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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.
  • S1E11 of the Animated Adaptation of 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.

  • In John Mulaney's special 'The Comeback Kid', he talks about how his friend has a two-year old daughter, who according to her parents "is going through that phase where she says 'penis' and 'vagina' a lot." That led to a pretty awkward moment at a party when the young girl pointed at John and declared "Uncle John has a penis!" and the crowd fell deadly silent.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • A Running Gag of the Finnish comic strib, Fingerpori, is that the local mayor will do or say do something completely innocuous in a public setting, and the local newspaper will write up a headline about, that while accurate, removes any context and ends up sounding disturbing. Prominent examples includes:
    • The mayor is interviewed and asked about what his favorite Finnish film is. He mentions the seminal war drama Projat from 1962. Since "Projat" translates to "little boys", the local newspaper's headline the next day reads "The Mayor likes Little Boys".
    • In another strip, the mayor is attending a form ceremony, and proudly announces that he has brought an expensive 14-year-old champagne along for the occasion. The headline the next day reads "The Mayor Popped a 14-year-old".
    • In yet another strip, the mayor is in the process of redecorating his office and mentions that he is interested in the wallpaper with a baby seal pattern. True to form, the newspaper headline the next day is "Mayor Hangs Baby Seals on His Wall".

    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 a similar thing happening to Anthony Trollope 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...
    112. Radioactive material should not be stored in the barracks.
  • 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:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • "Hide And Q" 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.
      • "Phantasms" has a scene 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.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • Towards the end of season 4 and the start of season 5, Major Kira is carrying Chief O'Brien's baby, and O'Brien's wife Keiko 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 in the season 5 premiere episode "Apocalypse Rising", 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.
      • In "You Are Cordially Invited...", 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.
    • Star Trek: Voyager: In "Latent Image", 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. In the end, they restore the Doctor's memories, allowing him to find closure since his breakdown happened due to having grown beyond his original programming.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise: In "The Crossing", 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.

  • 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...
  • Ninja Sex Party's "Danny Don't You Know?" features the singer (a grown man) telling a teenager that he's "hot as fuck". It's not as creepy as it sounds: said teenager is the singer himself in his younger days; the singer is assuring his teenage self that he'll eventually grow out of his awkward phase and be loved by others.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Bible has many instances of this, considering it was written by and for people who lived thousands of years ago. In most cases, knowing the cultural and historical context of the Bible makes its more "disturbing" moments considerably less disturbing (although in others, it just makes for additional Fridge Horror).
    • The moment in the Gospels where the Roman soldiers give Jesus vinegar to drink while he's hanging from the cross? It wasn't additional torture. Romans used vinegar to disinfect water and make it more refreshing as a beverage.
    • In the Book of Genesis, Onan is killed by God for refusing to impregnate his brother's wife. This can seem incredibly creepy to a modern reader, but contemporary readers would have recognized that he was violating a marriage law: if a married Hebrew man died before having children, his brother was supposed to marry his widow to keep her in the family and ensure that his line would continue; by refusing to impregnate his brother's widow, Onan was denying his brother an heir.
    • One of Jesus' parables features a man being thrown 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 of a wedding, so refusing to wear one was a deliberate insult (it was either a sign that you weren't taking the wedding seriously, or 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 of the story is that God's mercy is a privilege; he'll give it to anyone, but abuse it and lose it.
    • The Books of Kings feature a rather infamous moment where a group of boys are mauled by bears for mocking the prophet Elisha's bald head—but there are several contextual clues suggesting that this moment wasn't quite as disturbing or inexplicable as some modern readers might think. Firstly: the Hebrew word for "boys" in this passage refers to anyone under the age of 25, likely meaning that they were actually young men (children wouldn't be roaming freely on a dangerous highway, after all). There were also 42 of them, and they were specifically shouting "Go up, baldhead!", telling Elisha to "go up" to Heaven like Elijah before him—which was almost certainly an Implied Death Threat. So instead of a few boys mocking Elijah's bald head, it would be more accurate to picture a crowd of adult thugs surrounding him and threatening to kill him. And while having them mauled by bears was undeniably pretty harsh, it isn't entirely clear in the text whether they were killed; the Hebrew word for "maul" in that passage literally translates to "break open", and could refer to anything from killing someone to merely ripping their clothes.note 
    • In Numbers 31, God instructs the Hebrews to slaughter the entire population of an enemy city but "save the virgins for [themselves]". Despite how it might sound, this isn't an instruction to take sex slaves: they were being instructed to integrate the city's girls into Hebrew society in order to recoup their population, which had crashed due to the war. Modern readers are also likely to be creeped out by the implication that they physically examined the city's young women to root out the virgins, but this also likely isn't what happened; at that time, all girls would have been married off as soon as they hit puberty, so "virgins" would have referred to all girls who were too young to be married (who would have been identifiable by their age and dress). Killing all of the city's civilian males (including young boys) probably seems even worse, but even that was likely motivated by pragmatism, since it ensured that they wouldn't try to take revenge when they were old enough.
    • God's instruction to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac is a very infamous moment that strikes many modern readers as disturbing, but several details in the text strongly suggest that both of them knew that God wouldn't actually force Abraham to kill his son—likely meaning that it was a test to see whether Abraham truly trusted God (a "trust fall", in other words). Prior to that point, God had stated several times that Isaac would be Abraham's heir, which obviously couldn't be the case if he were dead. Abraham was also in his 80s at the time, while Isaac was spry enough to gather the wood for the "sacrifice", likely meaning that he was perfectly capable of running away if he truly feared for his life.

    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. Turns out, said art was of things associated with the Big Bad, the extremely xenophobic Zachary Comstock, who created the setting of Columbia to serve as essentially a racist's paradise. The game supports racism about as much as the original supported objectivism, and the game's protagonists are much more open-minded.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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." 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 

  • 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.
  • 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."
  • Dollightful: She frequently cuts up and rearranges parts of her dolls, especially ones receiving heavy modifications. Some of her voiceover descriptions make it sound like she's a serial killer dismembering and then reassembling her victims if you aren't watching the accompanying footage. This is acknowledged in the "Doll Customizing Out of Context" video, a compilation a bunch of offputting clips from her videos.
  • In one of TomSka's videos, he describes the time he showed a kid footage from Angela Anaconda, after which he was banned from playing with that kid. After telling the story, Tom's editor has to point out to him that he forgot to clarify that he was also a child at this time.

    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.

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