Parrots, mynahs, crows, and some other birds have a well-known ability to mimic many of the sounds they hear. Thus, it shouldn't be surprising that some of them learn to cuss like a sailor.
This is primarily a comedy trope, used for a laugh as the parrot's embarrassed owner tries frantically to shut the bird up. It's also Truth in Television
. Because parrots live for a very long time, most parrot owners are advised not to swear around them so that when the owner dies, the parrot doesn't have trouble finding a new home. For some reason, most prospective pet owners don't want their bird swearing at them.
A common variation seen in works aimed at kids (or otherwise vulnerable to censorship) is for the parrot to learn non-profane words that are, nevertheless, still insults or otherwise not meant for polite conversation.
This is a sister trope to Not In Front Of The Parrot
, where the bird repeats something important it overheard such as the combination to a safe or a villain's Evil Plan
. Do not confuse this trope with actual talking animals
; this trope is about mimicry of profanity. Compare to Innocent Swearing
, where the one doing the parroting is a sapient being (usually a kid) that doesn't understand that it shouldn't say such things.
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- One of Ralf König's comics featured a parrot whose prior owner spent all his free time watching porn. The parrot had an understandably difficult time finding a new owner.
- Bertie Blunt (His Parrot's A Cunt) in Viz.
- In Scary Movie 2, the parrot does this, except it turns out it can really talk and not just mimic.
- A man owned a parrot that would swear up a storm at the drop of a hat. Around Thanksgiving, the owner had guests coming and hatched a plan. The next time the parrot started cursing, he grabbed it by the neck and tossed it into the freezer. Muffled cussing came out of the freezer for a couple minutes, then suddenly absolute silence. The owner was worried and opened the door. The parrot very meekly walked out and quietly asked, "What did the turkey do?"
- A thief gets a tip from a fellow criminal to hit an old lady's house. He was told one thing. Nothing would happen to him if he didn't say a word to the parrot.
Sure enough, he breaks into the house, and he sees the parrot on it's perch. The parrot looks at him and shouts "Brutus is gonna fuck you up, you bastard. Brutus is gonna fuck you up!" the thief ignores him and starts going through the dressers.
"Brutus is gonna fuck you up, you motherfucker! Brutus is gonna fuck you up!" the thief grits his teeth and starts taking expensive items he can easily carry, jewellery and whatnot.
"Brutus is gonna fuck you up, you cunt! Brutus is gonna fuck you up!" the thief loses it and snaps at the parrot "Shut up, you dumb bird!"
Suddenly there's a big Rottweiler in front of the thief.
The parrot looks at him and pauses. "Brutus. ... Sic 'em."
- While marooned in the South China Sea in one of the Destroyermen books, Silva discovers a flying lizard that takes a liking to him, much to his chagrin. Being an enlisted man, Silva swears a lot, in particular calling the parrot equivalent a "stupid shit". You can probably see where this is going.
- In the Garrett, P.I. series, Garrett receives "the Goddamn Parrot" from his friend Morley. TGP's vocabulary primarily consists of appreciative but extremely vulgar descriptions of female anatomy, which he loves to indulge in whenever a woman comes to visit.
- A G-rated version appears in the Fudge books. Fudge is very proud of his mynah bird, Uncle Feather, who can speak French. Any time someone addresses the bird he responds by saying, "Bonjour, Stupid."
- The ship's parrot in Nation, who spends most of the book shouting "Show us yer drawers!" at no-one in particular. The narrator notes that many of the things the parrot says are phrases Daphne knows she shouldn't recognize as a "proper" young lady, but she's more concerned about the phrases she doesn't understand.
- In Moving Pictures, the movie pioneers attempt to add sound to their films by using parrots. The result tends to be along the lines of brief snatches of romantic dialogue interrupted by cries of "Warrrk! Showusyerknickers!"
- Kiki the cockatiel in Enid Blyton's "Adventure" series, although being a children's series this takes the form of shouting obnoxious quotes rather than swearing per se.
Live Action TV
- One episode of Happy Endings has Alex buy a parrot that keeps making racist and homophobic remarks.
- NYPD Blue had the Pointy-Haired Boss bring in an obnoxious parrot that repeated everybody. Sipowicz forces the boss to get rid of it by a simple trick: he plants a tape recording of somebody shouting "Douchebag! Douchebag!" in the parrot's room overnight. You can watch it here.
- This◊ Dogs of C-Kennel strip had Wheeler the bird introducing his parrot friend to Will, only for the parrot to do some Symbol Swearing, implying that Will had already met the parrot.
- One cutaway of Family Guy has Joe buy a talking parrot. Peter immediately teaches it the word "cripple", much to Joe's dismay.
- The Kids From Room 402: Subverted. When Jesse and Vinny taught insults to a parrot, Jesse suggested teaching curse words but that was as close as the trope came to being played in the cartoon.
- Finagle's Law means that the one time you slip up in front of the parrot (e.g. you stub your toe on the coffee table and drop a Cluster F-Bomb), the parrot will inevitably remember it.
- There's a story about a couple who kept an African grey parrot in their bedroom. One night the couple "got busy". Later on they had some guests over and the parrot repeated the events of the night.
- President Andrew Jackson's parrot had to be removed from his funeral because it wouldn't stop swearing. In two different languages, no less.
- Winston Churchill allegedly owned a parrot that constantly repeated the phrases "Fuck Hitler" and "Fuck the Nazis".