Troy: They're boobs. And I don't know.
Optical answers sheets, known as Scantrons after the company which manufactures them, are a form used to record answers on multiple choice tests. The test-taker marks their answer on the sheet by filling in a small bubble. Afterwards, the answer sheet is fed through a scanner which detects the filled bubbles and automatically scores the test. This allows an administrator to grade enormous amounts of exams with little effort.
When a character is less than scholarly or doesn't know the answer to any of the questions, they will color the dots on the page so that it resembles a monochrome bitmap picture when viewed. Oftentimes the graphic is a phrase, or a funny or offensive image. Naturally, this will cause them to fail the test note , or they could end up passing with flying colors.
- In The Peanuts Movie, Peppermint Patty makes a smiley face on her scantron early on in the film. Unlike most examples, this serves as a Chekhov's Gun when Charlie Brown gets an award for being the first kid to score a 100% on the standardized test. When he looks at the winning scantron, he sees a smiley face. Turns out, he and Peppermint Patty signed each other's tests by mistake.
- The young Speed does this in the Speed Racer movie, coloring the bubbles to read GO REX GO.
- In Who's the Man?, Ed Lover and Dr Dre attempt to deliberately fail the police exam by filling out the bubbles to spell out "abacadaba". It's never made clear whether they actually pass the test or if someone pulls strings behind-the-scenes to "adjust" their score.
- Both played straight and subverted in Community. Britta has the group do psychology tests, and, true to form, one of them comes back bearing a pair of boobs (see page quote). However, Britta then becomes annoyed with the rest of the group for all drawing a penis on the Scantron sheets. The rest of the group asks to see them and it turns out Britta was just seeing penises where there weren't any.
- An episode of Growing Pains had Mike score high on an IQ test after drawing a picture of a tree on the answer sheet.
- In Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Larry Kubiac got the highest score on a test in the school, leading Ms. Musso to wonder how he did it. The Reveal then shows he wrote "EAT NOW!"
- In My Name Is Earl, Randy draws a sailboat with dots representing him and a bunch of hot chicks during the GED exam.
- In Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Ned doodles on an answer sheet instead of actually taking his test. He manages to get an A for his efforts.
- In The Goldbergs, Barry Goldberg's refusal to take multiple-choice exams seriously is noticed when his scantron sheets show a TV show logo, a goofy dog, and an unflattering caricature of his mother.
- In the live-action portions of One Saturday Morning, the host would sometimes end by telling the viewers "the answers to next week's quiz questions". In one case, she encouraged the viewers to fill in the bubbles so they looked like Manny the Uncanny's face.
- Hey Arnold!: In "Apptitude Test," Harold doesn't bother even doing his test, and instead, fills in the bubbles to resemble a large letter 'H'.
- The Powerpuff Girls: Him once gives the girls such a test in a challenge, and although Blossom and Buttercup take the test seriously, they fail as a result. Much to the shock of Blossom, Buttercup, and Him, Bubbles passes, and it turns out she filled in the bubbles in the shape of a flower.
Him: (Stunned) Well, I'll be darned.
- The Simpsons
- In "How the Test Was Won", Bart fills in the bubbles to write "slurp my snot" on a practice test for the upcoming Vice President's Assessment Test.
- In "Lisa Simpson, This Isn't Your Life", Lisa discovers that Marge used to be smart like her until her senior year of high school, around the time she started dating Homer. She finds an old scantron where Marge filled in the bubbles in the shape of a heart, with the phrase "Screw it! I'm in love!" written inside it.
- Subversion in "Diary Queen". Bart considers drawing a skull, only for a vision of the skull on the test to tell him not to squander the potential he thinks (and rightfully so) the late Mrs. Krabappel saw in him, leading Bart to actually try on the test.
- An episode of Action League NOW! has The Flesh getting kicked out of the league because he failed a first grade equivalency test after coloring the dots in the shape of a cat. The episode ends with him retaking the test and passing because he colored the dots in the shape of a dog instead.
- One episode of American Dragon: Jake Long shows that Spud has a collection of Scantron test papers from failed tests with the bubbles filled in to form a picture of Lincoln's Last Supper.
- The plot of the "Cosmo Con" episode of The Fairly OddParents! is kicked off with one of these, with Crocker assuming that Timmy used magic to cheat (not being aware that it's against 'Da Rules' to use magic to cheat at tests or contests) because he actually got an A+. In reality, Timmy just filled the dots into the shape of a smiley face. The other students take this as a Sign of the Apocalypse.
Timmy: Thank you, short attention span.
- In Making Fiends, Charlotte does better on a Sorting Algorithm of Evil than Vendetta by drawing a picture on the answer sheet. Naturally, Vendetta tries to learn from this Evil Genius
- The Recess episode "My Fair Gretchen" begins with the students taking a standardized test. Mikey fills in the bubbles to make a smiley face.
- Similarly, in the episode of My Gym Partner's a Monkey where Adam gets stuck with the spiffies, he only did so because he took a standardized test seriously. Everyone else intentionally flunked, with Jake drawing a smiley face with his test bubbles.
- In one episode of Yakkity Yak, Yakkity draws a picture of his own face on a Scantron.
- The Emperor's New School: In "Graduation Groove", Kuzco isn't ready to become Emperor yet, so he tries to purposefully fail his exam by doing this so that it looks like his face. It backfires when he ends up passing the exam.
- The Darkwing Duck episode "Whiffle While You Work" has Gosalyn fill in the dots on her math homework to draw a side view of Whiffle Boy's head.
- In his book Pigsticking, Willie Rushton explained that the old British Football Pools were a sort of lottery predicated on the number of drawn matches on any Saturday's football fixtures. Competitors bought "lines" or "permutations" depending on making crosses on a grid next to the fixtures. If any one line of crosses coincided with scoredraws, it won a variable amount of cash from the pool. Effectively, the Pools form was an early form of scantron: at first manually checked at a central office, later on computerisation took the manual labour out of it. note Rushton used to design his permutations so that the crosses on the scantron sheet, read top-to-bottom, spelt out OH SHIT! He visualised the look on the face of the girl checker in Liverpool, later in the week...