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Frivolous Summoning

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Kochin: I have scoured the planet for you for the last fifty years. With you lies my only hope. Eternal Dragon, I beseech you! With your bountiful mystical power!... could you please melt the ice off my front door?
Shenron: E-excuse me?

When someone tells you they'll be there if you need them, they generally have something specific in mind. But with somebody at your beck and call, it can be hard to resist the temptation to call them when they're not actually needed. This can be either supernatural (such as through a Summoning Ritual) or mundane (such as through a signal or phone call), and the reasons for doing it can range from laziness to pettiness to stupidity. In either case, done too much, the summoned person-turned-Beleaguered Assistant may eventually refuse to help anymore. May then become a Crying Wolf situation when a real need to summon them arises.

Often a form of Mundane Utility. Compare Inconvenient Summons, for when it happens where the summoned person is already busy, and Wasteful Wishing, which can overlap.


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  • In the late 2000s and early 2010s, insurance company State Farm ran their "Magic Jingle" commercial series where a customer who sang their jingle would instantly bring an agent to their side. Soon people began to realize it could be exploited; in one commercial, two customers used it to escape being attacked by a heard of buffalo, and others in the series had people realize they could summon anything with the jingle.
  • A commercial for the Visa Check Card had a woman screaming for help which results in a number of superheroes arriving to help her. She replies that someone stole her Visa check card which results in the superheroes groaning. Spider-Man then explains that if her card is stolen, then she's not liable for those charges, and Captain America explains that she'll get her stolen money back. While the situation would seem dire to the woman, the superheroes treat it like it's frivolous.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the original Dragon Ball, Commander Red of the Red Ribbon Army wants to summon the Eternal Dragon in order to make himself taller. Those working under him are not at all happy with him when this gets out, especially since his selfish desires have caused a significant fraction of them to be killed by the One-Man Army that is Goku.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Back in the past when Lucy was little, she was given Aquarius's key and would often summon her just to have a playmate, to Aquarius's annoyance. This is the reason why she's usually so belligerent to Lucy in the present time of the story whenever she's summoned, as Aquarius held a bit of a grudge for it, despite Lucy having long grown out of her childish mentality.
    • Lucy ends up taking a quest to help a town that needs water as their central fountain has been broken. Lucy summons Aquarius to fill in by having Aquarius stand in the middle of the broken fountain and using her urn to produce water until the town has their fountain fixed. While the town is understandably happy that they got water again, Aquarius ends up being less than pleased at being used by Lucy as a temporary replacement for a broken fountain.
    • While Lucy has summoned Cancer on several occasions to help, one notable incident stands out as this. Lucy near the end of the Tartaros arc summons Cancer to make Wendy's short hair long again after the latter cut it earlier in the arc. While Cancer is perfectly fine doing this, it wasn't something Lucy had to do for Wendy and she could have just let Wendy grow her hair out again normally.

    Comic Books 
  • Dungeon Monsters: In volume 2, the sorcerer Horous and his friend Alcibiade land their flying mount at the top of a tree and they don't know how to get down, so Horous summons the gigantic demon Azdebaroth to ask him to put them on the ground. Ironically, the two are attacked by a hostile tribe shortly after and Alcibiade suggests that Horous summon the demon Azdebaroth again to help them, but Horous reveals that he can only summon him once every nineteen years.
  • Mélusine: The witches in this setting have a bad habit of this.
    • An early strip has Mélusine getting frustrated by a summoning spell not working well enough, and finally calling a powerful demonic spirit by literally throwing everything she has in her cauldron... only to ask him to help finding a pair of earrings she lost.
    • In Inferno, Mélusine and her aunt Adrazelle are seen summoning undead, ghosts and demons in a complex ritual sequence... to serve as pieces for a life-sized chess game.
  • Monica's Gang has a strip where Angel tries his best to help the townspeople, but keeps getting called for frivolous reasons, such as Monica wanting him to deliver a pair of doll's shoes to Maggie, or Maggie being hungry and wanting some food.
  • Superman: In an old Superman comic book, Lois Lane summons Superman with her signal watch so he can help her with the loose heel of one of her shoes.

    Fan Works 
  • Not the intended use (Zantetsuken Reverse): Kazuya summons demons to make them do basic domestic chores, like cleaning or shopping. The different demons have different opinions on this; some like the work while others take Exact Words to the next level to get back at him.
  • The Violet Room: Myde comes across a stand where some kids sell handmade bracelets and stuff in exchange for doing something scary. After thinking about it, he decides to summon one of his Dancer Nobodies and has it fetch a bracelet. After they get over their initial shock, the kids LOVE it. Later on, he orders them to carry some books.

    Films — Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games: The movie opens with the girls (save Twilight) suddenly being called for an emergency. Turns out it was from Pinkie who did so at the request of Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo who wanted to see them "Pony Up"; that is, show off their magic powers when they play songs. Naturally the girls aren't amused they were pulled away from other activities for that.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Batman Forever: Chase Meridian switches on the Bat Signal to tell Batman that Two-Face's coin is his Achilles' Heel, and having made this Captain Obvious statement, starts hitting on him. Batman realises that Chase just wanted an excuse to chat, and tells her, "You called me here for this? The Bat-Signal is not a beeper."

  • In the short story "Silly Young Billy Goat", a young, anthropomorphic billy goat is given a bell by his grandfather and told to ring it when he's "in danger". However, the goat doesn't know what "in danger" means, and so uses it to tell Grandpa that a fly, then a straw, has landed on him. When a wolf attacks the goat, the grandpa initially doesn't come (in a variation on Crying Wolf but without deliberate lies) but thankfully saves him just in time. The story has An Aesop about what danger really means.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Last Week Tonight: During the 8th season, there was a Running Gag about John Oliver being able to summon George Clooney whenever he wants and irritating him with pointless summons.
  • In the Sherlock episode "The Sign of Three", Sherlock texts Lestrade for "help". The latter assumes the worst because of the unusual way of contacting and the messages' briefness and leaves an important crime scene in haste while also ordering "maximum backup". Apparently, Sherlock only needed some help while preparing for Watson's wedding which he didn't care to elaborate in his text to Lestrade, as when he arrives at Baker Street, this dialog ensues:
    Sherlock: Do you know any funny stories about John?
    Lestrade: What?!
    Sherlock: I need anecdotes. You didn't go through any trouble, did you?

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition, Dungeon Master's Guide: One of the possible items on a Necklace of Prayer Beads is the Bead of Summons, which allows the wearer to summon their deity. If the wearer doesn't have a good reason for summoning them, the deity will take the Necklace as the least punishment for doing so.
    • Priest's Spell Compendium Volume 1. The Council of Spirits spell allows a shaman to summon an entire group of spirits to debate important issues. If the issues the spirits are asked to resolve are routine, petty, or personal in nature, the spirits may punish the shaman for wasting their time.

    Web Animation 
  • In the third episode of AFK Arena: Just Esperia Things, with all other options being exhausted, Niru uses a ritual to speak to Qaedam — inventor of necromancy and lord of the undead — to help with his son Daimon's math homework. Qaedam is furious at this because not only was he being called over something so silly, but he was powerless to help his own son with the exact same assignment.
  • Pretty much the whole point of The Summoning, which revolves around Witch Girl Claire attempting dark rituals to summon demons for notably mundane tasks. The animated short has her summon a white, jagged-faced blob creature named Scaroar for the purpose of "eliminating some scum from [her] life forever". This is quite literal: She wants it to clean her bathroom. To be fair, this does at least seem to be the demon's purpose.

  • In 8-Bit Theater, this is subverted. After Drizz'l summons Lich and the two begin arguing, Lich protests that he wasn't summoned to argue semantics with an elf, and compares it to summoning a demon to get help with homework. The subversion comes in as Drizz'l actually summoned Lich to kill the other Dark Warriors and just got sidetracked.
  • Belzebubs:
    • In one flashback strip, Lilith and Leviathan summoned a demon on Halloween just to ask him for candy. He is not happy, but Lilith notices his breath smells like Skittles so he reluctantly gives them some candy anyway.
      Demon: Listen, little shits. Have you idea who you're dealing with? Do I look like someone who'd come bearing sweets?
      Lilith: Your breath smells like Skittles.
      Demon: Fine.
    • In another strip, the family is playing Scrabble and Lucyfer plays the extremely long name of a demon Sløth has never heard of, and doesn't think exists. Lucyfer summons the demon right then and there just to prove he's real.
      Lucyfer: Hearken to my tongue, o Azhragogrugroggin! Demon sultan of the unsung, show me thy horned noggin! Heed my humble plea, reveal thyself to me!
      Lucyfer: Sorry, Azh. Just trying to prove a point. Want a cookie?
  • Erma: In this strip, Amy performs a Bloody Mary-like ritual to summon she could ask to borrow Erma's class notes.
  • The Order of the Stick: The Big Bad Xykon has his Dragon summon a dead Mook's spirit with Necromancy to tell him where to find his keys.
    Xykon: Thanks! The conjuring of his immortal soul saved me the inconvenience of digging out the spare set I keep in my desk.
  • Rusty and Co.: Discussed in Level 9's Critical Missives, where Derek explains the ethics of scrying and why people with the gift of a Seer need to avoid abusing their powers to Mimic, with the next panel showing a girl accidentally summoning an Eldritch Abomination because she wanted to know whether or not she passed an exam.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • In the "The Christmas Tree of Might", Krillin summons Shenron because he wants to wish for a Christmas tree instead of restoring the burned forest. This pushes Shenron over the edge, and he grants the wish by directing Turles and his evil tree to Earth in retaliation.
    • In "The World's Strongest", Dr. Kochin spends 50 years gathering the Dragon Balls, magical stones that can grant any wish, to summon the Eternal Dragon Shenron... to melt the ice off his front door. Shenron suggests Kochin wish to gain the power to melt the ice himself, in case it happens again, but eventually grants the wish anyway out of frustration.note 
    • During the Namek saga, Super Kami Guru at one point suggests using the Dragon Balls to wish for a new TV, but Nail talks him out of it.
  • What the Fuck Is Wrong with You? likes to remind you that "911 is not customer service" when a story pops up in their queue along the lines of, say, people calling 999 to complain that UK KFC restaurants had run out of chicken. On a similar theme of significant over-escalation, they also have the phrase, "A gun is not a remote control for life", for when people pull and brandish weapons over incredibly trivial matters.

    Western Animation 
  • Big Hero 6: The Series: In the episode "Mayor for a Day", Richardson Mole, who won the titular position, begins to abuse the Big Hero 6 emergency helpline to summon them for autographs, playing with action figures, moving a mini-fridge, appearing on his podcast, and giving him a massage. When they get fed up and start ignoring him, he teams up with the episode's villains for revenge.
  • Family Guy had an Imagine Spot where a lazy Aquaman used his powers to summon a fish to fetch him beer and perform other mundane tasks for him. The fish was very annoyed.
  • Harley Quinn: In "You're a Damn Good Cop, Jim Gordon", Commissioner Gordon starts using the Bat Signal to summon Batman for petty things like hanging out and talking about his failing marriage. Batman gets fed up and confiscates the signal.
  • Kaijudo: In one episode, Ray summons Tatsurion the Unchained to do his chores, much to Tatsurion's chagrin. At the end of the episode, after learning his lesson, Ray summons him again, this time to give him a large slab of meat as an apology.
  • Little Princess: In "What's Wrong with Gilbert?", the Princess demands her parents call an ambulance because her teddy bear Gilbert's leg has fallen off. The doctor is a friend of the Princess's parents, so she agrees to fix Gilbert.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: At the beginning of "Dear John", Daffy calls the fire department to help him open a can of tuna. When one of the firemen asks Daffy why he did that, Daffy tells him that first he called Bugs, then Tina, then Porky, then them. Later in the episode, Daffy complains about the fire department charging him for coming to his house to Porky, to which Porky tells him that he called 911 four times in the past week, but none of the emergencies were valid. Daffy insists that his emergencies (getting the police to give him a towel, getting the fire department to read him a bedtime story, and getting the paramedics to help him decide whether or not he should wear a scarf) were valid.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot: In "The Boy Who Cried Robot", Tuck repeatedly summons Jenny for several meaningless tasks. Eventually Brad tells her that she's being used and introduces her to "The Boy Who Cried Wolf". After reading the book though and hearing Tuck actually screaming about a wolf, Jenny is convinced she needs to help no matter what. The moment she arrives though, she finds Tuck just summoned her to introduce her to a dog named Wolf. Jenny grows fed up at this point, and she decides that Tuck needs to be taught a lesson.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "The Break-Up Break Down", Spike and Big MacIntosh summon Discord, an all-powerful Reality Warper... just so he can cook a pie Big Mac is making for his girlfriend faster. Needless to say, Discord is not amused at being summoned for such a trivial matter.
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • A Running Gag throughout the series involves the Mayor just wanting help with his Impossible Pickle Jar.
    • In the episode "Too Pooped To Puff", the town becomes exceedingly dependent on the girls to solve all of their problems, and they've had enough.
  • Inverted in Rick and Morty with the Meeseeks Box, which Rick warns is only supposed to be used with trivial tasks. Summoning a Mr. Meeseeks for a task that they might not be able to accomplish — such as helping Jerry improve at golf — leads to serious problems, as they're Death Seekers who aren't able to vanish and die until what they've been called for is completed.
  • The Simpsons: Done by Bart in a deleted scene of "Treehouse of Horror IV", as shown in "138th Episode Spectacular". While Homer awaits for his trial in Hell, Bart acts like he's planning to make a Deal with the Devil... just to mess with the devil.
    Marge: [looking at a phone book] "Lionel Hutz: attorney at law, I'll win your case, or your pizza is free." Hmmm...
    Bart: I'd sell my soul for a Formula-One racer.
    Devil Flanders: [appears with the race car] That can be arranged.
    Bart: Nah, changed my mind. [Devil Flanders, with a disappointed expression, vanishes in a puff of smoke] Cool.
    Marge: Bart! Stop pestering Satan.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Mermaid Man And Barnacle Boy II", SpongeBob wins the Conch Signal, an item which calls the titular superheroes, in a contest. He proceeds to use it for everyday tasks because he just wants to spend time with them.

    Real Life 
  • All too common with 911 and similar emergency services, despite it being illegal to call them unless there's an actual emergency. The reasons callers give can range from a papercut to Burger King being out of lemonade.


Video Example(s):


Niru and Qaedam

Even zombies have homework. So when Niru's son Daimon is having trouble with a math problem, Niru quickly runs out of options when trying to help, and resorts to summoning the inventor of necromancy and master of the undead.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / FrivolousSummoning

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