Stock phrase uttered by the villain when everything is going wrong, often soon after he declares that nothing could stop his plan, especially not those puny heroes (and the heroes have shown up to disprove the statement). He screams that it's impossible, despite the evidence staring him in the face. May be a sign of a Villainous Breakdown, or the villain's Last Words before Critical Existence Failure (or, on a more existential level, Puff of Logic). This phrase is often coupled with a Big "NO!". May be accompanied by an Oh, Crap.
This phrase is most commonly said by arrogant characters when the tables turn on them, especially Smug Snakes, Smug Supers and/or Arrogant Kung Fu Guys since they are, as a matter of fact, overconfident. Said types of characters will often shriek in disbelief when their arrogance ends up proving to be their Fatal Flaw by having them end up defeated by their opponents. "I can't believe it!", "How can this be?!", "You can't do this to me!", "This can't be happening!", "It can't end like this!" and "I cannot be defeated!" are among some examples of the best variations of this trope, and a good fan knows when it hits someone with Smug Snakery or Smug Superiority anyway. Also, in a classic fashion, most often after saying "This Cannot Be", a villain will vow vengeance by saying such phrases as "I'll get you next time!", "We Will Meet Again!", "I will have my revenge!", or even "You'll pay for this!"/"This Is Unforgivable!" before leaving to plot anew. Some villains are also prone to screaming this stock phrase when they're given a certain punishment for all their terrible atrocities as well as their own vileness.
Oddly enough, a heroic character can also utter this when something shocking or horrible happens revolving around him/her or those close to it. Such a phrase may even be a sign of a Heroic BSOD. The phrase can also be uttered by one character as an expression of surprise when another character ACTUALLY succeeds in doing something that no one else has ever been able to do in the past.
The equivalent Japanese phrases are "masaka" and "sonna bakana". Such words are used so much in anime, it's fairly common to hear "this can't be!" in English dubs. Monsters in Toku are prone to yelling this just before they explode.
This absolute flat-footedness and denial of reality is generally not found in villains who are Crazy-Prepared or capable of Xanatos Speed Chess.
A Sub Phrase of Oh, Crap.
This is often used when a villain is destroyed or humiliated or meets an unpleasant fate or his Evil Plan is foiled, so beware of spoilers.
Tsuna is clearly beating Xanxus towards the end of their fight. Xanxus is not happy about this and says such things like, "Not possible! This is impossible!"
Similarly, Byakuran states a phrase close enough to this when an enraged Tsuna blows him away with his X-Burner attack after hitting him with a This Is Unforgivable and delivering an awesome Curb-Stomp Battle to him.
After Yami Yugi's millennium puzzle protects him from Panik's flames, which actually threatened death instead of the Shadow Realm, and seconds later Yami uses Mind Crush, either to destroy him or banish him to the Shadow Realm for eternity.
Panik: You survived! How can this be? It's impossible!
Asakura utters "It can't be!" in Haruhi Suzumiya, right after Yuki started terminating her. While she looked desperate while saying it (and for some reason, had Puppy-Dog Eyes... What the?), she gets a hold of her Stepford Smiler face again, after that.
Saionji in the first episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena. This seems to be the standard reaction of anybody losing the Rose Bride, which always happens to somebody who has started to take her (or their "right" to her) for granted.
Both Cell and Frieza have this reaction to their deaths/defeats. Frieza keeps his insistence of superiority even as Goku beats the ever loving crap out of him, and keeps it until right before his last attempt at a sucker punch blows him into a million pieces (He Gets Better, but only briefly). Cell, goes on a similar tract after attaining his "Perfect Form," and especially after going a step beyond that. His last words: "Impossible... It can't be... I'm invincible!" In the anime, Cell's last words are "I am perfect!", in full disbelief that a perfect being such as him could lose.
The Cell from Future Trunks' timeline gets this reaction when he realizes Trunks has become stronger and faster than he is due to training in the past. The Future Androids also have the same reaction, unable to grasp how the one they easily beat before is now Curbstomping them without even trying.
Garlic Jr. says "What! No! It can't be!" before Gohan blows up the Makyo Star, causing him to lose all his power and get sucked into the Dead Zone, to remain for all eternity. Never to die because he wished for immortality with the Dragonballs.
Kooler shouts "It can't be!" when he notices Goku sending his Supernova attack directly back at him with his Kamehameha Wave, which also pushes him along with it directly into the sun, where he dies...At least until the next movie.
Several of the earlier antagonists of YuYu Hakusho (particularly Hiei) say this or something similar when the heroes defeat them, mostly since the heroes are nearly always the underdog anyway. The last time the heroes get enemies that do this is a few times the Dark Tournament, though (after which most of the enemies are either Spirited Competitors or Death Seekers).
In Code Geass, these are Charles' last words, quite understandably as he was immortal and dying only because Lelouch managed to mind-control God.
Wiseman says a similar line when Serena and Rini destroy him. "WHAT?! THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING! NO ONE IS AS STRONG AS THE DOOM PHAN..."
In the first Pokémon movie's dub version, Mewtwo uses a variety of this as he kills the scientists who created him and then later when he breaks free of Giovanni's control. It's a different kind of "This cannot be" though. For example, if you listen to the Japanese dub, he will not say "sonna bakana." Essentially, its worded the same in English but the contextual meanings are different.
Mewtwo: This cannot be... my destiny!
Justified in Tenchi Muyo!. After he's won the battle, Kagato fires a deadly blast of energy at Tenchi, only to be stopped by Tenchi's Light Hawk Wings, to which he responds, "Impossible!" It's justified because he had just cut Tenchi off from Tsunami's power, and he quickly realizes that the wings are not Tsunami's doing but in fact Tenchi's, a phenomenon that really should be impossible.
Sent up in overly dramatic fashion in one episode of K-On!.
InuYasha: Kikyo says this when her body is decaying while fighting Inu-Yasha.
Naruto: Like in many other anime, this is said a lot, but Pain just loves saying it. The same Shinra Tensei that destroyed the entire home village was rendered useless by Naruto twice, leading to that phrase. Naruto, while in his six-tailed fox form, not only blocked it with a massive amount of chakra, but he reflected it, hurling Pain into a cliff 2-3 miles away. He also resisted the attack a second time after coming out of his rage... using a hundred shadow clones. Pain's final resort to containing 6-tailed Naruto didn't work. Naruto broke out, with Pain saying "I can't believe it." upon seeing him in his skinlesseight-tailed state.
Soifon in her fight with Yoruichi. She banked everything on the belief that, having spent a hundred years obsessively training, she would now be able to surpass Yoruichi. When she realises that she still can't defeat Yoruichi even though Yoruichi's skills have stagnated for a century, she screams this before dissolving in tears and revealing the real reason why she's so angry with Yoruichi.
In anime episode 197, Espada #7 Zommari Rureaux says "This cannot be happening" while Byakuya Kuchiki is attacking him with his bankai.
In the fourth episode, Tao Len mutters such a phrase after being bested by Yoh.
Tao Len: It can't be... I've been defeated...!
In a much later episode, Len says such a phrase again while he's fighting Mikihisa, Yoh's father, in a match to prove his worth and determine whether he will stop or continue searching for the grains of rice scattered across the desert by him. When Len makes many futile attempts to hit Mikihisa after recreating his copies from his spirits using faster and stronger versions of his Rapid Tempo Assault, he simply says "Impossible...!" before the Mikihisa copies move in to attack him from everywhere around him while saying "Use your Oversoul (Furyoku in the dub) to see."
Also, in the finale, Hao doesn't actually say anything when he's defeated, but the shocked expression on his face when he and his Spirit of Fire are cleaved in half by Yoh and Amidamaru, who were both given everyone's power and support, just before the fire spirit explodes and takes out Hao with it, suggests that he can't believe that he lost to those two.
In Touhou Musoukakyou: A Summer Day's Dream, Reimu freaks out and has her Oh, Crap moment in a "This Cannot Be!" fashion when she sees that her beloved donation box has gone missing!
Reimu: Wh-wh-WHAT?! H-How can it...! U... U-u-u... U-u-u... WHERE THE HELL IS MY DONATION BOX?!?!
Uttered by Vajramon in Digimon Tamers when he is destroyed by Renamon in her ultimate form, Taomon. "What's happening? This can't be!" The entire episode Vajramon was infatuated with her but disgusted that she preferred to defend humans and have a human tamer rather than join Zhuqiaomon in his quest to destroy them. Vajramon, as well as Zhuqiaomon and the other Devas, viewed humans as inferior, and was even more put off that her ultimate form resembled a human in appearance.
Makuramon also says it when Beelzemon destroys him. May not have been the strongest Deva but he lasted the most episodes out of any, besides Antylamon, who survives up to the final episode and the end of the movie set afterward due to her Heel-Face Turn.
Speaking of Beelzemon, he says this when Gallantmon defeats him with his Shield of the Just attack. (He (Gallantmon) would've then killed him afterwards if Jeri hadn't stopped him because it wouldn't bring Leomon back after what he (Beelzemon) had done to him.)
Apocalymon back in Digimon Adventure has this reaction when the Digidestined use Heroic Resolve to not only reassemble themselves after he digitized them but allow their Digimon to Digivolve to their strongest forms without their crests.
MaloMyotismon in Digimon Adventure 02 says this twice in the final two episodes; once when Davis reminds him that his Mental Illusion failed to work on him because his dreams already came true and that he didn't have any problems, especially because he had friends, family, and a Digimon, and the second time after his armored body parts have fallen apart until only his shadow remains, before he is finished off for good by Imperialdramon.
Sirica of Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, oddly enough, counts as well. She uses this trope when she hears a familiar roar and sees, to her horror, the legendary Demon Beast/monster Kirisakin, whom King Dedede had bought from Holy Nightmare Co./Nightmare Enterprises out of fear of her, appearing in Kabu Canyon and making his way towards her and Kirby and company.
Sirica: ...It can't be. It's Kirisakin the great monster! Meta Knight: Kirisakin is here to reclaim the Galaxia sword. We must stop it!
Escargoon screams this in an earlier episode, "Sweet & Sour Puss", when he, despite not knowing that Togeira took away his ability to get angry, finally realizes that nothing that happens to and around King Dedede can make him angry and he stays calm and nice through it all.
Zatch Bell! has Clear Note, at least. The last Big Bad of the series, he intended to commit genocide on the Mamodo if he won. Right before he was taken out by Zatch's strongest spell, this trope was utilized. Said spell was the result of a Deus ex Machina, without which it would not have been possible to defeat him. Clear merged with his strongest spell, becoming a colossal monster, about the size of a mountain, that annihilated anything it touched with a bottomless supply of power. Zatch's strongest spell was the result of EVERY SINGLE MAMODO aside from Clear lending him their power.This was the result.
Laharl: I don't care what the hell you call yourself! From now on, your new name... is Mid-Boss! Etna & Prinnies: (starts laughing) Vyers: M-M-Mid-Boss?! How can this be?! Arrrgggghhh! UNFORGIVABLE! YOU SHALL PAY FOR THIS INSULT!
Variations on this happened in most races in Initial D. Takumi's opponents would be smug in their ability to beat a junky 86, they'd be internally monologuing about the superiority of their car and skills, and how after this next turn they'd never see the 86's headlights again. Immediately cue said headlights and eurobeat.
Negi: No... it's impossible... he took the Titan-Killing Sword directly... this man defies reason...
Another heroic example, this one played for laughs, in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kira's Musubienishi-hen. After Rika and Satoko spin Keiichi around as part of a game where the one he stops in front of and points to will become his date, he points to the one he stopped in front of, of course, to the surprise of the other girls. And when he takes off his blindfold and realizes that he accidentally picked Oryou, Mion and Shion's grandmother, he has this kind of reaction.
Female protagonists: No way!! Oryou: Oh dear... Keiichi: ...Thi-This is fucking absurd!!note Interestingly, in his original Japanese saying, he says "So-Sonna bakana!!", by the way.
In Part III of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Jotaro's Stand Star Platinum shatters Dio's Stand The World, shattering Dio in the process. Dio's last thoughts as his head explodes are shocked disbelief over the fact that he, Dio, is dying.
In Mon Colle Knights (at least in the Gag Dub), Redda, a very sinister dark angel of a Knight of Cerebus for the comedic show, states the standard "No, how is this possible? My plan was going perfectly, but now it's ruined!" before he disintegrates after being slashed to death by Zaha (in the original, he instead said that his death made no difference whatsoever and voiced his realization that he had underestimated the humans).
The Joker screams exactly this trope name in Batman: The Devil's Advocate after he learns in court that he's just been found guilty of multiple counts of first-degree murder, and now will almost certainly get sent to the electric chair. (He'd assumed that he'd always be thought too insane to ever be convicted by a jury, let alone receive the death penalty.)
In All Fall Down, AIQ Squared says something to this effect moments before his downfall.
An especially funny installment of The Far Side showed a group of Old West pioneers who are completely baffled by an Indian attack involving flaming arrows. ("Hey, they're lighting their arrows! Can they do that?!")
"Impossible," breathed Felix. "Not impossible," Garet whispered with a grin. "Just very, very unlikely."
My Immortal: This cannot be! There must be other factors! Said by Snap(e) after Ha(r)grid confessed he is a Satanist.
These exact words are used in Damnatus when the daemon that the radical cultists were trying to imprison escapes, thanks to the heroes gatecrashing the binding ritual. Perhaps a subversion in that it is uttered not by the villain himself but by one of his mooks.
A locked door?! IMPOSSIBLE!! Wait, no, that's totally possible, what am I talking about?
The God Empress Of Ponykind: During the Siege of Canterlot, the Shadowbolts attempt to corrupt the Loyalist Lunar Knights the way the rest of Luna's Legions were corrupted by Nightmare Moon, only for them to fight it off, eliciting this reaction from the Shadowbolts (right before they get killed).
After having things go his way for most of Acts III and IV, this is Hokuto's reaction in Act IV chapter 31 when the fully-vampirized Tsukune starts kicking his ass.
Similarly, in Act IV chapters 28 and 29, Jovian is completely taken aback when Apoch proves that she and Jacqueline are Not So Invincible After All by successfully penetrating her barrier with her Laser Blade, and then using said blade to deflect her Hand Blasts.
Films — Animation
A note-perfect example in Disney's Sleeping Beauty: Maleficent utters the line almost exactly in, when she realizes that Prince Philip has very nearly reached Princess Aurora's castle. She teleports to his location and declares:
Maleficent: Now shall you deal with me, O Prince... and ALL THE POWERS OF HELL!
In Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, this is Jafar's reaction when he sees Aladdin and Abu and Abis Mal fighting over his lamp and realizes that Aladdin himself avoided death by beheading thanks to the Blue Genie:
Inverted: when Simba arrives just in time to witness Scar fighting with his mother Sarabi, he steps in to protect her. A terrified Scar replies to that with "Mufasa? No. You're dead."
And he's right. Earlier on in the film, Scar killed Mufasa by shoving him back into the wildebeest stampede, therefore resulting in his death. With Simba's return, Scar ends up mistaking him for Mufasa until he reveals to his mother that he's her son, causing Scar to be both relieved to know he's correct and surprised to know that Simba is indeed alive.
Scar: Simba? Simba! I'm a little surprised to see you... (angrily looks at the hyenas) alive. (the hyenas gulp and back away)
In Peter Pan, this is inverted and played straight: after Captain Hook supposedly killed Peter Pan by blowing him up with a bomb, not realizing he had escaped the blast, he has Wendy walk the plank, but when the pirates don't hear a splash expected from hitting the water, they puzzle over it until they see that Peter, very much alive, had saved Wendy and put here in the crow's nest.
Hook: It can't be! Mr. Smee: It's his blinking ghost what's talking! Hook:(drawing his sword to duel with Peter) I assure you this ghost has blood in his veins!
In Frozen, after Elsa manages to finally control her powers and, through the Power of Love, thaws out Anna after being frozen, Hans has this very revelation when he sees them both alive:
Kane: Susan. Please don't go. No. Please, Susan. From now on, everything will be exactly the way you want it to be, not the way I think you want it, but — your way. You mustn't go. You can't do this to me!
Susan: I see. It's you that this is being done to! It's not me at all. Not what it means to me. I can't do this to you? Oh, yes I can.
Vizzini from The Princess Bride is fond of the word "inconceivable" to explain things that should not go wrong but inevitably do.
Nicely played with in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, when Jack Sparrow waltzes into the pirates cave on Isla De Muerta after Barbossa maroons him on an unescapable island for the second time.
Barbossa: It's not possible! Jack: Not probable!
The Prestige, when Borden shows up after having apparently been hanged. This is pretty rich when you consider what Angier's been up to.
Played straight in Van Helsing, when the titular character starts transforming into a Werewolf( the only creature that can kill Dracula ), Dracula says just this. Considering ol' Vlad had just recently sent a werewolf after Van Helsing et all, you'd THINK he might have considered this possibility.
Shanghai Noon: As the sheriff realizes he's been shot fatally through his badge by notoriously bad shooter Roy, who also had only one bullet to boot and endured a hail of six-shooter gunfire: "...How the hell did that happen?"
In The Wizard of Oz: How could a little girl like you destroy all of my beautiful wickedness?
Subverted in Soon I Will Be Invincible: Doctor Impossible is a cape-and-mask supervillain who declares his nefarious plot to the world by saying "Greetings, insects!" But in quieter moments he reflects "No matter how good the science is, sooner or later, some Special Forces reject will scale the wall and punch you in the stomach." He only rejoices when there really does appear to be nothing between him and his goal. He's wrong, but doesn't seem amazed by it, or even, after thirteen tries, really surprised. Very disappointed, obviously, but it was always a possibility, and next time he'll win, no doubt about it.
Senna: It couldn't end here. It couldn't end like this. This was to be my universe. Everworld was mine; it couldn't end like this.
Ishamael says something along these lines each of the three times Rand "kills" him in the first three books of the Wheel of Time series. He may have a point, though, since he survives the first two times and is quickly reincarnated the third.
Subverted in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by Mr. Crouch when his house-elf, Winky, is discovered underneath the Dark Mark, having disobeyed his orders. He's really reacting to the much bigger problem of his son returning to his evil ways and fighting the Imperius Curse under which he has placed him, however. Still, he's not really the villain and they weren't his final words, although he is killed later in the book by that very son.
...Ogomoor was able to divine several things simultaneously from his master's exclamation. First, when someone declares loudly and violently that something is not possible, it is probably an accomplished fact. Second, things that are supposed to not be possible that become reality almost always imply negative consequences. And third, there was no point in hurrying from the room because in all probability he would immediately receive an order to return.
In Mo Willems's Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct, when Reginald's first plan to convince people that there is no Edwina because dinosaurs are extinct fails, he stands around, waving a sign in red letters reading "This is not happening." It doesn't work either.
In the episode, "The Parting of the Ways", the Dalek Emperor declares "I cannot die!" just before Rose destroys him and his army.
Davros also declares "I cannot die! I CANNOT DIE!" in "Resurrection of the Daleks". And follows it up with "No! This CANNOT be!" in "Remembrance of the Daleks". He had a point. Talk about not being able to take a hint.
As a heroic inversion, the Doctor himself has been known to say this, on occasion:
Rose: That's a black hole. The Doctor: That's impossible. Zach: I did warn you. The Doctor: We're standing under a black hole. Ida Scott: In orbit. The Doctor: But we can't be. Ida: You can see for yourself—we're in orbit. The Doctor: But we can't be!
It can, as long as you're outside the event horizon. An unfortunate case of the writers failing to do their research.
In Power Rangers Jungle Fury, one of the main villains was a creature name Grizzaka, who was so arrogant about his immense power that he claimed no one would ever be stronger than him or that he would never be defeated. Needless to say, he received a big shock when, after a huge battle with the rangers, they delivered the fatal blow to him.
Grizzaka: (as his body prepares to explode) IMPOSSIBLE! I AM INVINCIBLE! NO ONE IS STRONGER THAN GRIZZZAKKKAAAA!!! (he blows up)
Another good example of a villain who also says such a phrase is Goldar from the very first series (Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, to be exact), who gets as much of a big shock as the above villain when his personal war Zord, Cyclopsis, is overloading and when it is finally destroyed for good by the Ultrazord.
Computerized voice: Overload! Overload! Too many changes! System locked! Goldar: NO! I don't believe it! (the Ultrazord blasts Lokar and Cyclopsis) Goldar: It can't be! ABANDONSHIP! (teleports back to Rita's palace just before Cyclopsis explodes)
And, not too much later after that...
Rita: Ohh, I can't stand it!! Baboo: Ohh, I certainly regret your displeasure! Squatt: It wasn't my fault! I was asleep! Finster: You can't blame me! This time it's all Goldar's fault! Goldar: Never mind that! Rita! Get us out of here before Ultrazord blasts us! Rita: (laughs; her palace takes off for the moon) Yes! ...Goldar? Goldar: Yes, empress? Rita: DON'T EVER TELL ME WHAT TO DO AGAIN!!! Goldar: (growls)
Diabolico: This can't be happening! Carter: Oh, sure it can, Diabolico! (opens fire; insanely massive barrage of laser-Dakka ensues; Diabolico go boom)
Power Rangers Samurai: This is Serrator's reaction to Xandred leaving the Netherworld and coming after him. A major plot point was Xandred's inability to leave the Netherworld due to an (incomplete) sealing spell placed on him by the previous generation. Turns out the nature of that spell is that he can't leave the Netherworld for very long. The decay that happens to all Nighloks in Earth conditions just happens to him really fast. At this point, no one - us, or the other characters, except maybe the scholar Octoroo - knew that if he was willing to pay the price, he can come out and play for a minute or three... and he's so insanely powerful that even when severely compromized, that's long enough to thoroughlymaul the Rangers and anybody else who pisses him off enough to come out. Cue the previously unthinkable sight of Serrator - a Diabolical Mastermind, and The Heavy since Xandred doesn't usually do much, and someone who proved to be very powerful in combat - running for his life. Of course, the time it will take Xandred to recover from that means Serrator came out of this ahead. Knowing Serrator, maybe he'd planned on that.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 4's Big Bad, Adam, was like this all through his final fight with Buffy, unable to comprehend how she is defeating him. His last words are a disbelieving "How can you?"
Dracula: What's happening?! NO! It can't possibly be my- (Written Roar)
Oddly enough, from the same game, Shanoa herself counts, as well. The fight with Barlowe gives us the simple line "It can't be!" as Barlowe uses the power of Dracula to free the Prince of Darkness from his prison.
As the quotes link above shows, Graham and Dimitri also do this in the Sorrow games.
At the beginning of Tales of Phantasia, Dhaos shouts "Sonna... sonna bakana!" when the Indignation spell is successfully cast at him; he says it again if you cast it on him during the actual game, at least in his first boss fight. And if you cast it at his cameo in Tales of Eternia as Sekundes, Summon of Time and Tales of Vesperia in the coliseum, he says the same thing.
Shadow Queen: Impossible... Unthinkable... How could I... I cannot be beaten by lesser beings such as these... and I had just been reborn into this world... I cannot... I must not... AAAAAIIIIYYYYEEE!!!
In Sonic Adventure, after you defeat the Egg Viper, Dr. Eggman says "No way! I can't believe this!"
This same soundclip is also used when fighting the Egg Walker, and Eggman barks his disbelief every time you hit his machine's legs. Since the four legs are all meant to be hit in quick succession, this leads to "NO WAY, I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS!"
And in Shadow the Hedgehog, Black Doom's One-Winged Angel form, Devil Doom, states this when Super Shadow defeats him. Black Doom had it coming anyway.
Black Doom: I-Impossible! I am the supreme being that rules this universe! I AM THE IMMORTAL LIFE FORM! I AM THE ULTIMATE POWER! AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!
Also in Sonic Battle, when fighting Dr. Eggman during the Emerl's story. Whenever you beat him he shouts "IT CAN'T BE!"
Emperor: Very well, Kefka. So be it. You’ve become useless, and I’m afraid it’s time to end this. Kefka: (double take) Emperor: Don’t think of me too badly. As a final comfort, I’ll put you to sleep with your own magic. Kefka: (erupts into laughter) Emperor: What's so funny? (pause) No matter. It is only fitting that you die laughing. Firaga! (pause) Flare! (pause) Kefka: (jumps around, acting jolly) Emperor: Im...impossible... Why doesn’t the magic strike!! Meltdown!
In Dissidia: Final Fantasy, almost every villain has at least one variation of this to cry upon their defeat, either when the final blow is dealt or when they collapse afterwards:
Garland: Impossible! I cannot be defeated! Emperor: This...this can't be real... Exdeath: No...this is not happening! Kefka: Inconceivable! Ultimecia: How could this be? Kuja: I will not accept this result!
In fact this trope is so popular, even a couple heroes employ it.
Terra: It can't end like this! Cloud: How could this happen?
It's played with a little in Zidane's standard defeat quote. Despite him saying the trope word-for-word, it isn't delivered with the usual hammy defiance of the line. Instead, Zidane actually sounds very surprised and scared as he says "W-what? ...This can't be—"
In Final Fantasy X, Wakka declares "This can't be happening," after the party views Jyscal's Sphere and learns that Seymour murdered him. He says it again after Auron states "We will protect Yuna from anyone, even a maester" and yet again if the player has Wakka use the Talk command to talk to Seymour during the battle. Later, Lulu declares "This...this cannot be!" when Yunalesca tells the party that there is no way to truly defeat Sin.
In Final Fantasy X-2, Logos has this as his death quote. The voice acting makes it sound rather silly, to say the least.
Also, even more spectacularly, Cherdenko gets a different one in each campaign.
In NetHack, if you sufficiently anger your deity, he will smite you with a bolt of lightning. If you survive, he will throw a wide-angle disintegration beam at you. If you still survive, he will simply say "I believe it not!"
In Fire Emblem, every chapter has a boss which is stronger than most units. However, not every boss is completely vital to the plot, some are just random people of high rank in opposing armies. Every boss has a death quote, so there's a countless number of random bosses who use some variations of "This Cannot Be!" when defeated.
Uttered in The Legend of Dragoon by Rose when, at the end of Disc 3, "the emperor" reveals himself to be Zieg, another dragoon from the old, old days. This isn't the only "cannot be" moment LOD offers.
Shiro Tagachi, after dying in Guild Wars Factions.
In the remakes of Pokémon Gold and Silver, Clair screams this after the Master in Dragon's Den reveals that you passed a test that even she didn't. This was actually to teach you a lesson as she won't give the Rising Badge to you even after you beat her, and has to be ordered by the master (her grandfather) to hand it over.
In the same game, Giovanni declares that he will not repeat the same mistake 3 years ago by losing to a child. You whip his ass and Giovanni utters that he can't believe he lost to another kid yet again and this can't be happening again. He then walks out of the cave and the player hears a water splash, which implies that Giovanni committed suicide, although his appearance in Black 2 and White 2 is debatable on whether or not he did kill himself.
In Red/Blue and the remakes of it, your rival will say this after he loses the final battle.
Ghetsis in Pokémon Black and Whiteloses his mind over this very trope. After N is beaten, foiling Ghetsis' plan that took years to plan and impliment, Ghetsis seems in denial over the fact the it happened. After he himself is beaten, he's left ranting about how he is "perfect" and it's impossible that his plan has failed.
Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom; After you've defeated Deimos he proclaims "No! No! No! This is impossible! I am destined to conquer, to rule! How can I have possibly been beaten by whelps like you?"
Chaos Shogun Kitsune, the fourth Chaos Lord, is confident that the hero will have no idea how to deal with illusion, trickery and lies. Naturally, in the final cutscene of the Yokai Island storyline, he receives a big shock when, while he's running around invisible leaving the hero trying to figure out how to defeat what he/she can't even see and rapidly swinging the Hanzamune Dragon Koi Blade around trying to hit him, the hero accidentally tears open a rift leading to the Yokai world in front of him. Unable to stop in time, Kitsune screams, "No! Not like this! It can't end like this! I won't go back to the Yokai world!", lets out a Big "NO!", and gets sucked into the rift, after which the hero closes it back up with the Hanzamune Blade, sealing Kitsune in the rift.
Also, during the cutscene after solving the mystery at the Sleuthhound Inn, the hero and Curry, the inn's manager, get a big shock when, after taking off the mask of the randomly-selected culprit they apprehended that was responsible for causing the furniture to come alive, they see that the culprit is none other than, in disguise... a magical armoire called the Harmoire.
Hero: But... how is this possible... you're an absolute closet case! Harmoire: That I am! I had to transform into a human in order to control the furniture with the magically infused weapon! Do you believe how hard it is to hold anything without opposable thumbs?! Now it's time for you to see the durability of an all-oak armoire!
Also, Spork-ion's text after defeating him in the Dragon Koi Tourmanent: "...How is this possible? No utensil is more powerful than the Spork! One of these days, I'll be sure to deliver your just desserts!"
Maximilian Lionfang is sure that he destroyed the Spirit of Frostval when he kicks the snow globe containing her out of the hero's hands. But, needless to say, he receives a huge shock when he hears her voice and realizes that she survived the breaking of the snow globe.
Lionfang:WHAT?!IMPOSSIBLE! I destroyed you!
Gravelyn, oddly enough, counts as well. She reacts with "Im... im... impossible!" when Noxus and Vordred take control of all of her undead soldiers.
And soon enough, it's Noxus' turn. He's quite the Magnificent Bastard who turned all of her undead minions to his side, took her throne, and enslaved her. Almost everything up to that point has gone according to his plans. Then Chuckles attacks him out of nowhere and frees her, which is something he didn't expect. He receives a big shock and states this trope because he controlled all of her undead but couldn't accept that Chuckles, of all undead, couldn't be controlled by him. And that's because Chuckles himself was created by Gravelyn, not Noxus.
Imagine Vordred's surprise when he realizes that Artix was right about the Spirit Orbs that were once enslaved and are now free not being able to be re-enslaved as the Spirit Orbs cause his armor of skulls to self-destruct within him and destroy the ShadowReaper of Doom. Better. Guess what word Vordred himself says...
NecromanticAnti-Villain Vayle counts as well. When she realizes that Artix recognizes her as the same Vayle he saved during their childhood, she gets a big surprise and reacts with such a phrase as "Impossible! This cannot be that little boy I met during the..."
Several villains are quite fond of using this trope when they're defeated, such as Vile in Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X when he is defeated by X in Sigma Stage 1 and he screams "Noooo... I can't lose to X...!" before exploding.
Also, Sigma's last words in Mega Man X8:
Sigma: (being defeated) Impossible! How... could you... You couldn't... Destroy... the old... world... new age... Hrrgh! NOOOOOOOOOOoooooooo!!! (then he blows up)
Justice sometimes screams "IMPOSSIBLE!" when defeated.
On one of I-No's Guilty Gear XX story routes, after defeating Dizzy, I-No talks about "preparing a special welcome" for her friends, the Jellyfish Pirates. Naturally, Dizzy, not about to allow her to hurt her friends, unleashes a massive attack on I-No much to her surprise, burning her to a cinder as she hopelessly attempts to cover herself from the huge attack.
I-No: (being obliterated by Dizzy's attack) What is this power?! My body... it's burning! Impossible! I'm I-No! I can't die! Someone! Please...hel...p...
I-No also mutters such a phrase after being bested by May.
I-No: How could I have lost... Lost! To a little kid!
BlazBlue has quite a few "cannot be" moments as well.
For example, whenever Bang Shishigami is hit, he sometimes screams "How can this be?!?!?!"
Also, in Noel's Gag Reel in Continuum Shift, Carl gets shocked when he sees Hazama eating the Kagutsuchi puffer fish simmered in peppers and spices as cooked by Lethal Chef Noel herself, which wiped out every other member of the Blaz Blue cast and left them puking in a mess so disgusting it had to be censored.
Carl: Im...possible! How can you possibly eat THAT?!
Hakumen counts as well, as he has this reaction when Jubei informs him of Terumi's return.
Speaking of Terumi...
"Honestly, though, I never figured YOU would turn out to be the proverbial squirrel in the ointment. Am I supposed to accept that this is another result of the continuum shift? I can't believe it's affecting the timeline like this..."
Surprise, this is Litchi's reaction when Platinum manages to break her spell, and again when Platinum obliterates her with her Star-Boobie Breaker attack. Both reactions come from Platinum's Gag Reel.
After you beat her in System Shock 2, SHODAN says a calmer, more elaborate version of such a quote:
I don't understand... how could you have done this? You weren't meant to be so important... and now you think to destroy me? How dare you, insect? How dare you interrupt my ascendance? You are nothing. A wretched bag of flesh... what are you, compared to my magnificence?
Iris Sepperin, a little girl who is so arrogant about her absolute power and unparalelled brains that she claims to have transcended humanity and have become a god, panics in a "This Cannot Be!" fashion when Spiritia destroys her Iris Machine.
Iris: Impossible! Where did all that energy come from!?
Then, after Tia defeats her in the final battle, she mutters, "To think I'd lose to a single mage fighting by herself..." She doesn't realize that Tia actually won with the love and support that her friends gave her, and that it was because Iris couldn't believe in others nor love her fellow man that she lost.
Also, when Grolla in her alternate mode confronts Iris in the final stage, Iris becomes shocked as she can't believe that Grolla is standing on such holy grounds. Her reaction? "...Impossible. There's no way a simple commoner can set foot here..." And, after Grolla kicks Iris' ass in the final battle, as she moves in to finish her once and for all, just before Iris self-destructs her palace and gets away and Grolla escapes as well...
Iris: No... this... can't be...! Grolla: Die. Iris: ...I won't let that happen!
Spiritia, oddly enough, counts as well. She says this when, after coming across Raimund Seyfarth's Devil Scythe Grassense, she realizes that Graf Michael Sepperin brought him Back from the Dead as The Grim Reaper.
Lilli: You're kidding, right? He's a ghost!? Spiritia: I can't believe it...! The Count is even using the forbidden arts!? Lilli: This is freaky...!
Anytime you defeat Eifer in her stage in Rosenkreuzstilette Freudenstachel, she mutters "Kuso... bakana...!" ("Damn... this can't be...!") before making her exit... for now.
Captain Vul's reaction when he finds out that Main Cannon #2 has been destroyed by a certain cute pink spud.
Axe Knight: Ahh! Main Cannon #2 was destroyed! Mace Knight: The cannon's a wreck! We can't use it! Captain Vul:What?! How could this be?
Interestingly, the above reaction was used in its remake, Kirby Super Star Ultra, as the reaction he used in the original game was said as "Holy cow! What happened?" It was a simple mistake that they corrected in the remake, which is supposed to be funny, to say the least.
And in Revenge of the King in the same game, Dedede reacts like this as well after Kirby defeats the Grand Wheelie in The Revenge stage.
King Dedede: Unthinkable! He beat that one too?! Bandanna Dee: Kirby is approaching here, your majesty! King Dedede: Cursed pink lump! I can't believe it! Bandanna Dee: Great King, pull yourself together!
Zero Wing: The Captain, when eloquently informed by CATS about the current status of all their base lets out a bewildered "What you say!!", however correct translation of the original Japanese line is "It can't be!"
In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, after pursuing Alduin into Sovngarde (IE: Valhalla) and landing the killer blow, he begins to thrash about in agony as he disintegrates, shouting "Zu'u unslaad! Zu'u nis oblaan!"Translation "I am eternal! I cannot be killed!"
Count Waltz in Eternal Sonata in the second battle against him, which only occurs in the PlayStation 3Updated Re-release. "I can't believe this. How could I lose? Impossible. I will not accept it. I will never accept defeat!"
Sniper Elite V2 Nazi Zombie Army: Surviving the siege after retrieving the BOOK OF SOULS from the library nets you "No! Impossible! This cannot be!" from whoever or whatever is in control of the Nazi Zombie Army.
This was the reaction of the Fae Princeling in Tales of the Questor when discovered to his horror that he called The Wild Hunt on Quentyn. In that world, it is specifically forbidden by Lord Oberon himself to do so on a Raccoonan and to make matters worse, Quentyn's Skunk Stripe means he's favored by the White Stag, and such people cannot be hunted either. So, the Princeling is in trouble with two offenses simultaneously.
As the page image shows, Cordelia screams this in Cucumber Quest when the first boss, Splashmaster, is defeated. The Nightmare Knight, having a better grasp of Splashmaster's... facilities, is unsurprised.
In No Need for Bushido, ninja leader Ayane is busy tying up Ina's father until she's distracted for like two seconds... And then she notices she's now the one who's tied up.
In The Legend of Korra, Amon has this when he sees Korra, whom he has just depowered, airbending. It's the first and only time in the series where he's completely helpless and without a plan. This is also the first time Korra has ever used airbending.
Of all the people who could have handed Vlad his head in "The Million Dollar Ghost", it is the Bumbling Dad Jack who does it, something that Vlad finds so vastly impossible due to his simpleminded personality (as opposed to Vlad's brilliance).
Vlad Plasmius: (post massive beatdown) This isn't possible! You're an idiot! An idiot! Jack Fenton: (smugly) Maybe so, but I'm the idiot who beat you.
For example, in the finale of Season 3 of the 2003 cartoon, Ch'rell, the Utrom Shredder, gets a big shock when the Utrom council finds him guilty for all the crimes he had committed across the galaxy in his many aliases, including but not limited to his Oroku Saki and Shredder aliases. He screams, "NO! I am the Shredder! I am invincible!" just before the Utroms give him the punishment of banishing him to his new home on the ice asteroid belt surrounding the frozen planet Mor Tal, where he does very little but let loose a Big "NO!" because he is not too thrilled to be trapped on his new home.
Sh'Okanabo, one of the main villains of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward, is another good example; for example he receives a big shock when, in the episode "The Freaks Come Out at Night...", his plan to take over Earth and cover it with his Kanabo drones backfires on him. All thanks to the Sun. And then he goes back to his spaceship and throws a temper tantrum complaining that all of his efforts have been in vain and saying that Earth could sustain his race for centuries if not for the accursed sun.
Sh'Okanabo: This is impossible! The Kanabo have thrived before on countless planets under countless suns!
In the episode "Timing is Everything", the Shredder gets a big shock when he sees for himself how much more skilled the Turtles have gotten since their first battle with him, as well as how powerful Sh'Okanabo is in overwhelming and sending his Foot Soldiers back to the Shredder's original time period.
Shredder: Impossible! You are not this powerful! Raphael: Dude, we put the ka-bosh on ya a long time ago. You're history! (he and Leonardo kick the Shredder back to his original time period)
The 1987 show had this when they defeated Krang in his giant robot body:
Krang: I am Krang, the all powerful! I have never been defeated!
In ˇMucha Lucha! The Return of El Malefico, El Malefico says this when the Three Mascaritas turned into giants and beat him up.
El Malefico: No! This cannot be! Rikochet: It is and you're going down.
Nox from Wakfu says this so often that it's practically his Catch Phrase. Made worse is that among other times, he always says it after someone breaks his time spell... which everyone he uses it on does.
Discord is absolutely stunned when he realizes (far too late) that not only have the Mane Cast broken free of his Mind Rape, but rekindled their friendship to the point they can activate the Elements Of Harmony again...which are presently aimed at his face.
Trixie declares "This can't be!" in "Magic Duel" after Twilight Sparkle seemingly wields greater power than her.
In Twilight's Kingdom Part 2, Tirek shouts this when he see Twilight and the Mane Six with their new Rainbow Power, unable to understand how they are empowered again after draining their magic.
The Ant and the Aardvark cartoon "Technology Phooey" has the Aardvark pushing a huge rock off a cliff towards the ant, who deflects it by simply blowing at it.
Aardvark: I'll say it in two words: Im. Possible!
Lampshaded in the first season finale of W.I.T.C.H., when Phobos is being defeated by the Guardians and Eleyon.
Phobos: This cannot be! Caleb: You know, they always say that.
In season 2, Phobos breaks out of his imprisonement even if much less powerful than in the season 1 finale. He then has to face Elyon in all of her immense power, who announces she's about to send him and his minions back to their cells.
The Wacky Races episode "See Saw To Arkansas" (the debut episode) has Dick Dastardly splutter "It can't be!" when Peter Perfect drives through and into the steel wall with the painted scenery Dastardly employed. Dastardly proceeds to get flattened by a bus coming out of the scenery.
As with the example in the Film folder above, a subdued version of this trope is what Obi-Wan Kenobi falls back on when some horrible realisation shows up to ruin his life again. This time, it's in response to seeing Darth Maul alive and well on Mandalore.