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"Screw this quandary with a fucking jackhammer. Let us just talk about whatever we were discussing before this shitstorm started flailing about the room."
The God-Emperor of Mankind, If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device
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Some characters feel a current line of discussion is really inappropriate, and they make it clear they should move on to something else. Sometimes they say "moving on" or "I'd rather not talk about it", or just leap into another topic.

Reasons the current subject isn't working can vary. It may be too Squicky for the character's comfort, might be close to personal events they've experienced, or even something like a Metaphorgotten line.

There's a hand gesture that shows up frequently in anime and manga that means basically this.

Compare Stunned Silence and Shutting Up Now. Contrast Digging Yourself Deeper (trying to talk your way out of an uncomfortable subject, and utterly failing).


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Saint Beast, Luca is the main instigator of this, knowing that relating mutinous sentiments is very dangerous under the tyrannical rule of Zeus. Pandora also tries to guide Judas away from defiance at the end of the prequel series, but Judas indicates that he's done silencing himself and intends to openly defy Zeus' rule.

    Fan Works 
  • Eleutherophobia:
    • In Back to the Future, Steve doesn't want Tom to talk about Yeerks in front of his great-grandmother, even though Tom was trying to defend himself when she blamed him for not going to Rosh Hashanah when it was really Essa 412's decision.
    • In A Straight Line Down Through the Heart, Tom kicks Bonnie's ankle when she's about to mention how they kept morph-capable hosts contained in the Yeerk Pool. Presumably, it was a traumatic experience for him.
  • The Legend of Spyro: A New Dawn: Sparx mentions to Spyro that their father insisted on giving him "the talk" before they left the swamp.
    Sparx: Change of subject, now.
    Spyro: But...
    Sparx: NOW!!
  • In the Dead or Alive fic Kunoichis Like Us, when Alex asks Kasumi exactly why she was attacked by her own clan, Kasumi calmly tells him that she would rather not talk about it.
  • In the Ace Attorney fic Dirty Sympathy, when Trucy tries to ask why Klavier was kissing Apollo in the middle of their kitchen he tries to distract her by asking why she got up so early for donuts.
  • In the Pokémon fic Symbiosis when Misty and Brock ask Aaron/Ash why he doesn't call his parents more often, Ash immediately asks why they never call their parents. This immediately shuts them up.
  • In A Meeting By Moonlight, Luna and Twilight do this after Luna's Aborted Declaration of Love is cut off by their discovery that Spike is listening to them. Back to the original topic of their conversation: Pony spaceflight — which was actually very relevant to what Luna was trying to tell her.
  • In Sailor Moon Abridged, Serena called Raye "emo", and everyone else Gasped, likely because that was a running joke about Sasuka in Naruto: The Abridged Series. Then Luna said this line.
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Freeza pulls this trope off in the most Freeza manner possible.
    Mook: Lord Freeza, Vegeta's broken out of the healing taaaeegh!
    Freeza: Oh no, that minion died. Could you go fix that? We'll continue this conversation never.
  • In Death Note: The Abridged Series (kpts4tv), when Misa cheers that Light's plan must have worked perfectly and then the show jumps to a Description Cut that shows it most definitely did not:
  • In A Change in Destiny Harry briefly mentions his abusive relatives and several of his friends give speculative looks.
    Hermione: Oh, look at that cloud! Doesn't it look like a bird?
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Peter smells after living on the streets for days, so Izuku shows him the public baths. Being an American, he's not particularly enthused about the idea, so Izuku offers to show him inside. Peter quickly asks to change the subject while doing his best to forget the idea of being led by a naked, awkward teenager into a bathhouse full of other naked men.
  • The Ouroboros:
    • The Alternate Donatello acts this way whenever the spacefarers ask him about how they're meant to complete the Stable Time Loop. It's a touchy subject for him, given how there is no time loop — he and their other counterparts lied to them to get them away from Earth so they could slip into their lives unchallenged.
    • While trying to explain the concept of 'losing time' to Mikey, Donnie mentions that one of the ways that can happen is through PTSD, citing Leo's panic attacks as an example. Leo immediately interrupts, loudly pointing out that their call has gone through.
  • This human AU of Steven Universe has White Diamond asking Pink if she would like ice cream after the latter asks the former how she got inside her mother's belly.
  • Date A Live: Altered Timeline: Phantom is explaining trying to explain things to Tohka, and tells her to seek out Shinji and Mana, when Tohka mentions that she has an important question that she wants to ask them to ask them:
    Tohka: I want to know why the taller of the two (Shinji) didn't have these on his chest! [pushes her breasts up]
    Phantom: [While Turning Completely Pink] Uh... t-the reason you need to find them is because t-they're important to the Spirits, and that's all I c-can say about it for now, so... please d-don't ask any further on that subject.
    Tohka: [Thinking] She completely ignored my question!
  • The Chosen One and The Half-Blood Prince:
    Ginny: Eli, how have you already encountered Harry's hospital wing avoiding tendencies? It better not be what I think it is.
    Eli: I think you know that it is what you think it is.
    Harry: It wasn't that big of a deal. How long do you think the Fat Lady has been trying to break that glass for?
  • At the end of Chapter 36 of The Command Quarters, Megatron asks Starscream what the latter was doing in the oil baths, which are off-limits to everyone regardless of rank. Starscream distracts him by having sex with him.
  • In Thieves Can Be Heroes!, Inko and Izuku decide to go out for dinner while she's visiting him in Tokyo. Inko then invites Sojiro to join them. However, before she can even suggest bringing Futaba along, Sojiro quickly interrupts her saying that he needs to watch over the cafe and tells them to go on without him.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Emperor's New Groove: In the opening, Kuzco asks for a flashback to where the story began, but the flashback goes back too far:
    Kuzco: See, this is a little too far back. Ooh, look at me! That's me as a baby!
    [Baby Kuzco throws a fit on breaking his toy, only to cheer up when off-screen servants offer him several replacement toys]
    Kuzco: OK, moving on...
  • In Toy Story 2: After Buzz said the word s'mores wrongly:
    Buzz: In just a few hours, you'll be sitting around a campfire, with Andy making delicious hot schmoes!
    Woody: …they're called s'mores, Buzz.
    Buzz: …right. Has anybody seen Woody's hat yet?
  • In Wreck-It Ralph, throughout the anniversary party, Felix tries to keep the peace between Ralph and the Nicelanders through avoidance and subject changing, but to no avail.
  • In Zootopia, after Nick Wilde opens up to Judy about a traumatic childhood event that shaped who he decided to be, he decides to change the subject to the traffic after Judy tries to physically comfort him, which he then realizes is a lead on their case.
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ripley and Clemens both do this in Alien³.
    • Clemens asks Ripley several times why she is inspecting Newt's corpse (for Xenomorph embryos) and her reasons for wanting to cremate both her and Hicks's body, and her need to retrieve Bishop to check the flight data. Ripley continually deflects the question (one time by sleeping with Clemens) because he probably won't believe her.
    • Ripley asks Clemens several times how he came to Fury 161, but he deflects the question repeatedly. Eventually he does tell her — he was previously an inmate.
  • In the James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me, he's initially amused and impressed as Agent XXX recites his dossier — until she mentions his late wife and he immediately ends the conversation. And in The World Is Not Enough:
    Elektra King: Have you ever lost a loved one, Mr. Bond?
    Bond: [pauses] M sent me because your life might be in danger.
    • The uncomfortable look on his face, slight shifting of posture, and invoking of this trope was a dead giveaway to any long-term, die-hard Bond fan.

    Literature 
  • The Dresden Files: In Skin Game Harry has trouble answering his own subconscious's question about why he hasn't gotten together with Murphy.
    Harry: Because we aren't...We haven't gotten to...there's been a lot of... [exasperated] Look, just fuck off.
  • In the Harry Potter books, Rubeus Hagrid has a habit of doing this, usually fairly obviously. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, when he first meets Harry, he mentions to him having been expelled from Hogwarts. However, when Harry asks him why he was expelled, he replies loudly "It's getting late! Lots to do tomorrow" and completely ignores the question.
  • In the Warrior Cats book Tallstar's Revenge, while Tallpaw and Barkpaw are eating, Tallpaw is so grossed out by Barkpaw's descriptions of infected wounds that he decides to change the subject by asking about Barkpaw's mentor.
  • Colin Fischer: When Colin's father tries to question him about why he left school early on his first day, Colin keeps changing the subject to a meeting he knows his father is dreading. Later, he tries to talk about asparagus while his father lectures him about all the rules he broke.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Frasier: Frasier Crane does this a lot.
  • In the Doctor Who serial "The Ice Warriors":
    Jamie: You see how those lassies were dressed?
    Victoria: Yes, I did. And trust you to think of something like that.
    Jamie: What? Couldn't help thinking about it.
    Victoria: Well, I think it's disgusting, wearing that kind of thing.
    Jamie: [mocking] Oh, aye, so it is, so it is. You er, you don't see yourself dressed like that then?
    Victoria: Jamie!
    Jamie: Oh, I'm sorry; it was just an idea.
    Victoria: We will now change the subject, please.
  • On Seinfeld, George and Jerry do not like it when someone does this; they prefer to let conversations continue until they reach a natural end. There's a reason this show's the Trope Namer for Seinfeldian Conversation.
  • In The Vicar of Dibley, David constantly does this when the council meetings go off topic. "Moving on..."
  • Ross in Friends does this when other people have raised the subject. "The word you're looking for is 'Anyway...'"
  • Happens a couple of times in Criminal Minds
    • While the team was eating in a Chinese restaurant in "A Real Rain", they were talking about the case and then Elle asks to change the subject. Hotch asks if she's seeing anyone and then Elle begs for them to talk about the case again.
    • A case of Right Behind Me in "The Bittersweet Science".
      Garcia: [via webcam] Okay, Rossi, out with it. Is Hotch dating anyone?
      Rossi: [leans in to the webcam] I. Don't. Know.
      Reid: You know, statistically, widowed men start dating much faster than females, but Hotch is refuting the data. It's been two years and 19 days.
      Garcia: Venus has aligned with Mars, which means love is in the air and maybe we will have weekends off.
      Morgan: [sees Hotch and clears throat to warn Garcia]
      Garcia: What? Is he standing there? He's standing there, isn't he?
      Hotch: Hello, Garcia.
      Garcia: Hello. Someone talk about the case.
  • A hilarious version in one episode of The Big Bang Theory where Penny is desperately trying to break up an uncomfortable fight between Bernadette and Amy about their respective boyfriends' careers and sex lives by switching to a more comfortable subject: Brazilian waxes. It doesn't work.
  • Frank Reagan of Blue Bloods nearly always does this if asked to take sides in family arguments at the dinner table, bluntly shutting down others' queries for his opinion by complimenting the food or asking someone to pass him a dish.
  • On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, it's a minor Running Gag for Sisko to change the subject whenever Dax mentions a Noodle Incident involving him and Curzon.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of Roseanne:
    Jackie: How's the job, Becky?
    Becky: Why?
    Jackie: I'm changing the subject, Becky.

    Video Games 
  • Saints Row: The Third: When rescuing Kinzie Kensington from the Deckers during "Return to Steelport", an exchange like this occurs:
    Pierce: What are they wearing?
    The Boss (Male Voice 1): Seriously, neo-cyber punk fashion was so 3 years ago!
    Pierce: What?
    The Boss: Let's focus on finding the fed...
  • A homie conversation in Saints Row IV between CID and Keith David has CID casually revealing that he's "done research" on Keith. Keith shuts CID up by threatening to reveal the details Kinzie uncovered about the other, "very specific" simulations CID has made. Cue an awkward "How about that sports team?" from CID.
  • The Last of Us: Joel makes it clear to Ellie that she is not to bring up his personal life or past, particularly his lost loved ones and friends.
  • Mass Effect 3: During the party in the Citadel DLC, where EDI, being an AI new to this social interaction thing, queries Traynor on why she found her AI voice sexually attractive to the point of arousal, referring to a line mentioned early in the main game. Tali meanwhile tries to talk to Shepard about the cheese and eventually tries a sample, realizing almost too late that she was eating cheese meant for a different chirality, which can potentially have fatal results..
    Tali: I practically poisoned myself with cheese trying to change the subject.
  • The Secret World: During the mission intro to "Contract Killers" when Oni mercenary Inbeda of the House-In-Exile spoils his own introduction by encouraging players to strip naked and go for a swim in the pool - much to the disgust of the enchanted mask that's translating for him. After several seconds of horrified silence, the mask changes topics with a loud "Aaaaanyway..."
  • Comes up during Dishonored, after rescuing Emily from the Golden Cat brothel:
    Samuel: So you did the business, did you, Corvo? I'm not one to speak against my betters, mind you, but if anybody deserved their fate, it was those Pendletons.
    Emily: What business are you talking about?
    Samuel: Oh! I, uh... Grown up business, girl. I mean, Your Ladyship. Forgive me.
    Emily: It's okay. I heard a lot of grown up business at the Golden Cat.
    Samuel (embarrassed): Oh. I should concentrate on piloting this boat.

    Web Comics 
  • Champions of Far'aus: After Catharine tells Daryl, Skye, and Rom how she became Sarengal’s champion when she was a child, Daryl shifts the conversation to the N.E.U.U festival, starting his sentence by declaring “Obvious topic change:”.
  • The Dreadful:
    Liz: Where did that beam go, anyway?
    Kit: Let's not dwell on questions about how the Dreadful works!
  • Bicycle Boy: Poet quickly decides to talk about something else when Machk attempts to make conversation about his cyborg body.
  • In Captain SNES: The Game Masta, Relm and Celes do this after Terra mentions that she saw her parents conceiving her in a vicarious flashback.
  • In Girl Genius Gil quickly changes the subject and sends Wooster out of the room when Agatha asks about a rather steamy book titled Trelawney Thorpe, Spark of the Realm: In the Seraglio of the Iron Sheik and Wooster comments that he thinks it's one of Gil's favorites.
    Agatha: The Glass Dirigible. Interesting, but what about that Seraglio one—
    Gil: Um—Hey! What do you think of This?
  • In Godslave:
    Anpu: What happened to you? You've always been close with Asir's family, but this? If I had to guess... it had to with a woman.
    Sobek: ANYWAY...
  • Done in a Sequential Art story, when everyone is trying to decide what to do during a rainy day. Resident ubergeek Pip suggests a complicated tapletop RPG (Its rules only span three books!), but Kat shuts him down. Genius Ditz Scarlet suggests "Monopolop", but Art points out she cried last time they played because she was told to "Go Directly to Jail" (No-one told her what she did wrong...). So Art suggests Cards Against Humanity. They all set up to play, when Scarlet, looking at her cards, innocently asks "What's a Fleshlight?" They decide to play Monopolop instead.
  • Sleepless Domain:
    • When Outrageous Lime sees Undine and Heartful Punch together for the first time and gets told by HP that they're together, she remarks to HP "So that was your type." Heartful Punch responds by sweating bullets and asking if they could not talk about that, while Undine stands there completely missing the implication.
    • In chapter ten, when Heartful Punch is telling Undine about how her mother died, she remarks that the monster responsible was still in the room and attacked Starlight Spear, the Magical Girl on the scene who told HP the story later, with the implication that Starlight lost an arm in the process of defeating it. HP goes quiet at that point and when Undine expresses concern HP declares "Anyway!" and continues with her story.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, this can happen because other characters are too weirded out by all the stuff the main characters have got involved in, because it won't fit any sane worldview, and they don't want to know about it. A lightly paraphrased conversation from Chapter 73: "The Immortal King - Lost and Found":
    Zoë's dad: You need to tell your mother and me what's going on with you. Is it drugs? If it's drugs, we can talk.
    [a strange creature flies to Zoë]
    Zoë: This is my pet two-headed dragon I picked up in another dimension.
    Zoë's dad: Never tell us what's going on with you!
    Zoë: Exactly.

    Web Original 
  • Donnie DuPre in Demo Reel obviously has issues with his mother, as anyone who asks about her gets blown off. All he divulges is that she was an actress. And because Donnie was the character that shared the most Doug qualities, it's only fair that Doug in "The Review Must Go On" dodges uncomfortable questions just as hard.
  • Done in this review by Classic Game Room of Art of Fighting 3, when the reviewer lost his train of thought.
  • During a Team Four Star podcast, Kaiser goes too far with a comment about eggnog. After a Stunned Silence, Lani loudly begins to talk about his holiday.
  • Geoff, after losing several rounds of "Hunting Pack" in Grand Theft Auto V when he had previously been winning with Gavin (normally The Load) on his side, has this to say:
    Geoff: I liked it better when, uh, when I was winning...
    Gavin: Say it! SAY IT! You liked it better when you were on my team! Say it!
    (beat)
    Geoff: LET'S STOP!
  • Often on Honest Trailers, the Narrator will find himself in an awkward position and whisper "Go to 'Starring'! Go to 'Starring'!"
  • RWBY: In Volume 7, whenever talk turns to how General Ironwood's policies are hurting the people of Mantle, Ironwood will tactfully divert the conversation towards strategy sessions on how the heroes are going to combat Salem's forces.
  • Played for Laughs in Just Bad Games when playing Chicken Blaster when they're describing the various types of enemies and spot a Mook that is a literal Arab suicide bomber wearing a turban:
    Shane: You've got your flying chickens, your helicopter chickens, your samurai chickens, your chickens with dynamite strapped to their— oh! Uh... oh no...
    Adam: H-hey, let's talk about how bad the animation is!
  • In The Crystal Gems Say be Anti-Racist short See Color. Amethyst points out the common phrase "I don't care if you're black or white or purple" is little more than a way to downplay the experiences people of color have with real world racism and shut down discussion of systemic racism and its pervasiveness altogether.
  • Happens in The Champions, when Steven Gerrard is asked about Frank Lampard's less-than-stellar managerial career:
    Gerrard: Lampard as a midfielder was a great rival.
    Producer: And how about as a manager?
    [beat]
    Gerrard: ...Lampard as a midfielder was a great rival.

    Western Animation 
  • In the very last scene of Kim Possible, Professor Dementor is taunting Dr. Drakken about his success at saving the world after failing miserably in his attempts to conquer it.
    Dementor: You must admit that it is exquisitely amusing.
    Drakken: Okay, Dementor, I'd really rather not talk about it.
    Dementor: But the irony! As a mad scientist, you have been a total failure your entire career!
    Drakken: New topic please!
The "new topic" turns out to be Dementor asking how Drakken's skin turned blue, which Drakken starts to explain just as the show ends.
  • In The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius episode "Brobot", Hugh Neutron asks "Who wants pie?" after his son starts to explain how he and Judy could conceive a sibling.
  • The Batman Beyond episode "Babel" begins with Bruce describing an incident from his days as Batman. When Terry notes that he would have been trapped with no way out if Robin hadn't shown up in time, Bruce changes the subject to the damaged Batsuit they're working on. At the end, Bruce asks Terry if he would have sacrified himself if he hadn't found another way to save Gotham City, and Terry uses the same ploy to dodge the question.
  • Kaeloo:
    • Kaeloo manages to drag Mr. Cat into going on a date with her, but he doesn't seem interested in talking to her and starts reading the news. Kaeloo asks him if she can talk to him, and when she asks about his family, he quickly changes the subject by loudly and rapidly reading an article from the newspaper.
    • In Episode 180, Kaeloo is hanging out with Pretty and Eugly. Pretty tries to ask Kaeloo to explain her "weird relationship" with Mr. Cat, to which Kaeloo responds by asking Eugly about the book she's reading and then asking where the bathroom is.
  • The Looney Tunes Show has an episode in which Porky gets tickets for a baseball game. He invites Bugs and Daffy. Unfortunately, Daffy and Porky get into a fight over French Fries. Unwilling to lose a chance to go to the game, Bugs sends each a gift basket with a note that says they were right all along. While in line, Bugs and Daffy warmly talk about the gift basket. Bugs tries several times to change the subject but eventually they learn the truth. Porky furiously rips up the tickets, much to the chagrin of Bugs.
  • In the season one finale of Star Trek: Lower Decks, after the Titan saves the Cerritos from the Pakleds, Captain William Riker contacts Ensign Beckett Mariner and the two start reminiscing. When Ensign Brad Boimler asks how Mariner knows Riker, she mentions that he gives her some of his contraband while the comms are still active and in front of Riker's wife, Deanna Troi. Riker quickly cuts off the comms as Troi asks what that was about before Riker points out that they are still at Red Alert and they need to keep fighting the Pakleds, leading Troi to grumble "We'll talk about this later."

 
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Alternative Title(s): Changing The Uncomfortable Subject

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Arlo the Alligator Boy

Edmee decides now's not the time to talk about Arlo's missing mom.

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