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Mock Surprise Reaction

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Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked, to find out that gambling is going on in here!
Casino Worker: Your winnings, sir.
Renault: Oh thank you very much.

This is a Reaction Shot, where a character pretends to be surprised at the sight of another character or an item. The trope is commonly used as a response when one encountered an event or a person that they already expected, as either a Deadpan Snarker or otherwise a bad actor/liar. As the actor in question was either doing it for the snarks or awkwardly improvising to avoid further awkwardness, this is always played for laughs.

A variation of this would be where one character would say to the other "Fancy meeting you here!", even though the first character already knew that the other character would be there.

May be used as a weapon of choice for either a Deadpan Snarker or a Tsundere.

Compare Sarcasm Mode, Hidden Heart of Gold, Faux Horrific. Can overlap with a Suspiciously Specific Denial.


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  • In a TV commercial for Netflix, a husband and wife are watching an action TV show together and, as we learn, she watched ahead on Netflix so she has to pretend to be surprised by all the twists.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A former page quote comes from the first Garfield film, where Garfield and Odie start dancing together to a music video of The Black Eyed Peas' "Hey Mama" until they start dancing on the front porch. When Nermal and Arlene come by and Nermal comments on this, Garfield immediately pushes Odie away, claiming that he was doing a solo dance when Odie came up to him when he wasn't looking.
  • In Larger than Life, Jack Corcoran is trying to get a train ticket while bringing his father's pet elephant Vera cross-country. When the ticket master asks Jack if the elephant wants a ticket too, Jack questions about this, turns to see Vera, and screams in mock surprise.
  • In Dance Flick (loosely a parody of Save the Last Dance), where a white ballet dancer falls in love with a black hip-hop dancer. As they're in the park and about to have an intimate moment,
    Guy: Uh oh, black girls. [loudly] So what you want to do is make that left, go up three blocks — I don't know you...
  • Jumbo
    Police Officer: Hey You! Where are you going with that elephant?
    Bowers: Elephant? What elephant?
  • Men in Black. Jack Jeebs is a small-time fence (buyer of stolen items). When Edwards walks into his pawn shop, Jeebs indicates surprise at the watches sitting on the counter.
    Jeebs: Oh, hey, how did these get here? I thought I turned these into the proper authorities.
    Edwards: The way I hear it, Jeebs, you're into something a little hotter than some stolen Rolexes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In a long sketch on The Benny Hill Show which is a musical production by a volunteer fire brigade, the Captain (Benny) pushes a dimwitted member in front to introduce him. The Captain ends up Playing Cyrano, feeding him the introduction phrase by phrase, then acts surprised by all the praise heaped on him in the introduction.
  • In Upstairs Downstairs, the cook Mrs. Bridges feigns surprise when Lady Majorie tells her the big news that the King is coming over for dinner because Mr. Hudson the butler has already told her in secret.
  • On an episode of Veronica Mars, Veronica Mars has gone undercover at a rival high school at a rival high school, and she takes the alias of "Betty". When Weevil is dealing with one of the other kids from the high school, and he hears Veronica being addressed as Betty, this is his reaction.
  • On The Wire, Bunk and Kima's reaction during a brothel raid in which McNulty is undercover as a john. Sure enough, they find McNulty getting a threesome with two prostitutes.
    McNulty: You're late.


    Video Games 
  • In the Star Trek Online Foundry mission "Bait and Switch" the player can express surprise that the captain of the USS Marduk is a Cardassian. Said captain, Bronok Zell, says "No! How'd you find me out? Was it the ears?" He then more seriously explains that he's used to that reaction.

    Web Animation 
  • When the "Meet the Spy" promotional video for Team Fortress 2 came out, it had been leaked (thus spoiling the surprise twist that the update for the Sniper class was to be hijacked/shared by the Spy class). As a result, the video was simply introduced with the words "act surprised".

    Web Comics 
  • In Crimson Dark, Vaegyr asks that nobody watch ahead on Walker Wars so they can all enjoy it together, but Kari occasionally does anyway and then pretends to be surprised.

    Web Videos 
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog Billy has actually purchased an extra frozen yogurt for Penny, but he's too shy to tell her...
    Billy: Hey, this is weird. I ordered one frozen yogurt and they gave me two. You don't happen to like frozen yogurt, do you?
    Penny: I love it!
    Billy: You're kidding? What a crazy random happenstance! Here.
    Penny: Thank you.
  • In Jerma985's video called "Damnation-Breakfast Time with Doofus and Goofus!", he and Star did an improvised skit with the game's weird glitch in a clip:
    Jerma: Star?
    STAR_: Yes?
    Jerma: Didn't want to be the first one to say it but I truly think this weird agency is poisoning the water supply!
    Both: [in a flat tone while their player character held their head in "terror"] Oh nooooooo!
  • Used as an intro for "Let's Drown Out WWF No Mercy".
    Yahtzee: Oh hello, viewer, didn't see you there, because you're not in a room.

    Western Animation 
  • In the first episode of Golan the Insatiable from Fox's Animation Domination High Def, Golan goes to a waterpark intending to "accidentally" run into his crush Alexis. Golan feigns surprise when they meet there.
  • In the Futurama episode "Anthology of Interest I", Leela does one when Zoidberg, who had been investigating the murders she had been committing, declares that one of the people in the room was the murderer.
  • Infinity Train: In "The Hey Ho Whoa Car", after Hazel changes into her turtle form in front of Simon and Amelia, Grace (the only other one who knew until then) gives an unenthusiastic "I can't believe it". Later, during Grace's nightmare in "The New Apex", Hazel calls her out for doing this, accusing her of trying to cover herself instead of being honest.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Discussed in a Flash Forward episode of where Lisa learns of her future.
      Lisa: Wow. Now that I know all this, isn't there any way to change the future?
      Fortune Teller: No... but try to look surprised.
    • An government inspector visits Mr. Burns' plant and Mr. Burns has to feign surprise every time the inspector finds a violation, acting like it just started happening. Eventually, he gets tired of this and just admits that one of the problems has always been like that. Then he's "surprised" by the existence of a large sum of money on a table in his office. He suggests that he & Smithers leave the room, and perhaps the money will mysteriously disappear while they're gone, as a government inspector is in the room. The inspector meanwhile is pretending to not realize that Burns is trying to bribe him.
      Government Inspector: Mr. Burns, in 20 years, I have never seen such a shoddy, deplorable—
      Mr. Burns: Oh look! Some careless person has left thousands and thousands of dollars just lying here on my coffee table. Uh, Smithers, why don't we leave the room, and hopefully, when we return, the pile of money will be gone.
      [Mr. Burns and Smithers exit for a moment and then return to the office]
      Mr. Burns: D'oh! Look, Smithers, the money and a very stupid man are still here.
      Government Inspector: Burns, if I didn't know better, I'd think you were trying to bribe me.
      Mr. Burns: Is there some confusion about this? [stuff money into his pockets] Take it! Take it! Take it, you poor schmo!