"Don't speak to me again! I refuse to speak t— dangit! Leave me alone! Please do not repeat the exact same words exactly the same in exactly the same tenses, exact same speed and exact same tone! Are you insane or what?"
One common feature of most Role Playing Games are random townspeople that you can talk to and pump for information. However, many developers leave this as a low priority, giving them very limited dialogue that is endlessly repeated each time the Player Character engages them. Usually, it will just be a single sentence or two with little bearing on the plot (most often just giving some local flavor to a town), or a single sentence with some minor hints of the plot (that someone who actually matters will explain in more detail). Often goes hand in hand with poor translations (where the same dialogue that was given lowest priority during the writing will get even lower priority for translation).
Most of the time, individual NPCs don't have anything useful to say, but if you Talk to Everyone, you get a complete enough picture that you can figure out what to do next. (And if your current objective really is to talk to everyone, they might change their lines to indicate when you've succeeded.)
It's especially humorous if you go back to an old town after a major event and the townspeople are still giving the same dialogue they had before (e.g. they still lament over the dragon stealing their sheep long after you've killed it). It can be vexing when you try to envisage the NPCs as people and think they might tell you anything informative.
Many more recent games make a halfhearted attempt to avert this by giving NPCstwo pieces of dialogue at a time that they alternate, changing no more often than their one-line counterparts. Another method is to change the dialogue of everyone in the town after you've beaten that town's Fetch Quest (or even after you've completed other plot events), but even this quickly becomes unrealistic if it never changes again. It can get particularly ridiculous when, say, The Very Definitely Final Dungeon has risen and the fate of the world is obviously in the balance, but the NPCs still won't talk about anything other than their livestock or their love lives.
Of course, every dialogue tree ends somewhere, so this trope will always pop up sooner or later.
Compare Dialogue Tree.
This is one of the Acceptable Breaks from Reality, since the programmers can't put an endless random dialogue.
Not to be confused with the planet Corneria from Star Fox or the town Coneria/Cornelia from Final Fantasy I. The trope name is from a parody of the latter game.
In La-Mulana, the elder has a wide variety of sayings which include useful hints as well as gratuitous Take Thats at Nintendo games, but past a certain point in the game will only repeat, "The wind is restless..."
In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, many NPCs say different things depending on the day and time, whether you've done certain things, and what mask or form you present. Even if you aren't going for 100% Completion, getting to know them all really enhances the game's emotional depth — such as if you talk to people awaiting death on the night of the third day.
Prince Of Persia The Sands Of Time: Lampshaded near the beginning of the game, Farah is telling you how to use the Dagger of Time. If you do not use it within a certain time, she tells you again, with the same words, to which the Prince replies, "You already said that!", although Farah says, "No I didn't!"
Possibly Fridge Brilliance, as she also repeats this line once you've used the dagger to reverse time.
Strong Bad: All messages from the King of Town get intercepted with extreme prejudice by my idiot filter.
Homestar: But I sent you all kinds of reminder e-mails!
Strong Bad: Idiot filter.
Homestar: But I sent you all kinds of reminder e-mails!
Strong Bad: Idiot— nevermind.
A rather ironic one in Gabriel Knight 1. While most characters are happy to repeat what they just said when asked the same question, the university professor states "I'm not in the habit of repeating myself." He does this EVERY TIME you hit a repeated topic, thus repeating himself. (The game does allow you to repeat his dialogue through a tape recorder function.)
Subverted in Half-Life 2. Most human or vortigaunt Non Player Characters have a relatively limited vocabulary, but there are at least two known cases of a so-called "All-Knowing Vortigaunt" indistinguishable from a "regular" vort except it has a huge list of stock lines, some of which actually give away important parts of the game's backstory and plot, or bend the fourth wall.
"Your bright face obscures your darker mask. We call you sib, although your mind and meaning are a mystery to us. Far distant eyes look out through yours. Something secret steers us both. We shall not name it. We have endured these chafing bonds for eons, yet a single moment of further servitude seems intolerable! How often have we slipped our yoke, only to find it choking us again. Let this war end in either total victory or our extinction. No further compromise shall we allow. We take our stand beside you, here, upon this miserable rock."
Played straight elsewhere in the game, however. For instance, most human NPCs you the player meets have a single line to say; if prompted again, they will just say it again.
Lampshaded in the original Half-Life when a scientist says to a Barney "You know, you tend to repeat yourself" - something of which the scientists are equally guilty. NPCs talking to each other at all outside a cut scene was uncommon back then.
Stalker takes this to new irritating levels, especially in the bar area where people repeat the same dialogue over and over again. Plus they stop you using your gun to vent your frustration. It's really no surprise whatsoever that nearly every mod for the game in existence either stops them from repeating the lines or simply makes them all stop talking altogether.
Also, in one area of the game (one of the factions that you are sided with), there is a guard there who will repeatedly say "Get out of here, Stalker" and , no matter what, constantly repeat this single line over and over and over again. You can hear it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16Ydsn1coBg
The gamemod They Hunger has this right in the end during the bossfight. Your helicopter pilot tells you the same thing again and again: "Come on, shoot that bastard!"
Hack And Slash
In Diablo II, the guards in the city of Lut Gholein only say "welcome to the palace" and "stay out of trouble".
Flavie: "Take care! The Corrupted Rogues in the wilderness ahead are not to be trifled with."
You're gonna get a lot of this in the Dynasty Warriors: Gundam series. While characters have multiple lines derived from whatever mission they're in, their responses to simple and common things, such as beating 100 enemies is limited and get very repetetive. Yes, I KNOW you're Master Asia, now shut up about it!
MMORPG City of Heroes, though the game's mechanics tend to mask it well. Any "contact" whose missions have been exhausted will repeat the same line explaining that "and now we are done" and any who have not been introduced will direct the player to speak with someone else, instead. Even worse are the civilians roaming the streets, who will repeat a single random line every time they are spoken to. Somewhat averted in that civilians are generated at random, but their lines are still mostly limited. Interestingly, civilians whose names start with a particular letter can give out meta-game information, such as total hours of playtime or players currently in the surrounding zone.
RuneScape tries to avert this, probably. Doing quests, miniquests or generally changing the world will change available dialogue lines in conversations with people, or change the people themselves. A few select NPCs, most summons and the common level 2 men and women have a bank of possible dialogue lines or whole conversations, but it's not a large one. Some conversations react to stimuli like your inventory contents - for example, if you have a few sharks in your inventory, one of the summons suddenly starts saying trivia facts about them, one out of a few available every time you chat to it. On the other side, the conversations are fixed in their contents and will always go exactly the same if you keep stumbling upon the same ones and/or choosing the same lines to say in them.
Capital City Guards in World of Warcraft actually manage to be useful, as they can be asked for directions. They all share the same (rather extensive) Dialogue Tree per city, but still. As with Warcraft, the NPC spoken dialogue will go into "pissed" when you pester the same NPC long enough, but with only about two sets per race/gender, the variation isn't quite as much. A few NPCs use lines directly from Warcraft III, though.
There is some variation for the guard talking to a few of the different classes. Rogues are told by city guards that they are being watched, with Stormwind's guards wishing they were allowed to drag you to jail.
Averted in Psychonauts, there is so much conversation that it can go on for minutes without repeating, and it updates often.
"First, we drove one mile. Then we drove five miles. Then we took a left. Then my sister saw a jack-rabbit. Then we stopped and had lunch. Then we drove five miles. Then we made a 'U'-turn. Then we drove one mile. Then we stopped for lunch. Then we..."
And in Starcraft and Warcraft, clicking on a critter enough times will cause it to explode. (No Splash Damage, though)
In Warcraft 2 there was splash damage. It was the ordinary explosion like the ones caused by the fireball spell. The damage was minor, and the time spent on clicking would be a complete waste.
Happens all the time in Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja. Especially egregious in that 1) sitting through it is mandatory, provided you want to do such exotic things as repair your equipment, access items you've put into storage, buy or sell things, or save the game outside of a dungeon, 2) every single time you want to do any of the aforementioned actions, 3) it seems to be unskippable (the manual says something about holding A to speed the text up, but it's never seemed to help much), and 4) this isn't some NPC giving you a one-line greeting—oh no, these are full-blown conversations, complete with responses, counter-responses, and often counter-counter-responses.
Dragon Quest: The guards by the front gate of Tantegel Castle in the first three games apparently have nothing to say that's more important than welcoming the hero(es) to the castle where they're standing guard. Seeing how the first three games take place years apart from each other, this tendency seems to have been passed down from generation to generation.
Averted substantially in the past of Dragon Quest VII. The townspeople will change dialogue after every major event occurs in their island. They will also change one more time when you go back to visit after finishing the next island. Mostly played straight in the present.
Mostly averted in Dragon Quest VIII, where dialogue will sometimes change not only after major events, but in response to the day/night cycles (assuming they're not asleep). Considering how big the game is, the writers likely raked in overtime on this. Heck, it can depend on who your character up front is. If you go to Jessica's hometown, for example, with Jessica up front, the dialogue will be different from the dialogue you see as Hero.
Working Designs loved to parody/lampshade this trope. Indeed, very few NPCs in their games didn't result in a decently complex dialogue between them and the main characters. The same sort of thing (minus the parody) could be found in the Grandia series, made by Game Arts, the same company responsible the Lunar series that Working Designs is best known for. In both series, revisiting towns from earlier in the game will invariably result in new dialogue from the NPCs.
Oblivion and Morrowind have more stock lines for its NPCs than most games, but if you talk to them a lot (or just listen to them talking with each other, in the case of Oblivion) eventually the lines start to repeat. Sometimes, the dialogue will be surprisingly detailed, but have no purpose: the Atius and Sintav family members in the Imperial City will start a classic shaggy dog story. Other generic dialogue will comment on any artifacts you're carrying, whether you look sick or not, or point you towards the nearest inn or specialty shop.
Unlike many other games, the dialogue does update to acknowledge the player's accomplishments... inconsistently. Some NPCs will greet you warmly, then become gruff during the conversation. City guards will mock you as the rookie in the local fighters' guild even if you've since become head of the organization, while the court mage of Whiterun is notorious for suggesting you go join the College of Winterhold to learn more about magic even if you're wearing the Archmage's robes.
Guards are also psychic, able to comment on your Light Armor skill even if you're decked out in full plate. Also, if you raise a skill to above 70, get ready to hear about it from every single NPC you meet.
Some dialogue in Skyrim is repeated enough times by different characters to reach Memetic Mutation levels, such as the infamously specific "I used to be an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow in the knee". One wonders whether they should invest in better knee armor. The Overthinking It blog went further in the wondering, the least of which is the "preposterous" idea that every police force in every city is drawn from an infinite pool of adventurers that all suffered the same career-ending injury.
The Shadowrun game for SNES has one egregious example. In the Caryards, you can either leave by paying King 4000 nuyen, or you can fight (and kill) him in the arena; if you take this latter route, the NPCs in the Caryards will still act as if King is still alive. (This is all the more annoying given their dialogue mostly consists of jeering about how you'll never beat him.)
News travels very slowly in these parts...
Golden Sun has an interesting variation on this. While most NPCs follow the trope to the letter, you can also cast the Mind ReadPsynergy on just about anyone, revealing their thoughts in the form of a second static line of dialog. What makes these lines interesting is that they often reveal info the NPC doesn't want to give, or reveals them to be big hypocrites.
Meditating guy's thoughts: "... ... ... I sense impure thoughts from the man next to me!"
Other Meditating guy's thoughts: "... ... ... I am hungry."
The World Ends With You, like Golden Sun, includes mind-reading, with the twist being that you cannot talk to most of the NPCs to begin with, and you can't mind-read the ones you can. Every NPC on a given screen will have a totally different thought, but thoughts repeat if you go to different places, and look at different people, thinking the same thing. Throughout the length of the game these thoughts actually progress in related chains, including some related thoughts (male and female thinking of each other) being intentionally funny.
An interesting subversion occurs in the first two Gothic games. The non-plot-essential NPCs fall into categories — like Rebel Camp Miner or Castle Guard — and every member of a given set has identical clothes and has the same dialogue, but the dialogue takes the form of a multiple-choice conversation, just as if you were talking to a more important NPC. They'll give the same answers every time, but behave more like information points than tape recorders.
Played embarrassingly straight in Black Sigil... if you visit one particular town as soon as you get the airship, NPCs will reference events that haven't happened yet.
The old Ultima Underworld games were like this as well. All non-named NPCs fell in groups like "outcast", "guard", "goblin" or whatever, and you could have the same dialog with all NPCs in the same group.
Other Ultima games have the player falling into this role, since the three phrases you can say to any NPC are "name" "job" "bye". Ultima VII lampshades this by having an actor who portrays the Avatar describe his dialogue as very repetitive.
The inhabitants of the Hub Level in the Paper Mario games update their dialogue after every chapter, so if you Talk to Everyone every time you return, you'll get entirely different dialogue. The inhabitants of the various villages, however, mostly play this straight, usually having only "before chapter", "after chapter", and possibly "after game" dialogue.
Dark Cloud 2 also averts this by updating the dialogue of most NPCs every chapter. Many characters will also say different things depending on whether you are using Max or Monica. However, if you repeatedly talk to the same NPC, they will repeatedly say the same thing.
LunarKnights has a combination of the two different lines and updates after each chapter variants, although some characters do have extra lines of dialogue for giving out quests.
Very much averted in EarthBound and MOTHER 3. You won't get nearly as much from this series if you don't Talk to Everyone, because the game developers love adding in plenty of extra NPC lines for towns you'll never visit ever again. A particularly big example being Happy Happy Village, which is slowly turning back from the strange cult town it was into a normal town as you progress through the game. People slowly turn back to normal, many other people will apologize, and the red house will open revealing a Mr. Saturn. Also, as a sort of hidden line near the end of MOTHER 3, in the basement of the Empire Porky Building, if you talk to Flint six times he'll comment about his baldness. If you talk to him again he'll comment about the metaphor he used for his baldness.
Note that both Threed and Happy Happy Village both undergo changes that modifies the dialogue of just about everyone in town. This is done after you've completed all the dungeons in the area and, in any other game, would leave town without a second thought. Furthermore, in EarthBound there exists an interactive ending. Yes, you can speak with every single NPC in the world, each of whom has new dialogue.
Subverted in MOTHER 3. A Pigmask gives you a gift thinking you're the Masked Man and tells you it's strictly in a friend sense. Talking to him again yields the same message; however closer inspection will reveal that it's not the Pigmask saying it, but Lucas, the Heroic Mime since the start of Chapter 4.
Titan Quest approaches this differently: NPCs that can be talked to generally have several paragraphs of speech (all of it voiced), and no two will ever say the same thing...but this is balanced out by the fact that only a few NPCs in each town can be talked to. And since the player character is a Heroic Mime, it's all monologue rather than dialogue...and it doesn't ever update except with NPCs that give quests (though since the game is linear and one rarely needs to backtrack, this isn't particularly noticeable).
And again in HeartGold and SoulSilver: "To the north is Pewter City. To the south is Viridian City. I know, I know. I sound like a sign."
Also averted during the brief time in HeartGold and SoulSilver where you're wearing a Team Rocket uniform: everybody you talk to in the Goldenrod Pokémon Center and Department Store (save for the store clerks, nurses and so on, lampshaded by another NPC as professionalism) will actually have different dialogue if you talk to them in uniform, with some being frightened and others merely annoyed.
Subverted in Chrono Trigger. One NPC appearing randomly in the middle of a mountain level seems to have two equally meaningless lines, switching back and forth each time you talk to him. But if you go through the cycle a couple of times, he'll eventually give you an item on the condition that you don't talk to him anymore.
Similarly, in Chrono Cross one of the Devas will chastise you for searching his personal treasure while he's in the same room. After the fourth time, he will reply "That's the Xth time you've looked at my treasure." After your 21st attempt, he'll finally give up and let you have it if it means you'll leave him alone.
The pot and barrel in the Arni restaurant insist they are a pot and barrel upon inspection. Only after the third inspection will they unwillingly hand over their contents.
Also, on the S.S. Invincible during the Ghost Ship attack, one of the pirates tells you something, then, if you talk to him again, says "You wanna hear it again?" before repeating himself. He adds this line every time after the first, making it a lampshade hungstraight.
BioWare is kind of strange about this. Random civilians throughout their games will consistently have 3-5 distinct lines of dialogue. Often, though, events in the plot will make them comment; for instance, the Mandalorians in Knights of the Old Republic II have separate comments about each of the various sidequests you undertake. (Unfortunately, the citizens of Nar Shaddaa will repeat their two lines about Goto being blown up forever. Arg.) Sometimes, they'll even be able to comment about other weirdnesses: the NPCs in the beginning of Hordes of the Underdark, for instance, will remark if you're carrying weapons or running around in your underwear, chat about being the same race (if you aren't human), and even flirt if your Charisma is high enough.
Hey, Garrus, ya finished with those calibrations yet? No? How 'bout you Tali, you finished with the engines?
In the On The Rain Slick Precipice Of Darkness series, unnamed NPCs in each area would generally share two or three lines of dialogue among them, which cycled through as you spoke to them (either one guy repeatedly, or one after another), while named NPCs typically had two or three lines apiece. These would usually change as the player progresses through the game.
In the game Tales Of Symphonia, although he only has one line, if you talk to a certain NPC enough (something like 50 times) then he gives you an item (and says something different.)
In the sequel, most NPCs have about 3 lines of dialogue that reset every time you enter the area. They also tend to change dialogue depending on the events of the story. Even so, it follows this trope fairly faithfully.
Lampshaded in Tales Of Symphonia when you talk to one of the king's bodyguards and he will say "Stop making me say the same thing over and over again!"
In the majority of Tales of... games, this is the case. However, NPCs often have varied activities depending on your actions, and they're frequently updated constantly throughout the game, to a remarkable degree.
Zelos gets different dialogue, at least from female NPCs...
Lampshaded in Jay's Journey multiple times. One instance has an NPC repeatedly say his line, despite Jay's protests, when he's blocking a shortcut. In another, Jay himself pretends to be an NPC to throw The Dragon off track, and he does so by simply saying "Welcome to Lango!" completely out-of-context.
Averted in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. Asking an NPC the same question more that once will get an annoyed response of "We just talked about this" or something similar.
As expected from a Long Runner, townsperson chatter in the Suikoden series has evolved over time. After all, if the player is expected to Talk to Everyone, using everyone as world-building props can only make a better product. However, the character of Qlon, from the first game, deserves special mention: pretty much all he did as an NPC was say the name of the town he lived in. Once recruited, he moves to the Player Character's castle...and proceeds to happily parrot its name for the remainder of the game.
"Welcome to [Chosen Name] Castle! ...I feel so good!"
In the last .hack game, one of the NPCs casually state that, since every other player says the same thing, this cannot be a real MMO (which it isn't, of course)!
Lampshaded in Anachronox, where a crazy character rants about how everyone repeats the same dialogue over and over. Naturally the other NPCs don't believe him. Later in the game he'll give you a powerful Mystech as a way of making sure you remember who he is.
Freelancer isn't quite as bad, but NPCs have a boringly limited repertoire when it comes to verbal conversation with Edison Trent. Thank goodness you can at least skip the cutscenes when you have to interact with said NPCs.
Fallout 3 has Three Dog and President Eden of Galaxy News Radio and Enclave Radio, respectively. Since most players have their radio on most of the time - if not all of it - the banter given by these two tends to get really repetitive. Three Dog comments on in-game events, although the changes in his monologues can be pretty far-between.
Fallout New Vegas has the NCR troopers saying "Patrolling the Mojave almost makes you wish for a nuclear winter" very, very often. Mocked here
"When I got this assignment I was hoping there would be more gambling."
On good terms with the Legion? Expect every Legionnaire you encounter to greet you with "Ave. True to Caesar."
"NCR officials at Camp McCarran were relieved when technical difficulties with its monorail line to the New Vegas Strip proved easy to fix. One anonymous official told us a serious mechanical failure would have been a disaster because of the age of the train and the scarcity of the replacement parts."
Primm apparently demands that its sheriff will swear in every other day.
Unusually, generic NPCs will often have the same line read by several different voice actors.
At Gringotts in the Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone GBC game the player can talk to two different goblins who both claim to be counting piles of thousands of rubies... but no matter how many times you talk to them, they're still counting up from ruby number 95.
Zig Zagged Trope in Legend of Mana. Some NPCs are more expressive than others, and if you are patient enough you can cycle through all of the dialogue so that they repeat themselves.
Fallout has this as much as any RPG with dozens of nameless non-player characters in every town, but it's subtly lampshaded out of context when you get to the Cathedral. After you speak to one of the Children once or twice, a possible conversation starter is "You know, every time I talk to someone, people keep repeating everything they say over and over again."
In Task Maker, the NPCs all have five lines: happy, neutral, angry and frightened, and parting words if killed. This trope is increased in the sequel The Tomb of the TaskMaker, in which many of the monsters only say "Arrr!" regardless of mood.
The beginning of the third dungeon in CIMA: The Enemy parodies this by starting off in a village. The main characters attempt to start conversations with the villagers until they quickly give up. Ironically, the game itself is guilty of it as well.
Annoyingly evident in Ys Book I & II, as each person has only one message for Adol at any given stage of the plot, and talking to them twice in a row will usually make them repeat their entire message, no matter how long.
Stealth Based Game
Assassin's Creed is ridiculously guilty of this, especially with guard dialogue. "You dare steal in my presence? That will cost you your life!" tends to get wearing after the tenth time. Probably the strangest part is that they had multiple actors record the exact same lines. So in different towns, you'll encounter different beggar women, with different voices and accents, yet they will both same the exact same piece of dialogue, word for word.
Every town also has a street preacher reciting the exact same speech about standing up to King Richard's forces. Sure it makes sense that it repeats, as he reciting it to whatever crowds gather, but why is he the same in every city?
Wide Open Sandbox
In The Godfather game, pretty much every civilian has only so few lines to use. It gets bad when random mobsters all say the same lines over and over.
Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure has this with the theme-park-goers. Most of the time. However, persevering through the lines of repeated dialogue may yield a few hilarious gems, including:
In a Filler arc the characters have to play a virtual-reality RPG, there is one example of this despite the apparent intelligence of most of the rest of the game - the characters attempt to cross a desert and fail, only to be greeted by an old man who tells them they need a specific card to cross the desert. The heroes try to get more information out of him but he just repeats the same line.
Another filler arc that featured many of the same elements revealed that Gozaburo Kaiba had a biological son, Noah, before adopting Seto and Mokuba. When Noah was in a car accident, Gozaburo uploaded his mind into a computer to save him, and provided him with a virtual world to keep him occupied. He went to the trouble of making the world fairly detailed, but it had obvious limitations, this being one of them. In short, Noah is one of the few characters to actually be driven mad by this trope.
The above is also done in the Greed Island arc of Hunter × Hunter, where trying to ask an NPC specific questions that he doesn't know just results in a generic "...What?" response.
The cast of Love Hina encounter this when they end up in an RPG-like world.
Back to the Future Part II features Marty walking into the "Cafe 80's" and is hounded by Ronald Reagan and Ayatollah Khomeini "video waiters" who repeat their recommendations forcefully until Marty shows the machines who's boss and declares that all he wants is "a Pepsi".
The Stepford Wives has a scene in which Joanna's friend keeps repeating the same couple of sentences despite her attempts to encourage her to snap out of it, leading her to catch on to the fact that she's been replaced by a robot, which she has caused to malfunction.
A variant occurs in Young Frankenstein. They take a train from New York to Transaylvania. In the New York station, two background characters are having a bizarre conversation. In Transylvania, they have the exact same conversation, only they've both switched to German.
Forever Gate: This is why humans don't respect the gols; they're only programed to do one thing which means they can't have more than a superficial conversation.
Scrubs: Old M.C., only ever saying "bust a move." This does not go unnoticed.
J.D.: "...part of me wants to talk to her, part of me wants to—"
Old M.C.: "Bust a move?"
J.D.: "You have a problem sir! Seek help!"
In 3rd Rock from the Sun, Dick first encounters Christmas on a large scale. A woman manning a Christmas donation stand says "Merry Christmas" whenever Dick puts a coin in the box. Obviously, that woman is coin operated.
The RPG Episode of Warehouse 13 overlaps this with But Thou Must. Pete and Claudia encounter an NPC based on Artie in Fargo's virtual reality game. Pete tries to grill him for information, but he keeps repeating the introductory dialogue until they say yes.
Customer support call centers are often given a script that they must follow no matter what. This gets very irritating for someone who gets shuffled around departments and have to answer the same questions over and over again. It's even worse if it's not a live person at the other end but a phone bank Dialogue Tree.
Parrots can speak, but being animals, to them it is just a sound that they repeat whenever they like. Typically, depending on the species and how much you say certain words, they also learn only three or five words or sentences in a lifetime. You can only hear "polly wanna cracker" so many times before it begins to get a bit annoying, and God help you if they pick up on your swearing.
Unforgotten Realms: This one was played with in the first episode. Rob, having decided to voice most of the characters, played an NPC "realistically": only saying one thing; this went on until Mike corrected him. And in the next episode, there was an NPC who could only say "Press B to jump", and in fact continued to say it when no one was talking to him. Who then died accidentally, at Mike's character's hands.
In The Adventures Of Ledo And Ix, the titular pair's visit to a town turns sour when they discover that every citizen is "automated," mindlessly repeating the same few sentences or frames of animation. One of the few times the trope isn't Played for Laughs.
Parodied in RPG World, where one minor character just simply sighs and says "Times are tough" to anyone and everyone that interacts with him. He also appears in every bar that the team visits.
There was actually a game based on this guy-there was a text box, and you could type in anything you wanted to say to him. Naturally, he would only respond with "* sigh* Times are tough." This was about as amusing as you let it be.
Said NPC's advice is apparently taken as sage wisdom in the setting, as he eventually puts out a book and gets a movie deal based on the line. Sadly, near the climax the castle is destroyed by some random ordnance, and his monomemetic empire comes crashing down.