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Sneeze Interruption

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A character interrupts themselves or somebody else by sneezing and it's either important or a joke.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
Unicorndance on Oct 18th 2017 at 10:07:04 PM
Last Edited By:
Unicorndance on 7 hours ago
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

(Note: please no dropping bombs without explaining why)

Pooh: "Excuse me, Owl, can you say that again? You sneezed just as you were telling me what the first thing to do was."

Sneezing. We all do it. Maybe we're dealing with an illness, maybe we're just allergic to something, maybe it's too cold, or too dusty or too bright note , or maybe something just got up our nose, however, whatever the reason, we do not always sneeze when appropriate, and sometimes we sneeze in the middle of a sentence or when somebody else is speaking.

Basically, this trope is for instances where either someone is speaking, but sneeze in the middle of a sentence, or someone is speaking and is interrupted by another person sneezing.

Quite often, if the person interrupts themselves with their sneeze, they will never get to finish their sentence due to being sidetracked by complaining about what's making them sneeze, stating that they're sick or allergic, another character saying "bless you" or even The Ditz thinking the sneeze was part of the sentence.

This trope is often Played for Laughs, but not necessarily. The reasons for this include the fact that a sneeze is sort of a funny sound, it's pretty much uncontrollable, and while it can be a symptom of illness, a sneeze with no direct cause far less likely to be a thing to be concerned about than, say, a cough with no direct cause, particularly if the audience is aware that Incurable Cough of Death is a trope. On the other hand, a sneeze is not embarrassing like a burp or a fart, so the writers can have a moment of comedy without worrying about potentially having to set up an Embarrassment Plot.

Compare Sneeze of Doom for another way sneezes can be annoying and contrast Anti-Sneeze Finger which is a way of interrupting oneself or someone else from sneezing. Ahem is related, except the person is coughing, and it's usually on purpose. If the interrupted phrase was somebody's catchphrase, it overlaps with either Self Botched Catchphrase or Catchphrase Interruptus, depending on who sneezed. May also overlap with Musicalis Interruptus if a song is interrupted.

Note: Only add an example if it's either important to the plot or played as a joke.

Indexes: Nose Tropes We Interrupt This Index


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  • In Tintin, Captain Haddock tries to complain, "We're already packed like sardines!" but sneezes in the middle of the word "sardines" and sneezes so loudly, he rips the tent apart.

     Fan Works 
  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fanfiction "Sneezes" had a rather unusual form of this. The Symbiote inside Dax has the flu and it actually sneezes inside her when she tries to say a sentence beginning with "I don't know where we could have caught it, but I-". This is important because it leads to Benjamin Sisko finding out that symbiotes can sneeze, although in the show they likely cannot because they have no noses and there is no air in the host.

     Films: Animated 
  • In Beauty and the Beast, Maurice tries to say that he's never seen a talking clock, but sneezes in the middle of saying it and leads to a joke moment of Cogsworth (said talking clock) wiping his screen.
  • In one of the Winnie-the-Pooh movies, Pooh and Eeyore think Owl has sneezed in the middle of a sentence, but he hasn't, which leads to more confusion.
    Owl: "Yes, well, the thing to do is as follows. First, issue a reward."
    Pooh: "Gesundheit."
    Owl: "I beg your pardon."
    Pooh: "Well, you sneezed just as you were going to tell me what the first thing to do was."
    Owl: "I didn't sneeze."
    Eeyore: "Oh, you did, Owl."
    Owl: "No, I didn't! You can't sneeze without knowing it!"
    Pooh: "Well, you can't know it without something having been sneezed."
    Owl: "As I was saying, first issue a reward."
    Pooh: "He's doing it again. You must be catching a cold."
    Eeyore: "I'll probably catch it too."
    Owl: "No, no, no! I'm not catching a cold! The word is 'issue', not 'a-choo'. And 'ah-choo' isn't even a word! It's just some sort of sneezing sound like 'Ah-choo!'"
    Pooh: "Perhaps you should lie down, Owl."

  • The Elephant & Piggie book "Pigs Make Me Sneeze", Gerald says, "I want a..." but sneezes before he can finish his sentence. This is played for laughs, with Piggie trying to guess what he was going to say during Gerald's sneezing fit.
  • The book Nobody Cares About Me, which is based on Sesame Street, Big Bird sneezes in the middle of claiming he isn't sick, which leads to the doctor being contacted and diagnosing him with a cold.
  • In the children's book Sneezy Louise, Louise's sneezing interrupts the narrator.
    Narrator: "Her eyes got itchy, her throat got wheezy and her nose got sneezy. She knew, she just knew she was going to—(Louise sneezes)
  • In the Winnie-the-Pooh story "Eeyore Loses a Tail and Pooh Finds One", Pooh thinks Owl sneezed in the middle of his sentence, but really he just used the word "issue".

     Live Action TV 
  • Laverne & Shirley: When the title characters are arguing about whether or not Shirley takes too many steps in bowling, Shirley says, "With your feet you wouldn't need that many steps!". Laverne starts a comeback with, "Well, with your mouth—" but then has a sneezing fit and Shirley worries that Laverne may be sick.
  • Sesame Street: When Slimey was being sent to the moon, Snuffy got the rocket working by sneezing. At first, he said, "I think I'm going to—" but sneezed and didn't get to finish his sentence.

  • The song A Cold in My Nose has a rare example of someone finishing their sentence at the end and it's played as a joke.
    Singer: "Hope I don't give it to...(long pause, sneezes) you!"

     Video Games 

     Web Original 

     Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Angelina Ballerina, Angelina is trying to sing the lyrics to a music box's song to hide the fact that it's not working, but sneezes.
    Polly: "'La la la achoo'?! That's not the lyrics!"
  • In the Betty Boop episode, "Betty Boop's Ker-Choo", Betty sings a song about having "a cold in [her] nose", the last line of which was presumably intended to have the word "nose" after the string of her usual gibberish but she sneezes and doesn't finish. Later, she sings the last line again but sneezes again before she can say, "nose". This is one of many sneeze-related gags.
  • One gag in the Charlie and Lola episode "I'm Really Ever So Not Well" has Charlie say, "[Lola] has a...", then Lola sneezes and Charlie finishes, "A cold".
  • In an episode of Fifi And The Flower Tots, Bumble says, "I have a bad, bad—" and then sneezes. Primrose asks, "Cold?" because he'd been having cold-like symptoms, but he never confirms or denies her guess.
  • In an episode of Garfield and Friends, Garfield is sneezing a lot because, unknown to him, he is allergic to Jon's coat. Towards the end, he sneezes loudly just as the culprit in a mystery movie was about to be revealed.
  • In the aptly-named Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs episode "Achoo", Harry sneezes in the middle of saying his Catch-Phrase "I'm on my way to Dinoworld."
    Harry: "I'm on my way to Dino—(sneezes)"
    Taury: "Dino Achoo? I've never heard of such a place."
  • My Friends Tigger & Pooh:
    • In the episode "Darby, Solo Sleuth", Beaver is trying to sing his "Work, Work, Work" song, but sneezes before he can say the word "do".
    • In "Lumpy Mixes a Mystery", Lumpy tries to say, "My uncle is going to love it", but sneezes in the middle of the word "love".
  • Peg + Cat: In "The Allergy Problem", Peg keeps sneezing due to the aforementioned allergy. Whenever she sneezes before the end of a sentence (or in one case, a word), Cat finishes her sentence.
  • Inverted for laughs in the VeggieTales Silly Song "Sneeze if You Have To", were Bob is about to sneeze, but Larry shouts, "Spain!" interrupting him.

Feedback: 48 replies

Oct 19th 2017 at 10:22:21 AM

Why did someone drop a bomb? What can I do to improve?

Nov 1st 2017 at 5:04:46 PM

Nov 5th 2017 at 5:38:08 PM

Contrast Anti Sneeze Finger, a technique to prevent unwanted sneezes.

Oct 17th 2018 at 2:49:06 PM

  • In Insaniquarium, Nostradamus the Nose (as in, a disembodied nose with fins living in a water tank) can sneeze to postpone alien attacks.

Oct 17th 2018 at 3:09:53 PM

Is postponing an alien attack the same as interrupting yourself or someone else from speaking?

Dec 10th 2018 at 8:13:04 AM

  • In an episode of Garfield And Friends Garfield is unknowingly allergic to Jon's new coat, and sneezes constantly as a result. This leads to a moment near the episode's end, where everyone is at a theater watching a mystery movie and Garfield ends up sneezing so loudly just as the movie's culprit was about to be named.

Dec 21st 2018 at 9:51:04 PM

^^ Well, it's interrupting the invasion...

If I recall correctly, I think this exact draft is what inspired me to start and launch We Interrupt This Index.

Dec 22nd 2018 at 9:15:02 AM

Sneeze Break for the name? Slightly shorter and maybe a little broader.

Dec 22nd 2018 at 10:34:42 AM

Hmmm, okay. I'm not one of the people who tossed a bomb in to be clear, but I might have an idea of why the bombs are here. I'm just...not really sure if this means anything? What exactly is significant about someone sneezing and interrupting somebody? Is it the comedic timing maybe?

Dec 22nd 2018 at 1:39:07 PM

I think the main things about a sneeze are that it's sort of an inherently funny noise, but also that unlike other interruptions, it's a reflex you can't really control which is hard to stop. It's also kind of innocuous, not embarrassing like a fart, or as concerning as a persistent cough. The most obvious use is definitely comedy, though like Sneeze Of Doom it can be dramatic if what it's interrupting is sufficiently dramatic. The thing about a sneeze in fiction versus a sneeze in real life is that writers rarely add sneezes by accident — actors sometimes do, but generally speaking when a sneeze appears in a work, it serves some purpose, even if that purpose is purely to disrupt the current conversation and send it in a different direction.

Dec 24th 2018 at 9:15:44 AM

^^ Not sure I want a "broad" title, though.

Dec 24th 2018 at 10:45:55 AM

^^ Good explanation. I think some of that ought to be added to the draft.

Dec 24th 2018 at 12:37:30 PM

^ Cheers, thanks for that.

^^ Any reason in particular why? My thinking is that when a trope is already fairly broad, it seems like we'd be better of accounting for as many examples as possible and avoiding the need to double up on the work of writing another trope that's almost the same to cover the few examples that don't quite fit.

Dec 24th 2018 at 12:49:34 PM

But "broad" is also one step away from "vague and hard to define".

Dec 24th 2018 at 1:42:03 PM

Not necessarily true, and it goes the other way as well. When you take a broad, simple trope like "a narratively significant sneeze" and add specific rules, that can make it vaguer and harder to define as well.

For example, what does or doesn't count as an interruption? Are there really many sneezes that don't interrupt something? Even if a person is by themselves, it's interrupting something, even if that's just walking along, reading a book, doing work or chores. Trying to draw that line seems to make the trope a lot more vague to me, and when we're close enough to a catch-all sneeze supertrope it seems like the trope would be more usable if we just commit to it.

Dec 24th 2018 at 7:35:42 PM

I don't really see any other situations, though.

Dec 25th 2018 at 5:05:47 AM

Sneeze Cut, Sneeze Of Doom, Pepper Sneeze, Freeze Sneeze. This already seems pretty generic, so I think it could work as a supertrope, but not if we're arbitrarily cutting out some sneezes.

Dec 25th 2018 at 9:23:55 AM

Now, I'm just confused. Someone help me with this, please? I'm not sure I want it to be that broad.

Dec 25th 2018 at 4:48:04 PM

Can I ask why? I feel like it already is that broad, by definition. Like, all those other tropes are going to be interrupting something by default, aren't they? Because it's an involuntary reaction.

Dec 25th 2018 at 5:31:47 PM

Can I ask for the opinion of other users? I want to see what they think.

Dec 26th 2018 at 2:14:34 PM

While I don't see it as necessary to be broad, I also see no reason not to.

Dec 29th 2018 at 12:55:52 AM

I'm scratching my head on what to say, so I'll just bump this so hopefully this'll get the attention of other tropers.

Jan 3rd 2019 at 9:44:07 PM

I guess I want this to be interruptions from speaking and nothing more. Also, please no more unexplained bombing.

Jan 4th 2019 at 12:33:26 AM

Zero Context Examples have been marked as such. They need more information to show how they fit the trope. Please don't remove the marking unless you add enough context. Warning: providing Zero Context Examples can result in being suspended from editing.

Please don't give this proposal any more hats until the Zero Context Example has been corrected.

Jan 4th 2019 at 12:55:44 AM

^^ While I understand that, you need to remember that consensus rules here, so if the consensus is to expand...

Jan 4th 2019 at 2:51:40 AM

^ I don't see any consensus here yet, though. I haven't seen all the options, either.

Jan 4th 2019 at 10:23:16 AM

^ I'm not saying there is, just that if there ends up being an agreement to expand...

Jan 4th 2019 at 2:00:23 PM

I think we need some solid criteria on how the interruption goes. It either has to:

  • be plot-relevant or enabling some plot to go (like, maybe someone sneezes before someone (else) could blurt out some important info)
  • be played as a gag

Otherwise the interruption has no meaning in itself.

Jan 11th 2019 at 11:04:15 AM

4tell0life4 is on to something here.

Jan 19th 2019 at 3:29:07 PM

^ You'd like to put them in boldface like some trope pages.

Jan 19th 2019 at 7:47:46 PM

"Note: Only add an example if it's either important to the plot or played as a joke."

Jan 20th 2019 at 3:40:56 PM

Did I hat this already? (checks) Yes, I did.

Feb 14th 2019 at 8:02:04 PM

Is Unicorndance still around?

Feb 15th 2019 at 9:21:53 AM

Yes, sorry. I just got bored waiting for comments.

Feb 24th 2019 at 9:21:18 AM

I'm still here, just have nothing to add.