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You know how cellphone calls can come at the most inopportune times? Well, imagine instead of just ringing, it physically teleported you mid-action to the location of the caller. Odds are you'll be lucky to be wearing pants, and that's ignoring what dull or dire situation the caller wants you to help them solve.
This is the case of the Inconvenient Summons. The summoned character may be a genie with an impressively well stocked lamp/home, a summoned entity with his/her/its own life on their home plane, or even a human courtesy of Teleporters and Transporters or magic.
Potential interrupted activities can be anything, but a few common ones include:
- Sleeping -- Expect the summoned to be in a nightgown and cap.
- A romantic date -- The summoned will usually be about to kiss.
- The shower -- Usually some amount of strategically placed soap bubbles/shower curtain also come along.
- Reading -- Usually just when they got to the good part.
- Something vitally plot important -- Yeah, Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!
This trope is a leading cause in summoned sidekick snarkery. For some reason the reverse is rarely true -- that the summoned character gets pulled out of a sticky situation. This trope can be seen as something of a deconstruction of the idea that the summoned character has no life or existence while un-summoned. Unless the character is literally created from nothing, or taken from/put in an empty timeless void, they've got to be up to something all that time.
For a (slightly) less annoying badly timed communications see Kinda Busy Here.
Anime & Manga
- In the first Tenchi Muyo movie, Kiyone is teleported to Washu's laboratory... while Kiyone's taking a bath. She's thrown a towel to cover herself as a half-hearted apology.
- Mahou Sensei Negima
- Early on, Negi summons Asuna to apologize to her... but she was in the shower at the time.
- Making matters worse, he had just been talking to the teacher she had a crush on.
- Later, during the Magic World arc, a magical copy of Evangeline is similarly summoned from her scroll... and she appears naked on a couch, nibbling on crisps and playing a video game.
- Early on, Negi summons Asuna to apologize to her... but she was in the shower at the time.
- This was the early plot of Psyren: after answering a ringing payphone, and receiving what looks like a phonecard, Ageha keeps getting summoned to a wasteland by his cellphone, as do all the other players.
- A variant: in Fairy Tail, this happens when Lucy tries to summon Leo to save them in Edoras, but since he was on a date at the time, he sends Virgo, who is utterly useless in the fight for some reason, as Virgo is normally an Action Girl.
- Whenever Lucy summons Aquarius, she'll complain that she was on a date or otherwise busy.
- This happened for anyone on their second or later mission in the Gantz Manga and Anime adaptation. Though at least they got a sort of warning in the form of a tingle on the back of their neck. When the main character is transported for the second time (the first one being when he died), he's in the middle of changing.
- In Yondemasu Yo Azazelsan, demons are often in the middle of something when they get summoned, such as sitting on the toilet or having sex.
- Gamabunta of Naruto seems to view most any summon as inconvenient. When summoned, he has a habit of grousing at his summoner for getting him mixed up in some dangerous situation.
- Happens early on in Bokurano. One girl is playing videogames on an her father's antique NES and the teleportation cuts off the controller and brings it with her. Another is taken in the middle of masturbating.
- Sandman: Nuala picks an awfully bad time to use her crystal to summon Morpheus.
- Happens to Professor Stein a few times in Firestorm when Ronnie initiates the change at an inconvenient time.
- In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Yuki teleports Mikuru twice to her apartment just after Mikuru took a bath, Modesty Towel and all. After complaining about being teleported in the nude, the next teleport was while she was eating.
- A recent video parody of the State Farm Insurance commercials shows the "Behind the Commercial" unfortunate life of a State Farm agent who can be teleported away at any time.
Films -- Animation
- Disney's Aladdin. Aladdin is kidnapped and thrown into the ocean to drown. He accidentally rubs the lamp and summons the Genie, who was in the middle of taking a bath.
Genie: Never fails. You take a bath and there's a rub of the lamp.
- Likewise in the live-action play (at California Adventure), the Genie is summoned mid-shower.
Films -- Live-Action
- Happens to Jim Ferguson in Biggles: Adventures in Time when he is spontaneously transported through time to 1917. The second time this happens, he has just stepped out of the shower and is wearing a towel and holding an electric shaver.
- In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Kirk and McCoy are trapped on a Klingon prison planet and about to be executed, when a villain decides that it's okay to tell them what's really been going on. In that moment Spock beams them up to the Enterprise, which gets Kirk to shout why they couldn't have waited 10 more seconds.
- A straight-up Fan Disservice example in From Hell when Anne and Albert are taken away by gang men right in the middle of sex. They are packed into a cab in the middle of the street with only bed sheets concealing their modesty.
- A running joke with Chrestomanci is the number of times he's been summoned somewhere in his dressing gown. (Fortunately, he habitually wears very impressive dressing gowns, specifically because of this.)
- Or in The Sage of Theare where he says he's just gone to bed with flu.
- A slightly more sinister example would be Gabriel telling Christopher off when he lost one of his lives because he had been called away from nearly catching the Wraith.
- Discworld: Death (or those filling in for Death) is often summoned by the Wizards at an inconvenient time when they invoke the Rite of Ashk Ente.
Death: I was at a party.
- This occurs in Diane Duane's Deep Wizardry (The second Young Wizards book) when, in a moment of despair, Nita calls out to one of her mentors, Carl, and his partner, Tom is teleported out of the shower because he's taking Carl's calls. Note that it wasn't involuntary; it's more that Tom is such a nice guy that he'll literally drop everything to help one of his wizards.
- In the George and Azazel stories by Isaac Asimov, Azazel almost always bitches about what he was doing when George summoned him. The only exceptions are if it got him out of an awkward situation or, on one occasion, when it let him gloat for even longer over a sucessful poker hand.
- In The Magician's Nephew, Helen, the first queen of Narnia, is brought there from London in the middle of doing laundry. Sort of a subversion, though, because the narration notes that if she had known she was about to be summoned she would have tried to dress up in her best clothes and hat, which would have looked tacky and ruined her natural prettiness.
- At one point in The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Bartimaeus is summoned OUT of trouble, trapped in a silver soup pot, INTO trouble, facing the person who put him there in the first place. "There's nothing worse than escaping death at the hands of your arch enemy, only to find yourself facing them again. Even a different arch-enemy is preferable."
- This happened many times on I Dream of Jeannie.
- Stargate SG-1
- One episode made a running gag of this, with one of Earth's ships beaming Daniel Jackson on board from a planet's surface, usually right in the middle of him trying to explain to some villagers that there was no magic, he was not a god, etc.
- Thor has also made a regular habit out of doing this to O'Neill. Oddly enough, Thor himself was never in the middle of something when summoned.
- The Devil loves doing this to Sam in Reaper.
- Somewhat reversed in an episode of Wizards of Waverly Place when Jerry, Harper and Max get stuck on top of a ferris wheel. Alex needs Harper's help and transports her to their school. At the end of the episode, after everything has been taken care of, Alex sends Harper back to the top of the ferris wheel where Jerry and Max are still stuck because she was mad about the three of them going somewhere she wasn't allowed to go to get away from her.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation
- The episode where Picard and the Captain of metaphor/allegory speaking aliens are isolated on a hostile planet together. Picard and the alien captain are fighting a large hostile native predator together when the Enterprise is finally able to break through the interference and beam him out, leaving the alien captain to face the beast alone. In the seconds it takes for the captain to get himself beamed back down, the predator has done some serious damage to his new buddy.
- In another episode Picard's alleged son is beamed aboard while on a spelunking adventure of his own.
- This happens a few times on Charmed, usually while summoning ghosts.
- Bewitched: Doctor Bombay is always in the middle of some Noodle Incident or other when he's summoned.
- Dungeons and Dragons
- The spell "Summon Monster" summons a creature from another world and compells it to fight for the caster for the duration, sending it back (unharmed -- it is stuck in transmission and "projected" into our world) when the spell ends. With the abundance of dimensional travel, it is possible for a mage to meet the same creature later, and it is unlikely to be happy. More amusingly, since the spell always summons from worlds other than the one it is cast in, and always combat-capable creatures, a mage from another world may well end up summoning the PCs' party.
- AD&D spell "Succor" enchants a statuette in the caster's likeness so that when it breaks the caster is immediately summoned. A great, but obviously double-edged commodity.
- Canonically (by Planescape rules), the other end of extraplanar summoning spells is visible and called "spell crystal" for distinctive look. Non-eligible beings can simply grab one and later throw it at someone else, but planars (including planar PC's) tend to scatter and run away if they see any, because very few can tell to what sort of creatures the spell is attuned, let alone the circumstances on the other end. One of few advantages Primes (normal mortals) have is being non-summonable except via strong individual link.
- In Al-Qadim, genies can summon and charm to service mortals, but must use the target's personal item in addition to the summonee's debt on a Magically-Binding Contract with geniekind -- that is, it's limited almost exclusively to sha'ir, and relatively few sha'ir at that.
- Adventure S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. The demon lord Graz'zt was at a crucial moment in a battle against a group of monsters in the Abyss when he was summoned to the Prime Material Plane by the archmage Iggwilv. He battled free at the cost of being confined to his home plane for a century.
- Stormbringer supplement The Second Stormbringer Companion, adventure "The Velvet Circle". The PCs meet a strange man named Ovamilyon, who was summoned to the Young Kingdoms plane while writing a love ballad for a woman. He says that this sort of thing has happened to him many times over the years.
- A lot of the alternate skins in League of Legends imply this. Such as Morgana the Fallen Angel being summoned while she's baking, creating the "Sinful Succulence" Skin (her intro image shows the summoning caused her to burn her cookies), and Twisted Fate and Evelynn's Tango skins are apparently them being summoned while out on a date with each other.
- Ace Online permits "summoning" in form of M-Gear's "Call of Hero". This allows the M-Gear to summon any member of his/her formation teammates. 7/10 times, this is useful, since either: a. both players agreed in advance on where/when he/she is going to be teleported, and b. the summon gives a dialog box so the to-be summoned player can refuse said call. That last point is also its weakness: someone accomplishing something important is requested to be summoned, but he refuses, and it turns out the summoner also needs critical help. The inconvenience only comes from lack of communication and is otherwise convenient to teleport in firepower or teleport teammates away from danger.
- Averted in Mabinogi, with summoning requiring the permission of the summoned party, and completely unavailable during certain actions.
- In World of Warcraft, many of the Warlock's summoned demons imply that they have much better things to be doing than attacking on the Warlock's behalf. Warlocks can also summon other players, though the inconvenience is lost as the player in question must accept the summon.
- In Ever Quest, higher level boss monsters (for a time) had an annoying habit of "summoning" players with high threat to their feet and Single Shotting them. At first this action had no warning or graphic, leading to confusion. In time, developers added a "shout" effect to a boss that performed this summon.
- In Sonic and The Black Knight, Sonic is summoned into the world of King Arthur by Merlina while in the middle of a chili-dog feast. He manages to eat one of the chili-dogs that comes with him, but loses the other one with a Big No as he and Merlina teleport away.
- Ragnarok Online has a marriage system where one of the few powers couples share is the ability to summon one another to anywhere from anywhere. It's often used by couples to annoy each other.
- The Order of the Stick
- While Roy is fishing with his grandfather in the Lawful Good afterlife, the fish suddenly disappears off his hook. Roy's grandfather explains that it was summoned, and remarks that "someone must be having an underwater adventure".
- In a Dragon (magazine) #343 strip, a celestial dog is summoned just before it could finish the cure for all diseases.
Elan: Are you sure it's OK to summon celestials just to fight goblins?
Durkon: It's just a dog. It be no harm, no foul.
fiendish rat (summoned by the goblin cleric): (to the dog) Darn it! I can't believe this guy summoned me RIGHT when I was alphabetizing my spice rack!
- Parley from Gunnerkrigg Court discovered the ability to teleport only to suffer from Power Incontinence. She usually ends up in the vicinity of the boy she likes.
- Deconstructed in this Virtual Shackles comic
- In one comic of Schlock Mercenary, Schlock is preparing to take a bath. The comic asks the reader to note the key differences as he prepares a variety of Noodle Implements (some of which make sense if you're familiar with Schlock) as bathing implements. Then it asks the readers to note the key similarities as the PA system sounds an alarm right as Schlock's getting in.
- In Wapsi Square, Bud summons Tepoz, the Aztec god of alcohol, to quickly sober up Jin. He was in the bath at the time. A rubber duck was included.
- In RPG World, Cherry attempts to summon an Ifrit Expy while he's bathing, and a Shiva Expy while she's detained (the former actually shows up with a towel wrapped around him; the latter has an intern summon take her place.)
- In one Freefall strip, Florence is about to take a shower when the Mayor calls. Due to Florence's safeguards and the Mayor's position, she's incapable of refusing the summons.
- Rhysel of the Elcenia universe is summoned from her home planet of Barashi while A) asleep, and B) when she has a funeral to attend the next morning. This starts the story off.
- In the Looney Tunes short A Lad in His Lamp, Bugs Bunny finds Aladdin's Lamp, and a running gag is that when he rubs the lamp, the genie pops out in the middle of some activity -- bathing, dining, kissing a female genie, etc. In a characteristic move of Genre Savvyness, he gives the lamp to the bad guy after one last warning. Sure enough, the next summon is the last straw....
- Happens in an episode of Spider-Man: The Animated Series, when Spider-man has the Black Cat transported to the Secret Wars while she was helping Blade and Morbius fight vampires.
- In a Robot Chicken skit, Beetlejuice's marriage is on the rocks due to him having to appear every time Lydia shouts his name three times.
- The girls in Totally Spies usually end up subject to this when called for a mission.
- Biggie Smalls (The Notorious B.I.G.) from the "Hell on Earth 2006" episode of South Park. He keeps getting summoned through a Bloody Mary-type ritual, which prevents him from getting into Satan's exclusive party. At the end of the episode, Butters, who makes it to the party after Satan opens it to everybody, pulls out a hand mirror and summons Biggie so he can be there too.