A couple of characters are engaging in a night of heavy drinking, possibly at a bar or Wild Teen Party. After a series of wildly hilarious shenanigans that would only be engaged in by the very intoxicated, possibly summed up as a Binge Montage, the characters need to have a Very Serious Conversation. Luckily, they become Suddenly Sober, and can speak all the plot-relevant dialogue that will advance the story exactly as required, without once spotting a pink elephant or declaring "I love you man... no, no, but, you... I love YOU man." Suddenly Sober is the moment in a movie or TV show in which a drunken character suddenly transforms from a word-slurring, sidewalk-tripping, projectile-vomiting mess to a highly-coordinated, quick-thinking, somehow enlightened (and much more sober) version. This could be brought about by some sort of crazy action sequence, a sudden realization, or any other sort of device that moves the plot along. Usually results in uncannily clear thinking or cat-like reflexes, depending on the situation. This trope can also apply to characters who are high, tweaked, etc. and suddenly sober up.
Examples:Anime and Manga
- During the Axis Powers Hetalia Christmas 2007 strips, a cheerfully drunk England is told by Finland that one fan wants his advice on what to do about a broken heart, whereupon he suddenly becomes sober and sad as he reveals that he himself has suffered from a broken heart for at least 100 years and knows all too well what heartbreak feels like. Hanatamago even lampshades this: "He suddenly snapped out of it!"
- First episode of Black Lagoon. Revy and Rock have an impromptu drinking-competition in a Bad-Guy Bar, and both of them are looking extremely sloshed - then a bunch of mercenaries shoot up the place with heavy machine guns and grenades, and they all have to crawl to safety and drive to safety - which they accomplish without so much as a hiccup. Perhaps justified for Revy, since she's a top-grade Action Girl and all-round Bad Ass, but Rock is just a Japanese salaryman who gained his alcohol-tolerance from getting dragged out drinking with his superiors all the time.
- Justified in Ghost in the Shell, since the protagonists are cyborgs who can have the toxins filtered out of their blood immediately. In the first movie, The Major willingly allows herself to get drunk by disabling this function.
- Happens in One Piece during the Skypiea arc, when the Straw Hats are attempting to go to Skypiea despite having been jeered and thrown out of Mock Town for bringing it up. Later on, the town drunk, while relieving himself in the harbor, finds newly-delivered copies of the latest updated pirate bounties, and sees Luffy's and Zoro's bounties; despite his drunken state, he remembers that Luffy's bounty was earlier revealed to be 30 million berries, lower than local thug Bellamy's 55 million, and casually dismisses Luffy and Zoro as weaklings for having been beaten up by Bellamy's gang (though actually, Luffy and Zoro chose not to fight back). Then he manages to count off the number of zeroes on Luffy's new bounty paper, sees that it's 100 million berries...and promptly snaps back sober with a very frightened expression on realizing what kind of people Bellamy chose to pick a fight with.
- The drunk slowly sobers up over the course of like ten panels, or maybe thirty seconds in-universe time. On the other hand, when Nico Robin drops the bomb on Neptune about having read the Fishman Island Poneglyph, he goes from absolutely smashed to stone cold sober in the time it takes her to say three words.
- More like "Suddenly Sane", but during the Whitebeard War saga, Sanji got sent to an island of transvestites…and despite his efforts, wound up becoming one of them. But when he sees the newspaper talking about Ace's death, his makeup falls off and he immediately snaps back to his old self.
- The Sandman: Clurican the Faerie did this at the end of the World's End arc—he was completely soused for most of the episodes, then suddenly sobers up (as the storm blows itself out).
- Played with in the Naruto fanfic Everto. When Sasuke is injured badly, Naruto calls up a drunk Tsunade and uses his demon Compelling Voice to make her sober enough to treat him. Apparently he did it mostly unconsciously.
- 10 Things I Hate About You: Kat shows up at Bogey Lowenstein's party, gets trashed on tequila and entertains revelers by dancing on a table. She collapses into Patrick's arms, and almost passes out when he turns his back on her. After stumbling up a hillside, falling off a swing and throwing up on Patrick's shoes, she spends the ride home engaging in witty repartee and insightful analysis of her social life.
- Adam from Hot Tub Time Machine takes coke, weed and mushrooms in his hotel room and can't even get up from the floor. His nephew, Jacob, then bursts into the room and tells him he needs his help. Adam is completely sober in the next scene.
- In the Sinbad comedy Houseguest, the main character, posing as a reknowned wine expert, manages to bluff his way through a wine-tasting party by getting everybody else roaring drunk. A group of upper-crust white folk do not remove their pants and get down to "Brick House" when mildly tipsy. However, a scene later that very night has the hosts perfectly sober, and nary a hangover the next morning. And how did they drive everybody home that night? However, the movie is such a mess in the editing department that this seems to be just another oversight.
- Independence Day: David (Jeff Goldblum) has his inspiration for how to use a virus to hack the alien invaders' computers while too drunk to stand up. He then manages what appears to be a highly complex programming task without missing a beat.
- Iron Man 2: Tony is completely wasted during the party at his house, but when Rhodes shows up to fight him, Tony is still able to fight effectively. Not as competently as he would sober, but he's had a lot of practice at being drunk.
- Mean Girls: Cady throws a party, her friend comes by and calls her plastic, she suddenly sobers up and tries to get people out of the house.
- Raiders of the Lost Ark: Marion Ravenwood drinks the large man under the table during a drinking competition at her bar, and is subsequently confronted by Nazis looking for an amulet her father owned. Even though her drunkenness was an act to turn the betting odds, she shows no sign that she'd just downed what had to be more than a dozen shots of hard liquor.
- In Inglourious Basterds, the German soldier celebrating the birth of his son goes from being sloppily drunk to articulate and reasonable within about a minute. Of course, in that minute he survived a gunfight that killed about a dozen people, which would presumably have quite an effect on someone.
- Good Omens: Aziraphale and Crowely, an angel and a demon, get extremely drunk once they figure out that the apocalypse is coming. Then, when they decide they need to talk seriously about it, they force themselves sober. It's apparently an unpleasant experience.
- Justified in a Discworld book. There are some things alcohol can't cut through, and a dragon vaporizing a man right in front of you is one of them. Another is Klatchian Coffee.
- The sudden, horrible realization that you're in the Shades after dark will also "do the icy work of a good night's sleep and several cups of coffee".
- In The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern, photographer Odd Bunsen negotiated a balcony several stories up to retrieve a cat...while completely drunk. He soon sobered up when he found the dead body of interior decorator David Lyke.
- In the Honor Harrington novel In Enemy Hands, Admiral Thomas Theisman is driven to drink once he realizes that Honor, whom he considers a Worthy Opponent, is going to be abused and murdered on trumped-up charges for propaganda purposes. When the half-mad propaganda minister who ordered it comes knocking on his door, he uses a medical device to sober up, with extremely unpleasant side effects. It's left ambiguous as to whether the side effects in question stemmed from the sober-up device, or what State Sec planned to do to Honor.
- In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe it turns out the eponymous establishment helpfully offers a device in its lobby that serves this purpose; just pour the drunk into the booth and drop a coin in the slot.
- Flashpoint: A radio DJ has a nasty bourbon habit and takes a guest hostage. As soon as he realizes the truth about what happened to his son, he stops leaning over the table like he's about to fall over and begins speaking in crystal-clear English.
- Family Matters: Urkel gets his punch spiked at a rooftop party and gets thoroughly drunk, drunk enough to fall off the roof. However, once he catches the ledge he sobers up and starts screaming for help.
- In the mini-series adaptation of Stephen King's It, Ben is clearly drunk when he get the phone call from Mike. Once he finds out that It has returned, the terror sobers him up instantly. He then proceeds to get drunk again.
- Cyril in Gilbert and Sullivan's Princess Ida:
Hilarion, who has been with difficulty restrained by Florian during this song, breaks from him and strikes Cyril furiously on the breast.Hilarion. Dog! There is something more to sing about!Cyril. (sobered) Hilarion, are you mad?
- In Eerie Cuties a vampire bite, while not quite instantly, have this effect on the victim.
- In Wapsi Square, Tepoz, the Aztec god of alcohol, is called in because bad things were going to happen if Jin didn't sober up quickly.
- In The Hero of Three Faces, when Superman and the Doctor are Drunk on Milk, Batman asks what would happen if there was an emergency. Superman instantly sobers up and reminds him that he has total control over his body.
- Being shocked, frightened or agitated enough may sober you up amazingly fast, provided you aren't stinking drunk. Mind you, this isn't true sobriety - it's the adrenaline (a stimulant) counteracting the alcohol (a depressant). After the shock is over with, if you still have a lot in your system or continue to drink, you will go back to being drunk. The reason this is no help is not just because there is more alcohol for the adrenaline to counteract, but very drunk people have trouble recognizing danger to be shocked or scared by it in the first place.
- This trope can also result from people either pretending to be drunk, or acting more drunk than they actually are, then they stop pretending (or forget to keep up the pretense) when something interesting happens.
- A similar effect results from those who are "hung over" on sleep. Waking up at an inopportune time in the sleep cycle (in particular, attempting to rouse someone from stage 3 or 4 sleep) results in the person being incredibly groggy, but something they consider particularly important (such as being late for school or work) can rouse them to full wakefulness in an instant. This is why many people splash cold water on their face in the morning: the body interprets this as an "assault" and prepares to fight an assailant. When there is no real danger, the person is simply awake.
- Depending on how critically important the person deems to wake up when the alarm clock rings, it can work just as nicely as a loud scream straight to the ear no matter how peaceful the bell's tune is, or how mild its volume is set to.