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Innocent Innuendo

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Bad time to drop the phone in mayonnaise.

Father: So what makes you think you can locate my 4-by-4?
Abraxas: My box has VD, trust me.
Mother: Your what?
Abraxas: VD. Vibrational Detection.

A deliberate ploy to make the viewer think something sexy or illicit is occurring when it actually is not. A scene will begin with its characters not visible to the camera, or partially obscured; the dialogue between them seems lascivious and explicit, or be laced with double entendres. But once the Reveal Shot has occurred where the camera pulls back to reveal the whole scene, the action involved is entirely innocent and the dialogue turns out to be referring, entirely or mostly, to these innocent actions — it is only in the dirty minds of the viewers that anything untoward happened.

Sometimes, this is hard to pull off believably. In many cases, if you listen carefully to the supposedly innocent phrases, they don't sound natural, don't fit the conversation, and are totally unlike the way the characters usually speak. In fact, it was tailor-made to lead to a misunderstanding, and makes a lot more sense in that context than in the supposed true meaning. But the situation is often so distracting it's hard to notice at first.

This is also often pulled off on other characters in-story. Sometimes, the viewers will see the explanation of the scene first, and then we cut to an angle from which an ugly subtext can be (mis)construed by outside observers.

Usually perpetrated immediately upon return from a commercial, for comedic effect.

Sister trope of Not What It Looks Like, which is for situations, instead of just speech. Also see Imagined Innuendo.

This is related to Out-of-Context Eavesdropping, and possibly from a misinterpretation of a Sexual Euphemism. It's the polar opposite of both Getting Crap Past the Radar and Accidental Innuendo. See also Does This Remind You of Anything?, Grossout Fakeout, and That Came Out Wrong. Compare Accidental Pun, where a non-sexual remark is misinterpreted as, well, a pun; Orgasmic Combat, when fighting sounds like... something else; and Have a Gay Old Time, when something sounds sexual because language marches on. Contrast G-Rated Sex.

Example subpages

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • One State Farm ad features a guy talking on the phone at 3 am saying "Yeah, I'm married. Does it matter? You'd do that for me? I'd like that". His wife thinks he's cheating and takes the phone and asks what the person on the other line is wearing. It turns out to be a (male) State Farm agent, but she doesn't believe him. "She sounds hideous!" "Well, she's a guy, so..."
  • The Wunder Boner!
  • The "Everyone's Doing It" advert for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on the Xbox 360.
  • "I love my three way and everyone wants a three way."
  • This PSA about diabetes.
  • Turn up the fun with Balzac!
  • A campaign for Cascade dishwasher tablets features couples saying "We do it every night," in which "it" turns out to be running the dishwasher because it's better for the environment than washing the dishes by hand. ... Which ticked off evangelical Christian group One Million Moms.
  • In the late 90's the snack food Corn Nuts ran radio jingles encouraging people to "Grab a bag of Corn Nuts and bust a nut!"

  • An Adam Sandler CD had Sandler's character "interviewing" people, and asking whether the tape he was playing caught the sound of people having sex, or working out. Even the most blatantly obvious cases of the former (such as one of the people recorded saying flat-out "We're two guys fucking!") were passed off as this, and the interviewee labelled as having a dirty mind.
  • According to an NPR story, the Smothers Brothers used to get crew members to snigger at selected non-jokes in their show so that the censors would challenge them, assuming they were using some kind of sex- or drug-related slang, and the brothers would get to incredulously ask what they could be reading into something so innocuous. It may have served as a combination of Censor Decoy and Gaslighting designed to leave the censors confused and unsure of their own ability to recognize genuine naughty material.

    Comic Books 
  • An infamous cover to an issue of Archie Comics has Archie responding to Betty that "I had to beat off three guys to get to you!"
  • Batman got in on the fun of Kinky Spanking, despite his current status as The Comically Serious - his first issue with Catwoman (then called "Cat"), he told her "Quiet, or papa spank!"
  • In a comic by Michael Kupperman, Roger Daltrey is continually thwarted in his quest for a "bird" (girl) by an old man who uses this technique to introduce him to actual birds.
  • In Supergirl storyline Many Happy Returns, Kara and Linda are talking about stuff in the school lockers, and Linda notices that Kara is fixing her eyes on a wall. Kara explains she's looking through the wall and she's amazed at all the equipment she is seeing. Said equipment being sporting stuff.
    Kara Zor-El: I'm looking through it. It's amazing. All the equipment I'm seeing. So many sizes and shapes...
    Linda Danvers: All the ...? Kara! Just where are you looking?!
    Kara: The equipment room, where they keep all the sporting stuff, why?
    Linda: Oh, I thought you were peeping in at the guy's lock— Forget it. My own dirty mind.
  • Y: The Last Man
    • Used late where it's implied that the two main characters are getting it on, and it turns out that one is instructing the other in picking the lock on a deadbolt.
    • And again, in a conversation that simply cannot be anything other than two characters (one of whom is involved with another main character) giving mid-coital instructions... and that's exactly what it is. However, they're talking to their pet monkeys, who they've finally managed to coax into having sex (the male monkey, like the male main character, is the last male of his species and they very much want an impregnated female).

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Animation 
  • Toward the very end of Igor, the main character shows Eva a blueprint. She asks him if he's really going to make it, and Igor replies that if it doesn't work out, they'll just adopt. The camera then shifts to Eva's POV, showing a blueprint for a dog.
  • The Thief and the Cobbler:
    • There's one character who appears to be peeing, but on change of angle he's only squeezing water out of his robe.
    • "Now that I have the balls, I'll go see the King." He was referring to balls, specifically the three golden balls that are a MacGuffin.

  • A famous postcard had a nerdy guy next to an apparently blushing young woman: The text says, "Do you like Kipling?" To which she responds "I don't know, you naughty boy, I've never kipled!"

  • In A Brother's Price, after Jerin has been kidnapped, rescued by Cira, and re-kidnapped with her in tow, and has just picked the lock on his handcuffs.
    Cira: Get in the bed.
    Jerin: What?! [blushes]
    Cira: Pretend that you are still handcuffed.
  • There is a running gag in the Discworld novels where there is a reference to hanging someone up by their "figgin" or removing or roasting said figgin. Invariably accompanying these instances there is either a footnote revealing that a figgin is a raisin pastry or a moment where one of the characters is shown wondering why the prospect of those punishments would cause so much terror.
    • Similarly, in Feet of Clay a dwarf baker demands that the criminals who robbed him should be hung up by the bura'zak-ka (town hall). "Now now, you know we don't practice that punishment in Ankh-Morpork." (Because Ankh-Morpork doesn't have a town hall.) After all, they kicked Olaf Stronginthearm in the bad'dhzakz (yeast bowl). A fictionary can be a rich source of stuff like this.
    • "I'm the only one around who might be inclined to twiddle your handle again." from Thief of Time. Susan was indeed talking about turning a handle, as the person she was addressing had a wind-up time-storage device on his back, and he needed it to be kept wound so that he wouldn't fall victim to the frozen time affecting the rest of the Discworld.
    • When Captain Sam Vimes first met Lady Sybil Ramkin in Guards! Guards!, he arrived just as she was trying to get two of her dragons to mate ("I say, my man, do you know anything about mating?"), and what she said led Vimes to think she'd kidnapped someone and was doing things not just sexual but downright perverted to the poor fellow. The dialogue went like this:
      Sybil: "It's Lord Mountjoy Gayscale Talonthrust III of Ankh. You know, I really don't think he can cut the mustard."
      Sam: "He can't?"
      Sybil: "It really needs two of you."
      Sam: "It does, doesn't it."
      Sybil: "Could you oblige?"
      Sam: What?
      Sybil: Oh, don't be squeamish, man. You just have to hold him up in the air. It's me who has the tricky part. I know it's cruel, but if he can't manage it tonight then he's for the choppy-chop. Survival of the fittest and all that, don't you know.
      Sam: [coldly] "Madam, I am an officer of the Watch and I must warn you that the course of action you are suggesting breaks the laws of the city—" and also of several of the more strait-laced gods, he added silently "—and I must advise you that his Lordship should be released unharmed immediately—"
      Sybil: "Why? It's my bloody dragon."
  • In So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, Ford Prefect is approached by a woman who offers him a good time and says she has a special service for rich people to make them happy. It turns out that her special service is to tell rich people that it's perfectly alright to be rich and they shouldn't feel guilty about it (she has a degree in psychology and economics and so can sound pretty convincing).
  • In Twig, it's a Running Gag. Sy frequently either makes an innuendo or fails to notice others doing so, due to his lack of experience and deliberately suppressed libido.
    Sy: Apparently when Jamie’s riding the emotional high of a wild success, the first thing he wants to do is ride my ass.
    Jamie: [covers his face] Sy, that— no.
  • In Space Captain Smith, Smith's sidekick Polly is a Replicant who was originally created as a Sexbot but reprogammed herself to be a pilot. If she doesn't concentrate on what she says her original programming can slip though, resulting in this.
  • In the seventh Harry Potter book, surprisingly it is Hermione that comes out with one while the gang is making Polyjuice Potion to all turn into Harry. While watching the potion change colors, she blurts out:
    Hermione: Ooh, you look much tastier than Crabbe and Goyle, Harry. [everyone gives her strange looks] Oh, you know what I mean! note 
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel: When Chauvelin first meets up with Marguerite at the Fisherman's Rest, the latter confides her boredom and unhappiness in her marriage to her old friend, who says he knows the perfect remedy. It turns out to be helping him track down the Scarlet Pimpernel, but in context, it at first sounds like he wants her to have an affair with him. (Some adaptations actually promote Chauvelin to a suitor/lover of Marguerite, making this Hilarious in Hindsight.)
  • From New Moon:
    Bella I put on my pajamas and crawled into bed. Life seemed dark enough at the moment that I let myself cheat. The hole — holes now — were already aching, so why not?
  • In The Art of Fielding, a chapter ends with Henry's parents forbidding him from wearing clothes his gay roommate bought for him. The next chapter opens with Henry lurking outside a door and hearing dialogue from inside. It isn't until the door swings open that we find out he was waiting outside a weight room had only been hearing a couple of baseball players working out.
    "You're big! You're ***ing huge!"
    "Give it to me! Come on! Finish it!"

  • The Ames Brothers' song "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane" is entirely built around this trope, seeming to describe a woman of ... little restraint who has recently moved into the neighborhood, but who might be redeemed by the right man. However, the last line of the song reveals that the Naughty Lady is in fact a nine-day-old baby, and all the apparent euphemisms in the song are literal truths.
  • The Pogues' song "Small Hours" has one: "Now that you're alone with me — Close the door and turn the key — We'll stay up late and watch TV..."
  • "Me PSP" by The Lancashire Hotpots is made of this trope: "I try talking to the wife but she doesn't understand, the pleasure that it gives me when I hold it in me hand..." — referring to the eponymous handheld gaming device.
    • From the same song: "Been playing that Tomb Raider, have you seen the size... of the levels in that game?"
  • Many teenagers in the early '80s thought that Billy Squier's song "The Stroke" had sexual connotations — which is the main reason the song was a hit. (Yeah, and that drum lick's pretty cool, too...) The song is actually about the politics of the music industry.
  • The '40s R&B song "Big Ten Inch Record," later popularized by Aerosmith. There are also many other songs based on innocent innuendos.
  • Songs to Wear Pants To song The Struggle To Become A Baseball Player starts out with some very... suggestive grunts and moans, but then reveals itself just to be part of the struggle to become a baseball player.
  • Da Yoopers has a song called "My First Time Ever", which sounds like it's about a sexual affair, talking about how she "spread her legs" and finally how the "white stuff came". It turns out that the song is really about his first time milking a cow.
  • AC/DC's "Big Balls" is about the pleasure an upperclass gentleman takes in holding his massive... ballroom dances. They apparently give up halfway through when they start chanting "pullem, suckem, pullem, suckem!".
  • I CAN SWING MY SWORD! by Tobuscus. Which is really funny because he really is talking about a sword made of diamonds...
  • "Back That Thing Up" by Justin Moore starts out sounding like another Stuffy Old Songs About the Buttocks, with lines such as "Back that thing up / Put it in reverse, let Daddy load it up". Then in the bridge he says, "Ain't no time to play today, no rolling in the hay", and it becomes obvious that he really is just talking about a truck.
  • Nelly Furtado's "Big Hoops (The Bigger the Better)". Helped by the repeated chant of "the bigger the better"... which as the title indicates, it's about earrings. The misunderstanding would lessen if they just read the lyrics ("I don't wanna talk about sex, wanna express myself tonight.").
  • Another non-sexual example: "Dry Land Fish" by The Kentucky Headhunters sounds like it's talking about hallucinogenic mushrooms. However, the title is regional slang for the morel, a type of edible mushroom.
  • "She Had To Go And Lose It At The Astor" heavily suggests that "it" is the subject's virginity.
  • The Tradewinds' "Honeymoonin' Couple" ( You might think they're fighting, or frolicking in bed, when actually they're packing to go on their vacation.
  • The Radiators (US) claim that their song "Suck the Head, Squeeze the Tip" is about eating crawfish the traditional Louisiana way.
  • Bill Anderson's "Wild Weekend," describing in sordid detail the singer's plans to sneak out of town and have a fling. The audience is led to believe he's sneaking around on his wife, but the last line reveals he is actually sneaking around with his wife.
  • Mark Chesnutt's "I'm In Love With a Married Woman." The married woman is his own wife.
  • "Fish" by Craig Campbell combines this with Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion. The song contains lyrics such as "She always wants to go down by the dam / And I love how she looks with that rod in her hand", and several subverted rhymes that sound like they're setting up the word "fuck" instead end with "fish", making it clear that the song really is just about fishing, with no innuendo intended.

    Music Videos 
  • Sir Reginald Pikedevant has a song praising his organ, saying things like "it's made of hard wood, which I rub every day". The video alone makes it clear he's talking about a musical instrument, but the lyrics are as suggestive as can be.
  • Lemon Demon:
    • The "Song of the Count" turns the Sesame Street song sung by Count von Count into one of these. It places a Sound-Effect Bleep over every instance of the word "Count". That the Sound-Effect Bleep used *is* actually for that most versatile word does not help in the least. The 'ck' at the end of the Sound-Effect Bleep is particularly noticeable at the beginning of the song.
      I *** slowly, slowly,
      Slowy getting faster,
      Once I start at *** ing it's very hard to stop!
      Faster, faster, it is so exciting!
      I could *** forever; *** until I drop!
    • The music video for Lemon Demon's song, Geeks in Love has a blink-and-you'll-miss it example: at 3:12, a Censor Box covering up the girl playing foosball with the guy. "OMG HOTT foosball ACTION!"

  • Frequently used in The BBC radio comedies; some of them seem to do nothing else.
    • Especially I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.
    • The Janet & John stories told on Wake Up To Wogan elevate this to a fine art, telling a sugary story in the style of a children's book about what John did that day. Unfortunately, when he explains it to his wife Janet afterwards, his adventures with Melanie Frontage and Pastor Kidneys don't sound quite so innocent to her.
      See John run. Run, John. Run.
  • The Doctor Demento Show is full of songs with innocent innuendoes. One is "Davy's Dinghy" by Ruth Wallis, which turns out to be about a boat.
  • In an episode of Hello Cheeky, this is done in one sentence, with the title of a parody song given as I Wanna Give It To You, Babe, But I Can't Get It Down Off The Wardrobe.
  • Used by Canadian radio personalities Mad Dog and Billie in a contest to see who had the strongest stomach for weird food. She brought tongue, he brought pickled bulls' testicles. ("I sucked your tongue, you have to lick my balls!")

  • In Bells Are Ringing, Inspector Barnes enters the Susanswerphone offices confident that he can close it down for being a prostitution front. Ella unwisely starts telling him about the personal degree of service she provides her customers with, and how Sue chides her for spending too much time on each one. Ella then picks up a call on the switchboard, but hasn't finished answering her caller before being interrupted by Barnes, who apparently has been listening only to her side of the conversation (the audience gets to hear both sides). He triumphantly declares Susanswerphone busted, and produces the taped evidence he thinks incriminating enough to send all the answering girls to the Women's Detention Home:
    Ella's Voice: Madame Grimaldi's. No, the Madame is out. Which girl do you want? There are several of us. Oh, that's me! Charge? Oh, for any friend of Madame Grimaldi's, it's free!
    Barnes: Now, which one of you is the Madam?
    Ella: That's Madame Rosina Grimaldi, the opera star, and I happened to recommend a mustard plaster to her for a cold, and this friend of hers—Ohhhh! [with sudden realization] Have you got a dirty mind!

    Web Original 
  • A TV Tropes example. The titles of Playing With subpages can also be this for certain anatomy-based tropes, more specifically ones involving often-sexualized body parts. For example, PlayingWith.Boobs Of Steel sounds like it's about going to second base. While PlayingWith.Gag Penis sounds like it's about jerking someone off.
  • A Not Always Learning post has a high school teacher asking just WHAT it is that a trio of male students were looking at on the computer that elicited this conversation:
    Boy #1: “Hey man, check these out! Those are NICE. Do you think they are real or fake?”
    Boy #2: “Oh, yeah, Those are fake, though. They gotta be. No way those are real.”
    Boy #3: “Yeah, you can tell just by the way they look. Those are fake, for sure.”
They seem genuinely confused by the accusatory tone of their teacher's voice and by her laughter when they answer her. They were actually looking at shoes, discussing whether they were real Nike Jordans or just cheap knockoffs.

    Web Videos 
  • Ultra Fast Pony: Near the end of "Random Eye Magic", Twilight's bizarre but mostly innocuous prior activities in the episode get described in the worst possible ways.
    Applejack: Oh well, top o' the morning to you, Twilight. Any reason you smell like salad?
    Twilight: Spike was covering me in his juices! [Referring to the fact that Spike was treating her snake bites with tomato juice.]
    Applejack: You know what? Let's just pretend I didn't ask anything, and that I don't know ya, and that you're goin' away now. Alright?
    Twilight: But I feel so helpless!
    Applejack: I said I don't want to know!
    Applejack: Now Twilight is going around doing weird things, Celestia-knows-what.
    Pinkie Pie: Me and her were being silly on the ice! [They spent the day ice skating.]
    Rarity: We were planning on torturing Rainbow Dash together! [Twilight wanted to get revenge on Rainbow Dash—torturing was purely Rarity's idea.]
    Fluttershy: She was playing with butt snakes! [Literal snakes, the source of the aforementioned snakebites.]
    Applejack: I did not actually want to know what she was doing! Why would you tell me that?
  • Shinji in Bleach (S) Abridged is head of the V-club... the Visored, that is. He doesn't seem to realize what other 'V'- words people tend to think of when he says 'V-club'.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • This little gem, which elicits snickers from the Ginyu Force:
      Zarbon: Lord Freeza, Vegeta's really giving us a pounding!
      Freeza: I'm coming Zarbon! Quick! Grab my balls!
    • Hell, virtually anything that Zarbon says. This is lampshaded after his death.
      Freeza: [after hitting Goku with lava] What do you think of that, monkey?!
      Goku: My butt is flaming!!!
      Freeza: [sighs] I miss Zarbon.
    • And then Gohan having to act as man of the house by catching fish for dinner after Goku's apparent death. Or, as Krillin puts it...
      Chi-Chi: Alright! I demand to know who has been spreading rumors that I have been forcing Gohan to, and I quote, POUND. MY. TUNA!
      Krillin: Look Chi-Chi, if it really upsets you, we'll all take turns pounding your tuna, OK? But, only if we get to eat it together.
      Roshi: [off-screen] ...Heh heh heh HEH HEH! AAAAAAHAA! AAAA
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
    • There's a Running Gag involving Dartz saying things that sound sexual in nature, due to a mixture of his thick Cajun accent and speech impediment causing him to mispronounce his words. For example, in "Evil Council 3":
      Dartz: Mah fwiends, dere is only one way to defeat that dooshbag...we will dew him!
      (Uncomfortable silence)
      Rafael:, did you say "do him"?
      Dartz: Ah said DEW HIM! What part of "dew him" doncha understand, dooshbag!? We're gunnah dew him! Toogeda! All foh of us, we gunnah dew him! Dew him hawd and thowowowy. We will dew him so hawd dat he will feel it in the mo'ning when he wakes up!
      Alister: Um, boss? Are you serious?
      Dartz: Yes, you ayzhole! What, you want me to dew you, too?
      Alister: NO SIR!
      Dartz: Den keep yo' mouth shut, mayn! Okay, mayn?! Yeah. So we're gunnah dew him...on motuhcycles!
      Valon: Won't that be kinda... uncomfortable?
      Dartz: (legitimately confused) What da *EFF* you talkin' about, mayn?
      Rafael: Yeah, I...I don't wanna do anybody on a motorbike—
      Dartz: Deeeeew!
      Rafael: ... are you saying "do" or "duel"?
      Rafael: ... so, you want us to do Marik?
      Dartz: Yes! And ah will stand here and watch you dew him!
      Alister: Well okay then, let's... go... do... Marik I guess...
      Dartz: Dew him, dooshbags! THOWOWOWY!
    • Parodied in the Bonds Beyond Time Abridged movie:
      Jack: Yusei! Show him your junk!
      Yusei: What?
      Jack: Warrior! Show him your Junk Warrior!
      Yusei: I've got a better idea. Come on out, Stardust Dragon!
      Jack: Okay, now whip out your junk and wave it at him!
      Yusei: What?
      Jack: Warrior!
  • One absolutely infamous The Runaway Guys livestream of Mario Party 6 saw Chuggaaconroy make a whole volley of this trope when it came to Princess Daisy, from doing her on hard, to morning wood, to them being in Daisy's heart-shaped box.
  • A defining trait of Donut in Red vs. Blue is how he always ends up throwing out innuendos and double entendres without even realising it, such as calling "Shotgun's Lap". This ends up coming to a head in Season 17 where it took reliving moments in his past, including getting shot multiple times by Agent Washington, for him to realise what he's been saying and starting to defy it.
  • Hikasa Tomoshika of VOMS Project held a series of streams of her studying English, but in one unfortunate incident, she handwrote a letter reaching out to her Anglophone fans, but included the phrase "I write letter to you by the handjob." Her fans and fellow VTuber Amano Pikamee (who is fluent in English) had a field day correcting her mistake.
  • The Weather: Played with during the scene of Alan dying of thirst in the desert. His caller manifests as a water-bottle mere inches away from him, and he spends the whole time begging for the caller to "come into his mouth", because he just needed her "inside him". Naturally, the caller was quite confused and caught-off-guard by this.


Video Example(s):


"Do you want breasts?"

Lydia asks Pepper Ann if she wants breasts... and by that, she meant chicken breasts. P.A. even covers her chest in shock the first time she hears that question.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / InnocentInnuendo

Media sources: