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Covering for the Noise

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Sometimes, a character just isn't meant to be speaking. Maybe they have to be stealthy and silent. Maybe they're an Animate Inanimate Object or Talking Animal, and they aren't supposed to let their secret out. Or, maybe they just have a history of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Whatever the reason, they're meant to stay quiet.

They don't. They feel the need to make a comment, or they cough, or they make a noise in general, which catches the attention of who they're trying not to talk to. Their friend, to keep up the act, will be forced to cover for them.

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This can take a few forms, with two main patterns. If they need to cover for a friend speaking, they will claim it was their voice or perhaps quickly talk over them to distract the third party. Often times the character is a Bad Liar forced to make something up on the spot. Common excuses include having a cold or putting on a different voice- Hilarity Ensues if their voices are completely different. If they're trying to cover for a noise in general, they will pretend something else, anything else, made the sound, such as the wind or an animal. This may also occur if someone is trying to hide something they're doing, but end up causing noise in the process. Despite the ridiculous cover-stories, the third party will almost always fall for it.

However, though this trope easily lends itself to comedy, it can just as easily be Played for Drama if the situation is serious.

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Compare Cacophony Cover Up.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In the 1999 animated adaptation of Journey to the West, Zhu Bajie was supposed to be pretending to be a mute to remain undercover. However when he speaks in agreement and almost tips off the authorities, Sun Wukong covers for him by saying that was the sound of his stomach growling.

    Film — Animated 
  • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo is hiding a wounded Phoebus under his table when Frollo comes to visit. As Quasimodo starts eating the grapes Frollo brought, Phoebus moans, and Quasi tries to cover it up by going "Mmmm!". When Phoebus keeps moaning, Quasimodo kicks him under the table and pretends to be choking on seeds.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Carry On England, one of the women of a mixed anti-aircraft battery is hiding in the loft space of the men's barracks while the commanding officer carries out a surprise inspection. She sneezes, and when the commanding officer asks who sneezed, one of the men claims to be ventriloquist and that he sneezed while throwing his voice into the loft space.
  • Christopher Robin: Often when Pooh spoke to a person besides Christopher, Christopher would have to cover it up by speaking quickly over him. However, when his annoying neighbor spotted him carrying Pooh in his coat, he had to pretend Pooh was a sick cat. When Pooh started talking, he insisted it was his own voice, just changed to sound like Pooh's.
  • Played with in George of the Jungle, where Ape first presents himself as a Talking Animal to Ursula, but when she keeps fainting in shock at this revelation, he opts to act like a proper ape whenever she shows up and quickly drops his human-like behavior.
  • In The Great Escape, the prisoners of war disguise the noise they are making whilst mining out a tunnel, by having a couple of stooges drive a giant stake into the ground outside, in full view of the Nazi guards. What excuse the stooges had on hand to satisfy any inquisitive Nazis is anyone's guess.
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    Jokes 
  • There's a joke about a guy who goes know his girlfriend's parents. The guy goes to eat with the family, but a surprise fart escapes from the guy and he tries to hide the sound with coughs and making sounds with the chair. All normal there until the girl's father says:
    Nice try, son. Now try to hide the smell.

    Literature 
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: The Dursleys have invited guests and ordered Harry to stay upstairs without revealing his existence. Naturally, this is the moment Dobby chooses to enter and make a lot of noise by hitting his head against the wall in self-punishment (ruining the punchline of Vernon's "Japanese golfer" joke). Vernon attempts to cover for this by claiming Dudley left his TV on (as far as he knows, Harry is deliberately making noise). In the film adaptation, Vernon instead insists it was the family cat making the banging noises.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Blackadder, Blackadder sets himself the task of impersonating Prince George so that he can woo a maiden out on her balcony in the night, but has to spend the entire time getting the real Prince George to shut up and stop saying idiotic things that will betray his presence to her.
    Prince George: [on seeing her attractiveness] Core, Crikey!
    Maiden: What was that? Is someone else there?
    Blackadder: No my love, it was but the wind...cooooore.....crrrriiii-kkkeey!
  • Doctor Who: In "The Next Doctor", the Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to scan for stuff, but tries to hide this fact from Jackson Lake. Whenever Jackson asks about the strange sound, the Doctor covers by saying it was his whistling and proceeds to imitate the sound.
  • One episode of Hannah Montana had Hannah, Lily and Aunt Dolly pull a Zany Scheme to get a tape back from Jake, which featured Hannah admitting she had a crush on him, before he watched it. Hannah hides in a trash can while Dolly pretends to be a custodian. When Hannah ends up making noise, Dolly claims she's a dissection frog that isn't quite dead yet.
  • House of Anubis: The end of the second season had Nina trapped in a room under the school. Fabian was paranoid at first about whether or not she was okay, but quickly discovered he could speak to her from a grate in the headmaster's office. Unfortunately, said headmaster came wandering in while they were talking. When Nina asked Fabian if he was still there, he was forced to shout "QUIET!", only to cover it up with " Quiet a funny story, Mr. Sweet..."
  • My Babysitter's a Vampire: In the pilot movie, Sarah is forced to speak with Ethan's mother while the house is being attacked by her vampire ex-boyfriend. Hearing shouting and thumping in the background, his mother asks what's going on, and Sarah frantically insists the boys are playing a video game.

    Video Games 
  • In Detroit: Become Human: Kara, Alice and (possibly) Luther find a woman named Rose who will help them enter Canada. During their stay at Rose's house, there are other androids who are being helped. During a period where Rose is getting things organized, a police officer investigates the house. If the player can keep the police officer's suspicions at bay and convince him that there are no androids, he will go to leave. However, the hiding androids will make some noise and Kara (the playable character) must make a quick decision to cover it. The wrong decision will cause the police officer to investigate further.
  • Pokémon Gold and Silver, Pokémon Crystal, and their remakes has Team Rocket conducting a radio-wave experiment in Mahogany Town and the Lake of Rage. If the Player talks to one of the characters in their hideout before defeating the Red Gyarados created by the experiments, they claim that the strange sound the player hears is really their whistling.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Magic School Bus episode "Cold Feet", the class go undercover to a reptile sanctuary, with the Bus posing as an alligator and Phoebe pretending to be its owner. While Phoebe talks to Harry Herps, the man running the place, Arnold (who is in the bus) speaks out. Harry wonders who just spoke, to which Phoebe covers by saying "I said I hope she's not too fat."
  • In The Simpsons episode "Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment", Homer sets up a beer brewery in his basement and their combustibility causes a lot of explosions to resonate through the house. Homer covers for the explosions to pretend it's his own stomach gas, though Marge doesn't buy it for a second.


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