Homer: He was a zombie?
Goes as follows:
Hero: I didn't...
Borders on Indy Ploy for charging in with no other plan and Moral Dissonance when you realized that our hero had no problem killing someone and just happened to land on the accepted side of What Measure Is a Non-Human?. Alternatively, sometimes the hero might have known the truth all along and just be yanking the chain of the person asking the question.
This may also be used in a Spot the Imposter scene, when the hero's choice turns out to be correct.
However, it can also be used to show the hero's courage, as in: "How did you know that bomb wasn't real?" "I didn't." (It's also used as a punchline, where the hero retroactively freaks out when they realize how much danger they were in.)
Not to be confused with You Just Told Me, although the same phrase can be used for that purpose too. Also not to be confused with Accidental Truth or I Just Knew. See also I Have No Idea What I'm Doing, Achievements in Ignorance, and Sure, Let's Go with That.
- In an OVA from Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed and Al get caught up with the Homunculi after Envy shapeshifts to pretend to be a captured Winry. They escape, chaos ensues, and Edward ends up taking out Envy who's disguised as Roy Mustang.
Al: Oh wow, Ed, how did you know that wasn't the Colonel?
Ed: ... it wasn't?
- This speech follows pretty much every victory of Irresponsible Captain Tylor. It comes to the point where his second in command begins to anticipate the 'I didn't' reply. He becomes smart enough that he decides to imitate Tylor's style when mounting his rescue operation. And yes, it also works when he does it.
- An extreme example occurred in Saiyuki when the entire group sans Gojyo decide that the next time they see Gojyo, they'd beat the crap out of him for leaving their group and throwing off the dynamic. They meet an evil doppelganger Gojyo and naturally start to beat the crap out of it. When they discover it isn't Gojyo, they decide to pretend it is and proceed to tear it to shreds as a catharsis. Especially funny because the guy disguised as Gojyo fully expected them to pull the "How can I bring myself to fight my friend?" act... Ehehe.
- On YuYu Hakusho Yusuke is faced with a Spot the Imposter predicament and is told he has to punch the culprit as hard as he can to expose him. He correctly chooses Kuwabara but only did so because he knows Kuwabara is used to being hit by him while ruling out the others. He did mention before doing so that he hoped he was right.
- Jojos Bizarre Adventure:
- InBattle Tendency, Joseph reveals in his inner thoughts that his final trump card against Kars was nothing more than him just getting lucky, but the fact that he thought otherwise is more than enough to drive him crazy.
- In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, Okyuasu (who is not very smart) is facing two people who both claim the other is an impostor who snuck in to kill Joseph. When the impostor's Stand moves in for the kill, Okuyasu punches one of the men, who turns out to be the villain. The defeated bad guy asks how Okuyasu knew, and he reveals he was planning on punching both of them - he just happened to get the right target first by luck.
- A Sailor Moon SuperS special starring Haruka and Michiru has Sailor Neptune fighting a living puppet and his master at a hotel, and the puppet holding an ill Haruka hostage. Neptune is about to save her by destroying the puppets source of power, but warns her that doing so will cause the shadows of every person on earth to kill their hosts. But Neptune destroys the power source anyway and sarcastically asks if "the shadows have begun to run rampant yet". The puppet asks how she knew he was lying, but it turns out she didn't. The bad guys call her out on risking the lives of other people, but Neptune simply responds, "A world without Haruka isn't worth saving".
- Played very cleverly during the second arc of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's: All the little kids in the orphanage are depressed about how Martha and others have been taken by the Earthbound Gods. Yusei sounds like he knows about No Ontological Inertia when he assures them that when they defeat the villains, everyone will return and be all right. After the kids leave, his adult and teenaged allies ask him how he knows that. He sheepishly admits he doesn't — he just said it to cheer them up. To say they're not too happy is an understatement. Fortunately for everyone, it does turn out to be true.
- On the way to the Hunter Exam in Hunter × Hunter, Kurapika hits Leorio in the face with his nunchucks. "Leorio" then transforms into a monstrous creature and asks how Kurapika knew he was an imposter. Kurapika responds that he didn't know, he just wanted to hit Leorio in the face. (Because Kurapika assumed that Leorio had abandoned the wounded man he had promised to take care of.)
- How L manages to pinpoint Kira's location in Death Note. L only had a few assumptions about Kira: that he can kill people without being present, that he won't tolerate being called out, and that the earliest death possibly related to Kira happened in Kanto, Japan. Thus, L decides to fake a worldwide Interpol announcement, with a criminal posing as L and taunting Kira. The announcement would only be broadcasted in one place at a time, so that when the criminal would be killed (presumably by a pissed off Kira), L would know where he lives in. The plan works as intended, but L did not expect that the seemingly random death in Japan was actually going to be useful.
- In the Big Finish Doctor Who audio play The Chaos Pool, the Doctor throws himself into the Pool to disperse the Key to Time. His companions are convinced he's sacrificed himself until he calls out that he'd like some help getting back up. When they ask him how he knew he'd survive, he evades the question and they realize he didn't.
- The Avengers #1½: the Hulk is attacking a Dr. Doom robot and is asked (after he smashes it) how he knew it's a robot. "Robot?"
- Birds of Prey #97: Cheetah tackles Black Canary and threatens to rip her throat out. Huntress shoots Cheetah in the shoulder, face, and throat.
Black Canary: Hey, how'd you know about Cheetah's healing factor?
Huntress: Healing what now?
- G.I. Joe:
- In Marvel's G.I. Joe comic, Sgt. Slaughter is confronted by two Gung-Hos. He punches one in the face, who turns out to be the shapeshifter Zartan. When asked how he knew which one to punch, Slaughter replies, "Lucky guess."
- The IDW reboot pulls it off without the double. Duke cold-clocks Snake-Eyes as soon as he appears during a mission off sheer suspicion, and it turns out to be Zartan. Duke says he didn't need to actually know: There was no way he could've hit the real Snake-Eyes.
- An issue of Fantastic Four has a future version of Namor and Black Panther coming to the present for some reason or another. It's revealed that Reed's devotion to his work would eventually drive his family away from him, culminating in Susan running off with Namor (as she's been on the verge of doing before). Reed takes this news calmly, then shoots Namor in the head. In this case, he suspected, but did not know for certain, that this was a plot orchestrated by Doom, and that the future Namor and Black Panther were robot impostors. Reed based his decision on "well I can't believe Doom solved that external power supply problem for that type of force field so Namor and Black Panther must be androids holding the power supplies." He was so certain Doom couldn't have solved a problem he couldn't even from decades into the future that he was willing to risk killing what was possibly the real Namor to prove himself right. Presumably, he shot the Namor android because he'd care a lot less about Namor dying if he turned out to be wrong.
- The Maxx: the Big Bad takes what is assumed to be a girl hostage. Maxx smashes the girl's face into a car, leaving the villain to wander off in a fit of anger. It was a CPR dummy, but Maxx very poorly tries to cover up his surprise it wasn't a real person.
- An example played seriously occurred in the first volume: after a vampire (Topher) had taken out nearly the whole team, Karolina offered to let him bite her in exchange for letting Molly live, claiming she wanted to die. He bit her—and spontaneously combusted, since she's a solar-powered alien. When Alex asked her how she knew that would happen, she admitted that she had actually been trying to commit suicide by proxy.
- Volume 3 #10: faced with a mutant cobra monster that's constantly respawning via eggs, Chase told Victor (a cyborg) to swallow the mutant cobra eggs in order to destroy the mother. Chase admits that he didn't know that it would work, but figured in the worst case scenario they could rebuild Victor.
- Issue 1 of the Dallas arc of The Umbrella Academy features the Lincoln memorial statue come to life and terrorize the District of Columbia. To stop it Rumor says "Mr. President. I heard a rumor you were assassinated." This conjures up a statue of John Wilkes Booth who shoots the rampaging Lincoln. Hargreeves arrives on the scene and asks how she knew that would work. She replied, "I didn't."
- From Fallen Angel: This exchange after Lee drops Shadow Boxer off a roof and he lands in a hay truck.
Slate: Pretty impressive, by the way. Timing Boxer's falling into that truck so he wouldn't be hurt.
Lee: [beat] What truck?
- Wolverine Vol 3 #62, Wolverine and Mystique are tied up in front a Mexican firing squad. They escape.
Mystique: How'd you know I'd be able to untie myself before the shooting started?
Wolverine: I didn't.
- In The New Avengers, Dum-Dum Dugan shoots Victor Creed in the head:
Victor: So... They told you about my healin' factor.
Dum-Dum: He heals?
- In issue #1 of the original New Warriors, Night Thrasher drops Richard Rider off a rooftop in order to re-activate his Nova powers (which Richard thought he'd lost after returning to Earth... long story). You can guess what Nova's next question and Night Thrasher's response are.
- In Avengers Academy #25, Hazmat blasts X-23 with a toxic blast after X-23 stabs Mettle:
Giant-Man: Careful! Her healing factor isn't as strong as Wolverine's!
Mettle: You knew she'd survive that, right?
Hazmat: Yeah. Woulda done it anyway.
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer tie-in comic "Ring of Fire", Kendra attacks a man who turns out to be a demon. Xander asks how she knew. She didn't.
- In one issue of Batman Adventures, The Riddler is up to his old tricks, but another group of devious criminals is operating. So, Batman is forced to choose which rogue to chase after, and decides to go for the other party than bother with Riddler's obligatory riddle. By sheer coincidence, both sets of Rogues hold their heists in the same building, allowing Batman to catch both. When Riddler asks how Batman solved his riddle, Batman just tells him, "I didn't" and Riddler is so happy to think he stumped Batman that he goes to jail singing a jaunty tune.
- This exchange occurs right after the Ghostbusters finished dealing with a haunting in New Mexico during the "Haunted America" arc of the IDW comics:
- Peter: And how did you know telling the aliens they weren't aliens would work, Ray?
Ray: That? Oh, I didn't. I just guessed.
- In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Shattered Grid, Lord Drakkon sneaks into Corinth and confronts Dr. K while his forces are attempting to invade. During the confrontation, he makes the mistake of hitting K's Berserk Button over the creation of the Venjix Virus, causing Dr. K to haul out a cannon and blast Drakkon, revealing him to be a robot double. When the other Ranger Series Operators arrive, Scott asks how she knew it wasn't a real person. The murderous look on her face suggests she didn't and she didn't care.
- Ultimate X-Men: A non-verbal one during "Sinister". Scott's taken hostage by an arms dealer, and fires his beam at Colossus. It bounces off Piotr's head and knocks the hostage-taker out, causing Piotr to ask how Scott knew his beams would reflect off Colossus' skin. Scott just changes the subject.
- In Jon Sable, Freelance #5, Sable and a courier named Cynthia are fighting at the ends of ropes dangling from a hot air balloon, and the two ropes have gotten twisted around each other. The balloon is losing altitude and they need to lose weight so Sable's ally Milo cuts one of the ropes, sending Cynthia plunging to her death. After they have landed, Jon asks Milo how he knew which rope to cut and Milo walks away, without answering.
- A variant from the Miraculous Ladybug fic Adrien and the Terrible, Horrible No Good Very Bad Day, after Ladybug gives Adrien a long and comforting hug while apologizing for avoiding him after his identity was exposed.
Adrien: You really are miraculous, LB. How'd you know that was exactly what I needed?
Ladybug: I didn't know. I just knew I needed that.
- Fates Collide: During a sparring match, Bazett Fraga McRemitz hits Mercury Black so hard it breaks his prosthetic leg. She is surprised to discover it was artificial, and he asks if she is insane because that much force would have completely destroyed a real leg.
- In the first My Little Pony: Equestria Girls movie, when Twilight is about to tell her humanized friends why she's in their world, Pinkie Pie accurately guesses why she's in their world. When Twilight asks her how she knew that, she answers "Just a hunch."
- Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe: When aliens invade the Earth, Stacy hides in the food truck that Jeremy works in and sees him putting together a bunch of spears. She comments that he's already prepping to fend off the alien invasion. Jeremy responds "There's an alien invasion?"
- The Untouchables (1987): How Ness persuades the judge at Al Capone's trial to change the jury he suspects has been bribed into returning a "not guilty" verdict. Doubles as a Batman Gambit.
District Attorney: What did you tell him?Ness: I told him his name is in the ledger too.Close-up of the Judge, staring daggers at Ness from the benchDistrict Attorney: His name wasn't in the ledger...
- Men in Black II: Amnesiac Agent K shoots alien pawn-shop clerk Jeebs in the head. Again.
J: You're back.
J: How'd you know his head grows back?
K: It grows back?
- The Naked Gun 2 1/2: Frank Drebin is being "honored for his 1000th drug-dealer killed." He responds: "Thank you. But, in all honesty, the last two I backed over with my car. Luckily, they turned out to be drug-dealers."
- Get Smart: Max is asked where the bomb is at the concert. He says that it is under the piano. Naturally, that's where it was. The chief asks how Max knew. The answer: Lucky guess.
- Unforgiven actively subverts a scene from The Outlaw Josey Wales where Wales survives an assault from a dangerous posse, then explains how he carefully chose which member he had to shoot first based on a Sherlock Scan of which one was the most dangerous. In Unforgiven, after Munny survives a similar encounter, he just shrugs and says he got lucky when asked.
- In Papillon (1973), the titular character takes shelter in a leper colony after his escape, and is invited to share a cigar by their leader. Despite his fear of catching the disease, Papillon does so. There's a moment of silence from the leader (who clearly expected him to refuse) before he asks how Papillon knew he had dry leprosy, which isn't contagious. When Papillon replies that he didn't know, it breaks the ice between the two men.
- In the movie version (but not book) of The Hunt for Red October, Jack Ryan and Captain Mancuso invoke this trope, in regards to which way Captain Ramius would turn for the next "Crazy Ivan" maneuver.
Mancuso: How did you know he was gonna go to starboard?
Ryan: I didn't. I had a 50-50 chance and I needed a break. Sorry.
Piper: How did you know I was wearing a bulletproof vest?!
MacGruber: You were wearing a bulletproof vest? Awesome!
- An interesting spin on this trope is that it was the final straw for Piper and he temporarily quits the team.
- In The Day of the Jackal, Commissioner LeBel believes that a member of the French Cabinet is leaking confidential information to The Jackal. LeBel plays a tape of a telephone conversation to the entire Cabinet, showing that one of their members had been betraying them. Another Cabinet minister asks him how he knew which one of their phones to tap. "I didn't, so I tapped all of them." Only the Prime Minister is unsurprised, since he gave LeBel unlimited authority in the first place.
- It happens in the loose 1997 adaptation The Jackal too, where the FBI Deputy Director has been led to believe that someone in the FBI has been leaking information to the Jackal. He does the same thing to get a tape of a phone conversation recorded on a tapped line.
- The question is reversed in Splice when Elsa asks Clive if he knew that Dren had water lungs the whole time. He lies and says yes when he was actually trying to drown her.
- Keeping Mum, after Gloria and her daughter Holly learn in short order that the new housekeeper is a paroled murderer who killed again, and is also Gloria's long-lost mother.
Gloria: Aren't we forgetting the small matter of dead bodies?
Rosemary: How did you know about the other bodies?
Gloria: What other bodies?
Rosemary: [relieved] Oh, you didn't know about the other bodies.
- Diamonds Are Forever. A Mafia mook throws Plenty O'Toole, one of the Bond girls, off of a high floor, and she lands unharmed in a swimming pool below. When Bond compliments him on his aim, the mook replies, "I didn't know there was a pool down there."
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Blackbeard forces Jack to play a variant of Russian Roulette with four unloaded pistols and two loaded ones, and Angelica (his daughter, Jack's love interest) as the target. When Jack takes the option to jump instead, Angelica asks her father if he knew which guns were loaded. He (unconvincingly) says he did, but considering his later actions there's no reason to believe he would care about putting his daughter in danger.
- Used on the RiffTrax for the opening of The Dark Knight.
Mike: [imitating the bank manager with a Shotgun] What ?! He was robbing my bank! I thought he was just a clown!
- The Conspirator: Aiken mistakenly asks a question at trial without knowing the answer. It was dumb luck that it worked in his favor, and he confesses this to his friends.
- The Wolverine: After Logan finishes interrogating Noburo Mori, Minister of Justice, he throws him over the balcony of his penthouse, to have him land in the pool below. This is of course taken straight from the above-mentioned Diamonds Are Forever.
Yukio: How did you know there was a pool down there?
Logan: I didn't.
- World War Z: Gerry uses this line after one of the WHO Doctors asks him how he knew that injecting himself with a virus to camouflage him from the zombies.
- Terminator Genisys. Sarah Connor encounters a T-1000 disguised as Kyle Reese at about the same time the actual one comes in. After a short standoff, she shoots one in the foot and it's the T-1000. Kyle is not amused when Sarah admits that she wasn't totally sure and so went for a non-fatal wound.
- In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) when Napoleon asked how Victoria knew which liquor he'd drink (because he discovered she drugged it), Victoria blithely said she didn't, so she drugged them all.
- Alien³: A bit before the climax, Dillon off-handedly asks about Ripley having slept with Dr. Clemens in a way that implies he already knew. When she replies that he's obviously been a peeping tom, he says that he wasn't, but her response did confirm his suspicions.
- Inverted in Van Helsing. After Anna stops Van Helsing from shooting her brother-turned-werewolf, he shouts, "He's not your brother anymore!" She asks if he knew before or after she stopped him — thinking he would not have shot if he didn't realize it — and he answers that he knew before she stopped him.
- A variant occurs in Rōnin: Sam, the experienced mercenary, thinks that one of the younger upstarts on the job is only pretending to be a former SAS commando, and starts asking more and more pointed questions about life as an SAS operative. Finally, he demands to know the color of the boathouse at Hereford (where the SAS is headquartered) and the guy can't answer... because he doesn't know. He leaves in disgrace. Then:
Vincent: What color is the boat house at Hereford?
Sam: How the fuck should I know? I've never been there.
- In Rogue One, during an intense battle, Jyn reflexively shoots and destroys an Imperial droid identical to K2-SO. Jyn makes an Oh, Crap! face... only for the real K2-SO to walk in and notice the fallen droid:
- In High Fidelity, after spying on Jeremy's deal with Bran, Simon asks Jeremy how Jeremy had been sure that Bran had been bluffing about demanding a blowjob at gunpoint.
Simon: How'd you know he wasn't serious about it?
Jeremy: About what?
Simon: About blowing him. How'd you know he didn't mean it?
[after a short pause]
Simon: You didn't know, did you?
Jeremy: [...] I suppose you could say that I didn't know for certain—but I hoped.
- Happens in The Science of Discworld when the Dean sticks his hand into the nascent Roundworld project:
"That was a really very foolish thing you just did," said Ridcully. "How did you know that it wasn't dangerous?"
"I didn't," said the Dean cheerfully. "It feels... cool. And rather chilly. Prickly, in a funny sort of way."
- In The Day of the Jackal, when asked how Lebel knew which minister was being spied on by a mole, he answered he didn't know...so he tapped all the ministers' phones.
- Joe Pickett: In Stone Cold, a bomb goes off that takes out two local thugs who are trying to kill Joe. However, this was not the reason Joe had planted the bomb, leading to this exchange with Nate:
Nate: How did you know there was a bomb inside the wall?
Joe: I put it there. Critchfield thought it was still under my truck.
Nate: How'd you know he'd park there?
Joe: I didn't.
- In a season 5 episode of Angel, Wesley shoots (repeatedly) someone who turns out to be a robot double, to dramatic rather than comedic effect. Fred tries to tell him that he must have known, deep down, but Wesley says that he was in fact absolutely sure he was killing the real person. That's what happens when you threaten to hurt Fred.
- And who was it a robot double of? Wesley's father.
- Implied in the Babylon 5 episode "Spider in the Web":
Ivanova: Well, you know how I feel about telepaths.
Sheridan: Do I ever. You threw one out of a third story window on Io.
Ivanova: There was an ample pool below the window.note
Sheridan: I'll assume you knew that.
- A Bad Boss example is in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Band Candy". Mr. Trick accuses a worker of sampling the cursed product and Neck Snaps him. Ethan Rayne asks Trick how he knew the worker was stealing. Trick replies that he didn't "And now no-one else will either."
- A variant in Bugs happens when the team's weapons expert is wired with a bomb to force him to act as a sniper to remove someone for the Big Bad. While the tech specialist is trying to disarm it the Big Bad realizes he's not going to make the shot and moves to kill the target himself. The weapons expert pulls away from the tech and kills the Big Bad, then the tech removes a chip from the bomb and it deactivates. Cue the tech being lambasted for taking so long and replying that she just removed anything, choosing probably being blown to bits over certainly being.
- Happens in the CHiPs episode "Quarantine". A boy with a pipe bomb holds the station hostage before collapsing from a mystery ailment, resulting in the titular quarantine. The quarantine also prevents a bomb squad from entering to take care of the pipe bomb. While Grossman fruitlessly tries to get the bomb squad to come in, Harlan (who hasn't been told of the situation) casually walks in, picks up the bomb, and opens it. It turns out to be just a carrying case disguised as a pipe bomb. When Getraer asks him how he knew it wasn't a bomb, Harlan yelps and drops it.
- In the Daredevil (2015) episode "In the Blood", Karen Page goes to an auction where Union Allied assets are being auctioned off. While she's there, Ben Urich sits down behind her and tells her to avoid looking suspicious by bidding on some of the smaller lots. When they reconvene at the diner that they'd had a meeting at earlier in the day, Karen asks Ben how he knew she was there, and Ben replies, "I wasn't looking for you."
- Doctor Who:
- "Amy's Choice": The Doctor, Amy, and Rory are trapped between two dream worlds, and have to work out which is the dream and which is reality so that they can free themselves by dying in the dream world. After Rory dies, Amy decides to kill herself and the Doctor in that world. They all wake up in reality, and Rory asks Amy how she knew the world he died in was the dream world...
- Played for Laughs in "The Unicorn and the Wasp". Agatha Christie questions every visitor separately. Colonel Curbishley admits immediately that he only faked being paralyzed and is not actually bound to a wheelchair. Angrily he asks her how she found out, she replies, visibly embarrassed: "Uhm, I didn't actually, I was gonna say that you are absolutely innocent"
- "Spyfall": When his house is attacked by mysterious glowing aliens with the power of intangibility, former MI6 analyst O manages to hold them off with his security systems. This trope is his response when asked how he knew that would work. It turns out later that this is a lie.
- Subverted in Farscape. Villains force Rygel to Shoot Your Mate, but as it's Big Bad-turned-ally Scorpius, this doesn't bother him much.
Scorpius: How did you know I was wearing body armor?
Rygel: I wasn't sure, but... Not so bad for me either way.
- Inspector George Gently: This exchange between Bacchus and Gently at the end of "Son of a Gun (after Gently has faced down a Sten gun wielding skinhead):
Bacchus: How did you know the gun wouldn't work?
Gently: I didn't.
- Leverage: In "The Snow Job", Parker jumps from a second storey window onto Eliot who catches her. He asks for warning next time and then adds "How'd you even know I'd be here?". Parker replies "I didn't".
- Combined with The Tape Knew You Would Say That in this little excerpt from Monty Python's Flying Circus, involving two ladies watching the television:
TV Announcer: Well, it's just after eight o'clock, and time for the penguin on top of your television set to explode.
[the penguin on top of the television set does, indeed, explode]
Lady #1: How'd he know that was going to happen?
TV Announcer: It was an inspired guess.
- In the episode "Chimera", an incident involving a top-secret naval ship and Russian pirates ends with a missile blowing up the ship and killing the pirates after Team Gibbs has escaped. As the team wonders how the U.S. Navy knew that they'd gotten off the ship, Gibbs says, "I don't think they did."
- In "Baltimore", Tony flashbacks to when he learned his partner was dirty. When Gibbs shows up, Tony name drops the first half of this trope while Gibbs does the second, adding on, "I had a hunch."
- Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide has Cookie as the "new kid" posing as a British person to seem more interesting to his new class. Turns out the class already has a British kid, who calls him out on it. Cue Cookie stammering and then trying to save face by sputtering miscellaneous stereotypical and nonsensical Britishisms. Then it turns out he was faking as well; he's from Ohio, not Britain. Cookie asks "Then how did you know I wasn't British?" The response? "I didn't. I just took a stab and you caved."
- In Once Upon a Time, there is a point where Emma accidentally alerts an ogre to their presence and she eventually finds herself on the ground with a very large ogre roaring in her face (imagine the breath on that thing!). Suddenly there's a sharp whistle which distracts the ogre, and the following scene occurs:
Mary Margaret: ''[angrily]'' BACK. AWAY. FROM. MY. DAUGHTER!
[she pulls an arrow from her quiver and fires, striking the ogre in the eye; it promptly drops dead]
Mary Margaret: [beat] You have to shoot them in the eye.
Emma: [impressed] When was the last time you shot an arrow?
Mary Margaret: [casually] 28 years ago. Guess it's like riding a bike.
Emma: Yeah, but how did you know you could hit that?
Mary Margaret: I didn't.
- Red Dwarf: In "Can of Worms", Lister, Rimmer and Kryten are hunting shape-shifters when they are approached by the Cat. Lister (who is temporarily emotionless) blows him away without a second thought, revealing him to be a polymorph. Rimmer asks how he knew he wasn't the Cat, and Lister calmly replies "I didn't." It should be noted that unlike other examples this was a deliberate act. Lister had his emotions drained to make him immune to the polymorphs so he literally didn't care who he shot.
- In one episode of season nine of Smallville, Oliver Queen is standing on a podium which has been rigged to blow when he steps off. Clark arrives towards the end of the episode, having learned that the bomb was fake only to find that Oliver has already stepped off the podium. How did he know? He didn't, and instead waited until the room was clear so that he could attempt suicide.
- There was a variation in Spooks once (season 2 episode "I Spy Apocalypse"), where the guy the hero shot was real (and human), but the gun turns out to have been rigged.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. When Worf realizes General Martok is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his imprisonment, he challenges Martok's leadership in the Klingon tradition, then lets him win the subsequent knife fight. Reinvigorated, Martok rallies to his command and saves the day. Later, knowing that Worf lowered his guard deliberately, Martok asks how Worf knew he wouldn't kill him. Worf replies simply, "I didn't". Realizing that Worf was literally willing to die to bring Martok out of his slump, the general is so impressed that he officially adopts Worf as a member of his House.
- In the Supernatural episode "Taxi Driver", Sam's attempt to break Bobby out of Hell is interrupted by a duplicate Sam trying to pass himself off as the real one in the confusion. After Bobby kills the false Sam, Sam asks if Bobby knew it was the fake, and Bobby admits that he had to guess.
- Super Sentai/Power Rangers:
- Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, "The Amazing Silver Man": The crew accidentally stumbles upon an Action Commander planting a bomb to blow up the city and demands to know how they knew his plans. They didn't, he just told them.
- Power Rangers Jungle Fury has this in "Arise the Crystal Eyes"; after Red Ranger Casey pulls a Big Damn Heroes moment to save the other rangers from Grizzaka, a very powerful Starscream that had successfully taken the post of Big Bad at that point. Casey asks White Ranger Dom for his Rhino Morpher, and attempts to merge it with his own weapon, succeeding flashily.
Dom: Hey! How did you know that would work?
Casey: I didn't know until now!
- In The Thick of It, Hugh Abbott accidentally sends an e-mail saying "Christ! What a cunt!" to a little girl using Terri's PC. Terri calls him out on this, claiming that she saw him use the PC. Hugh promptly admits that he did send the e-mail, before Terri says that she was bluffing and she didn't see them. Hugh then says that he knew she didn't know, and was only admitting because it was the right thing to do.
- True Blood: After drinking the blood of Lilith, Bill Compton begins to act very unusually, like surviving Sookie trying to stake him. Later, he brings a glass of Tru Blood for Jessica to drink. Jessica reaches over to put the glass down on her nightstand but misjudges the distance, causing the glass to fall...only for Bill to suddenly stop it mid-fall and guide it back onto the table without touching it.
Jessica Hamby: Did you know you could do that?
Bill Compton: No, I did not.
- Implied in Watchmen (2019) when Laurie Blake shoots a vigilante in the back. A colleague asks her afterward how she knew he was wearing body armor that protected him from the bullet; Laurie walks away without answering.
- In the White Collar season one finale, Peter shoots Fowler in the chest to stop him from shooting Diana. When Diana asks how he knew Fowler was wearing a vest, he responds with this. The Moral Dissonance is averted, however; the "victim" in this case? Corrupt Cop Smug Snake Fowler, who's pulled more than enough crap to qualify for a bullet.
- Wizards of Waverly Place: In the episode "Wizard for a Day", Alex gives Jerry Merlin's hat as a birthday present which can grant wishes for one day, much to Justin's jealousy. She later makes an even bigger present by using the hat to transform the Substation into her father's childhood astronaut-themed milkshake restaurant which completely changes the family business. Unfortunately, the reopening of the milkshake restaurant attracts the attention of Human Aliens who want to steal the milkshake machine for themselves. Justin (unintentionally) saves the day by using one of the aliens' laser guns to shoot at Merlin's hat, transforming the milkshake restaurant back into Waverly Substation and forcing the aliens to retreat.
Alex: How did you know that shooting at Merlin's hat would reverse all of dad's wishes?
Justin: I didn't. I was just really sick of that present.
- Robin of Sherwood in "The Sheriff of Nottingham", the new Sheriff of Nottingham captures Robin Hood and all the outlaws, except for Nasir, who had gone to have a duel to the death with Sarak, the new Sheriff's saracen servant who Nasir had some unfinished business with from way before the show began. (Sarak, conveniently, usually wore clothes that hid his face.) The outlaws are about to be excecutioned, when a figure wearing Sarak's clothes walks in. The Sheriff offers Robin and the outlaws a chance to go free if he manages to kill Sarak. Robin takes the crossbow, but hesitates to take action, while the Sheriff urges Sarak to kill Robin. "Sarak" then throws a sword into the Sheriff's stomach and takes the veil off his face, revealing himself as Nasir. Later on...
Marion: How did you know? That it was Nasir and not Sarak?
Robin: I didn't. I just live in hope.
- During the climax of the Hero side story of Sonic Adventure 2, Eggman traps Sonic in a glass tube when Sonic goes to hand Eggman the fake seventh Chaos Emerald. Dialogue after shows Eggman didn't know it was fake; he just pretended like it was, only getting proven right when Tails let it slip.
Eggman: You thought you could trick me with that fake Chaos Emerald?
Tails: So, how did you know it wasn't the real one?
Eggman: Because you just told me, fox boy!
- The player gets an opportunity to have his own How Did You Know? moment in the (chronological) beginning of Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne. No game mechanic prevents you from killing an innocent bystander at a crime site, a cleaner. In fact, you will be rewarded for doing so by him not leading you into an ambush.
- Max himself gets one when he shoots his partner when she confronts him and his fugitive love interest. Only later does he actually find any evidence that she was going to kill them both by order of the big bad. Max, ever the melodramatic sort, states that thinking for even a moment that the future revelation justified his prior actions damns him just that much more.
- A similar example in Deus Ex. If you kill a doorkeeper at the gates of the cemetery housing Dowd's crypt on sight, the guy will later turn out to be a spy, and Dowd will even praise you for being just the right type of trigger-happy paranoiac they need.
- Human Revolution has a similar case where one way to complete a sidequest is to knock out or kill two drug dealers, but gives a special response if you had done so already after being given their names (unlike Dowd, though, Tindall just thinks you're overly violent).
- Assassin's Creed had Al Mualim and Altair using almost these exact words during one of their discussions. Al Mualim asking and Altair answering.
- The popular gamemode for the Half-Life 2 mod Garry's Mod titled "Trouble in Terrorist Town" revolves around trust/mistrust in a town full of terrorists, 1 in 5 of which are united traitors, seeking to kill the innocent terrorists, similar to the Mafia game people play on forums/IRC/at social gatherings. Occasionally someone gets shot for no real reason, or are accidentally pushed off a high ledge or get just plain unlucky and die suddenly when they're a traitor. The result is an upset traitor, and a confused, but happy group of innocent terrorists who have one less threat to deal with. Especially funny when playing with friends who you actually know, rather than random players.
- In Town of Salem, Jailors and other town killing roles can do this by randomly killing other townies, and ending up killing an evil role.
- Set up here in El Goonish Shive (the full exchange doesn't come until the next strip):
Mom: You've brought boys over, Susan?
Susan: No, Mother, just this one. The other two are girls; they're checking out our TV.
Mom: I'm not comfortable with him spending the night here, Susan.
Susan: Don't worry, Mother. He's... gay. He's gay, so he won't try anything with me.
Mom: Ugh... men who like men... pure insanity. Fine, he can stay. Maybe his homosexuality will rub off on you, and you'll find yourself a decent woman. I'll leave the lot of you alone now... I'll be upstairs.
Susan: [thinking] Hehe... she bought it...
Justin: So... how'd you know that I'm gay?
- The Order of the Stick:
- (Dis)honorable mention to Vaarsuvius, who kills Daimyo Kubota without an afterthought due to some assumptions without actually knowing petty details like Kubota's crimes or even his name. Here.
- A comical version has Xykon killing two hobgoblins before on of them could reveal what the monster in the darkness actually is. After killing them, Xykon states that he wanted to stop the giant cards from blocking his view. Here.
- Night Owls #134, Ernie asks Bill how he knew Louie's magical gaspipe was inert. Bill doesn't know what he's talking about.
- Cyanide & Happiness #2481 the man in the green shirt saves a woman from choking.
Blue Guy: Wow! Good thing you knew the Heimlich maneuver!
Green Guy: What's the Heimlich maneuver?
- Now-defunct Sonic the Hedgehog sprite comic inSonicnia has a story where an evil version of Sonic comes to the main universe. Eventually, he angers Shadow, who kills him, leading to this exchange:
Knuckles: But how did you know it wasn't the real Sonic?
Shadow: That wasn't the real Sonic?
- In Neopets, at the end of The Faeries Ruin plot, Brynn asks Hanso how they knew that Fyora would be able to reverse his petrification. Said character answers that they didn't; it was a "lucky break".
- Whateley Universe: In Diamonds Are a Vamp's Best Friend (Part 2), when Bova was shooting a goon with a gun she just picked up:
"Oh. Capture Gel," I said. "But how did you know that it was that, and not a shotgun or a flamethrower or even a grenade launcher?"
- In Antoine Delak's Gmod animation Heavy Is Dead, the Demoman successfully pins the Engineer as the Heavy's murderer on a drunken joke.
Demoman: It was y- *belch* him!
Engineer: *gasp* How did you know?
Demoman: I didn't! That was a joke too!
- In Teen Titans episode "Betrothed", Beast Boy turns into a non-Earth animal for the first time, specifically an alien seen earlier in the episode:
Cyborg: How did you know that you could do that?
Beast Boy: [having transformed back] Lucky guess.
- In a Xiaolin Showdown episode where Kimiko is fighting an evil robot duplicate, Omi jumps high in the air and takes one of the Kimikos out in one swipe. The defeated robot explodes, but, when asked about how he knew which one was which, Omi admits to having guessed. Not quite as extreme as the page description otherwise implies, since if he'd kicked the real Kimiko, she'd have probably just rubbed her kicked spot and been annoyed... not actually exploded.
- This really surprised Clay and Rai though because up until that point, Omi knew ahead of time every trick thrown at him throughout the episode, including Rai's constant attempts through Shen-Gong-Wu battles and card dealings. When he said that he "guessed" that time, they were aghast he didn't/couldn't use his Tiger Instinct.
- The Simpsons:
- The Halloween episode "Dial 'Z' for Zombie", Homer shoots an undead Ned Flanders (this is reported to be Matt Groening's favorite scene from the entire history of the series).
Bart: Dad! You killed the zombie Flanders!
Homer: He was a zombie?
- Another example from another Halloween episode:
Grampa: [holding a hammer and stake] Quick! We must kill the boy!
Marge: How do you know he's a vampire?
Grampa: He's a vampire!? [runs off screaming]
- The Halloween episode "Dial 'Z' for Zombie", Homer shoots an undead Ned Flanders (this is reported to be Matt Groening's favorite scene from the entire history of the series).
- Futurama "The Deep South", the ship is sinking and taking on water. Fry rushes offscreen, we hear a toilet flush, and the water starts to drain away.
Leela: Fry, you did it!
Fry: [reenters, zipping up pants] Did what?
- Megas XLR: "The Driver's Seat" Coop accidentally teleports his Big Glug into a critical component of the Glorft mothership.
Gorrath: How did that primitive know where to hit us?!
- Robot Chicken: In the Yellow Submarine meets The Hunt for Red October sketch, Ringo didn't know the hole would stop the missile from hitting the Blue October; he was still on acid and said whatever came to him.
- The Wing Commander Academy cartoon has an example where, faced with a Kilrathi carrier, the commander decides to play chicken with it. This works, and the carrier retreats.
Recruit: How did you know that they would retreat before we rammed them?
Commander: I didn't.
- American Dad!:
- A couple of examples:
Roger: How did you know I was fireproof? Even I didn't know that! Wait, did you know? I'm going to assume "yes" to preserve the friendship.
- Again in "When a Stan Loves a Woman." At the shooting range, he and a mysterious woman simultaneously shoot each other. Cut to a restaurant:
Stan: So how did you know I was wearing a vest?
Woman: I didn't, but I have a rowboat, so it's easy for me to dump stuff. Did you know about mine?
Stan: No, I was composing your suicide note when you stood back up!
- A couple of examples:
- In part 2 of the pilot for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, the main characters are attacked by a manticore. They fight back until Fluttershy calls for them to stop, much to their surprise. She approaches the monster, nuzzles it, and the manticore reveals the source of its fury: a thorn in its paw. After she removes the thorn, the manticore lets them pass. Twilight Sparkle asks how Fluttershy knew about the thorn, and the pegasus replies that she didn't, but assumed the manticore just needed to be shown kindness.
- Family Guy:
- This exchange after Glenn Quagmire saves a woman who is having a heart attack while changing at the mall:
Woman 1: That was amazing!
Woman 2: You saved her life!
Woman 3: Thank God you know CPR!
Quagmire: [confused look] What the hell's CPR?
- Also the basic frame of this trope is present in a joke in the (same) episode where Peter is blind. After Peter saves Horace from a burning building he is asked how he found the courage to risk his life inside said burning building:
Peter: That freaking place was on fire?!
- This exchange after Glenn Quagmire saves a woman who is having a heart attack while changing at the mall:
- A variant occurs in one episode of Voltron: Legendary Defender, Lance and Keith are in a control room in the Balmera, trying to close the hatch. At one point, Keith puts his hand on the handprint and the hatch closes. Lance asks him how he did, and Keith responds that he doesn't know.
- Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, "The Dragon's Heart":
Mr. Blake: But how did you know she would step in the middle of the boat?
Fred: I didn't. That's why I set up traps all over this place!
- In Archer:
[Archer calls Ray on his cellphone]
Archer: Hm, nice. Here, take a look at this. [snaps a picture of a bomb in his mother's work desk] alright, which one of these wires—
Ray: [instantly] Blue and yellow.
Archer: The bl— you wanna look at it for more than half a second?
Ray: I wired the damn thing! Ass!
Archer: Well, I didn't know that, Ass! [clips wires] Okay.
Ray: Oh my God.
Ray: I lied, I didn't wire it.
Ray: Ba dump bump zing!
Archer: You think that's funny?! [slams drawer closed with fist]
- In the first episode of Clerks: The Animated Series, after Dante and Randal thwart Leonardo Leonardo they realise they forgot to blow up his convenience store. Cue Leonardo's convenience store blowing up and Jay and Silent Bob walking from the wreckage.
Dante: How did you know about the plan?
Jay: What plan?
- The Secret Saturdays: Happens in "Black Monday" when Drew attempts to shoot her Mirror Universe counterpart in the face with the Claw, only to have her doppelganger parry it with her prehensile tongue.
Zak: How did you know she could do that?
Drew: I didn't. I just wanted to hit in her in the face.
- In the first episode of DuckTales (1987) when the Beagle Boys threw a stage curtain at the Nephews triggering the trapdoor underneath.
Huey: How'd you know there was a trapdoor there, Dewey?
Dewey: I didn't.
- Ultimate Spider-Man "Blade"
Spider-Man: I see what you're doing. You sent Power Man to punch a hole because you knew his invulnerability would protect him, right?
Blade: He's invulnerable?
- Zig-zagged in Tex Avery's "Dog Hounded", where Droopy proceeds to flummox the Wolf by being where he isn't supposed to be.
Wolf: How did ya get here, anyway?!
Droopy: Now, let's not get nosy, bub.
- Invoked in The Batman where Batman punches an old lady florist (actually a Plant Person guarding Poison Ivy's lair.) Batgirl is surprised Batman knew she was a fake. Batman is silent as usual as Batgirl continues questioning.
- In Johnny Bravo, we have the fictional action star Squint Ringo. In one of his movies, after killing an entire army of killer robot girl scouts, the following exchange take place:
Mayor: Thank you for saving our town, kung-fu guy. But how did you know they were robots?
Squint Ringo: Robots?
- Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja: Back when Randy and Howard were six-year-olds, they snuck into Norrisville High so Randy could prove to Howard that the Ninja exists. Randy turned Marci back to normal by cutting her apron. When the Ninja of 2005 asked him how he knew it'd de-stank her, Randy said he was aiming for her head. The Ninja of 2005 then hoped Randy would never become the Ninja.
- Batman Beyond: Bruce is telling Terry about an incident from his days as Batman:
Terry: How did you know Robin would get there in time to save you?
Bruce: I didn't.
Terry: Then for all you knew, you were walking into a trap with no way out.
Bruce: Sometimes you have to.
- The Hair Bear Bunch: In "The Diet Caper," Hair's alibi for the animals raiding Peevly's refrigerator is because it was Botch's birthday. Peevly grudgingly buys it and orders the bears to clean up the kitchen.
Bubi: Boy, it's a good thing you remembered Botch's birthday, Hair. That was a real [unintelligible]. You saved our necks.
Hair: Who remembered? I made it up.
Square: You're joshin'!
Bubi: Yeah, but Botch didn't blow the whistle on you.
Hair: How could he blow the whistle? He doesn't remember when his birthday is either!
- Danger Mouse tricks the Demon of the Fourth Dimension ("Demons Aren't Dull") into returning him and Penfold to their own dimension by invoking a clause in the Demons' union rule book:
Penfold: Lucky you remembered those union rules.
D.M.: No, Penfold. Lucky he didn't. I made them up. I fooled him.
- Rick and Morty:
- In one scene where Morty shoots Rick in the head. Then Rick shoots the villains to death while they're gloating and reveals Morty's gun had a label reading "FAKE GUN - SHOOT ME IN STANDOFF". Morty nervously chuckles and says "Good thing I saw that note!"
- In "Total Rickall", Rick shoots Cousin Nicky, a memory-injecting parasite, killing it. When asked how he knew it was a parasite and not a real person, Rick says he guessed, and had aimed at its shoulder for that reason.