Created By: HiddenFacedMatt on June 20, 2012 Last Edited By: HiddenFacedMatt on November 25, 2012
Nuked

The Truth Sounds Crazy

Something that's true in-universe sounds crazy to other characters.

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I know that this is gonna sound crazy, but the truth sounds crazy sometimes.
- Linguini, from Ratatouille

This refers to when a character is saying something that sounds crazy, whether to other characters or to the audience (or to both) but in-universe it's true. Sometimes It Makes Sense in Context, and other times it relies on a revelation made later on.

No Mere Windmill and You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You are subtropes of this. Also, this can sometimes be one of the reasons for a Cassandra Truth. (Other reasons involve dismissing what is said for who is saying it, rather than necessarily because it sounds crazy.)

Two categories of works especially prone to this are fantasy works, for not holding to realistic standards but having characters who have intuitive notions about reality viewers could identify with, and comedy works, wherein the outlandishness of the situation is used to fuel the comedic value of the use of this trope.

Examples:

  • The page quotation from Ratatouille comes from when he was about to say that a rat under his hat was helping him cook.
  • This is a frequent theme in South Park; from Kyle's brother Ike being abducted by space aliens in the first episode, to Kyle claiming in The Movie that shooting Terrance and Philip would cause Satan and Saddam Hussein to Take Over the World.
  • In the movie They Live, the truth (Aliens control the world! They're disguised as humans! Everything is run by the alien conspiracy! You're all being mind controlled!) sounds like the ranting of paranoid schizophrenics.
  • In Chuck's second season, he's dating a woman who's suspicious of his relationship with Sarah and walks in on him mostly naked in the shower with her. He explains the situation, which is somewhat complex, and she responds,
    Jill: What kind of fruit punch?
    Chuck: Okay, now you're just messing with me.
  • Animorphs has a few instances like They Live, where most think the "aliens are disguised as humans and taking over the world" stuff is crazy and only the Animorphs realize they're telling the truth.
  • Tracker had this in "Eye Of The Storm". Cole attemps to tell Vic the truth, that he's an alien bounty hunter searching for extraterrestrial fugitives, but naturally, Vic thinks he's crazy. They never got to show what would happen when/if he did find out.
  • The Simpsons: In the seventh Treehouse of Horror episode, the short "Citizen Kang" shows Homer being abducted by the aliens Kang & Kodos. They reveal to him their plan to impersonate Bill Clinton and Bob Dole in a bid to get elected president and take over the U.S. (and then the world). They then spray Homer with beer and drop him off, since nobody will believe a drunk-smelling man raving about aliens impersonating politicians.
  • Back to the Future III: Emmet actually lampshades this when Marty suggests taking Clara back with them, to the year 1985. Inevitably, he ends up having to tell her anyway, since she wanted to know why he was leaving her, and had said she couldn't come with him. So he tells her, which leads to predictable results.
  • One Piece on the recent Mermaid Island arc, Mr. King Mermaid makes the (ludicrous) statement that Luffy abducted the Mermaid Princess in the mouth of a shark. Guess who was right?
  • In the Regular Show episode Grilled Cheese Deluxe, Mordecai and Rigby learn a lesson about telling the truth through buying a Grilled Cheese Sandwich for Benson by pretending to be astronauts. This causes them to be in the middle of a nuclear disaster that is narrowly avoided thanks to throwing the Grilled Cheese at the atom, ruining Benson's sandwich in the process. When they explain this to Benson, he thinks they're lying again, so Mordecai just tells him that the sandwich was ruined because they dropped it and it got run over by a car.
    • Also, in the Regular Show episode The Power, Benson doesn't believe that Mordecai and Rigby's magic keyboard sent Skips to the moon- until they take Benson himself to the moon.
  • Real Life example; much of modern physics, such as time dilation or quantum physics, seems very counterintuitive, yet as of yet we have reason to believe it's true.
Community Feedback Replies: 28
  • June 20, 2012
    Xzenu
    We have this trope. It is called No Mere Windmill.
  • June 20, 2012
    animeg3282
    Not quite a match.
  • June 20, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    In the movie They Live, the truth (Aliens control the world! They're disguised as humans! Everything is run by the alien conspiracy! You're all being mind controlled!) sounds like the ranting of paranoid schizophrenics.
  • June 20, 2012
    surgoshan
    • In Chuck's second season, he's dating a woman who's suspicious of his relationship with Sarah and walks in on him mostly naked in the shower with her. He explains the situation, which is somewhat complex, and she responds,
      Jill: What kind of fruit punch?
      Chuck: Okay, now you're just messing with me.
  • June 20, 2012
    chicagomel
    Animorphs has a few instances like They Live, where most think the "aliens are disguised as humans and taking over the world" stuff is crazy and only the Animorphs realize they're telling the truth.

    Tracker had this in "Eye Of The Storm". Cole attemps to tell Vic the truth, that he's an alien bounty hunter searching for extraterrestrial fugitives, but naturally, Vic thinks he's crazy. They never got to show what would happen when/if he did find out.
  • June 20, 2012
    Shnakepup
  • June 20, 2012
    synthetique
    Yep, this is You Wouldnt Believe Me If I Told You and/or a Cassandra Truth. The former is a stock phrase, and the latter is the situation in which you tell someone the truth of what happened and they refuse to believe you.

    I'm not sure if the situation in which someone starts to tell someone the truth and then defers with an "oh, nevermind" because they anticipate disbelief is considered an example of either of the above (or a character acting in fear of the above) or is a separate trope altogether.

    Anyway, I think I better name for this phenomenon is "Stranger Than Fiction"
  • June 21, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    You Wouldnt Believe Me If I Told You seems more like a subtrope of this, as this is much more broad.

    As for Cassandra Truth, that can result from other things, such as a preconception against the person saying it rather than a preconception against what is being said.
  • June 25, 2012
    theweirdKiddokun
    I think that should change to "Stranger Than Fiction" since the idea is like the movie with the same name.
  • June 26, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^ Except that for the fictional examples, they are true in-universe but not in real life. Stranger Than Fiction would seem awfully misleading.

    That and we already have Freakier Than Fiction, which this trope most definitely is NOT.
  • June 29, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Not sure if this would count, but:

    • The Simpsons: In the seventh Treehouse of Horror episode, the short "Citizen Kang" shows Homer being abducted by the aliens Kang & Kodos. They reveal to him their plan to impersonate Bill Clinton and Bob Dole in a bid to get elected president and take over the U.S. (and then the world). They then spray Homer with beer and drop him off, since nobody will believe a drunk-smelling man raving about aliens impersonating politicians.
  • June 29, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^ That's definitely an example. I'll add it.
  • June 29, 2012
    MiinU
    I gotta admit this does sound similar to You Wouldnt Believe Me If I Told You, but provided this is tropable....

    Film

    • Back to the Future III: Emmet actually lampshades this when Marty suggests taking Clara back with them, to the year 1985. Inevitably, he ends up having to tell her anyway, since she wanted to know why he was leaving her, and had said she couldn't come with him. So he tells her, which leads to predictable results.
  • June 29, 2012
    falver
    One Piece on the recent Mermaid Island arc, Mr. King Mermaid makes the (ludicrous) statement that Luffy abducted the Mermaid Princess in the mouth of a shark. Guess who was right?
  • June 30, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^^ Again, it's a subtrope, because it's according to the description it's more like someone going on some sort of crazy adventure sounding hard to believe, while this is more broadly about any kind of in-universe truth sounding crazy.
  • July 2, 2012
    MiinU
    bump.
  • July 5, 2012
    CalamityJane
    • In the Regular Show episode Grilled Cheese Deluxe, Mordecai and Rigby learn a lesson about telling the truth through buying a Grilled Cheese Sandwich for Bensons by pretending to be astronauts. This causes them to be in the middle of a nuclear disaster that is narrowly avoided thanks to throwing the Grilled Cheese at the atom, ruining Benson's sandwich in the process. When they explain this to Benson, he thinks they're lying again, so Mordecai just tells him that the sandwich was ruined because they dropped it and it got run over by a car.
  • July 5, 2012
    cabr321
    • Also, in the Regular Show episode The Power, Benson doesn't believe that Mordecai and Rigby's magic keyboard sent Skips to the moon- until they take Benson himself to the moon.
  • July 19, 2012
    Frank75
  • July 19, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    I agree this is a supertrope to NMW and You Wouldnt Believe Me If I Told You (which tends to avoid dialogue like the page quote). It may also prompt a Not Making This Up Disclaimer.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't this often get lampshaded in the dialogue as in Ratatouille?
  • July 19, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^ Yes, it often makes gets lampshaded; where are you going with that?
  • July 19, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    I suppose to emphasize that this isn't really You Wouldnt Believe Me If I Told You, as some of the other commenters suggested earlier. In that trope, the telling is avoided because it will sound crazy. Wouldn't that make YWBMIITY a subversion of this one? Can a subtrope/supertrope relationship also cover a trope that subverts another one? After all, they both contain the nigh-unbelievable crazy-yet-true fact/incident/narrative at their core, so one could be a subset of the other.
  • July 19, 2012
    Ryusui
  • July 20, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^ What you used is an alt-title of Freakier Than Fiction, which is about real life itself, not about in-universe "truths." Besides, "strange" doesn't necessarily mean "freaky."

    ^^^ I think stating it to be a subtrope is sufficient.
  • July 22, 2012
    elwoz
    I've thought for some time that we ought to work this point in somewhere (not necessarily on this trope page): Lampshade Hanging works partially because Reality Is Unrealistic and/or this trope. The audience knows that bizarre, impossible-seeming things do sometimes happen in Real Life, so why not in fiction also? As long as the characters react plausibly.
  • November 24, 2012
    MiinU
    bump.
  • November 24, 2012
    Irrisia
    And again, Infallible Babble is probably related.
  • November 25, 2012
    Arivne
    This is very close to Characters Don't Suspend Disbelief, another proposal currently on YKTTW. Maybe they should be merged?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=6zxzv3dg0xpmbwrmay8933d0&trope=DiscardedYKTTW