Forgot About the Mind Reader
I would like you all to know that whatever thoughts of mine you're reading are totally made up. They aren't real.
A character is thinking something either unflattering or romantic about another character. He's rambling on via internal monologue without a care in the world...until he remembers that the character he's thinking about can read minds
. Still speaking only in his head, he gasps, "Oh God, did she just hear that?" The answer is always
"Of course she did."
Usually reserved for psychic characters who either have temporary powers or are hanging out with somebody new who isn't used to their abilities yet. A common subversion is for the thinker to be pretending not to know that his thoughts are being read.
Compare Did I Just Say That Out Loud?
, A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read
, and Right Behind Me
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Anime and Manga
- This is exactly what happens to Ranma in the climax of the Ranma ˝ manga, where it's deliberately left ambiguous whether his declaration of love for Akane was internal or external. She reacts as though it was the latter, though.
- In Shaman King this happens with Hao as the Mind Reader. With Anna too, before she lost that power.
- In episode 17 of "Ouran High School Host Club", this happens to Haruhi when she wonders how Tamaki and Kyouya compliment each other so well. Kyouya, being the Shadow King that he is, repeats back her pondering almost word for word.
- Deliberately invoked in Overman King Gainer. When faced with an enemy Overman that can read minds (and broadcast them), Gainer throws the pilot off balance by loudly declaring what's really on his mind: Sara. Of course, that's when the "broadcast" part kicks in, letting everybody in the entire Exodus know it too(Sara included, of course).
- Subverted in Fairy Tail, when Brain tells Cobra he did well against Natsu, while Cobra can hear him thinking otherwise. Except Brain knew this, and said what he did simply to mock Cobra.
- Manabe defies this in Kotoura-san Episode 7 by not telling anybody else about his plans since his girlfriend is a telepath who should not know his Big Secret until The Reveal. Afterwards, he admits this as the reason behind his suspicious behavior to work around her Power Incontinence issue, and quite literally at that.
- Subverted in Ultimate Spider-Man. Spidey meets Storm, Jean Grey, and Kitty Pryde, and Jean makes the mistake of congratulating him on not mentally picturing her naked. Naturally, this causes him to do so... for the next 3 pages, as she gets progressively more annoyed.
Jean Grey: In fact, you're the first person in six months that hasn't pictured me naked, so I appreciate that... until now. Are you done yet?
Spider-Man: ...okay, I'm done. (Jean glares angrily at him) ...okay now I'm really done.
- Occurred in the first issue of the Legion of Super-Heroes Zero Hour reboot, where Live Wire, upon meeting Saturn Girl, had a number of embarrassing thoughts about her before noticing the Saturn insignia that marked her as a Titanian telepath. In a later issue he starts daydreaming about her while actually on Titan and surrounded by telepaths.
- Superman Expy the Plutonian from the comic series Irredeemable has superhuman hearing. While not the same as telepathy, it allows him to hear what everyone on earth is saying about him, all the time.
- Doctor Nemesis of X-Club gets saddled with this problem after a telepathic starfish bonds to his head and starts broadcasting his internal monologues. He and Doctor Rao discovered the starfish was telepathic when it broadcasted that Doctor Nemesis frequently admires Doctor Rao's "shapely behind". The starfish later broadcasts Nemesis' jealousy of Cyclops' costume and his craving for his co-worker Jeffries' friendship.
- In an early issue of Gold Digger, Gina is introduced to Seance, her father's new apprentice. She's enjoying several naughty thoughts about him when he lets her know that one of his natural magic abilities is reading people's surface thoughts, and he still has no idea how to turn it off.
- For some reason, this keeps happening in What Women Want, even though most of the female characters have no idea Mel Gibson's character has gained telepathy. One of the more painful examples has to be Helen Hunt's character thinking, "Oh, God, I just stared at his crotch!" — and covering her eyes, because that does not look suspicious at all.
- In Minority Report main character Anderton kidnaps one of the three children used to predict future crimes and brings her to somebody to have her mind scanned, who wastes no time in wondering out loud if she's reading his mind right now and then blurts out this little gem: "Those thoughts about my cousin Elena, those were *just* - *thoughts*!"
- The Animorphs morphed into an alien creature that can read minds, and so the four characters who were present at the time were all suddenly thrust into the position of being able to hear all of each other's thoughts — and, of course, knowing that the others could read their thoughts. The narrating character, Ax, describes the other characters' private thoughts at that moment in much more detail than his own; this is probably explained by the fact that the Animorphs engages moderately in the Literary Agent Hypothesis. (Certainly we can assume that Ax's overheard thoughts were just as angsty as those of the other characters). Marco breaks the tension of the moment by saying:
"I would like you all to know that whatever thoughts of mine you're reading are totally made up. They aren't real."
- The sparkly, occasionally psychic vampires in Twilight seem to experience a slight degree of this — grossly inflated in Fanon for cheap jokes. (Edward being forced to listen in on his vampire parents having vampire sex... squick! Of course, they're fully aware. Or... "Dear diary... today I made Carlisle think he was in love with Edward. AGAIN! Laterz ~ Jasper." )
- Subverted in the Artemis Fowl series: villain Opal Koboi has her none-too-bright henchmen convinced to the point of paranoia that she can read minds, simply by turning on them at random and shrieking "I heard that!"
- Right up until one of them decides to test her with the thought "Holly Short is prettier than you" and gets no real reaction.
- The last book of the Wheel of Time series includes a minor subplot about a male and female wizard bonding one another. They then fall in love. As the man reflects that some women are like expensive cloth (pretty but fragile), but his girl is tough like leather, the woman asks, "did you just compare me to...an old strap of leather?"
- Almost used in the first Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) novel when he realizes that Amberley Vail is a member of the Inquisition. His first thought is that she's a psyker, and is utterly terrified that she can read his mind, and will expose all the lies of his
completely undeserved reputation as a Hero. Turns out she's not a psyker, just really good at reading people.
- Later he finds out psykers can't just read people's minds like that, unless they want to (and kill the person).
- Besides, he most often stays in Gunner Ferik Jurgen's area of effect.
- He also needn't worry because although Amberley Vail is an Inquisitor, she knows enough about the universe that any self-serving cowardice that doesn't directly count as treason is perfectly justifiable. She also has a soft spot for him.
- Older Than Feudalism: In the Book of Genesis, Sarah hears one of the guests saying she will have a child in her very old age, and laughs in her heart. Then, that guest tells her husband (a softened up version of) what she thought — and Sarah realizes she was laughing at the all-knowing God...
- In Siege of Darkeness where in order to protect himself from the mind reader he's confronting, one character will repeatedly picture himself performing gratuitous sex acts with said mind reader, repelling her.
- There is a novel that subverts and then pokes fun at this trope. A female character can read minds through some genetic defect, and she's turned off all men because of it. However, in the story her fiancé is a French Canadian. He apparently thinks in French, thus she cannot understand him. When she asks him what his first thought of her was when he met her, he says "nice ass". They have a laugh about it.
- Robin Wednesbury of The Stars My Destination is a reverse telepath, a telesend, who has to constantly worry that others are hearing what she thinks.
Live Action TV
- In one Dilbert cartoon, the title character is in the restaurant with his date, and his date has a look of increasing alarm on her faces (yes, faces). The following scene is typed from memory, but in essence it goes as follows:
Dilbert: I must admit, this is the first time I've been on a date with a two-headed telepath. Now I'm sure some of the thoughts you're picking up seem strange and disturbing, but I assure you, these are perfectly normal thoughts for a guy.
The date's hair stands on end and her eyes bug out.
Dilbert: Well, maybe not that last one.
- In the book, Scott Adams's commentary on the cartoon reads, "It's probably a good idea women don't know what men are thinking most of the time."
- Mint Blancmanche from Galaxy Angel is a mind-reader, which lets her manipulate people very easily; in the Galaxy Angel gameverse and its manga retelling, though, her telepathy is more prone to putting her in these situations with crew members. The third game switches it around — something happens with her powers so that she is broadcasting her thoughts to the entire crew, including some not-so-nice comments about her fellow Angels.
- Played straight, if externally, in Starcraft, when Kerrigan cuts short her introduction to berate Jim Raynor on the thoughts he was having about her:
Kerrigan: ...and... you pig!
Raynor: Uhhh, what? I... I didn't even say anything to you yet!
Kerrigan: Yeah, but you were thinking about it.
Raynor: Oh, yeah, you're a telepath. Look, let's just get on with this, all right?
- One of the booksnote reveals that he merely complimented her legs.
- That wasn't Raynor. Starcraft: Flashpoint has Kerrigan remembering the incident, and it was apparently something much more graphic.
- The first three lines were lifted almost directly from an episode of Night Court. Christine isn't a telepath, however, she just knows Fielding has a dirty mind. Fielding's final line is a slow "Fair enough..." while nodding and grinning slyly.
- Happens in Psychonauts, with Raz overhearing Lili's thoughts in a cut scene ("When are you going to shut up and kiss me?" "Shut up and do what?"), though near the end of the game this happens intentionally, in an Ironic Echo of the earlier scene:
Lili: (thinking) When are you going to shut up and kiss me?
Raz: Uhh... I can hear that, you know.
Lili: (flirtatiously) I know...
- Satori from Subterrenean Animism is a mindreader, to the point where nobody else will come near her. However, it's a bit of a surprise to the heroines when she's able to listen in on their thoughts — and in Marisa's case:
Alice: We still have a long way to go. Let's go the depths of the underworld. Hang in there!
Satori: "Before that, let's search the house...." you think. I won't allow that! Please head to the courtyard immediately.
- Reversed in a notable episode of Dexter's Laboratory. Dexter tries to gain telepathy to read his father's mind and find out what his birthday presents are. He ends up having his every thought uncontrollably communicated to everyone, which leads numerous times to insulting people.
- Used in Family Guy when Peter turns the microphone on a listening device up way too high, allowing everyone to hear Quagmire's thoughts. Including himself.
Man this itches. I wonder who gave it to me. Probably that skank who needed a ride to the gas station. Last time I do somebody a favor. ...Oh god, they must have heard me. Oh god, I
can hear me! Nananananananana!
- Occurs occasionally in Young Justice, due to the tendency to use a telepathic link for group communication (and Superboy's super-hearing doesn't help either), but subverted in "Infiltration" when Artemis is admiring Superboy:
Miss Martian: He can hear you. We can all hear you.
Artemis: Oh, I know.
- Subverted in a one-off gag in American Dad!:
Klaus: Stick-in-the-mud bitch.
Hayley: Klaus, I can hear you.
Klaus: I know. I'm insulting you. I'm pissed!