"Why is everyone speaking like her now, zam?"
Sometimes one character's Verbal Tic
or character trait (rhyming habit
, funny foreign accent
, etc.) can go viral. (This is how Memes
form, see Memetic Mutation
Got Me Doing It
refers to effects on other characters in the work in question. Some readers/viewers may find certain speech mannerisms infectious enough to pop up in their Real Life
mouths; this effect is much more Ear Worm
country. Of course, if your latest bout of Stephen King
reading has resulted in you saying thankee-sai
to the teller at the bank or the checkout girl, please consider what the Universe may be trying to tell you.
See also: Borrowed Catchphrase
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Anime and Manga
- In an issue of Young Justice, Impulse adopts the extreme Brooklyn accent of Doiby Dickles, sidekick of the golden age Green Lantern. It drives Superboy insane, but Bart doesn't even realize he's doing it.
- Speaking of Superboy, he has an encounter with a Bizarro clone of himself in his Year One annual who speaks in a form of the Bizarro language. During their tussle, Superboy ends up saying, "me am not invulnerable to fire!"
- Done to a quasi-supernatural extent in an old issue of Jughead comics. Just for the heck of it, Jughead would respond to everything the people around him say in rhymes. It would immediately catch on, and before the end of the school-day everybody in Riverdale High cannot help but respond to each other in rhymes, eventually driving themselves crazy. This will only stop if Jughead gets hit on the head.
Ms.Grundy: You look pale sir, are you sick?
Mr.Weatherbee: Jughead's off on a rhyming kick. (next panel) See what I did that time? I made it rhyme! We're dead! We're dead!
Ms.Grundy: Omigosh! How far do you think has it spread?
Mr.Weatherbee: There's no way of telling, once it's begun.
Ms.Grundy: It's all my fault, I taught Jughead that rhyming was fun!
- A Looney Tunes comic book had Bugs Bunny accidentally copy Daffy Duck's Speech Impediment after hanging out with him: "Now I'M lisping!"
- There's no better way to describe the impact of Caalador's bad fake accent on the main characters in The Tamuli. It seems that Sparhawk is one of the few who's immune - even Mirtai begins a-doin' it.
- This happens to a lesser extent in The Malloreon with an old prospector (and the same country hick accent).
- In Herman Melville's Bartleby The Scrivener, Bartleby's "I would prefer not to" causes the other clerks in the office to start using the word "prefer" unconsciously.
- A number of characters in the Discworld series start to emulate the Igors' characteristic lithp after talking to them thuffithiently.
- There's no doubt the you'll be at least internally saying things like 'icy' or 'bubbly-making' after reading Uglies.
- In Jeeves and Wooster, Bertie notes that spending time with Jeeves may result in Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness. His various Verbal Tics are equally catching:
Bertie: Jeeves, you're talking rot.
Bertie: Absolute drivel.
Jeeves: Very good, sir.
Bertie: Pure mashed potatoes.
Jeeves: Very good, sir.
Bertie: Very good, sir—I mean very good Jeeves, that will be all.
- The Xanth novels feature a demoness named Metria who can be identified no matter what form she takes by her odd speech patterns; she has a tendency to mispronounce a word, then clarify by listing synonyms until the person she is talking to guesses what she meant. On a number of occasions, the roles have been reversed with whoever is talking to her unconsciously adopting this trait.
Live Action TV
- Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Hollow Pursuits". Crewman Barclay is given the nickname "Broccoli" and many in the crew start using it. Captain Picard finds out and orders that the crew stop using the phrase, as it's insulting and unFederationlike. Later on Picard unthinkingly calls Barclay "Broccoli" to his face and is extremely embarrassed when he realizes what he's done. He doesn't say this trope's catch phrase, but it's clear he's thinking it.
- Used for a Crowning Moment of Funny in Kings. Lampshading a whole season of dialogue more fit for the stage than the small screen, William declares that everyone has "suffered enough peacock speeches". After laying down the law, he warns Rose, "Neither you, nor he, nor any vagrant opinion will interrupt what—now you've got me doing it!"
- A minor plot point in How I Met Your Mother involved Lily adopting a rather unimpressive English accent, apparently after watching all the James Bond films in one weekend.
- Shaun Micallef on Talkin' 'bout Your Generation accidentally slipped into a speech pattern more characteristic of the bizarrely-accented Josh Thomas on at least one occasion.
- During a Talking Head segment of the US version of The Office, we get this gem when Jan Levinson wants to out her relationship with Michael:
- The Only Fools And Horses episode "Stage Fright" had Raquel singing a duet of "Crying" with Tony Angelino The Singing Dustman ... who turned out to have Elmuh Fudd Syndwome.
Tony: You weave me cwying,
Raquel: Cwy - Crying,
- In the Quantum Leap episode "Play It Again, Seymour", Sam leaps into a private detective in the 1950s and is caught up in a Film Noir-style narrative with a pulp-novel-reading kid who uses all kinds of ridiculous hardboiled slang. About halfway through, Sam catches himself using the same kind of slang in his narration. (His past-tense narration...)
- George is gettin' upset!
- In an earlier episode, the main characters meet Elaine's macho, controlling father. George has the "Master of the House" song from Les Miserables in his head, and periodically starts singing it. At the end of the episode, Elaine's father starts singing it to himself.
- In an episode of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon finds new friends when he wants to be the center of the group. Barry Kripke is one of them.
: I'm Bawwy Kwipke and I'm here because you told me there was gonna be a whaffle. When is the whaffle? Sheldon
: Patience, patience, Barry. The whaffle- *ahem* The raffle is the grand finale to an evening-long festival of fun and folly.
- In earlier episodes of The Nanny, Fran would regularly pepper her speech with Yiddish, while the rest of the cast didn't know a word of Yiddish and would have to ask for an explanation. Several seasons later, the entire Sheffield family had caught the habit.
- In LOST, Desmond's been called "Brother" at least once. Also, at Comic-Con 2009, Michael Emerson called Jorge Garcia "dude".
- In an early episode of Corner Gas Lacey complains about the others habit of spitting on the floor when the neighboring town of Woolerton is mentioned. By the end of the scene, she's doing it and realizes she's become one of them.
- On an episode of M*A*S*H, Col. Potter was arguing with a Korean who was insisting in pidgin English that the unit would have to move to get out of the way of a North Korean advance. Finally, Potter found himself saying "We no move! We no move!" before stopping himself, saying, "Now I'm talking like you."
- An old Saturday Night Live sketch has Christopher Lee as Henry Higgins attempting to cure the speech impediment of Gilda Radner's Baba Wawa. It not only doesn't take, but he develops the impediment himself.
- In Sliders, there's a dimension that resembles the Wild West... again. One by one the cast starts to let stereotypical cowboy-speak enter their vocabulary, occasionally saying "sorry, it's catching." Finally, the villain of the episode, someone they'd met before on another world, announces to them, "You guys are making me ornerier than a one-legged man at a butt kicking contest!" The Sliders look at him, and he sheepishly says, "sorry. It's catching."
- Pops up occasionally in Buffy and Angel.
- When Buffy fills the new principal in on how Sunnydale High works...
Buffy: It's like all the hellmouth's energy is trying to escape in that one little spot, and it's getting all...
Buffy: Careful. You're starting to speak like me now.
- ...and when Angel has to spend an entire meeting with Andrew.
She's a slayer. She has every reason to hate us, and she's unstable. In her mind, there probably aren't any good vampyres. (Beat
- In one episode of The A-Team B.A. and Murdock are stuck together for most of the episode, with Murdock constantly rhyming his sentences. By the end of it, B.A. started unconsciously doing it as well.
- In the Doctor Who episode, "Midnight", an evil invisible alien paralyzes the Doctor, possesses a woman and starts imitating his speaking patterns.
- In the Community episode "Alternative History of the German Invasion," Dean Pelton finds himself saying "Changnesia" thanks to Chang/Kevin.
- One The Far Side cartoon did this, with Elmer Fudd being fired from a screwdriver company:
You're an excellent worker, Mr. Fudd, but there is a problem. You've been having a subliminal effect on the staff here. You know no one else makes a finer skwoo dwivuh
... dang! now you have me doing it!
- Happens frequently in The Navy Lark with Captain Ignatius Aloysius Atchinson whose chronic hayfever meant he was unable to speak a work without sneezing, if he appeared then soon the entire cast would be at it. Several of the other character traits would prove contagious over the course of the series whenever it was funny to do so.
- According to Robert Llewellyn's account of playing Kryten in Red Dwarf, during season 4, Craig Charles ended every sentence with "la". By season 5 everyone was doing it, but Charles had stopped. "Obviously, saying 'la' had become passe".
- Accoring to Don Adams, this would happen to guest stars who were on the show Get Smart. Don Adams voice proved very infectious.
- TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Vocabulary
- It's a well documented phenomenon that people will unintentionally begin to mimic the accent of someone they are talking to in order to seem more friendly and receptive.
- The classic Swedish sketch Guben i låddan: Two travelers, played by Hasse Alfredson and Martin Ljung share a sleeping compartment on a train. Ljung asks Alfredson to read him a bedtime story; then, after they agree that Ljung should read it aloud instead, keeps mispronouncing the words. Alfredson eventually storms out after a furious, mispronounced rant ("Herr Larsson, ni är inte riktigt klokk i skalen!") and it turns out to be a Batman Gambit on Ljung's part - he wanted the compartment to himself.
- In Disgaea 2 Yukimaru's "Zam" catches unto a lot of characters.
- The Prinny in town even says "Of course we can talk, zam, dood." using both tics at once.
- Note that this is the samurai Keigo speech, most notably "de gozaru", in the original Japanese. It's still just as contagious.
- A rogue Zam even shows up at the end of the Ninja description in the DS version of the first Disgaea.
- In Disgaea Infinite, the hero Prinny can possess other characters and mind-control them into saying Out of Character Alerts, invariably ending with the word "dude", and confusing both the speaker and the people around them.
- Used a couple times in the Ace Attorney series — Director Hotti, who gets Phoenix to insert some "hmm, yes" into his speech patterns, and Ron DeLite, who makes other characters trail off into nothing...
- Also, Maya picks up Luke Atmey's "Zvarri!" (only used occasionally though).
- Hell, even Phoenix uses "Zvarri!" at least once.
- In short, if someone has a Verbal Tic, it won't be long until it's copied by someone else.
- Final Fantasy VI has this from Sabin, shortly after he's met Cyan:
Sabin: Thou art such a pain in the...! Confound it all! I'm starting to talk like you!
- Later Lampshaded by Gau (who apparently came to the conclusion that because Cyan used "Thou" to refer to Sabin, that must mean Sabin's name is "Thou"):
Gau: Does Mr. Thou like shiny thing?
Sabin: Mr. Thou's that one, over there!
- Final Fantasy VII in Japanese features Reno's Verbal Tic "zo, to". In Advent Children, Tifa recognizes Reno's voice on the phone and imitates his tic in response. (Only in the original, though.)
- Final Fantasy VIII, Raijin ends all his sentences with 'ya know?'. At one point, Zell begins to copy this, and then complains about it.
- In the Animal Crossing games, all the non-player villagers have their own unique verbal tic. From time to time, one animal's tic will be copied by other villagers; it's possible to get whole towns adding a "zip zoom" or suchlike to the ends of sentences.
- One of the tapes left behind by Dr. Alistair Grout from Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines is an observation on the Camarilla by a recently introduced outsider (him), noting "the dressing of language used by the vampires"; namely their usage of overly dramatic and floral speech mannerisms being such a pervasive theme in this "society of darkest night... Damn it all, now I'm doing it too..."
- In The Curse Of Monkey Island Guybrush has to put up with an exasperating bunch of singing and rhyming pirates in his crew. Towards the end of the song, he himself (much to his own horror), lauches into:
Guybrush: You say you're nasty pirates,
Scheming, thieving, bad bushwhackers?
From what I've seen I tell you
You're not pirates, you're just slackers!
- In Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, Athena's recruitment conversation goes something like this:
Vell, vell... You must be the help. Ve
vish to fight with you.
Marth: Ah, splendid. How many of you?
Gather your men, and we'll be on our way at once.
Athena: Men? Ve are a voman. Vun voman!
Are you blind, stupid manchild?
Marth: Vat? ...Ahem, what?
Oh. Right, pardon me.
I, uh, I am Marth, prince of Altea. I heard pirates took the village children, so I brought my army straightaway.
...If you say so. Ve are called Athena.
The vee vuns have been visked aw
ay to a castle south of here. Come.
Ve have a fair bit of skill vith a sword; hopefully the same can be said of you, Marth of Altea.
- It's literally a curse the natives can cast in Fossil Fighters, where their verbal tic can be imposed on anybody Diga-dumb enough to trespass on their lands.
- In The Bard's Tale, upon killing Fnarf (a Kunal Trow with a penchant for speaking with alliteration), the eponymous Bard starts speaking like him for a bit.
The Bard: I've had just about enough of these atrocious alliterative announcements... Now I'm doing it!
- Happens to Strong Bad THREE TIMES in the "Outtakes" for Dangeresque 3 in episode 4 of Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People, when he accidentally picks up Homestar's speech impediment.
Oh, how did those get there? I thought sure I returned those pwiceless
... (background laughter)... pwiceless? Geez!
Homestar: Now I've got HIM doing it!
- Dex of Saints Row constantly has to correct his fellow gang members when they say "The Los Carnales"("Los" is Spanish for "The" so they're basically saying "The the Carnales".) During a later Carnales mission, he starts saying it too.
Dex: So what are we gonna do about The Los Carnales? ...Damn it, now you got me saying it.
- In Katawa Shoujo, during one conversation with Misha on Shizune's route, Hisao unwittingly starts calling Shizune "Shicchan" like Misha does.
- Super Robot Wars Original Generation: Kyosuke's habit of using gambling metaphors begins to spread amongst the other members of the ATX Team and their allies, a phenomenon Excellen lampshades as the "Kyosuke disease".
- In I Miss The Sunrise, Typelog's agents all speak extremely stiffly and formally, addressing Ros on a Full Name Basis. If you talk to Luke while at one of their superhubs, you get this:
Luke: Ros Ouranos... D-ah, I mean, uh, Ros! Gah, they got me doin' it now. Let's... leave soon, yeah?
- In one of the Girl Genius side comics, Krosp finds himself unconsciously supplementing Othar's Insistent Terminology:
You know we sent for the great Othar Tryggvassen? Krosp: Gentleman adven-
WHAT AM I DOING!?
- Also something of a property of Sparks in general. When a Spark gets into the madness place, they have a tendency to drag other people along with their fervor, with people who are particularly conditioned to it becoming permanent Minions. Whether this is merely psychological, a result of Compelling Voice, or something deeper is ambiguous.
- Several times in The Order of the Stick, characters start speaking with Durkon's accent, only to catch and correct themselves.
- It seems that anyone who spends any time with Steve and Bobby will eventually start making atrocious puns. Time claims it's contagious.
- In Dominic Deegan, anyone and everyone who spends time around the Deegans will end up making lots of Incredibly Lame Puns. Also, Spark's alliterration habit seems to be contagious as well.
- The Dinosaur Comics fan community has a habit of talking like the comic's characters, even when the topic is something else entirely. This has carried over to some other comic communities as well, since the official forum is shared with several fandoms.
- Some protagonists of Homestuck began catching each other's speech patterns after prolonged chatting with each other - for example, John is fond of repeating letters eight times (just like Vriska does), while Jade is beginning to swear like a sailor after several conversations with Karkat - which may be symbolic of a deeper relationship between them.
- Over the course of the Troll's session, all of them began copying each other's animal themed puns as a sort of inside joke among each other.
- Vriska's tic eventually metastasizes to John's sound effects.
- "Hu's a jerk." "BLACK MAGE!"
- A Star Wars fan video "Sith Apprentice" had Darth Maul saying his one line over and over again. Everyone was complaining, especially Vader. When it came time for the talent competition, Vader was bragging he would show them all. "At last I will have—great! Now he's got me doing it!"
- Happened on occasion in the old "Gary Coleman" Saturday Morning Cartoon, concerning the character Haggle; any time another character would start speaking in rhyme like he did, they would invoke this trope.
- Freakazoid! had Monster of the Week Invisibo's theme song stuck in his head.
- In the Spectacular Spider-Man episode "Destructive Testing", Spidey finds himself adopting Kraven's speech patterns, much to his annoyance.
- In the classic Tom And Jerry cartoon "Hic-cup Pup", it's established that whenever Spike's little son Tyke is forcefully awakened from a nap, he gets the hiccups. Naturally, Tom wakes Tyke up several times, attracting Spike's ire. Near the end, Spike is trying to cure his son's hiccups, only to start hiccuping himself.
Spike "Now he's got me doin' it! *hic* I'll moider that *hic* cat!"
- The Futurama season 4 finale had everyone join in on Fry's opera.
Prof. Farnsworth "I can't believe the Devil is so unforgiving!"
Zoidberg "I can't believe everybody's just ad-libbing!"
- A funny gag in many Hanna-Barbera cartoons is that a character would work undercover and talk in Spy Speak, much to the annoyance of the person they're talking to. Pretty soon, that other person is talking in spy lingo, too!
- In the Doug episode "Doug Flies a Kite", Doug's father constantly rhymed throughout the episode about kite philosophy. In the last line of the episode, Doug said:
"The Funnie Five was the simplest kite there, but it's the one that did best in the air. Ah! Now he's got me doing it!"
- Superfriends 1973/74 episode "The Balloon People". Dr. Noah Tall's assistant Twisty has been using Spoonerisms throughout the episode, and by the end Dr. Tall is using them too.
- In the feature length animated film of Wonder Woman, she and the Amazons find fighter pilot, Steve Trevor, wandering around the island after his plane is shot down and interrogate him with the lasso of truth. He's forced to reveal many embarrassing truths including the meaning behind the expletive "crap" which disgusts the warrior women. After a prolonged period of unintentional bonding while stopping the god of war, Ares, Wonder Woman utters the word herself when she's about to be smushed by the empowered god. Wonder Woman: "Oh Crap..."
- In the Disney Hercules episode "Hercules and the Arabian Night", a crossover with Aladdin, Hades at first mocks Jafar's Evil Laugh, then by the end of the episode he's also laughing evilly and says he kind of likes it.
- During the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Party of One" Rainbow Dash tries picking a fight with Rocky. "Rocky" is just a stack of rocks, being voiced by a currently insane Pinkie Pie. When she knocks "Him" over, she facehoofs, realizing the insanity of the whole thing.
- Looney Tunes:
- In the cartoon "My Favorite Duck", Porky Pig is on a camping trip near a pond, and Daffy Duck annoys him with his usual antics while singing "Blues in the Night". After several gags, Porky is shown absent-mindedly singing the song, only to realize what he's doing and throw an angry glare at the Fourth Wall.
- In the '70s TV special "Bugs Bunny in King Arthur's Court", Bugs hangs out with Porky for a while and soon finds himself stammering over a word. Porky has to tell him how to pronounce it.
- Elmuh Fudd Syndwome appears to be contagous as Bugs and Daffy will occasionally slip into it as well... granted in a bit of a mocking fashion.
- In the Young Justice animated series, Dick's habit of back-forming words due to a fascination with prefixes leads to his teammates picking up his 'whelmed' and 'aster' on occasion, though they're usually aware that they're doing it.
- It actually gets to the point where Red Arrow uses 'whelmed' in dead-serious context. No one even blinks. It's just that ingrained into their vocabulary.
- Happens to Ariel in the TV series of The Little Mermaid where she tries to convince a magical rhyming fish to break themselves out of a prison where they were forced to mine bubbles by two other antagonistic rhyming fish. She ends up making an unintentional rhyme trying to bring the fish's spirits up and catches herself in the act.
- Done in T.U.F.F. Puppy, when Kitty suddenly mimics Dudley's habit of saying "Or should I say, CHAMELEON?!"
- On Family Guy, Stewie is talking with an inflection at the end of every sentence.
Brian: Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking. Oh dammit, now I'm doing it too!
- Rocky and Bullwinkle: In one "Bullwinkle's Corner", Bullwinkle is being interrogated by a Friday Expy while reciting "Tom Tom the Piper's Son". When Bullwinkle starts mirroring the cop's terse clipped speaking style, the cop asks, "You makin' fun of the way I talk?" Bullwinkle replies, "No, but it's catching!"
- Danger Mouse: "Chicken Run" has Penfold, DM and flying officer Buggles Pigeon doing this.
Buggles: Jolly good show, what?
Penfold: You said "What?"
Buggles: No, you said "What?"
Penfold: Because you said "What?"
Buggles: Hmm? Jolly confusing, what?
DM: What?...good grief, now I'm at it!