There's something going on that only you can see or hear. Maybe you have a Spirit Advisor; maybe there's some magic that only you're aware of. You (or the audience) may even start to question your sanity, but you've come to accept that nobody else notices this thing.
Then, someone else does. Naturally, you're incredibly surprised.
- In the Afro Samurai manga, a variation occurs— no one but Afro can see or hear Ninja Ninja, and in the anime series, he's simply imaginary or a hallucination. When someone comes along that evidently can see him, Ninja Ninja is the one that's surprised.
- In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, many Stand users are relieved the first time they meet another one, since Stands are invisible and intangible to anyone but other users. This is the way Stands were introduced to the series, with main character Jotaro convinced that the Stand he seemingly gained from nowhere is really an evil spirit trying to possess him. This leads him to check himself into a jail until his grandfather Joseph is called in to explain things.
- In Natsume's Book of Friends, three people say this to the main character, who has always been lonely because in his childhood, no one would believe him when he says he can see Youkai, though only one of them can actually see; the other two can feel their presence and see them under certain circumstances. There's a heartwrenching flashback to Natsume's childhood where he is befriended by an older girl who claims to be able to see them too. For the first time in his life, he's not alone. Turns out she's a youkai herself, and just took human form so she could get near him.
- Ga-Rei's main character is plagued by spirits. When he meets a girl who is able to see them as well, she promptly recruits him for the government.
- A lot of characters could see and talk to Duel Spirits. The first known character was Raphael, who could see the spirits of the Guardians (whether they actually ever talked back to him isn't known).
- Quite a few characters could do this in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, including Judai, Manjyome, Johan, and to a lesser extent, Kaiser, along with a few minor characters. (This seemed a common ability here.)
- Ruka could do so in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, and seemed to act as a medium of sorts, as other humans could sometimes see and hear them when they were around her.
- In Kaleido Star, Layla starts seeing Fool, foreshadowing her partnership with Sora and later their rivalry.
- Ronin (1983) has a variant when a samurai and his lord are by some Buddha statues, having a conversation. Suddenly, the statues join in on the conversation and the Samurai yelps that the statues are talking. At that, the Lord notes he's glad his retainer heard them too since he didn't want to think he was going senile. As it turns out, the voices were coming from Mooks who want to spook their targets before they ambush them.
- One issue of Spider-Man involves Mysterio using his special effects skills to pose as a psychiatrist and drive Spider-Man into a nervous breakdown through fake hallucinations. It nearly works, until J. Jonah Jameson and Flash Thompson unwittingly walk into the warehouse where this is happening, shouting in fright at the supposed hallucinations and causing Spider-Man to realize how little sense it makes for them to react to figments of his imagination. He subsequently punches one of the beings attacking him and sighs with relief when it crumples under his blows, revealing it to be a robot.
- This happens at the end of Ghost (1990). Oda Mae's the only one who can hear Sam until the White Light appears. Then his girlfriend can hear him, too. And a few seconds later, they can both see him as well.
- In The Film of the Book Jumanji:
Sarah: You just saw three monkeys go by on a motorcycle, right?
- Alan thinks he's the only person who can hear the drumming coming from the box, until Sarah shows up and can hear it too.
- Also Carl and Alan exchange looks to make sure they both are seeing monkeys on a motorcycle.
- Also, at one point, Sarah and the kids see a few monkeys go by on a motorcycle. Sarah, who had spent 26 years doubting her sanity, was mildly nonplussed.
Judy: (nervously) Yeah....
Sarah: Good girl. Come on.
- In Heart and Souls, Thomas (and the ghosts) are very surprised to meet someone in the hospital who can see the four souls. He even asks her to describe them, to make sure she's seeing the same thing as him.
- Played with in A Beautiful Mind. After giving a lecture in class, John Nash is greeted in the hall by a man. Before he talks to him, Nash inquires of a passing student if she can see the man. Makes sense, given that he's been given to long-standing hallucinations.
- Happens at the end of The Frighteners. Throughout the film, Frank has been the only one capable of seeing spirits, due to the traumatic near-death experience he had. At the end, he spies the ghost of Agent Dammers in the back of the sheriff's car. Lucy comments that he looks pissed, much to Frank's shock; the events of the film's climax have given her the ability to see ghosts as well.
- In the Stephen King novel It, the children band together to defeat It once they realize that only they can see it after talking about it to each other.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:
- Harry's confused when he starts seeing the thestrals when nobody else can. He's less than entirely reassured when Luna tells him that she can see them too, and that he's just as sane as she is.
- Later in the book, it's revealed why only a few people can see them: they're only visible to those who have directly witnessed a death. Only three students present at the thestral feeding (Harry, Neville, and a Slytherin student) can see them, as can Hagrid. Umbridge apparently can't. Hermione can't either, but when Hagrid says what they are, she recognizes why she can't see them, and why Harry can.
- The Way of Kings (2010) (first book of The Stormlight Archive): Kaladin is nearly convinced that the spren talking to him is a sign of insanity... then Rock bows to her.
- In the Newsflesh series, Shaun has been hallucinating his dead sister George In the third book, when they break into the CDC (again), they meet up with a clone of George. Needless to say, Shaun is very surprised that Becks and Mahir can also see her. Not that Becks and Mahir take it very well, as their blog entries at the end of the chapter show.
- Sophie Collins from The Infernal Devices has a touch of the Sight, which is how Charlotte let her work for them.
- At the beginning of the Deverry cycle, Jill is a young girl who can see the Wildfolk, and has learned never, ever to mention this to adults. She's very surprised when she sees Nevyn reacting to the gnome that follows her about.
- Ashes to Ashes: In the first episode of series 3, DI Alex Drake walks down an alley and sees the world seem to disappear into a giant starfield. She looks away, and when she looks back the world has returned. Given her circumstances, Alex is accustomed to seeing and hearing bizarre phenomenon that no one else will notice. Then Shaz mentions having seen stars. Then Ray sees them but Chris, who is with him, does not. Later, in the police station Ray and Shaz hear voices, are frightened and reflexively cling to one another in fear as Chris walks in and — not hearing those voices — draws the wrong conclusion. And then, finally, Chris sees the stars while walking with Ray and Shaz (who see them also to confirm that he is not crazy, invoking this trope instantly), and he now seems to have taken on the same extra-awareness as the others.
- This happens a few times in Battlestar Galactica:
- In the finale, it happens simultaneously to Baltar and Caprica-Six—they each realize that the other one is seeing their Spirit Advisor head-counterparts.
- Earlier, Starbuck shocks the Final Five when she plays "All Along the Watchtower" on the piano, as they had been the only ones who could hear it.
- And in the first season, Baltar enters CIC and is unsurprised to see Head Six there, until the Galactica crew start interacting with her and he realises to his shock that she's another Number Six Cylon, posing as human Shelly Godfrey.
- Doctor Who:
- The Master is plagued by the sound of drums, something that the Doctor dismisses as just his insanity. The Master eventually has enough and performs a Mind Meld, which causes the Doctor to visibly freak out when he realizes that he can hear them too.
- "The Name of the Doctor": Throughout, Clara has been able to see and hear the ghost of River Song, while no other character can. In the end, it turns out the Doctor has been able to see her all along, but refused to acknowledge her because it would've been too painful.
- In Due South, the main character constantly sees his father's ghost; eventually, so does a former comrade of his father's.
- In Fringe, after Peter is erased from history, this is Walter Bishop's reaction to Olivia seeing Peter in her dreams, as Walter had been hearing his voice and seeing him in mirrors. Just in time, too: it happens when Walter is about to attempt a lobotomy on himself.
- In the second season of Grimm Nick says this to Hank to reassure him he's not going insane and that he too can see wesen. (Hank was about to shoot his goddaughter Carly, who from his perspective had just become a horrifying flesh-eating monster.)
- The difference is, Hank, being a normal human, can only see Wesen when they're in "full woge" ("woge" pronounced in the German manner) mode. Nick, being a Grimm, can see their true self when they're only slightly "woged". It actually takes some effort for a Wesen to go "full woge", while "part woge" happens when they're only slightly agitated.
- In "What Kate Did", Kate thinks she's going crazy because she keeps seeing the horse that helped her escape the marshal. Then Sawyer sees it, too.
- Also, another inmate at Hurley's mental hospital sees Charlie, and in season six, Sawyer can see the young boy who follows Fake Locke, though Richard can't.
- Shannon sees an apparition of Walt (who had been kidnapped by the Others) a few times during season two, and Sayid doesn't believe her until he sees him as well.
- Northern Exposure
- There's an episode where Dr. Fleischman is being troubled by a persistent spirit of some kind (possibly themed around the holiday of Yom Kippur?) and Ed, the shaman-in-training, can see it too.
Fleischman: What does it look like to you?
Ed: Sort of... egg shaped. (later) Would you like to be alone with your manifestation?
- Also, when they decide to bring back Adam as a recurring character, the one-off joke of only Joel having seen him is ditched, to Joel's amazement (and annoyance when nobody really cares that he was right).
- There's an episode where Dr. Fleischman is being troubled by a persistent spirit of some kind (possibly themed around the holiday of Yom Kippur?) and Ed, the shaman-in-training, can see it too.
- In Quantum Leap Sam was generally the only person who could see Al, but on a few occasions children or people with brain conditions would be able to see him too.
- Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): Jeff meets a man who's openly skeptical of the existence of ghosts — except it turns out he can see Marty.
- For two and a half seasons of Slings & Arrows, Geoffrey is the only one who can see Oliver. Then Oliver makes one of his standard smart remarks to Charles—and Charles answers him back.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Tholian Web" Capt. Kirk has vanished into an alternative universe and is presumed dead. Lt. Uhura catches a glimpse of him, but because their proximity to the alternative universe is causing many crew members to go insane, she's presumed to be hallucinating. Later, Kirk manages to show up in Engineering and then on the bridge. Dr. McCoy promptly releases Uhura from sickbay saying "We all saw him. The Captain's still alive."
- In Star Trek: Discovery, Gray was Adira's boyfriend and the previous host of the Tal symbiote prior to his death. After Adira manages to properly connect to the symbiote, a hallucination of Gray continues to hang around Adira for some reason. In the episode "That Hope Is You, Part 2", Gray briefly becomes visible to Culbert and Saru while Adira is in a holographic simulation, much to his surprise.
- In The BBC Radio 4 drama serial Little Grudges, the main character runs a Cornish teashop infested with bright red pixies that only she can see, and that are delighted by negative emotions. Bonnie suspects (and the listener assumes) they're a product of her mind, until the last episode, when nice young lad Tom stamps on one and asks her "This might sound weird, but do you have a problem with pixies? Mum had them after Dad left. Hers were green."
- In the Radio 4 comedy drama The Attendant, Alex is a late-night petrol station attendant who has conversations with Keith the vaccum cleaner. Everyone else, including his Love Interest Ella, kind of humours him with this until, in the last scene of the third episode, this happens:
Ella: See you, Alex.
Alex: Yeah, see you.
Keith: Sayonara, weird girl.
Ella: Hey, less of the "weird". (door closes)
Alex and Keith: WHAT??
- In an uncharacteristically serious moment for A Very Potter Sequel, Sirius proves his bona fides to Harry by admitting that what he sees in the Mirror of Erised is the same as what Harry sees - Lily and James Potter, alive again.
- In Reefer Madness: The Musical, the song "Murder!" visualizes Ralph's Sanity Slippage over the guilt of ruining people's lives as him hallucinating being attacked by zombies. Eventually, Ralph loses it completely and is killed by Jack. This results in Mae being overcome with guilt, causing her to see the zombies as well.
- In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Guildenstern tells a story about how seeing a unicorn isn't what makes someone reconsider their belief in unicorns, it's seeing one and then hearing another person say "I thought I saw a unicorn".
- During the Another Code games, Ashley is normally the only one who can see ghosts, but she encounters three people who can do the same as well. It becomes important to two plots as seeing D is what startles Bill into his Disney Villain Death and seeing his sister resolves part of Matt's subplot. As for Captain, it's more of a surprise to all parties.
- Played with in the Sam & Max game episode The Penal Zone: Harry Moleman thinks he is the only one who sees the ghost of Momma Bosco, and wants to capitalize this ability for profit. Turns out that it is not a special ability at all.
- In 6 Days a Sacrifice, Theo talks with Janine about the hallway slowly turning into the basement of DeFoe Manor. Not only does she see it too, for her it's ALWAYS been like that.
- Near the end of Half-Life 2: Episode 2 Eli Vance confirms he knows of the mysterious G-Man's existence as well, making him the only character besides Gordon, Shephard, the Nihilanth, and the Vortigaunts who remember him.
- In the original game, he interacted with several unnamed scientists, and in the Episodes for 2, he interacts with both Vances. The thing is, Gordon (and the player) had no idea he had appeared to Eli, and Eli's revelation that the G-Man had actually passed him instructions was unprecedented. Doctor Breen was also aware of the G-Man, and seemed to know what he was up to by putting Gordon in stasis. Actually, more or less all the major players in the Half-Life 'verse are at least passingly aware of the G-Man, but Breen and Eli are the only ones who mention him.
- Throughout the course of F.E.A.R., people usually remark on the weird effects Alma's presence causes. Then, in Extraction Point, as soon as you enter a haunted room full of corpse-like apparitions, Sgt. Holiday lets out this quip:
Holiday: You see them too, don't you?
- In Alan Wake, Wake is surprised when a stranger rescues him from the Taken, and he realizes that the stranger can see and fight the Taken too. The Taken are actually more-or-less real, physical beings, but since they attack in remote areas, Wake had never fought them with anyone else before, and up until then still had to deal with the possibility he was simply going crazy.
- The Fallout series has a recurring perk called Mysterious Stranger, which gives you a chance to be assisted in combat by a gunslinger in a trenchcoat who disappears as soon as the fighting stops. At most your character might be able to allude to having an unexpected ally in one or two dialogue options, but no one else in the game world acknowledged the Stranger's existence. But in Fallout 4, Synth detective Nick Valentine actually has a case file on this Mysterious Stranger and has been tracking his progress from Shady Sands and the NCR to the Capital Wasteland. If the Stranger appears while Valentine is your companion, he'll get rather agitated.
Nick: He was just here! You saw him, right?
- In Disco Elysium your character spots the Insulindian Phasmid, a cryptid believed by most to be mythical, but another nearby character claims not to see anything, making your character (whose mental state is already questionable) question his sanity. Your partner who may be someone who never believed that the species existed then tells you that he sees it, also.
- Final Fantasy XIV:
- During the Kojin quests of Stormblood, a doll comes to life to guide the Kojin samurai Kabuto and the Warrior of Light. Eventually, it's revealed that only the two of them could hear and see the doll, and everyone else just saw them talking to an inanimate object. Another character admits that while he couldn't see the doll move or speak, he believes Kabuto anyway because he had a similar experience in the past.
- In Shadowbringers, Due to temporal shenanigans between dimensions, Ardbert had been wandering Norvrandt as a ghost for nearly a century before the Warrior of Light shows up, unable to interact with anyone or anything. The Warrior of Light being able to hear and see him snaps him out of his near-catatonic state, and he joins them on their journey. While none of your other NPC companions can see him, they believe Warrior of Light when they reveal this, since they'd have no reason to lie about it and much weirder stuff has happened to them that they have seen. Near the end, another person is just barely able to detect Ardbert's presence, and reveals that Ardbert and the Warrior of Light are able to interact because they're two pieces of the same soul.
- In Leisure Suit Larry 7: Love for Sail!, Larry often converses with the narrator of the story, who no other character notices. Then he meets Captain Thygh in the finale, the narrator makes his usual snarky comments, and Thygh abruptly asks, "Who the hell is that?" Neither of them take it very seriously, though.
Larry: I don't know. But I hear him all the time.
- In Count Your Sheep, Ship the eponymous sheep is the imaginary friend of the other two main characters, Katie and her mother Laurie. However, the "Back in Time" segments establish that Laurie's to-be husband Marty was also able to not only "see" him, but talk with him too.
- Eventually, Laurie's sister is finally able to see him while she's pregnant. Ship grumbles that his existence is "hormonal".
- Laurie's parents can see and hear him just fine but are in denial about it.
- Said almost word-for-word in the second arc of Dovecote Crest.
- This was a major plot point early in A Girl and Her Fed.
- Mieruko-chan is a comic about a schoolgirl who can see ghosts. One chapter introduces Julia, another girl who can see ghosts, though not as well as Miko... which nearly lands them both in hot water with a much bigger, nastier ghost that only Miko can see.
- In Nip and Tuck, the Show Within a Show Rebel Cry features a quick forestalling of the sanity problem: he is deeply relieved that the boy can see them, too.
- Danny Phantom: In "The Phantom Menace", Youngblood torments Danny and makes it look like he's crazy because only kids can see him and he made sure to appear when Danny was the only kid around. Due to her adult-like personality, Jazz couldn't see him either, but when Danny got her to express her childish side, she finally saw Youngblood and realized that Danny was telling the truth.
- In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer meets a roofer named Ray Magini. However, Homer's friends and family claim never to have seen him even when Homer insists they've been together. This culminates in Homer receiving electroshock for a perceived psychiatric disorder. Then Ray shows up and everyone present is able to see him — the previous non-sightings are explained through a series of increasingly-convoluted circumstances.
- Wilheim Röntgen discovered X-rays by accident, and as test after test confirmed their existence, he began to believe he'd gone mad. Finally, one day, he called his wife into his laboratory and had her put her hand in the way of the device emitting them. She promptly screamed and fled on seeing the bones of her hand, convinced she'd seen an omen of her death, and never entered his lab again. Röntgen, however, was incredibly relieved that someone else had seen the effects, and began to write up his experiments for publication.