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Reactive Continuous Scream

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"Keira was screaming right in that comment she made and it was still going strong in my head. When I saw the replies of the comment, I realized that some of the other crazy fangirls thought the screaming seemed like fun and decided to scream as well, which alarmed my friends at the sight of it. First Keira started to scream, and then a fangirl named Bitter Minecraft began to scream with Keira, which encouraged a girl named Ice Cold Moshling to scream with them. Then Allen Cao began to scream more than everyone else. Then Bonnie the Bunny's new girlfriend began to scream along with them. And so it continued in a wretched positive-feedback loop of completely unnecessary screaming."

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.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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.
  • 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...

  • From Ask Fluffle Puff, the short "Bubbles" has Derpy blowing soap bubbles, one of them popping in Fluffle Puff's eye. She starts screaming in pain, making Derpy screams in turn. It goes on and on until the episode ends.
  • Sophie Smiths Journal: "Fangirls Don't Understand Concepts of Annoyance" has this trope. Sophie notices that Keira S. made a Reactive Continuous Scream chain in the comments this video, which annoys both Sophie and her imaginary friends so much, that they decide to actually BEAT UP the screaming girls just to shut them up! Brutal, huh?

    Fan Works 
  • Happens in A Very Potter Sequel when Ron pulls out his rat Scabbers, Harry starts screaming, only for Ron to join in.
  • In Welcome to Ponyville, if you let DJ Pon-3 sleep with you, your character wakes up screaming from a nightmare. DJ Pon-3 starts screaming as well.
    You: Huh? Why were you screaming?
    DJ Pon-3: I don't know, you were doing it, and it looked fun!
  • Happens in What Makes Me Scream, the second entry in They Live in a Castle Shorts, after Green Toad reveals that he screams when slapped in the face and Red Toad reveals that he screams when other people scream.
    Red Toad: Oh no, there's a fly in your face! (slaps Green Toad)

    Films — Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In The Lion King 1½, when Timon and Pumbaa meet for the first time.
    (The movie freeze frames on their hilarious screaming faces, and Timon and Pumbaa have this exchange;)
    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 with Ernie, Bernie and Oscar. They end up doing it twice in a row.

    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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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 
  • My Name Is Earl had this happen in a flashback where Earl tried to rob a wealthy family only to get trapped in the sons 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 by Mystery Science Theater 3000, 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.
    "We'll be right back! AAAAAHHHHH!"
  • 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.
  • 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!

  • Done three times at the end of the video for OK Go's version of The Muppet Show theme. First Damian Kulash wakes screaming from discovering it's All Just a Dream. When he discovers he's in bed with the Electric Mayhem, he sceams again, which sets the Electric Mayhem off. Then the same gag is done in reverse, with Dr Teeth waking up to find he's in bed with OK-Go, with the same result. Then Tim Nordwind wakes up to find he's in bed with a bunch of real and Muppet dogs, including Rowlf, and they all just start screaming.

  • 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 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.

  • Slightly Damned has such a moment between Rhea and Death. Rhea spots Death and starts pointing and screaming. Death responds in turn, partially due to being startled, and partially because no one is supposed to be able to see him.
  • In Twilight's First Day part 9, Twilight accidentally stows away on a Royal Guard airship and startles a cadet. When Thunderhead barges onto the scene demanding to know what the racket is about, both Twilight and the cadet scream variously at him, at each other and at how much trouble they're both in.

    Web Video 
  • 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.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • In Dragon Ball Kai Abridged Episode 1, Vegeta's yell of "It's over nine thousand!" quickly becomes this between him and Nappa.
    • In episode 27, Vegeta, Krillin and Gohan start screaming during their fight with Freeza.
      Vegeta: Healer's down!
      Krillin: Need a res!
      Gohan: Out of mana!
      (Vegeta starts screaming and they all follow suit)
    • In "Cell vs Ken and Ryu", when Ryu loses it and activates his Super-Powered Evil Side, he starts screaming. Cell starts screaming as well, and then Ryu tries to perform the Shun Goku Satsu, only for Cell to turn it around and KO Ryu with it. Afterward Cell shouts "What just happened!?"
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Example of: