Reactive Continuous Scream

The simple dog made the noise all through the night and was still going strong the next morning. When we were loading the dogs into the car, the constant, high-pitched sound emanating from the simple dog finally broke the helper dog. The helper dog wailed in anguish, which alarmed the simple dog. In her surprise, the simple dog let out a yelp, which further upset the helper dog. And so it continued in a wretched positive-feedback loop of completely unnecessary noise.

Somebody is startled by another — and screams. The surprise at being screamed at makes the other scream (usually even louder than the originator), which leads to the first person continuing to scream, which makes the other then scream even more. If more than two people are involved it can end up with a room filled with people screaming in surprise with no one really knowing why.

Compare Vomit Chain Reaction.


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  • A variant used in this 2008 Super Bowl commercial with forest animals and a woman in a car about to hit a squirrel.
  • Another variant was used in a legendary Super Bowl commercial, except a Reactive Continuous "WHASSAAAAAAAAP?" replaced the scream.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Yotsuba&!: Yotsuba initiates a three-way scream that goes on for half a chapter; while showing a live frog she caught to her friend Ena, her other friend Miura shows up in an scarecrow outfit, causing Yotsuba to scream. Ena uses the frog to scare Miura, who screams and backs into Yotsuba, who renews her own screaming, and reflexively starts hitting her with Ena's favorite teddy bear, causing Ena to start screaming...
  • In Soul Eater, Eruka and Asura do this when he wakes up for the first time in... over a century.

    Comic Strips 
  • Done during the introduction of Lanolin and Bo in U.S. Acres.

    Fan Works 
  • In the twenty-seventh episode of Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Vegeta, Krillin and Gohan were screaming during their fight with Freeza.
    Vegeta: Healer's down!
    Krillin: Need a res!
    Gohan: Out of mana!
    (Vegeta starts screaming and they all follow suit)
  • In episode five of None Piece Usopp falls off a cliff, starts bleeding out of his forehead and screams. Zoro starts screaming and bleeding out of his forehead. Luffy starts screaming and bleeding purple paint out of his forehead.
  • In Welcome to Ponyville, if you let DJ Pon-3 sleep with you, your character wakes up screaming from a nightmare. DJ Pon-3 starts screaming as well.
    You: [screams]
    DJ Pon-3: [screams]
    You: Why were you screaming?
    DJ Pon-3: I don't know, you were doing it, and it looked fun!
  • From Ask Fluffle Puff, the short "Bubbles" has Derpy blowing soap bubbles, one of them popping in Fluffle Puff's eye. She starts screaming, making Derpy screams in turn.
  • Happens in A Very Potter Sequel when Ron pulls out his rat Scabbers, Harry starts screaming, only for Ron to join in.

    Films — Animation 
  • The page image is from The Emperor's New Groove:
    Pacha: [referring to Kuzco] AHHHH! Demon llama!
    Kuzco: [unaware he is a llama] Demon llama?! Where?! [looks around and finds himself face-to-face with Pacha's llama Misty] AHHHHH!
    Misty: AHHHHH!
  • Used repeatedly in DreamWorks/Aardman's Flushed Away, between pampered house-rat Roddy and the Greek Chorus of sewer slugs.
  • In The Lion King 1˝, when Timon and Pumbaa meet for the first time.
    • The movie freeze frames on their hilarious screaming faces, and Timon and Pumbaa have this exchange;
    Pumbaa: You know, first impressions are very important.
    Timon: Oh, I thought you were a scream.
  • In Disney's Tarzan, Jane screams when first meeting Terk the gorilla, who is just as surprised.
  • In Shark Tale with Ernie, Bernie and Oscar. They end up doing it twice in a row.
  • In Open Season, This is how Boog the bear meets Elliott the mule deer: Boog hears mumbling and turns to see a mule deer tied to the hood of a truck. He sniffs and exclaims "that's nasty" and picks up a stick and pokes the deer with it...and the deer's eye pops open! Boog screams and Elliot screams back and continue to do so for about 10 seconds.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • ET The Extraterrestrial: When Gertie walks into the bedroom and first sees ET, the continuous screaming starts — especially funny given the sound of ET's scream and his expression.
  • Seen in How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (Jim Carrey version). In fairness to Cindy, the Grinch was just plain scary-looking in that scene, lurking up there in the corner like that.
  • The first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie had this happen when April wakes up in the Turtles' den and sees them for the first time. She starts screaming and a few of the turtles follow suit.
  • Malibu's Most Wanted featured one near the climax by everyone involved in the movie up to that point.
  • In the original trailer for Clue there's a short instance where Mr. Green is screaming. Col. Mustard slaps him and yells, "WHY ARE YOU SCREAMING!!?" "Because I'm frightened!" "OF WHAT!!?" "Screaming!!"
  • Gale and Evelle's escape from prison in Raising Arizona.
  • Wallace and Lori do this in The Man Who Knew Too Little upon discovering a dead body.

  • Happens in the Discworld book Maskerade, between Mr. Bucket and one of the ballet girls.
  • A projective telepath in The Ear, the Eye and the Arm accidentally causes a psionic version of this when he thinks of a train and it scares a baby, whose fear scares him in turn. It's treated seriously, as part of how he's Blessed with Suck: if he hadn't interrupted the reaction in time, they could have both gone insane.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Done by Mystery Science Theater 3000, with the interesting twist of cutting to a commercial in the middle of it — they're still doing it when we get back, and Tom continues screaming at intervals after everyone else has stopped.
    "We'll be right back! AAAAAHHHHH!"
  • This happens in a Halloween episode of Dark Angel, where Joshua opens the door to a group of trick-or-treaters with predictable results.
  • Happens at the end of an episode of the sitcom Taxi between Louie and Death. Or maybe it was just a girl scout selling cookies.
  • Happens in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody several times.
  • My Name Is Earl had this happen in a flashback where Earl tried to rob a wealthy family only to get trapped in the sons room. Afraid of the boogeyman, the kid looked under his bed only to find Earl. They both start screaming.
  • In the Kenan & Kel Christmas episode between Kenan and a woman whose house he's trespassing in.
  • The Previously On recap for The Aquabats! Super Show! episode "Haunted Battletram!" is a montage of freaking out.
  • Happens in a Season 9 episode of Seinfeld when Jerry finds out that Kramer had to donate blood to him.
  • Occurs rapid fire in an episode of Scrubs when JD attempts to assert authority when dealing with his interns by screaming at Lonnie the intern at the end of a pep talk, only to be terrified by the responding scream from his intern. His interns losing respect for him even averts the trope later in the episode.
  • This trope is how Phineas is introduced in at least half the episodes of Power Rangers Mystic Force. Usually he's hanging from a tree branch or somehow falling into shot.
  • Done repeatedly in The Sketch Show, in one sketch with a support group for people with phobias - One had a fear of screaming, one had a fear of apologies, one had a fear of repetition and one had a fear of awkward silences.

  • Done three times at the end of the video for OK Go's version of The Muppet Show theme. First Damian Kulash wakes screaming from discovering it's All Just a Dream. When he discovers he's in bed with the Electric Mayhem, he sceams again, which sets the Electric Mayhem off. Then the same gag is done in reverse, with Dr Teeth waking up to find he's in bed with OK-Go, with the same result. Then Tim Nordwind wakes up to find he's in bed with a bunch of real and Muppet dogs, including Rowlf, and they all just start screaming.

    Video Games 
  • In Pokémon Sapphire, Whismur's Pokédex entry claims that it can inflict this trope on itself:
    "Whismur is very timid. If it starts to cry loudly, it becomes startled by its own crying and cries even harder. When it finally stops crying, the Pokémon goes to sleep, all tired out."
  • The opening for Rayman Origins. It starts with Ray realizing he's holding a skull, he screams, and not a second later everyone else does, even said skull.

    Web Video 
  • There's an episode of Baman Piderman that does this.
  • In Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin'?'s segment on Final Fight, Anthony walks in on Ashly and begins to scream, then Ash follows and then their friends walked in and started to scream as well. One of them screamed so hard that his nose started to bleed (which was real and not scripted...).
    • Another one has Anthony waking up finding and X on his back and screams once he sees Ash is carrying a knife. Ash also screams while explaining that she's imitating Shadow of the Colossus.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged: In Dragon Ball Kai Abridged Episode 1, Vegeta's yell of "It's over nine thousand!" quickly becomes this between him and Nappa.

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 
  • One particular sketch of AMV Hell III shows re-dubs a scream from Bleach into a reactive continuous scream, with all the other characters looking on in shock and confusion.

    Western Animation 
  • Doctor Rockso from Metalocalypse has one such moment, played entirely for laughs:
    Rockso: (whispers) I do cocaine.
To clarify, Murderface was asleep on the couch and Rocko woke him up by sitting real close next to him and putting his hand in Murderface's pocket. That would make anyone scream.
Murderface: I woke up with a clown's hand in my pants. That's what I did today.
  • In Phineas and Ferb this happens between Candace and Buford (who's dressed as Little Suzy Johnson) in "One Good Scare Oughta Do It!" Also happens between Candace and a squirrel in the episode "Comet Kermillion", after Little Suzy brings said squirrel out from behind her back.
  • In the Regular Show episode "Brain Eraser", this happens when Mordecai walks in on a naked Pops.
  • During the bar fight in Korgoth of Barbaria, Korgoth unleashes a brutal series injuries on the Giant Mook who challenges him one on one. All of the other mooks/victims, (virtually all of whom have also already been injured horribly by Korgoth) react by screaming in horror at each obit of brutality. Watch until the end and see for yourself.
  • Xiaolin Showdown, In the episode "Panda Town" we get this gem of a moment with Wuya and Jack.
  • Shows up in the second act of the Mr. Bogus episode "Beach Blanket Bogus", where a woman screams when she sees Bogus in her slushie cup, which also prompts Bogus to scream right back.
  • In an episode of Total Drama Island, Cody wakes up to Noah sleep-kissing his ear. This results in about three seconds of them screaming at each other.
  • Family Guy:
    • In "Quagmire's Dad", following Brian's discovery regarding the titular person he slept with, Stewie and Brian have one of these little moments.
    • "Into Harmony's Way" has an interesting variation of the two-person scream: Peter and Quagmire get freaked out by a bee and both start screaming, which results in them finding out their voices make great harmony, setting the stage for the episode.
  • Teen Titans Go!: In "Parasite", Starfire celebrates one of her holidays, Feast Day, by serving everyone mouthworms. When Robin tries taking a bite of his, he and the mouthworm have one of these moments, ending with him disappearing via smoke bomb.