Follow TV Tropes

Following

Playing With / Out-of-Context Eavesdropping

Go To

Basic Trope: Someone hears someone say something out of context (whether because they're eavesdropping or just overheard) and ends up assuming something wrong.

  • Straight: Alice hears Bob say "Begone, you unholy pest!" to a fly and thinks he's talking to her.
  • Exaggerated:
    • All the other characters hear Bob say that and worry that he means one of them.
    • Alice overhears the "unholy pest" line, then starts listening, but a helicopter is nearby so it's noisy and she only hears a few random words, which lead her to believe Bob is an alien who thinks she's an unholy pest and is planning to murder someone.
  • Advertisement:
  • Downplayed: Alice overhears Bob planning a surprise party for "Alice" and wonders why, since her birthday is six months away, but she doesn't benefit from the One Steve Limit — he was referring to a different Alice.
  • Justified: Alice could hear Bob but not see him, so she had no idea that he was talking to the fly.
  • Inverted: Alice can't see anything around Bob but somehow knows exactly what he's saying and everything about the context thereof.
  • Subverted: Bob says, "Begone, you unholy pest!" to a fly. The screen cuts to a shocked Alice saying, "How dare he say that about me?!" but it turns out that she was talking about a letter she got from Charlie.
  • Double Subverted: But then Bob says, "I'm going to kill you!" to the same fly and Alice worries that he's making a death threat.
  • Parodied: Every time Alice hears Bob say something out of the blue about a person, place, or thing that isn't herself, she thinks it is about her. The only time she hears him talking about her without context, she assumes it's about someone/something else.
  • Zig-Zagged:
      Advertisement:
    • Alice assumes several things, of which some are borne out and others not.
    • Alice then hears Bob add "Drat that fly."
  • Averted: Alice either does not hear Bob say anything she's not actively listening to, or doesn't jump to any conclusions.
  • Enforced:
    • The writers wanted to set up An Aesop about one or more of: not jumping to conclusions, listening, not eavesdropping, or about asking people for clarification.
    • The writers wanted a Feud Episode between Alice and Bob, but Bob's such a Nice Guy that he'd be Out of Character if he decided not to be friends with Alice so they decided to have it only on Alice's part, but Alice isn't the type to decide not to be friends with one of her True Companions so they decided this was the best way to have her decide that.
  • Lampshaded: "Gee whiz, I was only talking to a fly but now my best friend thinks I've insulted her!"
  • Advertisement:
  • Invoked: Gary has Alice listen to Bob but not see him.
  • Exploited: Gary then plays on Alice's sudden fear of Bob.
  • Defied:
    • Alice outright asks Bob who he was talking to.
    • Bob says "I was just talking to a fly!"
  • Discussed:
    Alice: I overheard Bob say "Begone, you unholy pest!" Did I offend him?
    Diane: Probably not. I can't see how. And you know how creative Bob is with words, he was probably talking to a fly or something.
  • Conversed: "Those characters should always ask for clarification if they only hear a bit of what the other one said."
  • Implied: Bob says to the fly, "Begone, you unholy pest!" The screen then cuts to Alice in the next room, looking shocked, but it's never revealed why.
  • Deconstructed: ???
  • Reconstructed: ???
  • Played for Laughs: The next time Alice sees Bob, she blurts out a long-winded apology and Bob just says "What the heck?"
  • Played for Drama: Alice avoids Bob because she thinks he doesn't like her, which makes Bob sad and causes him to wonder if he did anything wrong.

Back to Out-of-Context Eavesdropping.
Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report