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Door Focus

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When a character leaves a room and the focus stays on the door. Within seconds, the character comes charging back in for some unfinished business. Usually they have returned to collect a much-needed object left behind, or to deliver a funny line. Or maybe they need a new escape plan.

A common variant of this trope is used to lighten otherwise tense moments. In these cases, a heated argument between two characters will be followed by one angrily storming out, before ducking back in through the door to deliver a funny line or humorously retrieve some object they left behind. Doing this can serve to "defuse" a tense moment; by following the argument with a joke, the work communicates that the previous incident isn't actually that serious and that the audience doesn't need to interpret it as a strongly negative development in the relationship of the two characters involved. An inversion of this can occur when the remaining characters and audience both expect the departed character to return but they don't, emphasizing the serious tone of the situation.

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See also The Exit Is That Way. Door-Closes Ending is another trope where the door receives focus.


Examples

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    Advertising 
  • Flo forgets her phone in a Progressive commercial showing what she uses on the job.

    Film — Animation 
  • My Little Pony: A New Generation: When Sunny first leaves her house for her demonstration, her closing the door knocks a nearby picture of her and her dad askew. The camera lingers on the door for a moment, after which it cracks open and Sunny's hoof pops back through to right the picture.
  • Zootopia: A variant. When Judy leaves her apartment in Zootopia for the first time, the camera lingers on her Foxaway repellant she left behind on a table. Moments later the door reopens with Judy reaching for the can.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Design for Living: George declares that he needs a clean shirt for the next day and leaves the flat for the cleaner. The camera lingers on the door and, after a moment, George comes back to put on his shoes.
  • Fargo: In an early scene, the camera stays on the door when Marge leaves the house after breakfast. A moment later, she returns to ask her husband to help jump-start the car.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom:
    • Indy and his friends have boarded a plane just moments before the Chinese gangster Indy has angered show up. Indy throws a mocking grin of "Nice try, Lao Che." He then shut the door... letting the audience see the words LAO CHE AIR FREIGHT stamped on the side. Lao and his son are literally laughing as they mockingly wave to the pilots.
    • Indy's fedora flies off as he rushes through a closing door, then his hand comes back into view as he snatches the hat and pulls it through just before the door slams shut.
  • It's a Wonderful Life: After a heated argument, George Bailey leaves Mary's house only to return because he forgot his hat. A little more yelling later, smoochies ensue.
  • Men in Black 3 provides an unconventional spin on this trope during a scene with Griffin, an alien who observes multiple future timelines as they're about to happen, but doesn't know which one will actually happen until it becomes the present. As Jay and Kay ask him if he knows that Boris the Animal is out to kill him...
    Griffin: Yes, he'll be here in two minutes, unless of course we're in the possible future where he made all the lights on Bowery and got here early and is just about to discharge a weapon through the doorway, in which case we're all dead in two seconds.
    (cut to a nearby door... which proceeds to do nothing)
    Griffin: Ah, good, that was a close one.
  • A Shot in the Dark spoofs this trope. Inspector Clouseau tries to pull it off, but he left the door open when he walked out, and as he turns to walk back in someone tries to close it — which means he puts his outstretched hand through the frosted-glass window, so he awkwardly leaves without saying whatever he intended to.
  • The Waterboy: As Bobby Boucher lashes out against his overprotective mother, he repeatedly slams his door shut, reopens it to get in an extra comment, and shuts it again three times in a row.
    Bobby: I like school! And I like football! And I'm gonna keep doing both because they make me feel good! [slams the door, then opens it] And alligators get ornery because of their medulla oblongatas! [slams door again, then opens it again] And I like Vicky! And she likes me! And she showed me her boobies, and I like them, too! [slams door for the last time]
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    Live-Action TV 
  • Black Books: Fran says to Bernard that she never wants to see him again and storms out. Seconds later she comes back, her hand covering her eyes, saying "Forgot my purse".
  • Fawlty Towers: In "Waldorf Salad", when asked if the chef if he knows how to make Waldorf Salad, Basil heads into the kitchen, the shot lingers on the door, and he re-exits a moment later with the answer.
    Mr Hamilton: Just go out there and see if he knows how to fix me a Waldorf Salad!
    Basil: Of course. (Goes into kitchen, reappears almost at once) He's not absolutely positive, he's almost got it. Lettuce and tomato, walled in with...
  • Get Smart: Maxwell Smart usually does this after forgetting an important item for his mission or the directions to his destination.
  • The Golden Girls: The series finale uses the trope as a Bittersweet Ending. Dorothy, who just got married, is moving out and after saying her goodbyes to her friends, she walks out the door. Everyone is focused on the door as they take in the fact that Dorothy is now gone, but she comes back for another round of hugs and goodbyes before leaving again. Dorothy comes back yet again, this time through the patio/back door before leaving again once more. The girls look around the room expecting Dorothy to come back in some other fashion, but she doesn't return.
  • iCarly: Carly and Sam get into a fight, which ends when Carly leaves the apartment, slamming the door behind her. A beat passes before Carly opens the door again and tells Sam to get out instead, as the apartment is her house.
  • Men of a Certain Age: Manfro punches Joe's tooth out and trashes his store for stealing $500 from him, then storms out. Five seconds later, he comes back and tells Joe he should keep the tooth in milk and go to the dentist as soon as possible to save it.
  • Seinfeld: Kramer yells at Jerry about him wanting to reclaim a phone number of a woman he was trying to stop seeing. Kramer storms out and slams the door and a beat later he comes back in to grab the cereal and milk he was borrowing off of Jerry's counter. Then he leaves again.

    Web Animation 
  • Dr. Havoc's Diary: In Episode 27, when Kim storms out of couple's therapy after it gets too heated, she momentarily comes back to collect her purse before leaving for good.

    Western Animation 
  • The Flintstones: Trying to escape the lair of Dr. Sinister, Fred and Barney run through a door and shut it behind them. (Beat.) Then they run back out, slamming the door to keep the snarling crocosauruses from catching them.
  • The Cuphead Show!: In "Baby Bottle", after Elder Kettle warns the boys to behave when he's out of the house, the camera lingers on the door for a while and he soon pops back in to glare at them before leaving again. The cups keep looking at the door for a while after this; when they're certain he's not coming back, they immediately start fighting.
  • Rick and Morty:
    • "Meeseeks and Destroy": After Rick and Morty exit the fantasy world via portal hole, the camera lingers on the spot where the door disappeared. Sure enough, it reopens a moment later when Rick pops back through to shoot a villain dead.
    • "A Rickconvenient Mort": Played with. The camera lingers on the door after Morty does his Door Slam of Rage, and then again after he comes back through and does it again, but the second time he doesn't repeat it.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Frank Grimes storms out of the Simpsons' house after delivering his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Homer. He then pops his head back in to give a perfunctory courtesy to the rest of the family.
    • Reverend Lovejoy leaves from the same door, exclaiming "See you in hell!" He reenters with an afterthought: "...from heaven!"

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