"Jump Off a Bridge" Rebuttal
But dad, all my friends are gonna be there! Hugh:
I know, son, but if all your friends were named Cliff, would you jump off them? I don't think you would.
It's a familiar scenario. Kid wants something from parent they know won't be easy to get. The first argument they make is almost always, "Everybody else is going to that concert!"/ "All my friends have this body part pierced!"/ "Everyone at my school is wearing one!" or something similar.
The first rebuttal the parent makes in defense will inevitably be, "So, if the whole world/ your whole school/ all your friends were going to jump off a bridge, would you jump, too?"
The response will most likely be one of three, in increasing order of frequency:
- "No... but this is different!"
- "That's not the point!"
- "Duh! Of course!"
Perfect set-up for a You Are Grounded
or Can't Get Away with Nuthin'
. Pertains to Peer Pressure Makes You Evil
Variations occur where the players are not parents and children, but the pattern is always the same. "Cliff" may also be substituted for "bridge." Another variation is "If X told you to jump off a cliff, would you?" or "If all your friends stuck their heads in the oven, would you do it?"
If this is used on a sufficiently smart-assed character, they are likely to invoke Analogy Backfire
by finding a reason why they would
jump. For a brief period in the 90s, the most common response was to say something along the lines of "No, bridge-jumping is tomorrow," and explain that the kid character was also participating in bungee jumping.
Contrast The Complainer Is Always Wrong
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Anime and Manga
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Asuka angrily berates Rei, deriding her loyalty to Gendo and asking if she would kill herself if he ordered her to. Rei bluntly answers that yes, she would.
- In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Nia criticizes Adiane's loyalty to her father like this.
Nia: Do you truly hate me this much, Adiane?
Adiane: Hate you? I really couldn't care less about you! I was told to kill you, so that's what I'm going to do. Whether or not I "hate you" has nothing to do with it!
Nia: So you are willing to kill me simply because my father ordered you to do so?
Adiane: Of course! What of it?
Nia: And if my father ordered you to take your own life, would you do so?
- Turns up in Batwoman when Kate and her father (who knows her secret identity) argue over whether she should take time to recover from being drugged in her last fight.
Kate: Alice [the villain] isn't taking the night off, Colonel.
Colonel Kane: And if Alice jumped off a bridge?
Kate: I'd be right behind her. You're such a Dad.
Film - Animated
- Antz: Z tries to stop the foreman from finishing a tunnel that leads to a lake, which will flood the entire colony by asking him this. As the foreman considers it thoughtfully, Z comments that he's asking the wrong guy.
Film - Live Action
- Heathers asks the question, "If the coolest kids in school committed suicide, would others follow?" Despite everyone's assumption that the answer was 'yes', the total of others shown to actually follow rather than being pushed was one. Because there was nothing popular or attractive about that one example, it was almost completely overlooked by media and education establishments.
- Coneheads: Beldar Conehead's reaction at his daughter, Connie's fake tattoo on her cone.
Connie: It's just a decal, everyone's wearing them.
Beldar: If everyone jumped into a bitumious cauldron, would you jump in too?
Connie: I am not a little cone anymore, dad!
- Suicide Club: Proven. The whole movie is about a wave of suicides among schoolchildren all over the country for seemingly no apparent reason. A group of school-kids are on the roof talking about the recent wave of suicides. One says, "We should kill ourselves too!" Guess what happens? The whole lot of them end up jumping off the building. One girl left who's too scared ends up dragging a friend along screaming "Now we have to! We have to!" Turns out the current hot idol band is sending subliminal messages in their songs encouraging young people to kill themselves. They never explain why, but it's Japanese cinema, what do you expect?
- In the TV movie The Initiation of Sarah Sarah's sister wants them to join the sorority together and Sarah asks "If I jumped off a bridge...?". Her sister cuts her off and insists that she would, reminding her of an incident in their childhood where she jumped off a garage roof after Sarah told her to.
- There's a joke which responds to the question with "I'm a lifeguard."
- An old Smothers Brothers routine:
Dick: You wouldn't jump off a bridge just because your friends did, would you?
Tommy: Not anymore.
- From a classic George Carlin routine:
George's mother: I suppose if Johnny Finnegan jumped off the Empire State Building, you would have to jump off the Empire State Building, right?
Live Action TV
- Straight example in My Brother And Me: D.D. wants a haircut like his two best friends are getting.
His Mother: So? If the two of them were going to jump off a bridge, would you jump, too?
Melanie: (big sister) Do you have to ask? You know he would.
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Will tells his uncle's jerk of a rival to "Drop dead!" and he suffers a fatal heart attack right then and there.
Will: Come on, man! If I told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it?!
- An episode of The Bill featured Diane Noble trying to talk down a daredevil kid from jumping off a bridge. At one point she says "If everyone else jumped off... never mind."
- Leave It to Beaver had this dialogue in one episode:
Ward: Would you expect Wally to jump off a roof just because Chip did?
Beaver: How high a roof, Dad?
- Mash subverted this in one episode:
Col. Flagg: This Chandler fellow decides he doesn't want to fight anymore. Soon other soldiers decide not to fight anymore. You know what will happen if everyone decides not to fight anymore?
- From The Mentalist:
Jane: Let me ask you something. If Director Bertram wanted a CBI presence to jump off a cliff, would you and your CBI presence jump off that cliff?
Lisbon: If there was overtime, sure.
- When The Osbournes had their reality program, Jack went to the beach with some friends who all thought it would be fun to jump off a pier. Jack did it, landed wrong, broke his arm and had to call his mom from the hospital. Sharon asked "Why did you do that?". Jack answered "Because all my friends were doing it." Sharon probably realized asking the stock phrase would be rather foolish.
- In an episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, the twins want to go bungee jumping, but their mother says no.
Cody: Bob's parents said he could go.
Carrie: And if Bob's parents let him jump off a bridge, would you want to do that too?
Zack: If we were attached to a bungee cord.
- El Chavo del ocho from all, have the most intelligent response.
Don Ramón: You're so obedient (El Chavo shows pride over this). And if I tell to jump off a bridge, you would do it?
Chavo: I'm obedient, not retarded.
- The Golden Girls features an inversion in that the (middle aged) child gives the rebuttal to their parent. It doesn't work.
Dorothy: Ma, did you sleep with Tony Devlecio?
Sophia: A little.
Sophia: Blanche made me do it!
Dorothy: Don't you have a mind of your own? If Gladys Goldfein told you to drink an entire bottle of keopectate would you?
Sophia: Who blabbed?
- A young Dilbert very effectively responds to this argument after his mother will not allow him to go to the skate park with his friends. "Well, that would depend on many factors, including height, training, and equipment. But if 100% of the people enjoyed it, as in my skateboard example, then I would conclude it was safe. A better question might have been 'If everyone else wore clothes, would you do that?'"
- The comic strip Zits which deals primarily with teen-parent relationships seems to enjoy this trope. Jeremy's rebuttals to the question of jumping off a bridge have included: "For a free T-Shirt? Yeah!", "No, but I might be tempted to push you over" and "If it kept me from hearing that stupid cliché again, I'd be first in line."
- The book Garfield's Insults, Put-Downs, and Slams lists the following rebuttals:
- "That depends. Will it mess up my hair?"
- "Sure. Maybe I'll land on a fat kid."
- "As long as the line's not too long."
- "No, I'd rather jump off a building."
- "I think you can do that at Disneyworld."
- From Pearls Before Swine:
Pig: We should get a new lawn mower.
Pig: Because neighbor Bob just bought one.
Rat: And if neighbor Bob jumped off a ten-story building, what would you do?
Pig: I'd take his lawn mower.
- Calvin's mom in Calvin and Hobbes comes up with a much more effective variant that actually convinces Calvin (who never listens to reason) immediately. Calvin says his dad should start smoking cigars because they're all the rage, but Mom says "Flatulence could be all the rage, but it would still be disgusting."
- CM Punk to Kevin Nash: "You don't have to answer this; it's a rhetorical question: If Triple H asked you to jump off a bridge, would you? Because I think that would be good for business."
- Old Harry's Game, the sitcom set in Hell. Thomas is talking to a woman who killed herself because she listened to him when to told her to commit fraud and was subsequently arrested (or something like that). He denies responsibility "If I told you to put your head in the oven... OK bad example".
- Happens in Homestar Runner as well, when Homestar is attempting to be cool in the Strong Bad Email "the bet":
Homestar: (wearing sunglasses at night) Sup?
Marzipan: Homestar, that is not cool.
Homestar: Yes, it is. Strong Bad said so.
Marzipan: Well, if Strong Bad told you to jump off a bridge—
- Rugrats: A variation occurs in the episode "Driving Miss Angelica", where Angelica has successfully tricked Chuckie into being her slave, and she now blames him when her orders have gotten them trapped in a closet.
Chuckie: But, Angelica, you ordered me to come up here.
Angelica: Do you always do everything I tell you? If I told you to jump off a bridge, would you?!
- Used straight in a The Proud Family episode in regards to a concert.
Penny: ...But daddy, all my friends are going.
Oscar: If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it?
Penny: If it was fun.
- The Simpsons:
- When Bart got an earring:
Marge: What on earth possessed you to get an earring?
Bart: Milhouse has one.
Marge: If Milhouse jumped off a cliff...
Bart: Milhouse jumped off a cliff?! I'm there!
- Reversed to Bart's confusion:
Bart: I can't go [to Nelson's birthday party]. No one else is!
Marge: If no one else jumped off the Empire State Building, would you not jump?
- In the Futurama pilot, Bender refuses to bend bars, saying he's only programmed to bend girders.
Fry: If you were programmed to jump off a bridge, would you?
Bender: I'll have to check my program. (small pause) Yep.
- Recess: Vince, a fourth-grader, is talking with his parents about a wildly popular movie that they won't let him go see.
Vince: But every kid at school has seen it!
Mom: If every kid at school jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?
Vince: If it was going to be the only thing they talked about the next day, yes!
- Bobby's World:
- An episode had a Running Gag of his parents constantly saying this to him, with Bobby responding with things like "Well, if I was hot, I might..." At the end of the episode, he wants them to go by the bridge so he can "see all the action".
- In another episode, he lampshades this.
- Dave the Barbarian "That Darn Ghost"
Lula: So if everyone had the plague you want it too?
Candy: Yes! DUH!
- From the Dan Vs. episode "New Mexico":
Elise: Okay, but we're having salad for dinner.
Chris: ...Dan said we were having burgers.
Elise: If Dan jumped off a cliff, would you?
Chris: [actually has to think about it]
Elise: [horrified] Chris!
Chris: [stammers] I-uh-I mean, it depends.
Elise: Don't jump off a cliff!
Chris: Well, I wasn't planning on it.
Elise: But if Dan jumped, you would?
Chris: [actually has to think about it again]
- The Legend of Tarzan: A kid injures himself after trying to imitate Tarzan, citing his ability to jump from the top of a waterfall and land safely. His aunt begins to ask the question before realizing it's a poor example.
- From the Phineas and Ferb episode, "Escaliferb" during a Leap of Faith moment:
Buford/Bufavulous: Mother always told me if all the other kids were jumping off a cliff, I should too.
Baljeet/Baljeetolas: Your mother said that?
Buford/Bufavulous: She was not a nurturer. Let's go! (jumps)
- In a Darkwing Duck episode while DW is under the effect of a Love Potion (which makes him all buddy/buddy with NegaDuck), Negaduck tells him to jump off a cliff, so he does. He even yells Geronimo on his way down.
Negaduck: And to think, all this time all I had to do was ask.
- In the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Rambling Ed", Eddy is disgusted with the way Ed lets his little sister Sarah boss him around.
Eddy: If she told you to jump in a lake with a rock tied to your head, and wait for naked photos of you to develop so she can hand them out to all the kids in the cul-de-sac, would you?!