The character stumbles upon a seemingly normal animal/inanimate object. Turning away from it, they hear a voice addressing them. Confused, they look around to see no one but the animal/object. When they finally realize it was the animal/object that spoke they freak out and exclaim their disbelief whilst stating the obvious
Often coupled with: "Why didn't you say anything before?", which often gets a reply of "You Didn't Ask
" or "I didn't have anything to say before".
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Anime & Manga
- Bleach: Uryu is asking Orihime who their master will be. Orihime says that the master was standing there the whole time. Yoruichi speaks up to tell Uryu that it is "he" who will be training them. Uryu predictably freaks out at the notion of a talking cat. After regaining his composure over the issue, Uryu calmly states he can't believe that there is such a thing as a talking cat. Later, when Yoruichi reveals her true, human form to Ichigo, she plays with this trope by telling him it was silly of him to believe that a cat could talk.
- It doesn't help that one of the captains is an anthropomorphic wolf.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S Erio and Caro had this reaction when Zafira spoke. This is a It Was His Sled moment for the audience, who knew he could do so, but he had never spoken in front of them before, and he was spending all his time in his wolf form.
- This happens between Captain Shiki and Dr. Indigo in the One Piece movie Strong World. Dr. Indigo tries to explain something to Shiki through charades or mime or something. When Shiki doesn't get it, Indigo just comes out and says it, and Shiki gives the reaction with much surprise. This happens more than once.
- Rob Lucci. He didn't talk for years, instead making it seem like his pigeon is talking instead. Why? No particular reason.
- Japan from Axis Powers Hetalia has this reaction after his cat Tama praises the tuna he's eating out loud. However, the strip ends after that, so we never see what comes from it.
- In Alan Moore's Skizz from 2000 AD, the characters contrive a plan to break Skizz (an extra-terrestrial who crash-landed and stranded himself on Earth) out of an RAF airbase in Birmingham, not knowing that he has been taught English by his captors. When Loz discovers this, he has the following to say:
Loz: You can talk! Well I'll be! We've had our budgie for seven years and all it can do is whistle.
- Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire
- Played for Laughs (well, as a joke, anyway) in Transmetropolitan: for Spider Jerusalem's first interview with presidential nominee Gary "The Smiler" Callahan, it's his sycophantic campaign manager who actually answers most of the questions, while Callahan just sits there, immobile... smiling. When Spider finally gets fed up and forces the issue, there's a long silence before Callahan extends his hand and re-introduces himself, prompting a reaction of mock horror.
- At the beginning of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol run, Larry Trainor's Negative Spirit suddenly begins speaking after twenty-plus years. When queried on this, he responds that he "had nothing to say." Things quickly get weirder from there...
- HP Lovecraft is quite, er, surprised to discover that Atomic Robo (whom he has mistaken for an armored pygmy) can speak.
Lovecraft: Ah! Look, it's attempting to communicate. No doubt the savage thing knows the language like a housepet knows its reflection in the mirror. The sense is taken in, but the process, the meaning, is lost forever.
Robo: Yer razzin' me.
Lovecraft: See how it cobbles together a string of sounds not unlike words? Take. Us. To. Magic. Thunder. Man.
Lovecraft: Oh, back to its native grunts. I say, the poor beast is devolving before our eyes, Charles.
- In one printed Garfield story, Garfield and the other animals sense a huge storm approaching that will destroy the town. Garfield convinces the other animals that they need to warn their human families about this and that this is reason enough to reveal that they can talk. Jon and the other pet owners all react this way when their pets suddenly start talking to them, which nearly distracts them from the huge storm their pets are trying to warn them about in the first place.
- Kicked off a week-long Out-of-Genre Experience (turned out to be a nightmare the father was having) in Marvin:
Films — Animation
- Tom and Jerry The Movie: The eponymous cat and mouse do this to each other once they both reveal they can talk.
- Shrek. Fiona's reaction to meeting Donkey for the first time:
- There is also the knight Donkey's owner tries selling him to, who isn't convinced that Donkey can talk because Donkey stays mute. Then he ends up levitating when some pixie dust gets on him in a scuffle, he exclaims "I can fly!" and the knights are shocked.
- The Princess and the Frog
- Tiana reacts this way to the transformed Prince Naveen. Later, she reacts the same way when she heard the dog speak to her.
- She later freaks out some frog-hunters by announcing, "And we talk too."
- Played with in Hoodwinked: Red Puckett comes across Japeth, a mountain goat who is rocking on the porch of his mine shack, strumming on a banjo, and yodeling:
Red Puckett: Hello. I'm looking for Granny Puckett's house?
Japeth: [singing] Graaaaaaaanneeee Puckeeeet...
Red Puckett: Could you stop singing for one moment?
Japeth: [singing] No I can't, I wish I could, but a mountain witch done put a spell on me, 37 years agoooooooo, and now I gotta sing every thing I saaaaaaaaayyyyyy...
Red Puckett: [dryly] Everything?
Japeth: [speaking] That's right.
Red Puckett: You just talked! Just now!
Japeth: Oh, did I? [singing] Did I? Dididididodadidididoooo... [Red glares at the camera, exasperated]
- Up: The reaction of Carl and Russell when they first meet Dug. "Did that dog just say 'hi there'?"
- Monsters vs. Aliens: This is Susan's second reaction when Dr. Cockroach introduces himself. Her first reaction is to yell "EWW!" and swat him with her spoon.
- The Sword in the Stone:
Wart: Oh, what a perfect stuffed owl
Archimedes: Stuffed!? (huffs indignantly) I beg your pardon?
Wart: He's alive, and he talks!
Archimedes: And certainly a great deal better than you do!
- In Tarzan, Jane says this after Tarzan repeats her line "Very nice", the first words he says in human.
- In Toy Story, discovering that Woody can talk causes Sid to freak out.
- In Disney's Pinocchio, how the Coachman tortures the Donkey Boys after they've transformed actually depends on whether or not they've all lost their ability to speak: those that cannot talk anymore are all sent to either the salt mines or the circus, while those that still do are all forced to stay behind at Pleasure Island where they are locked in a pen. At least the salt mines/circus would have been a kinder fate for them.
Films — Live-Action
- The Cat in the Hat Movie: The kids do this when they discover their fish is talking.
Boy: The fish is talking.
Cat: But is he saying anything?
- Can Of Worms: In this Disney Channel Original Movie, the protagonist reacts to a talking alien dog this way.
- Dr. Dolittle. Of course it wasn't just one animal, it was all the animals, which didn't really help matters.
- Cats & Dogs: Lou's human family has been captured by Mr. Tinkles, and are quite surprised when he starts talking, and immediately invokes this trope. The young son thinks the talking cat is very cool and starts asking the kitty criminal if he is a mutant "'cause I read in this comic book once..." Tinkles mockingly replies, "Ohh I read this in a comic book. YOU MAKE ME SICK!"
- In Rush Hour there is a slight variation. When Lee, out of nowhere, starts speaking English, Carter is shocked. Lee tells him it's his own fault for assuming he was a stupid foreigner who couldn't speak the language.
- In Planet of the Apes, Taylor's "Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!" were the first words the apes had ever heard a human say. The apes don't actually say "He can talk!", but their reaction to it is obvious.
- Subverted in Disney's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when Mr. Beaver first speaks. Peter, Susan, and Emund are shocked to hear an animal speak, while Lucy simply giggles.
- The Cat From Outer Space, when Jake (the cat) first reveals his telepathy:
You? That's you? Jake: Well, it isn't the mouse. Frank:
But your lips aren't moving! You're not... speaking. Jake:
Thought transference. Nothing exceptional where I come from.
- From Kangaroo Jack: "You can talk?" "Yep. But more importantly, I can rap." But it turns out Jerry O'Connell had just been knocked unconscious and the kangaroo was just a kangaroo.
- Little Nicky: With Mr. Beefy, a demonic bulldog pretending to be Nicky's pet.
Todd: What's Nicky doing down there?
Todd: Did you just talk?
- A Tear Jerker example in The Elephant Man. Frederick encourages John to repeat a few simple phrases, including the beginning of the 23rd Psalm, so Inspector Gomm will think his case is worth following up on. When Frederick and the inspector leave the room, the inspector's opinion is that John is parroting back stuff by rote and has no mentality to speak of. Cue John reciting the rest of the psalm from his room.
Frederick. Tell me, John, how did you know the rest of the 23rd Psalm?
John. I used to read the Bible every day. I know it very well. The Bible, and the Book of Common Prayer. The 23rd Psalm is very beautiful. It's my favorite.
Frederick. ...Why didn't you tell me you could read?
John. You did not ask me.... I was afraid to say too much. People always want me to be quiet, You wanted me to speak, but I was afraid. Forgive me.
- Hocus Pocus: Quoted word for word by Max when an immortal cat, Thackery Binx, jumps on his chest after he slips on some water.
Max: *eyes widen* You can talk.
- There was a joke about a kid that refuses to say a first word, then asks for the salt at the table one day. When the parents are surprised he comments that it is the first time the table wasn't set properly and so there was no need to say anything.
- A variant of that joke has the son of university professors who is seemingly retarded, the parents start spelling out things like "intellectually inferior" because they don't want him to know what they're saying, and he says "You left out an 'l'". This may be Truth in Television.
- The old joke about a British couple who adopt a German baby, who does not talk. After several tests they find nothing wrong with the baby, but when he is five he is served apple strudel, and German child says: "This apple strudel is tepid." The parents ask the child why he had not said anything after all this time and the child says: "Up until now everything had been satisfactory."
- There's a joke about a frog asking a girl to kiss him and turn him into a prince. The girl grabs the frog instead, because "men come and go, but a talking frog is worth something!"
- A Gender Flip involves a male engineer-type-person finding a frog-ified woman, with a similar reaction: "I don't have time for a girlfriend. But a talking frog, now that's cool!"
- The following joke, also seen in the page image:
Two muffins are sitting in the oven. The first one says, "Gee, it sure is hot in here." The second one goes, "Eek! A talking muffin!"
- A related joke:
A man is riding his horse down a road when he meets a rabbit. The rabbit tells him, "Good morning!" and bounds away. The man says to himself, "I didn't know rabbits could talk." "Neither did I," says the horse.
- A man knocks on the door of a farmhouse. He tells the farmer "Listen, I was driving past your farm when my car broke down. I got out to fix it and I heard a voice say 'It's the carburetor!' I turned, and all I saw was this brown horse." The farmer says "Well, don't you listen to him! He don't know nothin' 'bout cars!"
- There's a classic Shaggy Dog Story that uses this as an Anti-Humor punchline. In short, two talking racehorses are good friends. The faster of the two keeps promising the slower one that he'll let him win a race, then he keeps breaking that promise. After several such betrayals, the slower horse decides he's had enough and he yells at the faster horse for being a jerk. A nearby dog chimes in to agree with the slow horse. Both horses look at the dog in astonishment. "Wow! A talking dog!"
- A West African folktale has a farmer harvesting yams with a digging stick, until one of the yams shouts "Man, put down that stick!" The farmer drops the stick, which says "Put me down gently!" He tells his brother, a fisherman, who laughs at him until his fish-trap says "What are you laughing at him for?" And on and on, until the farmer and four or five other people bring their amazing experiences to the king. The king says they've obviously been out in the sun too long. As they leave, the king mutters "that kind of nonsense upsets the whole community." His chair speaks up, "Fantastic, isn't it? Imagine, a talking yam!"
- There is a story of a businessman seeing a sign that says "For Sale: Talking dog. $25". Curious he visits the farm and finds out that the dog really can talk and it tells him about his adventures spying on the germans, rescuing orphans etc. The businessman asks the farmer why he's selling him so cheap and the farmer says "Because he's a liar. He never did any of that shit"
- Eragon — When Solebum the Were Cat speaks to Eragon telepathically the first time. Eragon utters: "You said that!" followed by the reply: "Who else?"
- In Eldest, Roran does this with Saphira as well.Even though shedoesn't speak to him directly, Roran exclaimes "she speaks!" when Eragon repeats her words to him for the first time.
- Terry Pratchett loves playing with this one.
- In Moving Pictures Victor feels self-conscious about the trope, and rehearses to himself several different ways of saying it, all of which seem equally daft.
Gaspode: I expect you're wondering how come I can talk?
Victor: Hadn't given it a thought.
- Malicia's reaction to the talking rats in The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. Oddly, not her reaction to the talking cat, since that fits better with her idea of how stories go.
- In The Wee Free Men, the toad's reply is "You've only got my word for it. You can't prove anything." No surprise here, he's a polymorphed human lawyer.
- It's kind of a joke in Discworld that people always have this reaction to Gaspode, despite living in a setting where such a thing is hardly implausible. It's explained in the books that adults have ideas about what "must" be real and what must not be, so their minds edit out a lot of what comes through their senses.
- Averted by Brutha's reaction to the Great God Om in the form of a telepathic tortoise. At first he assumes Om must be a demon, but later decides he may just be a normal tortoise because no self-respecting demon would take a form like that.
Om: How many talking tortoises have you met?
Brutha: Well, they might all talk. They just might not say anything when I'm there.
- Subverted in Sourcery where Rincewind meets what appears to be a very well-spoken snake, but is too embarrassed to mention it. Eventually, when the snake asks to come with him, he refers to it as a snake, only for the person sitting obscured in the darkness near the snake to stand up, offended at the description.
- Rincewind comes up against the trope again in The Last Continent. He thinks it's a bit odd that there are talking sheep in the pub. He doesn't want to bring it up with the bartender because there's a certain logical disconnect in asking a talking crocodile if he thinks it's odd.
- Oz series:
- When Dorothy meets the Scarecrow in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, she has this reaction.
- This happens again in a later novel to Toto. All animals can talk in Oz, Toto just doesn't like doing it.
- Human example: In Pamela Jekel's Kipling pastiche The Third Jungle Book, there's a scene where the teenage Wild Child Mowgli is being held captive by a group of elephant traders. Although by this time he has learned human speech, he decides to keep quiet in their presence so he can eavesdrop on them without their knowing he can understand. He only breaks his silence when a rogue elephant breaks free and he tells its young handler to run for his life, much to the boy's astonishment.
- The Dresden Files: In Changes, after being turned into a dog by the "crazy death Sidhe lady", Harry is shocked to discover that his Evil-Detecting Dog can talk.
Mouse: That bitch.
Harry: (after being turned back into a human) You can talk. How come I never hear you talk?
Lea: Because you don't know how to listen.
- The protagonist in Randolph Stow's Midnite reacts this way when his cat reveals he can talk. The cat didn't feel the need to talk before, but figured the man could use a friend after the recent death of his father.
- In his take on Peter and the Wolf, "Weird Al" Yankovic has Peter go "Wow! A talking bird!" when the bird appears.
- Frank Zappa's "Stink-Foot" has this, with a dog and his owner having a short philosophical conversation before the owner exclaims, "You can't say that." Mind you, the owner and the dog had already been talking for a short while before this.
- In Arsenic and Old Lace, Mortimer initially mistakes his long-missing and heavily surgically-altered brother for a particularly grotesque statue, so one can imagine his shock when it addresses him by name.
- Girl Genius, written by the same person as Buck Godot, often has this trope pop up with Krosp, Emperor of all Cats. Half the time it's subverted by people not caring, due to living in a world with much, much weirder things than a talking cat.
- In The Order of the Stick, Vaarsuvius knew that his familiar Blackwing could speak Common, but thought that Blackwing wouldn't because it was demeaning. Turns out, that was only partly true. Blackwing considered speaking in Common to Vaarsuvius to be demeaning.
- In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja he says this to Yoshi. According to the alt text he responds with, "And I can SING!"
- Despite having the ability removed (in favor of a spring, no less.) Various characters in Bob and George have this reaction whenever Rush speaks.
- These are Elisa's first words to Goliath in Gargoyles after she falls off the Eyrie Building. Once talking's been established, she corrects herself mid-sentence.
Elisa: You can talk? What—Who are you?"
- In Young Justice (another Weisman production), when Aqualad, Robin, and Kid Flash discover and free Superboy, Kid Flash blurts out "He can talk?", to Superboy... who doesn't take it so smoothly.
He can talk? Superboy:
can. Kid Flash:
Hey it's not like I said "it"
- Series Creator Greg Weisman likes to reference his work from time to time, as it's even reiterated in the non-canonical The Spectacular Spider Man/Gargoyles crossover, this time the ol' Webhead throws the jab at Goliath, and takes offence at his reading habits. Hilarity Ensues.
Goliath: The Bugle was right about you: you are a threat and a menace!
Spidey: Wait, you can talk? And read?! And what you read is the Jolly One's editorials?!
- Nibbler has this happen quite a few times.
Fry: (nods in agreement until he realizes) Gaah! D-D-Did you just talk?
Nibbler: Indeed. And I have other amazing powers as well.
Fry: Like what?
(Nibbler knocks Fry unconscious and drags him away)
- Inverted in the third movie, where Nibbler holds an entire conversation with the main cast before realizing this time they weren't in utter shock about his ability to talk. They point out that the last time he talked (in the first movie), he forgot to wipe their memories. Nibbler then becomes understandably frustrated that no one bothered to tell him this, since he'd been acting like a housepet ever since and did a lot of embarrassing things while they knew he was sentient.
- Family Guy: Peter reacted to Brian this way once, after Brian had lived with (and spoken with) Peter for years.
Brian: "[My therapist] thinks I'm in love."
Peter: "Oh my god! You can talk!"
Brian: "...Never mind."
- Played with in the Veggie Tales story "Larry-Boy and the Rumor Weed":
- In The Fluppy Dogs Pilot Movie, Tipi is talking with the girl who discovers her true nature and can only annoyingly repeat the stock phrase in astonishment to which Tipi responds "I wish you wouldn't be saying that, I've been talking ever since I was three."
- On an episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983), Prince Adam introduced a young boy to Cringer, who of course ran and hid. The boy said "Hi, kitty-cat!" Cringer responded with "I'm not a Kitty! My name's Cringer and you scared me!" The boy says "Wow! You can talk!" Cringer says, "Doesn't everybody?"
- In the original My Little Pony cartoon, when Firefly asks Megan (who is used to real horses) for help, the first thing out of her mouth is "Talking pony!"
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Fluttershy has a massive fear of adult dragons and avoids them whenever possible. However, she becomes immediately fascinated upon meeting Spike, a baby dragon (since he's far too small to eat her), and learns from their encounter that dragons can talk.
- The Planet of the Apes example above is Parodied on The Simpsons, in the episode "A Fish Called Selma", with Troy McClure's "Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off!":
Ape: Help, the human is about to escape!
Troy McClure: Get your paws off me, you dirty ape!
Ape: *Gasp* He can talk!
Group of Apes: He can talk! He can talk! He can talk! He can talk! He can talk! He can talk!
Troy McClure: I can siiiiiinngggg!
- In the pilot for Teacher's Pet, the main character is initially surprised that his dog can talk and masquerades as a student, but then asks how long he was able to do so and asks is his pet cat and bird can do the same thing.
- Played for Laughs in an episode of Megas XLR
Jamie: You mean, that thing can talk?
Space Rhino: (points at Jamie) You mean, that thing can talk?
- In several episodes of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, everyone reacted in surprise when normally quiet-spoken little Velma uttered "Jinkies!"
- In SpongeBob SquarePants, everyone but SpongeBob is amazed when his "Bubble Buddy" turns out to be alive and capable of speech. The episode ends with Squidward looking at a random bubble and giving it a tentative greeting.
- In a Whole Episode Flashback of The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, when June gains her powers for the first time.
June: You can talk!?
Monroe: You can hear me!?
- In one episode of Teen Titans, the Titans find themselves chasing a green alien dog, mistaking it for their friend Beast Boy. When it starts talking, they are as gobsmacked as they were when it licked Raven's face with a prehensile tentacle-tongue and then flowed through a closed grate like some kind of Blob Monster. Raven in particular angrily asks why it didn't tell them they had the wrong green dog before, but is rebuked with the fact that the alien found their efforts to catch him too entertaining.
- This happens in X-Men: Evolution when Hank is mistaken for Bigfoot and captured. It's particularly funny because Hank is known for his eloquence and habit of quoting Shakespeare.