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All women want him... and all men don't want to be him, when being that near that dude's junk...

A character says something to instantly attract romantic or sexual interest from another character. It frequently converts a mildly interested character into one overcome with burning desire. This is generally made possible by the two dimensional nature of miscellaneous female cast members in the average TV sitcom or drama. It's generally used to further assert the established superior wooing ability of one (generally male) character over another.

It assumes, of course, that all women in the show are completely uninterested in pairing off unless some sort of activation code is delivered in the process of courting. This more often than not takes the form of a statement displaying fake sensitivity. The practitioner need only mention his concern for the cute little puppies of the world, or the plight of little old ladies, to reap the benefits. Also of note is the polar shift the activation code elicits. A female character, regardless of her initial interest level, will be instantly converted to a hedonistic Succubus once the code has been uttered. If the show is meant for a younger age group or simply has a lower focus on sex, she will simply exhibit intense romantic interest.

For example:

Nifty McSuave will be sitting in a restaurant with his companion Dorky McInept. Dorky will remark that the waitress is quite cute and then proceed to attempt to woo her in a fairly standard manner: "Hi my name is Dorky, are you new here?" etc. He will, of course, be so thoroughly ignored that viewers will be left wondering whether the two protagonists have accidentally stumbled into a nunnery. However, as the scene plays out and the waitress casts her attention to Nifty, he will sigh forlornly and utter some variation of, "I can't eat, I'm far too concerned about my sick/puppy/grandma/child/all the starving orphans," and it will be all that he can do to keep her from tearing off his clothes and having him right on the table.

It should be noted, however, that Code Word Coitus will generally work only for a character who has already been established in the mythology of the series as a "ladies' man". In the rare event that the code works for another character, it will do so only if he has been expressly instructed to deliver it by the "ladies' man", further establishing the latter's skill.

Compare Instant Seduction, where the mechanism to instantly seduce people is kept offscreen.

Examples of Code Word Coitus include:


  • A particular Twix "Need a Moment?" commercial a few years back had two guys at a small party running into a hot woman. One guy had a book about picking up women (and very prominently featured that on the cover) and was showing it to the second guy, who then needed a moment, stuffed his mouth with a Twix, then promptly said something about the book being degrading to women. Cue sigh of desire.


  • Subverted and lampshaded in Sex And Death 101. The lead appears to be activating each girl for coitus, but he's following a prophetic list of all the people who will have sex with him in his life. Sometimes he plays with this, dropping lines that should never activate, yet still succeeds. Then he falls for a girl not on his list and determinedly does and says anything that would get her to sleep with him. After enough pressure, she mocks him for thinking she had an 'activation code', in those words. Eventually he does push the right button; she agrees to sleep with him and promptly dies.
  • This is successful in-film, but fails spectacularly from a viewer standpoint, in Every Which Way But Loose. Apparently, the line "I've never met anyone who made me feel the way you do" was supposed to be accompanied by a complete change in the normally dorky sidekick's speech and body language, showing his suave side to both his love interest and the audience. As played, it's arguably the most emotionally false scene in the entire movie, due to the actor's inability to pull off the change.
  • Australian movie The Wog Boy has main character Steve with a 100% full proof pick up line. He teaches it to Stephen Curry's character and warns him to use it carefully, he doesn't. In the end, the pick up line is "if you are what you eat, then by tomorrow, I'll be you."


  • In Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Ron mentioned house-elf welfare around Hermione for the first time in the entire series, and... well, it wasn't sex, but Hermione jumped into his arms and kissed him so hard he dropped everything he was holding. Harry just did a verbal facepalm in answer.

Live-Action TV

  • Charlie from Two and A Half Men. The exact code varies.
  • In How I Met Your Mother, Barney Stinson got laid by texting a question mark. True story. And it. was. legen - wait for it - dary!
    • Being the series' ladies man, Barney uses this a lot; for example, when Marshall gets mugged, Barney decides to take the story as his own in hopes that it will become this.
    • He once tried picking up a woman by just saying "Daddy's home." It didn't work, but he managed to fool his friends into thinking it did.
  • Subverted in an episode of Chuck, where the title character is failing his normal seduction attempt and is coached into suddenly speaking totally out of character to get closer to an enemy agent... who's totally onto his being coached.
  • Joey from Friends. All he says is, "How you doin'?" and any woman anywhere will immediately leap into bed with him. This may also be due to his Kavorka Man status.
  • Gender-reversed in Seinfeld, where Elaine tries to flirt with George's boss to distract him while George drugs him. The code in this case? "Sooo, I'm going to a nudist colony..."
  • In The Addams Family (both television series and movies), Gomez immediately becomes very amorous whenever Morticia says anything in French.
    • It's a Running Gag in the cartoon: he'll start kissing her arm and telling her "Speak some more, speak some more!" if she so much as uses biker slang. It's a sign of how much of a funk he's in when she has to speak French twice in a row to get his attention. "Slowed down my reaction time..."
  • An inversion: in an episode of Corner Gas, Karen sleeps with Hank after he waxes poetic about fish. Not because she's into fish at all, but because he's into fishing so much that it brings out his poetic and sensitive side; we even see him from her point of view and he's in soft focus. It's subverted later in the episode after they decide not to continue with things, only for Karen to start in on how she likes target practice, and Hank sees her in soft focus...then she fumbles for words and the moment's lost.

Newspaper Comics

  • In Dilbert, Wally manages to make managers swoon by using buzzwords.
    • In another strip, Dilbert uses his computer to devise the ultimate pickup line: "Hi, I'm Mel Gibson. Did you see a dingo dog go by with my shirt?" We don't see its effect on women, but it sure worked on Dogbert.
      • Of course, Dogbert is a Deadpan Snarker, so he was probably being sarcastic.
    • Another, more recent arc has Wally propose a devious plan to the receptionist that will get them both out of work. She instantly falls for him.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • Demonstrated in an episode of Futurama at the Romanticorp headquarters. The company is experimenting with pick-up lines. One dummy says, "My two favorite things are commitment and changing myself." The test subject (woman) immediately starts making out with the dummy.

 Leela: Does that dummy have a brother?