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Less Disturbing in Context

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Actually, she's a wolf, and she was going to kiss him. Get it right, kid.

* p4 has joined #hynes
<Opius>So i stroke and stroke and stroke, and it does nothing
<Opius>then all of a sudden it goes nuts and puts white shit all over my work
<p4>i wont ask #33726 (abridged) spoiler 

Sometimes, when you walk in at the climax of something, it appears disturbingly violent and brutal (or creepy). And then, when you watch it in the proper order, it actually seems less disturbing if possibly still brutal (or creepy).

What's going on here?

Answer: The violence is built up to; the villain is shown to be Ax-Crazy, and the hero is shown to be acting relatively sanely, and the point you walked in was the Darkest Hour.

In other words, it's Less Disturbing In Context.

Note: If the film/show you're watching contains only one such scene, then your parents/grandparents/significant other/etc. will, with 100% certainty, walk in on you just when it happens to be on.

Subtrope of It Makes Sense in Context. Compare Superdickery, Stab the Salad, Grossout Fakeout, and Stab the Scorpion (for situations that are deliberately set up to appear disturbing when taken out of context). Contrast Fridge Horror (for situations that get more disturbing when the implications sink in). Bonus internet points if "It's Not What It Looks Like" is uttered. Contrast Worse with Context where something is even more disturbing in context.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ax-Crazy heroin addict trying to kill classmates because they're standing there? He's actually a Messianic Archetype picking up garbage from the school grounds. Villain with Good Publicity seducing three girls for his demonic rituals? He's actually a Chaste Hero who loves them Like Brother and Sister. In Angel Densetsu the stuff In-Universe is always horror ... but for the readers it's always hilarious or heartwarming.
  • Young man mutating into a monster and ripping a little girl's head off with his teeth? Even those who had read/watched Dance in the Vampire Bund up to that point probably flinched a little over that scene (while cheering the backfiring of a rather sadistic Shape Shifter Guilt Trip, admittedly), seeing it out of context...
    • The key thing that makes this less disturbing in context is that this is one of the main characters doing it and he's done this kind of thing before (albeit usually to those who look like they could put up a fight).
  • Franken Fran: The ending of one chapter is often described as "a pedophile's brain is put into the body of a theme park mascot". What usually gets left out is that the body has no sense of touch and no genitals. It's closer to an Ironic Hell than anything else.
  • The short-lived manga Gakkyu Hotei: School Judgment is completely about this trope: What appears to be Troubling Unchildlike Behavior, ranging from the kids arriving in the classroom only to see their school pet chopped up into a bloody mess to what appears to be a narcotics ring run by an 8-year-old, are proven by the protagonist, a young aspiring attorney, to be completely normal things when placed in their proper contexts.note  This is, in fact, the very theme of the series, which is to avoid jumping to conclusions and to be more trusting of people.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry:
    • Rika's suicide is quite disturbing taken out of context, but in the context of the series, it becomes positive. Disturbing, but less. This is done intentionally, because the infamous scene appears at the beginning of the fifth episode, before the opening sequence, with absolutely no context, and it's not until the second half of the season that we see the events leading up to that scene.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has tons of moments like this, but special mention has to go to the entirety of Part 7 (Steel Ball Run), which often has its plot described as “Jesus told me to kill the president!”. Hard as it is to believe, It Makes Sense in Context; the President in question is the Big Bad and the MacGuffin of the story is a collection of body parts that are heavily implied to be those of Jesus.
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! has a scene where it looks like Geordo kisses a sleeping and defenseless Catarina while she's in a magic induced coma. He's actually trying to get water to her mouth to make sure she stays properly hydrated, but the anime tried to play up the scene as a romantic act.
  • The plot of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei: A suicidal teacher wins the love of his students by asking them to commit double, or possibly collective, suicide with him. How is it less disturbing in context? 'Cuz it's played for laughs, that's why.
    • The fact that you will laugh at it is probably the most disturbing thing about it all, you seriously disturbed person, you.
  • Waratte! Sotomura-san: A lot of Sotomura's words and actions are pretty disturbing if you don't know the context. Entering the classroom with cuts and a torn uniform is the result of trying to rescue a cat from a tree, while asking someone if they want to get hurt after they bump into her is an attempt to warn them that the floor has just been mopped and it's dangerous for them to race around.
  • Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Crossed with Accidental Pervert — Hikaru is crawling on all fours in the lingerie department of a store, just underneath the legs of Misa and the Bridge Bunnies. They, quite reasonably, suspect he is a creep trying to peek up their skirts. In reality, he had spilled a bag of groceries he was carrying for Minmay and was going to pick up the last can of veggies that had rolled in that direction.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami has Keeper Mercury test her new possession spell on her Horned Reaper, switching bodies with him. The creature then proceeds to subdue her in protest, only to be interrupted by her other employees. This sparked Mercury's deviant reputation that would continue to create embarrassing situations for the poor girl.
  • In Equestria: A History Revealed, the narrator says genocide sounds all well and good. It Makes Sense in Context; it was just the awkward way she worded her sentence. She seemed to be aware of this however and went out of her way to ask the reader not to quote her on that.
  • My Immortal: Sometimes, a word will crop up that means something gross, but it was actually a typo, like "I want to shit next to her", when it was actually a misspelling of "sit".
  • In an episode of Peeking Through the Fourth Wall, Lisa notes that Lynn has recently googled "puppy play" and Lynn blushes. As it turns out, Lynn was interested in the non-sexual version of puppy play, and she was just embarrassed because the idea of acting like a puppy is a guilty pleasure that goes against her usual personality of being a tough jock.
  • In Sunday Skivvies, you have Luan Loud in her underwear asking her blushing brother Lincoln if she thinks he's cute. The context is that she's showing him how ridiculous he looks reading comics in his undies, he's blushing because he's embarrassed at seeing one of his sisters half-naked, and she's just making an off-colour joke.
  • Most human x Pokémon relationships in We Are All Pokémon Trainers, usually because of a mon becoming human or vice versa.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • If you haven't seen Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, the scene in Austin Powers in Goldmember where Austin beats up Mini-Me probably looks pretty brutal and unfair. Unnecessary misunderstanding? Yes. But hardly unfair.
  • The trailer for Captain Marvel shows a scene of Captain Marvel violently attacking an old woman. To people not familiar with the backstory it's quite shocking, but she's actually fighting an alien shapeshifter.
  • This trope is played with in Grosse Pointe Blank. The trained assassin, Blank, kills someone because this person is trying to assassinate him. However, Blank's girlfriend, who witnesses this, treats it like he's a serial killer and would kill anyone for no reason. Luckily, it got better.
  • I Love You Phillip Morris: About twenty minutes in, the movie suddenly cuts to Stephen having sex with a mustached man, complete with a barely covered, sweaty Jim Carrey (read: it's so graphic, it had a very limited release in American theaters). Granted, it's about a closeted Straight Gay conman and the scene is completely unprecedented, but failing to have any knowledge on the premise can give the impression that softcore gay pornography is being viewed.
  • There are one or two scenes in Love Actually that look like porn. In actuality, the characters are lighting doubles and the director needs to make sure "everything" will be visible (while the characters just sit there and chat about the weather and politics). When watching the movie alone, it is practically guaranteed that someone else will enter the room during that scene. (Still, some red-blooded males might actually be less embarrassed about being caught watching porn rather than Love Actually...)
  • In the Once Upon a Time in China series, Wong Fei-Hung has a romantic relationship with his own aunt... who is not a blood relative, only a relative through marriage.
  • There's a scene in Singin' in the Rain where Lina says that she "can't make love to a bush". She's actually talking about the older meaning of "make love to", meaning "to flirt with", and the context is that she's an actress and the director is telling her to speak her dialogue, which happens to be romantic, towards a bush prop because that's where the microphone is.
  • If you watched Timecop in the VHS days, you might have thought someone had taped over it halfway through when it suddenly switched to porn. If you get into an awkward situation, just explain to your grandma that the movie is actually about an agency that polices time travel and the scene in question is a virtual reality sex simulation that has no bearing on the plot.
  • A lot of reviews of Venom (2018) brought up a scene where Eddie makes out with Venom, causing people to see the movie just to witness that insanity firsthand and be disappointed when the context makes it perfectly sensible; he isn’t literally kissing Venom, he’s kissing his Love Interest who just happens to be wearing the symbiote at the time.

  • Discussed in Appointment with Death. Hercule Poirot overhears someone say "You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?'. He then thinks of the story about Anthony Trollope (in the Real Life section of this trope) but decides it's not as innocent as that.
  • There's a Babysitters Club book that does this in-universe: Jessi goes to visit Stacey in NYC and overhears two guys discussing their plan to commit a robbery. She and her pseudo-boyfriend then spend the whole book following them around trying to get more concrete evidence, before hearing a repeat of the same scene, except this time with the two men bursting into laughter partway through and one exclaiming "Check your script!"
  • A lot of things in A Brother's Price sound less disturbing in context. One of those is the word "child brides" which sounds horrible, considering the Real Life thing. However, as the novel is Speculative Fiction, the Exotic Extended Marriage is such that the "child brides" are the younger sisters of the adult wives in a sororal polygyny marriage, and the husband has his own bedroom, where his wives visit him if they wish to. It is made very obvious that wives don't start visiting the husband's quarters at night until they come of age (and "interested in men", as one character puts it), and it is implied that they can choose to sleep alone for the rest of their lives. (If they're lucky, they might even be able to get a husband of more appropriate age later, though that would require to split the family.)
  • In Dragon Bones, despite the fact that "There are no slaves in Hurog" (slavery is so thoroughly abolished that every slave who sets foot on Hurog land becomes free), the protagonist Ward owns a slave. Disturbing, isn't it? But the context is such that Oreg was Made a Slave by a distant ancestor of Ward, and is now bound to a ring, that apparently is magically compelled to be inherited by the son of the prior owner. Oreg cannot be freed. Neither can the magic ring be taken off. An evil sorcerer did it. At the end of the book, Ward kills his friend and ally Oreg, and also, castle Hurog collapses. Sounds bad? Fortunately, the castle was evacuated at the time, and Oreg asked Ward to kill him in order to bring that about. And he comes back.
  • A major plot point of the His Dark Materials trilogy involves the two main characters killing the Christian God. People hearing this without context probably imagine this as quite different from how it was actually portrayed. Technically, he dies of old age, and the two of them just happened to be there when it happens, and while they may have had a role in it they didn't do it intentionally, in essence making it a Mercy Kill. And under one interpretation, God is really the Dust, while the "God" that dies is an impostor.
  • Nina Tanleven: In-universe example in The Ghost in the Big Brass Bed - Jimmy's confession that he "hung" Cornelius Fletcher, and later that he "hung him every day", makes considerably more sense to the characters when they find out the truth: Cornelius was placed into a set of harnesses and "hung" in the air via ropes and pulleys so he could work on the mural that became his last and greatest painting.
  • "Nothing Like Murder", one of Isaac Asimov's Black Widowers stories, has a Russian guest with sketchy English lament how violent America is since he heard two men calmly discussing tying someone up in the dark, presumably planning to kidnap and murder them. Eventually, Henry, the urbane English butler works out the complainant has overheard the men reciting the "One ring" prophecy from Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings." (For one thing, 'Mordor' sounds like 'murder'.)
  • Perdido Street Station pretty much begins with a man having sex with a red-skinned woman who has a beetle for a head. It sounds like some kind of Lovecraftian horror scene, but in context it's actually a rather sweet and heartwarming moment; the woman is his girlfriend, just happens to be part of a fantasy race of sapient bug people, the sex is totally consensual, and he's basically making up with her after they had an argument about the seriousness of their relationship. The book does have a lot of horror scenes, this just isn't one of them.
  • In Relentless by Dean Koontz, Penny is furious about a man who's threatening her family. She says that she wants to blow up a hotel or other large building and how relaxing and satisfying it is to do this. It turns out that Penny's parents used to own a demolition company, so she grew up watching controlled implosions and always found them exciting.
  • In Seven Men of Gascony the sixteen-year-old Camp Follower Nicheolette took turns marrying several members of The Squad until they died in combat or otherwise. Not brutal but kind of squicky. It is less disturbing when it is understood that this was to announce to other soldiers that she had the squad's protection in a camp full of young men who were accustomed to violence and seldom saw a woman.
  • A lot of the demerits listed in Skippy's List are real US Military regulations, taken out of context and quoted in such a way as to imply a Noodle Incident had taken place. For example...
  • In The Waste Lands, some of the dialogue concerning the tribe of Pubes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Characters in The Addams Family occasionally talk about feeling sad or tired and wanting to drink poison, shoot themselves, etc. This seems disturbing if you don't know that the Addamses are immune to poison and many injuries and doing things that would injure or kill a normal person is their idea of fun.
  • Parodied in A Bit of Fry and Laurie when Hugh's character begins talking about his first kiss - which happened when happened when he was sitting on the lap of his uncle, who was just out of prison on parole.
  • A common trope is to introduce a character who initially seems friendly, then have them do something shocking that appears to be an out of character moment. Then their back story starts getting revealed and it becomes clear why these things have been done. An example being Gus in Breaking Bad who seems friendly considering his position as a drug dealer. But then we see him brutally murder Victor for the sole reason of scaring Walt and Jesse. Soon we see a flashback where Gus's friend Max is killed in a similar manner.
  • Everything Larry David does in Curb Your Enthusiasm, due to the other characters misinterpreting what Larry has done. An example being the episode in which Larry puts a water bottle down his pants to sneak it into a theatre, and a little girl hugs him. She feels the water bottle, then runs into the lobby screaming, "MOMMY! MOMMY! That bald man's in the bathroom and there's something hard in his pants!" Larry has no choice but to escape through the window.
  • This happens on any number of occasions in Frasier, and is usually effective in-universe. Some of the better examples:
    "Niles was getting on my nerves, so I had to go in and steal his ovaries."
    "I tell ya, I'd be happy if Niles traded in a couple of teeth for his cojones!" Bonus 
  • Friends: When Phoebe goes to the hospital in labor, she tells the receptionist that "The father is my brother." She's acting as a surrogate for her brother and his wife, but the receptionist doesn't know that and gives her a very strange look.
    Rachel: I am so going to miss watching you freak people out like that! note 
  • Scrubs: The following conversation between Dr. Kelso and Carla:
    Kelso: ...And yet, for some reason, I'm not wearing a party hat sitting bare-ass on the hospital's copier machine. You know why? It's not because I have "Johnny" tattooed on my butt. He was an old navy buddy and if you went through what we did you'd understand... It's because your little theory is way off.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation has a scene where Picard praises Riker for letting a little girl die. The scene is actually referring to a Secret Test of Character in that episode where Riker was given Q powers and yes Riker letting the girlnote  die was an ultimately good thing. Out of context though it sounds like Picard is a total sociopath who hates children to murderous degrees.
    • Similarly, Star Trek: Voyager has an episode where Janeway Unpersons a dead crew member, forcing the rest of the crew to act like she never existed in an almost 1984-esque scene. Except it's only really scary out of context; the rule was actually only that they do so when the Doctor might be listening, and the reason for this was that the doctor had gone into a Heroic BSoD over her death, so they had altered the doctor's memories so he wouldn't remember her. It was ultimately a bit misguided, but the intention was understandable.
    • For several episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Major Kira is carrying Chief O'Brien's baby, and O'Brien's wife is completely OK with it. They even invite her to live in their quarters. Kinda strange unless you saw the episode in which the baby had an emergency transplant from Keiko to Kira. Played with when Kira informs Gul Dukat that she's carrying O'Brien's child without letting him in on the context, and he reacts about the same as anyone else would.
    • There's a Next Generation episode where Data stabs Troi on the shoulder. The context is that she had an invisible space parasite on her shoulder and he was not right in the head but instinctively trying to kill the parasite.
    • In an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, there's a scene where it looks as though Hoshi and Phlox are beating each other up. In reality, Hoshi was possessed and Phlox was acting in self-defence. Still a little creepy, but not as disturbing as it would be at face value.
    • There's a scene in Deep Space Nine where Bashir and O'Brien are chanting, "Kill Worf!". The context is that they were mad at Worf for having them participate in a painful ritual and were speaking hyperbolically.

  • Dir en grey's "Mazohyst of Decadence" is another lyrical example, which, ripped from its context of abortion being a primary method of birth control in Japan, seems like a very extreme anti-abortion rant and Victim-Blaming, when it's actually lashing out at a society that refuses to acknowledge the need for birth control and sex education and uses the most painful and traumatizing last-ditch procedure as a substitute for preventing pregnancy in the first place.
  • Pink's violent racism in the final portion of The Wall is less disturbing when you realize it may or may not really be happening. Either way, Pink Floyd is definitely not endorsing Pink's views, just showing the eventual effects of his isolation and mental instability (and he does get a My God, What Have I Done? moment at the end of the album).
  • Tim Minchin has a song all about this, called "Context". It's all about how he hates Jews who make and distribute kiddie porn, black people who risk billions of other people's money gambling on future derivatives, the rich who use their wealth as an excuse for bigotry, the poor who use their poverty as an excuse for bigotry, whores who don't accept Visa, and more. But he only remembers the spoilered parts after he's run through it once...

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Bible has this a lot, given that it was written by and for people who lived thousands of years ago (In some cases. In others, context makes for Fridge Horror).
    • The part where someone gives Jesus water with vinegar? Not additional torture. Romans used vinegar to disinfect water and make it more refreshing as a beverage.
    • Onan gets killed for refusing to impregnate his brother's wife; creepy to a modern reader, but a contemporary would have recognized that Onan was violating a marriage law (if a man dies after marrying but before having kids, one of his brothers was supposed to marry the woman in turn so their kids could continue the deceased man's family line) and denying his brother a heir.
    • One of Jesus' wedding parables features a guy getting kicked out of a wedding (a metaphor for being sent to hell) because he isn't dressed in a wedding robe and and can't give a good excuse why. He's not being punished for sloppy dressing- wedding robes were traditionally provided by the host, so refusing to wear one is a deliberate insult (either you're not taking the wedding seriously by intentionally dressing like a hobo, or you're trying to upstage the bride and groom by wearing something fancier) and the host had every right to be mad at him for spitting on hospitality. The moral is that God's mercy is a privilege; he'll give it to anyone, but abuse it and lose it.
    • In 2 Kings 2:23-24, 42 boys are mauled by two bears for shouting, "Go up, baldhead," to Elisha. Except the word for "boys" in Hebrew applies to anyone under the age of 25 years. Moreover, the "boys" were telling Elisha to "Go up" to Heaven just like Elijah before him. Plus, there were at least 42 of them there to be mauled by bears. So, instead of a bunch of kids being killed for mocking a man's bald head, one should envision a man surrounded by nearly four dozen young thugs who were effectively shouting, "Die, baldhead! Die, baldhead!" The bears mauling forty-two of them saved Elisha's life, although it was certainly a bloody option.
    • In Numbers 31, the Hebrews are instructed to slaughter an enemy city but "save the virgins for yourselves". This is not an instruction to take sex slaves, nor does it require a physical examination; since girls tended to be married off as soon as they hit puberty, it's referring to all girls under about twelve and those who weren't dressed in a certain way appropriate for married women, who can be spotted pretty easily from a distance. The girls were intended to be integrated into the Hebrew society to rebuild their population, which had crashed due to the war. Male children being killed actually is pretty harsh, but in the context of an honour-based society it was a way of preventing future revenge attacks.
    • Abraham being instructed to sacrifice Isaac sounds bad, and Isaac tends to get portrayed as an innocent child. However, God had stated many times that Isaac would be Abraham's heir, which would be a bit hard if Isaac was dead; effectively, it was a trust fall, to demonstrate that Abraham knew God wouldn't really make him kill his son. Isaac, meanwhile, must have known and agreed to what was going on. Abraham was in his eighties at the time, and Isaac was noted to be the one who carried all the wood for the altar up the hill, showing he was more than capable of getting away from Abraham if he wasn't happy about being part of the demonstration.

    Video Games 
  • Batman: Arkham Knight is quite possibly the only time the Punk in the Trunk trope was or will ever be used in a benign context: the only passenger seats in the Batmobile are in there. Even with that in mind, driving around with a young handicapped girl in the trunk of your car would still need some additional context to not seem like the actions of a Serial Killer.
  • Many people, gamers and non-gamers, who watched Bioshock Infinite's first concept art and videos full of racist and xenophobic art felt extremely offended about it, and even sent death threats to the creators' studio. However, the game is explicitly stated to be set in Columbia, a fictional city floating in the skies, under the command of religious, militaristic racist and xenophobic leaders, and the primary enemies, so all the racist and disturbing concept art was about them.
  • The Black Heart contains a scene in which a fake psychiatrist decapitates a prepubescent child abuse survivor. Said prepubescent was an Enfant Terrible who had shown no remorse for killing 7 people over extremely flimsy reasons, one of which was said "psychiatrist"'s brother.
  • Like the example above, the subreddit for Crusader Kings II has a similar problem with strange topics, with titles that would be highly disturbing, offensive, or even criminal outside the context of the game, as the cruelty and perversity potentials for this game are huge. Posts asking about how to castrate/murder/seduce one's children are par for the course. Questions and memes on mass murder, genocide, and whether or not one should seduce one's sister-daughter to produce a child who will marry her grandfather-uncle are also common. Such topics are frequent enough that a separate subreddit in the spirit of /r/nocontext was set up to compile all such occurrences.
  • In Devil May Cry 4, Nero's special Devil Bringer move against Sanctus: brutally pummeling an old man in the gut with his giant demonic arm, repeatedly. If you know what that old man was up to, it's a bit less unheroic to be doing that, but it's still hard to watch. Similarly, there's Dante blasting the aforementioned old man at point blank range with his gun in the intro, which is quite shocking at first until later on it's revealed to be more of a case of him being pragmatic for once.
  • Dwarf Fortress has a tendency to create these situations. At least once a week a topic pops up on Reddit with a title that at first glance would offend anyone but suddenly becomes tamer once they notice it is in the DF subreddit. Though some of these things might not seem less disturbing to people who don't play Dwarf Fortress. For example, a title along the lines of "I need to find a way to efficiently kill children." is not unheard of. And this doesn't count the various situations in-game that can occur by accident, like mothers using their babies as shields or occasionally weapons.
  • In the Mass Effect 2 DLC Overlord, a Paragon Shepard has the option to pistol whip Dr. Archer for what he did to his autistic younger brother, essentially turning him into a living computer, the titular Overlord. In any other context this might come off as a Jumping Off the Slippery Slope moment since Shepard, who's fully armored and makes a habit of taking out species destroying monsters is attacking an unarmed man, and as a Paragon isn't supposed to do stuff like that, but in context you'll probably be cheering instead.
  • Not violent, but there are some scenes in Mother 3 that are... questionable. When Lucas gains PSI powers, it involves another character (that just so happens to look like a transvestite) holding his head under the water of a hot spring. Out of context, it could easily be mistaken for some kind of weird rape scene. The creator didn't clarify things when he was asked about it either.
  • The way Persona 3's Evokers (handgun-shaped devices needed for summoning Personas) are used - by putting it to your head and pulling the trigger - can be disturbing even to those who know that they don't shoot bullets. This is especially jarring during the opening cutscene (when you aren't supposed to know about it yet), where one of the characters seemingly tries to kill herself. It's even acknowledged In-Universe, with Junpei himself Lampshading about it. Strangely enough, a lot of people find Evokers one of the coolest things in the franchise.
  • Due to foreign MMOs sometimes having been through "Blind Idiot" Translation, we get some weird terms that most bystanders would be freaked out by. Namely in RF Online, you could get someone saying something like "I'm killing hobos for money!". Hobo is actually a type of enemy that is good farming material for lower levels.
  • To some, Vincent's "Monsters? They looked like monsters to you?" quote is Silent Hill 3's Wham Line, but skeptics of the "monsters are actually people" interpretation point out his next line is "Don't worry, it's just a joke." It's worth noting that Vincent is a Manipulative Bastard who enjoys making people squirm, but the game at least offers the possibility that the monsters are just that, monsters. On top of that, the rules of Silent Hill change from game to game, so even if Vincent were telling the truth, that doesn't mean the monsters in every game are also people.
  • Not only is Super Paper Mario about an Omnicidal Maniac trying to destroy the multi-verse, but an entire chapter of the story is also dedicated to the heroes' murder and their descent into the underworld, right? This is not the case, as it is actually presented in a humorous tone, and the characters actually make it to heaven before continuing on with their quest. This also doubles as "Common Knowledge" since Dimentio didn't kill them, only teleported them.
  • While playing Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, you may get some weird looks if people overhear a woman moaning and groaning, followed by the question "What did you do to me?" It is then necessary to explain that she was in fact in a hospital dying of injuries, and you were saving her life by feeding her some of your vampire blood. (The subtext may be intentional.)

    Web Animation 
  • Many of the deaths in Battle for Dream Island can be seen as disturbing to an outsider who hasn't watched the actual show, and thus doesn't know that recovery exists.

  • But I'm a Cat Person: "I got this list of the names of a bunch of impressionable teenagers! It has all their contact information!"
  • Freefall (pictured) features a romantic subplot between a veterinarian and his patient. Said patient is smart enough to handle fusion reactors, so legal informed consent goes without saying.
  • Goblins:
    • "I'm nine years old and I'm still a virgin!". Goblins, in the comic, only live thirty years, and therefore age much faster than humans.
    • And an in-universe example: Minmax ends up on the receiving end of an angry mob since he appears to be commenting on the attractiveness of underage girls (along the lines of "she's thirteen, but still pretty hot"). Except that the numbers he lists are their charisma stats, not their age. The townspeople don't make the connection and Hilarity Ensues.
  • Homestuck:
    • In terms of Squick rather than brutal violence: in the epilogue to Act 4, Jade's grandfather stuffs and preserves the corpse of her dead dream self.
    • Also, later on this part, showing an angry glowing vampire chainsawing a clearly terrified guy in half. If you read the events leading up to that point, you would be cheering on the vampire with the chainsaw. (click the ==> button a few times)
    • Also, the semi-frequent kissing of corpses is a lot less disturbing (although still somewhat squicky) when you understand it's a way of resurrecting someone who's recently died.
    • The first view of Kanaya we have, before she's introduced or even named, is an anachronistic shot of her doing something to a sleeping Tavros involving a chainsaw and a Gory Discretion Shot, which also freaks out Karkat when he sees it out of context. When we reach that point in the timeline... she's amputating Tavros's ruined legs to give him mecha prostheses.
  • minus.:
    • More "Less Poignant in Context", but this strip. Once you know who that little girl is, it goes from a desperate last stand to minus playing another one of her games.
    • A straight example is the last arc. The title character kills every human being on Earth — accidentally. The reason it isn't a full-on Downer Ending is that everyone chooses to live on in the spirit world instead, and "life" there is essentially just like life on Earth. It's still pretty gloomy, though.
  • This gem from Misfile. Commented on In-Universe, no less. (He's actually talking about a burn he got from spilled hot chocolate on his butt, and how racing would probably aggravate it.)
    Recording of Ash: My ass is still sore from last night. I don't know if it could take the kind of friction that would entail.
    Rumisiel: Keep going. This is great stuff.
    Ash (highly alarmed): Don't you dare play that out of context... Ever...
    Rumisiel: You dirty, dirty girl. What would JAMES say?
  • In The Petri Dish, there's a panel that has Betty telling Thaddeus, her son, that she will "take [him] over [her] knee". In context, you know she's just making a joke because he's an adult and too big to fit on her knee.
  • This Sluggy Freelance strip. It's amazing how quickly you become desensitized to kittens slaughtering half-naked people.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Some of the Encyclopedia Exposita pages are written from the point of view of in-story characters that have a low opinion of Finland, which in real life is where the comic's author lives. People who have run into those pages out of context have mistaken them for the works of an actual person with a low opinion of Finland.
  • Wapsi Square tends towards this rather frequently. For example, this strip is much less frightening if you know that the woman on the beach is essentially indestructible.

    Web Original 
  • The first line of this quote.
    NH Boy I broke my G-string while fingering a minor :(
    rycool ...
    NH Boy I was trying to play Knocking on Heaven's Door.
    NH Boy Oh well, time to buy new strings.
  • Buzzfeed has a video of Zach saying, "Oh, your penis!" to Justin, and then later, Zach preparing to show Justin his own penis. The context is that Zach walked in on Justin changing, and both of them felt very embarrassed, so Zach decided to show Justin his own penis to make it equal.
  • This short story from rec.humor.funny has this happening to two people playing multiplayer Doom on a plane.
  • Just try talking about Survival of the Fittest without people giving you strange looks. Just... try. This includes talking about the premise of teenagers being kidnapped by terrorists and forced to fight to the death. And specific scenes can fall into this as well; to most people, a scene where a teenager pins another teenager to a tree with a sword and carves words into his chest would be disturbing, for example, but once you know the context it's much more positive.
  • Reddit's r/nocontext is a repository of these moments. A number of subreddits about particular works, video games in particular, listed elsewhere on this page have also been soft-banned (technically permitted but usually downvoted) from r/nocontext for producing too many such lines too easily; Dwarf Fortress, Crusader Kings II, and The Binding of Isaac are among those who hold this dubious honor.
  • A number of supposedly true short stories about Soviet border guard sergeant "Allur" have been circulating Russian websites since the late 1990s. In one story an inspecting major enters a weapon storeroom, then a gunshot is heard. The sergeant and a private rush in and see the major and another private covered head to toes in white goo and holding a Playboy issuenote . As it turned out, the major was checking if all rifles were properly unloaded, one rifle shot, the bullet flew through a can of wallpaper glue atop the weapon locker, splattering the glue all over the room, then the falling can knocked somebody's Porn Stash off the locker. In the end, all blame was assigned to the last private who used the gun.
  • Occasionally, CinemaSins will remove the video of a scene and say, "This is only a sin if you listen to just the audio."

    Western Animation 
  • There's a scene in Arthur, with the line, "The dog's got my wiener!". If you actually watch the scene, it becomes clear that it's just a little girl (D.W. Read) complaining that her dog (Pal) stole her hot dog.
  • Betty Boop: There's a scene that's become infamous on the internet in "Betty Boop's Ker-choo" where it looks like Betty is flashing her boss. While Betty Boop does have some deliberate Parent Service, in that particular scene, she was just taking off her shirt and putting it back on to demonstrate buttoning up a coat.
  • If you don't know the story, it can be jarring to see images from "Der Fuehrer's Face" showing Donald Duck in full Nazi uniform with a Swastika armband saluting, "Heil Hitler!" Of course, the cartoon itself is a Propaganda Wartime Cartoon: Donald is having a Dream Sequence in which he is a factory worker in 'Nutzi Land', and part of the ridiculous standards forced on him (along with a 48 hour workday and constantly changing shells) is that he must salute pictures of Hitler whenever they appear on the line, or else. He eventually wakes up, glad to be a citizen of Eagleland instead of one of Those Wacky Nazis. Still, Disney itself doesn't circulate the cartoon these days without a very full disclaimer about the context (delivered by Leonard Maltin, no less).
  • In Invader Zim...
    Zim: "The Dib! THE DIB! I don't care how delicious he is, he's evil!
    • Also AMV of the Halloween Episode would count as well. The episode is actually much more lighthearted.
  • The Loud House:
    • In several episodes, characters are seen covered in red liquid, but it's not actually blood (like in "Back in Black", characters get covered in fake blood, and in "Friends in Dry Places", Clyde gets jam all over his foot).
    • In "Missed Connection", Lana says she likes "eating butt". She means that she thinks it's funny that the pizza was shaped like a butt (it was meant to be a heart).
    • Lucy sometimes claims she needs a corpse, when she means she needs someone to play the corpse in her practice funerals.
  • In the cartoon version of Milly, Molly, the episode "Alf" has the eponymous new student shouting, "Pussies!". If you watch the episode, it becomes clear that he's talking about the girls' cats.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The episode "Lesson Zero" has a twofer:
      • Twilight come across what appears to be Fluttershy beating a bear severely and then breaking its neck. She was actually performing chiropractic therapy on it.
      • That same episode has a driven-to-insanity Twilight approach three VERY young girls and saying "Hi, girls..." slowly and with a really creepy face. Anyone who sees this without realizing what it is may just scream "RUN, CHILDREN! RUN!"note .
    • "The Return of Harmony, Part 2" features a scene where Discorded Rainbow Dash is tied up and pleading "Lemme go! I don't need you guys! Leave me alone!" as Twilight Sparkle walks up to her. Twilight is, in fact, trying to save her from being Brainwashed and Crazy.
  • My Little Pony Tales: In the episode Ponies in Paradise, there’s a scene of a pony being thrown into a volcano as a sacrifice. This is just an Imagine Spot, and the episode actually has a Prejudice Aesop.
  • Another is Homer Simpson's "Oh great, now my testicle's got ants on it!". (To top that, both Spanish dubs make it slightly worse, as the phrasing comes off more as "ants in it"). It was the chapter where Homer gets sent to an island as a missionary, and he drops the ox testicle he was drinking from.
  • For an example that is only marginally less disturbing in context, whenever fans of South Park discuss the scene in which Cartman arranges the deaths of Scott Tenorman's parents and feeds them to him, it is phrased in such a way as to imply that he pulled the trigger himself. In reality, he tricked them into trespassing on a paranoid farmer's property, who is the one to have actually shot them. That said, considering that Cartman orchestrates the deaths of two innocents because his nemesis cheated him out of sixteen dollars, and he gets away with it, it is understandable why fans would find that to be mere semantics.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • It has Patrick's line "Wait, Jeffery! I have to touch you!" He was obsessed with touching everything at a jellyfishing museum, and Jeffery was a mascot they were featuring there.
    • In "Sponge Guard on Duty", Larry says, "What's that on your nose?" and Spongebob replies, "White stuff." It was ice cream, and Larry had mistaken it for sunscreen.

    This Very Wiki 

    Real Life 
  • In Norway, a role-player had lost a note he'd written in first-person during a Modern Day game on the bus in Trondheim, and was pulled out of class in Olso by policemen who wanted to know why and how the hell he was going to do with a list of explosives, weapons and a plan to blow up an oil platform, and who he was working with, and who he was working for...
  • Anthony Trollope overheard some people discussing the latest installment of his novel, which was being published a chapter at a time in a magazine. One reader said, "I wish he'd kill off that horrible old woman!" Trollope interrupted to say, "That's an excellent idea. I'll kill her this afternoon!" (The same story is told about Charles Dickens and some other popular authors of the day.)
  • Richmal Crompton used this as the plot of one of the Just William stories: William eavesdrops on a man telling his friend that he's planning to kill a woman, but he turns out to be a writer talking about one of his characters.
  • An advice columnist once advised a victim of frequent eavesdropping to have a little fun with the situation by loudly debating where to hide the drugs, what girl to send on the next call or the like. A policeman wrote in to ask the column to print a correction, as he foresaw wasting time investigating calls from frightened gossips!
  • If you study typesetting, you will learn how to eliminate widows and orphans.
  • An infamous screenshot appears to show Fred Rogers Flipping the Bird at the camera. While the picture itself is indeed real, the context makes it quite innocent, as it simply appears in the middle of a familiar children's finger play that involves raising your fingers one at a time ("Where is tall-man?"), and of course skipping one of them would have just made kids wonder why. As a grown adult who participates in society, he likely knew perfectly well what the gesture would have meant out of context — and the knowing grin is a hint, too.
    • There's a similar image involving Sir Patrick Stewart in his role as Captain Picard, but, in this case, it's because he's in the middle of snapping his fingers and the camera just happens to be at the right/wrong angle to hide his thumb.
  • There is a story of a British man visiting San Francisco for the first time and asking a cabby where he can pick up a pack of fags. "Fags" in British slang are cigarettes. In American slang, they're...notnote .