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Comical Overreacting

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"Name's Cruise Control, nice to meet you ma'am! [...] Ugh... NO! You just called her ma'am! That's like saying she's old! Didn't mom tell you 'NEVER ask a lady her age'!? That's just rude you bloody idiot!"
Cruise Control overreacting to himself, Turnabout Storm

Comically reacting to things in an over-the-top manner. Whether it's anger, sadness, fear, joy, or other emotions, those will be played Up to Eleven for Rule of Funny.


The basis is that since a lot of comedy is exaggeration, it includes exaggerating how people feel and react to things.

But this isn't always easy to do. If done wrong, it can seem like yelling and mugging just for the sake of it. If done right, it can make a memorable performance.

One of the distinctions of Anime, Manga, and Animesque works is showing varying silly visual ways in which characters react, from giant heads to Fireball Eyeballs. Similarly, some stand up comics work themselves into an angry state as part of the act. A Caustic Critic can also act like the Suckiness Is Painful of a work has made them apoplectic.

This frequently overlaps with Gasp!, Felony Misdemeanor, Faux Horrific, Big "NO!", Drama Queen, Suckiness Is Painful, Berserk Button, and Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?.

A Sub-Trope of Chewing the Scenery.


A Super-Trope to Screaming at Squick and Lost Food Grievance.

A Sister Trope to The Comically Serious (playing under reactions for laughs), Melodrama (overreacting for drama).

Compare Minor Injury Overreaction, Large Ham, and Serious Business.

Contrast Dull Surprise and Narm (when reactions are funny unintentionally).

In-Universe Examples Only

    open/close all folders 

  • This advert for has an apocalyptic reaction to...finding out you could have got your ticket cheaper.
  • A commercial for Stanley Steemer showed a pair of cleaners driving down the road, when one pulls over and runs up to a stained rug left out for the garbagemen. He reacts as though he just came upon a corpse, cradling it in his arms and screaming "I could have saved this one!"

    Anime and Manga 

  • Lewis Black acts like he's constantly in a state of rage over everything. He says he isn't really acting nor does he prepare for any of his shows. Just give him a political topic and he'll be going for the next hour.
    • A comic who tours with him said in his routine that Black is like that all the time. He likes to entertain himself by putting on the news and watching Black go apoplectic and sputter Angrish.
  • One of the most famous comic monologues of Roman Kartsev was him lamenting dramatically about lobsters. Yesterday, they were huge but cost five rubles, and today they are tiny but cost three rubles — and that’s pretty much all of it, but he managed to spend three minutes going on about them, looking like he was delivering "To be or not to be" at least.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman '66: In issue #52, after reading about another of Jokerman's escapades, Bruce exclaims, "Blast!" Alfred reacts with a shocked admonishment for using such foul language, and Bruce apologizes with "I'm sorry you had to see my dark side this way, my friends", as though he'd done something more grave like using excessive force against a perp or something.

    Fan Works 

  • In the Harry Potter series, the Dursleys are very prone to this. If anything related to magic is mentioned within fifty feet of them (such as Harry saying the phrase "the magic word", meaning "please"), Uncle Vernon will go into a yelling tirade, Aunt Petunia will scream or gasp, and Dudley will try to hide. Also, Aunt Petunia bursts into tears whenever she's proud of Dudley and let's just say he doesn't exactly have to work hard to make her proud.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory is extremely prone to this. It's even lampshaded by Leonard in the second episode of the fifth season:
    Leonard: Sheldon, you do this all the time. You fixate on some crazy idea and then blow it out of proportion!
    Sheldon: Name one time I've ever done that.
    Leonard: How about when you put GPS trackers in your garbage because you were convinced North Korean spies were stealing your doodles? The chicken nuggets you were sure were human nuggets? The strangely-shaped cloud that was following you around town? The time you put on my shirt by mistake and were convinced you’d started growing again?
    Sheldon: I said "name one". You really need to work on your listening skills.
  • Much of the cast of Will & Grace is prone to overreacting, but Jack is the most prone.
  • Quite a lot of character... heck nearly all of them... in League Of Gentlemen. If you wish to get out of Royston Vasey alive don't say the 'F' word (frog) in the Denton household, or ask if toads give you warts, call Pauline egregious or steal her pens, mention that you aren't local in the local shop and just... don't talk to Geoff (especially about your happy family life)
  • This is a standard means of easy comical bits for a few incarnations of the Doctor in Doctor Who, especially the Second Doctor, the Fourth Doctor during the Romana era and the first couple of seasons of the Tenth Doctor. The Second Doctor has never had an expression he couldn't somehow do moreso, and the Fourth and Tenth are all protruding teeth and googly eyes (one short Expanded Universe story suggested that the Fourth Doctor overreacts deliberately in order to amuse Romana). The Sixth was also prone to overreacting, but in his case it wasn't funny (though it is used for humour in the Big Finish universe). In the 2015 Christmas special the Twelfth Doctor took the chance to deliver how the standard shock to seeing the inside of the TARDIS should be done in this manner, this was at a time when River Song didn't know his identity and was borrowing the TARDIS.
  • One of the funniest moments of Angel addresses the Buffy/Angel romance where Cordelia and Wesley use this and imitate the pair.
  • In The Eric Andre Show, Eric at one point says that he’s excited for two more years of Barack Obama’s presidency. Hannibal politely corrects him by pointing out that there’s four years left not two (Obama had only recently been reelected), at which point the audience immediately starts booing and haranguing Hannibal as if he just said the most offensive thing imaginable. “Why’re you booing me?! I’m right!
    • During the Totem Pole Trench prank, Eric casually walks into a used car dealership and starts asking silly questions about cars. The owner, Harry, seems utterly terrified of him the whole time, demanding he open his trenchcoat and declaring that “I don’t trust like that”.
  • Supernatural: In the fourth season episode Yellow Fever (S04, Ep06), Dean is infected with ghost sickness, a condition that essentially makes the victim progressively more and more terrified of everything until they suffer death by fear-induced heart attack. The usually Nerves of Steel Dean spends most of the episode reacting with hilariously over-the-top fear to everything from an overly friendly pet snake to a Cat Scare to an adorable little dog. Then we get near the end of the episode...

    Video Games 
  • In the opening level of Duke Nukem Forever, a plan of attack is drawn up on a white board. Duke can draw or write anything they like on said board, and no matter what he puts there, a nearby soldier is absolutely blown away.
  • In Pokémon Sun and Moon, Kiawe provides you with a spot-the-differences test. They begin normal enough, but start getting increasingly absurd and obvious (such as the difference being an unfamiliar man staring at the camera five inches away from it). Regardless of how easy they are, Kiawe always reacts with astonishment and disbelief that you got them right. Later appearances establish this as his defining character trait: He is calm and serious under normal circumstances but is easily impressed and awed. He also freaks out over spicy food, ironic considering he specializes in the Fire-type.
  • In Streets of Rogue, the first NPC you meet in the tutorial is so impressed by your ability to do things like open doors and use lockpicks on locked doors that he literally explodes.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, Laslow and Saizo can get into a competition with each other in the Golden Path. Upon Saizo beating him by a landslide, Laslow bursts into dramatic sobs.
  • Souma of Ensemble Stars! is very prone to this - he's intensely emotional and tends to impulsively jump to conclusions, not to mention that he's a Cloud Cuckoo Lander who tends to react to things strangely to begin with. The most common Running Gag has him apologising profusely for some imagined fault and immediately offering to commit Seppuku as penance; his friends for the most part are so used to this that he's typically just scolded for overreacting again.

    Web Animation 
  • Llamas with Hats is an inversion — what makes it funny is not just the destruction Carl causes, but Paul's severe under-reaction. While Paul is shocked by the things Carl does, he reacts no worse to Carl sinking a cruise ship or stabbing a man 37 times than he does to Carl making muddy hoof-prints on the clean carpet.
  • Alex from DSBT InsaniT LOVES doing this, threatening to maim or kill his comrades for the most trivial of reasons.

    Web Comics 
  • Girl Genius: In the middle of an invasion, Oggie is horrified to note that one of his favorite restaurants has closed.
  • At one point in Gunnerkrigg Court, Kat and Annie are in the ether attempt to free a spirit from imprisonment. Due to the differences in how the two perceive the ether, Annie sees a seemingly infinite maze filled with inscrutable machinery and guarded by a fiery wraith, while Kat simply sees the spirit in a small room wearing handcuffs. When they decide to try having Kat pick the lock on the handcuffs, Annie is amazed and can't even describe what she sees when Kat simply inserts the picks into the lock, before even attempting to pick it.
  • Homestuck:
    • Early on, John believed his father to work as a clown for a living aId that his whole life revolved around cl— harlequins. When he found out that he was just an ordinary businessman who only filled the house with harlequin images because he believed John was interested in them, John began to have a mental breakdown...only to stop because THIS IS STUPID.
    • Which was then Double Subverted when for his birthday he received one of his favorite snacks (Fruit Gushers) and found that they were made by Betty Crocker. Which then was subverted AGAIN, as it turns out Betty Crocker is led by alien mermaid Hitler. John doesn't know this, however. And he doesn't even hate Betty Crocker anymore...
  • In Weak Hero, one of Jake's first scenes has him screaming and sobbing hysterically. Why? Because a character died in his favourite manga "Two Piece".

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • One of Phineas and Ferb's devices accidentally split Candace into two selves representing her two biggest obsessions: being in love with Jeremy, and needing to bust her brothers. Busting Candace was so shocked by the sight of Lovey-Dovey Candace leaving the mall with their mom Linda that she screamed and pointed in a Shout-Out to Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978).
  • SpongeBob SquarePants does this a lot.
    SpongeBob: Squidward! WE'RE OUT OF NAPKINS! OH, OUT OF NAPKINS!
    • In "The Algae's Always Greener", this is his reaction to getting a customer the wrong-sized drink.
      Spongebob: I've soiled the Krusty Krab name! Soiled it! Soiled it! Soiled it!
    • Patchy the Pirate does this in "The Sponge Who Could Fly", where he reacts to the lost episode of SpongeBob SquarePants being a clip of walk cycles by angrily knocking over all of his SpongeBob merchandise and declaring that he will run away. As soon as the real lost episode starts playing and his parrot Potty informs him that there's more, the scene of Patchy's tantrum is humorously played in reverse.
  • The whole shtick of the "Katie Kaboom" shorts on Animaniacs is that Katie hulks out and becomes a rampaging monster over something trivial. "I am not overreacting! I'M A TEENAGER!"
    • Minerva Mink as well, this time mainly other characters reacting to Minerva's beauty.
  • The Simpsons: In "The Boy Who Knew Too Much," the following exchange occurs in open court:
    Defense Attorney: ...and, therefore, you would never lose your temper over something as trivial as the pronunciation of "chowder"?
    Freddie Quimby: That's chowDUH! ChowDUH! I'll kill you! I'll kill all of you! Especially those of you in the jury!
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Comical overreacting to little things is Rarity's stock in trade. Generally, just the little things, though. In "Lesson Zero", she loses a spool of ribbon she needs for her latest fashion project, and declares it "The! Worst! Possible! THING!"; she later in the episode says the same thing about forgetting to bring the plates to a picnic.
    • However, Rarity is by no means the only one to do this. All of the Mane Cast have done this at least once, and Twilight Sparkle once spent an entire episode basically coming unhinged because there was no problem.
  • On Futurama, the episode "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on Television" has Bender audition for a role on "All My Circuits", only to pronounce Spanish words as phonetic English (e.g. Chihuahua as "chee-hue-hueh"). Calculon responds by punching the desk and declaring Bender's acting was so terrible it probably gave him cancer.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • In "Society of the Blind Eye", "Lazy" Susan reacts with abject horror at the sight of... the gnomes trying to steal a pie from the windowsill.
    • In "Blendin's Game", Mabel's reaction to a piece of candy getting stuck in a vending machine is to cry out "Everything is terrible forever!"
  • In the American Dad! episode "Every Which Way But Lose", Stan tries to hang himself because his peewee football team lost a game. Later, at a carnival, Steve tries to teach Stan that everyone loses some time by having him play a carnival game (which is, of course, rigged); when he fails, Stan immediately puts a knife to his own throat.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: In "Gift of the Card", Marco has to use a Quest Buy gift card that Star gave him before it expires and kills him. He decides to buy a security wallet in plum, which he claims is his favorite color, but the clerk informs him the only wallet they have is in Prussian blue. As it turns out, that's Marco's real favorite color, and this revelation causes Marco to burst into tears of joy.
  • Kaeloo:
    • Mr. Cat's reaction to losing a whisker:
    • Stumpy's reaction to anything not that is not even remotely worth being scared, worried or shocked about, such as Olaf wielding a hairdryer as a weapon, or being told to take a bath. If there is something he should be reacting to, he calmly ignores it.
    • The show's viewers ask Kaeloo and Mr. Cat if they have some kind of romantic relationship going on. Mr. Cat attempts to tell the audience that Kaeloo is definitely in love with him, given the fact that she texts him nonstop. Before he can read any of the texts to the audience, Kaeloo runs up, grabs his phone, shakes him roughly by the shoulders, and gives him a Megaton Punch which sends him flying into the air, all while screaming "I DON'T TEXT YOU AT ALL!"
  • Steven Universe: Pearl is particularly prone to this, best shown in the crossover with Uncle Grandpa, when the Crystal Gems get stuck in a white void.
    Pearl: We will never escape! This is our new home!
    Garnet: Pearl, you're overreacting.
  • In the Ready Jet Go! episode "Astronaut Ellen Ochoa", Dr. Bergs forgets his rule of staying calm and has a borderline meltdown when his coffee mug with Ellen Ochoa's face on it breaks.


Video Example(s):


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