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Serious Business

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"This is bowling. There are rules."
"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."
Bill Shankly

Serious Business is when a story revolves around an activity where a sizable portion of the In-Universe population takes it far more seriously than they should. If the popularity of some mundane object rivals that of Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Michael Jackson combined, or if there are mainstream schools devoted to it instead of teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic, then it's Serious Business.

It's often a Silly Reason for War, and can turn a casual conversation into a heated "Cavemen vs. Astronauts" Debate. Someone who just can't let it go may become a Single-Issue Wonk. If competition is involved, you can almost guarantee that Second Place Is for Losers. Frequently "opposed" by the Cavalier Competitor. Compare "Stop Having Fun" Guys. In musicals it's often demonstrated that Dancing Is Serious Business. For the saying that "The Internet Is Serious Business", see G.I.F.T.. Related to I'm Not Here to Make Friends. Not to be confused with Mundane Made Awesome, though the two tropes overlap plenty.


Compare Duels Decide Everything, Comical Overreacting. When a relatively minor crime is treated as Serious Business, that's Felony Misdemeanor.

Contrast Not a Game, Matter of Life and Death.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Asian Animation 
  • Would you believe noodles? In the European/Korean animated series Pucca, the noodles made at the local Chinese restaurant are such Serious Business that in one episode, when the chefs believe themselves disgraced because of a just-barely-unfinished bowl of noodles, they go to a DEATH COURSE to redeem themselves, while in another, when they split up into three separate restaurants over a fight, it causes a sort of Zombie Apocalypse, with most of the inhabitants of the village wandering as an aimless, lifeless, pathetic mob, mumbling and moaning about the lack of noodles until they reunite. And God help you if you run out of chopsticks. The world will scream.

    Comic Strips 
  • Knights of the Dinner Table has roleplaying games as serious business. "You don't understand man. He TOUCHED my dice!"note 
  • Sherman's Lagoon: One storyline has Megan become addicted to Sudoku and treating it as such. Sherman makes the mistake of telling her that it's "just Sudoku."
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • In one strip, Calvin throws an enormous hissy fit after losing a game of checkers to Hobbes, culminating in him passing out in exhaustion. When Hobbes points out that it's just a game, Calvin cheerfully replies: "I know! You should see how I act when I lose in real life!"
    • Chewing gum is Serious Business in this universe. Calvin is an enthusiastic reader of a magazine called "Chewing" which is dedicated to it, and informs an incredulous Hobbes that as many as twelve such publications exist.
    • So is a Snowball Fight.
    • And he treats his snowman creations like modern art. Though he certainly puts more thought into them than most kids. This is Calvin. Everything comes to life, and most of it tries to kill him.
  • Peanuts:
    • An early strip had Lucy repeatedly shouting "OLEE-OLEE-OLSEN-FREE-O!" Violet came by and pointedly told her that the expression was "Ollie-Ollie-Oxen-Free." This left Lucy more thoroughly humiliated than she'd ever been in her life.
    • Once, when Lucy caught Linus about to throw a snowball at her, she angrily demanded that he take that very snowball apart snowflake by snowflake. ("No pieces! No chunks! One snowflake at a time!") Poor Linus was out in the snow until nightfall.
    • Linus and his blanket. When he had to go without it for a couple of weeks, he fainted several a single day.
    • Linus also had a pretty intense crush on his teacher, Ms. Othmar. When she was fired for going on strike, he threw an enormous tantrum and vowed to turn the whole matter into a federal case. He also snottily told his substitute teacher that, sure, he'd learn the lessons the way she taught them, but she still wasn't Ms. Othmar.
    • Schroeder. How dare you mock Beethoven in his presence!
  • The Far Side once had a Showdown at High Noon having ended in defeat for the older cowboy, treating it with all the gravity you'd expect... except it was at ping-pong.
    Older gunslinger: Well, you won. Now every player in the world will come after you, looking to make a name for himself... Welcome to Hell, kid.
  • This Dilbert strip illustrates how to apply the principles of Serious Business in the workplace. This comic was based on one of Scott Adams' coworkers, who actually said "I will fight you to the end of the earth!" To him, it was serious business.
  • Board games are apparently serious business to Rat in Pearls Before Swine.
  • In Doonesbury, the frenzy over Beanie Babies (see the Real Life section) was mocked in a storyline that saw Uncle Duke steal Alex Doonesbury's collection and hold them for ransom. The whole thing is treated as seriously as an actual kidnapping.

    Films — Animation 
  • While the plot of Monsters, Inc. just happened to be about two monsters who worked for the eponymous company, Monsters University gives the impression that every course and program the school offers is related to the scaring industry in some way.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games: Pretty much everyone treats the Friendship Games like this, with Luna even name-dropping the trope and the Humane Five getting slightly offended when Sunset wonders what all the fuss is about, since it's not as important as, say, stopping the Sirens. Heck, Principal Cinch and the Shadowbolts even try to harness Equestrian magic — something they hardly understand — just to ensure they win the Games.
  • Wallace & Gromit:
    • From the short A Grand Day Out: "No crackers, Gromit! We've forgotten the crackers!" Cue dramatic music and a frantic race against time.
    • The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is what the writers call "perhaps the first vegetarian horror movie." To keep some kind of tension, given that the monster is no threat to people, it turns out that everyone in town is insanely protective of their vegetables. For them, country fairs are serious business. "We're simple folk! It's all we have!" NB: In real life, competitive growing is sometimes taken quite seriously, and incidents of sabotage and theft are not unknown.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas:
    • Jack Skellington found out the hard way that impersonating Santa Claus is a major crime that amounts to being blasted out of the sky. Well, when it involves kidnapping, breaking and entering, and unknowingly terrorizing people with loathsome and occasionally lethal gifts, despite how good the intentions are.
    • This also applies to Halloween, at least in Halloween Town. Since the city is a Planet of Hats with scaring people as its hat, the town council spends literally the entire year preparing for each Halloween, drawing up plans as early as November 1st. The Mayor actually has a minor panic attack when Jack is not at home to go over the plans with him. No wonder Jack had gotten sick of Halloween.
  • For most of Ratatouille, this is averted, with food only being given relatively reasonable import (it is a movie about chefs, after all, so a little of this is to be expected)... until the climax, when Remy's cooking — and the revelation of his role as the chef — are enough to induce a Heel–Face Turn in a stick-in-the-mud critic.

  • True Capitalist: Ghost is convinced his show is this. Most of his audience (Read:Trolls) seems to think otherwise.
  • Mike & Tom Eat Snacks: the Snack is very serious business. People's careers are made and destroyed by how Mike and Tom rates snacks (according to them), and often fans can get upset by their ratings.
  • Mystery Show: Jake Gyllenhaal's height is Serious Business to the folks at David mocks them while also becoming overly invested himself.
  • Kingdom Smarts:
    • The premise of the podcast is Kingdom Hearts fangirl Shannon Manor explains the series to KH-ignorant Jake Mason of Hey! Jake and Josh one half hour at a time. Because of this, they take keeping Jake as spoiler-free as possible very seriously. One episode during their Kingdom Hearts II episodes opens with Jake explaining that he literally yelled at a co-worker at his day job to not say anything about Kingdom Hearts III to avoid getting spoiled about the game.
    • As the podcast's fan community has grown, keeping Jake in the dark has reached the point that the show's fans on Twitter use a specific hashtag which Jake keeps muted, "#KHFree", when discussing events the show has not yet reached. Later episodes also regularly end with a warning not to use KHFree in conjunction with other hashtags nor when sending tweets directly to the Kingdom Smarts Twitter, as doing so negates Jake's muting.

  • On LiveJournal and its spinoffs, roleplay is very serious business, as evidenced by the "Roleplay Secrets" community, a daily post of (usually) nasty things anonymous roleplayers have to say about other roleplayers, allowed to rag on anything from their characterizations to the size of their avatars. Similar is the "RP Anon Meme", which started as a bi-monthly explosion of hateful anonymous discussion and eventually became a constantly-running community of (slightly less hateful, slightly more spammy) anonymous discussion. People have actually made death threats over pretendy funtime games on the internet.
  • In the Final Battle of Dino Attack RPG, when a large number of Dino Attack agents used the comm chatter to crack jokes or make silly references, one Dino Attack agent attempted to Shoo Out the Clowns by telling them to stop making jokes and references and start concentrating on the battle, using the comm chatter only for coordinating attacks and strategies. This example is largely Played for Laughs, since this one Dino Attack agent is apparently the only one trying to use the comm chatter for its intended purpose in the battle, yet everyone completely ignores him (or, in one agent's case, openly mocks him with a quote from Monty Python's Flying Circus) and continues using the comm chatter for less-than-serious commentary.
  • Unfortunately, this was very much the case Out of Character in Campus Life for a good long while. Pretty much whenever someone does something that even slightly annoys another role-player or breaks the narrative flow too much, you can pretty much guarantee a massive fight's about to break out in RP Discussion. At one point it got so bad a user ended up getting banned for three days and the current Admin at the time experianced a massive Creator Breakdown that resulted in the RP getting ported over to another Forum. Though things have calmed down quite a bit since then, it still tends to pop up every once in a while.

  • In the storylines of many ballets, Dancing Is Serious Business. The hero of Swan Lake dooms his beloved to spend eternity as a swan because he mistakenly dances with the wrong woman at a ball. The titular heroine of Giselle dances herself to death, and later spares the man she loves from the same fate by offering to dance in his place to appease an evil ghost queen who is forcing him to dance again and again. In The Sleeping Beauty, Aurora pricks her finger not from spinning, but from dancing with the spindle despite her mother's warnings that doing so would be dangerous.
  • Chess:
    • The Arbiter in this musical not only takes his job of refereeing a chess championship incredibly seriously, he also seems to think it makes him a badass. "I'm on the case, can't be fooled/ any objection is overruled/ I'm the Arbiter, I know the score/ from square one/ I'll be watching all sixty-four..."
    • Not to mention The Russian in "Argument". His first priority is to win a game of Chess. Once he has won, he can attend to the secondary things in life, such as his love affair, which is falling apart at that moment.
  • The play Teh Internet Is Serious Business by Tim Price, staged by the Royal Court Theatre in London, autumn 2014. It is about the "hacktivist" groups Anonymous and LulzSec.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue; the continuing story of a battle fought over "the galaxy's most important box canyon with a base at each end." (There was more here, but it seems to have been lost. Anyone?)
    • The others still appear to be referred to as privates when not being addressed by name, so either it was a throwaway line that was just Wash being insulting, or the writers themselves forgot Wash said it.
    • The red and blue teams are simulation Troopers. They are a part of the Army, just a part where the soldiers are considered expendable. Its also hinted that the simulation war was a testing ground for Project Freelancer exclusive, which they used to test stuff, train their Agents and recruit new Soldiers (as seen with Donut). And to hide the Alpha. Sarge still qualifies as an example, since no one else of the Blood Gulch Crew takes the war serious.
    • In one PSA, Grif states that "some games are serious business." Apparently, he once "played Donkey Kong so well that he cured kidneyism. It was the best day ever. The End."
  • DigitalPh33r regularly parodies the concept in his Halo movies with unnamed characters brutalizing things in game and/or shouting to the heavens "THIS IS SUCH A BIG DEAL!!!"
  • The classic Flash film Craziest is about someone who considers Scrabble a religion.
  • Death Battle:
    • The show is a web series which pits two fictional characters against each other in... well, a battle to the death. The show features fairly extensive research on the combatants involved, but many of the outcomes are taken a bit too seriously by various fans of the losing side. While many complaints are indeed founded into research that could have swung the battle but the team missed (subtle or obvious), others are simply founded on how the critic likes Character X more than Character Y, and other complains are just... not really founded on anything. One of the biggest examples of this has to be Goku losing to Superman. Twice. Dragon Ball fans did not appreciate.
    • This happens in Johnny Cage vs. Captain Falcon. Captain Falcon won't let Johnny star as him in a movie unless he beats him in a fight to the death. Johnny even comments at one point that "you sports types really take auditions seriously!"
  • In RWBY Chibi, Lie Ren, usually The Stoic and The Quiet One, will take certain things a little overboard — he has a Training Montage for playing tag, scoffs as how Team RWBY pillow fights and blows up at his own team for their inability to dance right.
  • If UNO Was an Anime does this with UNO, based on the .emcee comic.
  • In Animator vs. Animation, in the VS Minecraft shorts, apparently building is this. TNT throwing during building contests is a regular occurrence, and in "PvP", Green starts a brawl over a conflict in building space.

    Web Videos 
  • Freddie Wong's Video Game High School is set in a world where video games are Serious Business. Losing a game at the title school can get you expelled.
  • In the YouTube series The Guild, playing an MMORPG is very serious business. More serious, apparently, than parenting or social interaction. It's based on Felicia Day's two-year addiction to World of Warcraft, so it's definitely Truth in Television.
  • Movie Trivia Schmoedown is the most serious business movie trivia contest the internet has ever seen. There's championship belts. There's tournaments. There's wrestling inspired storylines. Search around in the right places you'll find a list of statistics. Over Movie. Trivia.
  • In Dominic Fear's Kenny Bassender (Full Title: Kenny Bassender's Quest for Greatness with the Underground Association of Puppydog Racers) movie, Kenny Bassender is a normal person who isn't special. Until he starts playing a game called Puppdog Races, where he is the flawless. So great, that the other members of the Association try to kill him. Not the whole society (it still is in normal present day America), but very serious.
  • This (subtitled) episode of the Québecquois series "Tom et ses chums" ("Tom and his pals") has the titular character playing a game of D&D with old friends. What he doesn't realize beforehand is that they've kept playing the same party every week during the years he hasn't seen them (meaning they have absurdly high-level characters), and for them (barring the GM), this is very serious business. When they demand that his new character start at level 1 (making him useless since the encounters are tailored for a high-level group), and then belittle him for being a peasant, he gives up and decides to be The Loonie.
  • Cake is serious business!
  • CollegeHumor: For the Nazi Party, grammatical correctness is apparently very serious business:
    Monsieur La Padite: I swear, I do not know where Mademoiselle Dreyfuss is at.
    Hans Landa: ...Did you just end a sentence with a preposition?
  • This video. More specifically, at 1:30. "Being a lawyer, as the internet says... IS SERIOUS BUSINESS."
  • Hiring a boat is Serious Business. Just ask Andy Samberg and his friends.
  • The League of Extraordinary Industrial Retards go on a quest to kill Trent Reznor and Ronan Harris and prove to the world that Industrial music is serious business.
  • Rhett & Link: Do not mess with the trail mix that Rhett's mom made!
  • The premise behind many Hitler Rants parodies, where Hitler melts down over anything from getting his Xbox Live Arcade account banned, getting a Wii instead of a PS3 for Christmas, and so on.
  • Pittsburgh Dad and the Pittsburgh Steelers. God help you if you're a Ravens fan!
  • In the Trailer for LP Every Mario Game, Steeler's biggest strength is stated to be that he takes Mario Party seriously. (It's also listed as his greatest weakness.)
  • This is part of the indicative behind Caustic Critic shows like The Angry Video Game Nerd, The Nostalgia Critic and The Spoony Experiment. Reviewers on That Guy with the Glasses treat most anything they review as Serious Business, Played for Laughs. Deconstructed in Atop the Fourth Wall when Holokara takes things a step further and plans threaten a Death from Above against Marvel over the handling of Spider-Man, which is NOT played for laughs.
  • Noob takes the "MMORPG are serious business" route also, but is much more nuanced than The Guild due to them mostly showing up in reports about video game addiction in mainstream media in France. Skewed Priorities happens a lot and the top guilds ask for people joining them to have a lifestyle that can only happen if you're single and unemployed. At the same time, people that arrive in the top in the domain get enough recongnition to appear in advertisements and live off it. Characters are also seen doing other stuff than playing, while a small portion of the cast is explicitly doing it for fun and being able to enjoy the company of their guildmates.
  • Project: Library has been described as "a Michael Bay movie with books", full of fight scenes and action clichés, but set in a library and whose plot revolves around an overdue book.
  • In Let's Drown Out Night Shift, Ben Yahtzee Croshaw and Gabriel Mortom admitted that the things they said over the weeks have been awful but the ones that seems to get the most attention is that Yahtzee mentioned that 30 fps looks the same or better than 60 fps, causing an outrage in the comments section.
  • In Rosy The Rascal 15's Locos Doritos video, Jerry eventually goes ballistic over his bag of Doritos being stolen, including up to shooting Amy, who was trying to talk him down.
  • Jayuzumi tends to run into these players a lot when playing video games and using soundboards to prank others. This happens mostly in Call of Duty, and to a lesser extent in Battlefield.
  • Invoked in ProZD's "Chairem Anime" series, in the installment about anime timeskips and spinoffs.
    Tomoko: Everything's changed. It's been three years since Refigerator-senpai killed Lamp-senpai and left our village. My outfit is now black, because things are Serious Business now, in Chairem Anime: Sofaden.


Video Example(s):


Business Cards

The Yuppies at Pierce & Pierce are all impressed by the minor differences in their near-identical business cards. When Patrick Bateman - a psychopath with a fragile ego - sees Paul Allen's card, he treats it like its the end of the world.

How well does it match the trope?

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