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Ladder vs. stepladder

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Phoenix Wright
(This all seems so horribly familiar somehow...)
Stepladder

Is it a ladder or stepladder?

A conversation between the protagonist and his assistant about the difference between a ladder and a stepladder is a recurring joke in the Ace Attorney series.

The first instance was in Turnabout Samurai, the third case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, with a stepladder reappearing in at least one location in each game to date, sometimes in several locations, for the sole purpose of continuing the "tradition". Upon examination, the protagonist and a partner character engage in an argument on the usage of the words "ladder" and "stepladder", and the difference between them. One usually accuses the other of being too absorbed in the details instead of looking at the big picture and realizing that stepladders and other ladders serve roughly the same function. The latter's response to this varies. Similar gags involving other items have been used on occasion over the series.

In its original incarnations, Phoenix Wright makes the distinction and Maya Fey tells him to "stop judging things based on narrow-minded cultural assumptions". However, in later instances of the gag, the protagonist fills Maya Fey's role.

Although such a conversation does not directly occur in the crossover Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, two references are made to the recurring joke.

QuotesEdit

Phoenix Wright: Ace AttorneyEdit

Maya Fey
Look, a ladder!
Phoenix Wright
That's a "step"-ladder.
Maya Fey
So? What's the difference? You need to stop judging things based on narrow-minded cultural assumptions, Nick!
Phoenix Wright
R-right... sorry. (This girl is OUT there!)
Ema Skye
Ah huh! A ladder.
Phoenix Wright
Um... That's a step ladder.
Ema Skye
What's the difference? In scientific terms, please.
Phoenix Wright
S-scientific huh?
Ema Skye
Look at the basic nature of things, Mr. Wright.
Phoenix Wright
(This all seems so horribly familiar somehow...)

Note: This ladder is actually not a stepladder.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For AllEdit

Maya Fey
Ah, a ladder.
Phoenix Wright
It's just a stepladder.
Maya Fey
What's the difference? They do the same thing, right? I think you should stick with the basic facts of the matter.
Phoenix Wright
Oh... Uh... OK. (It's not even worth arguing with her on this one.)

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and TribulationsEdit

Maya Fey
Look, a ladder!
Phoenix Wright
That's a "step"-ladder.
Maya Fey
So? What's the difference? You need to stop judging things based on narrow-minded cultural assumptions, Nick!
Phoenix Wright
R-Right... sorry. (Why do I feel like we've had this exact same conversation before somewhere...?)
Dick Gumshoe
Look, a ladder!
Phoenix Wright
That's a "step"-ladder.
Dick Gumshoe
What's the difference? Looks like a normal ladder to me, pal.
Phoenix Wright
(Surely everyone knows the difference... I mean, they're pretty ordinary objects...)
Dick Gumshoe
I've met plenty of guys like you, always picking on the smallest details. The vegetable store guy near my place does it all the time. He even corrects me when I ask for a head of lettuce. "That's a cabbage," he says. I'm telling you, they're the exact same thing!
Phoenix Wright
No they're not! They're completely different!
Dick Gumshoe
You have to plant both of them firmly in the ground before they can grow, don't you? Listen. You gotta take a step back and look at the bigger picture sometimes. Otherwise you could miss a really important clue. That's advice from a pro, pal!
Phoenix Wright
(...The last person I need advice from is this guy in front of me.)

Apollo Justice: Ace AttorneyEdit

Apollo Justice
Look, it's a folding ladder.
Trucy Wright
Polly! That's called a "stepladder"! C'mon!
Apollo Justice
...A stepladder? How is that different from a regular ladder then?
Trucy Wright
It's a much more complex piece of machinery. It's like two ladders stuck together!
Apollo Justice
...So you admit that basically it's a ladder, right?
Trucy Wright
Wait... Huh?
Apollo Justice
You have to look past the form... at the essence of the thing.
Trucy Wright
Er... Can we talk about something else?
Apollo Justice
Look, a ladder. I guess they need one to work on the lights and such.
Trucy Wright
Why don't they use a stepladder? I prefer stepladders, really ...Is that so wrong?
Apollo Justice
Not wrong, just... well, why do you prefer stepladders?
Trucy Wright
...... They're so much more flexible than plain old ladders!
Apollo Justice
...... (I prefer my ladders rigid and stable, thank you.)
Apollo Justice
Huh, another ladder.
Trucy Wright
Actually, it's technically a stepladder.
Apollo Justice
Well hello, Ms. Fancy Pants! Please forgive my lack of ladder discrimination.
Trucy Wright
! ......
Ema Skye
I'm less worried about the stepladder, and more worried about why it's there.
Apollo Justice
(Why is the ladder there? Well, to climb, right? To reach something on the ceiling?)
Trucy Wright
...... I still say it's a stepladder.

Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles EdgeworthEdit

StepLadder

Different people. Similar conversation.

Miles Edgeworth
Hmm... A ladder.
Kay Faraday
Actually, that's a step-ladder.
Miles Edgeworth
They're the exact same thing.
Kay Faraday
No way! From their structure up, they're totally different! But of course, from a thief's perspective, the best kind of ladder is the rope-ladder. A step-ladder is much too heavy to carry around, after all.
Miles Edgeworth
(And from a prosecutor's perspective, any type of ladder is guilty... of being dangerous during an earthquake.)

Gyakuten Kenji 2Edit

Tyrell Badd
...What is it, Mr. Attorney? Something about that ladder bothering you..?
Gregory Edgeworth
Detective Badd. It's actually a stepladder.
Tyrell Badd
...They're both the same to me...
Gregory Edgeworth
They're completely different. Look at their basic nature.
Tateyuki Shigaraki
Yeah, Mr. Edgeworth... You tell him!
The Inherited Turnabout (quotation from unofficial fan translation)

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual DestiniesEdit

Athena Cykes
There really is no escaping here through the air duct.
Apollo Justice
And here we went through all the trouble of bringing a ladder to check it out.
Athena Cykes
That's not a ladder, Apollo. It's a stepladder.
Apollo Justice
What's the difference? They both have the word ladder in them.
Athena Cykes
What's the difference. ..?.. .. .. .. .. ..Oh, I know! Let's play rock, paper scissors to decide who's right!
Apollo Justice
You're way too competitive. And it's not even related to the original issue, either!

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Spirit of JusticeEdit

Mayaallgrown

Maya Fey moving on?

Maya Fey
I'm going to keep it real from now on. And you should, too, Nick.
Phoenix Wright
(I thought you said I was the boring one because I was "keeping it real"...?)
Maya Fey
Sorry, I guess I've outgrown that stepladder argument we always have...
Phoenix Wright
I think you mean "ladder," Maya.

Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace AttorneyEdit

Hershel Layton
They've built a house up on a tree. How inventive. They must use a series of ladders to reach the top.
Maya Fey
I knew you were smart, Professor! You do NOT want to hear Nick's thoughts on ladders, trust me.
Maya Fey
According to this floor plan...there's a bell on the floor above this one.
Phoenix Wright
Well, it is a bell tower... It'd be kind of strange if there was no bell.
Maya Fey
Yeah, but...there's no sign of any ladder leading up to the next level.
Phoenix Wright
Or even a stepladder... (Does that mean the bell can't be rung?)

Non-ladder/stepladder variationsEdit

Maya Fey
Whoa! It's a huge hearth!
Phoenix Wright
That's a fireplace.
Maya Fey
So? What's the difference? You need to stop judging things based on narrow-minded cultural assumptions, Nick!
Dick Gumshoe
That's a really big floaty! But isn't it a bit too early in the year for swimming?
Miles Edgeworth
Detective, that is not for swimming. It's a lifesaver.
Dick Gumshoe
So you can't swim with one of these?
Miles Edgeworth
No... I mean, I suppose you could, but that's not what they are intended for...
Dick Gumshoe
Well then, see, it's the same as a floaty! You shouldn't go around confusing people, sir!
Miles Edgeworth
(... Why do I feel like I've just kicked a puppy?)
Kay Faraday
It's a cage inside the cage that is the prison. It's like cage-ception!
Miles Edgeworth
I believe the correct term is "prison cell".
Kay Faraday
They're the same thing! You need to look more at the essence of things.
Miles Edgeworth
...Actually, it's more important to get the correct information.
The Imprisoned Turnabout (quotation from unofficial fan translation)
Apollo Justice
Is this a bird?
Dhurke Sahdmadhi
It looks like an airplane to me.
Apollo Justice
No, there couldn't have been any planes back when this was made.
Dhurke Sahdmadhi
Yes, but it has wings and both horizontal and vertical stabilizers. That makes it an airplane.
Apollo Justice
No, it's definitely a bird.
Dhurke Sahdmadhi
Open your eyes, son... As a lawyer, your job is to see the true nature of things.
Apollo Justice
(I still say it's a bird.)
Athena Cykes
Eeewww... Is that a newt?
Apollo Justice
Come on, Athena. Can't you tell a gecko when you see one?
Athena Cykes
What's the difference?
Apollo Justice
Geckos like to live in houses, while newts prefer to be outside near water. They're totally different creatures.
Athena Cykes
Well, how do you know this one wasn't caught outside near some water? It could very well be a gecko.
Apollo Justice
No, I'm pretty sure it's a newt.
Athena Cykes
Oh, so then you agree it's a newt, Apollo?
Apollo Justice
Ack! (I fell right into her trap!)
Phoenix Wright
You're both wrong. It's just a plain old lizard.

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