In One Ear, Out the Other
"After you'd known Christine for any length of time, you found yourself fighting a desire to look into her ear to see if you could spot daylight coming the other way."
The ear drum is a sensory organ within the ear canal, and can be damaged if you stick an object deep enough in it. This is not the case in cartoons. In the toon world, the ears are there so sound (or just about anything) can go directly into the brain (or out the other ear if the character has no brain to speak of).
Sometimes, the thing that went into the ear ends up visible in the character's eyeballs, as if they were just windows into his head.
A varation of this trope does not involve physical objects going
into the ear, but rather a POV shot of a character's ear showing an unobsructed view through their empty head and out the opposite ear.
If a living creature does this to another character's ears this overlaps with Orifice Invasion
See also Hollow Sounding Head
and Who Even Needs a Brain?
. Can occasionally overlap with Disability Immunity
and Orifice Invasion
. Doesn't refer to when things people are saying
go metaphorically "in one ear and out the other"; that sense would be covered by Comically Missing the Point
or Not Listening to Me, Are You?
- The French comic Les Blondes had a joke around this. A Dumb Blonde is listening to some gossip on her cell phone and laughing out loud. Her equally blonde friend asks her what the gossip is and the first blonde tells her to stick her ear next to the first blonde's other ear, allowing her to listen in on the phonecall. It works. A later strip had a similar joke involving an iPod an the two girls sharing a single set of earbuds.
- Many Dumb Blonde jokes feature a variation on this trope, including the page image and the commercial below.
Film - Live Action
Films - Animated
- An Australian KFC Hot and Spicy ad campaign from the 90s had customers gain the ability to breath fire after eating the spicy chicken. One commerical featured a guy tucking into a bucket of extra hot chicken while his Dumb Blonde girlfriend sitting beside him is completely absorbed in a very cliche sounding soap opera. Without taking her eyes off the screen she asks him what he is eating. He responds by leaning over and blowing softly in her ear causing a jet of flame to shoot straight out of her other ear. As he leans back she blinks, shakes her head slightly, comments that it sounds nice and reaches for a piece herself, still without taking her eyes off the screen (see it here.)
- Roger Rabbit scratches through his ears with a file.
- In Astérix and Cleopatra, when the workers are on lunch break, Artifis addresses them. One turns his head towards him but keeps moving his spoon, sending food into his ear until it comes through.
- In Flushed Away one of Rita's countless hyperactive younger brothers experimentally sticks a spoon into one of his ears at meal time and cheerfully pulls it out the opposite ear.
- In Space Jam, doctor Daffy examines Michael Jordan's ear and is able to see Bugs through the other ear.
- Dopey clears water out of his ears by blowing it out.
- In Pinocchio, Gideon the cat tries to listen to what the coachman is whispering to Honest John by putting his ear to John's other ear. When he can't hear anything, he cleans out the ear with his finger. He also earns bonus points by plugging up his own other ear to make sure nothing comes out.
- An old episode of Night Gallery had a man in a jungle being tortured by having an earwig tunnel through his head, going through one ear and out the other. He survived, but it left eggs inside. Needless to say, the whole thing was biologically wrong.
- In an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch Zelda looks into Sabrina's ear and can see Hilda through the other ear.
- They also, on occasion, use "mental floss" to enhance their mental acuity. It works exactly how it sounds.
- In the Hannah Montana episode 'Get Down, Study-udy-udy':
Lilly: (Lifts Miley's hair and peers into her ear) "Hey Oliver, I can see you!"
Oliver: (Looks into Miley's opposite ear) "Oh, I see you too!" (They wave at each other.)
- In The Outer Limits (1995) episode "From Within", a small town is invaded by prehistoric slug-like parasites who crawl into a victim's head through nostrils or earholes and turn them into hedonistic deliquents. A waitress has one slug crawl in her right ear, then much later falls out of her left ear dead, leaving her back to normal. This might have been a mistake but she did come across as pretty ditzy so this might have been a stealth pun...
- In the short lived sitcom The Pitts Lizzy Caplan played a Butt Monkey Bratty Teenage Daughter who at one point gets a pipe lodged through her head (side to side rather than front to back) at ear level and is completely unharmed (other than the social embarassment of being a teenage girl with a pipe through her head.) At one point a doctor shone a torch through her pipe and could see out the opposite side.
- One episode of The Beverly Hillbillies features Granny giving Jethro a physical before he joins the army. At one point she is using a candle to look into his ear then, still looking in the same ear, moves the candle to the other side of his head. She blows in the original ear, snuffing the candle out.
- An episode of Victorious had Cat get a butterfly stuck in her left ear. After several attempts to get it out Robbie enlists the aid of Andre's grandmother who yells into Cat's left ear, causing the butterfly to fly out the opposite ear. Lampshaded by a confused Robbie:
Robbie: "But it came out of your right ear."
- The cover of Accept's third album Breaker has a woman who has barbed wire going through her ears like this.
- Homaged on the cover of Breaker's Accept EP, with this done to a dog.
- There are pictures of persons with flutes through their ears. This picture of Peter Schickele doesn't quite fit it.
- The Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers music video for "Make It Better (Forget About Me)" has a tiny Petty climb into the ear of a (very confused looking) young blonde woman and play the whole song inside her (mostly empty) head. She eventually uses a q-tip to get rid of them.
- In an early 1980s Garfield strip, Garfield witnesses a bug flying into Odie's ear... only to come out of the other one. Smiling, he thinks/speaks to himself: "Figures."
- In a later strip Jon whispers into Odie's ear what he is going to get Garfield for Christmas, only to stop when he notices Garfield listening at Odie's other ear.
- A 1960s The Perishers strip had Maisie being chased by Wellington with a water pistol. Maisie asked Marlon for help, only to have Wellington squirt the gun into Marlon's ear, straight through his head, into Maisie's face. Marlon, of course, hardly noticed.
- Several versions of this trope turned up over the years in the pages of Weekly World News ranging from a man with transparent brain tissue (so one could shine a light in one ear and have it come out the other), to a young Kansas woman who discovered someone blowing in her ear would result in a breeze coming out the other side to a dimwitted Californian surfer dude who was cleaning his ear with a q-tip, and "not finding much resistance" decided to see how far it could go (right out the other ear it turns out, which the surfer found "way cool").
- In Psychonauts, Raz is able to look directly into the brain cavity through the ear, and can see right out the other ear of brain-theft victims.
- At one point in Dominic Deegan, Spark notes that Quilt doesn't have a brain. When Donovan (on one side of Quilt) asks why he thinks that, Spark (sitting on the other side) looks through Quilt's ears and says, "I can see you."
- There has been a case where a young boy got something stuck in his ear and his brother tried to get it out by pushing it all the way through the other ear, apparently because he's seen it done in cartoons many times.
- There's a particular magic trick with a pencil (no, not that one, God no) which imitates this.
- The trope name is an almost word for word translation of a French expression ("Ça rentre par une oreille et ça sort par l'autre" - "it enters through one ear and exits through the other") used for people who do not pay any attention to what is said to them.
- This trope name has also been adopted to identical meaning in at least the American English vernacular.