Hugh: I know, son, but if all your friends were named Cliff, would you jump off them? I don't think you would.
It's a familiar scenario. Kid wants something from parent they know won't be easy to get, or the parent just said no to it. The first argument they make is almost always, "Everybody else is going to that concert!"/ "All my friends have this body part pierced!"/ "Everyone at my school is wearing one!" or something similar.
The first rebuttal the parent makes in defense will inevitably be, "So, if the whole world/ your whole school/ all your friends were going to jump off a bridge, would you jump, too?"
The response will most likely be one of three, in increasing order of frequency:
- "No... but this is different!"
- "That's not the point!"
- "Duh! Of course!"
Variations occur where the players are not parents and children, but the pattern is always the same. "Cliff" may also be substituted for "bridge." Another variation is "If X told you to jump off a cliff, would you?" or "If all your friends stuck their heads in the oven, would you do it?"
If this is used on a sufficiently smart-assed character, they are likely to invoke Analogy Backfire by finding a reason why they would jump (such as "Ever heard of BASE jumping?"note ). Dumber ones may do it by accident. For a brief period in the 90s, the most common response was to say something along the lines of "No, bridge-jumping is tomorrow," and explain that the kid character was also participating in bungee jumping.
One increasingly common rebuttal is Don't Ask, Just Run: as most of one's friends — on account of being alive — can likely be considered both relatively sane and afraid of heights... what is more likely: that they all went suicidally insane at the exact same time, or they all noticed the bridge is on fire/about to collapse/explode?
Contrast The Complainer Is Always Wrong.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: Asuka angrily berates Rei for obeying Gendo mindlessly and without question and she asks if she would kill herself if he ordered her to. Rei being a Tyke Bomb, not to mention probably suicidal to boot, this doesn't get the response she was hoping for.
- In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Nia criticizes Adiane's loyalty to her father like this.
Nia: Do you truly hate me this much, Adiane?
Adiane: Hate you? I really couldn't care less about you! I was told to kill you, so that's what I'm going to do. Whether or not I "hate you" has nothing to do with it!
Nia: So you are willing to kill me simply because my father ordered you to do so?
Adiane: Of course! What of it?
Nia: And if my father ordered you to take your own life, would you do so?
- Turns up in Batwoman when Kate and her father (who knows her secret identity) argue over whether she should take time to recover from being drugged in her last fight.
Kate: Alice [the villain] isn't taking the night off, Colonel.
Colonel Kane: And if Alice jumped off a bridge?
Kate: I'd be right behind her. You're such a Dad.
- A young Dilbert very effectively responds to this argument after his mother will not allow him to go to the skate park with his friends. "Well, that would depend on many factors, including height, training, and equipment. But if 100% of the people enjoyed it, as in my skateboard example, then I would conclude it was safe. A better question might have been 'If everyone else wore clothes, would you do that?'"
- The comic strip Zits which deals primarily with teen-parent relationships seems to enjoy this trope. Jeremy's rebuttals to the question of jumping off a bridge have included: "For a free T-Shirt? Yeah!", "No, but I might be tempted to push you over" and "If it kept me from hearing that stupid cliché again, I'd be first in line."
- The book Garfield's Insults, Put-Downs, and Slams lists the following rebuttals:
- "That depends. Will it mess up my hair?"
- "Sure. Maybe I'll land on a fat kid."
- "As long as the line's not too long."
- "No, I'd rather jump off a building."
- "I think you can do that at Disneyworld."
- From Pearls Before Swine:
Pig: We should get a new lawnmower.
Pig: Because neighbor Bob just bought one.
Rat: And if neighbor Bob jumped off a ten-story building, what would you do?
Pig: I'd take his lawnmower.
- Calvin's mom in Calvin and Hobbes comes up with a much more effective variant that actually convinces Calvin (who never listens to reason) immediately. Calvin says his dad should start smoking cigars because they're all the rage, but Mom says "Flatulence could be all the rage, but it would still be disgusting."
- In the Harry Potter fanfic Fire Burns, Katherine and Remus have an argument over Katherine having killed someone on Voldemort's orders.
Remus: If someone told you to jump off a bridge would you do it?
Katherine: I'd ask them to demonstrate.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic First Snow, in response to Diamond Tiara wanting a really glittery dress and claiming that everypony in school would have one (probably not), Filthy Rich asks his daughter if all her classmates jumped off a bridge, would she? Her answer is that if the Cutie Mark Crusaders did, then no, but since her actual friends aren't stupid, doing so would either be safe or they'd have a good reason to.
- In eXtra power twin Harry's parents sent him to his abusive aunt and uncle because Dumbledore claimed he was a squib.
Harry: Dumbledore. Dumbledore. Do you people not have your own opinion? Tell me, if Dumbledore told you to drown me, would you have done that?
James: Of course not!
Harry: Well, based on your actions, I don't really believe you.
- Antz: Z tries to stop the foreman from finishing a tunnel that leads to a lake, which will flood the entire colony by asking him this. As the foreman considers it thoughtfully, Z comments that he's asking the wrong guy.
- In The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars: The hearing aid is communicating with an unknown source from Mars trying to send him there. He later finds out it was his long-lost brother. When he tries to get beamed up, the Master's baby son is accidentally beamed up instead. The other appliances don't take it well. When Radio gives Hearing Aid this rebuttal, he gives a pretty sad response.
Hearing Aid: I was doing what I was told.
Radio: If someone told you to jump off a cliff would you do it?
Hearing Aid: At my age probably. When you spend 50 years stuck in a junk drawer... and a voice offers to spring you, you go.
- In Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Jimmy wants to go to opening night of Retroland, but is forbidden by his parents from going because it's a school night.
Jimmy: But, Dad! All my friends are gonna be there!Hugh: I know, son, but if all your friends were named Cliff, would you jump off them?
- Heathers asks the question, "If the coolest kids in school committed suicide, would others follow?" Despite everyone's assumption that the answer was 'yes', the total of others shown to actually follow rather than being pushed was one. Because there was nothing popular or attractive about that one example, it was almost completely overlooked by media and education establishments.
- Coneheads: Beldar Conehead's reaction at his daughter Connie's fake tattoo on her cone.
Connie: It's just a decal, everyone's wearing them.
Beldar: If everyone jumped into a bituminous cauldron, would you jump in too?
Connie: I am not a little cone anymore, dad!
- Suicide Club: Proven. The whole movie is about a wave of suicides among schoolchildren all over the country for seemingly no apparent reason. A group of school-kids are on the roof talking about the recent wave of suicides. One says, "We should kill ourselves too!" Guess what happens? The whole lot of them end up jumping off the building. One girl left who's too scared ends up dragging a friend along screaming "Now we have to! We have to!" Turns out the current hot idol band is sending subliminal messages in their songs encouraging young people to kill themselves. They never explain why, but it's Japanese cinema, what do you expect?
- In the TV movie The Initiation of Sarah Sarah's sister wants them to join the sorority together and Sarah asks "If I jumped off a bridge...?". Her sister cuts her off and insists that she would, reminding her of an incident in their childhood where she jumped off a garage roof after Sarah told her to.
- In the Loop provides this exchange in the wake of a problematic radio interview.
Simon: Come on, Malcolm, he asked me for a personal opinion.Malcolm: Well why didn't you say? I mean he asked you. Fuck, of course, that explains it. See if he'd asked you fuckin' black up, or to give him your PIN number, or to shit yourself, would you have done that as well?Simon: I would have blacked up because it was radio and no one would have known.
- There's a joke which responds to the question with "I'm a lifeguard."
- An old Smothers Brothers routine:
Dick: You wouldn't jump off a bridge just because your friends did, would you?
Tommy: Not anymore.
- From a classic George Carlin routine:
George's mother: I suppose if Johnny Finnegan jumped off the Empire State Building, you would have to jump off the Empire State Building, right?
- Q: Why did the koala fall out of the tree?
- A: Because it died.
- Q: Why did the second koala fall out of the tree?
- A: It was chained to the first one.
- Q: Why did the third koala fall out of the tree?
- A: Peer group pressure.
- In one of the The Baby-Sitters Club books, Mallory realizes that this will be her parents' response if she tries to argue that she's old enough to get her ears pierced because "half the girls in the sixth grade have pierced ears." Later, after Mallory has gotten permission to get her ears pierced, her best friend Jessi decides to ask her parents if she can as well, but notes that she won't mention that Mallory is getting hers done or she'll also get this response. Both girls say that this is one of their parents' favorite arguments.
- Subversion in this snippet from a conversation in Catch-22:
"Suppose everyone thought that way."
"Then I'd be a damned fool to think otherwise!"
- In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 Gaunt's Ghosts novel Ghostmaker, Bragg is asked if the Ghosts would jump off a cliff if Gaunt told them to and says yes, of course, is that a trick question? Bragg, while not the sharpest knife in the drawer, is deliberately playing up his Big Guy role to convince them he's The Fool because he knows one is The Mole.
- In The Wheel of Time, Pevara asks rhetorically if Androl would jump off a cliff, only for Androl to mention that he has actually jumped off cliffs with the Sea Folk.
- Straight example in My Brother and Me: D.D. wants a haircut like his two best friends are getting.
His Mother: So? If the two of them were going to jump off a bridge, would you jump, too?
Melanie: [big sister] Do you have to ask? You know he would.
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: After Carl Robinson defeats Uncle Phil in a Landslide Election thanks to a smear campaign, Will tells him off, capping it off by saying "If you don't like it, you can drop dead!". No sooner does Will finish than Robinson immediately has a fatal heart attack.
Will: Come on, man! If I told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it?!
- An episode of The Bill featured Diane Noble trying to talk down a daredevil kid from jumping off a bridge. At one point she says "If everyone else jumped off... never mind."
- Leave It to Beaver had this dialogue in one episode:
Ward: Would you expect Wally to jump off a roof just because Chip did?
Beaver: How high a roof, Dad?
- M*A*S*H subverted this in one episode:
Col. Flagg: This Chandler fellow decides he doesn't want to fight anymore. Soon other soldiers decide not to fight anymore. You know what will happen if everyone decides not to fight anymore?
- From The Mentalist:
Jane: Let me ask you something. If Director Bertram wanted a CBI presence to jump off a cliff, would you and your CBI presence jump off that cliff?
Lisbon: If there was overtime, sure.
- When The Osbournes had their reality program, Jack went to the beach with some friends who all thought it would be fun to jump off a pier. Jack did it, landed wrong, broke his arm and had to call his mom from the hospital. Sharon asked, "Why did you do that?". Jack answered, "Because all my friends were doing it." Sharon probably realized asking the stock phrase would be rather foolish.
- In an episode of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, the twins want to go bungee jumping, but their mother says no.
Cody: Bob's parents said he could go.
Carrie: And if Bob's parents let him jump off a bridge, would you want to do that too?
Zack: If we were attached to a bungee cord.
- El Chavo del ocho has the most intelligent response.
Chavo: You told me to do that.
Don Ramón: You're so obedient. [El Chavo shows pride over this] And if I tell you to jump off a bridge, you would do it?
Chavo: I'm obedient, not retarded.
- The Golden Girls features an inversion in that the (middle-aged) child gives the rebuttal to their parent. It doesn't work.
Dorothy: Ma, did you sleep with Tony Devlecio?
Sophia: A little.
Sophia: Blanche made me do it!
Dorothy: Don't you have a mind of your own? If Gladys Goldfein told you to drink an entire bottle of Kaopectate, would you?
Sophia: Who blabbed?
- In the Welcome Freshmen episode "Conformity", when Walter's dad learns he's participating in a ridiculous sport because everyone else is, he gives this rebuttal to Walter, who assures him that he wouldn't.
Walter: We don't jump of cliffs anymore. Now we jump off crates.
- In The Big Bang Theory Raj is trying to convince his parents to let him go to the Arctic; which leads to this exchange:
Mrs. Koothrappali: If the other guys jumped in the Bay of Bengal and tried to swim to Sri Lanka, would you follow them?
Raj: If you were standing behind me nagging, I might.
Tiny Spock: I am very disappointed in you. You broke your toy and switched it with Leonard's. You should be ashamed of yourself.
- Also happens in "The Transporter Malfunction".
Sheldon: You're the one who told me to play with it!
Tiny Spock: If I told you to jump off the bridge of the Enterprise, would you do it?
Sheldon: If I got on the bridge of the Enterprise, I would never ever leave.
Tiny Spock: Trust me, it gets old after a while.
- A variant appears in Outnumbered, where the question (asked to Karen) is about following her brother Ben's example if he stuck his head in an oven. Karen replies that Ben's head would be in there, so she wouldn't be able to.
- Two and a Half Men: When Alan takes a shining to the mother of Jake's friend, Charlie, of all people, expresses his disapproval, only for Alan to tell him he's the last person to criticize him, considering the latter had short-lived relationships with women affiliated with Jake (his aunt and grade school teacher to name a few).
Charlie: If I jump off a bridge and land on top of some broad Jake knows, that makes it okay for you to do it too?
- The Haunting Hour episode "Checking Out" has the protagonist's parents asking the bridge question, to which he replies "If I could drive to it". This example is actually important as later on the protagonist says the question to snap his parents out of mind control.
- In the Zoey 101 episode "Chase's Grandma", Zoey finds her little brother in trouble after he was caught swimming in the school fountain, which he explains was because his roommates dared him to do it.
Mr. Thatcher: If they dared you to jump off a bridge, would you?(Beat)Dustin: How high's the bridge?
- In the late 1950s or early 1960s, there was a Saturday morning panel show for pre-teens and young adults with a What Would You Do? theme. In one episode, a girl of about twelve is an initiate in a club called the Rats (perhaps "Lemmings" might have been a bit on the nose). When the Rats vote to dye their hair as a badge of membership, the girl does so, accompanied by parents and siblings giving her the "Jump Off a Bridge" Rebuttal. Her hair comes out grey. Horrified, she conceals it beneath a scarf, and when the club president comes over to check out her dye job, she screams that membership in the society has made her "an old woman before my time", dramatically rips off the scarf and tears down the homemade Rats banner on the wall. The leader does not take it well.
- In one episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Jake sarcastically asks Holt if he should jump off a bridge if Rosa did immediately before. Holt then points out that if Rosa did jump off a bridge, she likely would have made a careful judgement as to whether or not she would have survived the fall, then tells Jake to go ahead and jump after her.
- In an episode of Cobra Kai, Johnny attempts to break Team Miyagi-Do out of their reactive attitude with a Roof Hopping exercise, which they understandably hesitate to participate in. When Sam points out that her father (who is also Miyagi-Do's sensei) would not approve of the exercise, Johnny attempts to use this line of reasoning on Sam, only for her to point out that Johnny is literally asking the students to jump off a building. Sam ends up being the first to make the jump, after a little more cajoling and a motivational speech from Johnny.
- Old Harry's Game, the sitcom set in Hell. Thomas is talking to a woman who killed herself because she listened to him when to told her to commit fraud and was subsequently arrested (or something like that). He denies responsibility "If I told you to put your head in the oven... OK, bad example".
- At the beginning of the John Finnemore's Double Acts episode "Here's What We Do", 19-year-old Pidge asks his year younger and somewhat clueless friend Gavin if he's prepared to follow his instructions without question. Gavin replies no because his Gran's always saying "I suppose you'd jump off a bridge if Pidge told you to" and he tells her he wouldn't. Pidge points out he's unlikely to tell Gavin to jump off a bridge, and if he did there'd be a good reason for it, and Gavin agrees. At the end of the episode Pidge does, in fact, tell Gavin they need to jump off a bridge. Gavin decides not to.
- The Chase & Sanborn Program: In a 1947 episode promoting their film appearance in Fun and Fancy Free, Edgar Bergen asks Mortimer Snerd what he thought of the movie and is flabbergasted when he reveals that something in it scared him: himself.
Bergen: Surely, Mortimer, you knew you were in the picture! What did you think we were doing at the studio every day under those lights?Mortimer: I dunno. Charlie said we was gettin' suntanned.Bergen: Yeah, Charlie was ribbing you. Why, if Charlie told you black was white, I bet you'd believe it!Mortimer: Uh, let's see, uh... Black is white?Bergen: Black is white.Mortimer: Yeah. Uh... Well, ain't it?
- In Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2, Kain pulls this off when Raziel confronts him at the Pillars.
Raziel: Moebius led me to you, Kain though I might have guessed you'd meet me here.
Kain: And if Moebius told you I was hidden on the underside of hell, would you throw yourself into oblivion to pursue me?
- Inverted in Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair. When Raiko refuses to wear the costume her mother gave her, even if she ends up being the only one who doesn't dress up (she isn't), she uses this phrase to justify not going along with the others.
"What the others are doing is irrelevant to me. If they jump off a cliff, I certainly won't follow them. Or would you want me to do that, too?"
- Homestar Runner: Seen when Homestar is attempting to "be's cool" in the Strong Bad Email "the bet":
Homestar: [wearing sunglasses at night] Sup?
Marzipan: Homestar, that is not cool.
Homestar: Yes, it is. Strong Bad said so.
Marzipan: Well, if Strong Bad told you to jump off a bridge—
- Karate Bears actually do jump off a bridge
- Parodied in Girl Genius, where Agatha tells Gil that he does not get to die just because "everyone else did"!
- Dr. Gardevoir attempts this with the Sniper in Level 30 Psychiatry
- Parodied in this German cartoon:
Lemming Mother: All the other kids have got a scooter and that's why you need one, too? And if all the other kids jumped off a cliff... erm... okay, you get the scooter.
- xkcd #1170 counters the hypothetical situation more realistically than intended with Don't Ask, Just Run;
"Which scenario is more likely: every single person I know, many of them levelheaded and afraid of heights, abruptly went crazy at exactly the same time... or the bridge is on fire?"
- Rugrats: A variation occurs in the episode "Driving Miss Angelica", where Angelica has successfully tricked Chuckie into being her slave, and she now blames him when her orders have gotten them trapped in a closet.
Chuckie: But, Angelica, you ordered me to come up here.
Angelica: Do you always do everything I tell you? If I told you to jump off a bridge, would you?!
- Used straight in the Proud Family episode "Hip-Hop Helicopter" in regards to a concert.
Penny: ...But daddy, all my friends are going.
Oscar: If all of your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do that too?
Penny: If it was fun.
- In an episode of Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Lilo wants to see Sludge Mummies, which Mertle's mother is taking Mertle to see, and Lilo wants to go, but Nani refuses to let her, leading to this exchange:
Lilo: Mertle gets to see PG movies, her mom goes with her.
Nani: Ooh, and if Mertle's mom jumped off a cliff, I supposed you want me to do that, too?
Lilo: Wow, would you?
- The Simpsons:
- When Bart got an earring in "Simpson Tide":
Marge: What on earth possessed you to get an earring?
Bart: Milhouse has one.
Marge: If Milhouse jumped off a cliff...
Bart: Milhouse jumped off a cliff?! I'm there!
- Reversed to Bart's confusion in "The Haw Hawed Couple":
Bart: I can't go [to Nelson's birthday party]. No one else is!
Marge: If no one else jumped off the Empire State Building, would you not jump?
- When Bart got an earring in "Simpson Tide":
- In the Futurama pilot, Bender refuses to bend bars, saying he's only programmed to bend girders.
Fry: If you were programmed to jump off a bridge, would you?
Bender: I'll have to check my program. [small pause] Yep.
- Recess: Vince, a fourth-grader, is talking with his parents about a wildly popular movie that they won't let him go see.
Vince: But all the other kids have seen Nitwitz 3!
Vince's Dad: If all the other kids jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?
Vince: If that's all they were gonna talk about afterwards, yeah!
- Bobby's World:
- Dave the Barbarian "That Darn Ghost"
Lula: So if everyone had the plague, you'd want it too?
Candy: Yes! DUH!
- From the Dan Vs. episode "New Mexico":
Elise: Okay, but we're having salad for dinner.
Chris: ...Dan said we were having burgers.
Elise: If Dan jumped off a cliff, would you?
Chris: [actually has to think about it]
Elise: [horrified] Chris!
Chris: [stammers] I-uh-I mean, it depends.
Elise: Don't jump off a cliff!
Chris: Well, I wasn't planning on it.
Elise: But if Dan jumped, you would?
Chris: [actually has to think about it again]
- The Legend of Tarzan: A kid injures himself after trying to imitate Tarzan, citing his ability to jump from the top of a waterfall and land safely. His aunt begins to ask the question before realizing it's a poor example.
- From the Phineas and Ferb episode "Excaliferb!" during a Leap of Faith moment:
Buford/Bufavulous: Mother always told me if all the other kids were jumping off a cliff, I should too.
Baljeet/Baljeetolas: Your mother said that?
Buford/Bufavulous: She was not a nurturer. Let's go! [jumps]
- In a Darkwing Duck episode while DW is under the effect of a Love Potion (which makes him all buddy/buddy with NegaDuck), Negaduck tells him to jump off a cliff, so he does. He even yells Geronimo on his way down.
Negaduck: And to think, all this time all I had to do was ask.
- In the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Rambling Ed", Eddy is disgusted with the way Ed lets his little sister Sarah boss him around.
Eddy: If she told you to jump in a lake with a rock tied to your head, and wait for naked photos of you to develop so she can hand them out to all the kids in the cul-de-sac, would you?!
Ed: I had socks on, Eddy.
- In The Flintstones episode "Ladies' Night at the Lodge", Barney gets chewed out by Betty for buying a new Water Buffalo hat, despite nothing being wrong with the old one.
Barney: But, Betty, honey, it didn't cost much. Besides, Fred got a new one, too.
Betty: So? Do you have to do everything Fred does? If he jumped in the river, I suppose you'd jump in after him.
Barney: Yeah, I guess I'd have to, Betty. You see, Fred can't swim.
- In Littlest Pet Shop (2012), when Blythe's father asks her, she responds that she would jump off the cliff as long as she was wearing a harness and had any necessary permits. He concedes that it's a fair point and lets her have what she wanted.
- DuckTales (2017): When Zeus denies Selene and Storkules permission to help Donald's family he asks:
- Bugs Bunny asks this question to Michael in Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue in regards to all of his friends trying weed. When Michael doesn't answer, Bugs just says, "I guess you would. Not very bright... not very bright."
- Alluded to in the My Gym Partner's a Monkey special "The Big Field Trip": When her friends fall off a cliff, Ingrid declares "All my friends jumped off a cliff, so I will too!" and jumps after them.