jack's text messages ''before'' he sends them, causing Mulberry to exclaim that Jezebel's posts are coming from inside the house.
* Referenced by the title of [[http://www.commanderkitty.com/2013/03/03/the-calls-are-coming-from-inside-the-mouse/ this]] ''Webcomic/CommanderKitty'' strip, where it turns out that the recent weirdness has been caused by [[spoiler: Zenith being uploaded to the ship's computer]].
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[[folder: Web Original ]]
* Spoofed in a mock {{Creepypasta}} where a babysitter calls the parents to ask if she can browse [[ImageBoards /b/]] on their computer. They say yes, and she asks if she can look at the original content. The parents respond with "GET OUT OF THE HOUSE... ''/B/ HAS NO ORIGINAL CONTENT!"''
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[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'': At the beginning of the first "[[HalloweenEpisode Treehouse of Horror]]" episode, Lisa is seen wrapping up the original story with Bart in the treehouse, but Bart is less than impressed.
* Spoofed by Brak on ''CartoonPlanet''. The operator had made a mistake.
* [[SpongeBobSquarePants "THE MANIAC IS IN THE MAILBOX!"]]
* The episode "Octi-gone" of ''ThePowerpuffGirls'' included this trope, but any horror was pretty much passed over for a gasping gag; plus, occurrences like villains breaking into your house and pretending to hold a stuffed octopus hostage are pretty normal in Townsville.
* In one episode of ''{{Archer}}'', Pam gets kidnapped in place of Cheryl, and the kidnappers, with a voice modulator, contact ISIS to discuss the ransom. Later on, [[spoiler: Cyril kidnaps Cheryl in order to get her to repay her debt to him, and stuffs her in a random room at ISIS. He then contacts Mallory ''from his own office'', again with a voice modulator, demanding the rather specific amount of $32,000. Mallory freaks out that the caller is calling from ISIS.]]
* Parodied at the beginning of the ''WesternAnimation/RegularShow'' episode "[[HalloweenEpisode Terror Tales from the Park III]]". In it, Thomas totally botches telling a horror story, ending it with, "...and the maniac was calling from ''outside the house''! Wait, is that right? I mean, I mean, ''inside'' the house!"
* Comedic effect: The LooneyTunes short ''DaffyDuck In Hollywood'' has studio head I.M. Stupendous and director Von Hamburger talking on the phone...each phone is connected to a line immediately across Mr. Stupendous' desk.
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