The Brief: The "call an ambulance, but not for me" meme has made its way to TikTok where thousands of videos use the sound for comedic skits.

Bluesquiggle
DEEP DIVE

Before they appeared on TikTok, “call an ambulance, but not for me” memes were popular on Reddit starting in 2018. They come from a video clip from an advertisement for a self-defense workshop for seniors where an old man is being held at knifepoint. He cries out in pain as if he’s having a heart attack and says “call an ambulance!” He then sneakily procures a gun and points it at his attacker, adding “but not for me.” Variations of these memes typically portray scenarios where someone appears vulnerable at first before revealing that they’re very capable of defending themselves.

This meme spread to TikTok in June 2020 when user @side_character posted the sound with the Giorno Giovanna theme from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure added to it. From there, TikTokers started using the sound in skits where one person attacks another, only to be surprised by their strong retaliation. TikToker @zookeye added crying sound effects to the clip in September, inspiring anime-themed memes and other videos about hypothetical fight scenarios. Over 47,000 videos have been uploaded to TikTok using @side_character’s sound.

In October and November, the sound became popular in TikTok memes where someone must recite hyper-specific information, or else they’ll be killed by their kidnapper. They respond “call an ambulance, but not for me” to indicate that they happen to know that random piece of information. These memes often reference obscure facts that people must memorize in school.

@pondpajamas

back from my hiatus, feeling relieved, and hopping on this trend hard

♬ original sound – 207444

@peni5butterjelly

Oop

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@_fetusdeletus

why did they make us do this in science class lmk #fyp

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@thekalequeen

It wasn’t a phase #MotivationMonday #percyjackson #greek #greekmythology #bi #lgbt

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@laurynjadaa

like atp add me to the group😼 #foryou #fyp #viral #citygirls #xyzbca

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A variation of the sound by @tamarciment changes the audio to say “call an ambulance for me.” Over 34,000 videos have been posted to TikTok with this sound, many of which feature skits where people fail to meet their kidnapper’s demands to recite specific information.

@tamarciment

new sound?

♬ original sound – tamar

@noahcorpuz

i have no idea what’s going on #fyp #college #techtok #vt #gokies

♬ original sound – tamar

@rangofan2012

I’d start listing random names cause he wouldn’t know either #MotivationMonday #foryou #imaginedragons #fyp

♬ original sound – tamar