Also known by: "I didn't know you knew I was alive!"
This stock phrase is most frequently used in teenage romance stories, but not unheard of in other media.
Essentially it's a declaration of delighted astonishment that one's object of romantic desire seems to feel the same way, when the person saying it believed they never had a chance with their target partner. Often this occurs when the jock discovers Nerds Are Sexy.
Alice has had romantic feelings for Chuck from afar for some time, but never knew that Chuck was interested, so she's happily surprised when it turns out he is. Cue "I can't believe a guy like you would notice me!" In some cases, Chuck turns out to be a Jerk Ass who is taking advantage of a girl who likes him because it strokes his ego. And he twists the knife by laughing, "You honestly thought I liked you?" Although, in certain cases, Chuck is being noble by breaking up with her for what he believes is her own good or protection.
Occasionally, there's a socio-economic element. The girl from the wrong side of the tracks thinks the rich boy wouldn't be interested in her. Or the boy from the poor side of town heeds his friends' warnings that the girl he likes is a Rich Bitch, who turns out to be a nice girl who genuinely likes him.
The Stock Phrase is most frequently spoken by a female, but there have been occasions where a guy has said it as well.
When used in live-action media, it often overlaps with Hollywood Homely. If a guy says it about a girl, said girl will often be the latter half of Betty and Veronica. May also overlap with Attractiveness Isolation and Insecure Love Interest. If the bystanders didn't think he would notice, see What Does She See in Him?.
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Anime & Manga
This is pretty much Machi Kuragi's reaction when she learns of Yuki Sohma's feelings for her in Fruits Basket.
Kakeru's girlfriend apparently felt this way when she found out that he liked her (she had a crush on him but didn't know he returned the feelings).
Inverted with Kyo and Tohru, where he can't understand why she loves him.
In The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya this is pretty much Alternate!Yuki's reaction to Kyon suddenly (from her viewpoint) taking any interest in her.
In Kannazuki no Miko, Himeko is positively puzzled about what Chikane sees in an "ordinary girl" like her. The answer Chikane eventually gives (which is probably the most romantic declaration of love in anime) is "If I am the moon, then you are my sun: I may be beautiful and mysterious but I can only shine with your reflected light." Bonus points for this explanation being entirely consistent with the metaphysical laws of their universe.
The reader can also see that Himeko is far less...obsessive than most of Chikane's admirers, and her presence helps Chikane not to brood so much.
Ako and Natsumi, two self-proclaimed "Average middle school students" hit this trope hard in Mahou Sensei Negima!, regarding Negi's "cousin Nagi" and Kotaro, respectively.
Shuya: Me. You watch me. One of the prettiest girls in school...
Heresy ! It's from Keith Giffen's Mackere. The dialogue seems even stupider when flash-backs show that Noriko used to hang out with Shuya and his friends. It doesn't happen in the original manga. Shuya still has this kind of attitude towards every girl that loves him, however, but that's rather because he's an Idiot Hero.
Yuuchiro's crush on Mitsuko Soma may count as well, seeing how he admits "having been admiring her from afar for quite some time..."
Hayate the Combat Butler plays this from both sides simultaneously with a side helping of Cannot Spit It Out. Hayate continuously argues with others that Hinagiku can't possibly like him. Hinagiku doesn't believe he's interested in her traits. It's made clear through other characters that they are the only ones who can't see the mutual crush.
Despite them being practically married, Keiichi from Ah! My Goddess has this reaction whenever Belldandy shows him affection. Early on, this showed how thoroughly his self-esteem and confidence has been trashed. Later on, he develops strong self-esteem and confidence, but still cannot get over this. After all he and Belldandy have gone through, this mental block comes off as Ping Pong Naïveté.
An interesting case occurs in Future Diary. Yuno looks over at Yukiteru during class, and he brushes it off thinking "Nah, couldn't be,". She later admits to flat-out stalking him later that same episode, and has apparently been doing so for a year, and he's actually surprised she knows his name. However, while he does think she's pretty, she actually wasn't his school crush, and his reaction to finding out about the whole stalking thing was fear rather than pleasure.
Happens to Mei in Say I Love You. She is a social outcast with no friends, and yet attracts the attention of Yamato, the most popular guy at their school. She is hesitant at first, due to wondering if she was just one of Yamato's latest conquests, but over time he proves that he does genuinely like her.
The Battle Royale movie subverts this horribly. Sugimura spends all of his screentime looking for a girl he never had the courage to confess his love to. When he finally finds her, she panicks and sends several bullets in his chest, something she wouldn't have done if he had confessed his feelings earlier... He still has the time to express his feelings in his agony, however. To quote Kotohiki's reaction, "what the hell am I supposed to do now ?"
The Saint - Emma says something to this effect to Thomas More [Simon in disguise] before he takes her to bed.
Carrie - The phrase itself is not used, but Carrie's reaction to being asked out by Tommy Ross is pretty much identical to the reactions of the people who do use the phrase. This ends disastrously because of the Alpha Bitch playing a cruel trick that made Carrie think Tommy was in on it. (What makes it more tragic is that the book explicitly shows he was starting to genuinely love her, albeit in a non-romantic way.)
Hell, the themesong to Carrie and Tommie's dance sequence is even explicitly titled "I never dreamed someone like you could love someone like me" not exactly catchy but...
This is also true for The Rage: Carrie 2. The boy in question is part of a football team of Jerk Jocks which results in Rachel having a meltdown when she thinks he is in cahoots with them.
Sixteen Candles - Jake Ryan, the coolest guy in school whom Samantha has had a crush on for the whole movie (without thinking he ever noticed her), shows up at the church after Sam's sister's wedding. He waves at Sam, she looks around and points to herself ("Me?"), and he smiles — "Yeah, you."
Hilariously, that is the only point he's been able to reach her. Jake spends the entire movie wanting to confess his love to Samantha, but is prevented by a crazy party, his drunk (soon to be dumped) girlfriend, and Samantha's eccentric relatives.
In the documentary American Teen, artsy outsider Hannah says a version of this when she's pursued by the school heartthrob, Mitch: "I mean, there are so many girls in this school who would give their left boob to be with him"
The independent movie Ten Inch Hero does this heartbreakingly with the character of Jen. Played by Clea Duvall, Jen is the plain Jane of the workers in the store, who befriends a man online named "Fuzzy22." They decide to meet in real life, and when Jen finds out that he's gorgeous, she runs out of the building crying, saying no guy like him could want her. For the Record, in the end, he does want her.
In the movie Love Actually, the character Sam races after the girl he loves in order to confess to her before she gets on her plane. He finally catches up to her and says her name. She turns around and says HIS name. Stunned, he mutters, "I thought you didn't know my name." She replies with a sweet smile, "Of course I do."
In Ellen Conford's Seven Days to a Brand-New Me, Maddy is floored when she learns that her crush Adam has liked her all along, even before she underwent a makeover to get him to notice her. Adam, however, is the one who actually says a variation of this trope sentence out loud despite being the one who looks like a "Greek God" (in Maddy's words), mainly because of his painful shyness caused by a stuttering problem.
This is possibly one of the most annoying parts of the Twilight Saga. Not three chapters can go by without Bella saying something along these lines, apparently just so that Edward can remind her (and the reader) of her good qualities. She even goes on like this when they're married. Although Jake also gets this a bit in Breaking Dawn, when he can't believe that Bella would be friendly with him when she was happily married to Edward.
Referred to as "Jerk Syndrome" in the Discworld novel Thud!. Nobby's new girlfriend Tawneee is so incredibly attractive that most men don't even consider asking her out, because there's no way a girl like that would go for him. So the only guys who ask her out are either jerks who aren't afraid of rejection, or losers (like Nobby) who are so used to rejection it doesn't scare them.
Howl's Moving Castle, both the movieand the book. Sophie doesn't believe that she's beautiful (and doesn't believe Howl, when he says so the first time, in the movie) and doesn't see any reason for Howl to pay any special attention to her. The fact that, for most of the book/movie, she looks like a withered old crone does not help matters.
Mindstar Rising by Peter F. Hamilton. Heiress Julia Evans is convinced she's unattractive because she spent most of her teenage years in the company of her absolutely gorgeous best friend Kat. When she finally suceeds in getting the handsome doctor (Kat's former boyfriend) that she'd been pining over, he says the line — an indication that a not-unattractive teenager who's just inherited a multi-billion dollar Mega Corp. is a lot more desirable than she thinks.
In The Princess Diaries first book, Mia has had a long-time crush on Josh, the popular jock. Once she is exposed as being a princess, he asks her out. Cue reaction. Of course, he only did it to get 15 seconds of fame as Mia's boyfriend, and Mia realises this and breaks up with him.
In The Schwa Was Here Calvin Schwa can't believe that Antsy, the main character, literally noticed him. It comes as a surprise because The Schwa is "functionally invisible."
In early Smallville, Clark Kent was usually baffled whenever a girl expressed interest in him, because his self-esteem was so low that he was oblivious to the fact that even without superpowers, he's still very attractive and buff.
Chloe Sullivan also has an unfortunately brief period in late season one when she is dating Clark.
Take a look at Odo's face after he finally gets his girl. I guarantee you this line will be written all over his face whenever he so much as looks at her.
Adrian Monk sometimes says he can't believe his Trudy ever chose him among all.
Friends: It's hinted Chandler feels this way about Monica. He struggles with women and relationships, his friends joke she's a lot hotter than him, he's very insecure about her ex boyfriend Richard and on several occasions thinks she's going to break up with him. Luckiy she's very good at building up his confidence so this fades as their relationship develops.
In Dollhouse, when Bennett meets Topher, it is very obvious that Bennett has a massive crush on him. Meanwhile, Topher is too much in shock that Bennett, who he knew of by reputation as a brilliant programmer, is a beautiful girl, and he is too tactful and embarrassed to really express his own attraction to her. It doesn't come out until later, when Topher, on a hunch, uses his Doll-disrupting device on Bennett, suspecting she isn't in her real body but rather a Doll's. Bennett isn't, and she is initially confused as to why Topher would think that, because Dolls are supposed to be beautiful...and when she makes the mental leap that Topher thought she was a Doll because of her beauty, this trope is written all over her face.
Glee: More or less Artie's reaction when Brittany reveals she likes him back. Rachel also seemingly reacts this way with Jesse and Finn (to a lesser extent).
Another "written all over his face" example from Farscape: John Crichton, as played by Ben Browder, has an absolutely astonishing talent for looking at Aeryn Sun like she's his Earth, moon and stars all at once. Cue swooning fangirls - and swooning Aeryn.
Despite his incredible arrogance, Rodney McKay of Stargate Atlantis gets a little of this with Keller. When he discovers that RononDex is also interested in Jennifer, he continues pursuing her, but seems quite surprised when she reciprocates.
Josh, the protagonist of Please Like Me, is surprised that super-hot Geoffrey is into him, considering Josh himself looks "like a fifty-year-old baby".
"And as a matter of fact it blows my mind You would even talk to me Because a girl like you is like a dream come true A real life fantasy"
Deconstructed in Tal Bachman's "She's So High". It's about how amazing the singer's crush is, and the idea that the singer couldn't really offer her anything. And then she asks him out...and the singer declines, because of his low self-esteem.
She comes to speak to me
I freeze immediately
'Cause what she says sounds so unreal...
This occurs in Zanna, Don't! during the song "I Think We Got Love."
Steve: I never thought that someone like you would go for someone like me!
Cyrano: Blessed be the moment when you condescend —
Remembering that humbly I exist —
To come to meet me, and to say... to tell?...
Mass Effect 2 has this with returning squadmate Tali'Zorah vas Neema/vas Normandy, mostly because she and Commander Shepard are of entirely different species, and Tali's species cannot survive outside of their environmental suits for long due to a weakened immune system.
Garrus also has elements of this, being notably surprised that Shepard would be attracted to a man with scars, especially one who's a different species than her.
In Dragon Age: Origins, Alistar has this kind of reaction if the PC begins a romance with him. He basically says that he's thrilled he has an amazing, beautiful woman as his girlfriend and can't believe his luck. Though still has no qualms about dumping her, if he becomes King at the end.
One of the player's possible responses when Leliana suggests becoming more than friends is this.
In Dragon Age II, Fenris, Merrill, and Anders all have this reaction if Hawke expresses interest in them. All three of them are quite attractive in various ways, but have severe self-image issues thanks to being, respectively, an amnesiac ex-slave, an outcast blood mage, and a rebellious Humanoid Abomination (that elves and mages are both oppressed minorities in the setting doesn't help anything either). Isabela is a variation; she'snot surprised if you romance her, but she is surprised that you would want to be friends with her, especially once it comes to light that she's responsible for the Qunari Crisis and you become the Champion of Kirkwall in ending it.
Hawke seems to have a gift for making the people around him/her feel completely inadequate. Just ask Carver.
Ordinary High-School Student Makoto Naegi of Dangan Ronpa is understandably stunned when his classmate Sayaka Maizono, a successful Idol Singer and generally glamorous person, remembers and adores him. And the disbelief is justified, as she was faking it in order to frame him for a murder, though Kirigiri suggests that she DID care about him.
In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Bob has told Jean that he's "amazed" that she loves him, too, and he doesn't want to do anything to mess it up. He says he's also shocked that Voluptua showed any interest in him, but he makes plain that he doesn't want to betray Jean by pursuing anything with Volly.
Sokka: "No, no, see, that's the thing. I think I do understand now. You're a princess, and I'm just a southern peasant."
Technically, since Sokka is the son of the chief to the Southern Water Tribe, he is actually a prince himself, but the Southern tribe is considerably smaller and poorer than the Northern so he doesn't get any prestige out of it.
In Danny Phantom, upon discovering her crush Danny Phantom is the unpopular Danny Fenton, Rich Bitch Paulina declares him "hot" and the two date. Then the episode reveals she's really being possessed by a ghost.
Justified, and lampshaded in the Uncanceled final season. Kim's nerdy cousin Larry gets kidnapped by Dementor because he directed his henchmen to grab "a young man with Kim Possible who doesn't look like he belongs with Kim Possible".