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Thermometer Gag

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Colonel: Come, come, Matron. Surely, you've seen a temperature taken like this before?
Matron: Oh-ho-ho-ho-ho, yes, Colonel, many times. But never... with a daffodil!

When a character is feverish and requires a thermometer, there will often be a joke about using it in an inappropriate orifice. This takes two main forms; either the thermometer is being used in the incorrect end (a rectal thermometer being used orally or vice versa), or it's being used in the correct end and the victim simply doesn't want it there.

Subtrope of Toilet Humour and Ass Shove; overlaps with Joke of the Butt. Compare Suppository Gag for when medication is delivered rectally.


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  • In a commercial for Huggies diapers where a baby uses a sock puppet to express how he really feels, he reminds his mom that they make thermometers that go in your mouth.
  • One of the Luvs diapers commercials involves a pair of new parents figuring out how to take their first daughter's temperature, and it's implied in the commercial that they used the other kind of thermometer on her. Come their second daughter, they had a different method of checking her temperature.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In City Hunter, part of Ryo's unfortunate experience in trying to bodyguard Yoshimi Iwai incognito includes this, as Kaori, having disguised herself (with glasses and a stolen nurse uniform) and claimed to be Iwai's newly-appointed apprentice, gets into Iwai's private-care room to prevent Ryo from doing anything inappropriate to Iwainote . When Iwai asks Kaori to use a thermometer to take a patient's temperature, Kaori obliges... by inserting it into Ryo's backside. Iwai corrects Kaori at once by demonstrating the action of placing it inside the patient's mouth. The problem is that Iwai forgot to disinfect the thermometer before putting it inside Ryo's mouth, so now she and Kaori must disinfect the thermometer... and Ryo's mouth as well.
  • In Okusan, the titular housewife becomes ill and her husband buys a thermometer to check her temperature. It's not until he gets home that he realizes that in trying to find the most accurate type of thermometer, he bought a rectal one. In a variant of this trope, the husband is incredibly flustered over the mistake while Okusan is perfectly fine and tells him to go right ahead with using it (that she and her husband have a very active sex life probably made it much less awkward for her).

    Comic Books 
  • A Futurama comic book involved Cubert being sick and complaining of how Doctor Zoidberg used the rectal thermometer rather than the oral one. Zoidberg did, in fact, use the oral one, but "had bad aim".

    Film - Animated 
  • In Hedgehogs, Bobby the hedgehog is checked for disease by good guy Scott. At the end of it, Bobby fearfully asks what Scott's doing with the thermometer, and after a popping noise of it going in, Bobby loses grip on the feather he was holding. Scott is then seen with the thermometer out as he shows Bobby the completed form detailing the clean bill of health.
  • Madagascar: Melman presents Marty with "my first rectal thermometer" for his birthday and doesn't tell him where it's been until after Marty's had it in his mouth. Admittedly Marty, being a zebra, has no hands ...
    Melman: You know, that was my first rectal thermometer.
    Marty: MOTHERF— (spits thermometer out)
  • Recess: School's Out had a well-hidden one snuck in, in the scene where T.J. accidentally runs into the sliding glass door to his house and freaks out his parents. When his mother worries that he's given himself a concussion, she tells him to wait while she runs off to get "the baby thermometer and the petroleum jelly". T.J. understandably bolts at the mention of petroleum jelly.
  • Spies in Disguise has Lance first wake up as a pigeon to Walter inserting a rectal thermometer and saying so.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • In Baby Boom (1987), J.C. takes the baby's temperature rectally, and she seems to be as stressed out by it as the baby is.
  • In Carry On Nurse, the staff decide to get revenge on an insufferable patient by swapping out his rectal thermometer for a daffodil and taking a photograph of him.
  • In Enter The Phoenix, Georgie Hung remembers the first time he realized he's gay...getting his temperature taken rectally at the age of 6 with a big smile. The credits also show some outtakes where different faces were made by the actor playing 6-year-old Georgie.
  • There's a joke early in the movie Idiocracy in which the main character is given a brief examination. He has three identical probes inserted into his mouth, ear, and backside, but the nurse on duty has no idea which one's which. Cut to him rinsing his mouth out with Brawndo.
  • In Little Man: During midget thief Calvin Sims' stay at the Edwards household in disguise as a baby, Darryl tries to take his new "son"'s temperature, but Vanessa informs him that it's a rectal thermometer. Calvin panics and tries to prevent that and bends Darryl's fingers, but Darryl then pins him down and inserts the thermometer into Calvin's butt and Calvin screams, then faints.
  • In The Orphan, after an episode of craziness, the titular boy's aunt decides to take his temperature rectally. He's very insistent against it, thrashing as another woman holds him down, and there's a quick cut after showing his face as he shrieks when the thermometer finally goes in. Adding to the craziness of the scene, the original cut (before the extended version) also showed the boy's butt right as the thermometer was about to go in.

  • A doctor is making his rounds through the hospital when he stops to talk to the head nurse. The nurse says, "By the way, doctor, did you know you've got your thermometer stuck behind your ear?" The doctor feels around his ear and says, "Great, some asshole has my pen."
  • If you're ever having a bad day, here's something that should make you feel better: Go to the drugstore and buy a Johnson & Johnson rectal thermometer. Bring it home, go into your bedroom. Close the door and lock it, close all the windows and draw all the curtains. Open the box. Read the quality assurance statement: "All Johnson & Johnson products are personally tested for quality and comfort." Now repeat to yourself five times: "I am so grateful I do not work in Johnson & Johnson's quality assurance department".

  • In The Last Continent, the wizards get local vet "Doughnut Jimmy" Folsom to check on the Librarian (a wizard transformed into an orangutan). The Librarian wasn't too happy about this, and reportedly bit Doughnut Jimmy when he tried to take his temperature. One of the wizards wonders how the Librarian could bite someone with a thermometer in his mouth, and another replies that it was the matter of where the thermometer went that made the Librarian mad.

    Live Action TV 
  • America's Funniest Home Videos:
    • One variation was a little girl who thought she was taking her temperature. Turns out what she'd taken for a thermometer was a used pregnancy test.
    • Another episode had a gag involving a rectal thermometer someone put in their mouth.
  • Better Call Saul: In the episode "Axe and Grind" Kim and Jimmy visit Dr Caldera's veterinary practice to obtain some pharmaceutical drugs for use in a scam. Jimmy agrees to be a test subject, and as Caldera begins to monitor his reactions he pulls out a large rectal thermometer:
    Jimmy McGill: "Whoa! Promise me this has been sterilised..."
    Dr Caldera: "It's brand new- and for you, it goes under the armpit."
  • Briefly mentioned in The Big Bang Theory episode "The Gothowitz Deviation", where Howard — while posing as a goth during a double date at a tattoo parlor with goth girls — plans on just getting his first tattoo above his ass. When Raj expresses concern that Howard's mother is still going to notice, Howard replies "Don't worry, she takes my temperature orally now."
  • In one episode of Everybody Loves Raymond Marie takes Ray's temperature and when she checks it, she thinks that it's wrong. She then takes out another thermometer and tells Ray to roll over.
  • Variant in the show ER: Garrett Morris plays a patient who annoys the staff so much that they finally make up a pretext to take his temperature— and then leave him with a sunflower up his ass.
  • On House, Dr. House's first encounter with villain Tritter begins when House sticks a rectal thermometer up Tritter's butt and leaves it there for several hours.
  • Jonathan Creek: In "The Problem at Gallows Gate (Part 1)", Adam's girlfriend is feeling sick and Adam's sister Kitty—who is a nurse—decides she is going to look after her; over Adam's objections. One of her first actions is to take her temperature:
    "Pop this under your tongue, dearie. It's rectal but it's clean."
  • In the Pilot episode of M*A*S*H, someone accidentally uses a rectal thermometer as an oral thermometer.
    • In a late-series episode, a soldier (played by George Wendt) gets a pool ball stuck in his mouth. Winchester is assigned to treat him and is so annoyed over having to treat something so stupid he plays Doctor Jerk. Among other things, he goes to take the soldier's temperature, reacts in mock surprise to the pool ball, then declares "No sweat. We'll just take your temperature the other way." and pushes him over.
  • MythBusters did this one in the Goldfinger paint retest. The medics wanted Adam's core body temperature taken, which, of course, meant a rectal temperature probe. When Adam learned this, his reaction was priceless. Later, just as the deed is about to be done:
    Adam: Oh, Sanjay, Sanjay, will you respect me tomorrow?
    • Later episodes requiring a core temperature reading had the hosts swallow small thermometers with radio transmitters in order to avoid that level of embarrassment again. Hence, "I ate a radio for science!"
  • Used as a threat in an episode of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, wherein Cody warned his mom to stop talking with the thermometer in her mouth, "or we'll have to do it the other way."

    Newspaper Comics 
  • One The Far Side cartoon has an image of a scientist with a giant thermometer approaching the backside of a dinosaur:
    "An instant later, both Professor Waxman and his time machine are obliterated, leaving the cold-blooded/warm-blooded dinosaur debate still unresolved."
  • Garfield:
    • The November 29, 1983 strip had Garfield complain about getting the business end of Liz's thermometer while Jon is driving him to the vet.
    • The June 24, 2000 strip implies this after Jon states that he had Liz take Garfield's temperature today.
    Jon: Let's talk health here.
    Garfield: Let's talk dignity here.
  • In Get Fuzzy, Rob takes Satchel's temperature when he's sick, and Satchel wants to know why he's putting the thermometer in his ear. He knew it wasn't an oral thermometer, but apparently, he'd been using it somewhere else...
  • Liberty Meadows: Leslie the Hypochondriac Bullfrog rushes into Frank's office claiming to be sick, and yanks the thermometer out of Frank's hand and puts it into his mouth to prove it. Frank tells him it's not an oral thermometer. Jeopardy! Thinking Music ensues, and then Leslie spits it out.

  • Dean & Nala + Vinny: Poor Nala is not prepared when the time comes to get her temperature taken during her visit to the veterinarian's office. Her shocked and outraged face says it all. All future visits inevitably include some drama on her part.
  • Comes up in Doc Rat, of course.
  • In Freefall, Florence, an anthropomorphic wolf, asks Winston, a veterinarian, if he could please use an oral thermometer during an exam. Winston replies that "This type of thermometer is faster and more accurate, and you know it." The last frame shows Florence looking uncomfortable, while Winston has a thermometer in her ear.
  • An early-2009 strip of Rick Griffin's House Pets only suggests this, as the vet in the comic wants to take Grape's core temperature. She thinks about it, opens her mouth, sticks out her tongue, and points her finger into it.
    Vet: Try again.
  • Pv P: When Skull is feeling ill, Brent takes him to the vet, claiming that he is a dog. When the vet goes to take his temperature, Skull takes the thermometer off him and pops it in his mouth:
    Brent: That's just a little trick I taught him.
    Vet: Fine. But that's a rectal thermometer.
  • Scandinavia and the World: When Finland gets ill, Sweden warns him they now only have two rectal thermometers because Denmark jumped the gun when told that was the best way to take a temperature.
  • Something*Positive: Davan refuses a rectal thermometer during a checkup and insists his temperature be taken via "the forehead, ear, or, and this may seem novel, under the tongue". The doctor responds with "Fine, but you're the first person to ask me to stick a rectal thermometer in his mouth."

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    Western Animation 
  • In Chuck's Choice, Sal the dragon gets a thermometer under her tail as a checkup by some knights after being overfed. This causes her to vomit up nearly a whole cheese wheel.
  • An episode of The Fairly OddParents! had Vicky become nice. After she checked Timmy's temperature, Cosmo remarked that she remembered to use the correct thermometer.
  • From the Futurama episode "Parasites Lost", when Zoidberg uses a camera to see what's inside Fry.
    Zoidberg: Now I'm going to put this camera inside of you.
    Fry: (opens his mouth)
    Zoidberg: Guess again.
    Fry: (his eyes go into Oh, Crap! mode)
  • Kaeloo:
    • In "Let's Play Doctors and Nurses", Mr. Cat decides to take Quack Quack's temperature. For the sake of torturing him, he brings out a really, really big thermometer. However, he never gets the chance to use it because Kaeloo transforms and beats him up, giving Quack Quack the opportunity to escape.
    • In another episode, Kaeloo eats a bag of chips which Mr. Cat sold to her as a scam, and they give her a stomach ache. Mr. Cat, who is also pretending to be a doctor as part of another scam, shows up to cure her stomach ache and tries to take her temperature rectally. She punches him before he can actually do it.
  • Oggy and the Cockroaches has a few:
    • In "The Patient", a rectal thermometer is used on Jack through the block of ice he's in. Later, a triple-pronged one is broight out for the three cockroaches when the same happens to them.
    • In "To Serve and Protect", Oggy faints on seeing a rectal thermometer brought out.
    • Oggy whips out a rectal thermometer in "Santa Oggy" to take Santa Claus' temperature. Santa obviously isn't comfortable with the idea, so he decides to do it himself... by turning Oggy around and sticking the thermometer into a lamp to trick Oggy into thinking his temperature is very high to get some privacy while Oggy does his job.
  • In The Penguins of Madagascar, Julien makes a comment about being glad he's not a mammal. Kowalski proves him wrong by checking various points of mammalhood, including warm blood. It's not really shown onscreen, but the Hammerspace thermometer and Julien's expression make it easy to guess how he does this.
  • Done, of course, in The Simpsons when Grampa is looking after Bart in the episode "Marge Gets a Job".
    "Oral thermometer, my eye! Think warm thoughts, boy, 'cause this is mighty cold."
    • Happens again in "Postcards From the Wedge". Bart fakes a fever to get out of going to school and Marge takes his temperature orally. But then she decides "there's only one way to get a truly accurate reading".
      Lisa: Just close your eyes and think of Milhouse.
  • South Park: In the episode "Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset", Mr. Slave reminisces about how he has been a "slut" as far back as he can remember. His earliest memory was enjoying the rectal thermometers he would get as a baby.
  • In the short, "Concord The Kindly Condor" from the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Toons From the Crypt", a bear gets caught in a trap. Concord arrives, takes out a thermometer, and walks towards the bear's rear. The next shot is a close-up of the bear's satisfied face, surrounded by hearts. This gag is then revealed to be subverted, as Concord merely used the thermometer to pry the trap open so the bear could get free.
    • In "Looniversity Days", the title card for the "What's Up Nurse?" segment shows Elmyra about to take Plucky's temperature rectally, much to his distress.
  • An second season episode of Total Drama, "One Flu Over the Cuckoos", does this. When everyone but Leshawna and Duncan is sick, Duncan attempts to put a rectal thermometer in Harold's mouth.