SurpriseParty Surprise Party YKTTW Discussion

Surprise Party
Characters throw a surprise party for another character
Needs Examples Tropeworthy?
(permanent link) added: 2012-12-16 17:01:33 sponsor: JMQwilleran (last reply: 2013-01-24 03:52:36)

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The delight on Bear's face means it was done right.
Worf: Because it is my birthday I assumed that you or one of the others would try to mount an unexpected social gathering.
Riker: A surprise party? Mister Worf, I hate surprise parties. I would never do that to you. ....
Cast: Surprise!
Riker: I love surprise parties.

Ah, your basic Surprise Party Some characters throw a surprise party for another character. If it's pulled off correctly, then both A.) the character is taken completely by surprise and B.) the other characters have done a good enough job of keeping them distracted and entertained that there is no chance for a forgotten birthday situation. Alternatively, the party happens in a situation where they totally wouldn't expect it, so again, no chance.

A number of associated subplots may arise from this. One tactic is trying to keep the subject out of the house so his/her friends can sneak in and prepare the party; this usually has the person desperately wanting to go home, and the ruse using every trick they can think of to keep the person from going home.

The other case that frequently happens is the person is having a miserable day, and announces it so that all the party guests can hear it. Hopefully, the surprise party will help to fix their rotten day, though it isn't guaranteed. It's also possible that the friends may be inspired to throw the surprise party because they heard about the character's rotten day.

Admittedly, there are cases where it's just a regular surprise party, without any of the above, and these are more common than one might think. If it's not a straight example, though, then it might be any of the tropes that the Surprise Party is a supertrope of, which include the Forgotten Birthday, Birthday Suit Surprise Party, Scary Surprise Party and its darker variant, the Shock Party, so please make sure that it's not one of these before adding it here.

Need not be a birthday party, though it often is, and if so, may be part of a Birthday Episode.


  • In Brisingr of Inheritance Cycle, after Eragon returns to the Varden's camp and gets settled in, he heads off with Nasuada to what he thinks is going to be a boring dinner of political conversation with nobles who want to fawn over him and his dragon Saphira. But when Nasuada opens the flap to the tent, it turns out to be a surprise party arranged by her and Eragon's adoptive brother Roran featuring most of the villagers of his hometown of Carvahall and many other people he knows and likes.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
  • In "Parallels" on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the senior staff of the Enterprise D throws Worf a surprise party for his birthday after he comes back from a bat'leth tournament. The party manages to catch him off-guard, because Riker lied to him and told him that there wasn't going to be a surprise party. However, the story is about Worf shifting through various parallel realities, and whether or not there was a party varies based on which reality he's in. When he returns to his proper reality, it turns out that Deanna Troi talked Riker out of throwing the party because she didn't think Worf would like it, but the two end up spending some time together over champagne in Worf's quarters.
  • A recurring sketch on Saturday Night Live is about a gourp of people planning a surprise [birthday/anniversary/retirement/etc.] party for one of their friends, and Kristen Wiig's character is soo very very excited about it she just can't keep still - or keep her mouth shut when the character in question appears.
  • On The Big Bang Theory'', Penny tries to throw Leonard a surprise birthday party when she finds out that he's never had a birthday party, but it doesn't work out. Leonard has to take Howard to the emergency room for a peanut allergy reaction and they don't get back home until well after the party is over.
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show: In "A Surprise is a Surprise is a Surprise" Laura outwits Rob by pretending that she was planning a surprise birthday party for him (which she does every year and he always finds out in advance) but her plans fall through - but then it turns out that that was a fib, and the surprise party happens at like 6 in the morning.
    • WKRP in Cincinnati: When Les goes through a Mid-life crisis and makes plans to move to New York City and get a new reporter/anchor job at CBS TV Jennifer plans a surprise birthday/going-away party. But then he tells her he hates surprise parties. When the gang all show up (Jennifer not having gotten the chance to tell them not to come) she admits it was a surprise party, and Les is fine with it, even a little excited.
  • In an episode of Sanford and Son features Fred returning home from St. Louis and being welcomed back with a surprise party.
  • The surprise party is referenced by Johnny of Johnny and the Sprites in the song "What a Surprise!" when he sings "There are surprise endings, surprise guests, surprise parties too! Surprises when they're really great can make your dreams come true. Make your dreams come true!"
  • M*A*S*H
    • In one episode BJ tries to organize a surprise birthday party for Hawkeye, despite the fact that it isn't Hawkeye's birthday, in order to get some camp morale going. Hawkeye learns of this and counters by "accidentally" letting it slip that the same day is BJ's wedding anniversary. In the end BJ drafts a random extra to be the Birthday Boy.
    • In another episode Mildred Potter (Col. Potter's wife) enlists Hawkeye to throw a surprise "the Mortgage is Paid Off" party for the Colonel.
  • On The Joe Schmo Show, a surprise party was held for Tim Walsh of the second season on his birthday, and Chase Rogan of the third season. Both were used as a way to advance the plot, with the former involving a face-painting party held by Gerald the Gotta-Be-Gay Guy in which Bryce the stalker painted "Piper" on his face, and in the latter, Randy the asshole taking advantage of the party to get closer to the host's wife. The second season one, though, was generally more interesting, as Tim had never been given a surprise party before in his life, but had always wanted. The party was said to be sponsored by "Club G" and even included Tim giving Gerald a lap-dance as part of a game of Truth or Dare. Afterwards, Jonathan Torrens ("Gerald") said in an interview segment that his favorite theory of Tim's so far was "But I don't think he's gay. I think he's Canadian."
  • Two examples from Friends: TOW the fake party features Rachel hosting a surprise party for Emily in order to seduce Joshua and in another episode there's a flashback to when Monica turned thirty-- her friends and relatives have a very formal party. Monica freaked out and got really drunk before hand.
  • Bear in the Big Blue House had "Mouse Party," about a surprise party being held for Tutter the mouse's birthday. This was later adapted for theater as "Bear in the Big Blue House Live!: Surprise Party."

[[folder:Video Games]]
  • A Franklin one- the entire plot of the game Franklin: A Birthday Surprise is based around the player helping the cast to plan a surprise party for Franklin's best friend, Bear.

[[folder:Web Original]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
  • In "Franklin's Party Plans" on the Animated Adaptation of Franklin, Franklin and his friends throw Skunk a party because of a The Moving Experience situation - they think she's moving out of town and want to give her a good-bye party. It turns out she's only moving out of her old home in Woodland, but she appreciates the party nevertheless, as she was truly sad about moving, despite the fact that she wasn't leaving town.
  • Holly Hobbie and Friends, a series of direct-to-DVD films featuring a character named after a popular author and illustrator, has a released titled Holly Hobbie and Friends: Surprise Party, in which Holly and her friends (together known as the "Hey Girls"), plan and throw a surprise party for their Aunt Jessie.
  • Mickey's Surprise Party, a Mickey Mouse short, involves Mickey holding one for Minnie.
  • In "Surprise Party" on Dinosaur Train, Shiny, Tiny and Don through a surprise party for Buddy on the Dinosaur Train and invite all of their best dinosaur friends to attend.
  • Blue's Clues has "Joe's Surprise Party," in which the viewers are asked to keep Joe distracted while Blue and the cast finish putting together a surprise party for him. It works out very well.
  • In one episode of Rugrats, Stu plans a surprise party for his wife, Didi. He has one of the neighbors get her out of the house for the afternoon. Unfortunately, he is placed in charge of watching the kids when the ladies leave. They still managed to pull it off, though, though not without some grief on Stu's part.
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