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Disrupting the Theater

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If you take sexual advantage of her, you're going to burn in a very special level of Hell. A level they reserve for child molesters... and people who talk at the theater.
Shepherd Book, Firefly

Movie theaters. Places where everyone watches a movie on the big screen in the dark, with the audio of the film being the only thing to break the silence... in an ideal environment. No, this time some jerk has decided to scream about what's going on in the movie, or is ignoring the request to silence their cellphone and is calling someone. Maybe they're throwing popcorn at the screen in response to a scene they didn't like, or blocking the projector or the view of the person behind them somehow. Point is, intentionally or not, they're not going to let the other moviegoers enjoy the film in peace.

Public service announcements that play before movies in theaters might use this trope with an Anti-Role Model to tell people what not to do during the movie.

See also "No Talking or Phones" Warning for how theaters discourage Real Life cases of disruption. A common occurrence in a Movie-Theater Episode.

Compare The Show Must Go Wrong when the disruption takes place on stage of a live theater performance.

See also Audience Participation for when the makers of the show actually encourage viewers to make noise during the show.

No Real Life Examples, Please!


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  • In a commercial for Anastasia toys from Burger King, Bartok is watching the titular film in a theater and keeps talking through it. When the man behind him tells him "Hey, keep it down!", Bartok tells him "Excuse me, it's very difficult to enjoy a movie when you're talking and shushing at me."
  • In an early theatrical promo for DuckTales (2017), the show's intro is interrupted by a cellphone ringing, and all the characters look for the culprit (a guy in the third row, according to Louie).
  • In a commercial for Energizer batteries that tied in with the VHS release of Toy Story, people are trying to watch the titular film in a theater, when the Energizer Bunny walks past them, bumping into them and drumming loudly. The Bunny is spotted by an usher and bumps into a customer carrying popcorn on his way out of the theater.
  • An 2000s era M&Ms commercial had an obnoxious guy talking through the film to all of his fellow moviegoers' chagrin and tried to shush him and began to pelt him with snacks. It wasn't until someone threw Yellow at him that he was finally shut up and knocked out, which led to a standing ovation from the audience.
  • A GEICO ad featured a man disrupting a play with his phone. The man in question was Alexander Graham Bell, and his phone was one of those big, old-fashioned, wall mounted phones with two bells and a hand crank on the side- the kind that Bell invented to begin with.
  • One "No Talking or Phones" Warning from the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater chain features an angry voicemail left by a woman who was kicked out of the theater for texting during a movie.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: JoJolion, Joshu goes a spending spree after receiving a Plague of Good Fortune, with one of his stops being a movie theater, paying for nine seats and mocking everyone in the room who doesn't have his best spot.
  • the Garden of sinners: Each of the movie adaptations open up with a stop-motion PSA showing the cast (and occasionally other Nasuverse characters) about to watch a movie and Shiki having to deal with someone trying to perform an action that the PSA is warning against, such as Mikiya trying to use his cellphone or Touko about to smoke.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Black and White: "Petty Crimes" revolves around a serial killer who murders people gruesomely for antisocial actions like littering. Two of his victims get it after talking through a movie at the cinema.
  • The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): When Diana, fresh into the wider world which she'd been falsely led to believe was an almost entirely depopulated post apocalyptic wasteland, gets taken to the movies she starts yelling at the screen when it depicts her mother's long ago rape as a romantic tale derived from myth. Etta quickly grabs her arm and drags her out of the theater.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The 1991 remake of Cape Fear has a famous scene where Cady (who holds the protagonist, Sam Bowden, responsible for doing a poor job at defending him, causing him to go to prison for sexual assault) laughs obnoxiously while filling the room with cigar smoke at the cinema, ruining Sam's family's experience.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger: After failing to enlist in the army, Steve goes to a theater for a showing and sees a news reels of World War II on it. Some jerks in front of him however complain about wanting to get to the main feature already much to the annoyance of the other theater goers till Steve tries to tell them to knock it off. This does get them to stop but results in Steve getting beaten up in an alley outside the theater till Bucky comes to save him.
  • In The Last Dragon, Sho'nuff interrupts a movie showing to challenge Bruce Leroy to a kung fu fight. Leroy refuses to fight him, but other patrons annoyed by Sho'nuff interrupting the movie agree to fight him. Sho'nuff destroys them all.
  • Scary Movie: Brenda is infamous for ruining movies for the rest of the audience with her obnoxious behaviour (loud phone conversations, spoiling the ending, etc.). It culminates in her being murdered not by Ghostface, but by the audience when they finally get enough.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 1000 Ways to Die: One story features a woman who never stopped talking on her cell phone wherever she went and didn't give a shit about whether or not other people were annoyed about it. She then goes to a movie theatre where she pisses off all the moviegoers until her phone explodes from a faulty battery and shrapnel gets lodged in her brain, dying from it minutes later.
  • In a Courtney sketch on The Amanda Show, Courtney sits next to a boy at the movie theater and annoys him to no end. She blows her nose and puts the tissue in his hand, cuts his hair, tries to feed him yogurt, tries to pick his nose, paints his face, and gives him a wedgie that pulls his underwear right out of his pants. The boy leaves, and Courtney's date takes his seat so they can watch the movie together.
  • Discussed in Angel when Angel and Wesley are watching Cordelia star in a very bad production of A Doll's House. Wesley suggests they shout "Fire!", but then looks around and realises there aren't enough people attending for that to work. They end up having to sit through the whole thing.
  • Drake & Josh: In "Megan's Boyfriend", Drake and Josh suspect that Megan is up to no good and decide to follow her to her rendezvous at a movie. To disguise themselves, they dress up in ridiculous costumes complete with top hats and beards, sit right behind Megan, and discover she's on a date. However, to prevent the boy from kissing her, they start shouting nonsense, stealing his popcorn, and climbing over the seats to sit with him. Helen and Crazy Steve stop the movie and come to kick them out for disturbing everyone, but what's worse, the boy dumps Megan over having crazy brothers.
  • Father Ted: In "The Passion of Saint Tibulus", Ted and Dougal are tasked by their Bishop to intentionally do this for a lewd film that the Vatican find offensive as a way of dissuading people from watching it. When they go to do so, there's only one other person in the theater, a man and his dog who aren't even paying attention to it. Still the owner of the theater comes by and tells them they're disturbing the guests.
  • Firefly: In the "Our Mrs. Reynolds" episode, Shepherd Book has the following to say about Mal's wife from an Accidental Marriage:
    Shepherd Book: If you take sexual advantage of her, you're going to burn in a very special level of Hell. A level they reserve for child molesters... and people who talk at the theater.
  • The pilot episode of Get Smart, a show that aired in the 60s long before cell phones became common, opens with Max's Shoe Phone ringing in a theater, annoying the other patrons and revealing him as a spy.
  • An In Living Color! skit had a movie theater where this behavior was actually encouraged and the company turned down their films in order for the various conversations to take precedence. The only person to complain was a character played by Jim Carrey who was subsequently kicked out.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022):
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
    • The episode "The Erotic Life of Dennis Reynolds" has a scene where Mac and Frank are sitting in a theater after part of their scheme to make Dennis appear to be Jon Bon Jovi's sexual advisor where they talk loudly, point a laser pointer at the screen, argue with each other, fight with another theater goer, and answer calls from Dennis to get him out of rehab.
    • In "Charlie Kelly: King Of The Rats," Dee takes Charlie to a 3-D movie, where he spends most of the time loudly eating spaghetti and complaining that he can't understand the movie (which he's not even paying attention to).
    • "Thundergun Express." When the Gang finally get to the movie, they intentionally shout and annoy other theater patrons to get them to move. Dee smells terrible from a trip through the sewers, Mac loudly brags about "hanging dong," and Dennis is busy getting a handjob from a woman he just met. Then Frank calls in a bomb threat and gets the entire movie cancelled.
  • Mad About You: while on a double date at a theater, Jamie and Paul are irritated by a young man talking loudly to his girlfriend and shush him. He responds by throwing popcorn at Paul's head, and Jamie tells him to stand up to the guy. Paul does... only to back down when he sees the guy's in a wheelchair. Offended, the guy proceeds to punch him out.
  • The whole point of Mystery Science Theater 3000 is the cast talking over whatever movie they're watching, but they're also the only ones in the theater, so it's not like they're bothering anyone. However, in the special episode "1st Annual Summer Blockbuster Review", Bobo joins Mike and the robots in the theater for the Men in Black segment, and gets on everyone's nerves by eating loudly, spilling snacks everywhere, and constantly interrupting to ask stupid questions. Eventually Tom Servo loses his cool and yells at Bobo to just get out.
  • Sonny with a Chance: The sketch "Annoying Girl" from So Random features the title character (played by Zora) doing many things to disrupt a cinema theatre (such as chewing celery loudly, talking on the phone, and even doing a dentist operation). Nico's character kept complaining about her only to get himself and Sonny's character thrown out for disrupting.
  • In one episode of That's So Raven, Cory, Chelsea, Eddie, and Eddie's girlfriend all go to see a movie. Cory is driven crazy by Chelsea's loud carrot-eating and Eddie and his girlfriend kissing endlessly to the point where he can't watch the film, and ends up complaining about them loudly enough to get himself kicked out for being disruptive.
  • Yes, Dear: "Walk Like a Man" culminates with the Warner and Hughes families going to the movie theater. In the theater, the man behind Greg will not stop talking, so Greg retaliates by standing up to block the man's wife's view. This results in the man challenging Greg to a fight outside the theater. When Greg sees his son Sammy about to eat a candy bar with peanuts in it, Greg punches the man to rush over to Sammy, knowing that Sammy is allergic to peanuts. In The Stinger, it is revealed that Sammy was fully aware of what was going on, and deliberately tried to eat the candy bar so that Greg would see what was happening, man up, and score a win.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Bear in the Big Blue House: In "Rockin' Rocko", Bear takes the residents of the Big Blue House, plus Pip and Pop's cousin Rocko to the Woodland Valley Cinema to see Hare. Rocko talks throughout the movie, annoying the residents of the Big Blue House (save for Bear, who was getting refreshments from the snack bar at the time).
  • Sesame Street:
    • In an Ernie and Bert sketch, Ernie makes some loud noises while he eats his popcorn and drinks his soda at the movie theater. Bert loses his temper and shouts at Ernie to be quiet, at which point the usher enters and throws Bert out.
    • In another Ernie and Bert sketch, A lady with a very tall hat sits in front of Ernie, blocking his view of the movie. Under Bert's advice, Ernie asks the lady to take off her hat. The lady does so, sitting it down in the seat in front of Bert and blocking his view of the movie.
    • In yet another Ernie and Bert sketch, Ernie gets emotional during a movie: first he's scared, then sad, then happy. His reactions bother the other moviegoers, and the scene ends in chaos.
    • In Episode 2040, Big Bird invites Snuffy (then still believed by the adults to be his imaginary friend) to join him, Bob, and David to see a movie at the movie theater. During the movie, Snuffy devours all of David's popcorn, blows his snuffle loudly during the sad part of the movie, and leaves in the middle of the movie to see his mother, causing Big Bird to get into a noisy argument with Bob and David.
    • In In Episode 3093, Elmo, Big Bird, Snuffy, Savion, and Gina go to the movie theater to see Honey, I Shrunk the Snuffleupagus. When they arrive at the theater, they block the view of the couple behind them, much to the couple's ire.


    Video Games 
  • In Stay Tooned!, the Toons are watching the game's closing credits in a movie theater. When Frank enters the theater, he sits in the seat in front of Mr. Fishy, blocking his view. Mr. Fishy tells Frank that there are plenty of seats in the back, and now he can't see. When Chisel gets his sister Pixel a macadamia mocha ice cream, which she dislikes, she tosses the ice cream in the air, causing it to land on Frank, then leaves the theater to get an ice cream she does like. As a result, Frank thinks that Chisel was the one who threw the ice cream at him and beats him up in retaliation.

    Web Animation 
  • Happy Tree Friends: In the "YouTube Copyright School" short, Russel tries to see Lumpy and the Lumpettes: The Movie at a movie theater, but his view of the movie is obscured by the antler of Lumpy himself, which leads to Russel having to record the movie on his phone.
  • In the Strong Bad Email "The Movies", Strong Bad gets an email from someone whose movie-going experience was ruined by a little girl who wouldn't shut up, and who asks Strong Bad if he's ever had a similar experience. Strong Bad gives examples: Coach Z can't resist answering the trivia questions out loud every time they show up (and getting the answer wrong, even though the same slide has shown up ten times since they arrived), Strong Sad keeps listing the whole filmography of every actor that appears in a trailer, the King of Town sneaks in several plates of fajitas (plus a mariachi band accompanying him), and finally, Homestar attempts making small talk with the movie characters. Strong Bad gets so frustrated that he ends up blowing up the whole movie theater with a bazooka.
  • DEATH BATTLE!: Gojo vs Makima starts with Gojo invoking this as he infiltrates a movie theater in the mall where Makima is trying to watch a movie and acts as obnoxious as possible to provoke her; loudly slurping his beverage, stealing Makima's popcorn, laughing and coughing with his mouth full, and talking over the movie.
    Makima: (after the theater explodes) No talking during the movie.

    Web Comics 

    Web Video 
  • Glove and Boots: The video "Movie Theater Etiquette" is all about this trope, detailing things on what not to do in a theater, including talking during the movie and having your phone go off.
  • The sixth episode of The Gmod Idiot Box opens with this. When a random character refuses to turn off their cell phone, Gravity Cat interrupts and sprays the crowd with a toxic fart cloud. Dr. Hax then knocks the cat down with a monitor, and the episode proper goes on.
  • SuperMarioLogan: In "Bowser Goes to the Movies!", Chef Pee Pee takes Bowser to the movie theater to see Charleyyy and Friends: The Movie. Bowser is very disruptive in the theater; talking throughout the movie, tossing his food around, and blaming his actions on the other customers.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!: While at the movies with Steve, Stan annoys another movie goer with his talking. This escalates into a fight, in which Stan gets beaten badly. He's saved when the usher comes to his rescue, but she then starts attacking other random movie goers.
  • Arthur:
    • In "Buster's Growing Grudge", Buster is mad over Binky stealing his joke. At a movie theater, he is still upset and shouts about the problem as the other theatergoers stare. Francine and Arthur have to get him to calm down.
      Buster: Who ends a Columbus report with a joke about King Tut?!
      Francine: (whispering) Binky does. Now, shh!
    • At the beginning of "Phony Fern", Muffy and Fern watch a sad movie about a little girl and an elephant in the movie theater. Near the end of the movie, Muffy gets a phone call from Chip, her older brother calling her from college. Muffy's talking annoys the other moviegoers, causing a few of them to leave, and Fern complains to her that she missed the movie's ending (to which Muffy tells her that the elephant dies).
  • In an episode of The Berenstain Bears, Brother Bear is at the movies, but a tall guy in front of him, who he later calls a "giant" to his parents, blocks the view.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: In "Operation: Movie", The Toiletnator has a battle with Number 4, which ends with him trapping his toilet paper rolls attached to his arms, rolling into the movie projector and the Toiletnator is thrown out the projector window.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: In one episode, Eustice goes to a theater to watch a movie, but he ends up blocking the screen for other people because of a curse inflicted on him that has a raincloud over his head which also gets their popcorn wet. When he rudely refuses to move after they politely asked, he is thrown out of the theater.
  • Duckman: At the beginning of "Dammit, Hollywood", Duckman gets pelted with popcorn for constantly acting like a jackass during a screening of Lickety Split's Oily Adventure, which included urinating on the screen while shouting "Swim in this, Lickety!".
    Cornfed: On the bright side, they hit you harder at Little Princess.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: In "Little Blue Ed", while Eddy is running theater scam, Ed arrives and forcibly throws everybody out of the garage.
  • Family Guy:
    • In a cutaway, Peter interrupts the showing of Philadelphia to talk about Tom Hanks and laughing at one of his jokes.
    • In one episode, Peter and Brian sneak alcohol into a screening of The Sound of Music. The two get drunk and cause such a commotion that the police are called to the theater. This results in them both being forced to attend alcoholics anonymous.
    • The nursing home they send Lois's father to in one episode has a theater specifically designed for senior citizens: anyone can pause the movie at any point when they want to loudly ask a question. It does stop people from talking over the dialogue, but it also means that the movie is paused several times within a single minute.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: In "Cheese A-Go-Go", Frankie has to pick Bloo up from the movie theater, and while Mac is trying to get a hyperactive Cheese under control, Madame Foster calls Frankie on her cell phone. As Frankie tries to tell Madame Foster she'll call her back, the movie patrons shush her.
  • The Futurama episode "Raging Bender" has the group go to the movies. First, Fry makes a snarky comment about the quality of the special effects, only to be hushed by another patron (Crow from Mystery Science Theater 3000 oddly enough). Then another robot blocks Bender's view of the movie, resulting in them fighting. Bender wins and it turns out his opponent was a professional robot fighter, leading to the main plot.
  • Johnny Bravo: At the beginning of "Chain Gang Johnny", Johnny and Carl get kicked out of a theater due to the former's antics.
    Carl: Johnny, you're not supposed to read the subtitles out loud in funny voices while making hand shadows on the screen!
    Johnny: Well, excuse me, but that movie really bit! That was the worst 7-hour black-and-white documentary on moody Danish people I've ever seen!
  • Looney Tunes Cartoons: In "Moody at the Movies", the Three Bears go to the theater to see Weekend at Daffy's. Pa tries to enjoy the movie, but Ma and Junyer keep making noises and asking him for things. Eventually Pa has had enough and has an outburst, at which point the other movie patrons shush him and the usher kicks him out.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: In "That's My Baby", Daffy has to babysit Zachary, Tina's infant nephew. Daffy decides to take Zachary to the movie theater when Zachary sees a trailer for the Marty the Whale movie on Bugs' TV. However, Daffy takes him to see a war movie called Guns, Guts, Glory. The movie is too intense for Zachary, and he starts crying again, which disturbs the other patrons. The usher comes in and tells Daffy to take Zachary outside. Daffy does so, since he's already seen the movie, and before he leaves with Zachary, he spoils the movie's ending, much to the ire of the other patrons.
    Daffy: Lt. Riggs doesn't make it! He never sees Barbara again!
  • The Bakshi Mighty Mouse episode "Scrappy's Playhouse" has Scrappy Mouse at a theater playing original Terrytoons Mighty Mouse cartoons, only he disrupts things with his non-stop commentary.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: In "Popcorn Pandemonium", Rocko and Heffer go to the Googa Plex Cinema, and try to find a good theater to watch Lethal Odor IX in. At one point, they go into an extremely cramped theater with only six seats, and a very large elephant sits in the two empty seats in front of them, blocking their view (he even tells his wife to come in, saying there's plenty of room). In a later scene, Tammy mistakes Rocko for an usher due to him wearing the same shirt as the employees of the cinema and makes him kick a warthog smoking a cigar out of the theater, as she paid good money for her ticket and she doesn't want the warthog's cigar smoke ruining her experience.
  • The Simpsons
    • One episode has a scene parodying Cape Fear which is perhaps better known, where Sideshow Bob also laughs and smokes. Marge is annoyed by this, and so is Homer, who happens to also be smoking a bigger cigar from the Knoxville World's Fair.
    • In "Colonel Homer", Homer constantly interrupts a movie he and Marge are seeing by choking on food, loudly asking questions, and spoiling the ending. Marge eventually has enough and chews out Homer in front of the audience, humiliating him and creating a fracture in their relationship.
      Marge: Homer, if it makes you feel any better, most of what they threw at you splattered on me.
    • In "Jaws Wired Shut", Homer leads a theater audience into a riot when the movie seems to be taking forever to start, prompting the employees to chase him out with oversized candy.
    • In "Steal This Episode", Homer puts up with various annoyances at a movie theater, prompting him to screen pirated movies in his backyard so he won't have to deal with all that.
      Homer: You're shushing me?! This guy's on his cellphone, she's texting, he's sexting, and that guy brought a baby to a 9:00 movie!
      Moviegoer with baby: That's negative, man.
  • Sponge Bob Square Pants:
    • In "F.U.N.", SpongeBob goes to the movies with Plankton for a friendly day out, but Mr. Krabs interrupts the movie to tell him that Plankton is only pretending to be his friend to steal the Krabby Patty formula.
    Mr. Krabs: Listen up! He's decievin' ya! Reach into his pocket now, and take what he's got!
    (several theatergoers pick their partners' pockets and run off)
    Mr. Krabs: You too, boy!
    (SpongeBob reaches into Plankton's pocket and, to his horror, takes out a Krabby Patty)
    • In "Something Smells", SpongeBob and Patrick go to see a movie to celebrate the former getting over his supposed ugliness (actually just rancid breath driving everyone away). Once SpongeBob gets upset about it again after some of the moviegoers react in disgust to being around him (and smelling his breath), Patrick becomes furious and holds SpongeBob in front of the viewers of every auditorium to force them to look at him, who all evacuate once he speaks and his breath is spread.
    • In "Wigstruck", SpongeBob finds a giant wig that he thinks is amazing despite everyone laughing or mocking him, but people don't get truly mad at him until he goes to see a movie, as the wig is so tall that it blocks the projector and prevents anything from showing up on screen. The audience starts a riot in response and chases SpongeBob out of the theater.
      Usher: (seeing the mob run out) I told you that movie was terrible.
  • The X's: In "Meddle Mouth", Truman decides to mess with Tuesday during her date with Brandon by using a device to make her say crazy things. When they are at a movie theater, Truman uses the device to make Tuesday say that she likes screaming at movies and then do just that, resulting in everyone else leaving out of frustration.
  • We Bare Bears: In "Shush Ninjas", the Bears go to the movie theater but get annoyed by people talking and being rude. They take it upon themselves to go around the theater shushing everyone who makes so much as a small noise, but they end up taking it too far and being thrown out for being disruptive themselves.
  • What's with Andy?: In one episode, Mr. Larkin takes Andy to the movies, but then realises he's seen the movie before and shouts out a spoiler, causing everybody to groan.


Video Example(s):


Theater Disturbance

Frankie searches for Bloo in the theater, annoying the viewers when her cell phone goes off.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / DisruptingTheTheater

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