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Turn Your Head and Cough

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A Stock Phrase and Stock Joke involving the medical community. This usually involves a doctor or physician examining a male patient's testicular region and instructing the patient to cough, turning his head so as to avoid the patient coughing on the doctor. The intended purpose of this part of a medical exam is to check if the patient has a hernia.

More humorously, however, doctors in fiction who get to this part of a physical exam may be revealed to not actually be doing this for any medical reason, thus revealing the doc as a perverted sexual deviant. Inversely, the person may be a perverted sexual deviant posing as a doctor just to feel someone's balls.

Often heard uttered during a Creepy Physical.


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    Film — Live-Action 
  • In ┬íThree Amigos!, the final part of the titular group's salute involves them turning their heads and coughing, simultaneous with a forward hip thrust.
  • Alice's Restaurant: When Arlo goes for a physical examination, we see him in a line of people being told to do this.
  • My Friend Dahmer: Jeffrey Dahmer sets up an appointment for a physical exam so he could trick the doctor into touching his private area by performing this examination.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One Saturday Night Live skit involved a doctor performing this test on a male patient, asking him to cough over and over again. Another doctor soon enters the picture and both continue to perform this one part of the exam over and over. Then, a third doctor enters not recognizing the other two doctors already in the room, revealing the first two doctors to be impostors who just like to sneak into examination rooms and feel people's balls.
  • In one "Scenes From a Hat" segment on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, one situation which came up was "Things You Wouldn't Want to Hear Your Doctor Say After 'Turn Your Head And Cough'."
    Okay, now bend over and sneeze...
  • On Scrubs, when Dr. Kelso asks Dr. Cox to perform a physical on him for his new insurance policy, Dr. Cox issues the heavily sarcastic reply, "The day I willingly cradle your dusty old twig and berries and get a whiff of your chronic halitosis while you Turn Your Head And Cough is the day you can look for me up on the roof singing 'I Believe I Can Fly'."
  • In the first episode of Police Squad!, Sally Decker plans to rob the bank she works at. Just off-screen, Ralph Twice is opening up an account at the bank, and the overheard signing-up procedure grows increasingly surreal until the bank teller instructs Ralph, "Now, turn your head and cough."
  • On NCIS: Los Angeles, while Hetty is examining Sam and Callen after the two had a close encounter with Clostridium botulinum bacteria, Sam warns about Hetty pulling this. She is not amused.
  • In an episode of M*A*S*H, the doctors are giving the camp annual physicals, and Major Burns is upset because this part is always his job.
    • In "Operation Noselift," Hawkeye introduces his friend Stash to Frank (Stash is a cosmetic surgeon who is there to operate on a soldier's nose but Frank doesn't know it).
    Frank: What brings you to the 4077th, doctor?
    Hawkeye: Social. Stash and I go back a long way. He built me in his laboratory!
    Stash: And now it's time for his 3000 mile check-up. (to Hawkeye) Turn and cough!

  • In "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "Living With A Hernia", the narrator goes to see his physician, Dr. Jones, who we are told takes off the narrator's pants and tells him to cough. Justified, of course, because he's seeing the doctor about his hernia.
  • Lyrics in the chorus of the Barenaked Ladies song "Get In Line" are very reflective of things heard during physical exams, including the phrase "turn and cough."
  • The song "Every OS Sucks" by Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie:
    Well Stevie said to Xerox,
    "Boys, turn your heads and cough."
    And when no-one was looking,
    He ripped their interfaces off.
  • Alice Cooper's song "Nurse Rozetta" includes the line, "She turns my head, makes me cough."
  • The phrase was the working title of Blink-182's album Enema of the State.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • One of Bill Engvall's routines describes him taking his son to the doctor for a sports physical, during which the kid receives his first hernia check, which the child later declares "weird".

  • In The Hardy Boys and the Mystery of Where Babies Come From, Nurse Ratched subjects the Hardy Boys to this part of a physical examination for two straight hours.

    Video Games 
  • In Team Fortress 2, the Medic may say this when holding a melee weapon, looking at an enemy player, and choosing the "battle cry" speech.
  • For the StarCraft medic, this phrase is one of her "annoyed" lines.
  • One of the Nurse's lines upon talking to her in Terraria.
  • The Witch Doctor in Dota 2 sometimes says, "Cough" when last-hitting a creep.

    Web Animation 

  • In an early Arthur, King of Time and Space strip, Arthur suggests to Guenevere during his physical that if she's going to be the ship's doctor, she should work on her beside manner. Her reply is "I'm very friendly. Cough."

    Web Original 
  • In The Saga of Tuck the main character's family doctor has been skipping this point on standard physicals as being needlessly embarrassing. Turns out that, as embarrassing as it may have been, for Tuck it certainly wasn't needless, and if it had been done then half the plot would have been mooted.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life short "Skid Marks," the doctor performing Rocko's eye exam at the DMV at one point holds Rocko's eyeballs and instructs him to cough.
    • In another episode "Flu-In-U-Enza" Rocko visits a "doctor" who asks him to do this several times, and he actually reaches between Rocko's legs for this "procedure".
  • On Metalocalypse, Murderface once became "stimulated" when he reached this point of a medical exam. This was rather unfortunate for the doctor.
  • In Shrek, when Donkey learns that Shrek has been hit by an arrow, Donkey panics at the thought of Shrek dying from it and shouts irrelevant medical advice, including "keep your feet elevated," a plea for somebody to perform the Heimlich Maneuver, and "turn your head and cough."
  • Invoked in The Penguins of Madagascar, "Needle Point".
    Skipper: Just a routine visit to the doctor. Turn and cough, boys. Turn and cough.
  • Robot Chicken: "Okay, turn your head and cough... It's just as I had suspected; you let a stranger grab your balls."
  • In The Simpsons
    • Springfield has a hair salon named "Turn Your Head And Coif".
    • In "Brother Could You Spare Two Dimes?" Homer has a physical at work and Marge asks how it went.
    Homer: Oh, the usual. Stand in front of this, open that, pull down this, bend over, spread apart that, turn your head that way, cough.
  • On Ultimate Spider-Man (2012), as Spidey and his ragtag team descend on Latveria to take down Doctor Doom, he describes him as not being a real "turn your head and cough" doctor.
  • Hanna-Barbera's 1975 Tom and Jerry redeux pulls this in an episode where they're animal doctors trying to remove a splinter from the paw of a zoo's lion. Tom dresses up as a lion nurse, and the lion goes gaga. He prepares for an exam and even says "I know. Turn and cough!"
  • Futurama: When Dr. Zoidberg is first introduced, he tells Fry to turn his head and make a burbling noise. Fry tries imitating the noise, which prompts an offended Zoidberg to say "What?! My mother was a saint! Get Out!!"
  • South Park: In "Pinkeye", a Zombie Apocalypse has broken out in the town due to an embalming accident involving Worchester sauce, which the doctor has been diagnosing as pinkeye due to the infecteds puffy, sticky eyes (ignoring that they lack both bloodflow and heartbeat, not to mention their craving for brains). When Chef shows up at the hospital, the doctor is giving a patient this examination, and Chef rips the guys arm off to prove that he's undead.
    Doctor: Uh, Mr. Turner was here for a routine checkup, Chef...
    Chef: Oh, uh, sorry. My bad. *tries to stick the patients arm back on, who promptly bleeds to death*