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Dramatic Deadpan

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"You're gonna need a bigger boat."'
Police Chief Brody, Jaws

A major announcement is made more dramatic by being said in a matter-of-fact tone.

Brevity, as the Real Life examples show, can be the soul of this trope. Ancient Sparta used it, making this Older Than Feudalism. To say that someone has a "Laconic Wit" is a reference to the Spartan tendency towards this; Sparta was (and is) located in the Greek region of Laconia.


A Super-Trope to Little "No", Flat "What", and often Blunt "Yes".

Compare Tranquil Fury, Major Injury Underreaction, Danger Deadpan, This Is Gonna Suck, Casual Danger Dialog.

Contrast Chewing the Scenery, Large Ham, Big Word Shout.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In 300, in contrast with the movie's tone:
    Persian Messenger: No man – Persian or Greek – no man threatens a messenger! This is blasphemy! This is madness!
    Leonidas: This is Sparta.

    Fan Fics 
  • Takeru Takaishi in the Tamers Forever Series delivers one of these when he calls the other Digidestined to fight once more and Kari and Yolei, only knowing that Gennai has summoned them bring along their children hoping it will be a simple reunion. which leads to this:
    Takeru: "I will hold no responsibility for those children's deaths. Understood?"
    Davis: "Damn, TJ, are you insane!"
    Takeru: "If those two stay in this world, I assure you that they will die, as well as their parents. And if you call me…that, again, I will break your jaw so hard that you'll have to swim to the bottom of the lake for the pieces."

  • Jaws: Chief Brody's quote (ad-libbed by Roy Scheider), above, comes after he sees the shark for the first time. It's dramatic and hilarious - so much that editing tricks were done so the screams from the shark Jump Scare didn't mute it!
  • The Bourne Identity. When trapped in the farmhouse Bourne is asked if the children will be harmed. "Not gonna happen," is his reply.
  • Equilibrium: After Preston prepares for the climactic battle: "No." and "Not without incident."
  • When trapped in Moria in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Boromir looks out the door and announces, "They have a cave troll." The tone is almost conversational. The circumstances, that this is important information in an already critical situation, make it dramatic. At the very worst, he sounds annoyed, instead of freaking out as most people likely would that something that can pick you up and throw you with one hand is about to attack.
  • Hellboy (2004): Liz Sherman: [to John as she ignites her powers] "You should be running."
  • Much of Nicholas Angel's dialogue in the last half of Hot Fuzz is a direct parody of this very common action movie trope.
  • Snatch.:
    • When Turkish realises that Mickey is going to win a fight they have promised a psychotic gangster he will lose, his voice-over quietly says "Now... we are fucked."
    • Earlier, before the fight, Turkish's ditzy but good-natured associate Tommy had been tremendously anxious, worrying over everything that could go wrong with the fight. He's less than reassured when Turkish's answer to all of Tommy's "What if this happens? What if that happens?" questions is "We get murdered before we leave the building and I imagine we get fed to the pigs."
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones is hanging by his fingernails above a bottomless pit. A fellow treasure hunter has already fallen attempting to retrieve the Holy Grail. At that, his father softly says, "Indiana, let it go." referring to him as "Indiana" rather than "Junior" for the first time. This convinces Indy to abandon the Grail and get to safety.
    • Also, "The floor is on fire." (though in this case, it's fueled by resignation as Indy didn't want to hear him)
      • From the original, "Whiskey?" while his face is about to be burned off.
  • The Last Starfighter:
    Ko-Dan Officer: She won't answer the helm! We're locked into the moon's gravitational pull. What do we do?
    Lord Kril: We die.
  • The Little Shop of Horrors (Roger Corman's version). Two cops are talking.
    Cop 1: How're the kids?
    Cop 2: Lost another one this week..
    Cop 1: How?
    Cop 2: Playing with matches.
    • All this dialogue was delivered with no more emotion than if they were discussing the weather.
  • Every line spoken by Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. Most notably "You will lose." and "I must break you."
    • Almost every line. The one exception mirrors Rocky's unbreakable spirit wearing Drago down.
      "I fight for ME!!"
  • Soldier. Kurt Russell's laconic character Todd (104 words total spoken in the movie).
    Sandra: "But one soldier, against seventeen. What are you going to do?"
    Todd: "I'm going to kill them all, sir."
  • Star Wars: Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi says "Obi-Wan Kenobi. Obi-Wan... Now, that's a name I've not heard in a long time. A long time."
    • It's his expression and carefully taking a seat that says it all.
    • Alec Guinness' performance has to be seen in light of the backstory. His character has just had the shock of his life, but he also has a lifetime of experience and training in a mystic philosophy of being centered and in control. It almost takes the prequels to really show how big of an effect this is. Like seeing a planet twitch.
  • Superman - General Zod: "Why do you say these things to me, when you know I will kill you for it?"
  • In True Lies Arnold Schwarzenegger's character, while under the influence of Truth Serum, announces in a monotone exactly how he is going to kill two villains seconds before doing so.
  • Lampshaded in Serenity:
    Mal: Fear's nothing to be ashamed of, Doctor.
    Simon (with a perfectly straight face and calm voice): This isn't fear. This is anger.
    Mal: Well, kinda hard to tell one from t'other, face like yours.
    Simon: Yes, well, I imagine if it were fear, my eyes would be wider.
    Mal: I'll look for that next time.
  • Toshiro Mifune used this frequently.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: "Gentlemen, I suggest you beam me aboard."
    James T. Kirk, 30 seconds from being eaten and blown up by a Giant Space Doomsday Machine.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation brought us the following understatement, which would go on to be reused in various forms throughout the franchise for similar one-sided matchups:
      Jean-Luc Picard: Mr. Worf. Dispatch a subspace message to Admiral Hanson: We have engaged The Borg.
    • Star Trek: Discovery used a similar line when the USS Shenzhou was facing off against a bigass Klingon warship (and before twenty-four more show up).
      Philippa Georgiou: Januzzi, contact Starfleet Command. Send an encoded message. Tell them we have engaged the Klingons.
  • In the M*A*S*H TV series' Christmas Episode, "Death Takes a Holiday". Winchester is comforted by Klinger and says in a calm tone of voice, "Thanks, Max." Remarkably affecting for a simple statement of gratitude.
  • Dragnet: "Just the facts, ma'am."
  • In Doctor Who, the Ninth Doctor had a few of these (in addition to some requisite hammy speeches):
    "My planet's gone."
  • From Power Rangers RPM: A few episodes into the season, we find out that the Rangers' Mentor, Dr. K, was responsible for the creation and accidental release of the Venjix computer virus which has wrecked nearly the entire world except for Corinth City. A few episodes later, one of the Rangers named Dillon, a Half-Human Hybrid with Venjix implants, has become infected with that same virus, accelerating his transformation into a complete cyborg under Venjix's control. The only way it could be stopped was by Dr. K implanting the base code for the virus. What she says next, in a completely deadpan manner (as her personality is very deadpan because of her upbringing), shocks her team:
    Dillon: I'm getting really tired of asking this, but what happened?
    Dr. K: What just happened was I entered the base code for the Venjix virus. I know it because I wrote it. I'm the one who released it. Everything that's happened, everything you've all been through—it's all my fault.
  • In the Supernatural episode "Devil May Care" (S09, Ep02), Irv Franklin, an old-time hunter, is unimpressed when Dean tells him about all the angels falling to earth from heaven. He responds with a flat "Huh, that's a wrinkle."

  • In Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett, Carrot reacts to the story of Leggy Gaskin's death by saying flatly "That shouldn't happen." When Sergeant Colon, rain streaming down his face, says "But it does," Carrot is unmoved. "But it shouldn't."
  • From The Far Side of the Stars, a novel in David Drake's RCN series: Adele Mundy is ambushed on the street. Three in front, eight in back mean eleven big, strong men with clubs vs two slightly built women. "I have the ones behind," her aide Tovera murmured. She did, too, killing them all by the time Adele had competently handled the three in front.
  • In The Forge,
    • Once Raj is asked, "Sir, what if you're wrong?" "We die."
    • When riding through the horrors of a crushed enemy force, Raj instructs a guest officer, "This is defeat. Avoid it."
  • In The Long Ships the protagonists are at the Yule Feast at king Harald Bluetooth. Toke gets into an argument with another guest, but the king has forbidden bloodshed in the hall. Toke suggests that they "go out to pee and bring their swords". When he comes back, they ask about his opponent. "He's done peeing."
  • In Dr. No, James Bond receives a basket of fruit that he sends for testing. The telegram he receives in reply says, "Each object contained enough cyanide to kill a horse. Suggest you change your grocer."

  • Luka, a song by Suzanne Vega about child abuse. Have some tissues handy.
    Yes, I think I'm okay. I walked into the door again.

    Video Games 
  • Psychonauts - When the giant Censor appears in Sasha Nein's Mind, Sasha stares at it briefly, then quietly says, "Run, Rasputin. Very fast."
  • Tomb Raider: Anniversary.
    Lara Croft: It was you. You were the Queen of Atlantis.
    Jacqueline Natla: Once.
  • In Mass Effect 3, after Admiral Hackett hears that Shepard managed to enter the Citadel, which is under Reaper control, he states in complete deadpan:
    Hackett: Holy shit. They did it.
    • Also upon encountering the Thorian in the first game, complete with a Jaws reference.
    Shepard: We are going to need bigger guns.
  • Homeworld, mission 3.
    Fleet Intelligence: Kharak is being consumed by a firestorm. The Scaffold has been destroyed. All orbital facilities destroyed. Significant debris ring in low Kharak orbit. Receiving no communication from anywhere in the system. Not even beacons.

    Web Comics 
  • The Last Days of FOXHOUND - In The Psycho Test Decoy Octopus is disguised as Psycho Mantis purely to get Liquid Snake in trouble with the rest of the team. He ends up catching Sniper Wolf when Revolver Ocelot pushes her over, thereby giving the game away.
    Sniper Wolf: "Octopus?"
    Decoy Octopus: "Yes'm?"
    Sniper Wolf: "Start running"
    Decoy Octopus: "Yes'm"

    Web Original 
  • Rick Point Blank has this fun bit of dialogue in reference to a healing serum after Rick shoots Don.
    Don: Works better than we ever thought, huh?
    Rick: Yeah. Yeah, sure does.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The German army surrounded Bastogne in December 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. The German commander issued a "Surrender or Die" ultimatum. The American commander replied simply, "Nuts."
    • Napoleon's Imperial Guard ended up in a similar position during the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Historical accounts render the commander's response as either "La Garde meurt, elle ne se rend pas." ("The guard dies, it does not surrender."), or the similar "Merde." ("Shit."note ).
  • Ancient Sparta
    • Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, sent the Spartans a message: "If I enter Sparta I will level it to the ground." The Spartans replied, "If."
      • This attitude apparently convinced both Philip and Alexander that Sparta wasn't worth the hassle; neither of them actually tried to conquer it.
    • At the Battle of Thermopylae, dramatized in 300, the Persians demanded the Spartans surrender their weapons. The reply was "Molon labe," ("Come and take them.")
    • After the battle of Cyzicus, the Spartans sent the following message home: "Mindaurus (the Spartan admiral) dead, ships lost, men starving. Don't know what to do."
  • Military situation reports are written in standard flat format and terminology to minimize misunderstandings, resulting in a telegram transmitted around the world on December 7, 1941:
    • Another message sent during the same war — specifically, from Admiral Chester Nimitz to Admiral William "Bull" Halsey, Jr. during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which went down in history due to a bit of paddingnote  mistakenly left on the end:
  • In one of the Norse sagas a war party is about to attack a man in his homestead. They send in a man to see if their enemy is there. When he exits...
    "Was he at home?"
    "His axe was." [keels over dead]
    • Another Norse favourite is the story of a king being assaulted and killed by axe-wielding assassins. His last words, roughly translated from Swedish? "Broadaxes are popular this year, I notice."
  • "Houston, we've had a problem." Undeniable proof that astronauts are hardcore.
  • Before being launched into space, Astronaut Alan Shepard stated over the comms: "Let's not fuck this up."
  • General Charles Napier announced his conquest of Sind province, India to his commander (the then Governor-General) in a telegram containing only a single word "peccavi", a Latin word translating as "I have sinned". This also qualifies as both Genius Bonus and Just for Pun too.
  • The British tradition of Stiff Upper Lip has led to a few cases of this, sometimes funny, sometimes not. In one case during the Korean War, a British force asked their American superiors for support, as things were "a bit sticky". The Americans didn't realise that what the Brits were actually describing was a situation in which they had been reduced to throwing their tinned rations at the enemy and had, after putting up one hell of a fight, been forced to retreat. Help was only sent after the Brits had been almost completely wiped out.
  • In 1896, Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen tried to reach the North Pole by ship and failed. He and a loyal sidekick, Hjalmar Johansen, bravely tried to reach the pole on foot, carrying a sled and provisions. They failed again, and ended up on Franz Joseph's land, waiting for their rescue. At this point, they had an incident with a polar bear, ending with Johansen firmly placed under the bear, and the bear holding him down with his front paws. The Casual Danger Dialogue was invoked, with Johansen calmly stating:
    Mr. Nansen, I suggest you bring forth your gun now...
  • This may possibly be a Scandinavian trademark. During a crucial session in the Norwegian Parliament in 1958, the Labor Party had to accept a strong resistance to the suggestion that Norway should deploy nuclear weapons on behalf of the NATO alliance. Freshly minted politician Berge Furre managed to turn the tide and made the party vote no to nuclear weapons in parliament. Party secretary Haakon Lie, famously known for harsh methods, strong loyalty to the US and a volcanic temper, hissed to this young politician: "This might as well be your death sentence!" The young man calmly answered:
    "Or yours!"


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