Follow TV Tropes



Go To

"It's not a duck! It's a [other type of bird]!" note 

The English word "duck" has two possible meanings (if you don't listen to cricketersnote ):

  1. verb: to move (the head or body) quickly downwards or away; "Before he could duck, a duck flew into him"
  2. noun: 1. small wild or domestic waterfowl related to geese and swans, known for having webbed feet and a broad bill; "the duck had to duck to avoid the bridge", 2. the meat of said bird.

In fiction, characters have a surprising tendency to mix these words up. Generally, if an object is coming at someone very fast, and they are advised to "duck!" they will immediately look around for a duck"Where? Where?" — thinking the word to have been a reference to the latter example, that is, the bird. Or, if there is a duck, and someone informs them of its presence with the demonstrative "duck!", they will cover their head to avoid an Incoming! object, thinking the other character to have been advising them to lower their head, as in the former definition.

You would think that for a rational person, context would clarify these things. The source of the humour comes in this case from this expectation of people's ability to discern the intended meaning of an ambiguous utterance being subverted by their apparent confusion in the heat of the moment. In either case, there is the further opportunity for "slapstick" comedy in the character throwing themselves to the floor or being struck by a fast moving animal. The improbability of this happening is justified in the context of a comedy by its providing amusement to the viewer.

Subtrope of Who's on First?. See also Ambiguous Syntax (of which "I saw her duck" is a famous example). Also see Inherently Funny Words; this joke gains some of its humor from the duck's status as an inherently funny word. For ducks (waterfowl) that are funny, see Quacking Up. Also Literal Money Metaphor, another Literal Metaphor, but this time it's about money.


    open/close all folders 

  • A GEICO commercial had a father tortoise tell his son to duck to hide from a bird of prey. The son responds, "That's no duck, Daddy! That's a vulture!"

    Anime & Manga 

  • Bill Engvall uses this as an example of how his wife never listens to him. As he explains to her, if he saw something coming towards her and yelled "Duck!" she would not duck right away but instead try to find what he was referring to and get killed. According to Engvall, his wife acknowledged the truth behind this, but then points out that if she did duck whenever Bill said "Duck!", he would do it just to mess with her. Bill's response: "Touche."
  • What did the Secret Service shout when a gun was pointed at former president Donald Trump's head? "Donald, Duck!"

    Comic Books 
  • MAD Super Special #36 (Fall 1981), article "If Comic Characters Were Psychoanalyzed". Donald Duck tries to overcome his bad temper by ignoring people who insult him. One day he's walking along and someone repeatedly yells "Duck!" at him. He ignores it because he thinks the guy is taunting him for being a duck, and runs into the branch the guy was trying to warn him to avoid.
  • Mad #19 (January 1955) had a parody "Mickey Rodent" which used this as a Running Gag. Darnold gets a moment later, leading to this (note that logically the words "verb" and "noun" are backwards. And "quick" is the parody for "quack".):
    Mickey: Hey, Darnold Duck!
    Darnold: Quick, quick! You mean my name "Duck" or you mean the word, "duck"?
    Mickey: Yes, but...
    Darnold: ...That use 'duck' connoting title rather than action? ...Quick!
    Mickey: Yes, but...
    Darnold: ...That is...'duck' is a verb rather than a noun? Tell me quick quick!
    Mickey: Yes, but...
    Darnold: ...Ahh!... Then I can remain standing!
    (Darnold immediately gets hit because he didn't duck)
    Darnold: You dirty human! You said you called me... you called me by my full name!
    Mickey: ...Yes, but you didn't let me finish my sentence, which, if completed, would have been... "Hey, Darnold Duck, DUCK!"
  • From Lenore the Cute Little Dead Girl,
    Ragamuffin: DUCK!
    Lenore: But I already got a duck.
    Ragamuffin: No, I mean get down!
    (Lenore starts dancing)
  • This exchange in Max Ride: First Flight #1:
    (eraser swipes at Iggy)
    Angel: Iggy, Duck!
    Iggy: Always thought I was more of a cardinal, personally.
  • A one-off comic in Nickelodeon Magazine used both variants in a short story comic. Initially a lifeguard at a pool ducks on reflex upon hearing "Duck!", but the person shouting it was referring to the animal, which has waddled up to them. For the next several days the pool is overrun with ducks and people can't swim in it at all, but one day all the ducks vanish... and of course, the next time the lifeguard hears "Duck!" they instinctively worry that the ducks are back, only to be beaned in the face with a beach ball.
  • In a Richie Rich comic book story, when Richie goes through a "Here Is Your Life" moment with his friends, family members, and even enemies, his cousin Reggie Van Dough tries to throw a cream pie at Richie, only for it to move very slowly through the air until it is flying straight toward Mayda Munny (who at that point is now Mayda Millions). Richie tells Mayda to duck. Mayda mistakes it for Richie telling her what her feather boa is made of, with her responding it is actually ostrich feathers — just before the pie hits her.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side:
    Ducks: Quack quack quack quack quack!
    Duck: CHICKEN!
    (the ducks duck as a chicken flies by)
    Ducks: Quack quack quack quack quack!
    Caption: "Do you ever run out of ideas?" asked the interviewer. "Well, sometimes," said the cartoonist.
  • One strip of Mutts has someone yell "Duck!" at a baby swan swimming in a pond. The swan looks over his shoulder and goes on an angry rant about how he's a swan, not a duck - and then hits his head on a tree branch hanging over the water.
  • Played with in a Beetle Bailey comic:
    Zero: Goose, sarge, goose!
    (grenade explodes)
    Sarge: Did you, by any chance, mean "Duck"?
  • U.S. Acres: One strip had Roy yelling "DUCK!" as he is hitting a baseball at the rest of the cast, all lined up. Everyone is ducking except for Wade the Duck, who turns to look at whoever is calling for him. (And thus, right at the ball flying at him)
  • Occurs in The Perishers when Marlon is eating a sandwich that sprays the contents everywhere. Wellington shouts for people to duck and Marlon accuses Wellington of trying to fool him because there are no ducks.

    Fan Works 
  • Played with in this exchange from Hop to It:
    Chat Noir: Sequana is the Gallo-Roman goddess of the River Seine. Seems your mythology is a little rusty. I could tutor you, if you’d like. (waggles his eyebrows at her)
    Ladybug: Duck. (swings her yo-yo in the direction of his head, presumably at one of Sequana's tentacles)
    Chat Noir: (while ducking) Ducks were actually her familiars! Looks like you don’t need my help after all.
  • In Phineas and Ferb Visit Jurassic World!, this exchange occurs during the fic's version of the pterosaur attack on Main Street:
    Zara: OK, we need to get to the Innovation Center, somehow, and contact my boss. But in the meantime, we should just stay calm and—
    Phineas: Duck!
    Zara: I don't believe ducks are indigenous to Isla Nublar.
    Phineas: No, I mean duck!
    Zara: Like I said—
    (a Pteranodon swoops by and snatches Zara)
  • Those Lacking Spines, naturally, plays with it, complete with a reference to the Llama Song.

    Films — Animation 
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2: While the gang sails on the river, they encounter a power line:
    Flint: Duck!
    (everyone ducks except Brent)
    Brent: Duck? I love—(hits the wire)
  • In Twice Upon a Time, Ralph the All-Purpose Animal finds himself being attacked by Botch's vulture minions, and yells to his friend Mumford "Duck!" while reflexively turning into a duck.
  • Open Season 2: Roger seemingly displays a rare moment of intelligence telling his friend to duck and avoid the soporific darts. But he then continues: "See? One duck, two duck..."
  • In Rio, while on the run:
    Jewel: Ah, this is great. I'm chained to the only bird in the world who can't fly.
    Blu: Actually, there are about forty species of flightless birds.
    Jewel: Duck!
    Blu: No, ducks can fly.
    Jewel: No! Duck!
    (they approach a box being lowered and dive under it)
  • Finding Nemo has a reversal of the usual order:
    Dory: Duck!
    Marlin: That's not a duck, it's a... PELICAN!
  • The Angry Birds Movie 2: Red, Chuck and Bomb see a flying cream pie (courtesy of the pigs) and immediately hide in the sand after Red says "Duck!". In response, an actual duck sitting on a beach chair hears what Red said and is soon hit by the pie.
  • In The Swan Princess, Prince Derek has the castle musicians (it was the servants' day off) dress up as animals so he and his friend can have target practice (using non-lethal paintball-esque arrows). One of them is dressed as a duck. Hilarity Ensues.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • From Hot Shots!!:
    Admiral Benson: Ahhh... I love soup. At least I think I love soup. Blasted shell! It's either soup or duck. Which one do you shoot?
    Lt. Commander Block: Duck, sir.
    [Admiral Benson hits head on desk while ducking]
  • Howard the Duck can't resist at least one use of this trope. In the middle of a firefight someone yells Duck and our hero stand up straight and replies And proud of it!
    • This was an extension of the joke in the comics of everyone saying something similar while coming to terms with the duck talking to them.
  • Groucho Marx offered this explanation for the title Duck Soup: “Take two turkeys, one goose, four cabbages, but no duck, and mix them together. After one taste, you’ll duck soup for the rest of your life.”
  • In The Smurfs 2, Patrick Winslow tells his stepfather Victor Doyle to duck when Gargamel is about to attack them with his magic wand, and Victor ends up being turned into a duck.
  • In Spaced Invaders someone yells "Duck!" to a man driving a vehicle who ducks his head, then slams on the brakes to avoid running over someone wearing a duck costume.
  • In the second The Mighty Ducks movie, this happens.
    Don Tibbles: Half of [the team] are ringers from various parts of the U.S. And the rest of them are—
    Michelle McKay: (sees Fulton's slapshot ricocheting around the arena) DUCK!
    Tibbles: That's right, the Ducks. (gets hit in the head by the puck)
  • In Blazing Saddles, when Hedy Lamarr's (that's "Hedly") mooks toss dynamite into the church in Rock Ridge, the preacher is in the middle of a sermon and mentions the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and Duck!
  • In Kermit's Swamp Years, when Blotch is abot to punch Kermit, Goggles, and Croaker, Kermit shouts, "Duck!", and he, Goggles, and Croaker all duck. A distracted Blotch then says, "Duck? I don't see no duck!" before realizing he's been fooled.

  • In Spider Robinson's Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, the line "Duck, Duck! The Doc!" was used at a Halloween party when Doc Webster throws a full glass of whiskey at the head of a person dressed as a duck.
  • There's a variant of it used in several Discworld novels (including Sourcery and A Hat Full of Sky) involving confusion between "geas" — a pact or commandment — and "geese".
    • In Thief of Time, a sign labeled "duck" is used as a Logic Bomb against the Auditors of Reality, where there is neither a duck nor a reason to duck.
    Susan: Ah, now we're getting metaphysical.
  • In Gone, Brianna is yelling for Duck, and confuses a lot of people.
  • In The Bartimaeus Trilogy (Ptolemy's Gate) Bartimaeus points out a duck to Nathaniel, who interprets it as the command.
    • Of course, in this case they were sneaking around trying not to be seen, so Nathaniel had reason to be confused. Bartimaeus was simply messing with him as best he could with his limited capabilities.
  • A Shel Silverstein poem had a goose angrily asking why people called him a duck when he walked in a room. The picture shows him looking at the reader as a spear flies towards his head.
  • In the YA novel Yours Turly, Shirley by Ann M Martin, Shirley tells her sister to duck. Not yet understanding all the American slang, Jackie looks around for the bird and is promptly splattered with mashed potatoes.
  • Mark Helprin's A City in Winter, the narrator (the unnamed queen) relates a moment from her past when she was told by two bakers to duck under the counter to hide. At the time, she didn't know the expression but ducked anyways, thinking that she'd find a duck under the counter.
  • This happens in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. Frank is about to be hit by a branch in the river, Greg tells him to duck, and Frank is trying to look for a duck. It seems not to have ended well.
  • Variant in the final chapter of Railway Ghosts and Highway Horrors, in which a man is driving down the road when a woman passes in the other lane and yells at him, "Pig!" Startled and angered, the man yells back, "You're not so good-looking yourself!" Then he rounds a corner and discovers too late that she was trying to warn him about a literal pig (which he runs right into) that was standing in the middle of the road.
  • In The Lost Fleet Drakon's security systems pick up a bomb that's about to explode and he yells at Geary and Desjani to duck. However Desjani has recently discovered that the marines snuck a live duck onto her ship and confusedly asks him how he knows about that.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 3rd Rock from the Sun, the dartboard was moved to the kitchen, so any time Tommy is shooting darts, he screams "DUCK!". While Dick's new relationship is telling about her allergies, she uses such an instance to remind him that she's allergic to ducks.
  • Barney & Friends:
    • While Barney and the kids were on a camping trip, one of the kids yelled out this, to which the group bent down, only to be told he meant he found a nest of baby ducks.
    • Later, in the same episode, when the children heard a rumbling coming from the campfire (which was actually the popcorn popping), they took cover while the same boy yelled this again.
      "And this time, I mean Duck!"
  • Blackadder: Played with when Blackadder is accused of witchcraft; he accuses the Witchsmeller Pursuivant of being a quack. Said witch hunter immediately accuses Blackadder of being involved in a prior case involving a cursed duck, due to the quacking sound he just made.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "Lessons", Buffy is investigating the school basement for zombies when she unexpectedly runs into an insane Spike living there.
    Spike: (tenderly) Buffy... duck.
    Buffy: What? Duck? There's a duck? (gets hit in the head by zombie)
  • A The Dick Van Dyke Show episode had Rob in sneezing fits around Laura. She takes it to be psychosomatic, but later, while going to bed, she regards a new pillow and cries out "Duck down!" and Rob goes into a crouch. Turns out he's allergic to the duck feathers in the pillows.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Silver Nemesis": The Doctor yells out "Duck!", Ace immediately throws herself flat; scene cut to the Doctor chasing a small gaggle of ducks out of the TARDIS.
    • "Blink": Sally Sparrow finds a message addressed to her under the wallpaper of an abandoned house, telling her to "Beware the Weeping Angel", and also...
      Oh, and duck.
      No, really, duck!
      Duck NOW! [Sally ducks, and a rock hurtles over her and ricochets off the wall to land on the floor]
    • "The Eleventh Hour": The Doctor texts the word "Duck" to Amy and Rory. They duck just in time to avoid getting hit by a fire engine ladder.
  • From Due South, we get this exchange while our heroes are being stealthy:
    Fraser: Ray! Duck! [Ray hits the deck, duck quacks offscreen] Anas platyrhynos...very unusual sighting for this time of year.
    Vecchio: [gets to his feet] Duck...Duck...Duck means duck; duck doesn't mean duck! ...I hate my life.
  • The Flash (2014): "The Flash Reborn" had this.
    Iris: Duck.
    Wally: I don't see no duck.
    (A few seconds later after Wally and Cisco get knocked over)
    Wally: She meant the other duck.
    Cisco: Yeah, I cannot believe you actually thought she meant a duck duck.
  • This is something of a problem in one episode of the Recycled: The Series of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, since the fellow addressed is named Mr. Duck. As with the MAD example, this is inverted later, with a "Mr. . . DUCK!" that is in fact a command to duck.
  • A scene in Mork & Mindy in which Mindy and Mork sneak in and are snooping around Mr. Bickley's house, has Mork repeatedly tell Mindy "Mallard!", to Mindy's confusion, then finally say, "Duck!", as they duck behind the furniture just as Mr. Bickley comes in.
  • In an episode of NCIS, Dr. Mallard, when advised to duck, informs the person that only Gibbs is allowed to call him that.
  • National Geographic Channel's Science of Stupidnote  has one episode in which there were two guys, one of which was carrying a duck. The other guy yelled "Duck!" and the duck-carrier brushed it off until he got hit by a flying duck.
  • In an episode of Odd Squad, this is yelled, and everyone dives behind a table...except for Otis, who has a crippling fear of ducks and starts freaking out because he thinks they've come for him. This lasts for only a few seconds before Olympia tackles him out of the way.
  • In a Christmas episode of That '70s Show the gang cut down a tree on the side of the highway. Kelso's down hacking away as the others play lookout. A car passes by, one of them shouts "Duck!" and everyone does except for Kelso who looks up and says "Where?"
  • In The Thundermans This happens at the end of the episode "Thundersense" when Phoebe tries to warn her best friend Cherry about a flying meatball. When she shouts "Cherry! Duck!" Cherry misinterprets her warning and replies "Where?! I like ducks!" looking around only to be hit by the meatball and knocked to the ground. When Phoebe asks if she is OK she replies "I'm okay but what about the duck?"
  • The Two Ronnies does a variation on this in a sketch where Ronnie Barker's character claims to be a spy. Ronnie Corbett's character mentions that he only drives American cars, to which RB replies "Oh yes, Dodge." RC starts moving around erratically, until RB clarifies he's talking about Dodge cars.
  • The children's show Zoboomafoo did this Once an Episode, generally followed by a trained exotic bird flying through and dropping a letter. Every time it is pointed out that it's "not a duck", followed by some explanation to the Constantly Curious child that's no duck, that's a falcon, or a condor, etc. (At one point, this is actually lampshaded by using an actual duck.)


    Puppet Shows 
  • One Veterinarian's Hospital sketch on The Muppet Show had a duck as a patient. This trope was used (multiple times) as its usual Hurricane of Puns.
  • In "Mountains of Messiness" on The Pajanimals, the beaver Hank welcomes the Pajanimals to the Land of Build It by saying "Welcome to the Land of... Duck!" which excites Squacky because, of course, he is a duck. However, he means for them to duck, as there's a big log that's being used to construct a lodge swinging their way, courtesy of the beaver Frank. Fortunately, they duck in time.

  • Greater Tuna: Petey Fisk briefly mentions this trope in a short speech, the rest of which is also about ducks.
    Petey Fisk: The word duck, when used as a verb, means to rapidly lower body position to avoid injury, so when someone says the word duck, you don't know if they're talking about a bird or an accident.
  • In Honk!, a cat cornering the Ugly Duckling was not thinking of an oncoming baseball when he heard the shout.
  • Shel Silverstein wrote a one-act play with this very title. The action of the play centers on a stairway with a low-hanging wall above its bottom; there is a picture of a duck on this wall, which a man named Morgan assumes mean "duck your head." Much to his surprise, the sign is actually warning about the biting ducks waiting in the room at the bottom of the stairs. The trope is even lampshaded when Burt, the owner of the staircase, points out that the fact that someone should duck their head in a low-hanging doorway is obvious, and that the sign is to warn people of what they can't see.

    Theme Parks 
  • Muppet*Vision 3D: During the chaos of the fireworks scene, Waldo, the Spirit of 3D, is tolt to duck, so he turns into a duck.
  • Jungle Cruise: Some skippers, during the elephant pool when they are about to spray, tell the riders to "Duck! Duck! Goose!"

  • A variation occurs in BIONICLE. When Tarduk introduces himself by shouting his name at Vezon, Vezon ducks to avoid the tar.

    Video Games 
  • The "graveyard duck" line in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest was thought for years to be a case of this— i.e., a badly punctuated line actually telling you to duck in the graveyard. But as it turns out, the original Japanese version used the word ahiru, which translates as the waterfowl. However, one retranslation claims that the word is a slang term for a slowly-patrolling man, in which case it is indeed a mistranslation, but not for the verb. It's since been discovered that duck references were and still are common in-jokes among Konami's staff, something that is acknowledged in the link provided.
  • One variant of this pun was present in Cannon Fodder intro.
  • Parodied in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie video game: SpongeBob is about to get hit.
    Patrick (pointing at a rubber duck): DUCK!
    SpongeBob (while ducking): Where?
  • In Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition, in the level "Pigsty", there's a security monitor which - when inspected - does not display an image from a security camera, but rather an image of...a duck. With an exclamation mark next to it. And a rocket launcher-toting enemy sneaks up on you while you look at the monitor. ...Get it?
  • A variant of this happens in Command & Conquer: Renegade. During a cutscene, Havoc and Sydney are arguing while driving in a truck. After Sydney gives him a short "The Reason You Suck" Speech, Havoc sits back and calmly states:
    Havoc: Cow.
    Sydney: Pig!
    Havoc: (pointing at the road) No, Cow!
    Cow: Moo. (truck barely avoids it)
  • When Jack Sparrow and Will Turner enter Tortuga in Pirates of the Carribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow:
    Jack: [sees a pig] Well look at that.
    Will: Duck.
    Jack: Don't be ridiculous. That's not a duck, it's a —
    [the scene cuts to Pequeño who's about to fire his cannon at the duo]
    Will: DUCK!
    [they avoid the cannon shot]

    Web Animation 

  • Was done in The Prime Of Ambition as a practical joke.
    Thanatos: It's a good thing that never gets old.
  • Running gag in Chicken Wings. Understandable, since sharp or heavy objects often fly through their hangar and a duck mechanic works next door.
  • As Death of Insanely Overpowered Fireballs explains in this Irregular Webcomic!:
  • While he justifies it in the following strip, Sam Starfall's initial explanation for considering ducks a dangerous Earth animal in Freefall is "People may shout 'Lion!' or 'Shark!', but the most common warning is 'Duck!'"
  • Related joke in Extra Fabulous Comics: a swimmer calls out "Shark! Behind you!" Cut to the shark, looking confused (but pleased to be noticed). Then a boat rams into the shark from behind.

    Web Original 
  • A rather amusing variation in MobiusZero4's Let's Play of Mega Man X5:
    Now we just gotta duck! Goose! PINGAS!
  • This one-shot by "Karno".
    Reckless car driver: DUCK!
    Biker: (ducks) I'm a PLATYPUS
  • An online video exists of someone shouting duck and then ducking himself, only for it to show his friend holding a duck. He laughs sarcastically, only for a flying duck to crash into him.
  • On an episode of Sanders Sides, this dialogue happens:
    Thomas: For some reason, I didn't sense your presence at all!
    Anxiety: Yeah, I know. It's because I've decided to duck out.
    Dad: *waving his elbows* Quack!
    Thomas: What? Duck out?
    Dad: *again* Quack, quack!
  • A Vine used both at the same time:
    Man 1: (looking offscreen) Shit, duck!
    Man 2: (holding a duck) Oh, cause it's a duck?
    (another duck flies into the second man's head)

    Western Animation 
  • 101 Dalmatians: The Series: In "The Nose Knows", Lucky, Cadpig, Rolly, Spot, and Lieutenant Pug are riding a mine cart through an Abandoned Mine. At one point, the dogs all shout "Duck!" as they duck into the mine cart. Spot, a chicken, asks them "Duck? What is it with you guys and poultry?" before she gets hit by a low-hanging support beam.
  • From the Rugrats (1991) episode, "Grandpa's Teeth", with Chuckie being a Backseat Driver on Spike's back:
    (Picnic tables are coming up)
    Chuckie: Pic-a-nic table! Pic-a-nic Table!
    Tommy: "Duck!"
    (Spike crouches down and crawls under the picnic tables )
    Chuckie: Duck!
    Tommy: No, Chuckie, we already passed the tables.
    Chuckie: No, the other kind of duck!
    (A group of ducks wait for them ahead, forcing Spike to skid to a halt)
  • Megas XLR: In the episode where Megas nearly overloads because of a damaged photonic stabilizer, Jamie shouting "DUCK!" causes Coop to get an idea that saves the day: just wrap the damn thing in duct tape.
  • There was one episode of Chowder when people were playing a sport dealing with a giant ball. (The name is way too long for anyone but Mung Daal to memorize.Its name? ) There was one player who had dodged numerous obstacles. Truffles then yelled "Duck!" The player turns around and is eaten by a giant duck.
  • In an episode of The Secret Show, Anita and Victor are in a Chinese restaurant, resulting in the following exchange:
    Anita: Duck!
    Victor: No thanks, I...
    (Victor is hit in the face. By a roast duck.)
  • This is spoofed in Justice League. Solomon Grundy throws a giant duck statue (don't ask) at Superman, and the debris flies offscreen. Meanwhile, Green Lantern is fighting Star Sapphire and it comes flying right at them. When Green Lantern yells "duck!", Star Sapphire doesn't buy it and gets knocked out.
    Green Lantern: ...I tried to warn her.
  • Arthur
    • An early episode of did this. Arthur and Francine are trying to deliver a letter to Muffy's mailbox without being seen while there are tons of yard workers around. Interestingly, the word meets both definitions at once.
    Francine: Duck!
    (Arthur ducks, and a worker — who happens to be a duck — walks by and quacks.)
    • In the episode "What is that Thing?", we get this exchange:
    Buster: Hey, Brain, can you help me come up with a new villain the Bionic Bunny could fight?
    Brain: Hmm, let's see, squids have been done, turtles have been done, how about!
    Buster: Nope, episode 2,436: The Mean Mallard Master...
    Brain: No Buster, duck! (His remote control plane whizzes by Buster's head)
  • From an episode of Yogi's Treasure Hunt:
    Huckleberry Hound: Hokey, duck!
    Hokey Wolf: No, that's Hokey Wolf, not Hokey Duck. What do I look like? A fox, maybe, but not a duck!
  • Celebrity Deathmatch: Weird Al used this trope against Al Gore.
    Hey Gore! DUCK! (Gore ducks expecting an attack, Weird Al pulls a rubber ducky on his face...) Get it? Duck! (...and then he kicks Gore in the face)
  • A Close Shave:
    Wendolene: Duck!
    Wallace: Where?
  • In one episode of Pinky and the Brain, based on Around The World in 80 Days, Brain somehow comes to the conclusion that by breaking the 80-day record he can eventually achieve world domination. So, while they travel via hot-air balloon through France, Pinky notices something coming, flips through his handy foreign-language phrasebook, and...
    Pinky: Canard! Canard!
    Brain: 'Canard'? Doesn't that mean 'Duck'?note 
    Pinky (dazed): Oui, oui...
    Brain (also dazed): I may.
  • Total Drama World Tour: In "Slap Slap Revolution", Team Victory is charged by a cute yet vicious goat. Leshawna warns her team to duck when the goat leaps at them, prompting Lindsay to correct her that they're dealing with a goat. Leshawna quickly forces Lindsay down to get her out of the goat's trajectory.
  • Super Mario Bros. (DiC):
    • A variation with a different term occurred in one episode, where Mario called for everyone to duck by saying "Get down!" only for Luigi to start dancing.
    Mario: Luigi, what are you doing?!
    Luigi: I'm "gettin' down!"
    • In another Super Mario cartoon series, Luigi heard a bossy king shouting "Duck, you idiot!" Luigi, assuming he was being commanded to get down, did so but the king was actually shouting at a servant for a roast duck.
    Luigi: At least he warned me.
  • A Histeria! sketch set in World War II has Loud Kiddington shout this out several times (to be fair, it was the Invasion of Normandy), resulting in this cameo:
    Daffy Duck: Will you knock that off?! Sheesh! A bird could develop a complex around here!
  • An episode of Detention has this exchange when Shareena and Shelley play hooky at the mall.
    Shelley: What are we gonna buy without any money?
    Shareena: (sees her mother) Duck!
    Shelley: Duck? They sell ducks here?
  • Back at the Barnyard: The Safety Film Within A Show in "Lights, Camera, Moo!" has this kind of gag. In it, a family of cows is threatened by pesticides, and the narrator warns them to "duck and cover!". At this, each of the two child cows covers their head with a duck, much to the narrator's amusement.
    In-Film Narrator: No, not that kind of duck!
  • Bonkers:
    • One cartoon featured Bonkers delivering a pizza in a WWI setting. Upon arriving at his destination, he says this upon seeing an enemy plane, while the general states the pizza was suppose to be sausage.
    • Another episode has Bonkers and Jitters as part of a ski patrol. As the two of them are on a bobsled, Bonkers suddenly screams "duck!" and ducks to avoid being hit by one of the flying birds. Jitters then screams, "Another duck!," but this time rather than another fowl it's actually a tree branch they have to avoid.
  • In The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh episode, "Honey For A Bunny", Rabbit is attempting to gather honey from a hive to trade with Pooh for a rabbit bookend (it's a long story). Tigger helps him by attaching plungers to his feet, enabling him to climb up the tree, to which Rabbit states he feels like a graceful bird.
    Tigger: Duck!
    Rabbit: No, not a duck! Like a swan.
    Tigger: No! Duck!
  • Tiny Toon Adventures:
    • In "Born to Be Riled" (part of "The Buster Bunny Bunch"), Babs pranks Plucky by yelling, "Plucky! Duck!" He ducks, and she just laughs at him.
    • From "Give Pizza a Chance" from Tiny Toons Looniversity, when the wall in Buster, Plucky, and Hamton's dorm room is about to break and all the paper snakes that Granny used as insulation are about to fly out;
      Plucky: Everyone, me!
      Everyone Else: Huh?
      Plucky: Duck!
  • Used repeatedly in Darkwing Duck. Heck, it's even in the Theme Song!
    Gosalyn and Launchpad: Darkwing! Duck!
    Darkwing: Yes? (gets hit by the object he was supposed to duck) Next time, be more specific.
  • Happens once in the Blaster's Universe episode "You're History":
    Max: Yeah! What a blast!
    Pirate: What? Heads up, what?!
    MEL: Heads up? (looks up)
    Max: No, MEL, "heads up" means...(sees a cannon) ...DUCK!
  • Kissyfur villains Floyd and Jolene had a Duck scene where Floyd told Jolene to duck and she thought he had seen a duck they could eat.
  • In the Popeye series that had a segment where Olive Oyl and Alice the Goon were army privates, there was one episode where their Sergeant was on a train wagon and Olive shouted "Duck". Believing Olive was talking about a nearby bird, the Sergeant got hit when they entered a tunnel.
  • Danger Mouse, in "Once Upon A Timeslip":
    Danger Mouse: Duck!
    Penfold: Alright, I'll have the duck, with...
    Danger Mouse: Duck! Get down!
    Penfold: I know you get down from a duck, DM, but I'm quite—WHAA! (an arrow with a note tied to impales his hat against a tree; Penfold faints)
  • The Loud House, in the episode "One Flu Over the Loud House":
    Lincoln: Duck!
    Leni: A duck? Where? Is it sick?
  • In The Smurfs (1981) episode "Baby's Enchanted Didey", Gargamel decides to swear off chasing after Smurfs to take on a new hobby — bird watching. When he starts bird watching, he yells to Azrael "duck!" and ducks out of the way as a duck flies very low.
  • In the Martha Speaks episode "Return of Ralph", Ralph the duck is standing outside of the family house with the remote to their new TV and is using the remote to change the TV channel. The family wonders why the TV is changing channels by itself and figure somebody has the remote. Noticing Ralph the Duck has the remote, Martha tells Helen "duck" and she ducks down. Martha says "No. That's not the kind of duck I mean. What about Window?" Which finally directs Helen to look out the window at the duck.
  • The Magic School Bus used this in its wetlands episode. Tim yells "Duck!" Everybody ducks. Tim says, "No, ducks!" and points to a flock of mallards.
  • Used in the Sofia the First episode "Two to Tangu," as Amber and Sofia, riding a flying carpet, approach a herd of pegasi.
    Sofia: Duck!
    Amber: *excited* Ducks?
    Sofia: No, duck!
  • Loonatics Unleashed has Danger Duck on the receiving end of this at least once. Not too surprising, since he's most often referred to as just "Duck".
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Three's A Crowd", the girls see something hurtling toward them (actually Discord). Rarity yells "Duck!" and everyone does except Pinkie Pie, who gets confused and says, "It doesn't look anything like a duck." Rarity pulls her down right before she loses her head.
  • In the Sheriff Callie's Wild West story "Train Bandits," Sheriff Callie calls it when she and Peck are on top of a train that's about to head into a tunnel. Peck points out that he's a woodpecker, not a duck, but manages to spot the danger just in time spare himself a nasty knock on the noggin.
  • In "Frida Fairy Flies Again" on Doc McStuffins, when Frida starts trying to fly even though her wing is ripped, Doc calls out to duck and Chilly is confused because he thought she was a fairy, not a duck.
  • In "Share Air" on Care Bears & Cousins, after the bears start floating up in the sky because of Harmony Bear's new song, this happens.
    Cheer: Oh no, a duck!
    Tenderheart: (covering his head and ducking slightly) Oh, no! What is it? A tree? An airplane?
    Cheer: (duck passes by, quacking) No, a duck.
  • Said by D.U.F.U.S. to Dr. Quark in the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode, "Robotnik's Rival". Quark, naturally, assumes he's being referred to as a duck. Again.
    D.U.F.U.S.: Duck!
    Quark: I am not a duck!
    D.U.F.U.S. No, I mean, duck!
    (Quark looks down and stares in shock when he sees a missile heading towards him.)
  • Played both ways in Milo Murphy's Law episode "Party of Peril". The first time Elliot stops Milo, Milo says, "You might wanna duck," causing Elliot to duck, only to discover that Milo was offering him a duck he'd found wandering in traffic. After the duck is escorted to a nearby pond, the following exchange plays it the other way:
    Milo: Okay, but you might wanna duck first.
    Elliot: Don't be ridiculous. You couldn't possibly have another duck back... (Elliot gets clobbered by a tire hanging from a low-flying helicopter.)
    Milo: No, I meant because of the tire.
  • On the first episode of the edutainment show JoJo's Circus, this trope was played straight- in more ways than one. Goliath the Lion activates a pie-throwing machine, and when Jojo tells him to duck, he makes duck noises until the clown had to explain to the lion (and the viewers) the verb meaning of duck.
    • This was then played with on a game on the website- it was a pie fight game, and when you were instructed to duck, a button with a duck on it was displayed.
  • In the Rocky and Bullwinkle episode saga "Wossamotta U", Boris paints a football shaped rock as a football and hurls it at Rocky flying in the air. Rocky takes a close look at it, realizes it’s not a football, and quickly dodges the rock, as it lands toward a thug hired by Boris dressed as a lady football player threatening the referee with a gun. That's when Rocky shouts "Duck! Duck!"
    Thug: Hey, what's he mean, "duck, duck"?
    Referee: Maybe there's a flock of them coming over. [makes a break for it as the thug spots the football shaped rocking coming towards him]
    Thug: Hey, that ain't no flock o' ducks. That’s a... [the rock hits him on the head, pushing him into the ground] rock.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: While trying to distract Scorpia from their break-in in "No Princess Left Behind", Sea Hawk gets a message on a nearby computer screen alerting him to duck. Scorpia happily asks where the duck is before Entrapta clobbers her with a crane.
  • T.U.F.F. Puppy: Recurring villain Bird Brain sometimes has a duck among his henchmen who is named Duck, which inevitably results in misunderstandings where he calls for Duck and the rest of his lackeys mistake him for ordering them to duck. He once tried to rectify this by renaming his duck henchman Skip, but that only led to his minions thinking that he was ordering them to skip.
  • The Legend of Tarzan: An amusing variant in "Tarzan and the Flying Ace" (the third part of Tarzan & Jane), in which an aircraft is crashing and swoops down over Tarzan and Jane, prompting the former to ask "What is that?" and the latter to exclaim "Duck!" before dropping to the ground and dragging Tarzan with her. Afterward, Tarzan (who was evidently unfamiliar with the term) simply comments "Big duck."

    Real Life 
  • Among the signs sometimes seen in (generally older) British pubs is one proclaiming 'Duck or grouse'. The unwary may take this to be a reference to the birds, at least until they hit their head on passing through the typically low doorway above which the sign hangs: it's an warning that failure to dip your head (duck) will make you grumble (grouse).

Bowler: (catches the batsman's first hit easily) Duck!


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Wrong Duck



While on the run from Nigel as well as Marcel's henchmen Jewel tells Blu to duck which he mistakenly thinks that she is referring to the bird species due to a earlier statement she made ''Ah this is great, I'm chained to the only bird in the world who can't fly!'' which he had responded to by saying ''Actually there are 40 species of flightless birds'' and so he had thought she had incorrectly guessed that a duck was a flightless bird species.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / Duck

Media sources: