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Like a Surgeon

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"My mommy read me the Hippopotamus Oath and everything. I'm a Toyologist."

Ray: Washcloth.
Slimer: Washcloth.
Peter Venkman: Powder.
Slimer: Powder!
Ray: [after a bit of coughing and sneezing from everyone] Fresh diaper.
Slimer: Fresh diaper.
Ray: Okay, I think we can close it up now.
Peter Venkman: Congratulations, gentlemen; the operation was a success!

The doctor calls out for tools, which their assistant hands to them one by one. Another assistant wipes sweat off the doctor's brow. The patient's heart rate drastically increases, and then...Flatline. The doctor sighs and says "We did everything we could." The camera pans away to reveal...a broken TV?

This is when any situation other than a real surgery (pretend ones can count) is nonetheless treated like one. It seems to occur most often when characters are trying to fix an inanimate object. It might turn out to be this trope if:

  • There's a shot from the "patient's" POV showing characters leaning over them.
  • Said patient is not actually shown
  • Suspenseful music plays in the background, sometimes accompanied by the sound of an EKG.
  • The "surgeon" calls out to another character for tools the way a real one would for surgical instruments. One or more of the items might be a Noodle Implement.
  • A character is pacing nervously outside the room, maybe talking to themselves or someone else about how they don't know what they would do without the "patient."
  • When the doctor exits the room, said character asks "How is s/he?" to which, if the "surgery" was unsuccessful, they may respond with something like "I'm so sorry, but there was nothing we could do."

If grieving occurs afterwards, it might be Mourning an Object. If doctors are using Noodle Implements in a real surgery, that's Meatgrinder Surgery. Compare Not Really a Birth Scene.

The Trope Namer is "Weird Al" Yankovic's parody of Madonna's song, "Like A Virgin."


    open/close all folders 

  • This Rocket Mortgage ad alters between the POV's of a mom and her son. The mom sees herself sewing up her son's teddy bear, but the son sees his bear in an OR having surgery.
  • This Monkees ad for Kellogg's Rice Krispies, where Mike, Davy, and Micky, dressed as surgeons, perform an "operation" on Peter, who's lying on an operating table. Said operation consists of pouring him a bowl of Rice Krispies.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!!: Minor duelist Dr. Goat has this as his whole gimmick; when he cuts the opponent's deck, his groupie... err, nurses have to wipe the sweat off his brow. And when he loses, one of them dutifully pronounces his "time of death".

    Comic Books 
  • One Batman comic has a borderline example, with the Ventriloquist and his one loyal Mook Rhino repairing Scarface. For the most part it's played like a straightforward surgery on a flesh-and-blood mafioso, though at one point Scarface Lampshades Rhino's constantly repeating the name of every tool the Ventriloquist asks for.
    "Enough with da echo, glockhead!"

    Comic Strips 
  • This Red and Rover strip has Red playing Operation while wearing a mask and gloves. Unfortunately, performing CPR on the patient doesn't go well.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Lilo & Stitch, the title characters need to distract Jumba, who is invading their home, so Stitch implants a bomb in Lilo's doll. Lilo holds a scuba diving regulator to the doll's face, mimicking an anesthetic mask. As Stitch holds out his hand for tools, Lilo hands Stitch pliers and a screwdriver while announcing what the tools are.
  • Over the Hedge: While the animals are giving Stella the skunk a makeover, RJ calls out for tools while the sound of an EKG plays in the background. The sound gets faster until it's revealed that it was actually coming from a video game the baby porcupines were playing.
  • Sid from Pixar's Toy Story gets his mitts on his little sister's humanoid doll, and takes it to his room. There, Sid dons a surgical mask and latex gloves, and puts the doll in a bench vice. Sid claims (to no one in particular) that he's about to attempt a double brain transplant. The result is Hannah getting back a mishmash with a pretty dress and a pteranodon head, which makes her shriek and flee.
    Buzz Lightyear: I don't believe that man's ever been to medical school.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Peter Pan: After a battle, a medicine man from Tiger Lily's tribe is shown chanting while sewing up an injured victim, which is soon revealed to be a teddy bear.
  • In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the modification of a torpedo to target a cloaked ship is treated like a surgery, mainly to justify McCoy assisting Spock with it and to toss in some jokes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Firefly: On Simon's birthday, the crew (mainly Kaylee) surprise him with a cake. As Simon's a surgeon, Kaylee jokingly asks him to make the first incision. Sadly, an explosion cripples the ship before he can blow out the candles. It's not known what happened to the cake.
  • On Friends ("The One With Ross's New Girlfriend") Monica wants Phoebe to cut her hair. Phoebe doesn't want to do it because she knows how OCD Monica is. Finally Phoebe agrees to do it, too bad she was confused as to which celebrity Monica wanted to look like. The aftermath is treated like family members questioning a doctor after surgery...
    Rachel: How is she?
    Phoebe: It's too soon to tell. She's resting, which is a good sign.
    Ross: How's the hair?
    Phoebe: I'm not gonna lie to you, Ross. It doesn't look good. I put a clip on one side, which seems to have stopped the curling.
    Joey: Well, can we see her?
    Phoebe: Your hair looks too good, I think it would upset her.
  • In a Harry Hill's TV Burp sketch, Harry makes fun of the prop patient in a surgery scene on Holby City, saying it looks like a brown PVC sofa. Then he gets a phone call telling him a bottle of ketchup has been dropped down the back of his brown PVC sofa, and the sofa is rushed into theatre. By the actors from Holby City, no less.
  • In one episode of How I Met Your Mother, Barney is nervously pacing outside a door, when Tim Gunn comes out and sadly tells him they were unable to save the patient — one of Barney's suits. The metaphor is extended by mentioning "his" buttons being donated to another suit, as a parody of organ donation.
  • School of Rock: In "Minimum Wage", Tomika gets a job at Sumner's favourite store 'Totally Cute'. The other sales clerks hold her down while the head sales clerk Cricket conducts a makeover on her: calling out "crimper", "Glitter spray", etc, like a surgeon.
  • Wayne and Shuster did a parody of Marcus Welby, M.D. called "Welby Marcus, Master Mechanic". It ends with Welby and his performing an emergency repair on a car engine that is treated with all of the drama and urgency of surgery on the show they were parodying.

    Web Video 
  • Homestar Runner: A popular item of The Merch is a plush The Cheat with an electronic voice box that activates in response to motion. Some fans kicked their The Cheat so often the batteries died, and the box is not easily accessible, so the creators produced this instructional video to demonstrate how to open The Cheat and replace the batteries. They use simple sewing tools to undo a seam, but wear sterile gloves and use surgical tools for everything else. The Cheat is anesthetized throughout the operation. Meanwhile, (puppet) Strong Bad watches nervously, Fainting several times at the gruesome sight of his friend's polyester innards.

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur: In the episode "Desperately Seeking Stanley", Arthur learns that the girl he sold his childhood plush bear Stanley to has in turn sold Stanley to the rambunctious and destructive Tibble Twins. While on his way to the twins' house, Arthur has a fantasy that the Tibble twins are standing over an operating table and wearing surgical gowns and masks, making comments such as "One more snip...There!" only to reveal that Stanley has had all his stuffing removed by the twins.
  • In the Looney Tunes short "The Daffy Doc", a doctor dismisses his assistant Daffy Duck for being too, well, daffy. The doctor talks about Daffy not realizing the seriousness of the situation, but then it's revealed that the "patient" he was stitching up is actually a football, showing that he's just as loony as Daffy.
    • Daffy corrals Porky as a patient and decides to operate on him...with a saw! This gag gets repeated two years later in "Patient Porky" with a deranged cat in Daffy's stead.
  • Mike, Lu & Og: In the pilot "Crash Lancelot", Og dons surgical wear and asks Mike for tools while he builds Lu a fancy car.
    Og: Congratulations. It's a car.
  • The Patrick Star Show: Inverted in "Home ECCH!". Squidina operates on her home economics teacher by treating it like a home ec project, such as using a fork to scoop out his organs and a sewing machine to sew him back up.
  • Pepper Ann: In "Manly Milo," Milo has an Imagine Spot about himself in an operating room with PA and Nikki as the doctors. Instead of performing surgery, though, they are trying to make him more stereotypically masculine.
    "Pepper Ann:" "Clean socks?! How can he be a guy with clean socks?"
  • The Pink Panther: In the cartoon "Psychedelic Pink", the Panther is in a psychedelic... place trying to read a book. At one point he falls on the book and breaks it, and the Little Man, as the beatnik proprietor of the place, takes the book to an operating room to try and fix it, with the Panther as a nurse. Sadly, the book doesn't make it.
  • In The Real Ghostbusters episode "Three Men and an Egon",' after Egon gets turned into a baby, the other Ghostbusters treat his subsequent diaper change like they're doing surgery.
  • The Replacements: Riley getting a makeover before the school dance is treated this way, with the stylist wearing a mask and calling out for his tools one by one. When he's finished, he says, "We've done all we can." Mr. Daring, who was pacing outside, asks "How is she?" to which he says solemnly, "I'm not going to lie to you, Mr. Daring...(happier voice) she is beautiful!"
  • Rugrats: In "Doctor Susie", Susie "operates" on various toys, but the trope doesn't really come into play until Angelica's doll, Cynthia, is broken. Angelica paces outside while Susie calls out to the other babies (who now have diapers on their faces and heads meant to look like surgical masks and caps) for tools such as glue while saying things like "We're losing her!" Luckily, the "surgery" is a success.
  • Silly Symphonies: Near the end of Broken Toys, a surgery situation plays out when the toys are sewing button eyes onto a blind doll.
  • Speed Buggy: The opening animation of this Hanna-Barbera cartoon shows Tinker, Mark and Debbie assembling their vehicle under a sterile cover. Tinker calls for a wrench and socket the way a surgeon calls for forceps and scalpel. The end result is the Animate Inanimate Object dune buggy called Speed Buggy.
  • In the Tom and Jerry cartoon "Baby Puss", Tom is playing baby for a little girl when Butch and the other alley cats show up and decide to make fun of him. When they change Tom's diaper, they treat it as if it were surgery, with Butch as the surgeon and the smallest cat administering "anesthetic" with a mallet to the head.
  • Transformers: Cyberverse: In "Secret Science", Wheeljack has been dragooned into helping Shockwave, who has left a floating, disembodied hand to hold him at gunpoint. Wheeljack calls for tools in this fashion in-between making small talk, although the hand doesn't repeat the requests because it's a hand. Then Wheeljack gets audacious and says, "Blaster." The hand does indeed pass him the gun, then visibly realises what a bad idea that was.
    Wheeljack: Wow, didn't think that would work.
  • Played with in a U.S. Acres episode. The scene is in a hospital, and it seems like the doctors are operating... but turns out one of them is making a soup.


Video Example(s):


Ghostbusters Diaper Change

When a baby Egon needs a new diaper, the other Ghostbusters, plus Slimer, act as surgeons while changing him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / LikeASurgeon

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