Screaming Plane Baby

The Noise An Airplane Makes

The characters board an airplane or other public transport. Almost inevitably, a baby will start crying.

Babies are new to this world and have no language skills to articulate their discomfort or understand instructions on how to relieve it. So when they're faced with air pressure changes, unusual loud noises, the presence of strangers and the other hazards of public transportation, they're left with the default of screaming their lungs out. Plus, the child may be ill and in pain, and there's always hunger and dirty diapers to cause further discomfort.

This Real Life situation is often used in fiction when the characters are forced to take public transportation. It may just be an offscreen wail, or the parent of the child may be shown desperately trying (and failing) to hush the infant, or callously ignoring the kid and the pained reactions of those around them.

It can also be used as a characterization moment, with the character being a Jerkass to the harried parent, or demonstrating an ability to soothe the child.

A similar effect happens in theaters, auditoriums, churches and other crowded buildings, but in these cases it's usually possible to remove the baby and alleviate the problem. (In fact, these places often have specifically designated "crying rooms" for this precise purpose.)

Fictional Examples

  • An E-Trade commercial features its now-famous stock-trading baby discussing his strategies on an airplane. He is then interrupted by an offscreen screaming baby, and shortly afterward, another baby turns around to complain to him about the racket.

Anime & Manga
  • At one point in Mama Is a Fourth-Grader, Natsumi has an Imagine Spot of her potential future career as a flight attendant, and it's her baby (strapped to her back) that starts screaming.

Comic Books
  • In the first issue of X-Men (2013) by Brian Wood Jubilee is taking the baby she rescued from Bulgaria home on a plane when this happens, and a stewardess can be seen coming over to offer help while the people next to her plug their ears.
  • In Daredevil: Road Warrior, one of the perils that Matt Murdock must face on a six-hour flight in economy class is a crying baby. Did we mention that Matt has hypersensitive hearing?

  • In Hannibal (the book anyway), Hannibal Lecter is at one point pestered on a plane by a family consisting of a mother, a bratty kid and a crying baby.

Live-Action TV
  • On Modern Family, Mitchell and Cameron try to keep Lily awake before their flight to Hawaii so that she sleeps in the plane and avoids this. Mitchell tells the story of how he sat next to a crying baby on a flight from New York, then reveals that the baby was Cameron whining about how they couldn't get tickets to Billy Elliot.
  • Big Wave Dave's (a short-lived CBS sitcom): Marshall has to go back to the mainland from Hawaii for a business meeting. In a throwaway joke he says he doesn't want to, because he knows he'll have to sit between a fat sweaty guy and a mother with a crying baby. In The Stinger he's boarding the plane; when the flight attendant asks him if he'd like help finding his seat, he replies no thanks, he knows where it is. He just finds the fat sweaty guy and mother with a crying baby with a vacant seat between them.
  • On 30 Rock where Liz is on a plane that keeps on waiting for take-off, the longer she waits on the plane, the more babies cry.
  • In one episode of Frasier, Roz dressed up her daughter as a turkey (it was a Thanksgiving Episode) for the flight home so people would think, "Aww, how cute!" and wouldn't be so annoyed if she started crying.
  • Played for Drama in the last episode of Mash, when Hawkeye had a Heroic BSOD as a result of this trope: He was trapped on a bus full of refugees who are trying to hide from North Koreans when a baby starts to cry, and the mother chooses to smother her own child rather than risk exposing them to danger. The real kicker is that Hawkeye was the deciding factor in the murder, by telling her, "Will you shut that damn thing up?" It traumatized him so badly he accused an anesthesiologist of trying to smother a patient, altered his memories of the event until they were unrecognizable, then drove a jeep through a wall in the officers' club and ordered a double bourbon, which he never drank, finally causing him to be sent to a mental hospital.

  • "The Baggage Coach Ahead," a standard Victorian tearjerker, features a crying baby on a train and its clueless father. Considering that the mother is "dead in the coach ahead," the kid has more than enough reason to cry.

Newspaper Comics
  • Dilbert gets stuck behind a whole bunch of them in one strip (their moms are flying to the Mothers of Colicky Babies Convention or somesuch).

Standup Comedy
  • Comedian/folk singer Martin Pearon gives a hilarious account of this on his album Too Close for Comfort.

  • Mentioned in the note underneath this Wondermark strip. The characters in the strip obliquely express a desire to shake a crying baby, and the note reads, "Anyone who is offended by this was not on my flight last night."
  • This Johnny Wander strip.

Web Original
  • An episode of The Ricky Gervais Show had a segment in Karl's Diary where Karl wrote about how he had to sit next to a crying baby on a plane.

Western Animation
  • Done more than once on Family Guy.
    • In one episode, Peter, Joe, Cleveland and Quagmire are sapped, and flown to a mysterious island on a private cargo plane. Despite the fact that they're flying to the secret headquarters of a shadowy organization, on a private plane, there is an indignant mother with a crying baby accompanying them, to which Peter replies, "Really?"
    • The second Family Guy example found (there may be three):
      Guy on Airplane: Oh great, I always end up sitting next to a damn baby.
      Stewie: What did you just say?
      Lois: Stewie, stop fussing.
      Stewie: Pipe down, Lois. (Slaps guy on head.) Hey big man, turn around. Oh you can't hear me now. I was going to watch the movie, but forget it. For the next 5 hours, you're my bitch.
    • The third: While watching a school production of God and His Magical Rainbow Suspenders, God starts explaining his rainbow suspenders "through intrepretive dance!" To escape, Brian punches Stewie, who starts crying. "Oop, crying baby, I'll take him out."
    • In the episode, "Big Man on Hippocampus", Stewie complains about having to move to a small, run-down apartment, saying he belongs there no more than a baby belongs on a plane. The Cutaway Gag that follows is a father on an airplane calming his crying baby, which seems to work, until the flight attendant announces that their in-flight movie is Hancock, which causes both the Father and the baby to cry.
    • In "Screwed the Pooch", A cutaway gag references a police-documented incident in December 1996 where Brian slowly lost his temper after listening to a baby crying at a South Attleborough Denny's and ultimately snapped. Overwhelmingly livid, he started mocking the baby's crying and screamed at it to shut up.
  • On The Simpsons, Bart complains about being seated next to a crying baby on a plane. The camera then reveals that said baby is his sister Maggie.
  • On a Cartoon Network episode of The Annoying Orange, Pear gets on a plane and is seated next to a crying baby. After he grumbles to himself about it, the baby says that if he has a problem with his crying he should just say so, instead of being passive aggressive about it. He politely asks if he'll stop crying, and the baby refuses because he's uncomfortable.