Any situation which is made, sometimes for comic effect, sometimes for dramatic effect, to look like another situation — not in the sense that it is mistaken for that other situation by any of the characters, just in the sense that we the audience see the resemblance. The characters do not. Alternatively, it can refer to an ersatz of something more familiar that the audience would immediately recognize in subtext, in order to make it look less Anvilicious, but it doesn't always succeed in fulfilling the latter. The situation doesn't always have to mean anything sexual, however it is the most common use of the trope.
This sort of situation can lead to a Mistaken for Index plot if some other character hears it out of context. If unintentionally done, this is Looks Like She Is Enjoying It. May result in Getting Crap Past the Radar if it alludes to something that would normally get censored. Similar to Innocent Innuendo/Visual Innuendo in that each of these tropes attempts to draw suggestive ideas from the audience; however Innocent Innuendo/Visual Innuendo attempt to trick the audience into thinking the situation is different from what it really is, whereas this trope is upfront about the situation and merely draws parallels to those suggestive ideas. Not to be confused with Ironic Echo, which can easily use this trope's title as a Lampshade Hanging.
Sub Tropes include:
- Sexual meanings: Did They or Didn't They?, Erotic Eating, Consuming Passion, G-Rated Sex, Double Entendre and its sister trope Lampshaded Double Entendre, Compensating for Something, Phallic Weapon and Visual Innuendo.
- Political/moral meanings: Fantastic Racism, Space Jews, No Blood for Phlebotinum, A Nazi by Any Other Name, Fictional Political Party, Putting on the Reich, Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?, Rainbow Lens, and Ripped from the Headlines.
- Drug-related meanings: I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!, Fantastic Drug, Drunk on Milk, G-Rated Drug.
- Birth symbolism: Not Really a Birth Scene.
- Ending by Ascending: someone going up a staircase into a bright light is reminiscent of a Stairway to Heaven.
See also Freud Was Right, which posits that characters can apply this to everything thanks to psychological subtext, and Freudian Slip, when the symbolism reveals what the character is really thinking. Compare also That Came Out Wrong, when the words that someone say unintentionally "reminds" the listener of something else.
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Fan Works
- Film Animated
- Film Live-Action
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- Western Animation
- Big Finish Doctor Who Special The Last Adventure: In The Red House, the transformation from Wolverine to proto-human is treated very much like drug-taking: with a sensory rush, some people being unable to deal with it, and others becoming addicted to the sensation. And local law enforcement is looking to stamp the practise out, and hunts down the illegal parties where it takes place.
- The Angry Video Game Nerd talking about the front cover of the game adaptation of Die Hard. At first glance the exploding building looks like the World Trade Center towers. Luckily for anyone's sensibilities, the game came out long before 9/11.
- In Two Best Friends Play, Matt thinks that Disaster: Day of Crisis has 9/11 symbolism thanks to the collapsing buildings. Pat doesn't see it.
- Episode 11 of Z! True Long Island Story had Zack Ryder catching his dad watching clips of John Morrison while vigorously moving his Shake Weight up and down.
- A non-comedic and Squicky example occurs in Survival of the Fittest, with Alex White torturing Rosa Fiametta. His sadistic delight at her suffering while making jabs about her sex life, and the emphasis on her struggling and how he repeatedly stabs her, very quickly starts to look like... something else.
- In the Moulin Rouge! review between Brentalfloss, The Nostalgia Critic and The Nostalgia Chick, Oancitizen interrupts to demand why he wasn't included in the crossover. But from the Nostalgia Duo's squirming, his irritation and Floss's complete confusion, it looks instead like a person catching their partner cheating.
- In one of Balddumborat's Q&A videos as Derpy Hooves/Ditzy Doo, she is asked whether pegasus ponies wake up with "morning wing" (a reference to the "Wingboner" meme). The response: "Oh, gosh, yeah, we do sometimes. I mean, try sleeping on your back or side with a pair of wings. They really cramp up in the morning and feel horribly stiff. It takes a while to shake them out. But at least we don't have magic messes in the morning like unicorns!"
- Noob :
- At some point, Gaea, female and very greedy, is alone with an older, male player whose dialogue suggests he's about to ask her for money. Her reaction to this? Looking very worried and blurting out the line "Don't come any closer, especially if you want what I think you want!".
- A plotline involving a top player who turned up to be getting his avatar illegally enhanced beyond what game mechanics allow. Now, what would be the equivalent of that if the webseries was a sports story rather than about MMORPG players?
- In Jake and Amir, the two title characters' bizarre friendship is often portrayed as a gay relationship. Amir constantly wants to spend time with Jake, becomes jealous when Jake spends time with other people, and, on one occasion, received a marriage certificate (from a drag queen) stating that the two were officially wed. Jake is more aware of the connotations and tries to avoid them, but a few episodes depict him as equally jealous when Amir has a girlfriend; in another arc, he gets temporarily transferred to California, and meets a sexy coworker, only to drive her off by thinking and talking about Amir nonstop. The whole situation is lampshaded in an episode featuring Pat and Sarah: Sarah points out that, to the casual observer, the two seem to be a married gay couple. Of course, this being CollegeHumor, the episode has Jake and Amir by the elevators, fighting in a way that's deliberately designed to look like gay sex.
- As the player progresses in The Machine Bride Of Pin Bot, the eponymous Machine makes remarks like "I feel...strange..." and "Yes! Yes!" In some instances, she just out-and-out moans orgasmically.
- The playfield for WhizBang Pinball's Whoa Nellie! Big Juicy Melons is filled with these and Double Entendre, usually involving the three sexy Farmer's Daughters and their big melons.
Hellen: Who don't like big juicy melons?
- The backglass of Bally's Playboy pinball includes the magazine's tiny "Femlin" mascot straddling a champaign bottle between her legs.
- Silverball Mania shows a naked (chrome) man who is... "playing" a pinball machine rather enthusiastically.
- Invoked by the Interstitial Actual Play players when discussing how Roxanne and Ennora are separate entities despite their similarities, and agreeing that referring to the latter with the former's name would be equivalent to deadnaming them.
- During the 2016 Presidential election season, The Hidden Almanac ran a storyline about a local election for District Court Judge, growing more pointed as it goes on.
- An extended gag in one of Denis Norden's monologues on My Word involves him finding an ex-girlfriend "walking the streets". Even after it becomes clear he means she's a traffic warden, the metaphor continues.
"If it wasn't for men like you, there'd be no need for women like me!"
- George Carlin's 1991 routine "Rockets and Penises in the Persian Gulf" points out all of the phallic and sexual innuendos of the first Gulf War. "Imagine an American President using the sexual slang of a thirteen-year-old to describe his foreign policy."
- Warhammer 40,000:
- Descriptions of the biological principles behind Tyranid biomorphs are uncomfortably sexual. Especially the Pyrovore.
- Absolutely anything to do with the Dark Eldar. Torturing people to death then eating their souls is essentially their version of sex, and it just gets worse from there. "My playthings break so easily." And on a related matter, absolutely anything to do with Slaanesh.
- One of the funnier ones involving the Dark Eldar are the ones among the kabals who secretly trade recordings of Wyches in the arena, as certain named ones are far more popular than others. While the Wyches fight purely gladiatorial combat, they must remain graceful and beautiful, and those who watch the recordings get an almost euphoric reaction to them. In other words, they're secretly trading bootleg sex tapes! (And since the gladiatorial fights are usually to the death, bootleg snuff tapes!)
- A non-sexual example of this trope: The Imperium's citizens are encouraged by the official state religion, the Ministorum, to hate, fear, and persecute psykers, even though the Imperium could not function at all without themnote . We should also mention the entire Imperium, under that same state religion, worships a psyker.
- Slaanesh, hermaphroditic god(dess) of hedonism, is one giant drug abuse metaphor. Seriously, his/her worshipers give us too many examples to choose from.
- In one of the Werewolf: The Apocalypse tie-in novels, the signature characters Albrecht and the Margrave each take out their respective ancestral BFS. Albrecht is pleased to note that his is bigger.
- Paranoia is loaded with political and social commentary, but while sticking to themes on the Red Scare does a variation with mutants. All of them are executed upon discovery except for a small few who are forced to wear yellow armbands at all times (black if their uniform is yellow) and not allowed the same privileges or freedoms as the rest of Alpha Complex, which already doesn't have much. Player opinion is out on whether or not this is meant to represent Jewish people or oppressed minorities in general.
- Elisabeth: "Die Schatten werden länger" ("The Shadows Grow Longer") is about Death trying to seduce Rudolf into suicide. In many, many productions, it's played as Death trying to seduce Rudolf.
- Comedy duo James and Jamesy have a moment if this where one character attempting to click on his headlamp looks... like something, both actors struggle to keep straight faces, near in mind the show is G rated
- There are parallels drawn in Angels in America between God's abandonment of Heaven and Louis' abandonment of Prior.
Belize: I smell a motif. The man that got away.
Prior: Well it occurred to me.
- In Finian's Rainbow, when Finian learns Og the leprechaun came to America without a passport, he threatens to have him deported. As Og starts to flee, Finian accuses him: "You're a member of a subversive underground group takin' its orders from Dublin!"
- Wicked: "What Is This Feeling?" begins with this lyric: "What is this feeling so sudden and new? I felt the moment I laid eyes on you. My pulse is rushing. My head is reeling. My face is flushing. What is this feeling? Fervid as a flame? Does it have a name? Yes. Loathing. Unadulterated loathing". Sorry darlings, but that isn't loathing; it's lust. Then again, they have been confirmed to have romantic interest in each other, and Stephen Schwartz (composer) did this intentionally to highlight the irony of using common phrases from love songs in a song about hate instead.
- In the Shrek musical adaptation, Pinocchio shouts "I'm good, I'm wood, get used to it!" during a song titled "Freak Flag" which rallies the Fairy Tales creatures against Farquaad. Already sounding more like a song for a gay pride parade than a theme for any Ragtag Bunch of Misfits.
- In The Pajama Game, when Sid is trying to con Gladys out of the key to the account books (which is dangling around her neck), the dialogue makes it sound as if he's asking for the key to her chastity belt ("I'm a desperate man, and I hate to ask a cute kid like you to do me a favor, but...").
- In Aida, the imprisoned Aida is alone with her captor Radames. He takes off his shirt, saying, "Do you know what's going to happen now?" Several actresses in the role play Aida as being VERY fearful that he's about to force himself on her. He instead orders her to wash his back, something that at the very least is meant to similarly degrade her, at worst, meant to symbolize a rape.
- In the musical version of The Phantom of the Opera (and The Movie made from it), the song The Music of the Night could be seen as an attempted seduction. The lyrics are highly-suggestive euphemisms (The Phantom is singing about his Music and the Dark/Night, but could just as easily be substituted for sex). Christine faints towards the end of the song, so ultimately nothing happens.
- Brand by Henrik Ibsen has a jarring Christmas scene involving a homeless mother and her child knocking at Brand's door, begging for clothes for her frozen child. The scene plays heavily into the legends of St. Martin and other saints, sharing their clothes with a beggar in the snow, who turns out to be Christ. It also plays in on the Christmas gospel, with the mother Mary seeking shelter and giving birth (at Christmas, of course) to Jesus himself. To drive the point home, Brand`s own son is dead, and his wife grieves over her dead son. But given the Christmas references, it is impossible not to share with the paupers. The scene makes an anvilicious Tear Jerker, because we know this is breaking Agnes completely.
- In Thrill Me, "Roadster" is honestly about child murder, and not anything sexual. And if you can find a show that can say, "Feel the power of my engine," without making it about sex, you have an incredibly skilled performer.
- The musical Hamilton, which tells the life of the first US Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in a style infused by hip-hop and R&B songs, came about when writer-star Lin-Manuel Miranda realised that the story of Hamilton's life was in many ways similar to the classic hip-hop Anti-Hero narrative. Both are about a young man from an impoverished and socially unrespectable background clawing himself up from the gutter to a position of power in an atmosphere of revolutionary violence, only to make many enemies along the way which eventually leads to his violent downfall.
- In The King and I, Tuptim's in-universe adaptation of The Small House of Uncle Thomas is a thinly-veiled criticism for her slavery and her separation from her lover. In the middle of the play she goes too far into an Author Filibuster and dispenses with all subtleties.
- The death scene in Romeo and Juliet is rife with sexual imagery. The bit where Juliet welcomes being penetrated by Romeo's dagger is still pretty clear to modern audiences, but it's only the tip of the iceberg. The cup that Romeo drinks his poison from is supposed to be a symbol of femininity, and furthermore, Shakespeare often used "die" as a euphemism for "orgasm".
- In Into the Woods, the song "Hello, Little Girl" is theoretically about the Big Bad Wolf trying to eat Little Red Riding Hood, but it's dripping in sexual innuendo. The later song "I Know Things Now" all but drops the pretense, being straightforwardly about her loss of innocence as a result of the encounter.
- In The Spongebob Musical, Plankton and Karen sound like a couple having relationship troubles (more specifically in the bedroom), with the way Plankton complains "You used to love my evil schemes!" and her reply "Well what can I say? The magic's gone."
- Westeros: An American Musical: The play retells A Song of Ice and Fire with parodies of songs from Hamilton. The choice of music can sometimes draw a parallel between an event from A Song of Ice and Fire and a scene from Hamilton:
- "King Robert Baratheon", which is about how Robert started out a rebellious teen and became King, is set to the tune of "Alexander Hamilton", which tells the story of a poor orphan managing to better his situation into becoming a historical figure.
- "Hand of the King" is set to "Right Hand Man". Both songs happen during a war and involve the protagonist being given an important position they weren't expecting by a father or father figure who's a prominent military leader.
- "Shae No To This" is about Tyrion's Secret Relationship with Shae, and at some point has a minstrel try to extort money from Tyrion to keep his mouth shut about it. Its original, "Say No To This", is about Hamilton having an affair with a married woman and includes her husband asking for money in exchange for his silence.
- "Growing Concerned" focuses on a group of characters conspiring to get another out of their way, much like its original, "Washington on Your Side".
- Both of the songs sung by Daenerys were originally sung by King George III, who is also an antagonist separated from the protagonists by a large body of water, and has nothing to do plot-wise.
- Done for dramatic and tragic effect in Ace Attorney a few times.
- In the first game, Manfred von Karma was shot in the right shoulder just before he murdered Gregory Edgeworth. In the second, his daughter Franziska is also shot in the right shoulder. By this point, Franziska has gotten over her father, and has pretty much banished his name from the family for being a killer, so her being shot in the exactly the same way he was, right before he killed, is an extremely karmic moment.
- In the third game, Godot prosecutes a case where someone died from a poisoned cup of coffee. Later it's revealed that he himself almost died, and was knocked into a coma, by this same method. The case is full of parallels, such as the fact the defendant is a young woman just like Dahlia was, and Godot's mention of how the defendant is a "classy lady" for using coffee to hide the bitterness of poison. It's also, tragically in a rather ironic way, the case where we first see something that came about due to Godot being poisoned. Namely, that he he can't see red on a white background.
- This series is full of these, although a lot of them are inverted to the player and some are subverted due to being pointed out in game. They're always used for tragic effect.
- An example of a subverted one is in case 3 of the first game. Jack Hammer, an actor, at first was thought to have been stabbed with a spear but it turns out he died from being pushed of some stairs onto a spiked-fence. 5 years prior, the victim himself (allegedly accidentally) pushed a fellow actor from the same stairs and onto the same spiked fence while filming a scene, killing them. What makes this worse, is that the person who killed Hammer did so in self-defense, when Hammer himself went to get his revenge on them for his treatment after that accident he had caused. Thus it's more then likely that Hammer was accidentally killed in the exact same way and place that he accidentally killed someone himself, due to the fact that he had accidentally killed said previously mentioned someone.
- To make a point about perspective in Ever 17, You (which is, incidentally, not a second-person pronoun, but a nickname for the character's incredibly long given name) has Kid try to put a pen back in its cap with one eye closed. This is made all the more amusing by the pair's Unresolved Sexual Tension, along with You being a two years older.
- To anyone listening to the conversation but not actually seeing what they're doing, it sounds exactly like a porn movie. You is probably aware of that.
- This trope is exactly what the authors were aiming for in that scene; the things those two say in that scene are right out of a hentai. Which is a bit ironic considering this is one of those visual novels without any actual H scene.
- In a different scene near the beginning of Kid/Coco's route, You attempts to make Kid laugh off his amnesia. If you refuse to do so, she'll resort to... sticking her finger up Sara's nose. Sara proceeds to moan sensually as "she and her senpai become one."
- In Grisaia no Rakuen, having stayed away all night without eating anything, Makina and Michiru instantly fall upon a container of jam and messily devouring it. A similarly hungry and sleep deprived Sachi follows in moments later, asking Amane whether she thinks it sounds like two girls competing to get something a bit more risque in their mouths before continue to try making triple blowjob sound effects.
- Tsukihime: Makes Shiki's killing of Arcueid is somewhat... questionable.
Arcueid: It was your first time and you were that skilled?
- Also, during the scene where he stalks her prior to this, he makes several references towards getting excited about "wanting to *** her", and the "long hard object in his pants". After a couple screens of this, it's mentioned that the blanked-out four-letter word is kill, and the object he's talking about is his knife. Then after Arcueid has been killed by Shiki, she chases him down to "make him take responsibility" for his actions. Not helped that the player can have Shiki can rape her in an act of craziness in an alleyway, which later results in Arcueid giving into her vampiric impulses and killing him.
- Fate/stay night reveals in its third route, Heaven's Feel, that Sakura is subjected to torture every night in the basement by her adopted grandfather by being violated by the bugs he can create using his powers. Not to mention that her adopted older brother Shinji regularly beats her and rapes her. Then when this is revealed about Sakura and that she's become a vessel for the Holy Grail (which contains Angra Mainyu, who will use her to be "born"), the Sinister Minister Kirei Kotomine refuses to prevent this because he believes all things have the right to exist (and because he wants to destroy the world), which eventually leads to Sakura's boyfriend Shirou fighting him for her.
- Gameboys: As early as Episode 2, when Gavreel calls Cairo while working out. Gavreel's doing pushups. Cairo is just lying in bed counting his reps. If the inital shot composition with Gav's screen on top and Cai's screen at the bottom didn't clue it in...
Cairo: ... Four... Five... SexSIX. Six...
- The MinutePhysics video The Hairy Ball Theorem, which is about the topological theorem of that name which states that you can't comb a ball totally flat if it's covered entirely with hair. The narrator then goes on to say things like "don't go wasting your time playing around with a hairy ball to try to prove this wrong". At the end, the narrator says that, since the theorem applies not only to balls but any 3-dimensional objects without any holes, the next time a mathematician gives you trouble, you should ask them if they can comb a hairy banana.
- Titli of Titli's Busy Kitchen has slipped some dirty imagery into a few episodes of the show, usually involving a large carrot and two smaller fruit positioned next to one another.
- A Funny or Die video called "Pantsed" was about a young woman (co-writer June Diane Raphael) who, whenever she began to make out with a partner, would suddenly get pantsed. This is played out as a metaphor for constantly getting into abusive relationships. After her second pantsing in a row, June decides she's finished with men, and we see her in a car with a girl, wearing matching baseball caps and white t-shirts and singing an Ani DiFranco song, whereupon the girl asks her if her jeans are button-fly; told they are, the girl says "Good to know" and June looks worriedly out the window. The metaphor is lampshaded by June's friend:
Casey: I guess getting pantsed is your destiny.June: [staring at herself in the mirror] Yeah, Case, maybe you're right. [montage of June standing with man without her pants on; sitting on floor, pants-less, tearful; stumbling out of hallway with her pants around her ankles] Why am I fighting it? I get pantsed. It's who I am.
- Eventually, she meets a nice guy who says he wants to take their relationship to the next level, but he's then horrified when she spontaneously pulls down her own pants.
Man: Fuck's wrong with you? [hastily putting on his shoes] Jesus Christ, June, I liked you.June: I thought you would like this.Man: Fuckin' skank. [heads for the door]June: "Skank", what are you saying? [shuffles after him, her pants around her ankles] What did you mean by "next level"?Man: [leaving] Jesus Christ, not this! [slams door]June: Stop! I'll pull them back up! I'LL PULL THEM BACK UP!
- Eventually, she meets a nice guy who says he wants to take their relationship to the next level, but he's then horrified when she spontaneously pulls down her own pants.
- Petscop: In Evencare, there are signs about bringing pets home. Two of them say "When choosing pets, pick somebody that you like. You don't have to love them right away," and "Don't be discouraged if they run from you! They really want a home. They're afraid. Show them there's nothing to be afraid of." There's a pet who's kept in a cage, and is awarded for staying there. Its description is "Amber is a young ball. She's afraid to leave home. If her home is good, this is not a problem. She is very heavy, and that makes her life a little harder, as well as yours. What's the safest place you can put her in? You should start thinking about that." In hindsight, the reactive attachment disorder themes were there from the beginning. And to bring it home, there are three different versions of Care available as pets.
- Daisy Brown. Daisy's relationship with Alan is highly evocative of Domestic Abuse. He physically attacks her under seemingly little provocation, puts her in situations like locking herself in a room and regularly being chased outside, and destroys things beloved by Daisy like her garden and an innocent animal out of apparent spite. Daisy, in turn, tries to defend him even when it's clear Alan is being hurtful. The parallels become even more obvious once Alan is able to talk, as he uses his newfound ability to verbally insult Daisy over her personal issues. Perhaps not coincidentally, it's implied her father had abusive episodes as well.
- In LPS: Popular, Brooke, a pale blonde cat with blue eyes calls Savannah, a naturally brown dachshund, a wiener dog. Everyone treats this as a horrible slur and Genevieve, one of Savannahs best friends, only allows herself to say it in a whisper.