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Everyone Knows Morse

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"Friday afternoon, I'm walking home from school and I'm watching some men build a new house.
And the guy hammering on the roof calls me a paranoid little weirdo. In Morse code."
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The usual communication devices are unsuitable, unavailable, broken or under surveillance. What can a smart hero do?

Morse code, of course! Make a noise, flash a light, or grab something convenient and start maniacally flipping it on and off.

Naturally, the message's recipient knows Morse code, too, but any villains in the vicinity will fail to penetrate this cleverness. Not only that, but sometimes the recipient will figure out the missing bits they lost while figuring it was actually Morse.

Incidentally, Morse Code is officially obsolete for radio communications: In 1999, it was retired as the international standard, and in 2007, the FCC dropped requirements for Morse proficiency for amateur radio operators. It hasn't gone away completely, however. Morse is still in semi-official use by most navies with signal lamps (unlike radio signals, they don't give away a ship's position and can't be picked up by the enemy, unless they're in visual range), and by amateurs: Propogation beacons used to gauge atmospheric conditions and estimate their current effective transmission range identify themselves by a two-letter callsign in Morse, for example, and it's traditional (and in some places was once required) for a repeater to send its station callsign in Morse at regular intervals. A surprising number of particularly dedicated old-school hams are still using it to talk to each other, as well.

By the way, if you're in trouble, you can always send the most commonly-known message in Morse Code: 3 dots, 3 dashes, 3 dots (SOS). note 

A similarly recognizable one is SMS (3 dots, 2 dashes, 3 dots), which is used as a ringtone on many Nokia mobile phones to indicate an incoming text.

Fridge Logic may set in if the people using Morse code don't live in societies where they have radio communications or aren't from Earth.

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  • 7 Seeds has Team Summer A's Koruri get an interest in morse code and began communicating with it from afar, with other characters using it, too. Justified, they were trained to survive in the wild, post-apocalyptic world, presuming that electrical devices wouldn't work anymore, so knowing Morse would be helpful. Played straight with Haru, from Team Spring, who apparently knows Morse without having really studied - but since he's a musical genius with good rhythm, he likely picked it up that way.
  • Amusingly subverted in Developers (a prequel to Mobile Suit Gundam about the construction of the very first Zaku). When they discover the radiation from the mech's experimental reactor is disrupting their wireless communications, they attempt to communicate with the crew in the work area by flashing lights in morse code, only to find out the only thing anybody there knows in morse is how to say "please respond", leading to an Overly-Long Gag.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, when Pride and Alphonse are both trapped in a huge stone prison made by alchemy, Pride, helpless to escape, grabs a stick and starts banging on Alphonse's helmet. It isn't until it's too late that the heroes realize that he's been banging out the equivalent of a Morse-code message, transmitted through the underground tunnels, telling Father their position. In this case, the fact that everyone doesn't know Morse code is important: Alphonse doesn't recognize that it's a message for the longest time, and it is only recognized as such when a military veteran actually listens to the tapping for a bit.
  • Izetta: The Last Witch: Finé has one of her soldiers transmit a Morse code message using a plank and a signal light to a garrison force miles away on the frontline. Justified as this is an alternate World War II setting and both the sender and the recipient are NCOs; the receiving sergeant has to translate the message to his troops.
  • The Kindaichi Case Files: Kindaichi solves a puzzling murder this way when he realizes that one of the victims, a military Otaku who plays survival games in his spare time, is proficient in Morse code and figures out that the apparently nonsense poem found where he died was actually his Dying Clue.
  • Koroshiya Yametai: Gina, whose throat is injured during a fight, uses Morse code by clenching her teeth, allowing her employers to pick up the sound through her earpiece.
  • In Mission: Yozakura Family, all of the Yozakuras are proficient in Morse and they also teach Taiyo the same. They can do it so rapid-fire that Kyoichiro can essentially send creepy texts to Mutsumi in class by tapping chalk on the board.
  • Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water has Captain Nemo head into a diving location with Hanson and Samson and Jean. He asks in an assuming matter if they all know morse code; Samson and Jean nod, while Hanson doesn't.
  • Nagasarete Airantou: One time in the anime, Machi sends a message to her little sister Ayane with morse using Voodoo Doll chest pains. Also, they were a short walk away from each other the whole time.
  • Mafuyu and Banchou (Okegawa) in Ore-sama Teacher. He even calls her "Morse" or "morse girl" ('Moorus' in Japanese).
  • Played with and slightly subverted in Pokémon Adventures when Professor Rowan's lab assistant Roseanne is stuck when the lab is attacked by Yanmegas. She has the idea to turn the lights on and off in order to attract attention from the outside, and thus call for help as the Yanmegas are drowning out her voice due to their supersonic buzzing. Diamond notices this, and tells Sebastian, a butler, about it. Sebastian then proceeds to flash back a message using his Chinchou. Diamond realizes something and points out this is kinda stupid when they really should just head over and check out whats going on. Sebastian agrees.
    • In an earlier, Pryce would tap his cane on the ground to non-verbally communicate with his Pokemon. Apparently Pokemon can learn Morse code as well.
    • Turns out Morse code is part of the curriculum at the Sky Trainer Academy.
  • Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea has a longer conversation in Morse code. Not quite a trope because it's between a sailor and his wife. The couples five-year-old son also happens to be fluent in Morse code, something lampshaded by the sailors on the husband's ship.
  • The Science Ninja Team Gatchaman episode "Murder Music" had Galactor capturing a rock band for their Evil Plan. For their part, the band's drummer manages to send a message in Morse code in the middle of the nonsensical music they were forced to play. Dr. Nambu figures out the message and the Science Ninja Team uses the information to rescue them.
  • One of the most charming moments in Super Dimension Fortress Macross/Robotech is when Hikaru Ichijo wants to say something to Misa Hayase by something more private than a comm system. So, he asks her to look out the window and he uses his fighter's tracking lights in Morse code to give a message of support to her.
  • The rather extraordinary staff at Jesus' high school in Until Death Do Us Part gets contacted by a group of african mercenaries through these means over the P.A. system as to not disturb the student body. The message itself is a declaration of war.

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  • In Batman #663, well-known for other strangeness, a severely-injured Joker swore at the doctors in Morse code by blinking. And laughed at Batman the same way. Of course, you'd expect Batman to know it.
    • Again, truth in television; some stroke victims or similarly incapacitated persons use just such a technique to communicate. Admittedly, they were, say, radio operators beforehand... and see below...
    • In Detective Comics #726, it was revealed that the Joker had been communicating with the inmate in the next cell by tapping on the wall in Morse code, because staying in Arkham is that boring. It was explained that the other inmate knew Morse code because he'd been a sailor.
    • And in Emperor Joker, the Joker steals Batman's mouth — but Batman's still able to communicate by tapping his teeth together in Morse code.
    • Yet another Batman example: when being held for murder, Bruce is visited by Alfred and sends him a message by tapping on the table.
    • Batman: Gordon of Gotham: During the robbery of a family diner in the 1970s, a waitress makes an SOS signal in Morse with the electric lights by repeatedly pulling at a plug behind her back while facing the opposite direction.
  • Fall of X features Cyclops being held prisoner by the anti-mutant organisation Orchis, his eyes literally sewn shut so that he cannot use his powers and his limbs bound, as well as a bomb strapped under his chair so that nobody can release him. Fortunately, Firestar has been able to trick Orchis into thinking she is loyal to them when she is actually a double agent working for the X-Men, she and Cyclops exchanging information by Firestar tapping out Morse code on Cyclops' arm while the two are alone so that nobody else can hear the message.
  • Iron Fist: In Immortal Iron Fist the various Immortal Weapons all use Morse code to communicate while captured, which is really odd because they're martial artists who have devoted their entire lives to combat and not all of them are even from Earth.
    • A subtle Shout-Out there in the title, as a Morse sender's individual style and rhythm of sending is called his or her "fist."
  • In a Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen comic, Jimmy is captured by the bad guys so that they can use his signal watch to lure Superman into a Kryptonite trap. However, Jimmy plays with the frequency so that the watch sounds out "D-A-N-G-E-R K-R-Y-P-T-O-N-I-T-E". How he could do this, since the signal watch supposedly operates on a frequency humans can't hear, is anybody's guess.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The short story "What Ho, Gods of the Abyss" had a one-off joke about Bertie trying to signal to Jeeves by coughing in Morse code. Jeeves came running, but it turned out later that he didn't recognize the signal and just thought Bertie was choking.
  • Nova: At one point Sam tries to save a damaged alien spaceship and communicates with the aliens inside it by flashing lights at them in Morse code. The ship's universal translator picks this up and interprets it as "rent your asthma," which the aliens correctly interpret as "vent your plasma" and the ship is saved. Justified immediately when a discussion in a cutaway panel reveals that Sam's unusual behavior lately has included, among other things, reading up on Morse code. Though how a universal translator module was able to pick up flashing lights and interpret them as a message instead of just flashing lights is anyone's guess.
  • Tintin in The Blue Lotus; realistic, as the story is set in the 1930s, when Morse code was the only method for long distance radio communication.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Steve Trevor, Diana and Etta Candy all know Morse code, and occasionally use it for subtle communications.

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  • In the Dan Dare story "Prisoners of Space", senior cadet Steve Valiant send a Morse message by tapping a pencil on a desk in front of him, telling Dan to refuse the demands the Mekon has made for his safe release. At the same time, Steve pretends to crack up and beg Dan to rescue him. Why do they have Morse in the future? Hank Hogan gets the real message and comments that he finally knows why they made him learn it.
  • In the Dick Tracy Flattop story, Tracy is held by the criminal in a boarding house and learns that there is a female army officer on the floor below learning Morse code. Hoping that she's learned enough, Tracy decides to play a piano and stomp on the floor as if in time to the music, but actually a call for help in Morse code. Fortunately, the woman understands the message and calls the police. When Tracy's partner, Pat Patton, learns that the radio in Flattop's room reacts to a light bulb on his floor being disconnected, he uses it to send a return message to Tracy that help is on the way.
  • There was a FoxTrot comic where Jason entered a talent show by tap dancing. He said that they wouldn't let him do it because one of the judges knew morse code. If you decode his tap dancing, it spells out "SOME DAY I WILL RULE YOU ALL".
  • Modesty Blaise: In "The Hanging Judge", a kidnapped nurse uses her fingers to tap out her location on the video of her her kidnapper sends to her parents. Modesty and Willie are able to decode her message and stage a rescue mission. However, it takes them several days of studying the video before they realise she is sending a message and that the tapping is not just a nervous tic.

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  • A Chance Meeting of Two Moons: Dusk Shine knows it, and apparently, after "devouring the language portion of the library" as a foal, he would only speak in Morse code for a time, until Steel Barricade threatened to embarrass him by showing his Baron Von Genius Jeans action figure (his equivalent to Twilight's Smarty Pants doll) to everypony.
  • In Imaginary Seas, Percy uses Zoe's arrows to flash "five minutes" in Morse code as a discreet signal to Chiron. Justified in that Chiron could have easily taught this to his students as part of their training at Camp Half-Blood, even though he predates the concept by nearly 14,000 years.
  • In Karma in Retrograde, Touya Todoroki taught this to his siblings so they could discreetly communicate under Endeavor's noses. When he wakes up in the present, he realizes that what he's experiencing is real and not a dream when he hears Shouto tapping "real" from behind the one-way glass.
  • Played with in Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover. On one hand, nobody in this universe really knows Morse since it was phased out in favor of "blink-code" (for the Systems Alliance anyway). That said, Cortana knowing Morse isn't really a surprise, and it is later revealed that the message was intentionally phrased so that only certain people would respond. Transmitting in Morse may have been part of that as it has never been established that Borderlands uses Morse in any significant capacity (though how anyone in that galaxy then knew how to use it is another question entirely...) It does start out with the most-well-known pattern ("SOS").
  • Inverted Trope in XCOM: RWBY Within's sequel Remnant Unknown, where an XCOM combat engineer goes to great lengths to hide a radio transmission so that only XCOM personnel would decode it. First, he makes the airwaves look like a Gag Penis on the 69 megahertz bandith, further encrypts it by breaking it up in asymetrical packets,and it turns out to be morse code, which is explicitly noted by the communication specialist picking the transmission as "a communication protocol the people of Remnant have never heard of", making him understand said combat engineer really did not want the wrong person to decode the message.

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  • In Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants sequel movie we learn that Morse code is how ants communicate. Across continents.
  • In The Rescuers Down Under, after Cody is kidnapped by McLeach, the mouse Cody rescued earlier meets up with a friend in a secret outpost, who sends a Morse Code telegram across the Pacific that eventually reaches the Rescue Aid Society in the States.
  • Starship Troopers: Invasion.
    • When the Alesia first catches up with the John A. Warden adrift in space, it is mentioned that the former have tried every possible means of contacting the latter, including light flash signals.
    • When the Queen Bug has cut off all communication, one of the troopers starts firing bursts from his gun in front of a window, and Rico is able to figure out what he's signaling.
  • Toy Story:
    • Babyface, one of Sid's toys in the first film, taps out "RR Come out" in morse code on a metal table leg in Sid's room to call the mutant toys out.
    • In the beginning of Toy Story 2, Woody is frantically searching for his lost hat with the other toys helping him. Hamm communicates with a garden gnome across the street by flicking the window blinds open and closed, asking if it's in the front yard

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  • Thing in The Addams Family film uses Morse code to inform Gomez that Morticia's being tortured for the knowledge on how to gain entry to the family vault.
  • In Assault on a Queen, one the officers of the RMS Queen Mary signals a Coast Guard cutter by flashing a message with a hand lantern. Justified, as in 1966, ships officers and Coast Guard crew were required to know Morse code. Also done realistically, as the cutter's radio operator jots the message down on a pad before reading it out. The Coast Guard captain then asks for the officer to repeat the message, because it is so odd.
  • This is what the titular dog in the film Bingo does when he calls the police to inform them that two criminals have taken a family hostage and tied them in a bathroom in their own RV.
  • Parodied (and then played straight by Simpkins) in Carry On Spying;
    Bind: It's Morse code!
    Simpkins: What does it say?
    Bind: Dot dot dash, dot, dot dash...
    Crump: Well, what does it mean?
    Bind: I don't know.
    Simpkins: Oh, give it here!
  • In Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, the heroes are surrounded by The Dragon and an army of gun-toting mooks, but Alex is able to kill the lights, forcing blind fire while the women slip (or, rather, front-flip) behind them. While the mooks scramble for the lights, the trio silently communicates via tapping Morse into each other's palms before the lights come back on.
  • In Executive Decision, the trope is played with when Kurt Russel's character uses the boarded plane's tracking lights for Morse code, knowing the only reason this can work is that the US fighter planes following the plane are Navy, the only US armed service that still trained its pilots in Morse code.
    Soldier: I take back every rust-pickin', squid-hatin' thing I've ever said about swabbies!
  • In Hot Shots! Part Deux, the radio operator writes down a morse code transmission as "Dit dit dah, dit dah dit".
  • In The Hunt for Red October, two submarines communicate with one another by flashing Morse code over the periscope light. The American transmitting (Scott Glenn playing Capt. Mancuso) says, "My Morse is so rusty, I'm probably sending him the measurements of the Playmate of the Month." Note that in this case, not only did both officers need to be able to communicate in Morse Code, but had to deal with a potential language barrier, especially with the assumption that Ramius might not want to bring in a second crewman to help translate (though Jack Ryan does know that Ramius is a military genius who studied Western tactics and could only have done so by learning English).
  • Independence Day has humankind using Morse code to plan a global "comeback attack". The aliens notice the emissions and come knocking.
  • At the end of Interstellar, Cooper uses gravity to send messages to the past in both Morse and binary. Despite being an ex-pilot and astronaut, he doesn't know either by heart, but fortunately has a Robot Buddy to do the translating.
  • In Let the Right One In, Oskar copies down Morse Code from a library book so he and Eli can communicate through the common wall they share for their neighbouring bedrooms. Later, Eli uses Morse to tap out the message 'hi' when knocking on Oskar's door. At the end, when she's in her trunk she and Oskar tap out the word 'kiss' to one another.
  • In the Stephen King movie (that is, written and directed by King) Maximum Overdrive, the machines have suddenly gained intelligence and started slaughtering humanity in wildly ridiculous fashions (eg. a vending machine pitching soda can fastballs, push mover killing its pusher, and so on). Anyway, at one point the vehicles are running low on fuel, so they have the mounted gun among them honk its horn in Morse, which the boy scout among the survivors in a diner translates into a "fuel us and we don't kill you" message. A perfect display of the trope: spoken language speed translation, post sending translation, and so on.
  • In A Night to Remember ships communicate by using Morse Code with Marconi instruments. The trope is averted because the film is set in 1912 when that was standard practice.
  • In the movie Panic Room, Jodie Foster's daughter sends an SOS to a neighbor via a flashlight. Jodie Foster asks where she learned Morse code, and the daughter says, "From Titanic (1997)." Unfortunately, the neighbor does not recognize that he is being signaled and goes to bed, forcing them to deal with the problem themselves.
  • Parasite (2019): Geun-se is insanely grateful to Dong-ik for being able to secretly live in his house and tries to express his worship by making the entryway light blink in Morse whenever Dong-ik comes home. Later on, when he's tied up by the Kims, he tries sending a message by headbutting the switch. At the end of the film, when Ki-taek is the one in hiding, he taps out a long and complicated message to his son Ki-woo, who realistically has to record the code directly for later translation.
  • In Phenomenon, Forrest Whitaker's character is a HAM operator, so he should know Morse code for that reason, but John Travolta's character not only knows Morse code (for no reason) and can decipher a very fast message that Whitaker picks up on his HAM radio. To be fair, Travolta's character has a brain tumor which rewires his brain, allowing him to learn things easily. He could have picked up Morse code off-camera.
  • In Ship Ahoy, Eleanor Powell actually tap dances in Morse Code.
  • Subverted in Short Circuit 2 where Ben is trapped with Fred in a freezer. Ben is able to rig up a device to tap into the telephone network that can only communicate with beeps. Fred suggests to use Morse Code, assuming Ben knew it, but he doesn't ("But you're smart, I thought you'd know Morse!"), so Ben is forced to communicate to their female friend using musical notes of particular songs made by his machine to give directions. Together, the woman and the taxi driver driving her manage to figure out the songs and get to the right location.
  • In SpaceCamp, one of the campers in the accidentally-launched shuttle realizes that she can use a telemetry switch to send Morse code in place of the nonfunctional radio. The control room operators need the help of the ever-annoying robot Jinxnote  to notice that one of their console lights is rapidly blinking in an irregular pattern...
  • In Star Trek V, Scotty uses Morse to warn Kirk, Spock, and Bones to get away from the brig wall he's about to blow open.
    Bones: "Stand back?"
    Kirk & Bones: "Stand back?!"
    Scotty: What're ye all standin' aroun' for? Do ye not know a jailbreak when ye see one?!
  • In Super Cop 2, The Mole (who appears to be on the same side as Michelle Yeoh's heroine) managed to relay a hidden message to an arrested minion under police custody by tapping a morse message into the man's wrists.
  • Transformers (2007): While Frenzy has Maggie, Glenn, Secretary Keller, and Agent Simmons pinned in the archives, Glenn modifies an ancient PC to send a Morse code tone through the shortwave radio set so Keller can authorize an air strike against the Decepticons in Mission City.
  • This trope is key in Eagle Eye; in order to get his message out, the Sacrificial Lamb flashed his cell phone light while walking in circles around an elevator shaft. Somehow, the all-seeing evil supercomputer onto which the message was recorded (and from which the other protagonists retrieved the message) was not able to catch the Morse-coded message despite the fact that the character was not apparently doing anything else while walking in circles around the elevator shaft.
  • Subverted in Tremors 4: The Legend Begins. When trapped in a building with a telegram machine and a hungry Graboid, none of the characters can use Morse code. Instead, they just randomly tap it, which makes other people suspicious and makes them go and investigate.
  • U-571 had a bound German sailor aboard a captured U-Boat tapping out a message with a wrench so that another German warship in the area would hear on Sonar... I am U-571... destroy me!
  • In Under Siege, Seagal's character is able to rescue a group of survivors who just happened to be broadcasting Morse code as he was nearby. Somewhat justified in that he was previously a Navy SEAL.
  • Subverted in Untraceable: when Griffin is being tortured to death on the webcam, he blinks a morse code clue to the federal agents he knows are watching. However, none of them know morse, forcing Diane Lane to run across the building to find the only agent who does.
  • In Wag the Dog, the conspiracy uses this trope to gain sympathy for the cause of war. Their fake POW, "Old Shoe," has ripped a Morse code into his shirt reading, "Courage, Mom." In reality, "Old Shoe" is just some psycho they pulled from a military prison.

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  • In Area 7, Fox got tied up, and was able to call for help on her wrist mike by tapping out her callsign in Morse code.
  • In Cheaper by the Dozen, the father decides his children should learn Morse code and paints messages in it on the walls. Most of them translate to Puns (one of which, "Two maggots were fighting in dead Ernest," his wife makes him paint out because it's not appropriate for the dining room, in code or otherwise). One of the kids remarks on how they won't be satisfied now until they've figured them all out, even though they know the most they're going to get out of it is bad jokes.
  • In The Crow Road by Iain Banks, two lovers communicate their love for each other after sex using Morse code... with their genitals.
  • In The Day of the Triffids, the protagonist is out searching for his missing girlfriend. On seeing a lit building in the otherwise uninhabited countryside (the triffids having killed almost everyone...) he sends a 'V' (...-, think the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony) in Morse using a portable searchlight. The inhabitants know morse well as per this trope and respond with a detailed message... which he has no idea how to translate, and simply flashes back a few more 'V's for good measure and starts driving towards them.
  • Thankfully averted in Deception Point. The protagonist, The Smart Guy, and the Satellite Love Interest are trapped on an iceberg, and they know that they have only a little time before they die of hypothermia. The protagonist pulls out a pickax and starts hammering away the SOS signal on the iceberg, thinking that a system that the United States has on the ocean floor will pick up the signal, come find their bodies, so that the conspiracy will be unveiled. What she didn't figure on was a nearby submarine picking up on the signal and coming to the rescue.
  • Dream Park: In The Moon Maze Game, when the Gamers are cut off from all but video contact with anyone outside the Game dome, one of them manages to communicate with the Game Master by gesturing in Morse (palm palm palm fist fist fist palm palm palm) to a closed-circuit camera. Justified because she's an historical-aviation buff.
  • In the Brazilian book series Os Karas, the titular Kid Detectives use Morse as a recurring secret code. In the first book, the then-newbie Chumbinho knows the code well enough to leave a message in the boys' restroom before being kidnapped (he had to use what he could reach). Later books show them using the code with owl hoots and handshakes.
  • Briefly discussed and averted in The Famous Five book Five On Kirrin Island Again. When Uncle Quentin is working on Kirrin Island, his wife is worried for his safety, and they agree that he gives a signal of six flashes twice a day, to confirm he is all right. One day, he flashes eighteen times instead of six, causing everyone to wonder why. Julian says that if he was in trouble, he would flash the SOS signal, but George says he does not know Morse code.
  • Played with in the novel Figgs and Phantoms: a man whose wife is a tap dancer learns Morse code in case she's trying to send him secret messages, but it's mostly just gibberish with occasional words like "stringbean" or "mousetrap".
  • The Great Merlini: The Footprints on the Ceiling: None of the characters know Morse, which causes immediate suspicion when Merlini and Ross see a window light blinking on and off. While Dr. Gail doesn't know Morse, he does have an encyclopedia — he looked up the code, transcribed a "call the cops" message, and tried sending it via light switch. "At least, that's what I hope I was sending." (Though since the Cut Phone Lines had been temporarily patched, it didn't matter.)
  • Played with to ridiculous extremes in The Heartless Mans Sons, where a spy relays messages by lighting candles in the windows of five adjacent rooms, with one candle representing a dot and two representing a dash. Needless to say it takes patience to relay and decode such messages, but being written by an arch-romantic, the novel usually operates on Rule of Cool rather than logic.
  • The Heroes of Olympus: In The Blood of Olympus, Annabeth communicates with the ship using Morse by reflecting sunlight off a mirror. Justified in that she's a daughter of Athena, and thus very smart, and is trying to specifically communicate with Leo, who's a son of Hephaestus and thus a tech genius - this wouldn't work with any other pair of main characters.
  • In The Hunt for Red October, two submarines communicate with one another by flashing Morse code over the periscope light. In the book, British intelligence officers on the HMS. Invincible are the ones exchanging Morse code with Ramius, and the American submarine just happens to catch part of the message — which allows Capt. Mancuso to deduce part of the situation and realize how highly classified the operation has become.
  • Appears in Dalton Trumbo's novel Johnny Got His Gun, and therefore both its film adaptation and the music video of the Metallica song based on it, One, which incorporates footage from the movie. The main character is blind, deaf, mute, and a quadruple amputee after being hit by an artillery shell in World War I. The climax of the novel is when he learns to communicate with the outside world by tapping his head in Morse code. Slightly averted in that the nurse who sees it doesn't know what he's saying until she finds an officer to translate, and him knowing Morse code makes sense given he's in the army.
    • Although the MV doesn't show all of this, Johnny can still be seen knocking out the code for 'SOS', 'help', and 'kill me' during it.
    • If you get a Morse manual and translate the messages that Johnny and the officer are exchanging, you'll find that the writer and editor of that novel weren't actually fluent in Morse. For example, what the book claims is "What Do You Want?" actually reads "What Di Hiu Want?"
  • Played with in Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon Days, in which the boys of the local Scout troop explain to their Scoutmaster why there's absolutely no reason for them to learn Morse or Semaphore signals. There are no tall hills anywhere near town, nobody else in town knows either code, and if they really needed help that badly, why would they climb to the top of a nonexistent hill and wave flags or flash lights at people who can't understand them, when they could just get in the Scoutmaster's car?
  • The Martian: Mark Watney doesn't know Morse at the beginning of the novel, but teaches himself the code as a backup means of communication with Earth. If (when) his radio link dies, he can send short messages by arranging rocks and waiting until the next satellite takes a picture. The NASA member in charge of monitoring those satellite images learns the code herself to speed things up.
  • Mindstar Rising, by Peter F. Hamilton. The Trinities have to enter the mansion of Julia Evans after a hacker attack has shut down all communications, causing the security system to go into Lock Down. To try and convince the security hardliners inside that they're friendly, they send a morse code message by laser, knowing their chief of security is ex-military. He communicates back via loudhailer.
  • In The Mysterious Benedict Society, the kids send messages in Morse code. One of them comments that nobody uses Morse code anymore, and Mr. Benedict responds that that's exactly why it's so useful for secret messages. For an extra layer of security, everyone either composes their messages as riddles that would only make sense to their group or keeps them as short and non-specific as possible.
  • The tribute/compilation book Nancy Drew's Guide to Life points out that you never know when a skill will come in handy- using, as an example, Nancy's once combining her knowledge of Morse code and tap-dancing to signal for help.
  • Frequently played straight in Pilot Pirx stories by Stanisław Lem. Justified by Space Is an Ocean with appropriate dose of Zeerust.
  • Andre Norton's Postmarked the Stars has a settlement cut off by radio jamming call for aid by generating a counter-pulse in a simple on-off code. When the settler asked what code to use, he was told to use something simple...
  • In one of Patrick Moore's Scott Saunders novels, the captured astronauts time an escape attempt by blinking morse to each other. It fails. Their captors blindfold them.
  • In Shades of Grey, everyone does know Morse code; it's used to communicate at night via East Carmine's central plumbing system. The librarian transmits (illegal) book readings.
  • E. E. "Doc" Smith's Skylark Series has a memorable scene where the opening part of a Morse conversation is carried out by firing a machine-gun at a spaceship's armoured hull. Needless to say all the male characters in the vicinity are completely familiar with the code, but the author at least made an attempt to show how slowly the message was sent.
  • Deconstructed in Harry Harrison's Spaceship Medic, set on a heavily damaged spaceship some time in the future: the radio has been jury-rigged back into operation, and the only signals it can send that are powerful enough to reach help are bursts of static. They have to revive the now ancient and obsolete Morse code in order to send messages via bursts of static. Meanwhile, the recipients on Mars are left scrabbling through the history books to find out how to translate the strange signals.
  • In several Star Trek: New Frontier novels, someone uses the SOS signal, because comms are out, but they have external running lights, or a pulse signal to a computer core, or the like. While it's generally obsolete and most characters don't know it, there are a few history buffs (or in one case, a Time Abyss) who recognize it as a distress call.
  • In the Star Wars Legends, the Morse equivalent is Mon Calamari blink code. Han can make himself understood in it, albeit with hilariously poor spelling, and it occasionally comes in useful when no better comms are available. According to The Corellian Trilogy, the series where this first became a plot point, Leia is considerably better at it than Han.
  • In the Swallows and Amazons book Winter Holiday, Dick and Dorothea send signals to the main characters out of curiosity. Not knowing Morse themselves, they're unaware that they're sending out a distress signal. (They do learn Morse later on in the story.)
  • Averted in a The Three Investigators story where the murder victim writes the murderer's name in semaphore code using the hands of clocks.
  • In the Stephen King short story "Trucks", when the eponymous vehicles come to malevolent life, one of them uses its horn to issue demands via Morse to a group of humans; fortunately, one of the listeners learned the code in the Boy Scouts.
  • Averted in "Calling The Empress", one of the first Venus Equilateral stories by George O. Smith. Morse is used in a makeshift arrangement to send a message to an interplanetary ship. The senders' Morse is rusty; many of them were ham radio operators but haven't used Morse for a while. And none of the bridge officers on the ship know Morse at all. They have to page the passengers and other crew, asking for someone who knows Morse, and they come up with a boy who learned Morse for a scouting merit badge.
  • Subverted in Worlds of the Imperium by Keith Laumer. Bayard reaches the broken MK drive (essentially a teleporter between parallel worlds) and jury-rigs it to transmit SOS, hoping that Imperium diverged from "our" Earth after Morse code was created and they should understand the signal and save him. He is wrong — despite its MK drives (or thanks to them) Imperium is behind us in electronics, radio isn't that widespread and there were no agreements about SOS signal. But Imperium sends help anyway — they detected an odd powerful signal from where Bayard was sent to, concluded something went wrong and sent a team to investigate.
  • In some stories from the 30s and 40s about a troop of Boy Scouts, there is a memorable sequence where one of the Scouts is captured by the Bad Guys and taken away in the requisite big, black sedan. When the car stops at a light, the kidnapped Scout sees one of his fellow Scouts on a bus in the nearby lane. He catches the fellow Scout's attention away from the driver's view, and signals his predicament by Morse Coding WITH HIS THUMB! Why he couldn't just mouth "CALL THE COPS" is never addressed.

    .-.. .. ...- . ..-- .- -.-. - .. --- -. ..-- - ...- (Live-Action TV) 
  • In one episode of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. Brisco is seen tapping into a telegraph wire to send a message, and arguing one-sidedly with someone about how to do the morse code. The shot pans out to reveal he is arguing with Comet, his horse. (Comet is arguably the smartest character on the show...)
  • It's also used in a episode of The Adventures of Superboy in which Lana Lang is kidnapped by Lex Luthor. When Luthor sends Superboy a "wedding video" of the two of them in order to taunt him, Superboy notices the methodical way Lana is blinking and realizes she's using Morse code to tell him where she is.
  • In The Adventures of Superman, Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane are trapped in a room with a flue with a closable hatch. Jimmy realizes that he knows how to signal SOS with smoke, but the only thing to burn is a large amount of cash a rich person gave him. With much regret, Olsen agrees it is the only way and burns the money to do the smoke signaling. Fortunately, at least Superman sees the distress signal and rescues them.
  • In the Alias episode "The Confession", as enemies look on, Jack sends a message to Sydney by blinking rapidly. One can only hope that the next time Jack has something in his eye he won't give away any important secrets.
  • Averted on Season 16 of The Amazing Race. A Detour task required teams to translate a message transmitted in Morse code while noises from a simulated war were going on around them. No team initially chose this task, but one team was forced to attempt it by another team via a race mechanism known as the "U-Turn." Ultimately, they were unable to complete the task and were eliminated in the field, unable to reach the Pit Stop.
  • Subverted in The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon tries to communicate with Morse code but Leonard says he doesn't know it. Sheldon then attempts to teach it to him.
  • In the second Bottom live show, jailbirds Eddie and Richie communicate with the prisoner next door through tapping a fork on a pipe (Well, Eddie does. Richie just bangs the pipe randomly, later acknowledging that he doesn't know morse code).
  • In Castle when the titular author and his mother are being held hostage in a bank, he uses a reflection off her bracelet to flash out a Morse Code message to the police outside. The message is short (SDB 147), and he repeats it several times before Beckett even figures out that it is a message. We get a brief glimpse of the paper she jotted it down on, showing that she needed time to figure out what exactly he was saying. Castle's the sort of person who once had his daughter duct tape him to a chair and leave the house to figure out how a character would get out of it, so learning Morse Code is very much in the realm of reality for him, whereas Beckett had access to Google, if nothing else, so whether or not she actually knew Morse or not wasn't really addressed.
  • In Doctor Who, the Third Doctor once managed to get out an SOS to The Brigadier from under the noses of some military goons who had captured him by using the machine he was supposed to be building to send static through the phone lines.
    • Also in "Terror of the Autons" the Doctor at one point is tied up, in a bus, in the driver's seat, manages to reach the brake pedal, and flashes a message in Morse over the brake lights. Not just that, it's a long, complicated message full of technical terms that should take at least a few minutes to send, and Captain Yates gets it all down perfectly.
    • In "Shada", the injured Professor Chronotis (a retired Time Lord) beats his hearts in Gallifreyan Morse code to warn the Doctor's companions of impending danger.
  • In The Drew Carey Show, Drew tries to blink in Morse code to stop everyone from removing him from life-support and killing him, but they just get weirded out and do it anyway. He gets better.
  • In one episode of Eureka, most of the main characters are trapped in Carter's sentient house. They use Morse code to communicate with the deputy, who is in the sewers below said house, by banging on a pipe. Possibly not played straight, as someone suggests a freakishly long message be sent, and Carter explains, "You know we'll die before I Morse all that," though obviously paraphrased. Stark then suggests "Crack... pipe," which works just fine. Justified because Carter is a Marshal and deputy Lupo is an Army Ranger, so both might legitimately have been trained in it.
    • The whole point of 'Eureka' the town is that it is filled with supergenuises. They probably learn new modes of communication for fun.
  • For All Mankind. After his son is rendered braindead in an accident Edward Baldwin, who has been alone on the Moonbase for a long time awaiting a relief team, suffers a Heroic BSoD and refuses to communicate with Mission Control back on Earth. This means that he doesn't know that his help is needed to rescue the crew of Apollo 24. Mission Control have to remotely control the moonbase's lights to get them to flash SOS, though it's a Soviet cosmonaut on the base at the time who actually realises what is happening.
  • Paranormal Challenge, spun off from Ghost Adventures, had two teams investigate the USS Hornet. One team's Mel Meter, which measures EMF (electromagnetic frequency) and temperature, goes off in what sounds like in Morse code fashion. Turns out, it's an actual encrypted code that was used back in World War II between US ship-to-ship communications.
  • The trope is invoked by name in the Ghosts (UK) episode "Bump in the Night" when a group of ghosts are trying to communicate with a living human despite their very limited ability to affect the material world. This is justified in that the two ghosts who say this are a youth group leader from a boy scouts-style organisation and a WWII army officer — two people who might well think that way.
  • In Inspector Morse (what else?), composer Barrington Pheloung based the theme on the Morse code for "Morse." He claims that in many episodes he works the name of whomever done it into the musical score via Morse code (and sometimes the name of another character as a red herring).
  • The opening of Jericho (2006) played a Morse code transmission over the title card. Sometimes the Morse code was just the show's title, but for many episodes, the code could be translated into a plot-relevant clue.
  • Played straight in the JAG episode "Embassy", when Harm is taken hostage in the Sudanese embassy and the FBI has already decided to cut off the embassy’s electric power, Harm signals the word “power’’ in Morse code by failing to light a cigar, and this is noticed by Bud at JAG Headquarters through ZNN live coverage and Clayton Webb relays it the FBI.
  • In the Leverage episode "The Rundown Job," the team realizes their ally Colonel Vance is walking into a trap and can't reach him by phone, so Hardison hacks Vance's SUV and makes the horn honk an SOS.
  • In an episode of Lost, Bernard the dentist gets a small moment of awesome when he reveals that he knows Morse, and the person claiming to translate a message is lying through his teeth.
  • MacGyver (1985):
    • In an episode where Murdoc is hot on his trail in an off-season backwoods cabin location, Mac climbs a telephone pole and uses a copper bracelet to tap SOS directly into a phone line to summon help. The owner of the general store who hears the interference is retired military.
    • One episode also gives us an interesting variant, Everyone Knows Signal Flags (a naval equivalent of Morse code, using patterned flags to send messages). Mac finds a junked boat with a signal flag kit, and sends up a MacGyvered helium balloon with the flags attached underneath, in order to draw attention. Thankfully, a policeman who happens to be a Navy veteran is nearby and sees the message. MacGyver himself doesn't know the code, otherwise he would have known that he could have only used one flag (V, meaning "I require assistance") or even two (N and C, "I am in distress"), instead of using four to spell out H, E, L, P.
  • An episode of Mission: Impossible called "The Town" employed this when Jim Phelps was paralyzed and could only communicate to his friends via blinking.
  • An episode of the '88 Mission: Impossible called "Cargo Cult" employed this when Grant uses a laser sight to project a Morse code message onto a native's white-painted chest. Nicholas is able to read the message.
  • In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Buys a House", Natalie, Stottlemeyer and Disher are all proficient in Morse code. When Monk and Natalie are taken hostage near the end, Natalie uses smoke signals in Morse code to get help from Stottlemeyer and Disher.
  • An episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, introduced trailers for many film parodies of well-known literature. All of which are done with (random) signal dialogue, subtitles, and melodrama (no talking).
    • "And now for the very first time on the silver screen comes the film from two books which once shocked a generation. From Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights and from the International Guide to Semaphore Code, 20th Century Vole presents The Semaphore Version of Wuthering Heights." [We are shown a segment of Heathcliffe and Catherine saying each others' names while waving semaphore flags to communicate]
    • "From the pulsating pages of history, from the dark and furious days of Imperial Rome we bring you a story that shattered the world! A tale so gripping that they said it could not be filmed. A unique event in cinema history: Julius Caesar on an Aldis Lamp!" [Caesar is walking through the Forum as a wild-eyed soothsayer flashes an Aldis lamp in his face: "BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH" Caesar is then stabbed, and as he collapses, he pulls out a giant Aldis lamp and flashes "ET TU, BRUTE".]
    • From the makers of Gunfight at OK Corral in Morse Code (two gunfighters whip out Morse buzzers, one buzzing "AAHHHHH!" as he falls), and the smoke signal version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
  • Averted in an episode of NCIS, where a Marine, being used as a guinea pig for a neurotoxin, manages to send out a SOS over traffic lights before he dies. Ducky explains that the simplicity and easy recognition of the infamous "dot-dot-dot dash-dash-dash dot-dot-dot" signal is precisely why it was chosen over the older code ("CQD", or "Come Quick, Distress".), while Ziva points out how even if he'd gotten out anything longer, it probably wouldn't have been recognized. DiNozzo then gets his foot caught in his mouth when he mentions that nobody these days would recognize it...right in front of Gibbs, who (of course) would.
    • Not "Come Quick"... it's "Seek You".
    • A variation from NCIS; on more than one occasion, Gibbs and Abby have sent silent messages to each other during hostage situations via sign language. Justified in Abby's case as she is the daughter of two deaf parents.
  • In The Office (US), Jim and Pam mess with Dwight by communicating in Morse code. When accused by Dwight, they ridicule the idea that they would have gone to the trouble of attending a Morse Code course just to mess with him. Dwight concedes defeat, believing he has been mistaken. Pam and Jim later confirm that they actually did attend the course, just to mess with Dwight.
  • Person of Interest, Aletheia: while Root is being tortured by Control, the Machine talks to her in Morse code, in the form of high-frequency beeps from a nearby cell phone. In an aversion of the 'meaningless tapping' part of the trope, the Morse is correct and translatable - and actually present as high-frequency tones in the audio of the episode, meaning that younger viewers could hear it while older viewers could not, just as Root could hear the code while Control was too old to. How or why Root knows Morse code is never addressed.
  • Reconstructed in the French police show P.J.. A sailor is in an hospital bed, and he can't speak, but can clap in morse. Being a sailor, it's justified. The cop then use an online translator.
  • Averted in Prisoners of War. The title characters communicate by tapping a Morse-like code they made up during their years of captivity.
  • Probe's "Computer Logic, Part 2": Crossover uses the traffic lights to speak with Austin, using Red for "no", Green for "yes", and Yellow in Morse Code. It tells him it's "J-U-S-T D-O I-N-G M-Y J-O-B".
  • Pushing Daisies: Chuck's dad taught her and Ned Morse Code when they were kids so they could signal to each other with flashlights from their bedroom windows. Ned uses this knowledge to translate when a Victim of the Week, who died from being melted on a lighthouse lamp, has to use Morse Code to answer questions as her mouth no longer works.
  • Rizzoli & Isles: That Maura, Jane and Korsak all know Morse code saves Maura and Jane's lives in "Dirty Little Secret". Trapped in a submerging car with a damaged mobile phone that can text symbols, Jane uses dots and dashes to text their coordinates (which Maura can recite) in Morse to Korsak.note 
  • At one point on Roswell, New Mexico, Dallas is trapped in a Pocket Dimension with nothing but a piece of an alien console that is linked to the rest of the console in the real world. He is able to communicate with Michael by tapping his piece in Morse Code. Conveniently, Michael also knows it and can signal in response.
  • Averted in The Sarah Jane Adventures. Luke sends a message in Morse, knowing that Mr Smith will pick it up. Mr Smith, being a super intelligent alien computer, is easily able to translate it, but he spells it out letter by letter since he can't translate any faster than Luke can send.
  • Twice in Sherlock, both with former soldier Dr. John Watson.
    • In Sherlock S1 E3 "The Great Game", John blinks out SOS when Sherlock comes to rescue him, falling into Moriarty's trap
    • Played with in Sherlock S2 E2 "The Hounds of Baskerville": John is out at night when he sees a distant light flashing. He translates the flashes to Morse (shown in subtitles), but the message is just random letters. After he follows the light to its source, he discovers people having sex in a car, unintentionally flashing the headlights.
  • In Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em the entire theme song is Morse code, spelling out the title of the show.
  • Justified in Stargate Atlantis, Lt. Col. Shepard taps out SOS in subspace so that Atlantis could recognize his distress call, but the wraith, being not even from the same galaxy as Earth, wouldn't have a clue.
    • A similar situation happens in Stargate SG-1, when Sam reprograms a Tok'ra beacon to broadcast an SOS, knowing that their only hope of rescue, Daniel and Jacob/Selmak, are also the only two people who would be able to interpret the signal.
    • And again in Stargate Universe. Eli realizes he could send a message to Destiny with a damaged gate's subspace transponder, but so far he's only figured out how to turn it off and on. Cue "Eureka!" Moment from Lt. Scott.
      • Although, since he's a hardcore geek and an inveterate gamer, Eli should have thought of it himself.
    • Further subverted when, aboard Destiny, the bridge crew doesn't recognize the signal for what it is, but Colonel Young does.
  • Comes up more than a few times throughout the Star Trek shows:
    • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Space Seed", the automated signal Botany Bay (Khan's ship) sends is in Morse. Uhura recognises the "CQ" call signal by earnote 
      • Justified in that Lt. Uhura is the ship's communications officer, and Starfleet Academy might well expect familiarity with obsolete but formerly widespread comms protocols in case they run across some Lost Colony or Ghost Ship with a still-functioning beacon.
    • Star Trek: Voyager:
      • In one episode, an SOS in Morse code draws Voyager to a planet occupied by the descendants of abducted humans.
      • In another episode Harry must warn Tom and B'Elanna that their converter is rigged to explode, but his comm system has been disabled so he uses a modulating pulse to send a message in Morse code. Tom explains that they know it because it's used in the Captain Proton holonovels.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise, "Vanishing Point". Hoshi Sato has apparently been turned into a ghost as a result of a transporter accident, but she can still see the rest of the crew. On realising she can affect an indicator light, Hoshi tries flashing an SOS signal to Captain Archer, but he thinks it's just a malfunction. Arguably Justified though, since most of the episode is an hallucination caused by being in the transporter for longer than usual. It wouldn't matter if Archer really knows Morse code or not, as long as Hoshi does.
    • Star Trek: Discovery, at the start of "Brother", Enterprise is revealed to be suffering ship-wide system failures, and their only means of communicating clearly with Discovery is via Morse Code. In this case, feeding the computer plaintext and letting it handle sending and reading Morse Code would be trivially easy even if the crew didn't know it.
  • White Collar:
    • An episode has Kate secretly conveying a message to Neil while he's in jail through her finger tapping.
    • An earlier episode had Neil sending Peter a message by disconnecting and then reconnecting the wires on his ankle monitor.
  • The X-Files episode "4-D" has John Doggett using Morse code after falling into a coma after being shot. Skinner recognizes the tapping of Doggett's finger as Morse code, and grabs a pencil and paper to translate while Scully and Reyes look on. He flips the paper to reveal "Lukesh", the man who shot him. Note that Doggett and Skinner were both in the military, so they probably learned it there.
  • The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, episode "Barcelona, 1917", also known as "Espionage Escapades" on the DVD release, features young Indy teaming up with a spy ring in Barcelona trying to convince a count that his wife is having an affair with a German officer. Indy ends up cast as a non-dancing palace guard in a ballet that everyone is attending. The German officer's supposed real lover is a dancer in the ballet, and she finds out the plan and sends a warning note to the officer in the audience. Indy has to tell his co-conspirators to intercept the note, but is stuck on stage. He moves towards the front of the stage and is able to shake his hips in order to send a Morse coded message using the light reflecting off his costume's jeweled codpiece. The knowledge of Morse code is justified as the show takes place during WW1 and the spies are shown using a telegraph, but somehow Indy's friends get all the pertinent information despite not initially noticing him and none of the various other military officials in the audience notice his actions.
  • Young Sheldon: Averted in "An Entrepeneurialist and a Swat on the Bottom". Sheldon leaves a message in Morse code, but the others have to go to the library in order to decode it, even though George Sr. was in the army and knew Morse code at one point.

    -- ..- ... .. -.-. (Music) 
  • A novelty song from the United Kingdom in the 1960s, about a Dalek attack, started with a Morse code alert about the onslaught. The BBC didn't allow it to be broadcast, on the grounds it might confuse maritime radio users. (As the "Doctor Who Discontinuity Guide put it": "...lest fishermen and freighters believe fictional aliens were attacking England, and decide to go elsewhere...")
  • The track "Lucifer" on The Alan Parsons Project album Eve includes a Morse code signal of the album title (dit dit-dit-dit-dah dit), and the rhythm track follows that pattern even after the signal is faded from the mix.
  • The Barclay James Harvest song "Ring of Changes" starts out with the title played in Morse. Another BJH song "Nova Lepidoptera" (which has a sci-fi theme) starts out with the Morse for "UFO".
  • Played straight (per the usual movie and TV usage) in the doo-wopp song "The Morse Code of Love" by the Capris, later covered by Manhattan Transfer as "Baby Come Back". "dit-dot-dit-dit" makes fine doo-wopp rhythm vocals but they're not saying anything.
  • In "Piss", the last song of Neil Cicierega's Mouth Silence mashup album, a bit of morse code can be heard during the bridge. It translates to "Somebody once told me," the memetic opening of "All Star" by Smash Mouth which Neil used extensively in the "prequel" album Mouth Sounds and hid various samples of in Mouth Silence (as Mouth Silence was stated to exist in an alternate universe devoid of Smash Mouth).
  • The studio version of the Dream Theater tune "In The Name of God" has Morse code hidden during one of the instrumental breaks. Decoded, it translates to "Eat my ass and balls."
  • Though not intentional, the song "Fear and Loathing" by Marina Diamandis has the morse code for stranger at the beginning of the intro.
  • The instrumental YYZ from Rush begins with the musicians playing the Morse code for the letters Y Y Z, the Morse Code for Pearson International Airport, the main airport for the band’s hometown of Toronto.

    ----- - .... . .-. (Other) 

    ...- .. -.. . --- ..-- --. .- -- . ... (Video Games) 
  • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War has an ace who's secretly on your side after you're betrayed by the 8492nd flash morse code. The fact that he can use lights to put out 4 words in roughly 6 seconds (and that your squad can decode them equally quickly) is pretty impressive.
    • Justified as both the sender, and recipients are both officially (in the fluff, that is) F-14 Tomcat pilots. Considering that Osea is based on the US, knowing Morse Code would still be a requirement.
  • Bravely Default has Private Piddler, who is easily able to decode a Morse Code message in the middle of battle despite inducing Who's on First? with simple English.
  • The original Command & Conquer: Red Alert manual had morse code at the bottom of most of the pages. When translated, it tells the story of the giant ants that can be fought in the bonus campaign. However, as the console versions had shorter manuals it truncated some of the message - however, this did mean that they ended with the "Do you hear humming?" message, which is arguably creepier than the full transcript.
  • Inverted in The Raven, the tenth installment of the Dark Tales. A character encrypts a combination into Morse code in the hopes that everyone doesn't know it.
  • Several ham radio stations in Fallout 3 broadcast repeating Morse signals, all of the format "CQ CQ CQ DE (station ID) K." Translated, the message is "All stations, this is (station ID), please respond." Of course, the stations are simply auto-broadcasting, their owners having died centuries ago...
  • Lots of it is used in various places in Hellsinker.
  • The intro cutscene in the NES port of Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road is typed out one letter at a time in Morse Code. It takes almost four minutes for the scene to finish before returning to the main menu.
  • Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes: One module on the bombs is deciphering Morse code. The manual contains a complete Morse code dictionary for that module, but some numbers will never come up and several letters won't either. This is mostly a distraction for players not already fluent in Morse.
  • A subtle example in Kirby and the Forgotten Land. At the start of the final area, Lab Discovera, Kirby enters an elevator that makes electronic beeping noises as it roars to life. Turns out the beeps are Morse code for "EFILLIN", the Japanese transliteration of Kirby's new friend Elfilin.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the themes of the Divine Beasts feature faint beeping sounds that spell out S.O.S. in Morse code (for example Divine Beast Vah Ruta). It's subtly fitting, as Link's working to free the captive spirits of the Champions, who have been desperate to see him again after a century, so they can pilot the Divine Beasts against Ganon. This is even played with a little in the case of Vah Medoh- unlike the other Divine Beasts, Vah Medoh's S.O.S. signal doesn't start until a full fifteen seconds into the track, and is far more frantic than the others- one interpretation is that Revali was able to hold his own against his Blight longer than the other champions, and only called for help when he realized he was doomed- hence the frantic pace of his SOS call..
  • Lumino City: One puzzle involves Lumi using Morse code to communicate with a boy on a distant building, who of course conveniently knows Morse himself.
  • In Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Snake would have to solve two Morse codes to gain the correct frequency. The original release on the MSX came with a guide on how to understand the code, later re-releases came with a condensed manual.
  • In Poker Night 2, Ash's hand may start to tap on the table, which he maintains is not a tell, but something it just does sometimes. GLaDOS and Brock determine it to be Morse code, however, and decipher it to read "Drink more Banang", reaching the conclusion that the hand was possessed by a marketing department.
  • Portal has an achievement based around collecting the radios and listening to broadcasts being sent by an unknown source. Some of those broadcasts are in Morse code. Have fun. Two of them are entirely an inside joke, one being "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" phrase and the other being Morse code (depicted in text) for "LOL".
  • In the submarine combat game Steel Diver: Sub Wars, this is the only way to communicate with other players in multiplayer mode. One of the missions in single-player mode tasks the player with spelling out 20 different words in Morse Code as fast as possible.
  • Subnautica: Below Zero: the alien AL-AN gets the player's attention and directs them to his base by sending a literal SOS signal, causing the lights near the base to blink in the SOS pattern. He apparently learned it by listening in on human broadcasts. Even if the player themselves doesn't recognize Morse, the obviously unnatural pattern of blinking light will probably catch their attention anyway.
  • Sunset Overdrive: In the cutscene after "Floating Garbage", a morse code message from Troop Bushido is translated after passing through the player's head.
  • In Uncle Albert's Fabulous Voyage, you need to enter coordinates in Morse code. Although the game contains a guide, the player can simply use a fly to input the code itself. Only one out of the three flies inputs the correct coordinates, however.
  • One of the background tunes of Wolfenstein 3-D contains a message in Morse code as an Easter Egg: "TO BIG BAD WOLF. DE note LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD. ELIMINATE HITLER. IMPERATIVE. COMPLETE MISSION WITHIN 24 HOURS. OUT.". Likely justified if you consider it an actual radio transmission sent to an agent in the 1940s.
  • Wii Sports Resort There are three different messages you can hear in Island Flyover in Morse Code, between the player on a seaplane and the Light Candle; the larger-than-intended lighthouse:
    You: "Morse code takes forever."
    Light Candle: "It sure does."
    Light Candle: Sorry. Use your radio.
    You: Why does anyone use Morse code anymore?
    Light Candle: Good question.

    ...- .. ... ..- .- .-.. ..-- -. --- ...- . .-.. ... (Visual Novels) 
  • Morse Code is mentioned several times in Code:Realize, and seems to be a relatively common form of communication in the Steampunk setting. Lupin uses it to exchange trash-talk with some Sky Pirates in Chapter 7, and in Chapter 12 of Victor Frankenstein's route, Victor uses it to surreptitiously warn Van Helsing that he's being monitored by Twilight and coerced into being their mole.
  • The Great Ace Attorney subverts this in the final case of Adventures, which centers around stolen government secrets encoded in Morse on a pair of music box discs which have to be played simultaneously. Ryunosuke and Barok van Zieks convince the judge to let them play the message in court with two communications officers present who can translate Morse. The message turns out to be complete gibberish... in English Morse code. After court proceedings, Iris and Susato discover it's actually written in Japanese Morse.
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors features a puzzle in which the player, as Junpei must input Morse Code with a transmitter. Justified in that he admits he doesn't know Morse Code but the code he must input is there for him on a piece of paper. Ace however says that he tried to submit a SOS signal for help, although admits that it probably won't do them any good. Also justified in that SOS (... _ _ _ ...) is an extremely well known Morse Code message.
    • There's also a bonus for players who know Morse Code themselves. The game never clarifies what the message Junpei inputs says in Morse, but a clever player will be able to tell that it says, 35=Z. A hint for the next puzzle.

    .-- . -... ..-- .- -. .. -- .- - .. --- -. (Web Animation) 
  • Alphabet Lore: G is the only letter shown to use Morse code to refer to everyone.
  • Subverted in Red vs. Blue. When Grif's sister first arrives, she tries sending a message this way. The characters recognize it as Morse code, but nobody knows how to translate it due to it being outdated at the time the show takes place.
  • RWBY Chibi: When Penny takes Ruby out to meet her friends, Ruby is dumbfounded when it turns out Penny's friends are fireflies. Her tune immediately changes, however, when it turns out that Penny can talk to the fireflies via morse code. Translated, the morse comes out as "HELLO" and "MACAROONS".

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  • Towards the end of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, the Doctor is imprisioned in a capsule deep under the sea and can't ninja his way out of it. He starts tapping the wall for a long time until his fingers bleed and he's doing it with a missing tooth, and it turns out it is really a message to provoke an attack from Antartican submarine captains. Once one fires at him and breaks the capsule's chain, then the Doctor is able to somehow ninja his way back to America.
  • Averted in Homestuck, much to Serenity's annoyance. Being a firefly, she communicates solely in Morse code. She has yet to find somebody else who does.
    • WV does seem moderately proficient in understanding her, but nobody else can. Vriska also briefly uses it during a Dream Sequence of WV's.
    • Finally she has, and it's Roxy of all people!
  • In Questionable Content, resident Cloudcuckoolander Hannelore caps off Marten's telegram sexting joke by speaking Morse code herenote  .
  • Times Like This has a Morse code gag.

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  • Lampshaded (among many other things) by the Evil Overlord List, Cellblock A, Rule 145.
    My dungeon cell decor will not feature exposed pipes. While they add to the gloomy atmosphere, they are good conductors of vibrations and a lot of prisoners know Morse code.
  • In "TV detective vs tech guy" by ProZD, among the demands from the detective to the tech guy to speak in Layman's Terms is to say the explanation in morse code.

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  • Averted in Adventures of the Gummi Bears, where there are ancient signaling devices called Gummiscopes that fire a beam of light that flickers on and off in an equivalent of Morse Code. As it happens, the machines have a mechanical arm that automatically translates and writes down the signaling into the vernacular. After the Gummi Glen scope was destroyed, Zummi finds a signal manual in the Glen's library to interpret the message of Ursalia's Gummiscope.
  • Adventure Time: Simon Petrikov and Lord Monochromicorn. Makes sense, regarding that Fiona and Cake is a Fan Fic.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force: In the episode "Banana Planet", Frylock discovers a banana-sized planet and picks up a signal in Morse Code that he translates as SOS, with Shake claiming that its actually sauce that's being spelled out. After traveling to the planet to investigate and after some trouble with the monkey inhabitants, they explain the message was requesting for sauce, which Shake rubs in Frylock's face.
  • Archie's Weird Mysteries: Subverted in "Something is Haunting Riverdale High". The school seemingly gets hit with poltergeist activity, and among this activity is lockers banging and a stapler tapping on a desk. Archie ends up getting turned invisible, inaudible, and intangible and finds Dilton and Midge in this state as well. Dilton and Midge reveal they learned how to briefly touch things and tried to get help by tapping in Morse code, but nobody recognized it.
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?", the Riddler manipulates the electric grid so the city lights are blinking on and off in Morse code to tell Batman a riddle. Not including spaces, it was 44 letters long, and Batman somehow didn't miss any of them. Justified in that both Batman and the Riddler would make a point to know Morse code. It probably helped that Batman was feeding the beats to a computer rather than doing it in his head.
  • In Code Lyoko episode "Skidbladnir", Jérémie and Aelita are in detention and Jim confiscate their Cell Phones and forbid the use of the laptop. Jérémie sends a message by reflecting the sun on his watch to warn the others of XANA's attack. Yumi is able to understand it because she uses Morse code to converse with her brother Hiroki without their parents' knowledge.
  • Lampshaded in the pilot movie for Darkwing Duck. Hammerhead Hanagan asks what if Darkwing doesn't know it. Taurus Bulba knows Darkwing is such a goodie goodie, he probably sleeps with a Boy Scout's handbook under his pillow. He was right.
  • In the 1996 Dennis the Menace (UK) series, one episode has Dennis trying to sneak out of his house to disrupt a parent teacher evening. Part of the plan he comes up with involves tricking The Colonel, who is babysitting, to use a flashlight and send a message in Morse to Dennis’ friends.
  • When Dexter is sent to detention in an episode of Dexter's Laboratory, all of the students there tap pencils in lieu of speaking.
  • In a Donald Duck story, he and his nephews are hostages on a pirate's submarine and he is forced on the conning tower to appear he is overseeing the robberies of ships, with a warning not to speak on pain of death. Desperate, he starts winking critical information to the crew in Morse code, hoping that they would recognize it. As it happens, they do recognize it and use that info to capture the pirates and save their prisoners.
  • The Family Guy episode "He's Bla-ack!", which marks Cleveland's return to the show and moving his family to Quahog following the events of his own show, has the latter and Peter communicating in flashlight Morse code when their feuding wives forbid them from seeing one another and punish them as a result. Peter and Cleveland devise a scheme to get Lois and Donna to be friends again, and Quagmire, in the middle of having sex, joins the conversation.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Bloo is performing a tap dance on TV, and Mac notices that he's spelling "H-E-L-P M-E M-A-C" in Morse code. Notably, he was the only one out of the thousands watching the show who was actually able to pick it up. Ironically, Bloo actually saying that he is being horribly mistreated didn't 'transmit' too well.
  • Gravity Falls: The faun-ish creature in "The Last Mabelcorn" whistled SOS (or SOU, the U being cut short) before being chloroformed by Grenda.
  • Josie and the Pussycats In Outer Space: In "Warrior Women of Amazonia", the heroes spot a planet with a light on its surface blinking in Morse code. Valerie and Bleep are both able to translate it into a message asking for help. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a trap, as the Warrior Women of Amazonia use the signal to capture travelers, making slaves of the men and indoctrinating the women into their ranks.
  • Justice League Action: Subverted in "Phased and Confused". Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman have been turned into phantoms that are invisible, inaudible, and can only touch things for short periods of time. At one point, they attempt to get Booster Gold to help them by making a light bulb flash in Morse code. To their frustration, Booster only thinks the light bulb needs to be replaced and walks away.
  • In the Jerry Reed episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, when Fred and Daphne were trapped under the stage floor, they used Morse code to communicate with Velma and Jerry above. Jerry later stated that he knew how to receive Morse code, but not how to transmit.
  • In Ozzy & Drix, the cells make Hector and Christine blink in Morse code so they can communicate.
  • In one episode of Rocket Robin Hood, Robin uses his distress beacon to send a message in Morse code. In this case, his friends back at base don't know Morse, but one of them vaguely remembers the concept, and looks it up on the computer.
  • Subverted in an episode of The Secret Show. Everyone is trying to get Changed Daily, who is stuck inside a pod (long story short: Changed Daily is inside the pod because he thinks he is floating in space and that aliens have destroyed the world) to open it up, so that they can take the ball of sponge that he has inside and hand it over to the Floaty Heads. Victor suggests using Morse Code, and everyone agrees because "Everyone Knows Morse Code!" So he taps Morse for "SOS"; Changed Daily just thinks he's floated into an asteroid belt.
  • Spoofed in The Simpsons. When Homer and Mr. Burns are trapped in a cabin buried under several tonnes of snow, Burns attempts to call for help using a Morse code telegraph. The telegraph on the other end turns out to be in a museum.
  • There's an episode of Super Dave where he protects the president, and gets trapped in a air-tight protection container. While inside, he taps Morse code towards his assistant.
  • In Superman: The Animated Series, "Feeding Time", Superman was abducted by Parasite and held captive in the basement at Star Labs, where he kept draining Superman of his powers. Hearing Jimmy Olsen in the lab doing some investigation of his own, he begins tapping S-O-S on the pipes, which Jimmy luckily hears and recognizes.
  • Spoofed in Super Mario World (1991), when Princess Toadstool bangs a message on a pipe:
    Mario: It's a message from the Princess!
    Luigi: What does she say?
    Mario: "Tinkety-tink tink tink!"

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  • The BBC started off their World War II wartime radio news broadcasts with the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, in order to symbolize the "V" for victory.
  • During the Vietnam War, some US POWs, downed aviators, were forced to make televised statements by their Vietnamese captors. They actually used this method to make it clear that they had been tortured and otherwise coerced into making these statements. When the Vietnamese found out, they stepped it up. The first one was some USN or USAF pilot; he began blinking in the middle of his first such appearance, claiming that the harsh studio lights were hurting his eyes!
    • It is believed that Jeremiah Denton and John McCain (both future Senators) were the first to try this.
      • This was referenced on the NPR radio show "Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me!", in the context of ads for WalMart. ("They show employees... but they're blinking funny."
  • Real Life subversion: The British Special Air Service reportedly provides training in Morse code for emergency backup communication, counting on the fact that proficiency in its use is no longer common knowledge.
  • Most everyone knows that YYZ by Rush is about Toronto Pearson International Airport, and that the opening drum / bass section is "YYZ" in Morse Code: - . - - - . - - - - . .
  • The city of Pittsburgh subverted this in 2009, intending to have a building light transmit P-I-T-T-S-B-U-R-G, but instead transmitting P-I-T-E-T-S-B-K-R-R-H.
  • In the 1930s and '40s, newspaper columnist Walter Winchell had an extremely popular radio show in which he noisily tapped a telegraph key while he spoke his text into a microphone. His opening catchphrase for each edition contained a reference to "all the ships at sea". Gullible listeners were supposed to be impressed that Winchell could read his text aloud and transmit it in Morse at the same time. Actually, his telegraph transmissions were gibberish.
    • People back then were familiar with highly-trained operators in radio and telegraph offices, who could send and listen to messages almost simultaneously and instinctively (they understood the message by listening, no need to write it down). Of course, anyone of these skilled men would register immediately the hoax.
  • The RMS Titanic was one of the first British ships to send the SOS distress signal, interspersed with the older CQD distress signal. The signal had been standardized since 1908, but most British radio operators still used the older CQD. The first two letters were a standard radio prefix of the time which could be translated as "All Stations", indicating a message for everybody rather than a message with a specific recipient. The D was chosen to be short for "Distress". Reportedly, Jack Phillips, the radio operator began transmitting "SOS" along with CQD in response to his partner Harold Bride’s joke that this might be his last chance to try it out.
  • Mandatory to learn in North Korea. How much the average population is fluent in it is another question entirely.
  • This story from Not Always Working features a non-verbal autistic employee forced by an abusive boss to answer a phone call, which his disorder prevents him doing (he can't speak). The non-verbal disabled employee presses the dial keys for a few minutes, then hangs up, infuriating the boss who then tries to fire him on the spot. Turns out, the caller was his brother, who a) knew Morse code in case this happened, and b) is the company CEO. The boss is promptly fired for discrimination.
  • This was part of the trademark logo for the golden age movie studio (RKO) Radio Picturesnote  which is a "radio" transmission tower on a spinning planet Earth giving out "VVVV A(n RKO) Radio Picture VVVV" in Morse Codenote .
  • Although not as common as it once was, Morse Code is still used by Amateur Radio operators, particularly older ones who had to learn it to receive their license, in a form of radio communication known as CW, or Continuous Wave. In CW, the radio is either transmitting a tone or it's not, with no frequency or amplitude modulation as with other formats such as AM, FM, or Single Sideband. One benefit to CW is that the ear-splitting tone can easily be picked out through signal noise such as static or voice communications, making it ideal for long-distance communication.
  • As in the exemple from Not Always Right, the Morse code has been used to help to communicate disabled individuals such as severe motion disabilities preventing the sufferer from typing. In addition to this, radio amateur magazine QST reported several cases of patients using Morse to communicate, such as a former radio operator blinking eyes to speak to his doctor, who knew the code.

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Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Everyone Knows Morse Code


F.F.'s Morse Code

Thanks to Weather Report's arrival, F.F. crawls to safety while tossing several rocks in a distinct pattern to inform him of Pucci's true identity.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / EveryoneKnowsMorse

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