"If he's not with you, and he's not with us... who's he with?"The audience is informed of some fact X, which is both shocking and important. There's a bomb in the briefcase, or Alice is The Mole, or whatever. This is often communicated via a character who has just realized X, and says it out loud (thus informing the audience); perhaps he realizes X while explaining the situation to someone else. Another alternative is to use a fact-revealing Flashback. In any case, the audience very suddenly realizes X. Less than five seconds later, before anyone has a chance for a meaningful reaction (such as disarming the bomb), X becomes incredibly relevant. The bomb goes off, or Alice shoots Bob, or whatever. The purpose of this trope is to allow something shocking to happen without confusing the audience. If Bob flips a lightswitch and suddenly his whole house explodes, the audience might be left wondering what happened. If the writers want to avoid that feeling, they employ this trope. Thus, Carol figures it out beforehand and says something like "Alice put a bomb in Bob's house!", or perhaps we're shown a Flashback of Alice planting the bomb. In either case, the audience is informed and confusion is avoided. Of course, if we're informed about the bomb several minutes before the event, it won't be as shocking, and in Bob's case it leaves the writers with the trouble of explaining how Bob knew about the bomb, but didn't manage to do anything about it before it went off. Thus, we're informed of the truth, and the truth becomes relevant soon afterwards. Technically, this trope should only apply when the audience (not just a character) learns something new. If the audience already knows what's up and it's only the characters who suddenly realize something, that's a different trope. Also, if the bomb goes off and the audience is only told after the fact that Bob had it all figured out five seconds previously, that doesn't count either. It's perfectly fine if there are hints about X scattered around the story, just so long as the audience is not intended to really get it until a critical moment, just before X causes something drastic. Frequently, the only thing a character has time for in this situation is to go "Oh, Crap!," sometimes as a revelation. Can be related to sudden awful weather, and often involves things getting worse. Spoilers ahead.
— Will Turner, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
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Anime and Manga
- Attack on Titan: In the pilot, the three main characters are wondering if titans will ever break through the walls to the city again. Armin says, "Just because it hasn't happened in 100 years, doesn't mean it won't happen today," and in mere seconds the air calms, all background noises cease, a flash of lightning sends a shockwave over the city, and standing outside the wall is a titan taller than they've ever seen. It kicks through the wall, and all hell promptly breaks loose.
- In one of the Robotech novels, "End of the Circle," the planet Haydon IV turns into a Giant robot. On its hands are two massive tuning-fork like prongs. The Sentinal Alliance decides to attack the planet-bot and seems to be doing well, but the planet isn't taking much damage due to pin-point barrier systems and anti-air batteries. It seems normal, except for power buildup in the prongs. Suddenly, Exedore realizes that the two technologies (transformation and pin-point barriers) were both used in the original SDF-1, and that the tuning forks are near-exact copies of the ship's Wave Motion Gun. He starts to call out a warning, but the guns fire, nearly destroying the fleet flagship utterly.
- During the Swamp Thing story-arc "Earth to Earth", Swamp Thing attacks Gotham City, whose police are holding his wife on "crimes against nature". When one character mentions that, as a city, there's not a lot of plant matter for Swamp Thing to manipulate, Batman mentions the Gotham Botanical Gardens, which include all kinds of plants. As Batman lists off a few examples, a low *THOOM* *THOOM* *THOOM* sound is heard in the background. Just as Batman finishes his list of examples with the word "Redwoods...", we see a 200-foot tall Swamp Thing made of intertwined redwood trunks approaching the city's center.
- "Hey, guys, what's a gas main?" Said by a monster, leading to Ranma realizing that not only is the fake altar packed with about four times as much explosives as they need due to Poor Communication Kills, the whole shebang is right next to said gas main. Cue Oh, Crap!.
- In Chapter Ten of A Triangle in the Stars, Connie runs off to the pool to get a lifeguard. Who else do we know who got a brief job as a lifeguard? it's Wendy Corduroy.
- In Chapter Twenty-Three, Wendy half-heartedly jokes to Connie about there being a secret room in the library. Guess what happens several minutes later?
- Build Your Wings on the Way Down: Hughes meets Gabby at the train station for Ed's departure and thinks she looks familiar. He then immediately realizes that Gabby shares her looks with her sister, Olivier Armstrong.
- In Robb Returns, when Baelish shows up for his trial by combat, Jon Arryn seems oddly gleeful to see him wearing the heaviest armor the former could find. A minute later, the reason becomes obvious: so he will drop to the depths of the Blackwater and drown.
Films — Animation
- Tangled: A tiny unicorn figurine, last seen during the "I've Got A Dream" musical number performed by the ruffians at the Snuggly Duckling tavern, appears just before the same ruffians show up to rescue Eugene.
- The Incredibles had Kari calling Mrs. Incredible about how the replacement sitter had shown up to take care of little Jack-Jack. "I didn't order a replacement sitter!"
- At the very beginning of the The Little Mermaid, Triton and Sebastian are looking forward to the concert. Sebastian comments to the king that Ariel has the most beautful voice but, once the king's out of earshot the crab mutters to himself "if only she'd show up for rehearsals once in a while." And what do you know, shortly afterwards, Ariel's revealed to be absent, to everyone's shock, and Triton's fury.
- Zootopia: After Nick is shot with a Psycho Serum that causes those injected with it to "go savage", he doesn't shift into a more feral appearance, unlike the serum's previous victims. Sure enough, he turns out to be faking it just a minute or so later.
Films — Live-Action
- Death Proof: When Pam realizes that Stuntman Mike isn't actually going to give her a ride home, there's a super close up of her eyes. One second before Stuntman Mike hits the gas and speeds off... With Pam locked in the passenger side.
- The Godfather trilogy:
- The Godfather: Michael realizes something's fishy about the car, and quickly tries to warn his Sicilian wife about it, but shortly thereafter she starts the car and it explodes.
- The Godfather Part II: Michael realizes that the drapes are open a second before his room is hit with a hail of gunfire from outside, giving him just enough time to dive for cover.
- In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone When the trio realizes they have to play their way across a giant chessboard, they take their positions on the board before Hermione nervously asks an appropriate question:
Hermione: This isn't going to be like... real wizard's chess, is it?
(Ron sacrifices a pawn to an opposing pawn to test it; said pawn ends up shattered)
Ron: Yes Hermione, I think this is going to be exactly like wizard's chess.
- Ninja Assassin: Raizo has been captured and taken to the secret ninja temple, but secretly he has a GPS tracking device in his gut, alerting the good guys to the temple's location. The ninjas discover the device, and right after that the temple is attacked.
- Paycheck: The bad guy stands in front of the machine that shows the future, but only sees his own back, as he is futilely trying to get away from the exploding machine. Soon afterwards he realizes that this means the machine will explode, and futilely tries to get away from it.
- Return of the Jedi: "But how could they be jamming us if they don't know th- ...that we're coming." In this case, they get enough warning to avoid immediate destruction by colliding with the Death Star's shield, but shortly after, we see evidence aplenty that the Imperials did indeed know the Rebels were coming, and had lured them into a trap.
- Star Trek
- Star Trek: Generations: When Dr. Soran checks on his sun-killer missile after Picard messes with it, the viewscreen says that the missile's locking clamps are still engaged. Soran gets an Oh, Crap! look on his face as he and the audience realize that something bad is going to happen when the missile tries to launch. Then the missile explodes, killing him.
- Star Trek: Nemesis: The Enterprise is being stalked by a cloaked ship, so it's hoping to rendezvous with the fleet for protection. On the way, they enter an area of space where long-range communications don't work. Data and Picard realize that this would be a perfect place for the stalker ship to attack them. After that thought, they get attacked.
- Star Trek Into Darkness: Kirk notes that in the event of an attack, protocol dictates that all available senior Starfleet officers should gather for a special briefing in this very room. Cue second attack.
- The Dark Knight: While looking at a rectangular object in a prisoner's gut, which suddenly rings; "Is that a... phone?" Yes, it is. Attached to a bomb.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: A random Mook in a steam house had been identified as not belonging there, and threatened under the assumption he was allies with Turner and Barbossa. Not two seconds after Will's line, Cutler Beckett's men break in and start firing.
- Richie Rich, the movie: Richard uses his smell detector to sneak a few of his gifts on their plane...then it sniffs out "trinitrotoluene." He brings that gift to the cockpit, where his wife figures out it's TNT...he opens the package. "My God, Regina, it's a bomb!" He does manage to get it out of the plane in that one second, so the resulting Kaboom! plants them in the ocean instead of killing them.
- Home Alone 2: Lost in New York: "Now why would anybody soak a rope in kerosene?" (Though if one was paying attention to the Hard Work Montage of Kevin's preparations, one might have spotted this one before....)
- Young Frankenstein: "Well now look here, if it wasn't you and if it wasn't you..."
The Operative: [to Mal] You are fooling yourself, Captain. Nothing here is what it seems. You are not the plucky hero, the Alliance is not an evil empire, and this is not the grand arena.Inara Serra: And that's not incense.[He turns to look: the incense stick burns away - rather like a fuse - and FLASHES in an explosion of light and sound]
- That could have been Fridge Brilliance, since a flashbang would be most effective if he was looking at it. She may be trying to get him to do just that.
- The NeverEnding Story: Atreyu sees a number of murals that show various events that have already happened to him. He then sees a mural showing a growling wolf in some rubble, which he definitely hasn't encountered. He then hears some growling, spins around and sees the wolf.
- The Green Mile: The botched execution scene. People who are executed by electric chair are supposed to have a wet sponge placed on their head so they are killed quickly. Paul and the other men notice that the sponge is dry, but by then it's too late to stop it, and Eduard Delacroix proceeds to die a truly Cruel and Unusual Death.
- In Friday the 13th (1980), Mrs. Voorhees is introduced a handful of seconds before being revealed to be the killer.
- At the beginning of The Avengers (2012), the Tesseract is acting up. Hawkeye suggests that someone out there (i.e. not on Earth) may be trying to open a doorway to Earth. Several seconds later, a portal opens and Loki arrives.
- At the end of Captain America: Civil War, when Iron Man arrives at the old Winter Soldier complex to help Steve and Bucky fight the other five Soldiers, one of them asks him how many heat signatures he's picking up; he says "...One." The next shot is of the Soldiers still in their cryo chairs and wiring... with bullet holes in their foreheads. Zemo never intended to use them for anything except as bait so he could show Tony that one security tape.
- A case of this and Interface Spoiler. Kong: Skull Island's closing credits spoil The Stinger by crediting Toho as the owners of Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah, who show up in said stinger.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, during the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry sees and hears Bellatrix Lestrange laughing at Molly Weasley, the same exact laugh that his godfather Sirius Black used just prior to Bellatrix cursing him under his outstretched arm and sending him careening into the Veil. At that point, after Bellatrix had been torturing Molly for Fred's death, that laugh kinda makes it a Foregone Conclusion what will eventually happen.
- Ax's death in Animorphs happens like this. He and his ship are exploring a seemingly abandoned ship, when someone notices white hairs on the ground. Then says wait, not white but transparent. He then yells for his ship to raise shields just as the supposedly abandoned ship opens fire (the colorless hairs would be from polar bears, which meant the Yeerks were still nearby).
- A Song of Ice and Fire: The music at the wedding of King Robb's uncle (made hastily to patch over the rift caused by him breaking his own betrothal) is played rather badly. There's a reason for that.
- The Girl from the Miracles District: when Nikita and Robin are investigating Sawa, a rat - likely a spy of the local Beastmaster - suddenly jumps out and squeaks in alarm, which is all the warning the two get before they're attacked a moment later.
- The Machineries of Empire: Cheris realizes that the supposedly-friendly fleet is here to destroy her ships just in time to start giving orders to her people, but too late for this to save any of them.
Live Action TV
- The A-Team, "Deadly Manuevers". As a doctor is examining B.A., who is in a state of near-collapse from the spiked milk, Hannibal notices a gold watch on his wrist. He immediately forces the doctor to put his hands up, realizing that he saw that same gold watch on the milkman's wrist.
- Game of Thrones: Jojen sees a vision of Karl's dead body burning. Five seconds later, the attack that results in just that begins.
- The Mountain stops Tommen from attending Cersei's trial. It is soon revealed that the whole Sept is rigged to blow. Which happens not long after.
- In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Death Wish," A member of the Q continuum wishes to die ("Quinn," for ease's sake). After screwing up and vanishing every male on Voyager, and pressed by Captain Janeway, he begins to speak to himself, "Humans... humans... Who would have more recent experience with humans?" Cue Q himself. note
- In one Burn Notice episode, Michael gets a phone call from Sam that another character was killed by a bomb attached to his front door, one second before he opens the door to his own house (which is also rigged to explode). This gives him just enough time to jump off his stairway (his front door is a dozen or so feet off the ground and he needs to climb a metal stairway to get there) and away from the explosion. He doesn't escape completely unscathed though; some of the fire manages to sing him, and he would have died impacting with the concrete ground if he hadn't hit his car first, which still had the effect of knocking him out and leaving him clearly disoriented and barely able to stand and walk without Sam's help when he wakes up. Fiona herself observes the damage later and notes that if Michael had opened the door any wider he'd be in bitty pieces regardless.
- In Torchwood: Miracle Day the FBI discover who The Mole is (viewers know this beforehand) a few seconds before she sets off a bomb in the office to cover up exactly this revelation (at least long enough to get a head start escaping)
- In the Leverage premiere, Nate, Hardison, Eliot, and Parker realize that their employer tricked them into meeting in an abandoned warehouse without paying them (by not paying them)... roughly twelve seconds before the building explodes. At least it was enough time to get far enough to not die in the blast.
- Played for Laughs in an episode of Angel when Cordelia gets a prophetic vision of impending danger mere seconds before a group of demons show up. She shouts: "That was helpful!" before the fight commences.
- One episode of Castle (Tick, Tick, Tick) involves hunting down a killer obsessed with Nikki Heat (and Beckett, because he thinks they're literally the same person). They catch him with time to spare and Beckett goes home. Castle continues looking over evidence because something bothers him and realizes the man they thought was responsible was being set up and rushes to warn her. A few seconds later, her apartment explodes. (In this case, the warning was enough time for her to take measures to protect herself from the blast.)
- In the A Touch of Frost episode "Benefit of the Doubt", a number of mysterious deaths in a hospital has Frost stumped, and to make matters worse, his latest assistant is now in critical condition in the very same hospital. After a visit to his bedside, Frost is leaving just as the audience get a very clear shot of a cleaning lady unplugging an electric cord, so he can plug in her vacuum cleaner. Frost makes it halfway down the hall before he realises that the cleaning lady had inadvertedly unplugged the medical ventilator. A faulty alarm sensor meant that the alarm wasn't triggered when it was unplugged.
- In the Murdoch Mysteries episode "Murdoch in Toyland", Murdoch and Inspector Brackenreid descend the stairs of a church basement and Brackenreid comments, "It's like a tomb down here." Seconds later, Murdoch turns on a light and they find a headless corpse.
- Early 2015 when Jay had set up a camera to promote the Briscoes' ROH Tag title defense against Team Ambition. He was explaining why he wasn't impressed with either Davey or O'Reilly's "rational thinking", stating his brother, who was off camera sure as hell wasn't, before nearly shitting himself when a gunshot from Mark shattered a beer bottle behind him, followed by Mark's apologies that he thought Jay was done with it.
- The flashback approach is taken with The Reveal in the first Knights of the Old Republic. Right before Darth Malak drops the Revan bomb, the game replays every single bit of foreshadowing that had happened earlier in the game.
- Halo: Reach, after the city mission, Kat declares that the Covenant are beginning glassing procedures. Another Spartan asks, "How close?" Cue massive explosion from the surface bombardment.
- In the trailer (around 1:50) for the Warhammer 40,000 game Dawn of War 2, a Space Marine strikes down an Eldar with his chainsword, proclaiming "This planet is ours, witch!" "No," she gasps, pointing towards the heavens, "This planet... is theirs." Enter the Tyranid horde, as the Space Marine turns to meet a massive 'Nid bug right behind him.
- Medal of Honor:
Soldier: What are you talking about? They're retreating, there's no one out there! *BANG* URRRRRGGGGGHHHHH
- In Vanguard, after being asked 'What's the holdup Corporal?', Corporal Garrett responds by saying how the area ahead of them is 'perfect sniper country'. Exactly three seconds later, a soldier (who thinks that area is empty) is killed by a sniper.
Tech Sergeant Ybarra: ...a mobile phone? *BOOM*
- In the 2010 reboot, this happens to Sergeant Peterson's Ranger team as they are about to kick in the door to clear a house, only to hear a mobile phone ring inside. Bonus points as the player knows what this sound means, having seen the same trick in the game's prologue mission, but the characters have no clue what is about to happen.
- BioShock uses this for The Reveal, much like KotOR above: Andrew Ryan reveals that the phrase "would you kindly" acts as a command phrase for the player, forcing him to obey. The player immediately sees a flashback montage of several scenes in which Atlas had used the phrase, which if the player noticed at all simply sounded like a Verbal Tic.
- Before the violence begins in BioShock Infinite, Jeremiah Fink refers to a woman working at the Raffle and Fair as "the prettiest young white girl in all of Columbia". The fact that he mentioned her being white subtly foreshadows the city's jingoistic racism, which is made evident when the raffle prize is revealed: you get to have the first throw at the stoning of an interracial couple.
- At the end of Batman: Arkham City, Talia fatally stabs the Joker. Batman then muses on a number of odd events and various bits of Mook Chatter that have happened over the course of the game, and realizes there were two Jokers. Talia is then shot in the back by the real one seconds later, and the one she stabbed is revealed to be the still alive Clayface. If the players were paying very close attention, they have guessed this as well.
- In Bravely Default, just after Alternis has been beaten, you get the usual display of the group in the new Job outfits, in this case the Dark Knight. Ringabel's Dark Knight armor is identical to what Alternis had been wearing. In the cutscene immediately thereafter, his helm splits open, revealing that he has Ringabel's face. Even before that, both Alternis and Ringabel had the same pre-battle jumping animation before drawing their weapon.
- Mass Effect 2 has this in its prologue. The Normandy is in a part of space where a few ships have gone missing. Thinking geth, they pick up a ship moving in behind them, which they dismiss because the Normandy's stealth systems are engaged, and thus they can't be detected unless someone looks out a window (which the geth won't, because they think windows are a structural weakness). Then the ship turns to an intercept trajectory. Right as Pressley is saying that the geth don't have the technology to pick up the Normandy, Joker realizes...
Joker: It's not the geth! (cue the Normandy getting utterly wrecked in two shots)
- There are a few hints leading up to The Reveal in Assassin's Creed III that Haytham is a Templar, but there is a big one just before at the mention of "order and purpose" during Charles Lee's initiation. Astute players have just enough time to think "Wait, what?" before the Wham Line hits.
- In Paper Mario: Sticker Star, the boss of Drybake Stadium requires a baseball bat to massively damage him, as you fight him in a baseball field. Also, the battle intro says "Play Ball". Where this trope comes into play is that the top floor is the only floor with a sports motif- the five floors preceding it, meanwhile, have no sports stadium theme whatsoever.
- In the Dangan Ronpa games, a One-Woman Wail plays in the background whenever a corpse is discovered. In New Dangan Ronpa V3, the absence of that when Kokichi's corpse shows up (the first time, anyway) is a tell that he isn't actually dead.
- In Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, the leader of the last ace squadron you fight on the Knight path makes a call to a Wizard 5, but you can only see four planes in their introductory cinematic. Then, very shortly into the fight, another four planes in the squadron - stealth planes - pop up seemingly out of nowhere to ambush you while you're distracted.
- In Undertale, in the True Pacifist ending, you've spared everyone in the game, everyone is together, everyone is happy, when suddenly...
Alphys: How did you know to call everybody?Papyrus: Let's just say... a tiny flower helped me.Alphys: A tiny... flower?
- In Exiern, the know-it-all book tells Ctyx that The Fractured are planning to perform a ritual. Two strips later, Tiffany and Teresa enter a room where said ritual is being performed with three sacrificial men, just in time to save the day.
- One of the twists of Stand Still, Stay Silent is a person turning out to be in a crate of food supplies for the main characters. In the panel preceding this reveal, the team's mage, who can see spirits of both living and dead and has an Ambiguous Disorder, is standing next to the crate, staring at it and growling a little, while another member of the the team is starting to open it. The only other in-story warning of the crate person showing up eventually was the aforementioned mage seeing him in a dream.
- Potter Puppet Pals: "Hey, everyone! I found the source of the ticking; it's a pipe bomb!" "Yay!" BOOM
- Having started recording before determining who gets what starter in Mario Party TV Group Nuzlocke of FireRed/LeafGreen, Steeler comments that the Random Number God will probably determine that Holms ends up with Squirtle when he's the only one not interested in running him. Sure enough...
- A particularly hilarious example occurs in the 4-player Battletoads race between ProtonJon, Super Jeenius, PCULL 44444, and NintendoCapriSun, when Patrick is having trouble with a shark in Terra Tubes:
Patrick: I was doing, I was doing alright and then the shark started killing me and then I dodged him and he's chasing me and it's making me sad, but I'm going through this thing quickly now... and he's gonna make me die on these spikes down here— SHIT! *Achievement Unlocked! Called It: Narrated your own death*
- Achievement Hunter released the video Cleaning Gavin's Desk. Long story short, Jeremy did a silly thing to Gavin's desk despite both of them being repeatedly told it wasn't a good idea. Michael's reaction after says it all.
Michael: Remember when I said it was gonna break?
- A common running joke in Megas XLR was Coop forgetting he had a button, labeled as exactly what he needed at the moment. Another was Kiva warning him that what he or the bad guy was doing would cause something really destructive... and then Coop would trigger that event anyway not five minutes later.
- In the Ed Edd N Eddy movie, we finally meet Eddy's elusive older brother. When we do, he asks if anyone knows Eddy's there with him. One minute later...
- In The Legend of Korra, Korra calls Tenzin, telling him to evacuate from the air temple to avoid an imminent attack. Tenzin responds, "Oh no... they're already here," shortly before the camera pans to an attack airship.
- Happens in the Teen Titans Go! episode "Nose Mouth", when Cyborg, Beast Boy and Robin, who have been afflicted by Raven's magic for increasingly petty reasons, deduce that Starfire is the next target. Cue massive scream.
- Gravity Falls, with its reliance on the Freeze-Frame Bonus, loves this trope, often setting up Brick Jokes and Chekhovs Guns in this manner.
- In "Not What He Seems", among The Men in Black's evidence against Stan is a report card, showing all A's except for a D in gym, which is deemed unlikely. A hint that Stan is in fact impersonating his genius twin brother.
- In "Dipper and Mabel vs the Future", when Blendin' approaches Mabel, he's using his camouflage device properly, when in the past, he was klutzy with it. A few moments later, it's revealed that Blendin' is possessed by Bill. Of course, audience members probably caught on earlier when Blendin' asked Mabel for the rift she was carrying.
- Finally, in the Grand Finale, Ford apparently agrees to let Bill into his mind. However, he and Stan have apparently swapped facial features, and "Stan" has six-fingered hands, a sign that this is another Twin Switch.
- Steven Universe:
- In "The Test", Steven begs the Crystal Gems to make a challenge for him to go through. While he passes through Garnet's room, a wall of flame she set up starts and then retracts before he crosses it, giving viewers a few seconds to pick up that the tests were rigged to let him succeed before it becomes obvious to Steven.
- In "Keystone Motel", right before Sapphire and Ruby's argument about the events of the previous episode (Cry For Help) gets to the point where they de-fuse, Garnet gets twitchy and her hands start moving independently.
- In "Message Received", Steven locks Peridot in the cab of the barn's pickup truck because she was planning to contact Yellow Diamond, who's the Big Bad attempting to destroy Earth. While Steven and the Gems are discussing what to do with her, you can hear her mashing the truck's horn in the background trying to get out... until near the end of the conversation when she suddenly stops, tipping off the viewers (though not the protagonists) that she's found a way to escape. She escapes the barn in her giant robot (which she built a few episodes earlier) a few seconds later.
- In "Steven's Dream", Steven has a dream of giant palanquin, belonging to one of the Diamonds, so he and Greg go to Korea to find it. When they do, they find Blue Diamond's palanquin, except it's in perfect condition, while the one Steven dreamed of was in disrepair. Just behind some bushes was Pink Diamond's palanquin... and Blue Diamond.