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Sneeze Interruption

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"Excuse me, Owl, can you say that again? You sneezed just as you were telling me what the first thing to do was."
Pooh, Winnie-the-Pooh, "Eeyore Loses a Tail and Pooh Finds One"

Sneezing. We all do it. Maybe we're dealing with an illness, maybe we're just allergic to something, maybe it's too cold, or too dusty or too bright note , or maybe something just got up our nose. However, whatever the reason, we do not always sneeze when appropriate, and sometimes we sneeze in the middle of a sentence or when somebody else is speaking.

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Basically, this trope is for instances where either someone is speaking, but sneezes in the middle of a sentence, or someone is speaking and is interrupted by another person sneezing, and it's either a plot point or a gag.

Quite often, if the person interrupts themselves with their sneeze, they will never get to finish their sentence due to being sidetracked by complaining about what's making them sneeze, stating that they're sick or allergic, another character saying, "bless you" or even The Ditz thinking the sneeze was part of the sentence. They might also be sneezing in the middle of explaining they have a cold/the flu/allergies/etc.

This trope is often Played for Laughs, but not necessarily. The reasons for this include the fact that a sneeze is sort of a funny sound, it's pretty much uncontrollable, and while it can be a symptom of illness, a sneeze with no direct cause far less likely to be a thing to be concerned about than, say, a cough with no direct cause, particularly if the audience is aware that Incurable Cough of Death is a trope. On the other hand, a sneeze is not embarrassing like a burp or a fart, so the writers can have a moment of comedy without worrying about potentially having to set up an Embarrassment Plot. It's also a comedic way of finishing a rhyme by having a word in a poem or song rhyme with "achoo". Sometimes it's subverted by having the character think they're going to sneeze but don't, or double subverted by having the character think they're going to sneeze, but don't until later when they interrupt something else.

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Compare Sneeze of Doom for another way sneezes can be annoying, and contrast Anti-Sneeze Finger, which is a way of interrupting oneself or someone else from sneezing. Ahem is related, except the person is coughing, and it's usually on purpose. If the interrupted phrase was somebody's catchphrase, it overlaps with either Self Botched Catchphrase (possibly overlapping with OOC Is Serious Business if the sneeze is a sign of illness) or Catchphrase Interruptus, depending on who sneezed. May also overlap with Musicalis Interruptus if a song is interrupted, Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption if the person was about to say the word "sneeze" (This usually applies when the speaker sneezes, e.g. "I think I'm going to—"), or Pepper Sneeze if the sneeze was caused by pepper or something similar. Sometimes Truth in Television. Sometimes part of Implausible Deniability or Instantly Proven Wrong, if they sneeze in the middle of denying they have a cold/allergies/etc, although it's a downplay of those two tropes since there are multiple reasons one might sneeze. Likewise, if they're sneezing and then deny they're sick, expect them to get sick anyway or at least expect everyone to assume they're sick. In fact, it might be a Here We Go Again! ending to a sickness episode. Can lead to Throw It In! if the actor is the one who sneezed.

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Note: Only add an example if it's either important to the plot or played as a joke.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • in Azumanga Daioh, during the main characters' graduation, Osaka is suffering from allergies. During the principal's congratulations speech, he is interrupted by several of her amazingly mild sneezes.

    Comic Books 
  • In Tintin, specifically the book "Tintin in Tibet", Captain Haddock tries to complain, "We're already packed like sardines!" while camping but sneezes in the middle of the word "sardines" and sneezes so abruptly, he rips the tent apart.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In Beauty and the Beast, Maurice tries to say that he's never seen a talking clock, but sneezes in the middle of saying it and leads to a joke moment of Cogsworth (said talking clock) wiping his screen.
  • In The Secret Of NIMH, Jeremy freaks out when he thinks Dragon the farmer's cat is approaching, but it only turns out to be a rabbit. Jeremy claims that he knew it all along, as he's allergic to cats, but as he tries to explain it to Mrs. Brisby, he goes into a sneezing fit, as Dragon is sneaking up right behind him.
  • In Winnie the Pooh (2011), Pooh and Eeyore think Owl has sneezed in the middle of a sentence, but he hasn't, which leads to more confusion.
    Owl: Yes, well, the thing to do is as follows. First, issue a reward.
    Pooh: Gesundheit.
    Owl: I beg your pardon.
    Pooh: Well, you sneezed just as you were going to tell me what the first thing to do was.
    Owl: I didn't sneeze.
    Eeyore: Oh, you did, Owl.
    Owl: No, I didn't! You can't sneeze without knowing it!
    Pooh: Well, you can't know it without something having been sneezed.
    Owl: As I was saying, first issue a reward.
    Pooh: He's doing it again. You must be catching a cold.
    Eeyore: I'll probably catch it too.
    Owl: No, no, no! I'm not catching a cold! The word is "issue", not "a-choo". And "ah-choo" isn't even a word! It's just some sort of sneezing sound, like "Ah-choo!"
    Pooh: Perhaps you should lie down, Owl.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • One of these sets the second act of Heaven Can Wait (1943) into motion when Martha is excused by her fiancee from a room for "sneezing during the overture" and causing a distraction, allowing Henry to woo her while she is in that room, and then the two of them dash off to elope. She sneezes during the escape which interrupts the performance again and alerts everyone to the escape.
  • In Madeline, Miss Clavel is allergic to dogs, and a mid-sentence sneeze confirms her suspicion that the girls are hiding a dog in the school:
    Miss Clavel: "Lord Covington is showing the house tomorrow and I intend for it to be spo... spotle... *Achoo!* ...spotless."

    Literature 
  • In The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor, Papa Bear sneezing mid-sentence is a Running Gag. In the end it turns out he has a cold, even though he insists he never gets sick.
  • In the book The Catropolitan Opera, which consists of paintings and anecdotes depicting cats performing in famous operas, this trope is said to be the reason why the cats' production of The Magic Flute failed. When the tenor cat singing the role of Tamino and the baritone cat singing Papageno tried to play their flute and panpipes, respectively, the act made their whiskers tickle their noses, making them sneeze into the instruments and interrupt Mozart's music with squawking sounds.
  • Played for laughs in Did You Take the "B" from My -Ook? when the narrator says, "I think I'm going to—-" and then sneezes, blowing away all the "B"s.
  • The Elephant & Piggie book "Pigs Make Me Sneeze", Gerald says, "I want a..." but sneezes before he can finish his sentence. This is played for laughs, with Piggie trying to guess what he was going to say during Gerald's sneezing fit. We still don't know what he wanted.
  • The book Nobody Cares About Me, which is based on Sesame Street, Big Bird sneezes in the middle of claiming he isn't sick, which leads to the doctor being contacted and diagnosing him with a cold.
  • In the children's book Sneezy Louise, Louise's sneezing interrupts the narrator, which is played for laughs.
    Narrator: "Her eyes got itchy, her throat got wheezy and her nose got sneezy. She knew, she just knew she was going to—(Louise sneezes)
  • In the Warrior Cats book "Lost Stars", Bristlefrost and Snaptooth decide to spy upon Mousewhisker and Berrynose to try to find out what's so important that they had to sneak away from the hunting patrol to talk about it in secret. Unfortunately, Snaptooth sneezes, alerting the pair, and Bristlefrost is disappointed that they don't hear much of the conversation.
  • In the Winnie-the-Pooh story "Eeyore Loses a Tail and Pooh Finds One", Pooh thinks Owl sneezed in the middle of his sentence, but really he just used the word "issue" (telling Pooh to issue a reward for finding Eeyore's lost tail), which is played for laughs.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Adventures in Wonderland episode "Something to Sneeze At," when the Mad Hatter first starts sneezing (everyone thinks he's allergic to the March Hare, but really he's allergic to the flower in Hare's lapel), it happens in mid-sentence while offering Hare some tea, and Hare thinks he's saying "choose," as in choose what kind of tea he wants.
  • In the Clarissa Explains It All episode "The Flu," this is how Clarissa realizes she's caught the flu from her parents.
    Clarissa: They have no appreciation for the work that I - *Achoo!* Uh-oh. Was that a flu sneeze or a common variety dustball sneeze?... Relax! It couldn't have been a flu sneeze! If it were a flu sneeze, I would have sneezed - *Achoo!* ...again.
  • Laverne & Shirley: When the title characters are arguing in "Bowling for Razzberries" about whether or not Shirley takes too many steps when she's bowling, Shirley says, "With your feet you wouldn't need that many steps!". Laverne starts a comeback with, "Well, with your mouth—" but then has a sneezing fit and Shirley worries that Laverne may be sick. According to the doctor, Laverne does indeed have a cold.
  • F Troop: According to the Expository Theme Tune, Wilton Parmenter turned the tide of battle when he sneezed at just the right moment to change a bugle-call signal from a retreat into a successful charge.
  • The Avengers (1960s): In episode "Thingumajig", there's a running gag of the professor Tara hired to study the title device's X-ray prints, and Tara systematically answering "bless you". Doesn't stop him from phoning crucial information to Tara just in time.

    Music 
  • The song A Cold in My Nose by Stephen L. Lawrence has a rare example of someone finishing their sentence at the end and it's played as a joke.
    Singer: "Hope I don't give it to...(long pause, sneezes) you!"
  • Played for laughs in the folk song "I've Got a Cold for Christmas" where the boy with the cold sings, "I can hardly sing this song", but sneezes, so the two men he's talking to sing, "I've got a cold for Christmas" for him.
  • One of the final scenes in the 2019 Gorillaz documentary Reject False Icons is Damon Albarn singing a song live then he interrupted himself with a sneeze, a funny moment that the crowd applauded him, and with a embarrassed Damon saying he never sneezed in a show before and "sorry for that".

     Puppet Shows 
  • In the Nancy Walker episode of The Muppet Show, Kermit is out sick and handed hosting duties to Fozzie. After watching Fozzie bumble his way through the show, Kermit shows up to sign off at the final curtain, but when he calls for a round of applause for Nancy Walker, it comes out "Nancy -*Achoo*!" (Fozzie's inability to remember Nancy's name has been a Running Gag, so he's gleeful that Kermit "blew it too"), and when he tries to say his Signing-Off Catchphrase, all he can get out is "We'll see you next time on the -*Achoo*!"
  • Sesame Street:
    • When Slimey was being sent to the moon, Snuffy got the rocket working by sneezing. At first, he said, "I think I'm going to—" but sneezed and didn't get to finish his sentence.
    • A gag in the "Don't be a Snerd When You Sneeze" has the narrator say, "Nix your nozzle when you—-" but the "snerd" interrupt him by preparing to sneeze. He tries again: "When you..." but the snerd actually sneezes. "Nix your nozzle" means to cover your nose, although traditionally, while "nozzle" can be slang for nose, "nix" as a verb usually means "to disallow".
    • Invoked in a song sung by a cow, who times her sneezes to fit with the song, so it has lyrics such as "But what can you do with a cold or a flu? Just—achoo, achoo, achoo."
  • Under the Umbrella Tree:
    • In the episode "Gloria Iguana," Iggy has a cold, and his huge sneezes repeatedly interrupt his sentences.
    • This also happens to Iggy in another Sick Episode, "Hanky Panky":
    Iggy: Ah... ah... ah... Oh! That's funny! For a minute there, I thought I was going to sneeze. Ah... ah... ah... ah... ah... ah... Whoa! I almost sneezed again! Ah... ah... ah... ah... Yes, that was definitely almost a - AHHH-CHOO! ... sneeze.

    Video Games 
  • Moshi Monsters: When Shishi the panda (all pandas in Moshi Monsters sneeze a lot) gets her final star in the food factory, she tries to say something, but gives up after sneezing twice. This is a gag example.
    Shishi: "I..(achoo), I like..(achoo), Oh, forget it."
  • Mother 3: If you lose to one of the members of DCMC while playing stone-sheet-clippers, he'll sneeze in order to provide you another chance to choose the right option.
  • Late in The World Ends with You, Neku is challenged to "Reaper Sport 3". The Reaper in question does specify what sport that is the sport in question being Tag, and you can even see her say it if you look closely, but Neku misses it because his partner chooses that moment to have a sneezing fit, forcing them to take a wild guess as to what Reaper Sport 3 might be, and they end up spending most of the day doing something completely irrelevant.

    Web Animation 
  • Play Kids: One of the first signs Mimi is sick in "Theo's New Friend" is when she says, "I don't want to get you..." but then sneezes and Theo runs away.
  • The Pencilmation short "ROMESICK" is all about Pencilmate having a cold and sneezing all the time... in Ancient Rome! He goes to the colliseum to shut up the noise so he can finally sleep but got caught as another gladiator to fight the invincible cyclops. When it's about to be the end for Pencilmate, he just sneezed to the cyclops when it was about to be attacked, getting boogers in the cornea of his eye, which makes the cyclops sick and leaves the arena, making Pencilmate the winner.

    Web Videos 
  • In The Runaway Guys first "Let's Play" of The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, Emile sneezes while reading out Sir Combsly's description of the Tri Force Heroes, leading to jokes about him being allergic to epic sideburns.
  • In this kids' video, a sneeze is the first symptom of a little boy's cold and he sneezes in the middle of saying, "I have a cold."

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Angelina Ballerina, Angelina is trying to sing the lyrics to a music box's song to hide the fact that it's not working, but sneezes.
    Polly: "'La la la achoo'?! That's not the lyrics!"
  • In the Betty Boop episode, "Betty Boop's Ker-Choo", Betty sings a song about having "a cold in [her] nose", the last line of which was presumably intended to have the word "nose" after the string of her usual gibberish, but she sneezes and doesn't finish. Later, she sings the last line again but sneezes again before she can say, "nose". This is one of many sneeze-related gags.
  • One gag in the Charlie and Lola episode "I'm Really Ever So Not Well" has Charlie say, "[Lola] has a...", then Lola sneezes and Charlie finishes, "A cold".
  • In the Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood episode "Mom Tiger is Sick", one of the first symptoms of Mom Tiger's cold was sneezing, which she did in the middle of her sentence "There's still lots more to do." several times.
  • At the beginning of the Dennis The Menace And Gnasher episode "Couldn't Catch a Cold", there's gag of two boys trying several times in a row to explain that they both have colds, but only being able to say, "We've both got—" before sneezing.
  • The Doc McStuffins episode "Doctoring the Doc" features a gag where a flu-ridden Doc says, "I have a di—" but then sneezes. She tries again, but sneezes again and gives up (she was trying to say, "I have a diagnosis" about why Chilly had a soft belly; namely that he's a plushie.)
  • The Fairly OddParents!: When Mark Chang absconds with Vicky on his birthday, Timmy attempts to get her back. This leads to Mark challenging Timmy to "dijifat!"; Timmy accepts without hesitation, expecting it to be some less-than-horrifying ordeal like consuming chocolate. Cue the following:
    Mark Chang: "Uggh, sorry; I sneezed. What I meant to say was: DEATH COMBAT!!!!"
  • In an episode of Fifi And The Flower Tots, Bumble says, "I have a bad, bad—" and then sneezes, which sends him flying across the room for slapstick humour. Primrose asks, "Cold?" because he'd been having cold-like symptoms, but he never confirms or denies her guess.
  • In the Futurama episode, "That Darn Katz", as Amy is giving a thesis to a science committee, Amy's allergies start to act up from a cat belonging to one of the professors.
    Amy: If we could use that field to generate electric current, we could actually harness the Earth's rotational ener... Ener...(sneezes).
    Professor: Yes, tapping the Earth's ener-kerchoo. Go on.
  • In an episode of Garfield and Friends, Garfield is sneezing a lot because, unknown to him, he is allergic to Jon's coat. Towards the end, he sneezes loudly just as the culprit in a mystery movie was about to be revealed.
  • In the aptly-named Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs episode "Achoo", Harry sneezes due to his cold in the middle of saying his Catch Phrase "I'm on my way to Dino World."
    Harry: "I'm on my way to Dino Wo... Wo... (sneezes)"
    Sid: "Dino Wachoo? I've never heard of such a place."
  • In the Meg And Mog episode "Mog's Sneeze", there are lots of gags around characters being unable to finish their sentences due to sneezing from a cold of which Mog was Patient Zero.
  • In one episode of Muppet Babies (1984), Gonzo imagines himself as "Sir Gonzo Drake," wearing a hat with a gigantic feather; without him realizing it, the feather knocks all the crew members overboard except for Skeeter and Scooter, and then it tickles Scooter's nose and makes him sneeze:
    Gonzo: "Where's the first and second mates?"
    Scooter: "Overboar- *Achoo!*"
    Gonzo: "Overboarachoo? Never heard of it!"
  • My Friends Tigger & Pooh:
    • In the episode "Darby, Solo Sleuth", Beaver is trying to sing his "Work, Work, Work" song, but sneezes (ostensibly due to the cold that was spreading, although he is prone to hayfever too) before he can say the word "do", which is played as a gag. Darby also sneezes in the middle of saying the sign-off catchphrase about the "mystery [being] history", which is played as a joke but also a bit unfortunate as it implies she's caught the cold.
    • In "Lumpy Mixes a Mystery", Lumpy tries to say, "My uncle is going to love it", but sneezes in the middle of the word "love" and knocks over the birdhouse he was talking about.
  • Peg + Cat: In "The Allergy Problem", Peg keeps sneezing due to the aforementioned allergyTo what? . Whenever she sneezes before the end of a sentence (or in one case, a word), Cat finishes her sentence, which is played as a gag.
  • In the Rugrats episode, "The Big Sneeze", whenever Kimi tries to tell Chuckie that it's their anniversary, Chuckie sneezes before she can finish her sentence. As Chuckie sneezes every time Kimi gets near him, Angelica tricks the babies into thinking he's allergic to her (when really, he's allergic to the dandelion she planned to give to him as an anniversary present and was carrying).
  • Inverted for laughs in the VeggieTales Silly Song "Sneeze if You Have To", were Bob is about to sneeze, but Larry shouts, "Spain!"note  interrupting him.

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