Lucky for Squidward, listening is free.
When they get here tonight, they're going to see I'm just a big phony and a loser! Mr. Krabs:
Oh, boo-hoo! Let me play a sad song for you on the world's smallest violin. (moves his fingers and music plays) Squidward:
This is serious! Mr. Krabs:
I know. This really is the world's smallest violin
When someone rubs their finger and thumb back and forth as if they were playing the world's smallest violin, possibly making fake violin noises with their mouth. A predominantly Western gesture, the World's Smallest Violin is given to a person who is exaggerating the sorrow of his/her predicament in order to gain sympathy; the person who does the giving presumably has none. There are other, much more rude, hand gestures available
to tell someone they're being an ass, but the violin is more sophisticated. It plays on the idea that wangsty
characters expect the Warsaw Symphony to pop up out of nowhere to provide some background for their soliloquies. This gesture is rare both in real-life and in fiction. Usually it will be given by the Deadpan Snarker
, possibly villainous.
"BAAAWWWWWW" and "[did] somebody call the WAAAAAAH-mbulance" are the internet equivalents.
See also Misery Poker
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- One State Farm ad has two men—Lebron James and Aldis Hodge—who were in a car accident; when Hodge blames Lebron, he uses the State Farm jingle to summon the World's Smallest Violin.
- In Reservoir Dogs, Mr. Pink plays the world's smallest violin for underpaid waitresses during a debate about tipping.
Mr. Pink: Do you know what this is? It's the world's smallest violin playing just for the waitresses.
- In Steppenwolf, (1974), Hermine play's the world's smallest violin for Harry, the protagonist. It almost certainly does not appear in the book on which the film is based.
Harry: I really am hopeless.
Hermine: Perhaps you ought to go home and hang yourself after all. Oh, sorry!
Hermine: Doesn't anyone look after you? a wife? sweetheart?
Harry: I'm divorced. A sweetheart, yes, but she doesn't compare to... we don't get... we don't get along very well, anyway.
Hermine: Well you are difficult. Nobody can stand you.
Harry:Well, just don't scold me. I, I know I'm impossible, I'm hopeless. I'm helpless!
Hermine: Da dummm, da dummmh...
Harry: What's this?
Hermine: It's the world's saddest song playing on the world's smallest violin. You've got a nerve saying you've tested life to the bottom, and found nothing in it. You haven't even tried the easy, fun part yet.
- Mash: When Charles complains that an overflow of post-op patients has kicked him out of his tent.
Margaret: Charles, do you know what this is? It's the world's smallest violin, and it's playing just for you.
- Repeated on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, when Principal Kraft, under a spell, mouths off to Libby:
Kraft: Aww, here's the world's smallest violin playing the world's saddest song just for you!
- Charlie mentions the world's smallest violin in an early episode of Two and a Half Men.
- This exchange in the Warehouse 13 episode "Merge With Caution" after the Warehouse agents just jumped out through a window and Pete is complaining about his knees:
Myka: *makes tiny violin motions*
Pete: What's that?
Myka: The world's tiniest purple violin. (she's wearing purple protective gloves)
- In School Of Comedy, a brash character attending a group therapy session actually produces a miniature violin to play for someone relating their story.
- On a Saturday Night Live skit, Saddam Hussein (Horatio Sanz) calls Osama bin Laden (Jimmy Fallon) to complain about bin Laden running him down in one of his tapes. Osama rubs his finger and thumb together and says, "You know what I'm doing? I'm playing the world's smallest violin."
- The Girls first-season finale gives us Adam making this gesture while giving Hannah a (probably much-needed) snap out of your self-centered bullshit speech. Shortly thereafter, he gets hit by a van.
- Jon Stewart used the "WAAAAAH-mbulance" on The Daily Show once. This incidentally makes that version of the trope an Ascended Meme.
- Dean pulls this on Sam in an episode of Supernatural.
- Raylan's version of this in Justified Season 2, Episode 5 : "Do you know what that is? That's the world's smallest man playing "My Heart Bleeds For You" on a tiny violin."
- In the second episode of Elementary, Dr. Watson has been trying to get Holmes back into the violin as a way to help him cope with his addiction. During one scene, the two are listening to an addict tell her story, which Holmes has deemed "useless nattering" and he mouths off to Watson in the following fashion:
Holmes: I'm playing the violin again. The world's smallest. Happy now?
- In "Not Pictured", the season 2 finale of Veronica Mars, Vinnie Van Lowe, in jail for trying to rob the mayor's house, offers Keith a 60/40 split on reward money. When Keith responds that it should be 50/50, Vinnie whines that he's the one in jail, and Keith does this to him:
Vinnie: I risk my life to bring a fugitive to justice and you're giving me world's tiniest violin.
Keith: Guess I'm just heartless.
- Invoked in Wizard and Glass, the fourth book in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, when Eddie Dean, confronting Blaine with bad jokes, is ordered to stop his nonsense. When he rubs his fingers together, Blaine demands, "What does that signify, foolish creature?" Eddie's reply: "The world's smallest violin playing 'My Heart Pumps Purple Piss' for you."
- King also employs that line in The Body.
- Invoked in Pantera's "Walk":
Run your mouth when I'm not around, it's easy to achieve
You cry to weak friends that sympathize
Can you hear the violins playing your song?
Those same friends tell me your every word
- World of Warcraft has an Emote Command, /violin, which displays "You begin to play the world's smallest violin." If you have something targeted, it displays "You begin to play the world's smallest violin for [target]."
- An actual weapon in Kingdom of Loathing (and a fairly good one at that), although the item description references the related symbolism.
- Referenced in AdventureQuest Worlds in the description of the Bone Violin.
- In The World Ends with You, Joshua plays the World's Smallest Violin for Neku after Neku shares the story of how Shiki Misaki is now his entry fee.
- In Borderlands 2, after you are forced to kill a mutated companion of a character from the first game, Handsome Jack taunts you, but promptly loses his violin he was supposed to play. He doesn't find it until you make it back to Sanctuary, wherein he gets mocked off-screen for being way too late to play it.
- In the episode "Something Wall-Mart this Way Comes" South Park, Cartman played a violin while a small business owner talked about how Wall-Mart's low prices had forced his business to close down.
- An old Captain America cartoon had Cap asking the Red Skull if he wanted someone to play a violin while he told his sad backstory.
- In a soundtrack gag on Avatar: The Last Airbender, a violin plays very, very softly during Toph's brief attempt to bond with an unsympathetic Zuko during the series finale.
- Pictured above: a scene from the Sponge Bob Square Pants episode "Squilliam Returns" in which Mr. Krabs literally plays the World's Smallest Violin as a variant of this trope.
Mr. Krabs: Oh, boo hoo. Let me play a sad song for you on the World's Smallest Violin. [does so]
Squidward: This is serious!
- Apu, from The Simpsons, does this gesture in response to his wife's complaining but with a sitar rather than a violin.
- Fat Tony, having won the prized violin of Krusty's daughter in a poker game, does this when Krusty begs him to give it back. Then he goes "Oh wait, now I can do it for real", pulls out the violin and actually starts playing it (quite well, too).
- In the episode "Them Robot" Lenny also plays the world's smallest violin for Homer, but it turns out he was actually holding a real tiny violin. Moments later he loses the bow, and Homer steps on it as he leaves the bar.
- In an early episode of Family Guy, Peter gets sent on a Vision Quest. When the trees start talking to him, he asks the old question:
Peter: Hey, if any of you falls down and no one is around to hear you, do you make a sound?
Tree 1: Of course, Frank fell down last week and he wouldn't stop talking since.
Frank: Oh stand there and bitch! No one stops and takes the time to HELP MEEEE!
Tree 2: (rubbing branches together) Ooh, look at me Frank, I'm playing the world's smallest violin!
- In episode 5 of Animals Of Farthing Wood. While it's not a tiny violin, Rabbit does pick up a stick and mock-play sad violin music when Mr. Pheasant starts to get a bit theatrical about "when one faces death as often as me" before leaving back to the farm to help Adder find her way to the others. True enough, Mr. Pheasant just lost his wife to the farmer's gun, but the general opinion of his established character is that he's all too concerned in himself.
- Named/Parodied in Futurama episode "A Farewell to Arms".