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O.O.C. Is Serious Business

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"Something's wrong. She's never this nice."
John Connor on Janelle Voight, Terminator 2: Judgment Day

The long form of the trope title is "Out of Character Is Serious Business."

Some characters have strong traits that they are known by. This is for when characters momentarily break away from their normal habits to make a point about the seriousness of the situation. Often causes the other characters to do a Double Take and mention why this event is Serious Business. When most or all of these OoC moments happen at once, you can be sure that the Darkest Hour has arrived, leading characters to behave in ways they normally wouldn't, because they know they might not have another chance to do so.

It's also a pretty good indication the Godzilla Threshold has been crossed.

This is a trope for when a somewhat-Out-of-Character action is used to draw extra attention to the scene (similar to a Title Drop). It isn't Hidden Depths because it isn't telling us something about the character we didn't already know; it's similar to an Out-of-Character Moment in that this is specifically the usage of such a moment to draw attention to a scene. If they're doing this deliberately to make another character think something is amiss, see Out-of-Character Alert. Compare Let's Get Dangerous! and Weirder Than Usual.

A Super-Trope of:

Often overlaps with:

Examples subpages:

Other examples:

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    Audio Plays 
  • Jan Tenner: When the usually paranoid Forbett is friendly towards someone he suspected of being an enemy in disguise, such as during the heroes' visist to Seytania's planet, it's usually a dead giveaway that something is off.
  • Burt from We're Alive usually can't resist an opportunity to quote from his favorite movies. But in Chapter 23, he and Angel are trapped in a hospital room with zombies at the door and their only escape, a Bedsheet Ladder, broken. Burt yells for the other two characters, who got out, to leave them and run for the helicopter on the roof of the hospital by saying "Get to the chopper!" Angel asks if that was a quote from Predator. When Burt "What?...Oh, no, it was just a coincidence." Angel goes into Oh, Crap! mode.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • In this strip, as Calvin is lying sick in bed, his mom tells him she's going to call the doctor — Calvin's response is "OK." She also adds that it's Saturday, so he won't miss school, and he responds with a weak, "I know." Since Calvin is a kid who is usually overjoyed at the thought of not going to school, always gets up at the crack of dawn on Saturdays, and despises visiting the doctor, his mother is convinced this is serious and races for the phone. note 
    • The raccoon strip shows this with multiple characters. Despite normally being lazy, silly, selfish and unconcerned about the wellbeing of others, when Calvin finds a badly injured raccoon, he is genuinely and seriously concerned for its wellbeing and makes a meaningful effort to help it. He gets very sad and cries when the raccoon dies. Also, his father is normally sarcastic and facetious, but he comforts Calvin when he cries. Finally, Hobbes breaks out of his sarcastic routine to show seriousness and even sadness.
    • Mom and Dad tend to be hard on Calvin when he breaks something in the house, usually because of the repairs and his lying about it. During the car arc, Calvin thinks they'll kill him for rolling the car into a ditch by accident, and runs away into the woods with Hobbes. When Mom sees the car in the ditch and realizes what it must mean, she runs to find Calvin in the woods. Her first reaction is to ask if he's okay. She tells him the car is fine, she's more worried about him because the car could have easily run him or Hobbes over, or if he had gotten injured in the woods no one would have known where to find him. Dad apparently had the same reaction offscreen, much to Calvin's surprise as he and Hobbes discuss this in bed.
    • The break-in story arc is one of the few occasions in which Calvin is depicted as anything other than an explosive ball of hyperactivity — the contrast is quite jarring.
    • The last Rosalyn arc is a rare one where Calvin actually behaves in her presence, to the point where his parents think she must be joking when she said that she and Calvin played a game and he went to bed with no troble. Even Hobbes is shocked when Calvin asks him calmly to check his homework as he works to get it done before it gets done. The reason? Rosalyn said that Calvin could choose any game he wanted, and went along with it when he made her a mask for Calvinball.
  • In an early For Better or for Worse. Michael complains of feeling sick, and when Elly tells him to go to bed, he says "okay" and goes right upstairs. She tucks him into bed, convinced that he's sick.
  • Garfield:
    • In one strip, Garfield feels like being nice to everyone. Everyone is so freaked out that they have him tied in a straitjacket and committed.
      Garfield: People don't want nice... people want consistency.
    • Every Christmas, Jon's mother sends the titular cat a Homemade Sweater from Hell. But in one strip, the sweater is both tasteful and fits well on him. Jon immediately heads for the phone to call and check on her.
  • Peanuts: Whenever Charlie Brown breaks his Nice Guy attitude and gets genuinely angry at someone, he delivers a "The Reason You Suck" Speech and/or a What the Hell, Hero? speech, and it's always a Moment of Awesome for him.
  • This Pearls Before Swine strip, roughly one month after the Parkland school shooting. Larry is usually a Bumbling Dad with a Simpleton Voice who is at best benignly negligent towards his son, but here he's thinking in full sentences, worrying about his kid coming back safe.
  • Retail: Stuart is the typical browbeating, micromanaging district manager so when Marla hasn't heard from him in weeks she worries that it's a sign that Grumbel's is going under because he'd only not call if it didn't matter anymore. She worries even more when he does call and then completely brushes off that Marla's store won't make its sales goal, rather than berate her over it as usual. Marla was Properly Paranoid because it turns out Grumbel's is looking into filing for bankruptcy, and Stuart knew the whole time without telling any of his store managers.
  • In Safe Havens, even Jenny, usually eager for the chance to boss people around, agrees that Samantha should be the commander of the Mars mission because their lives could very well depend on it. Ironically enough, Jenny plays a key role in saving Earth by successfully negotiating with Mars to keep it from destroying Earth.
  • In the final week of dailies of U.S. Acres, Lovable Coward Wade achieves peace with the world... sending Orson, Roy, and Booker away screaming in terror.

    Films — Animation 
  • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker: The Joker usually loves to hear himself laugh even if others don't like it, but when Terry trolls him during their Final Battle by mocking his obsession with the original Batman lame and finding his jokes boring, the Monster Clown doesn't take Terry's disrespect lightly. Indeed, Terry managed to break the Clown Prince of Crime in a manner Bruce never did: openly jeer at him. After all, a comedian's enemy is The Heckler. The Joker's primary Berserk Button is being the butt of someone else's jokes.
  • BIONICLE 3: Web of Shadows: Matau, Jerkass Plucky Comic Relief whose bickering drove team-leader Vakama to a Face–Heel Turn, gives a serious "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight speech to try to win him back, even dropping the Chutespeek slang he always talks in. Vakama at first refuses to believe his sincerity, but eventually gives in and returns to the good side.
  • In Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!!), Linus van Pelt throws his Security Blanket down from a high window of the Chateau du Mal Voisin so Violette could jump safely from it (caught in the blanket by Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty, Marcie, and Pierre). He would then jump into a tub of water to himself escape.
  • Brave: It becomes quite clear there is something wrong with Elinor when she gets out of the river and leaves her crown behind.
  • Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget: Fun-Land Farms uses mind-control collars on its chickens. The mind control effects from the collars are so strong, they can get Ginger to say with complete earnesty that Mrs. Tweedy is the loveliest woman in the whole world.
  • In An Extremely Goofy Movie, Max is convinced that he wants to transfer schools after being defeated by his own dad at his best event because there's "only room for one Goof." PJ is devastated at the news—temporarily relapsing to the insecure and worrisome personality he'd just broken out of— and Beret Girl tells Max that he can't admit defeat, but nothing helps... until Bobby, the Plucky Comic Relief, in a dead-serious, emotionally-charged tone, gives Max a Rousing Speech.
    • In the previous movie, Goofy is initially in catatonic shock when he discovers that Max had been manipulating him into going to Los Angeles, which gives way into legitimate anger when Max wastes a second chance to prove himself worthy of trust.
  • Frozen:
    • The difference between Anna, the Plucky Girl and Anna, the Princess. Notice her commanding tone when she demands her horse be brought to her after Elsa runs away. It shows just how important finding and helping her sister is to her.
    • Olaf displays this when he lights a fire to keep a freezing Anna alive. He drops his position as the comic relief (very briefly) to assure her that he knows full well what will happen to him, but that it's worth it for her.
      Anna: Olaf — you're melting!
      Olaf: ...Some people are worth melting for.
  • In Kung Fu Panda, Shifu, after learning that Po can be trained using his Big Eater tendencies, takes him through a series of exercises using food as a motivator, culminating in a long fight over a single dumpling. After Po bests him, he tosses the dumpling right back at Shifu and says, "I'm not hungry."
    • This is actually a very enjoyable example of one and counts as Character Development. Earlier, it has been established that Po binge-eats whenever he was upset (the second movie implying since the trauma with his mother) and thus, his refusal of the dumpling is a sign of his growth in the belief in himself.
  • The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part:
    • Emmet realizes something's not right when he sees Superman being friendly with both Green Lantern (whom he previously couldn't stand to be around) and Lex Luthor.
    • When Wyldstyle accidentally knocks off Sweet Mayhem's mask and has her hanging off the edge, she drops the Darth Vader copycat act and is legitimately terrified.
  • Leroy & Stitch: Hamsterviel just laughs in amusement when Stitch calls him Gerbil Boy, indicating how confident he is that Leroy is about to defeat Stitch.
  • In The Lion King (1994), Ed is usually seen giggling and grinning insanely. After Scar turns on the hyenas and is defeated by Simba, Ed is not laughing or grinning. He is visibly pissed. The menacing laugh he DOES let out before the hyenas gang up on Scar only seals the deal.
  • The Lorax (2012): The forest creatures usually love sweet foods, so it becomes evident that things are serious when one of them, Pipsqueak the barbaloot, doesn't want a marshmallow because he's Too Unhappy to Be Hungry after the trees are cut down.
  • Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas: The short "Stuck on Christmas" has two examples:
    • After Huey, Dewey and Louie get fed up of celebrating Christmas Every Day after wishing for it, they decide to sabotage their family's Christmas celebration. While the boys expect Donald to scream his head off, fly into a rage, and/or punish them for it, he instead despondently lies on the floor, showing guilt for his actions. This, along with reading a Christmas card from him and Daisy, is what makes the boys realize that they took it too far.
    • After this, Huey, Dewey and Louie decide to make the next day the best Christmas they can by making breakfast, giving their relatives kisses (which they previously objected to), helping Daisy with setting the table, and joining in with singing carols with Uncle Scrooge. Donald suspects that they are up to something, and they give him a surprise - a wooden boat made out of the sleds that they received as presents.
  • Continuing a tradition from the show that they are based on, Phineas and Ferb movies Across the 2nd Dimension and Candace Against the Universe feature points where Phineas's normally optimistic demeanor breaks:
    • In Across the 2nd Dimension, he gets genuinely upset when he learns that Perry is an OWCA secret agent and briefly thinks that Perry didn't see the family as anything more than a cover for Perry's secret identity.
    • In Candace Against the Universe, when Phineas and the others reach Feebla-Oot to rescue Candace only to find that she doesn't want to go back home, he sounds genuinely on the verge of tears as they get shooed out of Super Super Big Doctor's palace.
  • Shrek isn't exactly known for crying, even during each movie's Darkest Hour where he's about to lose Fiona and/or is about to be executed. That said, after signing Rumpelstiltskin's contract in Shrek Forever After and inadvertently changing history for the chance to feel like a real ogre again, the gravity of the situation finally hits him. After taking a good, long look at his daughter's doll that he brought with him, he sheds a tear onscreen for the only time in the series. This is what gets this timeline's Donkey to finally trust Shrek.
  • Very notably in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, when Kenny takes off his hood to say goodbye after sacrificing himself to an eternity in Hell to Save the World, altering the past to avert a war.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: Spider-Ham is considered the Plucky Comic Relief of the group, hailing from a cartoon Spider-Verse, which gives us many moments of him acting, well, just like a cartoon character would. After the team goes to comfort Miles about a recent tragedy and they start talking about similar ones that they've experienced, Spider-Ham is the one to deliver one of the film's most poignant lines, with complete sincerity and tears in his eyes.
    Spider-Ham: Miles, the hardest thing about this job is... you can't always save everybody.
  • In The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, Mr. Krabs sadly and casually gives Plankton the Krabby Patty secret formula after Spongebob runs away to go looking for his pet snail Gary. Plankton, having spent years of his life trying to get the formula, is downright stunned that Krabs practically just gave him the formula.
    Plankton: (Confused) Wait, you're giving up?
    Krabs: Oh, Plankton... I wouldn't expect you to understand but somehow, without Spongebob here, this whole thing... doesn't make sense anymore! (walks to his office)
    Plankton: You can't do that! I've spent my entire career waiting for this moment, and you roll over like a harpooned whale?! I WON'T LET YOU ROB ME OF MY VENGEANCE!
    Krabs: (Close to tears) Give my regards to your lovely wife... (closes the office door)
    (Plankton begins to walk out of the Krusty Krab)
    Plankton: (In a flat tone) Yay, I won.
  • The Tigger Movie:
    • Tigger spends much of the movie feeling incredibly sad about not having a family. Even his uniqueness, one of the things he most proud of, makes him realize that he's the only tigger. Needless to say, this makes Roo want to make Tigger feel better as soon as possible.
    • When Tigger finds out the others pretended to be his family, he vents a very uncharacteristic moment of Tranquil Fury before storming off, making it obvious to the others they've hurt him in a very big way.
    • Roo himself usually can surpass Tigger as the wood's Keet. After his Big Brother Mentor turns his back on him however, he spends most of the climax very morose, when not outright crying.
    • At the film's climax, Rabbit demands that Tigger come home and "forget this 'other tiggers' nonsense". Tigger usually takes Rabbit's scoldings in stride, but he's so fixated on finding his real family and offended by Rabbit's words that he outright snaps at him, making it clear that he's going to disobey him. This also applies to Rabbit, who normally hates being confronted or disobeyed, but is cowed by Tigger's refusal.
  • Treasure Planet: When Silver stops trying to sweet-talk The Captain, you know he's serious. She does, too.
    Silver: You heard the boy! Get this blasted heap turned 'round!
  • In The Transformers: The Movie, Kup has Seen It All and uses any situation as an excuse to mention some previous adventure of his. When the Autobots see Unicron standing astride the entire planet of Cybertron, Hot Rod asks if this reminds him of yet another one of his war stories. Kup's only response is a quiet, "Nope... Never seen anything like this before."
  • In Turning Red, Mei, who talks about respecting your family and ancestors, tries to tear apart the shrine of her ancestor on learning the truth about why she turned into a red panda. She screams "It's your fault!" at Sun Yee's portrait as her parents try to calm her down.
  • Up:
    • We have only seen Ellie sad once as an adult: when she was told she either miscarried or was unable to have children. She broke down sobbing in the doctor's office, and later sat in the front yard meditating. Even when she was dying, she was smiling and reassuring Carl.
    • Likewise, Ellie has always been able to outpace Carl walking on their favorite hill. When she falls behind and collapses, Carl immediately goes to her side, fearing the worst. It turns out she was dying.
  • In Vivo, Whenever Gabi is frowning or upset, that's a sign that things are bad. She begs the Sand Dollars to not destroy Tio Andres's music, saying she'll do anything if they leave it intact. Later, she uncharacteristically calls out her mother for being an oblivious parent, not seeing Gabi for who she really is. Vivo knows that she must be upset when she cries and says that she wishes she had told her dad that she loved him before he died, and comforts her.
    • Dancarino is a awkward and dork spoonbill who serves as a Plucky Comic Relief and the moments involving him are hilarious, but when the sheet music is destroyed and Vivo thinks he failed Andrés. Dancarino, quite sad and despondent, tries to comfort and encourage Vivo and tell him that he did his best.

    Game Shows 
  • Taskmaster:
    • When Greg is struggling with a puzzle box and James spontaneously insults him with "Oh just open the box you pussy", Greg seems genuinely angry. All he actually does is take James aside and chastize him the way a teacher would discipline a naughty child, but it genuinely fooled Alex of all people: if you pay attention when Greg removes his glasses and stands up you actually see Alex, completely out of character and actually acting as Greg's boss on-screen for the only time in the entire show's run, take Greg's arm and tell him not to do anything with a pretty firm-looking headshake, and you also see a genuine grin of relief when he realizes Greg's not actually mad and it's just part of the show.
    • When Jessica Knappet fell from the stage during a challenge. Greg, who always plays up how much of a jerk the titular Taskmaster is and presents himself as a juggling act of Bad Boss, Troll, and Sadist Teacher, drops all pretenses of this and runs to help her with a very genuinely panicked "oh shit!" He doesn't even attempt to get back into character, or even make a joke out of it, until she's assured him that she's okay. Once she has though, the gloves come right back off and he immediately begins mocking her for it — he even named the stage she fell from "The Knappet", plaque and all.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Is Anansi doing actual work? He's probably got some ulterior motive. You'd better watch that fish haul like a hawk, or he'll likely help himself to some of it.
  • The Bible:
    • In the New Testament, Jesus has a very serious OoC moment known as "the cleansing of the temple". While some people may argue that Jesus could never have acted out of character, there is no doubt that even (and especially) His friends and followers were shocked by what they saw. He was literally the poster boy for patience and forgiveness. But everybody has at least one thing that really burns them up and makes them want to break something/someone; for Jesus, it seems, it was taking advantage of poor and ignorant people in the name of God (the corruption in the Jewish church was along the same lines as the selling of indulgences in Martin Luther's time). When He saw what was going on, He just stood there, looking around and emanating so much anger that He didn't even have to raise His voice for everybody in the temple to know that Jesus meant serious business and they were in it deep. He flipped over a money-changer's table, and the priests and merchants ran for it. If you read the account carefully, you'll note that this wasn't a hot-blooded moment of rage. No, Jesus "made a whip out of cords" (John 2:15), which takes a good bit of time. Tranquil Fury with extreme deliberation. Not as OOC as one might think. Jesus' one true Berserk Button is hypocrisy, in any form.
      Jesus: It is written: "My house shall be a place of prayer." But you are turning it into a den of thieves.
    • Another example would be when Jesus curses the fig tree, causing it to wither and die. This is the only time that He is shown to use His gifts/talents/powers in a way that does not cause life and healing for the recipient (certain Apocrypha notwithstanding). Doubles as a moment of Oh, Crap!, because as God he could have used this power at any time to destroy anyone. Let that sink in...
    • A third example is in the Gospel of John when Jesus is not speaking in proverbs. The disciples all notice.
    • One not for Jesus, but for another figure in his story, and which ties into real-life archaeological searches for historical evidence of the life and passion of the son of God. Remember the part where he was brought before Pontius Pilate, an extremely ruthless prefect, and Pilate, instead of his usual brutal routine, had the Jews choose between him and another prisoner on the occasion of the Passover? It just so happens that Jesus was brought before Pilate at an extremely delicate time for the Roman Empire, which had just executed Lucius Aelius Sejanus, once the most powerful man in the Empire apart from Caesar himself, on charges of treason against Emperor Tiberius and was on the hunt for Sejanus's friends and allies; Pilate must've realized at the time that one wrong move and he himself could be next, so he handled Jesus's case with an uncharacteristically cautious approach.
  • There is even a saying about Buddha, the poster boy for patience, serenity, that goes like this: "Even the Buddha will get angry if slapped thrice in the face" for The Stoic finally snapping. Basically, the threshold is high, but if you are stupid enough to repeatedly annoy them, even a Saint is going to snap at you, and it's going to be Serious Business.

  • The Adventure Zone: When Taako regains his memories of Lup and her subsequent disappearance, he calmly points the Umbrastaff at Lucretia and begins to count down from ten. No jokes. No snark. No one-liners. He doesn't even let Griffin finish describing the scene.
  • In Gospels of the Flood, the narrator is impressively polite, which only makes his Precision F-Strike when he reveals the truth about John more jarring.
  • Interstitial: Actual Play: Criss snapping at Mewt after the latter starts fanboying over him shows how much Criss is effected by Roxanne's death.
  • The Phenomenon: Each episode opens and closes with Emergency Broadcasts. At the start of the series these are very dry, and while providing necessary instructions to survive the eponymous event, are also light on information. As the series wears on and it becomes clear that the U.S. government has no means of fighting off the threat, these broadcasts become increasingly transparent, even noting that 97% of humanity has died, and increasingly compassionate ("You are not abandoned. You are not forgotten").
  • Red Panda Adventures: One of Kit's many "Baxter's Laws" is that when a supervillain prone to Idiosyncrazy starts behaving out of character, something is up. For example, criminal mastermind the Poet is known for announcing his crimes with poems so good that universities teach by them, so when clues that are ostensibly from the Poet in "The Terrible Two" are ridiculously simplistic limericks, it's a sign that there's more going on. Specifically, the Mad Monkey and Jackrabbit are framing the Poet for their crimes. "The Case of the Missing Muse" features the Poet breaking into high security vaults, leaving behind crumpled up pieces of paper, and leaving without stealing a thing all because he's lost his inspiration.
  • RiffTrax: The weirdness of Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny is so palpable, it leaves the riffers speechless at one point.
    Mike Nelson: "Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in 150+ movies, Rifftrax has nothing to say."
  • Welcome to Night Vale:
    • Cecil is always pleasant and smooth in his delivery. When he's not? Something is very wrong, like his on-air breakdown when he thought Carlos had died, or the terror in his voice upon seeing the gorefest in Kevin's studio; or very serious, like the sheer venom with which he wished that rebel leader Tamika would find StrexCorp before they found her.
    • When Cecil refers to Steve Carlsberg as "Steve," and acknowledges his love for Abby and Janice, it's a sign how frightened he is by the Shadow People's invasion.
    • Cecil is also known for his Skewed Priorities regarding what constitutes important news, and for alternating between mundane news stories and warnings of apocalyptic catastrophes without any discernible change in tone. So we know Night Vale has truly reached its Darkest Hour in "Matryoshka" when Cecil passive-aggressively mocks his listeners for expecting him to respond to complaints about subpar radio programs instead of focusing on the various catastrophes destroying the town. Later in the same episode, Cecil becomes so overwhelmed by the seeming hopelessness of the situation that for the first time ever, he almost signs off without bothering to give the Weather report or wish the listeners a good night.
  • In Wolf 359, the crew of the Hephaestus know to be concerned about Eiffel if he stops making pop culture references.
    • In one episode, after the other members of the crew call him out for his insensitive behavior, he’s too ashamed to interact with anyone, and they mark a week without any pop culture references.
    • In the finale, the sign that Eiffel really has lost his memories is when he asks what Star Wars is.

    Print Media 
  • MAD features the eternally grinning Alfred E. Neuman, whose catchphrase is "What, me worry?" Except once. Alfred's reaction to the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979: A look of terror on his face, and the comment, "Yes... me worry!"

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Since wrestling announcers are supposed to be loud and talking all the time, it was always a pretty safe bet that when they went completely silent, it was a sign that someone was legitimately hurt (instead of when they kept talking, which showed it was part of the show). However, that's not quite as accurate now, since the people behind the scenes have caught on to this, and have started to use dead air when trying to sell a Kayfabe injury.
  • Sometimes, when a real, serious injury or accident happens, announcers drop kayfabe and explicitly tell the audience it is not part of the show. Most infamously, this happened when Owen Hart died in an accident at Over the Edge 1999, and when Jerry Lawler had a heart attack during an episode of WWE Raw.
  • WrestleMania 7 featured a Retirement match between "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Ultimate Warrior. Color commentator Bobby "The Brain" Heenan pointed out something very strange about The Warrior's entrance: he was walking. The fact that Warrior eschewed his usual crazed full speed bolt towards the ring for a much more composed gait helped to underscore how much higher the stakes were for this match.note 
  • John Cena is almost always above everything, just laughing off anything resembling a threat. Until The Wyatt Family came after him. Thus far the Wyatts have proven to be the only thing that can make Cena show actual fear.
  • Lance Storm is adamant that people use his Kayfabe last name (Storm), and most of his commentaries are signed as Lance Storm. However, when he is truly serious about certain things, like the deaths of Chris Benoit or Road Warrior Hawk, he has been known to sign off using his real name: Lance Evers.
  • The Insane Clown Posse were supposed to face The Headbangers on the November 23 (taped November 17), 1998 WWE RAW, as part of the The Oddities-Headbangers feud, but Violent J said that they weren't ready. Luna Vachon, the manager of The Oddities, was so stunned by this that she actually spoke in her normal voice instead of the monster voice she'd been using for over a decade.
  • As a member of The Order Of The Neo-Solar Temple Delirious was not nearly as erratic or hyper active due to UltraMantis Black putting him under the control of the Eye of Tyr, a Norse Mythological artifact that can be used to control minds. Then Ares of Die Bruderschaft des Kreuzes used the Eye, after getting it from Tim Donst as part of the BDK's formation at the 2009 CHIKARA Season Finale Three-Fisted Tales, and used it to lure Delirious into the BDK. While on the one hand Delirious was more manic, Ares also tied a chain around his neck and made him the BDK's Team Pet.
  • During Jerry Lawler's tenure as a heel commentator, he would frequently crack jokes and insult the faces at every opportunity. If Lawler stopped joking — or even worse called the heels out for their behavior — the situation was indeed serious.
  • On the October 22, 2018 episode of WWE Raw, then-Universal Champion Roman Reigns broke character by introducing himself with his real name, before announcing that his leukemia had returned after 11 years of privately battling it and being in remission.
  • Lampshaded on episode 103 of AEW Dark (August 17, 2021). After Matt Hardy (accompanied by Private Party) defeated Wheeler Yuta (accompanied by Chuck Taylor), Hardy's stablemates laid a beatdown on Yuta and Taylor. Then came Yuta's then-stablemate Orange Cassidy, known for his "Sloth Style", walking to the ring at a normal pace for anyone else but extremely fast for his character. Announcer Excalibur said "And I'm serious—a spring in his step", and Taz followed, "I've never seen the man walk that fast ever!" Followed shortly thereafter by Cassidy laying Hardy out with an Orange Punch. Video here (the crowd pops for Cassidy's entrance at 26:09).
  • Triple H had made a reputation for himself as being an unstoppable, imperturbable monster heel. So it made things all the more astounding when Mankind revealed he was Cactus Jack and Hunter looked utterly terrified. Not for nothing, seeing as Cactus Jack had mopped the floor with him the last time they met. Foley himself credits Triple H for making the scene work; if he'd laughed it off, it would have flopped, but this was the most scared anyone had seen Hunter.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In Dinosaurs, Baby always hits Earl over the head and calls him "Not-The-Mama" instead of "Daddy". When he becomes seriously ill in "Germ Warfare", he starts calling Earl "Daddy" and tells him he loves him. The family freaks out and get him cured as quickly as possible. Everyone is relieved when Baby hits Earl and calls him "Not-The-Mama" after he is cured.
  • In the Fraggle Rock episode "Marooned", perpetually paranoid Boober and energetic Red are Buried Alive in a cave-in; facing imminent death, Boober is calm and collected, while Red is a nervous wreck.
  • The Mr. Potato Head Show: Nora's catchphrase is "I have NO idea what that means, but I LOVE it!" But in one meeting with a new executive character, she says "I know exactly what you mean" in a much more subdued voice than usual, a clear hint to the audience that things are going to be different this time.
  • Gonzo the Great is such a Cloudcuckoolander that when he opts out of a Bar Mitzvah appearance in Muppets from Space, Kermit is quick to take notice.
    Kermit: You never miss the chance to shoot yourself out a cannon, is something wrong?
  • Sesame Street:
    • In the special, "Elmo Saves Christmas", Lightning the Reindeer takes Elmo to a Bad Future he created from his wish for it to be Christmas Every Day. In this bad future, The Count is so sick of celebrating an entire year's worth of Christmases, that he is even sick of counting them! Naturally, this sparks a shocked reaction from Elmo. Another bad sign is when Maria, who's usually the resident Ms Fix It, has forgotten how to fix things due to spending a whole year off work.
    • Unless they're already established as an outlier, it's generally a bad sign when a Grouch is polite, neat, or optimistic:
      • When Oscar starts acting kind rather than his usual grouchy self in "Oscar the Kind"note , the rest of Sesame Street reacts with surprise.
      • When Oscar's niece, Irvine, who's usually a Bratty Half-Pint as is typical for a young Grouch, behaves unusually sunny in one episode, it turns out to be because she has a disease called 'Grouch Flu'.
      • Oscar himself catches the Grouch Flu in one episode, and he says, "Thank you", which is taken as a sign something is wrong with him. Likewise, at the end of the episode, when his girlfriend Grundgetta, also a Grouch, wants a tuna fish sandwich instead of the Grouches' usual disgusting palate, he thinks she must have caught his flu.
      • In "Big Bird Visits the Hospital", a young Grouch girl mentions that she woke up cheerful and her mother got so scared she sent her to the hospital.
      • Subverted in one episode, where Oscar is reading saccharine books and his friends worry that he has the Grouch Flu, but he's actually just trying to troll his Grouch friends by picking out a book that'd annoy them.
    • When Barkley the dog doesn't eat, this automatically concerns Linda, Maria, and Big Bird. It turns out that Barkley has a cold.
    • Subverted in an episode where Telly is worried that his pet hamster Chuckie is sick due to Chuckie's uncharacteristic lethargy. However, it turns out that the hamster, now named Chuckie Sue, is fine, she's just pregnant.
    • In the "Mine-itis" episode, Elmo is shocked when Big Bird doesn't share Radar (due to being infected with Mine-itis), because he knows Big Bird always shares and this is a sign that he's not at all his usual self.

  • Big Finish Doctor Who: In "The Two Masters", the Seventh Doctor, when faced with two incarnations of his old friend-turned-enemy the Master, notices that each incarnation is acting out of character, but only realises when faced with both Masters that the reason for this change is that the two Masters have actually swapped bodies.
  • In Cabin Pressure, when the usually relentlessly cheery and overwhelmingly positive and optimistic Arthur tries to describe his father:
    Arthur: Oh, he's, uhhh... He's, uhhh... He's, uhhh...
    Douglas: Good Lord, Martin, I think you've broken him.
    Arthur: No-no-no –- it's just that he's, uhhh... He's, uhhh...
    Douglas: I think — I think what we may be witnessing here is Arthur attempting to describe something with an adjective other than "brilliant".
    Arthur: Yeah, no-no, I-I wouldn't say he was br...I mean, obviously, everyone's br...[beat] No, he's not brilliant! He's, uhhh... He's alright.
    Martin: God!
    Douglas: Yes...
    Martin: He must be awful!

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Ciro is usually a level-headed Nice Guy, so when he panics (like when he realises his siblings are in danger) or gets angry (when he urges his friend to get out of a building laced with bombs) the other characters click immediately that something is wrong.
    • While normally upbeat and high-strung, Vivian's attitude when she's introduced is stoic. It becomes increasingly apparent that this isn't natural and her superpower has affected her emotions.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A number of character-driven RPGs give characters compulsions to act in certain ways and require expending resources to ignore them, effectively making Out-of-Character a form of Heroic BSoD. For example, Exalted calls it "Limit Break"note  and forces the Solars to either take their greatest Virtue to extremes or invert it, Lunars to act animalistic and Sidereals to stubbornly force Fate into a path dependant on their caste. Similarly, Scion has Virtues (such as Loyalty, Duty, or Courage); every pantheon reveres four of them, and their Scions are expected to uphold them. If a Scion resists his or her Virtues too hard, they can explode into Virtue Extremities, causing the Scion to burst into extreme behavior; a Loyal Scion will throw herself into the line of fire for her friends even if they beg her not to, a Courageous Scion goes into an Unstoppable Rage, an Expressive Scion will quite literally bleed for his art, and so on.
  • In Nomine: Yves, Archangel of Destiny, is well known for being calm, reflective and serene, unflappable and unfazed by even the most grievous of events — until Kronos, Prince of Fate, comes into the picture. Yves' dark mirror is the one being that he cannot predict or account for, and the moment he catches wind of Kronos' presence in a plot he sends in his own heavy hitters and does everything in his power to ensure that whatever the Prince is after does not come to fruition. Only those who know Yves very well pick up on the driven urgency that overtakes him in these situations, but they find it very unsettling.
  • On Mighty Thews: Characters have what is called a "D20 trait" since each skill is assigned a dice value. By acting in concert with your D20 character trait, you earn a reroll token in a scene; but if you act opposite to it, you can roll a D20 for one skill roll, which means quite a bit when D12 is the largest available die.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Tyranids are such a threat to the galaxy that the Ultramarines, a chapter of Space Marines who religiously follow the Codex Astartes and take pride in fielding balanced, tactically-flexible forces, have started training cadres of Tyrannic War Veterans specializing in combating the menace that nearly devoured their homeworld.
    • When the vast, eternally hungry Hive Mind of the Tyranids leaves a certain light-years wide area of space alone, it's probably for a good reason.
    • The introduction of Primaris Marines and cooperation with Aeldari in 8th Edition. The Imperium of Man is so hidebound they're cocooned in leather and deeply xenophobic. Innovation, ESPECIALLY with one of the Emperors Great Works, and cooperation with aliens to boot? Uh-oh. The End of Days is nigh.
    • Factions that know the Orks well start getting very wary whenever the greenskins start to do anything that isn't either charging the closest enemy or getting ready to do so. Normally, it means they're about to try something unusual, unpredictable and dangerous. If you are terribly unlucky, it means they're getting clever. Millions tend to die when the orks try actual tactics because they're just not expected to do so, and it tends to be a sign that the Warboss in charge is getting dangerously competent from the sheer volume of WAAAGH energy the troops are dispensing. The smarter they're acting, the bigger the horde, and the bigger the Warboss. Once, this got bad enough that they had actual diplomats, people farms and technology that started outpacing the Imperium and the Eldar, and the resulting war nearly destroyed Terra, and with it the Imperium.

  • So, so many moments in Freewill in 2112:
  • In Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton is a Motor Mouth who never passes up an opportunity to pick up a pen and write out his thoughts. In One Last Time, he is so distraught over his boss George Washington's retirement that he goes into Stunned Silence and has to be urged into picking up a pen to write Washington's farewell address.
    • On a more heartwarming note, verbose non-stop Hamilton is so overwhelmed by emotions at the birth of his son that he reverts to the simplest structures, rhymes and vocabulary. This only gets worse in Act 2 when said son dies and Hamilton, again, loses much of his verbosity and finesse when describing "the unimaginable" — living on after the loss of a child.
  • Throughout most of My Fair Lady, linguistics professor Henry Higgins acts like a huge Jerkass to flower girl Eliza Doolittle. For days he puts her through torturous exercises in an attempt to get her to pronounce sounds correctly, deprives her of food, sleep, and drink, and stays up for hours in a desperate attempt to rid Eliza of her Cockney accent. However, during one scene, an exhausted Higgins gives Eliza a passionate speech on "the majesty and grandeur of the English language," in which he forgoes his usual routine for genuine tenderness and encouragement towards Eliza. It's a genuine Pet the Dog moment for him, and as a result of this, Eliza has her first big breakthrough in RP. Cue "The Rain In Spain" and a rapturous celebration exploding on the stage.

    Web Original 
  • Alien Abduction Role Play: Both Acktreal and the rest of her crew note that it's extremely unusual for her to be behaving in the way she is with the human subjects. She is normally very cold and aloof with her subjects, not making things more difficult or unpleasant than they need to be for either party. It's extremely unusual that she would develop feelings for a subject, or threaten to eat anyone, including those of a species that her ancestors used to hunt for food. The crew concludes that there must be something genetic or hormonal in humanity that is causing Enxion species to potentially crave them as a food source, despite never encountering each other before.
  • Vixen of the DesuDesBrigade is very relaxed, informal and happy in most of her reviews, even in a lot of the shows that squick her out. Then came her Film Fox review of The Twilight Saga: New Moon, where she's in complete distress with no escape throughout and screams more than once.
  • YouTuber Robert Franzese's comedy series Grind My Gears, where he is in character as a real-life form of Peter Griffin. The first episode was about racism and towards the end breaks character entirely to conclude that racism is not acceptable.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • The Foundation very rarely actively attempts to kill supernatural entities, as they don't know what effect it might have. So SCP-682 must be a serious threat to warrant a file that begins with "SCP-682 must be destroyed as soon as possible."
    • The Foundation members are usually portrayed as Determinators who will go to any length to find a way to ensure that any entities that could pose a danger are safely contained. Except for SCP-2317, who they have explicitly given up on containing and what procedures they do have are merely to keep up morale.
    • SCP-682 ends up on the other end of this trope several times. It's an Omnicidal Maniac that tries to kill pretty much anything that gets left out in front of it. So something must be seriously, intrinsically wrong with SCP-173 (which it is too scared of to attack), SCP-053 (one of only two beings it has ever acted legitimately friendly towards (the other being 079)), and Dr. Alto Clef (whom it doesn't attack for some unknown reason).
    • SCP-682 has so far resisted all attempts to kill it, which means that SCP-2935, an alternate dimension where everything is dead, including 682, is no joke.
    • SCP-096 is a nigh-unstoppable killing machine that will travel thousands of miles to kill anything that sees even a pixel of its face (even if it is another SCP). The fact he didn't even attempt to attack SCP-049 once he saw his face is surprising to say the least.

Alternative Title(s): Out Of Character Is Serious Business


I Will Kill You!

Rashid is one of the kindest characters in the cast and only fights when he has no choice, or just for fun. So when he declares he will outright KILL F.A.N.G in their fight for killing his friend, you know he is well and truly PISSED.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / OOCIsSeriousBusiness

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