Effectively the opposite of Two Scenes, One Dialogue. Two characters — or more, if the writer is feeling particularly ambitious — talk to each other without actually listening, resulting in a conversation that sounds something like this:
John: Why did she break up with me?
Richard: How much do you think these nuts cost?
John: I mean, I'm not a bad guy. I never screwed around on her.
Richard: I guess the bars buy them in bulk, but they must have to buy HUGE bags...
Richard: How much do you think these nuts cost?
John: I mean, I'm not a bad guy. I never screwed around on her.
Richard: I guess the bars buy them in bulk, but they must have to buy HUGE bags...
There are generally three ways to finish such a "conversation":
- One character will have a Delayed Reaction to what was said by the other, resulting in a "Eureka!" Moment
- The conversations comically mesh together and turn into a proper discussion
- One or more of the characters will have an epiphany and thank their colleague even though their conversations never actually come together.
Not to be confused with One Dialogue, Two Conversations, which is part of an Oops... I Did It Again plot.
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Anime & Manga
- Variation in Excel♡Saga: Misaki Matsuya complains to Dr. Kabapu about the legitimacy of their civil service training, while Watanabe is complaining to himself about the same. Things get a little weird when they both simultaneously mention the apparent cheapness of their prototype laser guns.
- In one of the Slayers OVAs, Naga gets into an extended argument with the main villain. He has kidnapped Lina for use in a super-chimera and thinks Naga is there to rescue her, Naga is convinced that the villain and Lina are going behind her back just to cheat her out of some profit. The "conversation" goes absolutely nowhere, lampshaded by one of the spectators wondering to another "You get the feeling they're not actually listening to each other?"
- In the manga High School Debut, Haruna doesn't realize that they area having two different conversation and Asoka hangs a lampshade on this saying, "Even though we are speaking of different things unexpectedly, we get along quite well."
- In Doug Tennapel's Gear, Waffle the cat appears to have a conversation with Chee the mantis in spite of their language barrier. Waffle then ends the "conversation" by announcing, "By the way, I haven't understood a thing you've said," and walking away.
- Neil Gaiman does this all the time in The Sandman (1989), pointing out its use in his commentary for the "A Midsummer's Night Dream" story, and claims it's practically one of his signature techniques.
- Sometimes Calvin and Hobbes do this: memorable is the sledding episode when Calvin wants to discuss whether humanity is good, bad, or crazy, and Hobbes is more interested in "Watch out for those rocks!" Calvin ends up crashing: while the two are face-down in the snow, he says, "You know, it's not very polite to keep changing the subject," prompting Hobbes to say "I vote crazy".
- An ongoing theme in Get Fuzzy - usually between Bucky and Satchel. Case in point.
- There was a Beetle Bailey comic where the enlisted men's lounge had two TVs on, one showing a romance and the other a football game. By chance, the football announcers appeared to be commenting on the action in the romance.
Films — Animation
- Every conversation Hiccup has with his father in How to Train Your Dragon, frequently lampshaded by one or both complaining that the other never listens to anything.
- Yellow Submarine: Ringo's soliloquy when we first see him alternates between spoken out loud and thought.
Ringo: Woe...is...me. (chuckles softly) Liverpool can be a lonely place on a Saturday night. But this is only Thursday morning. (thought) Compared with my life, Eleanor Rigby's was a gay mad whirl. (aloud) Nothing ever happens to me. (thought) I feel like an old splintered drumstick. (aloud) I'd jump into the river Mersey, but it looks like rain. Nothing ever happens to me.
Films — Live-Action
- Subverted in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, where the title character and his best friend have a conversation with each other; however, since neither speaks the other's language, they don't realize they're both saying the same thing.
- A literal example from Love and Death. Boris has been challenged to a duel, and asks Sonya to marry him if he manages to survive. They then go into alternating inner monologues, with Sonya considering the various reasons why or why not to say yes, and Boris, certain of his imminent death, becoming rather fixated on the imagery of wheat.
- The Big Lebowski
The Dude: It's like Lenin said... Y'know... You look for the person who, who benefits from, uh—
Donny: I am the walrus?
Walter: That fucking bitch.
The Dude: You know what I'm trying to say...
Donny: I am the walrus.
Walter: That fucking bitch!
The Dude: Yeah!
Donny: I am the walrus.
- Done literally in Hot Shots! Part Deux, where Topper Harley is having his Inner Monologue while writing a journal entry, only to cross paths (and narration) with Captain Willard in his boat, causing both to stop.
I loved you on Wall Street!
- The narrator of Brian Aldiss's story "Appearance of Life" finds two holographic messages which turn out to be from a husband and wife. When he turns them on they appear to be conversing with each other, but it soon becomes clear that the wife's message is an expression of her undying love for her husband, while the husband's is a confession of his infidelity.
- Chapter 4 of Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys presents a scenario in which a woman named Elaine says to a guy named Roger: "Do you realize that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?" From that point, two internal monologues diverge: Elaine thinks about her relationship with Roger and their feelings toward each other, while Roger's thoughts concern car repairs.
- Terry Pratchett's Discworld:
- Jingo lampshades this by having Vetinari going specifically to talk to Leonard da Quirm to do this.
- He uses it a lot; the three people (well, two people and a talking dog) Drowning Their Sorrows in Moving Pictures also do it, and some of Magrat and Verence's awkward conversations come close as well.
- The cultists' meetings in Guards! Guards! use this every single time they talk, usually of the "random 3rd person keeps ranting while everyone else moves on" variety.
- In G. K. Chesterton's The Return of Don Quixote, two characters talk about the play. One is discussing his chances to show off in it; the other is discussing its philosophical underpinnings. Neither of them figures out that they are talking past each other.
- In The Dragon Hoard, the attempt by Jasleth and Fearless to discuss how to deal with the hoard's guardian dragon turns into this, culminating in them both saying "We can't" but meaning two completely different things by it (at which point they realize what they've been doing).
- In The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Mannie starts one when the subject was politics, which he doesn't want to talk about.
Mannie: Now, Prof, what you think of pennant race? Got money says Yankees can't do it again?
Prof: Manuel, what is your political philosophy?
Mannie: With that new boy from Milwaukee I feel like investing.
Prof: Sometimes a man doesn't have it defined but, under Socratic inquiry, knows where he stands and why.
Mannie: I'll back 'em against field, three to two.
Prof: What? You young idiot! How much?
Mannie: Three hundred. Hong Kong.
Prof: Done. For example, under what circumstances may the State justly place its welfare above that of a citizen?
- In one example from Arrested Development, three characters all monologue about issues regarding their manliness, each continuing the next part of his own monologue from the last phrase of the previous person's monologue, all the while never paying attention to each other. Amazingly, they all reach the same solution to their manly dilemma: going to the mall.
- This sort of thing tended to happen rather frequently in this show, although I think the above example is the most extreme...
- In the first season finale, GOB has a scene with Kitty in which he does this; she's trying to convince him to join her to take over the Bluth company, but he's trying to figure out what he can order that's OK for the Atkins Diet. In the commentary, the entire cast was silent for this entire exchange (if you can call it that) and spent a couple of minutes singing the praises of Will Arnett for his performance in the scene, and it was impressive; not a single one of his lines worked off of anything she was saying. "What about macaroni — let me finish — salad? GOB is kind of dumb.
- Lennier and Vir meet on a weekly basis to do this on Babylon 5. Sheridan also likes doing this, mostly with Delenn and/or Ivanova, when he's coming up with one of his "clever ideas" — generally Type 3 conclusions, with a bit of Type 1 occasionally thrown in for laughs.
- This is the entire basis of Darin's conversations with his buddy at the bar he goes to on Bewitched.
- Justified in The Big Bang Theory episode "The Adhesive Duck Deficiency", where Leonard, Howard and Raj eat a couple of cookies given to them by elderly campers, unaware that they were laced with some kind of drug. A Mushroom Samba ensues, and at one point they have a three-way version of this trope - where Leonard is talking about how he hates his name, Raj daydreams about ruling over all the rabbits in the world, and Howard discusses losing his virginity to his cousin at a wedding. However, it is also subverted in that Leonard and Raj mock Howard for the latter when they've sobered up (if only slightly) at the end.
- A Bit of Fry and Laurie has a sketch parodying religious television. It's pretty well summed up by this exchange:
Arnold: Glen is having a little difficulty concentrating on our Bible study readings because he has something of an obsession with the size of my girlfriend's breasts.
Glen: Well, I like to put it this way: Arnold is having difficulty concentrating on our discussion of the size of his girlfriend's breasts because he's a little too interested in The Bible.
- Occurs in S7 Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Spike, being crazy, utters a lot of apparent non sequiturs, and the Scoobies ignore them. The twist is that Willow is invisibly present (and the others, except Spike, are invisible to her), and all of Spike's responses make some kind of sense.
- Done in Coupling, Season 1 Episode 5. Jeff is trying to chat up a woman who speaks nothing but Hebrew; Jeff knows this (an earlier scene has him stumbling hilariously through flirting with her), but true to fashion tries to make it happen anyway. The scene plays out and then rewinds with the cue, "But now, imagine you're an Israeli" and translates her lines...while muddling up Jeff's (the actor combined several other languages to make up his gibberish).
- Doctor Who: In "The Age of Steel", Mickey and his Alternate Universe counterpart Ricky do this, panicking while rambling about how to escape pursuing Cybermen without listening to each other, before finishing with the same line.
- Gilmore Girls was fond of doing this with Madeline and Louise. One particular example was during Rory taking Dean to a school dance. Madeline and Louise notice Rory's dress, which she mentions was made by her mother Lorelei. It's at this point where Louise starts going off in her own little world about how her mother can't make anything ("Except soup. She can make soup.") while Madeline continues speaking with Rory. We never see the end of Louise's conversation with herself, as she gets pulled away by huffy Madeline shortly after.
- Grey's Anatomy has this in one episode, with Derek and Meredith. What Derek was talking about I can't remember, but Meredith was talking about how she didn't understand how two people (Burke and Yang) could be in a relationship and not talk to each other.
- Every single time Wilson tries to make the eponymous House behave ethically, this is the result.
- Happens often on Just Shoot Me! between Nina and some other character (usually Maya). Self-absorbed Nina often doesn't realize there is someone else talking next to her.
- A M*A*S*H episode has Col. Blake, who's worrying that his wife back home has been unfaithful, going to talk to Father Mulcahy. But the good padre is himself preoccupied worrying about his sister, a nun, who's considering leaving the sisterhood so she can marry and have children. A "conversation" of this type ensues.
- Happens in the NCIS episode "Leap of Faith" when Tony and Ziva investigate the home of a dead naval officer whose wife left him just before his death. Ziva speculates on what could've ruined their marriage while Tony goes on about the officer wound up worse off from the split.
- Happens in Sherlock when the titular character is ranting about his famous deerstalker hat while John is busy fuming over the newspapers referring to him as a bachelor.
- The Two Ronnies has a sketch in which two men making separate phone calls appear to be having a surreally humorous conversation. Specifically, Gerald (Ronnie Barker) is asking his friend Simon about his date last night, while Walter (Ronnie Corbett) is checking a shopping list with his wife. The scene is one Double Entendre after another until we find out that Simon's date works at the supermarket they're both talking at, and is having an affair with Walter.
- Weeds episode "The Love Circle Overlap" makes use of this trope, in the scene near the end of the episode with Nancy and Andy monologuing back and forth about their failures.
- Lumpy Gravy by Frank Zappa: At The Gas Station features Jim Motorhead Sherwood talking about his car, while another unrelated conversation between several people starts up and intermixes.
- The scene in Henry VI Part 1 where Suffolk first meets Margaret is of this form. For the first half of the scene, Suffolk soliloquizes while Margaret tries to talk to him; for the second half, their roles are reversed.
- Musicals do this a lot. One particular example comes from Les Mis?rables in which Javert and Jean Valjean talk past each other; Javert seems to be listening to Valjean (a full stanza after Valjean says, "You know nothing of my life/All I did was steal some bread," Javert replies with, "Don't you speak to me of crime and the price you had to pay"), but Valjean is playing the trope straight.
- Mushnik and Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors obsess about their respective paramounts (money and Audrey, respectively). As is typical, it's not Seymour who takes the initiative for the ensuing musical number.
- "The Proposal/The Night Was Alive", though one hopes Bride was listening enough to Barrett's dictation to be able to send the telegraph.
- "The Blame" weaves in and out of this with three people.
- "I'm All Alone" from Spamalot.
- A tragic example in Brian Friel's Translations: MÃ¡ire and Lieutenant Yolland talk past each other because they don't speak each other's languages (though through the magic of Translation Convention, the audience understands them both).
- ''Cyrano de Bergerac: This happens in a very subtle way with Cyrano and Roxane at act II scene VI: Cyrano invokes Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone and tells Roxane the stock phrase I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me. Roxane talks about Cyrano calling him brother and friend. Cyrano and Roxane are so enthralled by their own emotions to really put attention to the other.
- The Real Inspector Hound has a scene in which one theatre critic rants about only being hired to fill in for another, while his companion professes his love for the leading actress in the play they are reviewing.
- In "The Madness of King Scar" from The Lion King, when Scar wonders about the things he doesn't have that his brother did, Zazu mentions that among them is that he doesn't have a devoted queen. Scar seizes upon this idea and when Nala walks up, he starts singing about her, her "assets feminine" and how she has to be his Queen. Meanwhile, for several lines she entreats him to do something to control the hyenas and end the destruction of the Pridelands until she finally realizes just what he's singing about and is horrified.
- Tales of Symphonia has a bonus skit in which two of the party members do this:
Raine: Hmm...a civilization that sunk into the sea... no, that lived under the sea....
Colette:But then, you'd be eating nothing but fish all the time.
Raine: There may be some way to cook underwater.
Colette: Is there a fire that can burn underwater?
Raine: If there is, that would be a civilization with very advanced technology.
Regal: ...I'm not sure if they are even talking with each other or not.
Sheena: Just once I'd like to see what's going on inside both of their heads.
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney ? Trials and Tribulations features a witness who claims to have seen a nun flying over a burning bridge. While the lawyers exclaim how crazy the witness is, the judge focuses on the witness's sketch of the scene, culminating in:
Attorneys: ARE!... YOU!...
Judge: High! This person's really flying high!
- Kotomi and Tomoya in CLANNAD have one of these at their first meeting. It somehow goes from Tomoya asking why she's cutting paper out of library books to her asking him if he wants to eat the paper. And then if he wants to eat clay, but adds that it would give her indigestion. This is normal for her.
- xkcd has this example with Houdini and spaces and... never mind.
- From Spacetrawler, this scene: Pierrot is pissed about getting locked in a duct and won't talk about anything else, while Emily calmly lists off the food she brought for him. Then she ends the conversation by giving Pierrot a "Shut Up" Kiss.
- This is a Running Gag of sorts in Narbonic, with two characters (usually Helen and Dave) chatting about vagaries of the plot without their trains of thought so much as stopping at the same station. Once Artie entered the picture, he was regularly a third monologue in the mix.
- In Skin Horse, Unity often maintains her own stream-of-consciousness, regardless of what everyone else is talking about. Lampshaded here.
Sweetheart: Feel free to join our half of the conversation whenever.
Unity: Nah, I'm fine over here.
- Debugging Destiny shows this off in episode 32. Redshirt Guy and the Mysterious Voice talk right past each other for half the episode before noticing the lack of communication.
- The Onion's advice columns all take the form of regular questions that real people might send in and entirely irrelevant answers from characters such as "A Faulknerian Idiot Man-Child" or "A Chat Room."
- "Lenny" is a chat-bot designed for telemarketer calls, though is also often used against things like tech-support scams or debt collectors. Lenny's responses are designed to simulate a Rambling Old Man Monologue for the most part and often intentionally vague. As such, if the caller doesn't realize they're talking with a bot, it can easily create this effect as they do things like shout at him to turn on his computer and he rambles about his daughter going to college, or asking how this is going to work with the world finances and all.
- In the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Pop Goes the Ed", both Ed and Edd try to talk with Sarah and Jimmy about two different topics; Ed talks about a monster movie, while Edd talks about brain surgery footage he saw. The two conversations blend together in odd ways:
Ed: Hey, have you guys seen Attack of the Zombie Brain-Munchers?Edd: The operation I saw involved fascinating new brain extraction techniques...Ed: ...by hideous mutants with huge, drooling mouths!Edd: So precautions had to be taken to avoid contamination—Ed: —from popping eyeballs and swelling veins!Edd: The incision was made here to relieve the tremendous pressure—Ed: —but it was too late; his head exploded!Edd: With the slicing and cleaving, the gnashing and the severing—Both: Bloody! Gory!
- Spoofed in The Simpsons episode "Lisa Vs. Malibu Stacy", as Grandpa Simpson gets confused by the conflicting dialogues:
Lisa: Well I'm not going to accomplish anything just sitting here...
Grandpa: and griping. It's time for ...
Lisa: action! I've got to talk to that woman who invented Malibu Stacy, and see if I can get her to...
Grandpa: come out of retirement. I'm gonna get me a job - a real malibu [falters]... and see if Stacy... can help... invent... me... young... Help!
Lisa: You're getting a job...
Grandpa: Yes! I'm going where the action is.
- The second season finale of Justice League Unlimited had one between Terry McGinnis and Amanda Waller. Terry is annoyed that he's just found out he's the biological son of the original Batman and considers this to be Bruce messing with his life, while Amanda is more concerned that he's just broken her antique teacup. Interestingly, Amanda's monologue segues rather nicely into Terry's flashback at the end of the scene.
Waller: Oh, that's okay. I've only had that cup for seventy years. My mother passed it on to me.
Terry: Guess that's what all this is about. Legacies.
Amanda: Doubt you can find this pattern anymore. It's real china, not that synthetic stuff.
Terry: How can anyone be their own man living someone else's dream?
Amanda: It's been years since I've had enough friends to use the whole set anyway.
Terry: How can I escape the curse of Batman?
Amanda: Even so, one missing piece, and the set's ruined.
- A sketch by German humorist Loriot, when they have to kill some time before the real interview can start, because of technical difficulties.
Interviewer: My wife is a capricorn.
Professor: I own a longhaired dachshund.
- Episode 4 of Gravity Falls has Wendy ask Mabel what's up, and Mabel begins to talk about trying to break up with Gideon. This causes Wendy to start recounting the various guys she's broken up with, and then wondering if she actually technically broke up with one of them, while Mable is still weighing the pros and cons of a relationship with Gideon.
- You've probably come across this situation at least once: you had an interesting experience, met up with a friend/relative/significant other, began talking to them about how awesome/bizarre your anecdote was, and they interrupted you just to remark a random thing about the TV show they were watching in the meantime. You probably quickly replied with a monosyllable and carried on with your exposition, while the other person kept making remarks every now and then, or continued talking about the initial remark whenever you finished a sentence.