Change the Uncomfortable Subject
Some characters feel a current line of discussion is really inappropriate, and they make it clear they should move on to something else. Sometimes they say "moving on" or "I'd rather not talk about it", or just leap into another topic.
Reasons the current subject isn't working can vary. Either it's Squick
, Too Soon
, or even something like a Metaphorgotten
There's a hand gesture that shows up frequently in anime
, that means basically this.
Compare Stunned Silence
, Shutting Up Now
Contrast Digging Yourself Deeper
(trying to talk your way out of an uncomfortable subject, and utterly failing).
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Anime and Manga
- In Saint Beast, Luca is the main instigator of this, knowing that relating mutinous sentiments is very dangerous under the tyrannical rule of Zeus. Pandora also tries to guide Judas away from defiance at the end of the prequel series, but Judas indicates that he's done silencing himself and intends to openly defy Zeus' rule.
Films — Animated
- The Emperor's New Groove: In the opening, Kuzco asks for a flashback to where the story began, but the flashback goes back too far:
See, this is a little too far back. Ooh, look at me! That's me as a baby!
(Baby Kuzco throws a fit on breaking his toy, only to cheer up when off-screen servants offer him several replacement toys
OK, moving on...
- In Wreck-It Ralph, throughout the anniversary party, Felix tries to keep the peace between Ralph and the Nicelanders through avoidance and subject changing but to no avail.
Films — Live-Action
- Ripley and Clemens both do this in Alienł.
- Clemens asks Ripley several times why she is inspecting Newt's corpse and her reasons for wanting to cremate both her and Hicks's body, and her need to retrieve Bishop to check the flight data. Ripley continually deflects the question (one time by sleeping with Clemens) because he probably won't believe her.
- Ripley asks Clemens several times how he came to Fury 161, but he deflects the question repeatedly. Eventually he does tell her – he was previously an inmate.
- The World Is Not Enough
Elektra King: Have you ever lost a loved one, Mr. Bond?
Bond: M sent me because your life might be in danger.
- The uncomfortable look on his face, slight shifting of posture, and invoking of this trope was a dead giveaway to any long-term, die-hard Bond fan. Even earlier in the series, in The Spy Who Loved Me, he's initially amused and impressed as Agent XXX recites his dossier—until she mentions his late wife and he immediately ends the conversation.
Live Action Television
- Frasier: Frasier Crane does this a lot.
- In the Doctor Who serial The Ice Warriors:
Jamie: You see how those lassies were dressed?
Victoria: Well, I think it's disgusting, wearing that kind of thing.
Jamie: [Mocking] Oh, aye, so it is, so it is. You er, you don't see yourself dressed like that then?
Jamie: Oh, I'm sorry; it was just an idea.
Victoria: We will now change the subject, please.
- On Seinfeld, George and Jerry do not like it when someone does this; they prefer to let conversations continue until they reach a natural end. There's a reason this show's the Trope Namer for Seinfeldian Conversation.
- In The Vicar of Dibley, David constantly does this when the council meetings go off topic. "Moving on..."
- Ross in Friends did this when other people had raised the subject. "The word you're looking for is 'Anyway...'"
- Happened a couple of times in Criminal Minds
- While the team was eating in a Chinese restraunt in "A Real Rain", they were talking about the case and then Elle asks to change the subject. Hotch asks if she's seeing anyone and then Elle begs for them to talk about the case again.
- A case of Right Behind Me in "The Bittersweet Science".
Garcia: (via webcam) Okay, Rossi, out with it. Is Hotch dating anyone?
Rossi: (leans in to the webcam) I. Don't. Know
Reid: You know, statistically, widowed men start dating much faster than females, but Hotch is refuting the data. It's been two years and 19 days.
Garcia: Venus has aligned with Mars, which means love is in the air and maybe we will have weekends off.
Morgan: (sees Hotch and clears throat to warn Garcia)
Hotch: Hello, Garcia.
Garcia: Hello. Someone talk about the case.
- A hilarious version in one episode of The Big Bang Theory where Penny is desperately trying to break up an uncomfortable fight between Bernadette and Amy about their respective boyfriends' careers and sex lives by switching to a more comfortable subject: Brazilian Waxes.
- A homie conversation in Saints Row IV between CID and Keith David has CID casually revealing that he's "done research" on Keith. Keith shuts CID up by threatening to reveal the details Kinzie uncovered about the other, "very specific" simulations CID has made. Cue an awkward "How about that sports team?" from CID.
- The Last of Us: Joel makes it clear to Ellie that she is not to bring up his personal life or past, particularly his lost loved ones and friends.
- In the very last scene of Kim Possible, Professor Dementor is taunting Dr. Drakken about his success at saving the world after failing miserably in his attempts to conquer it.
Dementor: You must admit that it is exquisitely amusing.
Drakken: Okay, Dementor, I'd really rather not talk about it.
Dementor: But the irony! As a mad scientist, you have been a total failure your entire career!
Drakken: New topic please!
- The "new topic" turns out to be Dementor asking how Drakken's skin turned blue, which Drakken starts to explain just as the show ends.