A character is part way through saying a rude word when they are abruptly interrupted, often for comic effect. Often, the interrupter will interrupt the curse with their first syllable. Likely began as a means of Getting Crap Past the Radar.
More common in post-watershed viewing, for obvious reasons, but family shows can also get away with it. Possibly related to the practice of censoring written swear words by blanking all but the first letter, the rationale being that the reader will understand the sentence without being offended.
This can happen in different ways:
- The speaker (the person about to curse) is interrupted by another person:
- Another character may interrupt the speaker.
- Or the speaker may interrupt or cut off themself.
- Often involves a Last-Second Word Swap or Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion.
- Frequently justified by in-story reasons (e.g., Not in Front of the Kid).
- Hard Cut
- Simply cut to another scene (or commercial).
- The episode ends — cut to closing credits or commercial after last scene. See Interrupted by the End.
- The episode begins — cut to opening credits (for Cold Open shows).
- Speaker is Killed (or just injured) Mid Sentence (you might call this an even harder cut).
- Sound-Effect Bleep: Noise covers the profanity. This can include a person talking over them, which can manifest as a Speech-Bubbles Interruption.
Alternately, this may be enforced by a Narrative Profanity Filter. A character will get in "Oh—" and then the you will be informed that the narrator has neglected to transcribe the rest of what was said.
The phrase, "Son of a..." is such a widespread variant that it's practically become a valid expression in its own right. Similarly, "Why, you little..." and "What the..."
But in either case, said character may be confused about the interruption, and either ask what they said or try to defend themselves by insisting that they were going to say something less vulgar than their peers thought.
Compare Last-Second Word Swap, in which the expected curse is avoided by saying something else, rather than being cut off. For the non-cursing variety where important information is cut off instead, see Lost in Transmission. See also Catchphrase Interruptus. See also Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion, for the common case where a speaker sets up a rhyme to lead you to expect a bad word, then says something else. Not to be confused with Curse Escape Clause.
- Another Character Interrupts
- Cut to Another Scene
- Episode Ends
- Episode Begins
- Killed/Injured Mid-Sentence
- Sound-Effect Bleep
Wait, it's over already? Well, fu-