makes candid comments to, or argues with, Alice, whom he doesn't know or has just met. Only later does Bob learn, to his chagrin, that Alice is the President/Queen/Boss/etc. In other words, Alice is the last
person Bob should be acting like that in front of.
This tends to work best when Alice is a newly appointed authority figure, unbeknownst to Bob. Thinking of Alice as an equal rather than the boss
, Bob will let it all hang out
in a way he never would if only he knew who it was he was speaking to. (Malicious Slander
is particularly dangerous, for obvious reasons.)
by making it a Secret Test of Character
or setting up other circumstances under which Alice likes Bob's candor for some reason. For example, if Alice is unaware that Bob doesn't know, she may think this manifests With Due Respect
and commend him for it.
Compare Right Behind Me
. Also compare Actually, I Am Him
; King Incognito
; Actually That's My Assistant
; Because I'm Jonesy
. Some overlap with I'm Standing Right Here
open/close all folders
- At The Twelve Kingdoms when Yoko joins the rebellion against herself (ok, technically against the official of the realm who ruled that part of the kingdom), by the state and royal armies. The look of the face of the generals of the royal army when they recognize her is completely priceless.
- This often happens while Yoko is in disguise and working with the other rebels; at various times they talk about the queen in angry or disparaging terms, having no idea who Yoko really is. The look on their faces when they find out is hilarious.
- Early in Great Teacher Onizuka, Onizuka encounters a young woman being harassed by a creepy old man on a bus, whom he confronts and punches out. Not long afterward he finds out the woman is Fuyutsuki, who becomes the primary love interest, and heading the interview for the teaching position is Uchiyamada, the old man on the bus, complete with a bandage over his nose. Needless to say the interview goes poorly.
- It actually happens again when he has a candid conversation with an elderly woman in the school store. Turns out she's the superintendent who is so impressed with his passion and dedication she hires him over Uchiyamada's protests.
- Inverted in Dragon Ball Z, where Goku is searching for the martial arts master King Kai and wrongly assumes twice that strangers he's met were the person he was looking for (One of whom was a woman.)
- In Mai-Otome, this happens to Mashiro on a few occasions while she's going incognito, such as when she meets up with the similarly disguised Prince Takumi, or with Mimi while fleeing Windbloom with the other refugees. Both those instances show how much the people hate her, and lead to her Character Development and becoming a better ruler.
- In the manga, after Mashiro is going through a 10-Minute Retirement after punching Nagi for whipping Nina, he abandons his crossdressing disguise and encounters Nina. Nina tells him a little about her life experiences, including her desire to save people from poverty, and how she regrets harshly treating Mashiro for helping her. Then, shortly afterward, she sees the discarded wig and clothes and realizes not only the boy's true identity, but Mashiro's true gender.
- In The Heroic Legend of Arslan Anime, after being imprisoned by Arislan's forces, Estelle/Etoile confides in the guard assigned to bring her food that she has heard that Arislan is evil. He responds by feeling the top of his head. When she asks him why, he replies that he's checking to see if he has horns. Because he is Arislan.
- In Moribito Guardian Of The Spirits, one of the main characters, Balsa, and the group she is traveling with and protecting, is being pursued by authorities. While having lunch, she runs into a man who, upon being questioned, tells her about her alleged demise at the hands of the search teams looking for her. He then goes on to make up a story about how he met her in the mountains, and despite her great skill with the spear, managed to fight her to a draw. Balsa seems to take this humorously and with good spirit, most likely because in his version, it took a thousand men armed to the teeth to kill her.
- Buck Danny: Sonny Tuckson does it to the title character before finding out the latter is going to be his commanding officer.
- The Empire Strikes Back: Luke's patience is tested to the breaking point by a little troll who turns out to be Jedi Grand Master Yoda.
- Something similar happened in The Phantom Menace, too, with Padme dressing up as one of her handmaidens.
Padme: The queen will not approve.
Qui-Gon: The queen doesn't need to know.
Padme: (to herself) Well I don't approve.
- Lawrence of Arabia: The officer who angrily shoves Lawrence to the ground in Damascus, thinking he's just a "dirty wog". Later, when he sees Lawrence in uniform, he rushes for the honour of shaking his hand, completely unaware he's the same person.
- Love Actually: Colin walks up to Nancy, a girl at the wedding, and insults the food at length only to find out that she was the caterer.
- Animal House: One of the fraternity members starts making innuendos at a woman in the grocery store, who introduces herself as the dean's wife.
- Wing Commander: Blair is sitting in the cockpit of a Rapier, when a woman suddenly standing next to the ship quizzes him on his dogfighting skills with a couple hypothetical scenarios. She is brutally honest in explaining why Blair's responses would only get him killed, leading to the following:
Devereaux: What's wrong, Lieutenant? Did I bruise your ego?
No, it's just that I'm not used to getting combat advice from a grease-monkey
Devereaux: [introducing herself] Commander Devereaux, Lieutenant. Your wing commander.
- In Mrs. Doubtfire, Daniel complains at work about an extremely boring television program to who he assumes is another employee...
Daniel: What kind of idiot kept this guy on the air for twenty-five years?
Lundy: Me. [offering his hand] Jonathan Lundy.
Daniel: Jonathan Lundy, General Manager, owner? [Lundy nods] I'm Daniel Hillard, former employee.
- Luckily for Daniel, Lundy agrees that the show is awful and he's there to announce that he's taking it off the air.
- A non-insulting variation occurred in the French movie Parlez-moi d'Amour: A man heading to a job interview for a rich businessman has coffee spilled on his shirt, and in desperation asks another man to trade shirts with him. The man accepts, but turns out to be his interviewer and future employer.
- The War Of The Worlds (1953). A non-insulting version:
Sylvia: Ever hear of Clayton Forrester? He's top man in astro and nuclear physics. He knows all about meteors.
Man: You seem to know all about him.
Sylvia: [snip] They had Forrester on the cover of Time. You have to rate to get that.
Man: He isn't that good.
Sylvia: You don't even know him!
Man: I do know him, slightly.
Sylvia: What's he like?
Man: Well, he's like...[points to himself]
Sylvia: You don't look like yourself in that get-up, but I'm happy to meet you.
- A classic example is in They Died With Their Boots On on the life of General George Armstrong Custer. As our dashing hero (Errol Flynn) is on his way to meet his girlfriend's father for the first time, he gets into an altercation with an imperious old gentleman. Guess who the old guy turns out to be?
- In The Bad and the Beautiful, Fred Amiel is hired to pretend to be a mourner at the funeral of former Hollywood bigwig Hugo Shields. He spends the entire funeral doing his own little MST3K-style commentary about what a bastard the man was, little realizing that the man he's making the asides to is actually the deceased's son, Jonathan Shields.
- In The Godfather, after Michael Corleone becomes struck with his future first wife, Apollonia, he stops with his bodyguards in village's bar. His bodyguard Fabrizio starts a conversation with the bar's owner describing the girl Michael saw and asking for information about her; turns out that the owner was her father, who angrily cuts him off and storms out.
- Water (1985). Granola Girl Pamela Weintraub bumps into Michael Caine in a floral shirt packing up the Governor's house and asks him for advice on how she should greet the big man. "You know how tightass the British can be." On realising that Caine is the Governor, she burbles her apologies, though the Governor isn't too bothered as he's rather taken by her.
I thought you were the moving man!
- The Crazies (1973). Colonel Peckhem takes charge of the military unit trying to quarantine the town under Major Ryder. He establishes a secured radio link with higher authority, a government official who immediately starts talking about how the major is obviously panicking and exaggerating the danger. Said major promptly makes an obscene gesture at the radio.
- Stand-up comic Brett Butler tells a joke about a comedy routine she performed in England. According to the joke, after the performance Butler became embroiled in a (ahem) colorful argument with a boorishly critical woman; as onlookers dragged the comedienne away they told her "You cannot speak to the Queen that way!"
- One man at an opera, to make conversation with the rich, important fellow next to him, said "Who is that ugly woman who just walked in?" The answer: "That's my wife." "Oh, no, not her; I mean that shocking monstrosity next to her." "That is my daughter."
- There is a joke that both uses and subverts this, involving a man listening to his boss speak.
Man: *turns to woman* This guy is a pompous fool.
Woman: Do you know who I am?
Woman: I am that pompous fool's wife.
Man: *in an imposing tone* Do you know who I am?!
Man: That's a relief. *blends into crowd*
- A joke about a man trying to make the situation less awkward while dancing with a beautiful woman at a party.
Man: I really made a fool out of myself before.
Woman: Is that so? How?
Man: You see that man over there? The one with that disgusting wart on his nose? I commented on how the woman standing by the door was the fattest I'd ever seen. Turned out it was his wife!
Woman: *coldly* Oh, really. What did dad say then?
Live Action TV
- In Still Standing, Bill and his co-workers are goofing off at work when a college-age fellow calls them out on it. Not realizing that this kid is their new manager, they blow him off and continue goofing.
- In an episode of Selfie, Eliza mentions a co-worker, Joan, might not like her because of what happened with the gizpacho. Henry asks what happened with the gizpacho, and she mentions how she came early to work, fresh from Soul Cycle, very hungry. She started wolfing down gizpacho (labeled Joan) when a woman walks in. Eliza looks at her and says, "Don't tell Joan." The woman replies "I am Joan."
- One episode of Nurses revolved around a rich woman who checks herself into the local hospital and demands the royal treatment, running the nursing staff ragged. The head nurse eventually gets fed up and tells the woman off; it is later revealed that the woman is the hospital's new Administrator.
- In The 10th Kingdom, when Virginia has to defend Wolf at his trial and decides to make a desperate claim that the man at the festival wearing the wolf mask the night before is the real killer, the Judge tells her that role always goes to "an unimpeachable member of our society." Not seeing the warning signs, Virginia really warms up to her accusation, calling the mask-wearer all sorts of nasty names—only to be told by the Judge that he was the one wearing the mask.
- From the LOST episode "The Other Woman":
Juliet: Harper hates me... I get the feeling that she is a mean and spiteful person.
Goodwin: She's my wife.
- In the Fawlty Towers episode 'Waldorf Salad' Basil refers to an antagonistic man who has just walked in as 'rubbish' to a woman he has just met. She then introduces him as her husband.
- The episode 'Fools for Love' of House had House insulting a clinic patient. It backfires later when he discovers Tritter is a cop.
- The pilot episode of The West Wing has a subplot where Sam discovers that a woman that he met at a bar the night before (and subsequently slept with) is actually a prostitute. Later in the episode, Sam is forced to give a tour of the White House to the Chief of Staff's daughter's first-grade class. After giving ludicrously bad information to the class, the teacher pulls him out into the hall and berates him. The following exchange occurs:
Sam: Ms. O'Brian, I understand your feelings, but please believe me when I tell you that I am a nice guy having a bad day. I just found out the Times is publishing a poll that says that a considerable portion of Americans feel that the White House has lost energy and focus. A perception that is not likely to be altered by the video footage of the President riding his bicycle into a tree. As we speak, the Coast Guard are fishing Cubans out of the Atlantic Ocean, while the governor of Florida wants to blockade the port of Miami. A good friend of mine is about to get fired for going on television and making sense. And it turns out that I accidentally slept with a prostitute last night. Now, would you please in the name of compassion tell me which one of those kids is my boss's daughter?
Mallory: That would be me.
Sam: Leo's daughter's first-grade class.
Sam: Well, this is bad on so many levels.
- In the NCIS episode "Headcase", Gibbs doesn't want a deceased Captain's wife to know that the remains she was given by the funeral home may not, in fact, be her husband's, so he spins a story about how he's being persecuted by the vindictive new female director. When the widow stops by the offices to check on things, guess who she runs into.
Widow: The new director has it in for him.
Widow: Well, I've seen it before. When Parker was XO for one of the first female ship captains, the woman was a nightmare trying to prove herself.
(Gibbs enters the room)
Jenny: Special Agent Gibbs, I didn't know the new director was punishing you. She always seemed very fair to me.
Widow: Well you're a woman. She doesn't have anything to prove to you.
[After the three of them talk, and Jenny overrides Gibbs]
Widow: She isn't the new...
Gibbs: Uh huh.
- Drop the Dead Donkey. Pointy-Haired Boss Gus Hedges starts ragging off at a woman in the lift with him who's apparently forgotten her ID card. It turns out she's an inspector from the government.
- In a Saturday Night Live sketch, Sarah Palin was scheduled to be a guest star along with lookalike Tina Fey. Gov. Palin was talking to the Producer when Alec Baldwin came in. He thought that Palin was Tina and started complaining to the producer about how that Tina would get hurt with Sarah Palin. After a few minutes of saying all the bad stuff about Gov. Palin, the Producer finally pointed out that they are talking in front of Sarah Palin and not Tina. Baldwin promptly started kissing up to Gov. Palin.
- The whole point of Undercover Boss. Bosses go off and work on the front lines in disguise.
- In the first episode of the fourth season of Hell's Kitchen, Gordon Ramsey spied on the contestants on the bus to the restaurant disguised as a contestant. The others talked about how they are going to impress Gordon and he will love them. They were shocked when Gordon revealed himself at the restaurant.
- Played for laughs in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Prodigy".
Colonel O'Neill: General, I'd like to talk to you about this mission upon which we are about to embark. Seems a bit…ridiculous doesn't it?
General Hammond: Have you met General Ryan?
Colonel O'Neill: THE General Ryan? Chief of Staff?
General Ryan: That's right.
- Happens in the episode of The Muppet Show featuring Rudolf Nureyev. Sam the Eagle, pleased to have a "high culture" show for once, has the theater all decorated and everyone dressed to the nines to impress the guest star. In walks a young man in trendy casual dress, who Sam immediately and unceremoniously shoos out of the theater before he can spoil the ambiance:
Sam: Who do these hooligans think they are?
Kermit: Um...well, that one thought he was Rudolf Nureyev...
Kermit: In-in fact, that was Rudolf Nureyev.
- In the 2001 Australian miniseries Day of the Roses an official from the Justice Department asks for the Coroner's office. Two men burdened with boxes of files say they're heading that way themselves, then ask for his help carrying the boxes. The official replies, "Get stuffed" and walks off, only to discover that one of them was the coroner he'd come to see.
- In an early episode of Charmed, Prue is in the elevator on her way up to a job interview, and talking to her sister on her cell phone. Prue is clearly trying to use a little reverse psychology to psych her self up for the interview, talking about how she doesn't really need or want this job and it doesn't matter how the interview goes. She then gets to her interview and finds that the owner of the company she's interviewing with was the man standing next to her in the elevator.
Religion and Mythology
- One Haddith tells of a woman who says to the kindly man who's helping her with her groceries that he should not talk about Muhammed, so as to not start a heated argument as she doesn't like the guy and his followers. After she gets home, she asks the Stranger his name. After he tells her that HE is Mohammed, she converts to "believe the nice polite man who helped with my stuff is a prophet of God"ism, and by extension Islam.
- There is a joke that mocks the materialism and status seeking of modern churches, that basically states that if Jesus Christ were to walk into a church dressed as he was in biblical times, he would be immediately shooed out for looking unkempt and wearing rags in "The House of the Lord".
- Even though that's exactly what Jesus says to do in the parable of the wedding.
- Being a parable, he's not actually talking about clothing.
- In the musical Annie Get Your Gun, Annie refers to Frank Butler as a "big swollen-headed stiff", not knowing that the man she has just met is Frank Butler.
- Henry V.
- In Measure for Measure, Duke Vincentio of Vienna appoints his deputy Angelo as Replacement Dog Kicker and disguises himself as a friar. The "fantastic," Lucio, proceeds to slander the hell out of the Duke in front of the friar. Later, when the Duke returns, he slanders the friar in front of the Duke. This does not end well for Lucio, whom the Duke sentences to a Humiliation Conga.
Duke: Vpon mine honor thou ſhalt marrie her.
Thy ſlanders I forgiue, and therewithal
Remit thy other forfeits…...
- In Fallout: New Vegas, when you first meet the Yes Man, he can describe with great pride how he calculated the identity of the courier who was carrying the platinum chip in order for Benny to arrange an ambush for him/her. That courier happens to be you, the player character who is shot in the head at the beginning of the game. You then have the option of saying this:
Courier: I'm the courier Benny shot.
Yes Man: Hahaha! I know that's not true, because you still have a head!
Courier: I'm serious.
- In the game Primal the main characters, Jen and Scree, are met by a character who proposes rebellion against the king of the realm they're in. Needless to say, his identity is revealed later. The two, however, feign loyalty to the villain, because Volca is a notoriously hostile realm, especially to outsiders. The king, however, is not amused.
- In Tales of Graces, Asbel breaks into Richard's room before he learns Richard is a prince.
- In Tales of Hearts, Shing tells what appears to be a one-off NPC that she's the "most beautiful woman I've ever met" in the course of cheering her up. As soon as you leave town, she is revealed to be the Empress of basically the entire world. This actually works out to the party's advantage, as Marin warms up to Shing, so while this pisses off The Ace Chalcedny, who is in love with her, in the short term, she's instrumental to his Heel-Face Turn later on.
- Halo 4, this comes up in Spartan-Ops. DeMarco starts flirting with a female Spartan he just met. Then he learns she's his boss.
DeMarco: Paul DeMarco. I lead Fireteam Majestic.
Palmer: (with fake awe) Wow. A whole fireteam, huh?
DeMarco: I didn't… catch your name?
Palmer: Sarah Palmer. Commander Sarah Palmer. I lead all fireteams onboard Infinity.
- In Girl Genius, Zola delineates her plan to Gil(gamesh Wulfenbach), thinking he's just a pirate trying to loot the Castle.
Zola: And no-one has to die.
wordless panel: Gil thinks
Gil: Except, of course, young Wulfenbach.
Zola: Well, duh. We're not stupid.
- In Kevin & Kell, Martha, after breaking up with Ralph over him having a teenage daughter, mentions this to the said teenage daughter at an online costume party (albeit one in which part of the point was to guess the person's identity). Corrie is apparently relatively understanding, and makes a good enough impression on her future stepmother that Martha and Ralph get back together.
- PHD: Tajel hits on someone she assumes is a student, and then is told he's her new professor.
- In Bob and George Roll makes it because she doesn't remember that on strip is in front of the Author.
- A couple from Noob:
- Averted, in a scene that has the series Straw Misogynist finds out that his guildmaster used to be in his dream guild right before running into one of said guildmaster's female ex-guildmates. He gets told the woman is one of her guild's founders and can only wrap his mind around it by telling himself she must be the Dungeonmaster's Girlfriend (but keeps his tought to himself). Then it turns out that the woman is the one taking care of admissions. (He does end up making sexist comments about her out loud in her presence, but that involved Right Behind Me.)
- Played with during Sparadrap's first in-game confrontation with his brother, during which he says something along the lines of "You can't be my younger brother, he doesn't know how to play". Sparadrap is in one of the worst guilds of the game while his brother is in the best one.
- People with bad eyesight or people who cannot recognize faces for whatever reason often suffer from this, and can become more shy and friendly than they otherwise would around others.
- John Krasinski, of The Office (US version), stated in one of the show's DVD commentaries that when he first auditioned for the role of Jim Halpert, he struck up a conversation with another man at the audition and stated in passing, "I hope they (the show's producers) don't screw this up." The other man then introduced himself as executive producer Greg Daniels.
- In his autobiography About Face, David Hackworth tells how he was talking on the phone to what he assumed was an officious and annoying clerk at the Pentagon. After calling him a "little prick" Hackworth discovered the man was Attorney-General Robert Kennedy, brother of President John F. Kennedy. Fortunately his (Irish American) commanding officer was able to smooth things over, but as he put it: "Of all the people!"
- Supposedly, Mark Twain once said "Keep your words short and sweet, for you may be forced to eat them."
- In the 1970's a group of Australian feminist activists set up the Elsie Refuge for domestic violence victims in Sydney, but were unable to get any government funding. Eventually the Minister of Social Welfare Bill Hayden turned up unannounced at the shelter, only to be curtly refused entry as no men were allowed on the premises, until the activists realised who he was and rushed out to bring him back (after Hayden talked to the women who'd taken shelter there, they did get their funding).
- See the Jesus example above. Snopes.com told of a new pastor who did this and got the expected response. The congregation was ashamed. Furthermore, he actually had been living with the poor so as to empathize with their situation.