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Reactive Continuous Scream

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AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

"The simple dog made the noise all through the night and was still going strong the next morning. When we were loading the dogs into the car, the constant, high-pitched sound emanating from the simple dog finally broke the helper dog. The helper dog wailed in anguish, which alarmed the simple dog. In her surprise, the simple dog let out a yelp, which further upset the helper dog. And so it continued in a wretched positive-feedback loop of completely unnecessary noise."

Somebody is startled by another — and screams. The surprise from being screamed at makes the other person scream (usually even louder than the originator), which leads to the first person continuing to scream, which makes the other scream even more.

If more than two people are involved it can end up with a room filled with people screaming in surprise to no end, with no one really knowing why. The Only Sane Man may have to step in and restore order somehow. Rule of Funny prevails—don't expect this to end simply because one or more characters, say, have to take a breath.

Compare Vomit Chain Reaction and Overly Long Scream.

Contrast "Everybody Laughs" Ending, Contagious Laughter, and Everybody Cries.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • Fast food chain Burger King has this ad for the Jimmy Neutron and Dexter's Laboratory toy lines, as part of the Burger King Big Kids Meals. The commercial has a genius girl presenting a hydro extracting machine to her family, where she places a picture of a Burger King employee holding up a Big Kids Meal. The machine then makes a small blue capsule, which the girl then places the capsule in a cup. She pours water into the cup, where the capsule turns into the Big Kids Meal. However, because the employee was also in the picture, a copy of that employee appears in the kitchen, thus scaring the family into screaming. The Burger King employee also screams with them.
  • A variant used in this 2008 Super Bowl commercial with forest animals and a woman in a car about to hit a squirrel.
  • Another variant was used in a legendary Super Bowl commercial, except a Reactive Continuous "WHASSAAAAAAAAP?" replaced the scream.
  • This advert for the IHOP Fall Combo meal ends with a pumpkin with a realistic face (who was explaining the breakfast products) and a mailman screaming at each other, possibly because the pumpkin realized that humans were the ones who made the pancakes.
  • This advert for the Old Navy Festi-Fleece has a family and a snowman screaming at each other, with the family freaking out over the talking snowman and the snowman himself freaking out over the family, believing them to be talking mannequins. While the family continues screaming, the snowman stops to tell himself to "go to his happy place".
  • This advert for the Snickers Ice Cream bar contains a Sensory Abuse-laden variation with a man, a woman with a son, a bodybuilder with a somehow-sentient tattoo, a married couple, a painting, and even a crab.
  • This happens in the Paramount+ promotional video Cave Painting. Dora, Aang, Peppa Pig, Nate, Blue, Chase, and Skye are exploring a cave full of painting of various cartoon characters when Peppa happens to stumble across Painty the Pirate, who unexpectedly starts talking and says his trademark line "Are you ready, kids?!" This causes Peppa and the rest of the gang to freak out, with Painty joining in(though considering the tone and his line in the final scene: "I always do this..." it seems to be more of a frustrated one), before running right out of the cave.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Hitomi-chan Is Shy with Strangers: During the School Festival, one of the classrooms gets turned into a Haunted House. Hitomi is reluctantly convinced to go inside, where a girl dressed as a ghost jumps out to scare her. However, Hitomi's Face of a Thug while screaming freaks out the "ghost" girl as well, causing the latter to scream. They both rush out of the room in a panic.
  • Persona 5: The Animation: Done in one episode when Makato encounters Futaba. She was so terrified that she emits a blood-curdling scream. That scream from Makato causes Futaba to scream along with her. And it causes the other Phantom Thieves to join in the mass chorus.
  • In the Dressrosa arc of One Piece, it even serves as a plot point: When Sugar has Usopp at her mercy, she attempts to kill him by feeding him the ultra-spicy grape that was intended to knock her out, which she mistook for poison. It's so freaking spicy that it causes him to scream his lungs out while making one hell of a Wild Take. The sight of it caused Sugar to scream her own lungs out and faint, this accomplishing the goal that the grape was intended for in the first place, and the entire situation cause everyone present to scream their own lungs out in surprise.
  • In Soul Eater, Eruka and Asura do this when he wakes up for the first time in... eight hundred years.
  • Yotsuba&!: Yotsuba initiates a three-way scream that goes on for half a chapter; while showing a live frog she caught to her friend Ena, her other friend Miura shows up in an scarecrow outfit, causing Yotsuba to scream. Ena uses the frog to scare Miura, who screams and backs into Yotsuba, who renews her own screaming, and reflexively starts hitting her with Ena's favorite teddy bear, causing Ena to start screaming...

    Comic Strips 
  • Done during the introduction of Lanolin and Bo in U.S. Acres.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Done in Barbie Fairytopia: Mermadia when Elina scares a Sea Butterfly and Bibble ends up screaming with her. Fairy Dandelion even joins in.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: "Hair un-balder!" Now, what it does to Flint's dad... anyway, after that, BOTH of them are shown screaming for what is implied to be a long while until Flint's next invention is displayed.
  • Not to mention when they encounter a strawberry in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. However, if that happens, Flint screams at Barry and Barry screams along with him and it causes Sam, Earl and the others, except this dude, whose holding the video camera, to join in the chorus.
  • The page image is from The Emperor's New Groove:
    Pacha: [referring to Kuzco] AHHHH! Demon llama!
    Kuzco: [unaware he is a llama] Demon llama?! Where?! [looks around and finds himself face-to-face with Pacha's llama Misty] AHHHHH!
    Misty: AHHHHH!
  • Used repeatedly in DreamWorks/Aardman's Flushed Away, between pampered house-rat Roddy and the Greek Chorus of sewer slugs.
    Roddy: [breathing deeply] All right, Roddy, old man. You can get yourself out of here, and you will. Never forget, The blood of the courageous James Clan flows through your veins.
    [He turns to see dozens of slugs staring at him]
    Roddy: AAAAAHHHHH!!!
    Slugs: AAAAHHHHHHH!!!
  • In The Lion King 1 ½, when Timon and Pumbaa meet for the first time.
    AAAAAGGGHHHHH!!
    [the movie freeze frames on their hilarious screaming faces]
    Pumbaa: You know, first impressions are very important.
    Timon: Oh, I thought you were a scream.
  • Open Season, This is how Boog the bear meets Elliot the mule deer. Boog hears mumbling and turns to see a mule deer tied to the hood of a truck. He sniffs and exclaims "that's nasty" and picks up a stick and pokes the deer with it...and the deer's eye pops open! Boog screams and Elliot screams back and continue to do so for about 10 seconds.
  • In Shark Tale, Oscar does this with Ernie and Bernie, in which they end up doing it twice in a row.
  • How does Woody learn about Bo's broken arm in Toy Story 4? He accidentally pulls it off, causing both of them to scream in fear... only for it to turn out that Bo was just screwing with Woody as her scream quickly devolves into laughter.
  • In Turning Red, when Mei's friends go to her house and see her in panda form for the first time, they let out a collective scream of shock, which prompts Mei to let out a shriek herself, realizing she just unwittingly exposed her form in front of them.
  • Tom and Jerry: The Movie: The In the rare Teaser, Tom scares Jerry saying "Boo!", leading the both of them to scream as the camera zooms into Tom's mouth. As you can tell, this gives no significance to what happens in the actual movie, and there's no scene in the film itself.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the original trailer for Clue there's a short instance where Mr. Green is screaming. Col. Mustard slaps him and yells, "WHY ARE YOU SCREAMING!!?" "Because I'm frightened!" "OF WHAT!!?" "Screaming!!"
  • In Dr. Dolittle, Dr. Dolittle's daughter Maya sneaks her guinea pig Rodney into the big Calnet meeting. He sneaks away into a bathroom and gets up on a toilet and starts sniffing around the rim, only for a woman that Dolittle treated earlier for a shellfish allergy to come in trying to sneak another snack. She sits down on him. Hearing his squeaking, she sees him and he sees her and they do this (with Rodney going "Aaahh yourself!"). She flushes the toilet and leaves, and he shouts "Somebody get the license plate number! I have just been violated!"
  • In Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Renfield is sent into Lucy's room to remove the garlic protecting her. He sees the sleeping girl and lifts up her bedspread to peep at her. Lucy awakens and screams, causing Renfield to emit an even higher pitched scream.
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: When Gertie walks into the bedroom and first sees E.T., the continuous screaming starts — especially funny given the sound of ET's scream and his expression.
  • Forklift Driver Klaus: Seeing each other impaled on Klaus's forklift, workers Rudi and Paul scream continuously as the forklift eventually exits the factory and drives off into the sunset.
  • Gooby: When Willy sees Gooby for the first time, he screams due to thinking it was a monster. This causes Gooby to scream, and then they keep screaming until Willy realizes just who he's seeing.
  • The first day on Hacksaw Ridge, the American unit's cover is blown when a "corpse" sits up and screams, causing the soldier facing him to scream as well. This goes on for a couple of seconds until the first soldier is shot from the back, causing his blood to be blasted onto the other soldier seconds before gunfire kills him too.
  • Seen in How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (Jim Carrey version). In fairness to Cindy, the Grinch was just plain scary-looking in that scene, lurking up there in the corner like that.
  • Idiocracy: When Dr. Lexus realizes that Joe is an "unscannable", while Joe is freaking out about realizing how long he's been frozen.
  • Malibu's Most Wanted featured one near the climax by everyone involved in the movie up to that point.
  • Wallace and Lori do this in The Man Who Knew Too Little upon discovering a dead body.
  • The Parent Trap (1998): When Hallie pierces Annie's ears, naturally Annie screams in pain. The scream drives Hallie into screaming too.
  • Prom Night (2008): Donna opens the door and is startled by Claire who was about to open it from the other side. She screams, which causes Claire to scream.
  • Gale and Evelle's escape from prison in Raising Arizona.
  • In Scary Movie 3, George tells Sue that her teacher Miss Brenda is dead, and then that her dog is dead and that everyone around her is dying, resulting in this, which goes on forever.
    Sue: My dog's dead?
    George: I JUST RAN HIM OVER WITH THE CAR WHEN I DROVE IN! EVERYONE YOU LOVE AROUND YOU IS DYING!
    Sue: AAAHHHH!!
    George: AAAHHHH!!
    Sue: AAAHHHH!!
    George: AAAHHHH!!
  • Happens in Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) when Sonic first meets Tom.
    Sonic: Uh... meow?
    [Cue Tom screaming in horror and Sonic screaming back him before Tom proceeds to tranq Sonic]
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) had this happen when April wakes up in the Turtles' den and sees them for the first time. She starts screaming and a few of the turtles follow suit.
  • In the Underdog movie, when Shoeshine starts talking to Jack, the dog is just as surprised and freaked out as Jack is.
    Jack: Did you hear something?
    Shoeshine: Nope! Did you?
    Jack: Did you just talk?
    Shoeshine: Whoa, whoa, whoa! Wait a minute! You can understand me?
    Both: AAAAAAAH!

    Literature 
  • Happens in the Discworld book Maskerade, between Mr. Bucket and one of the ballet girls.
  • A projective telepath in The Ear, the Eye and the Arm accidentally causes a psionic version of this when he thinks of a train and it scares a baby, whose fear scares him in turn. It's treated seriously, as part of how he's Blessed with Suck: if he hadn't interrupted the reaction in time, they could have both gone insane.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the aptly-named Lizzie McGuire episode "Lizzie's Nightmare", Lizzie screams when she finds out her little brother Matt has wound up at her school (where he's been impressing everyone, including her crush Ethan, with what she knows to be Blatant Lies), and when Matt spots Lizzie nearby, he screams too.
  • The Previously on… recap for The Aquabats! Super Show! episode "Haunted Battletram!" is a montage of freaking out.
  • This happens in a Halloween episode of Dark Angel, where Joshua opens the door to a group of trick-or-treaters with predictable results.
  • Home Improvement: Researching alien encounters, Tim falls asleep at Randy's computer and dreams of having an encounter himself. Screaming in his sleep wakes Randy up, and Randy screaming wakes Tim up and causes him to scream again.
  • In the Kenan & Kel Christmas episode between Kenan and a woman whose house he's trespassing in.
  • Moon Knight (2022): At the end of episode 4, Marc and Steven open a door at the end of a hallway, and are greeted by the Egyptian goddess Tawaret. This startles Marc and Steven, and causes both of them to scream — at the beginning of episode 5, Tawaret briefly starts screaming with them as well.
  • My Name Is Earl:
    • Happens in a flashback where Earl tried to rob a wealthy family only to get trapped in the son's room. Afraid of the boogeyman, the kid looked under his bed only to find Earl. They both start screaming.
    • Happens again in another episode, where Earl and Joy are escaping a bounty hunter and decide to hide out at an old trailer in the woods. They discover a homeless man has taken up residence there, prompting this reaction when they find him under the bed covers.
  • Done in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Revenge of the Creature", when the SoL crew meet Professor Bobo for the first time, with the interesting twist of cutting to a commercial in the middle of it — they're still doing it when we get back, and Tom continues screaming at intervals after everyone else has stopped.
    "AAAAAAHHHHH!"
    "AAAAAAHHHHH!"
    "AAAAAAHHHHH!"
    "AAAAAAHHHHH!"
    "We'll be right back! AAAAAHHHHH!"
  • This trope is how Phineas is introduced in at least half the episodes of Power Rangers Mystic Force. Usually he's hanging from a tree branch or somehow falling into shot.
  • Occurs rapid fire in an episode of Scrubs when JD attempts to assert authority when dealing with his interns by screaming at Lonnie the intern at the end of a pep talk, only to be terrified by the responding scream from his intern. His interns losing respect for him even averts the trope later in the episode.
  • Seinfeld: In season 9 episode "The Blood", Jerry finds out that he was transfused with Kramer's blood. Kramer, initially enthusiastic, starts screaming back in response to Jerry's panic. Later, it happens again, this time with the additional donation and eventual screaming of Newman.
  • Done repeatedly in The Sketch Show, in one sketch with a support group for people with phobias — Lee had a fear of screaming, Jim had a fear of apologies, Karen had a fear of repetition and Ronni a fear of awkward silences, while Tim shows up because of a compulsion to bark at people's phobias. It culminates in this:
    Lee: Okay, Jim, would you like to tell the group how this problem started?
    Jim: Yes, well it all began when I first tried on my grandmother's stockings.
    [long Beat]
    Ronni: Aagh!
    Lee: Aagh!
    Karen: Aagh!
    Lee: Aagh!
    Tim: Woof!
    Jim: Sorry. Aagh!
    Lee: Aagh!
    Karen: Aagh!
    Lee: Aagh!
    Tim: Woof!
  • Happens in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody several times.
  • Happens at the end of an episode of the sitcom Taxi when Louie answers a knock, expecting it to be Death. But it's really a Girl Scout selling cookies, and when Louie screams, she screams as well, dropping her cookies and fleeing.
    "Did you see it, Reiger?! It was hideous!!"

    Music 

    Puppet Shows 
  • In "A Winter's Nap" from Bear in the Big Blue House, Pip and Pop shout Bear's name to wake him up from his nap. He wakes up screaming and then they both scream several times before he asks what's going on.

    Roleplay 
  • Happens in Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues. Jenna starts to scream upon realising she's naked, causing Vivian to scream as she throws some clothes over, which Jenna responds to with another scream of thanks. Then Crispin wakes up, sees Jenna, starts screaming, causing Vivian to scream again, which startles Crispin and makes him scream some more...

    Video Games 
  • In Outer Wilds, the protagonist is experiencing a 22-minute time loop. Performing a specific action causes your double to appear on future loops unless you break causality. This trope is one of the dialogue options.
  • In Pokémon Sapphire, Whismur's Pokédex entry claims that it can inflict this trope on itself:
    "Whismur is very timid. If it starts to cry loudly, it becomes startled by its own crying and cries even harder. When it finally stops crying, the Pokémon goes to sleep, all tired out."
  • The opening for Rayman Origins. It starts with Ray realizing he's holding a skull, he screams, and not a second later everyone else does, even said skull.
  • Done in one Dress Story of I=MGCM when Marianne teleports herself by accident and encounters her modern self, plus both are them are surprised and then the screaming chain reaction infinites only to last for an extremely long time.
  • House Of Rules: When the girl enters the Guest A's door, Colon jumps up startling her along with the reaction.

    Web Animation 
  • This happens in one of the movies of the ASDF Movie series.
  • At the beginning of The LeBrons episode "Gloria", this happens between Gloria and a grasshopper.
  • Happens early on in the Scoutellite animation "The spoy's ultimate attack".
  • Baman Piderman: Everyone participates in one at the end of "Guess da Number" when Baman and Piderman find Dese Guys carving Pumkin.

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 
  • Rosanna Pansino in season 3 of Escape the Night does this. A lot.
  • One particular sketch of AMV Hell III shows re-dubs a scream from Bleach into a reactive continuous scream, with all the other characters looking on in shock and confusion.
  • In Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin'?:
    • On Final Fight, Anthony walks in on Ashly and begins to scream, then Ash follows and then their friends walked in and started to scream as well. One of them screamed so hard that his nose started to bleed (which was real and not scripted...).
    • Another one has Anthony waking up finding and X on his back and screams once he sees Ash is carrying a knife. Ash also screams while explaining that she's imitating Shadow of the Colossus.
  • In episode five of None Piece Usopp falls off a cliff, starts bleeding out of his forehead and screams. Zoro starts screaming and bleeding out of his forehead. Luffy starts screaming and bleeding purple paint out of his forehead.
  • The beginning The Nostalgia Critic's review of The Nutcracker in 3D has a rare example where it's done in joy when Critic discovers Rachel Tietz showing up. Malcolm and Tamara join in, and so do a reluctant Walter, Heather, and Aiyanna. When Critic tells the other three who Rachel is, they try again with more enthusiasm, but...
    Tamara: The moment is passed.

    Western Animation 
  • When Stan turns into a woman in an episode of American Dad! from taking an experimental drug, he and Francine have one of these that a fadeout shot of the their clock shows went on for 65 minutes before they got too tired of it to continue.
  • Centaurworld: In "Hello Rainbow Road", when Horse meets Durpleton, her reaction is to scream in panic. Durpleton screams back, which makes Horse scream more, and it keeps on going from there.
    Durpleton: ...Hello.
    Horse: AAAAAAH!
    Durpleton: AAAAAAH!
    Horse: AAAAAAH!
    Durpleton: AAAAAAH!
    Horse: What is happening?!
    Durpleton: I... don't... know!
  • Family Guy: "Into Harmony's Way" has an interesting variation of the two-person scream: Peter and Quagmire get freaked out by a bee and both start screaming, which results in them finding out their voices make great harmony, setting the stage for the episode.
  • Gravity Falls: In "The Golf War", Dipper and Mabel open a panel on the windmill at the Royal Discount Putt Hut to encounter the Lilliputtians, tiny people with golf balls for heads. They scream back and forth in shock at each other for a bit, then once both sides have gotten it out of their system one of the Lilliputtians ask "Are we good? We're good?"
  • During the bar fight in Korgoth of Barbaria, Korgoth unleashes a brutal series injuries on the Giant Mook who challenges him one on one. All of the other mooks/victims, (virtually all of whom have also already been injured horribly by Korgoth) react by screaming in horror at each bit of brutality. Watch until the end and see for yourself.
  • Doctor Rockso from Metalocalypse has one such moment, played entirely for laughs:
    Rockso: (whispers) I do cocaine.
    Murderface: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!
    Rockso: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!
  • Shows up in the second act of the Mr. Bogus episode "Beach Blanket Bogus", where a woman screams when she sees Bogus in her slushie cup, which also prompts Bogus to scream right back.
  • Noggin: Moose and Zee's interpretation of Goldilocks and the Three Bears in the Story Time interstitial has her and the bears screaming at each other in fear once she's discovered sleeping in Baby Bear's bed.
  • In Phineas and Ferb this happens between Candace and Buford (who's dressed as Little Suzy Johnson) in "One Good Scare Oughta Do It!" as prior to the scene the actual Susie had been torturing Candace.
    • Also happens between Candace and a squirrel in the episode "Comet Kermillian", after Little Suzy brings said squirrel out from behind her back, started by Candace due to the Squirrels in My Pants incident.
    • The rare joyous variation occurs in "Journey to the Center of Candace", where Candace, Stacy, and Jenny exchange excited shrieks on-phone due to Candace's soon-to-be-date with Jeremy.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): This occurs between Julie Bean and Mojo Jojo in "Slumbering with the Enemy" when he scares her back into her house to take her Slumber Party invitation.
  • In the Regular Show episode "Brain Eraser", when Mordecai walks in on Pops after the latter takes a shower, Mordecai shrieks in shock at the site, prompting Pops to yell right back. This goes on for a while until the two run off. The moment kick starts the plot of the whole episode.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Goons on the Moon", Squidward and Rodger Bumpass have this reaction after the former ends up in the studio working on the show while trying to deliver a Krabby Patty to SpongeBob on the moon.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): In the episode "A Foot Too Big", the Bigfoot the turtles have befriended finds Ice-Cream Kitty in the freezer. Ice-Cream Kitty screams, and Bigfoot screams right back, only ending when Bigfoot chucks the whole fridge out of the house.
  • Teen Titans Go!: In "Parasite", Starfire celebrates one of her holidays, Feast Day, by serving everyone mouthworms. When Robin tries taking a bite of his, the mouthworm starts screaming in shock which prompts Robin to scream right back, ending with him disappearing via smoke bomb.
  • In an episode of Total Drama Island, Cody wakes up to Noah sleep-kissing his ear. This results in about three seconds of them screaming at each other.
  • Done in the Muppet Babies (2018) episode "Sir Kermit the Brave" when Kermit encounters Dot the Dragon and started screaming at her, only for Dot, however, to scream along with him.
  • Xiaolin Showdown: In the episode "Panda Town" we get this gem of a moment with Wuya and Jack.
  • Jelly Jamm: In "Lost Dodo", Rita gets lost in the forest while looking for a lost baby dodo. Suddenly, she trips over a rock and accidentally comes face to face with the baby dodo she was looking for. This results in about a few seconds of them screaming at each other.

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"The Iceberg Car " Scream Scen

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