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Flat Scare

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Sometimes people are so tense it doesn't take much to scare them. Cue either a smarty alec team-mate or a foe with the taste for irony simply stating "Boo". This results in the jittery character either freaking out or beginning running in a panic while screaming. Usually a Comedy Trope, but appears in genuinely scary works to show how threatening the monster/villain's presence is — especially if the monster/villain actually shows up soon afterward.

Compare Cherry Tapping, which is a minor attack downing someone rather than a minor spook, and The Last Straw.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Curse of Kazuo Umezu: One girl does this to Miko by covering her eyes behind her back in "The Haunted Mansion".
  • In Episode 2 of the Little Lulu anime, Lulu says "Boo" to Tubby in a deadpan tone while pretending to be a monster, which sends Tubby running off screaming in terror.

    Comic Books 
  • Christopher Champion (Tempest) pulls this on a guard at a museum where the Scanner One spaceship was stored in the Atari Force series.
  • The Scarecrow pulls this on Judge Death in "Judgement on Gotham", a Batman/Judge Dredd crossover comics. Death is not amused...
  • The first issue of the '80s-era Justice League features a terrorist attack on the U.N. General Assembly. As the spearhead of the Justice League's counterattack, Batman appears suddenly on the podium in front of the lead terrorist, whispering "Boo." Cue both terrorist freak-out and the rest of the League's Dynamic Entry.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Bloom County, wheelchair-bound Vietnam vet Cutter John is having tea with his girlfriend's mother. He asks if she's nervous, since some people are nervous around the handicapped. She, smiling, says no. Last panel is him saying "Boo." and her tossing her tea and shielding herself.
  • In one Halloween comic strip of FoxTrot, Jason dresses up as a ghost and practices booing. The problem is that he's booing not like a ghost, but like a dissatisfied spectator.
  • U.S. Acres: the original strip has an example of Roy trying this on Wade after tying his beak up.

    Fan Works 
  • In Kage, Jade does this to Blunk when they first meet face-to-face.
  • In The New Adventures of Invader Zim, Norlock pulls this on Dib when they meet for the first time after Norlock follows him and Zim back to Doomsville. He sneaks up on Dib at Parent Teacher Night and when Dib turns around and sees him, merely says "Boo". Dib ends up shrieking like a monkey and scuttling away.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Batman: Assault on Arkham, after escaping from his cell, The Joker simply walks out of the shadow toward a warden and says "Boo." This being The Joker, of course, the warden seriously freaks out.
  • In Madagascar, after Alex fights off the fossa, he scares off the few that remain standing with a simple "boo".
  • In Monsters University, a flat "boo" eliciting a scream from the simulator is what tips Mike off that there's something wrong with it. When the dummy gives a similar reaction to Mike snapping his fingers, he realizes that it was set to it's highest timid setting.
  • Shan-Yu greets the Emperor this way in Mulan. Played for scares, though the Emperor himself does not freak out.
  • In Shrek, Shrek roars at an angry mob of would-be ogre hunters, who are left paralyzed with fear. When he subsequently whispers to them "This is the part where you run away," they finally run screaming.
  • Space Jam, after the Nerdlucks transform into the Monstars.
    Blanko: Hey, little pig... boo.
    Porky Pig: AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! [Beat] I w-w-w-wet myself.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Joker pulls a "Boo!" on Vicki Vale in Batman. Understandably, Vicki screams.
  • The live-action Casper movie has the clock strike 8 o'clock, showing Casper's a ghost. With a little "Um, boo?" the entire party flees Whipstaff Manor.
  • Played with in Ghost (1990), where the title character freaks someone out by writing "BOO" on his mirror. Considering that Sam is, well, a ghost, and the person he's freaking out is watching the word trace itself into a fogged mirror, it's not really a "minor" scare at all.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas! has the titular character give a little "boo" when he shows up in Whoville to collect the Holiday Cheermeister award. The gathered crowd screams, which the Grinch responds to by saying "Hot crowd."
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Doctor Strange, Christine gets a face full of the supernatural as she attempts to keep Strange alive while he battles a villain in the Astral Plane. After ghosts, poltergeist-like disruptions, and a magical portal in front of her very eyes, she's scared witless by a broom falling to the floor.
    • Avengers: Endgame: After Tony Stark and Professor Hulk supervise the machinery assembling a new Infinity Gauntlet, and being understandably tense about it considering the power of the Infinity Stones they're manipulating, Rocket finds it funny to suddenly yell "BOOM!", making the two of them jump.
  • In A Nightmare on Elm Street (the remake), Nancy attempts to hide from Freddy while in the dream world. She hides in a closet, and for a moment it seems like it works, as Freddy scouts the room and leaves... only to appear in the closet beside Nancy and growl "Boo" in her ear. She naturally screams and runs out.
  • In The Ninth Gate, Boris Balkan does this after killing Liana in front of her coven, making them all jump.
  • In Pete's Dragon, Elliot does this to Hoagy the second time they meet, when Hoagy comes to deliver the message that Pete's been captured.
  • Used by the Lunar Ghost in the first Scooby-Doo live-action movie. Naturally, Scooby screams.
  • Undercover Brother. When Lance gets into the limousine next to James Brown he's clearly nervous. James Brown says "Boo" to him and he almost jumps out of his skin.

  • The main character in Eden Green concentrates so hard on aiming her gun into the shadows, she doesn't notice the playful psychopath Tedrin sneaking up on her until he whispers, "Having fun yet?" This gets him shot.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bones: Temperance Brennan playfully says "Boo!" to a security agent at an airport... just as he finds a human skull in her bag. It works.
  • Doctor Who did this with the eleventh Doctor's introductory episode "The Eleventh Hour". After the Doctor helps the Atraxi to capture Prisoner Zero, he then orders them back to berate them for threatening to destroy Earth if they hadn't found him. After making them review many of his exploits throughout the years, the Doctor steps through the hologram and introduces himself. He then sends the entire force running with just a single word, "run".
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: A quick sketch featured a guy who from the 3/4 rear is opening his raincoat and appears to be flashing at passing ladies who are shocked and run off. He then turns to the camera and opens his raincoat to show he's fully clothed with a sign around his neck that says "Boo!"
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • When Mike and the 'Bots have The Screaming Skull inflicted upon them, Crow decides to pull a prank on Mike — dressing up as a skull and giving a feeble "raaar." The resultant meltdown by Mike has to be seen to be believed.
    • Mike's on the giving end in another episode, wherein he scares away Krankor by muttering "Ahh."

    Puppet Shows 

    Video Games 
  • In Halo 2, the Master Chief does this after the Gravemind teleports him into High Charity and he finds himself standing right next to a very startled Grunt. The Grunt reacts by screaming in terror, throwing his gun in the air, and running away. The MC then calmly catches the gun and begins fighting his way through the Covenant capitol.
  • Haunting Starring Polterguy: When the Sardini family's fear level is on high or very high, even less impressive fright 'ems will set them off and they look for a way to escape the house.
  • In Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!, Ripto does this to Moneybags right after Moneybags said he'd give Ripto a piece of his mind if he was there.
  • Parodied in the developer commentary for Superliminal, where in the Blackout level, already themed around scaring you with harmless tricks, one commentary node, which happens to be next to a Jump Scare, has the game’s director simply say “Boo”.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY Chibi: When Jaune is making an ASMR video, he doesn't notice Nora creep up behind him. She takes a deep breath as if she's about to yell in his ear, but instead very softly says "Hi". Jaune freaks out and jumps like a cat in response.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Variant in 2 Stupid Dogs. The big dog will scare cats by going to up to them and giving a deadpan "Woof." The cat will then comically seize up in fear.
  • An episode of the Beetlejuice cartoon has Lydia's friends look into the hollow of a tree they believe to be haunted. Beetlejuice calmly says, "Hey, how ya doin?" Lydia's friends flee in terror.
  • In the Danny Phantom series finale Phantom Planet, Technus does this to a cashier as part of what he's declared "a lazy day of shopping, lattes, and terrorizing minimum wage workers".
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: Mandy does this to Fred Flintstone.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Chow does this to Tohru when he gets the first Oni Mask. Tohru, who has an immense fear of the Oni, freezes in terror before Jade tells him to snap out of it. Tohru later returns the favor when the mask is removed, and Chow flees with his tail between his legs.
  • The Loud House has Lucy saying "Boo" in two episodes. One to scare Lynn and the other to scare Lisa and Leni.
  • Mickey Mouse (2013): In the cartoon "Potatoland", Goofy hears that potatoes arrive for the midnight spree during one of the rides. Thinking that he will be haunted for wearing overalls, Goofy is relieved that he isn't wearing them, meaning his fear is gone. That is, until Donald Duck approaches him in a ghost costume, saying "boo." Goofy freaks out, causing him to hit Donald with a plank multiple times, and makes his escape afterwards.
  • This is exhibited in the first act of the Mr. Bogus episode "Bookstore Bogus", with a pair of ferocious worms that Bogus encounters in a book about bugs. When Bogus claims that he's not afraid of them, the worms look at each other for a few seconds before saying "boo" to Bogus in this manner, causing him to run in a panic with the worms hot on his tail.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "28 Pranks Later", Rainbow Dash uses a simple "boo!" twice:
      • First on Fluttershy in the opening, after having already scared her good with a dragon disguise. She's so jumpy already that she springs away and clings to a branch like a tree sloth.
      • Then on Pinkie Pie, while upside-down inside her closet. Pinkie finds it hilarious.
        Pinkie Pie: She got me gooooood.
    • "Dungeons & Discord": In the RPG world, as "Garbunkle" and "Sir McBiggen" are fleeing from the Squizard inside a cave, Discord suddenly shows up upside-down and says "Boo!" Spike and Big Mac scream.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • At the beginning of the episode "Don't Look Now", SpongeBob and Patrick claim to Squidward that they weren't frightened by a scary movie that they look forward to watching, calling themselves "very grown-up big boys." A flat "boo" from Squidward sends them running in terror.
    • In "Pranks a Lot", SpongeBob and Patrick accidentally turn themselves invisible and decide to have some fun by terrorizing all of Bikini Bottom as "ghosts." Mr. Krabs is the lone holdout who boasts of his fearlessness and kits himself up with various charms and an impromptu suit of armor to keep them at bay. Unsurprisingly, Patrick and SpongeBob make short work of these defenses, and once they disable his specter deflector (a paddleball), all it takes is a single "boo" to send him running for the door in a panic.
  • Tex Avery MGM Cartoons:
    • In the Tex Avery cartoon "Slap-Happy Lion", a mouse scares a lion with a flat "boo". Doing it repeatedly drives the lion mad.
    • Droopy, given his knack for Offscreen Teleportation, has done this a few times.
  • Raven does this to Beast Boy in an episode of Teen Titans.
  • In the U.S. Acres episode "I Like Having You Around", Wade tries to convince a bug that he's not afraid of him. However, the bug just says "Boo" to him in this manner, causing Wade to freak out and run in a panic.
  • The Venture Bros.: In a first season episode, 21 threatens Brock Samson with a lightsaber. After finding out the beam isn't solid, Brock leans in close and says "boo" making 21 run away. 3 seasons later after 21 Took a Level in Badass, Brock tries to do the same thing, and ends up getting round house kicked in the face.


Video Example(s):


The Cuphead Show - Boo!

Ms. Chalice as a ghost gives a flat "boo" to Cuphead and Mugman before leaving. It was enough to scare them both!

How well does it match the trope?

4.9 (21 votes)

Example of:

Main / FlatScare

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