Never Work with Children or Animals
"Never work with children or animals."Sometimes, those little monkeys just don't behave the way that you were hoping for. The same applies to animals. Sometimes Hilarity Ensues. (Or Hilarity In Zoos.) A common type of Hilarious Outtakes. If you're really, really lucky, can become Throw It In. The unpredictability of real life wild animals is one reason the Terrifying Pet Store Rat trope exists, since a tamed and socialized animal is less likely to cause this.
— W.C. Fields (attributed)
open/close all folders
- In a scene from an North By Northwest, Thornhill (Cary Grant) is shot in the Mount Rushmore visitor center. After the scene was filmed, one could see that a little boy had put his hands on his ears before the gunfire. Alfred Hitchcock proclaimed that after this, he'd just work with people who were either adult or deaf.
- Stephen Colbert interviewing the oil industry on The Daily Show - it agreed to speak only if it could be represented by an eight-year-old girl. The girl was Madeleine Colbert, his daughter, and the outtakes are adorable.
- In an example that made it into the show proper, infants Winnie and Nelson on The Cosby Show would frequently look at the studio lights, boom mike, or other overhead machinery. Bill Cosby (as Cliff Huxtable) would look in the same direction and ask what was so interesting about the ceiling.
- In-universe example: In The Simpsons, Bart intentionally sings the wrong lyrics to "Jingle Bells" at the school Christmas show and is promptly (and literally) yanked from the stage.
- Taken to the extreme in "Bart Gets Famous", in which he has to perform in a Krusty the Clown show skit. He trips and brings down much of the set, and when he innocently declares "I didn't do it", the audience loves it. For a few weeks, the "'I Didn't Do It' Boy" is a regular on the show and a national phenomenon.
- Parodied in Film, Film, Film.
- Real Life example with the Balloon Boy. When asked by his father why he didn't come out of his hiding place when everyone was looking for him, he replied: "You said we were doing it for a show." On national television.
- Mamoru Oshii's crew just couldn't get the performance they wanted out of the actress in Avalon. They ended up faking it by morphing several of her performances together.
- The aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind were played by young girls, who were hyperactive and incredibly difficult to control.
- In 2009, Chris Columbus talked about the progress of Harry Potter kids:
"My biggest pride is seeing the pictures now, and watching the three of them from a distance, and seeing them do an entire scene in one shot. Seriously, I know that sounds funny, but in the old days — and, you know, the old days meaning eight years ago — and in that first picture in particular, it's filled with cuts because they couldn't really get beyond the first line without either looking into the camera, laughing or looking at the lights."
- Project Runway occasionally has challenges featuring children. One season the designers had to make complementary mom-and-child outfits, and in another designers had to make outfits based on paintings from students at Harlem School of the Arts. The designers' reactions are often just as fascinating as the kids', as even the designers with really temperamental and drama-prone personalities tend to be on their nicest behavior.
- And episode 11 of season 10 forces the designers to take care of baby dolls that cry (the type given to high schoolers in Scare 'Em Straight sex ed classes) while working on their garments to simulate taking care of an actual child (not to mention being a fairly obvious Ratings Stunt) but the actual babies are more cooperative, minus Dmitry's, who falls asleep and has to be carried by his mom while "walking" the runway.
- Top Chef has had kids on as well. Though the kids are usually well-behaved and happy to taste the food, several contestants had trouble coming up with dishes that the kids and the professional chef judges will all like. They either make their dishes too complicated, or they assume kids don't eat anything but chicken nuggets and make a dish the adults hate. Season 1's Tiffany in particular was adamant about her dislike of cooking for children.
- Dick & Dom in da Bungalow ran on getting a bunch of kids to play silly games and throw gunge over each other, live. It's not surprising they sometimes got a bit overexcited. One boy, Raja, almost broke the hosts- he wouldn't stop running round and hitting them. Dom stopped being an Excited Kids' Show Host and started just telling him off and asking the producers what to do next; they even got him on the Clip Show Da Dick And Dom Diaries, four years later, to explain himself. ("I'm a really nice guy when you get to know me".)
- The little girl of perhaps ten or eleven, on a Saturday morning zoo show, who was innocent of the subtleties of French pronunciation. Given a link to do concerning the afternoon's sporting attractions, she read off the autocue
And this afternoon at two, we go to Murray Walker who will commentate on the Grand Pricks of South Africa..(Producer) I think you'll find it's pronounced "Grond Pree"...(Little Girl, after a second's consideration) Well, it says "Grand Pricks" here!
- The little girl was Melissa Wilkes, who went on to play Jackie Wright in Grange Hill.
- On an episode of the kids' game show Family Challenge, host Ray Combs learned the hard way something that Bob Barker once told him: "never let the contestant hold the microphone." He handed the mic to a five-year-old contestant who socked him in the head with it hard enough to make him bleed. He spent the rest of the episode with a band-aid on his head.
- Even the act of a baby tearing up a cake is too much: a segment on Good Morning America had a competition to see what baby would make the biggest mess, with cakes provided by Buddy Valastro. The babies were evidently distracted by the cheering crowd and camera/lighting equipment and barely touched the cakes.
- It's not always a bad thing. While filming one scene of Breaking Bad, the baby who was playing Walt's daughter Holly started crying for her mother (who was standing just off-camera). In context — Walt had gone on the run after a vicious fight with Skyler and had kidnapped the baby as he left, and the script called for him to spend a few moments with her before deciding to give her back — it worked brilliantly, and a bit of reactive improvisation from Bryan Cranston allowed them to Throw It In.
- Then there was the magician doing card tricks, who triumphantly showed his audience that a card had changed value before their very eyes. The little boy sitting next to him was unimpressed and pointed out that there were actually two cards stuck together...
- According to Robert Singer, the director of the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One" (S02, Ep21), getting blood into the baby's mouth was the most difficult special effect in the whole episode. The baby was evidently having a bad day and started crying even before they started trying to drip fake blood into the baby's mouth.
- During filming of A Series of Unfortunate Events, filming was often delayed by having to calm down the twin babies who played Sunny, as they often burst out crying at inopportune times. One funny outtake also has one of the babies fall asleep during a take, much to the amusement of the rest of the cast, who try to gently wake her up.
- Blue Peter- An elephant defecating on camera and walking out of the studio, stepping on John Noakes' foot in the process.
- One of the most memorable bloopers from The Ellen DeGeneres Show was an anaconda wrapping its tail around a rather intimate part of Ellen's anatomy.
- The Kennel from Hell match from WWE Unforgiven 1999. Advertised as a match where the ring would be surrounded by two cages with vicious attack dogs in between, but once the match got underway, it became clear that the dogs weren't so much "vicious beasts" as "happy little puppies". The greatest danger posed? That one of the wrestlers would slip and fall in a puddle of dog wee or dog crap. And when they weren't making a mess on the floor, they were mating. It was really the match from Hell.
- Similarly years earlier The British Bulldogs' mascot Matilda peed in the middle of the ring, getting WWE banned from Boston for a long time. Bulldogs are usually a fairly safe breed to work with due to their docile nature, but someone had given Matilda a big drink of water before she was due to go out to the ring.
- The beaded dress worn by Kate Capshaw in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was eaten by an elephant. You can almost see it in the campfire at night scene, when the elephant's head is just out of frame? it's eating the dress in front of the entire crew. The good news? It was covered by insurance (Spielberg notes that all he could write on the insurance claim for "cause" was "dress eaten by elephant" and hope he was believed). The bad news? It was a dress made of genuine vintage crystal beads.
"Why do you like fire!? You're supposed to hate fire! You are ruining my movie!"
- Also shown in a documentary reel about the making of Raiders of the Lost Ark were George Lucas' problems with the snakes. During one scene, Lucas had set up a ring of torches to keep the snakes away, but being cold-blooded reptiles they are naturally drawn to sources of heat and kept slithering nearer. At one point, he just grabs one by the 'neck' and stares it in the eyes, yelling:
- Late Night With Conan O'Brien once did a sketch that briefly involved a duck. The duck did several unexpected things, most notably pooping on the studio floor and then eating it. Conan reacted with genuine shock, including an unusual instance of swearing that had to be bleeped (even though the show isn't aired live, he usually avoids certain words). "We've got a sh**-eating duck out here!" They capitalized on this incident in several follow-up sketches, in which the duck became known as "Quackers, The Sh**-Eating Duck."
- The Red Dwarf Smeg-Ups had two instances of animal trouble:
- Lister's cat in series 1, which slipped out twice before Craig could catch her.
- The series 6 Smeg-Ups devoted an entire bunch of clips to "moving the chicken."
- In The Wizard of Oz, a large bird walked on to the set during the filming of one of the scenes. At one point, it's clearly visible extending its wing... however, it was a silhouette, and it was hard to tell it was a bird... and not the corpse of a Munchkin. This gave birth to the famous, yet totally bogus, "Munchkin Suicide" urban legend.
- Lampshaded by Stephen Colbert after introducing a calf named Daisy on The Colbert Report - the calf spooked at the cameras, interrupted him by mooing and generally misbehaved.
Stephen: I also work with children.
- The characters on Lost had to stop hunting boar because the boars were so hard to manage.
- Gerald Durrell had no choice but to work with animals for a few TV shows. There are probably retired TV station employees still walking a little funny after Delilah the porcupine.
- The DVD of Barbie & The Diamond Castle includes a set of Hilarious Outtakes, 90% of which are the puppies ruining the shot by dancing. The Barbie In A Christmas Carol DVD supposedly had a deleted scene from Barbie & The Diamond Castle, but it was just another outtake of the puppies and a pegasus painting the titular castle.
- Mike Rowe demonstrates why this is true with a pig in a series of outtakes from a TV spot. In the show itself this happens a lot as well, such as in this montage of the most memorable animal moments.
- Vince McMahon once had to chase a chicken in a training scene for a match with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Problem was it was cold and snowy out. The chicken wasn't having any of it, and refused to do anything at all. Vince actually belly-flopped into the snow and flailed around trying to make the chicken run from him, to no avail. Eventually he and Shane just picked the poor chicken up and laughed about the whole thing not working.
- WCW booked a match between Sting and Jake "The Snake" Roberts where the finish was for Jake to sic a (real, but devenomed) cobra on Sting, only to have it turn on him. But Jake couldn't get the snake to bite him, so he ended up holding it to his face while it flailed stupidly.
- Acknowledged in the play The Lieutenant of Inishmore by Martin McDonagh, which has two alternative closing lines depending on whether a cat on stage eats food offered to it or not.
- In an episode of The Colbert Report, Stephen tried to get a cat to pick out why the Egyptians revolted. The cat just sat there despite the food, toys on a string, and even a laser. The cat didn't even react when Stephen threw food near him.
- Likely to occur on Mythbusters whenever animals are involved.
- The Build Team tried to make the famous fainting goats faint but they failed. The goats did faint in reaction to everything else from a passing car to the nearby cameraman.
- And of course Jamie's "Quack, damn you." They needed to get a duck to quack for testing if a duck's quack echoes, but their ducks were very silent. Luckily, they eventually figured out the formula: make two ducks face each other and they start quacking like mad.
- They also once attempted to test the theory that running in a zig-zag will help you dodge a crocodile... but couldn't get the crocodiles to actually chase them or the rig they built carrying a chicken carcass as bait. At one point the crocodile looked at the chicken as if to consider it for a moment, and then seemed to go "nah, not worth it" and ignored it. Incidentally this helped bust the myth since crocodiles are ambush predators and don't tend to chase their prey much beyond the water, and the myth was busted not because it didn't work, but because it wasn't necessary.
- One of the earlier episodes had Adam and Jamie trying to test out cures for skunk spray. They had everything figured out, except for how to get the skunks to actually spray them. Eventually they bought some in a bottle, and subsequently used a room that the skunk had sprayed for testing.
- Their attempt at herding cats also went exactly like you'd expect, and even the sheepdog they brought in had no luck. Adam eventually resorted to picking them up and manually placing them in the corral, and even that didn't work as the cats just ran out again.
- Averted in the "Bird Balance" myth; Kari says that despite what they say about working with animals, the birds were all very cooperative.
- The crows playing Huginn and Muninn in Thor: The Dark World often landed in the wrong spot, among other things. One of them even tried to nibble Chris Hemsworth's costume.
- Alvin Hall once found out that ostriches are not very cooperative when trying to film.
- Two Gentlemen of Verona contains a comedy character named Launce, whose shtick is that he's constantly dragging his dog Crab around and delivering amusing monologues about it. Two Gentlemen was one of Shakespeare's earliest works and his plot-writing abilities weren't what they ended up becoming, so Launce and his dog, notorious scene-stealers, are regarded by pretty much everyone as the highlight of the play. However, Shakespeare never included a dog in a major role again, and scholars speculate that he learned this trope the hard way.
- In one of Howie Mandel's stage shows, a dog was supposed to come out and bark like Lassie, and Howie would interpret the barking as "Robert Goulet is in the lobby and trapped under a boulder". The dog didn't bark, so Gilbert Gottfried, who was on stage as part of a previous sketch comes over and says "woof".
- "The Mississippi Squirrel Revival", by Ray Stevens, is a song of a kid who catches a squirrel. The squirrel is expected to stay in a box. It doesn't, wreaking havoc in a church.
- And on Welsh language TV, the magazine show presenter who was talking to the man from Pobsaes Twlldyn who kept ferrets and had bought a couple to the studio. The presenter, who had been petting a ferret, suddenly discovered it had clamped razor-sharp teeth over his nose and would not let go....
- This is most likely the reason the Librarian is totally absent from the TV Movie adaptation of Hogfather. One imagines it's much easier to write about orangutans playing pipe organs than to film them doing so.
- In one instance of Jack Hanna being on David Letterman's show, a pair of armadillos ended updemonstrating the species'... ''embodiment''.
- During Kickassia there were multiple issues with the neighbors' dogs, who would often bark in the background of scenes and force them to reshoot. There's also one point on the blooper reel where The Nostalgia Critic is giving his big dramatic speech with his back to the camera (meaning that he can say whatever and just redub it later) and starts going into a rant about how annoying those dogs are and how he's going to shoot them.
- During the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the director and cast commentaries often point out that Jack the Monkey was often hard to work with and wasn't nearly as friendly or cooperative as the movie makes it seem, since we're just seeing the best bits.
- Mostly averted in OK Go's video for White Knuckles, where the dogs for the most part behaved and even got so excited that they would begin to outpace the video. There was also a goat who would often drag Andy Ross across the set, so they scrapped the idea that it would be on a treadmill as a Call Back to one of the band's earlier videos. Outtakes also show that the human and animal actors tended to botch their scenes in about equal proportions.
- The video for "End Love" also featured several geese that wander in and out of the shots at various times, and one in particularly named Maria (which is actually a male goose) was initially hostile to them but eventually seemed to adopt them over the course of a few days, and follows them through a large part of the video.
- There are a few stories regarding Cheetah during the production of the old MGM Tarzan movies. One is that Johnny Weissmuller was advised to keep a sock full of quarters handy when dealing with the chimp, just in case it tried to attack him. Sure enough, Cheetah attacked him and Johnny hit him with the quarters and legend has it from that day on Johnny and Cheetah were the best of pals. Cheetah wasn't at all a fan of Maureen O'Sullivan however and often had to wear a leg shackle around her.
- The Muppet Show
- In one episode, Gonzo tried to do a dancing chicken act and got a real-live hen on stage. The chicken didn't dance, much to his annoyance, but it did do an okay split at the end.
- George Burns once related to Rowlf the time he did this vaudeville act of holding a dog in his arms while singing a song. The dog bit him halfway through.
- David Attenborough recalled in a preface to some of his Zoo Quest books the 1950 weekly BBC TV programmes with George Cansdale of London Zoo. Cansdale would bring an animal, put it on the desk and tell about it. Since film was expensive, all broadcasts were live, and misbehaving animals were part of the programmes' charm. Most troubles involved either an animal relieving itself on the table or Cansdale's trousers, or less often trying to escape or biting. However, making photos of animals seems to be the least of Attenborough's problems in Zoo Quest books.
- Some scenes in Road To Morocco feature a live camel, the presence of which led to an unplanned gag when the animal spit in Bob Hope's face.
- On one episode of Countdown Jimmy attempted to distract the panel by bringing out two baskets of kittens. This went south quickly when he had trouble corralling them and they kept escaping the baskets.
- While Cry's cat doesn't work persay, it does interrupt his recordings at times, distracting Cry from narrating.
"There is a cat on my lap."
- The Tony Danza Show. Tony for a time had this parrot named "Rocky" on the show and he would constantly try to get it to do tricks and it never cooperated with him.
- Jontron, who often includes his pet parrot Jacques in his videos, naturally has come upon this problem more than once. So far, the incidents we know about have been:
Jontron: *during the latter incident* ...are you fucking serious?
- Trying to bite Jon's lips and ears (usually just a Funny Background Event, but there's at least one time it kept the video from continuing).
- Crapping on the floor while Jon was trying to explain something.
- Taking suicide leaps off Jon's desk while he's trying to explain the same thing.
- Trying to clean Jon's teeth, which rather resembled doing the head-in-lion's-mouth circus trick.
- Shrieking while Jon's trying to explain something (a different thing this time), interrupting him three times in a row.
- Cartoonist Bud Grace, creator of the comic strip Ernie/Piranha Club, had a photoshoot for the jacket of his second paperback collection that depicted him with a dozen monkeys in various clothes, which was a reference to one of the storylines collected in the book. Problem was, the monkey they used for the shoot wasnt too keen on cooperating, and not only made it almost impossible to take the pictures, but also bit his trainer, the photographer, and Grace himself.
- Arachnophobia was filmed entirely using real spiders and you can imagine the problems that would cause given how active of a role the little guys played in the film. The DVD commentary points out the patience required on the cast member's parts to get scenes right, and points out the one scene where the spider rushes the cat only for it to be lifted out of harms way by it's owner took 47 takes before the spider decided to run toward the cat.
- Edmonton weatherman Mike Sobel learned this the hard way while trying to do a live forecast featuring a dog named Ripple from the local animal shelter. The dog promptly chewed through its leash and proceeded to playfully jump all over him. Corpsing ensued.
- One television reporter learned the hard way why it's a very bad idea to get up close and personal with a dog who doesn't know you (especially one whom, in this case, had been through a very traumatic event where it had to be rescued from a frozen lake only the day before).
- Some outtakes shown at the beginning of "Ludlow Laughs" from Reading Rainbow show that LeVar Burton had some very painful / embarrassing episodes involving animals in making the show. But, at least, looking back, he can laugh about them.
- One of the Hilarious Outtakes from Cheaper by the Dozen is of one of the child actors freaking out as the frog he's supposed to be holding attempts to escape.
- NoŽl Coward once attended a play featuring an irritating child actor, in which a horse also defecated onstage. Supposedly, he quipped, "If they had shoved the child's head up the horse's arse, they'd have solved two problems at once."
- In a making-of special for Labyrinth, Jim Henson states that he'd been told never to work with children, animals, or puppets. Labyrinth contains all three, and apparently it was quite a challenge getting everything to work out properly. Going by the special, the puppets were easiest to deal with (helped by the fact that those responsible for the puppets were neither children or animals), followed by the baby with the animals being the hardest, with the special showing Jim Henson having trouble with the chickens in an early maze scene.
- Emma Thompson's diary during the filming of Sense and Sensibility relates difficulties with both sheep and babies. The period sheep gave such trouble that Ang Lee at one point declared, "No more sheeps. Never again sheeps." (Except ten years later he did Brokeback Mountain, where apparently the sheep were even more of a headache). The babies presented an unusual problem: the scene called for a crying baby, and none of them would cry.
- She also mentions one day when the horse she was on had an audibly bad case of gas, and a shot involving a dog that was fascinated by the camera and kept staring directly into the lens. The people who were offscreen in each shot had to all wave dog treats at it to distract it.
- An In-Universe example occurs in Space Jam, where Daffy, after escaping Michael Jordan's dog with the help of his children, quips "This is the last time I'm working with dogs or children!".
- Jason Isaac (Hook/Mr.Darling) says "Never work with children or animals or animal like children" on a behind the scenes of Peter Pan when the kids are mucking around, seen here.
- Roger Ebert cited this trope in his review of Picture Perfect.
- This trope is exploited in-universe on Quantum Leap. Al was supposed to appear in the form of a hologram that only Sam could see and hear, but since animal and child actors couldn't just be asked to ignore him, they actually made it a plot point that they had special neurological features that made Al visible and audible to them. Al even made use of this trope to save lives, such as when he warns a black children's choir in the 1960s that Klansmen were approaching to burn down the church and to get the adults to leave with them.
There have been some who have heeded this advice. They include:
- Mister Rogers (that, and making his show seem more intimate)
- Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, is at least knowledgable about it, as they have Quark do VERY little in the show. Though, at least one episode includes quite a lot of reaction shots from him...
- In Gorillas in the Mist Dian Fossey described one of her early attempts that resulted in her then-best photos. When she approached a group of sunbathing gorillas, they hid in bushes. She decided to climb a nearby tree to get a better view. Since she had little experience climbing trees, wasn't in her best shape and was encumbered with cameras and other stuff, it took her a lot of time, and the process has been quite noisy. She expected the noise to scare the gorillas away, but instead "I was amazed to look around and find that the entire group had returned and were sitting like front-row spectators at a sideshow. All that was needed to make the image complete were a few gorilla-sized bags of popcorn and some cotton candy!" She quickly learned to use the apes' curiosity to overcome their fear and keep them where they are best visible.