A character receives an unmarked present, usually a gift. Think back to X-Mas
when you were a kid, and how with some basic shaking, weighing, and appraisal of shape, you could pretty much guess what the object was.
Now imagine a Cloudcuckoolander
receiving a present. Current theories on what's inside: either a pony, an astronaut helmet or one of those roombas that's been covered in hair to look like a tribble
This is a trope played for comedy in which characters are incapable of ascertaining facts that are pretty obvious to normal folk. Another variation is that a more intelligent character responds to the gift sarcastically invoking this trope. In this case, odds are good that the gift in question will turn out to be something completely different from the implied shape. Either way, Hilarity Ensues
- Subverted in a 2013 Target commercial where what is "obviously" a vacuum cleaner reveals a tablet computer.
- A MAD cartoon had a wrapped gift the shape and size of a bicycle; it was a wristwatch.
- In Harry Potter, Harry is instructed not to open his broomstick shaped package in the Great Hall as the teachers don't want the other kids to notice and get jealous. In the movie, there is no note as the suggestion looks even more ridiculous when you can actually see the package.
- He was possibly told to do this so no one would see the kind of broomstick he had received. Receiving a new broom through the mail probably isn't too unusual... getting a top-of-the-line broom is another story.
- In the Christmas Episode of Happy Days Ritchie's brother Chuck (who is going to college on a basketball scholarship) gets a round object covered in paper.
Joanie: Here's a present from Richie to you. What do you think it is? bounces it to Chuck
Chuck: Hey, watch it. shakes It might be something breakable.
- In one episode of Community, Troy points out that his present is an even bigger secret. His present is a remote control helicopter, with even the blades being individually wrapped.
- Tom does the sarcastic version in an episode of Blue Heelers when he is looking over his granddaughter's Christmas presents, one of which is a toy giraffe that is so tightly wrapped that even the individual horns are distinguishable.
- In a Garfield strip, Odie is shown shaking a wrapped bone, then wondering what it could be.
- A Sesame Street skit has Kermit offer Cookie Monster a cookie if he can guess what's in the box. Cookie Monster shotguns off a long list of guesses, none of which could fit in the box.
- In one strip of Questionable Content, Marten gets a large envelope from his mother. Faye hopes it might be a pony, and when it's pointed out that the envelope is far too small, she argues that it might be "A collapsible pony". (Turns out it's an embarrassing T-shirt.)
- Sluggy Freelance has one xmas strip where Riff and Torg got each other their usual present, a beer. They open them and chug them, Torg remarks on how predictable they are, and Riff mentions that he actually got Torg habanero hot sauce.
- In A Very Potter Musical, Hermione gives Harry and Ron a wrapped gift that is quite obviously a book, but they think it might be a puppy.
- Family Guy has a few examples:
- Brian (who drinks a lot) receives a bottle-shaped package at Christmas and sarcastically wonders what it could be. Turns out it's a book.
- Peter and Lois have agreed to go to a meeting about timeshares for the sole purpose of receiving a free boat for going to the meeting. When they're about to accept the gift, the salesman suggests that they could take the Mystery Box instead of the boat, said mystery box being about the size of a shoebox. Peter excitedly demands the mystery box over Lois' protestations, exclaiming that it could be anything, even a boat! It's not.
- The Simpsons: A contest to pick an image for the cape of the new phone book had a TV ad showing a "Mysterious" prize that was wrapped in a way anyone could notice it was a bicycle. As if it wasn't obvious enough, a kid at the commercial showed up and started riding it (with the bicycle still wrapped).
- The Fairly OddParents: In "Merry Wishmas", Timmy wanted a sled for Christmas. As he unwrapped a package that seemed the sled under the trope, he found a snow shovel.