When someone calls another person on the phone, usually because of some urgent matter, the caller gets a greeting, usually "hello" or something like that, and the caller tries to speak to them, but realizes that the greeting was actually a voicemail recording. If the caller talks for a while and the answering machine reveals itself right after he finishes, that means that the person who recorded the message knew exactly how long the caller would talk, making it an example of The Tape Knew You Would Say That as well.
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- One episode of Sailor Moon had Rei calling up Mamoru for a date. She hears him say hello and starts talking only to stop when she hears the part about him not being home. Slightly ironic though, in that he really is home, but is out on his balcony deep in thought at the time (by this point, he's recovered a Rainbow Crystal and knows he is actually Tuxedo Mask and is thinking about how to secure another Crystal) so isn't paying attention to the phone.
- Sarah Connor's voicemail greeting in The Terminator. Subverted in that no one is fooled by it, and played for irony in that the message's joke is that "you're talking to a machine" when the Terminator is calling.
- I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. When Kung Fu Joe calls Slade, Slade answers. Kung Fu Joe warns him that the police are after them.
Slade: Fooled you! I'm not home right now. Leave your name and number. I'll call you back. Thanks for calling. Bye.
- Inverted in L.A. Story, where Steve Martin's character at one point answers his phone by playing an obvious recording of himself saying "I'm home right now, so you can talk to me after the beep. *beep*"
- Good Omens has this priceless gem, from the angel Aziraphale, whose sense of technology lingers back in or before The Fifties along with his fashion sense:
Answering Machine: Hi. This is Anthony Crowley. Uh. I—
Aziraphale: Crowley! Listen! I haven’t got much time! The—
Answering Machine: —probably not in right now, or asleep, and busy, or something, but—
Aziraphale: Shutup! Listen! It was in Tadfield! It’s all in that book! You’ve got to stop—
Answering Machine: —after the tone and I’ll get right back to you. Chow.
Aziraphale: I want to talk to you now—
Answering Machine: BeeeEEeeeEEeee
Aziraphale: Stop making noises!
Live Action Television
- One episode of Cheers involves Sam's message, which sounds like him answering the phone, then a long pause, followed by "Just kidding. You got my machine." Diane calls Sam before her wedding to Frasier, hoping Sam is on a plane on his way to stop the wedding. When she thinks he has answered, she hangs up in disgust without hearing the rest, and thus doesn't know that Sam is on his way.
- Inverted in Blake Shelton's song Austin. Earlier in the song, a woman attempted to call an ex-boyfriend for whom she's realized she still has feelings, only getting his answering machine. When he calls her back, she imitates the messages he'd had on his answering machine, ending with:
And by the way, boy, this is no machine you're talkin' to
Can't you tell, this is Austin, and I still love you.
- From Kickassia:
That Chick With The Goggles: Oh, by the way, this has been an answering machine the whole time. Leave your message after the beep! *beep!*
- This has become a running gag in Archer, Archer has many intricate versions of this. At one point, he says the exact time to try and convince his mother it is really him.
- Parodied and inverted in an episode of The Simpsons, where Homer initially thinks Stephen Hawking's "voice" is a recorded message.