Follow TV Tropes


What Have We Ear?

Go To

Stock trope of the Stage Magician, sometimes referred to as the Miser's Dream. On their introduction, something will get pulled out from behind someone's ear.

This is in fact a very easy trick to perform off-the-cuff. The only setup required is that the magician have a coin or other small object somewhere he can palm it.

For other stock tricks, see Saw a Woman in Half, Pick a Card, Pull a Rabbit out of My Hat, and Disappearing Box.


    open/close all folders 

  • A State Farm commercial advertising its "Discount Double Check" service showed an old man playing this trick on his grandson. When his granddaughter asked him to check again for more money, he reached into his pocket to get another coin... only for her to roughly tousle her brother's head, flinging out coins, dollar bills, and other expensive items from Hammerspace.
    Grandfather: watch.

    Comic Books 
  • In a Batman issue written by Paul Dini, there's a flashback scene where Alfred tried to throw a birthday party for young Bruce, less than a year after his parents were killed, and hired Zatara the magician to entertain at the party. Bruce wandered off to be alone, not wanting to party with the other kids, Zatara's daughter Zatanna approaches Bruce and, without saying a word, pulls a variant of the coin-behind-the-ear trick, producing soap bubbles from behind Bruce's ear. Because of this trick, Zatanna became one of the first people to reach young Bruce after his parents' deaths. Batman recalled his first meeting with Zatanna when the two investigated the murder of her former assistant at the hands of The Joker, which helped him overcome his mistrust of Zatanna after the events of Identity Crisis.
  • Squee's grandpa shows this trick to a delighted Tod... only to start accusing him of stealing his money and it pretty much goes downhill from there.
  • Tintin: Prof. Calculus does one by accident in Flight 714.
  • X-Men: In a flashback, it is revealed that Jean's mental powers were inadvertently coming to, tearing down the mental blocks Professor X had placed there years before. To discover the cause, Professor X reaches behind Jean's ear and pulls out... a mental hologram of Cyclops, explaining that the resurgence of Jean's powers was due to her trying to emotionally "reach out" to him. Not quite a quarter, but pulling something out of someone's subconscious seems like a cool trick, too!

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: When Calvin's dad does it to him, he has Hobbes hold him upside down and shake him, to see if there is any other loose change in him.
  • A The Far Side strip has a headhunter tribe always entertained by one uncle pulling a skull from behind a child's ear.
  • Mandrake the Magician teaches a kid this trick to get back from a very far future where he had been pulled by that same kid playing with Time Travel. In said future the only thing worth anything is knowledge - and since said trick had been completely forgotten in the face of more advanced amusements, it was very valuable.

    Film — Animation 
  • In Happily N'Ever After, Rick gives Ella her invitation to the ball this way.
  • In Home on the Range, show cow Maggie is able to pull out stuff (food) from the ears of others and herself. Sometime later, Mrs. Caloway teases her on getting some money this way when they and Grace decided to go to town and negotiate with Buck.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Andy does this to Trish's youngest daughter with a fake ear in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, delighting her. The older daughter is unimpressed, and quickly realizes the implication that he would've had to have a fake ear in his pocket all day just to do those kinds of tricks.
  • Robert does it to Giselle in Enchanted. She thinks he actually is pulling them from her ear.
  • In Night at the Museum, Larry does this to Atilla the Hun. Being the primitive savage he is, he falls for it.
  • Posse (1975): One of the posse does this trick to impress a girl in the town of Desoto. His partner indulges in some Gun Twirling.
  • The Prestige: This is one of Alfred Borden's go-to tricks, primarily with little kids on the street. Borden uses this opportunity to express his view on magicians' secrets.
  • In A Safe Place (1971), the magician pulls a bill from behind Susan's ear.
  • In Time Bandits, King Agamemnon does this to Kevin as part of a Cups and Balls magician's trick.

  • Shadow does coin tricks, including this one, throughout American Gods, as a way of keeping his hands busy. It becomes important to the plot when he ends up with a pair of very special coins: the sun and moon.
  • Professor "Reg" Chronotis does this as a hobby in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams. Then he goes on to do something that actually "is impossible".
  • The Heavy Metal story "Secret of the Coin" had a man take this way too far after it was performed on him as a child, to the point of killing people and finally summoning Beelzebub in order to learn the trick.
  • Fake Jamaican Robert Marley pulls this off in John Dies at the End twice. On the first time it's with a live centipede out of David's ear; on the second, it's a live centipede out of his stomach!
  • Sheriff Pangborn is shown doing this at least twice in Needful Things, by Stephen King, both times to cheer up someone who needs it.
  • In Pinocchio’s Sister, a stage magician eating with Martha pretends to pull a roll out of her ear.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 3rd Rock from the Sun, Mary's brother Roy tried to impress Tommy with this.
    Roy: Hey, what's that? A quarter?
    Tommy: Oh, I get it. You're trying to impress a youngster with what you think is a mystifying feat of trickery.
    Roy: Cut your hair, you look like a girl!
  • A favorite trick — sorry, illusion — of amateur magician GOB Bluth in Arrested Development. It leads to him getting stabbed as he accidentally manages to get the violent inmate "White-Power Bill" temporarily re-christened as "Dirty-Ears Bill".
  • Arrow: In a flashback in "Uprising", Malcolm Merlyn is shown doing this to comfort his young son Tommy from a nightmare. On arriving at Nanda Parbat, he does the same trick for a young Nyssa after she threatens to kill him, causing her to give him his League name of "The Magician".
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Howard pulls this on Sheldon when he wants to bug him because he is uninterested in Howard's magic tricks.
    • When Bernadette and Howard are about to have make-up sex, he does to Bernadette to reveal a condom.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Fires of Pompeii", the Doctor does this to Quintus when bribing him into showing him where Lucius Petrus Dextrus' house is.
  • Drake & Josh:
    • Happens in the Christmas special, when Josh has been arrested and is in a jail cell with a Scary Black Man.
    • In the episode with the magician, Josh tries to pull the What Have We Ear trick on him... to be horrified when the coin comes away dripping fake blood.
  • In Friends, Monica hints to her dad that she needs some money. He's oblivious to the request, and does the coin trick to nobody's amusement but his own. Monica's reaction? "You got anything bigger back there?". Several seasons later Jack Geller does the trick again to Chandler when they're all at the hospital for the birth of Ross and Rachel's daughter. Chandler appreciates the trick more than Monica did.
  • In Gilmore Girls, Jess's early characterization included a talent for stage magic. At the end of his first episode, he's fiddling with a coin while talking with Rory, and attempts to parlay this into a pick-up line. It meets a No-Sell.
    Rory: What are you doing?
    Jess: Oh this? Nothing. [makes the coin vanish] Just another little disappearing act.
    Rory: Little tip?
    Jess: Yeah?
    Rory: If you ever want to speak to me again, don't pull that out of my ear.
    Jess: So I assume the nose is off limits too?
    Rory: Any place you wouldn't naturally find a coin, let's leave it that way.
  • One of Aziraphale's favourites in Good Omens (2019). Crowley finds the whole thing very embarrassing, as Aziraphale is an angel capable of casually violating the laws of physics but struggles to convincingly palm a coin.
  • In How I Met Your Mother, Barney has been luring women away from Marshall using magic tricks. Before they go out for another night, Marshall asks Barney to empty his pockets of magic paraphernalia, then his sleeves, and finally to look behind his (Marshall's) ear, from which he pulls a coin.
  • Jonathan Creek does it also, quite naturally as he is a magician's assistant by trade.
  • Parodied in Key & Peele in a sketch where an old man does the trick for a young boy outside a grocery store. He then notices something sticking out of his ear and pulls out a twenty dollar bill. He keeps pulling out more and more bills before deciding the kidnap the boy when his mom isn't looking.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent:
    • Goren does this in "Vanishing Act"; producing the passkey from behind the guard's ear as a flourish as he finishes demonstrating how a Stage Magician had stolen the key from the guard.
    • The fixer for a 'rockstar' fashion designer does this at the start of "Rispetto"; producing cocaine for his employer.
  • Big Howard does this to Little Howard in Little Howard's Big Question. Little Howard then goes to try and break his head open to get the money that is obviously in there.
  • In Merlin (1998), the title wizard is asked by a young Morgan Le Fay to "Do some magic for me!" He obliges by doing this trick. Her response? "That's not real magic. That's just a trick. Anybody can do that." Which she then proves by pulling another coin from behind Merlin's ear. If you pay attention, you notice that Merlin conjures the coin into Morgan's hand with real magic, but she doesn't notice, apparently assuming that's how the trick works.
  • Motive: In "The Vanishing Policeman", a comedian and magician pulls a condom out of his sister-in-law's ear, leading to some playful banter between the two. This is apparently a trick he has been performing since age 13 in the hope of getting laid.
  • This was used in an episode of Night Court to free a Pacific Island princess from an arranged marriage.
  • In Psych, a woman does this with a flower to convince a little girl that the flower was magic. Turns out to be a Chekhov's Skill, as she used a similar trick to steal the ring that Shawn and Gus had been hired to find.
  • JD does this in Scrubs. To no less than David Copperfield himself. Who then promptly makes the coin completely disappear, with a thoroughly unimpressed look on his face...
  • Dax does this to the (large-eared alien) Quark in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Rejoined". This being The Future, he accuses her of using a teleporter to do it. It's a bar of gold-plated latinum she produces from his ear. Afterwards, Quark has to shoo away Rom, who's peering into his ear to see if there's any more wealth in there.
  • War and Peace (1972): Rostov servant Mitenka gives Petya a sweet by pulling it from his ear.
  • The X-Files: Scully does this to Mulder when they're visiting a town of sideshow freaks and performers in "Humbug".

    Video Games 
  • A variation occurs in Five Nights At Freddys VR Help Wanted. In the "Parts & Services" level for Freddy Fazbear, one of the game's hidden coins can be found behind Freddy's left ear in a manner similar to this trick.
  • The Sims 3: Sims with the magician career from the "Showtime" Expansion Pack can pull the coin trick as an interaction at the novice stage.

    Web Animation 
  • Gotham Girls: At the end of "A Little Night Magic", the doorman at Zatanna's hotel warns her that being out on the streets so late wasn't a good idea. She's quite capable of taking care of street hooligans, of course, but she's sufficiently touched by his concern for her to magic up a rose from behind his ear and present it to him.
  • A RWBY Chibi skit has Jaune pull a chocolate coin from behind Yang's ear. Assistant Ruby, however, upstages him by pulling a blank check!

  • Sarah from Ennui GO! provides a particularly extreme example where she somehow manages to have her newborn child pop up behind the doctor's ear while in the process of giving birth.
  • Ozy and Millie does it here.
  • An adult version appears (NSFW) in Sexy Losers, where a magician is fingering his girlfriend, then pulls out a coin.
  • In Thunderstruck, the magician Saxony Canterbury does this trick to amuse a child. Then an assassin tries to shoot him. Saxony catches the bullet in his hat. Then "pulls" it from behind the assassin's ear - still moving. The assassin's head is Chunky Salsa.

    Western Animation 
  • In Aqua Teen Hunger Force, when Frylock is looking for someone to resurrect Master Shake, one of the applicants is a stage magician repeatedly pulling the same quarter out of where Meatwad's ears would be, if he had any.
  • Dexter's dad does this in Dexter's Laboratory when he wants to go buy ice cream from the ice cream truck (whose driver had a grudge against him).
  • DJ Jesús does this in one episode of Lucy, the Daughter of the Devil in a way that's genuinely supernatural - the setup is exactly the same, but he pulls an entire platter of fish out from behind Lucy's head, something he couldn't conceivably have palmed (and wouldn't have had any place to hide behind her). Everyone takes the sight with casual disinterest, except for his Yes-Man, Judas.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, Lawrence does this with Phineas which impresses Buford, to which Phineas points out that he always keeps a bunch of coins behind his ear.
  • In the Ready Jet Go! episode "Magnet, PI", Sean pulls a magnet out of Sunspot's ear.
  • The Simpsons: In "Moe Baby Blues", Moe entertains Maggie by pulling a penny behind her ear. She proceeds to grab the penny and swallow it.
    Moe: Okay. We won't tell no one about that.
  • Spongebob Squarepants pulls a Krabby Patty out of Squidward's ear once, as well as his nose.
  • "The Dingo's Guide to Magic" from Taz-Mania.
  • Mumbo pulls a penny out of a hostage bank teller's ear in Teen Titans (2003). The real trick is that it was covered in ear wax...
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • Dr. Henry Killinger, despite the fact that he is capable of very powerful magic, does this to entertain children.
    • Dr. Orpheus mentions that if he reaches behind your ear, it won't be a nickel he pulls out, BUT YOUR VERY SOUL!