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The Swear Jar
One (or more) of the characters has a particularly foul mouth, so another character decides to institute the Swear Jar so that they have to pay up every time they use rude language. Hilarity Ensues as the character who used to swear like a sailor either drops an unfathomable amount of cash into the jar or ends up having to censor everything he says. Also expect the character who instigated the jar to end up falling foul of his own rules and having to put money in as well. May also appear as a more generic Forfeit Jar if any character is particularly prone to specific words, phrases or acts.

Truth in Television in many households, with varying degrees of effectiveness and longevity.

Don't expect it to last beyond an episode.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • There's a Canadian Tire commercial for an autohammer where, because of numerous uses of manual hammers in places they clearly weren't designed for, a man's swear jar ends up paying for about half the tool being advertised.
  • There was one Budweiser commercial involving the profanity jar, with proceeds going to the next case of beer- profanity ensues. [1]

    Comic Books 
  • In Knights of the Dinner Table, Patty, a kindergarten teacher, maintains one for her gaming group Patty's Perps.
    • Extreme cases have to go sit in the corner.
  • An issue of Nightwing has Alfred reminding Nightwing not to swear while on the radio with him. Dick responds with how much he owes.
  • In Teen Titans at the beginning of One Year Later (which took place after Infinite Crisis), Ravager and Kid Devil are living under the authority of one of these.
    Kid Devil: HOLY #$@*! Cyborg's awake!
    Ravager: Your turn to feed the swear jar.
  • A Richie Rich comic book story had Mrs. Rich set up such a jar for her family, though most of the swearing only got as far as Symbol Swearing. And yes, Mrs. Rich also fell victim to it.
  • In Scarlet Spider #12, Kaine's Kid Sidekick/Morality Pet Aracely insists that he owes the swear jar two dollars. Quite loudly.

    Film 
  • A non-Swear example, In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Emma Watson had a Corpsing jar because she kept laughing.
  • Shows up in Hot Fuzz: Each swear is given various rates, while some letters are replaced by Symbol Swearing. Except the word with the highest rate, Cunt. Nicolas Angel and Andy Wainright have a heated argument, and both turn aside to politely thank their respective guy for paying in. The argument started with Nicholas paying in advance for his first swear.
    Nicholas: *clink* Leslie Tiller was fucking murdered!
    Andy: And George Merchant?
    Nicholas: Yes!
    Andy: Eve Draper?
    Nicholas: Yes!
    Andy:Tim Messenger?
    Nicholas: Yes!
    Andy: Martin Blower?
    Nicholas: No actually.
    Andy: Really?
    Nicholas: Of course he fucking was! *clink* Thank you, Danny.
    Andy: Murder, murder, murder...change the fucking record. *clink* Thank you, Andy.
    • There's also a somewhat stealthy Brick Joke in all of this. The proceeds of the swear jar are meant to go toward repairs of the church roof. Later, a character is murdered via a plummeting piece of said roof, thus demonstrating the dire need for repairs.
  • The Richard Pryor movie Moving had one. It is shown used normally to punish his daughter for swearing. She then pays in advance at one point so she can cuss him out. Later, when the "move" goes very badly we see Pryor prepare to let loose... instead the movie cuts to the jar totally stuffed with cash. When he announces the move, his wife calmly gets up from the table, gets her purse, and starts feeding bills into the jar, then tells the youngest children to leave the room.
  • Legally enforced by the Verbal Morality Statute in Demolition Man, as you are fined every time you swear. Exploited by the hero when he finds out there's no toilet paper in future, with people instead using seashells. After getting his first fine, he drops a Cluster F-Bomb to get the paper he needs.
  • In the Australian bowls film Crackerjack a swear jar is implemented at the local bowls club.
    Gwen: Swear jar, Mr. Simpson.
    Jack Simpson: Swear jar? What's that?
    Mrs. Jenkins: It's a jar you put money in if you say the word "fuck".
  • Kick-Ass 2 : Mindy (Hit Girl) has one. It's pretty full.
    • Later she has two.

    Literature 
  • In Anne McCaffrey's Acorna, after the miners take in a little alien girl they institute this, just because they don't want her learning those particular words.
  • In Seven Ancient Wonders, part of the plot is about an oracle's daughter being brought up by a team of commandos, so they implement a swear jar, but only when they swear around her - so she starts following them around, yelling out "Swear jar!" when they curse. The jar is almost always full.
  • In I Was a Non-Blonde Cheerleader, Annisa's father has initiated a "like" jar. She says that she could have a much better wardrobe if she would stop using the word so much.
  • Greg's mom in Diary of a Wimpy Kid has one for him and Roderick. The money goes to Manny's college fund.
  • Variant in The Berenstain Bears book "The Berenstain Bears and the Bad Habit": to help Sister Bear break her bad habit of nail biting, she gets ten pennies a week and has to give one back for every nail she bit. By the time she broke the habit for good, she'd accumulated quite an impressive amount of wealth.
  • Overused, a lot, in the Psychic Eye series. Abby uses words like "shih tzu" and "feck" constantly while trying to weasel out of paying up. There is one very funny scene in Deadly Forecast when she gets furious at her fiance and starts swearing and throwing quarters at him, following up by dumping the contents of the entire change purse in his lap.

    Live-Action TV 
  • New Tricks has the detectives install one, which eventually allows them to go out for a nice meal on the town. Gerry's a bit aggrieved that he didn't get to chose, since he "put most of the bloody money in."
  • On Friends, the people at Alexandro's Restaurant had initiated a "shouting jar":
    Monica: I did not yell! I am not putting a dollar in the jar.
  • Not for swearing, but an episode of Power Rangers Ninja Storm has Lothor demand that every time Monster of the Week Boxing Bop-A-Roo says a made-up word, he is to put a dollar in a jar. When Bop-A-Roo's vocabulary starts catching on, it extends to the rest of Lothor's minions. (Funnily enough, the words weren't made-up, Lothor just thought they were.)
  • Once on Saturday Night Live when Cheri Oteri inadvertently said "shit" during the show, at the end, host David Schwimmer made her put a dollar into the SNL swear jar.
  • In Top Gear, when road testing a new Alfa Romeo, presenter James May has a swear box for every time he uses a word like "soul" or "passion". He uses a lot of money. Excerpt here.
  • In an episode of Two and a Half Men, Jake points out that Charlie needs to put a dollar into the jar because he swore earlier. Charlie pulls out a $20 bill: "That oughtta cover me till lunch."
  • In Pawn Stars, "the old man" institutes a swear jar. It quickly fills, and while counting the money, he swears himself.
  • Thoroughly explored by The Two Ronnies.
    Ronnie Barker: A swear-box? That's a *bleep!*ing good idea!
  • In Californication, Hank Moody has this arrangement with his daughter - both ways. She gets most of the money.
  • In the episode "A Very Supernatural Christmas" Sam and Dean get captured by two pagan gods who have been living as a folksy, Stepfordish married couple. When Dean blurts out an expletive after they pull one of his teeth for a sacrifice, the wife rebukes him and says, "Someone owes a nickel to the swear jar!"
  • Steptoe & Son: Reveal in the final episode they had been operating a Swear Box at at the rate of 10p per swear. The total amassed wealth of the Steptoes is divided thus: BANK BALANCE: 300 BUILDING SOCIETY ACCOUNT: 700 SWEARBOX:7980.
  • In Kitchen Nightmares, the UK version, there was an episode, Gordon Ramsay challenged a chef to avoid drinking alcohol and smoking during service. Ramsay also set a challenge for himself by not swearing during a service. If either did that, they have to put a pound into a piggy bank. Ramsay had to put in quite a few pounds into the jar.
  • In the Easter episode of The Vicar of Dibley, everyone on the parish council gives up a common habit of theirs, or else put a pound in the "Lent Fines Box" (used to raise money for a movie club) every time they succumb to it. In Owen's case, this means giving up swearing. As soon as Lent is over, he launches into a Cluster F-Bomb to make up for lost time.
  • In Men Behaving Badly, George and Marjorie have a "lewd thoughts" jar. This gives rise to the associated joke: George admits to putting around 50p in over the last twenty years (he "came over all funny" in the Post Office once in about 1982). However, Marjorie has contributed something in the region of 2,000. George admits he ought to say something, but the money has paid for five caravanning holidays.
  • The Drop the Dead Donkey office had a Nessun Dorma box for anyone humming the catchy opera tune that became the unofficial theme of the Italia '90 World Cup Tournament. Following the death of Robert Maxwell, they also had a Bad Maxwell Joke box.
  • The Daily Show has an "Obama/Osama Flub Jar", and also a "Biden/Bin Laden Flub Jar".
    • There's also a jar you have to put money in every time you quote George Carlin. Which probably makes it function as a regular swear jar as well.
  • In the Australian variety show Rove the host, Rove McManus, implemented the "Harrison Ford Commemorative Swear Jar" in remembrance of an interview with the actor that was mildly profane. Rove himself added fifty dollars after swearing in front of then-twelve year old Freddie Highmore. He later raided this same fifty dollars to get a lap dance from Meat Loaf.
  • A Swear Jar appears in a Sister Sister episode. Unlike most examples, though, it actually serves no purpose other than a means for Ray, who was currently having financial problems, to nick some money somehow. He does have to place a penny in the jar to save face to Lisa when she walks in on him doing it.
  • Mr. Show:
    • An episode opens with Bob and David introducing their swear jar:
      Bob Odenkirk: We're going to have a great show tonight.
      David Cross: A great fucking show tonight! (slips a nickel into jar)
    • Later on in the episode, there's a sketch about evil mastermind Dr. X, who threatens to destroy Earth with an orbital laser if he doesn't earn enough money from his telethon. The telethon comes up short by a few thousand dollars, but then, to complete the Brick Joke, Bob (actually Bob's brother Bill, since Bob plays Dr. X) and David show up with their swear jar, which almost covers the shortfall—they're still a nickel short.
      Dr. X: I'm sorry, gentlemen, but it appears you're up shit's creek.
      David: AH HAH!
      (Dr. X, dejected, slips a nickel into the swear jar)
      Dr. X: Well, we did it!
  • The recap episode of Cycle 16 of America's Next Top Model showed Jaclyn putting out a swear jar... and promptly getting a huge payoff.
  • The guys of New Girl have a 'Douchebag Jar'. Whenever one of them (usually Schmidt) does something douchey, they have to put money in the jar.
  • Used in an episode of Corner Gas. Lacey (of all people) ends up putting $20 in after a long rant blocked out by a Sound Effect Bleep.
  • In Wimzie's House, Yaya institutes this with the word "stupid" with one cent going into a "charity cup" each time it's said. Only Wimzie's little brother Bo is exempt because A.) He's only 1 1/2 and B.) He doesn't have any money.
  • On Deadwood Calamity Jane says "owe you a penny" any time she swears in front of Sophia. Naturally this amounts to quite a lot of pennies.
  • One episode of Panel Show They Think It's All Over opened with host Nick Hancock declaring that, in a crackdown on the programme's foul language, The BBC had instituted a swear jar, with all money collected to be donated to Children in Need. He then set the tone for the rest of the episode by declaring this "a (bleep)ing good idea" and promptly making the first donation (of many). At one point, panelist Jonathan Ross produced a large pile of coins in preparation for a long series of donations.
  • The equivalent appeared in the "Fingers and Fumbs" episode of QI as a double-or-nothing wager by playing Rock-Paper-Scissors with Stephen Fry - if the panellists used the "F-word" they'd lose points - in the event every game was lost by Fry or was tied.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Baby Blues has this, with Darryl having to put money into the Swearing Jar numerous times. He eventually comments that he has more money in the swear jar than he has in his retirement fund.
  • In Beetle Bailey, due to an excess of Symbol Swearing, Sgt. Snorkel finds himself contributing.

    Video Games 
  • In Mass Effect 3, after Joker learns that Jack has been prohibited from swearing around her students, he asks if she's instituted a swear jar and speculates that they could use it to buy a whole new cruiser. Jack replies with a Precision F-Strike (after telling her students to cover their ears first).

    Web Original 
  • The Salvation War has a variation on this: Any time one of the researchers looking for a gateway to Heaven wishes aloud for Einstein / Feynman/insert-Nobel-Prize-winner-here to magically appear and help them solve a particular problem, they cough up a couple of bucks. Last Friday of the month, everyone goes out drinking with the cash.
  • In the Christmas episode of Weebl's Cat Face cartoon, Cat Face gives Mr. So-Called Gordon Ramsey a swear jar for Christmas. By Christmas morning it's already full.
  • The FanFiction Critic has a swear jar named 'The Cube of Profanity'. In one review of a fan fiction (If I Was Your Nazi), another fan fic reviewer posted a video response putting tons of money in the jar (well, not really obviously, but still).
  • The Spoony Experiment: The Demolition Man example was parodied by the Spoony One when he reviewed the video game based on that movie. His robot, Burton, was programmed to issue a fine every time he swore. By the end of the review he was so infuriated by the game (and had so many fines) that he throttled and beheaded the robot. The reason for the swearing fines is because Spoony (supposedly) got a sponsorship deal with Taco Bell and they want his show to be all-ages appropriate. He tries to get around it by using curses from sci-fi shows. At the end of the review, all the Taco Bell food has given him indigestion, seemingly setting up a parody of the Demolition Man scene...except that Spoony chooses the game's instruction manual over the pile of fines.
  • Seen quite a bit on the Funday Pawpet Show, where anyone who breaks the show's tenuous PG-13 rating has to put a dollar in the swear jar for each profane instance, the net result of which usually goes towards buying food for the cast and guests. Poink often has to pony up a five or so.
  • On the WrestleCrap Radio podcast, reference is occasionally made to this, as every now and then co-host Blade Braxton resolves to clean up his language (it never lasts).
  • During the Isle of Rangoon episode "As the Wheels Turn", Starchibald makes a Communist joke, only for Sunny Jim to tell him he owes money to the Communist joke jar.
    • In the "Don't Touch" episode, Starchibald tells Sunny Jim to put a quarter in the dirty joke jar... even though he didn't say anything, Starchibald knew he was thinking it.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!: In fact, the family has dozens of jars, one for each word. Including "moist".
  • Chowder: For a rock monster who was only capable of saying Radda Radda, Shnitzel is shown to have one that is filled to the brim with money - One of his more endearing qualities when he was missed after quitting his job.
  • In Home Movies, Brendon's mom assigns him one after he films a movie with his friends containing gratuous profanity.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Homer has to deal with one of these while he builds a doghouse for Santa's Little Helper after Flanders' son Todd picks up Homer's foul language. Homer ends up putting money in the jar for accidentally putting a $20 bill in the church collection plate ("Da--"), cursing out a lone bowling pin after nearly getting a strike ("Oh, You Sunnuva--"), calling Flanders a "dirty bast--" after Flanders (who shaved his mustache off in exchange for Homer curbing his foul language) gets checks for starring in commercials, after forgetting to build a door for Santa's Little Helper's doghouse, and after a beehive falls on him while sleeping on a hammock (and was implied to have been stung by many of them off-screen), and becomes so programmed not to curse that he says, "Oh, fudge!" and "Fiddle-dee-dee" before breaking down into Angrish as he kicks down the doghouse. The good news is that the money in Homer's swear jar was enough for Marge and Lisa to actually buy a doghouse for SLH (since the one Homer was building was terrible) and some beer for Homer.
    • In a later episode, when low-flying planes are causing items to fall to the floor, Marge runs around trying to save them. Then she turns and sees:
    Marge: No, not the swear jar! It's the only thing holding back the filth! (jar shatters) Nutty-fudgkins!
  • In an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Skarr asks Hector Con Carne how he re-funded his organization and Hector says that he "borrowed money from an old friend". Cut to see that Skarr's piggy bank has been shattered, causing him to cry "My swear money!".

    Real Life 
  • Director Robert Rodriguez didn't want the crew swearing in front of the young cast in Spy Kids, so he instituted one of these. One of the crewmen slipped up, and went "Oh shit...ake mushrooms", in order to avoid the fine. Rodriguez liked this so much he had Alexa Vega say the line in the movie.
  • Chris Columbus did a similar thing to the adults in Home Alone. Reportedly, Joe Pesci filled the jar in a single day.
  • During the shoot of 2005's Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe movie, according to the commentary, only eight-year-old Georgie Henley (playing Lucy) was doing the collecting herself. Her stringent enforcement was referred to with hilarity and fondness by the cast as "The Potty-Mouth Bucket." The biggest donor was apparently James McAvoy.
  • The devoutly Catholic actress Loretta Young kept a swear jar on the set of her movies. After shooting one movie with the high-maintenance actress, Robert Mitchum dropped a $20 bill into the jar, saying, "This should just about cover everything I've been wanting to say to Loretta."
  • They say that the Russian Empress Catherine the Great had once created a box for lying on banquets (the money was later used for charity). When the man responsible for handling the box complained that a certain person should be kept out of her palace to save him from going broke, Catherine the Great replied that she sometimes liked hearing lies. (He advised her to ...visit the Senate more often.)
  • On occasion, language classes use these to enforce a "no-English" (or equivalent) rule. The success of these schemes is variable.
  • Sometimes, when a company changes its name, it will use one of these to make sure employees don't say the old name.
  • They were sold or given away as premiums in dime stores in the 1930s. "I'm just a little swear box/ But I'll cure you if I can/ From a naughty wicked cuss word/ to a tiny little damn!" And on the back: "If it's just a little 'cuss' word/ it's a NICKEL every time/ If it's just a little 'wuss' word/ that will cost a DIME/ For language strong and naughty/ That shocks you as it oughter/ We should really charge you FIFTY/ But will settle for a QUARTER."
  • There is a Twitter Charity Swear Box that lets you donate to good causes for talking shit on line. Another such charity is called Fuck Cancer.
  • Similarly, Comic Relief 2006 briefly used one as a way to get more donations. Generous guys on stage dropped a Cluster F-Bomb, much to the chagrin of TBS.
  • There's a great story about Ethel Merman, who, according to Stephen Sondheim, "had the vocabulary of a truck driver." She was working with the abovementioned Loretta Young, who insisted that Ethel use the Swear Jar. After becoming more and more frustrated with this, Ethel turned to her, placed a hundred-dollar bill in the jar, and said," Loretta, here's a hundred dollars and go fuck yourself."
  • Tom Waits(Vh1 Storytellers): We have a swear jar at home and y'know what a swear jar is? It's a jar in the middle of the kitchen and every time you say a bad word you have to put in a buck. And, uh... It helps. Y'know because we have a mortgage and everything. And, uh, I don't know how that ties in here. Oh! Here's what happened! We had the swear jar and the idea was overtime what you do was at the end of the month or whatever you go and check out the money in the swear jar and maybe get "40 bucks" or somethin'. You go buy a tree and you plant the tree and you get the picture. And we took all those bad words and we made something good out of it. I got into the habit of getting up in the morning and putting in a ten. Just taking out a little insurance. We were coming home one night and we had a really good month of no swearing and my wife said that the whole family been really good. So for the next five minutes you can say anything you want in the car. That was fun.
  • According to Jennifer Lawrence, there was one on the set of The Hunger Games, which she filled up quickly.
  • A joint interview with the Power Trio of the Twilight series reveals that there was one on the set of Breaking Dawn part 2. According to them, the three of them (Kristin Stewart especially) contributed enough to put Mackenzie Foy (Renesmee) through college.
  • The portion of the FCC's decency regulations regarding language could be viewed as doing this for broadcast television. Keep your views of its legitimacy and constitutionality on the discussion forums, please.
  • On one episode of Hannity, Bob Beckel (a Democratic consultant and Fox News Liberal) got into a heated argument with another guest during a commercial break. He was in the middle of a Precision F-Strike when the show went live again, and the F Bomb was broadcast. His next appearance was on the Fox News show The Five (where he was one of the regular hosts). He carried with him for that appearance and for a few more a swear jar.
  • In a blooper reel for Castle, Nathan Fillion lets out an F-bomb when he flubs a line in a scene with the young actress playing his daughter. He immediately adds, "I owe you a dollar." Somebody off-camera admonishes him with "she's a minor!", to which he replies, "I said I owe her a dollar!"
  • Occasionally, some bars in South Africa will try to put in a swear jar to increase the bartenders' tips. It almost invariably fails since the staff ends up putting in half the money.
  • When Robert A. Heinlein was working at the Philadelphia Navy Yard during WWII, he instituted not a Swear Jar, but what could be called a Complaint Jar: anyone who griped about the vile cafeteria food was fined a nickel, complaining being deemed "unpatriotic". Forbidden (by Heinleinian fiat) to bring a brown-bag lunch and eat at his desk, Isaac Asimov tried to get around the ban on complaints by using the question format ("Is there such a thing as tough fish?"), without success.


Subverted Rhyme Every OccasionThese Tropes Should Watch Their LanguageSymbol Swearing
Stage MoneyMoney TropesSwiss Bank Account
Sustained MisunderstandingComedy TropesSwivel-Chair Antics
BlipImageSource/WebcomicsBlood Stain

alternative title(s): Swear Jar
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