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This Is no Time to Panic
Seriously! Don't!

Buzz: Sheriff, this is no time to panic!
Woody: This is the perfect time to panic!

Alice and her team are in desperate trouble, and her first instinct is to panic. Her second instinct is to remember that she shouldn't panic. Heroes can't panic when they've got a world to save or a fortress to escape from or a Big Bad to fight, and teens can't panic when their simple plan goes awry. So, caught in the most panic-worthy of situations, she calls out to her friends, "Stay calm! This is no time to panic!"

This has two common subversions:

  1. Someone with less courage (or more Genre Savvy) will reply, "Actually, yeah, it is!"
  2. Within minutes (or seconds) of Alice's initial, morale-boosting shout, something happens to make things even worse. She does an immediate Verbal Backspace and yells, "Now panic!"

Cue the running and screaming.

Despite what the media commonly depicts, it is difficult to induce panic in others, let alone panic on cue. One needs a sense of impending entrapment (if people feel themselves to be trapped already, they are more likely to give up and go limp), a sense of great helplessness, and a sense of profound isolation. As a result, in many cases, fictional panic occurs much earlier or later than it would in real life.

A trope that is automatically lampshaded by its mere use. No relation with (although sometimes followed by) You Can Panic Now. Compare Stiff Upper Lip. Contrast Fear Is the Appropriate Response.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime  

  • In the American dub of Kikis Delivery Service, the following lines are spoken in increasing distress as Jiji and Kiki dive through the rain onto a stationary train:
    Jiji: First, don't panic. Second, don't panic. And third, did I mention not to panic?

     Comic Books  

  • Cheerfully lampshaded in an issue of the new Blue Beetle series; Jaime (the eponymous Blue Beetle) has met his fellow teen-crimefighters, the Titans, and they've found themselves in the path of Lobo (the Czarnian Bounty Hunter who considers going ten rounds with Superman an entertaining way to kill an hour or two). Robin, in his role as team lead, yells into the radio "Don't panic!" * pause* "Actually, no, panic is precisely the right response in this situation."
  • Usagi Yojimbo plays it straight when Usagi defeats Jei with the great sword Kusanagi, and a magic explosion occurs that is visible some distance as a frightening atmospheric disturbance at a monastery. There the former samurai turned monk, Shanshobo is trying to get his comrades to calm down even as at least one is screaming, "It's the end of the world!" with "If it is, hysteria will not save you."

     Fan Works  

  • In New Mutants: Academy X, when caught in Danger Room, the conversation is something like:
    "Don't panic. Prodigy, can you replicate their abilities?
    "No. Doesn't work on holograms."
    "So panic."
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf Remix Comic story "Smurfed Behind: The Departure", when Wild Smurf arrives in the Smurf Village to warn Papa Smurf about Snappy coming into the village riding a dinosaur, Papa Smurf tells Wild to stay in the village and try to keep the other Smurfs calm since "the last thing we need when it comes to smurfing this is a village-wide panic". A few panels later when Snappy arrives on Crinkles the baby dinosaur, the village automatically goes into panic mode!

    Films — Animated 
  • In Dreamworks' Antz, when the Mega-Tunnel is opened and the water flows through, everybody goes nuts despite the Queen trying to calm them down.
    Queen: People...we've all been deceived. We must quickly and calmly head towards the exits—
    Random Worker: RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!! IT'S GOING TO FLOOD!!
  • Disney's Aladdin: While fleeing from the rising Lava Pit in the Cave Of Wonders, we are treated to the following subversion:
    Aladdin: Abu, this is no time to panic! (notices they're about to fly into a wall) Start panicking...
  • Disney/Pixar's Toy Story: After being accidentally abandoned at the gas station, Woody and Buzz provide the first page quote.
    • In Toy Story 3:
      Buzz: This is no time to be hysterical!
      Hamm: This is the perfect time to be hysterical!
      Rex: Should we be HYSTERICAL?!
      Slinky: NO!
      Mr. Potato Head: YES!
      Buzz: MAYBE! But not right now!
  • Monsters Inc, after Boo enters the monster world: "It is my professional opinion that now is the time to panic!"
  • Chicken Run:
    Bunty: We mustn't panic. WE MUSTN'T PANIC!
    [beat]
    All Chickens: ARGHHHHHHH!!!!
  • In the advertising for the movie Chicken Little, what appears to be an advert for The Hitchhikers Guidetothe Galaxy appears, telling people "Don't Panic". After a second, the "Don't" falls off, leaving "Panic" followed by quick clips of the CL movie, to the tune "It's the End of the World As We Know it."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, when Harry and Ron first enter the spiders' grotto:
    Harry: Don't panic.
    [Aragog reveals that he plans to feed them to his children]
    Ron: Can we panic now?
    • Don't forget the giant snake, it's bad enough knowing that they can get pretty big in real life.
  • Airplane
    • As the unconscious pilot and co-pilot are dragged down the aisle:
      Jack: What's going on? We have a right to know the truth!
      Rumack: All right, I'm going to level with you all. But what's most important now is that you remain calm. There is no reason to panic. [Rumack's nose grows like Pinocchio] Now, it is true that one of the crew members is ill... slightly ill. [nose grows bigger] But the other two pilots... they're just fine. [by now, his nose can be used for a pool cue] They're at the controls flying the plane... free to pursue a life of religious fulfillment.
    • Later, the cue to panic is memorably delivered: "There's no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you'll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?" Mass hysteria ensues.
  • In Airplane II: The Sequel, during one of the usual hysterical riots on the plane, there is a sign that flashes, "DON'T PANIC" until it suddenly malfunctions with a puff of smoke and changes to "OK, PANIC"
  • At the end of Dogma, it's time to panic. Or have sex...
  • In Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, after finally finding the Szalinskis, the four kids make all the noise they can, but the two of them simply turn away and head back to the house not noticing them. Ron, the youngest of the Thompsons, is in despair.
    Ron: They're never gonna find us! We were right under their noses and they didn't even see us!
    Russ: Don't panic, Ron. We'll... we'll find a way.
    Ron: [panicking] I'm not panicked! Who's panicked? NOBODY'S PANICKED!
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane tells a terrified Dr. Pavel, "Calm down. Now is not the time for fear. That comes later."
  • Invoked by Owen in Throw Momma from the Train. Larry's response: "This is the perfect time to panic!"

    Literature 
  • In Sharon Creech's The Wanderer, this is the BIG difference between Cody's and Sophie's diary entries: Cody begins to panic just as the storm begins, with entries like "I was a bad son..." etc., whereas Sophie matter-of-factly describes how hard it is to sail in storm, but remains calm until the Big Wave, that is.
  • In Myth Conceptions it turns out that Skeeve is supposed to stop an army, and Aahz's advice is "to not panic until we get the whole story". Later, quite predictably, he admits: "Now that we've got the whole story, now you can panic".
  • In Terry Pratchett's The Last Hero, Rincewind, of all people, says "This is not the time to panic" in the course of the Kite's landing. When the spaceship has lost her wings, he goes for "Now is the time to panic", though.
    • To be fair, when you're operating on the advanced levels of cowardice that have kept Rincewind alive for so long you learn about these things. There's only so much adrenaline in the adrenal gland, so you have to conserve your panic for when you really need it. He has a lot of experience with these things.
  • In Deep Wizardry, Tom and Carl tell Kit and Nita not to panic just because they're going to be performing a major magic ritual eighteen thousand feet underwater. This might be more reassuring if their prophetic macaw didn't promptly start screaming "Go ahead! Panic! ... Fear death by water!"

     Live Action TV  

  • Thats So Raven: Victor is unconscious due to Accidental Hypnosis just before he's supposed to go on TV.
    Tanya: Okay, everybody, just don't panic.
    Chelsea: Oh, can't we just a little?
    Tanya: Okay, just for a second.
  • In the Airplane Pilots sketch from 'How To Irritate People' (made by many of the later members of Monty Python), pilots make the passengers panic just by telling them not to.
    • The beginning of a Python show takes place in an airplane cockpit where the pilot (Michael Palin) tells his passengers that they are now flying over Glasgow and there is no need to panic.
  • A Running Gag on Dads Army is that Corporal Jones will, whenever he begins to panic, shout "Don't panic!" at the rest of the cast.
  • In the Stargate Atlantis episode "The Tower", Rodney and a native are trapped underground. He first tells the native not to panic while he assesses the situation, then his conclusion is that they can start panicking now.
  • The "no time to panic" can apply to TV shows themselves, also. An example: House struggled in the ratings shortly after its debut, so FOX decided that the show needed a villain. By the time the episodes with the newly-created Edward Vogler actually aired, the show was already a big hit. Apparently, the writers knew what they were doing all along.
    • Apparently learning nothing from this, they proceeded to repeat the "you can't have a show without a villain" shtick in the third season with Detective Tritter.
    • Another example: Seinfeld took multiple seasons to become a hit. It's highly unlikely that a show would be allowed to stay on the air that long without becoming a hit if it were to debut now.
  • Used with in an American version special of Spitting Image when Ronald Reagan inadvertently starts the countdown to an unprovoked nuclear missile launch.
    Aide 1: Wait, there is no need to panic.
    Aide 2: What are you talking about? Ten minutes after that globe starts flashing, it's Armageddon!
    Aide 1: You're right, panicking is the only logical alternative.
    Together: Auugh!
  • The Goodies. Usually Graham will say calmly, "Who votes that we should panic now?" followed by everyone putting up their hands, then Bill and Graham start running about shouting hysterically while Tim decides he's a teapot.
  • Get Smart. While at a conference of CONTROL agents, Max reveals there's a bomb in android Harvey causing everyone to run screaming for the door. The Chief seizes the microphone and yells at them for not evacuating in a calm and orderly manner like true Americans should. Everyone adopts a shamefaced expression...then run screaming for the door again.
  • There's a scene in Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Willow was panicking, and ranting at her boyfriend Oz about how he wasn't. About halfway through her rant, he kissed her, and told her that this was him panicking.
  • In one episode of The Muppet Show, Scooter is trying to reassure Fozzie, who is rehearsing his act, and tells him "Now is not the time to panic!" When he hears Fozzie's act consists of "ten minutes of jokes on the War of 1812", he replies "Now is the time to panic!"
  • Subverted in Fawlty Towers when Polly tries to calm down a hysterical Basil:
    Polly: Don't panic!
    Basil: WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO??!
  • Used by the Doctor in "Battlefield"—complete with a "Now we panic!" as the situation worsens.
    • The first words of the Twelfth Doctor in "The Time of the Doctor", having suffered partial memory loss as a result of his regeneration. He says this seconds before revealing he's forgotten how to fly the TARDIS.
    Twelfth Doctor: Stay calm! Just one question... Do you happen to know how to fly this thing?!
  • When an outbreak occurs at Greendale in Community episode "Epidemiology" this is Annie's response.
    Annie: We need to co-ordinate an orderly evacuation without causing unnecessary panic.
    [Zombie!Leonard bites someone]
    Troy: OH MY GOD, LEONARD'S A ZOMBIE!!!
  • A variation occurs in the premier of Lost Girl, after Kenzi realizes that Bo did in fact "eat some dude's face"
    Bo: Don't freak out.
    Kenzi: I'm freaking out!
    Bo: What did I just say?
    Kenzi: How can I not freak out?
  • In the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One" (S02, Ep21), Sam tries to get Andy to calm down, but either despite or because of the fact that Andy is stoned, he has trouble not freaking out.
    Sam: Andy, look, calm down.
    Andy: I canít calm down! I just woke up in freaking Frontierland!

     Newspaper Comics  

  • This comic strip. Jon Arbuckle was desperate about his age because he found a gray hair. Garfield told him not to panic. When Jon said it was in his ear, Garfield replied "Okay, panic".

     Radio  

  • In The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, the Guide's major selling points compared to the older, more complete and more accurate Encyclopedia Galactica are (a) it's slightly cheaper and (b) it has the words "Don't Panic" printed in large, friendly letters on its cover. A revised edition of the Guide in Mostly Harmless ominously replaces these reassuring words with small, alarming letters just saying "Panic." It turns out to be a very apt warning.

     TV Tropes Wiki  

     Webcomics  

     Web Original  
  • Subverted in the Red vs. Blue PSA on Fire Safety: the show's recommendation is to increase panic during a fire, depriving it of the oxygen it needs to continue burning.
  • Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse has Barbie do this in "Gone Glitter Gone": a TV news crew has Barbie appear on their show and tell the other denizens of Malibu to remain calm during the glitter shortage. Right after the crew leaves Barbie's house, she breaks into tears and bawls.

     Western Animation  
  • Batman: The Animated Series : "Trial" . Batman has been captured, bound in a straitjacket and is about to be unmasked by his Rogues Gallery. Harley Quinn has his utility belt. Batman's reluctant ally manages to smash the only light in the room and The Dark Knight instantly escapes and retrieves his weapons. Everyone starts freaking out: Batman is on the loose with his utility belt in the dark where he is next to invincible.
    Two Face: NOBODY PANIC!
    [lights a match. Batman has escaped. Harley Quinn's bound in the straitjacket, upside down, without the utility belt]
    Joker : Okay... start panicking.
  • In the first episode of the second season of Xiaolin Showdown, the Xiaolin warriors (except for Raimundo) are fleeing from Wuya, who has taken over the world. Omi tells his friends not to despair, because there is always a path to victory. About five seconds later, he tells them "now, you may despair."
  • Used in The Backyardigans, as Pablo's frantic chant during his (actually pretty spectacular) panic attacks.
  • In the Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater episode, "Catula", this scene played out:
    Hello Kitty: Do you really think Catula could be a vampire?
    Chip: Your grandma said there was one terrorizing the village!
    [cue Portrait Painting Peephole over the dresser, which slides open, and a hand grabbing up the camera]
    Hello Kitty: I know! I'll take another picture for us to be sure! [sees the camera is missing] My camera! I put it on the dresser... now, it's gone!
    Chip: Gone?! Who took it?
    My Melody: [panicking] T-T-T-THE VAMPIRE!!!
    [Chip and My Melody gets scared and begin to run, but Hello Kitty catches them]
    Hello Kitty: Let's not panic!
    Chip, My Melody: [together] TOO LATE! WE ALREADY DID!!
  • In the "Zigby's Kite" story of the CGI animated preschool show Zigby, McMeer ends up flying in the sky on a kite. Zigby's friend Bertie gets agitated and Zigby tells him that "This is no time to panic." Bertie replies that it's the perfect time to panic. Zigby shouts to McMeer "Don't panic!"
  • Subverted in the Danger Mouse episode "Journey To The Earth's 'Cor!" when the Mk. III is frozen in a force field and a crazy person within the middle of the Earth (where our heroes are) is firing lasers at them:
    DM: Penfold, this is no time to be acting brave in the face of untold dangers.
    Penfold: What are we going to do?
    DM: Do what you were trained to do.
    Penfold: Ah.
    DM, Penfold: PANIC!!!
  • The Transformers:
    Rodimus Prime: Don't panic yet. Stay calm until we know what's going on. Then we'll panic.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Comet Kermillian", when rays from one of Dr. Doofenshmirtz's death rays perforate the observatory the brothers built and it threatens to collapse, Phineas instructs the crowd that's gathered to watch the approaching comet not to panic, and to proceed to the emergency exits in an orderly fashion. Then a huge piece of debris falls right behind him, and Phineas adds "Okay, now you can panic."

     Real Life  
  • The Soviet Union placed its Far East Army on alert for 30 minutes when it received word that US President Ronald Reagan had said, jokingly and as a sound test, "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." This panic attack, however, was delayed by two months; contrary to legend, it was not broadcast live. President Reagan said it on August 11, 1984. The Far East Army was not put on alert until the following October.

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