Follow TV Tropes


Page-Turn Surprise

Go To

"When we turn the page of a comic, new information is instantly communicated to us, and a good comic artist will use this to his advantage, either meeting our expectations or subverting them. This works entirely differently from the page turn of a written novel, which is without visuals, or the cut of a movie, because it's the reader who controls when it happens. And into that space created by control, a good horror writer can inject fear and unease, which of course Ito does masterfully. Right when something really bad is about to happen, he always gives us this little panel right at the bottom of the page of our character reacting to something unseen, and then it's up to us to turn the page and... oh, Christ, what the shit is that?"

Often in book-based media at the point where the tension is about to climax, the author will make sure that a page turn will be necessary, as to avoid letting the audience accidentally glimpse a spoiler on the other side of a page. Often this technique is necessary for a big reveal or otherwise dramatic moment.

Most artists are taught to pay attention to this necessity of a technique when planning their comic book, and less commonly, authors need to worry about this situation as well. The only difference for prose novelists, however, is that in a 200-page book with font standardization, they can't exactly know when the typesetting will force the reader to turn the page in hardcover or paperback books.

It's so common that Scott McCloud cites it as one of the things comics creators need to re-learn if they move from page-based to Infinite Canvas comics.

If the media product resides in the horror genre, chances are the image/text on the next page is going to be shocking/horrifying as well as surprising.

In visual print media, this technique can come in several forms, some of which are included here:

  1. The scene is hinted at on the previous page, but you must turn the page for the entire effect.
  2. The surrounding characters get a glimpse at the sight before the audience, often allowing for a wide-eyed look of disgust or terror before the reveal.

Compare Double-Sided Book, a book with two flipped sides. Compare and contrast Unconventional Formatting, when words are arranged on the page in unusual or confusing ways. Sub-Trope of Cliffhanger (something ends in the middle of a tense situation with no predicted outcome) and Painting the Medium (font, interface changes, or camera or editing tricks convey things about the story).


Anime & Manga

  • Ayakashi Triangle: Several inane things are comedically overplayed by having them appear on the first panel of a pair of pages.
    • As Matsuri explains to Suzu that she's the only friend he's ever had, Suzu suddenly gets quiet. Matsuri continues that he shouldn't bother being friends with Lu or Yayo even if he's around them. Suddenly, the page ends with a dramatic closeup of his shocked reaction, and the first panel of the next page is Suzu shaking her head. She changes his mind.
    • As Matsuri refuses to let Soga exorcise Shirogane, one page ends on Soga threatening to use force. The next starts with Soga getting flustered from looking straight up at Matsuri's skit.
    • As Matsuri dismisses the need to befriend Yayo and Lu, the page ends on Matsuri turning in shock. The first panel of the next page is Suzu shaking her head with a very pouty face, which makes Matsuri reconsider.
    • The first page of chapter 105 ends with Shadow Mei handing him a bell she implies he's meant to give to Suzu. On the next page, Matsuri's been turned into a cat in a puff of smoke.
  • Azumanga Daioh: In Volume 4 November Special, Sakaki is attacked by a horde of cats, when suddenly, a cat appears in the way! It isn't immediately identifiable yet, to those who didn't connect it to the foreshadowing and haven't seen the anime of it. We see a close-up of Sakaki's eyes... and turn the page to find a full page of Chiyo latched on to Sakaki, who's looking down at the Iriomote cat she met on the school trip!
  • Bakuman。: This happens when Mashiro and Takagi first learn that Miyuki Haruno, the woman Moritaka Mashiro's uncle loved, is his girlfriend Miho's mother, One Hundred Millionth failing to get an award, and The World is All About Money and Intelligence only getting 3rd place in Akamaru Jump (in order to get serialized, it had to get first).
  • Battle Royale: In the manga version, this trope gets used frequently in order to shock the player when things look up, only for the next page to reveal that things were never that happy. Prominent examples are seeing an image of Hirono successfully reuniting with The Hero and smiling, with the next page showing that smile to actually be a deranged one as she's drowning in a well. In a similar vein, showing a close-up of Yuko smiling in a photo with all her friends to then showing a tearfully smiling Yuko with a graphically broken neck.
  • Bokurano: Near the end of the eighth volume, Kanji, having just fought and died, wonders which of the three possible candidates will be next to pilot. He's fairly certain it can't be any of those three, but then is horrified as the realization hits him. On the next page, Kana Ushiro says "I've been called."
  • Higurashi: When They Cry: It has done this multiple times, and it has proved very effective as the key moments in the manga adaptation are often remembered as these.
  • Ibitsu: Ryo uses this for a good portion of the most intense and heart-pounding moments.
  • Junji Ito is infamously fond of this technique. Often a panel at the end of a page would focus on a character's reaction to build anticipation before the next page reveals some horrific creature or situation. His first horror anthology relies heavily on this.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: The manga has used this on several occasions, particularly with really romantic moments like Shirogane finding Kaguya during the fireworks arc, their First Kiss, and Kaguya's Love Confession.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid: In the first issue, after some hints about the research on "that", Vivio gets ready for her first Transformation Sequence. Then as the reader turns the page, they get a two-page spread showing the glorious return of Sankt Kaiser Vivio.
  • Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun: Discussed and parodied. After Miyako explains the concept to Sakura, Nozaki, despite having been using the trope correctly his entire career, suddenly becomes obsessed with working one into his next chapter, coming up with such inane ways to "surprise" the readers as having his heroine directly Break the Fourth Wall to tell them that there's a surprise on the next page, "revealing" things that are foundational to the premise of his manga, and arbitrarily cutting off random sentences to finish them on the following page.
  • Muhyo and Roji: In Chapter 128, everything seems to be going well when the Demon Carriage arrives, only for Ginji to reveal on the next page that Enchu has regained consciousness and now has the upper hand, with the rest of the heroes in the carriage tied up.
  • My Monster Secret: The manga uses this often, both dramatically and as a visual punchline to a joke. Due to the series' heavy use of Mood Whiplash it's not always clear which it will be until you actually turn the page. Chapter 80 and 81 actually use very much the same page and panel structure, but page turns that were used dramatically in the former become comedic in the latter due to the different contexts.
  • Naruto:
    • In the pilot, a new page coincides with Takashi revealing that Saburo stabbed Kuroda, and when Takashi gets shot by the person who came to steal "Proof".
    • Several times, someone will talk for a little while to build up to revealing something, then hesitate for a panel or two to push The Reveal onto the next page, sometimes accompanied by a character asking "What?". Noteworthy examples include Naruto finding out that he is the host of the nine-tailed fox, Sasuke learning that Itachi was trying to protect him, and Hinata confessing her love to Naruto.
    • During the Sasuke Retrieval arc, where you turn the page and find a gloriously awesome full page of Rock Lee roundhouse kicking the bad guy.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Setsuna revealing her wings is specifically kept on the very next page and hinted at earlier in the volume.
  • One Piece:
    • In the Dressrosa Arc, Usopp's wild reaction to being force-fed a super-hot grape is revealed by turning the page and occupies up the whole thing.
    • Enel's huge Jaw Drop.
    • Not to mention the fantastic reveal of Ace's heritage during the Whitebeard War arc. It came completely out of the left field for everyone.
    • At the start of the Sabaody Archipelago arc, it turns out that Duval, the leader of the gang the Straw Hats are fighting, has a grudge against one of the Straw Hats. What follows are two such surprises in rapid succession. The first is when Duval reveals that he has a grudge against Sanji, and the second is when Duval's mask is knocked off and he turns out to be a stranger who looks just like Sanji's poorly drawn "Wanted!" Poster.
  • Shuukan Shounen Hachi: It largely keeps to this style. While the setting and tone aren't quite as zany, the Mood Whiplash and page turns are still used abundantly − a notable example being in chapter 3 when, after exposing which girls they find cute (after a moment of hesitation), the boys all admit that the first name that came to their minds was Mikeya, with the main character Hachi facepalming out of sympathy.
  • Yuri is My Job!
    • At the end of Volume 1 is the series' First-Episode Twist. After Hime tells Mitsuki about a former friend who ruined Hime's reputation in elementary school, Mitsuki asks if Hime remembers the friend's name, and Hime says yes, she's Mitsuki Yano. On the final page of the volume before the extras, Mitsuki, having reached her Rage Breaking Point, lays her student ID on the table and reveals that she is Mitsuki Yano.
    • At the end of Chapter 45, a visitor arrives at the salon and Kanoko greets her. Similar to the Mitsuki twist above, on the final page of the chapter, the visitor produces an old visitor pass that says "Goeido-san," revealing that the visitor is none other than Yoko Goeido, Nene's ex-girlfriend.

Comic Books

  • Immortal Hulk: It's very common. For instance, one page of issue #8 ends with the Hulk's cut hand in a jar (the Jolly Green Giant had just been cut into pieces by scientists) snapping its finger to break the glass. The next page shows all the pieces flying back together around a scientist, and fusing again onto him, and back into the Hulk's body.
  • New Avengers: Doctor Strange/Zom annihilating friend and foe alike in the second annual issue. Double points for being a blood-red two-page spread interrupting what had formerly been a blue and purple night scene.
  • Planetary: Night on Earth has a downplayed version, with a Gilligan Cut being placed on a page-turn. The last panel of one page has The Drummer declaring that he's staying at the base where it's safe; the first panel of the next page shows him out in the field with the rest of the team, complaining loudly.
  • Rising Stars: An interesting usage that also counts as Painting the Medium. In issue one, we meet Lionel Zerb, who can talk to the dead—in fact, he can't stop hearing them. At the end of the issue, there's a full-page image of him sitting in his armchair in an empty room. Once you turn the page, you see a number of ghostly figures on a white background, speaking in mirrored dialogue. It's only when you hold the page up to the light that the ghosts show through the paper and reveal that they're surrounding Zerb, constantly whispering to him ...
  • Super Dinosaur: The reveal of The Exile's identity and a double Oh, Crap! moment for Derek and SD are formatted like this.
  • Ultimatum: Wasp's violent, cannibalistic death.


  • Captain Underpants:
    • Captain Underpants, George, and Harold jump out of the UFO in book 3. Captain Underpants believes that he can zipline with the toilet paper, but the narration then states that the toilet paper of course snapped and the three heroes were killed instantly. Then you turn the page and it says "Just kidding."
    • Book 6 really builds up to Melvin's Bionic Booger Boy form, with the page before its debut being a straight-up warning that the reader must prepare themselves for the unfathomably disgusting thing they will witness once they turn the page.
    • The end of Book 9 expresses some End-of-Series Awareness and says "There are no more Captain Underpants books..." The next page is nothing but a silent two-page spread of Scenery Gorn. The page after that, however, is a teaser for the actual final book, accompanied with the text, "...except for this one:"
  • Cloud Atlas: The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing is cut off mid-sentence in such a way that the sentence appears to run onto the next page, but the next page is blank, and the page after is the title page for the next story.
  • The Decagon House Murders: This Japanese mystery novel features one example famous in its home country, where The Reveal of the culprit's identity in a single sentence (totally innocuous in-universe, but a MASSIVE Wham Line to the reader) gets an entire page to itself.
  • José María Eguren: The first edition of Simbólicas is laid out in a way that the larger poems are split precisely where the author wants them to be. The first page of "Las bodas vienesas" (translation: "The Viennese Weddings") ends without revealing who's getting married in such a pompous way in a trifle store of all places. That information is given on the next page—it's the Viennese Princess, who has a limp and is, actually, a puppet.
  • Gravity Falls: Journal 3: After the author recounts the Interdimensional Portal test, the next two pages are nigh-covered with black-ink scrawling, drawings of eyes, and red text spelling out "MY MUSE WAS A MONSTER", "I WAS A PUPPET", and "F WAS RIGHT".
  • Harry Potter: The US edition has a page of stars in between every chapter, which means no matter what happens with fonts or translation you will always have to turn a page to get to the next chapter. This is sometimes used for dramatic pauses, such as in the first book when revealing who is in the room with the stone: It wasn't Snape. It wasn't even Voldemort. (chapter break) It was Quirrell..
  • Mr. Bean's Diary:
    • After turning the page on 14th February, the next few pages are completely blank; followed by "FOUND DIARY!!" in big letters. It is hinted at by the entry "Put out bin" just before the blank pages, and the diary is found in the bins.
    • After Mr. Bean has fawned over Mr. Wilkinson, the last entry on the page is "Mr. Wilkinson borrowing car this afternoon", followed by "car due back". Then, over the page: "Where is Mr. Wilkinson???", it is revealed that Mr. Wilkinson is a con man who has stolen Mr. Bean's car.
  • Reaper Man:
    • Pratchett puts one of these when Azrael answers. You turn the page only to find one big, huge "YES" covering the entire page. In the hardcover, this is on the left side of the page, so you see it when you turn (and Pratchett allegedly wrote an extra 200 words to make it so), but it ended up on the wrong side of the page in the paperback edition.
    • Later paperback releases fixed this issue but ran into another, related problem —100pt block letters tend to show through thin pages.
  • Red Dwarf Log No. 1996: In this spin-off book featuring the crew's journals over one year, the entry for March 17 has Kryten explaining that he's set up a hydroponics pod and laced it with a chemical cocktail to promote rapid growth; he anticipates quick results. On the next page...
    MARCH 18
    Kryten: Ship taken over by a 9,000lb greenfly.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: There's a spread in The Ersatz Elevator that is meant to show the reader what the titular elevator's shaft looks like. Both pages of the spread are completely black.
  • Struwwelpeter:
    • "The Story of the Inky Boys" tells the reader to turn the page, so they shall see how black the inky boys really are.
    • A similar effect is used in "The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb". After Suck-a-Thumb's mother has warned him of the consequences of sucking his thumb, the page ends with "the thumb was in, alas, alack!". And turning the page reveals a gruesome Fingore picture, which is notorious for making the book really frightening.
  • The Worst Witch: In A Bad Spell for the Worst Witch, the reader gets a surprise on turning the page to see a huge picture of the face of Mildred's tabby cat, filling the whole page, when the cat is normally depicted as very tiny. This is to reflect how Mildred first sees the cat, when she has been turned into a frog.


Western Animation