Alice and Bob
(and any number of others) are having a conversation. Suddenly, Chuck walks in and responds directly to something someone has said, even though he wasn't in the room to hear it.
This trope only applies if the following conditions are met:
- Chuck was not eavesdropping and/or had no way of overhearing the conversation prior to stepping in (this also covers such things as: conversations in an open area (unless Alice and Bob are genuinely alone); conversations broadcast on a loudspeaker or similar system; or Chuck being told of the conversation after the fact and resuming it much later);
- Chuck is clearly responding directly to what someone has said, for instance answering a question; it's not just a coincidental dialogue.
Sometimes the joke comes from the fact that they're responding only to the last line, for which they didn't hear the preceding context; this can overlap with Right Behind Me
This seems to be an inverted application of the Rule of Perception
: because the audience has heard what Alice and Bob were saying, so too did Chuck. The point is that Chuck had no way of hearing the conversation, yet he enters the room and joins the conversation like a LEGO brick.
Compare Speak of the Devil
. See also Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic
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Anime and Manga
- In Spaceballs, during the wedding at the end: When asked if she takes Prince Valium to be her husband, Princess Vespa hesitates, giving Lone Star plenty of time to enter the chapel and answer the question for her.
- Lampshaded in Muppet Treasure Island, whenever the landlady at the inn where Jim, Gonzo, and Rizzo work does this: "How does she do that?"
- In The American President, President Shepherd is in the Oval Office talking to his chief of staff about going over to his girlfriend Sidney's house and groveling until she takes him back (she'd walked out on him after he made a deal to kill a bill Sidney worked hard to get the votes to pass, in order to get the votes for another bill to pass). Suddenly, she opens the door and walks in, telling him to "stay off Dupont Circle when you do; the traffic is murder at this time of day". She couldn't have heard him, because the Oval Office is soundproof.
- In Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, this is one of the many things that make Gay Perry awesome.
Harry: [after a long diatribe about all the ways Hollywood girls are screwed-up] I mean, it's literally like someone took America by the East Coast and shook it, and all the normal girls managed to hang on.
Harmony: OK, everyone who hates Harry, raise your hand!
[All the women in the club raise their hands]
Perry: [entering] See that? Obedient little bitches too.
[A girl offscreen shouts "Fuck you!" and hurls her drink at his head; he ducks smoothly and keeps walking.]
- In the film of Scott Pilgrim, Scott's sister breaks into his conversation with a practically-passed-out Wallace Wells by cell phone to call him out on double-dating. When asked how she knew, she tells him Wallace told her. Pan down to Wallace, who appears to have completely passed out but has still somehow texted the information to her.
- A variation on Extreme Ghostbusters. During an episode where Eduardo is trying to bend the rules on a project, Kylie and Roland are arguing with him, with Garrett doing the chime-in:
Eduardo: ...cut a few corners...
Kylie: Yeah, and lie,
Garrett: Steal. What are we talking about?
- Batman does this all the time in Batman: The Animated Series —a villain will be monologuing, then Bats will crash in through the skylights and deliver a One-Liner in response. Except that for this one, we can assume Batman was eavesdropping.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, in "Gamma World, part 2", the Leader asks Thor who will stop him.
The Hulk crashes through the ceiling.
- There was a particularly egregious example from Teen Titans where Dr. Light is in the middle of a vast, empty snowfield talking to himself — the Titans drive up in the T-ship from miles and miles away, jump out, and Robin responds to what he was saying.
Dr. Light: And out here in the Arctic circle, no one can stop me!
*Titans zoom up*
Robin: Wanna bet?