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"Never work with children or animals."
W. C. Fields (attributed)

Sometimes, those little monkeys just don't behave the way that you were hoping for. The same applies to animals. Sometimes Hilarity Ensues.

A common type of Hilarious Outtakes.

Examples of Never Work with Children or Animals include:


  • In a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie, a bomb would explode in a place with many unsuspecting people around. After the scene was made, one could see that a little boy had put his hands on his ears before the explosion happened. Hitch proclaimed that after this, he'd just work with people who were either adult or deaf.
    • As well (not sure if it's the same example or not), the same thing happened in North by Northwest before Thornhill gets shot towards the ending.
  • Stephen Colbert interviewing the oil industry on The Daily Show - it agreed to speak only if it could be represented by an eight-year-old girl. The girl was Madeleine Colbert, his daughter, and the outtakes are adorable.
  • In an example that made it into the show proper, infants Winnie and Nelson on The Cosby Show would frequently look at the studio lights, boom mike, or other overhead machinery. Bill Cosby (as Cliff Huxtable) would look in the same direction and ask what was so interesting about the ceiling.
  • In-universe example: In The Simpsons, Bart intentionally sings the wrong lyrics to "Jingle Bells" at the school Christmas show and is promptly (and literally) yanked from the stage.
    • Taken to the extreme in "Bart Gets Famous", in which he has to perform in a Krusty the Clown show skit. He trips and brings down much of the set, and when he innocently declares "I didn't do it", the audience loves it. For a few weeks, the "'I Didn't Do It' Boy" is a regular on the show and a national phenomenon.
  • Parodied in Film, Film, Film.
  • Real Life example with the Balloon Boy. When asked by his father why he didn't come out of his hiding place when everyone was looking for him, he replied: "You said we were doing it for a show." On national television.
  • Mamoru Oshii's crew just couldn't get the performance they wanted out of the actress in Avalon. They ended up faking it by morphing several of her performances together.
  • The aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind were played by young girls, who were hyperactive and incredibly difficult to control.
  • In 2009, Chris Columbus talked about the progress of Harry Potter kids:

 "My biggest pride is seeing the pictures now, and watching the three of them from a distance, and seeing them do an entire scene in one shot. Seriously, I know that sounds funny, but in the old days -- and, you know, the old days meaning eight years ago -- and in that first picture in particular, it's filled with cuts because they couldn't really get beyond the first line without either looking into the camera, laughing or looking at the lights."

  • Project Runway occasionally has challenges featuring children. One season the designers had to make complementary mom-and-child outfits, and in another designers had to make outfits based on paintings from students at Harlem School of the Arts. The designers' reactions are often just as fascinating as the kids', as even the designers with really temperamental and drama-prone personalities tend to be on their nicest behavior.
  • Dick and Dom in da Bungalow ran on getting a bunch of kids to play silly games and throw gunge over each other, live. It's not surprising they sometimes got a bit overexcited. One boy, Raja, almost broke the hosts- he wouldn't stop running round and hitting them. Dom stopped being an Excited Kids' Show Host and started just telling him off and asking the producers what to do next; they even got him on the Clip Show Da Dick And Dom Dairies, four years later, to explain himself. ("I'm a really nice guy when you get to know me".)
  • The little girl of perhaps ten or eleven, on a Saturday morning zoo show, who was innocent of the subtleties of French pronunciation. Given a link to do concerning the afternoon's sporting attractions, she read off the autocue

 And this afternoon at two, we go to Murray Walker who will commentate on the Grand Pricks of South Africa..

(Producer) I think you'll find it's pronounced "Grond Pree"...

(Little Girl, after a second's consideration) Well, it says "Grand Pricks" here!

  • On an episode of the kids' game show Family Challenge, host Ray Combs learned the hard way something that Bob Barker once told him: "never let the contestant hold the microphone." He handed the mic to a five-year-old contestant who socked him in the head with it hard enough to make him bleed. He spent the rest of the episode with a band-aid on his head.


  • Blue Peter- An elephant defecating on camera and walking out of the studio, stepping on John Noakes' foot in the process.
  • One of the most memorable bloopers from The Ellen DeGeneres Show was an anaconda wrapping its tail around a rather intimate part of Ellen's anatomy.
  • The Kennel from Hell match from WWE Unforgiven 1999. Advertised as a match where the ring would be surrounded by two cages with vicious attack dogs in between, but once the match got underway, it became clear that the dogs weren't so much "vicious beasts" as "happy little puppies". The greatest danger posed? That one of the wrestlers would slip and fall in a puddle of dog wee or dog crap. And when they weren't making a mess on the floor, they were mating. It was really the match from Hell.
    • Similarly years earlier The British Bulldogs' mascot Matilda peed in the middle of the ring, getting WWE banned from Boston for a long time.
  • The beaded dress worn by Kate Capshaw in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was eaten by an elephant. You can almost see it in the campfire at night scene, when the elephant's head is just out of frame? it's eating the dress in front of the entire crew. The good news? It was covered by insurance (Spielberg notes that all he could write on the insurance claim for "cause" was "dress eaten by elephant"). The bad news? It was a vintage dress made of genuine vintage crystal beads.
    • Also shown in a documentary reel about the making of Raiders of the Lost Ark were George Lucas' problems with the snakes. During one scene, Lucas had set up a ring of torches to keep the snakes away, but being cold-blooded reptiles they are naturally drawn to sources of heat and kept slithering nearer. At one point, he just grabs one by the 'neck' and stares it in the eyes, yelling:

 "Why do you like fire!? You're supposed to hate fire! You are ruining my movie!"

  • Late Night With Conan O'Brien once did a sketch that briefly involved a duck. The duck did several unexpected things, most notably pooping on the studio floor and then eating it. Conan reacted with genuine shock, including an unusual instance of swearing that had to be bleeped (even though the show isn't aired live, he usually avoids certain words). "We've got a sh**-eating duck out here!" They capitalized on this incident in several follow-up sketches, in which the duck became known as "Quackers, The Sh**-Eating Duck."
  • The Red Dwarf Smeg-Ups had two instances of animal trouble:
    • Lister's cat in series 1, which slipped out twice before Craig could catch her.
    • The series 6 Smeg-Ups devoted an entire bunch of clips to "moving the chicken."
  • In The Wizard of Oz, a large bird walked on to the set during the filming of one of the scenes. At one point, it's clearly visible extending its wing... however, it was a silhouette, and it was hard to tell it was a bird... and not the corpse of a Munchkin. This gave birth to the famous, yet totally bogus, "Munchkin Suicide" urban legend.
  • Lampshaded by Stephen Colbert after introducing a calf named Daisy on The Colbert Report - the calf spooked at the cameras, interrupted him by mooing and generally misbehaved.

 Stephen: I also work with children.

  • The characters on Lost had to stop hunting boar because the boars were so hard to manage.
  • Gerald Durrell had no choice but to work with animals for a few TV shows. There are probably retired TV station employees still walking a little funny after Delilah the porcupine.
  • The DVD of Barbie and the Diamond Castle includes a set of Hilarious Outtakes, 90% of which are the puppies ruining the shot by dancing. The Barbie In A Christmas Carol DVD supposedly had a deleted scene from Barbie and the Diamond Castle, but it was just another outtake of the puppies and a pegasus painting the titular castle.
  • Mike Rowe demonstrates why this is true with a pig in a series of outtakes from a TV spot. In the show itself this happens a lot as well, such as in this montage of the most memorable animal moments.
  • Vince McMahon once had to chase a chicken in a training scene in a match with Stone Cold Steve Austin. Problem was it was cold and snowy out. The chicken wasn't having any of it.
  • WCW booked a match between Sting and Jake "The Snake" Roberts where the finish was for Jake to sic a (real, but devenomed) cobra on Sting, only to have it turn on him. But Jake couldn't get the snake to bite him, so he ended up holding it to his face while it flailed stupidly.
  • Acknowledged in the play The Lieutenant of Inishmore by Martin McDonagh, which has two alternative closing lines depending on whether a cat on stage eats food offered to it or not.
  • In an episode of The Colbert Report, he tried to get a cat to pick out why the Egyptians revolted. The cat just sat there despite the food, toys on a string, and even a laser. The cat didn't even react when Steven threw food near him.
  • The Build Team tried to make the fainting goats faint on Myth Busters but they failed. The goats did faint in reaction to everything else from a passing car to the nearby cameraman.
    • And of course Jamie's "Quack, damn you."
    • One of the earlier episodes had Adam and Jamie trying to test out cures for skunk spray. They had everything figured out, except for how to get the skunks to actually spray them. Eventually they bought some in a bottle.
    • Averted in the "Bird Balance" myth; Kari says that despite what they say about working with animals, the birds were all very cooperative.
  • Alvin Hall once found out that ostriches are not very cooperative when trying to film.
  • Two Gentlemen of Verona contains a comedy character named Launce, whose shtick is that he's constantly dragging his dog Crab around and delivering amusing monologues about it. Two Gentlemen was one of Shakespeare's earliest works and his plot-writing abilities weren't what they ended up becoming, so Launce and his dog, notorious scene-stealers, are regarded by pretty much everyone as the highlight of the play. However, Shakespeare never included a dog in a major role again, and scholars speculate that he learned this trope the hard way.
  • In one of Howie Mandel's stage shows, a dog was supposed to come out and bark like Lassie, and Howie would interpret the barking as "Robert Goulet is in the lobby and trapped under a boulder". The dog didn't bark, so Gilbert Gottfried, who was on stage as part of a previous sketch comes over and says "woof".
  • "The Mississippi Squirrel Revival", by Ray Stevens, is a song of a kid who catches a squirrel. The squirrel is expected to stay in a box. It doesn't, wreaking havoc in a church.
  • ITV's regional news show Granada Reports once brought together Manchester and Liverpool's entrants into the Crufts dog show. With thirty or forty dogs and their owners paraded together in a panoramic shot, little disagreements happened - eagle-eyed viewers clearly spotted the Dobermann biting the head off a hapless chow dog before the studio crew did, and were ringing up to complain about it even as the studio began to collapse in canine-related bedlam and a screaming hysterical owner contemplating the headless corpse of her ex-show dog....
  • And on Welsh language TV, the magazine show presenter who was talking to the man from Pobsaes Twlldyn who kept ferrets and had bought a couple to the studio. The presenter, who had been petting a ferret, suddenly discovered it had clamped razor-sharp teeth over his nose and would not let go....
  • This is most likely the reason the Librarian is totally absent from the TV Movie adaptation of Hogfather. One imagines it's much easier to write about orangutans playing pipe organs than to film them doing so.
  • In one instance of Jack Hanna being on David Letterman's show, a pair of armadillos ended updemonstrating the species'... embodiment.
  • During Kickassia there were multiple issues with the neighbors' dogs, who would often bark in the background of scenes and force them to reshoot. There's also one point on the blooper reel where The Nostalgia Critic is giving his big dramatic speech with his back to the camera (meaning that he can say whatever and just redub it later) and starts going into a rant about how annoying those dogs are and how he's going to shoot them.
  • During the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the director and cast commentaries often point out that Jack the Monkey was often hard to work with and wasn't nearly as friendly or cooperative as the movie makes it seem, since we're just seeing the best bits.
  • Mostly averted in OK Go's video for White Knuckles, where the dogs for the most part behaved and even got so excited that they would begin to outpace the video. There was also a goat who would often drag Andy Ross across the set, so they scrapped the idea that it would be on a treadmill as a Call Back to one of the band's earlier videos. Outtakes also show that the human and animal actors tended to botch their scenes in about equal proportions.
    • The video for "End Love" also featured several geese that wander in and out of the shots at various times, and one in particularly named Maria (which is actually a male goose) was initially hostile to them but eventually seemed to adopt them over the course of a few days, and follows them through a large part of the video.


  • One of the Hilarious Outtakes from the film Cheaper By the Dozen is of one of the child actors freaking out as the frog he's supposed to be holding attempts to escape.
  • Noel Coward once attended a play featuring an irritating child actor, in which a horse also defecated onstage. Supposedly, he quipped, "If they had shoved the child's head up the horse's arse, they'd have solved two problems at once."
  • In a making-of special for Labyrinth, Jim Henson states that he'd been told never to work with children, animals, or puppets. Labyrinth contains all three, and apparently it was quite a challenge getting everything to work out properly.
  • Emma Thompson's diary during the filming of Sense and Sensibility relates difficulties with both sheep and babies. The period sheep gave such trouble that Ang Lee at one point declared, "No more sheeps. Never again sheeps." (Except ten years later he did Brokeback Mountain, where apparently the sheep were even more of a headache). The babies presented an unusual problem: the scene called for a crying baby, and none of them would cry.
    • She also mentions one day when the horse she was on had an audibly bad case of gas, and a shot involving a dog that was fascinated by the camera and kept staring directly into the lens. The people who were offscreen in each shot had to all wave dog treats at it to distract it.

Genre Savvy

There have been some who have heeded this advice. They include:

  • Mister Rogers (that, and making his show seem more intimate)
  • Honey I Shrunk the Kids, in the TV series, is at least knowledgable about it, as they have Quark do VERY little in the show. Though, at least one episode includes quite a lot of reaction shots from him...
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