"If you put a large switch in some cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying 'End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH', the paint wouldn't even have time to dry."Another one of the savvy's Stock Phrases. Just like how there are some things nobody is absolutely ever supposed to say, there are some objects the viewer/reader can instantly, instinctively tell nobody is ever supposed to touch: the singular artifact placed on a pedestal in the abandoned Temple of Doom, the Mineral MacGuffin locked in a treasure chest buried in a cave on an uncharted island, the glowing MacGuffin in a display case in the Diabolical Mastermind's study, or the Forbidden Fruit surrounded by signs that boldly warn DO NOT TOUCH! WILL CAUSE THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT! Who Would Be Stupid Enough? to touch any of that? Fortunately for the plot, plenty of Genre Blind characters are, all the while ignoring their companion's warning of "Don't touch it, you idiot!" They never listen to them. Cue the rolling boulder/erupting volcano/invasion of Mooks/release of the Sealed Evil in a Can and all their complications/a snarky "I Warned You." In his analysis of the Fairy Tale, The Morphology of the Folktale, Vladimir Propp concluded that the functions "prohibition" and "disobedience" really formed a single plot function; any prohibition was bound to be violated. This trope is for variations of a warning Stock Phrase. Otherwise, see Forbidden Fruit and Schmuck Bait (of which the Big Red Button labeled "DO NOT TOUCH" is a subtrope). Plus, if someone ever asks, "What Does This Button Do?", this is the only acceptable way to answer.
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Anime and Manga
- In an Azumanga Daioh Yonkoma, Tomo relates a dream to Yomi where she saw a Big Red Button she just had to push. Then Chiyo ran in and pleaded for her not to push it, because she (Chiyo) would die. Naturally, Tomo pushed it, and Chiyo died.
- Similarly, Tomo (awake this time) saw a freshly-painted wall with a "Do Not Touch!" sign. She smacked her hand on it, to Yomi's irritation.
- When they visit Chiyo's summer home for the second time, she remarks how bad it would be if they lost her key to the house right before getting inside by unlocking it. Cue Tomo grabbing the key and throwing it into the grassy area surrounding the house. Needless to say, no one is amused, and when they do find the key, Sakaki is called on to physically restrain Tomo.
- Which was probably necessary, since Tomo just had to blurt out how amusing it would be if she found the key and instantly threw it away again.
- In an episode of FLCL, the mayor's daughter finds Naota, the main character, unconscious with cat ears on his head. She reaches out to touch them, and is then interrupted by Haruko yelling "DON'T TOUCH IT!" into a megaphone. They then have a conversation, with the girl touching the ears and seemingly nothing happening... until she clutches her stomach and passes out. The scene ends with Haruko saying, "I told you not to touch it. Is that my fault?"
- In One Piece, Spandam is given the special Transponder Snail to trigger the near-apocalyptic Buster Call, and brandishes it, and gloats about it, and uses it to manipulate Nico Robin...and then presses it by accident. Whoops.
- Those Telesnails really have it in for him. After he accidentally triggers the Buster Call, he also accidentally activates his regular Transponder Snail so that everybody on the island can hear his ensuing conversation with Nico Robin in which he claims it's perfectly okay if all Navy troops die as long as he can capture her and get away with his skin intact. They are not amused.
- In more of a Running Gag, about halfway into the series, Luffy starts saying some variation of, "Hello. I'm Monkey D. Luffy. The man who will become the Pirate King!" whenever he picks up a Telesnail. Half the time, everyone nearby is warning him not to pick up the snail before he does anyway; every time, they scold him for saying too much too quickly, often accompanied with a slap (which, more often than not, does absolutely nothing to him).
- A short comic in Nodwick lampshades this, in which Yeagar pull a sword from a stone, which is surrounded by signs saying "Don't be a jerk! Leave it alone!", "You toucha dis sword, we break you face!", and so on. Drawing the sword is supposed to result in many, many misfortunes (most of which are ridiculous and hilarious), though none of these actually seem to come to pass.
- Putting the sword back in is apparently just as dangerous.
- As is removing the sword again. In the end Yeager ends up removing and replacing the sword about a dozen times, unleashing a different bizarre and humorous curse each time, before getting tired of the whole thing and breaking it.
- Putting the sword back in is apparently just as dangerous.
- In Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1, Doc Fate warns "Atom" Al Pratt away from reading the Ultra comic, citing it as the most dangerous object in his library.
- In a Mortadelo y Filemón album, a rival agent is given a box to be delivered to the Súper office, with explicit instructions not to open it (the box contains a magic spider that will turn into a pig any person it touches). The agent can't stand not knowing what's inside, and opens the box to take a peep. The spider touches his nose and turns him into a pig.
- In Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, Brainstorm had several Autobots in his lab on the Lost Light and warned them not to touch the Metafictional Bomb, which would cause anyone exposed to its effects to believe that they were nothing but a bit character in a fictional series. Swerve said that he'd already done so but nothing had happened. When asked when, he stated that it must have happened off panel.
Film — Animated
- Disney's Aladdin: Aladdin is told to "touch nothing but the lamp" when he enters the Cave of Wonders, and is successful in following this bit of advice (except for touching the magic carpet, which was apparently permissible). His monkey sidekick Abu, however, doesn't have the self-control that his master does, and it results in the two of them having to make a daring escape as the Cave of Wonders collapses around them.
- Subverted in Coraline, where she flips the switch BEFORE seeing the "Do Not Flip" sign. What she thought was a light switch was actually the electricity in the room that her dad's computer was in... while he was still using it.
- In Finding Nemo, Nemo defies his father by swimming up to a boat, despite his warnings to not do so. When he reaches it, Marlin yells at him "Don't touch the boat!" Nemo does touch the boat, but on his way back he's caught by scuba divers, setting up the plot.
- In Monsters University, the first event in the Scare Games is a race through an underground passageway littered with poisonous urchins. The host warns the contestants that "you don't want to be touched by these babies!", to which Art, Oozma Kappa's resident Cloudcuckoolander, responds with "I want to touch it." When the race begins, Art immediately dives towards one of the urchins and grabs it... and blows up like a balloon from the toxins.
- In the Disney film The Sword in the Stone, the owl Archimedes warns young Arthur not to touch the titular sword, especially since choral voices and beams of light appear when he does. Arthur, of course, ignores the warning and pulls out the sword anyway. And is promptly crowned king.
- Yellow Submarine:
Old Fred: (to Ringo) Now whatever you do, don't touch that button. (points to it on console)
Ringo: Which button?
Old Fred: That one! (points again)
Ringo: This one! (punches it accidentally and is ejected out of the sub)
Old Fred: (groan) That was the panic button!
Film — Live-Action
- Aliens: "Nobody touch nothing."
- Though nothing comes of it, Ash says almost exactly this line to his medieval love interest Sheila in Army of Darkness when she tries to examine the mechanical gauntlet he's building. Ash goes on to chastise her with "your primitive intellect wouldn't understand alloys and compositions and... things with molecular structure," his voice trailing off as it becomes clear that he doesn't really understand any of it either.
- One of the protagonists in Battleship is warned not to walk on and touch the giant mysterious floating structure.
- In The Brink's Job, while robbing a gumball factory one of the thieves notices a door with a sign that says DO NOT OPEN THIS DOOR. Hilarity Ensues.
- In the climax of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Rocket gives Groot a bomb with which to destroy Ego, showing him which button, if pressed, will activate the five-minute timer before it blows and which will set it off instantly. When Rocket asks Groot to repeat his demonstration, he keeps gesturing to the death button, provoking this reaction in Rocket. Subverted as Groot does, in fact, press the countdown button and all the Guardians escape alive.
- A subversion occurs in the James Bond movie GoldenEye; as Q describes the operation of a pen-grenade he'll be using on his next assignment, James finds and picks up a good-sized sub sandwich. Q sees this and immediately grabs the sub out of his hands, telling him not to touch it. James, of course, assumes that it was another grenade, and that he almost set it off. But, no, it's just Q's lunch.
- Joe Versus the Volcano: There is a large pipe with a sign saying "DO NOT TOUCH" however this is a subversion as Joe has never had the guts to actually open the Main Drain and see what happens. When he does, nothing happens. (However he did always wonder what would happen.)
- The Lord of the Rings: While the gang is deep in the mines of Moria, Pippin the Hobbit innocently fiddles with an ancient suit of armour... Gandalf reacts appropriately.
- And then there's the Palantír.
- And Wormtongue examining the gunpowder with a lit torch in his hand, which Saruman quickly guides away.
- Men in Black: Agent K tells Agent J not to touch anything. What does Agent J do? Touches a small ball thing. Cue destruction and mayhem.
- The Mummy Trilogy:
- In Pan's Labyrinth, after being told by the faun under no uncertain terms not to eat any of the food in the Pale Man's room, that her very life depended on it, and brushing away the frantic warnings of the fairies, Ophelia takes two grapes from the banquet table and awakens a child-eating monster who bites the heads off two of the fairies and nearly gets her. Of course, the point was to show how Ophelia did not blindly obey orders and thus was the opposite of her fascist step-father. Unfortunately, it came across as making her look rather Genre Blind (worked a lot better when she disobeyed the fairies and opened the door they weren't pointing at). Who would be crazy enough to stay in the presence of the Pale Man any longer than necessary, anyway?
- Prometheus, to an incredible extent given that the crew are meant to be experienced scientists. Brad Jones remarked during his Midnight Screenings of the film that you could retitle it "Dude, Don't Touch That: The Movie".
- Special mention should go to Millbourn, who apparently thinks what is quite clearly an alien snake (and hissing like a cobra) should be petted like a dog.
- In The Rocketeer, when Cliff and Peavey first discover the stolen rocket-pack hidden in an airplane in the hangar, Peavey is examining the pack while Cliff holds one of its ignitions buttons, making Peavey say "I wouldn't touch that if I were you...", but he does, making the rocket-pack fly around the hangar.
- The Emergency Stop lever on Spaceball One is labelled "NEVER USE".
- Inverted in Space Jam. Near the end of the film, Michael Jordan comes in with a basketball and asks his fellow top athletes to touch it, but they initially refuse to, thinking it's some sort of trap.
- Time Bandits: "Mum! Dad! It's evil! Don't touch it!" Boom.
- Van Helsing: "If there's one thing I've learned, it's never be the first to stick your hand into a viscous material."
- Bartholomew And The Oobleck:
- Bartholomew, who already knows the oobleck's sticky nature, tries to tell the Royal Trumpeter not to touch it when some flies into his horn. The trumpeter has already grabbed it and winds up with his hand stuck inside the horn.
- The Captain of the Guard, trying to prove that the oobleck is harmless, decides to demonstrate by eating some. Bartholomew tries to stop him, but he's not fast enough.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew: Polly tries to tell Diggory how ridiculous it is to want to ring the bell just because a sign dares you to ring it, but Diggory just has to find out what happens. He releases the Sealed Evil in a Can. In fairness to him, the sign implied that it had a magical power to drive them insane from the uncertainty of what would have happened if the button isn't pressed. It's never revealed if this was a bluff or the truth.
- In The Chronicles of Prydain series, there are at least two major artifacts (and several minor ones) that can cause painful injury, or even instant death, if the wrong people try to handle or use them. The sword Dyrnwyn is the most plot-central example; the inscription on its hilt, visible above the sheath, begins: "Draw Dyrnwyn, only thou of royal blood." Taran, who grew up on a farm but doesn't know his true heritage, tries to draw it anyway, and his companion all but quotes the page title warning him not to. Eventually he decides to do it anyway. The sword promptly stuns him with a blinding flash. What, did you think he was King Arthur? Of course, it later turns out that Eilonwy had mistranslated the inscription, it really read "Draw Dyrnwyn, only thou of noble worth". After four books of Character Development, Taran is able to safely draw the sword.
- Likewise, Dallben warns people not to touch the Book of Three. Bad things happen when his warnings are ignored. Fortunately, the book seems to be somewhat sentient when it comes to people touching it. It punishes Taran's innocent curiosity with the equivalent pain of a few mere bee stings. King Pryderi, on the other hand, wants to steal the book and use its secrets to gain power, and he is not so lucky. According to the backstory, Dallben himself made this mistake. Touching it turned him from a youth to an old man overnight.
- This trope shows up often in Discworld, especially with the wizards. In fact, at one point Ridcully had to put up another sign to specifically deter other wizards, which in effect says "No, don't do it even to see what would happen". In Hogfather, Ridcully finds a bathroom that has been boarded up, had a sign put up warning not to open the room, and the door hidden behind a bookcase. So, of course, he opens it to see why it was closed up.
- Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Played with in Dealing With Dragons. The character who is only identified as the stone prince knows he has to use the tin dipper, not the one made of solid gold and covered in jewels, to take the Water of Healing from the well. But he figures it can't hurt to just have a look at the gold one, right? Wrong, but at least he did something better than panic as he watched himself become petrified, resulting in a seriously subverted Taken for Granite situation.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Harry's companions ask him what in blazes he thinks he's doing when he reaches for a glass orb on display above an inscription that includes his name in the Department of Mysteries. Harry actually picks it up, fully hoping that something dangerous or at least exciting will happen to make their excursion there worthwhile. Be Careful What You Wish For...
- In the second book, when Harry wants to pick up the diary that was flushed out, Ron stops him. He says that he has no idea if it could be dangerous, mentioning examples of people unwittingly touching books that force you to sing in nothing but limericks or similar issues. Harry retorts that they won't find out if the diary is dangerous until they touch it. It isn't. At first.
- He did realize he shouldn't stick his hand blindly into Dumbledore's Penseive in Goblet of Fire. Such a shame he managed to accidentally touch it by leaning in too far.
- In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur Dent sees an "inviting large red button" in the Heart of Gold. Upon pressing it, a sign lights up reading "Please do not press this button again."
- Also shows up in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment in the film adaptation with Arthur trying to work an escape pod's controls.
- In Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light, the demons are bound in a vault the door of which is inscribed with the words:
"Go away. This is not a place to be. If you do try to enter here, you will fail and also be cursed. If somehow you succeed, then do not complain that you entered unwarned, nor bother us with your deathbed prayers." Signed, "The Gods".
- In The Lost Fleet, Marine officers always make sure to remind their boarding parties not to touch any controls in captured territory.
Captain Desjani: Do you ever wonder what they did before humans invented buttons to push? There must have been something they weren't supposed to do.
- In the Ravnica Cycle, it's mentioned that the police labmages prevent this by putting curses on cops who touch the evidence.
- Septimus Heap: This is about Alther's reaction to Jenna touching the time-travelling Glass in Physik. Needless to say, she does touch it, falls into it and ends up in a time 500 years before.
- In Six-Gun Snow White, the women of Oh-Be-Joyful knows Snow White shouldn't be opening her door and accepting gifts, but she wants a mother too much to listen.
- In The Southern Reach Trilogy, when the biologist discovers a strange fungus growing in the shape of writing within the Eldritch Location Area X, the anthropologist immediately yells "Don't touch it!". The biologist has enough restraint to not actually touch it, but nonetheless gets too close and causes things to begin going wrong.
- A few from Rob Keeley's Spirits series:
- In Childish Spirits, Charlie can't leave the piano in the nursery alone. He comes to realise his mistake when Edward the boy ghost slams the lid down on his fingers.
- In The Spirit Of London, Ellie finds a door marked PRIVATE and just has to go through it... Luckily, as she finds the plot on the other side! No immediate penalty, but it does allow a ghost imprisoned in a jar to stow away in her rucksack.
- In The Sword Of The Spirit, TV presenter Chris Costello is told not to break the seal on an unearthed chest - and immediately does so, unleashing a dark knight's ghost.
- Peter David's Star Trek novel Strike Zone features an ancient alien device that is obviously a gun of some sort. It has a warning label that says "Extremely stupid weapon. Do not use." It fires a beam that can punch through almost anything and follows the curvature of the planet it's on. Yes, that's right: if you fire it, the beam circles the globe and hits you from behind.
- Basically what the bird in the Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms book Sleeping Beauty tells Siegfried about the Niebelung ring. Unusually for this trope, he actually had the sense to listen.
- Many episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, e.g., "The Tale of the Mummy's Curse", when the daughter of a museum curator finds a secret compartment in a mummy's coffin. As she reaches to open it, her brother tells her, "Don't touch it! There's a curse!" She finds a potion and ring that grant immortality, accidentally raising the mummy back to life.
- Played for laughs in an episode of Babylon 5, where Garibaldi is shown into his guest quarters and told not to touch anything. He immediately begins touching everything in the room, saying "Touch! Touch!" aloud.
- Bozo The Clown played this for laughs in a confrontation involving Bozo, Oliver O. Oliver, and a big, cartoon lever.
Oliver: ...I pulled it, and nothing happened to me!
Bozo: There was too something happened to you, Oliver! You got your hands all covered in paint! I just painted that thing!
- In an episode of Burn Notice, Michael narrowly averts Better Manhandle the Murder Weapon by saying this to someone who was about to do so.
- In Canada's Worst Driver, host Andrew Younghusband told a guy not to turn the ignition switch because the vehicle was already running. Said contestant did two or three times.
- In the Dad's Army episode "When Did You Last See Your Money?", the bank has sustained damage in an air raid and Mainwaring's office has no ceiling. A tarpaulin has been put up to keep the rain out. Wilson comes in - through a wall that isn't there - and he just can't leave anything alone:
WILSON: Awfully wet in here, isn't it?
MAINWARING: Yes. Well, this tarpaulin's full of water from last night's rain.
WILSON: Ah I see, yeah. (gives it a poke)
MAINWARING: Wait — don't poke it! You'll only make it worse!
WILSON: Sorry, sir.
- A leak starts, meaning Mainwaring has to work with an umbrella up, which he won't share with Wilson, who's getting wet:
MAINWARING: Well, that's your fault isn't it, you shouldn't go about poking things.
- A leak starts, meaning Mainwaring has to work with an umbrella up, which he won't share with Wilson, who's getting wet:
- Kelly in Dead Set repeatedly tells people in the house "don't touch the doors" because there are zombies outside. Of course, one of the housemates is an asshole and opens it just to tease Kelly, which lets a zombie in and kills Angel.
- Doctor Who:
The Doctor: How many times have I told you, Adric, not to interfere with things you don't understand?
- In "The Daleks' Master Plan", the Doctor's companion, Steven, tells Katarina "NO! NOT THAT!" regarding a certain switch or button... which opens an air lock.
- The last words we hear in "The Face of Evil" is the Doctor shouting at Leela not to touch that button after she's slipped inside the TARDIS. Cue the TARDIS dematerialising, and the Doctor now has a new companion.
- The incident with Adric and the TSS in "Kinda" also falls into this category. Adric attempts to escape in the TSS, even though the Doctor has told him to leave it alone, and quickly loses control of it. The following story ("The Visitation") picks up the TARDIS crew while the Doctor is in the middle of reprimanding Adric for his foolishness:
Adric: I was trying to escape.
The Doctor: In the TSS? You were lucky you didn't destroy the whole Kinda tribe.
- "Father's Day": "Don't. Touch. The Baby." — which Rose then does, of course. (At least it was by thoughtless instinct, not by intentional disobedience or due to curiosity as a character flaw.) This leads to the Doctor actually dying in that time line.
- Lampshaded in "The Christmas Invasion": The Doctor discovers the "Big Red Button" the Sycorax are using to control any human with A+ blood, and says, "How am I gonna react when I see this? A great, big, threatening button. A great, big, threatening button which must not be pressed under any circumstances, am I right? [...] Which leaves us with a great, big, stinkin' problem. I really don't know who I am. I don't know when to stop. So if I see a great, big, threatening button which should never, ever, EVER be pressed, then I just want to do this." (Presses the button)
- The Eureeka's Castle special "Don't Touch that Box"note does this.note There's even a song about it.
- Farscape: The Ancients' relatives give John a very VERY strict warning about wormhole travel:
Multiple voices: And NEVER return to a familiar place prior to the last time you left.
- Cue John returning to Earth over a decade before he left. *Face Palm*
- In Father Ted, Dougal finds himself facing a "Do not press" red button in the cockpit of an airplane and is instantly entranced by it, but does resist the temptation. However, when asked later on to press a button nearby, he "accidentally" press the red one, and the plane empties its fuel tank.
- The Goodies plays with this in the very first episode, as the Crown Jewels have a sign placed by them reading "Please Do Not Steal". It doesn't do much good.
- Hiro in Heroes immediately goes to open the safe his dead dad (in a Video Will) told him never to open. Inside is the formula he's not supposed to touch, and another video from dead dad saying, "I TOLD YOU NOT TO TOUCH THAT!" Sadly, even that second reminder doesn't get Hiro to put the thing away before someone steals it.
- In Lost in Space, Dr. Smith made a constant habit of touching alien artifacts and devices even after being warned that it was a bad idea. This never worked out well.
- In Once Upon a Time "The Jolly Roger", Regina has agreed to teach Emma how to do magic. She leads Emma down into her vault, full of powerful and dangerous magical artifacts, and warns her not to touch anything. Emma picks up the first thing she sees. Regina promptly snatches it away and repeats her warning.
- Stargate SG-1 season 9 has the newly reformed SG-1 enter a dormant laboratory used by Anubis for unknown purposes. Colonel Mitchell starts pushing buttons looking for the light switch, whereupon Dr. Jackson forcefully informs him that while he may be the CO, he's also the new guy and should now stand in the corner while the grown-ups work.
Jackson: New guy!
Mitchell: Hey! You touched that...
Jackson: I know how to read that.
- In one episode of That '70s Show, Eric is jealous of the attention his father Red gives to Hyde, and resolves to do something stupid to get Red to notice him. Kelso immediately suggests bouncing a bowling ball off the living room couch to see what would happen. Hyde insistently tries to warn Eric against doing this, but Eric refuses to listen. Of course, the bowling ball bounces off the couch and smashes through Red's TV set. Eric gets some attention from his father, all right...but not exactly the kind he was looking for.
- Later in the episode he even kicks himself for thinking anything Kelso said was a good idea.
- The Ramones have a song called "You Should Have Never Opened That Door" on Leave Home, which is a Genre Savvy song about horror films.
- In the music video for AC/DC's Heatseeker, there's a lever marked "Under no circumstance should you touch this lever." Angus Young casually tosses his hat on it, causing a missile to launch.
- This shows up in a version of the original tale of Aladdin, although unlike the Disney movie, Aladdin didn't have a pet monkey to disobey the order. Good thing, too; in the original version he was told that he'd die instantly if he touched the walls. Maybe actually being told what would happen is what saved Aladdin from what happened to so many other victims of this trope... plus, if he died there, it'd be a pretty short story.
- Moreover, a number of European folk tales follow the same pattern; there is one about dogs with gigantic eyes and a snuffbox that would summon them to act as genies. In all of these tales, the protagonist follows the prohibition, though in some cases he may accidentally brush an item with his clothing and trigger disaster.
- This is a staple of fairy tales. It usually falls into two categories: The good vs. evil sibling stories and the husband and wife stories. In the former, the good child/sibling is told not to do or touch something and obeys while the wicked child/sibling does not and suffers some form of punishment. In the husband and wife stories, the protagonist (either the husband or the wife) finds a spouse through magical means and is given some sort of order, like not to hit them with iron or to sit on a rock without moving. The order is inevitably ignored or disobeyed, causing said magical spouse to be forced to leave the protagonist. In some fairy tales, the spouse is gone for good, but in others they are found again after several years of searching and trials. This kind of fairy tale goes way back to the myth of Psyche and Eros, when she was told not to look at her husband when he came to her at night.
- There's the story of Pandora's Box, which released all kinds of evils and diseases into the world. She knew something bad would happen if she opened it, but she did it anyway.
- Depending on the telling, Zeus set up the box as Schmuck Bait to punish mankind for accepting fire from Prometheus.
- Depending on how one interprets the story, the box could represent gaining sapience, having to face knowledge of all the world's ills instead of simply existing as animals.
- Some versions specifically say that Zeus gifted her with strong curiosity to ensure that she did open it. If the Olympians were determined to see something happen, chances are they'd get their way.
- Yet another version says that there was no box at all. Just Pandora - the first human woman even created that Gods dumped on a previously single-gender human world as a punishment for stealing Gods' fire. Women ...
- There's also the forbidden fruit of Adam and Eve. As with the Greek mythology example above, it could be an allegory for mankind gaining sentience, but is often instead treated as a cautionary tale of disobeying God.
- Susie from Calvin and Hobbes once asked Calvin to pass a note for her, adding "And don't read it, okay?"
Calvin you stinkhead: I told you not to read this. —Susie
- In Scared Stiff, Elvira will warn you not to touch the crate on the playfield if you hit it with the pinball. Of course, you have to hit it repeatedly to start multiball and other bonus modes.
- At least two separate pieces of fluff text in Warhammer 40,000 books list "Don't touch tha-" as the last words of a Sergeant or squad leader regarding Tyranid Spore Mines.
- The Tomb of Horrors actually relies on this. Amongst other things, the rod that will kill you if you do it, the trap that will kill you if you stick your hand in, the three chests that are ALL trapped... Really, don't touch the whole module and go play something else.
- Every D&D adventuring party can recall the party member who died by trying on the cursed armor (usually over the rest of the group's protests.)
- Or having to make a hasty retreat because someone touched a load-bearing floating rock.
- It's basically an unwritten rule that if the party wants to survive long, never trust anything that has not been properly identified. Don't drink the unidentified potion, don't put on the unidentified ring, don't try and use the unidentified wand, etc.
- Munchkin has the Duck of Doom, with the text "You should know better than to pick up a duck in a dungeon."
- The original Space Quest featured a button marked "This button is not to be pushed at any time" in the escape pod. Pressing it caused the player to wind up in King's Quest I where the pod would plummet straight into a moat filled with hungry alligators.
- In the VGA remake the scene was changed to the pod winding up in Conquests of the Longbow instead, and would simply crash and burn against a hillside.
- In Modern Warfare 2, there is a credits sequence which takes place in a museum. The museum contains scenes from the game, with statues that move when you get close. There is also a big red bell that reads 'Do NOT press this button'. Pressing it results in every statue coming to life and attacking you.
- There's an item in Shadow Madness called Pandora's Box, the item description of which recommends the player to save before using. It displays a pretty CG movie that shows the end of the universe.
- In one of the Thief games, there's a "Do Not Press" red button inside a butcher's shop in a warehouse district. Pushing it release a giant spider to attack you.
- There's another one several missions later, presumably for those who missed the first and/or the terminally slow on the uptake. This one releases SEVERAL giant spiders.
- In the levels with alarms that the guards can activate, there's nothing preventing you from pushing the button and turning on the alarm...
- The Ulduar raid in World of Warcraft features a large button labeled "DO NOT PUSH THIS BUTTON". Pushing it causes the nearby boss, Mimiron, to yell at you ("Didn't you read the sign that says 'do not push this button'?"). It also activates Mimiron's hard-mode encounter, which involves the room you're in starting to explode, as well as the classic "This room will self-destruct in X minutes" warnings over the loudspeaker.
- The button in the pool in Maniac Mansion, though of course you know that most everyone pushed it, despite the warning anyways.
- In The Lost Vikings 2, one of the Vikings pushes a button labelled "Do Not Touch", thinking it read "Donut". This launches them across time and space, forcing them to have another quest to find their way home.
- The Dumb Ways To Die video game has a level asking you "Don't touch the red button." Doing so grants you an Earth-Shattering Kaboom.
- Diablo II: Marius finds himself venturing into the tomb of Tal Rasha alongside the Dark Wanderer, eventually finding the shackled mage in the flesh. Before the Dark Wanderer can release him, Tyrael involves himself and the two duke it out. Marius approaches (under the belief Tal Rasha wants to be released from his miserable fate), only for Tyrael to call out to him not to do it. Marius doesn't listen.
Tyrael: Fool! You have just ensured the doom of this world. You cannot begin to imagine what has been set in motion this day. Go to the Temple of Light in the city of Kurast. There you will find the gate to Hell opened before you. You must find the courage to step through that gate, Marius! Take the stone to the Hellforge where it will be destroyed. Now run... Take the stone and run!!
- In a somewhat inverted example (in that when you place a sign, people will generally do the opposite), in Mine Craft online servers, if you put up a sign on your house that says "Do not grief", chances are, you will be one of the first ones to be targeted for griefing. Of course, if you're dumb enough to believe that posting a sign would actually convince a griefer to not grief your house, you probably somewhat deserve it.
- In a straight example, many death traps have a sign that says "Do not push this button" or "Do not try to steal from this treasure chest." Guess what people do?
- In Fallout3, you are sent to retrieve a GECK (which converts the area around it into pure energy and forms fertile soil) from a radiated Vault, but you are given the option to activate it instead. The game asks you twice if you're sure, and flat-out tells you the second time that you will die if you turn it on.
- Buck from Wildstar says this to HIMSELF in the cinematic trailer when he accidentally activates something in a broken-down giant robot, unleashing a swarm of killer drones.
Buck: ...had to go and touch it.
- At the end of the trailer, when the whole party falls into an ancient crypt, he repeats his warning:
Buck: Nobody. Touch. Anything.
- At the end of the trailer, when the whole party falls into an ancient crypt, he repeats his warning:
- In Dragon Age II Mark of the Assassin, Tallis the rogue warns you not to touch the mysterious forest altar. Obviously, that's what every player ever is going to do. She then says "I TOLD you not to touch it!" when it summons a Sky Horror and a bunch of ghostly assassins. (Your ass is probably grass if you are playing on the highest difficulty.)
- Starship Titanic has a big red button that say "Press to disarm bomb". No prizes for guessing what happens if you do press it.
- The Order of the Stick: Castle Self-Destruct. (Do not touch ever.) (No, not even then.)
- Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures "Remember. Always idiot-proof your lab!"
- Played straight in this Good Times strip.
- Saves A Fox from Goblins repeatedly tells everyone not to touch anything in her quasi dungeon crawl with Grem, K'Selliss and Dies Horribly. Naturally, everyone else keeps doing it anyway. Eventually this frustrates Saves so much that she begins angrily screaming she doesn't care anymore, they can touch whatever they want, she's going to save her breath. This only encourages K'Seliss to touch her...
- This also gets K'Seliss in trouble later when he rips the finger off an undead abomination, intending to eat it.
- "DON'T TOUCH!!" "NO" "CAN YOU READ?"
- In Wapsi Square, Bud warned Monica that she shouldn't touch an artifact because it had frightened a group of Nazis enough to make them kill each other. Naturally, Monica touched it, but not before Tempting Fate. Bud expected this, and had even taken bets on whether or not Monica would touch it.
- Played with in Exterminatus Now: The Mad Scientist Laboratory has a Big Red Button for the Self-Destruct Mechanism labeled "Do Not Push". Of course, the Mobian Inquisition wants to destroy the base, so they push the button. It turns out that it was a decoy that just set off the alarms.
- In one Nodwick story (the first appearance of Baphuma'al, in fact) the heroes are hired to get a pillow from an old wizard's house. They are given these explicit instructions by their employer: "You must not disturb any objects other than the pillow, as most items are cursed, trapped, or both. Touching anything may jeopardize your mission... As well as three nearby fiefdoms, a monastery, and a winery I am quite fond of." Naturally, Yeagar doesn't believe this, and convinces Nodwick to try to steal a fancy and valuable "Elysium Barcalounger"; this leads to a Gory Discretion Shot where Piffany and Arthax require a squeegee to collect their remains in order to restore them.
- In Homestuck, Sollux, for some inexplicable reason, creates a code that, if run, will curse the user and everyone he knows to horrible fates. He gives it to Karkat, who almost instantly runs it despite being told not to.
- Vexxarr does not want anyone touching his ship's fearsome and unpredictable main weapon. Unfortunately...
Vexxarr: Do not fix the zorp weapon. Do not touch it! Do not allow stray photons to glance off its valence cloud! If you find yourself thinking about the zorp weapon you are being far too interactive! Do I make myself clear?Mahakalosian engineer: So...you're saying we should put it back?
- This conversation from Tales of Zenith:
Reverend: Tam, how did you keep people from touching the painted wall? Every time I do I have to touch up for fingerprints.Tam O'Shanter: What kind of sign did you put up?Reverend: Just "Wet Paint: Do not touch."Tam O'Shanter: Oh, that's why. That's really not good enough. A 'wet paint' sign is practically an invitation saying 'please touch.' I used a stronger one.Reverend: What did yours say?Tam O'Shanter: "Notice: This wall is the edge of the Most High Shrine of God. Touching will result in irrevocable damnation for eternity."
- In a Breaking Cat News strip, the cats repeatedly sniff at a cactus even though this leads to the needles pricking their faces. Tommy asks if anyone has tried leaving the cactus alone, but Elvis stubbornly refuses to do so.
- Subverted in Digger, when a mysterious man asks the wombat main character what she would do "if I gave you a box that must not be opened, ever, under any circumstances?" She promptly launches into a description of encasing it in concrete and using it as a foundation block for a long-lifespan public works project, with allowances for extra measures depending on the specifications of the box itself, without even bothering to ask why.
Trader Manuel: Heh heh heh. Excellent. Why did I never consider a wombat before?
- The emailed-around Don't Press The Red Button thingy.
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
Bulma's father : Make sure not to touch anything, like the gravity control. Or the start button.
* shows the button*
Bulma's father : The start button. Don't touch... THE start button. Now I'll be right back.
Goku : Okiedokie.
* 3 seconds later* Goku : Wonder if this is the button. *shuttle blast off in space*
- Referenced and lampshaded several times in Ursula Verson's Gearworld journal. The explorers of the labyrinthine, self-modifying and seemingly boundless structure known as Gearworld find that it contains many hazards, several of which are marked by polite signs left by an unknown group calling themselves the Monks of Perdition. These signs always take the Forbidden Fruit factor into account and plead the reader to heed them while acknowledging that they may very well choose not to do so. The uncovering first such sign can be found here:
PLEASE DO NOT STRIKE GONG
While we fully understand that you are curious as to what happens when the gong is struck, we must strongly advise against it. The results are most unpleasant and dramatically fatal. Human nature being what it is, we realize that this warning may not stop you, and may in fact only drive you to strike it, but since we are unable to destroy the gong, and the lock was evidently insufficient to keep you out, we can only hope that you will take our advice. There are neither riches nor knowledge here, but only an ugly death.
The Monks of Perdition
In Memory of Brother Wu
- Red vs. Blue's Church, upon discovering that "the stupidest being in the universe" will be responsible for a prophesied apocalypse, attempts to warn the team ditz, Caboose: "Don't touch anything, don't look at anything, don't breathe on anything!" By then, though, it's already too late.
- Yu Gi Ohthe Abridged Series had a variation of this, where a magic door appears in front of Serenity, Duke and Tristan, telling them to open it. When Duke asks what's behind the door, it answers "You will enter a world of deep, unending pain and torment! ...Oh, and, uh... ponies." The following dialogue actually happens twice:
Serenity: Ponies! I love ponies!
Duke: Serenity, NO!
* opens the door*
- Used in the GummiBears episode "He Who Laughs Last" where "Don't Touch It, You Idiot!" becomes "Don't Eat It You Idiot". Tummi ate a piece of literal Forbidden Fruit which caused him to slowly turn into a tree. Made even worse when Zummi lost his medallion, which was needed to reopen the Great Book and find the spell to save Tummi.
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force - Frylock spends the entire episode chastising Shake this way in the episode The Broodwich.
Frylock: Will you just throw that damn thing away? If you keep it around here you're gonna eat it and then you're gonna die!
- In the Arthur episode "Arthur's Big Hit", D.W. breaks Arthur's model plane. He worked on it for days and told her a million times "Don't touch it!", and she still decided that throwing it out of the window was a good idea. When she failed to apologise (blaming Arthur for building a plane that couldn't fly) Arthur lost all patience with her and hit her, yelling, "I TOLD YOU... NOT TO TOUCH IT!"
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang and Zuko find "some kind of mystical gemstone" in the Temple of Doom in "The Firebending Masters", and Zuko goes right for it.
Aang: Well, don't touch it!
Zuko: Why not?
Aang: Remember what happened out there with those spikes? I'm just very suspicious of giant, glowing gems sitting on pedestal.
Iroh: Zhao, whatever you do to that spirit, I'll unleash on you ten-fold! Let it go now!
- To make a short story shorter, the two end up buried in superglue gunge for the next couple of hours.
- A much more serious version appears in the first season finale, when Iroh threatens Zhao not to hurt the moon spirit. When he does it anyway he receives a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from the ocean spirit and Aang in his full avatar state.
- The Batman: The Animated Series episode, "Harlequinade" has a very funny one after Harley Quinn wants to listen to the Batmobile's radio and presses a button that instead expels the Batmobile's parachute.
Batman: Listen, and listen good. You don't touch anything, say anything, or do anything unless I tell you! Got it?
Harley: (small voice) Yes, sir.
- Codename: Kids Next Door
Numbuh 2: I told you not to touch that!
- In "Operation: M.A.C.A.R.R.O.N.I.", Numbuh 13 causes two of Sector V's planes to crash because he touches something he shouldn't:
Numbuh 13: Well sor-ry! Gee, you guys are even touchier than Sector N!"!
Numbuh Five: Nobody touches anything!
- In "Operation: F.O.U.N.T.A.I.N.", the team are in an ancient temple that resembles a school, and are currently in what looks like a cafeteria, complete with food. Numbuh Five is certain that a trap is here (seeing as they barely survived the one in the last big room) but her warning as they walk through it is distorted like some twisted game of "whisper down the alley":
Numbuh One: Numbuh Five says, don’t touch anything!
Numbuh Four: Numbuh One says, don’t punch a thing!
Numbuh Three: Numbuh Four, says, try the onion rings!
Numbuh Two: Well, you don’t have to tell me twice!
Numbuh Three: (Screams)
Numbuh Two: What, I was going to share… (Is cut off as he realizes that taking the food has triggered a Drowning Pit trap.)
- The plot of the Defenders of the Earth episode "A Demon in His Pocket" revolves around Kshin disobeying Mandrake's instruction not to touch his sorcery books and summoning a demon in an attempt to teach a group of bullies a lesson without fighting them himself. (The Defenders' Code of Honour forbids them to fight unnecessarily.) Needless to say, things rapidly spiral out of control and Kshin is left with no choice but to tell Mandrake what he has done, even though he knows he will be in trouble.
- One Fairly OddParents episode features the following exchange:
Presidential Aide: Mr. President, whatever you do, do not touch that red button next to the salt!
President: You mean this button? [presses it, launching a nuclear missile, and knocks over the salt for good measure]
- In the Johnny Bravo segment "Bootman", the leader of the Astounding League of Super People tells Johnny not to push a certain button. Johnny's response? "Aw, now I got to!"
- As the Justice League is exploring an area with a number of magical artifacts, The Flash picks one up, and accidentally blows a hole in the wall. Batman yells at him not to touch anything, since it could be extremely dangerous. Pan over to Superman and Martian Manhunter quickly putting down artifacts. Wonder Woman, at least, was smart enough to not touch anything.
- Kaeloo: In Episode 104, Olaf tells Stumpy not to touch the Big Red Button on his lair's control panel, but he does anyway. The lair blows up, but everyone escapes except Olaf.
- In The Legend of Zelda cartoon, Link tells Zelda not to touch the Armos statues while they explore a labyrinth. Guess what Zelda does while asking "Why?". In the ensuing battle, she accidentally touches another and Link is thrown into touching a third.
- The Looney Tunes short "Designs for Leaving" has Daffy Duck install automatic devices on Elmer Fudd's home, controlled from a panel of buttons. Elmer's attention immediately goes to the Big Red Button at the end, But Daffy warns him "No, no, no! Not the wed one! Don't ever push the wed one!" At the end, Elmer can't resist and pushes it. It causes the house to be lifted up hundreds of feet up in the air, in case of a tidal wave.
- "Pandora's Box" was a Terrytoons films starring Super Mouse (who would later become Mighty Mouse) and is based on the old mythology tale. Pandora and her boyfriend are mice (of course), and she stumbles upon a mysterious box. Her boyfriend calls out "Don't touch it!" Pandora opens it anyway, and out comes a horde of demonic cats. "I told you not to touch it!!"
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode Inspiration Manifestation, this is Owlowiscious' response to the stone spellbook in a secret chamber hanging over a pit with a Sickly Green Glow emanating from the ceiling. Spike grabs it without a second thought.
- The Out of the Inkwell cartoon "Koko's Earth Control" has Koko the Klown and his dog Fitz enter the control room for the planet Earth, and Fitz's attention turns to a lever marked "Danger/Beware - If this handle is pulled, the world will come to an end." Naturally, despite Koko's attempts to stop him, Fitz pulls the lever, and although we don't see the world end as such, things do get really crazy.
- In the first episode of The Real Ghostbusters, construction workers digging more tunnels for the New York subway system come across a door with a demonic face that repeatedly tells them to not open it until Doomsday. Because they're on a schedule, and because they don't want to be told what to do by a talking door, they attempt to continue digging. And when the door sees that they aren't going to listen to it, it then opens, unleashing Hell on Earth into New York's subway system.
Doomsday Door: Do Not Open Until Doomsday!
- In The Ren & Stimpy Show short "Space Madness", Ren, inflicted with the titular disorder, brings Stimpy to a room with a shiny red button. When Stimpy goes to touch, Ren slaps his hand away and shouts out, "DON'T TOUCH IT! IT'S THE HISTORY ERASER BUTTON, YOU FOOL!!"
- The Simpsons:
- "Treehouse of Horror IV": In "The Devil and Homer Simpson", Homer's sold his soul to the Devil for a doughnut - but he's smart enough to know if he doesn't eat it all the Devil doesn't get his soul. So later that night, as he's rummaging through the fridge, among lots of tasty goodies there's a chunk of doughnut with a big sign attached - "DADDY'S SOUL DOUGHNUT - DO NOT EAT". Of course, since Homer is half-asleep, and even at the best of times isn't too bright, he eats it anyway.
Bart: I know I shouldn't... but when am I gonna be here again?
- In "Bart Simpson's Dracula", when Bart is running from vampires, he sees a switch labeled "Super Fun Happy Slide". Despite knowing it would turn the stairs into a slide and send him right to the vampires, he pulled it anyway. His reasoning?
- Of course, he may have already been a vampire.
- In yet another Treehouse of Horror episode, Groundskeeper Willie put a note on the school thermostat saying "Do Not Touch - Willie". Homer thought it was good general advice before cranking up the thermostat, causing a fire that killed Willie.
- In a non-Treehouse episode, "Homer's Enemy", Frank Grimes stops Homer from drinking acid instead of his Buzz Cola by slapping it out of his hand, splashing it against a wall which instantly decomposes. Of course Grimey is instantly in trouble for ruining the wall instead of being praised as a hero for saving Homer.
- The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "I'm Your Biggest Fanatic" has a Running Gag in which Patrick touches something he's not supposed to touch and is promptly chastised by a security guard.
Spongebob: Wow! It's Dr. Man-O-War! The man who got stung by Big Lenny and lived![cuts to a man with a very large welt on his face]Dr. Man-O-War: -and now it only hurts when you touch it.[Patrick touches the welt, causing Dr. Man-O-War to cry out in pain]Patrick: Touch.Security Guard: Do I have to follow you around all day?
- Star Wars Rebels: In "Through Imperial Eyes", Ezra and Kallus have snuck into Grand Admiral Thrawn's office, and Ezra sees Hera's kalikori from a previous episode. He thinks of taking it, but Kallus tells him not to on the grounds that they're "not here to steal art". The main reason, however, is that if Thrawn finds anything that looks out of place, it will be a dead giveaway for Ezra, as it was bad enough Thrawn expected an ambush when he came in.
- Subverted in the movie Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo; when visiting the Japanese police center, Beast Boy notices a red button and is about to touch it... only to be intimidated into not doing it by Raven.
- British artist Damien Hirst has spoken of an exhibition he will never be allowed to do. It consists of a big red button with DO NOT PRESS written under it. When people (inevitably) ignore the sign and press the button, a boxing glove shoots out and punches them in the face.
- There is much debate over what kind of warnings to put at nuclear waste burial sites that might actually keep future generations (or aliens) away, rather than simply tickling their curiosity (assuming proper documentation of what's actually there has fallen by the wayside). One suggested possibility is to start a But Thou Must! Not religion, the idea being that religion is a way of keeping a message going for a really, really long time. Well, something vaguely recognizable as the message, anyway.
- See Sealed Evil in a Can for how well this can end.
- Animals in nature that are painted bright shiny colors so that animals know "I'm horribly poisonous; don't eat me!" Pretty sure they still get eaten. And the consumers die.
- Many brightly colored animals, like Monarch butterflies, simply make predators sick, which still protects other members of the species without relieving any pressure on competing species.
- There are also lots of species that mimic both brightly-colored animals, without the sickening or poisoning part, so it's safe to assume that this is a good tactic to remain safe. Mostly.
- Many brightly colored animals, like Monarch butterflies, simply make predators sick, which still protects other members of the species without relieving any pressure on competing species.
- Poison ivy, hot pots and pans without an oven mitt, wet paint... Real Life is full of things like this.
- "Tell someone there are a million stars in the sky and they will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet and they will have to touch it to be sure."
- Whenever you go out to eat, the server warns you the dish they set down is still hot... and someone in your party will invariably touch it to verify the fact.
- In the Evil Overlord List, one of the items is that all devices will have a well concealed self-destruct button, and an obvious button labeled "do not press" which will trigger an immediate spray of bullets into anyone stupid enough to disregard it.
- The Indiana Jones and The Temple of the Forbidden Eye attraction at Disneyland revolves around a recently-discovered temple where an ancient deity resides, offering to bestow upon visitors endless wealth, eternal youth, or visions of the future, on the one condition that they don't look into the deity's eyes. If they do, they'll be led to certain doom. Almost as soon as the ride starts, the vehicles enter the treasure room, which contains a large statue of the deity's face on the far wall ... and you can guess what happens from there.
- Of course, there is also the rope you're not supposed to pull.
Don't click here, I'm warning you!