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Pocket Dial

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Sergeant Jeffords: I do not want a repeat of last year when Scully called me 50 times on Christmas morning.
Scully: No, I called you once. My butt called the other 49.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine, "Yippie Kayak"

Many people these days carry their cell phones with them everywhere. When they aren't using them, they often shove them into a back pocket of their pants, other garment or possibly a backpack. The trouble with this is that accidental pressure on the phone, like sitting down, can inadvertently dial the thing without the user even realizing it.

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There are three likely outcomes to a character receiving a butt dial: one is that the dialee will simply hang up (as is usually the case in real life), in comedic works the dialee will have a "conversation" with the caller's butt, or they will hear something they weren't supposed to which is often highly embarrassing when the user on the other end hears something the phone owner didn't want heard. Another result can be a long voicemail full of nothing.

People with names beginning with A are more likely to have it happen, as they're at the top of their friends' or family's call list. Nowadays, a lot of phone manufacturers are designing phones to avert thisnote , though it does still happen from time to time.

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Can be Mistaken for Prank Call if the person on the other end doesn't realize what happened.

"Butt dial" is not to be confused with a "booty call" (calling a sexual partner to come and get it on).


Examples

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     Advertising  
  • A Discover card ad for its alerts to suspicious activities on their cards featuring a woman receiving such an alert about her dog getting a hold of her phone and butt-dialing her ex, and about how nice it would be if you could receive such alerts about situations like that.
  • This is featured in one of GEICO's "It's what you do" ads. A man is about to propose marriage to his girlfriend when suddenly the girlfriend's cell starts ringing. She answers it, but it's her brother Todd butt-dialing her, resulting in her and the boyfriend hearing cheering and screams from a baseball game. Then...
    Todd: I know we just met like two months ago...
    Woman at ball-game: Yes!!!
  • Butt dialling is used in a T-Mobile Commercial advertising a Blackberry phone that flips shut, starring Danny Pudi of Community fame. See it here. Girlfriend/wife answers the phone and continues talking to his butt. His butt then hangs up on her.

     Comics  

  • In Zits, Jeremy's dad once found that not only was he butt dialling, but also the phone would call different people he knew depending on how he sat.
    Walt: My butt knows more about my phone than I do.

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     Literature  

  • In the book The Nitpicker's Guide for Next Generation Trekkers (1991) about Star Trek: The Next Generation, the author makes note of Commander Riker's habit of sitting on the touchscreen control panels, which means that either Riker is randomly pushing buttons with his butt or they have a special "Riker's ass" sensor which lets them know not to activate anything. However, almost all touchscreens from 2014 onwards (let alone in the 24th century) have capacitive sensors, meaning that you have to touch with a finger or a specially engineered pen or glove; just pressure isn't enough.

     Live Action TV  

  • Subverted on Arrow where Oliver's friends receive a call from him and assume that he butt-dialed them because they hear him having a conversation with his mother and another person. Then Sara recognized the other voice as belonging to Slade Wilson and realizes that it is actually a call for help and Oliver and his family are in grave danger.
  • Inverted in an episode of Babylon 5 while Sheridan is talking to a terrorist with his link active in his back pocket so the crew can listen in accidentally shuts it off when he sits down, and alerts the terrorist that he's been broadcasting their conversation.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    • "The Funeral": Detective Scully's pocket-dialing the Vulture (the guys' nemesis and their new captain) is how the Vulture knows that Jake only pretends to be friends with him.
      Jake: So, what, you bugged the briefing room?
      The Vulture: No, Scully butt-dialed me yesterday and he still hasn't hung up.
    • "Yippie Kayak": When Terry tells the squad not to call him over the Christmas holiday, he refers to last year, in which Scully called him FIFTY times.
      Scully: No, I only called you once. My butt called you the other 49 times.
    • In "99", the squad realizes that Captain Holt has been sabotaging their attempt to get him to New York in time for his interview. They figure out it was him who called cops on them. He tries to deny it. When they check his phone, he suggests it might have been a bottom dial.
  • An episode of Castle has him go on a date with a woman trying to get information from her, who starts to get a little frisky with him, and accidentally calls Beckett on his phone. She hears things that make her think Castle is in trouble and rushes over to his place, where she finds him with his date in her underwear on top of him.
  • Good Luck Charlie
    • An entire episode revolved around various family members "butt-dialling" (their words) each other and accidentally revealing secrets to them.
    • In one episode, Teddy and Bob get stuck in a tube at a children's restaurant. Bob purposely tries to butt-dial the house, which is second only to a pizza restaurant on the speed dial, and eventually he does. Because Gabe and Amy are engaged in an intense video game match, Charlie is left to answer the phone, and being two years old at the time, she doesn't take the situation seriously and hangs up.
  • The Good Wife episode "The Missing" revolves around Alicia mistakenly believing her daughter is missing due to a series of ambiguous phone messages, which turn out to have been pocket dials.
  • How I Met Your Mother
    • Ted keeps pocket-dialling his friend Marshall when he's drunk at Saint Patrick's Day party. Marshall's phone actually records scraps of Ted's evening, and those scraps speak badly about Ted as a person. For example, he was making out with a married woman or drank champagne, exploiting somebody else's bill. Marshall feels very uneasy and anxious about Ted's character and thinks Ted has not been himself lately.
    • Played With in the episode with Marshal's dad funeral. Everybody of the Eriksen family shares their last moments with him and everybody has something very heart-warming to tell, except for Marshall. His father's last words to him were that he should watch a surprisingly good Crocodile Dundee III. However, he later finds a voice message from his father on his cell. He listens to it, but it's just a pocket dial, which makes Marshall even more depressed. However, as he listens to it, it's revealed that he actually found out that he was making a pocket phone call and said a couple of nice words, though of course he didn't know they would his last to Marshall. For the funeral speech, Marshall decides to go with the Dundeee story to make people smile and laugh tearfully, and he keeps his story about the pocket dial to himself and his closest friends.
  • Ben pocket-dials Ron on Parks and Recreation while Leslie is making out with him and they're also role-playing as elected officials. They are colleagues and not allowed to date because Ben is Leslie's superior, but they are in a Secret Relationship. Leslie's boss Ron Swanson later plays back the recording for the embarrassed couple.
  • Psych. Shawn's father learned that Shawn is considering confessing his feelings to to Juliet when Shawn butt dialed his father in a Red Robin bathroom.

     Music  

  • Detailed in "Beware" by Big Sean:
    Third row is when you call, I hit cancel
    Really? I hit answer, fuck I hate when that happens
    Phone in my pocket for the whole night
    And you heard bitches screamin' til my phone dies

     Radio  

  • In one episode of "Guy Noir: Private Eye" on A Prairie Home Companion, Guy gets a huge phone bill because he's been unknowingly "butt-dialing" somebody in Norway for months.
  • One episode of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! had a report wherein a thief was caught after butt-dialing the police department while talking about his latest escapade.

     Video Games  

  • Given how the dodge-rolling works in Splatoon 2, Marina points out that pocket dialing is a particular hazard during a commentary for Camp Triggerfish.
    Pearl: My phone always malfunctions here and makes random calls. Magnetic fields?
    Marina: Pretty sure you're just butt-dialing people when you dodge roll.

     Webcomics  

  • Kevin & Kell: In one strip, Kevin and Ralph note that the amount of calling usage has gone up in their area ever since a hippo family moved in, and it's revealed to be a result of butt dialling. Dad hippo sat on so many cell phones.

     Western Animation  

  • In 6teen, season 3 "Oops, I Dialed It Again", Caitlin gives her friends new cell phones to test out and it leads to several misunderstandings. When Nikki starts admiring and complimenting the customers at her work so she can earn more money to buy Jonesy new skates, she accidentally pocket dials Jonesy during her work and he thinks Nikki is cheating on him. Later in the episode, when Jonesy is trying to build himself up, he accidentally pocket dials Caitlin and she thinks that he's hitting on her.
  • Family Guy:
    • In the episode where Mort burned down his pharmacy for the insurance money with Peter and Quagmire's help, Joe caught them because Peter butt-dialed him while talking about their plans.
    • In the episode "Hot-Pocket Dial", Quagmire accidentally pocket dials Peter and leaves a message on Peter's voicemail while talking with his parent about the fact that he's in love with Peter's wife Lois.
  • In the Regular Show episode "Butt Dial", Mordecai accidentally butt dials his crush Margret's phone as he sings an incredibly awkward song about how he likes her a lot, and after finding out he tries to get the message deleted with Rigby's help.
  • In the Sonic Boom episode, "Guilt Tripped", when Sonic and Tails finally get home from the Gogoba Village, they find four messages on their answering machine, all of which are from Dr. Eggman, who is planning to blow up the dam. However, one of those messages was revealed to have accidentally been butt-dialed.

     Real Life  

  • In a story profiled on a "real life dumb 911 calls" show, one guy did pocket dialled 911 while on a crime spree in a stolen car. The police tracked him down by tracing the call.
  • The increase in Pocket Dials to emergency number has put a strain on the system. And, unfortunately, even though dispatchers are supposed to call back in cases like this, it doesn't always happen, which may have resulted in at least one death.

Alternative Title(s): Butt Dial

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