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->''"See the man with the stage fright\\
Just standin' up there to give it all his might\\
He got caught in the spotlight\\
But when we get to the end\\
He wants to start all over again"''
-->-- '''Music/TheBand''', "Stage Fright"

A character has an ability that they cannot show off to or use in front of others because of nerves. When under pressure, the character can't perform as well, making others doubt that character's ability.

Usually, once under pressure, the character is unable to perform at all, looking like a complete idiot as they stand there unable to do what others are asking them to do. Other times, it has a more mild effect, causing them to simply make stupid mistakes that they wouldn't any other time.

The trope name is a more technical term for Stage Fright (see Real Life examples below).

If all we ever see is the character cracking under pressure, then it starts to edge into InformedAbility territory. Compare CentipedesDilemma (aka ParalysisByAnalysis), in which a character loses an ability by thinking too hard about it. Related to DeadAir, an occasional occurrence on radio. If the character is shown to actually be good at whatever it is they're attempting to do in public when they're in private (or doing it for friends/family), it usually goes hand in hand with HiddenDepths.


[[AC:{{Anime}} and {{Manga}}]]
* ''Manga/{{Hitohira}}'': Mugi Asai. The plot revolves around her being convinced to join her school's drama club, and she has a tendency to get so nervous in front of people that sometimes she faints.
* Akiyama Mio from ''Manga/KOn''.
* Anpanman himself from ''{{Franchise/Anpanman}}''. Despite being a powerful superhero, he is horrible at onstage acting. He stutters, speaks his lines in a very forced tone, and blushes like mad. This leads to problems when he's roped into performing (normally by Shiratama-san or the Den Den Troupe). However, as soon as Baikinman attacks the stage, he forgets all of his fear and goes back to being the one thing he truly is: a superhero.
* An episode of ''Anime/CinderellaMonogatari'' features an acrobat named Mary who is nervous about performing in front of the prince - she sees everyone as the prince. Mary's first performance in the episode fails when she messes up and everyone laughs at her. Cinderella tries to help her, but is unable to make Mary's insecurity go away. Charles decides to help out and helps Mary overcome her anxiety.
* Sorata from ''LightNovel/ThePetGirlOfSakurasou'' suffers this in Episode 8 during his presentation for his video game idea. Naturally, this doesn't go very well for him. Subverted come Episode 10, where he performs just fine.
* Haruka Harano of ''Anime/GoPrincessPrettyCure'' suffers from this in ''Anime/PrettyCureAllStars: Spring Carnival'' - she can sing by herself pretty well, but in a crowd, it's just a bunch of frightened warbles. It takes being put in a DarkestHour moment to overcome that fear.

[[AC: Comics]]
* One story in Franchise/ArchieComics involved Reggie getting stage fright during his first attempt at stand-up comedy, leading to Jughead heckling him, which got Reggie mad enough to reply and then go into the rest of his routine.
* Arthéon from ''ComicBook/{{Noob}}'', according to one of the early short stories.
* In ''ComicBook/JemAndTheHolograms'' stage fright is Jerrica's reason for creating the "Jem" persona. She can't sing in front of people besides her family members but as Jem she's a flamboyant and popular pop star.

* Referenced in ''Film/TheManWhoKnewTooLittle'':
-->'''James:''' [Wallace] got the lead part in the school play, but on opening night... I never knew it was possible for someone to forget so much so quickly without a severe blow to the head.
* One of the superheroes in ''Film/MysteryMen'' has the power to become invisible -- but only when nobody is looking.
* In ''Film/MyFavoriteYear'', Alan Swann is a beloved [[{{Swashbuckler}} swashbuckling]] film star. When he learns he has to perform in front of an audience (and on ''live television'') for his latest gig, [[INeedAFreakingDrink well]]...
* Todd in ''Film/DeadPoetsSociety'' is actually quite a good poet, but has a bit of a problem with reading/speaking in front of people, which leads to him taking notes at Dead Poets meetings rather than doing any of the actual reading. At first his aversion to public speaking is so strong that he refuses to join the society at all.
* Constantine, the villain in ''Film/MuppetsMostWanted'', surprisingly suffers from stage fright.

* OutbackWawa: Apocass1n is a lot more boring and quiet in his ClickQuest series, presumably [[JustifiedTrope because he's not used to doing Let's Plays alone]].
* Letsplay/{{Gamingandstuff}} in the last episode of his Pokemon Emerald Parlocke, he [[spoiler:lost to wallace's gyarados]] even though he could have won had he attacked instead of trying to set up. This may have been because it was the finale and nervousism, or he just {{didn't think it through}}

* Ron Weasley has this problem in ''Literature/HarryPotter'' books five and six. He's a good Keeper when no one is looking, but he gets too nervous to play when people are watching him play.
* Happens to Petra in ''Literature/EndersGame'', crippling her usefulness to Ender. This is not because of an inherent inability to deal with nerves, but because of the enormous weight of pressure and responsibility that Ender had placed on her.
* The Great And Powerful Turtle in ''WildCards'' suffers from this when using his telekinetic powers. This gets in the way of his desire to be a superhero until he gets access to some military surplus battleship armour and a scrap Volkswagen Beetle.
* In ''Literature/LonelyWerewolfGirl'' one of the biggest problems Dominil has acting as manager for werewolf punk-rockers Beauty and Delicious is preventing them getting completely drunk due to their stage fright. Yep, werewolves with stage fright.
* In ''Discworld/MovingPictures'', clickie superstar Ginger is terrified to step out of the coach in front of a cheering crowd, having only acted in front of a camera crew rather than an audience. Victor snaps her out of it by suggesting that she pretend it's a click, and it works: she can handle the attention if she stays in character.
** Similary, in ''Discworld/WyrdSisters'', ''Death'' gets a case of stage fright and starts fumbling over the lines "he" is supposed to play when he turns up for real on the stage towards the climax at the book. It's explained this is because the circumstances means everyone is expecting to see him, and thus they can, and it's very unusual indeed for him to be seen by such a large crowd of living people.
* A childrens' book about a boy getting the lead role in the school performance of RobinHood brings this up. "The more mistakes I made, the more nervous I got. The more nervous I got, the more mistakes I made." It gets so bad that he ends up mixing up words; when the script reads "Listen to the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minstrels_(chocolate) minstrel]]", he comes onstage and announces "Listen to the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smarties Smartie]]!"
* "Randy's Dandy Lions" is a children's book written by Bill Peet that features a troop of performing lions that suffer from what the book refers to as 'cage fright.' This results in the firing of their trainer and the hiring of a new one. [[ThisIsGonnaSuck This does not end well.]]

* ''Series/OurMissBrooks'': The plot of the episode "Public Speaker's Nightmare".
* ''Series/TheBradyBunch'': "You Can't Win Them All," from the fourth season, was about Cindy earning a spot on a ''Quiz Bowl''-type show for elementary students ("Quiz the Kids," with Chris Knight's father, Edward, playing the quizmaster). Cindy's huge ego (the central focus of the episode) underlied the fact that she studied hard for the program ... only for it to come crashing down when the cameras started rolling and the live TV broadcast began. Cindy fails to so much as mutter a syllable the entire time - all she can do is stare blankly at the camera throughout the show - and Mike reassures his disconsolate, humiliated youngest daughter afterward, "It can happen to anyone."
* ''Series/FamilyTies'': The first season episode, aptly titled "Stage Fright," had a ''High School Bowl''-type program in its plot, where the highly intelligent Alex, captain of his school's quiz bowl team, is forced to turn to his dunce of a sister Mallory when a teammate falls ill. Alex is well prepared for the show and victory for his school is assured just by his mere presence ... only for him to unexpectedly come down with stage fright. Alex is unable to answer one question or spit out a coherent statement, while Mallory (the underachiever) is relaxed, despite only answering a few of the questions right.
* Game shows are a prime example of this trope. Many shows have qualifying tests, which producers use to select the contestants they believe will perform the best and have a chance to win. While many contestants selected to play the game do well, many others simply do not ... not necessarily because of the unexpected difficulty of the material or because they're facing a Ken Jennings-type champion, but because they simply are unable to relax or perform well under pressure (i.e., when he/she is expected to do well). As such, contestants sometimes unintentionally say the wrong thing when asked a question everybody knows the right answer to ... if they are able to give any response at all; the contestant will almost always - unless they were honestly stumped or truly believed their answer was right - admit their error once they realize their mistake or the host reads the right answer.
** Pat Sajak, host of ''Series/WheelOfFortune'', has said many times - especially after an easy Bonus Round puzzle goes unsolved - that playing the game at home or from the studio audience is ''much'' different than a contestant playing the game, and that nerves and the pressure to do well take their toll when the cameras begin rolling.
** At least one champion from ''The $100,000 Name That Tune'' recounted his experiences from the $100,000 tournament in Jefferson Graham's "The Game Show Book"; in an elimination round, he knew the titles to three songs ("Yesterday," "America" (from ''Theatre/WestSideStory'') and "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree") but was either unable to answer before being buzzed or press his lock-out buzzer fast enough, and he owed his lack of success to extreme nerves (particularly since he knew a large prize was up for grabs). At least one other book - pitching advice to prospective game show contestants - included its author's own disastrous experience on the Jim Perry version of ''CardSharks''; she wrote that, despite being relaxed beforehand, she became completely unnerved when told she was going on air to play the game, and those nerves - plus a lack of support from others in the contestant pool, whom she had thought were her friends - contributed to a pair of quick losses to a dominant champion.
* Series/{{Chuck}}'s ability to "flash".
* Dee Reynolds on ''Series/ItsAlwaysSunnyInPhiladelphia'' suffers from deblitating stage fright, to the point of dry heaving during a stand-up comedy routine.
* Played with in ''Series/MarriedWithChildren''. Marcy is anxious about having to deliver bad news at a presentation to her bank executives. She sees a psychotherapist who conditions her to associate public speaking with sex. This not only relieves her performance anxiety, but causes her to have an orgasm during the presentation. She's soon [[FetishFuel in demand]] throughout Chicago as a speaker delivering bad news.
* Simon in ''Series/{{Misfits}}'' has difficulty when trying to [[HowDoIShotWeb get the hang of his power]] -- he can't ''turn'' invisible while people are watching.
* [[Series/StarskyAndHutch Hutch]] can pull off the most embarrassing undercover roles without a hitch or a stammer, but put him in front of an audience in his own identity and he freezes up.
* Willow in ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''. Singing in front of people is identified as one of her worst fears in [[Recap/BuffyTheVampireSlayerS1E10Nightmares "Nightmares"]], a first season episode.
* In ''Series/{{Zoey 101}}'', Michael gets a bad case on Open Mic Night, to the point of vomiting on the first row of spectators, including the girl he has a crush on.
* Ally from ''Series/AustinAndAlly'' has a bad case of this whenever she get's on stage. How bad is it? '''She accidentally destroys an entire TV studio while trying to get away when Austin gets her on a live TV show.'''

* In the concert version of Music/PinkFloyd's ''Music/TheWall'', Pink starts "The Show Must Go On" asking if he has to "Stand up wild eyed in the spotlight" and why he shouldn't turn and run
* TheBand, as quoted above, released an album named "Stage Fright." Fittingly enough, its title track is about a man who suffers from it.

* In the ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'' short "A Decemberween Pageant", Strong Sad gets the part of The First Decemberween in the titular pageant. He gets so nervous that he locks himself in the bathroom before his scene, and the rest of the cast are forced to improvise to extend the play. When Strong Sad finally does come on-tage, it turns out that The First Decemberween's entire part consists of walking on-stage and saying "What?" (or alternately, that Strong Sad's part was supposed to be larger, and no one in the audience noticed or cared that he messed it up).

* When Park Hyung Suk is about to sing in the SchoolFestival in ''Webcomic/{{Lookism}}'' he suddenly freezes and can't sing at all, [[MakesJustAsMuchSenseInContext even though he's in his]] {{Bishonen}} body at the time. Thankfully does [[FatBestFriend Duk Hwa]] have the courage to rap until Hyng Suk feels confident enough to sing, and the concert became a success.
* In ''Webcomic/QuestionableContent'', Marten [[http://www.questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=553 claims to suffer from performance anxiety]]. Later, he shows this when, on the occasion of his father's remarriage, he's called upon to give an impromptu speech, which quickly descends into InaneBlabbering.
--> ''ANYWAY.'' Ma-marriage! Yes! Marriage yes. ''Good job marriage. Good dads. Yes. Thanks.''
* Irya from ''Webcomic/BitsFair'' is a constant victim to stage fright, first seen [[http://bitsfair.com/comic/1-017-18/ at the start of chapter one]].
* Rougina of ''Webcomic/AliceAndTheNightmare'', while with a lot of practice, still dislikes public speaking and the stress of it makes her tremble and in need of several minutes of exhausted panting afterwards.

* A mild version is called the "LetsPlay Curse", where the LP-er's game will be completely thrown off his mojo. It happens a lot more often in live commentary, because the LP-er has to focus on two things at once.

* In an episode of ''{{Birdz}}'', Eddie's friend Gregory is shown to have a fine singing voice, but is afraid to perform onstage. [[spoiler:At first, he has Eddie lip-sync to him, but then feels guilty over pushing Eddie into the spotlight this way and runs off. Eddie finally fakes a sore throat, forcing Gregory to step in as his understudy and overcome his stage fright.]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', Fluttershy is extremely nervous about performing in the [[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS2E13HearthsWarmingEve Hearth's Warming Eve]] play in Canterlot. Does not get better when Rarity tells her there might be thousands of ponies watching.
** "Hurricane Fluttershy" elaborates more on this fear. The episode revolves around Fluttershy having to help out in whipping up a tornado with the other pegasai, but is overcome by fear due to what she perceives as an inadequate flying abilities. This also only occurs when she's being observed by other ponies; she goes off to train with her animal friends and is fine when they are watching, but as soon as they don UncannyValley pony masks, Fluttershy falters.
** It happens ''again'' in "Filli Vanilli", where Fluttershy is too afraid of performing and as a result hides behind a curtain while another pony lipsynchs to her voice. When she accidentally knocks the curtain down and outs herself as the real singer, she has a nervous breakdown.
** Happens with Rainbow Dash in "Sonic Rainboom" after she crashed during every practice session ''and'' was being upstaged by Rarity.
** Sweetie Belle has an instance of this in "The Show Stoppers." Like Fluttershy, she has a good voice but is shy about singing in front of others, prompting her to do props and costumes for their show instead of singing, which goes to the HollywoodToneDeaf Scootaloo. She's clearly gotten past it as of "For Whom the Sweetie Bell Toils," when she writes, directs, and acts in a play.
** In ''[[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS4E24EquestriaGames Equestria Games]]'', when it's time to light the torch in front of the entire stadium, Spike's unable to trigger his fire breath.
* This was the original reason why WesternAnimation/SpongebobSquarepants [[FailureIsTheOnlyOption kept failing to get his boating licence]]. The first couple episodes it was shown, it was stress that made Spongebob freak out and crash into everything. Then it became a case of DependingOnTheWriter, where his driving skills would vary according to [[RuleOfFunny how the scene could best be formatted]], and when he drove well, there'd be a decent justification for his confidence boost. Then {{Flanderization}} and SeasonalRot hit, and the reason was completely forgotten, and that Spongebob would just [[DiabolusExMachina inexplicably]] turn into a [[LaughingMad crazy]], [[DrivesLikeCrazy senseless]] PersonOfMassDestruction behind a wheel, no matter the situation.
** Another episode has [=SpongeBob=] suddenly develop a fear of public speaking when he has to give an oral report in boating school.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSmurfs'' episode "All The Smurf's A Stage", Poet Smurf, who decides to become the lead male star of a play he wrote, comes down with stage fright and is unable to perform on the night of its production, requiring Timid (who was studying to become an actor behind the scenes) to take Poet's place as a last-minute substitution, which earns him the rename Actor.

* TruthInTelevision for many people: [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossophobia glossophobia, the fear of public speaking]], is commonly listed as ''the'' most common phobia in humans[[note]]as much as 75% of all humans demonstrate mild symptoms of Glossophobia, though the actual diagnosis rate of Glossophobia is much lower[[/note]]. When referring to people specifically performing something (like a play or a music recital), it's colloquially called [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stage_fright Stage Fright]].
** The fear of public speaking is so common, some say people fear it more than death. Jerry Seinfeld once lampshaded this:
--->'''Jerry Seinfeld:''' This means that, if you had to attend a funeral, you would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.
** Also a common malady in the sexual realm, and a frequent contributor to TheLoinsSleepTonight.
* Everywhere in amateur/high school productions of plays or musicals. It can merge into BadBadActing eventually if the performer does not try to keep it under wraps. The way to spot it is a refusal to put down their arms, frequent gesturing to emphasise words and/or legs placed firmly on the stage, complete with bobbing in some performers.
* Music/BarbraStreisand has admitted to having terrible stage fright before every performance.
* Steven Tyler of Music/{{Aerosmith}} was extremely reticent about singing in the studio in the band's early years.
* Music/PeterGabriel used to suffer stage fright as frontman of Music/{{Genesis}}. Wearing outlandish costumes onstage helped him overcome it.
** Reputedly, the discomfort original Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips had with the larger audiences and venues the band played post-''Trespass'' led him to quit the band.
* Creator/AlysonHannigan is afraid of singing in front of people, leading her to request almost no singing lines in [[Recap/BuffyTheVampireSlayerS6E7OnceMoreWithFeeling Once More, With Feeling]], the MusicalEpisode of ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''.
* This is still a problem for Music/RingoStarr. That's right, ''the drummer of Music/TheBeatles'' still gets an anxiety attack before every gig he plays. Luckily, when you're behind a drumset, nobody can see your legs shaking.
* Some people argue that ''not'' having an anxiety attack before public speaking to a group is weirder than having one, depending on the circumstances and topic.
* Music/RoyOrbison fabricated his cool-looking, sharp-dressed image to try dealing with this problem.
* Creator/MitchHedberg, to his dying days, wore rose-colored aviator sunglasses on stage to help him get over his stage fright. He said it helped the audience feel that much farther away.
* It is very possible to develop this kind of anxiety with things that are not actual performances. If a person is micro-managed too much on anything, be it a chore, a job, or anything else, they might get this in regards to that task, not wanting to let others see them inevitably mess up and call them out on it.