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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 and The Take.

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


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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 Large 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.
  • Pokémon: The Series: Gasps are common in the Pokémon anime, often to indicate surprise. Since Team Rocket's disguises almost always fool the twerps they follow and the majority of the episodes feature them as the primary villains, expect a gasp from our heroes Once per Episode.

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

    Comic Books 
  • Bone: The Barrelhaven regulars do this when Phoney tells them he's seen a dragon. Phoney then snipes, "I've got news for ya, gasping-boy! You got a lotta weird stuff in this crazy valley, so don't go blamin' us for your dragon problems!
  • One issue of Groo the Wanderer has a large crowd perform a COLLECTIVE GASP!
  • The Simpsons Futurama Crossover Crisis: The Simpsons, Professor Frink, and half of the Planet Express crew do this when they arrive at the Nuclear Power Plant and see that Mr. Burns has captured Hermes and Zoidberg, with the latter also being suspended over a barrel of toxic waste.

    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 
  • Avatar: The Abridged Series: "Le Gasp! I must flee, sexily."
  • 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.
  • In episode 3 of Rose of Versailles Abridged, Maria Theresa ended her lesson on "Amp up the drama" with a shot of Oscar gasping.
  • Examples from the Calvinverse:
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
    Joey: It is implied that I am punching you!
    Téa: Gasp!
    Tristan: Hey, no fair! You can't punch me while I'm off-screen!

    Films — Animation 
  • Cars: Mater does this many times, whenever he is excited about something.
  • 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.
  • The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part: Emmet does a hilariously long one when he discovers that Lucy was one of the singers in "Everything is Awesome".
  • 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.
  • In Beauty and the Beast, Belle does a quick gasp and turns away in horror when she first sees Beast.
  • The Emperor's New Groove: Kronk, his shoulder angel, and even his devil gasp in shock when Yzma claims that she never liked his spinach puffs.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Esmeralda gasps in horror when she realizes Quasi's face is Not a Mask.
  • Turning Red:
    • Mei and her friends all gasp when Tyler threatens to blackmail Mei.
    • Ming gasps when she finds out Mei has snuck out.
    • Mei has a more positive gasp, complete with Tears of Joy, when she see 4*Town singing "Nobody Like U" to help with the ritual that will transform Ming back to normal.
  • The Bad Guys: Chief Luggins does this near the end when finding the Zumpango Diamond after it falls off Marmalade, believing that he was presumably the Crimson Paw.

    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?
  • Ash pulls off an amazing one in Army of Darkness (while his face is covered in soot for good measure) when he goes to squish one of his tiny, evil mirror copies and ends up getting a huge nail through his foot instead.
  • 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 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".
  • 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 
  • The Adventures of Lano and Woodley : Frank does this repeatedly in an episode. 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.
  • 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!
  • 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?"
  • Angel: Cordelia does this during her spoofing of the Romantic Hyperbole of Buffy/Angel. And she actually does say gasp.
    Cordelia: And just because I sent you to hell that one time doesn't mean we can't just... be friends!
    Wesley: Or possibly more?
    Cordelia: Gasp! No! We mustn't!
  • Boy Meets World: A Running Joke was Shawn and Cory doing exaggerated gasps, followed by "TO-PAN-GA!"
  • Community: "[It's] the noise people make when they're offended in all the movies that Annie rents."
  • In Dix pour cent, everyone in the conference room gasps when Hicham throws a pencil at Andréa as though they're both high schoolers again.
  • Frasier: Frasier does this when enraptured with something, a lot.
  • Friends: Lampshaded 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!"
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022):
    • "The Thing Lay Still": The homophobic guests at the Mardi Gras ball audibly gasp when Louis de Pointe du Lac and Lestat de Lioncourt kiss on the dance floor.
    • "What Can the Damned Really Say to the Damned": The Romanians collectively gasp in horror when they see the bite marks on Emilia's neck; they assume she was bitten by a vampire or a revenant.
  • Legion: In "Chapter 26", Charles Xavier audibly gasps and covers his mouth when he's inundated by David Haller's memories.
  • 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.
  • Sonny with a Chance does this all the time, but usually they're parodying their fictional TV show "MacKenzie Falls".
  • Star Trek: Picard: In "Absolute Candor", some of the townspeople gasp after Elnor severs Tenqem's head.
  • 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 practicing your reactions? (Grace gives him an offended, open-mouthed look) Thought so.

  • Imagine Dragons: Dan Reynolds in Radioactive:
    I'm breathing in...the chemicals...*huuuuuuh* *ahhhhh*
  • Busta Rhymes in the middle his famous Motor Mouth verse from Chris Brown 's "Look At Me Now" to really draw comical emphasis on how fast he's rapping.
  • Matt Bellamy of Muse, and how. He does this in between almost every lyric he sings, intentionally or unintentionally, and quite loudly to the point where fans often joke about it. It's especially bad in albums like Absolution where he's basically fighting for his life.

  • 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.

  • 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 
  • 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.
  • A comically frequent mannerism of Toan throughout Dark Cloud.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • This Starry Midnight We Make: After the third quest for her, learning about Yi Xinghua's missing brother, Yi Xingli:
    Hamomoru & Shingoh: *gasp!*
  • Tales of the Abyss: Oh, Jade Curtiss, you never disappoint:
    Jade: GASP!
    Luke: What?! What is it?
    Jade: It's a recipe we don't know yet!!
  • 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.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Manana verbalised a 'gasp' when she attempted to go for seconds at dinner and found that everything in her pot had already been eaten. The following morning, Sena, who had an occasional habit of mimicking the speech patterns of those around her, found that their food supplies had been stolen during the night, and let out a 'gasp' of her own as she raised the alarm with the others.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Double Homework, the player can get this reaction from Johanna and Tamara by answering Johanna’s question about what he did with Tamara the previous night:
    Protagonist: We made out in one of the booths.

    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 title character of Arthur has a noteworthy gasp that gets recycled quite a bit in the first 5 seasons of the show, before his first voice actor got replaced.
    • In "Arthur's Eyes", the first episode of the show, he gasp after he finds out he slingshotted his glasses he was trying to get rid of into the window of his bedroom.
    • In "Arthur's Big Hit", he gasps after finding his broken plane on the driveway of the Read house, after D.W. threw it out the window.
  • 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.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Played for Drama in the episode "Deadly Ransom". Two of the Eco-Villains, namely Dr. Blight and Duke Nukem, have captured Captain Planet and demand ransom from the Planeteers via the Planet Vision. At one point during the "negotiations", Nukem hits Captain Planet with a radioactive blast. Gaia, who's also watching, reacts to this with a loud, terrified gasp, raising a hand towards her mouth and instinctively taking a few steps forward.
  • In The Care Bears: Adventure in Wonderland, Alice gasps when she is told about the Princess test.
  • The eponymous Tinker Bell causes an entire group of fairies to gasp and recoil, hands rising to their faces in horror at Tink causing a stampede.
  • 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 license, Ace reacts similarly. When he takes their driving licenses, they both give an even wilder take. But when he takes their dramatic licenses, they very flatly say "Gasp."
  • 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.
  • Futurama: In the DVD commentaries, the creators joke that this show 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!"
    • In the 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.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the first episode, 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.
    • Early on, this was Twilight's reaction to Celestia's response to her message that she "simply must stop reading those dusty old books!".
  • 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.
  • Recess is very fond of this, with usually all the students doing this at least once per episode.
  • 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."
  • In The Powerpuff Girls (1998) episode "Octi Gone", this becomes a Running Gag with the constant confessions. For the last one, only the Mayor gasps, to which Ms. Bellum responds "Mayor, we're done gasping".
  • In the Ready Jet Go! episode “Sunspot’s Sunspot", when Sunspot says "No, thank you", all the kids do a dramatic gasp.
  • The Simpsons: Marge has a pretty distinctive gasp. In "Chief of Hearts", she gasps so hard, she inhales one of Maggie's blocks.
  • 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.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Spoofed and given bonus points (obviously) in the episode "Imitation Krabs."
      Mr. Krabs: [gasp]
      SpongeBob: [gasp]
      Penny: [gasp]
      Plankton: Gasp!
    • In "Mrs. Puff, You're Fired", the substitute orders no eating in class, then offers bon bons; when one student succumbs to the temptation, this causes all the other students who resisted — including SpongeBob — to turn toward the student and gasp in shock.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: In "Terminal Provocations", everyone in the mess hall gasps in shock after Dr. T'Ana angrily tells Mariner that she should work on Starbase 80, which is considered to be a Place Worse Than Death.
  • 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!"
  • 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 is 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.

Alternative Title(s): Dramatic Gasp


Feather Hats

In an effort to deal with the emus, George Pearce, the minister of defence, persuades the Australian parliament on why they should wage war against the emus.

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