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Flushing Toilet, Screaming Shower

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"... a propensity, while in use, to turn instantly beastly hot or blindingly cold upon you, depending on whether your neighbor turned on his cold or his hot to deprive you of a necessary complement in the shower you had so carefully blended."
Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov

Bob flushes the toilet while Alice is in the shower. Alice screams and curses, unprepared for the sudden increase in water temperature. Or perhaps Alice turns on the washing machine while Bob is in the shower, causing Bob to experience a precipitous drop in water temperature. Can be done deliberately or by accident, but the result is still funny — provided it's not happening to you. Can also be done by turning on a faucet elsewhere in the house, which has the advantage of not prematurely giving away the game if you are deliberately pranking someone. Usually deployed as a comedy trope, often accompanied by a quick shot of the Oh, Crap! expression on Alice's face when she hears the unmistakable sound of a toilet flushing.

Truth in Television as most shower valves mix hot and cold water to achieve the desired temperature, so anything that diverts either hot or cold water will result in a sharp temperature shift in the opposite direction. Note that this was always a regional trope as it depends upon the central water heater practice common in non-tropical Western plumbing design but not always found in other cultures. Rapidly becoming a bit of a Discredited Trope in Real Life since the introduction of pressure-balanced shower valves specifically designed to prevent this from happening — the worst that's likely to happen is that the shower's water flow temporarily drops. Such "anti-scald" shower valves are even required by law in some places, especially in commercial buildings like apartments, hotels, and dormitories. Nevertheless, if you have the (mis)fortune of being in a house or building with old plumbing, this trope is still doable.


    open/close all folders 
  • A Sensodyne advert features a woman turning on a tap. The man in the shower shrieks.
  • A Zoo Tycoon commercial shows this happening to a woman. Thing is, though, the one flushing the toilet is an elephant.
  • A Dutch commercial for the Army (Fit/Unfit) had two ten-year-old girls giggling as they turn on the faucet, one commenting after a bit "I don't hear anything". Cue a guy manfully enduring the cold as he soaps up and scoring a "Fit" in a multiple choice box. Watch here.
  • Happens in a Philishave advert to an opera-singing man in the shower.
  • A video game commercial for Aliens vs. Predator: Extinction shows Predator doing this to the Alien, complete with the latter's trademark hiss.
  • An old commercial for Clearasil had a guy's younger brother doing this to him after explaining why he wanted to use Clearasil on his face instead of soap.
  • A commercial for Peek Freans cookies featured four different women being mean. The third woman does her make-up at the bathroom mirror, and she deliberately flushes the toilet while her husband is in the shower, causing him to scream in pain.
  • A commercial for a utility company began with a dog hearing its master's voice in its head: "No, you can't go to the park. You'll just chase the squirrels." The dog gets revenge by flushing the toilet while its master is in the shower.
  • A commercial for a shower head has everyone on one floor of an apartment building using the shower head at the same time. One guy who is not currently in the shower flushes his toilet, and everyone else on that floor screams out.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Cowboy Bebop: Happens to Faye, courtesy of Ed drenching Jet's bonsai trees with a hose.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Episode 16 has Asuka berate Shinji for this when he starts preparing dinner.

  • Discussed by Eddie Izzard in his stand-up show "Definite Article", firstly how showers and toasters have an impossibly narrow sweet spot between too hot and too cold. He then acts getting into a shower and the temperature suddenly changing, shouting "Stop using taps! Everyone in west London, stop using taps!"

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • In Advice and Trust, Asuka berates Shinji for turning on the kitchen's faucet while she is taking a bath... although she is using her outrage as an excuse to stroll around him wearing only a pair of towels.
  • Anger Management: One of the ways Lynn tries to rile Lincoln up is by flushing the toilet while he's showering.
  • The Flash Sentry Chronicles: At the start of Jakhowls Rising, Springer tries to find Flash, and discovers he and Twilight are showering together, with them claiming they are "conserving water". They try to shoo him away so they can finish, and on his way out, he purposely flushes the toilet and runs out of the castle as he hears the two of them screaming in pain.
  • In Harry Potter and the Acts of Betrayal, chapter 7 finds Hermione's parents arguing while Mr. Granger is showering. He tries ignoring his wife, who responds by flushing the toilet to make sure she has his attention, commenting "I believe we discussed you ignoring me the first year we were married."

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Jersey Girl, Gertie is always needing to be reminded by her father to flush the toilet. This ends up being a Chekhov's Gun: Gertie comes home while Ollie is trying to be intimate with his friend Maya, so they hide in the shower, and Ollie pretends to be alone in it when Gertie comes in to use the toilet. This, of course, is the one time Gertie remembers on her own to flush, causing Maya to scream in pain and Gertie to catch them red-handed.
  • George does it to his brother, Howard, in Two Weeks Notice.
    Howard: Why do you always find that so funny?
    George: It's very hard to say.
  • Katherine does it to Sebastian in Cruel Intentions 2. Only difference being he slips without screaming.
  • In the first Garfield live-action movie, Garfield flushes the toilet with the apparent intention of forcing Jon to exit the shower due to the increase in water temperature (he has, by Garfield's estimation, been in there too long).
  • Geena Davis' character in The Fly (1986). Her Jerkass publisher/ex-boyfriend breaks into her house and takes a shower while waiting for her.
  • From McHale's Navy:
    Quint McHale: I'm going to take a shower. You know what that means?
    Roberto: Don't flush.
  • Dolores does this as a prank on Humbert in the 1997 film adaptation of Lolita.
  • Queens Logic: Patty does this to Ray when she thinks Ray is backing out of their wedding.
  • Keith's dad does this in Some Kind of Wonderful to get Keith out of the shower when he needs to talk to him right away.

  • Neal Stephenson's early work The Big U has one student getting revenge on his former roommate by getting a small army of friends and other acquaintances, synchronized by a TV news broadcast, to do a big flush that actually destroys the plumbing system in an entire wing of the arcology-university. Was also coupled with supergluing shut the door to the shower stall, and then setting a "poorly insulated" electrical appliance in front of the expanding pool of water.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Attempted by Reese in a cold open on Malcolm in the Middle as his mother was taking a shower.
    Lois: You flush the toilet, I open the curtain!
  • Done purposely by Alan when Charlie and his girl are in the shower in Two and a Half Men.
  • In The Mighty Boosh, Bollo flushes the toilet, melting The Hitcher, who is in the shower-like Fountain of Youth.
  • Lampshaded and referenced with a clip of a horse drinking from a water faucet in The Planet's Funniest Animals.
  • Roseanne did this to Dan once on Roseanne.
  • Grace Under Fire: One of Grace's daughter's little friends is chatting with Grace, despite the fact that she's trying to shower in peace.
    Boy: Want to hear a joke?
    Grace: (sighs) Sure.
    Boy: What did the man say when he fell off a cliff?
    Grace: I don't know; what?
    (boy flushes toilet; Grace screams)
    Boy: That's right! (runs away)
  • Nash Bridges: In "Sacraments", when the officer on SIU team Evan is having a romantic shower with Nash's daughter Cassidy, Nash's partner Joe drops by with info on SIU current primary investigation. Try as the pair might keep their relationship secret for a while more, Joe has to flush a tissue of his allergy snot down the toilet. Cassidy yelps, jumps from behind Evan and rips a curtain off. All that's left is for her and Joe say "Hi" to each other.
  • That '70s Show: Done by Lori to Michael in the Hitchcock themed Halloween episode. He screamed and dropped a bottle of conditioner for the "Psycho" Shower Murder Parody.
  • Weaponized in My Name Is Earl: when Ralph uses this to torture Randy to find out where Earl keeps his Lotto money. Randy spills the beans after Ralph points the shower head at Randy's crotch.
  • On Cleveland's Big Chuck & Li'l John Show there is a skit where the wife of a man named Stanley gets a phone call for him. After looking around the house she decided to flush the toilet. Stanley can be heard screaming in the shower to which she tells the caller "He's in the shower. He'll call you back."
  • In the first episode of The King of Queens, Carey's sister hogs the shower when Doug has to get ready for work. When Carey asked if he tried flushing the toilet to get her out, Doug replies he did. She just screamed and kept on showering.
  • My So-Called Life: Patty does this to Graham when she thinks Graham might have feelings for Hallie, who's partnering with Graham on a restaurant.

  • Inverted in one MAD magazine strip by Don Martin. Thanks to a botched plumbing job, flushing the toilet turns the shower on.

  • One Old Master Q strip have Master Q and Q's rival, Chiu (living in different floors of an apartment) taking their showers at the same time, with both of them adjusting the water's temperature resulting in each other's water unexpectedly turning hot or cold. An angry Mr. Chiu decide to turn his water's temperature to the max, resulting in Master Q getting drenched in freezing-cold water; Master Q then retaliates by turning his water off. Cue the sound of screaming upstairs as Chiu gets hit by a boiling-hot shower.


    Video Games 
  • In The Sims 2, if one Sim flushes the toilet while another is in the shower, the second Sim will jump out of the shower, run over to the first Sim and yell at them in Simlish. Of course, someone made a mod to disable this. Although sometimes the Sim in the shower will jump out and yell simply because another Sim has entered the bathroom, even if they don't flush or even get to use the toilet. Sims have to have a very close relationship to share the bathroom; generally, only lovers will do it.
  • In the PC version of A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), there's a bathroom with a man (presumably Count Olaf) taking a shower. If you flush the toilet, he'll scream and then yell "WHO FLUSHED?!".
  • In the third Deponia, this effect is caused deliberately to get a guy out of a shower, so you can get past a pervert 'ghost' who likes to listen to people singing in a shower.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • It is revealed in one of the Penny Arcade podcasts that for the entire time they lived together (a period of "at least a year"), Jerry (Tycho) would wake up early and turn on the taps to allow all the hot water in the apartment to run down the drain. The moment where Mike (Gabe) learns why he didn't have a hot shower during the whole time is priceless.
    Mike: What the fuck is wrong with you!?!
    • The episode is for the strip "Doctor Feelgood". Strip. Podcast. The story starts at about 17:10, but the whole thing is really funny.
  • Done once in Fur Will Fly.

    Western Animation 
  • Bob's Burgers: This happens in "Purple Rain-union" when Linda, who's in the shower at the time, talks herself into putting her band back together for their high school reunion, and Gene celebrates with a "victory flush".
  • Done on The Simpsons twice:
    • Season six's "Bart vs. Australia" — Bart is trying to get the toilet water to go counterclockwise and repeatedly flushes the toilet. Meanwhile, Homer is in the shower and keeps screaming "Hot-cold-hot-cold-Who's-doing-that?!"
    • Season twelve's "Tennis the Menace" — Bart turns on the kitchen faucet and Homer (once again in the shower) screams, and to tunes such as "Mary Had a Little Lamb".
  • Histeria! did this as part of a Psycho parody.
  • The Adventures of Sam & Max: Freelance Police: Max blindly reaches for a towel while singing in the shower and accidentally hits the lever on the office toilet, burning the hell out of himself while also inadvertently flushing a tiny assailant down the crapper.
  • Grandpa's visiting sister does this to him in Hey Arnold!.
  • In Phineas and Ferb episode "Backyard Aquarium", this was done with a hose in place of the toilet.
  • Done in one Robot Chicken sketch: a girl flushes the toilet, and her father is scalded.
  • Done in The Fairly OddParents: Channel Chasers, with Cosmo being in the shower and Timmy flushing the toilet. Fridge Logic hits when you remember that they are a magic shower and magic toilet, so, not interconnected (probably just Rule of Funny).
  • Slinkman from Camp Lazlo deliberately does this to Lumpus in "Slugfest".
  • Rallo does this to Cleveland Junior on The Cleveland Show. To add insult to injury, he takes a picture of Junior naked and presents it in a slide presentation, which causes Junior to get kicked out of the scouts.
  • In one episode of Cro, Phil gets stuck in the shower. After all attempts to pry him out fail, Dr. C decides to flush the toilet, and the swift change in temperatures sends Phil flying from the shower stall.
  • Kick Buttowski: Brad does this to Kick in "Love Stinks!".
  • Mixels manages to invert the setup in the episode "Hot Lava Shower". Thanks to the Infernites clearing the pipes of the titular lava shower (which really is a stream of lava treated like water), the clog goes through the pipe system of Mixel Land, superheating both Krader's toilet and Teslo's drinking fountain, making them the ones to scream out from the heat instead.
  • Dr. Dimensionpants: Kyle does this to Phillip in the episode "Viking Games" in an attempt to make him tell where he tried to sneak off to last night.
  • The Loud House: has this as one of the quirks of the titular (worn) home. The issues tend to happen to Luna Loud the most, much to her annoyance.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In the live action opening segment of the "lost episode" special, Patchy the Pirate is taking a shower when the audience arrives. In order to draw Patchy out and start the special properly, Potty flushes the toilet to make the water hotter. It works, but Patchy admits that he can't start the special because he lost the lost episode and goes back to taking his shower.
  • Kid vs. Kat: Kat does this to Coop in the short "Kaponk!".
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series: In the episode "Sample", Stitch hides in the shower and turns on the water to get out of having the shots he needs as a result of disguising himself as a dog (despite being scared of water). Lilo flushes the toilet to get him to come out.

    Real Life 
  • It happens. With old water heaters, ill-timed laundry, or what have you.
  • Most houses in the United Kingdom have two water tanks, or one water tank heated by the gas or electric boiler, and an electric immersion heater tank in the airing cupboard. If you're unlucky enough to take a bath or shower just after someone's used most of the hot water in either one, it's wise to not leave the shower or bath running and hope for the best, but to check the temperature first; once the hot water runs out, you'll either get blasted by cold water if you're in the shower, or come back to the bath to find it full of disappointingly tepid bathwater.
  • A variant with many scald-guard systems; the water will remain the right temperature, but the flow will decrease dramatically, slowing down any rinsing being done. Not painful, but still annoying.
  • In places with electric showers, a plumbing network that has the toilet and the shower in the same manifold (which is doable but considered incorrect for reasons that go farther than thermal comfort) will cause this, either because suddenly the shower's resistor is heating up less water at a time, or because the flow gets so low the heating is disabled altogether. In this case, faucets can't achieve the trope, since the loss pressure on the system caused by them is irrelevant compared to a flush.
  • In college dormitories where this trope still applies (usually older ones), people sometimes yell "flushing!" if they hear someone in the shower, so the person in the shower knows to get out of the way of the scalding/freezing water for a few seconds until the system clears.


Video Example(s):


Stitch: "Naga shots! Ouchie!"

After getting a letter from the animal shelter where he was adopted saying that it's time to get his shots, Stitch runs away from Lilo and does everything he can to prevent her from taking him to the shelter for his shots, going as far as to take a shower despite his fear of water (which doesn't work as Lilo invokes Flushing Toilet, Screaming Shower to get him out). Then again, considering how the UGF got his DNA to track him in his holding cell in the original movie, it's no surprise why he doesn't want a needle in him again.

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Example of:

Main / AfraidOfNeedles

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