Accidental Ventriloquism

Character A is out of sight (under a desk, behind a screen, etc) and for some reason is talking to himself. Character B enters the room and hears talking. Looking around, Character B spots a cell phone / mannequin / sleeping person / inanimate object and assumes that it is the object doing the talking.

This trope describes any situation in which a character is speaking, and other characters believe the voice is coming from another person or an inanimate object, and this was not the intention of the person speaking. If the speaker achieved this effect deliberately, then it's just an example of ordinary Ventriloquism. Compare Multitasked Conversation, Correlation/Causation Gag.


Examples

Comic Books
  • There's a Donald Duck story in which Donald is taking care of Uncle Scrooge's pet talking parrot, which is obsessed with counting. Of course the parrot gets away and Donald has to search for it. At one point, Donald is accosted by a woman who has recently been called "old".
    Woman: I'm not old! Do you see any wrinkles on my face?
    Parrot: (behind a fence) 32,923!
    (Woman punches Donald)

Film-Animated
  • Monsters, Inc.: Sulley sees part of Boo's disguise go down a trash chute and thinks she's been crushed into a cube. Meanwhile, Boo wanders into a group of monster children on a field-trip. Sulley presents the garbage cube to Mike just as the kids are walking down the hall.
    Sulley: I can still hear her little voice.
    Boo: Mike Wazowski!
    Mike: Hey, I can hear her too.
    Other kids: Mike Wazowski!
    Mike: How many kids you got in there?
  • In The Lion King, young Simba tries to roar to intimidate the hyenas but they just laugh at him and tell him to do it again. The second time, the adult Mufasa roars, and for a moment everybody (including Simba himself) believes that the roar came from Simba.
  • Hey There, It's Yogi Bear!: Yogi commandeers Ranger Smith's telephone.
    Yogi: Hello? Hello? Is this the White House?
    Ranger Smith: Yogi!
    Yogi: Hey, the President knows my name.

Film-Live Action
  • In one of the Fantômas movies, during an upper-class hunt gone wrong, Commissioner Juve ends up finding the horse used by the guest who's really Fantômas in disguise. When F's mooks try to ask him "What do we do now, go home?" over a radio in the saddle, Juve thinks it's the horse speaking.

Literature
  • In Sourcery, the wizzard Rincewind is thrown into a pit allegedly full of venomous serpents. In the gloom, he sincerely believes the one rather tired and lazy cobra in the pit is talking to him and he sustains a conversation with it, leading to humorous confusion before his eyes adjust, and he realises there's a woebegone-looking barbarian hero wannabee in there with him. (Humans outnumber snakes in the pit by 2:1).

Live-Action TV
  • In Fawlty Towers, Basil bought a stuffed moose head for a decoration, and then left it on the front desk while he ran some errands. Manuel came in for something, and crawled under the desk to look for it. The Major walked in... Manual popped up from the desk, saw the Major, called out "Hello!" and then ducked back under the desk to resume looking. The Major looked around, and saw that the room was empty except for a stuffed moose head. He assumed the moose head had said "Hello" to him. He began having a conversation with the moose head (with Manuel keeping up his side of it, unaware that the Major didn't know he was there).
  • In an episode of Marblehead Manor, Lupe gets stuck in a dumbwaiter. Rick, the token dumb guy (played by Michael Richards) has for some reason been given the task of taking care of a baby. When he hears Lupe's voice he believes the baby is talking to him.

Webcomics
  • In one Bitmap World storyline, a bus goes out of control and nearly falls into a volcano.note  Later, the mayor goes to the bus while an investigator is examining the damage. Since the investigator is under the bus, the mayor can't see him and thinks the bus is talking. A few panels later he thinks his own car is talking, too, but it's actually a couple of pigsnote  standing behind it.

Western Animation
  • The plot of the South Park episode "Cartman's Silly Hate Crime 2000" kicks off when Cartman threatens to hit Token with a rock if he calls him a fatass one more time. He turns around, Kyle calls him "fatass", then he throws the rock at Token, believing him to have said it.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In the episode "Hall Monitor", SpongeBob calls to Patrick, who is sitting on a fence eating ice-cream. Patrick hears him and thinks his ice-cream is talking to him.
  • It's very common for Mr. Magoo to have a conversation with someone but direct his attention to an inanimate object he mistakenly believes to be the man he's talking to. The other guy indulges him and continues the conversation from the side, while Magoo never catches on.
  • In The Critic when Jay is tied to a bed his voice carries through the air vents to another apartment where an old lady believes her cat is talking to her. When he begs her to call the police she says, "You sound just like the toaster!"
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