Follow TV Tropes


Timmy in a Well

Go To

Farmer: What's that, Lassie?
Lassie: Woof woof woof!
Farmer: Timmy fell down the well?!
Lassie: Woof!
Farmer: That's the third time this month, right?
Lassie: Woof woof woof woof woof. Woof woof, woof woof.
Farmer: I agree, let him get his own self out.
— A joke dating back to the original airing of Lassie

A Stock Plot in which Little Billy falls into danger and the family pet or another animal (usually domesticated) takes the initiative to either rescue Billy or (more commonly) summon an adult character to help him. Parodied to the point of being a Discredited Trope by now, maybe even a Dead Horse Trope. Still, expect a riff on "What is it, girl? Is Timmy in the well?" when one character isn't sure what another character is trying to tell them. note 

The animal who features in this trope is often a dog, though since many animals have doglike characteristics in fiction, the central critter can be anything from a goldfish to a T. rex.

See also Pet Gets the Keys (when the pet retrieves the keys for its imprisoned master), Saint-Bernard Rescue (when a dog saves a person in a cold climate), Speech-Impaired Animal (when the animal can talk, but with a speech impediment), and Come Back, My Pet! (when a person replaces a pet but the pet wins them back by saving the day).

What's that, Tropey? Some examples fell down the index?!

    open/close all folders 

  • Spoofed in a black-and-white TV spot for General Electric Security Services. Lassie and Timmy encounter a mountain lion, whereupon Lassie saves the day by showing off her incredible martial arts skills.
  • An ad for Capital One credit cards features a collie trying to tell her owner about an old man who literally fell down a well. Her efforts grow increasingly elaborate (at one point, she draws a picture of the man at the bottom of the well, and the ad ends with her dialing 911), while the owner keeps Comically Missing the Point.
  • Parodied mercilessly in a Chevrolet pickup commercial. The truck plays the role of the dog and notifies the parents of their kid falling down a well...then getting stuck in a cave...then in the belly of a whale...then a balloon, then a VOLCANO. The last part is even mentioned by the father saying "I didn't know we lived near a volcano!" as he and his wife are running out to the truck.
  • Another parody was the series of "Sassie" radio PSAs from around 2010. When "Jimmy" would get in whatever predicament he found himself in (including finding himself in a well), Sassie would run off to tell people... about the benefits of adopting a dog from the local shelter.
  • Spoofed in a Rolo ad, where Skippy is in the Outback with two kids, one of whom gives his last Rolo to the other instead of to Skippy. The scene cuts to Skippy fetching a policeman ("What's that, Skip? Someone's pushed the boys down the billabong? Who could've done that?") while looking guilty.
  • In this GEICO commercial, a guy tries to get a cat to do this and, of course, fails.
    If you're a cat, you ignore people. It's what you do.
  • In one Progressive ad a motorcycle fetches the guy who sometimes accompanies Flo because she's in trouble. The "emergency" turns out to be her needing change for a dollar.
  • Spoofed in an advert for the Amazon Fire Stick. Timmy does end up down the well, and sends Lassie off for help. The girl thinks that Lassie wants to watch something on TV instead, and goes through various TV shows and Movies, and they actually end up watching The Secret Life of Pets on the sofa before she finally understands the message at the end.
  • In an advert for Tesco Mobile, a man who is literally trapped in a well sends a shopping trolley to fetch help.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Pao from Deep Love knows exactly where the train station is even though he's never been there and fetches Ayu. At the end he delivers two Christmas presents.
  • Inubaka:
    • This is a part of Suguri's backstory: she was kidnapped when she was 4, but managed to be rescued when a dog (Lupin's "grandfather") alerts the neighbourhood kids and brought them to the place where she was kept.
    • Inuyama actually fell into an abandoned well when he was a child and was rescued when a dog alerted others of his presence. It is implied that the dog who rescued him is the same one as the dog who rescued Suguri.
  • In the Pokémon anime, this is done a bunch of times. Ash's Pikachu once led the gang to its teammate Bulbasaur using an advanced version of this — actually imitating the Pokémon that was kidnapped.
  • The dub of Sgt. Frog has a joke about this in a flashback to when Koyuki first met Dororo; Koyuki's dog Zeroyasha found him caught in a bear trap and barked to get her attention. She was momentarily concerned it was "another kid stuck in a well."

    Comic Books 
  • Might just come with the Heroic Dog territory, but Uncle Sam from the World War I serial "Golden Eyes" and Her Hero "Bill" performs a spectacular series of stunts to rescue the heroine Golden Eyes: when she's captured by a German officer, Uncle Sam runs off with her Red Cross brassard and treks across an active war zone to find Golden Eyes' soldier sweetheart Bill and deliver it to him. Bill infers that Golden Eyes has been captured, and makes preparations to rescue her. In the mean time Uncle Sam goes on to: return to the German field camp where Golden Eyes has been taken while carrying a secret message for her; knock out the same German officer who captured Golden Eyes and had moved on to menacing her; sneak out of the German field camp while transporting stolen intelligence to the American forces; and finally, lead an American offensive to the Germans' position in time for a Big Damn Heroes rescue of Golden Eyes.
  • In the French comic Les Tuniques Bleues (about two cavalrymen in the Union army during the American Civil War), one of the cavalrymen, Blutch, has a horse that has saved his life on multiple occasions. Also, because he is a Dirty Coward, he has taught his horse to play dead whenever anyone signals a charge.
  • Rex the Wonder Dog is probably the king (no pun intended) of this trope. Among other things, he can drive cars, become an award-winning photojournalist, be parachuted into enemy territory with a machine gun and proceed to use it, and beat up a T. rex (nuking it with an atomic bomb). Eventually, this became too absurd even for DC Comics, and in the late 1980s he drank from the fountain of youth, giving him the ability to speak human languages, removing the need for this trope.
  • Snowy from the Tintin comics does this a lot.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Beetle Bailey Sarge falls over a cliff (again) and is hanging by a tiny branch. He tells his dog Otto to get help. Otto runs to base and makes every effort a (non-talking) dog can to get people to go with him, including jumping on them and pulling on their legs. The strip ends with Otto in the lockup and Sarge still hanging from the branch.
  • Bizarro. In the strip for December 9th 2012, a man and Lassie are standing on a beach. The man asks Lassie "Timmy's in a well? What well?" In the ocean behind them, a whale is diving under the surface, with poor Timmy inside of it!
  • Parodied by Doonesbury, in 1972! That's how long this has been considered a joke.
    Television: "What? You say a hunter has fallen into the abandoned mine shaft and has broken his leg, and needs insulin?" "Woof, woof!"
  • Parodied in The Far Side, in which Fifi lands an airplane.
    Suddenly, amidst all the confusion, Fifi seized the controls and saved the day.
  • Parodied many times in Garfield.
    • At one point, Garfield even tells Jon this:
      Garfield: Jon! Little Timmy has fallen down the old well! And, as it turns out, he LOVES it down there! He's got a TV and a VCR, and he's away from his evil foster parents... so PLEASE don't rescue him!
      Jon: This is one of those days I'm glad I don't speak cat.
    • One occasion involved Garfield watching a "heroic cat" TV show in the style of Lassie.
      Man: Oh no! Timmy's fallen down the well!
      Cat: Meow.
      Man: ... You pushed him, didn't you?
      Cat: Meow.
      Garfield: You want a hero? Get a dog!
    • In the August 25th, 1996 strip, Garfield made a wood-and-brick one-sided replica of an old well and alerts Odie that Timmy fell down in it. He alerts Odie to save him, and so Odie does dive through the "Old Well", but cause it's a trick by Garfield, Odie only gets his face grounded hard, and Garfield tries tricking him again that now Timmy's "climbing up the water tower".
    • The strip for July 15th 2012 had a dog trying to communicate with his master (with the master saying "Is it trouble, boy? Is the barn on fire?" It turns out they were out of peanut butter.
    • The Sept 15 2013 strip has Garfield watching a program and this comes up:
      TV Man: Is it Timmy? Is he in the well?
      The Dog: Yes! That rotten kid is in the well! AND I PUSHED HIM! REFUSE TO GIVE ME A NUM-NUM, WILL HE? I SHOWED HIM! I SHOWED EVERYONE! MWA-HAHAHA! uh ... I mean arf.
    • The June 23,2019 strip has the cat saying the kid is in the well, then wanting treats, wanting to play, and throwing up in the guy’s shoe.
  • Red and Rover
    Rover: [barks]
    Red: Timmy's fallen in a well behind the old Johnson place? Come on, we've got to get help!
    Rover: (thinks) I was just trying to tell him about the new Lassie episode...
  • Mark Trail, on the other hand, constantly plays this straight with resident imbecile child Rusty and one or both of the Trails' dogs.
  • Pardon My Planet strip for February 1st 2013. A woman in a shoe store is buried under a pile of shoes and shoeboxes, while a clerk listens to her dog barking.
    Clerk: What is it, girl? Owner needs a size six in patent leather slingbacks?

    Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Invoked by Bolt in "The Imaginary Letters" regarding the Lassie TV show.
    Bolt: You remember Lassie, the famous collie who had that show where her human boy was always falling down a well and had to be rescued?
  • Played for Drama in Chapter 2 of A Broken Child. Sirius Black can't show his human face in public, so in his doggy Animagus form, he barks, howls, whines and pulls at Snape's robes, leading him to where Harry Potter is in dire need of medical attention.
  • In A Change in Perspective Ron, who was turned into a scarlet macaw by a prank potion gone wrong, tries to get Draco to follow him back to Hogwarts to comfort a distressed currently five-year-old Harry.
    Dean: Good Lord. Is this some kind of warped 'Timmy's in the well' scenario?
  • Cheat Code: Support Strategist: Epurr, an alley cat who adopted Shouto as her 'kitten', discovers that one of his 'littermates' is in dire straits. She then leads Shouto and Edgeshot to where Tenya fought Stain, ensuring that his classmate gets the help they need.
  • In The New Kid part of Harry's elaborate excuse for being several minutes late to Umbridge's class is a claim that Mrs. Norris came up to him while meowing pitifully.
    Harry: What is it girl? What's that? Filch is stuck down a well and nobody wants to help him? But well can you blame them?
  • In Violence Inherent in the System Hermione uses Harry's owl Hedwig to send a letter to her younger sister and Hedwig barks after being let inside.
    Juliet: Don't tell me Timmy's fallen down the well again.
  • Used in episode 48 of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, with Yugi's Kuriboh (who can only say three words, "Do the lalalala" and mostly speaks by saying the "la" sound repeatedly). It informs Yami at the end of the episode that Tea has been kidnapped by internet trolls, and that little Timmy has fallen down a well.

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney's Beauty and the Beast has Belle's father's horse, Phillipe, run back to get help when Maurice is imprisoned in the castle.
  • Near the end of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the woodland animals actually do this to the dwarfs after noticing the Evil Queen threatening to give Snow White the poison apple while disguised as the Witch. Unfortunately, it was too late, so the dwarfs and the animals immediately resort to dispatching the Queen by chasing her off a cliff.
  • In Toy Story 2, parodied when Woody watches the old ('60s) series where he was the star, and a few woodland creatures chirp what turns out to be an extremely complex and detailed account of what is going on in a distant mine, with two trapped characters, a stick of dynamite, and a impending explosion.
    Rabbit: [incoherent chatter]
    Woody: What's that? Jessie and Prospector are trapped in the old abandoned mine and Prospector just lit a stick of dynamite thinking it was a candle and now they're about to be blown to smithereens?
    Rabbit: Uh huh.
    Woody: Ride like the wind, Bullseye!
  • Hoodwinked! features this gag when Twitchy stops Chief Grizzly and Flippers on the road while high on caffeine. They actually have to have him speak into a tapedeck and play his voice back at quarter speed to understand what he's really saying.
  • Played straight in Barbie & The Diamond Castle, with one of the heroines' puppies going for help after the girls fall/are pushed over a cliff, and the other picking up and dropping a necklace over the side to the girls.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks: Amusingly Inverted Trope with Spike and Vinyl Scratch: he's a talking dog who seeks the help of a speechless human. (The Bronies React video for the film indeed makes a Lassie joke out of it.)

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy: Ron's dog is able to bark at him in both English and Spanish (though, Ron mistakes English spoken with a mild Hispanic accent for actual Spanish later so there's some doubt). He's also able to communicate with a bear later on, talking the bear into not attacking Ron.
  • Played entirely straight in 2011's The Artist. Justified in that the dog in question is shown beforehand to be a well-trained stage dog — and maybe also justified by The Artist being a deliberately old-fashioned silent film.
  • Parodied in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!. A boy is fishing when his dog hears the tomatoes coming and goes to investigate. The boy notices and asks, "What is it, Spot?" An articulate voice is heard from off camera: "Gosh, Billy, I don't know! You stay there; I'll go look!"
  • Happens in some of the Benji movies. In the first film, Benji leads the police to a pair of kidnapped children. He communicates that he knows where the children are by stealing an extra copy of the kidnappers' ransom note from them.
  • Parodied in Broken Lizard's Club Dread. Dave and Juan are cleaning up the Pac-Man maze, when they run into Putman (who is still in Banana costume) who is trying to tell them that he found Cliff's dead body, but is in such a state of shock that he can't speak. Says Dave, "Are you trying to tell us something boy? Is little Timmy trapped in a well?!"
  • Referenced in The Cat in the Hat by the fish, after he grows frustrated at the kids for not listening to his warnings about the title character.
    Fish: I told you all this was gonna happen, but no-one listens to a fish! A dog goes "woof woof" and everyone knows little Timmy's trapped in a well, but a fish speaks in plain English
  • Fido has a perfect example of this trope. It contains pretty much the exact same scene as Lassie, but the dog is replaced by the family's pet zombie. They presumably named the boy "Timmy" just to set up that joke.
  • Double Subversion from the movie Good Burger: A dog runs up to Cloudcuckoolander Ed, who reads his barkings as "A bunch of clowns are stranded on the highway with a broken radiator." His partner Dexter tells him not to be stupid and that the dog's just hungry. At the end of the scene, Gilligan Cut to a bunch of clowns, standing by a broken car, wondering where the dog went.
  • Parodied in The Jerk. Navin is sleeping in a hotel and a dog starts barking at him in the middle of the night. Navin "translates" his barking to a warning about a fire and frantically wakes everyone up, has the building evacuated and even calls the fire department. Turns out there is no fire.
  • Joe Dirt has a hilarious subversion. A man has his leg stuck between railroad rails and a train is coming so he sends the dog for help. The guy had been mean to the dog, so the dog walks away... and is next seen having, uh, relations, with a female dog. Later, the guy returns... missing one leg. And with a shotgun. It doesn't end well for the dog.
  • Stanley Ipkiss' dog Milo in The Mask. He finds car keys, tracks down and rescues his master from jail, can open car locks, and figures out how to activate the title artifact, among other tricks.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark. The Germans have an agent in Cairo man who wears an eye patch and has a pet monkey. The monkey sees an escaping Marion trying to hide in a basket, jumps on the basket and screeches, calling the German agents to capture her. Also, at one point it gives a Nazi salute.
  • Parodied in Up The Creek, in which the dog informs the rafting party that one of their number has been tied up and abandoned by the competition by playing charades, complete with "sounds like" clues and number of syllables. Plus, the dog whistles to get the humans' attention, one paw to its mouth.
  • In The Wizard of Oz (1939), Toto escapes from the Wicked Witch's castle, finds the other members of the group and starts barking at them. The Scarecrow says "Why, don't you see? He's come to take us to Dorothy!" Toto then does just that, arriving just in time to save Dorothy from death.

  • Amelia Bedelia: In Amelia Bedelia Digs In, Amelia falls into the remains of an old pirate vessel. She shouts for help and her dog, Finally, is first to find her. She asks her to go get help, but she just stands there digging. She makes an on-the-spot resolution to watch more old movies with her once she gets out.
  • Used in exactly this way in American Gods when Shadow is lost in the woods and a talking bird gives him a message and then caws at him to follow — "You want me to follow you? Or has Timmy fallen down another well?" Only this isn't a cute woodland creature: it's an oversized and frankly scary raven which has just been "brunching on Bambi". (This is Neil Gaiman, after all.) Shadow then proceeds to demonstrate why it probably should have played this one straight.
  • Averted in Animorphs when Tobias (stuck as a red-tailed hawk) knows where a missing kid is, he decides to screw the Animorphs' usual paranoia and just tells the kid's father to follow him. Tobias is genuinely impressed that the dad doesn't freak out over a bird is talking to him; the dad just goes with it because he loves his son that much and just wants him to come home safely.
  • Isaac Asimov's "A Boy's Best Friend": Jimmy recalls the one time when he pretended to be injured, and Robutt called for help from Lunar City. His father made it clear that Jimmy was never to play that trick again.
  • Dave Barry Turns 50 notes that a real dog would reply to questions of her being hungry with "Hell yes!" and then spend the evening licking himself, forgetting all about Timmy.
  • Spoofed on a few occasions in Discworld.
    • In Guards! Guards!, the Librarian (a wizard-turned-orangutan) laments having to resort to charades to inform Constable Carrot that a book has been stolen when "so-called intelligent dogs, dolphins, and kangaroos" have an easier time alerting people to danger.
    • In The Last Continent, a talking kangaroo named Scrappy (a Shout-Out to Skippy) informs Rincewind that the kangaroo language has a gesture that means "come quick, someone's fallen down a deep hole."
    • Played with in Moving Pictures, where the main characters have been trapped in a cave and it's up to "Laddie" (an incredibly stupid dog who plays a Lassie-esque movie character) to go for help. Despite doing nothing more than turn up in the pub, the genre-savvy trolls recognize the trope from the movies Laddie's been starring in and decide to follow him back, while completely ignoring the real intelligent talking dog, Gaspode, who's trying to tell them what's going on in their own language.
  • Jon Stewart's Earth (The Book): Lampshaded when it's pointed out that collies and dolphins are the most communicative animals, citing examples from Lassie and Flipper.
  • Done in David Weber's Empire from the Ashes series, with a set of dogs that have been genetically enhanced to near-human intelligence and then fitted with vocoders to translate their thoughts into speech. It goes into some depth about how they have simple sentence structure and don't have temporal verbs (speaking only in the present) but otherwise treats them as being pretty wise, if not always smart.
  • Subverted in a Father Brown short story. A man is murdered and his dog's actions are interpreted as meaningful by some of the characters. They are meaningful, sort of, but not the way this trope does it.
  • In Green Hills and Daffodils, Jane's dog goes to get help when she's trapped by a Circle of Standing Stones. Afterward, she cites this trope by name.
    Jane: Moss was doing a Timmy fell in a well dance?
    Rhys: Aye, exactly like that. Wouldna shut up until I followed him.
  • In John Dies at the End, Molly the dog drives a car into a burning building to save her owner.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Reserved for the Cat: A sentient, talking cat alerts two mage-talented theater owners that his mistress is in trouble. The sensational account makes the papers, with the story changed so that the cat runs for help, finds the two men, and leads them to her, as per this trope. (The cat is disgusted to be portrayed so doggishly.)
  • The original melodrama that spawned the Sweeney Todd mythos has the dog of one of the victims repeatedly lead people to and then make menacing noises at Sweeney's barber shop. The heroes don't especially take the hint.
  • Done in Warrior Cats from the animals' POV. In SkyClan's Destiny, a young girl falls into the gorge, and the cats know that it'll mean that other humans will be looking for her - not to mention that half the Clan are or were kittypets that don't want a human to be hurt. When initial attempts at leading other humans to the gorge fails, they get various items out of the girl's backpack and create a trail leading to the gorge.
  • Jack London's White Fang: White Fang barks only once in the entire novel, to alert the humans to his master's peril.
  • In Remember Dippy, Millie, the dog of Johnny's elderly neighbor Mr. Boots, appears at the door of the Dippys' house. Johnny follows her on his bicycle back to his street, where he finds Mr. Boots lying on the grass with his leg broken from tripping over the sprinkler.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Parodied on 3rd Rock from the Sun in the Story Arc where Dick is replaced with Evil Dick. After finding the real Dick, Harry runs into the attic, but can't speak because he's out of breath. Sally and Tommy interpret his wheezing à la Lassie ("What is it, boy?", "I think he wants us to follow him!")
  • Spoofed in a sketch on The Ben Stiller Show, in which Charles Manson took the place of Lassie. The wholesome farm family would interpret Manson's insane ranting with "What's that he's trying to tell us? Timmy's in trouble?"
  • A Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction segment had a little boy be saved from an old well with the help of a psychic horse named Count Mystery.
  • Homaged in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Spike refers to Timmy being down a well as a reason he must go back and watch the telly, but he's almost certainly referring to a different Timmy.
  • Diefenbaker, Benton Fraser's half-wolf in Due South, was fully capable of being understood, but mostly only by Canadians.
  • The trope is named for Lassie, who was always alerting the humans to any trouble in the area. Please note, however, that the phrase is a Beam Me Up, Scotty!, as Timmy never actually fell into a well. He fell into a lot of things, but never a well. The fact that Timmy never fell down a well is amazing, seeing as how most of the trouble he got into is A) generally lethal and B) things no normal child of average intelligence should ever have to deal with. Clearly, falling down a well was too mundane for him. John Provost, who played Timmy, titled his autobiography Timmy in the Well: The John Provost story, after the phrase. Here's a short list of things Timmy has done that Lassie has saved him from:
    • lets a rabid dog out of a cage ("Graduation")
    • eats deadly nightshade berries ("Berrypickers")
    • is threatened by an escaped female circus elephant ("The Elephant")
    • hides out in the treehouse when he has pneumonia ("Spartan")
    • is threatened by a mother wolf ("The Wolf Cub")
    • falls into the lake ("Transition" and "The House Guest")
    • develops a high fever from the measles ("The Crisis")
    • is almost shot by Paul ("Hungry Deer")
    • ignores severe stomach pains; he's diagnosed with appendicitis ("Hospital")
    • is trapped in an abandoned house with Boomer ("Trapped")
    • wanders into a live mine field ("Junior GIs")
    • is menaced by a bear ("Campout" and "The Renegade")
    • is trapped in a mine ("Old Henry")
    • gets a black eye playing football ("Growing Pains")
    • nearly flies a home-made glider off a cliff ("Flying Machine")
    • runs into a burning house to save a neighbor lady and passes out ("The Whopper")
    • is endangered by dynamite picked up by an escaped lab chimp ("The Man from Mars")
    • is locked in a shed with Lassie by an armed robber ("Star Reporter")
    • runs away from home believing he and a friend killed someone ("Alias Jack and Joe")
    • is exposed to radiation ("Space Traveler")
    • gets trapped on a cliff with Rudy and Don ("Explorers")
    • is trapped in a pipe ("Wrong Gift")
    • is caught in quicksand ("The Fog")
    • is trapped on a ledge ("The Rescue")
    • is out in the woods hunting a dangerous tiger ("The Gentle Tiger")
    • is tossed out of a little racing car and knocked out ("Big Race")
    • is trapped in a mine with Cully ("Fool's Gold")
    • is threatened by a bull ("White-Faced Bull")
    • is threatened by a rabid dog again ("Mad Dog")
    • freezes while on a narrow path at the Grand Canyon ("Lassie at the Grand Canyon")
    • is threatened by a killer collie ("Mysterious Intruder")
    • is trapped in a badger hole ("Badger Game")
    • is knocked out ("Hike")
    • is stalked by a presumably dangerous tiger ("Lassie and the Tiger")
    • with Lassie, is carried off in a balloon, must survive in the wilderness, and almost drowns ("The Journey")
    • almost drowns ("Disappearance" part 1)
    • is caught in an earthquake and threatened by a dam spillover ("Moving Mountain")
    • is struck by a hit and run driver ("Hit'n'Run")
  • The Mandalorian has it happen with a somewhat of a role reversal in the third season, when Action Dad Din Djarin is captured by a scavenger while exploring the underground ruins of Mandalore. Grogu escapes, and manages to (with the aid of R5-D4) fly to another planet and alert Bo-Katan to Din's situation.
  • Inspector Rex:The protagonist is a dog who is very smart and has saved his "comrades" (including his owners) and single episode characters.
  • London, the German Shepherd from The Littlest Hobo, is also prone to doing this.
  • Referenced in the Mork & Mindy episode "Mork Runs Down". Mork, severely ill, has to use non-verbal communication with the McConnalls.
    Mindy: I think he's trying to tell us something.
    Mr. McConall: Yeah, I feel like I'm in a Lassie movie.
  • Skippy the Bush Kangaroo is an Australian series that does this with, you guessed it, a kangaroo.
    • Parodied in Skippy the Goth Kangaroo.
    • Also parodied in an early 1990s sketch series, Fast Forward, where Skippy would keep finding himself in more and more bizarre situations, such as "Skippy and the Exorcist," "Skippy and the Drug Cartel" and "Skippy and the Nuclear Bomb."
    • Stand-up comic Frank Skinner was once telling a joke in which Skippy carried out this trope when a heckler in the audience claimed that the scene was actually from Flipper. He couldn't be persuaded otherwise so Frank retold the joke using Flipper's clicking sounds rather than the "tut-tut-tut" noise that Skippy made. He also had to change Timmy's location from the bottom of a well to somewhere aquatic.
  • Parodied in Seinfeld. Kramer suffers from a chest cold which gives him a nasty cough. Due to not trusting human doctors, he finds a dog with the same cough and takes him to a vet, then takes the dog's medicine himself. When Elaine starts causing havoc at the Old Mill Restaurant, Kramer is told to alert the police. He finds a pair of beat cops but is out of breath from running, thus suffers a coughing fit while trying to explain the situation.
    Cop: I think he's trying to tell us something! What's that, boy?
    Kramer: [cough] OLD! [cough] MILL! [returns to coughing uncontrollably]
    Cop: Trouble at the Old Mill? Let's go!
  • Lost:
    • Played straight: Vincent pulls the covering off paralyzed Nikki and Paolo, trying to alert the other Losties that they're not really dead. However, it doesn't work, and it's only upon reflection that the audience realizes what he was trying to do.
    • Played even straighter in the series finale, so straight that it's surely a parody. Desmond is trapped — in a well. The good guys and the bad guys head toward it to retrieve him. But who gets their first and calls his real rescuers? Vincent!
  • Over the closing credits of a Mad About You where they were trapped in their bathroom, we see the dog going to the neighbors for help.
  • In an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, a character gets knocked off his jet ski, which continues on without him; Mike riffs "Go get help, boy!"
  • Star Trek: Voyager. In "Resolutions", Janeway and Chakotay are stranded on a planet and befriend a monkey-like creature, which warns them of a coming plasma storm moments before they see the roiling black clouds with flashing energy discharges that would have warned them anyway.
  • In one episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Lassie was brought in to be the subject of a duet sung by Wayne Brady and Brad Sherwood. When Lassie barked, Brad responded "Jimmy's fallen down a well? I'll be right back!"
  • In the Zorro TV series, this is how Don Diego meets with Phantom (his second steed after Tornado). The horse shows up alone and tempts Diego into pursuit, but too fast to be caught, to finally lead him to his wounded former master, Lieutenant Lopez, who was mugged and left for dead. Before dying, he begs Diego to take care of Phantom.

  • Parodied in the episode descriptions for the July and August 1980 episodes of '80s All Over to "explain" the sound issues on co-host Scott Weinberg's end that resulted in his voice having an muffled, echoing quality: he was trapped in a well at the time, and was subsequently rescued by a dog who had a parade thrown in its honor.

  • In the Jeremy Hardy Speaks to the Nation episode "How to Speak", Paul Basset-Davies explains that dogs can understand our tone of voice, and from this can learn simple words like "Sit" "Roll over" and "What's that, Skippy? Flipper's fallen down the old mineshaft?"

    Tabletop Games 
  • Champions supplement The Hero System Bestiary. The Communication ability for Animal Companions is when the companion animal communicates with its owner non-verbally. It is explained using a variation of the title of this trope ("Timmy down a mineshaft", to be exact).
  • Dungeons & Dragons, Dungeon magazine #63 adventure "Beauty Corrupt". If the Player Characters rescue a dolphin from sharks, it will lead them to the place they want to go and then swim away.
  • Chaosium's Stormbringer (later Elric) supplement Stealer of Souls. The Kelos family dog Rover is a clear Shout-Out to Lassie.
    The Kelos family pet is a collie with an almost psychic awareness of trouble. When she senses danger she goes through elaborate pantomimes to warn her owners. Most of the family act as though they understand everything the collie tells them.

  • Parodied in The Complete History Of America Abridged. In the Show Within a Show Dodge Rambler, Boy Buckaroo, Dodge is approached by his "faithful and trusty steed" Gordon, who manages to communicate that bad guys have come to Dusty Gulch with only horse noises. However, Dodge at first misinterprets the message: "What?! Timmy's trapped on a cliff and needs insulin?!"
  • Spoofed in Legally Blonde The Musical:
    Margot: Bruiser, where is Elle?
    Bruiser: [Yaps]
    Margot: She doesn't have an engagement outfit?
    Bruiser: [Yaps]
    Margot: She's totally freaking out?!
    Bruiser: [Yaps]
    Margot: She's trapped in the Old Valley Mill?!
    Bruiser: [Yaps]
    Margot: Oh, whoops, sorry... the Old Valley Mall?!

    Video Games 
  • Fallout:
    • Spoofed in Fallout 2, where during a quest to find a lost boy named Jonny you can enlist his dog's aid to no avail, as he's in an entirely different place:
      Laddie: Woof! Woof! Woof!
      Chosen One: What's the matter, boy, are you trying to tell me something?
      Laddie: Woof! Woof! Woof!
      Chosen One: Is Johnny someplace close by in Modoc?
      Laddie: Woof!
      Chosen One: He was playing cowboys and Indians when he accidentally fell down the well and you want me to use my rope and go down and rescue him? Okay, let's go! [Astounding!]
    • In Fallout: New Vegas, if you have the Wild Wasteland trait, your cyberdog companion Rex will "tell" you that "Little Jimmy fell down the well". The well contains only a child-sized skeleton, a giant mole rat, and the unique Abilene Kid LE BB gun.
  • In the MMORPG EverQuest, there is a quest called Timmi Fell Down the Well!. You need to follow the dog La'See to save Timmi.
  • Monkey Island:
    • Played with in The Secret of Monkey Island. One of the first characters you can speak to is a dog, who can (apparently) explain the entire plot of the game, but speaks in woofs and barks with the occasional real word thrown in. This is about as helpful as it sounds.
    • At the start of act 1 of Escape from Monkey Island, Elaine and Guybrush run into "Timmy the Monkey" after their return to Melee Island. After some wild misguesses from Guybrush, Timmy manages to communicate that there's trouble at the governor's mansion.
  • In Space Quest V, Roger's pet facehugger Spike jumps on the cryopod holding a mutating Beatrice and then on the transporter. There are four options of what Roger can claim Spike is trying to say. One is "Timmy fell down the well". Another is a method of using the transporter to reverse Beatrice's mutation (The intended answer), which implies that Spike is a lot smarter than most of the people on that ship.
  • In the Bloodmoon expansion of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, a man named "Lassnr" sends you to look for his son "Tymvaul", who has gone down a well near their house. The names and the well are an obvious reference to Lassie and Timmy, though the outcome is somewhat different. Tymvaul has joined a group of necromancers that live in a cave at the bottom of the well, and you pretty much have to kill him.
  • Played with in Ghost Trick. Missile is fiercely loyal to and protective of his owner, but doesn't come off as terribly bright: he's easily distracted by flashing lights, loud noises, and spinning doodads, all of which will incite him to bark incessantly. On the other hand, in a previous timeline, he tracked down the people responsible for his owner's death without any outside help, and after time traveling into the past and taking The Slow Path to the present day, he skillfully manipulated Sissel into setting things right.
  • At one point in Deadly Premonition, the Dalmatian Willie leads York all around the art gallery, to where his owner, Forrest Kaysen, has become stuck in a secret room beneath the museum. Later on, when York himself is taken hostage, Willie leads Emily to where he's being held in the clock tower. According to Word of God, this is justified: Willie isn't really a dog; he's an incredibly powerful being from a hellish otherworld who takes a doglike form on Earth to blend in.
  • The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang:
    Spike: What's that? One of the Cloves stole the key? Where is it now?
    Spike: To the right of the castle door? Thanks pal!
  • In Sonic Chronicles, one sidequest involves an old man who begs you to go rescue his son Timmy, who has fallen down a well. Subverted hilariously when it turns out Timmy is actually Timothy, a fully-grown adult whose job is to maintain the well. His father is just senile.
  • In Medieval Cop 3: The Princess and the Grump there's a dog you can talk to near a well in town.
    Dregg: What's that, Lassie? Timmy fell down the well? Good...
  • Played for laughs in one of the mini-games in Farmington Tales where the farm's dog manages to warn about the presence of land mines.
  • In Grand Theft Auto V, of all places, this happens to Franklin in the Strangers and Freaks mission Risk Assessment. Franklin encounters a dog, who leads him to Dom Beasley, who got stuck in a tree with his parachute. Franklin perfectly understands why the dog wants to follow him, and even lampshades the absurdity of the situation. Even stranger; once he gets to Dom, the dog vanishes without a trace and Dom denies having seen a dog at all.
  • This is subverted in LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham in one of the Batcave side missions, where Batgirl mistakenly thinks Ace the Bathound is trying to tell her that little Timmy fell down the well. Ace is really trying to tell her about intruders in the Batcave. However, another sidequest from Ace later is actually about Mister Mxyzptlk being stuck in a well (though he was actually just taking a nap down there, and he could have easily gotten out anyway).

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Can You Spare a Quarter?: When Jamie gets a nightmare during his second night with Graham and begins thrashing around in his bed, Cindy comes down to alert Graham that something is wrong. Likewise, when Jamie becomes overwhelmed with all the people at Frank's Christmas Barbecue, she goes to fetch Jason.
  • Likewise in The LawDog Files. LawDog slips and falls in the bathroom and calls on his cat to get help. It responds by sitting on his head, as the floor is cold.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender's Appa and Momo. Both show an unbelievable level of intelligence over the course of the show. But while Appa understands human speech, Momo does not (at least situationally). When Katara and Sokka were metaphorically stuck in a well and asking him for help during "The Blue Spirit" he could tell they wanted something but had no idea what it was. There could be a justification for Appa, who is Aang's spirit guide. It seems that all avatars have them in some form, and they all seem to show surprising intelligence (see Roku's dragon Fang and Korra's polar-bear dog Naga). Interestingly, Momo was originally going to be a reincarnation of Aang's mentor Gyatso, so his intelligence might be a left-over from that.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Suchi, Ma-Ti's pet monkey, sometimes starts freaking out when something's going wrong and the team hasn't noted it (though unlike most Lassie examples, nobody on the team except his master can actually communicate with him). In "Domes of Doom", he alerts Ma-Ti and Wheeler to someone trying to burn part of the forest and in "Creep from the Deep", he goes nuts trying to warn Gi that she lost a bolt for the eco-sub.
  • Parodied in Family Guy, when Brian, the talking dog tries to tell Peter something in English. Peter starts acting like a Lassie character, guessing (badly) what Brian is trying to say. He finally gets the message when Brian deadpans "Woof."
  • Also parodied in American Dad!: Stan is fighting a Brainwashed and Crazy Hayley in the back of a moving limousine, he tries to pull his gun only for Hayley to force him to drop it on the road. Said gun essentially being considered part of the family, Stan does like the MST example above and shouts "Gun! Call for help!"
  • Tiny Toon Adventures also did a similar parody, with a talking Lassie telling Elmyra that Montana Max has fallen off a cliff. Elmyra just barks.
  • In a flashback episode of Futurama, Fry's dog leads the family to the cryogenic unit he's in, but they don't notice him there and are instead worried about the weird way the dog is acting.
  • Hanna-Barbera shows:
    • Jonny Quest TOS episode "Skull and Double Crossbones." After the Quests are taken hostage by pirates, Bandit goes for help and brings back the police to save the day.
    • Tagg, Gulliver's dog in Hanna-Barbera's The Adventures of Gulliver cartoon. He is highly intelligent (for a dog) and often acts on his own initiative to warn Gulliver and the Lilliputians of danger (and sometimes save them from it).
    • Blip the monkey in Space Ghost. He often saved Jan, Jace and Space Ghost himself, sometimes by retrieving Space Ghost's power bands after they were taken by a villain.
    • Ork the flying dodo in the Mighty Mightor. He regularly saved the child Little Rok from danger and often winked at the audience at the end of episodes.
    • The Herculoids. Gloop and Gleep often acted in an intelligent manner to communicate with and protect the human members of the team on their own initiative. The other animal members could do the same but not quite as well.
    • Birdman (1967). Avenger the eagle did this all the time, and Birdman seemed to understand what his screeching cries meant.
    • Young Samson and Goliath: Goliath was Samson's pet dog, who could be turned into a super-powered lion by Samson's power bands. Golaith could understand English and carry out complex orders as well as a human being.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Some of Laddie's many skills include gathering fruit, rescuing Baby Gerald, and sniffing out marijuana.
      Bart: He's trained to do all sorts of stuff. He can herd sheep and perform CPR.
      Marge: (reads from the manual) Some call it the dog that never sleeps, though it actually does — while jogging!
    • Mr. Burns is also impressed by a dog.
      Burns: Smithers, I've just seen the most heroic dog on television. He pulled a toddler from the path of a speeding car, then pushed a criminal in front of it. Find this dog. I want to make him my executive vice-president.
    • Doesn't involve an animal rescue, but in "Radio Bart," Bart puts a radio down a well and, using his microphone, claims to be a boy named Timmy O'Toole. Eventually, Bart himself ends up trapped in the same well.
    • Parodied in "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind" when Homer tries his dog to help him find his family:
      Homer: Santa's Little Helper! Hey, boy, do you know where the family is? Show me on Mapquest!
      SLH: [Growls]
      Homer: Fine, Google Maps.
    • In "22 Short Stories About Springfield", Maggie gets trapped inside a newspaper dispenser and Homer tries to get help by writing a message on spray cheese and tucking it in Santa's Little Helper's collar. SLH runs a few feet before removing the note and eating it.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes: In the Prison Episode, Jimmy sends Cerbee to get Heloise's help after he and Beezy get trapped in a prison. Cerbee tries to communicate to Heloise, but she thinks he's hungry and offers him a steak, which he accepts. This happens a few more times until Cerbee farts in his sleep, giving Heloise instant understanding of the entire situation.
  • Parodied on Freakazoid!, when he sends Foamy the Freakadog to get Cosgrove to save him from the deathtrap he's currently trapped in. Foamy crosses the desert, overcoming several great obstacles before reaching Cosgrove... and running right past him to a fire hydrant.
  • Darkwing Duck:
    • "Just Us Justice Ducks":
      (Neptunia runs into her octopus friend)
      Neptunia: Hey Hal! What, what is is?
      (Hal motions with his tentacles)
      Neptunia: Someone fell into Devil's Gorge and has a compound fracture of the lower mandible?
    • Becomes a Brick Joke late:
      Launchpad: What is it, Archie? Someone fell into Devil's Gorge and has a compound fracture of the lower mandible?
  • In the King of the Hill episode "Raise the Stakes", Hank is helping out a hippie-run co-op; late in the episode, one of the hippies runs over (while the neighborhood is having a barbecue) and tells Hank there's trouble at the co-op. Dale remarks "He's like a human Lassie!"
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • Despite having no animals involved this time, the trope was also played here. When Dr. Bender and his son stole Chip Skylark's teeth, Chip couldn't speak properly and Chet Ubetcha somehow assumed Chip was trying to tell about a boy down at a well.
    • And in a recent episode concerning Sparky the Dog, Timmy Turner was trapped in a well. Although granted, it was a ruse to try to make Sparky feel more heroic. This is somewhat amusing considering Timmy's name making it a very literal example of this trope
  • Because of the masquerade of dogs being unable to speak in Pound Puppies (2010), this tends to be a regular occurrence in the eyes of the in-universe humans. Perhaps the best example was in the episode "Snow Problem", in which the puppy Tundra coordinated a rescue of a (fellow) sled dog by jumping down a mountain face and barking instructions to the Pound Puppies team who agreed/were volunteered to be his sled team.
  • Tex Avery's Homesteader Droopy sets up a home and runs a fence around a pond — a bull grazing there runs to the office of "Dishonest Dan the Cattle Man" and starts shouting "Moo! Moo! Moo moo, moo moo!" Dan replies "What? A dirty homesteader just fenced in our watering hole at Red Rock Canyon?"
  • In the episode "The Sock" of The Amazing World of Gumball, Gumball and Darwin try to get help for Mr. Small who's fallen into a filing cabinet's drawer and gotten locked in after having told them to be silent. Principal Brown interprets their pantomime as "Mrs. Simian's fallen down the old well?" and jumps out the second floor window to rescue her, dragging himself away with his arms. Mrs. Simian says "I've fallen down the old well?" and jumps out the window, dragging herself away with her chin. Rocky gives a full explanation of what happened and that they want to borrow his crowbars to open the drawer... and then jumps out the window.
  • Spoofed on the Clarence episode "Chimney", in which the boys find a Lassie-like dog. Jeff falls down a well, and Clarence and Sumo fall in trying to help him. The dog, which Clarence has called Chimney, is sent to find help. At first it runs heroically, but then stops to scratch itself. Chimney does return, but all it does is drop sticks down the well. The boys eventually do make a ladder out of the sticks to escape.
  • House of Mouse: In "Goofy's Menu Magic", Goofy goes into the kitchen to find the kitchen a mess and Chef Gus overstuffed.
    Goofy: What happened in here?
    Gus: Honk-honk.
    Goofy: What? Mickey fell down an abandoned well and broke his arm and needs fire rescue and paramedics?!
    Gus: Honk-honk.
    Goofy: Oh, you ate all the food. (beat) YOU ATE ALL THE FOOD?!
  • Parodied on Rugrats with the Show Within a Show Oodles, the Talking Poodle:
    Oodles: Come quick! Uncle Lyle is locked in the barn again! And it's on fire!
    Boy: We don't have an Uncle Lyle.
    Girl: Come to think of it, we don't have a barn either.
    • Played straight at the end of the same episode when Spike barks to Tommy's parents so he could expose Angelica's plan to steal and eat from the cookie jar.
  • The Sheep in the Big City episode "Can't Live Without Ewe" at one point has the narrator Ben Plotz ask Sheep if he's trying to tell him Timmy's stuck in a well. Sheep bleats in confusion, causing the narrator reply that he was reading the wrong script.
  • Ivor the Engine plays with this trope on a few occasions.
    • In one episode where Jones the Steam (and a sheep) are stuck on a ledge down a cliff Jones sends Ivor and Nell the sheepdog to fetch help. The first person they find is frightened of the strange dog that suddenly comes up to him barking loudly and ends up stuck in a tree trying to get away. The next person they find is more aware that Nell is trying to tell them something and follows her to Ivor, and then panics when the driver-less locomotive sets off under its own power.
    • In another episode Ivor is derailed and Jones sends Bluebell the donkey to Dye Station to bring the equipment needed to get Ivor back on the rails, but Jones writes a note explaining the problem.
    • In a third episode Ivor gets stuck in some snow and Nell is send to fetch the fire brigade. The fire brigade then get stuck themselves. Without being asked Bluebell then goes to fetch elephants from Banger's Circus who manage to get Ivor and the fire brigade unstuck.
  • Spoofed in the BoJack Horseman episode "Yesterdayland". When the anthropomorphic Golden Retriever Mr. Peanutbutter's Disneyland knock-off catches fire, he tries to run to some firefighters to help put out the flames. However, he's so out of breath that they misinterpret his pleading completely, thinking that a kid fell down a well and needs to be rescued.

    Real Life 

Woof woof!


Video Example(s):


Did some kid fall down a well?

When Todd's Disneyland goes down in flames, Mr. Peanutbutter tries to summon the firefighters. However, he's totally out of breath by the time he reaches them, so they assume some kid fell down a well and take off in the opposite direction of where they're actually needed.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / TimmyInAWell

Media sources: