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Everyone: GASP!
Stan: Yes, you'd better gasp collectively!

Nothing says "Drama!" like gasping it, often preceded by a nicely dramatic double-take. Originally came from Theater, since people far away had to see how terrified the actors were. Then used in silent films for similar reasons. There was an interview once with an old actress, who says that they gave her lessons on how to scream, and that they were taught to deliberately over-act, and always raise their hands up in half made fists to cover their mouth.

Now a Dead Horse Trope in live action, save for comedy, where it's often exaggerated for maximum comic effect. But in Animated Shows, it's often played perfectly straight. But that doesn't make it any less out of place when it's used in animation that tends to be otherwise more subtle than typical Melodrama.

Bonus points if they actually shout "GASP!"


A Sub-Trope of Melodrama.

Compare Oh, Crap!, Milking the Giant Cow, Large Ham, Chewing the Scenery, Rule of Drama, Big "WHAT?!", Big Word Shout, Big "NO!", Comical Overreacting.

Straight Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Gasps are used extremely extensively in manga (as SFX text) and in anime. Some intrigued folks have made compilations of gasps from different anime. Along with awkward moans made when eating (which are used to half-heartedly cover the fact that the voice actors weren't actually eating anything) or any types of moans used to make characters appear more dynamic for that matter, and fake animal sounds (usually meows and woofs; seriously, how hard could it be to record actual sounds made by dogs and cats?), gasps are one of the most overused sounds in anime.
  • Dragon Ball Z would use this tons of times, with gasps that lasted the greater part of a full minute. And they always make weird sounds and faces while doing it, to the point where it becomes a Big Ham moment instead of a significant effect.
  • Chiaki Konaka loves this one very, very much. Watch Serial Experiments Lain, Texhnolyze and Ghost Hound'' in case of doubt.
  • Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist does it all of the time.
  • Hellsing: Rip van Winkle does this in the 4th OVA when Alucard suddenly smashes her alarm clock, alerting her of his presence. She does it again when he catches the bullet she was firing at him in his mouth.
  • Nichijou is just as guilty as any other anime. However, it has one subversion because it features Mai who's silent most of the time. She's actually meant to have a very eccentric personality anyway, and at the end of the day, it's more normal to gasp and moan all the time in anime.
  • Occurs often in Gankutsuou.
  • Sailor Moon's gasp in the SuperS movie is really overblown, moreso in The '90s English dub. Isn't there any oxygen left in the castle?
  • Akagi. Have a compilation.

    Asian Animation 
  • In the Lamput episode "Fracture", the docs gasp when they realize they let Lamput go off free.

    Fan Works 
  • This happens ridiculously often in My Immortal, enough that it's part of the Drinking Game. A few examples:
    I gasped- there was a Dork Mark on his you-know-wut!11!
    And den.......I gasped............. Draco wuz there doing it wif Snap!1111111111111111111111111
    "Look motherfucker." he said angrily as Dumbeldore gasped (c is da toot of crakter).
    And then... I began frenching Draco sexily. Loopin gasped.

    Films — Animation 
  • Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie. Jonah, Khalil, and the Pirates all take turns at dramatic gasping when they see just what "The Slap of No Return" is, before all doing a simultaneous gasp.
  • In one scene of Open Season 2, a slightly aged Elliot does a long gasp after a slightly older Boog says to a slightly older Giselle, "We're partners, right?".
  • In one scene of Open Season 3, Giselle, Gisela, and Giselita all gasp after Doug (who is disguised as Boog) yells at them to go get him more berries and to massage his paws.
  • In Shrek 2, the three girls who discover the newly human Shrek dramatically gasp (and smile) when Donkey says "First we need to get you out of those clothes."
  • Several women in the crowd during the climax of Mulan do this when the Huns show up, complete with shaking their heads 'no'.
  • Everyone (and we do mean everyone) in the town of Swallow Falls does this in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs after Flint's food machine produces a rain of cheeseburgers. Flint's gasp is especially and hilariously protracted.
  • In Titanic: The Legend Goes On, Angelica gasps dramatically several times when she's on the boat.

    Films — Live-Action  
  • There is a scene in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel where the Chipmunks and Chipettes gasp upon seeing each other.
  • Done for comedy in Spaceballs. When Dark Helmet orders Colonel Sandurz to go to "Ludicrous Speed!" everybody on the bridge gasps.
  • Floop gasps and twitches when Minion turns on him in Spy Kids.
  • In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Envy does this one as part of her natural scenery chewing.
    Vegan Police: On April 4th at 7:30 pm, you partook of a plate of chicken parmesan.
    Envy: GASP!
    Todd: [nervously] Chicken isn't vegan?
  • Christopher Lloyd is really good at these; a perfect example comes in the first Back to the Future, where Doc Brown gets a classic reaction face when a burning wind-up car drives into a pile of oily rags.

  • During the first dinner at Dundrillin Castle in Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea, Sir Percy is recounting a local ghost story, and he's just relayed a creepy detail when the lights go out. Lori's reaction: "I gasped, nearly stabbed myself in the face with a forkful of lamb, and knocked over my water glass."
  • In Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, the President suffers an unexpected consequence of a sharp intake of breath.
    "They've gone on board," Shuckworth was shouting, "and they've taken in the bed... I mean the bomb."
    The President sucked in his breath sharply. He also sucked in a large fly which happened to be passing at the time.
  • Roald Dahl describes his reaction to being caned, in his autobiography Boy.
    The burning sting was so terrific that all I could do was gasp. I gave a great gushing gasp that emptied my lungs of every breath of air that was in them.
  • In The Worst Witch: Mildred's reaction to the threat of explusion.
    Miss Cackle: If I see you in trouble once more this term, I shall be forced to disqualify you from the school itself.
    (Mildred gasps)
    Miss Cackle: Yes Mildred, I shall be forced to expel you if this reckless behaviour continues.

    Live-Action TV 

  • Episode three of Mystery Show revolves around a lost belt buckle. Among other impressive ornamentation, it includes a miniature toaster that ejects tiny toast. Starlee lets out a Gasp when she sees it in action for the first time.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" puppet skit, the boy gasps when he sees the wolf approaching him before the wolf reveals to the boy that he isn't really evil.
  • In the "Gunni Wolf" puppet ski, the little girl gasps repeatedly.

    Video Games 
  • Done Narmingly in Discworld Noir. The film noir-ish protagonist Lewton is usually pretty hard-boiled and cool, but when he meets Death in person, he gives an enormous gasp, with the overacted line, "You're DEATH!" What's even funnier is that the character onscreen isn't animated any differently than usual, so it's all in the voice acting. Unfortunately, unlike most things Discworld, this is likely not meant as parody and is just a case of bad acting.
  • Lance does this painfully and in fright in Brain Dead 13 when he sees that one of the giant worms in the Spooky Silent Library has burrowed its way through his chest in one death scene.
  • Happens with regularity in Xenoblade Chronicles 2, almost Once Per Chapter. It starts becoming rather funny hearing the whole cast "GASP" when some huge plot revelation is dropped... which is frequent.
  • This Starry Midnight We Make: After the third quest for her, learning about Yi Xinghua's missing brother, Yi Xingli:
    Hamomoru & Shingoh: *gasp!*
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II, this is the only reaction Rean can muster when he finds out that the Evil Chancellor Giliath Osborne, who is one of the scariest political figures in all of Western Zemuria, is his biological father.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Used in Batman: The Animated Series and Gargoyles, which stick out like sore thumbs, compared to the rest of those series.
  • In The Care Bears: Adventure in Wonderland, Alice gasps when she is told about the Princess test.
  • In the DVD commentaries, the creators joke that Futurama has more gasps per episode than any other show ever.
    • Lampshaded in one episode when after repeated shocking statements, one man faints. A doctor rushes to his side and announces "This man has over-gasped!"
  • Recess is very fond of this, with usually all the students doing this at least once per episode.
  • The eponymous Tinkerbell causes an entire group of fairies to gasp and recoil, hands rising to their faces in horror at Tink causing a stampede.
  • Total Drama is rather fond of these, either individually or in groups. It's particularly common when contestants are surprised at an elimination.
    • The TDA episode Oceans Eight Or Nine parodies this by showing overdramatic GASP shots of Beth, Lindsay, Justin and then Lindsay again, followed by a Shrug Take from Duncan.
      • The TDWT finale uses exactly the same format (list of "GASPS!" and then a Shrug Take), although the characters who perform the actions are different. The character who performs the Shrug Take (Noah) had been revealed to already be aware of the "shocking revelation" nine episodes earlier.
  • Winnie-the-Pooh: Tigger does this a lot, literally saying it. Only it comes out "GATHP!"
  • Rob Paulsen deserves a trophy for this trope, whether playing Pinky, Yakko, or nearly anyone else.
  • Definitely used many times on The Simpsons from various characters.

Non-Straight Examples:

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes parodied this, during a series of strips where Calvin floats away with his helium balloon, it pops and he figures it must be a dream. To try and wake up, he looks down toward the ground and "GASP!"s repeatedly. It doesn't work.

    Fan Works 

  • In the eighth Captain Underpants book, George and Harold audibly gasp when they see their Evil Twins hypnotizing Crackers and Sulu. This alerts Evil George and Evil Harold to their presence, who order their hypnotized slaves to catch the "gaspers".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Spoofed on Will & Grace, when Grace snooped in Leo's bag and found a romantic letter from another woman, but wants to pretend to be shocked when he finds it:
    Grace: But then he'll know I snooped. No, he's got to find this on his own. And I've got to be there when he reads it so I can act all shocked about it. Ooh, I know what I'll do. I'll do this. (does three quick gasps) No, too big. Maybe (gasps twice) Maybe just one. (does a long and wildly exaggerated gasp, with slow-mo facial expressions)
    Will: [beat] Grace, do you work? Or do you just spend the day practising your reactions? (Grace gives him an offended, open-mouthed look) Thought so.
  • Frank does this repeatedly in an episode of The Adventures of Lano and Woodley . After the third or fourth, Col tells him to stop it because there's a risk of him fainting. Frank gasps and faints. Then when he comes around, he asks what happened. Col tells him that he fainted. Guess what happens.
  • Lampshaded on Friends when Monica admits to an amateur cooking class that she's a professional chef. The whole class let out a theatrical GASP and Monica tells them to stop it. "This isn't a courtroom drama!"
  • Used in the Smosh franchise.
  • In the Shane Dawson franchise.
  • During an All That sketch where a member of the "Cheese Police" visits the school, he finds cheese in Ms. Fingerly's purse.
    Students: Gasp!
  • Angel. Cordelia does this when spoofing the Buffy/Angel romance in "Fredless". And she actually does say gasp.
  • Parks and Recreation: Leslie expects this reaction in "Correspondents' Lunch" when she announces at a press conference that the Pawnee Sun has been hacking her emails. Unfortunately for her, no one at the press conference reacts this way.
  • When Doctor Becker is sued for malpractice by a patient who suffered a heart attack while exercising under his advice, the plaintiff's lawyer asks him to identify Becker. When Vinny points at Becker, the jury gasps dramatically, much to his confusion. "Oh, come on! Who didn't know that already?"

  • I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again had characters saying 'gasp' pretty often. The most notable example is probably when the entire cast, upon being told that their in-universe radio station is being closed down, react with "SHOCKED GASP!"

  • Parodied in Urinetown, when Pennywise reveals that Hope is her daughter, the poor react with a "Gasp." When she follows it up with the fact that she is Hope's mother, the poor give a much more dramatic, "GASP!"

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 
  • In the Code MENT abridged series, Lelouch says "Audible Gasp!" rather than gasping, when something shocking happens.
  • In the webseries Agents Of Cracked'', Swaim actually says "Gasp!" at least once per episode.
    Swaim: Gasp! The Chief!

    Western Animation 
  • The Fairly OddParents:
    • Parodied a couple of times, at one point which Timmy's dad yells, "GIGA.GASP!!!"
    • In another episode Cosmo goes to a party and fabricates various achievements to impress the other guests. One of them is inventing air, which he claims the entire world must pay him royalties for every breath. Whenever the guests gasp, he tells them to pay up.
  • Parodied in an episode of The Oblongs where a crowd of people continually gasp until it's revealed it was just Mikey's (the ass kid) asthma.
  • One of the episodes of WordGirl features "gasp" as one of the words to look out for. To help show the definition of the word and make sure they could work in the word as much as possible, the characters engage in this the entire episode. It's done so much that it's taken to the point of an Overly Long Gag, and Tobey even gets fed-up at one point and shouts "Will you STOP doing that??" after the crowd gasps for the umpteenth time.
  • In one episode of The Penguins of Madagascar, everyone gasps upon hearing that Mort had been kidnapped. Everyone, that is, except King Julien, who momentarily forgets who Mort is, then reassures them that "I too am gasping in horror, but on the inside."
  • Bugs Bunny actually says "Gasp!" in the short "Falling Hare", after turning around to accost the gremlin who almost tricked him into setting off a bomb with a hammer, and finding that the gremlin has vanished.
  • Spoofed and given bonus points (obviously) in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Imitation Krabs."
    Mr. Krabs: [gasp]
    SpongeBob: [gasp]
    Penny: [gasp]
    Plankton: Gasp!
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, this is Twilight Sparkle's (and the audience's) first impression of Pinkie Pie, followed by Pinkie running away. It later turns out that Pinkie had rushed off to prepare a welcoming party for Twilight.
  • In the Futurama episode, "Decision 3012", Bender gasps so hard, that he inhales Leela's ponytail.
  • Parodied in The Looney Tunes Show, when Daffy presents his own defense in court. Since his 'points' are terrible and the courtroom is almost empty, he has to provide his own dramatic 'Gasp!' twice.
  • When Sonic is accused of a rash of thefts in Sonic Boom, the crowd behind him gasps dramatically so much, he tells them to cut it out.
  • In the Dog City episode "Of Mutts and Mayors", when Mayor Bugsy takes Chief O'Gravy's police badge she gasps dramatically. When he takes Ace's detective licence, Ace reacts similarly. When he takes their driving licences, they both give an even wilder take. But when he takes their dramatic licences, they very flatly say "Gasp."
  • The Simpsons: Marge has a pretty distinctive gasp. In "Chief of Hearts", she gasps so hard, she inhales one of Maggie's blocks.
  • In the Ready Jet Go! episode “Sunspot’s Sunspot", when Sunspot says "No, thank you", all the kids do a dramatic gasp.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Dramatic Gasp


Twilight meets Pinkie Pie

The first mane character Twilight Sparkle meets is Pinkie Pie, who upon seeing her, sucks in a huge gasp and zips off.

How well does it match the trope?

3.88 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / GASP

Media sources:

Main / GASP