: He's afraid. Ever since Prince Humperdinck fired him, his confidence has shattered. Miracle Max
: Why'd you say that name
? You promised me that you would never say that name! Valerie
: What, Humperdinck? Miracle Max
: Aaahh! Valerie
: Humperdinck! Humperdinck! Humperdinck! (et cetera)
This trope applies to words and names that when uttered cause a negative reaction on the listener's part. Might be a young person's reaction to an older person being Totally Radical
. It may result from hearing a certain slang term or after a character gives Too Much Information
—it might even have a potent psychological effect
. Regardless of how it arises, the hapless hearer makes it clear to the speaker that this must not happen again.
For instance, for some particularly lazy and/or slobby characters, benign words like "work" and "clean" have been known to cause shivers. This is usually followed by some variation of "don't say that word around me!"
Compare Words Can Break My Bones
, Speak of the Devil
, Lame Pun Reaction
, and in more lighthearted variants "No. Just... No" Reaction
. Similar to The Scottish Trope
, but without all the thunder and curse baggage. This response may be prompted by a Noodle Incident
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Anime And Manga
- In Pokémon, after Brock came back at the end of the Orange Islands arc, mentioning Professor Ivy around him made him huddle in a fetal position and plead "Don't mention that name." It's never explained why.
- Max of Sam & Max: Freelance Police would occasionally be annoyed by his partner's use of big or obscure words. See also Video Games.
- In Sonic the Comic we have Nutzan Bolt, who hates the use of the word 'Sonic' so much that it is his Berserk Button.
- Not to mention Johnny the Homicidal Maniac 's response to 'wacky'.
- The Flash in Formally Known as the Justice League. Fire tells Elongated Man that Wally once pinched her butt at super-speed and she burned his hands as a result. Later, when Wally laughs at Captain Atom getting beaten up by a mind-controlled Mary Marvel, Ralph just says "Beatriz DaCosta" and Wally says "Never mention that name!"
- Skalman in Bamse really HATES it when someone tells him to hurry up and consider "hurry" to be the foulest word there is.
- In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf alternate timeline story "Papa Smurf & Mama Smurfette", Papa Smurf marries Smurfette, has a child through her, and gets exiled from the Smurf Village by his little Smurfs. Later he receives word that his little Smurfs in the village, including his son Empath (which he disowns), were all trapped in time delivering a baby dinosaur back home, and all Papa Smurf can say to that is good riddance. Sassette daringly says that maybe Empath was right in that Papa Smurf had stolen Smurfette from his little Smurfs, including Empath, and Papa Smurf gets so upset that he slaps Sassette in the face and shouts, "DON'T EVER SMURF EMPATH'S NAME AGAIN!" This leads to his eventual downfall as all the other Smurfs who were with him finally depart from him.
Films — Animated
- The Lion King: Scar gives this line to Zazu after the latter brings up (the dead) Mufasa.
Zazu: (While Scar continues singing) Oh... I would never have had to do this for Mufasa.
Scar: (Quickly and angrily) What? What did you say?
Zazu: Oh, nothing!
Scar: You know the law: Never, ever mention THAT name in my presence. I... am... the KING!
- And later he does the same thing when the hyenas (almost) bring Mufasa up.-
: (To Shenzi)
And I thought things were bad under Mufasa. Scar
: (Quickly and angrily again) What
did you say? Banzai
: I said Muf- (Shenzi is smiling at Scar and thwaps Banzai to remind him.) Banzai
: I said, uh... "¿Qué pasa?" Scar
: Good. Now get out
Scar: Oh, Zazu, do lighten up. Sing something with a little... bounce in it.
Zazu: ... * sings* It's a small world aaafter all—
Scar: No! No! Anything but that!
Films — Live-Action
- The Princess Bride has the scene quoted above.
Rugen: Stop saying that!
- Spaceballs has a variation of this trope.
Dark Helmet: Go past this, past this part! In fact, never play this again!
- From Mean Girls:
Gretchen: That is so fetch!
Regina: Gretchen, stop trying to make 'fetch' happen! It's not going to happen!
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail:
- "We want... A shrubbery!"
- The Knights Who Say Ni in Monty Python and the Holy Grail have this effect by saying... well, by saying "ni". Also used later by the heroes in order to demand the shrubbery requested by the Knights, and also an example of Cool and Unusual Punishment.
- The only way to defeat the knights is to take advantage of their one weakness — fear of the word "it". Most people apparently take advantage of this without even realizing it. Oh, I said it again! And again! But strangely, when Arthur asks for the knight's demands, he says "What is it that you want?" and the Knights don't react.
- In real life, some have this response to having Python quoted at them over and over and over again...
- One of The Oldest Ones in the Book: The vaudeville sketch known as "Slowly I Turned" or "The Stranger with a Kind Face", where a key phrase uttered by someone triggers one of the characters into a state of mania.
- The bit was used in The Three Stooges short Gents Without Cents - "NIAGARA FALLS!"
- Used by Abbott and Costello several times, in the films Lost In a Harem with the trigger word "Pokomoko", and In Society with the trigger phrase "Susquehanna Hat Company", as well as in The Abbott and Costello Show on television, using the more traditional "Niagara Falls".
- Steve Martin does a variant on this routine in the film Dead Men Dont Wear Plaid with the trigger phrase "cleaning woman".
- In Godspell, hearing the teaching to turn the other cheek, Judas whines "Aw, Jesus Chr—" before another apostle shuts him up, but it's enough to send Jesus (and several other apostles) into a "Slowly I Turned" routine.
- Done in The Cosby Show with Gilbert Gottfried as a guy whose wife left him for David Letterman, who starts the routine whenever someone brings him up. He ends up taking a job doing the bit on Letterman's show.
- It's used in I Love Lucy where a bungling of the timing on it leads Lucy to completely screw up one of Ricky's shows...again.
- It also is the basis of the Scatterbrain song "Don't Call Me Dude".
- In Passenger 57, the attorney of Charles Rane tells his client that they should have no trouble pleading temporary insanity at his upcoming trial due to his abusive childhood. Rane thanks his lawyer for his legal advice by brutally thrashing him, putting him in a painful hold, and whispering "Repeat after me: Charles Rane is not insane." Rane is portrayed by Bruce Payne.
- What about the panicking horses every time someone mentions Frau Blücher in Young Frankenstein?
- In Galaxy Quest, Alexander Dane hates his character's Catch Phrase, leading to this:
Qwillek: By Grabthar's hammer, Dr. Lazarus...
Alexander: Don't do that.
- Minority Report, when Anderton confronts Director Burgess after Burgess tried to frame him for murder, Burgess made the mistake of mentioning Anderton's murdered son in his Hannibal Lecture. Berserk Button deployed.
"Don't you EVER SAY HIS NAME! You used the memory of my dead son to set me up! It was the one thing you knew that would drive me to murder!"
- The Lone Ranger: Tonto's reaction to "Hi ho, Silver, away!"
- Sergeant Bilko: Bilko comes over faint when Walter uses the word "can't".
- Eve's Bayou: This is what ultimately leads to Louis' death. Louis and Mrs. Matty Mereaux get caught together at a bar by Matty's husband, Lenny. Lenny warns Louis that, if Louis ever speaks to Matty again, Lenny will kill Louis. When Louis bids Matty a drunken farewell outside the bar, Lenny snaps and shoots Louis dead on the spot.
- The MST3Ked version of The Eye of Argon has a few examples of this.
- My favorite is where Grignr climbs the stairs to their "posterior", where it's incredibly obvious that he's just looked up "bottom" in the thesaurus in the wrong sense.
- Wait, how do you climb to the bottom of a staircase?
- Doubly strange since posterior actually means "rear"
- Detritus in the Discworld book The Fifth Elephant does this after an Uberwaldian dwarf calls Cheery Littlebottom "Ha'ak", a dwarfish insult indicating a race/species traitor, "not really a dwarf". Cheery looks hurt, Detritus produces his enormous "Piecemaker" crossbow and growls, "I know dat word he said to her. It is not a good word. I do not want to hear dat word again." This is on a diplomatic mission, remember.
- Well, he was being tactful.
- Also from Discworld, in Reaper Man Ridcully threatens to curse the Dean and have him pursued to the ends of the world by terrible demons if he doesn't stop saying "Yo!"
- And in Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch, Ridcully not only forbids the Dean from saying "Yo!" before they get all kick-ass, but since they're fighting the Auditors with chocolate, he cuts the Dean off before he thinks of "Choc and load!" as well.
- Werewolves do not react well to the word "bath." So much so that when Angua takes a shower, she has to pretend it's raining.
- Vimes, forced to deal with werewolves in The Fifth Elephant, reasons that being halfway between a human and a wolf a werewolf would have some characteristics of the other creatures halfway between humans and wolves: dogs. He tests the hypothesis by gauging werewolves' responses to words guaranteed to make a stereotypical dog wince, like "bath" and "vet", and later takes advantage of his findings by forcing the werewolf Big Bad into a deadly game of Fetch with a giant signal flare.
- In Men at Arms Big Fido (the leader of the dogs guild) does not like Gaspode's ability to speak human and give dog commands (which the dogs respond to) and reacts badly when Gaspode uses his power
- Almost every book contains some example of this trope which often overlaps with the Big Bad or Big Good's berserk button (Granny Weatherwax has her Grandmother Alison Weatherwax, Vimes has any talk of Kings, etc.)
- In the novel 1984, when the Party makes someone disappear, that person becomes an "unperson." All references to the person are removed from all documents, posters, etc, and people may not reference that person again, since, in the Party's eyes, the person does not and never did exist.
- Volde, er, He Who Must Not Be Named.
- Exploited in the last book, where it turns out that after Voldemort took over the Ministry of Magic, he put a trace on his name such that anyone saying it could be tracked instantly, allowing him to find those who aren't afraid of him. Meaning that, for the first time, there was a real danger in speaking the name or hearing the name spoken aloud.
- In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Dudley doesn't quite realize just how much of a sore spot he's prodding when he mimics Harry when he was having graveyard nightmares. Harry's response is to nearly curse Dudley into jelly and growl, "Don't ever. Talk. About that. Again. Do you understand me?"
- Daniel Pinkwater's Young Adult Novel:
"That will cost you forty cents," said the Honorable Venustiano Carranza (President of Mexico). "Pay each Wild Dada Duck ten cents for saying 'life-style.'"
There are fines for saying certain words — such as life-style. If a Wild Dada Duck should say, "Have a nice day," it can cost him five dollars.
- In The Lord of the Rings, at the Council of Elrond, Gandalf recites the inscription on the Ring in Black Speech. After a stunned silence, Elrond speaks, "Never before has any voice dared to utter words of that tongue in Imladris," and Gandalf answers, "And let us hope that none will ever speak it here again," using it to point out that he may only be the first and they had better get to work on preventing that.
- In the X-Wing Series, Warlord Zsinj is offended by the name "New Oldtown". As his Dragon is making a report about an agent who is pretending to be from there, he interrupts each time the town's name is said. "Surely you're joking about that name." "You're sure he didn't destroy it because of that name." and "Don't ever say that name again. It annoys me." After that, his second-in-command calls it the "hometown-whose-name-is-nevermore-to-be-said."
Live Action TV
- In Mathnet, there's an episode where the detectives visit a mansion for a "Mystery Weekend", and the owner introduces himself as "Peeved". "I'm a little ticked off, myself," George says. Later, when Pat sees him unexpectedly:
Pat: You're not George.
Peeved: No. I'm Peeved.
Pat: I'm a little ticked off my—
Peeved: Don't run that line again.
- The Doctor does it to himself in Doctor Who: "Correctamundo! A word I've never used before and hopefully never will again."
- More examples: Rose trying on a Scottish accent in "Tooth and Claw", Martha attempting Elizabethan speech in "The Shakespeare Code", and Donna's attempt at sounding posh in "The Unicorn and the Wasp". Each time, the Doctor winces and tells them never to do that again.
- Also repeated in the animated Doctor Who serial The Infinite Quest, when Martha attempts to match the Doctor's 'pirate captain, arrrrr...' persona.
- And then in The Sarah Jane Adventures, there's a remarkably similar exchange between Sarah Jane and Maria in "Warriors of Kudlak", when Sarah Jane uses a slang word she heard for the first time earlier in the episode.
- The Doctor's "Don't do that. Really, don't" is fast approaching a Catch Phrase. It's used again in "Midnight", only this time played seriously.
- The Doctor once again does this to himself in "The Eleventh Hour":
: WHO DA MAN
I'm never saying that again.
- Similarly, from the same episode,
Amy: You're worse than my aunt!
Doctor: "I'm the Doctor, I'm worse than everybody's aunt. And that is not how I'm introducing myself.
- And again, in 'The Almost People'. (Wow, the show likes this trope). The Doctor and his identical clone (long story) are trying to stop a war. The Doctor says 'wowza'.
Ganger!Doctor: Do we tend to say yowza?
Doctor:: That's enough, let it go. Okay ? We're under stress !
- From Dharma and Greg:
Dharma: Your mother is a sexual volcano, waiting to erupt.
Greg: OK, new rule: We never use the words 'mother', 'sexual', or 'erupt' in the same sentence.
- From Arrested Development:
Tobias: It seems I prematurely shot my wad into what I thought was a dry run and now I've got a bit of a mess on my hands.
Michael: There are so many things wrong with that sentence.
- A preemptive variant from Pushing Daisies:
Emerson: We are giant, enormous idiots. And don't you say "ginormous," 'cause that ain't a word.
- Will and Grace:
Will: Good. Oh, um... Grace, keep Sunday and Monday open.
Grace: Okey-dokey, arti-chokey.
Will: And never say that again.
- Stargate SG-1 had this while hanging a lampshade on the series' nonstop Yu puns.
Jackson: Don't. Every joke, every pun, done to death. Seriously.
- John Sheppard in Stargate Atlantis could possibly be a version of this with 'We'll name it later'. Used at least twice in response to naming of the Puddlejumpers and the Lifesigns detector by McKay and Lt. Ford respectively.
- A running gag in an episode of Yes Dear.
- From Buffy:
Xander: Hey, G-man!
Giles: Nice to see you Xander, and don't ever call me that again.
- From the last season of Angel:
Cordelia: Remember how I said, "Let's not have your department looking for those symbols I saw in my vision. Let's do this like we used to, you and me cracking the books?"
Cordelia: Well, that was dumb. What'd you ever listen to me for?
Wesley: I don't know. I think I sort of missed this. You and me and the books, kicking it old school, as they say... and I never will again.
- In The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis, the beatnik Maynard G. Krebs had an involuntary high-pitched reaction to the word "work", no matter the context in which it was used: "Nah, it'll never work." "Work?!!"
- When Cat, Lister and Kryten are trapped together in a quarantine bay in Red Dwarf, the others discover that Kryten's Berserk Button is being called "tetchy".
- One sketch of The Kids in the Hall had Bruce's character scolded for using the word "ascertain" on the job a little too much.
- Lisa in NewsRadio's "Sweeps Week" episode threatens to strangle Dave if he says "apparently" one more time.
- In Black Books, Fran and Manny have just convinced Bernard to attend a party with them. This exchange occurs when going out the door:
Manny: Let's par-
Bernard: Don't you dare use the word 'party' as a verb in this shop!
- From X-Play, specifically "Bob and Steve" (a Splinter Cell Machinima):
Bob: Porn doesn't just magically appear, Steve. Someone put it there. And if it was my porn, it would star your mother!
Steve: Never. Talk. About my mother. Again.
- A character in a particular Monty Python sketch screamed and cried whenever someone said the word 'tinny'.
- Another Monty Python sketch featured two newlyweds trying to buy a new bed after having been warned never to say the word "mattress" to the salesman.
- Yet another sketch from Monty Python features the word Semprini (the surname of a British pianist famous on BBC at the time of its original airing) lumped in with a lot of other words that would be used only for "cheap laughs".
- Matthew Perry on The Daily Show
Jon Stewart: I apologize for sucking. We just got back and I'm new to this...
Matthew Perry: Please don't ever say "I apologize for sucking" to me again.
- One episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 has the guys watching a 1950s hygiene movie, with Mike reacting this way when the narrator refers to underwear (especially since he's talking about fifth-grade children).
- On The West Wing, the forbidden word is "recession" and a number of characters are reprimanded for using it. In one episode, Leo instructs Margaret to call a meeting about recession the "robust economy meeting," while in a later season it's humorously referred to as "bagel".
- Also Sam implying that they should assume they're going to win an election that's still going on, and, hilariously:
Charlie: [reading a movie synopsis]
It's an updated version of Dostoyevsky's The Idiot
which tells the story of a Christ-like epileptic
young man who embodies goodness, but encounters sex, crime, and family dysfunction
. Mrs. Landingham:
Hard to imagine why you didn't think the President would enjoy that, Charlie. Charlie:
Well, he would have especially enjoyed the scene where the Prince Myshkin character has a seizure while engaging in an erotic fantasy in a Long Island church. Mrs. Landingham:
Charlie, please don't say the word "erotic" in the Oval Office. Charlie:
I'd be perfectly happy never to say any of those words anywhere ever again.
- Mad Men, the scene where Roger un-fires Pete and guarantees his future cooperation by spinning him a story about how Don fought to give him a second chance:
Roger: Now, I know your generation went to college instead of serving, so let me illuminate you: this man is your commanding officer. You live and die in his shadow. Understood?
[Pete nods frantically; Roger and Don go to leave]
Pete: I won't let you down, Don!
Roger: Jesus! Campbell! Don't ever say that! [shakes his head disgustedly and leaves]
- In one episode of Scrubs, Dr Cox explains that all his interns are on a time out, because one of them used the phrase "Let's rock and roll!" In a later episode, when Carla is trying to help him work out why he hates one of the new interns, one of her guesses is "Did he say 'Back in the day'?"
- Gilmore Girls: On Paris' relationship with the much older Asher Fleming:
Rory: My grandfather introduced you to him. Do you see how awkward this is for me?
Paris: Well, hot men tend to run in packs.
Rory: Do not ever say anything like that again.
- On Babylon 5, the Vorlon and the Shadows each have a question that sort of defines them, and their interactions with other races. Sheridan, while berating Kosh, unknowingly asks the Shadow question. Kosh is not pleased.
Sheridan: What do you want!?
Kosh: Never ask that question.
- A Bit of Fry and Laurie has the veterinary-scetch:
F: And I make myself a cheese and tomito toastie.
L: A what? Cheese and what?
F: Tomito. Tomito. Tomito.
F: Tomito. Tomito.
L: Don't say it again. (well, he does so anyway)
- Regarding an ex-couples matching tattoos on Happy Endings
Alex: You want to get your tattoo removed so you can be a puh-lay-ah?
Dave: Don't say "player".
Alex: I regretted it almost immediately.
- Bones; in "The Double Death of the Dearly Departed", when Brennan and Booth attend a funeral and Brennan informs Booth that the deceased was murdered, Booth, in order to avoid a panic among the mourners, told Brennan not to say 'murdered', and instead substitute with the code word 'translated'.
- In Fringe, after Walter starts expounding on the number of mammary glands found in various species:
Peter: God, I hope I never have to hear him say the word "nipple" again.
- Top Gear:
Clarkson: How Hard can it be?
Hammond: Don't say that!
- In Zits, this is Jeremy's reaction to most of Walt's attempts to use modern slang.
- In Sacrifice, Eldred utters this in response to a truly awful pun made by Zyzyx concerning a wizard made of living rock.
Zyzyx: Now Graccus there is none too quick on his feet. It may be because he leads such a... Sedimentary lifestyle.
Eldred: ...Never say that again.
- This is used in the Sam & Max series of games as well as comics. Consider this exchange from Sam and Max Hit the Road:
Sam: I really respect Flint's business acumen.
Max: Sam, please don't use the word 'acumen' again.
- Try repeating the word "Them" to Bosco...
- Max really dislikes anyone who plays with the word "Banang".
- In 8-Bit Theater, Black Mage gets disturbed by Red Mage's constant usage of "Probing" and "A-Hole" (the latter is about a portable hole, BTW).
- One Achewood strip has a word-of-the-day speaking toilet which comes up with the words "Oralingus" (kissing with the mouth) and "Burritolingus" (eating a burrito with the mouth). The first one makes Teodor comment "That just makes kissing sound twisted! There's no need for that word!" and the second one just makes Ray collapse muttering "I am SO sorry".
- In Dork Tower, there's the reaction people have to hearing the name of the fourth Batman movie (from the series Tim Burton started).
- Muggle Cast: "That word is now officially banned from Muggle Cast." "What, whack?"
- The Order of the Stick in this comic:
Elan: Hey, how was I supposed to know he ain't a playa?
Belkar: Never say "playa" again.
- And in this one. Really, Roy was asking for it.
- Penny Arcade has a rather...over-the-top version of this one, regarding Gabe's insistence that Games Workshop is ripping off Blizzard.
- In Questionable Content here:
Dora: Goddammit it feels really weird to be discussing this with you.
Faye: Haha, doesn't it? It's like talking about blowjobs with your mom.
Dora: Please never use these two words in the same sentence ever again.
- In RPG World, Jim, the guy who plays RPG World, has a friend that will often pull this trope on him, in the form of "If you ever (insert annoying action here) again, I will kill you.". Taken to rather humorous heights later on.
- Schlock Mercenary:
Tagon: Never, ever refer to A.I. connection as "brain-on-brain action" again.
Ennesby: Can I still say "hot-swap"?
Tagon: Only to yourself.
- Similar to the Doctor Who example above, Bree Avery does this to herself in the lonelygirl15 episode "Training Hard": "Did I really just say 'crazy mad props'? God, what is wrong with me?"
- ESPN's Bill Simmons does this with the Oklahoma City Thunder (aka "The Team That Shall Not Be Named"), to the point where on some of his podcasts he has instructed producer Joe Mead to bleep out the guest saying "Oklahoma City" or "the Thunder" in reference to the team. This is done as a service to the people of Seattle (and decent NBA fans everywhere) who had to deal with Clay Bennett buying the team, promising to keep it in Seattle, all while planning all along to move it to Oklahoma.
- In Red vs. Blue, Caboose says that he and Agent Washington have a lot in common. Wash takes exception.
: No we don't.
And don't ever say that again.
- A case of Never Say That That Way Again. In the 1990s animated Superman, Supes has to impersonate Batman for an episode. Robin wonders how he does that perfect Batman voice.
Super(Bat)man: Precise muscle control. Plus (now in Robin's voice) I have a pretty good ear.
Robin:: Don't. Do that. Again.
- From an episode of Pinky and the Brain which prominently featured The Honeymooners:
Pinky: Bang! Zoom!
Brain: Stop saying that, Pinky, or I shall have to hurt you.
- In the Fairly OddParents episode that introduced Chip Skylark, towards the end Timmy exclaims "Word!" only for Chip to flatly respond, "Don't say that."
- Transformers Animated: "Megatron...?! Did you just say Megatron?!]] Did he just say MEGATRON?! THERE IS NO MEGATRON! MEGATRON IS OFFLINE! TERMINATED! I DID IT MYSEL--saw it myself."
- Teen Titans gives us this:
Cyborg: Okay, I'm only going to say this once... Booyah.
- Static Shock, from "They're Playing My Song":
: (pounding on the bathroom door)
Hawkins, get your ashy butt out here right this minute!
Virgil: (opens the door, having just finished showering) Sharon, my middle name is never to be spoken aloud. You know that. (slams the door)
- On Family Guy when Stewie meets his future self who calls his parents mommy and daddy.
- In the Futurama episode Roswell That Ends Well, thanks to Time Travel Fry gets to meet his grandfather Enos in 1947 Roswell, New Mexico. On meeting his future grandmother he tells Enos:
Fry: She sure is pretty. You ought to marry her and father some children, right away.
Enos: Yeah, folks say that. But did you ever get the feeling you're only going with girls 'cause you're supposed to?
- At VMI, a the name of a cadet who violates the honor code is never allowed to be spoken within the barracks, and nobody from the school is supposed to have any association with them.
- The ancient practice of damnatio memoriae (literally "condemnation of memory") was used by, among others, the Roman Senate to try to obliterate the memory of traitors from history. One of the most notable uses was against Herostratus, who burned down the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus to become famous. He was executed and Ephesians were prohibited from repeating his name on pain of death.
- The ancient Egyptians tried to wipe Akenaten from history due to said pharaoh's radical changes to the belief system.