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Car Radio Dispute

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Sam: I swear, man, you gotta update your cassette tape collection.
Dean: Why?
Sam: Well, for one, they're cassette tapes. And two, Black Sabbath? Motörhead? Metallica? It's the greatest hits of mullet rock.
Dean: House rules, Sammy. Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cake hole.

Alice and Bob are in a car, and Bob turns on the radio (usually to a music station). Alice hates whatever Bob turned on, and either switches to a different station, or tells him to change it. Either way, it leads to an argument, usually culminating with Bob kicking Alice out of the car.


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    Films — Animated 
  • All Dogs Go to Heaven: When Charlie meets up with Carface after escaping from the pound, Charlie turns on the radio so he can listen to some jazz while they talk, while Carface turns it off so they can just talk business. They go back and forth until Carface has enough and pulls out the knob to turn off the radio for good.
  • In A Goofy Movie, Max listens to the car radio, which is playing heavy rock music, until Goofy puts in an 8-track tape with the song "High Hopes" on it. The two then switch the music back and forth over and over until the radio/cassette player breaks.
    Max: Oh, great, Dad. Now we don't have any music!
  • Shrek Forever After: Played with. In the alternate timeline created by Rumpelstiltskin, Donkey never met Shrek and is instead forced to work for two witches, pulling their wagon while also entertaining them with a song. The witch riding shotgun doesn't like the song and whips Donkey to make him sing something else, but then the witch holding the reins claims she gets to pick the music as she is driving, and whips Donkey again to make him switch to another song.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Big Lebowski, the Dude gets in an argument with a cab driver because he "hates the fucking Eagles". The driver throws him out of the cab.
  • In Fred Claus, Fred leaves a taxi because of its playing Christmas music.
  • Kingdom Come (2001): Played for Laughs when the Black Sheep Royce is stuck in the car with his overbearing mother Marguerite, out of gas in hot weather and high tempers on the way to a funeral. They end up yanking the radio dial back and forth between MC Hammer and gospel music until it pulls off.
    Marguerite: Haha! Jesus got the knob!
    Royce: That's cool, mom, that's cool, 'cause Satan got the car key!
  • In Roma, the children have an ongoing dispute about which radio program is the best and fight over it whenever they get in the car.
  • In Rush Hour, the duo get into this argument early on in the film when Lee turns on "Surfin' U.S.A." by The Beach Boys.
    Carter: Don't you ever touch a black man's radio, boy!
  • In The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Walter daydreams about an episode of Conan featuring him, and leaves the cab because of it.
  • Tommy Boy has the Tommy in a argument over the radio with Richard, until they land on "Superstar" by the Carpenters, which they both try to talk one another into switch away from. A Gilligan Cut later, they're singing along, tears streaming down their faces.
  • Played for Laughs in Top Secret!. While Nick Rivers and Nigel are fighting inside a truck, they also fight over which station to listen to on the radio. Watch it here.

  • Clue: In book #8, chapter 6 ("Who Bent the Bentley?"), after the third driver takes over, they get in an argument with Colonel Mustard over the radio (the driver prefers Easy Listening, he wants something else), taking their eyes off the road and ending up crashing into a tree as a result.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul: Frank says that only the driver gets to control the radio. Greg likes sitting in the front seat besides needing to listen to his country music. Later, when Rodrick drives over the bridge, he sets it to heavy metal, which makes Frank uncomfortable.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Car Share: Averted, despite the amount of time they spend listening to the car radio, although John only listens to Kayleigh's choice of radio station grudgingly at first. In the final episode they argue over turning the volume up and down on a particular song, shortly before Kayleigh walks out on him for the last time.
  • Cavendish: The very first episode begins with Mark and Andy driving over the Confederation Bridge, as Mark cheerfully sings along to the Anne Of Green Gables soundtrack until a brooding Andy turns it off. (Since this is set on Prince Edward Island, an Anne Of Green Gables reference was probably inevitable).
  • A variation appears in the Everybody Loves Raymond episode, "Big Shots". On the way home from a disasterous event with the 69 Mets, Robert starts humming the "Meet the Mets," tune, so Ray turns on the radio; the louder Ray turns up the radio, the louder Robert sings, until finally Robert strains his throat, and gives in, as Ray cuts off the radio.
  • Two variations of this appear on Seinfeld.
    • In "The Wig Master," Kramer keeps playing with George's car radio, until finally George snaps, "Would you just pick a station?!" Kramer says, "I like 'em all!" The knob pops off as a result.
    • In "The Burning," Elaine borrows Puddy's car, and discovers all of his presets are programmed to Christian Rock stations. As an experiment, George suggests she changes the presets to see if he'll change them back, which he apparently does.
  • In Supernatural, this is a recurring argument between Sam and Dean, as Dean always drives and always listens to classic rock, which Sam seems less than fond of. When Dean comes back from the dead for the first time, he immediately rips out the ipod jack Sam had installed to play tapes again.
  • Wiseguy had this argument when Vinnie Terranova, Frank McPike and Daniel Burroughs all decide to go on a camping trip together, through it takes place in their residence rather than a car, with each in turn entering the room and changing the music.

    Video Games 
  • Road To Guangdong can have this happening during gameplay. En route to Guangdong, China with your (local) grandaunt, you're driving an old jalopy that plays only two channels, an Oriental channel filled with traditional Cantonese / Mandarin songs, and a Western channel that plays rap. Your grandaunt is adamant to stick to the former channel, and if you switch to the Western radio she'll switch it back shortly. You can have a radio-switching war back and forth, and after a while you can hear your grandaunt audibly grumbling.

    Web Video 
  • A scene from The Mandalorian where The Child repeatedly presses buttons in the Razor Crest (to Mando's annoyance) has received numerous fan edits to make it look like they're fighting over the radio.

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur:
    • A downplayed version appears in "Cast Away," in which during a car trip to the lake, the Read family try to pass the time with the radio; Arthur begs his parents not to play D.W.'s Mary Moo Cow CD, so they listen to his Henry Skreever audiobook instead, however, the cassette player eats the tape, so they listen to D.W.'s Mary Moo Cow CD instead, much to his chagrin.
    • Downplayed in "Arthur's Perfect Christmas" every time Arthur hears the radio jingle for Tina the Talking Tabby, which D.W. loves to hear because that is the toy she wants for Christmas. When her mom obliges her to change the station, she changes it to a station playing a jazz tune. Later on, when Arthur asks his dad to put something else on, he puts in a cassette of "Crazy Bus".
  • Big City Greens: In "Date Night", Cricket tries to talk to Gabriella about their favorite America Rat movie, but Bill chooses that moment to play a sappy love song on the radio, which drowns out Cricket's talking. He tries to turn it off, but every time Bill turns it back on.
  • DC Super Hero Girls 2019: Kara and Jessica fight over the radio in "Super Wonder Bat Bee Zee Lantern Mobile" ; Jessica wants classical music, Kara wants heavy metal.
  • In one short of The Dukes Of Broxstonia has Arj and Larj fighting over the radio by turning on and off to the point that Barj almost runs over a deer and crashes into a rock and sending the group flying to the concert. After the concert manager pushes them out of his concert, Arj and Larj fight over the radio again causing Barj to scream at them.
  • Gravity Falls: In "Society of the Blind Eye", Soos continuously turns on "Straight Blanchin'" and Wendy is outraged by it. One of the times he puts it on, they are riding in his pick-up truck. Wendy throws the CD out the window, though she immediately regrets it and says she'll buy him a new one.
  • Looney Tunes Cartoons: In "Battle Stations", Daffy and Porky fight over which station to listen to; Daffy wants to listen to upbeat jazz, Porky wants soft classical music. The fighting gets more and more violent, until they reach a station they both like, which plays polka music. And then the car goes over a cliff.
  • The Loud House: In "Friendzy", one of the arguments the Loud siblings have is what to listen to on Vanzilla's radio. When they can't agree on a station, the parents decide they'll choose what to listen to. They pick country music, much to the kids' chagrin.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Homerpalooza", Homer has to drive a carpool for Bart & Lisa to get to school, along with Milhouse & Nelson, and tries to "party" with the kids by playing Classic Rock on the radio, which they loathe.
    • In "Sideshow Bob Roberts", Lisa argues with Homer when he tunes his car radio to a Rush Limbaugh expy.
      Lisa: Dad, I had to listen to this jerk all morning! Can we listen to something else?
      Homer: When I'm driving the car, I get to choose the radio station. When you're driving, we'll listen to your radio station.
      (Gilligan Cut to 8-year-old Lisa driving the car, with the radio playing "St. Elmo's Fire" by John Parr)
      Homer: Ooh, I can't take this anymore! Let's switch back!
  • Storm Hawks: At the beginning of "Absolute Power", the team is in the bridge of the Condor, working to the sound of record music selected by Piper. Finn keeps swapping it out for one of his own records instead, and Piper ends up blowing up at him and throwing his record across the room.
  • Uncle Grandpa: An Overly Long Gag version of this trope (as in, lasting for a whole segment) occurs between Mr. Gus and Pizza Steve. Mr. Gus's conclusion is that if Pizza Steve wants to listen to different music, then he should be the one to drive. It turns out Pizza Steve doesn't drive very well.


Video Example(s):


Tommy Boy

Tommy and Richard fight over what to listen until they unexpectedly find common ground.

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Main / CarRadioDispute

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