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Broken Echo

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Doofenshmirtz: Ah, Perry the Platypus. Welcome to my evil space station!
Echo: Station! Station! Cookie! Station!
Doofenshmirtz: Wait, did you hear that? That "cookie" part? I think my echo is broken. I really do.
Phineas and Ferb, "We Call It Maze"

Someone notices that the room or canyon they're currently in has a great echo. They shout and get the expected reply. Then they shout something that the echo either refuses to repeat or replies to.

This could be:

  1. An insult that is spoken in the first person that the echo repeats in the second person.
  2. A controversial statement that the echo doesn't want to repeat, remaining silent or echoing something completely different.
  3. A statement or noisy action, such as a sneeze, with a common response, which is replied to, rather than repeated, by the echo.
  4. An echo in a different accent or language.

This is frequently acknowledged by the person being echoed. A broken echo always follows the Rule of Funny and is very rarely justified as even something supernatural. This is a completely unrealistic trope as an echo is a property of acoustics and in reality, cannot be altered from its original source, or it's not an echo.

Not to be confused with an Ironic Echo or Meaningful Echo, which are not literally echoes and are instead someone repeating the words someone else said. Compare Sound Defect.



  • In a 2016 commercial for Bai, a man claims it doesn't make sense for bai to be good for you but taste great, much like your echo having a cheeky British accent. He then demonstrates this.
    Man: Hello!
    Echo: Hello, you saucy tart!
  • An advertisement for Chili's had three men in a gorge, testing out the echoes. The third man started off Chili's famous jingle, only for the echo to respond with the second part, spooking the trio and convincing them to leave.
    Third man: I want my baby back baby back baby back~ (*goes quiet to hear the echo*)
    Echo: Chili's Baby-Back Ribs~

Fan Works

  • Touhou Project fanworks make Kyouko (a yamabiko who repeats what she's told) the butt of many a joke, usually trying to get her to repeat inappropriate words so she'll blush and refuse to echo them.
Film - Animated
  • In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, this occurs during the "Heigh-Ho" number, when the Dwarfs introduced digging for diamonds in their mine.
    Happy: It ain't no trick to get rich quick.
    Grumpy: When you dig, dig, dig with a shovel or a pick.
    Bashful: In a mine! (In a mine!)
    Sneezy: In a mine! (In a mine!)
    All: Where a million diamonds...! (Shine!)

Film - Live-Action

  • In Abbott & Costello meet the Killer after Costello are separated from the detectives in the cavern he shouts after them which are echoed back. He then goes to a tunnel and hum a tune which doesn't answers back, he then try another tunnel humming a higher tune and then a third tunnel but nothing happens until when he starts to walk away all three different hums answers back at the same time.
  • In Ghostbusters II, Ray, Egon, and Winston are walking through an abandoned subway tunnel. After Ray and Egon shout down the tunnel and have their calls echoed back to them, Winston tries, only to be greeted with a few ominous seconds of silence, followed by a deep voice slowly growling "WINSTON". Unlike most examples, this is played for horror rather than for comedy.
  • In How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the Grinch gets into an argument with his echo and ends it by saying "I'm an idiot." His echo responds with "You're an idiot." Twice.

Live Action TV

  • In Le cœur a ses raisons, when Brett comes to rescue his fiancée Criquette, who was hanging from the a cliffside, he screams her name to find her and it echoes... but ends up being very abruptly stopped mid-word. And the, Criquette shouts his name in return, and the echo repeatedly screams "GEORGES!" instead of "BRETT!".
  • Played with in The Goodies. The Goodies come across a canyon and use their voices to create an echoing symphony. Eventually one of them gets tired of the racket, walks over to a nearby rock with a dial on it and turns down the volume.


  • Professor Ludwig Von Drake dealt with this on his self-titled album, when he takes the listeners behind the scenes on music production and showcases an echo chamber.
    Von Drake: Now, what are you doing in the echo chamber? I'll tell you what you are doing, you are getting echoes. And here's the ways the echoes go. Hello!
    Echo: Hello!
    Von Drake: How are you?
    Echo: Fine!
    Von Drake: That's good!
    Echo: Thanks!
    Von Drake: How's Sarah and the kids?
    Echo: Fine!
    Von Drake: Come over to supper sometime!
    Echo: I will!
    Von Drake: You see, that's the way— Wait a second, what are we doing here?! I'm talking here to an echo- I'm talking to the echo all by myself?! That was, that's not supposed to be like that! An echo is yourself.


  • Inverted with the Trope Namer Echo from Classical Mythology, who fell in love with Narcissus but was rendered unable to say anything but what they'd just heard by Hera (after Echo lied to Hera about seeing Zeus pass by). When Narcissus happened to look at his own reflection in a pond, he was so captivated by the appearance he spoke words of love to it, which Echo tearfully and faithfully repeated, until Narcissus wasted away into a flower and Echo into a spirit that repeated what people said.

Newspaper Comics

  • In U.S. Acres, Orson the pig walks to the edge of an echo cliff and yells "HELLOOOO!" The echo evidently has a sarcastic streak, as it bellows back, "OH, REAL ORIGINAL, PIG!"


  • The Goon Show:
    • In "World War One":
      Seagoon: Hello!
      Echo: Hello!
      Seagoon: Ahh, an echo!
      Echo: Ahh, an echo!
      Seagoon: Mi mi mi mi mi.
      Echo: Mi mi mi mi mi.
      Seagoon: Holla-loo!
      Echo: Holla-loo!
      Seagoon: I'm an idiot!
      Echo: You certainly are!
    • In "The Great Bank of England Robbery", Eccles gets in an argument with his echo, thinking it's a real person mocking him — "Who's that?" "Who's that?" "I'm Eccles." "I'm Eccles." "You can't be, I'm Eccles." and so on — even though it's just repeating what he says... until the end of the bit, when this happens:
      Eccles: Now then I've got to find Mr. Seagoon.
      Echo: Needing me anymore?
      Eccles: No!
      Echo: OK, goodbye!


  • In Peer Gynt, the title character comes across The Sphinx, and decides that it must represent the Boyg. When he calls out to it, "Who are you?", he is surprised to hear his words echoed in German. Berlin dialect, he notes.
  • Lampshaded in Rose-Marie with one of the reprises of "Indian Love Call":
    When through the valley a voice is calling all alone,
    Why does the answering echo sound so very baritone?
  • In Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, when the kids were calling out in the woods, voices answer back.
    Hansel: WHO'S THEREEEEE??
    Echo: You there! There!

    Gretel: Is someone there?
    Echo: Where? Here!


  • In this Cyanide and Happiness strip, a man notices the cave he's in has an echo and eagerly shouts "I love you!", expecting to hear it back. After a moment of silence, the cave instead replies "Echo... echo... echo..."

Web Animation

  • In the Red vs. Blue Season 11 episode "Heavy Mettle" Caboose shouts, "Have a nice day!" Into a cave. His echo replies, "Thanks. you too!"

Western Animation

  • In Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Dale looks into a cave and yells "Hello down there!" The echo repeats this. He then says "Say, you're handsome!" The echo says "Thanks!"
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode, "We Call it Maze," in a slightly different approach to this trope, Dr. Doofenshmirtz shouts "Welcome to my evil space station!" To which his echo replies, "Station... station... COOKIE!... Station" This happens to him again later in the episode. and then to Buford at the end of the episode.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In Cross Country Detours, a tourist visits the Grand Canyon and shouts "Hello-o-o-o!" into the canyon, only for there to be no echo. He shouts two more times until he hears a phone operator's voice saying "Sorry, they won't answer."
    • In Heaven Scent Pepé Le Pew has Penelope cornered at Echo Point and decides to try something.
      Pepe: I, I, I! Love, love, love! You, you, you!
      Echo: I love you! I love you! I love you!
      Pepe: Pretty good, eh?
  • In the Donald Duck cartoon Grand Canyonscope, Donald sneezes and the sneeze echoes all over the Grand Canyon... but then one of the echoes comes out as "Gesundheit". Donald then argues with the echo until the ranger yells "QUIET!", and both Donald and the echo shut up.
  • In the 1960s Popeye short The Big Sneeze, Popeye sings his theme song with his echo while climbing French Alps. Subverted when it turns out the "echo" is actually from a hermit called Kasimodo, the Halfback of Notre Dame ("What a way to make a living.")
  • In The Scooby-Doo Show episode "Watta Shocking Ghost", when Scooby, Shaggy and Velma search through a tunnel:
    Shaggy: (calls out) HELLOOOOOO!
    Shaggy's echo: HELLOOOOOO!
    Shaggy: ANYBODY THERE?!
    Shaggy's echo: NOOOOOOOO!
  • Family Guy: In "Throw It Away", Lois is inspired by a self-help book to get rid of anything that doesn't bring her joy. Eventually, she gets rid of everything, including her family, to the point that the now-barren house gains an echo that reminds her how messed up she is on the inside.
    Lois: I'm so happy!
    Echo: I'm very unhappy!
    Lois: My house is at peace, so I am at peace!
    Echo: You're all alone and sad!
    Lois: (growing concerned) Simplicity is good for the soul!
    Echo: Your soul is as empty as this house! ...this house! ...this house!


You're an idiot!

The Grinch's own echo insults him.

How well does it match the trope?

4.95 (22 votes)

Example of:

Main / BrokenEcho

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