Once a character starts to laugh, all those around him start to laugh as well. Truth in Television, but useful in fiction for getting a group some release from tension. Also, when a proud character is humiliated, this lets the crowd join together against him. A character who does not join in is separate in some way — this may be good, because the humor is unsuitable, or bad, because he's too proud to see the humor. It can result in an attempt to fake it. Drives the Everybody Laughs Ending. When a villain doesn't recieve this, it results in a Laugh with Me moment.
ExamplesAnime and Manga
- In Rurouni Kenshin, Hajime Saito does this in his fight against Usui after deducing that the later Becoming the Mask has become complacent regarding his vendetta against Shishio. Of course, after laughing together like madmen, Usui tells him to shut up, stating that it's not even funny.
- In My Neighbor Totoro, once the father starts to laugh, the children are able to join in.
- Happens in Part 3 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. When minor villain Hol Horse warns Polnareff that his sword (Or rather Stand, Silver Chariot) can't beat Hol's gun (Emperor), Polnareff twists that into a fairly crass joke ("What's that? I can beat your bum? Oh, you're into THAT stuff!") and laughs to himself...which causes Hol Horse to lose control and laugh along with him.
- The Killing Joke has the Joker tell a joke at the end and start laughing maniacallly. Batman joins in too.
- Mary Poppins: I love to laugh! Long and loud and clear! It's getting worse every year! The more I laugh, the more I'm filled with glee! The more the glee, the more I'm a merrier me!
- In Who Framed Roger Rabbit,
- the weasels will set each other off. Since they are easily amused, it's less likely to spread beyond.
- In the speakeasy, when the man saying he had seen a rabbit feigns that he has Harvey next to them, all the rest laugh together.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, the main characters on the Black Pearl get involved in a Mexican Standoff (Barbosa, Gibbs, Jack, Will, and Elizabeth). After several very tense seconds of everyone aiming their guns at everyone else, Barbossa starts laughing, and eventually he can't hold his gun up. Everyone joins in, and lowers their guns too.
- And then Barbossa breaks up the laughter, and everyone instantly resumes their positions in the standoff. See the scene here.
- Se7en, despite being a very dark film has a moment where the main characters all think about the absurdity of the "vibrating" home (it's right on top of a subway,) and all break into fits of giggling despite trying to hold it in.
- In Evil Dead 2, laughter spreads through inanimate objects in the room until Ash is unable to resist joining in.
- In Mash, when Blake talks of what kidders they are, Burns tries to join Hawkeye and Trapper John's laughter.
- Near the end of season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Giles has just come back after a long absence. Buffy details all of the crap the cast has gone through since he's been gone. After she's finished, Giles stares at her for a minute...then bursts out laughing. Buffy's confused at first, but eventually can't help but laughing too.
- A memorable segment of Coupling had Jeff describe the concept of 'The Giggle Loop' - the compulsion to laugh in inappropriate situations that only intensifies the more you think about how inappropriate it would be. Later on, they all go to a funeral...
- Are You Afraid of the Dark?. The episode "The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner," is about a comic book villain who enters our world and his power is a laugh that causes anyone who hears to turn into a giggling idiot.
- In Sinfest, Squigley, on a trip, lands in Hell and makes a silly joke, and starts to laugh. The damned join in.
- In Space Station Silicon Valley, hyenas use this as an attack.
- The Simpsons: Bart mentions that due to TV he has a very poor memory and can't remember even 8 seconds in the past. The rest of the family laugh at him. "No, really, I can't! It's a serious problem." They continue to laugh. After a moment he starts to laugh too; then while still laughing he anxiously asks "What are we all laughing about?"
Patty: Cut him a check and get him the hell outta here!
- In another episode Burns enjoys an Evil Laugh over his latest plan, and Homer (who the Evil Plan will directly affect) joins in the laughing. Then Burns stops but Homer keeps going for a while.
- This also happened between Homer, Patty and Selma, much to the two sisters' immense chagrin.
- In one episode of Futurama an Evil Laugh in a haunted house has this effect on Zoidberg.
Leela: What's that!?Zoidberg: I don't know, but it's contagious! Heh heh heh!
- On the Looney Tunes short "Robin Hood Daffy", Porky Pig as Friar Tuck laughs at Daffy Duck's clumsy attempts at being Robin Hood. Daffy walks up to confront him, but soon starts laughing as well.
- In the special Goofy's Success Story, Goofy became an accidental star by laughing in a theater. The onstage gag wasn't funny to anyone else, but his laugh got them going.
- In one episode of Ruby Gloom, Iris tells a joke so she can break the record for "Best Joke." Ruby is the only one who gets it and starts to laugh. Pretty soon, anyone who hears it, including a squirrel and the moon, start to laugh as well. Poe then congratulates Ruby for breaking the record for "Most Contagious Laugh."