Leela: Doesn't it bother you even a little to be taking advantage of your girlfriend's trust?The inversion of I Was Just Joking. A character says something that sounds insane or absurd. Another character either laughs or snarks You Have Got to Be Kidding Me! — then realizes with alarm that the other character wasn't joking. Expect to hear this phrase every time a Deadpan Snarker is confronted with the Zany Scheme of the week. Badasses who say things like "I'll just have to bust in and take them all out, then!" can usually expect this reaction, too. Compare Mood Whiplash. See also Not Hyperbole.
Bender: Ah ha ha, ha ha ha! Oh wait, you're serious. Let me laugh even harder. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!
Bender: Ah ha ha, ha ha ha! Oh wait, you're serious. Let me laugh even harder. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!
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Anime and Manga
- Kyon's reaction to Nagato's big revelation in Haruhi Suzumiya.
- The very existence of Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z was thought to be a joke, as a preview was first seen on April 1st.
- In Kill la Kill, this is Ryuko's reaction when she learns that La Résistance really is called "Nudist Beach". And yes, they're all as naked as that implies, with only conveniently-placed holsters, straps, and bandoleers protecting their modesty.
- In Tintin Destination Moon, when Calculus says he's finishing plans for a rocket that will land on the moon, Captain Haddock has a big hearty laugh about it, and facetiously suggests, "You are taking passengers, I hope?" Calculus replies, "Why else do you think I asked you to join me?", utterly stunning Tintin and the Captain.
- In Fables, this is Bigby's reaction to meddling journalist Tommy Sharp's plan to expose their secret community of immortals with magical powers… as vampires.
- In Violine, Marushka hires a game hunter with a pack of dogs to hunt down the mouse, Klaas. After his initial laughter, he realizes she is dead serious about it. Later, a Zongo customs official mistakes Redder for a cannibal (having hidden her in his bag. It seems he is just saying this to get a bribe, and tells Redder to have a nice meal, but Violine reads his mind and sees that he is being serious about eating her.
- In Doctor Strange, during the "Montesi Formula" arc, when Friendly Neighborhood Vampire Hannibal King warns Doctor Strange that Dracula is at large, Strange's personal assistant Sarah Wolfe starts laughing nervously, until she realizes that King and Strange are dead serious about the threat of the Lord of Vampires.
- Subverted in episode 11 of Omni Bleach Abridged:
Kukaku: So this is your way in. We're gonna shoot you through a cannon.Ichigo: Oh, please do not be kidding.
- Second Wind: Ace has this reaction when Luffy and Zoro tell him that they're from the future. He only believes it because Luffy can't lie convincingly to save his life.
- In Seigikan when L tries to persuade Light to come back to headquarters "so we can prove that you're Kira."
Light: "Tell me, why on Earth would I want to do that?"L: "You need to absolve and pay for your crimes so we can be together."Light: I couldn't help it. I laughed even more. For a second I thought I would wake everyone in the house.
Light (to L): Who are you? And who exactly is this Kira?
- Earlier, L and Mr. Yagami have this reaction as well when they didn't realize the extent of Light's injuries which includes head trauma so he doesn't remember the last two years:
- Aftermath of the Games: Princess Twilight is telling her human counter part, The Humane 5, and Sunset Shimmer the events of The Cutie Map, where there was a villian who was able to forcefully remove Cutie Marks from Pony bodies. Sunset is completely horrified, while Rainbow Dash, thinking they're simply decorative pictures, asks what the big deal is. Sunset reveals to her and the others that a Cutie Mark is a physical manifestation of a pony's talents, so getting it taken away was like having a crippling injury blocking you from being able to enjoy the thing you love the most (like cooking, singing, or running) ever again.
Films — Animated
- In Kung Fu Panda, after Shifu tells everyone that Po is the only one who can stop the now—escaped Tai Lung.
Po: And here I am saying you got no sense of humor... What, you're serious?!
- In Toy Story, when Woody and the other toys meet Buzz Lightyear for the first time, his insistence that he is a space ranger and not a toy is assumed by Woody to be a facade, but one day when Woody wakes out of the toy box and confronts Buzz, he opens up Buzz's helmet and Buzz chokes and gags until he realizes the air is not toxic and chastises Woody for opening his helmet in an "uncharted planet," and his eyes could have popped out. Woody realizes that Buzz really thinks he is a Space Ranger and is not pretending. Woody unsuccessfully tries to convince him, but it takes a TV commercial at the Phillips household for Buzz to realize the truth.
- In Lilo & Stitch, Pleakley and the Grand Councilwoman are discussing Jumba in his prison cell:
Pleakley: But it's a delicate planet! Who's going to control him?Councilwoman: You are. (Walks away)Pleakley: (laughs) Very funny, your highness, that's quite— (Sees that she's gone) you're not joking!
- In The Princess and the Frog, when Naveen and Tiana meet Louis and tell them that they're human:
Louis: (laughs) Y'all are serious?
- Barbie In Rock N Royals: Zia and Rayna are initially skeptical when Courtney tells them she's a princess but it doesn't take long for them to realize she's not joking.
- In Peter Pan, the Lost Boys have a game of cat-and-mouse with the local natives, constantly trying to catch each other and then turning them loose. Much to their surprise, after being captured, they find out that the natives aren't playing around this time, blaming them for the kidnapping of Princess Tiger Lily (which was Captain Hook's doing) and threatening to burn them at the stake if she wasn't brought back by sunset. Fortunately, Peter managed to save Tiger Lily and get her back in time to square everything away.
- The Land Before Time: Journey of the Brave: When Littlefoot announces to his friends that he is gonna save his dad from the earthquake he got trapped in.
Littlefoot: I'm going to the fire mountain to help my dad! And nothing's gonna stop me!
Petrie: (laughs) That's very funny, Littlefoot! Me thought you said you were going to fire mountain to save your dad!
Littlefoot: I did say that! I'm going!
(Petrie's smile droops)
Petrie: You no seem funny now...
Films — Live-Action
- Goldfinger provides this variation:
James Bond: Ejector seat? You're joking!Q: I never joke about my work, 007.
- From The Good, the Bad and the Ugly:
Angel Eyes: (to Baker) Oh, I almost forgot — he paid me a thousand. I think his idea was that I kill you.(both laugh)Angel Eyes: …but you know, the pity is when I'm paid, I always follow my job through. You know that.Baker: No! Angel Eyes!
- Strangers on a Train starts with this. Bruno suggests that he and Guy trade murders, but Guy doesn't realize Bruno was serious until after his wife shows up dead.
- In National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, Benjamin Franklin Gates announces his intention to kidnap the President of the United States, since the President has access to the titular book. As in many examples of this trope, his friends think he's joking at first, and then try to talk him out of it when they realize he's serious.
- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home has the following, after McCoy asks Spock to tell him about the afterlife:
Spock: It would be impossible to discuss the subject without a common frame of reference.
McCoy: You're joking!
Spock: A joke… is a story with a humorous climax.
McCoy: You mean I have to die to discuss your insights on death?
- Tremors 2: Aftershocks: Kate's reaction to the ridiculously huge amount of weapons and explosives Burt Gummer has brought in to fight the creatures is laughter… until she notices how everyone else remain deadly serious and realizes her mistake.
- A classic subversion in Airplane!:
Ted Striker: Surely, you can't be serious.Dr. Rumack: I am serious. And don't call me "Shirley".
- By one of the same creators, Hot Shots! Part Deux has a similar one used twice.
- In Fiddler on the Roof (film):
Tevye: Thank you, your honor. You are a good man. If I may say so, it's too bad you're not a Jew.
Constable: [laughs] That's what I like about you, Tevye. You're always joking.
[Awkward silence ensues as the Constable realizes Tevye was not joking]
- A variant occurs in Ghostbusters (1984).
Janine: Hello, Ghostbusters. Yes, of course they're serious! …you do? You have? …no kidding?
- In Presumed Innocent, as DA Sabich is called into a conference room and informed that he is the prime suspect in the murder of colleague/ex-lover Carolyn. He scoffs at first, but as two other prosecutors list the evidence against him and a third warns him to keep his mouth shut until he can get a lawyer, he proceeds to say this verbatim.
- A Black Comedy example happens in Batman Returns. After Max Shrek finds out that Selina knows about his plans for the power plant, and he says some to her with a threatening tone, and when she nervously says, "It's not like you can just kill me!" he responds, "Actually, its exactly like that..." while advancing towards her with her back to a window... Then he stops and smiles, as if to say he was kidding, she breathes a sigh of relief as he chuckles and turns away... But then he quickly turns around and shoves her out the window, because he wasn't kidding.
- Sneakers. When Bishop and Cosmo finally meet again, Cosmo says he wants to use Janek's "black box" to "crash the whole damn system"—hack into everything and cause cybernated chaos. "You haven't gone crazy on me, have you?" Bishop asks him. He replies, "Who else is gonna change the world, Marty? Greenpeace?" Bishop scoffs—and realizes Cosmo is serious. "You are crazy," he says.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone:
"And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third-floor corridor on the right hand side is out of bounds to anyone who does not wish to die a very painful death."
Harry laughed, but he was one of the few who did.
"He's not serious?" he muttered to Percy.
"Must be," said Percy, frowning at Dumbledore.
- In Wizard and Glass, a young Roland gets sent off to the supposedly safe backwater area of Mejis. Before he goes his father tells him to keep an eye out for one of the 13 balls of Maerlyn's Rainbow, powerful magic tools, because the leader of the evil rebellion is suspected to have one. Even Roland, who is famous for not having a sense of humor, laughs at the possibility of happening to run into one and assumes his father was joking, but good old dad just stares him down until things devolve into an awkward silence and basically says "Roland, do you really think I'd send you off with a stupid joke like that? Keep your eyes open."
- "For love of God, Montresor."
- Choose Your Own Adventure book Journey to the Year 3000 starts like this.
- Used lightly in The Lord of the Rings. The film adaption goes like this:
"But you've left out one of the chief characters: Samwise the stouthearted. 'I want to hear more about Sam, dad. Why didn't they put in more of his talk, dad? That's what I like, it makes me laugh. And Frodo wouldn't have got far without Sam, would he, dad?'""Now, Mr. Frodo," said Sam, "you shouldn't make fun. I was serious.""So was I."
- Mansfield Park: Fanny can't believe that Henry Crawford's marriage proposal is not a horribly distressing joke but a twice-as-horribly distressing sincere proposal until the next day. Cue the Marry for Love rebelliousness in typical Jane Austen tradition.
- Inverted in Ciaphas Cain: in a Mechanicus dam/shrine protecting an extremely powerful artifact in danger of being stolen by Chaos, one of the commanders suggests blowing up the dam if worst comes to worst. The head magos, understandably upset, asks if maybe an orbital strike wouldn't be better (without sounding sarcastic). The commander replies that none of the ships could get into position for long enough. While the Tech Priest was upset about this for religious reasons, Cain had blown up the last dam at the site for the same reason in another war and everyone there knows it.
- In Much Ado About Nothing, Benedick, the cynical, militantly anti-romance snarker, has to challenge one of his friends to a duel for the sake of True Love. No matter what he says, the friend just assumes he's kidding and keeps on laughing. It's only when he gives up and leaves the room that the friend says, "wait, was he serious?"
- Dr. Cox says this fairly often on Scrubs
- On Friends Ross has been spending the entire episode asking people if they want to watch a Ukrainian film with him, only to be laughed at. At the end he bumps into Mona, and he invites her to the movie. Mona laughs for a bit, then says "Oh, you're serious. Sure!"
Ross: Wow, I'm glad you're taking this so well. I thought I was going to have to convince you.Rachel: (still laughing) OK, now I'm a little worried you're not joking.
- After Ross and Rachel got drunk in Vegas and woke up married, Ross suggested that they stay married so that he doesn't have another failed marriage. Rachel laughs along and agrees, leading to this exchange.
- In the series Necessary Roughness when the psychiatrists suggests hypnotism, the football player has this moment.
- Characteristic moment on Gilmore Girls between Lorelai and her not-quite-soulmate Christopher:
Lorelai: "Café au lait"? Is that's how it's spelled? Hmm, I always thought it was ¡Caffee olé! You know, like, "Coffee, alright!"Christoper: (incredulous) You're kidding! [beat] You're not kidding. [beat] You are kidding. [beat] (unnerved) I can't tell if you're kidding!Lorelai: I'm a woman of mystery.
- Community takes this Up to Eleven in the episode "Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts":
Britta: Shirley, if that really is your excuse, I'll plan your wedding for you!Shirley: (Manic laughter)Title Card: Literally two full minutes later...Shirley: (Catches her breath and hands a water bottle back to a concerned passerby, still laughing) (to passerby) Ooh-hoo! Thank you. (to Britta) Oh my good God... Thank you for that...Britta: (deeply offended) I was serious!Shirley: (stares incredulously)Title Card: One minute later...Shirley: (deadly serious) Britta, you're not planning my wedding.
- In one episode of Kaamelott, the notoriously stupid, lazy and cowardly Perceval and Karadoc realise that they haven't done anything useful for a while and volunteer to be part of a highly dangerous mission. All the other knights burst out laughing, and are rendered speechless when they realise they were serious.
- Done in a very, very serious way in an episode of The X-Files. An alien assassin was sent to earth to kill a rogue alien who chose to stay on earth as a baseball player. An officer asked where the assassin came from, and laughed at his reply of "Mars". Cue the officer's Oh, Crap! when the assassin's face remained deadpan, implying he is not joking.
- In an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, Malcolm's teacher tells Lois that she thinks Malcolm doesn't want to participate in folk dancing because he's self-conscious about his body. Lois' reaction is to laugh before lapsing into complete serious mode when she says, "Oh, you're serious." When the teacher says that she is, Lois continues chuckling to herself.
- Supernatural. Death says he will help Dean only if he agrees to become The Grim Reaper for a day.
Dean: Are you serious?Death: No, I'm being incredibly sarcastic.
- Babylon 5: Londo Mollari discusses with Morden the scale of military aid that Morden's associates can provide against the Narns. Morden boasts that it may be any scale necessary, and Londo asks with laughter if they might just cut to the chase and annihilate the Narn homeworld altogether. Morden calmly replies: "One thing at a time", and Londo's smile slowly fades, as he realises that only one of them was joking.
We do not joke in the face of prophecy, Vir.
- Vir starts laughing when lady Morella says that he will be The Emperor.
- In Lost Girl, Trick gives Bo an ancient Fae weapon, leading to this:
Bo: What's this made of?
Trick: Unicorn horn.
(Bo laughs. Trick gives her a look.)
Bo: Shit, really?
- The Leftovers:
- In one episode two characters who had met on an earlier episode and had a brief moment of bonding pass each other in the halls of a courthouse. When one says that he's officially getting a divorce from his wife because she joined a Cult that is viewed somewhat similarly to how the Westboro Baptist Church is viewed in real life, she cracks up, then realizes he isn't joking. He gives a somewhat similar reaction just a few seconds afterward when she is rather too insistent in inviting him to abruptly go on a vacation with her.
- When Kevin Garvey finally confesses about his black out periods, during which he can operate for hours or even days at a time in a seemingly normal state but not remember a thing that happened afterward, Dean (the person Garvey is talking to) refuses to believe him for quite some time. When Garvey's frantic sincerity finally convinces Dean, his reaction is a combination of this and a massive Oh, Crap!.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer sort of does this. When Buffy learns that Harmony has minions, her response is to laugh. The Scoobies tell her that it is a serious situation, and Buffy continues to giggle.
Buffy: I'm not joking.
- Xander does this as well when Buffy tells him that Spike is in love with her, leading to the following exchange:
Xander: Oh, I hope not. It's funnier if it's true.
- In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Sisko and Admiral Ross are attending a Klingon ceremony that includes the typical cut on the palm. When Sisko says they're next, Ross half-smiles... and then he realizes that Sisko's expression is stony serious. Cue Oh, Crap!.
- Used (to very humorous effect) in Bill Cosby's "Chocolate Cake for Breakfast" story, which is detailed in the concert film and comedy album Bill Cosby: Himself. Bill's wife Camille wakes him up one morning at six A.M. and tells him to go downstairs and cook breakfast for the kids. Bill thinks that if he pretends to be dumb about it and just goes back to sleep, she'll let go of the idea and do it herself. Instead, Camille gets a bucket of ice water and threatens to pour it over Bill—and then he knows she's chillingly serious.
- Dragon Age: Origins: Alistair can have one of these moments when you tell him he has to sleep with Morrigan if he wants both of you to live.
- In Alpha Protocol, you find out early on that there are plans in place to dismantle it if something goes horribly wrong. If you ask what happens to the people, you get one word: "Expendable." You respond with this trope.
- In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Adam Jensen responds with this trope when Sarif reveals to him the Illuminati are real.
- Used by Hazama for extra puppy-kicking points in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift: when it's implied that the apparently-soulless (but arguably sentient) automaton Nirvana might deserve more respect than one would afford the toaster oven, Hazama laughs before giving a variation of the page title. The similarity to Bender's sociopathic page quote is striking.
- In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Arena Blademaster Owyn reacts this way when you tell him you want to be a combatant.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, with the Hearthfire DLC you can adopt children from a local orphanage. However before you can, you're asked what you do for a living, potentially leading to the following exchange;
Dragonborn: I'm the Dragonborn / Harbinger of the Companions / Archmage of the College of Winterhold.Constance: What? If you aren't going to be... wait... Shor, you're serious! Well, I... all right then!
- Also in Skyrim, this is the guard's reaction when you ask them to whom you should report that you killed the leader of the Dark Brotherhood.
- Astrid has this reaction when you inform her that you've been hired to assassinate the Emperor.
- In Planescape: Torment, this might come up twice in the Pillar of Skulls episode, depending on what the player does and who's actually in the room with him at the time. If you reject the first two payments or ask more questions than needed (which is purposely taking the harder path) the Pillar's third price is Fall-from-Grace's life (assuming she's in the room). If you agree to this, Grace asks you if you're serious; if you say yes, she disappears, and never comes back. The fourth payment is Annah's life (again, assuming she's actually in the room) and again, if you agree to this, Annah asks if you're serious. If you say yes, she becomes enraged and attacks you, fighting to the death. (The Pillar does not accept this as payment; accepting either of these payments slides the Nameless One's alignment towards evil.)
- In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, this is the Deku Princess's response to Link's reaction after she laughs about how absurd her worries were that her father would jump to conclusions and wrongfully punish/torture her monkey friend over her disappearance. She then makes Link carry her back to the palace. In a bottle.
- Suicide for Hire: The snack stand Arcturus is temporarily working in is closed:
"Lena, go make me a Closed sign while I reinforce the shutters so they don't go all Night of the Living Dead on us."
"Is that all necessary? Won't they see the closed shutters and sign and figure out we're not open for business?"
"Hahaha… Oh, wait. You were being sincere. Allow me to redirect my mocking laughter to you. You fool."
- Annie and Watto have an exchange in Darths & Droids:
Watto: What are you offering for that information?
Annie: To not laser sword your leg off.
Watto: You wouldn't.
Annie: *Death Glare*
Watto: You would!
- In Penny Arcade, a little commentary about the Universal Media Disk.
- Done to agonizingly awkward effect on Questionable Content.
- Done in Sequential Art when Hilary realizes the extent of Pip's lack of fashion sense, here.
- This comes up in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja.
- Princess Princess: Princess Amira stops laughing at her mother's idea that she could marry one of those "dull, vapid princes" when she realizes her mother means it.
- In the lonelygirl15 episode "Mission Possible":
Spencer (pulling on black ski mask): If Jonas doesn't succeed, I'm going in.
(Taylor laughs, then stops quickly)
Taylor: Oh my God, you're serious!
- Taylor's reaction is understandable, since Spencer isn't a badass — he's a nerd who can't even exercise.
- From the Bonds Beyond Time Abridged comes this gem between Paradox and Yusei.
Paradox: What destroyed the world was...card games.
Paradox: That is right, card games.
Yusei: You're serious?
Paradox: Yes, very.
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged When King Kai believes Frieza has destroyed planet Namek with Piccolo on it, he tells the fallen warriors that they're gonna be stuck on King Kai's planet forever. Tien responds "Tch. Yeah, real funny King Kai... Oh God you're serious."
- From a very old World of Warcraft Machinima comes this bit, in response to a rogue claiming, "rogues have it hard". Caution: contains highly Contagious Laughter.
- In Worm this is Taylor's reaction to PRT Director Of Image Glenn Chambers' suggestion of a "less theatening" image.
Taylor [having just summoned a mass of butterflies to replace her usual (useful) insect swarm]: I just want you to realize that this is what you'd be asking me to—Glenn [interrupting]: Yes. Excellent! They did say you were smart.
Taylor: You're serious.
- In the web series RWBY by Rooster Teeth, Yang thinks Ruby was referring to having a meltdown when she mentioned she explodednote , and when Ruby tries to explain it as being literal with fire (and she thinks some ice) Yang wonders if she'd learned how to be sarcastic. Then Weiss starts to yell at Ruby for almost blasting them off of a cliff.
Yang: Oh my God you actually exploded.
- This is Hippolyte's reaction in Flander's Company when Kevin comes at his office saying he wants to become a Super Villain:
Kevin: What's so funny?
Hippolyte: Wait, so this isn't a joke?
- When Nostalgia Critic starts reviewing The Room, he reacts to the entrance of Tommy Wiseau in the very first scene with hysterical laughter and demands for the real actor to appear. Laughter gives way to abhorence as it dawns on him that that is the actual performance.
- Features in Gamer Poop's fifth Oblivion video, when Emperor Obama addresses the Champion of Cyrodiil's request to be president.
- In Aladdin: The Series, Jasmine and Aladdin get into an argument about how her privileged upbringing has left gaps in her education concerning how most people live their lives, and Jasmine turns to the Genie to back her up.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!
- The Wasp does this when S.H.I.E.L.D. asks the team to go into a Gamma radiation-infested prison full of escaped supervillains.
- She does this again in a later episode, after Iron Man says Nick Fury suspects one of the Avengers of being a Skrull in disguise.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- In the episode "Secret of My Excess", Applejack initially laughs at Twilight Sparkle's claim that Spike is running rampant, until she sees it for herself.
- Later, in "Pinkie Pride", Cheese Sandwich initially laughs when Pinkie Pie says she forfeits the Goof-Off before realizing she's completely serious.
- In "Maud Pie", the eponymous pony mistakes a washrag in Rarity's shop for a scarf, and says she likes it. Rarity at first thinks she was joking, then, in an effort to impress her, compliments her taste and offers to make her something out of a collection of dishrags. Maud declines; she only needs the one.
- Xiaolin Showdown: When Dojo asks Master Monk Guan why he was brought to a hidden fortress. Cue Oh, Crap! from Dojo.
Guan: This is the home of the famous Chase Young.
Dojo: HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I thought you said "Chase Young"!
Guan: I did.
- One episode of King of the Hill features an archaeologist who instructs kids helping at a dig "if a bony arm reaches out from the earth and grabs you, remain calm." The kids react in shock; he chuckles and continues "But seriously… remain calm!"
- In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "The Bully", when Flats first says he's gonna kick SpongeBob's butt, he thinks he's joking. Then this happens...
- Futurama provides the page quote.
- In Garfield's Thanksgiving, while Grandma Arbuckle is making Thanksgiving dinner in the kitchen, Jon is distracting Liz until dinner is ready by telling her about the entire history of Thanksgiving. Liz thinks he's kidding until he starts going into detail about the holiday, causing her to realize that he isn't.
- Sofia the First: Clover's reaction the first time Sofia tells him she saw a mermaid.
- South Park: In "Douche and Turd", the Marshes are called into Mayor Daniels' office so she can tell that what Stan is going to be banished for refusing to vote for his school mascot. A shocked Stan asks "You're all joking, right?", but the Mayor's solemn silence is all it takes for him to get this reaction.