Follow TV Tropes


Serious Business

Go To
"This is bowling. There are rules."
"Somebody said, 'Football's a matter of life and death to you.' I said, 'Listen, it's more important than that'."
Bill Shankly, 1981 TV interview

Serious Business is when a story revolves around an activity where a sizable portion of the In-Universe population takes it far more seriously than they should. If the popularity of some mundane object rivals that of Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Michael Jackson combined, or if there are mainstream schools devoted to it instead of teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic, then it's Serious Business.

It's often a Silly Reason for War and can turn a casual conversation into a heated "Cavemen vs. Astronauts" Debate. Someone who just can't let it go may become a Single-Issue Wonk. If competition is involved, you can almost guarantee that Second Place Is for Losers. Frequently "opposed" by the Cavalier Competitor. Compare "Stop Having Fun" Guys. In musicals, it's often demonstrated that Dancing Is Serious Business. For the saying that "The Internet Is Serious Business", see G.I.F.T. Related to I'm Not Here to Make Friends. Not to be confused with Mundane Made Awesome, though the two tropes overlap plenty.

Compare Duels Decide Everything, Comical Overreacting. When a relatively minor crime is treated as Serious Business, that's Felony Misdemeanor. Contrast Not a Game and Matter of Life and Death. A Super-Trope to Overdramatic Dating Commotion, where dating or the mistaken thought of it is treated like it's a huge deal.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Asian Animation 
  • Would you believe noodles? In the European/Korean animated series Pucca, the noodles made at the local Chinese restaurant are such Serious Business that in one episode, when the chefs believe themselves disgraced because of a just-barely-unfinished bowl of noodles, they go to a DEATH COURSE to redeem themselves, while in another, when they split up into three separate restaurants over a fight, it causes a sort of Zombie Apocalypse, with most of the inhabitants of the village wandering as an aimless, lifeless, pathetic mob, mumbling and moaning about the lack of noodles until they reunite. And God help you if you run out of chopsticks. The world will scream.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • In one strip, Calvin throws an enormous hissy fit after losing a game of checkers to Hobbes, culminating in him passing out in exhaustion. When Hobbes points out that it's just a game, Calvin cheerfully replies: "I know! You should see how I act when I lose in real life!"
    • Chewing gum is Serious Business in this universe. Calvin is an enthusiastic reader of a magazine called "Chewing" which is dedicated to it and informs an incredulous Hobbes that as many as twelve such publications exist.
    • So is a Snowball Fight.
    • And he treats his snowman creations like modern art. Though he certainly puts more thought into them than most kids. This is Calvin. Everything comes to life, and most of it tries to kill him.
  • This Dilbert strip illustrates how to apply the principles of Serious Business in the workplace. This comic was based on one of Scott Adams' coworkers, who actually said "I will fight you to the end of the earth!" To him, it was serious business.
  • In Doonesbury, the frenzy over Beanie Babies (see the Real Life section) was mocked in a storyline that saw Uncle Duke steal Alex Doonesbury's collection and hold them for ransom. The whole thing is treated as seriously as an actual kidnapping.
  • The Far Side once had a Showdown at High Noon having ended in defeat for the older cowboy, treating it with all the gravity you'd expect... except it was at ping-pong.
    Older gunslinger: Well, you won. Now every player in the world will come after you, looking to make a name for himself... Welcome to Hell, kid.
  • FoxTrot: Thanksgiving is a big deal for resident Big Eaters Roger and Peter. There have been several week-long arcs over the years of them preparing to eat as much food as possible when the day comes.
  • Knights of the Dinner Table has roleplaying games as serious business. "You don't understand man. He TOUCHED my dice!"note 
  • Peanuts:
    • An early strip had Lucy repeatedly shouting "OLEE-OLEE-OLSEN-FREE-O!" Violet came by and pointedly told her that the expression was "Ollie-Ollie-Oxen-Free." This left Lucy more thoroughly humiliated than she'd ever been in her life.
    • Once, when Lucy caught Linus about to throw a snowball at her, she angrily demanded that he take that very snowball apart snowflake by snowflake. ("No pieces! No chunks! One snowflake at a time!") Poor Linus was out in the snow until nightfall.
    • Linus and his blanket. When he had to go without it for a couple of weeks, he fainted several a single day.
    • Linus also had a pretty intense crush on his teacher, Ms. Othmar. When she was fired for going on strike, he threw an enormous tantrum and vowed to turn the whole matter into a federal case. He also snottily told his substitute teacher that, sure, he'd learn the lessons the way she taught them, but she still wasn't Ms. Othmar.
    • Schroeder. How dare you mock Beethoven in his presence!
  • Board games are apparently serious business to Rat in Pearls Before Swine.
  • Sherman's Lagoon: One storyline has Megan become addicted to Sudoku and treating it as such. Sherman makes the mistake of telling her that it's "just Sudoku."
  • Garfield:

    Films — Animation 
  • Foodfight!: When Mr. Clipboard stomps on a bag of chips for no real good reason (declaring, "SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST, LEONAAAAAARD!"), Leonard the shopkeeper's reaction is utter heartbreak and horror, as though a teenage girl had just been gunned down in front of him.
    Leonard: That was a perfectly good bag of chips! Never opened... never enjoyed...
  • While the plot of Monsters, Inc. just happened to be about two monsters who worked for the eponymous company, Monsters University gives the impression that every course and program the school offers is related to the scaring industry in some way.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
    • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games: Pretty much everyone treats the Friendship Games like this, with Luna even name-dropping the trope and the Humane Five getting slightly offended when Sunset wonders what all the fuss is about, since it's not as important as, say, stopping the Sirens. Heck, Principal Cinch and the Shadowbolts even try to harness Equestrian magic — something they hardly understand — just to ensure they win the Games.
    • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Holidays Unwrapped: Played for Laughs with a gargantuan snowball fight outside Pinkie's home, which involves a huge number of characters from all corners of the series absolutely duking it out with massive snow fortresses. Anyone in range of a snowball is a target, regardless of whether they signed on to play, and the entire sequence is presented as a Faux Horrific parody of war films like Saving Private Ryan.
      Sunset: Hold up everyone! Pinkie Pie and I aren't in the game!
      Granny Smith: What game? This here's WAAAAARRRR!!!
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas:
    • Jack Skellington found out the hard way that impersonating Santa Claus is a major crime that amounts to being blasted out of the sky. Well, when it involves kidnapping, breaking and entering, and unknowingly terrorizing people with loathsome and occasionally lethal gifts, despite how good the intentions are.
    • This also applies to Halloween, at least in Halloween Town. Since the city is a Planet of Hats with scaring people as its hat, the town council spends literally the entire year preparing for each Halloween, drawing up plans as early as November 1st. The Mayor actually has a minor panic attack when Jack is not at home to go over the plans with him. No wonder Jack had gotten sick of Halloween.
  • Pastacolypse involves a worldwide ban on gluten that everyone takes seriously to the point that, among other things, there are entire clubs themed around a gluten-free lifestyle and illegally having possession of gluten is enough to be charged for a federal crime. Alfredo Manicotti sees the ban as an assault on his lifestyle and after turning into a man-pasta hybrid, decides to create pasta monsters made of gluten to unleash on the world and kill anyone associated with a living a gluten-free life.
  • For most of Ratatouille, this is averted, with food only being given relatively reasonable import (it is a movie about chefs, after all, so a little of this is to be expected)... until the climax, when Remy's cooking — and the revelation of his role as the chef — are enough to induce a Heel–Face Turn in a stick-in-the-mud critic.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Movie: Francis, the dog owned by the Mario Brothers' first plumbing customers, takes it very personally when Luigi breaks his favorite bone toy by accident, enough that he haunts the brothers during their plumbing job and ultimately ends up sabotaging it.
  • Trolls World Tour:
    • Music. The Trolls split into groups to protect the music they liked.
    • Pinky promises. When Poppy promises Biggie that she'll protect him, it causes them to levitate toward each other and unleash a Planar Shockwave seen for miles when they connect.
      Cooper: (after he feels the shockwave) A pinky promise. Dang...
  • Wallace & Gromit:
    • From the short A Grand Day Out: "No crackers, Gromit! We've forgotten the crackers!" Cue dramatic music and a frantic race against time.
    • The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is what the writers call "perhaps the first vegetarian horror movie." To keep some kind of tension, given that the monster is no threat to people, it turns out that everyone in town is insanely protective of their vegetables. For them, country fairs are serious business. "We're simple folk! It's all we have!" NB: In real life, competitive growing is sometimes taken quite seriously, and incidents of sabotage and theft are not unknown.

  • Bowling is apparently a huge deal in Bowling King. No, seriously. Professional bowlers are all either incredibly badass or Bishōnen prettyboys. Oh, and then there's how main character Shautieh Ley's ultimate goal seems to involve taking over the world with bowling somehow; while this isn't explicitly stated, chapter opening pages tend to feature things like a Rushmore Refacement where all of the faces are Shautieh (and similar ones with the Sphinx, etc.) and Shautieh disrupting other sports events.

  • Yureka: comes up from time to time since the setting is in an MMORPG. Notable with Myriah who holds a grudge against Lotto and his friends for killing her tamed monsters for experience and loot. —Done well and within the realm of possibilities, thus barely noticed.

  • Kingdom Smarts:
    • The premise of the podcast is Kingdom Hearts fangirl Shannon Manor explains the series to KH-ignorant Jake Mason of Hey! Jake and Josh one half hour at a time. Because of this, they take keeping Jake as spoiler-free as possible very seriously. One episode during their Kingdom Hearts II episodes opens with Jake explaining that he literally yelled at a co-worker at his day job to not say anything about Kingdom Hearts III to avoid getting spoiled about the game.
    • As the podcast's fan community has grown, keeping Jake in the dark has reached the point that the show's fans on Twitter use a specific hashtag which Jake keeps muted, "#KHFree", when discussing events the show has not yet reached. Later episodes also regularly end with a warning not to use KHFree in conjunction with other hashtags nor when sending tweets directly to the Kingdom Smarts Twitter, as doing so negates Jake's muting.
  • Mike & Tom Eat Snacks: the Snack is very serious business. People's careers are made and destroyed by how Mike and Tom rate snacks (according to them), and often fans can get upset by their ratings.
  • Mom Can't Cook! notes that several Disney Channel Original Movies seem to exaggerate how popular certain pursuits, such as magic, rollerblading, and coin collecting are, which is deemed to be because they were written by a bunch of middle-aged men.
  • Mystery Show: Jake Gyllenhaal's height is Serious Business to the folks at David mocks them while also becoming overly invested himself.
  • The Puzzle In A Thunderstorm guys (Eli and Heath in particular) treat some of their running gags this way, especially getting to ask "What's.... [the thing being advertised]?".
  • True Capitalist: Ghost is convinced his show is this. Most of his audience (Read:Trolls) seems to think otherwise.

  • In the Final Battle of Dino Attack RPG, when a large number of Dino Attack agents used the comm chatter to crack jokes or make silly references, one Dino Attack agent attempted to Shoo Out the Clowns by telling them to stop making jokes and references and start concentrating on the battle, using the comm chatter only for coordinating attacks and strategies. This example is largely Played for Laughs, since this one Dino Attack agent is apparently the only one trying to use the comm chatter for its intended purpose in the battle, yet everyone completely ignores him (or, in one agent's case, openly mocks him with a quote from Monty Python's Flying Circus) and continues using the comm chatter for less-than-serious commentary.
  • On LiveJournal and its spinoffs, roleplay is very serious business, as evidenced by the "Roleplay Secrets" community, a daily post of (usually) nasty things anonymous roleplayers have to say about other roleplayers, allowed to rag on anything from their characterizations to the size of their avatars. Similar is the "RP Anon Meme", which started as a bi-monthly explosion of hateful anonymous discussion and eventually became a constantly-running community of (slightly less hateful, slightly more spammy) anonymous discussion. People have actually made death threats over pretendy funtime games on the internet.

  • Chess:
    • The Arbiter in this musical not only takes his job of refereeing a chess championship incredibly seriously, he also seems to think it makes him a badass. "I'm on the case, can't be fooled/ any objection is overruled/ I'm the Arbiter, I know the score/ from square one/ I'll be watching all sixty-four..."
    • Not to mention The Russian in "Argument". His first priority is to win a game of Chess. Once he has won, he can attend to the secondary things in life, such as his love affair, which is falling apart at that moment.
  • The play Teh Internet Is Serious Business by Tim Price, staged by the Royal Court Theatre in London, autumn 2014. It is about the "hacktivist" groups Anonymous and LulzSec.
  • Oedipus the King: The sphinx that troubles Thebes treats her riddles like Serious Business. When Oedipus figured out the answer, she actually committed suicide,making the trope Older Than Feudalism. Even before that, she'd only eat people once they'd actually made an attempt to answer the riddle, and gotten it wrong.
  • In the storylines of many ballets, Dancing Is Serious Business. The hero of Swan Lake dooms his beloved to spend eternity as a swan because he mistakenly dances with the wrong woman at a ball. The titular heroine of Giselle dances herself to death, and later spares the man she loves from the same fate by offering to dance in his place to appease an evil ghost queen who is forcing him to dance again and again. In The Sleeping Beauty, Aurora pricks her finger not from spinning, but from dancing with the spindle despite her mother's warnings that doing so would be dangerous.

    Visual Novels 
  • While court trials are Serious Business in real life, the Ace Attorney games elevate this to a new level with how over the top their cases get. And while being a lawyer is quite a respectable career in real life, they're practically superstars in the gameverse.
    • The hotbed of murder and intrigue that is the children's television industry of Phoenix Wright. Deadly serious business.
    • Spirit Mediums, too, seem to take it a little too far. But what mother wouldn't be an accomplice in a murder framing her niece just so her daughter can be the family's successor?
    • Phoenix's assistant/sidekick Maya considers anything she's interested in to be Serious Business. The sad part is, she usually finds at least one other person who wholeheartedly agrees with her, leaving Phoenix to wonder if he's the Only Sane Man.
    • In Apollo Justice, stage magic. To the point that one whole case gets derailed because the Judge wants to know how a trick was done. And the people who do know refuse to tell, because it's against the magician's code to reveal secrets. And if Apollo doesn't figure the trick out, the judge declares the defendant guilty of murder!
    • Also, Apollo tends to be tired in the morning because he was up all night shouting at the top of his lungs so that his OBJECTIONS are extra impressive. That's dedication, man.
    • Manfred von Karma takes the serious business of being a prosecutor to its limit. He is so obsessed with having and maintaining a perfect record (i.e. a 100% conviction rate, regardless of whether any of them were actually guilty or not) that he murders a defense attorney over a penalty. And in case that wasn't enough, he also took the man's son under his wing and trained him to be a prosecutor every bit as cold and obsessed with winning as he was.
    • Everyone in the courtroom (including the main character) react to holes in their story being pointed out as if they had been physically struck.
    • Miles Edgeworth takes his love for the Steel Samurai series very seriously, to the point where, after seeing a Steel Samurai theatre performance and finding out that the titular hero was played by Larry Butz, he acts like Larry just murdered his dog.
  • Downplayed in Melody. The title character mentions learning how to modify social media passwords in a college computer class. Why on earth would a Gen-Z college student need a computer class to teach her how to use a social media website?
  • In Misericorde, most of the nuns of Linbarrow Abbey love a good game of chess, but Sister Adela is very passionate about the game and has strong opinions about how it ought to be played. When Sister Moira beats her using an aggressive strategy which Adela views as an affront to the game, Adela angrily flips the table over, goes on a heated rant about why that strategy is bad, and challenges Moira to a rematch using "the rules of real chess". The exasperated reactions of the other nuns indicate that this isn't the first time she's done this.

    Web Animation 
  • The Andrés Guerrero cartoon about itemLabel's Dinkle depicts him as taking the art of chiptunes so seriously that he goes completely overboard responding to critics saying that his music doesn't qualify as chiptune.
  • In Animator vs. Animation, in the VS Minecraft shorts, apparently building is this. TNT throwing during building contests is a regular occurrence, and in "PvP", Green starts a brawl over a conflict in building space.
  • The classic Flash film Craziest is about someone who considers Scrabble a religion.
  • DEATH BATTLE!: This happens in Johnny Cage vs. Captain Falcon. Captain Falcon won't let Johnny star as him in a movie unless he beats him in a fight to the death. Johnny even comments at one point that "you sports types really take auditions seriously!"
  • DigitalPh33r regularly parodies the concept in his Halo movies with unnamed characters brutalizing things in game and/or shouting to the heavens "THIS IS SUCH A BIG DEAL!!!"
  • If UNO Was an Anime does this with UNO, based on the .emcee comic.
  • Meta Runner takes place in a world where video games are extremely important, to the point that Artificial Limbs have been developed and nobody seems to have considered using them for anything other than playing video games better, and the plot revolves around a gaming MegaCorp having performed a massively unethical science experiment that led to the apparent death of its subject and scientist, all for the sake of producing the ultimate gamer.
  • Red vs. Blue, which started out as the continuing story of a battle fought over a box canyon in the middle of nowhere, although only Sarge seemed to take victory in Blood Gulch that seriously. Or beating the Blues in whatever confrontation they had later.
    • In one PSA, Grif states that "some games are serious business." Apparently, he once "played Donkey Kong so well that he cured kidneyism. It was the best day ever. The End."
  • In RWBY Chibi, Lie Ren, usually The Stoic and The Quiet One, will take certain things a little overboard — he has a Training Montage for playing tag, scoffs as how Team RWBY pillow fights and blows up at his own team for their inability to dance right.

    Web Videos 
Hashtag Cop: OK, that's enough. Everyone freeze
(everyone puts their hands up)
Pharrell Williams: Who the hell is this schmuck?
Hashtag Cop: I'm a hashtag cop (#BUSTED)
This hashtag abuse is against the law
I'm not kidding (#THICKE)
Robin Thicke: Someone turn that shit off
Hashtag Cop: I am warning you (#GOAT)
Stop or I will shoot (#LOSER)
OK, that's it, dude! (The Hashtag cop then proceeds to shoot Robin Thicke in the knee)
  • This is part of the indicative behind Caustic Critic shows like The Angry Video Game Nerd, The Nostalgia Critic and The Spoony Experiment. Reviewers on Channel Awesome treat most anything they review as Serious Business, Played for Laughs. Deconstructed in Atop the Fourth Wall when Holokara takes things a step further and plans to threaten a Death from Above against Marvel over the handling of Spider-Man, which is NOT played for laughs.
  • CollegeHumor: For the Nazi Party, grammatical correctness is apparently very serious business:
    Monsieur La Padite: I swear, I do not know where Mademoiselle Dreyfuss is at.
    Hans Landa: ...Did you just end a sentence with a preposition?
  • In the YouTube series The Guild, playing an MMORPG is very serious business. More serious, apparently, than parenting or social interaction. It's based on Felicia Day's two-year addiction to World of Warcraft, so it's definitely Truth in Television.
  • The premise behind many Hitler Rants parodies, where Hitler melts down over anything from getting his Xbox Live Arcade account banned, getting a Wii instead of a PS3 for Christmas, and so on.
  • Jayuzumi tends to run into these players a lot when playing video games and using soundboards to prank others. This happens mostly in Call of Duty, and to a lesser extent in Battlefield.
  • In Dominic Fear's Kenny Bassender (Full Title: Kenny Bassender's Quest for Greatness with the Underground Association of Puppydog Racers) movie, Kenny Bassender is a normal person who isn't special. Until he starts playing a game called Puppdog Races, where he is flawless. So great, that the other members of the Association try to kill him. Not the whole society (it still is in normal present-day America), but very serious.
  • The League of Extraordinary Industrial Retards go on a quest to kill Trent Reznor and Ronan Harris and prove to the world that Industrial music is serious business.
  • In Let's Drown Out Night Shift, Ben Yahtzee Croshaw and Gabriel Mortom admitted that the things they said over the weeks have been awful but the ones that seem to get the most attention is that Yahtzee mentioned that 30 fps looks the same or better than 60 fps, causing an outrage in the comments section.
  • Mario Party TV: In the Trailer for "LP Every Mario Game", Steeler's biggest strength is stated to be that he takes Mario Party seriously. (It's also listed as his greatest weakness.)
  • Movie Trivia Schmoedown is the most serious business movie trivia contest the internet has ever seen. There's championship belts. There's tournaments. There's wrestling-inspired storylines. Search around in the right places you'll find a list of statistics. Over Movie. Trivia.
  • Noob takes the "MMORPG are serious business" route also, but is much more nuanced than The Guild due to them mostly showing up in reports about video game addiction in mainstream media in France. Skewed Priorities happen a lot and the top guilds ask for people joining them to have a lifestyle that can only happen if you're single and unemployed. At the same time, people that arrive at the top in the domain get enough recognition to appear in advertisements and live off it. Characters are also seen doing other stuff than playing, while a small portion of the cast is explicitly doing it for fun and being able to enjoy the company of their guildmates.
  • The Nostalgia Critic: Cake is serious business!
  • Pittsburgh Dad and the Pittsburgh Steelers. God help you if you're a Ravens fan!
  • Invoked in ProZD's "Chairem Anime" series, in the installment about anime timeskips and spinoffs.
    Tomoko: Everything's changed. It's been three years since Refrigerator-senpai killed Lamp-senpai and left our village. My outfit is now black, because things are Serious Business now, in Chairem Anime: Sofaden.
  • Project: Library has been described as "a Michael Bay movie with books", full of fight scenes and action clichés, but set in a library and whose plot revolves around an overdue book.
  • Rhett & Link: Do not mess with the trail mix that Rhett's mom made!
  • In Rosy The Rascal 15's Locos Doritos video, Jerry eventually goes ballistic over his bag of Doritos being stolen, including up to shooting Amy, who was trying to talk him down.
  • This (subtitled) episode of the Québecquois series "Tom et ses chums" ("Tom and his pals") has the titular character playing a game of D&D with old friends. What he doesn't realize beforehand is that they've kept playing the same party every week during the years he hasn't seen them (meaning they have absurdly high-level characters), and for them (barring the GM), this is very serious business. When they demand that his new character start at level 1 (making him useless since the encounters are tailored for a high-level group), and then belittle him for being a peasant, he gives up and decides to be The Loonie.
  • Freddie Wong's Video Game High School is set in a world where video games are Serious Business. Losing a game at the title school can get you expelled.
  • This video. More specifically, at 1:30. "Being a lawyer, as the internet says... IS SERIOUS BUSINESS."
  • Hiring a boat is Serious Business. Just ask Andy Samberg and his friends.


No crackers, Gromit!

We've forgotten the crackers!

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / OhCrap

Media sources: