Fantastically Indifferent

Robo: Overall, I gotta say, you're taking this rather well.
Carl Sagan: Astronomy is a long and relentless lesson that the universe is under no obligation to match up with your expectations. Also, the alcohol helps.
Atomic Robo and the Shadow from Beyond Time

Take a person. Something fantastic happens to or around them. He or she acknowledges that something as supernatural or as something that should be impossible, but, when people expect them to freak out, they don't. It turns out that the person in question utterly fails to react with the sense of wonder that something fantastic, unnatural or supposedly impossible would entail. This usually happens for one of two reasons:

  1. The person is just that calm or collected; or
  2. The person has seen enough of this sort of thing, maybe from the same source, that - though they recognize it IS fantastic - they got used to it enough to view it as "normal" - for them, at least. This isn't quite Seen It All because the person in question tends to be a Muggle Best Friend or some sort of normal that knows what's going on - and knows it enough not to mind anyways.

In the first case, the person is more likely to berate others for their overreaction, though not always. In the second case, the person already reacted strongly to this kind of thing a few times, if only offscreen, so they won't really mind when others do. Mind that the person does know the event is impressive or surprising - they're just too calm or too used to it to really mind. Superheroes that work in teams depend on this trope not to stare wide-eyed in the middle of a battle whenever a teammate does something.

Compare Stiff Upper Lip, Unusually Uninteresting Sight, Dull Surprise.


  • In Atomic Robo, both Carl Sagan and Charles Fort react rather calmly to the reality-warping machinations of an extradimensional Eldritch Abomination — although Sagan does take a moment (and some booze) to reach this point.
  • As noted, superheroes have a tendency to do this, as well as those around them.

  • Stories in the Pony Earth Verse vary in regard to this. Usually, "later" stories have the people transformed into ponies reacting very dryly to their situation, in comparison to "earlier" stories focusing on shocked initial reactions.

  • Almost everyone in Hop except the lead is not overly surprised by a talking bunny.

  • Ronnie, in Anita Blake Vampire Hunter has no psychic or magic abilities and despite her job as a P.I. not a lot of contact with such things outside of her association with Anita. When the weird crap happens, though, she takes it pretty well. at least until her character derailment later in the series.
    • Also Edward from the same series. Yeah, he's an assassin who kills monsters for a living, but turning into some kind of human vampire who feeds off of sex is still pretty outside his experiences, so when Anita reveals this has happened to her, it should still be a shock, but he's more or less like "Well, that's unusual." And finding out that the vampires who are so scary that other vampires are afraid of them are after Anita should give one pause as well. His response is basically *shrug* "Okay, so how do we kill them?"
  • Candy Quackenbush from Abarat is like this. She accepts one bizarre thing after another, just as they come because, she reasons, what else can she do? Word of God has said that he intentionally invoked this to spare readers from having to read pages and pages of freak-out scenes.
  • The Pikka birds in Mostly Harmless embody this trope. They're not surprised by unusual, million-to-one, you'll-never-see-that-again events, because, well, they're unusual, million-to-one, and you'll never see them again in your life, so why bother noticing? And yet, every morning, the sunrise takes them completely by surprise.
  • In Dinoverse, Janine doesn't take suddenly ending up in the body of a Quetzalcoatlus with total calm, but she adjusts much faster than the others, to the point where Mike asks her about it.
    "I donít want to think about this, I donít want to talk about this. It doesnít do us any good. We know whatís at stake. What we have to figure out is whatís our first move."
  • Kazuo Kiriyama of Battle Royale is fairly calm for someone who learns that he's expected to kill or be killed by his classmates. Justified in the novel and manga, where a car accident in utero/childhood (respectively) gave him brain damage that left him unable to feel emotions.
    • Shogo Kawada is also pretty calm about the whole ordeal, with the exceptions being anger rather than shock. This leads up to The Reveal that by coincidence, he was part of "the Program" the previous year, and therefore knows exactly how it works.
  • Animorphs, "The Extreme" - While wandering in the Arctic, the kids run into an Inuit boy named Derek who is bizarrely unfazed by human-Controllers blasting wildlife with "Stark Trek guns", shapeshifting teenagers, and a telepathic four-eyed blue centaur.

Live-Action TV
  • From Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the first time Oz is caught up in a fight with vampires, Willow hesitantly begins to explain the whole situation, prefacing it with "Now don't freak out..." Oz doesn't, because not only is he really that calm, but because the fact that vampires are real suddenly makes a lot of things about Sunnydale make sense. In the comics, he tops himself when his ex drops by outside the monastery he's meditating at, in a submarine, that she teleported to Tibet. His reaction: a nonchalant "Huh".
  • From Doctor Who, when Rory first walks into the TARDIS, both the audience and the Doctor expect him to look around in wonder, saying "It's Bigger on the Inside". He doesn't, and calmly explains that it's dimensionally transcendental before the Doctor can.
    • And really, the Doctor and anyone who travels with him is probably going to become at least a little Fantastically Indifferent. After all, when you're traveling through time and space with an 1100 year-old-alien who switches bodies, in a sentient Police Call Box that's bigger on the inside, while defeating monsters and aliens of all types, fantastic is an everyday occurrence. And even then, just meeting with him is enough to cause some change in a person's mindset.
      Harriet Jones: If we only knew what the Slitheen wanted. Listen to me. I'm saying Slitheen as if it's normal.
    • In fact, this attitude is part of what convinces Queen Victoria the Doctor can't be trusted/relied on. He and his companion's delight at the chance to encounter "real werewolves" appalls her in light of the very real danger and very high body count of the "adventure". She calls them out on it at the end of the episode, going as far as to knight the Doctor for saving her life, and then banishing him for posing a greater danger than the werewolves. Then she founds Torchwood on the spot, to combat menaces like him.
  • Weird example in I Dream of Jeannie - while Nelson is used to magic (so he doesn't react with wonder to it per se), he does get caught flat-footed by what Jeannie does with said magic. Not because he thought it was impossible, but because of the situations it gets him in.
  • Happens in Angel, after Angel gives Connor the lowdown on demons and whatnot in "Origin":
    Connor: So...demons, vampires, doctors with claws... and I'm some sort of super-hero. *beat* Okay.
  • Lampshaded in For Those Of You Just Joining Us, an episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys which takes place in the modern day. "Excuse me, but doesn't it worry anyone that the god of war is real?"
  • Supernatural. Sam time travels back to 1861 to get help from Samuel Colt, who barely grunts when handed a mobile phone as proof of Sam's story. Sam is bemused at this underreaction.
    Samuel Colt: When you've done this job as long as I have, a giant from the future with some magic brick doesn't exactly give you the vapours.

Role-Playing Games

Visual Novel
  • Masayuki in A Profile tends to react this way about almost everything. "Ah, Dissociative Identity Disorder? Neat. Can I meet your other personality some time?"
  • The protagonist's classmates in Dra Koi react to a dragon entering their school and firing mouth beams by trying to ignore her and continue with class while casualties begin to pile up.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend takes place in a school for birds. Supposedly everyone there but the Token Human is male. In the manga Okosan mentions laying an egg, and only one character finds this at all noteworthy - the same character who was confused and taken aback to hear that the School Idol gets a lot of presents on their analogue to Valentine's Day. Poor, sheltered Sakuya.

  • El Goonish Shive: Here.
  • From Questionable Content, Faye once mentions that it feels strange being so jaded that Pintsize's antics no longer surprise her.
  • In Axe Cop, this is the reaction of just about every character to a bizarre situation. For example, when Axe Cop's partner, Flute Cop, is turned into Dinosaur Soldier by dinosaur blood, and subsequently into Avocado Soldier after eating an avocado, there's not even a hint of Body Horror. Instead, he just accepts his new identity calmly and without comment.
  • In Jet Dream, the T-Birds of the Thunderbird Squadron barely lose a step after involuntarily becoming T-Girls. Turning into a woman has its complications and differences, but they're seldom treated as all that big a deal.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!— While everyone around him is properly freaking out, Bob's standard reaction to almost anything is a brief moment of Dull Surprise, and then he takes it in stride.
  • In UC, when Naim opens his locker into what appears to be a lava filled room, he just keeps opening and closing it until it opens back up to his school books.
  • In Free Spirit, the other witches and warlocks of Magical Nanny Winnie's homeworld apparently feel less impressed with her abilities than the mortal Harper kids do.
  • The kids in Homestuck react surprisingly well to the discovery that they have amazing powers and that the earth is going to be destroyed.

Western Animation
  • From Young Justice: Oh look, Billy's home. Muggle Foster Parent doesn't even look up from his book.
  • In The Spectacular Spider Man both Mrs. Osborn and the family butler walk in to see Norman and Harry (who had just been missing for a week) talking to Spider-Man and the most surprise we get is a raised eyebrow from the former.
    Houseman: (nodding in greeting) Master Osborn, Master Harry. (beat) Spider-Man.
  • Most Phineas and Ferb characters treat the boys' inventions as creative and interesting, but never seem too surprised by them. Even Candace eventually grows used to them.
    Alien Lizard!Phineas: Outer-space alien super-crooks from a planet of frogs and reptiles have taken over our bodies!
    Candace: Okay. What do you want me to do?
    Alien Lizard!Phineas: Really? You believe that weird story just like that?
    Candace: Yeah. It's been a long summer, kid. What do you need?
  • One episode of Looney Tunes has Roadrunner standing on a rock that floats in midair, to which the Coyote responds "I wouldn't mind, except that he defies the law of gravity!". (Road Runner: Sure but I never studied law.)