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Accidental Ventriloquism

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Character A is out of sight (under a desk, behind a screen, etc) and for some reason is talking to himself. Character B enters the room and hears talking. Looking around, Character B spots a cell phone / mannequin / sleeping person / inanimate object and assumes that it is the object doing the talking.

This trope describes any situation in which a character is speaking, and other characters believe the voice is coming from another person or an inanimate object, and this was not the intention of the person speaking. If the speaker achieved this effect deliberately, then it's just an example of ordinary Ventriloquism. Compare Multitasked Conversation, Correlation/Causation Gag.

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Examples

Comic Books

  • There's a Donald Duck story in which Donald is taking care of Uncle Scrooge's pet talking parrot, which is obsessed with counting. Of course the parrot gets away and Donald has to search for it. At one point, Donald is accosted by a woman who has recently been called "old".
    Woman: I'm not old! Do you see any wrinkles on my face?
    Parrot: (behind a fence) 32,923!
    (Woman punches Donald)

Film -- Animated

  • Monsters, Inc.: Sulley sees part of Boo's disguise go down a trash chute and thinks she's been crushed into a cube. Meanwhile, Boo wanders into a group of monster children on a field trip. Sulley presents the garbage cube to Mike just as the kids are walking down the hall.
    Sulley: (Weeping) I can still hear her little voice!
    Boo: Mike Wazowski!
    Mike: Hey, I can hear her too.
    Other kids: Mike Wazowski!
    Mike: How many kids you got in there?
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  • In The Lion King (1994), young Simba tries to roar to intimidate the hyenas but they just laugh at him and tell him to do it again. The second time, the adult Mufasa roars, and for a moment everybody (including Simba himself) believes that the roar came from Simba.
  • Hey There, It's Yogi Bear!: Yogi commandeers Ranger Smith's telephone.
    Yogi: Hello? Hello? Is this the White House?
    Ranger Smith: Yogi!
    Yogi: Hey, the President knows my name.
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: While Ichabod is teaching a singing class, Brom Bones pranks him by making a dog howl just as he reaches a high note, which makes him believe he produced that howl himself.
  • Cinderella: In a deleted sequence, a music professor is given the unenviable task of teaching the stepsisters, and Drizella's terrible singing causes the farm animals out back to go mad. The professor keeps hearing the animals' sounds and believes Drizella was making them.
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Film -- Live-Action

  • In one of the Fantômas movies, during an upper-class hunt gone wrong, Commissioner Juve ends up finding the horse used by the guest who's really Fantômas in disguise. When F's mooks try to ask him "What do we do now, go home?" over a radio in the saddle, Juve thinks it's the horse speaking.
  • In The Con is On, Gina gets locked in the walk-in freezer in the kitchen. Jackie enters and starts talking to her pet Chihuahua Conchita. Gina hears Jackie speaking and starts calling out for help. Jackie looks in surprise at Conchita, and is now convinced that she is able to understand her dog.

Literature

  • In Sourcery, the wizzard Rincewind is thrown into a pit allegedly full of venomous serpents. In the gloom, he sincerely believes the one rather tired and lazy cobra in the pit is talking to him and he sustains a conversation with it, leading to humorous confusion before his eyes adjust, and he realises there's a woebegone-looking barbarian hero wannabe in there with him. (Humans outnumber snakes in the pit by 2:1).

Live-Action TV

  • In the Fawlty Towers episode "The Germans", Basil bought a stuffed moose head for a decoration, and then left it on the front desk while he ran some errands. Manuel came in for something, and crawled under the desk to look for it. The Major walked in... Manual popped up from the desk, saw the Major, called out "Hello!" and then ducked back under the desk to resume looking. The Major looked around, and saw that the room was empty except for a stuffed moose head. He assumed the moose head had said "Hello" to him. He began having a conversation with the moose head (with Manuel keeping up his side of it, unaware that the Major didn't know he was there).
  • In an episode of Marblehead Manor, Lupe gets stuck in a dumbwaiter. Rick, the token dumb guy (played by Michael Richards) has for some reason been given the task of taking care of a baby. When he hears Lupe's voice he believes the baby is talking to him.

Webcomics

Western Animation

  • The plot of the South Park episode "Cartman's Silly Hate Crime 2000" kicks off when Cartman threatens to hit Token with a rock if he calls him a fatass one more time. He turns around, Kyle calls him "fatass", then he throws the rock at Token, believing him to have said it.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In the episode "Hall Monitor", SpongeBob calls to Patrick, who is sitting on a fence eating ice-cream. Patrick hears him and thinks his ice-cream is talking to him.
    • This happens again in "Valentine's Day", when Patrick makes a stone heart to give to SpongeBob on Valentine's Day. When SpongeBob speaks to him from behind, Patrick thinks his friend is trapped in the stone and smashes it to let him out.
  • It's very common for Mr. Magoo to have a conversation with someone but direct his attention to an inanimate object he mistakenly believes to be the man he's talking to. The other guy indulges him and continues the conversation from the side, while Magoo never catches on.
  • In The Critic when Jay is tied to a bed his voice carries through the air vents to another apartment where an old lady believes her cat is talking to her. When he begs her to call the police she says, "You sound just like the toaster!"
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: In "Groundpiglet Day", Piglet's friends see a pile of snow with his hat on it, think he's frozen up and take "him" into Rabbit's house. When the snow melts and they put the water in a bowl, Piglet enters and tries talking to Rabbit, resulting in him thinking he's being addressed by him from the bowl.
    Rabbit: Can you ever forgive me?!
    Piglet: Of course, Rabbit.
    Rabbit: (turns around) Did you hear that, Piglet? Piglet forgives me! (beat) PIGLET?!
  • Camp Lazlo: In "Snake Eyes", the Jelly Beans' new pet snake escapes and seemingly eats the other campers until Lazlo and Patsy are the only ones left. When Lazlo finds the snake, he apparently hears Raj's voice coming from inside it, but it turns out that he's hiding in the tree along with everyone else.
    Raj: You silly monkey, we are up here!
    Lazlo: (sobbing) Where "up here"? In the great camp in the sky?!
    Raj: Up in the sky? No, no, we are on a tree in the sky! And the pine needles are sticking in my rumpus. They are quite painful. Perhaps you and Patsy could get rid of Snakey so we could all get down from this tree?
    Skip: Yeah, I gotta go to the little camper's room.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: In "Keeping Up with the Eds", the Eds try to help Sarah and Jimmy out of the tall grass they grew by mowing it with Victor the goat. After all the grass is mowed but the two are nowhere to be found, Ed hears Sarah calling to him and he believes that Victor had eaten her.
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