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Mr. Farquhar: Well I'm not going to bandy words with an idiotic, jumped-up popinjay like you anymore. I demand to see the Chief of Police!
Chief of Police: I am the Chief of Police.

Bob makes candid comments to, or argues with, Alice, whom he doesn't know or has just met. Only later does Bob learn, to his chagrin, that Alice is the President/Queen/Boss/etc. In other words, Alice is the last person Bob should be acting like that in front of.

This tends to work best when Alice is a newly appointed authority figure, unbeknownst to Bob. Thinking of Alice as an equal rather than the boss, Bob will let it all hang out in a way he never would if only he knew who it was he was speaking to. (Malicious Slander is particularly dangerous, for obvious reasons.)

Often subverted by making it a Secret Test of Character or setting up other circumstances under which Alice likes Bob's candor for some reason. For example, if Alice is unaware that Bob doesn't know, she may think this manifests With Due Respect and commend him for it.

Compare Right Behind Me. Also compare Actually, I Am Him; King Incognito; Actually, That's My Assistant; Confronting Your Imposter; …But He Sounds Handsome. Some overlap with I'm Standing Right Here.


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  • The first advert in the 1990s UK Kenco Coffee campaign about the female Kenco executive started with a man and a woman in a lift. The man said he was a bit nervous, because he was starting work for the aforementioned executive, and had heard she was a bit of a dragon. Guess what happens next?
    • Possibly a shameless lift from an episode of Cheers, where Rebecca does this to a very short man in a lift who turns out to be the owner of the bar.
  • A Twix commercial has a woman making several insulting comments about her boss to a new employee... only to discover she's the boss' daughter.
  • A 1997 commercial for Coors Original (the yellow can) had a young guy tuning up his guitar at a bar (presumably warmining up for a set). An older man (somewhere in his seventies) wanders up and asks if he could see his guitar. ({bemused} "You play?" "I've been known to.") After stunning the younger man with a blues riff, the younger guy asks the older one's name.
    "It's on your guitar." (It's the Les Paul).

    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk: Guts becomes Famed in Story for both his work among the Band of the Hawk (as the "Hundred Man Slayer") and after the Eclipse (as the "Black Swordsman"). However, almost no one in the world are aware these two are the same person, and Guts keeps his past on a need-to-know basis with his new band of companions. This leads to a couple times where Isidro talks up Guts' old legacy, unaware he's standing in his idol's presence.
    Isidro: They say he killed a hundred- no, a thousand soldiers all on his own!
    Guts: (muttering) That's exaggerated...
  • In Cesare - Il Creatore che ha distrutto, Michelangelo Buonarroti, 16 years old, says a lot of things to that random college student who came to watch him repair a statue, telling him all about how worthless nobles are since they don't work with their hands like craftspeople. The college student stands up, laughs, and tells his friend to give this Michelangelo guy an expensive gift, and leaves. Michelangelo asks the friend who that guy was. "That was Cesare Borgia, the son of the vice-chancellor of the Vatican."
  • The Twelve Kingdoms:
    • When Yoko joins the rebellion against herself (OK, technically against the official of the realm who ruled that part of the kingdom), by the state and royal armies. The look of the face of the generals of the royal army when they recognize her is completely priceless.
    • This often happens while Yoko is in disguise and working with the other rebels; at various times they talk about the queen in angry or disparaging terms, having no idea who Yoko really is. The look on their faces when they find out is hilarious.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka: Early on, Onizuka encounters a young woman being harassed by a creepy old man on a bus, whom he confronts and punches out. Not long afterward he finds out the woman is Fuyutsuki, who becomes the primary love interest, and heading the interview for the teaching position is Uchiyamada, the old man on the bus, complete with a bandage over his nose. Needless to say the interview goes poorly. Then he has a candid conversation with an elderly woman in the school store. Turns out she's the superintendent who is so impressed with his passion and dedication she hires him over Uchiyamada's protests.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Inverted when Goku is searching for the martial arts master King Kai and wrongly assumes twice that strangers he's met are the person he is looking for (one of whom is a woman).
  • My-Otome:
    • It happens to Mashiro on a few occasions while she's going incognito, such as when she meets up with the similarly disguised Prince Takumi, or with Mimi while fleeing Windbloom with the other refugees. Both those instances show how much the people hate her, and lead to her Character Development and becoming a better ruler.
    • In the manga, after Mashiro is going through a 10-Minute Retirement after punching Nagi for whipping Nina, he abandons his crossdressing disguise and encounters Nina. Nina tells him a little about her life experiences, including her desire to save people from poverty, and how she regrets harshly treating Mashiro for helping her. Then, shortly afterward, she sees the discarded wig and clothes and realizes not only the boy's true identity, but Mashiro's true gender.
  • The Heroic Legend of Arslan:
    • After being imprisoned by Arslan's forces, Estelle/Etoile confides in the guard assigned to bring her food that she has heard that Arslan is evil. He responds by feeling the top of his head. When she asks him why, he replies that he's checking to see if he has horns. Because he is Arslan.
    • In the 2015 anime, Etoile is reunited with "the spoiled rich boy" that she had met three years ago. They talk and Etoile says she heard King Andragoras and Prince Arslan has two twisted horns, abnormally wide mouths and black tails. Cue said rich boy looking nervous/appalled because he is Arslan, though it takes a bit longer for Etoile to realize this.
  • Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit: One of the main characters, Balsa, and the group she is traveling with and protecting, is being pursued by authorities. While having lunch, she runs into a man who, upon being questioned, tells her about her alleged demise at the hands of the search teams looking for her. He then goes on to make up a story about how he met her in the mountains, and despite her great skill with the spear, managed to fight her to a draw. Balsa seems to take this humorously and with good spirit, most likely because in his version, it took a thousand men armed to the teeth to kill her.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers: In issue #131, Wonder Man (summoned from just before his first death back in the Stan Lee / Jack Kirby run) starts spewing out how much he hates anything non-human, right in front of the original Human Torch. Who is a Ridiculously Human Robot, and therefore mightily offended.
  • Buck Danny: Sonny Tuckson does it to the title character before finding out the latter is going to be his commanding officer.
  • Superman:
    • In Adventure Comics #392, two girls wonder about Supergirl's secret identity as Linda Danvers -a. k. a., the aforementioned hero- walks with them.
    • The Untold Story of Argo City: In the Superman Museum, a little girl is admiring the Supergirl's exhibit. When Linda Danvers walks by, the little girl asks her if she would also love being Supergirl, unaware that she is talking to the Maid of Might's secret identity.
      Little girl: Gosh, isn't she wonderful? Don't you wish you were Supergirl and shared all Superman's adventures?
      Zor-El: (whispering to Allura) The child doesn't know she's talking to Supergirl herself!
    • The Girl with the X-Ray Mind: As Lena and the Danvers are watching a bridge which is threatening to collapse, Linda Danvers sneaks out, changes costumes, repairs the bridge, changes back and sneaks back in the car right before Lena -who had not noticed her absence- turns to Linda and asks if she didn't wish she was Supergirl and had her powers.
    • The Last Days of Superman: When a strange object is endangering a space pod, Jimmy Olsen says Clark Kent he hopes Superman is paying attention.
      Jimmy Olsen: Clark! Did you hear that? Only Superman can save that astronaut now! I'll call him on my signal-watch!
      Clark Kent: (thinking) Since I am Superman, it won't take me long to answer!
    • Escape from the Phantom Zone: When he sees Supergirl arriving at an exposition that he was sent to cover, Ben Rubel tells her that he is glad that he was chosen to cover the ceremony instead of his rival Kara Danvers.
      Ben Rubel: Man, I'm glad I didn't miss this. Miss Grant only sent one of the young innovators. Good thing she took my pitch over Danvers'.
      Supergirl: ...Right. Good thing.
    • The Death of Luthor: As watching a news report, Dick Malverne gushes over Supergirl, as Linda Danvers -the Girl of Steel's secret identity- is sitting next to him.
    • DC Retroactive Superman: In "The 70s" issue, Lois complains to Superman about spending one week co-hosting the news with Clark Kent, who will not stop giving her puppy-eyed stares. Meanwhile, Superman winces internally.
    • Supergirl's Greatest Challenge: As giving a speech for Midvale's Superman fan club, Lois Lane casually mentions she has also partnered with Supergirl...who coincidentally looks right like Miss Linda Danvers. Linda winces inwardly, feeling thankful for her brown wig concealing her identity.
  • Robin (1993): Bernard discusses his conspiracy theories about Robin with Tim Drake, including the one where he figures the latest Robin is dead, unaware that he's talking to the person he is presuming to be deceased.

    Fan Works 
  • Aki-chan's Life: In the sequel to The Second Try, Shinji and Asuka go to kindergarten to drop to Aki off, and they disguise to avoid uncomfortable questions (such like "Why two fourteen-years kids have a four-years kid?"). Kodoma suspects she knows Asuka, but seems to believe she's mistaken.
    Kodoma: I guess it's the hair. The only other redhead I know is that obnoxious friend of my little sister.
    Asuka: (thinking) Obnoxious?
  • Ask Her Lustrousness, Yellow Diamond:
  • Last Child of Krypton: Touji does this in the original story and in the rewrite:
    • In chapter 4 Touji and Kensuke talk about Superman in front of Shinji, not knowing that Shinji IS Superman.
    • In chapter 6 of the rewrite Shinji catches Touji and Kensuke selling pictures of Asuka that they took without her permission. He asks Touji what he thinks Superman would think if he was there right now and he knew what they did. Touji admits that Superman is a hero so he probably would not be okay with it.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: Shinji does this every time he talks about Power Girl or Supergirl in front of Asuka.
  • In Elecktrum's Narnia Fic They Also Serve, Ilando, a visitor from Galma, unknowingly accuses Edmund of being a traitor to his face. Edmund, being a pretty decent guy by this point, takes it pretty well, but that doesn't stop Ilando from being horribly embarrassed when he finds out.
  • In Sword Art Online Abridged, after the clearing team gets trapped by a Game-Breaking Bug, they start complaining about SAO's numerous glitches and design flaws. It turns out the game's creator is disguised as a player and Can't Take Criticism, so his increasingly-angry defense of it leads to Kirito Spotting the Thread.
  • In A.A. Pessimal's Discworld/The Big Bang Theory crossover fic The Many Worlds Interpretation, Doctor Sheldon Cooper meets a new person in Ankh-Morpork and his opening worlds to Lord Vetinari are "So who are you, exactly?" Vetinari mildly replies that he is an arts graduate who has a position in the city administration. All Sheldon hears is "arts graduate" and interprets this as scientifically illiterate. People around him who do know who Lord Vetinari is are seen to wince and shudder.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Supergirl crossover The Vampire of Steel: Supergirl in her Linda Danvers identity used to play a shrew-like character in the soap opera "Secret Hearts". At one point, Buffy tells Kara she hated the actress who played Margo Hatton.
    Buffy: Yeah. Sorry. Um, I was watching soaps.
    Kara: That’s cool. Did you ever get into ‘Secret Hearts’?
    Buffy: Kind of before my time. And anyway, I could never stand that woman who played Margo Hatton, you know? She was such an irritating bitch.
    Kara: Uh.
  • Inverted in MLP fanfic Nobility and Royalty, when Raven complains that most of being Princess Celestia's secretary is "looking after that foal", and points at one of the ponies in the room:
    “Hm?” Princess Celestia replied before looking to her left and right, then coming to a realization as she turned her head to Raven once again. “Oh, you’re referring to me.”
  • Played for Drama in The Lion, The Witch, and The Fairy's Tail. When Happy first heads to Narnia, he meets a cold woman who tricks him with fish into telling her about his human teammates, including how Lucy was saved by Mr. Tummus from the wicked White Witch. Later, after Happy and the rest of the team learn about the White Witch from the Beavers, Happy flies off to warn the woman he meet earlier about the witch. It's only after she locks him in a cage that he realizes that she's the White Witch everyone was talking about.

    Films — Animated 
  • Ultimate Avengers: Early on, everyone makes remarks about Tony Stark while Iron Man's in the room, Hank Pym most of all. Awkwardness naturally ensues when they learn the big secret that Tony Stark is Iron Man.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars:
    • In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke's patience is tested to the breaking point by a little troll who turns out to be Jedi Grand Master Yoda. Luke is nothing but respectful towards Master Yoda while talking about him (although the latter is a bit upset about the "great warrior" description), but his lack of patience with the apparent simpleton in front of him does nothing to impress.
    • Something similar happened in The Phantom Menace, with Padme dressing up as one of her handmaidens. It's complicated by ambiguity over when (or if) Qui-Gon figured it out; it may be a straight example or he may be messing with her.
      Padme: The queen will not approve.
      Qui-Gon: The queen doesn't need to know.
      Padme: (to herself) Well I don't approve.
  • King Ralph: When Ralph comes back to her dressing room Miranda is not too impressed by Ralph and thinks his claims that he's the new King of the United Kingdom is some sort of sick joke. It's only later when she sees him on a TV newscast that she realizes she met the new King.
  • Lawrence of Arabia: The officer who angrily shoves Lawrence to the ground in Damascus, thinking he's just a "dirty wog". Later, when he sees Lawrence in uniform, he rushes for the honour of shaking his hand, completely unaware he's the same person.
  • Love Actually: Colin walks up to Nancy, a girl at the wedding, and insults the food at length only to find out that she was the caterer.
  • This same scene was an outtake from Four Weddings and a Funeral, this time with Charles trying to chat the girl up.
  • Animal House: One of the fraternity members starts making innuendos at a woman in the grocery store, who introduces herself as the dean's wife.
  • Wing Commander: Blair is sitting in the cockpit of a Rapier, when a woman suddenly standing next to the ship quizzes him on his dogfighting skills with a couple hypothetical scenarios. She is brutally honest in explaining why Blair's responses would only get him killed, leading to the following:
    Devereaux: What's wrong, Lieutenant? Did I bruise your ego?
    Blair: No, it's just that I'm not used to getting combat advice from a grease-monkey.
    Devereaux: [introducing herself] Commander Devereaux, Lieutenant. Your wing commander.
  • In Mrs. Doubtfire, Daniel complains at work about an extremely boring television program to who he assumes is another employee...
    Daniel: What kind of idiot kept this guy on the air for twenty-five years?
    Lundy: Me. [offering his hand] Jonathan Lundy.
    Daniel: Jonathan Lundy, General Manager, owner? [Lundy nods] I'm Daniel Hillard, former employee.
    Lundy: Maybe...
    • Luckily for Daniel, Lundy agrees that the show is awful and he's there to announce that he's taking it off the air.
  • A non-insulting variation occurred in the French movie Parlez-moi d'Amour: A man heading to a job interview for a rich businessman has coffee spilled on his shirt, and in desperation asks another man to trade shirts with him. The man accepts, but turns out to be his interviewer and future employer.
  • The War Of The Worlds (1953). A non-insulting version:
    Sylvia: Ever hear of Clayton Forrester? He's top man in astro and nuclear physics. He knows all about meteors.
    Man: You seem to know all about him.
    Sylvia: [snip] They had Forrester on the cover of Time. You have to rate to get that.
    Man: He isn't that good.
    Sylvia: You don't even know him!
    Man: I do know him, slightly.
    Sylvia: What's he like?
    Man: Well, he's like...[points to himself]
    Sylvia: You don't look like yourself in that get-up, but I'm happy to meet you.
  • A classic example is in They Died with Their Boots On on the life of General George Armstrong Custer. As our dashing hero (Errol Flynn) is on his way to meet his girlfriend's father for the first time, he gets into an altercation with an imperious old gentleman. Guess who the old guy turns out to be?
  • Another Errol Flynn example in The Adventures of Robin Hood. While escorting a cloaked abbot through Sherwood, Robin makes some passionate criticisms of King Richard's irresponsible Crusading and says that the suffering of the people is Richard's fault as much as anyone for leaving England in the hands of people like his brother. The audience already knows the abbot is Richard in disguise and he smiles as he listens to this. When he reveals himself, he admits that Robin was quite right.note 
  • In The Bad and the Beautiful, Fred Amiel is hired to pretend to be a mourner at the funeral of former Hollywood bigwig Hugo Shields. He spends the entire funeral doing his own MST commentary about what a bastard the man was, little realizing that the man he's making the asides to is actually the deceased's son, Jonathan Shields. (They still end up becoming friends, since Jonathan had no illusions about his father).
  • In The Godfather, after Michael Corleone becomes struck with his future first wife, Apollonia, he stops with his bodyguards in village's bar. His bodyguard Fabrizio starts a conversation with the bar's owner describing the girl Michael saw and asking for information about her; turns out that the owner was her father, who angrily cuts him off and storms out.
  • Water (1985). Granola Girl Pamela Weintraub bumps into Michael Caine in a floral shirt packing up the Governor's house and asks him for advice on how she should greet the big man. "You know how tight-ass the British can be." On realising that Caine is the Governor, she burbles her apologies, though the Governor isn't too bothered as he's rather taken by her.
    Pamela: Governor! (Gasp!) I thought you were the moving man!
    Governor: Baxter Thwaites. I am that tight-ass.
  • The Crazies (1973). Colonel Peckhem takes charge of the military unit trying to quarantine the town under Major Ryder. He establishes a secured radio link with higher authority, a government official who immediately starts talking about how the major is obviously panicking and exaggerating the danger. Said major promptly makes an obscene gesture at the radio.
  • In The Devil and Miss Jones, the owner of a department store goes undercover as an everyday employee to find who are the rebelling workers fighting for unionization. He befriends Mary and Elizabeth who he likes a lot, but it turns out they're part of the group who want to unionize, and Mary is dating their leader, Joe O'Brien. They give him a lot of info...
  • The Shoes Of The Fisherman: After newly elected Pope Kiril I sneaks out of the Vatican in a plain priest's cassock to explore Rome, he is asked by a doctor to go to a nearby pharmacy to obtain medication she needs for one of her patients. After Kiril obtains the medicine he leaves the pharmacy, and the pharmacist picks up a newspaper. Seeing a photograph of Kiril on the front page, he realizes just who the priest was that paid his store a visit.
  • Played with in The Way Ahead (1944). David Niven plays an officer charged with turning a resentful bunch of civilians into soldiers. They vent about him being a Drill Sergeant Nasty to the little old lady running the local cafe. Later, their officer walks in, and the old lady tells him how nice he is, "not like the officer in charge of this lot." Everyone falls into an embarrassed silence.
  • In the Korean film The President's Last Bang, Army Chief of Staff Jeong Seung-hwa can't get past the gates leading to to ROKA headquarters due to the MPs not recognizing him out of uniform. Which leads to this hilarious exchange.
    Seung-hwa: I'm the Army Chief-of-Staff. Open the gate!
    MP #1: What's going on?
    MP #2: He's says he's the Army Chief-of-Staff.
    MP #1: Tell him to leave!
    Seung-hwa: Get the officer on duty over here!
    MP #2: Shit... He wants the officer on duty.
    MP #1: Tell him to fuck off!
    MP #2: Hear that?
    Seung-hwa: I'm dead serious!
  • Ant-Man. One character dresses as a security guard during The Caper, only to be confronted by another security guard when he enters a secure area. So he claims that "the boss" sent him. Unfortunately, he's talking to the security chief who retorts, "I'm the boss!"

  • Stand-up comic Brett Butler tells a joke about a comedy routine she performed in England. According to the joke, after the performance Butler became embroiled in a (ahem) colorful argument with a boorishly critical woman; as onlookers dragged the comedienne away they told her "You cannot speak to the Queen that way!"
  • One man at an opera, to make conversation with the rich, important fellow next to him, said "Who is that ugly woman who just walked in?" The answer: "That's my wife." "Oh, no, not her; I mean that shocking monstrosity next to her." "That is my daughter."
  • There is a joke that both uses and subverts this, involving a man listening to his boss speak.
    Man: *turns to woman* This guy is a pompous fool.
    Woman: Do you know who I am?
    Man: No.
    Woman: I am that pompous fool's wife.
    Man: *in an imposing tone* Do you know who I am?!
    Woman: N-no...
    Man: That's a relief. *blends into crowd*
  • A joke about a man trying to make the situation less awkward while dancing with a beautiful woman at a party.
    Man: I really made a fool out of myself before.
    Woman: Is that so? How?
    Man: You see that man over there? The one with that disgusting wart on his nose? I commented on how the woman standing by the door was the fattest I'd ever seen. Turned out it was his wife!
    Woman: *coldly* Oh, really. What did dad say then?
  • One from the Cold War: A Russian man is staying at a hotel when his neighbors come in and start socializing loudly. He gets an idea, calls room service and asks them to bring tea to the neighbors' room, then goes to meet them. Four minutes later, he grabs the ashtray, puts it close to his mouth, and says "Comrade major, could we have some tea please?". The tea arrives and the neighbors are now completely silent, even after the man leaves and goes to sleep. In the morning, he wakes up and sees that his neighbors are gone, and asks about them at the reception. The receptionist says that they were taken away by the secret police in the night, and when the man asks why he wasn't taken, she tells him "That thing with the ashtray? Comrade major thought it was funny".

  • Fox Demon Cultivation Manual: Song Ci tells Rong Bai exactly what he thinks of the Demon King, calling him "cruel", "tyrannical" and "abominable". This comes back to bite him when he discovers Rong Bai is the Demon King.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga:
    • In The Vor Game, the protagonist is assigned to a legendarily awful military base, and blurts out "Just who is the incompetent that commands this place!" to someone he sees on a morning jog—who is of course the base commander.
    • A similar thing happens in Barrayar, in which a pair of young unfortunates cast all manner of aspersions on Count Aral Vorkosigan and his new wife... while seated directly behind the lady in question. She's amused until they start in on Aral's injured aide.
  • In the children's novel King Matt the First, the eponymous boy-king escapes the palace to join the army and witnesses older soldiers debating whether King Matt is a tyrant or not.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel The Flight of the Eisenstein, Imperial forces enter the Eisenstein and demand that they stand down and identify themselves. All his frustrations overflowing, Garro says it's his ship and they will stand down and identify themselves. Then he realizes they have a primarch in their number. Who obeys his demands and gently asks permission to come aboard because they might be of assistance.
  • Ciaphas Cain was once chatting up a Glamorous Wartime Singer named Amberley Vail at a planetary governor's reception, telling her how the Inquisition was already on the planet, most likely in the guise of a Rogue Trader who'd also been invited. She was trembling in fear and awe... or so he thought, since some time after he rescued the actual Inquisitor from a firefight. Inquisitor Amberley Vail, that is. Vail notes that the near-omnipresent rogue trader diguise, while convenient for shady business, is due more to a depressing lack of imagination among her colleagues. Cain wasn't completely wrong either; the Rogue Trader in question was working for her.
  • Joanne does this in The Walker Papers series to her new boss, Morrison, by insulting him all over the place when he mistakes her car for another model.
  • In one of the WW2 books by Sven Hassel, a group of aristocratic German officers find an unassuming civilian in their office and proceed to ridicule him, until they discover he is a notorious high-ranking Gestapo officer.
  • Discworld:
    • In Unseen Academicals, Glenda tells Countess Margalotta's librarian exactly what she thinks of the way the Countess treated Nutt. It's only after the woman's left that Glenda suddenly thinks "did she look like a librarian?"
    • In Mort the wizard Cutwell babbles nervously to his client about how his housekeeper says the new Queen is a real terror. Princess Kelli decides its probably kinder not to tell him who he's talking to until she has to.
    • In a middle-class variation, the lodgers at Mrs. Arcanum's place in The Truth voice all sorts of misguided assumptions about who's writing the Ankh-Morpork Times, never suspecting that they're sharing a meal with its founder. Subverted in that, while they're suitably startled to learn this at the end, they're more curious about the Times' stupid filler-stories than its genuine news.
    • In Feet of Clay Mr. Catterail, a previously mentioned Upper-Class Twit who writes angry letters to the Watch about how dwarves shouldn't be patrolling his street, complains about a golem that smashed a treadmill and wrote rebellious slogans on the wall. He has no idea that the watchman he's complaining to is actually Commander Vimes, so he tries saying he's "a friend of your commander." This does not go well at all.
    • In Moving Pictures, Ginger complains to Victor on their first meeting about the indignities of being a clicks star, including that her new co-star will be "some kid probably with bad breath and hay in his hair and a forehead you could lay a table on". When she adds that she's missing lunch for this, Victor replies "You could always eat it off my forehead."
  • In the World of Warcraft novel The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm, Thrall meets a female orc upon his arrival in Nagrand who insists on calling him "Go'el", rather than Thrall and mentions that Greatmother Geyah has a student named Aggra (whom Thrall initially assumes to be male) who will teach him more about being a shaman. Finallly, the encounter concludes with the following exchange:
    Thrall: I look forward to meeting this Aggra.
    Aggra: You already have.
  • Harry Dresden gets one of these with the Summer Queen of Fae. She explained that she engineered that as a test of character. She was actually distracting him from the fact that the Lily statue was right freaking in front of him.
  • In the Sword of Truth, Friedrich very briefly gets one of these looking for the Lord Rahl. Subverted because, due to the D'Haran bond with the Lord Rahl, he's already fairly sure who just saved his skinny old posterior from Heart Hounds.
    • Many of the people in Altur'Rang talk about the Lord Rahl as this mythical hero of the New World. So when he cleverly disguises himself as Richard Cypher instead of Richard Rahl, they have no idea that the Lord Rahl is their close personal friend and confidant, gathering them as his army in the fight for freedom. When they discover this trope, they apparently find the subject of who he really is supremely awkward.
    • Jennsen sees the Lord Rahl from afar and watches him detonate a company of Imperial Order troops. Without seeing the magic. She decides she doesn't want to mess with this stranger. She's sworn to kill him.
  • In the Death Note Prequel spin-off novel Another Note when L asks Naomi Misora if Ryuuzaki was cool:
    Naomi: No, absolutely not. He was creepy and pathetic, and so suspicious that if I weren't on leave, I'd move to arrest him the moment I laid eyes on him. If we divided everyone in the world into those that would be better off dead and those that wouldn't, there's no doubt in my mind that he'd be the former. Such a complete freak that it amazes me he hasn't killed himself.
  • The Polish book Osobliwe przypadki Cymeona Maksymalnego has the teenage protagonist meet a tall, lanky boy, who claims to be new to his school. The hero decides to scare this guy a bit and tells him the rumors he's heard about the terrifying new teacher who was assigned to their class this year. Guess who this newcomer actually turns out to be. He is a good-natured guy, though.
  • A variant in The Lord of the Rings where Gandalf discusses Bilbo's mithril vest, and how he never told Bilbo how extraordinarily valuable it was, in front of Frodo, who is now wearing said vest.
  • In the short story The Cambist and Lord Iron, Olaf would likely have expressed his argument that the days in the life of his King, Walther IV, were worth less than the days of a prisoner in the King's jail less bluntly had he recognized that the eldest of the three judges he was addressing this argument to was that selfsame king.
  • In Firestar, a public school has just been turned over to a private company, Mentor Academies, due to poor performance. At the first meeting after the takeover, a number of teachers start complaining about the changes with a young woman they assume is a new teacher. A couple of weeks later, they discover that the "new teacher" was actually Mariesa van Huyten, the CEO of Mentor's parent company.
  • In The Anubis Gates, Doyle/Ashbless tells buddy Jacky about the young woman he'll be marrying the next month, Elizabeth Tichy. There are a few things Doyle doesn't know about Jacky, such as that "he" is Elizabeth Tichy, disguised as a young man to hunt down Dog-Face Joe and avenge her fiance's death, so he's more than a bit shocked at Jacky's furious response. They manage to make it up and have a happy marriage thereafter.
  • In Ranger's Apprentice, an obnoxious baron argues with Alyss about his duties to Baron Arald, ignoring the forester named Arratay. Then he makes the mistake of telling her to Stay in the Kitchen and insulting Lady Pauline. Cue Oh, Crap! moment and getting tossed into the moat by the "forester."
  • In Imperial Radch Ancillary Mercy, Station Administrator Celar has a conversation with main character Breq about folk songs and culture when Celar mentions that she knows one of The Radch's warships, the Justice of Toren, had an AI that was very fond of collecting songs from the worlds it visited and expresses great regret that the warship was lost in an accident because she'd really have met it. Unknown to her, Breq is Justice of Toren, or what's left of it.
  • In Mansfield Park, the young people tour the Rushworth's personal chapel. Mary Crawford starts joking that it's convenient to have a home chapel so that gentlefolk still hungover can go hear sermons about morality, getting into some risque territory and then flippantly speculating on the stuffy and hypocritical sorts who become clergymen (proving that The Vicar trope is Older Than Steam). Edmund tries to oppose her raillery without success until his sister, out of earshot, makes an innocent joke about how he could perform a marriage if he hadn't had to put off taking orders. Mary is horrified—but it's telling that she only says how she wouldn't have made such remarks if she'd known, rather than give an apology.
  • In The King's Avatar, Huang Shaotian goes incognito by using another game character. Several of his own fans call him out for being a "Huang Shaotian ripoff" once Huang Shaotian starts using his Motor Mouth. Huang Shaotian was not pleased.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Rise of Phoenixes:
    • Zhi Wei asks Ning Yi if he knows the Prince of Chu well. Ning Yi is the Prince of Chu.
      Ning Yi: There is no one else in the world who knows him better than I do.
    • Ming Ying disowns Zhi Wei while Zhi Wei is in front of her, disguised as a man to stop Ming Ying recognising her.
  • The King's Woman: Gongsun Li complains about the trouble Qin is causing... in front of Ying Zheng, the king of Qin.
  • In Still Standing, Bill and his co-workers are goofing off at work when a college-age fellow calls them out on it. Not realizing that this kid is their new manager, they blow him off and continue goofing.
  • In an episode of Selfie, Eliza mentions a co-worker, Joan, might not like her because of what happened with the gizpacho. Henry asks what happened with the gizpacho, and she mentions how she came early to work, fresh from Soul Cycle, very hungry. She started wolfing down gizpacho (labeled Joan) when a woman walks in. Eliza looks at her and says, "Don't tell Joan." The woman replies "I am Joan."
  • One episode of Nurses (1991) revolved around a rich woman who checks herself into the local hospital and demands the royal treatment, running the nursing staff ragged. The head nurse eventually gets fed up and tells the woman off; it is later revealed that the woman is the hospital's new Administrator.
  • In The 10th Kingdom, when Virginia has to defend Wolf at his trial and decides to make a desperate claim that the man at the festival wearing the wolf mask the night before is the real killer, the Judge tells her that role always goes to "an unimpeachable member of our society." Not seeing the warning signs, Virginia really warms up to her accusation, calling the mask-wearer all sorts of nasty names—only to be told by the Judge that he was the one wearing the mask.
  • From the Lost episode "The Other Woman":
    Juliet: Harper hates me... I get the feeling that she is a mean and spiteful person.
    Goodwin: She's my wife.
  • In the Fawlty Towers episode 'Waldorf Salad' Basil refers to an antagonistic man who has just walked in as 'rubbish' to a woman he has just met. She then introduces him as her husband.
  • The episode 'Fools for Love' of House had House insulting a clinic patient. It backfires later when he discovers Tritter is a cop.
  • The pilot episode of The West Wing has a subplot where Sam discovers that a woman that he met at a bar the night before (and subsequently slept with) is actually a prostitute. Later in the episode, Sam is forced to give a tour of the White House to the Chief of Staff's daughter's first-grade class. After giving ludicrously bad information to the class, the teacher pulls him out into the hall and berates him. The following exchange occurs:
    Sam: Ms. O'Brian, I understand your feelings, but please believe me when I tell you that I am a nice guy having a bad day. I just found out the Times is publishing a poll that says that a considerable portion of Americans feel that the White House has lost energy and focus. A perception that is not likely to be altered by the video footage of the President riding his bicycle into a tree. As we speak, the Coast Guard are fishing Cubans out of the Atlantic Ocean, while the governor of Florida wants to blockade the port of Miami. A good friend of mine is about to get fired for going on television and making sense. And it turns out that I accidentally slept with a prostitute last night. Now, would you please in the name of compassion tell me which one of those kids is my boss's daughter?
    Mallory: That would be me.
    Sam: You.
    Mallory: Yes.
    Sam: Leo's daughter's first-grade class.
    Mallory: Yes.
    Sam: Well, this is bad on so many levels.
  • In the NCIS episode "Headcase", Gibbs doesn't want a deceased Captain's wife to know that the remains she was given by the funeral home may not, in fact, be her husband's, so he spins a story about how he's being persecuted by the vindictive new female director. When the widow stops by the offices to check on things, guess who she runs into.
    Widow: The new director has it in for him.
    Jenny (a.k.a. the new director): He told you that?
    Widow: Well, I've seen it before. When Parker was XO for one of the first female ship captains, the woman was a nightmare trying to prove herself.
    (Gibbs enters the room)
    Jenny: Special Agent Gibbs, I didn't know the new director was punishing you. She always seemed very fair to me.
    Widow: Well you're a woman. She doesn't have anything to prove to you.
    [After the three of them talk, and Jenny overrides Gibbs]
    Widow: She isn't the new...
    Gibbs: Uh huh.
  • Drop the Dead Donkey. Pointy-Haired Boss Gus Hedges starts ragging off at a woman in the lift with him who's apparently forgotten her ID card. It turns out she's an inspector from the government.
  • In a Saturday Night Live sketch, Sarah Palin was scheduled to be a guest star along with lookalike Tina Fey. Gov. Palin was talking to the Producer when Alec Baldwin came in. He thought that Palin was Tina and started complaining to the producer about how that Tina would get hurt with Sarah Palin. After a few minutes of saying all the bad stuff about Gov. Palin, the Producer finally pointed out that they are talking in front of Sarah Palin and not Tina. Baldwin promptly started kissing up to Gov. Palin.
  • Invoked in Undercover Boss. Corporate executives go off and work on the front lines in disguise, the working theory being that workers will be more honest concerning (what they believe to be) problems with the job and/or company with a new employee than they would be with the boss.
  • In the first episode of the fourth season of Hell's Kitchen, Gordon Ramsay spied on the contestants on the bus to the restaurant disguised as a contestant. The others talked about how they are going to impress Gordon and he will love them. They were shocked when Gordon revealed himself at the restaurant.
  • Played for laughs in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Prodigy".
    Colonel O'Neill: General, I'd like to talk to you about this mission upon which we are about to embark. Seems a bit... ridiculous doesn't it?
    General Hammond: Have you met General Ryan?
    General Ryan: Hello, Colonel.
    Colonel O'Neill: THE General Ryan? Chief of Staff?
    General Ryan: That's right.
    Colonel O'Neill: And... what brings you to our little secret base, sir?
    General Hammond: That would be the "ridiculous mission" you just mentioned.
  • Happens in the episode of The Muppet Show featuring Rudolf Nureyev. Sam the Eagle, pleased to have a "high culture" show for once, has the theater all decorated and everyone dressed to the nines to impress the guest star. In walks a young man in trendy casual clothes, who Sam immediately and unceremoniously shoos out of the theater before he can spoil the ambiance:
    Sam: Who do these hooligans think they are?
    Kermit: Um...well, that one thought he was Rudolf Nureyev...
    Sam: ...What?
    Kermit: In-in fact, that was Rudolf Nureyev.
  • In the 2001 Australian miniseries Day of the Roses an official from the Justice Department asks for the Coroner's office. Two men burdened with boxes of files say they're heading that way themselves, then ask for his help carrying the boxes. The official replies, "Get stuffed" and walks off, only to discover that one of them was the coroner he'd come to see.
  • In an early episode of Charmed, Prue is in the elevator on her way up to a job interview, and talking to her sister on her cell phone. Prue is clearly trying to use a little reverse psychology to psych her self up for the interview, talking about how she doesn't really need or want this job and it doesn't matter how the interview goes. She then gets to her interview and finds that the owner of the company she's interviewing with was the man standing next to her in the elevator.
  • In an episode of Drake & Josh, the boys are on The Dr. Phyllis Show to talk about their past exploits. Near the end, Drake recalls when he dated Liza Tuffer, saying that she's dumb and "a bad kisser"; Dr. Phyllis then tells him that she is her daughter, and she promptly attacks him.
  • Early in the Full House episode "Making Out Is Hard To Do", when Barry Williams is trying to promote a new single by The Rippers, he makes a joke about the previous leader while sitting next to Jesse. Luckily for Barry, Jesse isn't too offended to let Barry promote the new song.
    Joey: Isn't that a winky-dink of a coincidence? Jesse's old band was the Rippers.
    Barry: It couldn't be. I heard that they got rid of the old leader because he spent more time moussing his hair than playing his guitar.
    [Joey and Barry start laughing, & then Joey stops once he sees Jesse standing up and casting him a Death Glare]
    Jesse: You try keeping the hair this way with just gel. It doesn't work, man!
    Barry: *realizing what he'd done* I'm sorry. I didn't realize that it was you.
  • In the live-action drama of The King's Avatar, newcomer Qiu Fei meets who he believes to be a waiter at Excellent Era. He proceeds to brag and boost about his skills and knowledge of Glory and tells his new friend that he will soon be the new captain of Excellent Era and his friend could be his apprentice. He realizes later on that his new friend is actually Ye Xiu, captain of Excellent Era and also known as the Battle God of Glory and the Glory Textbook.
  • Reba: Late in the episode of "The Blond Leading the Blind", Barbra Jean reads to Reba while Reba is still recovering from her eye surgery. Reba doesn't enjoy it much, especially when Barbra Jean tries to imitate speaking in British accent while reading a Charles Dickens novel ("Were you still reading or did you just pass gas?", asks Reba). When Cheyenne arrives to take over care for Reba, Reba, thinking she's talking to Cheyenne (when, in truth, Cheyenne is going back to her car to retrieve things and Barbra Jean pretends to be Cheyenne), promptly badmouths Barbra Jean — especially on her attempt at accent — without realizing whom she's talking to (due to her eyes being covered while still in recovery) until Barbra runs off crying just as Cheyenne walks in.
    Cheyenne: Mom, what did you say to make Barbra Jean cry?
    Reba: Barbra Jean?! Oh, crap!
  • SAS: Rogue Heroes. David Stirling tries to Bavarian Fire Drill his way into GHQ by carrying a crate of champagne in the guise of a gift from General Richie to General Auchinleck...until he tries this line on the real General Richie. The general proceeds to call the guardhouse to have him detained, but fortunately some quick talking and Stirling's family connections convince him otherwise.
  • Westworld: Sizemore is Drowning My Sorrows and pours out his troubles to a pretty girl, mentioning the recent host malfunctions. The girl turns out to be the executive director of the board, and they're formally introduced right after a drunken Sizemore decides to publically urinate all over The Big Board.

  • In one video exercise for teaching French, two boys are talking with each other about a girl, whereupon one asks if she has a boyfriend, and the other gives a very flattering description the boyfriend, leading to this exchange.
    Boy 1: Too bad... who is it?
    Boy 2: It's me.
    Boy 1: Oh, excuse me and congratulations.
  • Some job interviewing techniques can backfire badly because of this trope, as one job-seeker found out the hard way.

    Religion and Mythology 
  • One Haddith tells of a woman who says to the kindly man who's helping her with her groceries that he should not talk about Muhammed, so as to not start a heated argument as she doesn't like the guy and his followers. After she gets home, she asks the Stranger his name. After he tells her that HE is Mohammed, she converts to "believe the nice polite man who helped with my stuff is a prophet of God"ism, and by extension Islam.
  • There is a joke that mocks the materialism and status seeking of modern churches, that basically states that if Jesus Christ were to walk into a church dressed as he was in biblical times, he would be immediately shooed out for looking unkempt and wearing rags in "The House of the Lord".

  • In the musical Annie Get Your Gun, Annie refers to Frank Butler as a "big swollen-headed stiff", not knowing that the man she has just met is Frank Butler.
  • In Measure for Measure, Duke Vincentio of Vienna appoints his deputy Angelo as Replacement Dog Kicker and disguises himself as a friar. The "fantastic," Lucio, proceeds to slander the hell out of the Duke in front of the friar. Later, when the Duke returns, he slanders the friar in front of the Duke. This does not end well for Lucio, whom the Duke sentences to a Humiliation Conga.
    Duke: Vpon mine honor thou ſhalt marrie her.
    Thy ſlanders I forgiue, and therewithal
    Remit thy other forfeits...
  • Lady Be Good by the Gershwin Brothers features a slight tweak of this and Actually, I Am Him, in which Suzie Trevor pretends to be the widow of Jack Robinson, and extols the virtues of her deceased husband to a recently-met gentleman who just so happens to be Jack Robinson incognito. Hilarity ensues, as he starts to play along.
    Jack: Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jack Robinson.
    Sue: Oooh...
    Jack: Juanita, my darling, at last I've found you!

    Video Games 
  • In Catherine, from Nights Four to Seven, Vincent can speak to a certain sheep who will ramble on about his girlfriend being stolen by "some young bastard"... and because they look like sheep to each other, Steve Delhomme is completely unaware that said "young bastard" is actually standing right in front of him. They don't recognize each other in the Nightmares until after the Seventh Night's boss.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, when you first meet the Yes Man, he can describe with great pride how he calculated the identity of the courier who was carrying the platinum chip in order for Benny to arrange an ambush for him/her. That courier happens to be you, the player character who is shot in the head at the beginning of the game. You then have the option of saying this:
    Courier: I'm the courier Benny shot.
    Yes Man: Hahaha! I know that's not true, because you still have a head!
    Courier: I'm serious.
    Yes Man: Hahaha! That's...not getting shot in the head. I really shouldn't have taken so much pride in how I set that up, huh? ...I feel really bad right now.
  • In Halo 4, this comes up in Spartan Ops. DeMarco starts flirting with a female Spartan he just met. Then he learns she's his boss.
    DeMarco: Paul DeMarco. I lead Fireteam Majestic.
    Palmer: (with fake awe) Wow. A whole fireteam, huh?
    DeMarco: I didn't... catch your name?
    Palmer: Sarah Palmer. Commander Sarah Palmer. I lead all fireteams onboard Infinity.
    DeMarco (quickly stepping back in line, embarrassed): Fireteam Majestic, commander on deck!
  • In the climax of Higurashi: When They Cry, a corrupt policeman by the name of Ootaka tries to bully his way past Ooishi in an attempt to shut down the heroes' plan. When Ooishi (who was expecting this) doesn't let him pass, he starts trying to throw around the name of Councilman Sonozaki, with whom he is on very good terms, and who will not be pleased at this interference, blah blah blah. At which point a well-dressed man comes up and demands to know who the hell Ootaka is, who thinks he's on such good terms with him. Ootaka doesn't recognize him, and Ooishi triumphantly introduces Councilman Sonozaki to Ootaka, at which point all the color drains from the guy's face.
  • In the game Primal, the main characters, Jen and Scree, are met by a character who proposes rebellion against the king of the realm they're in. Needless to say, his identity is revealed later. The two, however, feign loyalty to the villain, because Volca is a notoriously hostile realm, especially to outsiders. The king, however, is not amused.
  • Tales Series:
    • In Tales of Graces, Asbel breaks into Richard's room before he learns Richard is a prince.
    • In Tales of Hearts, Shing tells what appears to be a one-off NPC that she's the "most beautiful woman I've ever met" in the course of cheering her up. As soon as you leave town, she is revealed to be the Empress of basically the entire world. This actually works out to the party's advantage, as Marin warms up to Shing, so while this pisses off The Ace Chalcedny, who is in love with her, in the short term, she's instrumental to his Heel–Face Turn later on.

    Web Comics 
  • In Girl Genius, Zola delineates her plan to Gil(gamesh Wulfenbach), thinking he's just a pirate trying to loot the Castle.
    Zola: And no-one has to die.
    wordless panel: Gil thinks
    Gil: Except, of course, young Wulfenbach.
    Zola: Well, duh. We're not stupid.
  • In Kevin & Kell, Martha, after breaking up with Ralph over him having a teenage daughter, mentions this to the said teenage daughter at an online costume party (albeit one in which part of the point was to guess the person's identity). Corrie is apparently relatively understanding, and makes a good enough impression on her future stepmother that Martha and Ralph get back together.
  • PHD: Tajel hits on someone she assumes is a student, and then is told he's her new professor.
  • In Bob and George Roll makes it because she doesn't remember that on strip is in front of the Author.
  • In Darths & Droids, an Imperial officer decides to insult Luke's parentage ... to Vader. Specifically, his mother, since in the comic Vader is Padmé, not Anakin.
  • In Rhapsodies, Nancy gets asked by a new coworker for advice on how to avoid getting on the bad side of the firm's notorious business manager... (first, find out what she looks like before asking this question.)

    Web Original 
  • A couple from Noob:
    • Averted, in a scene that has the series Straw Misogynist finds out that his guildmaster used to be in his dream guild right before running into one of said guildmaster's female ex-guildmates. He gets told the woman is one of her guild's founders and can only wrap his mind around it by telling himself she must be the Dungeonmaster's Girlfriend (but keeps his tought to himself). Then it turns out that the woman is the one taking care of admissions. (He does end up making sexist comments about her out loud in her presence, but that involved Right Behind Me.)
    • Played with during Sparadrap's first in-game confrontation with his brother, during which he says something along the lines of "You can't be my younger brother, he doesn't know how to play". Sparadrap is in one of the worst guilds of the game while his brother is in the best one.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Batgirl Returns", Catwoman tries to convince Batgirl note  to join forces with her:
    Catwoman: Even Batman wouldn't be a match for us, and the cops are a joke — especially that senile fool Gordon.
  • Bojack Horseman: In Season 4, Beatrice's dementia causes her to do things like speak negatively about BoJack while being completely unaware that said son is literally sitting right next to her. She finally manages to recognize him at the end of the tenth episode.
  • The Cleveland Show: In "A Cleveland Brown Christmas", Cleveland is playing Santa Claus at Mr. Waterman's Christmas party when his stepson Rallo hops onto his lap and proceeds to badmouth Cleveland while praising his father Robert (whom he believes is an FBI agent), causing him to down loads of eggnog until he is drunk and angry enough that he blabs the truth about Robert.
    Rallo: Aw, and this fool is like "Gee, Donna, do you think this tinsel is a fire hazard?"
    "Santa": (drunk) I'm sure that sounds nothing like him.
    Rallo: Meanwhile, my real dad is out there putting his life on the line for justice. And you should see what my bozo stepdad calls a mustache.
    "Santa": Aw, hell no! His mustache is cool! And your dad is not an undercover agent! Your dad is nothin' but a no-good, deadbeat loser who freelances at a car wash!
    Rallo: What?
    "Santa": YOUR DAD'S A BUM!
  • In Drawn Together, Xandir, at a party full of gay people, meets Pac-Man, tells him that he knows that Pac-Man's ex-girlfriend and his girlfriend are good friends, and asks him not to tell Ms. Pac-Man about his orientation. Pac-Man then puts on a bow and tells him that "she already knows". Upon realizing that Pac-Man is also Ms. Pac-Man, Xandir decides to tell his girlfriend the truth.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Tales of a Third Grade Nothing", Peter, who was sent back to school to finish the third grade, tells his class about his childhood teacher Mrs. Wilson, whom he used to call "Mrs. Kill-son" because she had an abortion.
    Peter: I'm sorry. Go ahead, Mrs, uh...
    Teacher: Wilson.
  • The Flintstones: In "The Masquerade Ball", Fred attends a costume ball and schemes to butter up his boss, who he hears is wearing a turtle costume, in hopes of getting a raise. The problem is that the boss and the costumer have agreed to switch masks with each other, resulting in Fred talking sweet to the costumer while badmouthing his boss right in front of him.
    Wilma: Fred, something tells me you've said enough.
  • In Galaxy High, Booey spends an episode trying to meet Mick Maggers. While on his ship, she meets a guy named James and talks about how awesome Mick is. Later, James reveals that he's Mick in disguise.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Heloise will show Jimmy and Beezy some cruel, evil thing in Miseryville, and they'll wonder aloud who could be evil and twisted enough to think it up. Naturally, it's Heloise. Equally naturally, she's more flattered than insulted.
  • Looney Tunes: Bugs Bunny's initial race against Cecil Turtle starts dubiously as Cecil plants his lookalike brothers along the race course. Bugs naturally doesn't know that as he passes one:
    Bugs: (to us) I can't figure it out back there. I'm going along at a good clip. Didn't see him pass me...then bingo. There he was in front of me. (a Cecil brother appears)
    Cecil brother: Hello.
    Bugs: I tell ya, it just don't make sense...I...(does take) huh??!
  • In an episode of Robotboy, Tommy and Gus are bad-mouthing Protoboy, Robotboy's psycho brother in front of Robotboy. What they don't know is that Protoboy has switched bodies with Robotboy and can hear everything they say about him. He tries to restrain himself, but it gets violent anyway.
  • Robot Chicken did a The Smurfs (1981)/Undercover Boss sketch where Papa Smurf goes undercover. When he tries to get some honest feedback from Grouchy Smurf, all he gets is "I hate X! I hate Y!" When Papa asks if there's anything, hypothetically, Papa Smurf could do to improve things, he of course answers with "I hate Papa Smurf!" Papa reveals himself, demands to know what Grouchy actually does to have so much vitriol, and when he can't provide a satisfactory answer, assigns him the job of shoveling dung.
  • In an episode of The Secret Show, Victor babies and insults a child he has been assigned to defend, only to find out later that the kid is the leader of the organization he works for.
  • Steven Universe: In "It Could've Been Great", while going up the stairs in the Diamond base on the Moon, Peridot says "We are literally walking in the footsteps of the Diamonds!" as she and the Crystal Gems follow behind Steven... as she, the other Gems but Pearl, and the boy himself are completely unaware that Steven is actually half-Diamond himself.

    Real Life 
  • People with bad eyesight or people who cannot recognize faces for whatever reason often suffer from this, and can become more shy and friendly than they otherwise would around others.
  • John Krasinski, of The Office (US), stated in one of the show's DVD commentaries that when he first auditioned for the role of Jim Halpert, he struck up a conversation with another man at the audition and stated in passing, "I hope they (the show's producers) don't screw this up." The other man then introduced himself as executive producer Greg Daniels.
  • In his autobiography About Face, David Hackworth tells how he was talking on the phone to what he assumed was an officious and annoying clerk at the Pentagon. After calling him a "little prick" Hackworth discovered the man was Attorney-General Robert Kennedy, brother of President John F. Kennedy. Fortunately his (Irish American) commanding officer was able to smooth things over, but as he put it: "Of all the people!"
  • Supposedly, Mark Twain once said "Keep your words short and sweet, for you may be forced to eat them."
  • In the 1970's a group of Australian feminist activists set up the Elsie Refuge for domestic violence victims in Sydney, but were unable to get any government funding. Eventually the Minister of Social Welfare Bill Hayden turned up unannounced at the shelter, only to be curtly refused entry as no men were allowed on the premises, until the activists realised who he was and rushed out to bring him back (after Hayden talked to the women who'd taken shelter there, they did get their funding).
  • See the Jesus example above. told of a new pastor who did this and got the expected response. The congregation was ashamed. Furthermore, he actually had been living with the poor so as to empathize with their situation.
  • In Robert Morley's Second Book of Bricks (a charity book in which famous people recount their most embarrassing foot-in-mouth moments), Michael Bentine describes being at an audition, and commenting to the man beside him how dreadful the singer on stage was, only to be told "That's my wife." Bentine attempted a Verbal Backspace by saying he didn't mean the singing was bad, just that it was an awful song. This got the reply "I wrote it."
  • Hans Christian Andersen was a lousy socialite, and this story invoked the trope splendidly, as he managed to say all the wrong things to the lady he was talking to. The lady in question was Camilla Collett, Norwegian author. The conversation went somewhat like this:
    Andersen: I have some bad experiences with Norwegians, I have to tell you that. I met one Norwegian poet in Copenhagen, and he was rude to me...
    Collett: So? Did you get his name?
    Andersen: I think he called himself Welhaven.
    Collett: Oh, but that is my former boyfriend!
    Andersen (already trying to talk his way out of it): And then I came upon another Norwegian poet, and he was so intense he scared the daylights out of me...
    Collett: So? And did you get his name?
    Andersen: His name was Henrik Wergeland.
    Collett (seemingly having the time of her life): But that was my brother!
    Andersen (flabbergasted, lost for words, leaves in a hurry).
  • SOE agent Elaine Madden, of Australian-Belgian ancestry, was assigned to escort a 'Monsieur Bernard' during World War 2. She made some bitter comments about the Belgian royal family unwillingness to become involved in resisting the Germans, unaware that she was speaking to Prince Charles of Belgium (who fortunately found it Actually Pretty Funny when Elaine said the Prince was probably drunk in a brothel somewhere).
  • According to a member of the Australian rock band Rudely Interrupted, the band's blind drummer told Tom Cruise that his Tom Cruise impression was terrible, but the penny never dropped because nobody could convince him he wasn't being pranked.


Video Example(s):



The girls talk about about Yammy's "disappearance" right in front of her.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / RightInFrontOfMe

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