Follow TV Tropes


Dropping the Bombshell

Go To

Alice and Bob are having a discussion on yesterday's football game when Bob mentions that his view was constantly ruined by "a mad woman jumping up and down in the seat in front of me". Alice asks about this mad jumping woman, and Bob tells her that she was a supporter of the other team, had a big scarf and looked like "some blond bimbo". Near the end of the discussion, Alice then reintroduces the subject, and Bob wonders why, whereupon she exclaims: "That blond bimbo was me!" Cue awkward silence.


Dropping the bombshell looks at first sight like The Reveal, but whereas The Reveal is concerned with major plot points and can be expressed in more ways than words, this is a conversational trope in which at least two characters are discussing a topic before one of them gives some surprising information to the other, usually bad or awkward information about said topic.

A good example is when one character talks about the subject freely, during which the other then secretly recognises something. Once the first character has said their bit, the other character will then give his or her information. The key to this is that the second character had the knowledge all along, but cottons on to the connection long before the first one does.

Can look like a form of Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!, except that one character does the Explain Explain and then the other character goes Oh, Crap!. Usually, the character that did the Explain Explain knows the Oh Crap from the start, but since it doesn't affect them personally, they can be as relaxed about it as they please while the other character, having heard them speak, panics and tries to avert the incoming disaster. See also Wham Line, which has the same effect at a meta level. Compare Oblivious Mockery.



    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Mazinger Z: Kouji and Tetsuya talk after the later saved the former's life by pulling a Big Damn Heroes moment:
    Kouji: Your robot is great. What is its name?
    Tetsuya: Great Mazinger.
    Kouji: Great... Mazinger?
    Tetsuya: It's the "brother" of the original Mazinger-Z.
    Kouji: It is WHAT?

    Comic Books 
  • In X-23 #13, while traveling in New York Gambit asks Laura if she's "ever spent much time in this city?".
    X-23: No. I lived here first. In the city.
    Gambit: Didn't know that. What were you doin'?
    X-23: I was a prostitute.
    Gambit: ...

    Fan Works 
  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Haruhi and Tsuruya are chatting about Kyon and kissing in the presence of Yuki, who was silently reading:
    Tsuruya: Would kissing be within those boundaries?
    Haruhi: I already did, so I'd be a hypocrite if I said no.
    Tsuruya: So he practiced with you! That's why he was so good... Er... Um... Um, I have a picture of me in a junihitoe on that SD card!
    Haruhi: You and him!? Er... I mean... Yeah, he's really really good, isn't he?
    Tsuruya: I thinks so.
    Yuki: I also think so.
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel fic "All Through the Night" features a semi-regular version of this in the first few chapters after Wesley brings Connor to Sunnydale to leave him with Buffy; the fic specifically shows the moment when Buffy, Willow, Spike and Riley were informed that Connor is Angel's biological son, each of them stunned at the idea that a vampire could have a child.
  • Agreement and Disputation: Holmes initially assumes that the very considerate Watson has little idea of the rougher and more vile side of the city. Then, as he's preparing for a case involving an opium den, Watson surprises him by casually mentioning that he's gone into one after someone twice, once in Bombay and once in London, and as a volunteer rather than on orders both times. As most policemen hesitate to venture into such nasty places even on the job, the revelation dumbfounds Holmes.
  • The Night Unfurls:
    • The cliffhanger in Chapter 11 of the remastered version features one of these when Kyril nonchalantly states that he killed Vault when asked by Maia about his whereabouts.
    • Likewise, Chapter 12 has Kyril being accused of making a deal with The Rat, described as a malicious entity far older than both Celestine and Olga. In response, The Rat drops this wham, especially in regards to Kyril's true nature.
      Alicia: What is difficult is why this blasphemer (Kyril) is still here. He does not serve the Goddess but that... that thing.
      The Rat: I have no power over him, Knight of Iris! Where is it written that a man touched by the Gods must serve a master?

    Films — Animation 
  • Ratatouille: Skinner reveals during a discussion with his lawyer that he is paranoid about the rat, thinking Linguini is trying to psyche him out. Skinner's lawyer notes that he had to take a second sample of Linguini's hair. When Skinner asks why, the lawyer says:
    Lawyer: The first time, it came back identified as... rodent hair.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Django Unchained, Dr. King Schultz talks with the francophile plantation owner Calvin Candie (who named one of his slaves D'Artagnan), wondering whether Alexandre Dumas would agree with Candie's practice of slavery. Candie shrugs off the doubts, until Schultz finally points out that Alexandre Dumas was black (by the standards of the time, at least).
  • In Apollo 13, the crew of the spaceship and the flight controllers on the ground are trying to figure out what's happening with the spaceship, and whether the problems are real or just bad data from the on-board telemetry. Then Jim Lovell checks out his window... and sees something that lets him know that they're in deep trouble.
  • At the end of Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America wakes up in what seems to be a 1940s hospital room, but recognizes that the ball game on the radio is one he attended in person. He escapes and runs into an alien-looking street, only for Nick Fury to appear and drop the wham on him.
    Fury: You've been asleep, Cap... for almost 70 years.
  • Brokeback Mountain: Ennis and his wife Alma divorce due to his Incompatible Orientation. Later, she confronts him on his cheating and tells him she always knew his "fishing trips" with Jack were a lie; one time she left a note in his tackle box telling him to bring back some fish for her and their two daughters since they love fish, but when he returned, she found the note exactly where she left it.

  • Animorphs: Early on in "The Andalite Chronicles", Elfangor and Arbron get separated while in Taxxon morph. They reunite halfway through the book, again in Taxxon morph, and pull a Bavarian Fire Drill that gets them out of a sticky situation. Elfangor demorphs as they get away, and asks Arbron to do the same, but...
  • Two examples in Spock's World:
    • McCoy's question at the end of Sarek's discourse: "What do[es the government] think of the scheme to sell off formerly Federation-owned property on Vulcan, after the secession, to secret buyers with strong anti-Federation leanings, who have already made substantial payoffs to Vulcan officials to ensure that the property will be sold to them at 'lowest bid' before anyone else hears of it?"
    • Followed seconds later by another such line. Sarek says that the government can't respond to that scheme without seeing solid evidence of it, and McCoy says, "Sir, I await your convenience." The author describes the reaction thusly: "And the room went mad."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Breaking Bad:
    • "I fucked Ted."
    • In "Madrigal," Mike is summoned to the DEA office to be interrogated by Hank and Gomez. He manages to make his way through their questions about his employment with Gus, pretends to be "surprised" by their asking him about if he worked in Gus's drug enterprise, then asks if he's free to go. Mike gets up, only for Hank to then ask, "Oh, well, I don't suppose we could talk about the $2 million in your granddaughter's name?" This causes Mike to stop dead in his tracks.
    Hank Schrader: Yeah. It seems that, uh, Fring had all these secret offshore accounts that he would deposit money into. Like, uh, well, an even dozen of them. And they're all in the names of certain people on his payroll. There was the, uh, the manager of the laundry, umm, a couple guys from the Pollos distribution center. Uh, there was the owner of a chemical warehouse, a bunch of others, you know. Guys that must've been getting paid off the books. Anyway, one of the names...was Kaylee Ehrmantraut. Ten years old and just cute as a button. Yeah. $2 million and change we found on deposit for her. Way more than anybody else. Now, my partner here? He took one look at that and said, "Shit, man! This fifth-grade girl is the muscle behind Fring's entire operation!" I said, "Whoa, whoa, hey, partner, slow down there. Maybe it was actually her dear old granddaddy." Impressive, no? That...tsk tsk, level of insight? [beat] He's not impressed, Gomie.
  • Luke Cage (2016):
    • Mariah Dillard is doing a live TV interview about what the Harlem community means to her, and then the reporter suddenly asks, "Which Harlem?" before attempting to ask Mariah about her known criminal connections.
    • Tone shoots up Pop's Barbershop with twin submachine guns in an attempt to kill Chico, and ends up killing Pop in the crossfire. When he and Shades return to Cotttonmouth with Chico's money, they explain what happened. Cottonmouth is initially upset that Tone decided to light the barbershop up like a Fourth of July, and says that he'll donate anonymously to Pop. At that point, Shades uneasily tells Cottonmouth that Pop is dead. Cottonmouth, who saw Pop as a close friend and mentor, suddenly turns furious and throws Tone to his death.
  • In an episode of Modern Family, Cam, hopeless romantic that he is, has gone out of his way to help a sweet little old man reach a sweet little old lady in a busy shopping mall so the man can profess his love for her and beg her to give him another chance. Cam urges the lady to accept, waxing philosophical about the importance of love, only for things to get awkward when the lady asks, "But what about his wife?"

    Video Games 
  • In Deus Ex, if you keep prodding Carter for dialogue, he'll drop this little bombshell:
    Sam Carter: A pistol is more than adequate. Hell, I dispatched a whole platoon one time with a pocket knife.
  • Referenced and averted in Mass Effect 3. Talk to Tali on the Citadel after she becomes the Quarian Ambassador in Priority: Rannoch and she'll mention running into a turian clerk who she originally met three years ago, just before coming across Shepard for the first time, who was at the time quite rude and racist towards the no-name quarian, which endangered her life, as she was seeking protection from Saren's assassins, who wanted to silence her before she could deliver evidence implicating him. She says she considered revealing how they'd already met to make him squirm, then decided it would be beneath her, which Shepard says is a sign of virtue.
  • Used frequently in L.A. Noire during interrogations by Cole Phelps, usually when Phelps catches them in a hugely-incriminating lie. Case in point, during one of the DLC investigations:
    Cole Phelps: You fuck young boys, Valdez?
  • Happens in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. It changes very little in the context of the game, but Yune drops an absolutely brutal one to Stefan during a base conversation in the Endgame that drives him to briefly Go Mad from the Revelation.
    Stefan: It's said that a union between laguz and beorc is a crime against the goddess. That's what we've always been told.
    Yune: That’s silly. I've never heard anything of the sort.


    Web Original 
  • Can You Spare a Quarter?: Graham has for some time avoided telling Jamie that Graham's injuries are due to Jamie hitting him when he's thrashing around in a nightmare. When he finally does, despite Graham's attempt to soften the impact Jamie panicks and runs away.
  • Leading up to Noob's first big reveal, we see Amaras finding out something, then sending his generals to confront the Justice guild main roster about it. However, the Justice guild main roster is Locked Out of the Loop on the subject, so its members initially assume that Amaras' generals are just being extremely bitter about being Always Second Best to them. One of of Amaras' generals catches on to this and utters a few words that let the Justice guild members know that there is a real problem:
    Battos: Strange, they don't seem to know.

    Western Animation