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Female Monster Surprise
"You're a... girl dragon?"
Donkey, Shrek

Ahh! A monster! A squicky mess of tentacles and seventeen eyes, a-and hideous teeth a-and his breath smells like sulfur and he opens his mouth! He's about to speak! He says: "I'm a she."

You see, in the mind of the audience (or at least in the mind of some characters) monsters are often initially assumed to be male. This trope covers situations when these characters are surprised to find out that the monster is, in fact, a female.

This takes the form of a monster in some way having her gender revealed, and someone acting surprised by this.

See also Samus Is a Girl, Monster Is a Mommy and Your Tomcat Is Pregnant.

Examples

Anime and Manga

Comics
  • In Popeye's Plunder Island Arc, Wimpy is at one point dragged off of Popeye's ship and onto the Sea Hag by the monstrous Goon. Soaked from being in the ocean, Wimpy decides to take off his clothes while being held captive with the Goon watching him. Just as he's about to strip naked, a voice comes through the door, saying, "Keep a close eye on him, Alice." Wimpy quickly realizes who 'Alice' is, and quickly re-clothes himself, saying, "I didn't know there was a female present."
  • In Marvel Comics, Piranha (a normal piranha fish mutated by radiation into a semi-humanoid being) was always assumed to be male since the character's introduction in 1974. Even A.R.M.O.R.'s file on Pirnaha lists "male" under sex. In a 2009 comic it's discovered it's actually a female when the monster has incubated humans with its offspring.

Film
  • In Shrek, Donkey is confronted by a dragon on a collapsing walkway and attempts to smooth-talk his way out, before realizing that the dragon is female, and she thinks that he's hitting on her. He goes with it.
  • Everyone assumes that Kevin is a boy bird in Up.
    • Not unjustifiably— with many bird species the colorfully-feathered one is the male. (Peacocks are the classic example.) Kevin's plumage is modeled on a (sadly recently deceased) male Himalayan monal from the Sacramento Zoo.
    • Kevin could still be male, even if he's raising babies, as there are several species of bird where the male does the childrearing.
  • In Star Wars, if the video game is to be believed, the Rancor Luke fights in episode 6 is a female as well, as in the video game you fight a "Rancor Bull," which looks the same, only it has horns.
  • In Godzilla (1998), Nick is shocked when a pregnancy test for humans reveals that the giant lizard destroying New York is pregnant. It's subverted in that everyone still refers to Zilla as a "he" due to it being capable of asexual reproduction.

Literature
  • In Eragon, Eragon comes with a long list of names to suggest for his newfound dragon to call her. He lists quite a few, before figuring out that the dragon is female, and he'd only suggested male names thus far.
    • Another instance is seen in Brisingr with the Ra'zac. One is revealed to be female, while the gender of the other is left ambiguous.
  • In Guards! Guards!, the dragon tormenting the city is revealed at the last minute to be female, to the surprise of the city watch.
    • "Chelonauts" in The Light Fantastic are trying to go over the edge to determine the sex of Great A'Tuin, the turtle the Discworld travels on. Their mission is largely unsuccessful, but at the end of the book, the strange lights wizards have been seeing in the sky turn out to be Great A'Tuin's eggs, and hatch.
  • In Harry Potter, Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback is in the last novel revealed to be a Norberta, to Hagrid's bafflement. According to Charlie, the easiest way to tell this is that female dragons are even more vicious.
  • The title character in IT is protecting Its eggs, which will assumedly hatch into Mind Screw monsters just like her.
  • Happens in Animorphs with the first free Hork-Bajir. "You mean there's such a thing as a female Hork-Bajir?"
  • In the short story 'Labyrinth' Admiral Miles Naismith accepts the job of putting down a defector's Super Soldier experiment, bungles the infiltration of his old lab badly enough for the guards to cast him into a basement to be devoured by said experiment, and... discovers a lonely teenaged girl.
  • Dalinar Kholin realizes about halfway though The Way Of Kings that the Parshendi send their "femalen" into battle alongside the males. Note that for Alethi like Dalinar, a woman fighting is about as scandalous as that same woman having sex in public. With someone she's not married to.

Live-Action Television
  • In Reaper Nina starts giving Ben some compliments that perturb him coming from her rather masculine seeming demonic form. The later start dating, though mostly in her human form.
  • Lorne's mother in Angel was played by an extremely muscular, bearded man. Angel is comically baffled when Lorne goes, "Hi, Mom".
  • The Horta in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Devil in the Dark" turns out to be female...and the "silicon nodules" that miners on its planet are destroying turn out to be her eggs.
  • A particularly horrifying example of this trope occurs in the Night Gallery episode "The Caterpillar". A man pays to have a romantic rival murdered by having a carnivorous earwig placed in the mans ear. The plan goes wrong, however, and the next morning he awakens too find that the earwig has been placed in his ear instead, and has crawled inside his head. He endures weeks of agony as the earwig eats its way through his brain, but he remarkably survives the ordeal. He is then told by a doctor that the earwig was female... And it laid eggs.

Tabletop Games
  • One 2E supplement about the Dragonlance D&D setting had a section on minotaur society, complete with an in-character narrator who'd been captured by sea-going minotaurs. When this character asks the ship's captain about minotaur family life, the captain gruffly points out that the husky, wide-horned first mate who's been holding the narrator's hands behind his back throughout their conversation is, in fact, his wife.

Video Games
  • The dragon Hooktail in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Despite the character being the first major boss of the story, you don't learn this until the final chapter—where her older brother is the first of many bosses, and is predictably pissed off at you for what you did to his sister.
    • Even the characters assume Hooktail to be male, and refer to her using male pronouns.
  • Psychonauts - Raz discovers that the lungfish residing at the bottom of the lake is actually "Linda". Although with the deep, booming voice, the audience can be forgiven for its assumption.
  • Shale the golem in Dragon Age: Origins. Technically genderless in its current form, but it used to be a female dwarf.
  • You know the Level 300-ish dragon that hangs around Laharl's throne room and helps save your ass once? She'll have you know that she's one of the more attractive of her lot.
    • Dark Hero Days features a lesser surprise in the form of Actress, a female Entei. It would've been more surprising if not for the fact that you can hear her obviously female voice in the battle that occurs prior to someone bringing up her gender.
  • The hulking, muscle-bound Butcher enemies from Dark Souls are in fact female, according to the Word of God.
  • In DuckTales Remastered, the Yeti boss of the Himalayas is shown to be a female.

Web Comics

Web Original
  • Dodoria in Dragon Ball Z Abridged. Vegeta is so disgusted he vaporizes her just to repress the memory (her proposal didn't help).
  • Monster may be stretching the term slightly, but in the SCP Foundation, there is Dr. Wondertainment

Western Animation
  • The episode "Cammy Island" from The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack has the titular hideous ogre turning out to be a girl, who is implied to, at least mentally, not be that much older than Flapjack himself.
  • Subverted/Inverted with Bigfoot in The Venture Bros. who Steve Austin Summers was in love with. After Brock shaves Bigfoot for the sake of a disguise, he reveals to the audience that he's actually male.
    Steve: What are you, shy? Sasquatch doesn't have anything you haven't seen before.
    Brock: Sasquatch is something I haven't seen before!
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: The show itself seems to have a hard time concluding whether Jeff is a male giant spider or a female giant spider as he has been shown to lay thousands of eggs in two episodes but has a masculine voice and married the Spider Queen Velma Green. Lampshaded by Billy.
  • Green Lantern: The Animated Series has the main characters defeating a giant monster in what seems to be a gladiator-style fight (their translators are offline). However, then the spectators rush out to tend to the beast, and we hear them speak legibly for the first time.
    Alien: What have you done to Mother?
Fearsome Critters of American FolkloreIndex of Fictional CreaturesFeathered Fiend
Female MisogynistAlways FemaleFeminine Women Can Cook

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