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All Part of the Show

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"Music heads are still buzzing over that legendary underground show two years ago. Anyone lucky enough to catch DJ Octavio's opening set and the Squid Sisters headlining had their minds blown and their lives changed that night."
Sunken Scroll 2 describing the Final Boss of the first Splatoon, Splatoon 2

An audience is awaiting the next performance inside a theater or at a public event, when suddenly, all hell breaks loose. The performers are all viciously gunned down by an unidentified shooter, hostile alien invaders begin to land on platforms, a portal to an alternate dimension takes form, a clan of demon ninjas attack, evil ghost pirates begin pillaging left and right, buses filled with nuns crash onto the stage, the four horsemen arrive to herald the dawn of apocalypse, Billy Mays rises from the dead to advertise Mighty Putty... at the same time...

The reaction of the audience at the sight of the havoc, mayhem and destruction: "Wow, what a great show!"

All Part of the Show is the frequent tendency for people at a showing to credit the bizarre, supernatural occurrences or peculiar statements and actions of certain performers that take place to a very creative Special Effects coordinator, cast or both.

Can be great for keeping the people hilariously ignorant toward the supernatural happenings and beings that exist around them, but naturally, it can also be very disadvantageous to the characters trying to convince them otherwise. It can also sometimes suggest the Viewers Are Morons. Often forms part of a Concert Climax. This can even happen if the real-world events interrupt a filmed product, such as by Tearing Through the Movie Screen — the audience will simply assume it's really convincing 3-D effects.

Alternately, someone may try to invoke this trope as a cover story by claiming "We Were Rehearsing a Play."

When an "All Part of the Show" moment actually is all part of the show, then it becomes You Just Ruined the Shot. When a character is trying to appear part of the show by attempting to act out a real part in it, it's Pushed in Front of the Audience. When bad guys create the show specifically to cover their criminal activities, it's Film Felons. Similar to Some Nutty Publicity Stunt, but in that case the event is spontaneous and not part of a specific performance or event.

Compare Fatal Method Acting, The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You, and This Is Not a Drill.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Amagi Brilliant Park episode 7, the park employees are putting on a pirate skit when a real pirate ship appears through a portal. The pirates attack and damage the park with their cannonballs. Throughout the ordeal, the guests think this is part of the performance, and when the pirates take everyone prisoner and put them in shackles, declaring they will keep some as slaves and sell the rest, the guests happily go along with it, thinking it is Audience Participation. When the pirates are defeated, the guests say that was so fun and they should do it again soon.
  • Beastars: after having a heated argument behind the scenes, Legoshi outright attacks Bill during the second-night performance by the drama club, rather than the staged fight they were supposed to have, and it devolves into a brutal brawl with both of them getting bloodied and bruised, to the shock of the audience. Louis intervenes to help Legoshi almost at the last minute and plays it off as being a bit of improv afterwards so that everyone can save face, quietly advising Legoshi to keep facing the audience so that they won't see the deep, bleeding scratches that Bill made on his back.
  • Happens more than once in Beelzebub. After all, who would believe that there are actual demons running around?
  • The 11th episode of Burst Angel has Jo acting as guard for a show featuring a Kamen Rider Captain Ersatz. The villain turns into an actual monster and bursts out of his suit, and Jo fights him, while kids complain that the monster's transformation was different from that in the preview and wonder if Jo is part of a new plot.
  • In Case Closed, the Murderer of the Week kills an actress by discreetly poisoning a glass of water that she had to drink while rehearsing a scene for a play. The victim drops dead at the perfect time during her character's death scene, and everyone else just praises her acting. Only when the other on-stage actor decides to check on her well-being do they notice what happened.
  • The final episode of Cat's Eye revolves around a play about a female thief, with a famous actress portraying the victim. The sisters use the play as an opportunity to drug the actress and replace her valuable diamond with a fake, which goes completely unnoticed because of the show's subject matter. The cops only realize a robbery has occurred after the play is over and the girls have made off with the diamond.
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun:
    • In the Arts and Sciences City side story, Mikoto helps defend Liberal Arts City from attacking magicians, but the people assume that a movie is being filmed. Beverly Seethrough, an actual director, quickly realizes this is real and helps out.
    • During the Ichihanaran Festival arc in A Certain Magical Index, most bystanders simply assume that the giant robotic-looking beetles and the various oddly-dressed magicians running around are part of it, which is generally a safe assumption. People catch on very rapidly whenever someone is visibly in danger.
  • In Code:Breaker, after nearly 100 chapters trying to hide the Masquerade of people with special powers to the students at the school as well as they could, there is a fight between people with powers right at the school, which is explained away as being for a movie they're shooting. The students even go "Is that CGI?" (which kinda makes you wonder if the average Japanese knows that CGI stands for "computer-generated imagery"). At least the masquerade is uncovered before Fridge Logic sets in in-universe.
  • In Deadman Wonderland, it's revealed that civilians think that all the "games" are just sports with fancy special effects instead of live-action executions. But they don't really care even if people are dying.
  • In the second season of Digimon, when rogue Digimon attack a rock concert, the stage crew initially assume it's part of the show.
  • In Dirty Pair OVA episode 2, a rogue combat robot begins launching missiles during a Halloween fireworks display in Elenore City Park, and the audience mistakes the missile explosions for fireworks (as do the pyrotechnicians themselves: "Whoa, when did we send up that really big one?") Kei and Yuri borrow some of the rockets and use them to kill the robot — earning even more applause from the crowd in the park below.
  • In the Battle of Fairy Tail arc in Fairy Tail, Laxus and his minions hold several girls hostage to force the Fairy Tail team to chase them through the town and fight amongst themselves. The townspeople assume that it's just part of the festival that's going on.
  • In Generator Gawl, Gawl ends up performing superheroic feats on stage while fighting another Generator, all to the amusement of the Power Rangers-esque actors and the audience.
  • Inuyasha: During a school play, Inuyasha suddenly appears onstage while not understanding that it's play, forcing actors Kagome and Hojo to ad-lib wildly to keep things from falling apart in all directions. Hojo challenges Inuyasha to a duel, and Inuyasha accepts and draws his giant magical sword - but before they can fight, a watermelon demon also crashes the play. Inuyasha blows up the watermelon demon, then super-jumps out of the resulting hole in the ceiling while carrying Kagome. The audience thinks it's the best special effects they've ever seen in a high school play.
  • Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch has two of the four of the Quirky Miniboss Squad crash a The Little Mermaid play the heroines were taking part in. They manage to make it part of the show and repel them off, but the rest of the play had to be ad-libbed because of this.
  • Played with in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid when they put on a performance of The Little Match Girl as a Christmas play that goes Off the Rails and involves Magical Girl battles. Everything is part of the show, but the audience thinks that the blatant displays of dragon magic is just accomplished by fancy special effects.
  • My Bride is a Mermaid:
    • Lunar practices for a ventriloquist act by having Maki hide inside the dummy. Naturally, when she brings it to school, Lunar and Maki start arguing, and everyone else thinks it's the most awesome ventriloquist act ever.
    • When everybody prepares to storm the place that kidnapped Sun and her family, they recruit Chimp for the mission by telling him they are filming scenes for a video game using motion capture technology. Chimp never catches on, even when they shoot the place up and Nagasumi has an epic Final Battle with Yoshiuo.
  • In My Monster Secret, the second School Festival stars off fairly crazy thanks to Akari going demonic due to her increasing loneliness and desperation, resulting in her dominating the festival single-handedly. However, when Sakurada (who has feelings for Akari) starts actually matching pace with her, Akane (who wants Akari to be lonely For the Lulz) uses her demonic powers to create a flying castle for the final event. An unseen voice starts repeatedly declaring "Do not be alarmed, this is just a demonstration", but nobody really buys it, and later in the story a few characters remark that this was the point where they really realized there was some weird stuff going on in their supposedly ordinary high school.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • The Magic-using teachers in charge of the Academy use this trope to recruit thousands of Muggles to help them fight off an army of robots. Thankfully, none of the weapons being used by either side were lethal. The Big Bad herself was even amused by this and decided to play along, announcing herself publicly as the Final Boss.
    • Towards the end of the manga, the barriers between the Old World and the Magic World start to break down around Mahora, unleashing an army of demons onto the unsuspecting populace. Fortunately, their attacks are only rendered dangerous to modesty against Old World humans, so they do the exact same thing again to help the students defend themselves.
  • In Nurarihyon no Mago, there was supposed to be a staged Oni attack, after which a class president candidate would take credit, via pre-recorded video, for vanquishing the monster. When an Oni actually shows up, the protagonist fights it off, and the delivered video was timed so well that nobody caught on. Naturally.
  • In Pokémon: The Series, Team Rocket frequently interrupts Pokémon battles, contests, plays, and other types of performances to steal Pokémon — and it almost never works, as the audience gets angry and starts booing them or even joins the protagonists in attacking them. They do this so often that the only reason they keep getting away with it is that Status Quo Is God. The only time it does work is when they invade a water ballet at the Cerulean City Gym and convince the audience it's still part of the show — until the Meowth balloon crashes through the roof and Ash and Brock jump into the pool to help.
  • Ranma ½: Ranma, who is locked in female form, decides to protect his secret by fighting Mousse "disguised" as a girl. Akane is initially skeptical, only to be amazed when it actually works.
    Akane: "They're actually buying it. Way to sell 'em, Ranma!"
    • In another chapter, Romeo and Juliet is being played as part of a drama contest. Several characters are fighting on stage over who gets to play the lead roles. The resulting play is barely recognizable, but this seems to be taken as some sort of deliberate twist; they win the contest anyway.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Sailor Moon and her Sailor Warriors fight a clown Cardian who appears during a performance of Snow White. The audience is at first a little confused, but when the Sailor Warriors go all the way with their introductory speeches, everyone decides it must be a Sailor Moon pantomime, and enjoys it anyway — especially Shingo, who is a big Sailor Moon fan as it turns out.
    • Another incident involved the Sailor Guardians fighting a Rainbow Crystal monster inhabiting a tokatusa performer during his show.
  • In one episode of Samurai Champloo, Mugen and Jin end up on stage during a Kabuki drama battling the police because they were sheltering a Westerner (and because Mugen skipped out on his restaurant bills). The fight and subsequent break-up by Dutch and Japanese officials is seen as a terrific performance by the audience.
  • In Shugo Chara!, Amu has to catch an X-Egg on sports day. After she transforms, she's still in plain sight of everyone, but they can't see the X-Egg, only her — and she's in a cheerleader costume. So when she's jumping and skipping around, they all assume that it's part of an elaborate cheerleading routine. Her friends catch on very quickly and assist with their own cheerleading squad to make the "show" better.
  • In Slayers, Lina, Gourry, and Amelia, while hiding from bounty hunters, end up getting hired by a theater company that is doing a play... about Lina as an entry in a theater contest. Then, when the hunters finally catch up to them, they're able to seamlessly integrate the whole fight into the play and clear Lina's name (in the play, at least). And they also win the contest, too!
  • In episode 5 of SoltyRei, a priceless emerald ends up in the middle of a water circus, causing everyone to fight over it, resulting in Solty almost being electrocuted. Rose saves her at the last second. The crowd bursts into applause, and the circus' announcer can be heard in the background congratulating them, as if it were all part of the show.
  • Invoked in SPY×FAMILY during the Cruise Ship arc. When Yor is forced to fight off an assassin in public, people start getting alarmed until Anya (who secretly knows what's going on due to her mind-reading abilities) begins to clap and cheer for the "circus performers." The other passengers immediately calm down as they assume that the fight is merely staged for entertainment.
  • When an Antinoid attacks a tokusatsu theater show in Superwomen in Love! that a civilian Hayate is hosting, various patrons question if it's a part of the show. Hayate confirms that it isn't, at which point she trances up into Rapid Rabbit to fight them.
  • An episode of Yes! Pretty Cure 5 has the eponymous heroines appearing on-stage during Idol Singer (and fellow teammate) Urara's debut to defeat a Monster of the Week, and the crowd goes wild.
    • Two seasons before that, during a school production of Romeo and Juliet, Juna decides to attack our heroines, forcing them to transform and fight him off. The audience doesn't seem to mind, however, and think it's part of the show.
  • You're Under Arrest!: One episode involves the cast staging a play about traffic security for the school children, that quickly gets ruined by the obvious Bad "Bad Acting". A group of costumed "villains" decide to interfere and spice it up, by rigging the costumes and the stage with smoke bombs for special effects. Once they realize what's going on, Natsumi decides to play along and uses her Super-Strength to throw Yoriko and Aoi at the villains, which the kids end up loving.
  • During the "Death-T" arc of the original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, Kaiba actually had an audience present who thought it was a publicity stunt to promote a theme park. (Although they only saw the parts that Kaiba and Mokuba participated in personally.) Indeed, it even took the heroes a while to figure out it was a Deadly Game that threatened their lives.
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V anime, Dennis has come to regret his actions as The Mole, but feels that he doesn't deserve redemption. Being the entertainer that he is, though, he decides to make his final act something the onlookers could be proud of. He turns himself into a card, sealing himself away from the world. While the general audience applauds this "illusion," the heroes know that this isn't an illusion, and know what Dennis has really done.
  • In the second episode of Zombie Land Saga, Sakura tries to invoke this after Tae's head pops off. Unfortunately for her, bandmate Saki is fascinated by this turn of events, repeatedly taking the girl's head off, and Sakura eventually calls her out for not trying to hide the fact that they're all zombies. Double Subverted when the call-out becomes an impromptu rap battle that the audience loves.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Adventure Time spin-off comic Adventure Time: Marceline and the Scream Queens, Marceline has a nervous breakdown during the last gig of the band's tour, shapeshifts into an enormous dragon, and nearly incinerates the audience before Bubblegum manages to talk her down. Naturally, the audience think it was all part of the show.
  • Played with in Astérix and the Cauldron. Asterix and Obélix get hired by a Roman theater company whose avant-garde director proclaims True Art is "spontaneity", improvisation, and offending the public. (Ironically, as is shown during the play rehearsal, basically everything is in fact minutely staged.) When the actual play is performed in public, the Roman city prefect does enjoy the controversial show, until the point where Obelix improvises the play's final line: "These Romans are crazy!" Now that pushes the prefect's Berserk Button: he is not amused and sends the troops on stage to arrest the actors. The military intervention is not part of the show, but the public does believe so:
    Spectator #1: Very well staged, that show!
    Spectator #2: Yes, it's getting exciting!
    Spectator #3: Now they're pushing it. It lacks realism.
    Spectator #4: It's a new aesthetics. I, for one, dig it.
  • In the Astro City story "Hot Time In the Old Town", Dr. Aegyptus sets up a ritual to open a dimensional rift for the Oubor under the pretext that it's an Egyptian-themed magic show.
  • A classic issue of The Avengers has some lower-ranked members of the team going on Late Night with David Letterman. Nerdy Fabian Stankiewicz, a.k.a. the Mechno-Maurader, attacks the team with his robot inventions. To keep the crowd from panicking, Paul Shaffer gets the band to strike up some music and let the audience believe this is one of Dave's usual goofy acts. Given how lame a "villain" Fabian is, and the Avengers bungling in the studio, they buy it — especially as Letterman himself knocks Fabian out with a giant prop doorknob.
  • The Batman Adventures: After saving Boston Brandt's life in Issue #15 of The Batman and Robin Adventures, Dick Grayson tells him to bow to the audience so they won't know of the danger.
  • In Batman: Hush, Batman and Catwoman wind up fighting Harley Quinn in the middle of a crowded opera house. The opera-goers seem to think this is part of the show, even applauding after Batman manages to catch Catwoman in mid-air.
  • The final fight of the first Batman/Judge Dredd crossover takes place at a Heavy Metal concert, on stage. The audience is not shown having any particular reaction to Batman appearing on stage, or a cop from another dimension, or for that matter a zombie cop from a third dimension who had killed half the band (although since Judge Death was singing while he killed them, there was some justification for assuming that it was staged).
  • Batman '66: When Shame and his gang rob an old-fashioned train and its passengers, the victims assume it's part of the show.
  • Batman: Black and White: In "Petty Crimes", the Civic Virtue serial killer goes after people who commit small offenses like talking loudly in movie theaters. When Batman is examining the scene of that particular crime, the owner of the cinema explains that the bodies weren't discovered until the lights come up at the end; everyone else in the audience who heard the murders just thought it was part of the sound effects for the movie.
  • Subverted in an early Captain America story and a 1980s The Question story where there is a hand to hand combat exhibition where villains secretly appear to attack the feature players for real. As the fight gets more serious than the feature players suspect, the audience slowly begins to realize that there is no way that the exhibition could be that realistic.
  • Happens on occasion in Dance Class, usually during ballerina numbers when a mishap happens, with the audience thinking it was a new spin on the stories they were doing.
  • Dick Tracy fights Putty Puss on a stage. Vitamin Flintheart tries to convince the audience it's for real, but he's such a ham that he only makes things worse.
  • In Groo the Wanderer, Groo comes across a theater troupe staging a play about a corrupt king being assassinated. Groo assumes the play is real and causes spectacular destruction trying to protect the king. To pay for the damages, Groo is forced to join the troupe himself. Having a hard time grasping the concept of fiction, Groo disrupts the play in several performances, either trying to foil the assassins or avenge the king. Worse for the director, Groo's antics are mistaken for brilliant comedy by the audience and he becomes a star, precluding any hope of firing him. Finally he manages to twig in that it's all fake, though he still can't understand the appeal. However, the troupe ends up playing for a real corrupt king - and the actors playing the assassins are inside men on a plot to depose him. When they pull out real knives and run to slay the king, the monarch desperately asks Groo to protect him. Groo thinks the king is an actor padding his part and laughs uproariously as the king offers Groo a third of his kingdom and the hand of the princess before being stabbed to death. Groo finally realizes that the offer was real and that he could have received a fortune if he had protected the king. He chases the fleeing actors into the night, vowing that he will never again use his swords for pretend.
  • In Grant Morrison's Marvel Boy, the incredibly wealthy Dr. Midas sets up lights and cameras so no one will find it strange when his army lets loose on the title character with lasers and other assorted sci-fi gear.
  • Sonic the Comic: When Dr Robotnik deploys Badniks from a wooden model of himself to attack civillians celebrating Bonfire Night by burning effigies of the hated dictator, Sonic has to clarify that this isn't part of the show and tells the amazed onlookers to clear out while he and Tails deal with the attack.
  • In the Spider-Man newspaper comic, Mary Jane stars as "Marvella" in a hackneyed Exploitation Film and is attacked by "Panthera", played by the washed-up and homicidal Narna Lamar. Everybody thinks it's part of the show, whereas The Comics Curmudgeon was complaining about this back in 2006:
    "They're putting them in a real elevator, with no microphones of any kind (otherwise Narna's bitchy off-script taunts would be picked up) and having them improvise some fisticuffs. (I hear this is exactly how Robert Altman filmed most of McCabe & Mrs. Miller.)"
  • Stunt Dawgs: Fungus' plan to sabotage a stunt show in the comics fails because the audience thought it was part of the show.
  • An old Superboy story features criminals invoking this trope. They bring movie cameras and pretend to film themselves robbing banks so that people passing by will simply assume it is all a movie and ignore the screaming bank employees. Luckily, Superboy notices they didn't bring any sound equipment, so he guesses they are criminals. Luckily, he had apparently never heard of looping.
  • The Transformers (Marvel):
    • The Decepticons attempt to steal energy from the sound at a Brick Springstern concert. When this erupts into a battle against the Autobots, the audience just assumes it's a massive special effects extravaganza.
    • When Scorponok and the Dinobots travel to Tokyo during the Starscream Triumphant story, they're mistaken for monster movie props, much to Grimlock's annoyance.
  • An issue of Ultimate Marvel Team-Up has Spider-Man meeting the Saturday Night Live "Not-Ready-for-Primetime Players", complete with Silver Samurai breaking into an SNL performance.
  • Uncanny X-Men Annual #10 climaxes with the New Mutants being forced to fight the Brainwashed and de-aged X-Men onstage at a Shakespeare production in Central Park. The audience is completely enthralled by the battle, and, when it's over, the heroes receive a thundering ovation.
  • In the comic book version of W.I.T.C.H., the guardians fight Cedric during a rock concert, on stage, and everyone in the audience is assured that everything going on is a part of the special effects. The rock star in question wore a similar outfit to the Guardians' Magical Girl uniforms, which probably helped sell the idea as them as back-up dancers.
  • Ziggy Pig - Silly Seal Comics: Ziggy and Silly are saved from Doctor Doom's ire when Roxanne arrives and tells Doom that all of their subversive shenanigans were part of a prank for their comeback special. Doom, being a big fan of the duo, happily signs a release form so he can be a part of the show.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Fiction 
  • In Arcadia or Bust, when the conventioneer dressed as Ryuk assaults Jim and tries to rip his horns off, Jim loses his temper and throws him into the crowd, complete with an animalistic roar, only for the crowd to cheer harder in response.
  • In The Bridge, the Equestria Girls' version of Photo Finish witnessed the big battle against Enjin at the hospital and even took pictures, but she thought some kind of action movie was being filmed. When she saw Enjin get up after falling out of a building, she thought it was because he was a stunt man.
  • Happens in a chapter of Eiga Sentai Scanranger where the heroes impersonated a boy band; the story's villains storming the stage to attack them was assumed to just be part of the concert they were putting on. Even the Humongous Mecha vs Kaiju part, apparently!
  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, after Kyon gets shot, Haruhi pulls this off on a crowd, convincing them a movie was being filmed.
  • Manehattan's Lone Guardian has explosions rocking the city when the story's antagonist makes his first move. To keep her audience from panicking, the horror aficionado Drama Heart plays off the noises by weaving them into the fabric of her performance. Her decision causes her story to go off the rails, but she accomplishes her objective.
  • In Pairing Off, the audience at the Skulk and Lurk thought that Skulker's attack on Sam was part of her poetry reading at first.
  • In the final chapter of A Mother's Touch, Yoko sees someone having live=streamed her son, Yuto, Yugo, and Yuri all chanting "reunite" and fusing into Zarc where people online think it's some sort of freaky light-show or a publicity stunt by Leo Corp. for a new Solid Vision upgrade,
  • In Suzumiya Haruhi No Index, Touma and Haruhi get attacked by Team ITEM. Touma fights them off, but Haruhi thinks the whole thing was a performance her friends staged to cheer her up. When Touma blocked Mugino's energy blast with his Imagine Breaker, Haruhi assumed the blast was akin to a flashlight.
  • Thirty Tales of a Swordsman has the Straw Hat Pirates going to the theater, only to end up escaping bounty hunters. They try to escape backstage but find themselves forced to go on stage while a mock fight is on going and successfully defeat their opponents. The audience immediately cheers and praises the special effects and stunt coordination, so much that the theater's owner offers to hire the pirates as actors.

    Film — Animated 

  • In A Bug's Life, during the "Flaming Death" scene, when the stunt goes wrong and P.T gets burned to a crisp, which leads him to fire the circus bugs, the audience members thought P.T's crisis was part of the act, leading to a massive line outside P.T's tent.
    Random Bug: (Clapping) Burn him again!
  • Coco's climactic scene comes when Imelda, holding Hector's photo, is stuck onstage for Ernesto's performance. She starts singing "La Llarona" while evading security, calming the audience, and Ernesto, in a display of Genre Savvy, starts singing it as a duet in order to get closer and swipe Hector's photo back.
  • Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade: A combination of factors releases a magical rock giant during the town festival. Professor Ursula plays it off like a show that the Wizarding School is putting on, and has them cheer encouragement as Akko, Lotte and Sucy defeat it. (Funnily enough, Akko did want to put on a show like this earlier, but it fell through.)
  • At the end of Sing 2, Jimmy Crystal attempts to kill Buster Moon out of spite in front of the audience by throwing him off a balcony, resulting in Rosita the pig finally getting over her fear of heights and immediately jumping down to save Buster from falling to his death.
  • Turning Red: The audience at the 4*Town concert thinks Ming's enormous red panda form is part of the concert, up until she tears open the SkyDome.
  • In Wish Dragon, the heroes and villains fight in a parade while disguised as dancing dragons.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 21 Jump Street has a high-school production of Peter Pan go horribly wrong when the actor meant to play Peter goes missing, forcing a last-minute replacement. Then the original actor shows up onstage, which starts an argument with his girlfriend, playing Wendy, who was angered at him missing the play, which then escalates into a fight with his (not really) brother. The drama teacher decides to let the whole thing happen, as he thinks it's more interesting than the actual production.
  • The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother: When the opera is interrupted by Sigerson, Sacker and Moriarty's assistant, trying to get the document, the audience doesn't appear to realize what's going on.
  • After the Fox: In order to unload stolen gold from a ship, the anti-hero (Peter Sellers) pretends to be shooting a movie at a small town on the Italian coast. He allows the entire population to "act" in his movie by helping him unload the gold. Later a film critic finds that the film a work of art.
  • Airplane!: In a slight twist on the trope, while a couple is dancing, the guy ends up stabbed in the back. His futile efforts to point at the knife are confused for dance moves by his partner.
  • In the movie inspired by Cirque du Soleil's Alegria, when the ringmaster of the circus cannot bring himself to go onstage (his daughter, a singer in the show, has run away), the clowns address the audience to tell them the performance will not proceed. Naturally, no one believes them; in fact, they laugh, and finally the clowns drive them out of the theater with a giant industrial fan and a paper snowstorm.
  • Invoked in The Art of War (2000): When Wesley Snipes is chased through a Millennium celebration crowd by security forces, his Mission Control puts live-action video of it up on a large screen, making everyone cheer along. It helps that Wes is Cherry Tapping his opponents and does a High-Dive Escape by parachuting off the building.
  • In The A-Team, Murdock and the other inmates at a psychiatric ward are watching a 3D film with a jeep driving towards the screen. You can guess what happens next.
  • Bachelor Party: Near the end of the movie, a theater is showing some typical cheesy 3-D sci-fi film. In come three of the main characters, two guys duking it out for the love of the girl. The fight, and the girl's reactions, are perfectly matched to what's happening on screen, leading one audience member to comment, "What a realistic effect!" His girlfriend replies, "I've seen better," and is immediately punched by one of the fighters, at which point she is convinced.
  • In Balls of Fury, Randy Daytona is performing ping-pong tricks as entertainment in a casino buffet. He starts bouncing a ball repeatedly off of an old guy in the audience, even as the guy is trying to block it. The man eventually has a heart attack and keels over. A few minutes later an FBI agent (George Lopez) visits Randy in his dressing room, and Randy thinks he's in trouble because of the old guy having a heart attack. The FBI agent replies, "That's not what I'm here for. Honestly I thought that was part of the show until the paramedics showed up."
  • The theatre audience in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) doesn't realize that Riggan actually shot himself for real at the end of the play. Once they learn the truth, however, they like it even more, praising the "Ultra-Realism" of the production.
  • The infamous exploitation film Bloodsucking Freaks has Sardu's Theater of the Macabre, wherein Sardu and his assistant Ralphus torture and dismember various women on stage in Grand Guignol style. Of course, everyone thinks it's just stagecraft.
  • During the Broadway opening of the play in Bullets over Broadway, a pair of mobsters shoot and kill Cheech backstage. The audience thinks the gunshots were all part of the show. In fact, the show gets rave reviews because of the "symbolic" gunshots in the ending.
  • Burning Ambition has the protagonist fighting an Elite Mook in an amusement park, both of them armed with dangerous weapons, which leads to a public stage. The audience promptly claps thinking it's an extra show.
  • In Catwoman (2004), after confronting the male villain in his box seat, the heroine escapes security guards in a theater by leaping onto the stage and scrambling up the back wall — but since the show is in the style of Cirque du Soleil, the audience thinks she's just an acrobat and applaud her feat.
  • In The Circus, the Tramp gets chased by the cops through the circus for real, to the delight of the crowd who think this is an act.
  • In the Russian movie Deja Vu, an assassin shoots his mark while he's playing a victim of a firing squad in a rendition of Toska. While the audience applauds his "brilliant acting", the assassin quietly leaves.
  • A variation appeared in Dirty Work: The main characters ruin a performance of Don Giovanni by, among other things, releasing skunks and prostitutes into the theater and having the protagonists' father come onstage partially naked to make crude sexual advances on a female performer. Everybody in the audience ends up fleeing, except for one man who thinks it's brilliant avant-garde theater and praises the show as the greatest performance he has ever seen.
  • In Enchanted, when Giselle bites a poison apple and is only saved by True Love's Kiss, the rest of the ballroom think it's only a show. Then Queen Narissa announces, "You want a show? I'll give you a show!" and turns into a dragon. A deleted scene on the DVD has the two crying old ladies complain that the noisy spectacle wasn't needed and that it could have just ended with the kiss.
  • In Explorers, a real spaceship flies alongside a Drive-In Theater screen which is showing a 1950s B-Movie. The scene cuts to a boy and girl who are watching the movie, and the boy complains he can see the strings.
  • In Fantasy Island (2020), Melaine fantasizes about torturing the girl who bullied her in high school. She assumes the victim will be some hologram or advanced robot, and when she sees the girl strapped to a chair, she compliments how realistic it is. It's only when she starts dousing her with water that it hits Melanie this is the actual girl, and she's horrified to realize she's going to be tortured for real.
  • Foul Play: In the climax, the villains try to assassinate the Pope at a theater, leading to a shootout backstage when the authorities intercept them. When the curtain rises to show two dead bodies, the Pope thinks it's part of the performance and claps.
  • The Funhouse Massacre: The Serial Killers are able to get away with murdering a large number of people because park goers think that they're just scare actors performing extremely realistic acts. They only find out when Manual Dyer kills the DJs and announces that they're actually murdering people over the park intercom.
  • Galaxy Quest: The Protector (or rather its bridge) is forced to crash-land on Earth, and so it lands in an empty space — the parking lot of the ongoing Galaxy Quest convention. Well, it was empty save for peoples' cars.note  The ship crashes straight onto the stage, and as the crew staggers out of it one by one, the befuddled emcee just introduces them, to great acclaim from the audience. Then Sarris comes off the ship after them, and the crowd thinks he's part of the show, too (one guy even shoots a Nerf gun at him); fortunately, Jason blows him up, right on stage. The audience is probably so jazzed by the show (and the return of Galaxy Quest that was presumably announced there) that they're probably not too worried about their cars.
  • Game Night, given its premise, plays with this trope in just about every way it can:
    • At first it's played straight, when during the murder mystery game, an "FBI agent" shows up to Brooks' house to introduce the mystery, only to be knocked out by two very real thugs, who proceed to attack Brooks and eventually kidnap him. Max, Annie, and their friends gleefully watch on, assuming that it's just part of the game and that the whole thing is scripted.
    • Then it's inverted Max and Annie go off and find Brooks, assuming that he'll lead to the prize, when they find out that he actually has been kidnapped and in some serious trouble. The fake thugs who were part of the murder mystery show up to Brooks' house, but quickly drop their facade when they realize that something has gone wrong. Following this, the group takes the whole situation much more seriously.
    • Then it's subverted when it turns out that the kidnapping was a part of the show, set up by Max and Annie's neighbor Gary in an attempt to be a part of their weekly game night again. When Gary confronts the group over this, he convinces the thugs he hired (who are actual felons) into pretending to kill him for added realism.
    • Then it's subverted again when the Bulgarian shows up and actually shoots Gary. The group at first thinks, once again, that it's part of the show, but Brooks' trouble with him, along with the MacGuffin he cheated him out of, was real, and The Bulgarian kidnaps Brooks, for real this time.
    • Finally, it's parodied, when after the whole mess, Brooks tells Max that everything that happened, including several millions of dollars worth of property damage and at least one death, was engineered by him to teach Max a lesson on taking responsibility. Max and Annie are bewildered at this, until Brooks admits that he's just messing with them.
  • In Ghostbusters (2016), a demonic ghost rises through the floor during a heavy metal concert, which both the audience and the band mistake for a special effect. Once the Ghostbusters arrive and start fighting it, they start to figure out that it's real, but the audience still thinks that it's awesome.
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Harry reappears in the arena after facing Voldemort at the end of the labyrinth; the crowd immediately starts cheering, but a hush spreads as they realize that Harry is holding Cedric Diggory's dead body. Fleur Delacour takes it a step further by screaming when she realizes the truth.
  • Hayride: At one point, the killer murders one of the haunted hayride volunteers who was playing a masked killer. He did this in front of a truck full of customers, who cheer for it, thinking that it's part of the act.
  • Lon Chaney's Sad Clown in He Who Gets Slapped staggers out into the center ring of his circus, bleeding to death, during a show. The audience thinks it's part of his act.
  • Hocus Pocus goes straight to Refuge in Audacity with this — not only are the witches invading the stage assumed to be performing, but when they sing their spell, the audience is convinced to sing along and enchant itself.
  • The Hollow: The participants in the Ghostly Hayride initially assume that Erica's panicked appearance, and subsequent decapitation by the Headless Horseman, are all part of the ghost tour.
  • In Interview with the Vampire, the French Théâtre des Vampires troupe of vampires kill humans on stage, but the audience always believes the deaths to be part of the show.
  • John Wick: Chapter 2: John Wick runs onto the stage of a rock concert in Rome, shoots dead a security guard on stage next to the DJ, and the audience applauds, seemingly thinking that it's a part of the show. However, people to start to panic when John then runs through the middle of the crowd with a gun continuing to eliminate security.
  • Kild TV: The killer has cut off all forms of communication with the outside world in the TV Studio except for the live broadcast that's still going on. The crew attempt multiple times to broadcast a S.O.S. to implore their audience to call the police and send them to the studio. However, the audience remains convinced that the studio are pulling off a really elaborate stunt to get ratings, justifying that since they're still playing the movie and airing commercials (which only happens because it's programmed into their network, and can't be overwritten), they aren't in any real danger.
  • In Little Nicky, Adam Sandler (a.k.a. Nicky) is having a magical duel with his demonic brother in the middle of a Harlem Globetrotters game, which a very enthusiastic mother explains to her children as "all part of the show". Even when the basketball explodes.
  • Man on Fire: Creasy interrogates and kills a number of kidnappers who are operating out of the back of a rave club, which comes in handy since the noise drowns out any screaming or gunshots. Creasy then rigs the place to blow and leads the crowd outside by firing a few rounds into the ceiling with his shotgun. They assume everything is part of some elaborate performance and are outright cheering when the club finally goes up in a giant fireball.
  • Matinee: During Mant, the film being shown to an audience, Harvey, dressed as the title character of this film, is supposed to come out and scare the audience. He does this, at least until he sees Sherry, his ex-girlfriend, making out with Stan. Harvey, still in costume, attacks Stan, which the audience thinks is part of the show. Only Lawrence Woolsey, the producer of the film, realizes something is wrong, and goes to pull Harvey off. Harvey hits Lawrence in the groin, and runs away. When Lawrence gets up, the audience cheers, and he pretends it was all part of the act.
  • The Menu:
    • After Jeremy shoots himself, Lillian insists that it's just theatre and not real. She continues to cling to that belief after Richard's finger is cut off, but she's soon forced to accept that Julian really is going to kill them all.
    • Later inverted when a member of the Coast Guard arrives on the scene to rescue the surviving guests...only for it to turn out that he's one of Julian's cooks, and that he was just playing a part. The guests really think that they're being rescued.
  • Meet the Feebles: Wynyard accidentally stabs himself while attempting to perform a Knife-Throwing Act while high. The audience promptly starts cheering.
  • In Midnight Movie the viewers of the Show Within a Show The Dark Beneath think that the killings are part of a prank at first.
  • Inverted in Moulin Rouge!, at the beginning when Satine falls off her swing. The crowd doesn't know what to think until Harold Ziedler covers up the accident by calling for applause and complimenting Satine's incredible showmanship, thus convincing the spectators that it was all part of the show. When she dies during the big finale at the end, the audience gives a standing ovation.
  • Movie Crazy has Harold Lloyd being knocked out by the bad guy in a fistfight and chucked in a wicker basket. The bad guy happens to be an actor, and the fistfight was on a film set. When Harold comes to, he sees the actor in the middle of filming a climactic fight, and attacks him for real. The befuddled film crew assumes that this is part of the movie and films everything.
  • Mr. Bean in Mr. Bean's Holiday ruins Carson Clay's ridiculously artsy film by switching his camcorder's footage with the film reel during the premier, as well as causing himself to be chased by security. The audience give a loud round of applause, believing it to all a performance as part of the movie experience.
  • In My Favorite Year, variety show star King Kaiser is beaten up on live television by goons of a gangster he regularly makes fun of. The studio audience thinks it's part of the sketch, as is movie swashbuckler Alan Swann swinging to his rescue.
  • The ending of Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian is portrayed this way; it seems that the exhibits now involve all sorts of fancy new technology if you visit them during the new extended night hours.
  • In Octopussy, James Bond disguises himself as a clown to escape pursuit, but then struggles to convince circus goers that there really is a nuclear weapon about to detonate unless he can get to it.
  • Once Upon a Warrior has a circus stage performance being interrupted by minions of the Snake Cult, disguised as masked performers, ambushing the show while trying to kidnap a child onstage (said child is a Mystical Waif their master ordered them to kidnap). Luckily the lead performer of the show is a Blind Weaponmaster and a skilled warrior, at which point the audience applauds thinking it was a show.
  • When the militia blow up Cornwallis' ship in The Patriot (2000), one of the ladies attending think they're just fireworks.
  • Happens on two separate occasions in Phantom of the Paradise. It happens first when Beef is electrocuted, to the point that the crowd starts chanting for him as the curtain falls — so the stagehands can at least put out his burning corpse. The finale's even wilder: the Phantom disrupts the wedding/assassination of Phoenix to Swan; Philbin is killed in the process. Since the Phantom's destroyed Swan's Deal with the Devil contract, Phoenix is privy to Swan's resultant Glamour Failure; he tries to strangle her. The Phantom stabs him to death, but due to his contract with Swan, he dies too. When his mask comes off, Phoenix realizes the Phantom was Winslow; she cradles his body. During all this, virtually no one else stops dancing and partying.
  • The original film version of The Producers has the ex-Nazi author of the play storming out on stage to protest the hippie lead actor's laid-back portrayal of Adolf Hitler. The actors of the play hit the author on the head and pull him back behind the curtains, to the uproarious laughter of the audience, who thought this was all part of the act. Of course, the play itself wasn't meant to be a comedy, but the loopy performance of the lead actor made it so.
  • In Repo! The Genetic Opera, at the end of Blind Mag's final song, Chromaggia, she gouges out her eyes on stage so Rotti can't repossess them. This triggers Rotti's Villainous Breakdown, and he cuts the ropes suspending her, causing her to fall onto a pointy piece of scenery and get impaled. The commentator announces cheerfully that it's all part of the show, as does Rotti. Pretty much the entire Genetic Opera from that point on is like this.
    Stay tuned, folks!
    You don't wanna move, folks!
    Because there's more excitement coming!
  • In Queen of the Damned, vampire hitmen bust onto stage to take out Lestat, sick of his Masquerade breaking ways. One would think this act would only serve to confirm their existence to the world. Not so, as their deaths are assumed to be All Part of the Show.
  • In Return to Cabin by the Lake, Stanley is able to get away with his crimes more easily because he commits them during the shoot of a horror movie chronicling his own life. When he tries to carry a corpse to his car, one of the assistants stops to help him and notes that he shouldn't be carrying a fake prop body himself. The same assistant later thinks that a live electrocution which Stanley films was an intended part of the shoot. Allison later can't convince two oblivious actors that the "Assistant Director" is actually a murderous psychopath while he stages another on-set death.
  • The Rocketeer: Said verbatim at the the first appearance of the title character, at an airshow where he saves a pilot from a fiery death. However, the airfield owner saying that has a hard time keeping up that line as the pilot's plane in question crashes into and destroys another of his fuel trucks.
  • Franco Zeffirelli's film version of Romeo and Juliet put an interesting spin on Mercutio's death scene — his friends think he's playing around, and only after he collapses do they realise he was dying.
  • Played strictly for laughs in an I Know What You Did Last Summer parody within Scary Movie. While Buffy is performing onstage for a talent show, she becomes the sole witness of her boyfriend's murder on the balcony. As he struggles, gets killed by Ghostface, and is slowly dragged away, she goes hysterical trying to tell the audience, eventually crying out, "Why won't any of you bastards help?!" The audience is captivated by her "performance" and all rise to give a roaring applause as she gives up and runs backstage, where her mood instantly flips to pure joy once she learns that she won.
  • In the opening sequence of Scream 2, a young woman is attacked by Ghostface in a theater showing Stab, the movie-within-a-movie based on the events of the first Scream. Bleeding, she runs up in front of the screen, where people thinks she is a publicity stunt until she falls over dead. (Scary Movie, mentioned above, does not employ the trope while parodying the scene: the killer is in the audience, but the woman is killed by the other patrons for annoying them during the movie.)
  • Serial Mom: When Man on Fire Scotty staggers on to the stage during the Camel Lips gig, the crowd think it's part of the stage show and cheer wildly.
  • In Sharktopus, the beachgoers wonder aloud if one of the titular creature's attack is part of a show.
  • Snuff Movie: When the police arrive, Boris is able to convince them that all of the gore is props and special effects for the horror movie he is shooting.
  • In Spider Man (2002), the public initially cheers at the Green Goblin flying on his glider at the World Unity Festival, believing him to be part of the ceremonies. Until he starts throwing the Pumpkin Bombs.
  • At the end of Spies, the master spy, who has been working undercover as a clown, is surrounded by the good guys while he's onstage doing a show. He shoots himself. The audience applauds.
  • In Stage Beauty, the climactic performance of Othello is a version of this: the audience doesn't realize that Billy Crudup's character is (arguably) actually trying to kill Claire Danes on stage under cover of Desdemona's death scene. When she survives, it becomes merely All Part of the Show.
  • At the end of the 2014 Slasher Movie Stage Frightnote , the Final Girl Camilla kills Roger on stage during the finale of The Haunting of the Opera, the play she was performing at theater camp. The audience responds with a giant round of applause at Camilla's "performance".
  • Talon Falls: The employees are able to get away with abducting and torturing park attendees by putting it in the haunted houses, making everyone think it's all pretend.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, the title characters fight a mutant wolf and a mutant-snapping turtle in a nightclub and are mistaken for costumed dancers. Justified in that Vanilla Ice, who was performing at the time, apparently improvises the very suspiciously apropos "Ninja Rap". In fact, the only person to suspect something is up is the club's manager, who is outraged at the appearance of "these extras" and tells his assistant to call the police, only to relent later on when he finds that the club's patrons enjoy the battle taking place.
  • Played, if anything, for drama in To Be or Not to Be (1983). An elderly Jewish woman is being led down the aisle to freedom in a room full of Nazi infantrymen, leaders, and Hitler himself, all of whom believe her to be a clown acting the part of a Jewish woman. When she passes face to face with the latter, she starts screaming in pure terror, leading Mel Brooks to — what else — comically bop her on the head and drag her off. The Nazis roar with laughter.
  • In Three Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain, a bored crowd is watching a Western play when the three heroes and some mooks suddenly crash onto the set. The actors get confused, but when the mooks lash out at them, they fight back and help the heroes defeat them. The crowd cheers, saying the play was much better than last year's.
  • Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal: After the hijacker impersonating the heavy metal singer Craven shoots one of the pilots, everyone initially assumes it to be part of Craven's "prince of darkness" act.
  • In the VHS segment "10/31/98", this is the initial reaction of the protagonists when they stumble upon an exorcism in the attic, with a group of men gleefully chanting "cast him down!" at a possessed woman — until they see the woman get smacked hard. In the alternate ending where they escape, they conclude that everything they saw was just a particularly extreme and badass Halloween attraction, prompting them to declare it the best Halloween ever.
  • Wine Country: The group gets into a fight at Jade's art show, but they are able to pass it off as all part of the exhibit.

  • Angels of Music: In "Guignol", the Angels investigate the Théâtre des Horreurs, a theatre company notorious for staging gory performances, because of a possibility that some of the on-stage deaths are real. It turns out that all the regular performances are just stage trickery, but if you know the right people, you can get entrance to the special late-night shows. At one point, performers from the Théâtre abduct one of the Angels in public and full view, by playing it off as part of a publicity stunt for the theatre.
  • In the fourteenth book in the Animorphs series, the Animorphs uncover a plot by the Yeerks to infiltrate a military organization (Zone 91, a clear parody of Area 51) and attempt to stop them while at an amusement park. The Animorphs are battling several Hork-Bajir, as well as Visser Three, in the middle of one of the rides. Cassie is somewhat startled to discover that the ride is still running, and several of the patrons think that the battle is All Part of the Show. To go into more detail, the military personnel at Zone 91 had scheduled a night at The Gardens, renting out the park. The Yeerks wanted to find out what was being hidden at Zone 91, so their plan was to infest the Captain while he was on a ride, the horror house. The Hork-Bajir-controllers, Visser Three, and the Animorphs first pose as statues, then begin fighting, and the fight breaks out of the horror house and into a "cast of characters" parage with a marching band and Loony Tunes characters in costumes. Park guests (including friends and family of Zone 91 employees) think that the wild animals, Hork-Bajir, Andalite(s), and Bug Fighters escaping are all planned by park employees.
  • Double Subverted in Artemis Fowl. A demon teleports on stage during an opera; most of the audience doesn't notice, because the antagonists destroy a stage light to distract them, then quickly abduct the demon. The actors and orcehestra scatter, and the audience is acting the way you normally would when there's an accident on set...until Artemis, wanting to get the bad guys' attention, starts applauding their flawlessly executed scheme. This spreads to the rest of the audience, and when Artemis returns to the lobby he hears various patrons "interpreting" what the fallen stagelight represents.
  • In The Darfsteller, a Hugo Award-winning novelette by Walter M. Miller, Jr., the protagonist is an actor in a play where his character is shot and killed in the final scene. He puts a real bullet in the gun, in place of the blank, intending to commit suicide. When he changes his mind, he dodges but still gets shot. He then tries to lie as still as he can, so as to not ruin the show.
  • In Deep Secret, the protagonists are very disappointed that the attendees of a fantasy convention mistake the villains (and various other otherworldly people) showing up as just part of the convention.
  • Discworld:
    • In Maskerade, nobody in the audience of the Ankh-Morpork Opera House panics when they see the Phantom being chased by Greebo (in human form) across the Boxes and over the chandelier in the middle of the opera Il Truccatore, because they think it's supposed to be part of the show. In fact, not wanting to seem uncultured, they start saying they remember hearing about a production in Quirm that did this.
    • In Wyrd Sisters, the real Death walks on stage during a play in place of the actor playing the role. He then realizes he's become the center of attention (because the Weirdness Censor doesn't work if they think you're just some guy in a costume) and gets stage fright.
    • In The Science of Discworld II: The Globe (mostly set in our world), Elves launch an attack on the Globe Theatre during the first production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which is mistaken for part of the play.
    • In Moving Pictures, an Eldritch Abomination takes the form of the lead actress in the "clicks" and climbs out of the screen. Everyone just stands by and applauds the special effects, although they're pretty much mind-controlled by this point.
      Chair of Indefinite Studies: It's not some sort of special kinematographic effect, then?
      Victor: Not unless they've got really good in the last twenty-four hours.
  • The Doctor Who Expanded Universe short story "Swamp of Horrors (1957) ? Viewing Notes" by Michael Rees tells the story of how the Sixth Doctor disrupted the shooting of a B-Movie to rescue a stranded alien — from the perspective of a film critic praising the finished movie's thoughtful message, cinema verité direction, and amazing effects work. It also includes a You Just Ruined the Shot; when the Doctor first appears, he mistakes the rubber monster from the film for his alien, and the director yells at him. The critic thinks this Breaking the Fourth Wall moment doesn't really work.
  • Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess: Nikki Maxwell could never learn how to ice skate, and keeps falling over. She still has this problem by the time they perform their ice skating routine, but by then their outfits were switched and they're dressed as clowns, so the crowd thinks Nikki is doing it on purpose and finds it funny.
  • In Mikhail Krylov's fantasy novella Eternity, there is a gorgeous show to celebrate an appulse of planets. Midway through the performance, the Sun and planets in the sky start disappearing due to an evil sorcery, and for a long while the audience thinks it a stroke of genius on the director's part.
  • In the Father Brown story "The Flying Stars", an accomplice warns Flambeau that he's been discovered and a policeman is coming to arrest him. Flambeau's reaction is to stage a harlequinade with himself as Harlequin, and tells everyone the supposed policeman is his theatrical friend coming to take part in the show. Therefore, he beats him, knocks him unconscious, and drugs him in front of a whole room of very respectable people who are said to still remember it as the most brilliant acting ever, especially on the policeman's part.
  • The Kingdom Keepers: The final battle against Maleficent in the first book is dismissed as Disney World's best light show ever.
  • Light Thickens centers around a production of Macbeth. A gruesome murder takes place at the end of one of the performances and has to be covered up this way. It is mentioned later that those of the audience who noticed just thought that the head was an "awfully good dummy".
    The blood drips onto Seyton's upturned face. And being well-trained professional actors, they respond, with stricken faces and shaking lips, "Hail, King of Scotland!" The curtain falls.
  • Invoked in Martian V.F.W. by G.L. Vandenburg, in which an Alien Invasion takes place under cover of a New York City parade, with the aliens entering their own parade float. Everyone assumes the insectoid aliens are just performers until people start dying from their Death Rays.
  • The Master and Margarita has a demonic black cat beheading an annoying actor during Woland's Black Magic Show. The public is horrified at first, but then mistakes it for a trick.
  • The Moomins: At the end of Moominsummer Madness, Little My is reunited with the family during Moominpapa's play. Not only do the audience mistake this for part of the show, they're delighted that they finally understand what the play's about.
  • In the Nightmare Hour story "Afraid of Clowns", a boy ends up visiting a circus and is unfortunately picked by the clowns to be part of their act. The clowns torment him on stage, while the audience laugh and cheer all the while, of course thinking it is merely an act, though this boy is in obvious pain.
  • In The Overstory, a professor of cognitive psychology is lecturing his students on how learning about cognitive biases doesn't actually make one immune to them, referring back to the students' belief that they could make themselves immune to Bystander Syndrome. Cue him leaving the room for way too long and seemingly collapsing, which the students are convinced is just part of a point he is making on the bystander effect. Turns out he really had a heart attack and ends up dying.
  • The Pilo Family Circus suffers so many disruptions of its performances that "All Part of the Show" has become a mantra on the showgrounds. One memorable example shows Mugabo the Magician getting sick and tired of pulling a rabbit out of his hat and deciding to liven up the show by simply blowing it to pieces with his powers. As two carnies tackle the rebellious magician to the ground, one of them shouts to the shocked and bloodstained audience, "All part of the show, folks!" Similarly, Doopy the Clown's unscheduled assault on the apprentice and Goshy slapping an audience member in the face were both treated as part of the show.
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany: During the Nativity play, Owen (playing Jesus) stands up and addresses the audience, telling them they are not worthy and should be ashamed of themselves for even setting foot in a church. The audience sitting in the church assumes this is a sermon to them and part of the play; the reader knows that Owen was talking to his sacrilegious parents.
  • In Rally Round the Flag, Boys!, the reenactment of a Revolutionary War battle ends with the Greaser Delinquents turning a battle between the Minutemen and the Redcoats (played by members of the U.S. Army) into an all-out brawl. The audience's first reaction is to applaud how realistic the acting is.
  • In Sorcerer Conjurer Wizard Witch, Murderous Mannequins invade a party being held by a society hostess with a reputation for pulling spectacular stunts at her events. The guests are initially frightened, but once the heroes start battling the mannequins, most of the guests decide it's a planned part of the entertainment.
  • In V., an unconventional ballet concludes with a virgin sacrifice (echoing The Rite of Spring), but the ballerina fails to wear key protective gear and ends up killed for real. While she dies onstage, the audience applauds what they think is her very realistic performance.
  • The Vampire Chronicles: In Interview with the Vampire (and its film adaptation), the French Théâtre des Vampires troupe of vampires kill humans on stage, but the audience always believes the deaths to be part of the show.
  • In The Warlord Chronicles, the Saxons know that the Celts have a series of beacons ready to light as soon as Saxon invaders are sighted, so they wait for the Beltane festival, when every Celtic community has a bonfire anyway.
  • In one Zachary Nixon Johnson novel, Zach is attacked by kabuki assassin droids in a restaurant. The patrons think it's all part of the show, despite his repeated attempts to get them to evacuate.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ace Lightning: Lord Fear invaded Mark's school during the showing of a play which was a somewhat uncreative remake of The Phantom of the Opera - of course the audience thinks he's just a very convincing actor. Lord fear typically relishes the attention, and Mark is the only one who freaks because he's the only one who knows what's going on.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?: A guy turns into a banshee onstage and goes after his young male co-star, who is transformed into a toad and saved by a leprechaun friend. Not only is the audience sitting back and watching while he's begging, "Somebody help me! This is really happening!", but the confused stage hands are flipping through the script backstage, wondering, "Did we miss this in rehearsal or something?"
    • The title is Jake and the Leprechaun.
    • In the 2019 revival, the main antagonist of the first season, Mr. Tophat, repeatedly says this word for word.
  • Barney & Friends: In the episode "Oh, What a Day", Tina continues to attempt to cheer herself up during a bad day by having her friends play a game where they try to dance as she does. When she stubs her toe during the game and hops around on one foot, the others do so until she tells them that she hurt herself for real.
  • In The Big Bang Theory Season 9, there's an episode where the whole gang goes out for a Karaoke night. Later, Penny commends Leonard on his spontaneous beat-boxing, to which Leonard responds that he was having an asthma attack and he just did his best to "sell it".
  • Inverted in an episode of Blackadder, where Prince George believes that everything that happens on stage is real, and attempts to have the actors arrested for murder whenever a character is stabbed on stage. Played straight when Prince George finally grasps the nature of theatrical illusion... only to believe that a bomb thrown at him by an interrupting anarchist is part of the show.
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Puppet Show" where the Scoobies fight a demon on the stage of the school talent show, only to have the curtains open just after they finish. Buffy is holding a ventriloquist's dummy. Willow is holding a hatchet. Giles and Xander are standing next to a guillotine with a decapitated demon.
    Principal Snyder: I don't get it. What is it, avant garde?
  • On Cheers, Diane and crazy Andy are performing Othello when Andy really begins to strangle Diane. She struggles, causing the present acting scout to exclaim, "I love it! A Desdemona who fights back!"
  • At the end of Chilean Soap Opera El circo de las Montini, the very old clown Lindorfo, whose health struggles were the center of one of the sub-plots in the series, collapses dead right at the end of his last circus act. Everyone thinks at first that he's just Playing Possum as part of said act, and the owner even goes there to congratulate him on his acting skills, but then his son and partner realizes what happened...
  • In the Community episode "Contemporary Impressionists" the crowd thinks that Jeff's angry onstage outburst (complete with him ripping his shirt) is him doing an impression of The Hulk.
  • In Criminologist Himura and Mystery Writer Arisugawa, one of the cases start when an on-set coffin is opened during a gothic-themed idol show, revealing the still body of one of the performers inside. Everyone hesitates, wondering if it's part of the show, until a detective hops up on stage and confirms that the performer is dead.
  • Subverted in the CSI: Miami episode "Chain Reaction". It's the start of a fashion show. The lights suddenly cut, somebody asks "Is this part of the show" and two women dressed in your typical robbery gear enter with machine-pistols, spraying off a clip. One says "Now do I have your attention?". Then the two remove their outer clothes, the music starts and it does turn out to be the fashion show. Then one of the models gets electrocuted- which is definitely not part of the show and no-one thinks it is.
  • CSI: NY: In the opening of "Grounds for Deception", an audience is watching a production of a Greek tragedy in Central Park. During a pivotal scene, the shadows of two people appear behind the curtain at the back. As one stabs the other, the audience is enthralled...until a large pool of blood appears beneath the curtain.
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm: Larry David's performance in Mel Brooks' production of The Producers, when he forgets his lines and proceeds to perform an off-the-cuff standup routine and break the fourth wall.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Unquiet Dead": When Mr. Redpath's grandmother's face turns blue and the Gelth leave her body during Charles Dickens' reading of A Christmas Carol, Dickens tries to explain it away as "a trick of the lights". Unlike usual, though, the audience doesn't believe him and runs.
    • "The Shakespeare Code": The climax takes place at the end of a performance of Shakespeare's play Love's Labours Won, the ending of which was written by the evil aliens to call the rest of their race to take over the world. After the villains are defeated, the audience stands up and applauds. Martha assumes that they think it was all special effects.
    • The Eleventh Doctor uses this trope when he wants pocket change in "The Bells of Saint John". He materializes at London's South Bank (next to an annoyed and upstaged Human Statue) and has his companion pass the hat around for his "Disappearing Police Box" act, implying that he's going to go back in time and do the first half. Or he's already done it. Whatever...
    • "Death in Heaven": An army of Cybermen marches onto the streets of London. Bystanders cluster round and start taking selfies, and the amused Big Bad even puts the hat out for them. Subverted when the bystanders turn out to be armed UNIT operatives.
    • In "Spyfall" the Doctor suddenly appears in a scientific exposition in the 19th Century. When asked how she did that, the Doctor introduces herself as The Marvellous Apparating Man...Lady! Unfortunately the Big Bad has followed her back in time and proceeds to demonstrate the incredible shrinking device!
  • Father Brown: A cops and robbers comedy play takes place near the end of "The Flying Stars". Naturally, this means that Lady Felicia frantically running on stage and calling for the police is treated as part of the play's proceedings, as is the murderer coming after her and threatening her at gunpoint to keep her quiet.
  • In an episode of Glee, the kids are performing at an alcohol awareness assembly when Brittany throws up on Rachel mid-performance. Principal Figgins praises them on informing the students about the dangers of alcohol using special effects. In reality, New Directions were drunk off their asses.
  • Inverted in an episode of The Golden Girls, where the girls are attending a murder mystery weekend. As Dorothy attempts to solve the case, Sophia makes numerous snide remarks. When the fed-up Dorothy promptly grabs her and puts a knife to her throat, ostensibly to demonstrate how the murder would have taken place, a frightened Sophie yelps to the other diners, "Not part of the show, people! Not part of the show!"
    • Played straight in an episode where the girls learn that the actor they invited to join their community theater group has been sleeping with all the women. The audience assumes this trope when they confront him in the middle of a performance and applaud wildly, forcing everyone to bow in acknowledgement in order to save face.
  • In an episode of Goodnight Sweetheart Gary is acting in a play and falls down drunk. His friend Ron comes onstage and says "Ladies and Gentlemen, Gary Sparrow has been under a lot of stress recently." Cut to an audience member saying "Its a bit too avant-garde for my tastes."
  • Hank Zipzer: In "Open Day", Hank's latest Zany Scheme results in him and Miss Adolph crashing the presentation Dean Bitterman Mr. Joy is making to perspective parents in the auditorium. In the face of Mr. Joy's rising fury, Hank manages to pass it off as a performance by the drama club, demonstrating the sort of creativity encouraged at Westbrook. A few moments later, Mr. Rock crashes the stage and makes a similar pitch for the music faculty.
  • The Highlander episode, "The Modern Prometheus" featured Lord Byron as an Immortal who is a rock star in the present day. He and Duncan sword fight backstage during a break at one of his concerts and, after Byron is beheaded, the quickening is seen as this as the audience cheers.
  • The Incredible Hulk (1977):
    • In "My Favorite Magician," David Banner assists an elderly magician. In one performance, he is handcuffed in a glass box full of water, placed behind a screen. The handcuff key is supposed to be in the box's false bottom, but the magician forgot to place it there. Not finding the key and unable to hold his breath for much longer, David transforms into the Hulk, breaking out of the box and bringing the screen down. The audience is baffled for a moment, then applauds. Moments later, a middle-aged couple finds him outside the theater... and compliment his performance. When he reacts awkwardly to the camera's flash (yes, they wanted pictures of him), they simply regards it as "show folk" being eccentric.
    • In "King of the Beach," after David transforms behind stage at a body-building contest, the audience thinks the Hulk is a contestant and shout, "Pose for us! Pose for us!" all the while snapping pictures of him.
  • In In Your Dreams, the characters plan a murder mystery dinner, where one of them pretends to be murdered and the guests have to figure out who did it using scripted clues. However, an unfortunate chain of coincidences results in there being an actual mystery to solve, which they have to awkwardly improvise around while pretending that everything is going as planned. At the end, one of the guests deduces exactly what really happened and compliments them on the mystery.
  • Maya's murder mystery party in Just Shoot Me!. Her neighbour, Professor Gladstone, suddenly dies, and everyone, thinking it's part of the show, stays in character, even after the police arrive.
  • In the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Theatre Tricks", an actress in an interactive production is raped during the show, with everyone else watching and applauding; one unwitting audience member even helps restrain the victim because he doesn't realize she's actually in distress. For that matter, the rapist himself believes it's this, as he had supposedly arranged the "scene" with the victim ahead of time, only it turned out that the person he was talking to was a third party who was setting the victim up. He's truly horrified when he realizes what he actually did.
  • In the LazyTown episode "Defeeted", Sportacus's stunt is interrupted and sabotaged by Robbie Rotten, who controls his feet through the remote-controlled boots he's wearing. After he's rocketed offstage by them, Mayor Meanswell and Bessie Busybody are still considering the possibility that it's just all part of the stunt. The kids, however, are less convinced and go off to help him while the two sit in awkward silence until he returns.
  • Mission: Impossible: The bad guys do this in "Gunslinger" (even uttering the exact phrase) as they hustle a spy outside to kill him; making it look like part of the Wild West show at the resort.
  • Ms. Marvel (2022): When Kamala Khan's powers manifest at AvengerCon, the audience thinks they are part of her cosplay and cheers her on. Even after she accidentally sets off a catastrophe, most of them are still partying. Kamala's high school nemesis, Zoe Zimmer, not recognizing her, tries to get a social media hookup before being hit by a giant, swinging, replica Mjolnir.
  • Murder Most Horrid:
    • In "He Died A Death," an actor playing a murder victim in a stage play is shot dead for real during the rehearsal. After the intermission, Dawn French's character announces that he's been shot — then looks down and realizes that he really has, but her horrified reaction is initially assumed by the rest of the cast to be her forgetting her lines and repeating herself. Only when she starts shouting to stop the play do they realize that she's serious.
    • In "Dinner at Tiffany's," a games teacher is poisoned, and it starts to take effect in the middle of an aerobics lesson. Her death throes are mistaken by the class for aerobics moves, and they duly copy everything she does.
  • The climax of the Psych episode "High Noon-ish" saw Lassiter confront villain of the week Stinky Pete in a Wild West-themed tourist trap town. They both stared each other down...and drew their weapons, with Lassiter shooting first by a good second at least. The crowd, thinking it was one of many "duels" that take place, comment that they don't know who to root for since they're both wearing black. Some of them even boo Lassiter the police officer.
    Lassiter: I'm the good guy, you toothless hillbillies!
  • Saturday Night Live:
    • Played with in the Digital Short "When Will the Bass Drop?" The DJ Davvinci's bass is so intense and awesome, audience members' heads explode. He also inexplicably gains the power to fly, shoot lasers out of his eyes, and render surviving fans either dead or unconscious.
    • In late 2000, during the monologue of the episode he was hosting, comedian Tom Green proposed to fiancée Drew Barrymore that they marry at the conclusion. Everything was in place, but the bride was a no-show, leaving the groom repeatedly screaming "Drew!" as the credits rolled and the audience roared with laughter, assuming this trope. However, it turned out to be for real (Tom wasn't the only one shocked—producer Lorne Michaels and a handful of celebrity guests were too). Drew later explained that she thought it would be inappropriate to marry in such a setting. note 
  • Schitt's Creek: A stunt to release some live crows at Moria's movie premiere goes awry, with the agitated crows attacking the crowd gathered outside the town hall, and Moira desperately pleading for everyone to remain calm. Video of the incident goes viral, and Moira's publicist daughter convinces everyone that the attack was a part of the planned publicity stunt.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • In "Wormhole X-Treme!", an alien spaceship appears in the sky during the filming of a sci-fi TV show; the crew assumes it's part of the script and gets it on camera, with the creator (who knew in advance it would happen, and had the outdoor filming scheduled accordingly) of the show saying...
      Martin: We're gonna win an Emmy for this! ...For special effects.
    • In "Bounty", an attempted assassination of Carter appears to be part of a demonstration of the technology she and Dr. Lee bring to a trade show. Probably helped by the fact that they were demonstrating hologram technology. Looks like their original plan was to have "Carter" walk on stage and then wow the audience when she turned out to be a hologram generated from backstage. The sniper fell for it too of course and fired on the hologram which promptly disappeared. Cue the real Carter coming out from backstage holding a working laser gun which she uses to stun the sniper. The audience applauds and it's not hard to see why they would believe it to be part of the demonstration.
  • Supernatural:
    • In "The Real Ghostbusters", a LARP ghosthunt turns bad when real ghosts show up — but the players don't realize straight away that the proceedings have gone off-script, with one of them even going so far as to mock the ghosts for being unrealistic.
    • In "Fan Fiction", during a school play based on the books of Supernatural, a real monster shows up and is killed onstage, exploding purple goo all over the first few rows in the audience... to a round of thunderous applause and a standing ovation.
  • Invoked in UFO (1970), in which the alien-hunting organisation SHADO has put their Elaborate Underground Base under a film studio, where all the odd goings-on can be passed off as something to do with a movie. It saves money on sets as well.
  • In The Vicar of Dibley, Alice Tinker gives birth to her child while playing Mary during a Nativity Play, to various comments of "it's very realistic".
  • An episode of Wizards of Waverly Place features an actual faerie appearing on stage during Justin's production of Peter Pan to chastise Alex's dismal performance of Tinkerbell. The audience is flummoxed. Max reviews the play lauding Justin's creative direction of Tinkerbell "fighting herself", saving Justin's college recommendation.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • One guy getting beat down by 2, 3, or 8 other guys? People using trash cans, steel chairs, and sledgehammers on each other? All part of the show. Someone's bleeding profusely ("the crimson mask")? Probably part of the show, unless it's late-2000s onward WWE, then it's an accident.
  • Averted whenever a referee makes a certain signal indicating to medical personnel and other officials that an injury suffered in the match is legit and not part of the act. Often, when fans see wrestlers behaving in certain ways — such as the opposing wrestler seeming upset when the opponent he just trash-talked in an interview a few minutes earlier is in real pain or has stopped moving for real — they'll realize that what's going on in the ring is real. If the incident happens during a live televised event, the announcers will emphasize clearly that the incident was not part of the night's planned events; such happened when Owen Hart was fatally injured during a live pay-per-view event (after a failed stunt) and when Jerry Lawler suffered a heart attack while doing play-by-play commentary on live television.
  • One possible explanation for Buddy Rogers' health playing into his losing the WWWF World Championship to Bruno Sammartino in a May 1963 match that famously lasted 48 seconds. The story has always been that Rogers suffered a mild heart attack not long before his scheduled match with Sammartino. Sammartino, in latter-day interviews, claimed that Rogers was in excellent health and that he was simply unwilling to cooperate with promoters who had booked Sammartino to win the match. The lack of existing records from that time, plus the strict maintenance of kayfabe from that era and the fact that virtually all of the other key players including Rogers are either deceased (Rogers died in 1992; another with direct knowledge of what actually happened, Gorilla Monsoon, died in 1999; and Sammartino died in 2018) has made unclear whether Rogers' health was all show or if he legitimately had suffered a heart attack.
  • At the 2005 Royal Rumble, Referees from both Smackdown and Raw were on-hand to officiate that night, and the final two contestants - Batista and John Cena, eliminated each other at the same time, a feat not seen since the '94 Rumble. While it's now known as a botchnote , at the time it worked perfectly because the conflicting referees sided with their brand's wrestler, and everyone in the audience believed it was All Part Of The Show, even when Vince McMahon came storming down the ramp to yell at everyone (tearing both quadriceps in the process). The wrestlers then capitalized on the improvisation made by the referees, throwing each other out of the ring in turn while declaring himself the winner before McMahon ordered that they restart.
  • Kris Levin, a referee better known for promoting women's wrestling, tried to save Jessie Brooks's match vs Mark Hauss during Warriors Of Wrestling and Tier 1's 2016 Empire State Of Mind by playing off a New York State commissioner's interruption as this, hoping the fans' predictable response would let it happen. It didn't work, the commissioner maintained men couldn't wrestle women in the state. While it was eventually made clear the commission representative mistakenly applied New York's boxing rules to pro wrestling, "wrestling men in New York" basically summarized the career of Jessie Brooks and the match was allowed to take place after the scheduled event, by then pretty much everyone in the audience realized it wasn't at work.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Dragon Blooded Exalted possess Charms that allow them to force people to interpret local violence as just a form of elaborate performance.
  • In the Ironclaw adventure "The Wages of Envy" it's stated that any fighting the PC's do in an opera house will be taken by the wealthy, somewhat sheltered nobles in the audience as part of the show. Even the villain firing an organ gun on stage will be seen as mere "opera grotesque."
  • This is one of the stranger methods suggested for getting people to believe in your magic in Mage: The Ascension: set up cameras and make it look like you're filming, and it'll all be attributed to special effects.
    • In Mage: The Awakening, this is actually a special power of the Legacy known as The Blank Badges. Their third Attainment allows them to literally explain away Paradox, with explanations ranging from "We're filming a movie" to "We're doing a pyrotechnics demo" to the utterly blatant "We're calling down magic from the Supernal Realms."
  • In the World of Darkness crossover game Midnight Circus, the eponymous Carnival is surrounded by a Glamour Veil designed to hide the true nature of the circus from its audience, usually by ensuring that anything unusual or disturbing is dismissed as part of the show. For example, Koba's Progressive Klown Show usually ends with a spy from a rival clown troupe being discovered, then chased down and eaten by Koba's enslaved werebear - all dismissed as special effects by the Glamour-baffled audience. If the player characters attempt to rescue the spy, the Glamour Veil just weaves them into the show, complete with comedy pratfalls and sad trombone music; the audience buys all of it, even when Koba's bodyguards open fire on the players with handguns and flamethrowers.

  • Amusingly subverted in Be More Chill, where Michael realizes that the entire cast of the school play getting brainwashed is not part of the show because, in his words, "This is way too good for a school play."
  • Real life example and possible inversion: Warner Le Roy's play Between Two Thieves concerns a small traveling company of Jewish and Christian actors who "improvise" a trial debating the life, works, and existence of Christ. At several points in the play the discussion onstage becomes so heated that members of the audience stand up and join in the argument. Of course, all of these audience members are plants, actors who are part of the play (and the whole thing is completely scripted), but during productions it's not uncommon for actual audience members to stand up and begin making comments as well, requiring the actors to, in turn, actually begin improvising in order to address the real audience member's point in such a way as to get him or her to sit back down, then steer things back to the script. Ironically, the better the actors are the more likely unscripted audience participation is, because they're more like to think it's not All Part of the Show and feel free to break in as well.
  • Played with in a stage show by Rob Newman and David Baddiel which ends with the two comedians coming back on stage, sitting down and telling the audience that the show's over and they can leave. Obviously nobody knows what to do at this point.
  • The second act of Ruggero Leoncavallo's opera Pagliacci is devoted to a Commedia dell'Arte play in which Canio, the actor playing Pagliaccio (a clown), confronts his wife about her lover in the middle of a performance of the show within a show, while the audience praises the play. It culminates in him murdering them both, and ends just as the audience starts to realise what happened with perhaps one of the most famous lines in opera: "La commedia è finita!" ("The comedy is over"). Leoncavallo even claimed it was based on a true story, no less.
  • In this version of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, the battle between the pirates and the policemen spills onto the stage of a production of H.M.S. Pinafore. Some audience members perk up, others frown and check their playbills.
  • In the first scene of Show Boat, when a jealous Steve assaults Pete in full view of the town's finest, Captain Andy tells them it's just another preview of the melodrama he's presenting (having already introduced Steve as the leading man).
  • Vaclav Havel's Temptation, an adaptation of the Faust story set in Communist Czechoslovakia, subverts this trope. It ends with one of the actors catching fire following what appears to be a special effects accident, at which point firefighters run up onto the stage and put it out.
  • There are also various stories based on this sort of thing happening during an opera - one of Agatha Christie's involves Tosca, with the actor playing Scarpia getting Killed Off for Real (and it turning out the soprano was so good at Tosca because her life had parallels to it).

    Theme Parks 
  • Invoked in the "ride" ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, wherein the conceit is that the audience is going to a presentation of a dangerous alien creature who "escapes" after the audience is securely strapped into their seats. Said creature then moves around the auditorium in absolute darkness, menacing the guests as the security team tries frantically to corral it, all the while assuring the trapped audience that everything is fine, it's all part of the show, please don't panic.
  • At the Jaws ride in Universal Studios, a guest fell off the boat, dangerously close to the works that operated the mechanical sharks that would have drowned or crushed him. The attendants managed to steer the boat towards him and haul him to safety. The rest of the guests applaud this because, from their point-of-view, they thought a stunning stunt just occurred and it was all ad-libbed, which wasn't the case for the guest's point-of-view, however. Nevertheless, the guest sued the park, not just for the danger to his life but because his horrified kids watched the whole thing, thinking the sharks were going to eat him.
  • Terminator 2 3-D: Battle Across Time: Sarah Connor warns the audience multiple times to leave before the building is destroyed. Take a guess how many audience members actually leave.

    Video Games 
  • The second mission in The 3rd Birthday has a massive Twisted (a weird monster from beyond time and space) warping into existence above a rock concert, right from the stage. It grabs a few audience members and nobody reacts until they realize the blood spurting from the portal is real.
  • In the intro to Brütal Legend, a giant fire monster attacks in the middle of a concert. The crowd seems to think a Heavy Metal Physical God bearing the likeness of a stage prop showing up, killing the band, and threatening a roadie is all part of the act. The crowd goes absolutely wild with joy, jumping, screaming and throwing Devil Horns in approval as he roars and spews flame everywhere.
  • In the intro of Countdown Vampires, when the dancers are turned into vampires, the audience thinks it's part of a show... right up until they start attacking people.
  • Cuphead: The fight against Sally Stageplay takes place on a theatre, with the audience obviously thinking it's all part of the play. Between each phase of the fight, a curtain falls and the audience cheers before the battle resumes. The third phase even has you fighting a giant cardboard prop of Sally who uses cardboard props as "magic". And the final phase has Sally tied from a rope, taking in the applause from the public, while you're trying to dodge her Parasol of Pain and the roses the audience is throwing on the stage.
  • The opera scene in Final Fantasy VI culminates in an on-stage battle that begins when the heroes and the monster, Ultros, fall out of the rafters and onto the stage. Having previously promised not to ruin the show, Locke attempts to play the battle as part of the performance (although he turns out to be a hilariously bad actor). And for his part, the conductor plays along and leads the orchestra for a special Boss Theme. At the culmination of the fight, Setzer shows up out of nowhere and abducts Celes, and the entire main cast pursues — leaving the opera house director, whose show has been completely derailed, with no option but to promise the audience the plot will be resolved in "Part Two".
  • In Final Fantasy VIII, the crowd present for the parade in Sorceress Edea's honor continues to cheer and celebrate while Edea delivers a scathing New Era Speech, murders the president right at the podium and assumes control of the country, is attacked by a team of assassins at the end of the parade and defeats them by impaling their leader with a spike of ice through the chest. It's hinted, although never actually stated, that Edea's magic is influencing the crowd's behavior.
    • In a flashback in the same game, Laguna and his friends Kiros and Ward are shown taking roles in a movie because they've run out of money. Kiros and Ward are supposed to operate a Ruby Dragon costume for Laguna, playing the hero, to fight; a real dragon wanders onto the set instead, forcing Laguna to fend it off with his prop gunblade while his co-star runs for it.
  • At the beginning of Final Fantasy IX, the Tantalus theatre troupe stages a production of "I Want to Be Your Canary", as part of a plan to kidnap Princess Garnet. Four of the game's eight player characters accidentally end up on-stage (which is actually the deck of an airship) in the middle of the performance. Although the characters play along at first, the performance eventually falls apart, with Steiner attempting to thwart the "kidnapping", Tantalus attempting to fly the ship away, and Queen Brahne ordering weapons fired at the ship. Then it's revisited in the ending, to reveal that Zidane lived, and to reunite him with Garnet.
  • The In Medias Res concert opening of Final Fantasy X-2 has Rikku and Paine crash the performance and provoke LeBlancusing Yuna's Songstress Dressphere to take on her appearance — to battle them. The audience's continued cheering and waving indicates that they think it's all a part of the act.
  • In Final Fantasy XIII, the heroes and their eidolons make a dramatic entrance in the middle of a parade. It's initially viewed by the crowd as a stunt, like the re-enactment battle seen earlier in the game...until they see Snow's Pulse l'Cie brand and start panicking.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, the dancer story quest for Ala Ghiri has you perform a dance that funnels negative emotions into the shape of a monster that you then have to kill. At first the audience is terrified, but you and your companion act as if it is all an act and the crowd begins to cheer for you instead, blissfully unaware of the danger they are standing right next to.
  • In Hitman: Blood Money, there is a mission set at the Paris Opera House where some actors are rehearsing Tosca. You have the option of replacing the prop pistol with a real pistol so that your target, the lead singer, is killed for real during the execution scene. Naturally, it takes a while for the audience watching the rehearsal to realize it wasn't part of the show.
    • A mission to Club Hell in Las Vegas features one of your targets dancing on a small balcony rigged with flame projects, hanging just above a massive shark tank. You have the option of rigging the pyrotechnics to set her ablaze: after wasting precious time rolling about on the floor, she hurls herself off the balcony and into the tank, where she becomes a barbecued meal for a hungry White Pointer. All throughout this, the partygoers are applauding.
    • In the new episodic game the tutorial missions are re-enactments of past assassinations performed by ICA staff in a simulated environment. So snapping people's necks, shooting people in the head, murdering someone with an inflatable raft... no-one will bat an eye! ...up until a point. The actors will break character if Agent 47 'kills' Jasper Knight with an Ejection Seat malfunction. One even calls Agent 47 a 'Crazy Bastard'.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, when you talk to the tourists after Neo Bowser Castle appears, most of them are freaking out, but a few think it's some sort of resort event.
  • In the bonus chapter of Mystery Trackers 7: Blackrow's Secret Emily Lockwood kills her fiance Jeffrey Dean with a pistol which is supposed to have been a prop. The audience applauds enthusiastically after her My God, What Have I Done? moment.
  • Subverted in Saints Row 2: when the Boss attacks a Feeddog concert in order to shake down their lead guitarist for information about the Brotherhood, the audience immediately realizes that it's not part of the show but the after-action newspaper report talks about how great a farewell performance it was.
  • In Splatoon 2, it is revealed that the first game's Final Boss was interpreted by the Octarian public as the underground concert experience of a lifetime. Taking advantage of this, this game's final battle is set in a massive concert stadium, with DJ Octavio and (a mind-controlled) Callie headlining and thousands of Octarians in attendance.
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus has BJ, as the penultimate stage of the game, audition for a role As Himself to an unaware (and more than a little senile) Adolf Hitler. After one actor is killed for failing to portray BJ's viciousness accurately, BJ himself is told to fight the guard. BJ proceeds to wrestle the guard's shotgun beneath his chin to kill him and fires several more slugs into the body before bashing him in the head several times, throwing the gun at the glass, and shouting at the observers. Hitler is overjoyed at having found his Blazkowicz, summarily killing the last auditioning actor as he compliments BJ's ferocious performance.

    Visual Novels 
  • An interesting variation happens in A3, where Banri is paired up with Juza as a result of a game of rock-paper-scissors. The two have to spread flyers, but when they make up a street-act, they just get negative banter. The two then proceed to bicker Like an Old Married Couple (as they do that about 90% of the time). The people think that it's amazing acting as it fits their intimidating appearance, and the flyers are gone in matter of minutes. Afterwards, Banri says it wasn't even acting (as it is how they are around eachother naturally) but he's content anyway now the flyers are gone.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • In the first game, a young boy witnesses a murder, believing what he's seeing is a hero and a villain of a TV show fighting. This fact is reflected on the suspect and the victim being the actors who play the hero and the villain. In addition, the apparent murder weapon was the weapon the hero always uses in the show.
    • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Klavier Gavin is holding the concert when the guitar he's using - a gift from the guest star he's performing with - suddenly bursts into flame. However, the words sung at that moment were "Burn my life away, all away", so everyone in the audience thought it was part of the show. Klavier, meanwhile, was pretty ticked off over it, especially considering the guitar had great emotional value for him.
    • In Spirit of Justice during Trucy's magic show, she opens the coffin she just stabbed with a sword, only for a guy to tumble out onto the floor and not move, much to Trucy's horror. At first everyone's confused, but assumes it must be part of the act. That is, large set piece suddenly falls down onto the stage, seemingly crushing Trucy underneath it, at which point the audience goes into a panic. While Trucy was unhurt, the guy that tumbled from the coffin was indeed found to have been fatally stabbed with a sword, and Trucy is arrested for involuntary manslaughter over a magic trick gone wrong. The victim was alive when the coffin was opened. He was playing dead as part of a prank on Trucy that was set up by the true culprit, before being subsequently murdered by the true culprit in the midst of the resulting chaos.
      • In the same case, this trope is also referenced during the testimony concerning the magic show's fire trick. Betty and Bonny mention that the fire trick was especially dangerous, so they had to be prepared for it in case something went wrong. Athena mentions how if something did go wrong, by the time people realized it wasn't a part of the act it would probably be too late.
      Apollo: If by "people", you mean "Athena Cykes", then sure.
  • In Star-Crossed Myth, the planetarium where the Player Character works puts on an event for the Star Festival When a group of fabulously handsome, strangely-dressed men approach the protagonist and one of them makes it rain stardust, onlookers take it as a performance being staged for the event - even the protagonist's coworker Hiyori, who as an employee of the planetarium should know that no such thing was planned.

  • The Batman: Wayne Family Adventures episode "S'tel ees a cigam wohs!" has Bruce go to see Zatanna's magic show, only for it to be attacked by Copperhead, who steals one of Zatanna's Magic Wands and turns Nightwing into a bunny (something that fails to hinder his fighting ability). Wanting to avoid causing a panic, Zatanna continues the show as if this is all a part of the act, leading her to "volunteer" Bruce from the audience so that he can help in the fight, while using magic to dress him up as Superman so that the audience don't make a connection between him and Batman.
  • In this Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures strip, Dan picks up an Incubus bear that Aaryanna tried to give him to make him behave himself. He asks it, rhetorically, what he should do with it—whereupon a loud, creepy-sounding voice answers, "YOU SHALL SURRENDER TO THE DARKNESS!" It turns out that the rats are playing a video game, and they have it hooked up to surround sound. (Interestingly enough, Potophie comments that Dan's screams "sound almost real!")
  • In The End, when an improperly cloaked alien spaceship parks in the middle of a city, it's taken for a sideshow at the Sci Fi/Fantasy convention it just happened to have landed next to.
  • The punchline of several strips worth of fighting a cage-clank (along with Zeetha being stripped down to her underwear, again) in Girl Genius has Gilgamesh attempt to explain to the locals... who toss a bunch of coins at him, clearly thinking that this was all just an act. Notably, Gil actually seems to be willing to play along to get the crowd to come with him.
  • In this Sluggy Freelance strip, a Russian mobster shoots someone in the middle of a nightclub, then goes, "Zat shot was part of ze song you vere dancing to! Look how your violent American music has made a man your parents' age faint!" Cue resounding cheers from the club patrons.
  • In The Wotch, during the school dance party, Ming is announcing the big surprise she planned. Meanwhile, Anne and Ms. West are arguing in the bathroom. Also meanwhile, Cassie is struggling to summon magic in the woods nearby. Simultaneously, Cassie's power peaks, Anne snaps her fingers, and Ming yells "Surprise!" Things don't go as planned.
    • While Ming is yelling "Nobody panic", s/he is clearly the only one panicking. The rest of the students love it, and one pair goes and makes out under the bleachers.

    Web Originals 
  • A positive version occurs in the backstory of Curveball. Liberty and Curveball are having a little disagreement, and wind up falling through a skylight and into a Bar Mitzvah. Thanks to some quick improvising on the part of both Liberty and the father of the boy, nobody else even realizes that it was an accident.
  • In the DEATH BATTLE! episode "Scarlet Witch VS Zatanna", the latter convinces her audience that the fight with Wanda is part of her act, even though these two are fighting to the death. She even keeps up this facade after literally sawing Wanda in half.
  • Mocked in The Onion when a dance club burns down. The fire chief yells "The roof! The roof! The roof is on fire!", to which the dancers respond "We don't need no water, let that motherfucker burn!"
  • SCP Foundation: A common cover story is to frame some anomalous occurrence as actually being a performance art piece or other such thing. For example, SCP-3353, an intangible apple tree that appears in random parks and public gardens before disappearing a few hours later, has been explained to the public as a "low-attention public artistic project".
  • In Sam & Mickey's "Spooktacular", Barbie's long-lost sister, Tutti, interrupts the haunted prison scene to try and kill her. None of the visitors, or Yasmin, believe Barbie's frightened confessions that the intruder planned this all by herself.
  • In Survival of the Fittest, unable to admit that they could not catch the terrorists behind the tragedy, the US government convinces the American public that the show they watched, where teenagers murdered each other, was just that: a show, designed for shock value and drama. This works, until V2 of Survival Of The Fittest starts, and the public realize they were lied to.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, Jimmy creates a weather machine for a school play. The machine goes haywire during the play and create a tornado that soon grows and picks a school up. When Jimmy resolves the situation, the people watching the play thought the whole thing was all part of the act.
  • In the 2010 Halloween episode of American Dad! Stan warns people to run away from his home where the serial killers had been let loose by Roger. Naturally, people are more eager to enter his haunted house.
  • In the American Dragon: Jake Long episode "The Talented Mr. Long", Jake has to retrieve a legendary magical chalice that unfortunately was mistaken by the Muggles for an ordinary trophy, and is being used as the prize for a talent competition. Cue a battle between a dragon and a djinn on stage during Spud's magic act, which most of the audience mistakes for being part of said act. Professor Rotwood realizes what's actually going on, but he's dismissed by the principal, who claims that the magical creatures and fire are obviously just sleight of hand and pyrotechnics. Although the principal was actually a mermaid, so she presumably knew real magic was involved and didn't want to say anything.
  • Arthur: In "Muffy Goes Metropolitan", Muffy began to throw a fit at a poetry club after she sat on chewed up gum. She complained about all the bad things that happened during her stay at Crown City. The poetry club members cheered for Muffy, thinking she made a good speech.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold. In "The Mask of Matches Malone!", Catwoman, Black Canary and Huntress are sneaking into the Iceberg Lounge. Unfortunately in the darkness they wander onto the stage and are revealed to half the criminal community of Gotham when the curtain draws back and they're pinned under a Dramatic Spotlight in an Angels Pose. Catwoman then has them pose as the entertainment with a Birds of Prey Bragging Theme Tune.
  • Bob's Burgers:
    • In "Hamburger Dinner Theater", Linda decides to open a dinner theatre in the restaurant, much to Bob's chagrin. The acting is dismal, and the patrons are unimpressed, until an actual robber enters and decides to milk the situation for all it's worth, singing throughout his entire robbery, much to the audience's glee and Bob's consternation. Linda herself even begins to sing with him, lamenting later that he won't be around for the following night's performance despite the fact that he robbed the store.
    • In "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentle-mannequins", a scuffle breaks out over Chet's mannequin "wife" Nadia, interrupting their Nativity-inspired window display, but the passers-by seem to think it's part of the show.
  • In The Boondocks, Gangstalicious is shot on stage. Unfortunately, it was during a performance of his new hit single, "I Got Shot". It took 45 minutes for someone to call an ambulance.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, a school play that has a plot similar to West Side Story has the Delightful Children from Down the Lane make a Humongous Mecha out of their costume. This results in an impromptu dance number/fight scene with all of the other kids and the team dancing while at the same time avoiding getting shot by the robot's lasers. One proud father remarks:
    "That's my daughter up there dodging deadly laser blasts!"
  • An episode of Danny Phantom introduced the rock-girl ghost Ember, who apparently planned to take over the world through the hypnotic power of her music. On the night of a world-wide, televised concert, Danny goes to stop her, resulting in a big fight filled with energy blasts. The crowd oohs and aahs, and even Jazz remarks "Mindless teenage rebellion and a killer light show? Is this the best concert ever, or what?"
    • Another one occurred in "Beauty Marked" when Danny accidentally declares Sam the winner of the Beauty Contest. The host places a magical tiara on her and while fireworks are going off, Sam is taken to the Ghost Zone. No one reacts horribly (except the other contenders who are less than pleased a Goth girl won).
  • There’s a Dino Squad episode involving paparazzi and a faked photo of a singer by Buzz. The kids end up going to the singer’s concert to deal with the attention the photo attracted from Veloci. Sabotage happens and Fiona morphs spinosaurus to save the singer while the audience thinks it’s all part of the show.
  • DuckTales (1987): In "Maid of the Myth", Mrs. Beakley was performing in an opera when some real vikings showed up and abducted her. They were gone before anyone realized it wasn't part of the show.
  • Futurama:
    • Played with in "The Devil's Hands are Idle Playthings", where the interruption actually becomes part of the show.
      Hermes: Is this really happening or just being staged?
      Professor: It can't be real...
      Amy: Not if Leela is engaged.
    • And again in "Less Than Hero". During a superhero battle, Leela's mother is feeling scared and confused, and so assumes she's wandered into an off-Broadway play. Response: "No, there are too many people here." This is actually technically accurate; the phrase "Off Broadway" (And the connected "On Broadway") does not refer to physically being located either on or off the street named Broadway, but rather refers to the size of the theatre and audience it can hold. If there are enough people present then it literally cannot be an "Off Broadway" show.
  • In Gargoyles, when Coldstone is introduced, Broadway, Brooklyn, and Lexington initially think the sounds of him and Goliath fighting are just the sound effects of the movie they're watching. Played for laughs, as "I don't remember any explosions in Bambi."
    • In another episode, when Lexington and Goliath are fighting the Pack, some witnesses believe they must be filming a movie or something.
  • During the in-universe "filming" of the Gorillaz music video "El Manana", in which Noodle gets attacked by helicopters and shot at, nobody noticed that she was in actual danger until the real stunt helicopters showed up, by which time Noodle was missing and her attackers were gone.
  • Gravity Falls: Played with in "Sock Opera". The supernatural events of the episode spill over into Mabel's puppet show, culminating in her fighting her demonically possessed brother on-stage while fireworks go off. When the fight is over, Mabel brings up this trope and assumes the audience is about to start clapping. While she's apparently right about the audience thinking it was part of the show, she's dead wrong about them liking a non-sequitur ending that involves them nearly getting burned by exploding fireworks.
    Audience Member: We almost died!
  • The Hair Bear Bunch: In "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," a movie studio is filming the fairy story at the zoo (upon Hair Bear's recommendation). A flubbed line results in a porridge fight between cast and crew. Watching from the wings is the zoo superintendent who takes it as high comedy.
  • The Hollow: How the host of the game show plays off the glitches to both the audience and contestants once everyone is safely out of the game.
  • Home Movies: In "Bye Bye Greasy", Melissa is required to eat pie during one of her scenes. When she thinks the pie contains kiwis, which she is allergic to, she completely loses it and starts yelling that she is going to die, when the audience doesn't react, she yells, "This isn't part of the show!!" Of course, considering how the performance was going up to that point, the audience could be forgiven for not taking it seriously.
  • An episode of Inspector Gadget had the passengers on a sea cruise captured by a pirate (who was also a MAD agent), demanding they sign over their respective financial assets. Since the cruise ship's captainnote  had promised "adventure" and "danger" on their voyage, they thought everything was staged (as does Gadget, because he's Gadget). Fortunately (for MAD, anyway), the captain was clever enough to trick them into signing away their riches under the guise of reserving places on next year's cruise.note 
  • During a wrestling show in one episode of Kim Possible, the manager of such uses some Egyptian artifact to turn himself into a humanoid jackal. Kim, Ron, as well as two of the league's top wrestlers, Steel Toe and Pain King, work together to fight him. All the while the audience is none the wiser. In fact two of the audience members comment on the "special effects" at first but then dismiss the whole thing as "fake".
  • In the Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness episode "The Maltese Mantis", Po attends the Festival of Figurines (a Fan Convention) and ends up getting into a fight with Taotie on the main stage. Naturally, the attendees assume it's a dramatic re-enactment of ... something.
  • In The Life and Times of Juniper Lee "It Takes A Pillage", June's friends ends up getting inadvertingly possessed by viking spirits who then proceed to, well, pillage, but also seek an amulet that'll restore their bodies. They end up hijacking a viking themed casino ship to which June, along with Ray Ray and Monroe, have to commandeer a tour boat to follow them which still has the tourists on board. June makes them believe the chase is part of the tour she dubs the "Battle of Orchid Bay" as well as the vikings catapulting items at them and subsequent sinking of their ship.
  • Near the end of the Madballs episode "Escape from Orb", the Madballs put on a show for the people of Earth and end up getting chased by the villainous Badballs during their musical number. The audience's joyous cheers indicate that they think the Badballs' intrusion is part of the performance.
  • In Metalocalypse, this is played straight every single time Dethklok performs. In the first episode, one concert-goer talks about having his middle finger and ring finger bit off by one of the band members who then smoked them, and he's perfectly fine with that!
    • Injuries to fans are apparently so common that the band's manager REQUIRES concert-goers to sign a pain-waiver, so that no matter what happens during the show, Dethklok cannot be held responsible.
    • Every single performance by the band has catastrophic repercussions. In the first episode, the stage is dropped (as a huge spiky cube) just outside the target-zone, landing on top of the audience, after which the sides of said stage open up and kill or maim even more paying fans.
      • In a later episode, they apologize for what happened during a concert in Finland, and performs a new national anthem they wrote for the Finnish people. The result is that they awaken an ancient demon that proceeds to devour everything it sees.
      • In "Fat Kid In The Dethharmonic", they perform they only ever concert with a philharmonic orchestra, and include an impressive laser-show in the concert. Using high-energy lasers that cut through people like a hot knife through butter. At the end of the concert, only Dethklok remains.
  • "Milo Murphy's Law": During the "Mezzo-Sopranos" opera, Milo Murphy manages to make the show go smoothly despite numerous technical accidents and even cast members leaving mid-show.
  • In the Monster Buster Club episode "Acting Out", Wedge (a lizarlike alien) attacks Cathy (who's playing Juliet) during a Romeo and Juliet school play, forcing her friends to intervene in full view of their classmates. Thankfully, they manage to make the whole thing pass for a Sci-Fi retake of the play with John's help.
  • In an episode of My Life as a Teenage Robot, a monster crashing into a movie theater through the screen was assumed to just be really good 3D effects.
  • The Patrick Star Show: In "Big Baby Patrick", Patrick's tantrum is totally unrelated to the show, but when Squidina puts him on and he plays with a rattle, the audience thinks he's just "doing a baby act" and like it.
  • In an episode of Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja, Randy breaks the projector in a movie theater and causes a giant version of the Grave Puncher to appear and begin punching the patrons. Everyone thought it was part of the movie until it was explained to them.
  • In Regular Show, Grave Sights has a movie night which Mordecai and Rigby borrow a special 3D projector for due to the format of the movie they chose only working with it. On the night of the show, however, Rigby puts the tape upside-down and causes the projector to short-circuit, causing the corpses buried in the graveyard they held the movie night in to come to life. When the zombies show up, Mordecai and Rigby are impressed by how the projector's 3D effects are, until they realize that they forgot to put on their 3D glasses and have a real zombie invasion on their hands, which the crowd thinks is part of the movie and goes wild which neither can't stop due to a paid day-off being offered for this. They end up using Muscle Man's sports equipment to fight off the zombies and incidentally recreate the movie.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: This is what happens when the ghost of Friar Serra attacks the production in "Theater of Doom". Director Vincent Van Ghoul gets hailed as a genius.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "The Italian Bob" features Sideshow Bob trying to murder the Simpsons in the middle of an Italian opera - naturally, it was a parody of Leoncavallo's tragic opera Il Pagliacci.
    • Played with (inverted?) in "Mayored to the Mob" when one of Fat Tony's mobsters is trying to kill the mayor at a dinner show (coincidentally, Guys And Dolls), but while hiding backstage one of the performers sees him and, assuming he's an actor, pushes him on stage. The mobster sticks his knife in his teeth and nervously starts tapdancing.
    • Season 1's "Krusty Gets Busted" – with the reaction of the kiddie audience when Krusty suffers a real heart attack while performing on live television, the kids thinking his wild contortions and screaming in extreme pain were all part of a comedy act. (Even Channel 5 newscaster Kent Brockmann chuckles as he whimsically remembers the incident.)
    • Averted when Marge was called to assist in a Stage Magic act which results in her being attacked by a mob of monkeys. A voice comes in over the PA asking the crowd to help her as that is not part of the act.
    • In the season 11 episode "Beyond Blunderdome", when the Simpsons are visiting Hollywood, they pass by Robert Downey Jr. (at the time better known for his troubles with the law than his acting roles) in a shootout with the police. Marge mistakes it for a film shoot, causing Bart to remark that he doesn't see any cameras.
    • "The Blunder Years" (where we see the death of Smithers' father) includes a scene where The Simpsons are in Burns' office, watching a security tape from that day. After the history is revealed, Waylon Jr. appears in the room to confront Mr. Burns. Homer (eating popcorn, believing that this is All Part Of The Show) says: "Now the movie's turned into a play! Still good, though."
  • Steven Universe: At the end of "Change Your Mind", the giant Diamond Mecha lands on the beach during a Sadie Killer and the Suspects concert, causing Sadie to drop her microphone in surprise. The audience seems to think the whole thing is part of the concert, especially when Sadie invites Steven onstage to perform.
  • Teen Titans has a Trapped in TV Land episode where the Titans, pursuing the villain Control Freak, gets trapped in-between various programs, and Control Freak's intervention with various channels have resulted in the television emitting harmful alpha waves capable of disrupting neural pathways of anyone (in their fictional world, anyways) watching the show. Robin at one point shouts at the screen towards the real-life audience to "turn off your television, right now!", which obviously doesn't work. Lampshaded by Beast Boy and Raven later on.
    Robin: [shouting at the real-world viewers while grabbing the screen] Do not watch this program! It will liquefy your brain! An escaped criminal has tampered with this transmission, and it is imperative that you turn off your television right now! [Beat] I'm serious! Stop watching this show!
    Raven: I don't think they're listening.
    Beast Boy: Of course they're not listening! Breaking news, escaped criminals, a handsome, green heartthrob, this stuff is ratings gold!
  • Used repeatedly in Transformers: Robots in Disguise (2015) by Strongarm and Grimlock to pass the latter off as a prop for a show, since that's pretty much the only thing they can think of for disguising a giant robot dinosaur. Also done in one season two episode for Bumblebee and Bisk after they're mistake for props at a rock concert- Bisk was there to steal equipment and Bee went to stop him. Their on-stage fight was, of course, wildly loved by the audience and Bumblebee got his picture taken with the band afterword. The lengths that Bee and the rest of the Autobots went to to disguise themselves became real head scratchers given that the show was a sequel to Transformers: Prime, where the Autobots and Decepticons had become very publicly known thanks to Megatron deciding to abandon all pretences of subtlety and launch large, open attacks on human cities.
  • W.I.T.C.H. (2004): A similar example happens in the second season episode "W is for Witch". Since it's Halloween W.I.T.C.H. and their magical allies are able to walk around in their transformed states and their battle with the Big Bad is thought to be a skit put on for their school's carnival. One of their classmates praises the "special effects" that let the girls fly around and attack the other "actors" with elemental powers. The audience is still cheering at the end when Phobos takes the Seal of Nerissa from her and announces his intention to conquer the universe. Encore!

    Real Life 
  • In live theatre this kind of behavior is the exact opposite of what actors onstage are supposed to do if there is real danger present. If, say, a door falls (something that the audience will notice but won't get anyone hurt) then continue as normal (maybe with an off the cuff remark to make clear that you did see what happened but are going to ignore it). If a chandelier falls (which could very well kill or seriously hurt someone), then break character and get the hell out of the way, then don't move a muscle until stage management figures out what to do next. This is largely because something severe enough to cause actual danger is likely the most visible symptom of a larger problem (like the supports being weakened and collapsing) and the last thing stage management needs while trying to control the situation is the actors trying to continue the show like nothing happened. This kind of behavior could very well break something else if people aren't careful.
    • On the other hand, for anything short of actual danger (a missing prop, a costume malfunction, a problem with the lighting or sound effects, etc.), the general expectation is that the actors will continue the show as if nothing happened. In the case of Pantomime comedy, this is almost par for the course, and something that may even be expected to happen, as it can make for some rather impressive improvisation.
  • Isla Fisher nearly drowned due to this. During production of Now You See Me, while filming the water tank scene, Isla got stuck and began banging on the wall of the tank to alert the crew. They didn't realize that anything was wrong because her actions were exactly what the script required her to do. Luckily, she was able to untangle the chain and free herself.
  • When taping the Doctor Who serial "Battlefield", Sophie Aldred was in a water tank to film the cliffhanger for the end of the second episode, in which Ace is trapped in a flooding chamber, when the tank glass cracked, leaking water in the direction of live electrical equipment. Sylvester McCoy noticed the leak, and to ensure no-one thought he was just ad-libbing in character he threw out several profanities before adding "Someone get her out of there!" The Production manager has said that Sophie wasn't in actual danger (although he agrees that the floor crew were); others disagree with his assessment, but at any rate, nobody got hurt. Everybody Lives, Ace...
  • See Fatal Method Acting for real life incidents involving death on stage.
  • In his spoken word shows, Henry Rollins talked about an instance where he was playing a festival in Australia. They were playing some new songs in their set and he forgot the words to a song. He tried to invoke this by going over to each member of the band and "rocking out" with them while they kept playing until the song was over.
  • Redd Foxx died of a heart attack while at rehearsals for his then new sitcom, The Royal Family. Infamously, everyone thought Foxx was reprising his "I'm coming, 'Lizabeth" comedy routine from Sanford and Son and didn't realize anything was amiss until after he had lost consciousness for some time and didn't respond to requests to get up.
  • Health food enthusiast Jerome Rodale died onstage during a taping of The Dick Cavett Show in 1971. Rodale had been Cavett's first guest, and he remained on the guest couch when newspaper columnist Pete Hamill came on as the second guest. Rodale made a loud snoring sound and his head fell back. Hamill said "This looks bad", and the audience laughed. Legend has it that Cavett said "Are we boring you, Mr. Rodale?", but Cavett denies this. The episode was being taped, and thus never aired.
  • There was a Hardcore-band at one point, who took the whole "Hardcore-mentality" a bit too far. They would consequently beat up paying customers and smash venues, as part of their concerts. Then again, what else can one expect from a band with "Riot Extravaganza" in their name?
  • A particularly grim example: when the space shuttle Challenger exploded, some astronauts' family members watching on TV thought it was a second-stage rocket ignition and cheered. Probably a lot of therapy time devoted to that topic.
  • In one tragic incident, an accident with pyrotechnics lit the ceiling of a Rhode Island club — The Station — on fire during a performance by the band Great White. The performers didn't notice for a while, and the audience thought it was all part of the show. Eventually, the band noticed and fled, the crowd panicked, and the club collapsed, resulting in the deaths of 100 people.
  • In 1987, comedian Dick Shawn was playing a politician reciting cliches. One of them was "If elected, I will not lie down on the job." He then fell down and didn't get up. The audience thought it was part of his act. When he didn't get up, there were actually catcalls from people who thought he was dragging it out too long. Finally someone went on stage, examined him and said "Is There a Doctor in the House?". Another audience member performed CPR on him, but it was to no avail. The audience didn't know if the people coming on stage to examine him were part of the act or not. They weren't: he died of a massive heart attack on stage. There is sad irony in the fact that he had played Lorenzo St. DuBois (the actor playing Hitler) in the scene in The Producers described above.
  • Similarly, when British stand-up Ian Cognito collapsed and died on stage during a club show in 2019, his reputation for weird behaviour meant that it took a while before the audience and stage crew realised he wasn't faking.
  • This story is about a Viennese actor who nearly died onstage after stabbing himself in the throat with a knife that he thought had been blunted. The audience, thinking the spraying blood was just really good special effects, began to applaud. It was only after he collapsed and wouldn't get up that they began to suspect something was wrong.
  • A lot of Andy Kaufman's work was based on making his audiences wonder if what he was doing was for real or not; when people learned he was dying of cancer, more than a few simply thought it was an act. He died in 1984, but some still think He's Just Hiding.
  • An actor playing Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar was supposed to have fake hanged himself, and everyone clapped when he actually had his windpipe crushed and didn't realize what was going on until the actors all dropped their roles and ran to try to untie the ropes.
  • At Burning Man in 2007, a man hanged himself inside a two-story tent. His friends thought that it was performance art.
  • Stage magician Chung Ling Soo (actually a white American named William Ellsworth Robinson in yellowface) was famous for the trick where he would appear to stop a bullet with his teeth. In his last show in 1918, the act went wrong and a real bullet got fired into his chest, and he expired with the line: "Oh my God. Something's happened. Lower the curtain", the first and last time he spoke English on stage in his Chinese persona.
  • Former AC/DC singer Bon Scott said he saw current lead singer Brian Johnson perform with his band once. Bon Scott enjoyed the performance because at the end, Johnson started rolling around and screaming. "And to top it all - you couldn't get a better ending - they wheeled the guy off!", said Bon Scott. He thought it was all part of the show, but what really happened was that Brian had appendicitis.
  • During some of Alice Cooper's early tours, he would fake-hang himself at the end of the concerts. On at least one occasion, however, this went completely wrong when the safety-line snapped and the musician began to actually be hanged on-stage! A stage-technician did notice the mistake and hurried to have the gallows removed from the stage so they could save Alice Cooper without the audience knowing that he had nearly been executed.
  • In the 1980's, Motley Crue's bassist, Nikki Sixx, was so badly addicted to drugs that when playing live, he would occasionally collapse without a warning. This can even be seen in the "Wild Side" music video, near the end where Nikki is seen tumbling down the slightly angled stage. Everyone assumed it was just a part of the act. However, in a live-recording from the same show, Vince Neil says immediately after the song "We've got a small problem here... Our Bass Player is down."
  • British comedian Tommy Cooper died of a heart attack during a performance on live television. The audience thought his falling down was part of the act and laughed, until they realized he was seriously ill.
  • Part of the reason Per Yngve "Dead" Ohlin's suicidal behavior went untreated was that most Mayhem shows featured gore and self-mutilation routinely. When Dead slashed his wrists and almost bled to death in one show, the audience assumed that once again he had meant to simply draw blood from elsewhere. It also didn't help that fellow bandmate Euronymous wanted Dead's self-mutilation to go to even more ridiculous lengths to build Mayhem's reputation and infamy, and he lied frequently about the state of Dead's mental health to prevent intervention as well as frequently egging him on.
  • The military uses the phrase "Real world" in order to avert this during drills. Anything that is not part of the drill will be declared "Real world".
  • If there is a real emergency (like an injured soldier) during a training exercise with the Canadian Forces, they'll immediately call out "No Duff No Duff No Duff" which tells everyone that said emergency is not part of the exercise and that real assistance is needed.
  • The 2012 Aurora Massacre began, according to witnesses, when the assailant set off a few smoke bombs during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. A few moviegoers thought it was a stunt pulled off by the movie theater to promote the film until gunshots rang out. It didn't help that the shooting took place during a battle scene.
  • In order to avoid this, many Renaissance Festivals give their employees/in-character actors a code word to say if something is really wrong, so the security people (many of whom are in costume themselves) know what is an act and what isn't.
  • A very major reason that assassin John Wilkes Booth escaped the night he killed Abraham Lincoln. After the gun was fired, the report muffled by the sound of laughter from the play, Booth jumped down from the balcony they were on and broke his foot. The audience thought it was part of the production. Probably the only reason he managed to escape was because it was during a play. Booth was also a very successful and well-known actor in his lifetime, possibly contributing to the initial confusion.
  • A Moroccan filmmaker making a movie about illegal immigration hired some locals to serve as extras. The actors were supposed to be playing young Moroccans who illegally cross the Strait of Gibraltar in rickety boats in the hope of starting a better life in Europe. Unfortunately, filming had to be canceled after all 70 of them fled across the Strait for real only a few days before filming was supposed to start.
  • A stabbing incident that occurred during the Art Basel show was mistaken by some onlookers for an art performance.
  • Ian Curtis of Joy Division suffered from epilepsy and would frequently have tonic-clonic seizures on stage. These were mistaken for his stage moves by the audience, as Curtis was known for herky-jerky movements on stage. Things went From Bad to Worse when his epilepsy became public knowledge among fans, who started to attend concerts specifically for the purpose of watching Curtis have on-stage seizures. The already depressed Curtis consequently lost his remaining enthusiasm for live performing, convinced that nobody cared about the actual music anymore and just wanted to watch him flail about, as reflected in the song "Atrocity Exhibition": "For entertainment they watch his body twist; behind his eyes he says 'I still exist.'" Yikes. It's widely accepted nowadays that this conviction was one of many major catalysts for Curtis's suicide in 1980.
  • According to contemporary accounts, when Sophie Blanchard's (the first female balloonist) balloon caught fire during one of her performances (an accident which caused her death), most of the audience initially cheered and applauded Madame Blanchard for such a spectacular show.
  • Occurred tragically in Brazil during location filming of the Soap Opera Velho Chico when the actor Domingos Montagner got into difficulties while swimming in a river at the end of the day and drowned. Reportedly, local residents were aware of him and another actor calling for help, but thought it was a fictional scene.
  • In 1969, Allen Funt, the creator and original host of Candid Camera, was on a flight from Newark to Miami that got hijacked by terrorists, who were seeking to divert the plane to Cuba in order to gain asylum. A few passengers who recognized Funt thought that the whole thing was another prank, despite Funt's protests that it was very real and the hijackers' attempts to ignore the obvious humiliation they were receiving. Only when the plane landed in Havana did they realize that this wasn't a Candid Camera prank.
  • A Utah woman being killed on a ship where a murder mystery event was taking place.
  • The Who have had this happen to them more than once.
    • The band was once playing a show at the Fillmore East when someone threw a Molotov cocktail into the grocery store next door. The flames started coming into the theater, and even though firemen came into the theater, the audience was convinced it was part of the act, especially when Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend kicked them off the stage. Eventually, Bill Graham, who ran the theater, was able to get the audience to leave, the band surrendered to the police, and were let go when they admitted they thought it was part of the show as well.
    • This is how we got the idea that Rockers Smash Guitars. It originated from a performance where Pete Townshend accidentally smashed the headstock of his guitar against a low ceiling during a gig at a club. He then smashed up the rest of the guitar in frustration before continuing the show with a replacement guitar. However, the band found that the audience found the guitar smashing quite entertaining, so Townshend began to regularly destroy his guitars. Keith Moon soon got into the act by blowing up his drum set.
  • Pink Floyd's first live performance of The Wall had part of the stage set catch on fire from a pyrotechnic effect after the first number, with the audience cheering until the fire department arrived, as they assumed it was just another of Pink Floyd's famous visual effects on stage. The rest of the concert continued without incident.
  • Inverted by magician Harry Blackstone. At a performance in Decatur, IL, Blackstone announced that his final illusion was so spectacular that he would have to do it in the street outside, and directed the audience to leave row by row. Only when they were outside did they find out that the building was on fire and that Blackstone had used the idea of an illusion as a ruse to ensure an orderly evacuation.
  • While performing his hit song "Lonely Teardrops" during a show produced by Dick Clark in September 1975, singer Jackie Wilson collapsed after the line "My heart is crying." The audience applauded, believing it to be part of the show. Sensing something was wrong, Clark ordered the band to stop playing. Wilson had suffered a heart attack, and the ensuing lack of oxygen caused him to slip into a coma, in which he remained until his death in January 1984.
  • At the 1906 premiere of the musical Mam'zelle Champagne, architect Stanford White was shot dead by mentally unstable millionaire Harry Kendall Thaw. Most of the audience thought it was some kind of elaborate party trick at first, but then it became clear that White really had been killed.
  • In 1974, Deborah Gail Stone, a hostess at the Anaheim Disneyland's attraction America Sings, was crushed to death between two revolving walls and her screams were misinterpreted as part of the show by the audiences.
  • At the 2022 Academy Awards, when Will Smith stepped onto the stage and physically slapped Chris Rock for making a mocking joke at the expense of his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, before cursing him out, many viewers assumed it was a staged skit. This was particularly true in the US, where much of Rock and Smith's language was muted, making it appear more like a comedic routine. However, as uncut footage from countries that had not muted the cursing spread online, along with photos showing Smith's slap more clearly, it became apparent Smith had indeed slapped Rock for real, made even more evident by Smith's erratic acceptance speech upon winning Best Actor for King Richard minutes later.
  • Penn & Teller's water tank trick on Saturday Night Live took a turn for the worse when Teller, who had already acted out his drowning bit, accidentally got water into his oxygenated goggles. Rather than giving the panic signal, he proceeded to actually hold his breath for the remaining couple minutes of the act, all while the audience thought he was still "playing dead." He was hurriedly released at the end, coughing and gasping for real to a cheering, oblivious crowd.
  • A scene in Dance Me to My Song, an Australian film about a woman with severe cerebral palsy, called for its writer/star Heather Rose (who had the same condition) to flail around in panic to the extent that she was able to do so after being pushed out of her wheelchair. After some time of witnessing disturbingly realistic behavior from Rose, the crew decided something must really be wrong and helped her back into her wheelchair. The first thing she said through her voicebox afterwards was "I was just acting".


Awesome 3D

When Richard drives a truck through a movie screen, everyone in the theater thinks it is part of the 3-D effect.

How well does it match the trope?

4.95 (20 votes)

Example of:

Main / AllPartOfTheShow

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