Follow TV Tropes


Pre-Violence Laughter

Go To
Yippee-kay-yay, motherfucker.

Bob did something that Alice... doesn't really like. Anyway, she decides to just laugh it off, and Bob begins to laugh with her. Then before he realizes it, she plants her fist deep in his face, sticks a knife between his ribs or pops a hole in him with a gun (her choice depends on her level of Ax-Crazy), with no trace of a smile on her face. They just had a moment of Pre-Violence Laughter.

Usually a case of Contagious Laughter, perhaps occurring before or during a Mexican Standoff, this is when two or more characters start laughing before one character draws a hidden gun or otherwise attacks the other character. In any case, one of two or more people goes from cheerily laughing, causing others to join in, to snapping out of it (quite possibly into anger) and doing something violent to indicate that they are getting dangerous. Going from laughter to serious violence always creates a Mood Whiplash. The event that caused someone to get mad could have just happened, or maybe way earlier, with the attacker wanting revenge. However, it does not have to be an attack on the other. A simple display of violence to give off a message could fit within this trope too.

This can be when something is Actually Pretty Funny, or may be a case of HA HA HA—No. The character who makes the joke or laughs first is usually trying to distract the other. Essentially the opposite of Tension-Cutting Laughter. This trope can be combined with Turn the Other Fist. Compare and contrast Put the "Laughter" in "Slaughter". Also compare Conversation Casualty where a surprising act of violence is preceded by a calm conversation.

Compare and contrast with Dissonant Laughter, where the act of laughter and the not-so-funny thing are occurring simultaneously, while here the violence and laughter are happening after each other. It could overlap with Ominous Adversarial Amusement, when the apprehended opponent laughs before suddenly pulling an unexpected card out of their sleeve.

No Zero Context Examples please!! Add who is doing what kind of violence to whom, and what the context is they are in and/or why someone is suddenly doing something violent.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Gintama has an example in the Four Devas arc: when Gintoki breaks into Kada's palace, he starts laughing after exchanging a few words with Jirocho, who kicked his ass in an earlier fight and starts laughing with Gintoki. Kada, who is trying to take over the Kabuki District and surrounded by a hundred highly competent bodyguards, becomes unnerved at the fact that two of her enemies are laughing in a seemingly hopeless situation, and demands that they explain what's so damn funny while asking if they truly don't understand their current situation. Gintoki and Jirocho interrupt her by viciously charging at each other, right through several of Kada's bodyguards, while screaming bloody murder. Then, instead of killing each other, they shift their focus towards slaughtering Kada's men.
  • Jojos Bizarre Adventure:
    • In Stardust Crusaders, Polnareff and Hol Horse exchange some words, with Polnareff telling a joke about his gun and both start laughing, before starting their Stand battle.
    • In Diamond is Unbreakable, Rohan suspects Josuke of cheating in a dice gambling game. He starts laughing, and Josuke then does so too. But then Rohan (with a stern face) suddenly severs his own finger with his pen, momentarily shocking Josuke.
  • At the climax of Riding Bean, both Bean and Big Bad Semmerling exchange a round of laughter after Semmerling has tried her damnedest to kill Bean (including trying to run him over with a car and shoot him in the head) and he's proven himself to be quite the Implacable Man. After a few seconds, Semmerling tries to kill Bean one last time by pulling out a pocket pistol and Bean responds by tossing a knife which punctures a nearby car's fuel tank, drenching Semmerling with gasoline. She's so driven to kill Bean that she doesn't notices and when she shoots she ends up setting herself on fire.
  • Occurs when Escanor is introduced properly during the anime of The Seven Deadly Sins. Challenged to a rigged Deadly Game by the Commandment Galand the Truth, Escanor, the embodiment of the Sin of Pride, begins to explain his nature as the one who stands above all clans. Naturally, Galand and his partner Melascula believe Escanor is just putting on airs and begin to laugh, followed by the surprisingly amiable Escanor himself. A few seconds later Escanor suddenly swings his axe Rhitta and neatly cleaves Galand in two with one blow. Nobody is laughing after that.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • In This Bites!, as the group arrives at Enies Lobby, Cross declares to the shocked Marine garrison that they are going to raze the place to the ground to rescue Robin, but first, he is going to zap one guard with lightning. The guards start laughing at him, Cross joins in, and then he whips out his taser baton and makes good on his threat.

    Films — Animation 
  • Pinocchio: When Stromboli is told by his new money-making star Pinocchio that he is "going home to his father" and "coming back tomorrow", the puppeteer breaks out laughing. Pinocchio is puzzled, then uncertainly starts laughing as well, until Stromboli suddenly thrusts him into an empty birdcage, padlocks the door shut, and tells the puppet that this will be his home from now on, and threatens to chop him into firewood, using a discarded marionette to demonstrate, once Pinocchio fails to continue making money for him.
  • Sleeping Beauty: Maleficent has just learned that her minions haven't found Aurora because they've been looking for a baby for sixteen years, and breaks out laughing. The minions start laughing as well, until she suddenly turns angry and fires lightning bolts at them from her staff.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Deadpool: Wade calls the pizza guy out on being a stalker while pulling a knife on him, and tells him that he should never be doing so again. The pizza guy complies, and Wade begins to smile and lets him off. Everyone else in the room begin to smile and relax too, jokingly lamenting on how scary it was, but then Wade abruptly pins the pizza guy to a wall, gets in his face and threatens him again with stronger intent. And then he realizes his threat contains an Innocent Innuendo, flipping the mood back to comedic.
  • In the climax of Die Hard, after having played an action-packed cat-and-mouse game for most of the film, McClane laughs when Hans Gruber repeats his line, "Yippee-kay-yay, motherfucker." Gruber and his henchman Eddie start to laugh as well, until McClane draws the gun he had taped to his back.
  • The Deer Hunter: The infamous 'Russian Roulette Sequence' has everyone laughing, right before De Niro shoots the Vietcong ringleader right in the head.
  • Happens in Kill Bill. The Bride and Vernita Green share a laugh before Green reveals the gun hidden in the cereal box.
    Vernita Green: Very funny, bitch. Very FUNNY!
  • The Mummy (1999): When O'Connell sees that he and Beni, who betrayed him, are both residing on the same ship, they have a moment where he is understandably angry. After a little talking, Beni cracks a little joke, making O'Connell laugh. Beni seems to think that they would be able to get along again, despite his earlier betrayal. Proven wrong when O'Connell promptly tosses him overboard.
  • Subverted in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Most of the main characters are in a Mexican Standoff and they start to laugh and lower their guns before quickly raising them again. Jack Sparrow tries to shoot Barbossa, but the powder in his gun is wet. Everyone else then tries to do the same, only to discover that all of the powder is wet.
  • "The Sicilian Scene" in True Romance. While being interrogated about the whereabouts of bag of drugs by Don Vincenzo Coccotti, Clifford jokes with Vincenzo and they both laugh before Vincenzo shoots him. Since Clifford realized he would die anyway, he decided he could just as well mock and defy the other.
    Clifford Worley: You're part.. eggplant.
    Vincenzo Coccotti: You're a cantaloupe.
  • Hobo with a Shotgun: The hobo walks into a crackhouse sticking his shotgun in his mouth, and starts laughing. The men at the table start laughing with him, then he says, "Hallelujah." Cue the hobo blowing them away.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark: Marion gets Belloq drunk and they start laughing together - then she suddenly pulls a knife on him, her face turning deadly-serious. Of course, since they're both completely drunk, they go right back to laughing. She doesn't actually stab him, simply wanting to escape his custody... But then Toht appears at the door.
  • Batman Returns does this immediately before Max Shreck ends up pushing Selina out the window of his building for knowing too much about his plans for the power plant. Max Shreck catches her off guard, making her laugh and then laughing right along with her, just before pushing her out the window.
  • John Wick: Iosef Tarasov and his buddies take the car they stole from John Wick to Aurelio's chop shop. But Aurelio recognizes the car and begins demanding to know what they did to John.
    Aurelio: The owner of the car. Did you kill him or what?
    Iosef: No. But we sure as hell fucked up his dog. [His goons laugh]
    Aurelio: You fucked up his dog. That's what you did, you fucked up his dog? [laughs] That's crazy shit, man! [sucker punches Iosef in the face]


  • The Day of the Jackal. When the man who forged his identity documents tries to blackmail the Jackal, he listens coldly, then agrees to pay the required amount provided they don't meet in his studio because an accomplice might see them. The forger assures him that no-one else comes there because he sometimes uses the studio for certain 'other' types of photography, making the universal sign for sex. The Jackal breaks into Tension-Cutting Laughter, slaps the forger heartily on the back... then hits him in the groin and snaps his neck.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Lampshaded in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia in the episode "The Gang Gets Held Hostage". Mac, Dennis, and Dee don't get what's so funny when Frank and the McPoyles start laughing. The episode is a "Die Hard" on an X situation and Frank has a weapon strapped to his back — you make the math of what happens next.
  • Tuco Salamanca from Breaking Bad tends to let loose with maniacal chuckles before flying off the handle and beating the shit out of people, as seen when he kills one of his own men for the crime of... saying something supportive.

    Myhtology & Religion 
  • The Bible: In Psalm 2, verses 4 to 6 states to the kings of the earth amassed against the Lord and His anointed king: "He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord ridicules them. Then He will speak to them in His wrath and terrify them in His burning anger: 'I have installed My king on Zion, My holy hill.'" However, it is not God that commits the violence against the kings, but rather His anointed king, as verse 9 states: "You will break them with a scepter of iron; you will dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel."

    Video Games 
  • After spending most of Final Fantasy IX trying to gain power to defeat Garland to achieve his freedom and rule Terra and Gaia himself, Kuja manages to unlock Trance, one-shots the heroes and kills Garland. As he's gloating on what to do with this new unrivaled power, Garland's spirit shuts down his victory by revealing that Kuja's lifespan was intentionally made to be short and thus he doesn't have much time left to live. At first Kuja lets out a small laugh and dismisses Garland, but Garland confirms that Kuja is mortal and will die before he can rule anything with his new power. After finally reaching his goal, Kuja is so blindsided by this revelation of losing everything with no way to stop it that he throws his head back and starts laughing loudly and maniacally, comparing himself to the Black Mages who he viewed as worthless and expendable dolls. Then he gets quiet. Then everything goes to hell when he quickly fire bombs Terra, obliterating it completely, with the heroes barely escaping the planet alive.
  • At the end of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, after seeing his lifelong dream of conquest denied once more, Ganondorf descends into mad laughter before pulling out a pair of swords and challenging Link again.
  • Lou from Far Cry: New Dawn has a tendency to laugh insincerely before she kills someone. At the start of the game, when Thomas Rush refuses to help Lou and her sister Mickey's Highwaymen and tells them to "Go fuck yourselves", Lou walks over to Mickey, laughing, and then beats Rush's Dirty Coward right-hand man Garrett Barnes to death with her motorcycle helmet. Later on, at a Highwaymen dinner party, Mickey announces their plan to team up with Ethan Seed, in exchange for getting access to New Eden's empowering mystical apples. When one skeptical Highwayman accuses them of "gettin' soft in the head like your old man was", and laughs at them, Lou joins him in laughing, along with the rest of the Highwaymen... and then she smashes a plate and sticks a piece of it into his throat, killing him. Needless to say, the rest of the Highwaymen stop laughing after that.
  • Yakuza features Goro Majima as he confronts Kazuma Kiryu at the batting cages. As he spits his Pre Ass Kicking One Liner to Kiryu, Majima takes a baseball from one of the pitching machines to his head. He then starts to laugh, and his underlings follow suit, save for one mook who is understandably confused, and who ends up getting the business end of Majima's bat for not sharing his sense of humor.
    Majima: This is the part where you're supposed to LAUGH! Laugh, you stupid motherfucker!

  • Lackadaisy:
    • In "Lackadaisy Scathefire" Rocky is giggling as he jogs towards a barn to burn it down to get revenge on it's owners. He burns their house and all their vehicles to a crisp too.
    • In "Lackadaisy Doolally" Freckle starts laughing maniacally while staring at Avery's dropped submachine gun, before he scoops up the chopper to go gun down Avery's brothers.

    Web Videos 
  • In the Nintendo World Championships episode of The Angry Video Game Nerd, after the Nerd smashes up the NWC cartridges, PatTheNESPunk begins to laugh, and the Nerd then joins him, only for Pat to start choking the Nerd.