Woody: This is the perfect time to panic!
Alice and her team are in desperate trouble, and her first instinct is to panic. Her second instinct is to remember that she shouldn't panic. Heroes can't panic when they've got a world to save or a fortress to escape from or a Big Bad to fight, and teens can't panic when their simple plan goes awry. So, caught in the most panic-worthy of situations, she calls out to her friends, "Stay calm! This is no time to panic!"
This has two common subversions:
- Someone with less courage (or more Genre Savvy) will reply, "Actually, yeah, it is!"
- Within minutes (or seconds) of Alice's initial, morale-boosting shout, something happens to make things even worse. She does an immediate Verbal Backspace and yells, "Now panic!"
Cue the running and screaming.
Despite what the media commonly depicts, it is difficult to induce panic in others, let alone panic on cue. One needs a sense of impending entrapment (if people feel themselves to be trapped already, they are more likely to give up and go limp), a sense of great helplessness, and a sense of profound isolation. As a result, in many cases, fictional panic occurs much earlier or later than it would in real life.
- In the American dub of Kiki's Delivery Service, the following lines are spoken in increasing distress as Jiji and Kiki dive through the rain onto a stationary train:
Jiji: First, don't panic. Second, don't panic. And third, did I mention not to panic?
- Cheerfully lampshaded in an issue of the new Blue Beetle series; Jaime (the eponymous Blue Beetle) has met his fellow teen-crimefighters, the Titans, and they've found themselves in the path of Lobo (the Czarnian Bounty Hunter who considers going ten rounds with Superman an entertaining way to kill an hour or two). Robin, in his role as team lead, yells into the radio "Don't panic!" * pause* "Actually, no, panic is precisely the right response in this situation."
- Usagi Yojimbo plays it straight when Usagi defeats Jei with the great sword Kusanagi, and a magic explosion occurs that is visible some distance as a frightening atmospheric disturbance at a monastery. There the former samurai turned monk, Shanshobo is trying to get his comrades to calm down even as at least one is screaming, "It's the end of the world!" with "If it is, hysteria will not save you."
- In Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, Misfire barges in riding an out-of-control Grimlock. Krok is knocked into the wall so hard that he sticks in it.
Misfire: Nobody panic! I've got this under control!Krok: (Wedged in the wall) Who's panicking?
- In New Mutants: Academy X, when caught in Danger Room, the conversation is something like:
"Don't panic. Prodigy, can you replicate their abilities?
"No. Doesn't work on holograms."
- In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf Remix Comic story "Smurfed Behind: The Departure", when Wild Smurf arrives in the Smurf Village to warn Papa Smurf about Snappy coming into the village riding a dinosaur, Papa Smurf tells Wild to stay in the village and try to keep the other Smurfs calm since "the last thing we need when it comes to smurfing this is a village-wide panic". A few panels later when Snappy arrives on Crinkles the baby dinosaur, the village automatically goes into panic mode!
- In Dreamworks' Antz, when the Mega-Tunnel is opened and the water flows through, everybody goes nuts despite the Queen trying to calm them down.
Queen: People...we've all been deceived. We must quickly and calmly head towards the exits—
Random Worker: RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!! IT'S GOING TO FLOOD!!
- Disney's Aladdin: While fleeing from the rising Lava Pit in the Cave of Wonders, we are treated to the following subversion:
Aladdin: Abu, this is no time to panic! (notices they're about to fly into a wall) Start panicking...
- Disney/Pixar's Toy Story: After being accidentally abandoned at the gas station, Woody and Buzz provide the first page quote.
- In Toy Story 3:
Buzz: This is no time to be hysterical!
Hamm: This is the perfect time to be hysterical!
Rex: Should we be HYSTERICAL?!
Mr. Potato Head: YES!
Buzz: MAYBE! But not right now!
- In Toy Story 3:
- Chicken Run:
Bunty: We mustn't panic. WE MUSTN'T PANIC!
All Chickens: ARGHHHHHHH!!!!
- In the advertising for the movie Chicken Little, what appears to be an advert for The Hitchhikers Guidetothe Galaxy appears, telling people "Don't Panic". After a second, the "Don't" falls off, leaving "Panic" followed by quick clips of the CL movie, to the tune "It's the End of the World As We Know it."
- Happens in The Incredibles after Helen's plane is shot down with Violet and Dash over the ocean. A retired superhero, Helen is Genre Savvy enough to keep calm and try to assess the situation. Her kids, on the other hand, are freaking out. Not only does she tell them to stop panicking, she then threatens to ground them both for a month if they don't stop. Surprisingly, that seems to work.
- On Monsters, Inc., after the first sighting of Boo, a professorial looking monster appears on TV, seemingly to calm people down. He then tells the audience "It is my professional opinion that now is the time to PANIC!!"
- Kung Fu Panda: As Tai Lung is effortlessly destroying every barrier that Vachir and his men made to prevent him from escaping, Zeng continually asks to run away, while Vachir just laughs at his cowardice. After Tai Lung gets past the last ditch defense...
Zeng: Can we run now?Vachir: [Sobs in terror] Yes.
- During The Lion King 1˝, Timon and Pumbaa are walking through a ravine, when they see a wildebeest stampede approaching. They give each other a quick glance.
Pumbaa: Shall we run for our lives?Timon: Oh yes, let's.Both: AAAAHHHHHH!
- From The Haunted Mansion when Jim Evers & his daughter Megan are trapped in a crypt with undead rising
- Jim Evers: This is no time to panic! Don't panic!
Megan Evers: When would be a good time to?!
Jim Evers:NOW now start panicking!
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, when Harry and Ron first enter the spiders' grotto:
Harry: Don't panic.
[Aragog reveals that he plans to feed them to his children]
Ron: Can we panic now?
- Don't forget the giant snake, it's bad enough knowing that they can get pretty big in real life.
- As the unconscious pilot and co-pilot are dragged down the aisle:
Jack: What's going on? We have a right to know the truth!
Rumack: All right, I'm going to level with you all. But what's most important now is that you remain calm. There is no reason to panic. [Rumack's nose grows like Pinocchio] Now, it is true that one of the crew members is ill... slightly ill. [nose grows bigger] But the other two pilots... they're just fine. [by now, his nose can be used for a pool cue] They're at the controls flying the plane... free to pursue a life of religious fulfillment.
- Later, the cue to panic is memorably delivered: "There's no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you'll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?" Mass hysteria ensues.
- As the unconscious pilot and co-pilot are dragged down the aisle:
- In Airplane II: The Sequel, when Elaine announces to the passengers of the shuttle that they're out of coffee and a riot breaks out, the sign changes from "Don't Panic" to "OK, Panic."
- At the end of Dogma, it's time to panic. Or have sex...
- In Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, after finally finding the Szalinskis, the four kids make all the noise they can, but the two of them simply turn away and head back to the house not noticing them. Ron, the youngest of the Thompsons, is in despair.
Ron: They're never gonna find us! We were right under their noses and they didn't even see us!
Russ: Don't panic, Ron. We'll... we'll find a way.
Ron: [panicking] I'm not panicked! Who's panicked? NOBODY'S PANICKED!
- In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane tells a terrified Dr. Pavel, "Calm down. Now is not the time for fear. That comes later."
- Invoked by Owen in Throw Momma from the Train. Larry's response: "This is the perfect time to panic!"
- Stuart Little 2: When the Littles discover that Mrs. Little's ring is missing, they think it's fallen down the kitchen sink drain. While Mrs. Little calls a plumber, Stuart suggests to go after it and George and Mr. Little lower him in just as Mrs. Little arives at the scene.
Eleanor Little: What's going on here? (George and Mr. Little stare innocently at her and whistle.)What's on the end of that string?
Frederick Little: (nervously) Don't panic, but someone you love has decided to go down the sink drain to retrieve your ring.
Eleanor Little: Stuart?!
George Little: Good guess.
Eleanor Little: STUART?! YOU LET OUR SON GO DOWN THE KITCHEN DRAIN?!
Frederick Little: Now, now, Eleanor, don't get upset. If there's a problem, I simply pull this string and— (The string breaks, Mrs. Little gasps) Well, now you can be upset.
- In Sharon Creech's The Wanderer, this is the BIG difference between Cody's and Sophie's diary entries: Cody begins to panic just as the storm begins, with entries like "I was a bad son..." etc., whereas Sophie matter-of-factly describes how hard it is to sail in storm, but remains calm until the Big Wave, that is.
- In Myth Conceptions it turns out that Skeeve is supposed to stop an army, and Aahz's advice is "to not panic until we get the whole story". Later, quite predictably, he admits: "Now that we've got the whole story, now you can panic".
- In Terry Pratchett's The Last Hero, Rincewind, of all people, says "This is not the time to panic" in the course of the Kite's landing. When the spaceship has lost her wings, he goes for "Now is the time to panic", though.
- To be fair, when you're operating on the advanced levels of cowardice that have kept Rincewind alive for so long you learn about these things. There's only so much adrenaline in the adrenal gland, so you have to conserve your panic for when you really need it. He has a lot of experience with these things.
- In Deep Wizardry, Tom and Carl tell Kit and Nita not to panic just because they're going to be performing a major magic ritual eighteen thousand feet underwater. This might be more reassuring if their prophetic macaw didn't promptly start screaming "Go ahead! Panic! ... Fear death by water!"
- That's So Raven: Victor is unconscious due to Accidental Hypnosis just before he's supposed to go on TV.
Tanya: Okay, everybody, just don't panic.
Chelsea: Oh, can't we just a little?
Tanya: Okay, just for a second.
- In the Airplane Pilots sketch from 'How To Irritate People' (made by many of the later members of Monty Python), pilots make the passengers panic just by telling them not to, and giving Suspiciously Specific Denials.
Pilot: There is no cause for alarm! The wings are not on fire.
- The beginning of a Python show takes place in an airplane cockpit where the pilot (Michael Palin) tells his passengers that they are on the flight to Glasgow and there is no need to panic.
- A Running Gag on Dad's Army is that Corporal Jones will, whenever he begins to panic, shout "Don't panic!" at the rest of the cast.
- In the Stargate Atlantis episode "The Tower", Rodney and a native are trapped underground. He first tells the native not to panic while he assesses the situation, then his conclusion is that they can start panicking now.
- The "no time to panic" can apply to TV shows themselves, also. An example: House struggled in the ratings shortly after its debut, so FOX decided that the show needed a villain. By the time the episodes with the newly-created Edward Vogler actually aired, the show was already a big hit. Apparently, the writers knew what they were doing all along.
- Apparently learning nothing from this, they proceeded to repeat the "you can't have a show without a villain" shtick in the third season with Detective Tritter.
- Another example: Seinfeld took multiple seasons to become a hit. It's highly unlikely that a show would be allowed to stay on the air that long without becoming a hit if it were to debut now.
- Used with in an American version special of Spitting Image when Ronald Reagan inadvertently starts the countdown to an unprovoked nuclear missile launch.
Aide 1: Wait, there is no need to panic.
Aide 2: What are you talking about? Ten minutes after that globe starts flashing, it's Armageddon!
Aide 1: You're right, panicking is the only logical alternative.
- The Goodies.
- Usually Graham will say calmly, "Who votes that we should panic now?" followed by everyone putting up their hands, then Bill and Graham start running about shouting hysterically while Tim decides he's a teapot.
- In "Invasion of the Moon Creatures", Bill and Tim return from the Moon as giant rabbits. Graham turns on the TV, hoping that the BBC aren't panicking everyone. Cue camoes from science presenter James Burke and astronomer Patrick Moore assuring the public it's not some infectious space disease, whereupon they turn rabbits live on television.
- A Running Gag on Get Smart.
Max: Don't panic, 99. Whatever you do, don't panic! [Max calmly assesses the situation] Okay, 99, you can do it.99: Do what, Max?Max: Panic!
- While at a conference of CONTROL agents, Max reveals there's a bomb in android Harvey causing everyone to run screaming for the door. The Chief seizes the microphone and yells at them for not evacuating in a calm and orderly manner like true Americans should. Everyone adopts a shamefaced expression...then run screaming for the door again.
- There's a scene in Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Willow was panicking, and ranting at her boyfriend Oz about how he wasn't. About halfway through her rant, he kissed her, and told her that this was him panicking.
- In one episode of The Muppet Show, Scooter is trying to reassure Fozzie, who is rehearsing his act, and tells him "Now is not the time to panic!" When he hears Fozzie's act consists of "ten minutes of jokes on the War of 1812", he replies "Now is the time to panic!"
- Subverted in Fawlty Towers when Polly tries to calm down a hysterical Basil:
Polly: Don't panic!
Basil: WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO??!
- Kryten from Red Dwarf has a "panic mode" for when the situation turns out to be more serious than he thought it would be.
- Doctor Who
Twelfth Doctor: Stay calm! Just one question... Do you happen to know how to fly this thing?!
- In "Battlefield", when Ace triggers an alarm in the underwater spaceship that sees them attacked by an energy creature, the Doctor tells her This is No Time to Panic. He is promptly knocked off his feet by the creature and amends it to "Now we panic!"
- The first words of the Twelfth Doctor in "The Time of the Doctor", having suffered partial memory loss as a result of his regeneration. He says this seconds before revealing he's forgotten how to fly the TARDIS.
- In a pre-movie introduction to the "Day of the Doctor", the Doctor tells the audience to test their 3D glasses by closing one eye and looking at the person next to them. "If one of the spectacles has turned black, then that person is a Zygon and is going to eat you some time during the movie. Please, don't panic. It will only disturb everyone else and there's really nothing we can do to save you."
- When an outbreak occurs at Greendale in Community episode "Epidemiology" this is Annie's response.
Annie: We need to co-ordinate an orderly evacuation without causing unnecessary panic.
[Zombie!Leonard bites someone]
Troy: OH MY GOD, LEONARD'S A ZOMBIE!!!
- A variation occurs in the premier of Lost Girl, after Kenzi realizes that Bo did in fact "eat some dude's face"
Bo: Don't freak out.
Kenzi: I'm freaking out!
Bo: What did I just say?
Kenzi: How can I not freak out?
- In the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One" (S02, Ep21), Sam tries to get Andy to calm down, but either despite or because of the fact that Andy is stoned, he has trouble not freaking out.
Sam: Andy, look, calm down.Andy: I can’t calm down! I just woke up in freaking Frontierland!
- Person of Interest. In "Firewall", John Reese tells the Number that he'll tell her when it's time to panic. Later as they're fleeing down a stairwell from a HR assassination squad while trying to avoid an FBI SWAT team, the Number says that she's guessing now would be panic time.
- The X-Files, "War of the Coprophages": Scully attempts to control the mob with a speech about how they are giving in to panic. The mob ignores her and creates havoc.
- Roseanne episode, "Toto, We're Not in Kansas Anymore", when Lanford is under a threat of a tornado, Becky tells Roseanne that there was no time for jokes… promptly cue this sarcastic response by the titular character:
Roseanne: Yeah, you’re right. Okay, everybody PANIC!
- Law & Order: UK. After a defense lawyer announces her intention to present a ludicrous, but still plausible defense:
- George: Let's not panic. No sane judge would let that get past a hearing. So who did we draw?Alesha: Judge DeMarco(James winces and groans)George: Oh, God. Let's panic.
- Star Trek: Voyager. In "Projections", the Emergency Medical Hologram is switched on to find that Voyager's crew has disappeared, then finds the Kazon have taken the ship, then discovers the crew are holograms and he's Become a Real Boy, then Reginald Barclay from Star Trek: The Next Generation appears to inform him that he's actually Lewis Zimmerman, the creator of the EMH program, who's gone insane and thinks he's a hologram. Naturally No Social Skills Reg starts this explanation by telling the EMH not to panic, when he's clearly panicking himself.
- "Penny Black Remedy" titled an album "Inhale... Exhale... Ok, Now You Can Panic!".
- In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Guide's major selling points compared to the older, more complete and more accurate Encyclopedia Galactica are (a) it's slightly cheaper and (b) it has the words "Don't Panic" printed in large, friendly letters on its cover. A revised edition of the Guide in Mostly Harmless ominously replaces these reassuring words with small, alarming letters just saying "Panic." It turns out to be a very apt warning.
- At Universal Studios:
- The ride-portion of the former Earthquake: The Big One attraction first has the riders experiencing a "slight tremor" with a intercom voice telling everyone to remain calm...just before a big earthquake follows.
- The first scene of Poseidon's Fury has the guide telling everyone to stay calm, just before things get much worse as the attraction's villain is released.
- In Skull Island: Reign of Kong, the climax starts with the guests stumbling upon a pack of Venatosauruses. The driver insists that everyone remains calm, but when one of them snarls dangerously close to the riders, the driver puts the vehicle into full speed.
- This trope was invoked on The Google Incident page.
- A possible comment during Predator encounters in Batman: Arkham Knight:
Mook #1: All right everyone, stay together and don't panic!
Mook #2: Screw you! Maybe I wanna panic!
- Portal 2:
- In chapter 1, after informing Chell she might have "a very minor case of serious brain damage" from being in suspended animation for so long, Wheatley hastily adds "But don't be alarmed! Although, if you do feel alarmed, try to hold on to that feeling, because that is the proper reaction to being told that you've got brain damage."
- In the ending for the co-op DLC, GLaDOS, upon seeing that the invader is in fact the bird, starts panicking and tells her robots to forget their training and flee.
- In Crash Twinsanity, after removing Dr. Neo Cortex's brain and using it as a ball, Victor said that "This is the part where you run away screaming." Also cue Moritz doing a "go away" gesture to Cortex, before he did just so.
- Parodied with a post for Super Mario Odyssey on Nintendo's Twitter account, about Bowser and Peach getting married.
You are cordially invited to... PANIC!
- Something of a Running Gag in the webcomic Freefall, wherein Sam and Helix respond so frequently, decisively, and enthusiastically to trouble by panicking together, that when Florence opts to stay cool-headed and investigate the danger instead, they conclude that she's just not a team player.
- Then when they DO get into a panic-worthy situation Sam and Helix are cool-headed while Florence is trying not to panic herself.
- In Bob and George, we see George tell himself not to panic, then reason himself into doing so. (Later, facing an unknown danger, he complains that he can't panic properly.)
- Lampooned in this Chainsawsuit.
- Subverted in the Red vs. Blue PSA on Fire Safety: the show's recommendation is to increase panic during a fire, depriving it of the oxygen it needs to continue burning.
Sarge: This is No Time to Panic!Simmons: Sir, the world is shaking apart, the ground is opening up to swallow us, and we're holding a bomb that will wipe us all out before any of that happens. I submit to you that if there is a time to panic, this is that time.
- In season 9, the Reds in the simulated Blood Gulch inside the capture unit are facing a number of things that could kill them.
- Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse has Barbie do this in "Gone Glitter Gone": a TV news crew has Barbie appear on their show and tell the other denizens of Malibu to remain calm during the glitter shortage. Right after the crew leaves Barbie's house, she breaks into tears and bawls.
- In Sam & Mickey's videos, Ken has a variation of this as his Catch-Phrase.
Don't panic! I'm panicking!
- Batman: The Animated Series : "Trial." Batman has been captured, bound in a straitjacket and is about to be unmasked by his Rogues Gallery. Harley Quinn has his utility belt. Batman's reluctant ally manages to smash the only light in the room.
Two Face: NOBODY PANIC!
[Lights a match. Batman has escaped. Harley Quinn is bound in the straitjacket, upside down, without the utility belt.]
Joker : Okay... start panicking.
- In the first episode of the second season of Xiaolin Showdown, the Xiaolin warriors (except for Raimundo) are fleeing from Wuya, who has taken over the world. Omi tells his friends not to despair, because there is always a path to victory. About five seconds later, he tells them "now, you may despair."
- Used in The Backyardigans, as Pablo's frantic chant during his (actually pretty spectacular) panic attacks.
- In the Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater episode, "Catula", this scene played out:
Hello Kitty: Do you really think Catula could be a vampire?
Chip: Your grandma said there was one terrorizing the village!
[cue Portrait Painting Peephole over the dresser, which slides open, and a hand grabbing up the camera]
Hello Kitty: I know! I'll take another picture for us to be sure! [sees the camera is missing] My camera! I put it on the dresser... now, it's gone!
Chip: Gone?! Who took it?
My Melody: [panicking] T-T-T-THE VAMPIRE!!!
[Chip and My Melody gets scared and begin to run, but Hello Kitty catches them]
Hello Kitty: Let's not panic!
Chip, My Melody: [together] TOO LATE! WE ALREADY DID!!
- In the "Zigby's Kite" story of the CGI animated preschool show Zigby, McMeer ends up flying in the sky on a kite. Zigby's friend Bertie gets agitated and Zigby tells him that "This is no time to panic." Bertie replies that it's the perfect time to panic. Zigby shouts to McMeer "Don't panic!"
- Subverted in the Danger Mouse episode "Journey To The Earth's 'Cor!" when the Mk. III is frozen in a force field and a crazy person within the middle of the Earth (where our heroes are) is firing lasers at them:
DM: Penfold, this is no time to be acting brave in the face of untold dangers.
Penfold: What are we going to do?
DM: Do what you were trained to do.
DM, Penfold: PANIC!!!
Penfold: Ooh, crumbs! good thing I know what to do... PANIC! (runs away)
- In "Tower of Terror", Penfold is walking in the dark with only his eyes visible, when a terrifying monkey thing appears next to him.
- The Transformers:
Rodimus Prime: Don't panic yet. Stay calm until we know what's going on. Then we'll panic.
- In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Comet Kermillian", when rays from one of Dr. Doofenshmirtz's death rays perforate the observatory the brothers built and it threatens to collapse, Phineas instructs the crowd that's gathered to watch the approaching comet not to panic, and to proceed to the emergency exits in an orderly fashion. Then a huge piece of debris falls right behind him, and Phineas adds "Okay, now you can panic."
- In the final episode of ReBoot - after Megabyte's return, Mike the TV urges everyone in Mainframe to "panic as only you know how to do!" It turns out this is actually Megabyte in disguise - all part of his plan to trap the guardians.
- From The Simpsons: In "Homer the Vigilante", Kent Brockman's initial report on the string of cat burglaries ends with him asking a professor if the town should panic. He nonchalantly agrees that they should. Later, Kent brings in the same professor after a large number of townspeople start searching for the cat burglar's loot.
Kent Brockman: Hordes of panicky people seem to be evacuating the town for some unknown reason. Professor, without knowing precisely what the danger is, would you say it's time for our viewers to crack each other's heads open and feast on the goo inside?Professor: Mmm, yes I would, Kent.
- Invoked by Pinkie Pie in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "It's About Time," when Cerberus shows up in Ponyville.
Pinkie Pie: Okay everypony, follow my lead. AAAAHHHHHHHH!
- Also invoked by her earlier in the same episode, seemingly just because she could.
- From Codename: Kids Next Door:
Numbuh 86: Troops, initiate plan X-11!Troops: Yes sir! (all start run around screaming)
- In "Happy Birthday, Dog!" on WordWorld, Duck calls for everybody to panic after they drop the cake and the letters fall apart. Pig, however, is the voice of reason, reminding them that they still have all the letters, so they can still build the word.
- The Ren & Stimpy Show: in the Recycled In Space episode Black Hole, Ren and Stimpy's ship is being sucked into a black hole and all their attempts to escape it fail.
Ren: Our shipboard computer suggests one last alternative.Flashing computer screen: START SCREAMING
- The Soviet Union placed its Far East Army on alert for 30 minutes when it received word that US President Ronald Reagan had said, jokingly and as a sound test, "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." This panic attack, however, was delayed by two months; contrary to legend, it was not broadcast live. President Reagan said it on August 11, 1984. The Far East Army was not put on alert until the following October.