"Jump Off a Bridge" Rebuttal
Jimmy: But dad, all my friends are gonna be there!,
Hugh: I know, son, but if all your friends were named Cliff, would you jump off them? I don't think you would.
It's a familiar scenario. Kid wants something from parent they know won't be easy to get. The first argument they make is almost always, "Everybody else is going to that concert!"/ "All my friends have this body part pierced!"/ "Everyone at my school is wearing one!" or something similar.
The first rebuttal the parent makes in defense will inevitably be, "So, if the whole world/ your whole school/ all your friends were going to jump off a bridge, would you jump, too?"
The response will most likely be one of three, in increasing order of frequency:
- "No... but this is different!"
- "That's not the point!"
- "Duh! Of course!"
Variations occur where the players are not parents and children, but the pattern is always the same. "Cliff" may also be substituted for "bridge." Another variation is "If X told you to jump off a cliff, would you?" or "If all your friends stuck their heads in the oven, would you do it?"
For a brief period in the 90s, the most common response was to say something along the lines of "No, bridge-jumping is tomorrow," and explain that the kid character was also participating in bungee jumping.
Contrast The Complainer Is Always Wrong.
- Turns up in Batwoman when Kate and her father (who knows her secret identity) argue over whether she should take time to recover from being drugged in her last fight.
Kate: Alice [the villain] isn't taking the night off, Colonel.
Colonel Kane: And if Alice jumped off a bridge?
Kate: I'd be right behind her. You're such a Dad.
- In the Harry Potter fanfic Fire Burns, Katherine and Remus have an argument over Katherine having killed someone on Voldemort's orders.
Remus: If someone told you to jump off a bridge would you do it?
Katherine: I'd ask them to demonstrate.
Film - Animated
- Antz: Z tries to stop the foreman from finishing a tunnel that leads to a lake, which will flood the entire colony by asking him this. As the foreman considers it thoughtfully, Z comments that he's asking the wrong guy.
Film - Live Action
- The movie Heathers asks the question, "If the coolest kids in school committed suicide, would others follow?" with a resounding, "Yes!" A dark way to address Truth in Television, but Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped.
- Coneheads: Beldar Conehead's reaction at his daughter, Connie's fake tattoo on her cone.
Connie: It's just a decal, everyone's wearing them.
Beldar: If everyone jumped into a bitumious cauldron, would you jump in too?
Connie: I am not a little cone anymore, dad!
- Suicide Club: Proven. The whole movie is about a wave of suicides among schoolchildren all over the country for seemingly no apparent reason. A group of school-kids are on the roof talking about the recent wave of suicides. One says, "We should kill ourselves too!" Guess what happens? The whole lot of them end up jumping off the building. One girl left who's too scared ends up dragging a friend along screaming "Now we have to! We have to!" Turns out the current hot idol band is sending subliminal messages in their songs encouraging young people to kill themselves. They never explain why, but it's Japanese cinema, what do you expect?
- There's a joke which responds to the question with "I'm a lifeguard."
- An old Smothers Brothers routine:
Dick: You wouldn't jump off a bridge just because your friends did, would you?
Tommy: Not anymore.
- Literary Example: Jessi Ramsey says in one of the Babysitters Club books that this is one of her mother's favorite arguments.
- Subversion in this snippet from a conversation in Catch-22:
"Suppose everyone thought that way."
"Then I'd be a damned fool to think otherwise!"
- In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 Gaunt's Ghosts novel Ghostmaker, Bragg is asked if the Ghosts would jump off a cliff if Gaunt told them to and says yes, of course, is that a trick question? Bragg, while not the sharpest knife in the drawer, is deliberately playing up his Big Guy role to convince them he's The Fool because he knows one is The Mole.
- Straight example in My Brother and Me: D.D. wants a haircut like his two best friends are getting.
His Mother: So? If the two of them were going to jump off a bridge, would you jump, too?
Melanie (big sister): Do you have to ask? You know he would.
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Will tells his uncle's jerk of a rival to "Drop dead!" and he does right then and there.
Will: Come on, man! If I told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it?!
- An episode of The Bill featured Diane Noble trying to talk down a daredevil kid from jumping off a bridge. At one point she says "If everyone else jumped off... never mind."
- Leave It to Beaver had this dialogue in one episode:
Ward: Would you expect Wally to jump off a roof just because Chip did?
Beaver: How high a roof, Dad?
- M*A*S*H subverted this in one episode:
Col. Flagg: This Chandler fellow decides he doesn't want to fight anymore. Soon other soldiers decide not to fight anymore. You know what will happen if everyone decides not to fight anymore?
- From The Mentalist:
Jane: Let me ask you something. If Director Bertram wanted a CBI presence to jump off a cliff, would you and your CBI presence jump off that cliff?
Lisbon: If there was overtime, sure.
- When The Osbournes had their reality program, Jack went to the beach with some friends who all thought it would be fun to jump off a pier. Jack did it, landed wrong, broke his arm and had to call his mom from the hospital. Sharon asked "Why did you do that?". Jack answered "Because all my friends were doing it." Sharon probably realized asking the stock phrase would be rather foolish.
- El Chavo del Ocho from all, have the most intelligent response.
Chavo: You told me to do that
Don Ramón: You're so obedient.(El Chavo shows pride over this). And if I tell to jump off a bridge, you would do it?
Chavo: I'm obedient, not retarded.
- A young Dilbert very effectively responds to this argument after his mother will not allow him to go to the skate park with his friends. "Well, that would depend on many factors, including height, training, and equipment. But if 100% of the people enjoyed it, as in my skateboard example, then I would conclude it was safe. A better question might have been 'If everyone else wore clothes, would you do that?'"
- The comic strip Zits which deals primarily with teen-parent relationships seems to enjoy this trope. Jeremy's rebuttals to the question of jumping off a bridge have included: "For a free T-Shirt? Yeah!", "No, but I might be tempted to push you over" and "If it kept me from hearing that stupid cliche again, I'd be first in line."
- The book Garfield's Insults, Put-Downs, and Slams lists the following rebuttals:
- "That depends. Will it mess up my hair?"
- "Sure. Maybe I'll land on a fat kid."
- "As long as the line's not too long."
- "No, I'd rather jump off a building."
- "I think you can do that at Disneyworld."
- Old Harrys Game, the sitcom set in Hell. Thomas is talking to a woman who killed herself because she listened to him when to told her to commit fraud and was subsequently arrested (or something like that). He denies responsibility "If I told you to put your head in the oven... OK bad example".
- Happens in Homestar Runner as well, when Homestar is attempting to be cool in the Strong Bad Email "the bet":
Homestar: (wearing sunglasses at night) Sup?
Marzipan: Homestar, that is not cool.
Homestar: Yes, it is. Strong Bad said so.
Marzipan: Well, if Strong Bad told you to jump off a bridge--
- Karate Bears Webcomic actually do jump off a bridge
- Parodied in Girl Genius, where Agatha tells Gil that he does not get to die just because "everyone else did"!
- Dr. Gardevoir attempts this with the Sniper in Level 30 Psychiatry
Gardevoir: You threw jars of your own urine at people?
Sniper: Saxton Hale said it would be cool.
Gardevoir: If Saxton Hale jumped off a cliff-
Sniper: Like he did in "Saxton Hale vs the Red Cliffs of Doomver"?
Gardevoir's split personality: Has that cliff jumping question ever worked?
Kid: Which scenario is more likely: every single person I know, many of them levelheaded and afraid of heights, abruptly went crazy at exactly the same time...or the bridge is on fire?
- Rugrats: A variation occurs in the episode "Driving Miss Angelica", where Angelica has successfully tricked Chuckie into being her slave, and she now blames him when her orders have gotten them trapped in a closet.
Chuckie: But, Angelica, you ordered me to come up here.
Angelica: Do you always do everything I tell you? If I told you to jump off a bridge, would you?!
- Used straight in a The Proud Family episode in regards to a concert.
Penny: ...But daddy, all my friends are going.
Oscar: If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it?
Penny: If it was fun.
Marge: What on earth possessed you to get an earring?
Bart: Milhouse has one.
Marge: If Milhouse jumped off a cliff...
Bart: Milhouse jumped off a cliff?! I'm there!
- and again, but reversed to Bart's confusion:
Bart: I can't go [to Nelson's birthday party]. No one else is!
Marge: If no one else jumped off the Empire State Building, would you not jump?
- In the Futurama pilot, Bender refuses to bend bars, saying he's only programmed to bend girders.
Fry: If you were programmed to jump off a bridge, would you?
Bender: I'll have to check my program. (small pause) Yep.
- Recess: Vince, a fourth-grader, is talking with his parents about a wildly popular movie that they won't let him go see.
Vince: But every kid at school has seen it!
Mom: If every kid at school jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?
Vince: If it was going to be the only thing they talked about the next day, yes!
- An episode of Bobby's World had a Running Gag of his parents constantly saying this to him, with Bobby responding with things like "Well, if I was hot, I might..." At the end of the episode, he wants them to go by the bridge so he can "see all the action".
- Dave the Barbarian "That Darn Ghost"
Lula: So if everyone had the plague you want it too?
Candy: Yes! DUH!
- From the Dan Vs. episode "New Mexico":
Elise: Okay, but we're having salad for dinner.
Chris: ...Dan said we were having burgers.
Elise: If Dan jumped off a cliff, would you?
Chris: *thinks about it*
Chris: *stammers* I mean, it depends.
Elise: Don't jump off a cliff!
Chris: Well, I wasn't planning on it.
Elise: But if Dan jumped, you would?
Chris: *thinks about it*
- The Legend of Tarzan: A kid injures himself after trying to imitate Tarzan, citing his ability to jump from the top of a waterfall and land safely. His aunt begins to ask the question before realizing it's a poor example.
- From the Phineas and Ferb episode, "Escaliferb" during a Leap of Faith moment:
Buford/Bufavulous: Mother always told me if all the other kids were jumping off a cliff, I should to.
Baljeet/Baljeetolas: Your mother said that?
Buford/Bufavulous: She was not a nurturer. Let's go! (jumps)
- In a Darkwing Duck episode while DW is under the effect of a Love Potion (which makes him all buddy/buddy with Negaduck), Negaduck tells him to jump off a cliff, so he does. He even yells Geronimo on his way down.
Negaduck: And to think, all this time all I had to do was ask.