Could This Happen to You?
Great, next you'll be telling me there's an invisible bomb in my hard drive.
"Let's cut to the commercial break like a news show. (
ominous voice) Something in your house may kill you. Find out what—after the break."
Picture this: it's nearing Prime Time and you're ready to watch your favorite programs when suddenly, a brief bumper appears. It's a five-to-ten second plug for the station's news program at Eleven that aims to grab viewers with the following: "Do recent studies show how the show you're watching can set your entire neighborhood ablaze? Find out after the show."
For all of its portrayals, and even Real Life
inspirations, this comes across as an utter tease. The subject in question is shrouded in an air of cheap mystique, said mystique being a fear-striking tool to entice viewers that the very news source you just barely witnessed holds the absolute, divine truth on the matter. Additionally, those ratings are most likely accrued in the most gruesome method possible
: sometimes even with a fippant
plug to the program presented before or after the Prime Time block.
Chances are very good that, unless those studies and stations have Shown Their Work
, rarely is the correct answer given ("No. That's just stupid."), and rarely is the answer given before the end of the news (see Film At Eleven
). This trope has given birth to Betteridge's Law of Headlines
, wherein such headlines that pose such an ominous question can be immediately disproven. All the while, this sort of news teases the viewer in most likely presenting a ridiculous question with only one answer: no
Still, on the off chance that These Programs Could Kill You!!!
, you are compelled to watch the late news, along with many others like Sheep to the Slaughter.
See also You May Panic Now
. The equal and opposite reaction to Ripped from the Headlines
. Usually involves several Commercial Break Cliffhangers
that promise the answer is coming up next!
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Live Action TV
- Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes, has a very low opinion of television. In one strip a TV news promo takes this trope Up to Eleven, and Calvin's father opts to read the newspaper instead.
Announcer: Next, on Eyewitness action news: blood-spattered sidewalks and shroud-covered bodies! Could the next victim be YOU?? We'll get the story from the sobbing, hysterical relatives and we'll tell you why YOU should be paralyzed with helpless fear! That's Eyewitness action news! It's what YOU need to KNOW!
- Hiimdaisy's Persona 4 comic.
News anchor: "Tonight: Biker gangs! In YOUR neighborhood!"
Kanji, on screen: "GET BENT GET BENT GET BENT"
- In Family Guy, TV anchor Tom Tucker practices in front of a mirror for different ways of announcing a president's hypothetical assassination. One of his different methods is this.
- An old favorite of Kent Brockman from The Simpsons, of course. Did an escaped mental patient put poison in a certain brand of soda? You'll only find out which brand (and wonder why it's still on store shelves) after sports, entertainment and the weather!
- German TV channel Pro 7 does this on the slot before or after every single movie that is about a major nature phenomenon that usually ends with the world obliterated. More often than not, this will be done via a special episode of some kind of science-show and tell the audience how unlikely the event in real life would be. Sometimes also done with alien invasions, Roswell and ghosts.
- Happens ALL THE TIME in real life. Be it chemicals in various things that could give your child cancer, or a new credit card scam, or what have you, this is transparent and frequent. While they sometimes have valid points, it's a very cheap tactic (forgoing responsibility to the public and focusing on profits by taking advantage of fear-mongering).
- The "X? In my Y?" meme started from an ad that took this approach to porn.