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People following instructions too literally out of ignorance, feigned or otherwise. The archetypal example is:

 Speaker: Repeat after me. I...

Crowd: I...

Speaker: State your name...

Crowd: State your name...

Contrast Literal Genie and Exact Words, both of which involve a "backfire" effect, whereas Repeat After Me is merely benign and silly. For a visual variation, see Walk This Way. See also Disobey This Message and Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud.

Examples of Repeat After Me include:

Comic Books

 Protean: Call me "uncle", Doomsloth!

Doomsloth: *cough* Uncle... Doomsloth!

 "Obelix": "Who's fat? I'm not fat! A bit... a bit..."

Little Arsehole / Asterix (whispers): "'A little bit pudgy, maybe', you idiot!"

"Obelix": "A little bit pudgy maybe, you idiot!"


 Hedley LaMarr: Now repeat after me! I...

Assembled Mooks: I..

Hedley LaMarr: Your name...

Assembled Mooks: Your name...

Hedley LaMarr: (muttering) Schmucks...

    • From History of the World, Part I:

 Madame Defarge: Repeat after me! (Cough!) (Cough!) (Hack!) (Spit!)

Parisian Scum: (Cough!) (Cough!) (Hack!) (Spit!)

Madame Defarge: No, no! Dumb scum.

    • Another example from Robin Hood: Men in Tights is when Maid Marian tries to make Robin promise to not go to the archery tournament:

 Marian: Oh, Robin, promise me you won't go!

Robin: Very well. I promise you won't go.

  • From the Soviet comedy Ivan Vasilievich (the quote is translated from Russian):

 Miloslavsky: Well... Tsar and Great Prince, repeat, of all of Rus'...

Bunsha: Tsar and Great Prince, repeat, of all of Rus'...

Miloslavsky: Don't repeat "repeat"!

 Striker: It's an entirely different kind of flying, altogether!

Others, all together: It's an entirely different kind of flying.

  • No less than three times in Pulp Fiction!
    • After giving Mia Wallace the adrenaline boost:

 Lance: If you're all right, then say something.

Mia: Something.

    • When Butch leaves for his golden watch:

 Butch: I'll be back before you can say Blueberry pie.

Fabienne: Blueberry pie.

Butch: Okay, maybe not that fast. But pretty fast, alright?

    • And finally:

 Wolf: Say goodnight, Raquelle!

Raquelle: Goodnight, Raquelle!

  • What's New, Pussycat? - Romy Schneider plays a language instructor teaching English to a mixed nationality group. Her fiance (Peter O'Toole) storms into the classroom, and as the two have a heated shouting match, the class repeats all their lines in unison. O'Toole finally shouts "Aaagh, you bunch of PARROTS!" and storms out.
  • Disney's Pinocchio:

 Geppetto: Say hello to Figaro.

Pinocchio: Hello to Figaro.


  • In the Discworld series, the Ankh-Morpork City Watch Oath takes the cake for this trope:

 "I comma square bracket recruit's name square bracket comma do solemnly swear by square bracket recruit's deity of choice square bracket to uphold the Laws and Ordinances of the city of Ankh-Morpork comma serve the public trust comma and defend the subjects of His stroke Her bracket delete whichever is inappropriate bracket Majesty bracket name of reigning monarch bracket without fear comma favour comma or thought of personal safety semi-colon to pursue evildoers and protect the innocent comma laying down my life if necessary in the cause of said duty comma so help me bracket aforesaid deity bracket full stop Gods Save the King stroke Queen bracket delete whichever is inappropriate bracket full stop."

    • One Crowning Moment of Awesome for Sam Vimes is when he, while stranded in his own past, recites the whole thing from memory. He also implies that it's meant to be recited this way. (partially because Ankh-Morpork has been monarchless for centuries)
    • If you have trouble reading it, it should be:

 "I, [recruit's name], do solemnly swear by [recruit's deity of choice] to uphold the Laws and Ordinances of the city of Ankh-Morpork, serve the public trust, and defend the subjects of His/Her [delete whichever is inappropriate] Majesty [name of reigning monarch] without fear, favour, or thought of personal safety; to pursue evildoers and protect the innocent, laying down my life if necessary in the cause of said duty, so help me [aforesaid deity]. Gods Save the King/Queen [delete whichever is inappropriate]."

  • In a Captain Underpants book, everyone signed a card "your name here".
  • A rare non-comedic example crops up in Lord of the Rings, of all places, when Pippin peers into the Palantir and winds up on a direct hotline to Sauron himself:

 'It is not for you, Saruman!' he cried in a shrill and toneless voice, shrinking away from Gandalf. 'I will send for it at once. Do you understand? Say just that!'

Live Action TV

  • The Burns and Allen Show always ended with George Burns saying, "Say goodnight, Gracie." The popular myth is that Gracie Allen would respond, "Goodnight, Gracie", this is a Beam Me Up, Scotty She actually simply responded, "Goodnight."

 Buster: Say goodnight, Babs.

Babs: Goodnight, Babs!

 Ronnie Corbett: And it's goodnight from me...

Ronnie Barker: ...And it's goodnight from him. Goodnight.

 Jim Davidson: Say goodnight, J.V.!

John Virgo: Goodnight J.V.!

 Warren: Say goodnight, bitch.

Buffy: Goodnight, bitch.

  • From a Stargate SG-1 episode in which Daniel was turned invisible and only his grandfather Nick could see him:

 Daniel: Repeat what I'm saying; I'm standing right beside you.

Nick: Standing right beside me.

Jack: He's lost a few pounds.

Daniel: Jack, don't be an ass!

Nick: Jack, don't be an ass.

Jack: ....Daniel?

  • In Friends, Joey Tribbiani, reading from a script: "Hi, I'm Name."
  • Fraggle Rock, from the episode "I Don't Care":

 Gobo: I swear...

Assembled Fraggles: I swear...

Gobo: be fair.

Assembled Fraggles: be fair.

Gobo: Now solemnly repeat after me.

Wembley: Now solemnly repeat after me.

 Drew Carey: Say "Alakazam!"; lift up the lid. Ready? One, two, three...

Contestant: Alakazam lift up the lid!

  • One sketch by German humorist Loriot:

 Herr Müller-Lüdenscheid: If you want to put some water into the bathtub, say please.

Herr Doktor Klöbner: Please.

Herr Müller-Lüdenscheid: Politely.

Herr Doktor Klöbner: Politely.

 Ed Hocken: All right, Eddie, let's say you did go to the movies.

All: You did go to the movies.

Frank Drebin: Then let's say you were nowhere near the Club Flamingo.

All: You were nowhere near the Club Flamingo.

  • In a Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch, Biggles tries to dictate to his secretary a letter to King Haakon, and explains that he is not dictating when he takes his antlers off, doing just that as he says so. When she repeats "I am not dictating," he says "What?" and asks her to read what she has been typing, which is:

 "Dear King Haakon, I am not dictating. What?"

  • The very first Saturday Night Live sketch features this, albeit a physical version. Buck Henry plays a language tutor teaching an immigrant (John Belushi) how to read. ("I would like to feed your fingertips to the wolverines.") In the middle of a sentence, Henry has a heart attack and drops dead. Belushi looks at his dead body and slumps over the same way.
  • Hilariously taken to extremes in the Night Court episode "Here's To You, Mrs. Robinson". Harry is trying to swear the pregnant Quon Le and other foreigners as U.S. citizens while Mac has appendicitis.

 Harry: All right then, at this time, I'm going to ask everyone to raise you right hand and repeat after me...

Mac: (bawls in pain)

Crowd: (imitates Mac bawling in pain)

Harry: Mac, are you all right?

Crowd: Mac, are you all right?

Harry: (making "stop" motion) No, no!

Crowd: (imitating Harry) No, no!

    • Then they try it again, but this time, they repeat Quan Le going into labor.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 played with this trope. In "The Human Duplicators", when the hero says to his girlfriend, "Say something." Joel and the bots chime in with "Something". They're then surprised when the girlfriend also says, "Something."
    • At the end of "The Indestructible Man", Joel reads aloud an affidavit that he and the bots have agreed to sign, stating that they will never make any more cop/donut jokes. When Joel reads, "I, state your name--" the bots immediately respond with "I, state your name--", much to Joel's chagrin.
  • A variation from Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In;

 Dan Rowan: Now repeat after me.

Goldie Hawn: After me, after me, after me...

 Beakman: Let's say this wall represents a magnified section of human skin.

Rizzo and Josie: This wall represents a magnified section of human skin.

Beakman: Hello.

  • After Hello Cheeky's local pianist, Denis King, is pelted with tomatoes:

 Denis: Another television first...I shall now play "Fascinating Rhythm" with an eyeful of tomato. (playing and singing) Oh, fascinating rhythm with an eyeful of tomato...

  • This Horrible Histories segment on how Victorian schools were run (by the students repeating whatever their teacher said).


  • Stan Freberg's version of "C'est Si Bon" does this joke with Freberg instructing his backup singers. On "I've Got You Under My Skin," Freberg dictates the lyrics to the vocalists, but starts forgetting them and they dutifully sing lines like, "Oh, darn it, what are those words?"


  • McDonald's once held a promotion where they gave out little vinyl records, and you could win a million dollars if the choir on the record was able to successfully finish the The McDonald's Menu Song. The choir slavishly repeats everything Ronald McDonald says:

 Ronald McDonald: Repeat after me!

Choir: Repeat after me!


Video Games

 Cave Johnson: Say goodbye, Caroline.

Caroline: Goodbye, Caroline!

Cave Johnson: She's a gem.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • In one episode of Winnie the Pooh that (loosely) reenacts "The Three Little Pigs" with Pooh as the narrator, Piglet asks Pooh what he should say to the Big Bad Rabbit who wants to be let in his home.

 Pooh: I believe you're supposed to say no, Piglet.

Piglet: (firmly) No, Piglet.

 Some guy: Say you'll do it.

Launchpad: You'll do it.

Guy: No, say you'll do it.

Launchpad: You'll do it.

Guy: No, say "I'll do it," you idiot!

Launchpad: I'll do it, you idiot.

 Badger: Repeat after me. I, name of animal...

Toad: I, name of animal...

  • Animaniacs: Woe betide anyone who asks the Warner siblings to "repeat after me". They'll repeat everything, including the words "repeat after me". Of course, being the Warners, they obviously just do it to mess with whoever asked.
  • Used in South Park, where a ghostly minion of Satan is manipulating the Republicans, whispering in the ear of George W. Bush during a press conference. It all goes fine until...

 Kevin: It is God's will that he live!

Bush: It is God's will that he live!

Kevin: Haaghaghaghaghaghagha...

Bush: Haaghaghaghaghaghagha...

Kevin: No no, you don't say that part, Haaghaghaghaghaghagha.

Bush: No no, you don't say that part, Haaghaghaghaghaghagha.

 Patrick: He really needs to get to the Great Beyond.

SpongeBob: Patrick, say that again.

Patrick: That again.

SpongeBob: No, the other thing.

Patrick: No, the other thing.

SpongeBob: No, what you said before when you...

Patrick: No, what you said before when you...

SpongeBob: Never mind. I've got an idea.

Patrick: Never mind. I've got an idea.

 Buster: Say good night, Babs.

Babs: Good night, Babs.

  • During one episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, all the boys join the "Secret Snake Club in order to get out of gym class, and have to respond to an oath... but when the senior members get into an argument, everyone else keeps repeating what they are saying.

Real Life

  • In the late, lamented Adventurers Club, this was a routine occurrence in the "New Member Induction Ceremony" segment. For instance:

 Character: Repeat after me: *clears throat*

Audience: *clears throats*

Character: No, not that!

Audience: No, not that!

Character: Not that either!

Audience: Not that either!

(Cycle would continue until either the character involved got fed up or another character prompted them to continue.)

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