Cyborg: Well, how am I supposed to watch TV without a remote?!
You get up
and change the channel
! The batteries in the remote control for the TV are dead! The greatest horror
of all befalls our hero. Having to actually go up to the TV and change the channels manually! DUN DUN DUN!, or at least that's what your Plucky Sidekick, unaware of the seriousness of the situation, suggested. Note that many modern sets have either no, or extremely minimal, on-board controls, so a dead remote can mean a very considerable loss of functionality. Having a set-top box with separate remote can make this worse, since those boxes usually rely entirely on a remote, so watching TV without a remote becomes impossible.
When the trope is Played for Laughs
, An Aesop
about being lazy or about spending too much time watching TV may occur. Be on the lookout for a gun being used as a substitute for a remote
. Compare Lost The TV Remote
- In Toy Story 2, several toys are watching TV in Andy's room when a commercial for the toy store owned by Woody's kidnapper, featuring the evil chicken voiced by Wayne Knight, comes on. Everyone panics and the batteries fall out. Most of the toys have no idea how to use batteries.
- Doubles as a Continuity Nod to a similar situation in the first movie. Instead of a remote, it's a walkie-talkie that loses it batteries, and Woody is the only one who knows how to use them.
- This trope is how the plot of Pleasantville is caused to happen. Jennifer isn't too worried, commenting that they can just get and press the buttons on the TV; only for David to explain that this TV doesn't have any buttons on it.
- The Pilot for The Sarah Silverman Program (though it was actually aired as the last episode of the season) "Batteries" found Sarah scrambling around town for batteries for her remote so she wouldn't have to watch a telethon for sick children. This was after she taped dollar bills to the screen.
- There was a slightly different TV Remote batteries gag on Coupling. Steve checks the remote to find there aren't any batteries in it at all, points this out to new girlfriend Susan, and is bemused when she goes into her bedside table to get them back... when those are dead too, she opens up a drawer to reveal several huge multipacks of spare batteries.
- In a bit filmed for Late Night with David Letterman, the gang at Cheers are watching TV and the remote is dead. They all decide that's OK, they'll just watch whatever's on next. Cue Late Night' s Opening Montage. Everybody runs out the door of the bar, including Sam.
- Garfield: With the batteries in the remote dead, Jon challenges his lazy tabby on how he'll be able to change the channels now. Garfield picks him up by the heels and uses Jon's long body to press the buttons on the TV.
- In another strip, the remote's batteries die and Jon and Garfield, rather than going to change the channel on the set, decide to go drive to the store and buy new batteries instead. Liz is totally baffled by this.
- Simple: they'd have to replace some batteries eventually. Might as well invest sooner rather than later.
- Peter in FoxTrot also faces this dilemma, the batteries are dead and there are no replacements, so he wails about how he'll have to watch the same channel all night, at least until his Mom comes in to tell him his bedtime is in five minutes. "THAT SOON?!"
- This installment of Brewster Rockit
- Heart of the City: Good thing it landed on something she wanted to watch.
- Phineas and Ferb "Perry Lays An Egg": Candace recounts how going five feet for popcorn is all right, but five feet to change the channel is too much.
- The Dilbert TV show had an episode that was kicked off when Dogbert complained the remote wasn't working, and Dilbert told him to change the battery. The left one. Also, he bought a battery on the way home from work the day before because he sensed this coming.
- This was a demonstration of Dilbert's "knack" with electronics, which he goes on to lose later in the episode.
- Used in The Simpsons, contrasting Bart and Homer's desire to avoid watching a space shuttle launch with their panic over the complex technology of the TV remote not working (the batteries have fallen out.)
- There was another instance in one of the "Treehouse of Horror" episodes in which Bart crams a stick of glowing radioactive waste into the remote (Marge had taken the batteries to curb the kids excessive viewing) and with a push of the On button sends Bart and Lisa into an "Itchy & Scratchy" cartoon.
- Gravity Falls: Grunkel Stan loses the TV remote and refuses to get up and change the channel, even when a cheesy old romance movie comes on TV. Later he is so transfixed by the movie that he is actually rooting for the characters.
- Toot from Drawn Together demonstrates a novel solution for this: just eat the television.
- Some flatscreen TVs don't have buttons, so the remote is the only option. Fortunately these models are a true minority, as manufacturers do realize the possibility of the batteries dying, or losing the remote.
- This trope will still be in force if a TV with buttons is mounted out of reach causing the buttons to be inaccessible.
- A variant of this trope is also possible with some cable boxes.