A common trend for characters in works of fiction is to shrug off danger or laugh at it. In totally serious drama, characters might be crying in fear or "shell-shocked" from life-threatening situations, but in any other genre, characters react to danger in any number of more calm ways:
Crack a joke or make a sarcastic comment about the danger.
Crack a joke to get people's attention. (e.g. someone hanging from a cliff says "Hey guys? Over here!")
Argue or speak casually while the danger is going on, usually about something tangential. Bonus points if the argument briefly stops for one of the heroes to shout "look out!" and then resumes shortly afterward. Points also awarded if a character in danger suddenly focuses on a complete non-sequitur to the action ("Your hair looks fantastic!").
Depending on how it's handled, the first three occur most often in comedic shows, while the last one is most common in shows that don't lean too far towards humor, or want to be more realistic. The first three also happen fairly often in more serious works, but often with an edge of sarcasm or bitterness, implying that the hero isn't feeling particularly mirthful about the situation.
There's some truth to this. People in real life professions such as police or military become so used to life-threatening situations occurring every week, or even multiple times a day, that they end up engaging in Casual Danger Dialog all the time. For example, Evan Wright's nonfiction book Generation Kill has accounts of United States Marines under heavy machine gun and mortar fire and in the middle of pitched gun battles remaining calm under pressure. Even ordinary people can end up this way, as it's well-known that many people use humor or sarcasm as a way of coping with stress or fear. See Gallows Humor, Stiff Upper Lip.
Usually done for comedic effect in comedies, naturally. Compare Talking Is a Free Action. See also Distracting Disambiguation. Contrast Say My Name and Big "NO!", which involves meaningless exclamations that can seem as unrealistic as a quip. Truly Failure Is the Only Option when dealing with dramatic dialogue. The other intended effect is to communicate just how used to these situations the heroes are. When things are so bad that they don't do it, see Sarcasm Failure. If the person receives a phone call during a tense situation, see Kinda Busy Here. See Seinfeldian Conversation and Cavemen vs. Astronauts Debate for meandering/meaningless arguments to be had in situations such as this.
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Anime & Manga
This is a pretty common occurrence throughout the English dub of Digimon. Sure the Digidestined may be facing a monster that holds the fate of the two worlds in its hands, but that won't stop them from making small talk and cracking jokes during the battle. All of them are 12 or under so it's likely a combination of stress relief and trying to distract each other from the situation. Team DadJyou tends to engage in this the least which fits his more serious nature.
Spike Spiegel in Cowboy Bebop shows this kind of behavior every time he is in a dangerous situation, probably because he already thinks he's living on borrowed time, and anyone he meets could be coming to collect. One notable exception is during his fight with Tongpu. That guy must've been too freaky, even for Spike.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion. During the JSSDF assault on NERV's headquarters, Misato is cracking jokes, but then again, she's singlehandedly demolishing the entire JSSDF squad that's hunting down Shinji.
Boss Chang from Black Lagoon engages in this during the Hansel & Gretel arc. Chang and a group of his Mooks are outside Verrochio's place and he casually mentions, "You may want to duck". Seconds later one of Verrochio's goons goes flying through the air and the Mook ducks and barely manages to avoid being hit by the body.
The title character in InuYasha does this regularly. One of the earlier examples has him calmly walking towards his gigantic wolf-like older brother muttering "yeah yeah, 'roar roar' to you too."
Knuckles and Rouge play this out in an episode of Sonic X. The building they are in is collapsing around them, bombs they set up are about to explode, and all they can do is argue with each other.
The first episode of Dragon Ball has a memorable example when Bulma is abducted by a pterodactyl while taking a bathroom break. After Goku defeats the pterodactyl and she ends up with her shirt caught on a tree branch on a cliff, she shouts "I'm having a crisis over here!" with an annoyed voice. If you look closely, her "crisis" isn't the near-death situation. She never got to go to the bathroom, and is now peeing down the cliff.
Dragon Ball Z has a tradition for Goku to turn up at the last second, see all his friends beaten to death or near-death by the latest superpowered villain, and completely ignore the villain in favour of ensuring his friends' safety and having a chat with them. Examples include when he finally turns up to face Nappa, and finally recovers enough to face Frieza.
Some form of this will happen if two heroes end up in the same room together.
Spider-Man loves doing this. It's been hinted this is actually a coping mechanism (if he's cracking jokes, he's too distracted to be afraid). Spidey (and thus the fans) refer to this type of dialogue as "quipping".
Other writers have said that this is a coping method for boredom. Given that he fights primarily by instinct and thinks so quickly that fights may as well be playing in dramatically slow motion, his upper thought processes have a lot of spare cycles to devote to a running commentary.
Spidey's tendency to chat mid-battle seems to be infectious: the New Avengers can hold entire conversations while surrounded by ninjas/demons/copycat villains.
Deadpool, being a Cloudcuckoolander, has weaponized his to the point that his enemies have problems focusing on the task at hand. It's occasionally contagious: when working with the X-Men, he caused Beast to spout off some bad puns.
Hilarious example happened in Secret Six. Deadshot and Jeanette were meeting with the client at the edge of a cliff. When the client appears, his personal female killer grabs Deadshot by the throat and holds him over the cliff. Meanwhile the client's personal assistant monologues about how the best way to control someone is the death threat, and to prove his point, asks Deadshot what he thinks, knowing that his slightest whim can mean his death. Deadshot responds that he wasn't listening because he was too busy having sexual fantasies.
Asterix and Obelix do this many times when they singlehandedly and casually beat the crap out of Roman legions. It certainly helps the fact that they are powered by a magic potion which grants them superhuman strength.
In The Uncanny X-Men, Madelyne Pryor once took time out from being tortured to have a chat to a friend. Okay, to a demon.
The Pony POV Series has a fight scene in the Dark World between the Elements of Harmony and Discord's Mooks that's so one-sided that Applejack and Rarity are able to have a philosophical debate while kicking flank.
Burning Black has Timmy attempting a Big Damn Heroes rescue of Tootie and holding back a massive inferno of explosions with a slowly failing shield. She shows up, having busted herself out, and proceeds to argue with him over how bad of a job he's done on it himself, then takes her time on figuring out what to do about the raging fires about to break through the shield while still trading snarks with Timmy.
Fly Free has Robin start off her first meeting with Zabuza by having some small talk after he tries to kill her. She starts off the second by offering him and Haku tea.
Naruto: Demon's Path. Naruto, Haku and Zabuza end up trapped in the mansion by a villain. This happens:
Zabuza looks on as the wall locks up on him
Villain: "Hello Mister Momochi."
Zabuza: "Isn't it supposed to be Welcome to my parlour said the spider to the fly?"
Villain: (sincerely) "You'd be suprised how old that one gets."
Meanwhile as Naruto and Haku deal with a Zerg Rush of guards
Naruto: "Ya know... Zabuza's gonna bitch about how you didn't kill the guys upstairs right?"
Haku: "I suppose so."
Naruto: "I can hear the lecture now. You boys need to get serious or it will lead to your death and more importantly mine."
In one story of the Facing The Future Series, Danny and Sam have a pleasant conversation while in the middle of battles with Technus and Skulker.
In Joe's New Look, Silvia tells Joe how to use his new combat form as the latter's fighting against Big John and his troops. Lampshaded. "We're in the middle of a fight, you damn cross-dresser."
Pacha: Uh-oh! Kuzco: Don't tell me. We're about to go over a huge waterfall. Pacha: Yep. Kuzco: Sharp rocks at the bottom? Pacha: Most likely. Kuzco:(beat) Bring it on.
This one's more shell-shock and Genre Savvy than disregard for danger. At this point in the story, Kuzco has been booted in the nuts by fate so often that the waterfall genuinely isn't all that scary anymore. It'll certainly be an improvement over the days leading up to this moment.
In Disney's Robin Hood, during the big fight at the archery tournament, Robin proposes to Marian and they then proceed to discuss plans for their honeymoon and how many children they should have while fighting off Prince John's goons.
In The Lion King 1Ĺ, when a stampede heads towards Timon and Pumbaa in the canyon:
Pumbaa: Shall we run for our lives? Timon: Oh, yes, let's. (Both start screaming and running)
Films — Live Action
In Murder by Death Dick and Dora Charleston have an extremely nonchalant—indeed emotionless—conversation about the deadly scorpion on their bed who will force them to remain perfectly still, quite possibly for the rest of their perhaps short lives. Later, when the killer asks Dick how they escaped, he replies in a perfectly calm and carefree, cordial tone: "We didn't: it stung Dora. The poison's in her system right now. We have fifteen minutes to get to a hospital."
Jake and Elwood engage in these during both epicpolicechases in the first Blues Brothers. Not once do they acknowledge the police or the ridiculousness of the situation, instead commenting on interesting items and sales while driving through a shopping mall., including lines like "Pier 1 Imports. This mallís got everything" and "The new Oldsmobiles are in early this year."
The Battle of Endor. Most characters' voices show some controlled degree of strain or alarm at various points, but Wedge is calm and professional from "Red Leader, standing by" to "I'm already on my way out." In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, he's said to have ice in his veins - he never panics.
In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Indy pauses in the middle of a chase scene to give a student study advice. Bonus points to said student for having the chutzpah to ask for it when his teacher's just crashed through the library on a motorbike.
Ironically, the advice Indy gives the student is to read V. (Vere) Gordon Childe, a passionate and well-known Marxist - while being hotly pursued by a couple of Commie thugs...
Later on in the movie, as Indy and Marion are sinking into a drysand pit, he attempts to educate Mutt on the difference between quicksand and drysand...while he is sinking deeper by the second.
Jo: Can I drive? Bill: No! Jo: Then would you? Bill:(noticing truck has drifted off the road and is about to run into a parked vehicle) Whoa!
Very common in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but averted in one famous scene: Butch gets annoyed when Sundance finally shows some emotion about being chased for days and cornered on a cliff overlooking a raging river.
Butch: What's the matter with you? Sundance: I can't swim! Butch:(pause, then raucous laughter) Are you crazy?! The fall will probably kill you!
In Monty Python's Life of Brian there is a character played by Eric Idle who casually tells the man sending him off to be crucified that he's been set free and then laughs and cheerily admits he was yanking his chain when the man believes him, and walks off to get his cross. Later he asks the guards what the hold up is and japes, "How 'bout a reach-around? We've got time." Upon being put up on the cross he tells Brian, "See? Not so bad once you're up."
Similarly mocked in Carry On Up the Khyber where the Governor and his family are having a sit-down meal while the natives are massacring the guards outside. It leads to this immortal line:
Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond: Do? We're not going to DO anything. We're British.
President Merkin Muffley: Now then, Dmitri, you know how we've always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the Bomb... The Bomb, Dmitri... The hydrogen bomb! Well now, what happened is, ahm, one of our base commanders, he had a sort of... well, he went a little funny in the head, you know, just a little... funny. And, ah... he went and did a silly thing. Well, I'll tell you what he did: He ordered his planes... to attack your country... Ah, well, let me finish, Dmitri... Let me finish, Dmitri... Well listen, how do you think I feel about it? Can you imagine how I feel about it, Dmitri?... Why do you think I'm calling you? Just to say hello?... Of course I like to speak to you! Of course I like to say hello! Not now, but any time, Dmitri. I'm just calling up to tell you something terrible has happened. It's a friendly call. Of course it's a friendly call... Listen, if it wasn't friendly, you probably wouldn't have even got it.
In the 2005 remake of The Producers, when Franz is pointing a gun at Max and Leo, Max quips to Leo "Remember when I said I'd tell you when we were in too deep? We're in too deep." (Also said in the stage show.)
Played straight and averted in Get Smart (2008). While chasing a bad guy, Max drives the pursuit vehicle through various hazards. When the car finally stops, a swordfish from a sign they crashed through has narrowly missed impaling the Chief. Throughout the chase, Max is discussing the broader situation and essentially oblivious to the car's surroundings, while the Chief is noticeably anxious about the various near-misses, especially the swordfish.
Max: Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Chief: I don't know, are you thinking "Holy shit holy shit a swordfish almost went through my head!"? Because if so, then yes, I'm thinking what you're thinking.
True Lies. When Harry and his wife are tied up by the bad guys, she asks if they're going to die. Harry listlessly replies "Yep," then continues with "They're gonna shoot us in the head or they're gonna torture us to death or they're gonna leave us here when the bomb blows up..."
Made better by his following it up with a Badass Boast said in the exact same tone.
Note that the former was the set-up for the latter, establishing the fact that he was, in fact, unable to lie: "They've given me a truth serum." "Is it working?" "Ask me something you know I'd lie to." "Are we going to die?" "Yup!"
Rick: Oh, I hate mummies. Ardeth: Glad to see me now? Rick: Just like old times.
And it ends with this...
Rick: You all right? Ardeth: This was my first bus ride.
Watching a ritual take place:
Rick: "Ya know. A year ago this would have been weird to me."
Running away from Elite Mook mummies, Eve tries to close the door on them. Rick answers with this:
Rick: "Uh...Honey. These guys don't use doors."
At the climax of North by Northwest, Roger and Eve engage in witty banter while dangling by their fingertips from Mt. Rushmore.
In Foreign Correspondent, three characters chasing after a gun-wielding assassin discuss, among other things, the weather and the spelling of the driver's name.
"How do you pronounce it, like a stutter?"
"No, just a straight 'fuh'."
Egon Spengler from Ghostbusters is a master of this, almost to the point where he sounds bored even when he's supposedly being emotional.
Venkman: Ray has gone bye-bye, Egon. What've you got left? Egon: Sorry, Venkman, I'm terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought.
In the videogame, when he and the Rookie encounter a serial killer's ghost in the elevator they were in, he expresses it in a That Makes Me Feel Angry fashion.
Egon: Well. That was terrifying.
In the Wizards of Waverly Place movie, regardless of whether they're hovering over a doomy canyon of doom, or trying to thread narrow walkways with falling pillars, Justin and Alex still find time to snark incessantly at each other.
In the movie adaptation of Angels and Demons, Robert Langdon has this to say upon finding himself locked in a hermetically sealed vault in the Vatican Library with no incoming oxygen because the power is being cycled throughout Vatican City:
Robert Langdon: Oh, that's disappointing.
In The Bourne Identity, the always understated title character is in the middle of a high speed chase, being pursued by the entire Parisian constabulary. Trying to keep calm for the benefit of his shell-shocked passenger, he remarks that "We're going to have... er... a little bump here." before driving a Mini Cooper down three flights of stairs.
In The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Ian Malcolm, Sarah Harding and Nick van Owen are stuck inside a two-section bus that has partly been pushed of a huge cliff (they're in the hanging part, of course), the bus is slipping, the glass window on the low end of the bus already broke, and oh yeah, the tyrannosaurus that pushed the bus to its current position is still around, with his partner, and the one remaining party member that could help them is apparently too nervous to know what to do, as this exchange proves:
"What do you need?!" "A rope! Get us a rope!!" "Anything else?!" (beat) "Yeah. Three double-cheeseburgers with everything" [...] "No onions on mine..." [...] "And an apple turnover!"
Taken to something of an extreme in the 1992 film The Last of the Mohicans. As Major Heyward is dragged away to be burned alive in place of Cora Munro, he responds to Hawkeye's protests with a hurried, but nonetheless perfectly polite: "My compliments, sir. Take her and get out."
In The Muppet Movie, Kermit The Frog is informed that Miss Piggy's been kidnapped. Doc Hopper orders Kermy to step outside the hotel ..."My boys will meet you there." Kermit obeys ... and is immediately surrounded by goons levelling their shotguns at him.
Kermit The Frog — Oh, um ... are you the guys I'm supposed to meet?
Spider-Man 2 gives us the immortal "Hi... This is really heavy..."
It also gave us the train conductor sarcastically asking "Got any more bright ideas?" When Spidey's first attempt to stop the runaway train fails. Because imminent death is no reason to stop being a smartass.
Inigo: Hello there! Slow going? Man in Black: Look, I don't mean to be rude but this is not as easy as it looks, so I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't distract me. Inigo: Sorry. Man in Black: Thank you. Inigo: I don't suppose you could speed things up? Man in Black: If you're in such a hurry, you could lower a rope or a tree branch or find something useful to do. Inigo: I could do that. I have some rope up here, but I do not think you would accept my help, since I am only waiting around to kill you. Man in Black: That does put a damper on our relationship.
Then they spend their entire duel complimenting each other's skill in swordsmanship and discussing fencing techniques.
In the intro of Sherlock Holmes, one of Lord Blackwood's men attempts to sneak up on Holmes, only to be ambushed and put into a choke-hold by Watson. As Sherlock grabs and holds the man's nose to keep him from breathing further, Holmes and Watson have a rather pleasant conversation.
Watson: I like the hat. Holmes: I just picked it up. Watson: Did you remember your revolver? Holmes: Ah. Knew I forgot something. Thought I'd left the stove on. Watson: You did. (Man passes out.)
Wade Wilson in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. After blasting their way into a high security facillity and just before he blasts into a room of guards armed with machine guns he quips at his boss
Wilson: Stuck in an elevator with five guys on a high protein diet. Dreams really do come true. Stryker: Just shut it. You're up next. Wilson: Thank you sir. You look really nice today. It's the green, brings out the seriousness in your eyes. Logan: Oh my god do you ever shut up pal? Wilson: No. Not when I'm awake.
The Avengers (1998) relies too heavily on this trope, as virtually no one shows any amount of emotion at any point in the entire movie despite being in mortal danger.
The Avengers has a lot of this as well. It's justified in a way, due to the fact that, though they had greater numbers, the Chitauri weren't exactly impressive fighters. Though the casual banter does go down significantly as the battle goes on.
In Black Hawk Down, McKnight seems very casual under fire, conducting conversations in a neutral tone while everyone is freaked out about it and bullets fly by.
Happens at least once between Thor and Sif in Thor: The Dark World, with her commenting that everything was under control and him asking with a grin if that was the reason everything was on fire. Plus:
The old Tower musket went off with a bang, and a young buffalo bellowed in pain. "More sorcery!" shouted the villagers. "He can turn bullets. Buldeo, that was thy buffalo." "Now what is this?" said Mowgli, bewildered, as the stones flew thicker. "They are not unlike the Pack, these brothers of thine," said Akela, sitting down composedly. "It is in my head that, if bullets mean anything, they would cast thee out."
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Percy Weasley transforms his brainwashed superior using a Sea Urchin Jinx, and states that he is resigning. Fred then remarks that Percy finally told a joke unfortunately Fred dies right after.
In the Redwall novel The Long Patrol, during the required massive battle scene at the end of the book, two hares carry out the third kind of this trope while outnumbered 5-1. The book specifically notes that they "talked like old pals and fought like demons."
Remo Williams and Chiun of the Destroyer book series (to some extent, the movie as well) may be the most extreme example. Their combat arguments regarding Ung poetry, Remo's alleged unconscious seduction of flight attendants, who left the toilet seat up (all right, not that one, but they have covered toilets in more general terms), and suchlike are used to show that a few hundred soldiers firing assault rifles at them are barely worth paying attention to, let alone commenting on. If the threat's a yawner like the average Bond-style Dragon trying to repeatedly shoot, stab, poison, or bomb them, the authors sometimes (when writing from the attacker's perspective) don't even bother writing explicit lines of dialogue for the two, just to emphasize the disconnect and the frustration that an experienced, professional killer feels trying repeatedly to kill people who apparently don't even notice that they're being attacked.
A fine example in Dumas' The Three Musketeers. At the siege of La Rochelle, d'Artagnan and his friends go and have breakfast in a bastion in the middle of the battleground just so they can talk without worrying about the Cardinal's spies overhearing them. They win a bet by holding the bastion for the length of the meal, too.
Beautifully averted in the Stephanie Plum novels. While the protagonist normally maintains a running Deadpan Snarker dialogue in her head throughout the books, and can keep it together pretty well as long as the threats stay strictly verbal, or if other people are in danger or have been hurt (such as the time a cop she knew got shot,) any time she's in real physical danger she's shown to lose any semblance of bravery or wit, complete with panicked screaming, crying in fear, and occasionally dripping snot in terror. And even if she does manage to keep it together at the time, she's usually a nervous wreck afterwards.
Played straight by Ranger, who has a famously cool head, except for that one time when his daughter was kidnapped.
The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher rarely, if ever, show anything but CDD during tense situations. In the narration Harry makes sure to note how he's only doing it to cope and is really scared shitless on the inside.
In the various books of the X-Wing Series, Rogue Squadron is notably quieter on missions than when they're off duty. The same goes for the Wraiths - but unless someone's hit, they'll still try to have some back-and-forth. Wedge is often heard telling his squadron, "Cut the chatter".
Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor has Luke commanding in a battle where everything goes to hell. He's incredibly calm about the whole thing, and soothes officers who aren't taking it as well. He also records an emergency signal to be broadcast on loop. The narration mentions that his voice is low and "preternaturally calm".
This is New Republic Cruiser Justice, Luke Skywalker commanding. Admiral Kalback is dead. The ship has broken up, and there are no escape pods remaining. I have taken the helm and will attempt to set down behind the dawn terminator above the north tropic. Begin the search for survivors at the coordinates on the encoded supplementary frequency. Good luck, and may the Force be with you. Skywalker out."
Colt Regan and his partner Alex Have discussions about things like jello while in demon infested bars.
In The Diamond Age, Carl Hollywood and an old British military man keep up a line of casual wisecracks while fighting their way through a rioting city. Hollywood understands that it's to maintain their courage.
In Reamde, a number of characters spend quite a lot of time making dry observations during the protracted final gunfight.
The Animorphs do this fairly often, and are self-aware about it. When Ax and Tobias have to infiltrate a slaughterhouse as the steer, they have the following exchange while riding the Conveyor Belt-O-Doom.
Ax: Are you attempting to distract us from our fear by engaging in irrelevant conversation?
Ax: In that case, I did enjoy watching The Simpsons. I assume that they do not represent some variant species of humans but are, in fact, humorous pictorial exaggerations of humans?
And in The Reaction, after Rachel's house collapses due to her uncontrollable morphing and she's trapped in the rubble (keep in mind that she's confused and terrified);
Jordan: Rachel? Is that you?
Rachel:(sarcastic) Well, who else would it be?
Sara: That's Rachel, all right.
In the Heralds of Valdemar Mage Winds trilogy, Elspeth comments humorously on Kero's penchant for dry understatement, describing an incident in which, caught up in a flood that washed away half a town, all she wrote was "It's a little wet here, be back when I can."
Adventure Hunters: When a booby trap in a tomb activates, Artorius and Lisa take a moment to make a bet: rushing water or giant boulder?
Horatio Hornblower: In The Happy Return / Beat to Quarters, Bush and another lieutenant on the Lydia engage in an academic debate about the tactics of the Natividad's gun officer and how closely he's directing the fire... on the Lydia. They're interrupted when a shot hits home, and then use the hit for their counterarguments. Hornblower is eventually annoyed (and envious) enough that he tells them to cut it out. Hornblower himself makes quips during battle over the course of the series, but in his case it's an Invoked Trope to keep morale up as he never feels casual while under fire.
In The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin, the eponymous Rachel (a thirteen year old girl) does this when the invisible wraith which has been feeding on their classmate suddenly turns its attentions on her, keeping calm and describing its position so the others can avoid it or take it out.
Live Action TV
In Smallville, Icarus, Oliver, Clark and Hawkman break into a government base separately and causally talk about Clark's love life while pilfering the bad guy's office.
Pick any episode of Mash in which there are firefights, shelling of the camp, shelling of an ambulance, shelling of a jeep, landmine navigation, snipers, massive amounts of casualties, insane people, or violent patients (in other words, close to three-quarters of all episodes). There will be massive quantities of this trope being produced during every minute of the episode, often in the form of Hawkeye insulting Frank or Charles and flirting with Maragaret while Trapper or BJ makes wisecracks and Henry or Potter yell at them to shut up and pay attention, all while they operate on seriously injured patients and bombs fall all around the camp.
It's well established throughout the series Hawkeye, at least, delivers wisecracks to prevent himself from cracking up due to the madness of the war, and he also is trying to keep up everyone else's morale.
Firefly on numerous occasions. Most notably in the episode War Stories, when Mal and Wash argue about shipboard romance while being horribly tortured. Earlier in the episode, when the two are ambushed and held at gunpoint, Wash's response is an annoyed, "Now I'm learning about scary."
It's subtly implied in a later conversation with Zoe that Mal was purposely invoking this trope when they were tortured by Niska as a way to keep Wash's mind off of the torture and thus keep him alive.
And the exchange as they're landing, "I'll likely crash, kill us all." "Well, if that happens, let me know."
Mal: "Define 'interesting'". Wash:(deadpan) Oh God, oh God, we're all going to die?
Mal:(over intercom) "This is your captain speaking. We may experience some slight turbulence and then... explode."
Jayne: "I don't wanna explode."
Zoe: "Hey Cap'n, we crashing again?"
Mal: "Talk to your husband."
In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Bad Girls", in the middle of fighting some vampires, Faith asks Buffy if she has ever slept with Xander.
Lampshaded in the season 7 episode "Bring on the Night," where Xander's making jokes while the Potentials are scared to death waiting for night to fall and the Łbervamp to come crashing in:
Willow: Xander? Newbies. Let's ease them in to the whole jokes-in-the-face-of-death-thing.
Chuck: "Did someone order drive-thru?" That's clever. Did you think of that on the way over here? "I think I'll say this when I CRASH INTO THE BUILDING!!!"
Falling Skies, Hal reminisces about his old girlfriend "Rita" with Maggie while hiding in a car from patrolling Mechs.
Farscape, quite a few times. On one occasion John drops a bomb down a shaft after activating it, knowing it will probably kill them all:
John: Yeah. It should go off in about... 60 microts. Chiana: And then it explodes? John: Yeah. Chiana: A big explosion? (John grunts noncommittally; the nuke hurtles, chittering furiously, down the newly created shaft; suddenly, John remembers the Democracy Thing.) John: Oh. God — we should have voted. (louder, desultorily) All in favor — show of hands. (he raises his and the others stare at him; then Aeryn and Scorpius raise theirs — a little) All opposed. (Chiana and D'Argo cast their votes) 3 to 2 — Sikozu abstains.
Rygel: Crichton! What the hezmana just happened? Where are you, you fahrbot? Did you blow up the bomb? HOW COULD YOU BLOW UP THE BOMB? John: You missed the vote.
Generation Kill plays this both straight and absolutely realistically. When Colbert spots hostiles camping no more than a dozen meters from their Humvees, his response is an incredibly calm "There's men in the trees." Beforehand, during the tense moment when the Humvees stop and create their traffic jam, Colbert is notably aware of how much of a perfect ambush place this is, and is calmly singing to himself while waiting for something to happen.
It's easy to miss Colbert singing only because Person owns this trope shortly thereafter as he's trying to get some coordination into Hitman's efforts to re-orient their Humvees and get out of what is, essentially, a traffic jam in a killzone. At one point, he walks out of his Humvee, approaches the next one over at a normal walking pace with bullets flying everywhere, asks the driver to "please back the fuck up", gets little in the way of a response, and calmly walks back, telling Colbert their progress getting out is "Not going well." He earlier complains about a colleague speaking Portuguese in the same scene note said soldier was Brazilian and therefore reverted to his native language under stress with the comment: "Fucking Baptisa, how would he like it if I joined the Brazilian Marines and only spoke English."
Nate Fick does this as well in the same scene, diving out of his vehicle and running to each of the others to give the drivers specific instructions. He's in as much, if not more danger than Person. One can actually hear Gunny Wynn in the background shout "Jesus Christ, Nate!"
On Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson spends the entirety of a filmin which he is chased by baddies in a Corvette through a shopping center reviewing aspects of the Ford Fiesta he is driving and commenting on the shortcomings of the more powerful 'Vette.
Clarkson: The baddie has made the classic baddie error... he's got too much power. I've got 120 hp in this. You don't want any more than that on marble.
In an early Red Dwarf episode, the safety film in the long-distance lift is acted by a stereotypically smiley and bubbly air hostess type:
"If you look to your left, and to your right, you will see there are no exits! In the event of the lift having to make a forced landing, death is certain."
Holly shortly before a comet hits the titular ship.
Holly: Wait a minute. I've forgotten what I was gonna say.
Rimmer: Well, it can't have been that important then, can it? (A meteor hits the ship)
Holly: (In a cheerful tone) Yeah. That's it. "Look out, a meteor is about to hit the ship". I knew it'd come back to me.
Characters, especially Sawyer, do this all the time on LOST. For example, the following dialogue takes place while Juliet and Sawyer are hiding in the bushes from a group who just attacked them with flaming arrows:
Sawyer: Who were those people? Are they yours? Did they shoot the arrows? Juliet: You want me to crawl out there and ask 'em? Sawyer: You don't have to be a wiseass.
Notably, more than once Mitchell responded to a scary Ori's angry preaching with complaining that the Ori sound like his grandma. Sam also once responded to the threat of being run over with a spaceship with "Oh boy."
Lampshaded and inverted in the episode "Bad Guys" when our heroes are pretending to be, well, the bad guys.
(two women are arguing over a man)
Daniel: What the hell are you doing?! Stop it!
Hesellven: She started it.
Sylvana: Oh. I think you started it when you kissed Harron.
Daniel: Shut up. Shut up! You're hostages! This is like a, a life-and-death situation here. Start acting like it.
Sylvana: Oh, please. You're not rebels. We're not deaf, you know, everyone in this room knows it.
Daniel: That doesn't matter. You're hostages, we're... we're your captors. We're heavily armed. There's uh... there's rules, there's a whole school of etiquette to this. (pause) Don't eyeball me.
When Alan Partridge of the eponymousBritish TV shows is held hostage and in a head-lock by a mad fan, Jed, who insists that Alan visit Jed's s brother-in-law next weekend:
Jed: Bet you can't guess where he lives. Alan: Erm... Jed: Go on, have a guess. Alan: Er, Nottingham? Jed: No. Alan:(hoarsely) Oh. Er... Chester? Jed:(slightly releases his grip) Where? Alan: Ches-? Chester. Near north Wales off the M56.
Though not usually commenting on danger to himself, House is nevertheless absurdly calm when nearby patients show catastrophic symptoms. For example, in the 4th season episode "97 Seconds", House watches a clinic patient stab an electrical outlet to electrocute himself. Fitting his personality, he's more curious than concerned, first saying "Interesting." before doing anything else. After calling for a crash cart he pokes the man's lifeless body with his cane and says "I didn't do it."
Right before said patient electrocutes himself, as he's pulled out the knife, House thinks he wants to use it to attack him, and doesn't scream for help, or yell, or run for his life — he takes a step back and goes "whoa".
Not the Nine O'Clock News has a sketch which is set in an episode of Question Time, after the Soviets have just launched the missiles. Most of the panel members continue sniping at each others' parties and using statements like "I think we're missing the real issue here, which is the government's appalling record on education reform..." while one Only Sane Man gibbers "We're all going to die!"
Mulder has a tendency to do this in The X-Files. In the episode "The Pine Bluff Variant", while trying to infiltrate a domestic terrorist group, he is led to a darkened warehouse where the one of the leaders attempts to see whether or not Mulder is a spy for the F.B.I. When the bag that was covering Mulder's head is removed and he sees where he is, he quips "Is this the Pepsi Challenge?" When the leader remarks that this is a method he uses to learn the truth, Mulder's response is "Well, you might want to put that hood back on, unless you want to see a grown man cry."
And then there's this classic, when Mulder and Scully are examining a weird viscous substance:
Mulder: (puts his fingers in the substance to examine it)
Scully: It almost smells like...(realizes) Oh, God, Mulder, it's bile.
Mulder: ...So, is there any way I can get this off my fingers quickly without betraying my cool exterior?
Scrapheap Challenge once had a fine example of British Understatement. "Could I have some water, please?" "Certainly, how much would you like?" "Enough to put out a small fire." "Where would you like it?" "On the fire, please." (The requester had set a seat on fire while welding in a car. Possibly scripted, but still funny.)
There are definitely elements of this in the Doctor of Doctor Who, justified given the Doctor's perilous and bizarre way of life (and because he has survived the Time War). Topics include romantic issues, bananas, little hospital shops, dancing, and whatever random topic is on the Doctor's mind.
The Doctor does kinda get to play this both ways. Half of the time he's genuinely fearful when he's quipping and he's relying on his gob to at least misdirect them for a few seconds, but other times he just knows the threat's beneath him and decides to have a laugh with it. Compare the way that he acts around the Daleks, who he fears more than anything else in the universe and yet happily taunts just to see how long they'll keep him alive, to the ways he treats the Sycorax, who he flat-out ignores in order to quite nonchalantly reintroduce himself to a small group of Londoners.
The "maturity" of a companion can usually be gauged by their ability to engage in smalltalk in the face of danger. Of course, not all of The Doctor's companions appreciate this ability when they're in distress.
Amy:Is this really important flirting? Because I feel I should be higher on the list.
The Doctor did plenty of this before the Time War. It's quite common in the series for him to mock his captors or have a quippy conversation with a companion while faced with death, especially if the villain has insulted him. To give just two of countless examples: when finally confronting Morbius in "The Brain of Morbius" and while under torture during "The Deadly Assassin".
In The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Cameron, being, well, Cameron, always speaks this way in combat situations. At one point, she's pinning another Terminator in place that's trying to crush her and kill everyone else, asks for a knife and then pliers to extract its chip in the same tone one would order coffee. Later on, after punching another rampaging Terminator through a wall and blowing it apart, she glances to Derek and remarks "Sometimes they go bad." as if she'd just stepped on an insect.
In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Space Seed," Khan wakes up and holds a scalpel to Doctor McCoy's neck, who had been treating him. McCoy calmly informs Khan of the most efficient way to kill him, and that if he doesn't intend to actually do it, he should put the blade down and let him finish his work. It was incredibly awesome.
Frank: Yeah, but you're more agile than me, and stronger.
Joe: Since when?
Frank: Since right now.
Person of Interest is a serious drama, but will use this trope for subtle humor in nearly every episode.
Breakout Kings gives us a particularly weird example when some kidnappers make their terrified victim call home:
*Terrified* "It's Julianne, I've been kidnapped..." *Suddenly calmer, to her kidnappers* "It's call waiting, click over."
In the season 2 finale of Nikita, Alex and Sean spend the whole episode trying to stop the bad guy from melting down a nuclear reactor in the US. Sean also spends the whole episode trying to get Alex to agree to go on a date with him:
Sean: After this whole thing is over, this whole storming the castle, save humanity thing, I think you and me gotta go on a proper date. Alex: Are you kidding me?
"Sorry, did I mention I'm attached to an explosive device? Perhaps you should run."
In the Wizards of Waverly Place movie, regardless of whether they're hovering over a doomy canyon of doom, or trying to thread narrow walkways with falling pillars, Justin and Alex still find time to snark incessantly at each other.
In one episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures, adopted son Luke informs Sarah Jane that he might be eligible to start university a year early. Sarah Jane suggests it might not be the ideal moment for the conversation, seeing as how they're currently handcuffed to a large alien bomb.
In the episode "Cops and Robbers", when Castle and his mother are held hostage during a bank robbery, Castle comments, "Mother, I find I'm no longer satisfied with the customer service at this establishment. I think we should take our business elsewhere."
In "Still", Castle does this while Beckett was trapped on a pressure-plate activated bomb;
Castle(entering the room with two lattes): Whatcha doing? Napping? 'Cause I can come back later. Beckett: Castle, what are you doing here? You promised you'd leave. Castle: Yeah, I promised I'd leave. Didn't promise I wouldn't come back. Oh, I brought these for when you're off that thing.
Though it may be an artifact of the nature of the song, C.W.McCall's Wolf Creek Pass has this bit in a near deadpan:
And I said Earl I'm not the type to complain, but the time has come for me to explain that if you don't apply some brake real soon they're gonna have to pick us up with a stick an' a spoon
As a matter of fact, pretty much all Toa have the ability to make lame jokes while fighting.
The Mantel Soldiers in Haze take this to an extreme, joking, rapping, and generally having fun in the middle of combat. This is intentional, intended to show how Nectar causes a disconnect from reality and humanity. The Promise Hand still uses the fourth type, though.
In Dragon Quest VIII, when Marcello is dangling above a gaping crater and certain death, his only reaction is to try to talk Angelo out of saving him.
And in Dragon Quest VII, when they were testing out the new "Party Chat" system, you could "Talk" to your allies during battle. (Of course, if you chose to "Talk" once too often, your enemies got a free round of attacks. Rude of them, isn't it?)
Variation in the two Fallout games, where people tend to have casual danger dialog while getting hurt: You could imagine that "You popped a goddamn lung" was in fact said in a very serious way, but there's no way anyone could go "Crap, my eye's dangling by the optic nerve here" without it being a perfect example of this trope.
Most of Shepard and Liara's banter in the Mass Effect 2 DLC Lair of the Shadow Broker. Especially calm considering that they are fighting their way over the surface of a really big spaceship in the middle of a perpetual thunderstorm.
In the Overlord DLC opening mission, Shepard and his squad look up to see the giant satellite dish they just disabled starting to collapse on them. Shepard's reaction is a simple "You have got to be kidding me."
Shepard and Tali engage in some of this in Mass Effect 3 on the Geth Dreadnought if they are in a romance together, including some pretty suggestive flirting. If you bring Ashley, she has this to say:
Ashley: Maybe we can talk about this when we're not on a damn geth dreadnought!
Mordin Solus is a borderline example: he's a little too animated to consider him entirely casual, but consider this sample of his combat chatter:
Flammable! Or Inflammable. Forget which. Doesn't matter!
The Citadel DLC takes the cake for this, especially in the Archives, during which Shepard's entire team (and Wrex) all go on the assault together, and casually trash-talk and banter their way through the whole thing.
Wrex: Uncle Urdnot is back in town, and he brought the BOOM! *explosions happen*
Shepard: That some kind of catch phrase, Wrex?
Wrex: Thought I'd try it out, see what you thought.
Balthier, from Final Fantasy XII, deserves an honorable mention, for his behavior in the first level of the DS sequel, if nothing else.
Also, in FFXII, if Balthier is killed, one of the quotes he may utter as he dies is a calm "Is that your best?"
Similarly, Auron from Final Fantasy X: Up against two enormous robotic enemies with tens of thousands HP each: "I foresee no difficulty."
Considering he is already dead, this is not much of a surprise. Auron stays calm in all situations. Him getting serious (which only happens a few times) is basically the game screaming "This sh*t is important!"
All of the characters have a chance at doing this, though it's mostly Auron and Lulu, while Tidus, Wakka and Rikku drift more into boasting. One of the best examples is most definitely Wakka and/or Rikku pondering how much food they could get out of a particular fiend when they step up to fight.
Final Fantasy XIII: Whenever your characters buff or heal each other, they usually give some variation on a mild mannered "Thanks.", even if they're fighting Demonic Spiders. Or soaring through the air from a launch attack.
The main characters of the Shadow Hearts games have a habit of acting completely nonchalant in the face of ridiculous or particularly hammy villains. In one notable example in Covenant, whilst one villain is busy monologuing about how he will rip the heroes' bones apart and condemn them to a lifetime of torture, the party is in a huddle busily discussing how the villain is managing to levitate himself: "It's the pillow he's sitting on! I'm sure of it!" "You think so?" When the villain is finished ranting, main character Yuri has only one thing to say: "Where can I get one of those pillows?"
Makes sense as the characters routinely run into stuff a whole hell of a lot scarier than some little bald guy threatening to kill them. Also, the above incident? By that point in Yuri's life he's already fought Two godlike demons, and beat them to a pulp with his bare hands. He's known as the Godslayer for a reason.
In Killer7, Benjamin Keane challenges resident Bad Ass Garcian to game of Russian Roulette. Benjamin attempts this trope with increasingly longer and intense rants between rounds. Meanwhile, Garcian just picks up the gun, puts it to his head, pulls the trigger, then passes it back each time. Benjamin probably thought he sounded cool, but his tone and hesitant straining on the trigger pulls suggests he scared and/or crazy. Of course, running a school with invisible, giggling, exploding zombies roaming the halls will probably do that to you.
Sam Fisher of Splinter Cell fame never reacts surprised to any danger that erupts around him, speaking dryly and casually even when he has no idea how he's permitted to react at that point. It's implied that from all the battles he's been through, he's gotten used to the odd occupational hazard.
In Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, during one event where the characters are being chased, there is a series of skits in which Tenebrae suggests a "Speaking Ban" because he feels the dialogue in the skits themselves is interfering with escape (ironically, it also prevents him from gloating over its success)
When it comes to the Tales series, though, nobody battle-banters like Flynn and Yuri in Tales of Vesperia. They fight together once and duel twice, and all three times they just can't stop snarking at each other:
Flynn: You'll get yourself killed if you keep watching me fight.
Flynn: I can't concentrate with you talking all the time!
Yuri: Well, I can't concentrate without talking, so...we're kinda stuck!
Stubbs the Zombie tends to elicit very... unusual death rattles from his victims. Most robots speak casually no matter what happens, presumably due to their programming. But even normal victims tend to have extremely skewed priorities, with shouts such as "That was my favorite arm!", "Now how will I juggle?", or even: "That was my second favorite arm!"
WET at the end of the game after being shot at twice by Rupert Pelham Rubi says, ''Bummer. Sucks for you." This is in a tone of voice one would expect to hear someone use when they realized they dropped their wallet not when they just deflected two bullets and are about to kill someone.
The Dude in Postal 2 remains remarkably calm while being shot, cheerfully making remarks like "Hey! Now I can't feel my legs!" and "Oooh, right in the stuff!".
Meryl and Johnny Sasaki take the cake for this in Metal Gear Solid 4 where they casually discuss their wedding plans while trying to hold off waves of FROG soldiers.
Snake and Venus did it first, in Metal Gear Ac!d2; while the game's villain monologues about his motives, the two of them calmly chat about how to destroy the Metal Gear he's piloting and ask him to shut up when they get bored.
In Alan Wake, while Alan and Barry are holding off waves of Taken from a concert stage, Barry talks about things like the large amount of ammo around, the pyrotechnics, and how bad this 1970's-era wiring is. But this takes the cake:
Note that Barry is safe in a little lit booth and his only job is getting the lights back on if they ever go out. Alan is the one actually fighting.
The Survivors of Left 4 Dead do this all the time, cracking jokes, bantering and insulting the Infected. They do get serious when they're heavily injured, though.
Team Fortress 2: While most of the dialogue in-game is various taunts and unwarranted advice yelled back and forth between teams, some lines are surprisingly calm for a horrific battleground, generally from one teammate to another.
But considering the most useful way of finding spies, it might just be commonplace to him by now.
Also, the Sniper in Meet the Sniper.
Sniper: I think his mate saw me. [bullet hits railing, Sniper and camera duck]Yes, yes, he did.
Yo-Jin-Bo is full of this. Fighting an army of ninjas is apparently good fuel for the wit.
In Portal 2, the main protagonist falls down a seemingly bottomless shaft, with GLaDOS falling down with her after having her AI transferred to a potato battery by the now-mad-with-power Wheatley, and commenting on the situation.
GLaDOS:Oh, hi. So, how are you holding up? Because I'm a potato. (slow clapping) Oh, good. My slow clap processor made it into this thing. So we have that. Since it doesn't look like we're going anywhere—well, we are going somewhere; alarmingly fast, actually—but since we're not busy other than that, here's a couple of facts: [Wheatley]'s not just a regular moron. He's the product of the greatest minds of a generation working together with the express purpose of building the dumbest moron who ever lived. And you just put him in charge of the entire facility. (slow clapping) Good, that's still working. Hey, just in case this pit isn't actually bottomless, do you think maybe you could unstrap one of those long fall boots of yours and shove me into it? Just remember to land on one foot...
Dante from Devil May Cry lives this trope, especially in 3 and 4.
Deadly Premonition has Dialog During Gameplay that the player can engage in - in which York talks to his imaginary friend Zach - while driving around town, which is normally a safe activity. However, after midnight, zombies infest the town and giant zombie dogs are in the streets. The Dialog During Gameplay doesn't stop despite this, and the result is that you can drive around and talk to your imaginary friend, holding conversations about movies and previously worked-on cases, while seeming to be totally oblivious to the numerous zombies and demon dogs trying to kill you.
Quake IV: In an overheard radio message a Marine relatively calmly informs command he has a hole in his chest (paraphrased):
Marine: I need a medi evac!
Radio operator: Who is this? I can't get a read on your med chip.
Marine: My med chip was damaged.
Radio operator: What? That chip is installed near your heart!
Marine: I know, I can see it.
Resonance of Fate does this a lot. Particularly in boss battles, you'll have chatter between your party and the bad guys, that doesn't stop while you're unloading clip after clip of bullets into the bad guy.
Time Gal has a scenario in the B.C. 44 stage where Reika tries to pick up a guy... while swordfighting him.
Reika: Hey, good-looking. You're my kinda guy! Oh, how old are you?
Resident Evil 6 has all the main characters calmly talking about what they're going to do with whatever is trying to kill them at that moment in time. One fun example is when Leon and Hellena are sliding down a waterway (seemingly into the bowels of the Earth) while being chased by a giant mutant fish; they never raise their voices once. While Jake and Sherry sound almost bored when they're on a speeding elevator that's outrunning a fireball while simultaneously also attempting to defeat a boss.
Fire Emblem Awakening has plenty of this depending on what you're fighting when certain characters use their battle quotes. You could be fighting hordes of Risen (zombies) or high ranking commanders of enemy armies, but that doesn't stop Henry from saying "Oooh, ugly!" or Nowi from asking "Do you like dragons?" before she blows stuff up with dragon breath.
Al Chest Breach does this quite often. It's amongst his defining characteristics.
Well, this is Elan's designated role as the party's bard. But just about everyone does this anyway, since most are Deadpan Snarkers and Talking Is a Free Action. No mere action sequence is going to slow down the puns. Belkar is especially prone to it.
It seems to run in the family - Nale is quite capable of nonchalantly disregarding the most fearsome of his opponents.
Nale: Malack. How's the family?
Made funnier by the fact that Nale knows exactly how the family is. He murdered them.
On this page of Dead Winter, Liz and Alice have a discussion about pacifism, as they nonchalantly smash in the brains of a zombie who tried to sneak up on them.
Death Is Cheap for the Schlock universe, and even accounting for that, Schlock knows Ebbirnoth's injury isn't as serious as it looks (especially since the sniper thought he was delivering a deadly headshot to a being that keeps its brain in its abdomen); it can be regenerated with the help of nanobots. Casual annoying injury dialog maybe?
Casual debilitating-and-really-painful-injury dialogue; Ebby's eye is his major sensory organ and consequently really sensitive. Incidentally, this also justifies the trope; Schlock is Nigh Invulnerable and knows it, and Ebby needs something to distract him from the pain of having his eye sniped.
All of 8-bit Theater, and not just the dialog between the casual dangers that are the protagonists.
In Blip, Liz gets kidnapped and imprisoned in some extra-dimensional space. You wouldn't know that from the way she telepathically contacts Mary, and asks if Mary can cover for her on stakeout duties while she's out of town.
Kitti and Dries in What the Fu discuss their relationship while beating up a bunch of cultists.
Most of the Questionable Content characts spend so much time snarking, that Marten's reaction to a psycho trying to kill him (supposedly for being a bad boyfriend) is to remark that his hair is neither spiky nor blonde enough for this.
Quant and Androssi in Tower of God. Quant being one of those people who achieved the nigh-impossible goal of reaching the top of the Tower, Androssi being one of those who got the power of the King and third strongest person of the Tower. There is a lot of danger here to be ridiculed with casual quips.
Rather than escaping, the mad Genius Ditz from Average Joe has a completely casual conversation with the titular character here, while a third character is occupied keeping him from being cut in half by a Bond-style laser beam.
Rob from the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes is notorious for cracking stupid jokes before, during, or after most battles, usually leading to him being smacked upside the head by Wyn.
Chaka is definitely the guiltiest party of the members of Team Kimba, in the Whateley Universe. When super-powered ninjas attacked on Parents' Day, she stopped to hassle the ninja leader about his technique, then collected the throwing stars being hurled at her and handed them out to her little brother and Tennyo's younger brother.
Chaka: <whistles> Hey Daikon BAY-BAY! How y'all doin'? R'member ME?
Basically, all of Team Kimba, except Lancer, who is stuck playing team leader. Their instructors in Team Tactics have been getting on their case about it. When attacked by a stream of lethal robots in a simulation of Crucible's supervillain lair, they pretty much have a contest to see who can come up with the best robot joke.
In the Hardly Working episode Emergency Flirt Pat start flirtingvwith the animal control operator, and forgets about the tiger trying to eat them all.
Veronica does this in a bloody, large scale battle with Taylor in Shadowhunter Peril. She talks to Taylor while swinging a mace at her, commenting on her hair and such. Then she goes so far to ask if she's annoying Taylor. It's hilarious in two aspects: There's a massacre going on in the background, and Taylor actually doesn't flip out at Veronica (but she doesn't take her questions seriously).
This guy told a would-be robber threatening him with a knife to... quit holding up the line.
In The Venture Bros. episode "Escape to the House of Mummies, Part II", spiked walls are closing in on Doc, Brock, and the boys. They're unbelievably calm about it (it's hinted that they've encountered this situation dozens of times before, but still...), except for Doc, who is only slightly more aggravated than usual. At one point, Hank sits atop a spike and "rides" the wall.
Another good example from the same episode:
Villain: Give me the Hand of Osiris!
Dr. Venture: Give me head!
Villain: You didn't just say that.
Dr. Venture: I absolutely did. What are you gonna do about it?
Villain: I'm...about to kill your sons...
Dr Venture: Join the club!
Bugs Bunny and other Looney Tunes characters are fond of throwing little asides at the audience during tense moments. One notable example: in Hair-Raising Hare, Bugs is barricading a door with a monster on the other side and shouts frantically "Is there a doctor in the house?" When one stands up, Bugs merely give him his Catch Phrase "Eh, what's up, Doc?" The Catch Phrase is also delivered with total cool when Elmer is pointing a gun at him. When they were first created, Bugs Bunny cartoons were funny because of all the responses the audience expected from a rabbit facing a hunter, casual flippancy wasn't even on the list.
In Beast Wars: Dinobot and Rattrap (who never got along, since Dinobot was originally a bad guy; his sense of warrior's honor caused him to join the good guys) are arguing as they drag Tarantulas down a tunnel. They stop to continue arguing and Tarantulas wakes up, pulls a gun, and stands up. Upon aiming it at the two good guys and screaming a threat, both Dinobot and Rattrap yell "SHUT UP!" and punch him out... in unison!
Hawkeye (as Ronin) and Spider-Man once had a witty banter contest while fighting off hordes of ninjas, including musing about what ninjas got as job benefits. ("Oh, and throwing stars. Lots and lots of throwing stars.")
In one particularly memorable scene of Justice League Unlimited, Superman and Batman are fighting a group of anonymous masked criminals while casually talking about Captain Marvel, a new member of the League. About halfway through the scene, one of the heroes suddenly realizes something:
Batman: What do these guys want, anyway? Superman: To take over the world... Or rob banks. I forget. (beat up bad guys) But, back to Captain Marvel...
Another example from Justice League Unlimited: Batman has been forced to eject from his jet, and the enemy has destroyed the ejector seat (which presumably contained his parachute). As he is plummeting to his death, he says in a completely calm, deadpan voice:
Iroh gets one too when a bunch of Dai-Li agents attack him out of nowhere and he simply takes a sip of tea then asks them if they know why he is called the "Dragon of the West".
"You Only Move Twice" from The Simpsons has Homer and Scorpio having a conversation about Homer's family being unhappy in their new town while the army is invading Scorpio's headquarters.
Scorpio: Homer, I'm disappointed but I think you need to do what's best for your family. You need anything, you call me...I never had to call my own company. Someone will tell you [the number] upstairs. But Homer, on your way out, if you wanna kill somebody it would help me a lot. (dons a flame thrower and goes back into the fray)
From the The Shining parody in "Treehouse of Horror V":
Lisa: Mom, is Dad gonna kill us?
Marge: I guess we're just gonna have to wait and see.
In one instance, Ron was fighting Kim (his body controlled by a bad guy) when they argue about a misunderstanding. The dialog includes the lines "Oh, this is our first fight," and "I never meant to hurt you," as Ron throws Kim over a table.
From the same show, Yori is like this by nature, most likely as a product of her Ninja training. From the episode "Big Bother":
(Kim and Yori are tied back to back, they jump onto a patch of ground that immediately becomes the only piece of land in the middle of a large lava field) Yori: Hmm. This is a mild setback. Kim: Calm in the face of danger much?
The time the Go siblings walk into Electronique's trap, it comes across more as simple obliviousness:
Shego: Can we focus on the fact that Miss Sparky's pointing a weapon at us?
Kim and Shego also often have a little chit-chat while fighting, often about fashion, or complimenting Drakken on actually being competent for once.
Multiple people on Total Drama Island do this — a notorious example being singing while plummeting towards Earth at insane speeds — but Noah and Duncan do it an awful lot.
(The Squad is trapped by overwhelming enemy numbers and their Powered Armor is half-offline) J.T. Marsh: Can you fly? Marsala: I presume you mean "in an E-frame"? J.T. Marsh: Great. Of all times, you pick now to find a sense of humor?
Odd Della Robbia of Code Lyoko is the living incarnation of this trope. He's constantly fooling around while fighting, whether on Lyoko or the real world. He's done things like giving girl names to the monsters he's destroying or making sport announcer commentaries of his own exploits (this has gotten him devirtualized once). If Odd ever stops this and starts screaming in terror, you can bet he's really in mortal danger. Ulrich Stern is no slouch either, especially when Odd isn't around and he feels the need to take his friend's place at making lame jokes. Aelita and Yumi can sometimes quip or joke, but they tend to be much more serious than the boys.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "Oh, Fluttershy. Could you be a dear and fly faster, please?" Said by Rarity when she and Pinkie Pie are being dragged through the air by the corrupted Rainbow Dash in the second episode of season 2. It only qualifies because of the polite wording - she does raise her voice and appears somewhat concerned with the last few words.
Anyone who has spent time around people routinely in dangerous situations (police, firefighters, paramedics, and soldiers) will have seen this. (Compare It Never Gets Any Easier.)
The crew of Apollo 13. The very real possibility of dying hundreds of thousands of kilometers from Earth in a space capsule would rank slightly higher than "a problem" on most people's scales. American astronauts up to and through the moon shots were all direct graduates from the Chuck Yeager school of flying. Besides which, in space, there are no small problems.
In 1908-09, Douglas Mawson and Professor Edgeworth David were part of an Antarctic expedition. Mawson was working in the tent one day when the Professor asked if he was busy. Mawson said yes. A few minutes later, Professor David asked again, explaining apologetically, as Mawson quotes him, "I am so sorry to disturb you, Mawson, but I am down a crevasse and I really don't think I can hold on much longer."
"Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to killa Bull Moose."note He was running as a member of the Bull Moose party
Narration: Unfortunately, the American commander didn't realize that "a bit sticky" was stiff-upper lip for "catastrophic."
According to mountain climber David Brashears, he has never heard another climber scream as he/she fell. If they say anything at all, it's a brief warning to those below, like "Falling!"
In 1982, British Airways Flight 9 encountered a cloud of volcanic ash that sand-blasted the aircraft's windows and choked all four of its engines with rock fragments causing them all to flame out. The aircraft was reduced to gliding over the ocean, miles away from the nearest airport (or indeed any land whatsoever), with little hope of relighting the apparently dead engines, and the point rapidly approaching where the only option left was ditching (a maneuver never attempted in a 747, and one that has far more often than not gone horribly wrong on other models of airliner). Amid their frantic attempts to restart the engines the crew did manage to find the time to make the following announcement (called "a masterpiece of Understatement") to the passengers:
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them under control. I trust you are not in too much distress."
They landed safely. Though by this point the danger was long gone, it is still amusing that the people on that plane called themselves the "Galunggung Gliding Club" (the ash came from Mount Galunggung and they had glided out of the cloud).
All airline pilots are told to sound as calm and casual as possible when announcing an emergency, and indeed, only to use the intercom if it is absolutely necessary.
01/15/09, Hudson River, Captain C. "Sully" Sullenberger. An emergency landing after losing both engines to birdstrike. The dialogue with the control tower is available here. In a nutshell, it's "We're gonna be in the Hudson." As in, he was going to land in the Hudson River. This is a professional requirement of pilots and air traffic control - when the fellow you're on the phone with is about to make a split-second decision with a few hundred lives, you're not to add any pressure, thank you very much.
Captain Al Haynes, while guiding a DC-10 with no flight controls approaching the Sioux City airport, even cracked a joke. When told he was cleared to land on any runway, he laughed and replied "You want to be particular and make it a runway, huh?" He did hit the runway, and 184 of 296 people on board survived. If that seems like a large number of deaths (only 13 people were uninjured), realize that the plane hit wing-first, started a fire immediately, lost that wing completely, and flipped over. This was an incident where everyone on the plane and some bystanders could have died had the landing not been done so well.
That wasn't the only joke cracked during the crisis. While assisting the crew in the cockpit, deadheading*
riding as a free passenger
captain Dennis Fitch told the crew, "We'll all have a beer when we get this thing down." Haynes' reply? "I don't drink, but I'll sure as hell have one anyway!"
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We've had a small problem; the plane is under control now and we're headed back to Detroit for an emergency landing." - Captain Bryce McCormick, pilot of American Airlines Flight 96 (another DC-10) after the cargo bay had decompressed and partially collapsed the cabin floor, severely restricting the pilots' control of the plane.
As the Titanic was sinking in 1912, the chamber strings group on board continued to play their music, even as hysterical passengers were rushing for the lifeboats. It was documented over and over again by the survivors. What is less certain is what they played - tradition holds that it was Nearer My God, to Thee but opinions differ. Nevertheless, the orchestra continued to play until the angle of the deck became too great for them to keep their balance. This was portrayed in both James Cameron's 1997 film and the 1958 film A Night to Remember.