Follow TV Tropes


Butt-Dialing Mordor

Go To
Thrown into such a situation unexpectedly, the heroes will scramble to (a) avoid giving anything away [and/or] (b) try to extract anything useful about the bad guy or his plans out of the connection. And of there's the added bonus of causing a moment of panic, which is always good value.

A character, through recklessness or bad luck, ends up unintentionally using some form of long-range communication in a manner that contacts an evil entity. Typically this results in serious negative consequences, ranging from Mind Rape and Poke in the Third Eye to Demonic Possession. The means of communication through which Mordor is contacted may be magical, such as a Magic Mirror or Crystal Ball, technological, or some form of Psychic Powers. This trope may be a result of a character finding out what that button does by pressing it. Alternatively, The Klutz may cause this by tripping over the Artifact of Doom or dropping something on the Big Red Button. Sometimes, they need only Speak of the Devil to get it on the line.

See Schmuck Bait, Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! and Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds. Tempting Fate often preceeds this, while Oh, Crap! and What an Idiot! are common reactions.



    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Dragonball Z, the scouters also act as communication devices, and it was due to their function as communicators that Frieza learns about the dragon balls, using them to make a wish, and enables himself to get a head start on Vegeta in going to Namek to use their dragon balls.
  • At the end of Kotoura-san — episode 10, The ESP society sets out to find the criminal (whose crimes include assault, murder, and rape of teenage girls) using Haruka's telepathy. After she gets a very harsh Beam of Enlightenment, Haruka immediately keels over and nearly passes out again because she did not expect the criminal to have such a twisted, distorted, and unnaturally deep mental voice and that said criminal knows that the ESP Society has fallen for the Schmuck Bait. Thankfully, the criminal wasn't targeting Haruka during this incident. This doesn't last. In the next episode, the actual criminal (Detective Aki Tsukino's Enemy Within) deliberately targets Haruka not only because she has friends despite being a monster (Tsukino's main motive derived from jealousy), but also because of the aforementioned telepathy which Haruka showed to both her and Detective Gantestsu Ishiyama earlier in episode 10.

    Comic Books 
  • In I Can't Believe It's Not The Justice League, Booster Gold inadvertently sends the Superbuddies to Hell while fooling around with a mystical artifact.

    Films — Animation 
  • Inverted for laughs in The LEGO Ninjago Movie where, rather than Lloyd accidentally contacting an evil being in a supernatural way, he is contacted in an entirely mundane way when his Archnemesis Dad Lord Garmadon accidentally dials him on his cell phone. Bonus points in that Garmadon attempts to have a pleasant chat with him rather than doing anything heinous, and for literally butt-dialing "L-Loyd":
    Garmadon: Look, I didn't call you. My butt called you. Well, no time to chat. Sorry, Daddy's got to go to work. Gotta get that Green Ninja.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Drax gets roaringly drunk and drunk dials Ronan the Accuser, daring him to come over and fight. Ronan takes Drax up on the offer.
  • In the ARG backstory for TRON: Legacy, Flynn's analog-world supporters band together to send out a communication pulse through the world's computer networks to try and find him. As The Grid is a mostly (but not entirely) isolated system, this pulse give Clu the means to send out a message to Alan's pager, intending to set a trap. In the film itself, Sam Flynn demonstrates he inherited his old man's foresight by looking at the commands for the laser situated right behind him and deciding to press "Yes" when asked if he wants to run the last command entered.

  • Animorphs: The Ellimist's species was destroyed because of a misunderstanding. One of their favorite activities was basically super-advanced Civilization-type simulations, and when these were broadcasted into space they were caught by aliens who thought the Ketran played games that ended whole species for fun. Oops.
  • In the first book of the The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Nathaniel attempts to spy on his master using a scrying-glass, without the master ever finding out about it. He ends up having the psychic equivalent of a Skype call with him! Thankfully his master gets distracted and the imminent Poke in the Third Eye never happens.
  • The entire plot of Brimstone Angels got kicked off because of this; Havilar tried to use a magical ritual she didn't fully understand to summon an imp she could use as a sparring partner, and unfortunately for her she didn't do the spell very well and got Lorcan, a much more powerful devil who happened to be near the imp, instead. The good news was that Havilar, being content in who she was and the skills she was good at, had absolutely no interest in bargaining for anything Lorcan had to offer. Then her twin sister Farideh walked in...
  • Discworld: In Lords and Ladies, Diamanda thinks the Lancre way of witching is too old-fashioned for her and tries out parodically Wiccan spells instead. While this would normally be doomed to failure, the Queen of the Elves caught her mind and made her open the way for their invasion in exchange for power.
  • In For We Are Many, this is how the Others become aware of Bill's base in Epsilon Eridani (he's been periodically sending high-powered transmissions to the other Bobs, unaware of the existence of the Others).
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, a variant of this occurs with Ginny and the magic diary of Tom Riddle that Lucius Malfoy slips into her bag. She writes into the diary many things that happened in the school, allowing Riddle to get info about Harry Potter, and he slowly possesses her body to give himself a more corporeal form.
    • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry starts getting unintentional visions of Voldemort's doings through their Psychic Link, which he uses to save Mr Weasley at one point. Dumbledore has Harry train in Occlumency to stop this happening, but Harry thinks the visions are useful, so doesn't put much effort into the lessons, resulting in Voldemort being able to use the link to set a trap for Harry.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Pippin tries to use the Palantir and unintentionally ends up getting face time with Sauron himself. Sauron stole one of the Palantiri long ago, so anyone who tries to use one of the others risks an audience with Sauron if his attention happens to be on his Palantir at the time (and it always is). Denethor, Steward of Gondor and Boromir's father, has been using the Palantir at Minas Tirith for years, and Sauron has used this to whittle away at his mind. This isn't explained in the movie, making it look like his madness stems solely from grief over Boromir's death.
    • The Fellowship Of The Ring. Frodo sits on the hill Amon Hen while wearing the One Ring, which allows him to see vast distances. Unfortunately he looks at Mordor, which allows Sauron to detect him and start searching for him. Luckily Frodo gets a telepathic warning from Gandalf (who's supposedly dead at the time) and takes off the Ring just before Sauron reaches him. In the film, Sauron looks directly at Frodo and tells him he can't hide from him.
  • Gentleman Bastard: The Bondsmagi know that the Eldren Precursors (a) used incredibly advanced magic liberally and (b) abruptly went extinct, and their leading theory is that the magic attracted the attention of something terrible from beyond the stars. The Bondsmagi's entire organization is based around dispersing their magic use to avoid courting the same fate.
  • The Black Magician Trilogy: When the Black Mages Akkarin and Sonea are convicted and exiled, their Wizarding School psychically broadcasts the news nationwide. They get a polite thank-you response from a cabal of heinously powerful enemy Archmages, who promptly invade the country now that they know its best defenders are gone.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: As seen in a flashback, Fred accidentally opened a portal to Plrtz Glrb when she read an ancient text aloud, not knowing the language. Turns out this wasn't an accident.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?: A character hears an urban legend about a guy named Billy Baxter who was imprisoned by "The Phone Police," a secret group who punishes people who make prank phone calls. He looks up Billy Baxter in the phone book and calls him for a joke. Once he does this, the Phone Police start targeting him.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "Once More With Feeling" Xander brings the singing demon Sweet to Sunnydale through a talisman. Thought that it was just a spell to bring "dances and songs," not realizing that Sweet would kill people.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Inverted, where illiterate villain Amory Lorch tries to send a letter containing the Lannisters' plans for moving forward to his ally, Lord Damon Marbrand, accidentally sends the letter to one of the Starks' vassals, Lord Marlin Dormund.
    • Bran does this, with disastrous consequences, in season 6. While warging without the aid of the Three-Eyed Raven, he sees the Night King, who is able to mark Bran and render the tree vulnerable to invasion from the White Walker army.
  • Stranger Things: Eleven, while using her psychic powers to eavesdrop on a Russian official, accidentally contacts the Demogorgon, which then proceeds to open a rift between our world and the Upside-Down.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Changeling: The Lost: Changelings can have telephones in their Player Headquarters in the Hedge, the Eldritch Location "between" the mundane world and the Land of Faerie. However, they come with the risk that a dreaded True Fae will pick up the call instead of the intended recipient.
    "Ah... there you are."
  • Shifters in Rifts have the (optional) ability to gain additional power by seeking the favor of a more powerful being. They can do this by creating a tiny Rift and seeking a creature to make contact with. Where this trope enters in is that the Communication Rift is basically random; there's no telling what the Shifter will make contact with. Often, the Shifter will unwittingly make contact with an Eldritch Abomination (sometimes pretending it's a god of light or similar), and enter into a pact with it, unaware he's making a Deal with the Devil until it's too late.

  • In Marlowe's play Doctor Faustus, though Faustus himself knows exactly what he's getting into when he starts summoning demons, Those Two Guys that serve him don't. They're larking around, mimicking Faustus's incantations more as a joke than anything else, and end up summoning Mephistopheles himself. Needless to say, he's not happy at all and they get transfigured into animals.

    Video Games 
  • In Fallout 2, there is a computer in the Gecko power plant that you can use to contact the Enclave, the game's Big Bad organisation. You have an option of insulting the soldier you're talking to in a number of ways, and if you do, they will send a squadron of Power Armor-wearing soldiers after you. You will encounter them later in a special encounter, and unless you're high level by that point, or unless you have a high enough Speech skill, it's not going to be pretty.
  • In Mario Party 3, you can buy a Bowser Phone from Koopa Kid's item shops that instantly calls him to deliver misery. When you dial him, he asks who is calling. You can lie and say whoever you want. You can also be honest. The final option is "Who do you think?", which yields a random result. Woe unto you if you choose the last option and Bowser guesses correctly.
  • The second level of Medal of Honor: Rising Sun has you manning the AA gun of a PT boat during the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Near the halfway point, the boat takes damage from a bomb exploding, which causes the radio to go on the fritz and for a moment it picks up Japanese radio chatter.
  • In NetHack, the Big Bad Wizard of Yendor lives in an isolated tower in the middle of a dungeon level, which can normally only be reached by going down through the outskirts of that level, to a lower level which contains a magic portal to the tower. If you have a telepathic pet, the pet may helpfully wake the Wizard with a ranged psychic attack when you first cross his level, which can draw him out before you're ready to fight him.
  • Starcraft: When Zeratul kills a Cerebrate for good (normally impossible, but the Dark Templar's blades are able to prevent the Cerebrate from being reformed in the Overmind), his mind is briefly linked with the Overmind, allowing it to learn Aiur's location and launch an invasion that is only repelled several years (and expansions) later.
  • In The Witcher 3, agreeing to have some drunken time will lead to phoning Heirach Hemmelfart, the head of the dominant religion in the North and the man who all the witch-hunters (theoretically) answer to, while he's on the crapper. Hilariously enough, he's of the opinion that it's Mordor that's calling him because he thinks the witchers in drag are the Lodge of Sorceresses coming to get him.
  • World of Warcraft reveals that the cause of the Eredar joining with the Burning Legion and a small splinter faction becoming the Draenei was because one of their master summoners continually sought greater and more interesting things to bring to Argus from across the universe... and managed to call Sargeras, who taught him how to summon demons and the power of fel magic. The summoner went on to show off his new "pets", was told to never do it again, decided to create an army of demons to take the world for his own, and was defeated because his favored student informed the leaders of the Eredar. The reason this isn't a happy ending? Said pupil was Archimonde, who wanted the summoner's position for his own, and was just as enthralled by fel; he just hid it better until Sargeras came to their world personally.
  • Psionically ascended empires in Stellaris can reach into the Shroud every ten years to receive random temporary (de)buffs (or nothing at all). One of these events has your psykers accidentally come across the minds of the ruling conclave of a nearby Fallen Empire. If you decide to try and invade their minds, you can potentially gain access to a random piece of top-tier technology, but there's also a good chance that the guys notice the intrusion and slap you with a hefty relationship drop that may result in a Hopeless War for your empire. The game allows you to hang up on Mordor at any time, though, so anything bad that happens is entirely your own fault.

    Web Comics 
  • In Darths & Droids, Luke accidentally summons an avatar of Darth Vader while on Dagobah, informing Vader that Yoda is alive and training Luke on an unknown swamp planet and leading into the rest of the campaign's plot.
  • Satan and Me is about a girl who accidentally summons Satan due to sigils printed onto a menstrual pad.

    Web Videos 

    Real Life 
  • Some people have expressed concerns about the radio transmissions our civilization has been sending out into space over the past century or so, saying they could inadvertently attract the attention of powerful and hostile/indifferent aliens. Deliberate transmissions (such as the Arecibo Message) and physical artifacts (such as the pulsar maps on the Voyager spacecraft) have also caused worry. This often ignores the fact that it's going to be tens of thousands of years before any physical craft in existence passes near anything of note and radio signals will attenuate to virtual nothingness after only a few dozen light years. Moreover, over the last several decades, the signal strength of our regular transmissions has decreased, as we have moved away from a few powerful transmitters to many less powerful ones.
  • The legend behind the "NORAD Tracks Santa" program is that for Christmas 1955, a Sears store in Colorado Springs printed an ad that said children could call a special number to have Santa Claus' progress around the world relayed to them. But due to a misprint, the children ended up accidentally calling the Continental Air Defense Command instead. Supposedly the senior watch officer decided to just roll with it and now it's an annual tradition.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: