Follow TV Tropes


Is This Thing Still On?

Go To

Mr. Random: Look at them. Enjoying their triumph. "Ooh, we're so happy! We saved Klimpaloon! Let's all sing!" Well, enjoy it now, because I will get my hands on Klimpaloon! I'll unravel his secret, even if I have to rip him apart, stitch by stitch and then, the moronic people of the world will beat a path to my door, and beg for my cheap Klimpaloon knockoff line, 'cause consumers are just like lemmings, brainless little animals that I can manipulate right off the fiscal cliff like the puppet master I am! HA HA! Heh, eh, huh, heh? ...Was that thing on?
Audience: Yes, yes it was.
Mr. Random: My career's over, isn't it?
Audience: Yes, yes it is.
Phineas and Ferb, "The Klimpaloon Ultimatum"

A character is making an announcement on TV/the radio/a PA system/what-have-you. Either at the beginning or, more commonly, after the end, the character will be heard making some tangential offhand or vulgar remark, only to (belatedly) realize that they're still on the air and said unsavory remark just got broadcast live to their audiences. May lead to Endangering News Broadcast when what they said was supposed to be a secret. There is a certain amount of Fridge Logic at play when this occurs in something pre-recorded, as these moments would be edited out under normal circumstances. But that isn't as funny.

Expect to see a Face Palm and something along the lines of "Oh God, is this thing still on?"

Compare Did I Just Say That Out Loud?, Forgot About the Mind Reader, Left It In. If a character is deliberately tricked or provoked into this, it is an example of the Engineered Public Confession. Not to be confused with Is This Thing On?, nor with what people say about shows still airing despite having fallen from popularity many years ago. May overlap with Studio Chatter, although that is always deliberately left in and sometimes scripted. Contrasts with Leave the Camera Running, which is done deliberately.


Time to go find that page... Wait. Is this still on?


    open/close all folders 

  • An ad for State Farm insurance (as part of its "double check" campaign) ran an ad where a group of referees who had no clue what ruling to make on a play gathered in a huddle. The head ref had... oops!... left the mike on, advertising to the entire stadium that they were completely clueless.

     Asian Animation 
  • BoBoiBoy: The first moments of the first episode feature the train conductor accidentally revealing his enthusiasm to go karaoke after his shift, even singing to warm himself up, after announcing the train was close arriving at its destination. BoBoiBoy himself would leave his seat to inform him, but not before laughing himself.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Moral from the beginning of Fullmetal Alchemist. Never rant about your evil plan in the audio room. Just don't. Whichever version you are living in.
  • A variation in Karin: Usui's mother is being molested by her boss in a supermarket, and he accidentally pushes her into the intercom, turning it on. They both get fired, resulting in her becoming very depressed and attracting the title character.
  • In the Show Within a Show for Lucky Star, after the two hosts for Lucky Channel went off on a rampage, the "executive producer" is heard talking about how he had his doubts about them from the very beginning, before an underling informs him that the cameras are rolling, and he frantically orders someone to shut them off.
  • One Piece has something of this vein happen to General Failure Spandam. When trying to contact one of his agents, he inadvertently presses the button that will summon a devastating military attack on their location. When he actually contacts his agent and explains this, he's horrified to realize he'd gone and broadcast his confession, his prisoner's warnings about the mercilessness of the attack, and his almost Kefka-like glee at everyone's deaths furthering his own ambitions to his entire base. Upon his discovery, he meekly tries to say "and my name is 'Straw Hat Luffy'." No one buys it.
  • In Poison Berry in My Brain, the mind council members have implied that this has happened before, by accidentally shouting into the microphone and causing Ichiko to blurt out things out of character.
  • In Super Dimension Fortress Macross Kamjin is reporting via audio-visual radio to his new commander Breetai when his aide arrives and claims the prize of their bet about their ability to ram more of Breetai's ships than the number of their ramming ships by defolding not far enough. Breetai was not amused.

    Comic Books 
  • Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl: After Lex Luthor rants about his evil actions to the faces of Supergirl and Batgirl, the latter points to a TV set and says his words are being broadcast everywhere right now.
  • In an early issue of "Threeboot" Legion of Super-Heroes, Cos went into a rant to Sun Boy about how the team was falling apart, without realising he had an open comchannel. This didn't help.
  • A variant is used in ROM: Space Knight when Rom manages to free himself from a female Dire Wraith scientist's restraints, gets to a friendly human who is similarly restrained and orders the trapped villain to free him. She does so, but also quietly turns on an intercom and plays up being trapped and threatened by the alien for the benefit of the lab complex's security forces. By the time Rom realizes what she is doing, it's too late and security is charging to the room.
  • Supergirl: In Action Comics #319, Donna Storm frames Linda Danvers—the eponymous heroine—for stealing. Donna gloats over framing Linda, without realizing her words are being broadcast through the school's P. A. system.
  • X-Men: Gold: After a televised debate with an anti-mutant, Kitty Pryde admits that she's still trying to figure out her feelings toward a guy (Peter Rasputin) she had a history with and still liked. After leaving the TV studio, Peter teased Kitty about this guy she said she liked, adding, "You may have left the microphone on".

    Comic Strips 
  • In one of the strips for Brewster Rockit: Space Guy!, the title character has to give a speech about the R.U. Sirius to the crew, but can't seem to figure out what he says. The inept Engineer Cliff Clewless attempts to feed him on what to say via a bug, but the plan quickly unravels when, shortly after having Brewster give the greeting, Cliff ends up being distracted by a female member passing by in his vicinity, tries to give a pickup line along the lines of "You must be a parking ticket, because you've got "fine" written all over you", and subsequently being pepper-sprayed, all of which Brewster ended up parroting, causing either Brewster to realize that it was still on or him parroting Cliff's response. Lieutenant Pamela Mae Snap later tells Agent X that the speech in question, despite the obvious fact that Brewster ended up actually parroting what he should say via a bug, was actually one of Brewster's better speeches, implying that the previous ones usually turned out far worse.
  • In Doonesbury, Mark has a "guest" named Chase Talbot on his radio show. Mark keeps dropping hints about their being a couple, and they argue about it during the commercial break before realizing the mike was still on.
  • The Far Side has a comic of a pair of airline pilots talking. One of them is horrified, screaming that the fuel light is on, and that they're all going to die. "Oh, wait. My mistake. That's the intercom light."
  • In FoxTrot, Roger is singing "Love Machine" in the shower, and Jason, who was programming the voice answering machine, included Roger singing "Love Machine" as part of the message as one of his pranks. A few weeks later, in the final panel, has Roger confronting Jason on this fact, and Jason reminds Roger that Roger was the one who bought the model that had a cord that reached all the way upstairs.
  • In a Gil Thorp storyline, former student Robby Howry has started a blog and billboard campaign about how bad a coach Gil is, and that Milford deserves better. Local radio pundit Marty Moon, also no supporter of Gil, invites Robby onto his show, but then becomes worried that he's going to take it over. So he manipulates Robby into saying "I'm too big for Milford! This dump is just my launching pad!" live on air.
  • Happens to Popeye of all people, in the Thimble Theatre Spinachova arc. Having founded and named himself dictator of his own country, Popeye goes on the radio and broadcasts a speech on how he thinks his citizens are such great people, etc, etc. There's a beat panel of said citizens looking very pleased when;
    Popeye: [over radio] Blow me down! I guess that oughter make them dumbheads love me. OH, MY GORSH! Dear sheeps- don't pay no attention to that last crack- I thought I had the microphome turned off.

    Fan Works 
  • Arrow: Rebirth: While he didn't live long enough to find out, Malcolm Merlyn blurted out the existence of the League of Assassins to the entire world during his last confrontation with Oliver due to Henry Fyff hijacking the live feed and keeping it running after Malcolm tried to turn it off. This has massive consequences for everyone that extend well beyond his death.
  • Happens in one early Ask King Sombra post.
  • In chapter seven of Bait and Switch (STO), Ens. Kate McMillan is offscreen acting as JG K'lak's Target Spotter. During the second firefight of the chapter she's overheard via combadge giving him a reference for a large stump that looked like K'lak's ... something (he fired before she could say what). After the firefight:
    K'lak: [secondhand via McMillan's combadge] Ensign, what are you doing comparing a tree stump to my—
    Tess: McMillan, you know your combadge is still transmitting, right?
    McMillan: OH GOD!
    Birail: [stifles laughter]
  • In the Calvin at Camp episode "Legends of the Hidden Campus," Eddy is caught on tape admitting that the game is completely rigged. Luckily for him, no one seems to notice or care.
  • The Great Alicorn Hunt: After issuing a shipwide summons (that begins with an Is This Thing On?), Rarity has a moment of this with a croissant and coffee.
  • In this (NSFW) fancomic, Hatsune Miku forgets to turn off her mic as she... visits the facilities. Hilarity Ensues.
  • As shouldn't come as a surprise considering the name, a variant of this is the catalyst for the entire plot of Intercom, a fanfic based on Inside Out. The intercom in question exists in Riley's mind, and is occasionally used by her emotions to speak to her as a "conscience"-type voice. Rather than accidentally leaving it on after using it, however, one of them accidentally damages it, without realizing they had also activated it in the process. Most importantly, it's stuck—they can't turn it off. They realize this when Riley asks "who said that?" immediately after Disgust says something.
  • In LadyBugOut, Chat Noir swats Ladybug's yoyo out of her hand while ranting at her about how he's entitled to her love, accusing her of trying to defy destiny. What he doesn't realize is that the yoyo's recording and broadcasting his rant live on her blog. While Ladybug does notice and attempts to warn him, he ignores her, too caught up in ripping her a new one for not giving in to his advances.
  • In the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows parody, Potterdammerung, Voldemort does this while magically broadcasting his voice across Hogwarts, where the students hear the Dark Lord explain that he doesn't want pickles on his Big Mac.
  • In the Star Trek Continues episode "Fairest of Them All", which takes place in the mirror universe, Spock gradually recruits crewmembers to mutiny and stop the ruthless behavior typical of the Empire. With Kirk on the brink of insanity, he meets him alone in a rec room and quietly goads him into saying (more like shrieking at the top of his lungs) what he really thinks of the crew... then steps aside to reveal that he had the intercom on the whole time and everybody on the entire ship heard that.
  • In The Sweetie Chronicles: Fragments, Sweetie Belle forgets to disable her voice amplification spell after the Crusaders threaten Nightmare Moon in Chapter 2.
  • In Sword Art Online Abridged's eighth episode, Kirito has his big moment rushing in to save the Aincrad Liberation Front from a floor boss, in which he gives a "No More Holding Back" Speech on how he hates but will still fight for his fellow players. Turns out the ALF was broadcasting the whole raid, so by the next episode Kirito's reputation as a badass loner is in tatters, everyone in SAO has latched onto him as some sort of savior, a major guild is twisting his arm to make him a team player, and his friends can't stop laughing about it.
    Tiffany: You really had no idea they were livestreaming?
    Kirito: No, obviously if I had been privy to that little tidbit, I might have conducted myself in a slightly different manner.
    Lizbeth: Oh, don't worry so much, Ki. No one cares about your adorable little Freak Out, they're all too busy being in awe that you can hold two swords at the same time!
    Tiffany: He is The Chosen One! As it was foretold by the scrolls!
    Liz and Tif: [howl with laughter]
    Kirito: This is my life now. I am in hell.
  • Happens several times in This Bites!:
    • Cross accidentally broadcasts a few of Blackbeard's crimes when they encounter him during the Knock-Up Stream launch.
    • Cross's torture by Enel and the surgery to save his life are broadcasted worldwide because everyone (including Soundbite) forgot they were still broadcasting.
    • The entirety of the battle with Baron Omatsuri, INCLUDING ALL THE STRAW HATS BEING DEVOURED, is broadcast as well.
      • Averted about halfway through when the characters who remain realize it's still broadcasting but keep it going so as to be a warning to all would-be travelers to stay away from Omatsuri Island.
  • The Vinyl Scratch Tapes: It takes them until part three to figure out when they aren't on the air.
  • In Weres Harry a Ministry official forgets to turn off the Wizarding Wireless microphone after announcing the Second Task, so a fair chunk of the British wizarding world get to hear Harry and Ludo Bagman arguing about the interest potential of sitting and looking at a lake for an hour.
  • Yet again, with a little extra help gives us one when, after Sarutobi welcomes the crowd to the Chunin Exam Finals, followed by Naruto and Sasuke performing their Firestorm combo. After Orochimaru and Hiruzen comment on the jutsu, one of the latter's aides informs him his mike is still on, leading to the following:
    "What? The microphone is still on? This is why I hate technology... erm oh wait, they can still hear me. Um. YES! So welcome everyone to the Chunin exams! How do I turn this damn thing off again?"

    Films — Animation 

  • In Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Victor whispers to the Constable not to start a panic, but the were-rabbit wasn't dead yet. Unfortunately, the Constable accidentally repeated this through his megaphone for the entire vegetable competition to hear, causing a mass Stunned Silence. Victor facepalms while the Constable says "Oops" before everyone goes into a panic.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Airplane!
    • Right after Rex Kramer says that their only hope is to build up Ted Stryker's confidence, he launches into a rant about how poorly suited Stryker is to fly the plane, not realizing that his microphone button is pressed.
      Kramer: Stryker, you ever flown a multi-engine plane?
      Stryker: No, never.
      Kramer: Shit! It's a goddamn waste of time. There's no way he can land it! [snip] Route him into Lake Michigan. At least avoid killing innocent people!
    • Airplane II: The Sequel, Commander Buck Murdock of Alpha Beta Base on the Moon.
      Ted Stryker: I hope he's not still bitter about what happened between us during the war.
      Buck Murdock: If it weren't for the people up there, I'd say let Ted Stryker go down in a fiery twisted mass of molten metal.
  • Subverted in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy — "What? I'm on right now?... I don't believe you." Ron Burgundy in fact cheerfully and obliviously subverts this two more times in the movie, being compelled to say anything that's written on the teleprompter — something which takes a much darker (though still hilarious) turn when a mean-spirited prank causes him to say "Go fuck yourselves, San Diego" in place of his usual sign-off phrase.
  • Twice in Apollo 13: the first time, Jim Lovell uses some colorful language while attempting a tricky bit of piloting, not realizing (until Mission Control informs him) that his mike is live. Later, the astronauts are having a heated argument when Houston calls; Lovell snaps, "Are we on VOX?" This time they aren't, and he's able to switch to polite-and-professional mode before answering. The first one actually happened, the second was made up by the film makers. Another, more serious live-mike mistake Lovell actually made on that mission: "Well, I'm afraid this is going to be the last lunar mission for a long time..."
  • In Bringing Down the House Steve Martin "infiltrates" the bad guys' club in a very bad "wigger" disguise, complete with his own boombox. After sitting down with the bad guy, he is ordered to turn off the boombox — and he carefully presses Record as well, getting the entire confession on tape in the end.
  • Subverted in Escape from L.A.: Snake Plissken has covertly swapped an EMP control device with a similar-looking but useless playback device. The fascist President, in the middle of a nationally broadcast speech, orders Snake's death so they can find the real one. When reminded that the camera is on, he actually tells the cameramen to film the execution.
  • Occurs toward the end of the classic A Face in the Crowd from 1957. Antihero Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes spends the bulk of the film riding his television-friendly image to fame and power, cynically hiding his true nature behind an aw-shucks façade. At the conclusion of one broadcast, Rhodes is sitting on stage with his fellow performers, apparently engaging in casual chitchat. As the show's theme music dominates the soundtrack, the home viewers can't hear what Rhodes is really saying: he's expressing his venomous contempt for his audience. Marcia Jeffries, a disillusioned former lover and business partner, commandeers the studio's control room and switches the audio so Rhodes's words are broadcast to the world. Rhodes is thereby ruined.
  • In Galaxy Quest, Nesmith explains a plan to defeat Sarris while Sarris is still listening and watching on the big screen, thanks to the crew's mistaking the "cut the comm link" across-the-throat gesture for a "we're dead" gesture. And not actually knowing where the hold button is, anyway.
  • A made-for-TV Hallmark movie had the main female trying to get into an airport, and ended up professing her love for the main male. Which turns out to be a good thing.
  • A time reverse case in Head of State when Mays make a bad comment regarding school shooting to the camera, thinks it wasn't on yet, but it was revealed that it was on all the time and is still recording. Lewis then use the tape to attack Mays' presidential campaign. Interestingly, this results in a falling out between Mays and his campaign managers, who think that he royally screwed the pooch. Later, though, one of the comes back and tells him that this can be fixed pretty quickly.
  • Horrible Bosses: Harken's confession is broadcast to and recorded 'for quality control purposes' by the navigation-system operator.
  • Jindrake in Max Keeble's Big Move had a running joke relating to this trope (that, or Accidental Public Confession): The first time he is using the teleprompter to give the announcements, after apparently turning it off, he inadvertently ended up exposing to the whole school that his appearance was all an act (he had a drape that was designed in such a way that implied that he was near the capitol building, and wore a costume that indicated a rank similar to that of a senator, congressman, or even the President of the United States.) with hilarity ensuing. He later did it a second time, only this time, he put pencils up his nose and acted as though he was a walrus. It was implied that he may have been doing that intentionally, but in either case, Hilarity Ensues. He later had one happen when he witnesses Max's cutout board stating comic-style that Jindrake was wearing a thong, which after the official end of the announcements, people were still seeing it. Subverted the fourth time when busting Max, where he did make sure he turned it off. Of course that didn't stop Max from reactivating the camera and exposing that Jindrake embezzled the school budget.
  • In Meet Dave, a mutiny is happening inside the eponymous Mobile-Suit Human... with the communication system still open. Hence the two cops who were interrogating "Dave" hear him fiercely arguing with himself, until Number Two realises it and order to close the speakers.
  • Happens in Mister Roberts when Morton leaves the mic to the ship's PA switched on when screaming at Roberts. This lets the crew know the truth about Roberts' strange behaviour and that Morton is really the one to blame.
  • In The Monster Maker, Dr. Markoff is trying to call his assistant Maxine on the intercom when Lawrence bursts into the office. Markoff forgets to switch off the intercom, and Maxine hears the entire angry confrontation between the two which spells out all of Markoff's evil scheme.
  • In My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Vicki bails on Gus at the altar and tells Toula that she can't marry Gus (again) because he's a crazy old guy that gets drunk, snores loudly, and is always telling her what to do. The whole time she fails to realize her mic, which would have broadcast her voice to the whole church, is still on and the whole church audience including Gus hears her. In the end, Gus does forgive her and she apologizes, right before they do indeed (re)marry.
  • At the beginning of My Favorite Martian, the main character Tim is fired when, while feeding lines to Brainless Beauty reporter Brace while she's interviewing a NASA captain, the microphone catches him muttering "God, you're beautiful," which Brace repeats to the captain.
  • Frank Drebin wears a remote mike in The Naked Gun before taking a trip to the can. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Slightly before the climax of Problem Child, Ben asks his Jerkass father Big Ben for money to pay the ransom of his kidnapped wife and son while the former is preparing for his Mayor campaign speech. When he turns him down, Ben then asks "Hey dad! Why don't you tell all the voters what you really plan on doing with this town!" and surreptitiously turns on the camera:
    Big Ben: I don't give a rat's ass for the voters! All I care about is the power and the power that'll give me the money. That's why I'm a success and you're not! America for the Americans. If you believe that nonsense, you're even stupider than I thought! I'd sell my soul to the Japanese if they made me an offer. And as for you, don't come suckering around me if you want something! The only thing you'll get from me is this! (moons the camera)
  • In the "Weird Al" Yankovic movie UHF, the villain goes into a tirade before one of the protagonists on what he really thinks of his viewers, unaware that he's being taped. Near the end when he's going to make a public announcement, they put the recording on instead, putting the final nails in his coffin.
  • Water (1985). Governor Baxter Thwaites announces over Radio Cascara that American company Spenco has jobs for them, so the island isn't going to be evacuated. His shrill wife Dolores charges up there, furious that they're not leaving Cascara and the two have a domestic argument that's broadcast to an amused populace (Dolores slaps away the DJ's hand every time he reaches past her to switch off the microphone). When Dolores announces that she's going to kill herself, everyone cheers.
  • In The Witch Files, Claire's dad is trying to fix her camera tripod, and delivers a monologue about how much he hates his job and wondering where his life went wrong. He finishes with the tripod and hands it to Claire, who glances at the camera and ask "Dad, did you know the camera's still recording?".

  • There is an old joke about an airline pilot who, following the typical pre-flight announcements, forgot to turn off the microphone before telling his co-pilot (and by extension, the entire plane) that "I could really go for a cup of coffee and a blowjob right now."
    • Told as a joke in Good Will Hunting.
    • In an extended version he says, "After we finish our coffee let's screw the stewardess." Upon hearing that, the stewardess storms to the cockpit in fury, only to be stopped by an elderly passenger who says: "Why such a hurry? They've yet to finish their coffee first."

  • In one Ciaphas Cain novel, an out-of-touch, confused planetary governor gives a very awkwardly delivered speech, followed by a comment on how all of his mistakes would be edited out before broadcasting... what do you mean that was live?
  • A Colder War, a Cthulhu Mythos short story by Charles Stross. The End of the World as We Know It (World War Three with Eldritch Abomination weapons) comes about because Ronald Reagan makes his "bombing in five minutes" joke (see "Real Life") before a live mike just when Iran has launched a nuclear attack on Iraq.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: In the eighth book Count Olaf began laughing maniacally until his girlfriend informed him the intercom was still on.
  • In Good Omens, a disembodied Aziraphale possesses a televangelist in the middle of a broadcast, and dismissively informs him and his viewers that the Rapture is a load of bunk and the human race will be lucky if any of them survive The End of the World as We Know It. Then he notices the camera crew, and sheepishly remarks "Gosh, am I on television?"
  • This happens to Mr. Kidswatter in the Wayside School books. As soon as he finishes a long welcome-back announcement about how he's so glad school is back in session after the cows left (...don't ask) and how the students can come to him any time because they're all friends, he launches into a diatribe about how much he hates kids and how much it sucked to be called away from his vacation in the Bahamas. He's also not very nice to the secretaries telling him the microphone was still on... In fact it's played with until the end of the chapter. "What red button? ...There is no red button. Oh, here it—"
  • In Yellow Blue Tibia the protagonist, a translator, is being interrogated by a police officer. Unfortunately this is the Soviet Union and the officer think he's a traitor for speaking to Americans earlier in the book, so uses a "one note attempt to intimidate". He records a semi-professional interview, but frequently stops the tape recorder to make comments about what he will do to the protagonist's manhood. At length. He switches the tape on and off so often that he messes up and ends up missing the interview and recording the threats! His reaction when he notices his blunder? "The Captain will be annoyed!"

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock
    • Happens twice to Liz Lemon in the second episode. First she assures Jenna that Tracy Morgan is a talentless nut who nobody wants to be involved with the show but Jack. Jenna is still wearing her microphone however and everybody (including Tracy) hears. Later on she attempts to apologize to him by explaining that she was just trying to calm the "paranoid and neurotic" Jenna, and also insults the other writers. This time she's actually in front of a camera and everybody both sees and hears her.
    • It also happens to Jack Donaghy, when he doesn't realize that a remote mike is broadcasting him while he gives himself an extremely embarrassing pep talk.
  • Agatha Raisin: In "Agatha and the Wellspring of Death", Agatha is talking to the PA of her latest client when Gemma bursts and starts questioning her about the fact she spent the night with said client. Their discussion goes on for some time before the PA speaks up to remind them that she is still there. To make matters worse, it is later revealed that the PA is also the client's girlfriend.
  • On Alias, Sydney and Vaughn are discussing a romantic night together. After they start getting dirtier, Sydney suddenly asks, "Wait, are we still on comms?" Her father Jack answers, "Yes, you're still on comms! Right now!"
  • In a season 4 episode of Arrow, Oliver and Felicity discuss relationship issues over the radio, while Oliver (as Green Arrow) is on a mission. Diggle opens his line, stating that he can hear everything. When Felicity asks if everyone can hear their conversation, Black Canary and Speedy simultaneously confirm this.
    • Another one happens when Team Arrow do a crossover with The Flash (2014) in "Legends of Today". Felicity is running Mission Control while Team Arrow are engaging the villains, starting by removing their guns with a magnetic arrow and following up with Good Old Fisticuffs.
      Felicity: (imitating Oliver) Felicity, the magnetic arrow gag will never work. (as herself) Yes, it will my love, because I am really smart! And guess what Oliver—it did work!
      Oliver: (on radio) Felicity honey, it's a little hard to fight with you doing that in my ear!
      Felicity: Oh, I totally forgot this was an open line.
  • Better Call Saul: Jimmy actually invokes this on himself intentionally, in the episode "Lantern". His reasons are very complex, but suffice to say that one of his schemes drove a wedge between some friends. The only way he could fix it was to "accidentally" allow all the friends to hear him confessing that he had done it all to expedite a million-dollar payoff to himself. This was true, and it made him into the bad guy so the friends could reconcile.
  • Beckett suffered a variation of this in Castle; in the episode "47 Seconds", she confronts a suspect in the interrogation room, who claims to have no memory of what happened to him after he was shot. Beckett tells him that she was shot once and remembered everything that happened immediately after. Unfortunately for Beckett, 1) Castle was standing on the other side of the two-way mirror, and 2) she had earlier told him that she didn't remember what happened after she was shot, because she didn't want to deal with his admitting his love for her when she was shot. Things got tense between them until the 4th season finale, when she finally admitted her feelings for him.
  • In the first couple seasons of Chuck, the title character gets in trouble a lot when he doesn't realize that their communication equipment is on.
  • The Colbert Report parodied the Bill O'Reilly "Inside Edition" clip ("Fuck it! We'll do it live!") with Colbert unable to say the words "I'm sorry." when they appear on the prompter. The expected fit of rage follows, Colbert Cluster F Bombs the show's producer and everyone else within earshot...
    Colbert: We'll do it live!
    Producer: Stephen... this is live.
  • Come Back Mrs. Noah was a British sitcom about several people stranded on a space station. They reassure themselves that the people back home undoubtedly have a plan to get them back down, only to connect to Mission Control as he's saying "I've no idea how we're going to get them back down!" They're then switched to a talk show where an expert is saying that they'll be stranded in space forever before he's quickly hushed by everyone else.
  • The Daily Show: Whenever an interviewee says something particularly unsettling to a correspondent. Once, in October 2013, Aasif Mandvi asked a GOP chairman "You know that we can hear you, right?" when he all but admitted that their party's voting laws are designed to suppress Democratic and black voters.note 
  • Doctor Who: In "Planet of the Dead", Captain Magambo and Dr. Taylor of UNIT gush about the fact that they're actually speaking to the Doctor over the phone.
    Magambo: We all want to meet him, but we all know what that day will bring.
    The Doctor: I can hear everything you're saying!
  • In Ellen, the title character accidentally broadcasts her coming out over an airport PA system.
  • An episode of Empty Nest has Dr. Harry Weston fielding calls from the public on a radio talk show. After an incredibly long day, Harry declared, "Thank God that's over, because I really have to go to the bathroom!", leading his embarrassed producer to tell him to turn off his microphone.
  • ER:
    • During the live episode "Ambush", recently reunited lovers Doug and Carol sneaked off to canoodle and make plans for the following night. When they noticed that the camera guy had followed them, Doug made several snide comments which amused Carol—until she noticed that the guy was waving at them and promptly flipped out upon realizing that her microphone was still on and that he had heard everything (they were concealing their new relationship from everyone).
    • Several seasons earlier, Mark had pulled Doug into an empty trauma room to confide that he was nervous about his upcoming date, the first since his divorce. Later in the episode, the ER staff is gathered in the same room, watching a trauma that was taped so that staff could review and improve their techniques. When Kerry rewinds the tape, she comes across the conversation between Mark and Doug, which was recorded because neither man was even aware of the camera's presence, much less that it was on—and the entire ER staff gets to hear Mark admit to Doug that he's never had sex with anyone but his ex-wife.
  • Firefly
    • Happens in the Pilot, where Jayne tests an earworm transmitter... while standing right next to Mal.
    • Also:
      Jayne: [over radio] Whoa now, girl, that is just plain dirty.
      Mal: Jayne, you aware that your radio's transmittin'? Cause I ain't feelin' particular girlish or dirty at the moment.
  • Happens in Flashpoint, very nearly resulting in serious consequences for several members of the SRU team. At the end of "A New Life", Jules and Sam (who are secretly dating, in violation of SRU policy) have a brief conversation suggesting the truth about their relationship. Several episodes later, it's revealed that they forgot to turn off their microphones and their conversation was picked up and recorded by the auto-transcriptor.
  • For All Mankind. Molly Cobb is informed that President Nixon is on the line to speak to the first American woman on the Moon. As she's The Lad-ette she replies, "Really? Shit!" only to be told she's live on all the networks.
    Molly: I hope they bleeped that out.
  • An episode of Forensic Files had a woman being suspected of murdering her husband. She's brought into the interrogation room and badgered to the point of tears. The detective leaves the room. . . and the woman continues to weep, "God, please help me, I didn't do this". Those viewing the tape felt that her tears were sincere and took a second look at the evidence. Indeed, the woman was innocent.
  • A regular feature of Frasier, which justifies the trope by having the title character repeatedly broadcast embarrassing or insulting comments on his radio show (in one instance actually having sex on the radio), unaware that he is on the air. Notable uses include:
    • "The Adventures of Bad Boy and Dirty Girl":
      Newscast: [on radio] In local news, Congressman Robert Gill was accused of accepting bribes from a waste treatment facility. Asked to comment, the congressman said—
      Frasier: [cuts in orgasmically] Yes! YES!!! I am a bad boy, aren't I, you dirty girl! Come to your bad boy! Oh, yes... Oh, no! Is that the on-air light?
      Kate: [on radio, whispering] Stop talking.
      Frasier: You must have hit the switch with your elbow while we were...
      Kate: Stop talking!
      Frasier: We'd better hurry up and get dressed while we still...
      Niles: [listening to them from his car radio] STOP TALKING! [Niles rear ends another car, causing the airbag to inflate in his face]
    • "A New Position for Roz", when she is teaching Noel how to produce Frasier's show:
      Roz: Now, let me give you some pointers on call screening. Your first priority are your leapers and jumpers. Next up, angry people, they're great energy and a welcome change from our largest group, the sad sacks. The trick of it is, you want to arrange these calls so that each segment is "can't miss" radio.
      Noel: I thought it was just about Frasier doing good work.
      Roz: Please, it's all about ratings! If the station had its way, every call would end in an auto-erotic suicide.
      Frasier: [from the booth] Thank you, Roz, now that Seattle knows how we do things around here, perhaps you could let Noel know to keep his elbow off the mike button!
  • On an episode of Frontline, Mike starts insulting one of Elliot's songs after his microphone has been cut off at the end of the show. Unfortunately, he forgets that the camera is still on him during the end credits and that there's a sign language interpreter next to him. His comments are translated accurately and reported in the following day's newspaper.
  • Get Krack!n: McLennan spends one episode wondering if her late period is indicative of an unexpected pregnancy. When she gets a pelvic exam without switching her microphone off, the audience hears all the gross details. McLennan wasn't pregnant. Her late period was due to a tampon getting stuck and now she has a urinary tract infection.
  • The Goes Wrong Show
    • In "Harper's Locket", while showing pre-taped footage of a wooden horse exploding.
      Cameraman: Action! (horse explodes) ...You're right, we probably could've used less.
    • In "90 Degrees", as Robert voices Ruffles offstage, his headset occasionally picks up and broadcasts Chris's remarks, as well as an entire altercation where Robert's almost caught shoplifting, then later when the police come to arrest him.
  • On The Good Wife, Alicia has a teleconference with an opposing firm. After the meeting, David Lee turns off the monitor, but forgets to disconnect from Skype, allowing Alicia and her colleagues to eavesdrop on their entire strategy.
  • On Have I Got News for You, Guest Host Jeremy Clarkson managed to offend several countries with offhand remarks. Panelist Charles Kennedy noted that he'd offended Scotland and Ireland and wondered if he was planning to try for Wales next. Jeremy added that he'd also offended Birmingham, but that it was before recording had started. Paul Merton pointed out that they were, however, recording now.
  • Home Improvement: In the episode "Let's Go To The Videotape", Tim videotapes Jill making a speech at a library fundraiser and then shows his friends at the hardware store how to use the video camera. Then, not knowing the camera is still recording, he starts complaining about how boring Jill's speech was and how he's tired of listening to her talk about her psychology classes. Of course, Jill ends up seeing the tape later, and she's not happy.
  • Horrible Histories: After discussing her marital prospects on a Skype equivalent with William Cecil, Elizabeth I announces that she is married to England. Cecil says goodbye and then mutters "She's finally lost it", prompting Elizabeth to respond "I'm still here, Cecil!"
  • In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Frank goes on a monologue about how people can do whatever sick and twisted thing they want to his corpse when he's dead. At the time, he's mike'd and backstage at a children's beauty pageant that he's hosting.
  • A variation occurs in Kim's Convenience when Shannon starts singing a goofy song she made up over the PA as she's closing the store; she does know the microphone is on, but she assumes that all of her co-workers have gone home. However, Jung has stayed late and is highly amused by her performance.
  • The season 17 premiere of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has a suspect brought in for an interview and informed it's being (video) recorded. When he states he's calling his lawyer after realizing he's a suspect, the interview is stopped and he's left alone, and as soon as the lawyer arrives she announces the interview is over and they leave. He subsequently makes bail and disappears, after which a potential witness is found dead, but when they find the suspect, he claims self-defense and the key piece of evidence to disprove this is missing. But Carisi had realized while transporting him back to New York that the guy is a compulsive talker, so they start listening to his autopsy recordings to see if he says anything useful. And then Carisi bothers to watch the video of the interview after Benson and Barba left the room and they see him muttering to himself how he's going to have to kill the victim, indicating clear intent. No one, including his defense team, had previously watched the entire video. They'd all stopped when the interrogation had ended, assuming there'd be no more useful information on the recording.
  • In Life's Too Short, Ricky Gervais manages to piss off Steve Carell because he doesn't understand how to hang up on Skype.
  • On M*A*S*H, Hot Lips had a scorching case of prickly heat and woke up Col. Potter in the middle of the night to authorize some rash cream for the next supply shipment. Unfortunately, the Colonel had had trouble sleeping and had taken a powerful sleeping pill. As a result, he was in a daze at the communications desk and began rambling about Margaret's condition, just as Klinger accidentally trips the camp PA. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "The Ballad of Midsomer County", a murderer is accidentally Caught on Tape when he commits a murder in a recording studio; not realising that the victim had been recording at the time.
  • Modern Family: In "Diamond in the Rough", Mitchell and Phil have a heated text exchange about what a bad idea that a house that Cam and Claire want to buy and flip is. However, they are using the group address they used yesterday and Claire is receiving every text.
  • Monk
    • In the episode "Mr. Monk Gets Fired", Stottlemeyer admits to his wife that he realizes that having her do the documentary on him and the rest of the police force was a very big mistake, as the current case he's investigating, Monk getting fired, and the Commissioner hounding him is getting on his nerves... and then he realizes the camera's still on.
    • In "Mr. Monk and The End Part 1", Stottlemeyer and a squad of policemen were staking out at a train station for Kazarinski to capture him alive and find out what product he poisoned Monk with, as well as which poison he used. Disher arrives at the control tower after their odd lack of an announcement for a certain train. He goes up and finds that Kazarinski has killed the announcer in the control tower and stolen the announcer's uniform. Unfortunately, Kazarinski left something else besides dead bodies at the tower, as he also left the mike on, causing the staff and passengers to hear Randy attempting to report to Stottlemeyer.

      This leads to some Fridge Logic: If the mike was on when Kazarinski killed the announcer, the gunshot would have been audible over the loudspeakers and would have been heard in the station. And even if he had used a silencer, the body would have made a sound while hitting the floor, and he would make noise while removing the announcer's uniform, which would certainly sound like a struggle.
  • Murder, She Wrote: In "The Return of Preston Giles", the murderer makes a confession to their second victim just before they kill them, not realizing that the victim had a tape recorder running on their desk as they had been recording comments on a manuscript when the killer entered the office. This results in the murderer's confession being Caught on Tape.
  • In one episode of Murphy Brown, the FYI anchors are instructed to pretend to talk to each other during the closing credits. Unfortunately, Murphy forgot to turn off her mike and her inappropriate commentary goes on the air.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000
    • In the Mitchell episode, Frank accidentally contacts the Satellite of Love by leaning on The Button. Since Joel and the 'bots are on survival test maneuvers, Gypsy is the only one to respond. She overhears the Mads discussing how to kill temp worker Mike - and thinks they're planning to off Joel, which leads to Joel's escape from the S.O.L.
    • Played with in a later episode: Mike decides to find out whether the communications system works both ways and tries calling the Mads... who, not even knowing they're on in the first place, are caught engaging in some very suspect Ambiguously Gay pastimes.
      Dr. Forrester: [looks suspiciously toward console] ...Oh my God. Switch on the game, Frank! Switch on the game! [Frank hurriedly finds a football game on TV; the Mads sit back down on the couch as far away from each other as possible]
  • In an episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Vice-Principal Crubbs personally tells students involved in a vandalism spree to not let word get out to the other staff that, should their outdated equipment be damaged, the school would pay for an updated replacement. Unfortunately for him, he had his hand pressed on the intercom button, and the entire staff then proceeds to destroy... everything.
  • In "Mad Idolatry" from The Orville, Captain Ed Mercer and first officer Kelly Grayson get chewed out by comm for Grayson's actions which led to cultural contamination on a planet and particularly for Mercer not explaining what Grayson did in his initial report. She orders the crew not to return to the surface until after the civilization on it achieves space travel, which should be in less than a month, given the accelerated time on the planet compared with real time. After he thinks they're done, Mercer starts mocking "That's an order," only for the admiral to say "What?!" and he realizes in a panic they're still on.
    Mercer: Oh, God, I'm so sorry. Please, Admiral, have mercy, please. Thank you. Okay, bye.
  • It happened unintentionally to a guest on Penn & Teller: Bullshit! and subverted. After redecorating a room via supposed Feng Shui, said guest whispers to his helpers, not realizing that the mike is still on, "Still looks like shit."
  • The Professionals. In "Heroes", Bodie isn't happy about being told by Cowley to work with a Psycho Sidekick, and starts venting accordingly until...
    Cowley: The radio is still open, Bodie. But continue with your interesting assessment. Cowley is...?
    Bodie: Would you believe: warm and considerate?
  • Radio Active
    • One episode involves Morgan accidentally playing her singing along with a song over the radio, and her singing becoming a hit. The other students on the show try to fake things "accidentally" going over the air to show some talent of theirs, but the student body quickly tires of it.
    • Another episode involves Morgan accidentally playing over the air that she intends to quit the radio show because it's too much stress, and Hilarity Ensues as the others go to great lengths to get her to stay, since she's the only one who is actually organized.
  • In "Salvage", the pilot for the short-lived series Salvage 1, Skip Carmichael suggests to Mel Slozar a way they might wile away the time on their flight to the moon. When she demurs, he asks if would help if he closed the blind. Their ground control then comes over the radio saying "No, but you might want to turn off your microphone".
  • On Sesame Street, the "Sesame Street News" skits usually began with reporter Kermit the Frog addressing an off-screen producer or stage hand before realizing he was on the air.
  • In a skit on The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon as Mitt Romney performs a webcast that's supposed to win the votes of the younger demographic. The bit ends with Romney insulting his target audience not knowing that the webcam is still on, a spoof of his infamous "47 percent" quote.
  • The British 1997 black comedy Underworld begins with William Smith coming home to find his young wife Gilda has run away. He goes to the neighbors to ask if they know anything. The neighbor goes upstairs to talk to his own wife, with their conversation relayed downstairs via baby monitor, showing they knew all about the affair Gilda was having with the kid who worked in the local store due to The Immodest Orgasms they'd hear after William left for work. The husband comes downstairs with an I Need to Go Iron My Dog excuse he's cooked up with his missus (also overheard), only to find William is already leaving, having learned Too Much Information already.
  • And subverted in The West Wing, when Bartlet makes an insulting comment about his election opponent while the mike was still open just after a radio interview. Panic sets in amongst the staff and it seems they get away lucky when the opposition's response is totally inept. CJ is the only one to realize, at the end, that the president had to have done it deliberately.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway?
    • One of the Scenes from a Hat was "things the pilot wishes he hadn't said when the intercom was on." The performers listed:
      Ryan Stiles: Ooh, those chalupas are coming back on me.
      Colin Mochrie: Hawaii's shaped like a liver, right?
      Ryan Stiles: This is easier than I thought!
      Colin Mochrie: I'm so horny I can't think straight!
      Brad Sherwood: Did you see the jugs on the girl in row 4?
    • Another time was "I didn't know the mike was on."
      Ryan Stiles: Jeez it's (beep)ing cold in here.
      Ryan Stiles: That's a thousand points to everyone, we'll be back after this commercial. [pretends to look under desk] You all right under there?
  • In an episode of Wizards of Waverly Place, Justin reports to Rudy, the head of the Monster Hunter Council that three level 6 monsters (his vampire girlfriend and her parents) have been detected on Waverly Place and Rudy says he'll send over their best available monster hunters. After the conversation ends, Rudy says "That kid'll be a bone necklace inside of an hour", prompting an appropriately frightened look from Justin. Rudy notices this and begins backpedaling, saying that he meant a different bone necklace.
    Rudy: How do I turn this thing off?!
  • This is the basis for an episode of Yes, Minister. Humphrey, as a senior government official, records a radio interview on the subject of unemployment, but while chatting to the host afterwards, he freely admits that "nobody tells the truth about unemployment" because "no politicians have got the guts to do anything about it". Of course, the microphone was still on, and the rest of the episode is about Humphrey trying to get hold of the recording before it can get him into trouble with the Prime Minister. The PM does find out, and is surprised that the usually sophisticated Humphrey didn't know better than to fall victim to this trope, saying that you should always treat every microphone as if it were a live microphone.

  • The famous Urban Legend has it some children's radio presenter in the '30s finished up his show, then said "That oughtta hold the little bastards!" on an open mike. He was allegedly fired immediately. The slip is supposedly uttered by Uncle Don, but his career says otherwise.
    • In Poland, an urban legend has it that our own radio host finished his teddy bear show in a similar fashion, stating "And now, dear children, you can kiss the bear's ass goodbye.".
  • One of the great moments of NBC's old Monitor radio show; a 1969 news capsule ended with NBC's Dean Mell recapping the headline, followed by Monitor writer Charlie Garment (Nixon advisor Leonard Garment's brother) uttering the word "bullshit" and a flustered Gene Rayburn (yes, that Gene Rayburn — he was a longtime Monitor anchor) trying to segue back into the program. Garment explained in a telephone interview that he'd been in the studio with Rayburn, but facing away from him, having an argument with producer Parker Gibbs about Vietnam. He didn't know they had opened Gene's mic just before he uttered the magic word. (If you want to hear it, it's at the Earthstation1 website — look for "Truth in Reporting" under Broadcast Bloopers.)
  • Bob & Ray inverted this with the newsman character Wally Ballou, who would invariably start talking before the mike was on. ("— ly Ballou speaking...")
  • Inverted in one episode of Cabin Pressure, when Douglas pressurises Martin into making an embarassing passenger announcement, then explains that he rewired the microphone so the green light indicated it was off.
    Martin: But ... the light's not on now!
    Douglas: Yes, but now I have got my thumb on the mute button.
    • Played straight in that soon after he takes his finger off the mute button and the whole plane hears him yelling triumphantly as he divebombs towards some polar bears.
  • Used in-universe at the start of an episode of Hello Cheeky.
    John: Did I ever catch my what in a mangle?
    Barry: I just thought— wait, the green light's on.

  • At the end of The Beatles' Third Christmas Record (1965), we get this exchange:
    Paul: That's got it done, then. Eh... What are we gonna do now?
    George: Has he turned it off?
    Paul: I think he has.
    George: Have you turned it off, lad?
    Ringo: Hey, basher!
    John: It's still the same.
    Ringo: Turned it off, basher?
  • In blink-182's Family Reunion.
  • In Iron Maiden's "The Thin Line Between Love and Hate," after the song ends you can hear Bruce say "Oh, I fucking missed it" (the song is from Bruce's first album back with the band), followed by his realization that the statement had been recorded. The statement itself does appear to be a genuine accident, but the realization clearly isn't, as the sudden increase in background static makes it clear that it was recorded separately.
  • In the last chorus of Steve Earle by Sugarland, the line "The others wanted your whole heart, but I just want your sleeve..." degenerates into a rapid-fire stream of speech— "...and the shirt that goes with it 'cause it smells like you and you know I like to sleep in that, and a vacation house, at the beach, and a really small wedding, only 'bout three hundred people, did I tell you that I've got kids?..." — until Jennifer Nettles finally stops to ask, "Is this thing on?"
  • They Might Be Giants: Used metaphorically in "This Microphone" from I Like Fun, which is about a guy's struggle to conceal his feelings and his "twelve fatal flaws".
    Caring is carting bad ideas to the dump
    And taking my time, taking my time
    Hey, this microphone was turned on all along

  • Terrorists McLocke, Kaige and Rice from Survival of the Fittest accidentally activate the PA system in their headquarters, treating the students to a charming rendition of a Slash Fic (involving two of the students) they found on the web.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The old airline joke was used as the basis of a Warhammer 40,000 joke:
    A squad of Sisters of Battle were all being inserted by dropship.
    The male pilot comes on the radio and says, "We are just entering the atmosphere now and will be landing at base alpha zero zero in half an hour."
    The pilot forgets to switch off the intercom and turns to his male co-pilot and asks, "So what are you going to do when we've landed?"
    The co-pilot says, "Well firstly; I'm gonna have a HUGE dump, 3 day anti-grav flights don't do my bowels any good. Then I'm gonna go see that new lieutenant, you know, the one with the dark hair and huge breasts, take her out, wine her, dine her, then I'm gonna take her to my quarters..." he then proceeds to go into graphic detail of the night's animalistic loving.
    The new lieutenant, horrified at the detail spewing from the speakers about various uses for the butt of the co-pilot's las-pistol, runs down the aisle to switch off the intercom, trips over a boltgun, and lands flat on her face.
    A new recruit sitting opposite turns and says, "Whoa! Calm down, Ma'am! He's gotta take that shit first!"

  • In Follies, Max and Stella Deems did radio after the Follies closed, until one day when Max said, "Stella, baby, this is a load of crap," not realizing he was on mike.
  • Act 2 of The Play That Goes Wrong begins with Trevor broadcasting some disparaging remarks about the play across the theatre before Chris desperately signals him to turn off his headset.
    • The sequel, Peter Pan Goes Wrong features sound cues that are accidentally replaced by the embarrassing discussions about Max's love for Sandra, as well as Robert making disparaging remarks about Max's acting abilities.

    Video Games 
  • The Statesman Task Force for City of Heroes has a cutscene where the resident Mad Scientist, Dr. Aeon, traps the player characters in a desolate future, before rambling on about how they can escape. Realizing that he goofed by revealing exactly that, he orders the tape erased and the speech done over, but is reminded that (per his orders) they're broadcasting live.
  • In the original Command & Conquer, after a GDI mission in which you saved a town from being wiped out by Nod, there is a cinematic featuring a reporter in front of a scene of destruction, claiming that the town was wiped out by GDI. It then cuts to a green-screen in a studio, where Kane begins to give orders on the distribution of the propaganda video, before noticing the camera and shooting it.
  • In Dishonored, the Pacifist Run method of taking down Lord Regent Hiram Burrows involves one of these... but for extra bonehead points, it's not even live. Burrows recorded himself confessing to unleashing The Plague on Dunwall in the hopes of killing off the "lower classes"; your mission is to break into his private safe, steal the recording, and hand it off to the propaganda/news announcer, who gladly plays it for you. You even get the satisfaction of seeing Burrows led away by the guards afterwards.
  • In ER: The Game, the player is frequently called over the intercom to be assigned a new task. One of these calls...
    Jerry Markovic: This place is going to the dogs! What...? The mike is on? Ahem... Doctor, the lady with the dogs has finished her exams and is waiting for you...
  • One Legion quest in Fallout: New Vegas involves assassinating NCR President Aaron Kimball during a bold but dangerous visit to Hoover Dam. If you don't interrupt him, Kimball gives a Rousing Speech lauding the sacrifices of the Republic soldiers and steeling them for the coming fight against the Legion. Then...
    Kimball: Thank you, thank you... [to his bodyguards] All right, let's get the fuck out of here. What, do you think I want to get shot? Let's get out of here.
  • Fallout 4: Haddock Cove in Far Harbour was construced by the Husky family as a supposedly impenetrable outpost... impenetrable, that is, except to the Mirelurks lurking in the water below. All that remains are corpses, and a handful of holotapes recorded by clan leader Bray, all of which end with him being unable to figure out how to stop recording. He can't catch a break even while recording his final tape, as he's being torn apart.
    Aw, god, is this thing still recording?!? You've got to be kidding me!
  • In Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee, the Vortaak leader finishes his speech, pauses for about two seconds, and realizes the camera is still rolling.
    That is all. [beat] ...Am I still on? Oh. Well. We now return you to... whatever it was you were doing. [turns to his offscreen crew as the transmission goes to static] Idiots.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: One side quest starts when two outcasts start talking to one another about how they know where on Elaaden Annea keeps her supply of water, with which she maintains the monopoly on the place. It's only after they talk about it they realize they're broadcasting to the entire valley they're in (though fortunately for them, most of the local criminals are a little busy with Ryder laying siege to the place).
  • Towards the climax of Max Payne, Nicole Horne repeatedly taunts Max over speakers as he fights his way through her headquarters. Then, after a sudden burst of static, Max gets a message that seems to have been intended for her henchmen instead:
    Horne: What do you mean, 'he's unstoppable'? You are superior to him in every way that counts. You are better trained, better equipped, you outnumber him at least twenty-to-one. Do. Your. Job.
  • In The Movies, on the radio announcement two years before the depression event hits early in the game.
    Radio Announcer: ... Including this news reporter, who's set to make a fortune and kiss goodbye to all you hardworking suckers out there. Wait, is this thing still on?
  • Octodad This happens with a supermarket employee in one level Employee: See, when the light's on that means the mic's off. So it's safe to talk about how we get our meat from.. What? it is? Uh-I was just saying it's safe to talk about how we get our meat from, Nowhere, Gervason's!
  • Gnarl does this in Overlord. After making a few comments to the effect that women should Stay in the Kitchen, he accidentally leaves the communication spell active, revealing that while you're off smiting good he's serving tea and biscuits to your mistress.
  • Pink Panther's Passport to Peril: The second time Pug and Louie hijack Pink's plane, they decide to keep the fact that they are flying the plane now a secret from him so he won't escape again like the first time. Unfortunately, they forget to switch off the intercom so Pink can clearly follow the conversation they are having inside the cockpit, thus alerting him to the danger.
  • One episode of Pokémon Black and White's fictional TV show Koukan Talk features the host speaking entirely in romanjinized Japanese before noticing the camera is running and ending the episode.
  • Ratchet & Clank
    • Supreme Executive Chairman Drek broadcasts his plan to take parts of other planets (destroying them) to piece together a new planet to replace his polluted homeworld. He starts in a polite tone, but drops it after a crewman yells "cut!":
      Chairman Drek: And if you don't like it, you can take your whiny, snivelling, snot-nosed population, form a line behind me and kiss my—! mean it's still on? Well, turn it off, you idiot!
    • When you reach a certain point in Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, Big Al professess his love for Helga over the intercom at the Starship Phoenix, then realizes the intercom is on.
    • Also averted in Up Your Arsenal; Dr. Nefarious appears in hologram form to mock the heroes. After an awkward pause, he whispers to his butler "All right, Lawrence, you can turn it off now!"
  • One of the early missions in Shakedown: Hawaii involves getting some talent for a commercial to sell cola rebranded as game fuel. After faking gameplay footage by mashing buttons and unintentional spit take from the employee who performed said footage (a car thief from a showroom), it's revealed that those cameras were marked as "Live Streaming" cameras, and the commercial footage got leaked onto the internet, putting the cola company in hot water, especially since the CEO, one of the playable characters, invested the entire brand's budget on the commercial.
  • Used in one of Eggman's PA announcements in Sonic Colors.
    Eggman: Please beware of the spikes on the Asteroid Coaster. They are sharp. ...Really, we have to warn people about spikes?! Like they won't notice the spikes — I mean, come on, the cars are nothing BUT spikes! Unbelievable! Wh- uh- my what is still on?
  • First contact between the humans and VUX in the Star Control universe went sour when the human captain reacted to the appearance of his VUX counterpart with the memorable words "That's the ugliest freak-face I've ever seen!". Unfortunately, the mic was on. And the VUX had very, very good translation technology.
  • Both of the UNN reporters in Starcraft II are terrible about this. For instance, when Kate reports on Donny Vermillion's sudden hospitalization in a neutral "news" tone, and wishes him well — and forgets to turn her mike off before celebrating her promotion to anchor.
  • Tyrian has this happen in Episode 4. Big Good Transon Lohk leaves the mike on after recording his messages twice; the first time is only mildly interesting, but the second time drove the protagonist to do this.
  • In Undertale, King Asgore's nickname "King Fluffybuns" comes from a pet name his wife used during a public address while passing him the microphone, not realizing it was still live.
  • During World of Warcraft's Operation Gnomeregan event, the Mad Scientist who's taken over the gnomes' underground city uses a "Brag-Bot" to taunt the heroes. First he launches into his rant, stops to make sure that the mike is on, and then starts over. Later, while gloating how his trump card will vaporize everyone, he wishes aloud that he could see his arch-rival's face before realizing that the mike is still on.

    Visual Novels 
  • Eroge! Sex and Games Make Sexy Games: In Nene's Bad Ending, Reina accidentally hits the call button on her phone while she's having sex with a cheating Tomoya, causing Nene on the other end to hear everything.

    Web Animation 
  • The end of Batmetal Returns had Batman playing in the bath with figurines of himself and Aquaman. After having the latter kiss the former's ass, he realized in horror the camera was still rolling and hastily shut it off.
  • In The Most Popular Girls in School, it's revealed Bert Hickey was fired from the NFL after announcing the n-word... the thing is, the power was out, and he thought the mics were off.
  • Parodied in Red vs. Blue Season 9's trailer, where Pelican pilot 479'er insults the air traffic controllers, leading to this exchange:
    Controllers: We heard that, 479'er.
    479'er: Yup. That's cause I transmitted it.


    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • In "The End of the World!?" by Matthew Santoro, Matthew and Hugo dance to some music together in a silly manner, but then Matt realizes that the camera is still on, so he tells Hugo to stop.
  • The King of Hate's now-infamous 2016 livestream incident where he masturbated while the camera was live. He gave an introduction, realised his mistake, and then after an awkward pause continued the stream as if nothing had happened.
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries:
    • When Lizzie was shooting her video blog entries, her sisters and other characters would occasionally come into her room. She once assured her sister Jane that she would edit it out later, but their conversation turned out useful for the entry, so Lizzie kept it. In later stories, Lizzie would state that she had the person's permission to post it online.
    • Subverted, however, in the episode "C vs C". Lizzy and Charlotte confront Caroline Lee on-camera, but offer to turn it off before their interrogation. Caroline, however, tells them to leave it on, as she's certain she has nothing to hide or confess. Unfortunately for her, it gradually starts to show that she does.
    • Later in the story, Darcy's company Pemberley Digital developed a story-telling application that automatically recorded and edited phone calls and conversations, with automatic up-load to the channel. That explains how some of the private moments got into Gigi Darcy's spin-off and viewers could see it. When Gigi called him, Darcy immediately asked whether she's using Domino demo, and ended the call when she said she did.
  • DeRez "Searching for Gordon Freeman": While having a private discussion about the fact that the cameraman doesn't know how to edit, Dave decides they can work with it, doing everything in one take, as long as there are no screw-ups. Then, "Is that on?"
Danya is not pleased, particularly when they go from reading the fic to insulting him and the entire organisation.
  • This 2020 skit in which Brent Spiner, having just had an interview via Zoom, gets up and performs a (somewhat NSFW) musical routine, dancing all over his house and singing about how awesome he is and how the whole world loves him and wants him back. Then...
    Interviewer: Brent, you never ended the Zoom.
    Spiner: What?!
    Interviewer: I was recording the whole thing. I'm totally going to put this on TikTok right now.
    Spiner: ...What's TikTok?

    Western Animation 
  • Used and lampshaded several times in the American Dad! episode "You Debt Your Life". The school's morning announcement readers repeatedly get Drunk with Power, only to be deposed by this. The crème de la crème comes after Principal Lewis has cancelled the announcements and grumbles about why he ever quit being a cocaine dealer in South America, where he had all the money, blow, and girls ("...not women, girls!") he could ever want. Then a teacher tells him that the mike is still on; cue hearty Precision F-Strike.
  • Animaniacs:
    • In a 1996 episode, the Warners are heard over the closing credits, complaining about work, dissing their voice actors, even trying to figure out who Steven Spielberg is. It is at the end when they discover they still had their microphones on.
    • In "Yes, Always", Pinky and the Brain take the roles of a director and Orson Welles in an almost word-for-word recreation (with a few words changed for the intended audience) of the famous "Frozen Peas" recording. This includes the director / Pinky muttering, "For the moment", then it diverges for a few seconds out of the whole thing when he realizes he's standing on the microphone button, at which point Brain remarks, "I heard that."
  • In the Arthur special regarding Francine starting a rock band that quickly becomes a celebrity band, the Principal, after doing the announcements, is muttering bitterly to himself about the band's choice of a band name ("You Stink!"), only to realize shortly thereafter realize that he left the mike on.
  • The "beginning" variant shows up in Batman: The Animated Series. After the theme of the "Jokers Wild" casino is revealed on live television (complete with revolving laughing Joker head), reporter Summer Gleeson is caught on camera muttering, "Just disgusting."
  • Bob's Burgers: The Fischoeder brothers do this no less than three times in "Dawn of the Peck". The first time, they're at the Turkey Trot podium arguing about the fact that they are about to unleash "dangerous birds" into the crowd before realizing the microphone is on. The second and third times are when they're being interviewed on TV and accidentally let slip that there's still people trapped on the wharf with the birds.
  • One episode of Celebrity Deathmatch had the show sponsored by the Big Bull Beer Company, but after the company owner canceled the agreement after a particularly ugly fight that ended up toppling his Product Placement, Nick and Johnny are told by the stagehand "We're clear," and they're finally able to vent at not only the man's pushiness but also the low quality of the beer. It's then that Johnny notices something amiss... and says the trope as he realizes their gripe was Caught on Tape.
  • In Central Park, Season 1 "Rival Busker", when Dmitry asks Bitsy if he could have his daughter's wedding at her hotel on the phone, Bitsy tells Helen to mute the call and then tells her she's going to pretend her hotel is fully book so she can leverage with him, until Helen tells her she hasn't muted it yet. With the secret out, Bitsy tells Dmitry he could have his daughter's wedding in the secret ballroom in her hotel in exchange for talking business, until Helen reveals she muted the call, frustrating Bitsy.
  • In one episode of Combo Niños, Diadoro makes unflattering comments about the audience just as his assistant has finished repairing the equipment and activating the microphone.
  • Cyberchase In the season 1 episode "Codename: Icky", Hacker uses a secret device of his to tap in to the cybersquad's submarine so he can overhear what they are saying in regards to their conversations about Aquari-Yum's energy-eating slug but the device also includes a microphone. When Buzz accidentally sits on the button that activates it, the kids are also able to hear Hacker and his cronies, and the episode's plot is about them making a code that Hacker cannot decipher.
  • Happens in Dogstar when Captain Rex of the Beagle calls to thank the crew of the Valiant and then turns to his science officer and tells him it was a good thing that humans never realized that they were the ones who stole all of the dogs from Earth. The science officer then calmly informs him that the comm screen is still on.
  • An episode of Doug combined this with Accidental Public Confession; Roger, who framed Doug for stealing one of Vice-Principal Bone's yodeling trophies, goes into the office to taunt Doug, sits at Bone's desk and kicks his feet up — switching on the intercom just in time for Bone to hear the whole thing. Doug even tries to warn him, but Roger's too full of himself to notice and just mocks Doug further until it's far too late.
  • Family Guy:
    • When all the cable TV in Quahog shuts down in "I Never Met The Dead Man", the people on the news start saying offensive things before being told that they're still on in Boston. They later decide to do things one of the anchor's wife in Quahog wouldn't like right as the cable comes back there too.
    • And in the episode "The Story on Page One", Stewie puts a mind-control device on Chris and speaks through him, and then accidentally transmits a conversation between himself and a bum while Chris is in a store trying to buy murder supplies.
    • Another incident occurred when Peter, Quagmire, Joe, and Cleveland were watching Lois with police surveillance equipment. Things get fuzzy and Peter turns up the dial, somehow turning Audio listening technology into mind-reading technology.
      Joe: Peter, the power's not supposed to go that high!
      Quagmire: [in his head] Damn, this itches! I wonder who gave it to me. Probably that skank who needed a ride to the gas station. Last time I do somebody a favor... [looks around nervously]) Oh God, they must have heard me - oh God, I can hear me! [loudly "hums" a John Philip Sousa march]
    • A fourth incident occurs in the tenth season finale when Joe confesses to Peter and Quagmire, while changing his baby's diaper, that he cheated on his wife. Only when an angry Bonnie bursts through the door do the guys realize that the baby monitor in Suzie's room was on allowing Bonnie (and presumably everyone else downstairs) to overhear Joe's confession.
  • Lrrr from Futurama in "The Problem With Popplers" after he makes a threatening transmission to Earth and cues for the camera to be off.
    Lrrr: Well, that went OK. [starts to scratch himself] I tell you, when - when you know you can't scratch, that's when you really have to, huh? Oh, oh, yeah, ooh, that feels a lot better - what? It's still on?! UGH! [camera cuts off]
  • The following occurs in an episode of Justice League:
    Linda Park: Are we off? Jeez, he's [The Flash] a total babe. [fanning herself with her reading card] Like the entire track team at once. I can't believe you're not into him, Marla.
    Marla the camera person: ...Okay, now you're off.
    [Linda slaps the card on her forehead in embarrassment]
  • Mr. Random from Phineas and Ferb makes a long speech about his villainous revenge behind the curtain at the end of "The Klimpaloon Ultimatum", only to foil himself by talking into the still-on mic.
  • The Urban Legend mentioned in the Radio section is given a nod in the Pinky and the Brain song about the parts of the brain, by The Brain, naturally.
    • In "Calvin Brain", Brain's latest plan for world domination is undone when a behind-the-scenes documentary crew films him unleashing a diatribe on the shallowness of the fashion industry and the brainlessness of those who follow its dicates. His last words on the video are even "Is that thing on?"
  • Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja: In "McOne Armed and Dangerous", the Ninja's efforts to denounce Hannibal McFist during a public event would have been in vain if not for this trope.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Subverted with Groundskeeper Willy on "Do What You Feel Day" in "Bart's Inner Child":
      Willy: [on a podium] If elected mayor, my first act will be to kill the whole lot of you, and burn your town to cinders!
      Technician: [whispering] The mike's on.
      Willy: I know it's on!
    • In "Treehouse of Horror IV," a vampiric Burns greets the Simpsons over the intercom:
      Burns: Welcome! Come in... Ah, fresh victims for my ever-growing army of the undead.
      Smithers: Sir, you have to let go of the button.
      Burns: Oh, son of a bi
    • Subverted with Gabbo and his "all the kids in Springfield are SOBs" comment (a line inspired by the "Uncle Don's slip" urban legend mentioned above). Although in this case, it was more of an Engineered Public Confession than an actual "Is this thing still on?" moment, as the camera was actually off, but Bart managed to stealthily turn it back on while Gabbo was ranting about how Springfield's children are sons of bitches, but this only bolsters his popularity. It is played completely straight with Kent Brockman shortly thereafter, however, with predictable results, ironically right after chastising Gabbo for the faux pas.
      Kent Brockman: Gabbo's language has no place on or off TV. And that's My Two Cents. Heheh, that oughta hold the little SOBs. Heheh... [a prompt comes up with his picture while giddily saying this previous statement and a caption saying "Brockman in Trouble"]...WHAT THE?!
    • In yet another episode, Homer is brought on stage to demonstrate a motion capture suit for animation. After hamming it up a bit, he goes off to the bathroom, complete with the CG dog doing likewise. "Urinal cake eroding... eroding... gone!"
    • Also, a case of "Is this thing already on?"
      Ogdenville Farmer: Well, a rat got in the plow so we got a hose to it.
      Kent Brockman: So is Ogdenville barley safe to eat again?
      Farmer: Well, when there is barley there is rats. When will this interview starting?
      Kent: That just went out live.
      Farmer: Well, we're screwed.
    • And in another case of "Is this thing already on?", this time from "Behind The Laughter":
      Moe: Oh, Homer was spending money like a teenage Arab. He bought me a Rolex and cashmere jeans. I felt kinda guilty 'cause I was always tryin' to score with his wife. So when do we start filming? ... Oh.
    • "Whacking Day" has Skinner luring Bart and the school bullies into an extremely obvious trap to get them out of the way. Once he does, he begins maniacally cackling, only to realise he's left the intercom on, meaning the whole school's been listening. Naturally, Bart and the bullies completely ignore all of this.
  • South Park:
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Evil Spatula" Plankton has given SpongeBob a spatula that he claims can talk, but really it is Plankton who talks to through a microphone, so he try and get the Krabby Patty recipe off him. At one point he becomes excited that his plan is working and tells Karen it's time to go to the next step, all while the microphone is still on, but SpongeBob doesn't know what is going on and just laughs with his evil laughter.
  • Used in an episode of Sushi Pack to give the villain of the day, a Nice Character, Mean Actor kids' show host, his comeuppance.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) episode "Donatello Trashes Slash", Vern does a report on a new turtle exhibit at the aquarium. After he's finished, he goes to a rant on how he thinks it's a waste of taxpayers' money on "dirty, smelly reptiles". Unfortunately, the cameraman informs him they're still rolling. Needless to say, Donatello, who saw the report, isn't pleased.

    Real Life 
This happens so often in politics across the world, politicians are often told to heed the mantra "Every microphone is live". It's since been expanded to include "There's always a camera, even when there isn't". Essentially, politicians are advised never to say or do anything in public that might get them in trouble, no matter what. But that hasn't stopped people from screwing up...
  • George W. Bush
    • Bush's much-mocked "get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit" aside to Tony Blair concerning the Middle East. The full transcript is enlightening, and ends with a literal "Is this thing on?"
    • Then there was the time when Bush had a press conference with some US troops in Iraq, a PR event advertised as the President's chance to have a "frank, spontaneous conversation" with the soldiers. Problem was, a news channel picked up a live feed of the conference room before the event showing a full-blown rehearsal with every question and cute one-liner laid out in advance.
    • "There's Adam Clymer, major-league asshole from the New York Times." "Oh yeah, he is, big time."
    • On the other hand, the famed "Now watch this drive" is not an example of this trope, as he knew full well the cameras were still on him. A Facepalm moment for sure, but not this trope.
    • There was also the time he gave the middle finger to someone at a speaking engagement, apparently not knowing the cameras were still on.
  • Barack Obama
    • Characterized Kanye West as a "Jackass" after antics at MTV Video Music Awards. Many conservatives commented that they finally found something to agree with him on.
    • Forgot the live mike in discussion with Dmitry Medvedev, assuring him that he'll have more freedom of movement after his final re-election. Conservatives are wondering what kind of sell-out he's planning after he's no longer under re-election pressure...
    • His "anti-fly ninjitsu" that got him in trouble with PETA...
    • At one dinner the mike he was sitting beside was one when he was talking with someone else and caught him calling the congressional Republicans assholes for their latest antics. However, there's a sneaking suspicion that he'd taken a cue from The West Wing and knew the mike was on, allowing him the chance to vent and express what everyone knew he was thinking.
  • From Overheard in New York: This quote.
  • There's a moderately famous recording of a bewildered Brooklyner named Gloria accidentally leaving a long and rambling conversation on They Might Be Giants' answering machine, in which she and an anonymous individual debate the dubious economics of Dial-A-Song. The recording was eventually made into a Stupid Statement Dance Mix. It was included, apparently unedited and without alteration, on the dual CD compilation which collected their first few albums.
  • This incident from the 2008 Republican National Convention, in which Peggy Noonan and Mike Murphy (commentators one would normally expect to be sympathetic to Republicans) made dismissive comments about the party's prospects and selection of Sarah Palin as its Vice-Presidential candidate.
  • During the 2016 Republican primaries, MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski were roundly criticized by pundits and media ethicists for using their newscast to boost on-air for billionaire front-runner Donald Trump. Eventually audio clips were leaked showing Scarborough and Brzezinski engaging in sycophantic banter with Trump, praising his poll performance and "wow moments." This didn't stop Trump from later repeatedly insulting them both on Twitter
  • Brazilian journalist Boris Casoy was caught on television in 2009 mocking two garbagemen who were wishing a happy new year to the viewers, during the end of the news broadcast. He said "Holy shit, two garbagemen wishing happiness... (sic) (...) two damn garbagemen... one of the most worthless employments" while the microphone was still on. Following that, he was indicted for moral damages and was indemnified by the Court of Justice to pay R$60,000 to the men he attacked. He then apologized for that in another broadcast.
  • Jesse Jackson was caught on mike whispering, "I wanna cut his nuts off," referring to Barack Obama. Made further hilarious by the jerking motion he made, as though motioning just how he would perform this castration. (Didn't stop him from weeping profusely in Grant Park the night Obama was elected.)
  • Three employees were fired from a Des Moines sports radio show when their profanity-riddled argument over credentials in a high school sports league was aired behind a commercial break.
  • Beloved Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Caray, after having to call a worse than usual (even for the Cubs) half inning in '89, was heard over nationwide TV uttering the poignant phrase "God damn it" as WGN cut to commercial.
  • While attending a course during his time posted to Egypt, then-Lieutenant Charles Hazlitt Upham (later winner of TWO Victoria Crosses) once looked out into a briefing-theatre full of generals and muttered, "My oath — what a galaxy of bloody talent!"... not realising he was standing next to a live microphone.
  • When showing live coverage of a speech given by George W. Bush on the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, CNN anchor Kyra Phillips visited the bathroom, leaving her mike on. Parts of a personal conversation between Phillips and a colleague — criticizing her sister-in-law and giving advice on men — were broadcast live as though it were color commentary. How this was not noticed by a sound engineer before Kyra returned to the studio is unknown.
  • Similarly, several years ago during some sort of Hollywood celebrity event Joe Pantoliano left his mike on after he thought the interview was over and proceeded to take a long and luxurious leak in the men's room, an act which gives new meaning to his nickname Joey Pants.
  • In July 2009 Michael Duvall, a California state assemblyman, was captured on tape describing to a colleague — in graphic detail — his ongoing extramarital affairs with two different women, one of whom turned out to be a lobbyist for a company in a sector (energy) that Duvall's legislative committee was in charge of overseeing. The tape in question was eventually aired by a TV station, prompting Duvall's eventual resignation.
  • There's an extra on the fourth season DVDs of How I Met Your Mother that has a panel of the stars and writers answering questions. Toward the end, Neil Patrick Harris gets up and goes to the bathroom, but forgets to remove his mike. Hilarity Ensues.
  • During the eighties and early nineties it was very common for US TV networks to transmit satellite feeds without any form of scrambling or encryption so anyone with a satellite dish and satellite TV tuner could view them. Because of this it was possible for people to watch (and record) satellite interviews as they were being conducted. For live broadcasts, the feed was usually setup far before the interview began and when the network cut to commercial or another segment of the program the satellite feed usually stayed on leading to many real-life instances of this trope. Several of them were collected in a documentary called Spin
  • News anchor Sue Simmons, displeased with some off-camera incident, unleashes a hilarious bit of profanity. She later apologized, but David Letterman still had a tremendous amount of fun at her expense.
  • Pat Robertson had a similar blunder when he tried to insult the caller he had just spoken to, thinking his mike was off. It wasn't.
  • At the end of an interview, having thought that the broadcast had ceased, Mel Gibson added a little something to the end of his farewell to the interviewer he probably didn't intend to go to air.
  • During a group photo with his sons, Prince Charles muttered "I can't bear that man. He's so awful, he really is," referring to then BBC Royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell. A boom microphone set up for the pool TV coverage easily picked up the comments which were widely broadcast.
  • Famous British football manager turned commentator Ron Atkinson said, referring to Black French player Marcel Desailly: "He is what is known in some schools as a lazy thick nigger." Although transmission in the UK had finished, his comment was broadcast to various countries in the Middle East. He had to resign from his job.
  • In a similar British football incident, commentators Andy Grey and Richard Keys were sacked after they were heard on broadcast making sexist remarks about a female referee and questioning women's ability to fill the role, although separate allegations of off-air sexual harassment of colleagues also contributed.
  • When Hashim Amla, a South African cricketer of Pakistani Muslim descent, dismissed an opposition player in a test match against Sri Lanka, commentator Dean Jones quipped that "the terrorist just got another wicket", believing the microphone to be off. Jones was fired the next day.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden on health care reform, shaking Obama's hand shortly before he announced the passage to the nation: "This is a big fucking deal!" Naturally, this was picked up by the microphone that Obama was set to make the announcement on. Truth be told, though, this made Biden even more popular, so it can't even be seen as a gaffe, and Biden would later lean into it during his own presidential campaign, though he toned down the language to "big freaking deal".
  • Bill "Fuckin' thing SUCKS!" O'Reilly, as mentioned under The Colbert Report above.
  • Casey Kasem wants to know why he's coming out of a fucking uptempo record into a death dedication. (His irascibility was probably exacerbated by the fact that it was for a dog; Kasem was a notoriously kindhearted animal lover.) Kasem knew the mike was on, he just didn't expect the outtakes to ever be heard outside of the recording studio.note 
  • During his tenure on CBS' Early Show, Bryant Gumbel was interviewing Media Research Center president Brent Bozell in 2000 when Gumbel turned around and dropped an F-bomb on Bozell (keep in mind, this is fairly early in the morning). Also keep in mind that he was being forced to talk to a man arguing that gay people should be forbidden to become scoutmasters in Boy Scouts.
  • CNN, covering the 2004 Democratic National Convention, cut to a live feed from producer Don Mischer's microphone, just in time to catch him upbraiding his staff for a mediocre balloon drop. Cluster F-Bomb with confetti!
  • While being driven to his next appointment after a conversation with a local voter about immigration, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown called her "a bigoted woman". After the audio made the news, he took a trip to her house to personally apologize. In between, he also failed to realise there was a camera filming him in the radio studio where the news was broken to him on air.
  • Back when Olivia Munn was part of Attack of the Show!, she did interviews around E3 2010. On one night, she did an informal E3 stream with co-host Kevin in their hotel room. During the stream, Kevin made comments about Olivia's sex life; not amused, she decided to cut to commercial break and reveals her Bitch in Sheep's Clothing persona to Kevin. Fast forward about four minutes later and she's about to turn the stream back on, but there's a problem...she never turned it off. She left Attack of the Show! later that year, although that was almost certainly unrelated to that incident since she went on to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
  • Similarly, during the 1989 election campaign, Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke referred to a pensioner who had just harangued him during a meet-and-greet as a "silly old bugger". The muttered comment was recorded by a television crew accompanying the PM and quickly became front page news across the country.
  • From Reader's Digest: an air traffic controller aboard a US Navy aircraft carrier didn't realize his mike was still on after talking to a pilot, saying "That guy sounds just like Elmer Fudd." After a long, awkward silence the pilot radioed back: "Be vewy vewy quiet. We're hunting submawines."
  • Also from Reader's Digest: A woman hosting a dinner party was dismayed to see that her brother had brought his girlfriend, whom she didn't like. She and her husband left their guests enjoying drinks and hors d'oeuvres in the living room while they went upstairs under the pretense of checking on their baby. Once in the nursery, she spent several minutes venting about how much she hated the other woman. Satisfied, she and her husband went back downstairs, only to find the guests sitting in uncomfortable silence—having just heard every word that she had said over the baby monitor that was present on the coffee table.
  • BBC weatherman Tomasz Schafernaker gave a sarcastic newsreader the finger, then realised half a second too late that he was live on air. His goggle-eyed Oh, Crap! face is priceless.
  • During the September 11th, 2001 attacks, broadcasters had far bigger things to concentrate on than FCC regulations, so most news broadcasts gave viewers an almost uninterrupted 8-hour stream of Cluster F Bombs and pointed Precision F Strikes from frightened civilians running by the cameras and witnesses who took videonote  on their balconies and rushed it to local TV. This included lines such as, "This is all fucking crazy! This is the fucking end!"
    • Dan Rather did apologize about the language used by some of the witnesses in a couple of brief films now known to have been made by Australian artist Chris Hopewell from his rooms in Brooklyn which had a particularly good view of the scene. Dan then reracked the tape so you could see (and hear) it again.note 
  • In 2009, Chilean senator Fernando Flores is about to finish an interview for the CNN Chile channel. His host makes some questions that he dislikes, then finishes the interview. Just before the transmision was about to finish, a pissed-off Flores rants about how the guy's questions were "fucking dumb" among other things. That part was caught on-tape and then uploaded to Youtube... Flores did have a history of exploding at his interviewers, however, having simply stormed out of the set when he got upset at a reply before.
  • During the Apollo 16 lunar mission, while the astronauts were resting after a moonwalk, John Young told his colleague Charlie Duke how the potassium-laced orange juice they were given to drink was giving him gas, and how he intended never to eat another fucking orange again after the flight was over. Eventually Mission Control warned him that he had a "hot mike". It seems that his mike key was stuck in the "on" position — quite possibly by some dried orange drink that had been spilled earlier. The very same orange drink he'd been complaining about.
    • Shortly after the astronauts aboard Apollo 13 moved to the lunar module, the mike setting was switched to VOX (voice-operated transmission) by accident. The Capcom first tried to hint that the mike was hot by responding to the astronauts' private conversation; despite the hint, the astronauts still failed to see that the mike setting was not on "Normal Voice". It eventually had to be pointed out directly by the Capcom, similar to the movie. Even worse, later in the mission, Lovell commented privately (he thought) that it would likely be the last mission for a long time; again, the mike was on a VOX setting.
    • Apollo 10:
      Tom Stafford: Man, that TLI was quite a ride. Never forget that son of a bitch. We still recording?
      Gene Cernan: Yes.
  • At a city council meeting in 2010, Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson landed himself in hot water when he was recorded insulting his constituents as "hacks" of a rival local political party because they opposed his rental housing development plan. Annoyingly, the media (and inevitable backlash against the reports) focused on a supposed outrage over his use of profanity rather than the fact that he was belittling anyone who disagreed with him as a "hack" of a local political party.
  • Ronald Reagan once, as a part of a sound test, announced "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." However, the joke was leaked (sometimes erroneously reported as having been broadcast immediately), and the Soviet Union got a brief freak-out.
  • A certain air traffic controller was found to be a little distracted at work when his mike accidentally got switched on and he played his movie to all the passing planes...
  • A Southwest Airline pilot ranted to his co-pilot about the lack of Sexy Stewardess on his flights, and having to work with only gays, grannies, and overweight folks. Unknowingly, he had turned on the mike, broadcasting to everyone in Texas airspace, but didn't even stop when an air traffic controller tried to butt in.
  • In October 2011, this happened to two world leaders for the price of one. At a G20 summit, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a liar; President Obama responded "You're fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day!"
  • Another rather innocent thing. A local news station had an anchor who was feeling sick to his stomach, but was going to do the broadcast either way since it was live and he had a devotion to his job. Eventually he started to feel sick during the broadcast and asked them to cut. The cameramen saw that he was getting pretty pale and sweaty, so they killed the video feed...unfortunately the audio was still being recorded, so viewers could hear the news anchor shout, "GET A BUCKET! QUI-" and then the sound of him throwing up on the floor, and it was broadcast live. Twenty years after the incident, they still played that clip.
  • During the 1994 Olympics, skater Nancy Kerrigan was waiting backstage for gold medalist Oksana Baiul for the medal ceremony to take place. After having skated the best performance of her life, not to mention having come back from a disastrous year and a vicious attack, Nancy was already irritated at having lost by an uber-slim margin (a mere tenth of a point gave Baiul the gold medal over her). Further annoyed both by the delay and then upon being told that the delay was because Baiul was putting on more makeup (wrongly, as it turns out, the delay was because the Ukrainian flag and a tape of the Ukrainian Anthem could not be foundnote ), Kerrigan promptly snapped, "Oh, come on! So she's just going to cry again. What's the difference?". What Kerrigan didn't realize was that there was an open mike nearby and her snippety remark was just broadcasted to countless people. It was the first of a handful of missteps Kerrigan made that briefly tarnished her "America's Sweetheart" reputation that had been bestowed following her attack.
    • Nancy Kerrigan also got caught making the comment, "This is so corny. This is so dumb. I hate it. This is the most corny thing I've ever done", while sitting beside Mickey Mouse during a Disney parade.
    • When she later hosted Saturday Night Live, during her monologue, she said that what she really said was "the most horny thing I've every done."
  • The classic scene with then British prime minister John Major, where immediately after a BBC radio interview and thinking the mike was turned off, he described some of his less loyal Cabinet Ministers as a "bunch of bastards". The recording heard all.
  • Flamboyant disc jockey and comedian Kenny Everett attended a rally of showbiz stars who support the Conservative party. Thinking it would be edited out later, in front of thousands of Tory Party faithful and a lot of cameras and press, he opened his address with "Let's bomb Russia!" The worrying thing, and the point the press picked on, was the size and duration of the cheer Everett got.
  • In 2010, radio host Don Imus was heard mocking Kars4Kids on-air when their ad came on during a commercial break (the group is well-known for having a very annoying jingle), telling them to go to hell, and that he'd donate his Bentley to them.
  • Recently, the thoughts of Uruguayan President José Mujica about Agentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her late husband Néstor Kirchner were caught on video. And they weren't pretty.
  • The following football season after the "wardrobe malfunction" at the Super Bowl, CBS aired a Jacksonville-Cleveland game that New Year's Eve. After a commercial break, the camera was trained on a guy in the crowd who was a dead ringer for Santa Claus and who wore a shirt that clearly read on-screen "Your ass ain't gettin' shit for Christmas!"
  • A Southwest pilot managed to broadcast "we’re going down" to the whole plane.
  • A translator at the UN wondered out loud why the General Assembly passes so many resolutions on Israel and the Palestinians every year while ignoring many other conflicts around the world, not realizing her words were being broadcast to the delegates. This incident delighted Israelis, who have been complaining about their treatment at the UN for decades.
  • Canadian journalist Avery Haines (sister of Emily Haines of Metric) fell victim to this while working at CTV Newsnet. While taping the introduction to a news report, she flubbed a line, then made a lighthearted joke about it:
    I kind of like the little stuttering thing. It's like equal opportunity, right? We've got a stuttering newscaster. We've got the black, we've got the Asian, we've got the woman. I could be a lesbian, folk-dancing, black woman stutterer. What's that? In a wheelchair ... with a gimping, rubber legs. Yeah, really. I'd have a successful career, let me tell you.
    • The introduction was rerecorded, but unfortunately a technician inadvertently used the flubbed tape with Haines' joke. Haines was fired; the technician was merely suspended.
  • In January 2014, after President Obama's State of the Union address, a TV reporter tried to ask NY congressman Michael Grimm about allegations regarding his campaign financing, but Grimm walked off, refusing to answer. Moments later, Grimm walked back, saying to the reporter "Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again, I'll throw you off this fucking balcony." In April, Grimm was arrested for numerous charges of corruption, which included campaign financing.
  • During a game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the St. Louis Rams, Rams Offensive Guard Harvey Dahl was called for holding. As the referee was declaring the penalty to the crowd, his microphone picked up Dahl shouting at the ref, "That's not fucking holding!", broadcasting the words throughout the stadium. The ref subsequently gave Dahl another penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
  • At the 1955 Worldcon, guest of honor Isaac Asimov was sitting at the dais as the Hugos were being handed out. One of the winning authors was unable to attend, and editor Judith Merril accepted for him. The presenter announced this by saying, "In his absence, the award will be accepted by Judy Merril, by whom he has been so often anthologized." Asimov turned to the person next to him and said, "Anthologized? Always euphemisms." The microphone in front of him was live, and the hall erupted in laughter at Merril's expense. Asimov was horrified, and for the rest of the weekend (while the other attendees were saying "Anthologize you!" and "Go anthologize yourself!" to each other), he was afraid that Merril would kill him the next time their paths crossed. To her credit, she forgave him.
  • During filming of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, Ian McKellen broke down crying upon seeing a scene with him and the dwarves would be done by green screen, with only pictures of the dwarves to indicate who's talking. He said to himself, "This is not why I became an actor" ...only for his mic to be on and the whole studio hearing it. Fortunately, Peter Jackson and the rest of the crew made up for it later, putting quite a bit of effort into making a personal "relaxation" space for Sir McKellen on the set to cheer him up. It worked.
  • During the filming of The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, a documentary filmed in 2013 about the investigations surrounding the long-time suspected murderer millionaire, Durst left to use the restroom after an interview with one a reporter, forgetting that his mic was on. The sound editor was then treated to the sound of Durst relieving himself... followed by his muttering of "What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course." Durst was arrested in 2015, following the release of the documentary.
  • A. J. Clemente holds the dubious distinction of having possibly the shortest career in the history of newsreading, thanks to the first words out of his mouth on his first day on the job being a frustrated Gay... fucking shitnote  as the studio feed went live. He and his co-anchor completed one very awkward news session, and he was fired at the end of it.
  • In 2012 the British radio station Jazz FM accidentally broadcast five minutes of graphic sounds of gay sex. It was later revealed that an unnamed station employee (reportedly later sacked) had been watching a porn video on the studio computer, without realising that the computer's audio output was also going to the broadcast feed.
  • This Mexican news anchor insults a pair of fellow news anchormen on air not too long after the commercial break ended. His reaction is priceless, and then the video went viral and spawned a few memes.
  • Modern audio mikes used at sporting events such as hockey and (American/Canadian) football are sensitive enough to pick up the sounds of the action to enhance the broadcast, and usually the people in the truck are quick enough to switch the audio feed so that the action is all that's heard, but it's not uncommon to hear a player swear just after a particularly heavy bodycheck or tackle, complaining about a call, or expressing excitement. And with many refs now equipped with wireless mikes to explain calls, they will also sometimes pick up a player in the background expressing their discontent with it. Most sportscasts simply ignore it happened.
  • Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign was subject to countless controversies that would've ended any other politician's career. On October 7th, 2016, blooper footage was leaked to NBC and The Washington Post from a 2005 interview between Trump and Billy Bush, then anchor for Access Hollywood, in which Trump seemingly boasted about his predilection for sexual assault, bragging that he could "grab [women] by the pussy" and force them into sex because of his fame. Trump talked at length about sleeping with Nancy O'Dell, Bush's Access Hollywood co-anchor, with Bush joking and playing along. NBC initially tried to shield Bush from scrutiny, but public outcry forced the network to suspend and eventually fire him from Today. Meanwhile, it greatly sank Trump's campaign as a bunch of other women came forward to accuse Trump of sexually assaulting them. However, even all this didn't significantly prevent female Republicans from voting for him, as Democrats had hoped.
  • A memoir written by an RAF Blenheim pilot during WW2 relates how they paid particular attention to the position of a certain switch during their pre-flight check after a lewd discussion by the crew of a Blenheim regarding a newly-arrived WAAF was relayed live to the woman in question, who eventually ran screaming out of the radio room. The CO was not amused.
  • This destroyed the career of former Virginia Senator George Allen. In 2006, Allen was a former Congressman and Governor who was running for a second term against former Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb. Allen held a solid lead until August 11, 2006; on that day, Allen was caught on video using the ethnic slur "macaca" (a slur against Indian people) in the presence of a Webb staffer of Indian heritage. The controversy magnified by changing explanations from the Allen campaign, and separate controversies over Allen's comments attempting to deny and eventually downplay the Jewish ethnic heritage of his mother Henrietta. Similar uses of racial epithets during Allen's college years also began to crop up around this time. This led to Allen losing by just under 10,000 votes, with that race being the last to be called and which ended up swinging control of the Senate to the Democrats.
  • In a more benign example, on occasion you can hear behind-the-scenes banter between crew members over a slate. One such example is the August 31, 1987 edition of The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.
  • Alt-right leader Richard Spencer had a tape leaked where he goes on an unhinged rant about how "kikes" and "octoroons" note  are responsible for all his problems and how his ancestors would have "enslaved those pieces of shit."
  • With the COVID-19 Pandemic making their normal in-person sessions too dangerous, many courts around the world have turned to telephone or video-conference to hold hearings. A hearing in the United States Supreme Court on a challenge to a provision of the Consumer Telephone Protection Act was interrupted by the sound of a toilet flushing. Nobody is quite sure who that was.
  • During a broadcast of a Cincinnati Reds doubleheader against the Kansas City Royals, Fox Sports announcer Thom Brennaman was heard describing Kansas City as "one of the biggest fag capitals of the world," while coming back from commercial break. Brennaman immediately left the broadcast and apologized, but Fox Sports later revealed that he would be suspended for the rest of the 2020 season's baseball and football broadcasts.
  • During a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, also conducted by video chat, asking questions of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) was having a bit of trouble with his microphone, then accidentally sent the rest of the committee a triple F-bomb.
  • Averted, more or less, by Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer, when making a joke while waiting to deliver a speech at the DNC. Fully aware that she had a hot mic under her nose, she deliberately censored her own words: "It's Shark Week, m***r." (She later clarified what this meant.)

There. That oughta hold the little S.O.B's... wait...


Video Example(s):


Marnier's Secret Revealed

After learning about Mariner's secret, Boimler lets her know about it, while unknowingly letting everyone on the Cerritos know, too.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / IsThisThingStillOn

Media sources:

Main / IsThisThingStillOn