Bob makes a comment in the presence of Alice. Much later on, Alice makes the same comment in a different situation, often giving it an unexpected meaning in the new context.
There are four common situations where this is used:
- If Bob's original line was meant maliciously, Alice's Ironic Echo will be twice as cruel, as she throws the attack back in his face.
- If Bob was trying to convince Alice of a way of thinking, Alice will quote it to signify that she now agrees with the idea. This sometimes happens after Bob himself has abandoned the idea (or has shown he never believed in it in the first place).
- Bob's line was meant to be something positive or inspirational, but when Alice parrots it back the subtext makes it seem much darker and/or cynical than Bob meant it to be. The inverse is also common.
- A once-cheery line gets repeated after all the good and hope that it once represented has disappeared. For example, Bob might say that he and Alice will always be friends. After Bob's Start of Darkness has turned him against her, Alice may reminisce on the past, using Bob's initial words. This one is particularly common in musicals, where an entire song can be ironically repeated. (See Dark Reprise.)
However, this will also crop up with lines that were first made idly, innocently, and perhaps not even directed at Alice; in those cases the echo will simply be unexpected, and can be used for humor, shock value, or anything in between.
Compare Flashback to Catchphrase
, Exact Words
, Book Ends
, and Dialogue Reversal
. Subtrope of Meaningful Echo
. Ironic Echo Cut
is when the echo comes immediately and the second speaker has not
heard the first. Can be a form of Hypocritical Humor
or a Brick Joke
. Doing this as a SONG
is often a Dark Reprise
. May often result from a Perspective Reversal
. If the original use was innocent and amusing but the echo is bitter or shocking, this may result in a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment
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- Alan Moore uses this one a lot, but never more than in Watchmen.
- A good example: advertisements for Ozymandias' training system promise "bodies beyond your wildest imagining". When Ozymandias commits his attack on New York, the advertisements are liberally scattered around amidst the piles of corpses.
- The phrase "I believe in Harvey Dent" is repeated several times over the course of The Long Halloween, a Batman graphic novel. First, to display genuine trust in the man and his ability to clean up the city. Then, to assure his innocence in the case of the Holiday murders. Then, to emphasize the point that there's still good in the villainous Two-Face. And finally, by his wife Gilda as part of a dramatic plot twist on the very last page.
- From the same mini-series, after the murder of Johnny Viti by the Holiday Killer, Harvey Dent crassly says, "Two shots to the head. You ask me, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy." After his transformation into Two-Face, he kills Viti's uncle, Carmine Falcone and repeats the statement.
- When Molly Hayes of Runaways says to "put the thing in the thing" to find out what it does, it's just her childness. Not much later, the Runaways really need overdrive, and Victor tells Chase to "Put the thing in the thing." And yes, this was after the master of Buffy Speak started writing.
- In the "That Yellow Bastard" story in Sin City, there are two instances of this:
- When Hartigan punches out his partner Bob, he thinks "Hell of a way to end a partnership... Hell of a way to start my retirement." When Bob double-crosses him, he thinks "Hell of a way to start my retirement... Hell of a way to end a partnership."
- After being shot in his efforts to protect Nancy, Hartigan thinks "An old man dies, a young girl lives. Fair trade." Before blowing his brains out, he thinks "An old man dies, a young woman lives. Fair trade."
- Used by Doctor Strange in World War Hulk. Doc confronts Hulk and makes a little speech, then goes Super Mode and says "Strange Smash", a callback to Hulk's famous line "Hulk Smash".
- Kind of an extended one for Human Flame. When he asked Libra to kill the Martian Manhunter in Final Crisis, he didn't do anything except take a picture of the deed on his mobile phone. Later, when the heroes caught up with him and trapped him in a Cardboard Prison forged from his own stupidity, Green Lantern's final act before shutting the door is to create a mobile phone using his Green Lantern Ring specifically to take a picture.
- Similarly, while the first issue of Final Crisis has said character (a horrible degenerate) saying "This is what happens to anyone who ***s with the Human Flame" while Martian Manhunter (a straight-up hero) burns, it ends with Nix Uotan (the 'Judge of All Evil' and a straight-up hero) saying "No-one ***s with the Judge of All Evil" while Mandrakk (a horrible degenerate) burns.
- Used in so many Fox Trot comics by Bill Amend, it isn't funny... and yet it is.
- The same thing is used a lot in Buckles by David Gilbert.
- In The Sandman Dream has a flashback of his last meeting with Destruction, during which he gave somebody Disproportionate Retribution. Destruction asked if that was absolutely necessary to which Dream responded by asking if he tells Destruction how to do his job. Later, Dream asks Delirium if the Disproportionate Retribution she gave a policeman was necessary and gets the same answer.
- In one strip of Calvin And Hobbes, Calvin remarks that whatever his mom is making, he won't eat it. In order to convince Calvin to eat it, she claims that it's "boiled monkey brains", when it was actually stuffed peppers. However, she forgot to let the dad in on the trick, which led to it backfiring by causing the dad to react with disgust when he heard Calvin remarking that they were "boiled monkey brains" and state that whatever the dish was, he wasn't going to eat it, to the mom's exasperation.
- In New Mutants, an opponent forces Action Girl Dani Moonstar to look at her before breaking her arm. Later on, said Action Girl ambushes her tormentor and echoes her words. "Look at me. Good girl." Cue Oh Crap.
- One Cthulhu Tales comic had this with two shots of the same people in the same positions. Image 1: they're arranged around a living room holding an intervention for the protagonist's drinking. Image 2: they're wearing cult robes and waiting for the demon that was being kept sealed in the protagonist by said drinking.
- A truly dark version appears in the narrative of a story from Tales of the Slayers. In a small village during the Dark Ages, a young, devoutly Christian girl discovers she is this generation's Slayer. Reluctant at first, she fulfills her duties as the Slayer, saying, "God is good, and God is kind." After the town's priest, jealous of her heroism, declares her a witch and rallies the town against her, leading to her being burned alive, her Watcher took his revenge by opening the city gates, allowing a horde of vampires to enter and massacre the entire town. His last words were, "For God is good and God is kind, but God's not welcome here!"
- In Infinite Crisis, Alexander Luthor dismisses Lex Luthor as an idiot, proclaiming himself as the smarter Luthor. In the end of the series, Alex is begging for mercy before getting his head ventilated by The Joker. Lex, watching it all, tells him one last thing: "Now who's stupid?"
- "Possession implies intent" is the phrase that heralds the downfall of Becca at the start of All Ghouls School, and Elle at the end, although the circumstances (and even the meaning of the word 'possession') are radically different.
- X-23 gives Zander Rice an epic one in Innocence Lost. Throughout the miniseries, Rice constantly berates and abuses Laura as Revenge by Proxy against Wolverine for killing his father while escaping the Weapon X project. His go-to insult is treating Laura as if she isn't even human, calling her an animal right to her face. When her mother finally has enough and sets her loose against the Facility, rather than killing Rice cleanly she puts up her claws and beats the shit out of him. As she walks out of the room where Rice lies dying, she looks over her shoulder and tells him off with one word: "Animal." Laura wasn't just carrying out her final mission, she came for payback.
- The Who song "The Kids Are Alright" — the two sentences in the bridge completely change the meaning of the (otherwise identical) first and second verses.
- There's a Barenaked Ladies song called "The Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel". The line "you're the last thing on my mind" goes from meaning "I'm not thinking about you" at the beginning of the song to meaning "I die thinking about you" when it's repeated at the end.
- In the Tim McGraw song "Don't Take The Girl", the line "Please, don't take the girl" that ends each verse changes meaning over the course of the song.
- "Major Tom (Coming Home.)" The part you know from that car commercial: "4, 3, 2, 1, Earth below us, drifting, falling, floating weightless, calling, coming home..." Well, it means one thing on the way up when everything's fine. It means something a little different on the way down when the thrusters aren't working.
- "According to You" by Orianthi. The first few stanzas begin with "according to you", before changing to "according to him" in the chorus. And nearing the end of the story, it changes to "according to me".
- In a very twisted way in Eminem's "Stan". On the Slim Shady LP's song "My Name Is" one of the most famous lines is "I just drank a fifth of Vodka you dare me to drive" so in Stan, Stan quotes this when he drives on a rainy night with his pregnant girlfriend in the trunk on a tape to Eminem "Hey Slim I just drank a fifth of Vodka you dare me to drive"
- Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle". The chorus includes "When ya comin' home, Dad / I don't know when, but we'll get together then," but the son nevertheless desires to be like his father. At the end, "he'd grown up just like me" - the last two repetitions replace "dad" with "son".
- Still healing by Uprise uses this. The first half of the song is lamenting the fact that the singer is "still healing" from some childhood trauma. The second half uses the same line - with the context changed to highlight that he is, in fact, healing, while the offender will always be miserable.
- The chorus of the Mark Wills song "Wish You Were Here" describes a postcard which has the word "Heaven" on the front. The postcard's message has a completely different tone when sung after the first verse (where the postcard's writer is boarding a plane) and after the second (where he dies when the plane crashes):
Wish you were here, wish you could see this place
Wish you were near, I wish I could touch your face
The weather's nice, it's paradise
It's summertime all year and there's some folks we know
They say, "Hello." I miss you so, wish you were here.
- Act 1 of Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown opens with "Know Your Enemy," in which the protagonist rails against the establishment and encourages others to do likewise; Act 2 ends with Gloria realizing that her life's been ruined:
- Ghosts and Spirits, a CD of songs based on C. S. Lewis' The Great Divorce, has a song ("Bleeding Charity") that's an ironic echo. First, a ghost protests, "Can't you see that I'm only human?" and can't be expected to be perfect (as he thinks is necessary to enter Heaven), and refuses to accept any "bleeding charity"; in the second verse, a spirit explains he is not perfect either - "Can't you see that I'm only human?" and begs him to accept the Bleeding Charity.
- At the beginning of "A Complete History of the Soviet Union, Arranged To The Melody From Tetris" by Pig With The Face Of A Boy, the "man who arranges the blocks" muses that "The Tsar puts gold on his bread" when noting the unfairness of the old regime. At the end, having gone through revolution, Josef Stalin, World War II, the Space Race and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the same worker bitterly notes that while he has more than enough gold, he's reduced to standing in line for the chance to get a loaf of bread.
- Tool's song "Prison Sex" changes "I'm breathing so I guess I'm still alive" to "You're breathing so I guess you're still alive" when the song's subject, a rape victim himself, commits rape.
- Sublime's Date Rape is a story about a woman being bought a couple of drinks, before being offered a ride and raped in a car. She then proceeds to take him to court, he gets a 25 year sentence and raped by an inmate.
- In the song "Rocky" (most famously recorded by Dickey Lee), the subject's wife expresses uncertainty on her ability to do certain things (fall in love, have a child, then die). "Rocky, I've never ____ before, don't know if I can do itů" In the final verse, now that she's dead, he swears that he sometimes he can hear her saying "Rocky, you know you've been alone before / You know that you can do itů"
Myth And Legend
- From the epic Waltharius, retelling Germanic heroic legend: When Hagen suggests to king Gunther/Gunnar to accept Walther's gift of 100 golden rings (instead of taking all his treasure), Gunther mocks him: "You are truly a son of your father Aldrian. He would talk a lot so he wouldn't have to fight." After Walther has killed the other eleven knights of the king, Gunther tries to make Hagen fight again. But Hagen says: "I am truly a son of my father Aldrian. He would talk a lot so he wouldn't have to fight."
- In the Old Harry's Game episode "The Beautiful Game", the Professor appoints Thomas as England captain for the Underworld Cup, in the belief that he'll rise to the challenge and prove himself, much to Satan's disbelief. The Professor says "I'd hate to be as cynical as you, you know. Always seeing the worst aspects of people." Then Satan appoints his Bumbling Sidekick Scumspawn as referee, and the Professor accuses him of deliberately trying to turn the tournament into a disaster. "I'd hate to be as cynical as you, Prof. Always seeing the worst in devils."
- The question "How long, can you tread water?" from Bill Cosby's "Noah" trilogy. First said at the end of the second skit, "Noah: And the Neighbor", by an amused Noah to his next-door neighbor who wants a hint as to why Noah's building an ark. God asks Noah the same question in the third skit after the latter starts complaining about the task he's been given, but he keeps right on complaining, justifiably so.
- And in the first skit, Noah's initial reply to most of what God tells him is a sarcastic, "Right!" Then towards the end, he asks God how he's going to destroy the world:
God: I'm gonna make it rain for a thousand days and drown 'em right out.
Noah: Right! Listen to this, you'll save water: Let it rain for forty days and forty nights, and wait for the sewers to back up.
God: (as sarcastic as Noah's been) Right!
- Early on in Broken Saints, Kamimura encounters a silly young egg farmer named Masayuki, who tells him a story about his father, in which Masayuki's father pointed at a chicken's butt and told his son that two things come out of there: eggs and poop. The lesson Masayuki took from it, and passed on to Kamimura, was that both good and bad things come from the inside. This lesson turns out to be a central message in the series, and Kamimura's final words before his Heroic Sacrifice repeat this sentiment, now with a much more poignant resonance.
- In Red Vs Blue The Blood Gulch Chronicles, Doc gives the following reason for not wanting to be associated with Grif in Episode 23: "Sorry, man, but it's pretty obvious that you're really unpopular, and if I'm gonna make any progress around here at all I can't really be directly associated with you. I'm sure you understand." In Episode 25, when the Blues hand Doc off to the Reds as part of a deal, the Reds abandon Doc, and Doc looks to Grif for help. Grif says, "Sorry, it's pretty clear that you're not very popular around here, and if I'm gonna make any progress at all, I can't be directly associated with you. I'm sure you understand."
- From Minecraft The Ex Communicated Series, Nova booted Seamus off the edge of a cliff to go get a werewolf, saying "What's that down there?" Later, Seamus shows he's Not so Above It All when he uses a superpunch to boot Nova off the edge, saying in a very cynical tone "What's that down there?" Link here.
- In a Katers17 YouTube Video, this happens at the halfway point, when the main character is told not to wear the dress.
- In Survival of the Fittest, in a scene that's an homage to the Joker, Blood Boy says "Why so serious?" as part of his intimidating speech to Matthew Wittany. He then attacks Matt, viciously beating him with his gun, as well as killing Matt's friend, Corbin. The tides eventually turn, though, and Matt gets out his own gun and shoots Blood Boy with it. What does he say while shooting? "Why so serious?"
- In the lonelygirl15 episode "Handcuffed", when captive villain Lucy is dying, Jonas tells her, "No you stupid bitch, no! You don't get to die! It's not that easy!" After the Grand Finale, "The Ascension", Lucy uploads a video showing that she is still alive, the description for which is "It's not that easy, Jonas."
- In the third book of Shadow Of The Templar, Jeremy finally loses patience with a bedridden and uber-bitching Simon and tells him to stick it because he's the only friend Simon has apart from his teammates. Simon replies that Jeremy isn't his friend, "just this guy." Later on, when Simon tries to stop Jeremy from leaving in the fourth book, Jeremy says coldly that Simon's "just this guy" to him.
- This Let's Play of Ratchet And Clank 2002 affectionately titles each part, starting with "And they say this is hard...", however, after a long 63 part playthrough, he decides to change his mind.
- Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog has a number of echoed lines, but the two most prominent are likely:
- At one point idealist Love Interest Penny sings to Dr. Horrible/Billy, "keep your head up, Billy buddy", to try to cheer him up and get him to be more optimistic. Then later on Dr. Horrible repeats the line to build up his courage to commit his first murder by killing the Hero Antagonist.
- Then later on, while Evil Gloating, Dr. Horrible sings triumphantly, "Then I win, then I get everything I ever", in anticipation of what he's expecting to be a victory. In the next song, after he's achieved the victory at the high cost of Penny accidentally being killed, the phrase "everything you ever..." is repeated as an eerie, almost mocking refrain.
- The Nostalgia Critic stepfording his way through his early morning routine in the Blue Brothers video game review is a darker version of the four years prior normal bit in his look at sports movies.
- John Lennon was raised by his Aunt Mimi, who used to say, "The guitar's all very well, John, but you'll never make a living out of it." Many years later, he had the phrase engraved on a silver plaque and gave it to her as a present.