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Dramatic Drop

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Good thing he wasn't holding the baby.

Dramatic Drop is kind of a step-sib to Dropped Glasses and Slow-Motion Drop. Something very startling or utterly shocking is announced or discovered — and the person encountering the shock literally drops what they're holding in astonishment. It most often falls ...and falls... and shatters at their feet — an aural punctuation mark to the bewildering announcement.

It usually occurs in specific situations:

  • The person is given shocking or bad news, or sees someone unexpected come into the room, and they drop what they're holding, so it falls to the floor, and breaks.
  • The person was doing something and is in trouble.
    • The person was minding their own business when the bad guy comes and yanks them out of their day. What they were doing falls to the ground, broken or otherwise ruined.
    • In examples played for comedy, characters may drop things they're holding if an attractive character comes their way.
    • If a younger character does something or says something outrageous or rude, you can expect this trope to be played out by their parents or people nearby.
    • The person was minding their own business, and fell ill or succumbed to some injury or illness they were previously unaware of. What they were doing gets dropped. In particular, seizures, heart attacks, catatonia due to major emotional trauma (or Heroic BSoD), etc., are frequently announced by dropping crockery.
    • The person dies.
  • The person drops something in order to make a mad dash to save something more important/valuable.
  • The person is suddenly the victim of Mind Control and turns immediately to the task they've been commanded to do.

This is a very commonly used trope. It used to happen quite frequently with telephone receivers left dangling when someone gets shocking news, but the advent of cordless and cellphones has caused that usage to fall out of favor and usage. Used comedically in parodies of the ending of The Usual Suspects.

See also Jaw Drop, Bowel-Breaking Bricks, Dramatic Shattering, Dramatic Sit-Down, Poisoned Drink Drop, Spit Take, The Comedy Drop, and Stopped Dead in Their Tracks. Not to be confused with Mic Drop. Sometimes subverted with a Desperate Object Catch.


    open/close all folders 
  • A British PSA about how to recognise the symptoms of a stroke includes the on-screen victim losing control of one arm and dropping her mug of coffee.
  • An industrial spy is telling the CEO of a car manufacturing company about all the features in the latest car a rival company has built.
    CEO: Who can do all that?
    Spy: Daihatsu. [CEO drops his coffee cup, which shatters on the floor] That's who.
  • When the mother in a British Child Safety PIF sees her son Mark running into the road, she drops the eggs she was holding.
  • In one New Zealand internet safety PSA, a young teenager drops his bowl of cereal when two naked porn stars show up on his doorstep to discuss the nature of real world relationships.
  • In the Long Long Man series of advertisements for the Japanese candy brand Sakeru Gummy, Chi drops her things this way constantly, especially in the presence of Long Long Man.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the seventh chapter of Asteroid in Love (animated in the third episode of the anime), Moe is carrying a box of cream puffs to Mira's room, and sees what looks like to be her crush Misa seducing Ao. Moe drops the box on the floor out of shock. This is all Played for Laughs.
  • In one of the picture dramas of Code Geass, Nunnally is holding half of her mother's commemorative plate (she had an argument with Lelouch over whether Euphemia would give it to her when it got cracked in half and Euphemia gave one half to her) while listening to the news about Euphemia starting the Specially Administered Zone. When the news gets cut off as the massacre begins, Nunnally drops the plate.
  • Hilariously invoked on Crayon Shin-chan when Misae tells his son some shocking news (not really, but Shin-chan is quite the drama queen) and he actually goes to the kitchen to fetch some cookies in order to drop them after he makes his mother repeat what she just said.
  • In the D.Gray-Man episode "The Black Order Annihilation Incident", both Lenalee and Alan drop their trays full of coffee during their encounter with Komui's robot.
  • Doraemon: A woman drops her shopping onto the floor on seeing her baby hanging on the rail of a balcony.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Mr. Popo drops his watering can in shock when he sees Kami returning to life.
  • The Fantastic Adventures of Unico features a variant, in that Katy drops the bucket she was carrying to fetch water after the Baron D'Ghost invites her to his castle, and then only after he leaves.
  • Used at least twice in Fullmetal Alchemist (2003):
    • Edward drops a basket of vegetables when he sees his sick mother collapsed on the floor.
    • Hughes's wife drops a tea set when she goes into labor.
  • A heartbreaking example occurs in Fushigi Yuugi. Just before Miaka and her Seishi leave for Hokkan, Tamahome pays a visit to his family with Miaka and Nuriko. He buys them a few gifts before heading to their home, but when he opens the door to their house, he is horrified to see that his entire family had been murdered. The ball he had bought for Yuiren rolls right out of his hands and bounces on the floor before reaching her barely-alive fingertips.
  • In Girls und Panzer, this happens twice:
    • Darjeeling drops her teacup, breaking a pre-fight promise, when Oarai manages to put pressure on her.
    • Mako drops her cell phone after receiving a call informing her that her grandmother has collapsed and been hospitalized.
  • Haibane Renmei: In the first episode, Reki drops her box of art supplies when she finds Rakka's cocoon. Later on, Rakka herself drops a teapot when she's feeling faint.
  • Henkei Shoujo: Hiromi drops her car keys upon seeing Rin drinking gas directly from the pump (which was adding gas to Hiromi's car, to boot).
  • Inverted in the anime adaptation of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War where Shirogane "drops" a balloon when Kaguya pulls him in for their First Kiss. The balloon proceeds to float upwards and block the view of their lips connecting from the audience (and Karen), which hides the fact that Kaguya went for a french kiss.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Fate Testarossa drops her intelligent device Bardiche when she discovers the truth about her past. Quite the Tear Jerker moment.
    • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, Shamal is preparing a bento when she gets a message on her cell phone from Suzuka about wanting to visit the hospitalized Hayate with some friends. Shamal's initially pleased to hear this, but when she recognizes Nanoha and Fate (who she fears will expose Hayate as her mistress) in the attached picture, she becomes shocked and drops her chopsticks.
  • In Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, Shuga, who was the tutor of a young prince, receives a message that the boy is dead. He reads it and wordlessly drops several probably valuable books. The scene has some impact as he's normally very composed and circumspect.
  • In the My-Otome manga, Erstin drops her tray upon learning that she will have to move out of Nina's room to accommodate Mashiro.
  • In Oni Ai, when Anastasia tells Akito that she is in love with him, Akiko drops some of her food. When Anastasia states she wants to be Akito's girlfriend, Akiko drops her entire bento.
  • In Pokémon Heroes, when the team is just about to leave the island, Bianca (or Latias, it is never made clear) kisses Ash on the cheek. It seems to be so shocking that Misty drops her Togepi.
  • Ranma ½: Kasumi sees Akane's Close-Call Haircut and drops what she was cooking in shock. Ranma, not one to waste food, manages to save dinner.
  • In Sherlock Hound, Mrs. Hudson is chloroformed and kidnapped by Moriarty, and as she loses consciousness she drops the flowerpot she's carrying.
  • Snow White with the Red Hair: Lord Tohz jumps up and knocks tumbler of booze he was just drinking from to the floor when he realizes that the younger Bergatt brothers have infiltrated his manor, subdued and killed all his guards and know he's been ploting with their elder brother against them.
  • Sword Art Online: During Kayaba's announcement of SAO's avatar death = player death function early on, every player receives a "Mirror" item that converts their avatar to reflect their real appearance. Some characters are still holding the item when he signs off with what is basically an A God Am I announcement; Silica dropping hers and screaming is what turns the crowd into a furious/panicking horde.
  • In a flashback from the second Tokyo Babylon OAV, a woman drops her shopping bags in horror when she enters her house and sees that her Creepy Child eldest son (the Big Bad of the story) has accidentally strangled his little sister to death. Even worse, the boy doesn't seem to realize what happened, and when he notices his mother, he happily and obliviously goes to her...
  • In Your Name, Mitsuha drops the tamago she was about to eat after she is told that Taki in her body had kicked over a table the previous day.

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: In episode 2 of Mighty Little Defenders, Wolffy is transformed into a dog. He walks on all fours and holds a painting in his mouth. When he's transformed back into a wolf, he continues walking on all fours until he realizes what he's doing and he drops the painting out of his mouth.

    Comic Books 
  • 52: Fittingly enough, Renee Montoya drops her pack of cigarettes when she learns that her mentor Vic Sage is dying of lung cancer.
    Renee: When did you quit [smoking]?
    Vic: Not soon enough.
  • In Batman, Alfred drops his tray of tea when he sees that Stephanie, aka The Spoiler is still alive. Steph then Lampshades this by commenting that it's nice to see Alfred lose his cool British demeanor once in a while.
  • The Flash: When the death of Bart Allen is announced to Tim Drake via cellphone, he drops the phone in shock. There's no dialogue on the page and if the audience hadn't known exactly what had been happening in The DCU of late you probably wouldn't realize why.
  • In The Infinity Gauntlet, Wong is about to serve a tray of tea to Doctor Strange, but he drops it on the floor when Thanos wipes him out of existence by using the eponymous gauntlet to kill half of the universe's population.
  • In the Iron Man issue 182, Tony Stark is drinking a bottle of alcohol when his friend, Gretyl, announces that she's giving birth. Tony promptly drops the bottle to help her.
  • Level Up: One of the angels drops the dish he's washing when Dennis makes a comment about maybe wanting to switch from gastroenterology to another medical field.
  • Samurai Grandpa: Near the start of the book, Ojichan has returned home with a box in his arm. He goes inside, looks into a room... and drops the box. The next panel shows his son Kyo lying on the floor mortally wounded, and Harumi crying over him.
  • In Silverblade #4, Milestone is carrying Jonathan's breakfast tray upstairs when he is confronted by Brain Vane's ghost for the time. Milestone screams and drops the tray, which goes bouncing down the stairs.
  • Ultimatum: When the Ultimatum wave hits New York, Reed drops the ring that he was about to use to propose marriage to Sue.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Sherlock Holmes fanfic 221B ("Beat" and "Never Broken"), Watson comes back unexpectedly just in time to shoot a criminal threatening Holmes. Given that this is the first time he's killed a man outside of war and he did it unwillingly, the experience badly shocks him and he drops his revolver. Holmes, noting his fellow lodger's reaction, sits him on the couch and gets him a brandy.
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon):
    • Subverted with Martin, who almost drops his camera from shock but manages to steady it with Mark's help during an up-close encounter with Monster X, stunned that the creature is capable of communication.
    • Played Straight by Nadezhda when she hears Lubyov talk about her baby.
  • In Backward With Purpose, Snape drops his wand in shock when Dumbledore admits to having the Elder Wand. Several more revelations later, he states that he needs to sit down as well.
  • In the Harry Potter fanfiction In The Black, the first part of The Black Sheep Dog Series, Sirius drops his wand in shock when his father reveals that he never actually disowned Sirius after he ran away.
  • Harry Is a Dragon, and That's OK: When Harry, on his first visit to Diagon Alley, asks Hagrid about whether Madam Malkin knows how to do robes for dragons, he hears a crashing sound, and turns around to see someone having dropped a glass beaker.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series fanfic Heroes, Kirk drops his load of branches to run after Spock when Spock disappears to regain his lost control.
  • In Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail, Titus drops a pepper mill in his hand when Chloe shows off a silver tome with torn pages... because said book is his son, whom he hasn't seen in years.
  • Kingdom Hearts Ψ: The Seeker of Darkness: In Loose Ends, Aqua goes to the Radiant Garden Restoration Committee to ask if they know anything about Zack Fair. When she mentions his name, Aerith drops a teapot and it shatters.
  • In The Lord of the Rings fanfic Left, Frodo drops Sting as Shelob jabs him with her stinger.
  • In Mastermind: Strategist for Hire, Inko drops a pan upon hearing the news of Mt. Lady's murder.
  • Bunnymond drops a basket of eggs in Mistaken Relations when Danny claims that Jack is his father (the fact that they both know someone named Jack F. is where the confusion comes from).
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Inko drops a plate full of food when Izuku tells her that he overheard Tsubasa saying that he shouldn't have a Quirk or a Metagene.
  • In a chapter of the Life During Wartime, a canon sidestory of Neon Metathesis Evangelion, Kaji lets his coffee cup drop when he learns from Kaworu that SEELE had purposefully caused Second Impact. Naturally, the mug shatters upon hitting the ground.
  • In the Rango fanfic Old West, Angelique drops her glass of water out of shock when she's told that the Big Bad is her uncle Dufayel.
  • In OSMU: Fanfiction Friction, Oswald has this reaction when he finds out that Oksana is his Blind Date, dropping the flowers he had hastily bought for Octavia, his intended date, in shock. Not that it matters, since Oksana doesn't take too kindly to his gift and calls it "plebian".
  • In Past & Future, Camilo is alerted that Santiago saw him threatening Leonardo in the form of Luisa when he hears the latter drop some of the wood he was holding.
  • Past Sins: Glimpses: "Displeasing Constants": When Nyx gets to ask a predictive spell a question for laughs, Twilight almost drops the camera she was carrying, in shock:
    Nyx crinkled her nose, but resigned herself to her fate. “Okay, but then I want my question for the table to be… um… I want my question to be… what if you were married?”
    “Married!?” Twilight almost dropped Nyx’s camera as her mind tried to process what she had just heard. “Where did this come from?”
  • In Queen of Shadows, Ikazuki drops his teacup after Ozeki casts the deciding vote to make him the Acting Yojimbo.
  • The Smeet Series: In Chapter 4 of Vindictive, Dib drops his drink after Foxtrot manages to actually beat Gaz at a video game.

    Film — Animation 
  • Happens thrice during the formal dance in Barbie & Her Sisters in a Pony Tale. All three of the boys from École Montagne drop their (glass) punch cups in some form of shock, one of which is She Cleans Up Nicely. Barbie's younger cousin Max is not happy when he has to clean up the mess.
  • Batman: Under the Red Hood: Alfred drops a tray when he sees that Batman's analysis of a blood sample has identified the Red Hood as being Jason Todd.
  • Cars: The mustache grilles of Chick Hicks's forklift crew all fall off upon seeing how Guido can change all four of Lightning McQueen's tires in four seconds.
  • Cinderella drops a tea tray when she overhears Lady Tremaine tell the stepsisters that the prince is searching for the mystery maiden he met at the ball.
  • In Happy Heroes 2: The Battle of Planet Qiyuan, when Little M. sees Big M. being dragged into the same Planet Qiyuan prison cell he's in, he's so surprised that he drops a mug he was holding, and it shatters on the floor.
  • Done offscreen in Hercules: Megara, holding a vase, is told by Hades that she will be freed from her Deal with the Devil if she finds Hercules's weakness. The camera is held close on Meg's reaction, but a distinct crashing sound is heard.
  • A slight variation occurs in The Prince of Egypt. During the plague of the Death of the Firstborn, we see a young boy carrying a jar of presumably water into his home. He gets through the door, we hear a loud exhale, and then the sound of the jar shattering. All we see is the boy's hand sticking out from the doorway.
  • Near the beginning of The Princess and the Frog, after Tiana realizes that she has made enough money to start her own restaurant from being a waitress at another, said restaurant's owner actually drops a fried egg from a spatula.
  • Happens in Quest for Camelot when Kayley sees a shadow appearing over her and her rooster. She gasps and drops one of the eggs she was carrying.
  • Ratatouille: When Ego gets a taste of Remy's ratatouille, he experiences a flashback to his childhood, when his mother served him some ratatouille (in more conventional stew form) to make him feel better after he had a bicycle-riding accident. After the flashback ends, this trope occurs with his note-taking pen.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • At the end of 1408, Mike Enslin is listening to his mini-recorder while his wife puts away stuff from a recent move. The recording jumps from mundane observations by Mike to the sound of the couple's dead daughter's voice. Mrs. Enslin stares dumbfounded at the recorder and very gradually lets go of the box she's holding, letting it crash to the floor.
  • In 40 Carats, Ann drops a wine glass in response to Peter's father hounding her about their Age-Gap Romance.
  • Amélie uses this to get the plot started, as the titular protagonist reacts in shock to hearing news of Princess Diana's death and drops the lid of her perfume flask.
  • The scene where Kevin Spacey throws his dinner plate against a wall in American Beauty was supposed to be one of these, but after it didn't work, Spacey unexpectedly ad-libbed, causing a priceless reaction that was kept.
  • Armageddon (1998):
    • Chick's ex-wife drops the phone when her small child says, "Mommy? That salesman is on TV." "That salesman" is her ex-husband, and the TV announcement is of the Freedom and Independence teams being launched to save the world.
    • Later on in the movie Truman drops a mug (which shatters on impact) after receiving bad news.
  • In Cash on Demand, Fordyce drops the glass of whiskey he is holding when Det. Sgt. Collins opens the door to his office and Colonel Gore Hepburn—whom he thought was long gone—steps back through.
  • Citizen Kane provides one of the best-known examples: When Kane dies, the snow globe in his hand rolls down the stairs and shatters.
  • Color Me Perfect: Early in Dina's course of intelligence-boosting gene therapy, she hears Mitch and Linda talking about how if she doesn't show signs of improvement soon, they'll have to pick another test subject. Dina is so dismayed that she drops the computer that's being used to test her intelligence.
  • The Con is On: When Harry sees Irina enter the club looking for her, she drops the glass she is holding and immediately bolts.
  • In Critters, when the mom spots a crite outside she drops her tray, breaking many dishes and teacups.
  • Martha from The Daisy Chain is so startled when she first sees Daisy watching her through the window that she drops her glass.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane collapses most of Heinz Field in the middle of a game. A single player makes it to safety in the endzone, then looks back on the gaping hole in the ground, and drops the ball in shock. (Fun fact: that's Hines Ward before he left the Steelers.)
  • In The Death of Stalin, Svetlana drops Vasily's flask when Beria tells her that Aleksei is dead.
  • When the two supposedly dead girls enter the tavern in The Demoniacs, the waitress Monique drops a tray of beer mugs.
  • In Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome, Dr. Learned fakes one to drop the container of experimental formula to cover the fact that she stole the formula and replaced it with water.
  • Doctor in Love:
    • Dr. Hare drops a surgical tool after hearing that Sir Lancelot is planning to retire.
    • When Sir Lancelot tells Dr. Burke to stop fondling his theatre staff's buttocks, the staff woman in question drops the bedpan she was holding in embarrassment.
    • When Dr. Burke scares Wildewinde, he remarks he nearly dropped his forceps, and when Dr. Burke mentions he could set him in the window and show off a scar on his stomach, he actually drops his forceps.
  • In the film version of Driving Miss Daisy, Idella drops a bowl of peas when she dies suddenly.
  • In E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Elliott's mom doesn't completely drop what she's doing when she sees that E.T. isn't just a great Halloween costume, but her fingers go slack on her coffee cup and it dangles from her fingers, spilling messily to the floor.
  • In The Eye, a man and woman are having a conversation over the phone. The man drops the phone in the middle of a conversation with her because he's been mind controlled. The woman he's conversing with realizes that something is wrong, and she drops the phone and her bags to rush to him and see if he's all right.
  • Ghost Lab (2021): When Dr. Gla sees the ghost manifesting in the waiting room that he and Dr. Wee are in, he's so shocked he drops his coffee cup. Dr. Wee simply believes that Dr. Gla is pulling a prank on him, and really committing to it.
  • In Ghost Ship, Murphy drops the glass of whisky he is holding when his reflection in the mirror briefly changes to that of the captain of the Antonia Graza.
  • At the climax of The Giver, when the memories are returned to the community, Jonas's father lets go of the injection machine just as he is about to administer a lethal injection, and it slowly rotates back toward the wall.
  • In Gran Torino, Walt drops his glass when he sees Sue come back into her house bloody and beaten from being kidnapped and raped by Spider's gang.
  • Great Expectations: Pip drops his glass when Magwitch returns and reveals to Pip that it is he, and not Miss Havisham, who was Pip's anonymous benefactor that set him up as a gentleman.
  • In Harold and Maude, Harold's mom drops a glass (by missing the table) after discovering that he has ruined his third and final date.
  • In The Hole, Liz drops the biscuit jar she is holding when Martyn hammers unexpectedly on the door.
  • In Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Harry and Marv sneak up behind Kevin as he's looking at a map of New York City. Harry says, "Hiya, pal!", which makes Kevin drop the pocket knife and map he just bought at Duncan's Toy Chest.
  • In The Hunt for Red October a high-ranking Soviet politician has a cup of tea in his hand when he reads a letter in which Ramius announces his intention to defect. He very carefully tries to put the cup down, but his hand is shaking so much it falls over anyway. Then he mobilizes the entire Soviet navy to sink the renegade submarine before it reaches America.
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008) has Stan Lee, who drank a soda with Banner's blood in it, getting gamma poisoning and dropping the soda.
  • Judas Kiss: When Coco learns that the woman she murdered was the wife of a senator, she drops the tub of ice cream she is eating.
  • Kill Bill: Hattori Hanzo is preparing food when The Bride addresses him by name. The food doesn't make it.
  • Kong: Skull Island:
    • In the opening where King Kong turns up for the first time, with his existence bringing a fight between two freshly-stranded WWII pilots from opposing sides to a standstill; we see the Japanese pilot's blade fall from his hand in a slow-motion shot at the sight of the gigantic ape which defies and redefines everything humanity thought they knew about the world.
    • Later, when a soldier is killed in the bamboo forest by a camouflaged Giant Spider, his water bottle crashes to the ground in slow-motion to signify when the death blow is delivered.
  • Subverted in Knives Out. Fran enters Harlan's study while carrying a tray loaded with food and coffee, only to discover him dead of apparent suicide. She starts to drop the tray, but at the last moment notices and clumsily corrects herself with a muttered curse.
  • Happens in the movie Latter Days when the main character Christian finds out that his love interest Aaron has not killed himself as he was previously led to believe and he's come back to be with him. He drops all the dishes he's holding when he sees him, and then rushes to embrace him.
    Wes Ramsey (Christian): [on the commentary track] A ghost!
  • The Little Mermaid (2023): While King Triton is agonizing over Ariel's disappearance, he takes a good, long look at his glowing trident before letting it float slowly to the floor, since he'd used it to destroy his daughter's collection in a fit of blind rage. He can't even look at the thing anymore without being reminded of his greatest mistake.
  • The Loft: When Luke enters the titular loft and finds the dead body of a woman handcuffed to the bed, he drops the two bags of bottles of alcohol he is carrying, and the bottles shatter on the hardwood floor.
  • When the Police Inspector in M finds out that the city's criminals caught the Serial Killer he was looking for, the cigar he's smoking falls out of his mouth.
  • The Mummy (1999): Jonathan drops the Book of the Dead when an angry Imhotep turns on him.
  • One of the "targets" in Munich drops his groceries when he's shot.
  • Murder at the Baskervilles: When Simpson tells Mrs. Straker that Hunter is dead, she drops the teacup she is holding.
  • In National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, Riley drops several incalculably valuable treasures instantaneously the moment someone recognizes him as a treasure hunter and book author and asks for his autograph.
  • The Omen (1976) has the second type: Damien intentionally runs his tricycle into the chair that his mother is standing on while she changes a second-story light fixture, it crashes to the first-story floor slightly before she does.
  • Pearl Harbor has a slow-motion shot of President Roosevelt dropping the stack of papers he's handed that inform him that Pearl Harbor has been attacked by the Japanese.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
  • In Red Dawn (1984), after a Soviet squadron is killed following a chance encounter, Matt Eckeret is sent on a recon mission, and when Col. Bella gives the order to open fire, Matt drops his binoculars at the sight of over a dozen unarmed civilians being machine-gunned in front of a mass grave.
  • Revenge (2017): Jen is walking slowly through a lounge room with a cold glass in her hand when she turns and sees two threatening-looking hunters leering at her through the glass wall. She gasps and drops the glass, which shatters on the floor.
  • The Ripper (1997): The milkman who discovers the butchered prostitute in the alley drops the jug of milk he is holding and shatters on the cobblestones: the milk mingling with the blood.
  • Run Lola Run plays this after Manny calls Lola; because the story explores several What If? possible outcomes, it's repeated three times.
  • A comical example happens in Saving Mr. Banks when P.L. Travers walks into her hotel room and drops her suitcase upon seeing Disney character plush dolls in her room.
  • Parodied in Scary Movie when they figure out that Doofy is the killer. The coffee cup shatters to reveal a small goldfish lying in the pool of coffee gasping for air.
  • The Shaggy Dog: Stefano drops the tray he's holding when he thinks the dog has opened a locked door by removing said door from its hinges.
  • At the end of Shoot 'Em Up, Mr. Smith joins up with his Hooker with a Heart of Gold Love Interest, who's now working in a café. When she sees him, she smiles and deliberately drops the tray of glasses she's holding before they embrace.
  • In Sorority Row, Ellie drops her glass of champagne when she thinks that she sees Megan (who is supposed to be dead) at the sorority luncheon. It turns out to be Megan's sister Maggie.
  • In Spaceballs, the cook at a space rest stop drops what he's carrying when he catches sight of a little alien doing a song and dance number on the counter.
  • Speed Racer: Speed's mother drops the glass she is holding when she hears that her eldest son Rex has died in a car crash.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming: After Peter comes in through his window and unsuits, he turns around to see Ned sitting there holding a LEGO Death Star, which promptly falls out of his hands and shatters against the floor. Ned doesn't seem to care about that.
  • Sympathy for Lady Vengeance:
    • When Geum-ja knocks the symbolic tofu out of the Preacher's hands outside the prison, the band is shocked and the cymbalist drops one of his cymbals.
    • When Geun-shik catches sight of Geum-ja for the first time, he's so struck by her beauty that he drops the stack of boxes he is carrying.
  • A bar patron in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby drops his beer the second that Jean Girard introduces everyone to his "husband".
  • In The Usual Suspects, Agent Kujan drops his coffee cup when he realizes that he (apparently) let Keyzer Soze walk out the door after having him in the police station for several hours spinning his yarn.
  • Wonderwall: When Oscar first meets Penny's boyfriend, he's wearing a wig. When he removes the wig, Oscar drops the bag of apples he just bought.
  • Parodied in Wrongfully Accused. After Harrison finishes his Line-of-Sight Alias gag and leaves, John Walsh turns around, sees the brand names of the fishing equipment on the pegboard, and drops his coffee cup. We see a shot of the shattered cup from boot-level... then down comes a doughnut... then an egg... then a water balloon.


In General:

  • Happens a lot in mystery novels (Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes and the like): Someone who on the face of it shouldn't be startled or even interested in the news drops something when hearing it, and thus reveals to the detective that they have a secret interest in the matter.

By Work:

  • And Then I Turned Into a Mermaid: In the second book, Margot and Molly tell Mum that they've figured out that the Waverleys are mermaids. They describe them as having freakishly pale, almost white eyes. Mum drops her mug, which shatters and scalds her legs with hot tea, because she realises the Waverleys are sirens.
  • The Ballad of Black Tom: When Suydam takes a room in his mansion "Outside", the view from the window suddenly becomes the deep sea. Tommy is so shocked he drops his guitar.
  • In The BFG, the Queen's maid drops the Queen's breakfast tray when the Queen recounts her nightmare, as it matches the day's headlines about something terrible that really happened.
  • In The Boy from Aleppo Who Painted the War, Adam's parents send him to deliver rice to the neighbors. When he reaches their house, he finds that almost all of them have been shot by the army. Adam drops the plate in shock.
  • In The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons, Tatiana overhears her family arguing with Alexander over whether to tell her something. She walks in and demands to know, whereupon she's told that her grandfather has died. Tatiana drops the tea tray she's carrying and rushes out.
    Alexander: Satisfied?
  • Defied in The Chronicles of Amber. Before telling another character some potentially shocking news over a long-distance call, Merlin advises that the person put down anything they're holding that might be fragile.
  • The Cosmere:
    • Elantris begins with Prince Raoden's servant bringing him breakfast and dropping the tray when she sees that he's Metamorphosed into an Elantrian — effectively an undead abomination at the time. Since the transformation happened in his sleep, he's quite confused before he notices the Tomato in the Mirror.
    • Wax and Wayne: At the end of The Bands of Mourning, Wax drops the coppermind he got from Hoid when he views the memory on it and discovers that the mysterious "Sovereign" the Southerners revere, whom he'd previously thought to be the Lord Ruler, is actually Kelsier.
  • The Dresden Files: In book 6, Blood Rites, Murphy meets Harry's mentor, Ebenezar. She is not impressed, and demands brusquely she be the driver since he doesn't have a license in Chicago. Harry tells Ebenezar he better just let her do so, calling the older man "sir". Cue Murphy dropping her armload in pure, unfiltered shock at hearing Harry Dresden address someone with authority with respect. She talks to Ebenezar afterwards as if he's on the same level as the Pope.
  • The Faerie Queene: When Artegall knocks Britomart’s helmet off, he is so shocked to see the beautiful face of a woman that his arm goes slack and his sword falls to the ground.
  • In The Final Reflection, a porter at a hotel on Earth drops the tray he's carrying when he sees a group of Klingons passing by.
  • George's Marvellous Medicine: When George's mother returns from shopping, she sees a giant hen and drops a bottle of milk. Then she sees Grandma sticking up through the roof, and drops a bag of groceries.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Minerva McGonagall drops the books she's carrying when she learns that the Golden Trio knows about the Philosopher's Stone being kept inside Hogwarts.
    • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Hermione is compulsively worrying over an exam while Ron tries to convince her that she should eat "when her fork slid from her limp fingers and landed with a loud clink on her plate. 'Oh, my goodness,' she said faintly, staring into the Entrance Hall. 'Is that them? Is that the examiners?'"
    • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Hermione dumps a whole armload of basilisk fangs to kiss Ron after he finally earns his Relationship Upgrade by showing concern for the Hogwarts house-elves.
  • Lily and Dunkin: When trans girl Lily's grandmother saw her walk downstairs in a dress, she dropped a glass jar of strawberry jam all over the floor. She hasn't visited since.
  • The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester: Esme drops her water glass, shattering it, when Sam tells her that they know she saw Billy Clement die.
  • Matilda:
    • Mrs Wormwood drops her husband's breakfast tray when she sees his disastrous hair-dye emergency.
    • When Miss Trunchbull sees her name written on the blackboard by an invisible hand, she drops the child she is holding up by the ankle.
  • The Mermaid's Mirror: While snooping in her father and stepmother's room, Lena finds a newspaper clipping that says that her biological mother committed suicide. She drops the clipping in shock.
  • Necessary Evil: The previously infallible seer Gretel scalds herself with boiling water when she drops a kettle after a prediction of the future turns out to be wrong for the first time in her life.
  • In Paradise Lost, Adam makes a crown of flowers for Eve and then drops it when she tells him about having eaten the forbidden fruit.
  • Pilgrennon's Children: In Pilgrennon's Beacon, Jananin and Dana are eating together when the TV starts playing a missing persons report about Dana. When a police image of Jananin appears on the TV, she drops her fork.
  • This tends to happen to Ravenswood in the Relativity stories. One time he drops a platter when he hears that the waitress he hired is secretly in love with the superhero Overcast (who, she doesn't know, is actually Ravenswood). Another time it occurs when he's visiting the home of Sara's foster father and hears that Queen Elizabeth will be one of the dinner guests.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: In Leia, Princess of Alderaan, it's narrowly subverted when Moff Quarsh Panaka meets Princess Leia while holding a teacup and saucer. As Queen Amidala's former chief of security, Panaka is seriously shocked upon seeing Leia because of how much she resembles her biological mother, which is helped along by the fact that Leia had to borrow a traditional Naboo "jubilation dress" from Queen Dalné. As a result, Panaka nearly drops his cup, but manages to recover in time to only splash tea on himself.
  • In Faith of the Fallen, from Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth, Nicci "was only dimly aware of the eggs hitting the floor" after being informed that Richard had been taken prisoner. Although, thinking about it, he gets captured so frequently in the series — indeed, by Nicci herself just earlier in the book — that you'd think she'd just roll her eyes or something.
  • Tempest (2011): In Tempest Unleashed, Tempest tells Kona, "Back the hell off!" A nurse drops her tray of instruments, because Kona is the crown prince of the selkies and she's never heard anyone talk that way to him.
  • The Twilight Saga: In Breaking Dawn Alice drops a vase because she just had a vision of the Volturi coming to kill the Cullens.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • In Crookedstar's Promise, Oakpaw is so shocked to see the WindClan deputy in the RiverClan camp that he drops the frog he's carrying. Amusingly, it's still alive and hops to safety while everyone is distracted.
    • In After the Flood, Leafstar gives her mate Billystorm a Death Glare when she's mad at him for something. He has an Oh, Crap! reaction and drops the prey he was holding.
  • Wicked Good: When Archer introduces herself to Kitty as the adopted mother of her child, Kitty drops a pot full of coffee. Archer jumps out of the way to avoid getting burned.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Used semi-humorously on 9-1-1, when a man stuck in traffic stops to get a hot dog and drink from an equally-stuck food truck. He asks two other customers what they're giggling about on their phones, and when shown an online clip of the cause of the highway stoppage — a middle-aged woman in mid-nervous breakdown, standing on an overpass platform and alternately screaming at and flashing the road below — he immediately drops his purchases and takes off running, as the woman in the live viral footage is his own wife.
  • In the Angel episode "Sanctuary", Wesley walks into an alley intent on attacking Faith, who just spent the last couple hours torturing him. He sees Faith collapsed on the ground in Angel's arms sobbing (having just begged Angel to kill her). We see Wesley's blood-soaked hand drop the knife to the ground, framing Angel/Faith in the background.
  • Awaken: Jamie drops her cup and knocks her chair over when she regains some of her memories. Both fall in slow motion.
  • The last 30 seconds of an episode of Babylon 5 has Delenn dropping a snow globe, which shatters at her feet. This is a fairly normal reaction to the supposedly dead wife of your love interest walking into the room to find you spending the night with her husband.
  • One of the most memorable episodes of Mr. Bean, "Back to School Mr. Bean". Bean drops the pastry he's eating after a Double Take when his car gets flattened by a tank. To be fair, he did ignore the "Reserved Parking" warning and removed the traffic cones earlier at the episode's start.
  • Blackadder the Third:
    • In one episode, Blackadder "accidentally" drops a tray full of refreshments after the Prince insults him one time too many, leading him to the brink of resigning at that very moment.
    • Hilariously parodied in the episode "Amy and Amiability": Prince George is reading the news that a criminal (whom, unknown to the prince, Blackadder teamed up with then was almost immediately betrayed by) was hanged:
      George: It says here she had an accomplice!
      [Blackadder drops the tray he was carrying]
      George: But they don't know who it was!
      [The tray jumps back up into Blackadder's hands]
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • When Giles discovers Jenny's corpse in "Passion", he drops the champagne bottle he was carrying.
    • In "Earshot", Buffy is temporarily telepathic and suddenly hears someone in the cafeteria think about killing everyone in the school. She's so shocked by this that she drops her lunch tray, and the whole cafeteria applauds her (while she, of course, goes into a mindless panic).
    • In "Out of My Mind", Joyce is preparing breakfast for Dawn before suddenly asking Dawn who she is and then dropping the plate and collapsing.
  • In Charité at War, Nazi nurse Christel drops her tray of surgical instruments when she hears that there has been an attempt on the life of Adolf Hitler.
  • On Charmed (1998), when Phoebe and Dex get married under a spell, Dex carries Phoebe over the threshold and then they realize what happened. Confused by what happened, Dex promptly drops Phoebe on the floor.
  • Chuck:
    • In "Pilot", the hotness of Sarah is startling enough to Chuck that he drops the phone he's using. This develops into one of the series's Running Gags, becoming Chuck's standard reaction to anything unexpected Sarah does — like when she fake-outs with Bryce, or sneaks up on him at the Buy More, or walks into their living room wearing nothing but a corset and matching stockings.
    • In one episode, Big Mike drops his danish (a huge shift in moment-to-moment priorities for the character) when the fire alarm is pulled at the Buy More.
    • Similarly, in a later episode, Big Mike drops his fishing tackle box when he gets a text about a security breach at Buy More.
  • Cluedo: This sometimes happens when the body is found, especially if Mrs. White the cook makes the discovery.
  • Happens in the Criminal Minds episode "Won't Get Fooled Again". A mother is cooking when she realizes that her daughter is holding a package containing a bomb. She drops an egg she was holding and it smashes to the floor.
  • Criminologist Himura and Mystery Writer Arisugawa:
    • After Moroboshi and Himura seem to have fatally shot each other, the scene cuts to Tokie dropping a glass in her home. While she doesn't know what's happened, her expression indicates that she can feel something off.
    • Later, in the same episode, Tokie and Arisugawa are in her home when a surprising guest walks through the door. Tokie is so shocked that she once again drops the bowl that she's holding — this time, however, Arisugawa rushes forward to grab it just before it hits the ground.
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries:
    • In "Measure Twice", the niece of the Victim of the Week finds his body and stops short. Her husband walks into the back of her, causing a dramatic drop of the plate with a cake she is carrying.
    • In "Family Portrait", Cec drops a crate of bottles he is carrying when he finds Patrick Tyneman standing over a dead body outside the Colonist's Club.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Aliens of London": The Ninth Doctor brings Rose back to London after her first journey in the TARDIS. Problem is, he overshot the return date. He intended to drop her off only twelve hours after they left, but they arrive twelve months into the future. Rose's mum thought her daughter was dead, and she's so stunned at her daughter's sudden return (while Rose has no idea of how much time really passed) she drops her coffee mug and it smashes into pieces... what a waste of good Joe. And then she furiously bitch-slaps the Doctor when she hears that he's responsible for whisking away her beloved child for a year.
    • "Boom Town" has it just offscreen: The Ninth Doctor goes to confront a previous enemy, who is currently Mayor of Cardiff, and asks her receptionist to tell her "The Doctor" is there to see her. He goes in, the Doctor turns, waits... and looks rather smug when he hears something shatter.
    • "The Vampires of Venice": When the Eleventh Doctor turns up at Rory's stag night and casually mentions that he kissed his fiancée, we hear a beer glass being dropped offscreen.
    • "The Pandorica Opens": It takes the Doctor a long time to notice that Rory's mysteriously come Back from the Dead, after being killed and Retgoned in "Cold Blood". So long that he walks out of the room carrying two Cyber guns before the penny drops — as do the guns, offscreen.
    • "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" begins with the Doctor materializing the TARDIS around Amy and Rory while they're at home — helping Rory's dad Brian look at a broken lightbulb socket. When Brian realizes that he's in a different place, he drops the lightbulb he's holding in shock.
  • In The Duchess of Duke Street, a character's very quiet death is heralded by his cigarette falling from his fingers.
  • Colin on Everwood drops a glass when he starts having a seizure in a late first season episode.
  • Fawlty Towers:
    • In "Gourmet Night", Polly tries to get Basil to put down the bottle he's opening first, but he still ends up dropping it on his foot after she tells him that the chef has gotten drunk right before an important dinner.
    • In the episode "Communication Problems", Basil drops an expensive vase when The Major tells Sybill that Basil had been betting on the horses behind her back.
    • In "The Kipper and the Corpse", Manuel happens to be salting a plate of sausages. On hearing the news that a guest has died, he stands still, holding the salt jug, which empties its entire contents over the sausages.
    • In "Basil the Rat", Basil has a wine bottle in his hand; he suddenly sees a box of rat poison in the presence of the health inspector; he grabs the poison box, dropping the bottle, which smashes. Moments later, he drops and smashes another bottle.
  • In Fringe, Olivia Dunham drops the bowl of cereal she was eating when her dead love and partner walks into the room. Seeing as this is Fringe, we see the shot several times over a couple of episodes.
  • Parodied in The Goodies — Bill isn't really shocked, he's just into loud noises.
  • In the Heritage Minutes episode about Dr. Wilder Penfield, Mrs. "burnt toast" famously announces her seizure by dropping the traditional plate.
  • Heroes: In "The Eclipse, Part 1" when Mrs. Bennet walks into the room and finds Claire unconscious on the sofa, she drops what she's holding.
  • Henry Danger: At the very end of "One Henry, Three Girls - Part 1" when Henry's old girlfriend Chloe enters the house instead of Bianca, Henry is so shocked by her appearance that he drops Piper's replacement glass hat, which shatters on the floor.
  • In one episode of Home and Away, Leah drops the plates and cutlery onto the floor after she learns that Dan dies.
  • Horrible Histories: In the Boudica special, Boudica snatches a pot off a Roman who has come to the reading of her husband's will. When she finds out that he has left everything to the Roman Empire, she drops the pot, and the Roman complains about her breaking his pottery.
  • In the Inspector George Gently episode "Gently With the Women", Gently dropping his glass, which shatters in slow motion, is the main reason why he decides to go get checked out at the hospital. He drops a bottle in the next episode, prompting his partner Bacchus to start to worry about his mentor's health, and in the last episode of the season, "Son of a Gun", it is mentioned that this is happening frequently.
  • This trope is the very reason Moss in The IT Crowd always makes two cups of tea.
  • Janda Kembang:
    • Malik drops the pizza boxes that he is holding the moment he finds out that Salmah agrees to marry Kemal, seemingly ending Malik's hope of winning over Salmah.
    • Salmah drops the food he brought for Kemal in shock when Tiara appears and reveals that Tiara is Kemal's wife.
  • Jejak Suara Adzan: In the penultimate episode, Ririn drops the cup that she was holding, shattering it, when she collapses unconscious due to her heart problems.
  • Kamen Rider Double: This is the Character Tic of Kazu, who drops whatever he's holding almost every single time he's asked a question or is told something even remotely dramatic. (This is in almost every scene he's in.) He hardly even seems to be fazed by this in any way, regardless of what he may be holding, be it a spoon, a suitcase, a teacup, etc., even if the object breaks. It seems to be foreshadowing towards his telekinetic powers, and becomes a Brick Joke when he transforms into the Utopia Dopant by dropping the Utopia Gaia Memory and letting his Gaia Driver suck the falling Memory in.
  • Dramatic Drop:
    • In "Let there be light", the vicar's wife drops a loaded tray, when she is suddenly faced with Hyacinth's daddy wearing a gas mask, and carrying a shotgun.
    • When Hyacinth is waiting for Richard in the car outside a pub, she sounds the car horn, and startles a waiter, who drops his very full tray. The waiter mutters "bitch", masked by the sound of the horn, and Hyacinth says "butterfingers". Later, the same waiter passes again, this time watching Hyacinth carefully.
    • In her haste to answer the telephone, Hyacinth casually tosses biscuits off a tray.
    • Elizabeth frequently drops Hyacinth's best china, or a biscuit into her cup of coffee. This usually happens when she is startled by Hyacinth suddenly shouting out, or by the telephone ringing, which is even lampshaded by Hyacinth at one point.
      Hyacinth: (to Richard, making him sit by the telephone, ready to answer it) I wouldn't say anything in front of Elizabeth, but she does have this way of jumping every time the telephone rings.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • In one episode, Hawkeye decides to walk through the mess tent naked just to see if anyone notices. The first guy who does promptly drops his lunch tray.
    • When Henry Blake's death is announced in the episode "Abyssinia, Henry", a nurse is heard dropping a scalpel amidst the shocked silence in the operating theatre. This was a case of Throw It In!. The actors had not been told prior to filming what would happen; they expected Radar to announce that Henry had made it back to the States safely. The actress's reaction in the first take was genuine, and the director decided to keep it in later takes.
  • In one episode of Matlock, a woman drops a tea tray when she walks into her living room and sees the murder victim lying dead on the floor. This turns out to be a plot point, because the absence of tea stains on the carpet confirms Matlock's suspicions that she was the murderer, and she dropped the tea tray deliberately to feign surprise for the benefit of an onlooker.
  • Wendy is consoling herself with ice cream from the carton because she just screwed up badly and got sent home by her boss, The Middle Man, when roommate Lacey casually mentions that the Villain of the Week is hanging out at the restaurant from which she just quit working. Wendy turns attentively to Lacey, and the viewer hears the spoon clatter to the floor.
  • Midsomer Murders:
    • In "The Sting of Death", a milkman discovers the first Body of the Week, which is covered in bees, and drops the basket of milk bottles he is holding. The bottles shatter dramatically when the basket hits the ground.
    • "Sins of Commission" has Richard drop a tray of glasses at the appearance of Camilla, who cheerfully say he looks like he's seen a ghost. She just escaped an attempt on her life planned by Richard, and knows, but doesn't show, it was him.
  • Mimpi Metropolitan: Bambang drops the egg roll that he was holding when Alan tells him that Maudy Koesnaedi (the actress whom Bambang's father idolizes) is in Pipin's shop. Bambang's customer catches it, momentarily breaking the drama.
  • Monk:
    • "Mr. Monk and Little Monk": When Natalie tells Monk that he has a visitor and that it's his childhood crush, he drops the cup that he's holding and temporarily forgets that they're no longer thirteen years old.
    • "Mr. Monk and the Genius": Linda Kloster is nervous because her husband has been threatening to kill her. Her housekeeper tries to calm her, then leaves the room to get her a sandwich. When the housekeeper reenters the room, she drops her tea tray as she sees Linda's dead body on the bed. Lampshaded and played with in the same episode: Randy tells Stottlemeyer to put down his coffee mug so he won't drop it when he hears the news. He puts it down, but when Randy tells him that Linda is dead, he picks it up again and hurls it against the wall.
  • Mortified: Taylor drops the bowl she is carrying when she looks at the window and sees her father pumping iron in the backyard in "Parent Teacher Night".
  • It happens in NCIS when Gibbs drops his coffee (which is saying something) after hearing a bullet whiz by, shattering glass, and the sound of Abby screaming.
  • The New Avengers: The villain attending Steed's party drops his champagne glass when he hears the general announce that the "Eye of God" satellite is going to do an underground scan of Buckinghamshire, where he has concealed his stolen missile.
  • On an episode of Night Court, someone says, "Who's willing to drop everything and help me?" Roz drops her lunch tray, just before she passes out. Turns out she has diabetes.
  • In an early episode of NUMB3RS, Charlie is making a sandwich when he sees a news report on TV saying that FBI agents are in a firefight with bank robbers; we see the knife he was holding drop to the counter as Charlie realizes that his brother Don is among the agents on the scene.
  • Used humorously to make for a particularly charming moment in Once Upon a Time, especially considering it sets up an important Tragic Keepsake.
    Rumpelstiltskin: You will serve me my meals, and you will clean the Dark Castle... You will dust my collection and launder my clothing... You will fetch me fresh straw when I'm spinning at the wheel... Oh! And you will skin the children I hunt. For their pelts.
    [Belle drops the teacup in alarm]
    Rumpelstiltskin: ...That one was a quip.
  • Happens on One Tree Hill when Peyton finds the body of her biological mother, Ellie Harp, who has succumbed to her battle with breast cancer, resulting in Peyton dropping the box of CDs that she is carrying.
  • Psych, "Ghosts": Gus drops his cocoa mug when he sees someone moving in the woods outside. Later the pattern on the china turns out to be a clue.
  • Ned's mother in Pushing Daisies is brushing dust off him when she dies suddenly, the brush falling from her hands. She then drops a pie after being revived and seeing her neighbor drop dead across the street.
  • The Rise of Phoenixes: Zhi Wei drops a tray when she hears Ming Ying disown her.
  • Sherlock. Done as a Rule of Three in "The Reichenbach Fall" when Moriarty breaks into the cabinet holding the Crown Jewels. First he takes out the CCTV cameras. The security guard monitoring them is holding a couple of coffee cups, which slop visibly as he quickly puts them down so as to call someone. Then Moriarty remotely opens the vault of the Bank of England; as the bank manager gapes at this impossibility, the cup he's holding tilts in his hand until it pours coffee into this lap. Finally someone bursts in on the Governor of Pentonville Prison to tell him that all the cells are unlocking. Cue the Governor knocking the coffee mug off his table as he leaps to his feet.
  • Sisters: "...soon as we find a Justice of the Peace." Alex hears these words, and things just start dropping.
  • At the end of the Sliders pilot episode, the Sliders are sitting down to dinner believing that they are safe and sound on their home Earth. Quinn and the others make a toast just as Quinn's father, who died years ago, walks into the room. Realizing that this means that they didn't make it home, Quinn drops his wine glass and it shatters on the floor.
  • Smallville:
    • Clark drops the white rose he brought when he sees Lana and Lex together.
    • At one point Lana drops her phone when she receives a message that brainwashes her into beating the living daylights out of Chloe.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: In "The City on the Edge of Forever", a hobo in 1930 New York City who has just pilfered a bottle of milk witnesses Dr. McCoy suddenly appear on the street (from a time portal), ranting crazily, until he spots the hobo and cries, "You! What planet is this?", prompting the anxious hobo to drop the milk bottle, shattering it.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "Dramatis Personae", a telepathic Hate Plague has caused the main characters to turn on each other. Kira is in Quark's bar, trying to convince Dax to join her in a conspiracy against Commander Sisko. At one point she drops a strong hint that she's planning to have Sisko assassinated, whereupon there's an Off Screen Crash. Kira turns to look at Quark with an evil smile on her face, realising that he's been listening in on their conversation.
  • On Supernatural, Sam drops a cup of coffee when his father dies suddenly as part of a Deal with the Devil. Notably, the cup doesn't tip over when it lands.
  • There's an episode of Brian Clemens's Thriller in which the heroine tries to phone for help, but the villainess cuts the phone line. The heroine then drops the receiver.
  • In True Blood, last episode of the first season, Sookie drops the pitcher she was holding when she realizes that a killer is in the room with her.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "Mr. Garrity and the Graves"
    • When Mr. Garrity tells the bartender that he brings back the dead for a living, the bartender promptly drops a full mug of beer.
    • When Mr. Garrity tells the bartender that his resurrected brother had a limp, the bartender decided that this proved that Garrity had indeed resurrected the bartender's brother and drops a glass filled with an alcoholic beverage.
  • In the third season finale of Ugly Betty, Wilhelmina opens a door in her apartment to find her daughter Nico, and drops a glass in shock. We don't find out until the next season who it was.
  • V: The Series. After the Star Child grows overnight from an eight-year-old to a beautiful teenager, the other characters bring her home. She drops a glass, which looks like she's having trouble adjusting to her new adult body... until they realise that she's staring out the window at an alien shuttlecraft discharging a squad of Visitor soldiers — this is a Mass "Oh, Crap!" because up to then everyone assumed the Visitors had been driven off Earth for good.
  • The Weekly with Charlie Pickering: While explaining the 5G/Corona Virus conspiracy theory, Charlie has a sudden moment of clarity where it makes sense and he drops his mug of bone broth and it shatters on the floor. It then cuts back to Charlie, who points out why none of it makes sense.
  • Jed Bartlet of The West Wing, on discovering that his daughter, Zoey, had been kidnapped, drops first of all the photos he was holding, followed shortly by his whiskey glass. A particularly well-executed example of the trope.
  • In the Wishbone episode "Little Big Dog." David drops a glass when his father walks in holding the side-view mirror of the new car.
  • Yancy Derringer: When Yancy turns up alive after being missing for years in "Return to New Orleans", old family retainer Obediah drops a tray with a tea set on it.

  • From "Devil's Right Hand" by Steve Earle:
    So I asked if I could have one someday when I grew up
    Mama dropped a dozen eggs, she really blew up
  • In the song "Madeira, m'dear" by Flanders and Swann, the young girl drops her glass when she recalls words from her mother:
    "Oh my child, should you look on the wine that is red,
    "Be prepared for a fate worse than death."
    She let go her glass with a shrill little cry.
    Crash, tinkle it fell to the floor.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In The Iliad, Andromache drops her weaving shuttle when she realises that Hektor has died.
  • Older Than Feudalism: This even happens in The Bible. Moses drops the tablets with the Laws and breaks them (well, trashes them) when he notices that his followers have started worshiping the Golden Calf. He has to go back to get the Commandments since he had broken the Laws, and God apparently had failed to keep a spare copy.
  • Judas reportedly spilled his salt when Jesus announced that someone would betray him. (This detail does not however appear in the Bible. A huge amount of folklore has grown up to fill in the details of Biblical stories, much of it originating centuries later in medieval Europe. It would have been quite odd for the Disciples to have salt on the table, as salt was a precious commodity in First Century AD Rome.)

    Puppet Shows 
  • In The Muppet Show
    • In Cheryl Ladd's episode, Fozzie asks Kermit to make a list of his good points and bad points for self-improvement purposes. When he reads Kermit's notes later, he's clearly upset by what they say but tries to take it in stride. Then Kermit reveals that it's actually the list of his good points, causing Fozzie to drop the notes in shock.
    • In Arlo Guthrie's episode, the Swedish Chef is cleaning some dishes in preparation for a meal that needs to be cooked for a big event. When Kermit informs him the event is being catered, he drops the stack of plates down from the balcony. Distraught, the Chef begins to bawl, and then knocks over another stack of plates.

  • In Charley's Aunt, upon hearing the news that one man intends to marry Charley's Aunt, who is actually another man in drag, drops the tray he's holding.
  • One coarse acting play had this as a Running Gag involving an unseen cook. At the end of the play, the hero has enough money to marry her, so he just tells her to smash everything in the kitchen before breaking the news.

    Video Games 
  • Baldur's Gate III features an Optional Sexual Encounter with a druid who may wildshape into a bear form before doing the deed. A squirrel is seen witnessing this and drops its acorn in utter shock.
  • Brütal Legend: In the opening, Eddie sees that one of the members of Kabbage Boy has started climbing up the stage set that Eddie had specifically warned him was not safe to climb on. Eddie tosses his cigarette aside as he sprints off to rescue the fool.
  • Deltarune: Parodied with Queen's wine glasses. She keeps a stash of glasses that shatter on impact, but the shards are completely harmless and they're meant to be broken; she even refers to it as her "throwing glass." On the other hand, she also has "Extra Dangerous Glass" that violently explodes on impact. The two are indistinguishable from each other.
  • Final Fantasy VII: At one point during the ending, Cid drops his cigar from his mouth. The team is stuck in a collapsing cavern, with things about to get worse. Cid mutters to himself something along the lines of "Lady Luck, don't give up on me now." Cue the reaction above when the Highwind literally drops from the ceiling.
  • Jak 3: Wastelander: Near the end, Count Veger drops his cane upon seeing that the legendary Precursors are actually ottsels.
  • OMORI: In the ending, the loser of the Battle in the Center of the Mind drops whatever they were holding (Sunny his violin and bow, Omori his knife) before fading away.
  • In Paper Mario, Gourmet Guy usually holds a fork and knife. Upon eating a tasty cake, he drops both immediately, just before comically overreacting. This happens to him twice.
  • Pikmin: In the short "Occupational Hazards", when a yellow Pikmin goes into a cave and accidentally wakes up a large Bulborb, the Pikmin drops the two bolts it was carrying in shock.
  • Riviera: The Promised Land: This is the young Malice's reaction to realizing that her mother has just died; she was fixing Rizuna some fruit beforehand, and we hear the plates shatter when she drops them.
  • Tony Hawk's Underground: After the drunk Eric Sparrow hijacks a military tank, he drops his beer bottle and flees when he realizes that the tank is about to crash into a building.

    Web Animation 
  • Glitchtale: When Asgore calls Mettaton to inform him about Alphys's death, Mettaton drops the phone in shock, shattering the screen in the process.
  • In RWBY's fifth Volume, Ruby walks into the living room of where they're staying carrying a tea tray from the kitchen, only for her to see Weiss and Yang, her teammate and sister who, thanks to the events of Volume 3, she hasn't seen, or been in contact with, for months. She immediately drops the tray and its contents on the floor in shock.

  • In A-gnosis's comics on Greek myth:
  • Daughter of the Lilies: A servant drops a tray when she spots Thistle with her true form revealed, performing magic to heal a premature baby.
  • Girl Genius:
    • When Vanamonde is informed by his grandfather that there's one more claimant to be his liege than he thought while holding a big cup of coffee.
    • One of those frozen in time in Mechanicsburg had just dropped his cup in shock when the time stop hit, so it has been sitting midair just beneath his hand for the better part of three years.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Sarah drops her glass, which immediately shatters, after hearing Tedd interpret an almost illegible note from his dad as advice not to be thinking of proposing to Grace at his age.
  • Homestuck: Ms. Paint drops a tray upon seeing Lord English behind the fourth wall.
  • Done by Meimi, Yuki's mother and retired magical girl, at the end of Megatokyo's 9th chapter to introduce an element of uncertainty to Miho's No One Could Survive That!, providing a massive cliffhanger as well.
  • Being around the cast of Ménage à 3 can be bad for anyone's grip. Just a couple of examples:
  • My Sister Suprema: In "Prove It", when Cece realises she's lifted the car off the floor with one finger, she drops the can of beans she was fetching. Then she drops the car, setting off its alarm.
  • The webcomic Nothing Better has it at least twice. For example, Jane drops her shower bucket when she discovers a prank grodying up the shower stall.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Malack drops the tray with bloodwart tea he was carrying at the sight of Nale.
    • Firuk Blackore, upon hearing that the the lead vampire besieging the Firmament Temple of Thor is/was Durkon Thundershield, drops a tray of beers in shock. For a dwarven brewmaster to waste perfectly good beer, that certainly means the situation is serious.
    • In a memory of Durkon's first day as a cleric, his mother Sigdi Thundershield drops her spoon when her son reveals that he saw her name on Thor's temple's Wall of Donors.
  • Queen of Wands: Shannon drops the phone due to a complication with her pregnancy, and Angela thinks Shannon just got disgusted and hung up on her.
  • Scandinavia and the World: In "Brand New Equipment", Denmark drops Sweden's glass Dala horse, which shatters, in reaction to Iceland's new exhibit for his penis museum, a human penis in a jar.
  • Sleepless Domain: In Chapter 10, Kokoro receives a threatening phone call from the Purple One. She's initially confused, but she drops her protein shake in shock when the voice on the other end mentions her mother.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!:
    Stan: Francine, drop whatever you're doing and help me!
    Francine: [holding a plate with food] But it'll stain the floor. Can't I just put it away first?
    Stan: Drop it!
    [Francine sighs and drops the plate]
    Stan: Good. Now clean that up and help me look.
    • Played straight in "Pulling Double Booty", where Stan drops his coffee mug after Francine tells him that Jeff broke up with Hayley, sending her into an Unstoppable Rage through the mall.
  • In the Amphibia episode "The New Normal", Anne's mother drops the bowl of batter she was holding upon seeing Anne on her front porch, finally home after five months of being missing.
  • Arcane: In an Establishing Character Moment, Vander drops his cast-iron gauntlets so he can pick up and carry Vi and Powder to safety, literally and symbolically choosing protecting children over weapons. He is revealed to eventually have gone back and retrieved them to hang in his bar.
  • In the Arthur episode "Bleep", when DW is in a store, she sees a mother arguing with her son, and when she tells him that he can't go to a concert, he swears, and the mother drops the glass she was holding in shock. Later she repeats the word to Arthur to ask what it means, and he drops his model plane. She gets the idea that this is some kind of magic word that makes people drop things.
  • As Told by Ginger: Macie's father, on realizing that Ginger's right and he and his wife have forgotten Macie's 13th birthday, drops the stylus to his PDA — and then lets the PDA fall.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • "Imprisoned": Katara drops what she's holding (a perfectly nice ceramic jug of water) when she realizes that Haru's been arrested and taken prisoner for illegal Earthbending.
    • "The Fortuneteller": Aang goes all the way up a mountain at the top of a village for a panda lily to give his crush. He drops it when he realizes that the volcano atop said mountain is close to erupting.
    • Season 3: Katara again drops some perfectly good food when she discovers that Aang has run (well, flown) away.
  • The Batman:
    • Two old ladies drop their teacups to shatter on the floor when Solomon Grundy shows up for revenge in a Halloween episode.
    • Alfred drops a Ming vase when Ethan says something to Bruce about the Batman.
    Alfred: Just a Ming.
  • Batman: The Animated Series episode "See No Evil": There's a criminal who is literally the Disappeared Dad, thanks to the Applied Phlebotinum. He pretends to be his daughter's Imaginary Friend and holds a toy so she can tell where he is. When the little girl tells him they're moving, he drops the doll in shock.
  • In Danny Phantom, Sam drops her teacup when she gets that word Danny and Valerie have been in the same room together for hours. Can be taken as a Double Entendre as well.
  • Daria's mom is busy talking to her boss, Eric, on the phone when Jake collapses from a heart attack. As soon as she realizes what's happened, she dropps her phone.
  • DuckTales (2017): At the start of "Nothing Can Stop Della Duck!", Scrooge drops the Cartographer's Quill, causing it to shatter, out of shock at opening the door to his mansion to find Donald's long-lost sister Della standing outside.
  • Green Eggs and Ham: Just as Guy and Sam dine on Green Eggs and Ham in "Anywhere", Sam drops his fork in alarm because the eggs taste similar to ones his mother made.
  • Helga and her father Big Bob on Hey Arnold! both drop their glasses in shock when Miriam announces that she's going to be away from a few days, suggesting they spend some father-daughter quality time together while she's gone in the episode "Quantity Time".
  • Justice League Unlimited uses this trope a fair bit:
    • The Flash drops his autograph pen when the bad guys show up.
    • Wonder Woman drops Superman's birthday present when she and Batman walk in and find him dangerously compromised by a Lotus Eater Plant.
  • The Karate Kid: Kina when Daniel and Taki come suddenly into her hut. A more problematic example than most because she drops the remaining water from the fountain of youth.
  • In the episode "Hand in Hand" on Kick Buttowski, Kendall drops her phone in the middle of a conversation with her boyfriend, Ronaldo, when she realizes that she's right outside the store he's in and he's about to exit and sees the possibility of him catching her and Kick together.
  • Kim Possible:
    • Ron drops his "flour baby" in shock when his parents spring on him that they've adopted a baby. The "flour baby" is a school project, and it becomes the episode's Running Gag, as it is repeatedly dropped or otherwise damaged.
    • When Nana Possible gets mind-controlled, she lets her lemon squares drop to the floor.
  • Mike, Lu & Og:
    • After Margery accidentally gets hypnotized into thinking she's a duck, she drops a cooking tool she was holding at the time.
    • This also happens in "Fathers and Pies", when she catches Mike and Lu eating a pie (she thinks that Og has been turned into said pie).
  • Molly of Denali: In "Wise Raven and Old Crow," Trini drops a bottle of milk when she realizes that Bonky, the baby moose, went missing.
  • Happens in The Simpsons episode "G.I. D'oh", when Bart announces that he's going to join the Army when he turns 18, and Marge is conveniently carrying a bust of Homer.
  • Skull Island (2023): In the third episode, seeing the Kraken tear apart the rescue chopper like it's nothing is enough to make a stunned Sam's grip on his machine gun to go slack, letting it drop to the ground beside him while he's still staring in shock.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man's Gwen Stacy drops her books in shock at seeing Harry Osborn unconscious on the ground after disappearing a while.
  • Felicia Hardy drops a jar of face cream when she hears that the body of Michael Morbius has been found in an episode of Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
  • Transformers: Animated is very fond of this. We even get close-ups of the objects hitting the ground.
  • Yin Yang Yo!: Master Yo, who is extremely fond of soft pretzels, drops one when he realizes that the twins have been duped into actions that will result in letting a Sealed Evil in a Can out.

    Real Life 
  • A less dramatic, but memorable example occurs during a lecture by L. Ron Hubbard on the events of OT III. When he gets to the part about how Xenu used his last moments in office (he was about to be forcibly "un-elected") to "goof the floof", an attendee can be heard dropping their pencil, apparently in shock. Hubbard comments on this:
  • According to Rob Halford of Judas Priest, this happened when he came out of the closet in 1998, which was basically a slip of the tongue. During an interview with MTV, he accidentally said "Speaking as a gay man..." while he was talking about something else, and the next thing he heard was the sound of the producer dropping his clipboard in shock.
  • In the book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, one example of emotional reaction is a waitress who dropped a tray of six dinners in shock when she saw a woman who had long, curly red hair like the woman her husband left her for.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Drop What You Are Doing


Ranpo Finds Out (BSD Spoiler)

After Ranpo convinces Ouchi to team up with the Detective Agency, he tries to figure out who the mastermind behind their recent troubles. Only for him to find out that Ouchi is behind it all and screwed up big time.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / OhCrap

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