His Master's Voice
"Your beast cocks its head to one side, the universal animal sign of vague interest. It seems to be listening to you, for now."
It is common in all forms of animation, as well as in Real Life
, for a character to tilt his head sideways in confusion. In anime, this is often accompanied by a "..." while it is more often accompanied by a "...huh?" in western animation. A raised eyebrow is common in every genre.
Common in Animal Reaction Shots
, especially with dogs (although animals who behave like dogs
may do it too), accompanied by a Quizzical (or Disapproving
Related to Head-Tiltingly Kinky
and Fascinating Eyebrow
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- The old RCA Victor ad had a dog with its head tilted quizzically as it listened to a phonograph record play, with the title "His Master's Voice◊".
- The famous trademark image comes from a painting by English artist Francis Barraud, A.R.A. and titled His Master's Voice. The original title of the painting was "His Late Master's Voice" (and this phrase appears on many of the original RCA Victor labels), but the concept was considered too depressing for most of the public's tastes, and certainly for an image used as a means to put the consumer in the mood to buy. It was acquired from the artist in 1899 by the newly-formed Gramophone Company.
- The logo remains in use today by the British music store HMV, whose name is an acronym of the slogan.
Anime and Manga
- Used several times in Kyon Big Damn Hero:
- Tsuruya when Kyon received a greatcoat as a gift from Mikuru, and realized it's the same coat she saw him wearing some weeks ago.
- Mikuru when Haruhi is explaining her plan for a relationship between Kyon and the girls in the brigade.
- Observed as an intriguing, if foreign, gesture that humans often do in the Mass Effect fic, ''First Contact.'' The fact that it's almost ubiquitous amongst both dogs and humans is just one of many things that drives home the fascinating dynamic humanity has with dogs and cats (to the point of major coevolution that continues to this day).
- Wild Wild West: A "blink and you'll miss it" Shout-Out occurred when "Bloodbath" McGrath was lying on the ground and a dog came up and did the "His Master's Voice" bit while looking at McGrath's ear trumpet.
- Starman had Jeff Bridges tilt his head quizzically for most of the movie — but that's because he was a non-human life form from outer space learning about the human experience as he went along, so everything was new and confusing to him.
- The Fifth Element: Leeloo gives a tilt of her head to General Monro before breaking through her "unbreakable" container and taking from him the key to opening it.
- Brutus does this to Wild Bill in The Green Mile just before he gets a faceful of moon pie.
- Detective Hoffman does this towards Strahm in the glass box in Saw V
- In Halloween (1978), Michael Myers does this when examining Bob's corpse.
- Jason Voorhees does this thrice in Friday the 13th series.
- In The Mask, Stanley's dog Milo does this the first time Stanley turns into the title character.
- Star Wars: Return of the Jedi - the Ewok whom Princess Leia befriends headtilts at her when she tries to talk to him. The child actor (Warwick Davis, in fact) who played the Ewok stated that he purposefully modeled this behavior from his own pet pooch.
- Ripley gives a "Like hell you will!" variation in Aliens just before going berserk in the alien nest. And the Alien Queen does a version of it as well when confronted with an opening elevator door.
- In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, after the T-X is repeatedly hit in the head with a fire extinguisher (even doing a 360 spin), she tilts her head with a disapproving expression - in a clear homage to the T-1000's Finger Wag. The T-850's face afterwards just screams "Oh, Crap".
- Trinity during the Club Hel fight in The Matrix Revolutions. When one of the Merovingian's gravity-defying guards dodges a kick by leaping onto the ceiling, she tilts her head - then does her signature midair pose and kicks him so hard he's embedded in the wall.
Live Action TV
- Star Trek: The Original Series: Spock made considerable use of this, as well as the Fascinating Eyebrow (and sometimes both at once).
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: Data quizzically tilted his head every ten seconds or so.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Vorta, especially Weyoun and Eris, have quite a few of these.
- There's an episode of Will and Grace where Jack says 'reluctant pivot, inquisitive head tilt' as response to Will.
- In Supernatural, this is Castiel's typical reaction to Dean (or others) not making sense from his angelic perspective. He may just have patented his version, actually.
- Teal'c from Stargate SG-1 typically paired it with a Fascinating Eyebrow when something about Earth culture confused him in the early seasons.
- A very common gesture of The Man From Atlantis.
- The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Cameron does this. A lot.
- Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer does this very often. In fact, his head's default position seems to be tilted. He has the Quizzical Tilt, the intimidating tilt, the "I'm about to bite you" tilt, the arrogant tilt, the tilt of sexy... well they're all pretty sexy, so that should probably be renamed the tilt of "I'm going to shag you right now."
- Illyria on Angel seems to be doing this the entire damn time. Usually it signifies the person she's looking at is about to get Punched Across the Room.
- Kurt from Glee is good at these, but they tend to be somewhat less inquisitive and somewhat more interrogative. As in "we-have-ways-of-making-you-talk" interrogative. Especially when the frosty eyebrow lift and serial killer Death Glare get in on the act.
- The Observers in Fringe do this a lot in response to human behavior. September's actor Michael Cerveris got the idea from watching his dog.
- It turns out that the Observers actually do this because its necessary in order to hear properly.
- The New Adventures of Old Christine: New Christine hurts her neck, but everyone just assumes she's just doing this.
- In Season 2 of Luther, a woman walking down a dark alley realises there's someone following her; a man in a hoodie wearing a Punch mask. Punchface tilts his head as if sizing her up, then we cut to her being murdered on the sidewalk.
- Seen here by the referee as two hockey players demonstrate some impromptu yoga. (San Jose at Phoenix, 4/15/13.)
- Mass Effect 2 includes a particularly good scene where Joker does this after EDI cracks a hilarious, albeit very poorly timed, joke.
- Emperor Palpatine hilariously does this when accessing Imperial security panels in LEGO Star Wars.
- In Kingdom Hearts Coded, Data-Sora, Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Jiminy all perform one together as Data-Riku explains the nature of his existence.
- Emil Castagnier of Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World tends to do this a lot as well.
- Team Fortress 2's "Meet the Pyro" has him do this to the enemy Sniper. In his mind, everything is a happy Sugar Bowl of rainbows and sparkles, so he just doesn't understand why the Sniper is begging for help just before he's burned to death.
- Done by multiple characters in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, but is most notably used by Hydreigon, who in a moment of Leaning on the Fourth Wall, seems to direct one at you (As in, you, the player). Having the 3D effects enabled makes the moment especially amusing, as he shoves his face in the camera before he does so.
- In Pokémon X and Y, Pokémon will imitate your facial expressions and head movements to a degree while in Pokémon-amie. This includes a tilt of the head, which can look comical and/or adorable depending on which Pokémon is doing it. Recreating the aforementioned Mystery Dungeon example is very much possible and no less amusing then before.
- In the opening cinematic to Diablo III's expansion Reaper of Souls, the rogue angel Malthael gives a slight one when he is confronted by Tyrael, who has turned from angel to human since they last saw each other.
- Characters in Animal Crossing do this accompanied by a sound effect and question mark visual.
- The Simpsons, "Sweet and Sour Marge":
Marge: Don't you have any sense of corporate responsibility?
Garth Motherloving: [tilts head, confused puppy-dog whimpers]
Marge: Hey! [claps twice, and Garth snaps back to attention]
- Kitty from South Park has done this.
- Family Guy, Stewie's reaction to Brian's "this has turned his life upside down face" comment.
- In The Thief and the Cobbler, there's a scene where Tak and Princess Yum Yum do this to each other for several seconds.
- In the Adventure Time episode "The Chamber of Frozen Blades" Dr. Princess does this in reaction to Finn, Jake and the Ice King acting like ninjas.
Dr. Princess: What am I... looking at here, exactly?