German equivalent of "Bless you" (lit. "health").
A joke in which one character says an unusual name or a long, odd-sounding or uncommon word, and another character reacts by saying "Gesundheit" or "bless you," as though the first character just sneezed.
A common form of the joke is for the Idiot Hero or The Big Guy to start things off by using an incorrect term, only to reply "Gesundheit" when corrected by another character, as in the following hypothetical example:
Smart Guy: Didactic.
Big Guy: Gesundheit.
In this form, the trope is used to illustrate the character's lack of intelligence: not only did he get the original word wrong, he failed to recognize the correct word when provided with it, mistaking it for nonsense (whether it actually sounds anything like a sneeze or not). It can also be used by a Cloudcuckoolander or someone so naive that they honestly don't recognize the word.
The trope is also employed more knowingly by Deadpan Snarkers in order to comment on odd and hard-to-pronounce names and words. In some cases they may intentionally set the gag up for themselves by making an error deliberately, counting on the other character to unwittingly play the Straight Man and correct them. In this form, it can overlap with Accidental Misnaming.
- In Le Donjon de Naheulbeuk, the Dwarf averts it:
The Enchantress: [reading a location on the map] Chnaffon!
The Ranger: Gesundheit.
The Barbarian: Gesundheit.
The Dwarf: Die!
- The Firesign Theater's The Further Adventures of Nick Danger has the butler, Catherwood, blurting out "Goo goo ga joob" and Nick responding "Gesundheit."
- Played with in one story of Archie Comics, where they come to an aid of a young foreign prince. Jughead always says Gesundheit whenever the prince mentions the name of his country, "Kashew".
- In Uncanny X-Men #275, when Jubilee (Marvel Comics) meets an alien called Ch'od:
Ch'od: I'm Ch'od.
Ch'od: That's my name, small mammal.
Jubilee: Oh. I knew that.
- In the Johan and Peewit book introducing The Smurfs, Peewit says "bless you" the first time they are mentioned. Note that "Smurf" is only their English name; they were originally "Les Schtroumpfs", which arguably sounds more like a sneeze than "Smurf" does.
- In a strip of Baby Blues, Hammie tries and fails to say Gesundheit multiple times. His mother asks why he doesn't just say "Bless you."
Hammie: Too hard to say.
RD: Look, Twah, I know you love your magic and all, but there must be a better place to practice your long distance tellykismesis.
- Sonic Generations: Friendship Is Timeless :
- In Samurai Powerpuffs, whenever Samurai Jack says "Aku", The Powerpuff Girls think he's sneezing and say "Gesundheit". Since Jack has never heard of this expression, he thinks the girls are using Insistent Terminology on how to say Aku's name. Later, the group catches on to the misunderstanding. Later, when the girls say "Aku", Jack playfully says "Gesundheit".
- In the Animorphs fanfic THX 1138, Tom says "bless you" in response to his dad talking about synaptic pruning.
- In Browncoat, Green Eyes Harry discusses password choices with Dumbledore's portrait and the leader of the last of the goblins.
Dumbledore: You know I like to use sweets as passwords.
Harry: Perhaps there's a goblin sweet or dessert you'd like to use in compromise?
Ripruck: Well, there is blvkdarrakvabk.
- In This Means War a group of people try to come up with ways to defend Hogwarts during an attack.
Graeme Thomas: Well, I’ll make my contribution and go back to playing with my kids. Caltrops.
Blaise: Bless you.
- In Harry Potter and the Little Door the Other Mother summons a broomstick to prove that ten-year-old Harry is magical.
Other Mother: Accio.
Harry: Bless you.
- In the Ranma ½ fic Imperial Servant, Dabbler says this to her summoner after he asks her to "Destroy Ranma Saotome"
Dabbler: Let me tell you something, whatever-your-name-is.
Gosunkugi: Gosunkugi Hikaru.
Dabbler: Gesundheit. If you want some kind of bully taken care of, you could have taken care of it yourself with some push-ups or some kind of poltergeist. Succubus usually aren't built for this sort of thing.
- In Off the Rails a comment regarding the diary Horcrux reminds Viktor of The Death of Koschei the Deathless.
Viktor: Kossoi Bezsmurten!
Hufflepuff boy: Gesundheit?
- Out of Sight:
Harmony: Bless you?
Hermione: No you dummy, it's the name of what you're eating. You looked a little unsure what it was.
- In The Maretian, when Starlight is suggesting new books to read, Fireball says "Bless you," after hearing the name Isaac Asimov.
Harry: Now who do you have your sights on?
Ron: Mandy Brocklehurst.
- Ascension: The Silver Spears:
Harry: My parents left it for me in a box with my name on it. I don't know why they would leave me a dagger though. Isn't that irresponsible?
Harry: Bless you.
Griphook: No! That's what the weapon is called!
- The Potioneer's Assistant Rebrewed:
Flitwick: Severus? You brought this in, what is it?
Snape: It's a haiku.
Babbling: Bless you.
Snape: I said 'haiku' not 'achoo'.
- In On the Way to Greatness some of Harry's friends agree to try finding out who put his name in the Goblet of Fire.
Padma: It's going to be great! Just like our own murder mystery. I love those.
Harry: I'd prefer if you enjoyed them at someone else's expense.
Harry: Bless you.
- The Family that Chooses You:
Hermione: Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble. [Harry looks confused] Shakespeare.
Harry: Bless you.
- Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Andrea Beaumont discovers Bruce Wayne practising a martial arts kata on his lawn.
Andrea: What is that?
Andrea: Gesundheit. [Bruce shoots her a Disapproving Look] That was a joke.
Bruce: Jujitsu is no joke. It takes years to master. [Andrea walks over, grabs his arm, and executes an awesome shoulder throw] HEY!
- In A Goofy Movie, during the song "Nobody Else But You":
Goofy: And your values may be, so to speak, askew.
- Played with in Mulan when Mushu is giving Mulan suggestions for a boy's name to use for her Masquerade:
Mushu: Try Ah... ah... Chu!
Mushu: Gesundheit. I kill myself.
- Pocahontas (Golden Films): When the eagle says he must help Pocahontas, Little Fluffy Wing reacts by saying "bless you," as though the eagle just sneezed.
- Tangled: When Rapunzel first tells Flynn her name. Justified due to Flynn's status as the film's chief Deadpan Snarker.
Flynn: All right, Blondie—
- Yellow Submarine, after Old Fred pleads his case to Ringo:
Ringo: Oh, your story has touched me heart. Jump in [the car], we'll get me friends.
Old Fred: Oh, bless you!
Ringo: Did I sneeze?
- Happens in Winnie the Pooh (2011), much to Owl's frustration.
Owl: Yes, well, the thing to do is as follows: First, issue a reward...
Owl: I beg your pardon?
Pooh: Well, you sneezed just as you were going to tell me what the first thing to do was.
Owl: I didn't sneeze.
Eeyore: Oh, you did, Owl.
Owl: No, I didn't! You can't sneeze without knowing it!
Pooh: Well, you can't know it without something haven't been sneezed.
Owl: As I was saying, first: issue a reward—
Pooh: He's doing it again. You must be catching a cold.
Eeyore: I'll probably catch it too.
Owl: No, no, no! I'm not catching a cold! The word is ISSUE, not AH-CHOO! And "ah-choo" isn't even a word! It's just some sort of sneezy sound, like "Ah-choo!"
Pooh: Perhaps you should lie down, Owl.
Owl: Oh! [facepalms and falls over backwards]
- A self-deprecating example from Last Action Hero. It's especially funny, because Jack Slater is using a word from Schwarzenegger's native language while denying that he is him.
Danny: You think you're funny, don't you?
Jack: I know I am. I'm the famous comedian Arnold Braunschweiger.
- Played with in Robin Hood: Men in Tights. The character played by Dave Chappelle is actually named Achoo. His name is mistaken for a sneeze — Ahsneeze is his father — every time a character hears it for the first time, and one character follows up by thinking he's a Jew.
- In Der Schuh des Manitu, a German comedy, one character is named Abahachi ("hatschi" is the German onomatopoeia for a sneeze. In one scene, he meets a half-concious drunk who is revealed to be Karl May (who wrote the novels which inspired the movies which Schuh parodies). When May hears Abahachi's name, he mumbles "Gesundheit".
- In A Fairly Odd Summer, Timmy's parents react this way when he meets them in Hawaii and greets them with, "Mahalo".
- Inverted in J-Men Forever.
J-Man: What do you know about this?
[analyst gives substance the sniff test, then sneezes]
J-Man: Hashish oil, eh?
- In Babe, Babe says "Nasty cough" the first time Duchess the cat hisses at him, and then "Bless you" when she does it again.
- Jojo Rabbit: After Elsa tells Jojo to say out loud what she is, he says "a Jew" (sounding like he is sneezing). Elsa replies with a condescending "Gesundheit".note
- In Big Nate Flips Out, neat freak Francis points out a crooked poster in the hallway, saying it detracts from the room's overall feng shui. A confused Nate says, "Feng what?", to which Teddy comes in from behind to whack him in the head with a notebook saying, "Gesundheit!"
- From Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:
"What's that?" said Ron, pointing at a large dish of some sort of shellfish stew that stood beside a large steak-and-kidney pudding.
"Bouillabaisse," said Hermione.
"Bless you," said Ron.
- Winnie the Pooh: The original book contains a dragged-out scene where Owl says they must "issue" a reward for Eeyore's tail, and Pooh replies "What did you say we should do with a reward? You sneezed just as you were about to tell me." They go back and forth on this several times.
- The 2011 film has the same joke (see under Films: Animated).
- The Russian version, and its animated adaptation, achieved the same joke by having Owl use various words that sound like sneezes. And to top it all off, in the animated version she really does have a sneezing fit by the end of the conversation.
- Subverted in The Mage Winds Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey, where a wolf-like creature's name is mispronounced as "Hashi." He doesn't correct them because his real name really DOES sound like a sneeze.
- There's a moment in The Warlock in Spite of Himself where Rod Gallowglass is talking with a ghost who makes a reference to "the chamber with the strange device." Rod recognizes this as resembling a recurring line from a famous poem, and adds the word that always comes next in the poem: "Excelsior." The ghost, who apparently doesn't know the poem, replies, "Gesundheit."
- Lampshaded in Scoop when a foreign gentlemen introduces himself by making a sneezing sound, then says, "That is my name."
- In Original Sin, Benny says "Bless you" when offered a tisane by Provost-Major Beltempest. Beltempest doesn't realise she was making a joke, and explains what a tisane is.
- Used in Section 31: Rogue.
- In The Dragon Hoard, Prince Jasleth exclaims "It's Maligna!" when he realizes that the author of their current predicament is the same sorceress who cursed him at the start of the story. Prince Fearless replies, "Bless you."
- In one of the vignettes in Ian Stewart's Math Hysteria, two stone-age masons have discovered a geometry problem in their latest assignment, and one of them proposes visiting the numerosophist Snitchswitcher Wishsnitchersdorter for advice. His associate replies "May the gods preserve you against possession by demons!"
- Whose Line Is It Anyway? had a song where they could only make up one word at a time. Wayne almost messes up, but Drew covers for him by saying, "Ooh..." Ryan ends up saying "Gesundheit."
- Top Gear:
James: What would you say if I said, Perodua Kelisa?
Richard: Ooh, bless you!
- Played with in an episode of Babylon 5, where it's part of a joke being told:
- In the Xena: Warrior Princess episode "Warrior...Princess...", a Xena look-a-like named Diana (who happens to be a princess!), is sharing a meal with some poor people;
Peasant girl: What is that? (referring to the chakram)
Diana: Oh, this? This is... my round killing thing.
Diana: Bless you.
- This became a running gag on the Trevor and Simon sketches in Live And Kicking whenever EastEnders star Letitia Dean was a guest.
Trevor: Pleased to meet you, Latoya.
Trevor & Simon: Bless you!
- Cordelia has this reaction when Angel sends her to speak to some transuding furies in "That Old Gang of Mine".
Hodgins: Aegialia concinna.
Dr. Saroyan: Gesundheit.
Hodgins: Also known as scarab beetles.
- A variation/subversion occurs on Sherlock:
Lestrade: And a Happy New Year.
- M*A*S*H: In "Margaret's Engagement," Hawkeye, B.J. and Potter are eavesdropping on Frank's phone conversation to his mother:
Hawkeye: He's crying.
- Deeks does this three times in an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles during a case involving German agents. He even Lampshades Rule of Three after the second one, promising that the third one will be awesome. Callen ends up agreeing that it is.
- In the episode of Have I Got News for You in which Paul Merton was teamed with a tub of lard, note his headlines in the final Missing Words round were in languages other than English. One headline was the German "Die Bank von England gibt große ____ zu",note and after no-one correctly guessed the missing word, moderator Angus Deayton revealed it as "Besorgnis".note Ian Hislop laughed and said, "Bless you!"
- Zigzagged in an episode of Warehouse 13 when Artie has the flu and tells Pete and Myka that they're looking for an artifact related to Hatshepsut. Myka can't tell whether he's sneezing or saying the Pharaoh's name and alternately mistakes one for the other.
- El Chavo del ocho: During the episode "Fútbol Americano":
Don Ramón: And I could be your coach.
El Chavo: Bless you!
- Parodied in a cover of "Minnie the Moocher:"
Singer: [complex string of nonsense lyrics]
- In Fernando Delgadillo's acid-fueled song about a noontime traffic jam resembling the Sahara:
Guarda ese que trae cara de fumador the hachís... [Watch out for that guy, who looks like a hashish smoker...]
¡No, hachís! [No, hashish!]
¡Salud, menso! [Gesundheit, dunce!]
De nada, hermano. [Bless you, brother.]
- Spitting Image: In one sketch, Ronald Reagan is rambling about Mikhail Gorbachev, while (then) Vice President George Bush Sr. and US Chief of Staff Donald Regan listen and roll their eyes.
Donald Regan: What's he on about?
George Bush: Glasnost.
President Reagan: God bless you, George.
George Bush: Oh, and perestroika.
President Reagan: Will you guys stop sneezing!
- In a segment on Sesame Street, Grover is dressed up as a cowboy and sitting on a horse. He shouts out "Saskatchewan!" — "Gesundheit!" replies the horse.
- Hilariously inverted in Dinosaurs. After the Chief Elder in charge of naming babies dies after inadvertently naming Baby "Augh Ugh I'm Dying You Idiot" (the scribe was too Literal-Minded and would write down everything he said), Ethyl reminds Fran of her cousin "Hachoo", and Fran recalls a classmate back in school named "Urrap Excuse Me".
- Under the Umbrella Tree:
- In the episode "Hear! Hear!" one of the signs that Mrs. McMertree has become hard of hearing is that she says "Bless you" when Mrs. Higgins says "nasturtiums."
- In the "hanky" song from the Sick Episode "Hanky Panky," Jacob pronounces the words "a tissue" as if they were a sneeze, with Iggy saying "Bless you" each time.
- The Muppet Show: In the episode where Peter Ustinov was the guest star, he plays a psychiatrist on the panel show discussing, of course, psychiatry (with Kermit, Miss Piggy, and a Muppet named Cynthia), and starts talking about psychiatric terms:
Doctor: Terms like complex, sublimation, regression, gestalt!
Miss Piggy and Cynthia: Gesundheit!
- Wonderful Town has several instances of this in the spoken patter of "Swing!" This is the fullest version, playing off a Shout-Out to the 1939 swing hit "Hold Tight":
Ruth: I want my favorite dish.
Ruth: It's nothing.
- Merrily We Roll Along has one in "Bobby and Jackie and Jack" as the characters imagine the Kennedys' White House cultural events:
Beth: [in character as Jackie Kennedy] And Galina... Vishnevskaya —
Charley and Frank: Gesundheit.
Beth: — the Russian soprano. Just pronouncing her name is refreshing enough!
- John Tartagalia's Imaginocean has two fish named Whipper and Snapper who are essentially the equivalent of Statler and Waldorf. When Snapper introduces the show as "John Tartaglia's Imaginocean", Whipper says "gesundheit" and they joke about wondering just who John Tartaglia is.
- In "Words, Words, Words" from Bajour, the heroine gives a crooked character a Word Association Test, and when she says "virtue," he replies "gesundheit."
- The Elder Scrolls Online: Quoth recurring Meta Guy M'aiq the Liar:
M'aiq the Liar: M'aiq asked a Nord what she sought. "Wuuthrad," she said. So M'aiq offered his kerchief.
- Grand Theft Auto III : One of the cheat codes of the game is "Gesundheit". Kind of funny considering the protagonist is not named and doesn't talk.
- From the Interactive Fiction game Planetfall:
- From the 2011 Halloween event in Kingdom of Loathing: "A bat flies in through the window and lands on a sofa. There's a puff of smoke, and where the bat was sitting is a sorority girl vampire in a weirdly post-modern sexy Halloween costume. "N-n-n-nosferatu!" you stammer. "Um, like, bless you?" the vampire says, and leaps straight at your throat.
- Minecraft: Story Mode: In "A Journey's End?", there's this short exchange during a match of Spleef.
Lukas: Hang on, I just realized what this reminds me of! Spleef!
- From the Spongebob Squarepants game Battle for Bikini Bottom:
Patrick: Here's your golden back scratcher!
Patrick: I don't speak Italian.
- Used in the Rooster Teeth series RWBY with Jaune Arc not knowing the word "Aura". Yes... Aura.
- Used in an episode of the flash series Unforgotten Realms as a Running Gag with the word "delinquent".
- Parodied in Weebl & Bob, when shopping for a new computer to replace Bob's recently obliterated one...
Weebl: Relax, Bob! I know all about Hoovers!
Weebl: Bless you. You there!
- In Nodwick, Piffany gets one:
Yeagar: Look out! Shuriken!
- Inverted in 8-Bit Theater. The protagonists find a scroll which can summon an Eldritch Abomination, but only if its unpronounceable name is read properly. Then Fighter takes a look at it and...
Fighter: Don't you know you're supposed to say "bless you" when someone sneezes?
Black Mage: So that was a sneeze and not one of your patented piercing insights?
- Dean & Nala + Vinny: Vinny asks Nala a question:
Vinny: What's the Flag of Finland called?
Nala: Um...The Flag of Finland?
Vinny: Nope. It's Siniristilippu.
Nala: Bless you. Here's a hanky.
- SpongeBob SquarePants during "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy III" after Man-Ray begs for them take the tickle belt off (by saying "please"):
Patrick: Well, I guess he's reconstituted.
- Phineas and Ferb, during a song.
Ferb: Thank you very much.
- The Flintstones would have Wilma say "Bless you" in response to Pebbles calling out to the Great Gazoo.
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
- In the episode "May the Best Pet Win", Rainbow Dash writes to Princess Celestia that she's learned the best quality to look for in a potential pet (or friend):
Rainbow Dash: ...a certain kind of spirit, a stick-to-it-iveness. A never-give-up, can-do attitude that's the mark of a real winner, and this tortoise has it.
Twilight Sparkle: Tenacity.
Rainbow Dash: Gesundheit.
- Also used earlier in the show when, after Rainbow Dash describes the race course and finishes with a Sting on Ghastly Gorge, a lonesome eagle cry echoes across the land...to which she zooms over to said eagle and invokes the trope.
- In the episode "May the Best Pet Win", Rainbow Dash writes to Princess Celestia that she's learned the best quality to look for in a potential pet (or friend):
- Teen Titans
Starfire: Do you wish to invite the Rekmas?
Beast Boy: Gesundheit?
- The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat, after some M.C. Escher-like staircases appear out of nowhere:
Sheba: Whoa. Escher!
- The toy dragon on Doc McStuffins, Stuffy, does this when the titular Doc's new toy doll from Japan, Kiko, speaks in Japanese. This is also his reaction to Stanley's Un-Evil Laugh in "Welcome to the Toy Hospital."
- Beetlejuice: Lydia's re-enactment of Moby-Dick for the Neitherworld's "Disasterpiece Theater" TV show starts off dubiously. Her first line, "Call me Ishmael," is greeted immediately with "Gesundheit!" being shouted by a stagehand.
- Zig-zag: The 1960s cartoon Roger Ramjet featured the Height Brothers: Horace, Cronk and Gesund.
- This is Pinky's response to Auf Wiedersehen (german for goodbye).
- Variant in Top Cat: In the episode "Space Monkey", Top Cat and his gang help Eek-Eek, a chimp from a space program, to escape and get home. Later on, when talking to Officer Dibble who's none the wiser about their scheme, they are delivered a crate of bananas and a letter signed by Eek-Eek.
Top Cat's gang: Eek-Eek!
Officer Dibble: What's all this "Eek-Eek" stuff?
Top Cat: Guess the boys just have a touch of indigestion.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: In "Test of Time", Billy has a magical remote from Grim that allows him to literally rewind time and generally uses it to goof off. After metting Mandy and getting her to say "pinhead" over for some laughs, Mandy starts getting a suspicion of events repeating themselves.
Mandy: Hmm, déjà vu.
- In the Scooby-Doo special "Ghastly Goals," a creature called an Eshu terrorizes a Brazilian parade for a soccer match. The "Gesundheit" gag is pulled twice when the Eshu's name comes up.
- Danger Mouse: DM and Penfold are in the Mark III car circling a castle in which Colonel K is held captive by a robot cat named Paws (episode "Cat-astrophe"):
Penfold: But DM, how are we going to get into the castle?
Penfold: Bless you. How are we going to—?
Penfold: Bless you! How are we—? (DM presses the ejector seat button; he and Penfold pop out of the car and descend in parachutes) Ooh! So that's what happened to my best set of sheets!
- Archie pulls this on Big Moose in a blackout segment of The Archie Comedy Hour:
Archie: Knock knock.
Moose: Who's there?
Moose: Arch who?
- The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Halloween - Sally and Nick say it in unison when the Cat describes Bubbles as a "great haberdasher."
- The Simpsons: In Margical History Tour, Marge's take on Lewis and Clark's expedition of the western territories of the United States uses the trope.
Clark: We'll never forget you, Pocahontas.
- In the banned Bugs Bunny cartoon "All This And Rabbit Stew," Sambo (the black Elmer Fudd expy) says "Gesundheit" after Bugs emits a loud hiccup.
- Played both straight and a gag in the cartoon "Early to Bet." The "Gesundheit" was a penalty the cat had to perform for losing to the dog at gin rummy. It involves bubble gum and pepper.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle: In the "Lazy Jay Ranch" story, Rocky invokes the French proverb Noblesse oblige, prompting Bullwinkle to reply "Gesundheit" back to him.
- Beast Wars: Said by Dinobot when one of Rhinox's sneeze lasers destroys one of the pods.
- My Gym Partner's a Monkey: In "Shiny Thing", during the creative writing lesson, Miss Loon tells Adam "bless you" after hearing the word 'haiku' from him. Adam tells her what is actually a haiku.