Follow TV Tropes

Ominous Adversarial Amusement

Go To

It looks like one party has won, but then the other responds in an amused fashion indicating there's something the other doesn't know . . .

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
streetsahead500 on Mar 4th 2013 at 5:06:46 AM
Last Edited By:
TheGreatConversation on Jan 13th 2018 at 3:55:17 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

So the hero has stormed the Big Bad's lair, taken care of his Mooks, and disabled the Doomsday Device. Approaching the cowering villain, he raises his weapon of choice to deliver the Coup de Grâce... and the villain starts laughing. The hero will commonly ask, "What's so funny?", whereupon the full extent of his foe's nefarious scheme will be revealed.

Perhaps it is a case of I Am Not Left-Handed, or maybe the villain has some sort of Dead Man's Switch which will blow up the lair if he is killed. Often he will reveal that his death is just the beginning, or that his demise will not further the hero's cause for some other reason.

There are three common responses to such a moment. One is that the situation is totally reversed, and the hero is defeated (common when the villain has some weapon or ability he has been keeping secret). The second is that he has to prevent himself from dealing the finishing blow to deal with a new threat (maybe his Love Interest is caught in a Death Trap which will activate upon the death of the villain). In the third, he kills the villain anyway in the knowledge that the real battle is yet to start.

Frequently inverted in that it might be the hero who looks on the verge of defeat before revealing that it was All According to Plan, in which case a Big Damn Heroes moment is common.

Literal laughter is not actually necessary for it to be this trope, just any kind of expression dissonant with the situation at hand. Will often overlap with Laughing Mad, Evil Laugh, Xanatos Gambit, "The Reason You Suck" Speech. May immediately precede The Reveal.


Examples

Comic Strips

  • Luann: In the strips for January 8th and January 9th 2013, T.J. grins at Ann Eiffel before telling her that her incriminating admissions (which she thought she had erased) had been backed up elsewhere.

Film

  • The Princess Bride. Happens during the trope-naming scene for I Am Not Left-Handed.
    Inigo: I admit it: you are better than I am!
    Man in Black: Then why are you smiling?
    Inigo: Because I know something you don't know.
  • Predator. After Dutch incapacitates the title creature, it activates a device on its wrist and starts laughing at him. Dutch realizes the device is a Self-Destruct Mechanism and starts running...
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Early in the movie Indiana Jones confronts the villainous Lao Che. After Indy takes a drink, Lao Che makes a demand.
    Lao Che: And now, you give me the diamond.
    Indy: Are you trying to develop a sense of humor, or am I going deaf?
    Lao Che: [holds up a vial]
    Indy: What's that?
    Lao Che: Antidote.
    Indy: To what?
    Lao Che: [starts laughing] The poison you just drank, Dr. Jones.
  • In Captain America: Civil War, when Helmut Zemo is asked how it feels to fail so miserably, he smiles and asks, "Have I failed?". The implication is that the existence of the Accords and the rift between Iron Man and Captain America means Zemo has won.

Literature

  • In the second Jack Blank book, The Secret War, the heroes successfully stop Speedrazor and his cohorts from attacking a train. While they are discussing their distrust of the Secreteers, Speedrazor laughs uproariously but is spitefully knocked out before he can divulge anything. Later on, it is revealed after interrogating Speedrazor more than half the book later that they were sent to destroy the train by a Secreteer, Obscuro, who had undergone a Face–Heel Turn.

Live-Action TV

  • Played for Laughs in the first paintball episode of Community, where Chang opens his jacket to reveal a paint bomb after being tagged by Jeff.
  • Cheers: When it appears that Harry the Hat has conned Coach, Sam, Norm, Cliff, and another conman out of a bunch of money (including Coach's life savings) Coach has his head in his hands, shaking. Then it turns out that he's not crying, he's laughing. "Coach, what are you laughing at?" Coach responds "That!" and points to the back of the bar, where Harry reappears. He and Coach set up a con within a con within a con in order to con the other con artist out of his money.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, young Picard starts to laugh, seemingly without any reason, after a Nausicaan has stabbed his heart. Picard survives, but his heart has to be replaced by an artificial one. Many years later, this artificial heart brings Picard into a potentially lethal situation, and in what may or may not be limbo, Q offers Picard the bargain that he will live if he goes back in time (replacing his younger self) and prevents the situation that got him the artificial heart in the first place. Picard does just that, but discovers that this has steered his live into a completely different path—an unbearably boring one. After Picard has learned his lesson about not regretting your past choices, Q allows him to go back in time once again and restore the original timeline. And this time, Picard actually has a reason to laugh when he gets stabbed.

Video Games

  • Some Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney trials go this way. Prove something important and the prosecution will be smiling afterwards. It either means A) that you just screwed yourself over, B) that they already knew this and was toying with you or C) that they still have to reveal their best evidence.
  • Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped: In the cutscene you get after you step onto Neo Cortex's boss-stage button, Cortex and Uka Uka meet you in the warp hole, and Cortex . . . laughs. He says this was the part where he's supposed to be angry with you, but . . .
    Uka Uka: Now that you've gathered all the crystals, all we have to do . . . is take them from you!

Web Comics

  • Lampshaded in The Order of the Stick #810: Nale and Sabine have Durkon at their mercy, and Nale notices a smile on Durkon's face in spite of Nale's apparent victory. He fails miserably in an attempt to defy the trope by noting that since he knows what Durkon is up to, he is in a better position to counter it. Eventually it turns out that Durkon is expecting to meet Malack, a powerful cleric with a grudge against Nale, who promptly enters the scene and almost kills Nale in the ensuing fight.

Western Animation

  • In Invader Zim, when Zim breaks up with Tak, she starts laughing uproariously before she reveals her Irken appearance.


Feedback: 27 replies

Mar 4th 2013 at 6:09:02 AM

Working title sounds like a Stock Phrase, and we don't do them anymore (stock phrase pages and titles that sound like stock phrases). Inexplicably Amused, perhaps?

Mar 4th 2013 at 6:15:19 AM

Yeah that's what I thought. Your idea is better but I'm trying to think of something which captures the essence of the trope in a snappy way. I'll put it in for now.

Mar 4th 2013 at 6:56:38 AM

  • In the second Jack Blank book, The Secret War, the heroes successfully stop Speedrazor and his cohorts from attacking a train. While they are discussing their distrust of the Secreteers, Speedrazor laughs uproariously but is spitefully knocked out before he can divulge anything. Later on, it is revealed after interrogating Speedrazor more than half the book later that they were sent to destroy the train by a Secreteer, Obscuro, who had undergone a Heel Face Turn.

Mar 4th 2013 at 8:14:52 AM

  • Order Of The Stick #810: Nale and Sabine have Durkon at their mercy, and Nale notices a smile on Durkon's face in spite of Nale's apparent victory. It turns out that Durkon is expecting to meet Malack, a powerful cleric with a grudge against Nale, who promptly enters the scene and almost kills Nale in the ensuing fight.

Mar 4th 2013 at 1:54:05 PM

Cheers: When it appears that Harry the Hat has conned Coach, Sam, Norm, Cliff, and another conman out of a bunch of money (including Coach's life savings) Coach has his head in his hands, shaking. Then it turns out that he's not crying, he's laughing. "Coach, what are you laughing at?" Coach responds "That!" and points to the back of the bar, where Harry reappears. He and Coach set up a con within a con within a con in order to con the other con artist out of his money.

Mar 4th 2013 at 6:36:09 PM

Thanks guys, I've tagged this as Up For Grabs now so edit to your heart's content.

Mar 4th 2013 at 10:20:11 PM

Happens during the duel in The Princess Bride.

Inigo: I admit it: you are better than I am!
Man in Black: Then why are you smiling?
Inigo: Because I know something you don't know.

Mar 5th 2013 at 3:56:49 AM

Cool - do you think 'I know something you don't' could be a better name for this trope? (although it might be too close to 'I Am Not Left Handed' given that Inigo says this literally a line later).

Mar 5th 2013 at 4:39:28 AM

I Know Something You Dont would be a "sounds like a line of dialogue" title and thus violate No New Stock Phrases.

Comic Strips

  • Luann. In the strips for January 8th and January 9th 2013, T.J. grins at Ann Eiffel before telling her that her incriminating admissions (which she thought she had erased) had been backed up elsewhere.

Film

  • Predator. After Dutch incapacitates the title creature it activates a device on its wrist and starts laughing at him. Dutch realizes the device is a Self Destruct Mechanism and starts running...
  • Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom. Early in the movie Indiana Jones confronts the villainous Lao Che. After Indy takes a drink Lao Che makes a demand.
Lao Che: And now, you give me the diamond.
Indy: Are you trying to develop a sense of humor, or am I going deaf?
Lao Che: [holds up a vial]
Indy: What's that?
Lao Che: Antidote.
Indy: To what?
Lao Che: [starts laughing] The poison you just drank, Dr. Jones.

Mar 5th 2013 at 11:16:49 AM

Some Phoenix Wright trials go this way. Prove something important and the prosecution will be smiling afterwards. It either means A) that you just screwed yourself over, B) that they already knew this and was toying with you or C) that they still have to reveal their best evidence.

Mar 5th 2013 at 2:35:06 PM

In Invader Zim, when Zim breaks up with Tak, she starts laughing uproarously before she reveals her Irken appearance.

Mar 5th 2013 at 6:57:39 PM

  • In Star Trek The Next Generation, young Picard has to laugh, seemingly without any reason, after a Nausicaan has stabbed his heart. Picard survives, but his heart has to be replaced by an artificial one. Many years later, this artificial heart brings Picard into a potentially lethal situation, and in what may or may not be limbo, Q offers Picard the bargain that he will live if he goes back in time (replacing his younger self) and prevents the situation that got him the artificial heart in the first place. Picard does just that, but discovers that this has steered his live into a completely different path - an unbearable boring path. After Picard has learned his lesson about not regretting your past choices, Q allows him to go back in time once again and restore the original timeline. And this time, Picard actually has a reason to laugh when he gets stabbed...

Mar 6th 2013 at 7:02:06 AM

Added - any ideas to improve the title/description?

Mar 21st 2015 at 10:40:08 PM

  • Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped: In the cutscene you get after you step onto Neo Cortex's boss stage button, Cortex and Uka Uka meets you in the warp hole and Cortex... laughs. He even lampshades it; he said that that was the part where he's supposed to be angry over how Crash has defeated his henchmen and got all the Plot Coupons. And then Uka Uka just says:
    "Now that you've gathered all the crystals, all we have to do... is take them from you!"

BTW does this count cases where the villain doesn't hide anything at all - just totally inexplicably amused (as opposed to seemingly inexplicably amused as in most of the examples)?

Mar 22nd 2015 at 1:49:57 AM

  • Examples section

May 6th 2016 at 9:52:25 PM

Bump, would somebody grab this?

May 8th 2016 at 5:09:26 AM

Spoilers ahead for Die Hard: Does this scene count, where the hero starts laughing to distract the baddies before pulling a I Surrender Suckers?

Jan 12th 2018 at 1:43:59 AM

  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe both plays this trope straight and subverts it at the same time. In Captain America Civil War , when Helmut Zemo is asked what it feels to fail so miserably, he smiles and asks "have I failed?". The implication is that the existance of the Accords and the rift between Iron Man and Captain America means Zemo won. The subversion comes because Thanos' arrival in Avengers Infinity War makes Zemo's "victory" moot. In the end, Zemo was just another pawn of Thanos, who is the one truly victorious once he collects all six Infinity Stones, activating the Infinity Gauntlet.

Jan 12th 2018 at 8:50:14 AM

Needs a better title because, well, the character's amusement is quite explicable. And doesn't touch on any of th of the meaning behind said amusement.

Jan 12th 2018 at 10:09:03 AM

Some title suggestions:

  • Dissonant Amusement
  • Dissonant Villain Amusement
  • Abrupt Adversarial Amusement
  • Abrupt Antagonist Amusement
  • Abruptly Amused Adversary
  • Abruptly Amused Antagonist
  • Adverse Amusement
  • Adversarial Amusement
  • Ominous Villain Amusement
  • Ominous Evil Amusement
  • Ominously Amused Adversary
  • Dissonant Dastardly Delight
  • Dire Dastardly Delight
  • Suddenly Amused Adversary
  • Ominous Mirth
  • Sudden and Ominous Mirth
  • Unwarranted Amusement Reveal
  • Ominous Amusement Reveal
  • Amused Adversary Reveal
  • Adversarial Amusement Reveal
  • Antagonistic Amusement Reveal

Jan 12th 2018 at 10:13:56 AM

I'd love to launch this once we've got a name.

Jan 12th 2018 at 12:39:21 PM

"Ominous Villain Amusement" sounds good.

Jan 12th 2018 at 12:56:58 PM

I think it might be better to pick one that doesn't specifically denote villainy—see the former Trope Namer, where the Ominously Amused party wasn't a villain, just an adversary.

What about "Ominous Adversarial Amusement"?

Top