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Reaction Shot

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Whenever a new character joined my party, I ended up dreading the extra thirty seconds of "I SEE" that were going to be added to every conversation.

Reaction Shots are takes of different characters reacting to something. They tend to happen in two distinct ways:

1. When a character says or does something and the camera cuts away to another character to show them react in some way. Used in every sort of show around. In interviews, the reaction shot will simply show the interviewer nodding wisely (so that the audio could be edited — Charlie Brooker did a take on this). In a Sitcom, the other character is often doing an Eye Take.

Sub-trope of The Take. See also: Double Take, Eye Take, Loud Gulp, Shrug Take, Spit Take, Split-Screen Reaction, A Glass in the Hand. An extreme form of this, usually reserved for Sequential Art with all but the most physical of comedians, is the Face Fault. If a video is made with this trope at its centre, that is Reaction Video.

2. When a character (or characters) are shown reacting to something "off camera". Either precedes or precludes a Reveal Shot. In the latter case, it becomes a Take Our Word for It. Can be used for laughs as the characters describe what they're seeing. One of the more clever forms of censorship (if you can't show something unspeakable, show people reacting to it and let the audience picture it for themselves!) Head-Tiltingly Kinky is an example. The effect can give the offscreen event more impact than a direct depiction. Not to be confused with a Distant Reaction Shot, which is of seeing the results of actions from another location.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Death Parade relies heavily on these for its character acting, as an extension of its overall themes of communication and empathy. Often times, these shots are completely silent and only visible for the audience to interpret the character’s true feelings.
    • Decim’s reaction shots are what give us signs of his early character development. It’s a big deal when he expresses shock or anger at a character’s behavior.
  • My Hero Academia: On the first day of class at UA, we have Bakugo's utterly gobsmacked facial expression when he sees the formerly-Quirkless Izuku use his newly-acquired power in front of him for the first time.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has these in droves: a scene will usually have two characters talking with one another, backs turned to the viewer, before cutting to a reaction shot. This was common due to the series' issues with money: not animating the characters talking stretched the budget.
  • A Type 2 occurs at the end of Pokémon the Series: XY, when Serena bids Ash farewell with a kiss. We don't actually see the act in question, but their friends' collective Luminescent Blush instantly gave it away.
  • If you rewatch Puella Magi Madoka Magica, you will notice that Homura gets many reaction shots. Some of these are extreme close-ups on her mouth. The shots don't make sense the first time you watch, because you don't know about Homura's backstory yet.
  • Rock Lee's Springtime of Youth: Tenten, being the Only Sane Man, gets these a lot.
  • About half of the anime Serial Experiments Lain seems to be reaction shots (both kinds). When it isn't setting up a Reveal Shot, it's usually a reaction shot chain — Lain reacts to a friend, the friend reacts to Lain's reaction, Lain reacts to the reaction to the reaction, and so on.

    Comic Books 
  • In Astro City story "Pastoral", when Cammie follows the kitten into the barn, we get a shot of her face, half in shadow, showing her shock; then we get her back in the house working on a new email that shows she's decided to become a Secret-Keeper for Roustabout's Secret Identity. Only after her finishing it do we get the Reveal Shot that shows Roustabout and her cousin kissing.
  • During Siege, the Void tears Ares in half vertically in a splash page. Below that, you see the horrified reactions of The Avengers, Dark Avengers, and civilians.

    Fan Works 
  • Code Prime: A whole bunch of these during the fifth chapter of R1 when Zero and the Autobots reveal themselves. Suffice to say, everyone is stunned senseless, even Tohdoh.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Sita Sings the Blues, during Sita's short speech after Ravana has kidnapped her, every sentence is interspersed with the same dramatic cut to Ravana reacting in shock and anger.
  • During the semi-climactic brawl between Stitch and Jumba in Lilo & Stitch, the camera briefly cuts to Agent Pleakley outside the house, screaming in horror at the damage being done.
  • In Turning Red, just before Ming transforms into her giant red panda form, there is a shot of Grandma Wu essentially going Oh, Crap!.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • During the church fight in Kingsman: The Secret Service, the camera pans away to show Eggsy and Valentine separately reacting in horror and disgust.
  • The Gondola Scene from Moonraker derives much of its humor from this.
  • The director of Once has said that although the film is meant to be focused on the two main characters, it's helpful for the audience to occasionally show the reactions of other people to their music.
  • Our Miss Brooks: We see Miss Brooks' reaction to the wackiness of the characters around her, especially in the first part of this theatrical series finale as we see her arrival in Madison retold in cinematic form.
  • In The Princess Diaries, Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews improvised some of Mia's princess lessons. Cutaway reaction shots of the Queen's secretary Charlotte were so often used to break up the improvisations, that the credits give her full name as "Charlotte Kutaway".
  • In both versions of The Producers, the theater audience watching the premiere of Springtime for Hitler is a gold mine of these.
  • Street Angel: Gino paints a portrait of Angela. Before we see the painting, we watch for almost half a minute Angela's reaction to it.
  • The final moments They Might Be Giants. George C. Scott (playing a man who thinks he's Sherlock Holmes) and Joanne Woodward (as his psychiatrist, Dr. Mildred Watson) are about to come face-to-face with what may or may not be a very real Professor Moriarty; the film ends with a Reaction Shot from them as they apparently see Moriarty for the first time.
  • The Toxic Avenger: Each fight scene is intercut with reaction shots of the people the Toxic Avenger is rescuing. Our hero is so brutal to the villains that even their former victims react with shock and horror at what he does to them.
  • Happens a few times in the spoof film Epic Movie, especially during the party scene which they hold before the big fight the next day. Two of the orphans, Edward and Lucy, are drinking beer and dancing and are trying to get their sister Susan to drink as well. After a lot of convincing, she agrees to have just one...and then chugs a keg of beer. After that, her stomach starts to gurgle, and she starts to vomit a lot. She pukes all over two guys...TWICE. We cut to reaction shots of them both looking slightly disgusted, followed by her saying she's okay. She then starts to puke again, covering two more people, again, TWICE, in puke. We cut to Edward who looks freaked out and then cut to her sister Lucy who pukes a bit in her mouth. Susan then burps, clearly not done puking... So she locks lips with a Legolas-Look-alike as she continues to puke down his throat as he struggles. We cut to Edward making a disgusted noise while looking away and then cut to Lucy also clearly disgusted and slightly horrified. While this is going on, the fourth orphan, Peter, is dragged into a tent by Mystique, so she can have her way with him. Since she's a shapeshifter, she says she'll change into anything he he requests bigger boobs, a larger ass, and a uni-brow. For his final request, he asks for "Big Flabby Grandma Arms/Bingo Wings like a fat blue Britney Spears." After she starts to shapeshift into the last request, we cut to him staring up at her while he's drooling, saying that's what he's talking about. After seeing her flapping her bingo wings, we cut back to his reaction again as he yells for her to come to him. He pulls her down and she starts to have her way with him.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road: When Slit unchains Max to move him to the back of the vehicle, we see the gleeful expression in Max's eyes as he's finally got a chance to escape.
  • In Ghostbusters II's courtroom scene, when the sample of mood-slime begins reacting to the judge's angry tirade, there's a brief cut to Ray Stanz's eyes widening to tell the audience, "Yup, he saw that." Then, after a brief interlude of the judge ranting and the slime bubbling, cut again to the 'Busters with Ray nudging Egon saying, "Iggy, she's twitchin'."

  • The Crossroads of Twilight from The Wheel of Time series is basically just this whole concept spread out over 700+ pages. Essentially, the major plot twist of the previous book is shown to many different groups of characters just so the reader can see how each of them react.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Are You Being Served?, the employees pass around a box containing a birthday present, each in turn reacting and saying what a wonderful gift it is. Mr. Humphreys finally steps through the fourth wall and admits, "We're not going to show you what it is."
  • Average Joe: Hawaii has the first type of reaction shot when Larissa Meek watches the Hunks take their shirts off for the Shirts vs. Skins dodgeball game.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Restless", Xander's dream sequence involves heavily tarted-up versions of Willow and Tara kissing... but because girl-on-girl kissing couldn't be shown, we only see Xander's expression, as he's unsure of whether he's more disgusted with himself for looking or turned on by the show, in a very, very long reaction shot with smoochy noises playing on the soundtrack.
  • Charlie's Angels: In one scene from the "Toni's Boys" episode the trope is inverted and then played straight when Kris sees Bob Sorenson with his shirt off and watches Arnie the male stripper rehearse.
  • In an episode of Chopped, a contestant failed to plate any food whatsoever before time expired in the appetizer round. The camera cuts from him holding a stack of empty plates to the judges table, where the panel members are each expressing their disappointment in their own way: Aaron Sanchez is facepalming, Geoffrey Zakarian is head-desking, and Chris Santos is combining Stunned Silence with a bit of Jaw Drop. Unsurprisingly, this contestant was chopped forthwith.
  • The last shot of Dallas (as a regular series) with Patrick Duffy saying "Oh my god".
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Unquiet Dead": During the séance, after the Gelth mention the Time War, Rose glances at the Doctor, whose face remains unreadable.
    • "Doomsday": When the Doctor discusses the Time War and the fall of Arcadia, the camera cuts to Mickey's reaction in particular. Not only is this the first time he's heard about this, but he's also just spent three years fighting Cybermen. Something in common, at last?
    • "The Sound of Drums": When Martha jokes about expecting the Master to be the Doctor's brother, Jack stops and looks at the Doctor as though seriously considering it. The Doctor just finds the situation weird.
    • At the end of "Last of the Time Lords", after Jack reveals his old nickname, Martha and the Doctor's faces slowly change from grinning to "No freaking way" simultaneously.
  • It was quite common in Frasier to cut to another character’s reaction after a joke, especially if it consisted of the other charecter rolling their eyes.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In "The Wolf and the Lion", Lord Renly Baratheon stands up and gasps after the Mountain hits an unarmed Ser Loras Tyrell with a sword for the second time. Renly is terrified at the prospect that his boyfriend might die.
    • After Renly reveals that his brothers consider him to be a spoiled child, Loras' facial expression and his silence strongly indicate that he agrees.
    • After King Joffrey informs Margaery Tyrell that he plans to put all homosexuals to death in "Dark Wings, Dark Words", her facial expression betrays her nervousness for a split second, as she is now worried for the safety of her gay brother.
    • In "Second Sons", Loras lowers his head after King Joffrey chuckles at Tyrion Lannister for being too short to place a cloak over Sansa's shoulders, unable to hide his exasperation over the boy king's immaturity.
    • When Tyrion tells Prince Oberyn Martell in "Two Swords" that he no longer partakes in whores because he's now married, Oberyn has a puzzled frown, as if to say, "Huh? What does marriage have to do with it?"
    • In "The Lion and the Rose", after Joffrey makes a cruel comment to Sansa Lannister about her dead father at the wedding breakfast, Lord Mace Tyrell lowers his head in sadness; he plainly feels bad for the girl.
    • It's subtle, but Loras does sigh as the septon is speaking during Joffrey and Margaery's wedding ceremony. Loras is understandably upset that his sister is marrying a Psychopathic Man Child, and is probably thinking how this union is so much worse than Margaery's marriage to Renly.
    • After King Tommen is crowned, the only two guests in the crowd who don't immediately applaud are Queen Cersei and Loras. Cersei is still in deep pain after Joffrey's death, and is in no mood to celebrate. Loras begins clapping after a few seconds to maintain decorum, but he's obviously distracted by his own emotional turmoil. His expression is fairly severe when we get a close-up of the Tyrells, especially in comparison to his smiling sister and his exhilarated father. (Most likely, Loras is still furious over the way Joffrey had dishonoured him and Renly's memory at the wedding banquet.) And of course, both the Queen Regent and the Knight of Flowers are dreading their upcoming wedding.
    • During the wildfire explosion in "Blackwater", the view switches between the carnage itself and the expressions of the onlookers: Sandor looks genuinely fearful, Tyrion looks remorseful, Joffrey almost smirks, and Pyromancer Hallyne is giggling.
    • Played for Laughs during Tyrion's Overly-Long Gag dragging his chair around the table to face off with his father. The other councillors range from amused, bemused, outraged, or worried about Tywin's reaction, while Tywin himself just glares.
    • During a mocking version of the "War of the Five Kings" with dwarfs, the view switches between the action and a polarized party. Joffrey, Tywin, Cersei, Tommen, Pycelle, and the smallfolk find it amusing, while Tyrion, Sansa, Oberyn, Varys, and the Tyrells are quietly disgusted or appalled by it. Loras dispenses with the pretension and leaves early on.
    • When Joffrey starts abusing Tyrion during his wedding reception, the mood of the entire audience turns stiff and awkward, even including those who were amused by Joffrey's earlier cruel jokes. Tywin, in particular, is visibly enraged.
    • During the Trial by Combat in the "The Mountain and the Viper" reaction shots are shown of Tyrion, Tywin, Cersei, Jaime, and Ellaria, all of whom have crucial stakes in the outcome.
    • During Edmure's wedding, the Starks and Tullys are visibly surprised by how attractive Roslin Frey is.
  • House of the Dragon:
    • The usually stoic Lord Commander Westerling can be seen briefly scowling when Otto Hightower tells Daemon Targaryen that Viserys wouldn't bother to confront him — because Westerling was there when Otto talked down Viserys from going himself, and thus Westerling knows Otto is lying and manipulating the brothers…
    • When Daemon tells Otto, "Lady Mysaria is to be my wife," the camera's focus moves from Daemon to Mysaria catch her reaction. Her gaze shifts from Otto to Daemon, and she stares at him for a moment. It's subtle enough to be ambiguous upon first viewing, but upon rewatch it's clear: this is new news to her.
  • If Martin Freeman is the king, then Bea Arthur was the queen. According to Norman Lear, "Bea could get more laughs raising her eyebrow than any other actress could with three pages of dialogue." Her time on The Golden Girls used this for all it was worth.
  • Higher Ground's Funny Moment, when Peter and the Cliffhanger girls attempt to make Sophie a birthday cake without a recipe. The cake isn't shown when they first take it out of the oven.
    Kat: Oh dear lord.
    Daisy: It's hideous.
    Shelby: [grabs a cleaver knife] We must kill it.
  • Occurs occasionally on Jeopardy!, most notably on the episode where Nancy Zerg defeated Ken Jennings, who at that point had won an unprecedented 74 games in a row and the camera cut instantly to her surprised reaction. This reaction shot is dubbed the "Zerg Cam" both by fans and by the show itself.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power:
    • In the first episode, two hooded figures patrol Tirharad, and multiple people are shown staring at them with disdain. At first it may seem they are just wary of strangers, but is just foreshadowing the mutual distrust between Elves and the Men of the Southlands.
    • After learning the story behind the seedling that Durin received from Elrond as a sign of their friendship, Disa looks at the stubborn Durin, with a surprised, but tender eyes.
  • When the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew reviewed the trailers for The Lost World: Jurassic Park they made the claim that the reaction shot is Steven Spielberg's trademark. They showed all the reaction shots together; the sheer volume was a compelling argument.
    • In fact, the Spielberg Reaction Shot or "Spielberg Face" is the subject of a brilliant video essay by Kevin Lee. See and read about it here.
  • Based on her body language and eye contact, the reporter thinks the New Year's Eve reveler who's mooning her in this live report has a nice butt.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks' reactions are something to see. One notable example is her look of horror in "Home Cooked Meal", as Mr. Conklin's about to light a match in a gas-filled kitchen...
  • Passions: The look on Sheridan's face when she sees Luis naked after he gets out of the shower.
  • Saturday Night Live based a well-known sketch around this, as Steve Martin led a group of yokels staring in befuddled awe at an unseen something. Each, in turn, tries to guess at what it is, eventually falling back to "What the heck is that?"
  • In Sherlock, Martin Freeman's John Watson is the king of these. That's because he's the king of them in real life as well.
  • One explanation for the abrupt cut-to-black ending of The Sopranos in "Made in America" is that the final scene builds up a pattern of reaction shots establishing that we are seeing Tony being whacked, from Tony's point of view.
  • In the final episode of Wolf Hall, the camera cuts away from Anne Boleyn to the crowd just as the executioner swings his sword. Even Cromwell, who orchestrated the whole thing, has a brief look of horror on his face.

    Music Videos 
  • Miserable: When the giantess they've been performing on top of the whole video eats bassist Kevin Baldes alive right in front of them the camera cuts to the other three members of Lit reacting with shock, then running for their lives.

    Video Games 
  • This is a staple of the Ace Attorney games, where every dramatic reveal or accusation will always involve at least one reaction shot, usually of a character acting like they've been physically hurt by the twist.
  • The Golden Sun games have a lot of these as smileys that pop up above people's heads. In fact, Matthew's part in conversations usually isn't a simple yes/no response, but a smiley whose mood the player gets to choose: satisfaction, joy, anger, or sadness.
  • Granblue Fantasy: In the prologue of the "Handsome Gorilla" event, Lunalu narrates the details of a certain book that she read at a young age. The camera then zooms in closer to her face, while the player gets treated to a slew of Lunalu's facial reactions as she flips through the pages.
  • A panel of the character panicking appears above the special gauge upon being knocked down and taunted or running low on hp in Jojos Bizarre Adventure All Star Battle.
  • KOing a character with a super move in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Heritage For The Future ends the match with the usual super finish background but with a slight twist: an image of the shocked and bloodied opponent will flash on screen as well, even showing appropriate damage as well (Such as being cut in half when killed by Chaka or Black Polnareff's Dimension Slash super, full of holes when killed by Hol Horse's Gun super or DIO's knife throw or bloody when killed by DIO's blood drain super.) The same image also appears when the opponent falls victim to Kakyoin's Punishment Time super or DIO's blood drain super.


    Web Original 
  • Hadriex: Many reaction shots in his Let's Plays and Reviews, but his most extreme is probably this one.
  • The online viral video of the prairie dog turning dramatically to the camera is an example of this, complete with fitting music.
  • Parodied in darksideincorprorated's Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The Abridged Series. One of their running gags is saying "Reaction Shot!" whilst doing said reaction shot.
  • Half the point of the web series Reaction & Review by Emer "Hellsing920" Prevost and React by the Fine Brothers.
    • Speaking of that, YouTube has generated a whole genre of "reaction videos", where people record themselves while watching stuff.
  • Most of the, uh, "fun" of shock sites comes from watching YouTube videos of people's squicked-out reactions.
  • Many websites where you can add images into a user comment or post (e.g. Imgur, 4chan and other imageboards, etc.) fall prey to the ubiquitous "reaction image" — a picture or animated gif cropped from some media that effectively shows the reaction of the user that posted it. Mostly posted without accompanying text for full effect.
  • Ask King Sombra had hundreds of reaction shots to its finale, not just from its own characters but hundreds of other Ask a Pony blogs that were running at the time, 21 pages worth collected here and compiled into a video: The Shot Seen Through the Galaxies

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, this combines with three different kinds of Discretion Shot to show us how Zuko got his scar. We see Iroh looking horrified, Zhao looking Smug, and Azula looking oddly triumphant. It's also early Foreshadowing that Azula is seriously cruel and messed up.
  • On Batman Beyond you get to see the effect of Derek Powers mutagen on a plant (which withers and dissolves in seconds) and the man witnessing it is quite impressed. Then Powers shows it's effects on livestock: we don't get to see that, but we get to see the reaction of sheer horror to whatever it did to the poor cow. Then we get to see the effects of it on a human one day after infection, and two hours after that; we only get to see the horrified reaction to three hours later.
  • Parodied in Futurama: Calculon tells his crew to "edit in some reaction shots of [him]" and the shots used are blatantly out of context. One has Bender, indoors, saying something; Calculon somehow reacts to this while lounging on a beach.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: The episode "You've Got Hate Mail" has reaction shots from the characters that Daffy Duck accidentally sent insulting e-mails to.
  • In one episode of ReBoot, a game character is faced by a Binome in a trenchcoat. The Binome flashes the player (seen from over the Binome's shoulder), and a second after he opens the coat there's a wet, meaty thump of something hitting the ground. The player's eyes bulge in horror, he screams and runs away, and the Binome looks over his shoulder to wink at the camera.
  • This type of shot may be used to hide "unsuitable" content: in Kids' WB!'s short-lived Road Rovers, many episodes featured shots of the Rovers reacting to Muzzle siccing some villains. Alternatively used to hide the other kind of "unsuitable" content. Often a Toplessness from the Back shot is seen in the foreground.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The Simpsons Movie, after the woodland creatures help Marge and Homer undress. Although nothing is heard or seen, the aghast expressions on their faces tell us more about the Simpsons' love life than we needed to know. Including the young deer's father shielding his child's eyes as a Funny Moment.
    • In the episode "Bart's Friend Falls In Love", Bart's class watches a sex-ed film, Fuzzy Bunny's Guide to You-Know-What. In it, Fuzzy marries his girlfriend Fluffy, and the film graphically shows what happens on the honeymoon. We only see the reaction of the students, who all shout "EW!", and Mrs. Krabapple, who snarks, "She's faking it."
    • In "Lisa's Substitute", Bart brings a video of his cat giving birth for Show and Tell. We only see the class' squicked-out reaction, and then Bart says "If I hit rewind, I can make them go back in!". Cue Screaming at Squick.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "The Bad Batch", Captain Rex's deeply shocked facial expression when Tech discovers that the Separatists' stolen Republic strategy algorithm is actually being broadcast from another planet by the thought-dead ARC trooper Echo is something to behold. He punctuates it by saying "it can't be" a few times.
  • Star Wars Rebels: "Call to Action" cuts away from the beheading of Aresko and Grint by immediately switching to Co-Dragons Kallus and Tua's horrified reactions the second the blade touches their necks.
  • Total Drama:
    • Chris announces a surprise in "No Pain, No Game" and before the audience is shown what he's talking about, a boat sound is heard and all ten campers except for Owen react with shock and disbelief at what they're seeing. It is the return of Eva.
    • In order to try on a special boot in "The Princess Pride", Lindsay takes off her shoes and the camera immediately cuts to the other characters looking horrified, followed by dozens of big feet jokes, and Chris saying that the shoe only fits on one toe.
    • The first type occurs in the first few Aftermaths. Often it cut to a shot of the non-participating contestants giving an Eye Take or responding nonverbally (i.e.: crying at Trent's love song or laughing at Owen) to whatever was happening onstage.
    • Team Amazon is mere meters from victory in "Sweden Sour". It is all snatched away when Owen plays cannonball and comes diving from the air for their boat. Just before impact, the scene freezes and the camera goes from one team member close-up to the next, all expressions locked in horror and incomprehension and underscored with a doom drum sound effect.
  • The Weekenders, "Pru": Pru shows the main characters a room for popular kids. We only see them peering into the room, but also hear them say that there's a tennis court and waterfall in there.


Video Example(s):


Nick Young

Rachel tells the Gohs her boyfriend's name. It's so surprising that the camera shows the individual reactions of everyone at the table.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / ReactionShot

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