Riker: A surprise party? Mister Worf, I hate surprise parties. I would never do that to you. ....
Riker: I love surprise parties.
Ah, your basic Surprise Party. Some characters throw a surprise party for another character. If it's pulled off correctly, then both A.) the character is taken completely by surprise and B.) the other characters have done a good enough job of keeping them distracted and entertained that there is no chance for a forgotten birthday situation. Alternatively, the party happens in a situation where they totally wouldn't expect it, so again, no chance.
A number of associated subplots may arise from this. One tactic is trying to keep the subject out of the house so their friends can sneak in and prepare the party; this usually has the person desperately wanting to go home, and the ruse using every trick they can think of to keep the person from going home.
The other case that frequently happens is the person is having a miserable day, and announces it so that all the party guests can hear it. Hopefully, the surprise party will help to fix their rotten day, though it isn't guaranteed. It's also possible that the friends may be inspired to throw the surprise party because they heard about the character's rotten day. Or maybe worse, the character might be a Birthday Hater or otherwise not a fan of celebrating; perhaps their friends' kindness will give them a change of heart, or perhaps not.
Admittedly, there are cases where it's just a regular surprise party, without any of the above, and these are more common than one might think. If it's not a straight example, though, then it might be any of the tropes that the Surprise Party is a supertrope of, which include the Not-So-Forgotten Birthday, Birthday Suit Surprise Party, Scary Surprise Party and its darker variant, the Shock Party, so please make sure that it's not one of these before adding it here.
Need not be a birthday party, though it often is, and if so, may be part of a Birthday Episode. Subtrope to Friendly Scheming. Also likely to happen to a character who has Never Had a Birthday Party.
Note that due to the surprise party's nature as an ending trope in many cases, you will find plenty of unmarked spoilers here.
Here is a compilation with a lot of examples of funny/failed "SURPRISES!"
- In GTO: The Early Years, Ryuji's friends throw him a surprise early 16th birthday party to cheer him up.
- In the second half of episode 7 of Kotoura-san, Manabe doesn't hang out with Haruka at all, nor does he talk to her very much. She and Yuriko go around town looking for him, and they suspect he's cheating on her, or at least up to no good. Then it turns out he was working because he wanted to get money to give a birthday party to Haruka, since her birthday is September 1st.
- In a Light Novel side story for My Hero Academia, Class 1-A throws a surprise party for their class president, Iida. He's so dutiful and uptight that he completely forgets that it is his birthday and fails to see through his classmates' obvious attempts at hiding the party from him, believing that he instead must have done something wrong to get them all to avoid him all day.
- In Ojamajo Doremi Motto episode 25, everyone suddenly starts ditching Doremi (except Tetsuya), making her think it's because of her clumsiness. Turns out they were making her 11th birthday party.
- On Suzy's Zoo: Daisuki! Witzy, Patches, Lulla, Boof and Ellie Funt all throw Witzy one, popping out of boxes and releasing balloons and ribbons in "Surprise, Witzy!"
- In episode 6a of Tamagotchi, the gang wants to throw a surprise birthday party for Mametchi and try to keep the surprise a secret from him. Unfortunately for them, Mametchi sees them acting weird and thinks they've stopped caring about him.
- Tsukipro The Animation — It's close to Eichi's birthday. Eichi is in an idol unit with Shuu, who used to be in a different unit with Shiki. Eichi hears a rumor that Shuu and Shiki have unsettled animosity from their old unit's breakup, and decides to plan a party to get them to be friends again. On the day of the party, he is given the task of taking Shuu for a walk to distract him while the others prepare. When they return — surprise! The rumor was fake, and the party is actually for Eichi's birthday.
- Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: In Flying Island: The Sky Adventure episode 8, it's Hope's birthday but the factory crew are paying no attention to her and the goats' offers to help them. It later turns out to be because they wanted to keep Hope's party a surprise.
- ViR: The Robot Boy: In "Vir Ka Birthday", Vir gives a party to Imil, Chulbul, and Gintu for his birthday. Imil and Chulbul, meanwhile, try to make their own surprise party for Vir.
- The Spider-Man arc "Revenge of the Sinister Six", Erik Larsen's last Spider-Man story before moving on to The Savage Dragon, ends with MJ and Aunt May preparing a surprise birthday party for Peter Parker.
- Jonathan Hickman's run on Fantastic Four featured a surprise birthday party for Franklin Richards. It's easy to pull off a surprise party when the guest of honor's mother can turn all the party trappings and guests invisible.
- In Robin Tim's step-mother is able to arrange a last minute surprise party for him when she and his girlfriend Stephanie realize he's forgotten it's his own sixteenth birthday.
- In A Growing Affection, Naruto gets two for his 16th birthday, one played with and the other played straight. Though he knows Hinata intends to celebrate with him, he doesn't know what she has in mind, so the events of the day are a surprise. Meanwhile Tsunade throws a normal (if huge) surprise party for him, which almost gets ruined because she left Hinata out of the loop.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic "The Birds and the Bees," the ponies throw a surprise party for Rainbow Dash because they thought she was going to have a foal. This was because she had said as much to the Cutie Mark Crusaders in an attempt to obfuscate the fact that nobody had ever given her The Talk.
- In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "The Exile From Psychelia", the Smurfs hold a surprise party for Empath's 151st birthday by having Empath be sent away to Homnibus the wizard to spend time running errands for him. They try this again in "Smurfed Behind: The Departure", except that an unfrozen baby dinosaur and a magical time key that unlocks a vortex that sucks all the Smurfs in ruins the surprise, leaving Empath with only his friend Polaris Psyche upon his return to the Smurf Village.
- Beetlejuice and his neighbors throw one for Lydia in The Bug Princess, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the day he and she met. The party itself is played perfectly straight, although it then leads into a somewhat dubious flashback of exactly how they did meet.
- Elite Four Lorelei gets one in her birthday sidestory of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines from her boyfriend and her co-workers.
- In Andhadhun, Mr. Sinha's plan to surprise his wife Simi for their anniversary by saying that he's going to Bengaluru but instead coming home with flowers and wine and having Akash show up to play the piano for them kicks off the plot.
- The first Police Academy opens with one for security guard Tackleberry before he goes off to the titular academy. When he sees the suspicious activity, he raids the party.
- Early in Star Trek Beyond, Kirk and McCoy celebrate Kirk's birthday in a low-key manner a few days early because he doesn't really like to celebrate on his birthday, what with it being the day his father died also. At the end of the film, however, McCoy ends up hosting a large surprise party on Yorktown with most of the major Enterprise crew.
- ...And Your Name Is Jonah: When the Corellis arrive home from the institution, bringing Jonah with them for the first time in three years, they find that the extended family has thrown a party to welcome Jonah.
- In Brisingr of Inheritance Cycle, after Eragon returns to the Varden's camp and gets settled in, he heads off with Nasuada to what he thinks is going to be a boring dinner of political conversation with nobles who want to fawn over him and his dragon Saphira. But when Nasuada opens the flap to the tent, it turns out to be a surprise party arranged by her and Eragon's adoptive brother Roran featuring most of the villagers of his hometown of Carvahall and many other people he knows and likes.
- In Royal Princess Academy: Dragon Dreams, the young heroine, Princess Emma, is given a surprise party for her birthday and her parents give her the pet dragon that she's always wanted.
- In Jackal Wants Everything from the Sweet Pickles series, Jackal is upset that he never seems to get anything that he wants and spoils a party because of it. So all of the kids in the series decide to throw him a surprise party the next day; but instead of being thankful for it, he instead proves himself to be a true Jerkass, upset that they spent all that time (the time while they were planning the party) doing fun stuff without him.
- In Harry Potter's time at Hogwarts, surprise parties become so common for things such as Quidditch victories or victories in the Triwizard Tournament (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) that they might as well just be labeled "surprise" parties.
Ron: Well, we'd better get downstairs for your surprise party, Harry — Fred and George should have nicked enough food from the kitchens by now.
- The picture book What's the Time, Mr. Wolf? by Debi Gliori features the titular wolf being asked that question over and over, on the hour, on his birthday, by various fairy tale characters like Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs, until finally he gets home and finds that they're all there and have set up a surprise party for him.
- At the end of Bad Magic, a followup to the Secret Series, Clay, the protagonist, is given one to signify his having discovered real magic.
- Flesh and Blood starts off with one for protagonist Min Lee, with her friend Sarah throwing her one to celebrate her 26th birthday and leaving a very toxic working environment.
- One of these is seen at the end of the first Clémentine book. Clementine feared that it was a going-away party for her because she thought her parents were getting rid of her. In fact, the party is actually a celebration arranged by her parents for her having helped her father to win "the great pigeon war." It's also a welcome party for the new kitten her parents have bought her and are surprising her with following the passing of her previous cat, Polka Dottie.
- In Llama Llama and Friends, the first book release based on the animated Llama Llama television series, Mama Llama sends Llama out on a morning of errands which includes gathering stuff like streamers, flowers and cupcakes. When he gets home, it turns out that all of it is for a surprise party that Mama Llama is holding for him because he's always such a good helper.
- Surprise!, a picture book by Mike Henson, has a different take on this. The fact that there is a party is just the first part. Every time the lights go out and come back on, there's a new surprise, including funny costumes, a disco ball for dancing, a circus show, and finally the biggest surprise of all... a giant cake.
- At the end of Teddy And Co, one is thrown for Teddy.
- In one installment of The Babysitters Club, Stacey throws a party for her classmates which is secretly one of these for Mary Anne. Unfortunately, Mary Anne - being a Shrinking Violet who hates to be in the spotlight - has fight-or-flight kick in and she runs out of the house.
- In Troubled Blood of the Cormoran Strike Novels, on Strike's birthday, Robin and Strike stop at a pub. Strike goes in but Robin doesn't and when he enters, the first thing he hears is a sudden chorus of "Happy Birthday to You!" He is immediately horrified until his senses catch up with him and he looks around realizes he recognizes none of the guests and the balloons make a figure 80. The party is for an old woman. After realizing this, he muses that even his ex-fiancee, Charlotte Campbell, had never tried that with him.
- In the Frank Asch picture book Happy Birthday, Big Bad Wolf, Little Pig's parents tell him that they need to hide from The Big Bad Wolf. Little Pig is reminded of his grandfather's recent birthday and when the wolf enters, he jumps out and yells "Surprise!", thinking they're having one of these for him. The parents decide they have no choice but to play along and in the end, the Big Bad Wolf is so touched by their kindness, and especially Little Pig's, that he decides not to eat them.
- In The Light Jar, Nate expects to spend his twelfth birthday alone after his mum's disappearance, but instead his Imaginary Friend Sam invites a bunch of his fellow imaginary friends to the cottage. They yell "SURPRISE!" when Nate gets downstairs.
- The Maisy First Experiences picture book Maisy's Surprise Party is all about Maisy's friends giving her one of these. She receives an invitation to Charley's house and arrives there to find the lights off and then they all surprise her.
- Post-High School Reality Quest: On Buffy's birthday, Chase texts her, saying his car flipped over, he's on his way to the hospital, and he needs her to go to Merrill's house to help him with the car. When she arrives, she finds Chase, Merrill, Tristan, Sephora, and a cake that says "Happy birthday, Buffy!" in binary. The others are surprised by how concerned Buffy was over Chase's fake accident.
- Rosaleen among the Artists: A few months after Rosaleen moves in with her art teacher, Miss Waters, she comes home to find that Miss Waters has thrown a surprise party for her twenty-first birthday. Two of the guests are Dodo Mell and Enid Bainbridge, who become Rosaleen's roommates for the next few years.
- Roys Bedoys: In “Don’t Spoil Surprises, Roys Bedoys!”, Wen’s friends plan to throw her a surprise party for her birthday, but Roys spoils the surprise when she pressures him to tell the secret. She tries to feign surprise, but is too bad of an actress, so Roys has to admit he spoiled the surprise.
- Too Bright to See: On Bug's twelfth birthday, he bikes over to Moira's house to find all her friends singing "Happy Birthday," with balloons and a cake.
- Waste of Space: In the latter half of the book, Dash is called to the mess hall for an "emergency". When he gets there, it's revealed to have been a surprise party for him, which causes him to jump and sends the syringe he found in Chang's room flying out of his hand... and into Cesar Marquez's thigh.
- An episode of Batman (1966) has Batman doing his best to hide the amusement of being invited to a surprise birthday party for...Bruce Wayne.
- At the beginning of the first episode of Kularb Neua Mek, Airin and her friends decide take the party to Anawin. They enter his room, sing him "Happy Birthday To You"... and discover Ornnich in his bed with him. Cake in both their faces ensue.
- Our Miss Brooks has the episode "The Birthday Bag" in which Miss Brooks' friends plan a surprise party at the Conklin's house. Unfortunately, Miss Brooks turns up an hour too early. Hilarity Ensues.
- In "Parallels" on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the senior staff of the Enterprise D throws Worf a surprise party for his birthday after he comes back from a bat'leth tournament. The party manages to catch him off guard, because Riker lied to him and told him that there wasn't going to be a surprise party. However, the story is about Worf shifting through various parallel realities, and whether or not there was a party varies based on which reality he's in. When he returns to his proper reality, it turns out that Deanna Troi talked Riker out of throwing the party because she didn't think Worf would like it, but the two end up spending some time together over champagne in Worf's quarters.
- On Star Trek: Voyager
- In the opening of "Twisted", one of these is held for Kes's second birthday (Kes's species, the Ocampa, matures very quickly but is exceptionally short lived) though she's mostly just confused by it at first because the surprise party isn't a tradition in her culture.
- In "Latent Image", Ensign Jetal enters the messhall but the lights won't turn on. She contacts the Chief Engineer on her commbadge, only to hear B'Elanna's voice in the darkness saying, "Err...go ahead Ensign, or should I say... SURPRISE!"
- A recurring sketch on Saturday Night Live is about a group of people planning a surprise [birthday/anniversary/retirement/etc.] party for one of their friends, and Kristen Wiig's character is so very very excited about it she just can't keep still - or keep her mouth shut when the character in question appears.
- One sketch (with guest host Jeremy Irons) involved the friends of Sherlock Holmes trying to toss him a surprise party, only for him to ruin the fun for everybody by discovering them in their hiding places (and later perfectly guessing the contents of their presents) with a single Sherlock Scan. He peeves them so much as a result that Holmes, even if an Insufferable Genius for most of the sketch, actually tries to apologize and pretend to be surprised so they won't go away.
- On The Big Bang Theory, Penny tries to throw Leonard a surprise birthday party when she finds out that he's Never Had a Birthday Party, but it doesn't work out. Leonard has to take Howard to the emergency room for a peanut allergy reaction and they don't get back home until well after the party is over.
- The Dick Van Dyke Show: In "A Surprise is a Surprise is a Surprise," Laura outwits Rob by pretending that she was planning a surprise birthday party for him (which she does every year and he always finds out in advance) but her plans fell through - but then it turns out that that was a fib, and the surprise party happens early in the morning.
- WKRP in Cincinnati: When Les goes through a Mid-life crisis and makes plans to move to New York City and get a new reporter/anchor job at CBS TV Jennifer plans a surprise birthday/going-away party. But then he tells her he hates surprise parties. When the gang all show up (Jennifer not having gotten the chance to tell them not to come), she admits it was a surprise party, and Les is fine with it, even a little excited.
- An episode of Sanford and Son features Fred returning home from St. Louis and being welcomed back with a surprise party.
- The surprise party is referenced by Johnny of Johnny and the Sprites in the song "What a Surprise!" when he sings "There are surprise endings, surprise guests, surprise parties too! Surprises when they're really great can make your dreams come true. Make your dreams come true!"
- In one episode BJ tries to organize a surprise birthday party for Hawkeye, despite the fact that it isn't Hawkeye's birthday, in order to get some camp morale going. Hawkeye learns of this and counters by "accidentally" letting it slip that the same day is BJ's wedding anniversary. In the end BJ drafts a random extra to be the Birthday Boy.
- In another episode, Mildred Potter (Col. Potter's wife) enlists Hawkeye to throw a surprise "the Mortgage is Paid Off" party for the Colonel.
- On The Joe Schmo Show, a surprise party was held for Tim Walsh of the second season on his birthday, and Chase Rogan of the third season. Both were used as a way to advance the plot, with the former involving a face-painting party held by Gerald the Gotta-Be-Gay Guy in which Bryce the stalker painted "Piper" on his face, and in the latter, Randy the asshole taking advantage of the party to get closer to the host's wife. The second season one, though, was generally more interesting, as Tim had never been given a surprise party before in his life, but had always wanted one. The party was said to be sponsored by "Club G" and even included Tim giving Gerald a lap-dance as part of a game of Truth or Dare. Afterwards, Jonathan Torrens ("Gerald") said in an interview segment that his favorite theory of Tim's so far was "But I don't think he's gay. I think he's Canadian."
- The gang throws a surprise birthday celebration for Phoebe. It gets ruined when Ross comes just before Phoebe and accidentally drops the cake he brought. Nobody notices when Phoebe herself comes in.
- When Ross dates Rachel, the gang organized a surprise party for her birthday. The real surprise came when they had to throw a second impromptu party in the guys' flat at the same time because both Rachel's parents showed up unexpectedly, and they couldn't be in one room together as they were going through an acrimonious divorce.
- "TOW the Fake Party" features Rachel hosting a surprise "Bon Voyage" party for Emily in order to seduce Joshua.
- In "The One With Monica and Ross's Cousin", Phoebe and Rachel throw a last-minute engagement party for Monica. They forget to invite her, and she arrives to find no one else in Phoebe's apartment, so they're forced to tell her that because it took so long to get hold of her, everyone left. She says that that's fine; she gets all the presents without hanging around a bunch of people she doesn't even like... and the 24-Hour Party People emerge from hiding, as Rachel mutters, "Surprise..."
- A surprise birthday party is thrown for Rachel in "The One Where Rachel Smokes." They ramp up the surprise by holding it the month before her birthday.
Rachel: Oh, you guys, this is great! I mean, it's so unexpected! I mean, Chandler's birthday is even before mine.
(Beat, as they all turn awkwardly toward Chandler)
Ross, Pheobe, Joey and Monica: (to Chandler) Surprise!
- In "TOW They All Turn Thirty", there's a flashback to when Monica turned thirty— her friends and relatives have a very formal party. Monica freaked out and got really drunk before that. Hilarity Ensues.
- Bear in the Big Blue House had "Mouse Party," about a surprise party being held for Tutter the mouse's birthday. This was later adapted for theater as "Bear in the Big Blue House Live!: Surprise Party."
- The Sunny Side Up Show: Sean and Chica hold one for Baby Chick, Chica's Companion Cube, in one segment.
- On Modern Family, an attempt to throw one for Manny is a disaster for two completely unrelated reasons. First, Manny, thinking the house would be empty, has a girl he likes come over so they could have their First Kiss. The girl is understandably enraged to find out how many people saw the kiss. Then Gloria goes into labor, so Manny's little brother is born with the same birthday as Manny.
- In the opening of "The Red Barn" on The Mentalist, there is a surprise party for Teresa Lisbon having ten years with the CBI, disguised as a crime scene with a dead body that suddenly comes to life when Lisbon examines it, scaring the pants off her.
- The Castle episode "The Lives of Others" presents a memorable variation as Castle, stuck in the house with a broken leg and going a little stir crazy, is convinced that he sees a murder in an apartment across the street. Finally Beckett goes to the apartment in question to confront the supposed killer, only to have him pull a carving knife on Beckett while Castle watches from his window. Castle (on crutches) joins Ryan and Esposito at the apartment, breaking down the door and staring into darkness...only for the lights to go on and Castle's family and friends shouting "Surprise!" Beckett staged the whole thing as a birthday present for Castle.
- A late-season episode of Adam-12 occurs on Officer Malloy's birthday. With the department having a few surprise parties in the past month, he fears that he'll have one which will interfere with his date that night. His partner, Officer Reed, keeps denying that there's a surprise party planned but a couple of cases of beer in the locker room arouse Malloy's suspicions. As it turns out, there is no party, at least not for him. The beer is for a party the next day celebrating the recuperation of a previously wounded officer, which was referenced in the briefing at the start of the watch.
- In As Time Goes By, Stephen tries arranging a surprise anniversary party for his wife Penny. When she notices his secretive behavior and accuses him of having an affair, Stephen "confesses" because he couldn't think of another excuse.
- The Golden Girls:
- After Rose has a heart attack, she ends up going to the hospital. When she gets out, the others decide to hold a surprise party for her, but get concerned that the sudden shock might trigger another heart attack. So when Rose enters, Blanche and Dorothy whisper, "Surprise."
- Rose throws Blanche a surprise birthday party. Unfortunately, it's the same night that Dorothy convinces a new acquaintance with crippling social anxiety to come and visit the house, and the shouts of "Surprise!" send him running out in terror.
- In Criminal Minds, Reid starts to wonder if he should be doing something more with his life rather than stay in the FBI and thinks about leaving the team. At the end, he decides to stay, because the team is like a family to him. And as he enters the conference room, it turns out the team threw him a surprise birthday party. A family, indeed.
- In "A Couple of Choices" on Medium, Allison Dubois is forced to point out to her husband, Joe, that it's a bad idea to try to pull off one of these on a psychic, though he insists it was their kids' idea. Subverted at the end of the episode when Allison gets home and then finds out that there is no surprise party and that the party was actually cover for a surprise weekend vacation in Mexico for her birthday. Then Double Subverted when it turns out that she's already packed for the trip.
- In one episode of Full House, DJ is horrified to realize that she's forgotten best friend Kimmy's birthday, so the whole Tanner family scrambles to pull together an extremely last-minute surprise party - which isn't a surprise, because Kimmy has been expecting that DJ will do exactly this. She unfortunately figures out the reality of the situation, and fights with DJ, but nevertheless appreciates the effort everyone made.
- "Miss Nelson Is Back" is Levar Burton's Birthday Episode on Reading Rainbow. The episode ends with his surprise party held in a bookstore, though given that the entire thing is an episode of Reading Rainbow, it's likely it actually wasn't a surprise to him in real life.
- In the Bizaardvark episode "Paige's Birthday Is Gonna Be Great", Frankie goes to great lengths to give Paige one after the latter is falling to disappointment. However, only in the end when it really is this trope after Frankie's plan to give her one is failing, then all of a sudden, the party occurs, complete with Special Guest Lilly Singh, whom Paige wishes to see in her party.
- Doctor Who: In the finale of series 8, we learn that the evil plot of the day and all its traumatic events are, in fact, the Master's idea of a surprise party for her arch nemesis, the Doctor. The day ends with Osgood and the Master dead, the Doctor breaking down in tears after his hopes of finding his missing native planet were crushed once again and his parting with Clara, who has been his closest friend for what, for her, were four years and for him, almost a millennium. Made worse by how he was completely unaware that it's his birthday until the Master pointed it out.
- In "Identity, Pt. 1" from The Orville, Keyali tells Isaac that there's an off-the-book security protocol that he needs to take care of before he can leave the Orville. It turns out to be this and almost all of the crew is there, including a number of a regular background/minor characters.
- Schitt's Creek:
- In Season 1, Johnny arranges a surprise birthday party at the barn for Moira but she finds out about it, but she still pretends to be surprised.
- In Season 5, David throws a surprise birthday party for Patrick and invites his parents, only to discover Patrick has not come out to them and thinks David is just Patrick's business partner. David spends the episode trying to untangle the mess and support Patrick. Patrick's parents are loving and supportive, and David and Patrick share a romantic dance after the party.
- Parks and Recreation:
- Inverted. Ron doesn't want a birthday party, becomes increasingly paranoid when he catches wind that Leslie is planning a suprise party, and is absolutely resigned when she leads him into a room in the office... that turns out to contain nothing but a beautiful steak dinner, whiskey, and his favourite movies. He thanks her sincerely and she leaves him to enjoy them alone.
- Ron mentions the one time one of his (ex-)wives tried throwing him a surprise party; he saw people hiding in his house through the window, and instead of entering went to a gas station and called the cops.
- The Partridge Family throws one in "A Partridge by Any Other Name" in an unsuccessful attempt to convince Danny he's not adopted.
- In the third season premiere of Stranger Things, after Dustin returns from being out of town, Eleven uses her powers to move his toys into the living room so that the Party can give him a surprise welcome back party. Unfortunately, Dustin was so freaked by the toys moving of their own accord that he brought his Farrah Fawcett spray with him. When the Party yells "surprise", he ends up empty a good portion of the bottle into Lucas' eyes, with both boys screaming like girls, and Eleven so scared she embraces Mike like the Mind Flayer just popped out.
- In "Missing", Team Arrow throws one for Oliver Queen. Unfortunately, they failed to take into account that the Green Arrow, who spends most of his days fighting criminals and murderers, might be suddenly wary of finding his home suspiciously unlit. Curtis pays for this oversight with a concussion.
- As Curtis is pointing out how poor communication between the team nearly got a lot of people killed, he takes the opportunity to complain that everyone forgot about his birthday the week before. Felicity snaps "Your party is next week, act surprised!"
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The episode "Surprise", appropriately enough has a surprise party for Buffy because it's her seventeenth birthday. As Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday she has some much less pleasant surprises to accompany it.
- Becomes a dark punch line for one Tales from the Crypt episode: A man is convinced his wife and his best friend are having an affair as he finds messages about secret meetings and keeping him in the dark. He confronts them at last and kills them both, ignoring their pleas to listen. He then enters the next room...to finds all their friends congratulating him on how he's going to be a father.
- How I Met Your Mother:
- Ted says he broke up with his ex-girlfriend Natalie over an answering machine right before her birthday. It's revealed it was on her actual birthday and she was having a surprise party. All her family and friends heard Ted's embarrassing voicemail right before Natalie showed up. Ted was kept in the dark about the party because he had a reputation for being unable to keep a secret.
- Marshall organizes a surprise party on the roof for Ted and tries to lure him there, but Ted keeps not coming. He claims he needs to work.
- In the Broad City episode "The Last Supper," Abbi mentions that she tried to throw herself one for her twenty-fifth birthday. She considers it a mistake.
- The Hills:
- In season 2, Heidi convinces Lauren that she has planned a quiet dinner for the two of them, only to bail after getting a call from Spencer. A very angry Lauren heads off with Audrina instead, talking the whole way over about what a bad friend Heidi has become. It turns out that Heidi and Audrina engineered the whole ruse and had a party waiting for Lauren at the club.
- In season 3, Lauren and her girlfriends bring the surprise party to Brody while he and his two best buds are in Vegas.
- In The InBESTigators, Ava successfully throws one for Maudie, who Never Had a Birthday Party. She's aided by Ezra, Kyle, and Maudie's father.
- Frasier: In one episode Frasier is recruited by one of Lana's friends to bring her to the restaurant where they're preparing a surprise birthday party. While driving there Lana admits she's do depressed about her ex-husband getting remarried that she doesn't want to celebrate, so Frasier hurriedly turns the car around and suggests they go somewhere else. Lana then starts complaining that her friends have apparently forgotten about her birthday. Frasier pulls over, reveals the surprise plan and asks if she wants to go.
Lana: My friends are throwing me a surprise party?
Frasier: That's right.
Lana: And you tell me and RUIN IT?!
- In "Surprise" from The Inside Man, main character Mark Shepherd is forced to deal with one of these even though it isn't his birthday because the fake profile the Handler provided for him gave the date the episode takes place in as his birthday.
Handler: I didn't get you anything. Find my data.
- Sketch show Son of Cliché has the Show Within a Show ¡Asso - Spanish Detective!. In one episode Asso, aware that his success as a private investigator has made him a lot of enemies, hears somebody hidden in the dark of his house, trying hard to stay silent and concealed. fearing the mob have sent a hit-man, Asso bursts in with all guns blazing. Cue sound effects of gunshots, screams, grenades going off, etc. Then he turns the lights on. After a second or two of quiet groans of agony, a dying voice croaks
Happy Birthday to... you.... Happy Birthday to.... you (coughs) Happy Birthday.... dear.... Asso... Happy Birthday to... (dies).
- Company starts (and ends) with the surprise party Bobby's married friends have thrown for his 35th birthday.
- In Pippin, Catherine gives Pippin a surprise dinner party to celebrate their six-month anniversary. Unfortunately for her, her quince pudding flambé and Theo's present of a flute don't prevent Pippin from suddenly deciding to leave her right then and there.
- The ending of Emma’s story in Balan Wonderworld. The reason Emma ends up in the Balan Theater was because she was worried about what the other people in her house are whispering about; thinking they’re talking about her behind her back. At the end of the game, it turns out they were actually planning a surprise birthday party for her.
- Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance: The subplot for unlocking the Disgaea 1 cast (and Sicily) involves Sicily and Flonne trying to plan a surprise birthday party for Laharl.
- In Edna & Harvey: The Breakout Petra has prepared a surprise party for Peter - on the toilet, of all places. Peter has found out and avoids going to the there, since he's a depressed Birthday Hater.
- A Franklin one, the entire plot of the game Franklin: A Birthday Surprise is based around the player helping the cast to plan a surprise party for Franklin's best friend, Bear.
- In I Was a Teenage Exocolonist, your friends organize a surprise party for you for your 18th birthday, with Marz as the host. You play along with the surprise because you're tired from the siege last Glow Season, but the Helios youth crash the party because they think they can sit "wherever [they] want" at the lounge, to Cal's frustration. In subsequent runs, you see the surprise party coming thanks to your Past-Life Memories, but you can still attend by pretending to be surprised.
- A special cutscene plays in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain if the player returns to Mother Base on their birthday: when Snake arrives, he finds the group of soldiers who usually salute him upon his return missing. He then hears loud pops, thinking it's gunfire and draws his sidearm, only to realize it's firecrackers before Ocelot, Miller, Huey, and a few soldiers come out with a birthday cake and a fresh Cuban cigar for a birthday present. Even Quiet wishes him a happy birthday after the party in her own special way. Snake is so surprised, he actually tears up a little!
- One point of Police Quest has Sonny participate in a surprise party for a fellow officer. Just before the party occurs, the other officer cries about how miserable his life is. He and his wife are estranged, his daughter is on drugs and she later dies from an overdose. When the party occurs, the other officer is embarrassed but rather honored.
- Sonic Generations begins with Sonic's friends celebrating a surprise birthday party for him.
- In SpongeBob SquarePants: SuperSponge, SpongeBob explores the world to buy party favors and collect things for Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy so that he can get an autograph from them to give as a birthday gift to his best friend, Patrick, as well as throwing a surprise party for him.
- Just before the final level of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, a mission starts where B.J. goes to walk into the planning room of the submarine, only to have no one answer his calls, with all the lights out. B.J. rushes in, only to be hit with a surprise party for his work. The entire crew has one big, drunken revelry before the next morning.
- Amnesia: Memories' fandisc Amnesia LATER ends up downplaying this, as the only people part of the surprise party are the heroine and Kent, whose birthday it is. The heroine asks Kent over to her place on September 23rd, with Kent having no idea that she's planning any kind of surprise party. It helps that he generally doesn't pay attention to his birthday.
- At the end of Daughter for Dessert, the diner’s staff throw a poorly disguised party there to celebrate his acquittal.
Everyone: Happy Not-going-to-prison Day!!!
- The summer school class in Double Homework throws an “appreciation party” for the protagonist after the word of his video game addiction reaches the press. However, not only does Henry ruin the surprise, but Dennis uses the party for his own nefarious purposes (and tries to keep the protagonist and Morgan away from the party entirely).
- When Ruby in RWBY Chibi hears it is Pyrrha's birthday and wants to throw her a surprise party, Weiss and the rest of her team nix the idea by reminding her that she is terrible at throwing them. In order, she accidentally sent Jaune flying by shouting Surprise in a megaphone, caused Yang to blow up the Beowulf cake for her surprise party, and gave Professor Port a near-fatal heart attack.
- In Leftover Soup, Max comes home to a surprise orgy. Kind of like a Birthday Suit Surprise Party, but the other way around, and intentional.
- Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG, item no. 1912: "No more surprise parties for the berserker."
- The Screen Junkies crew organizes a surprise wedding for Nick Mundy, where he was sent to interview his best buddy The Rock, but was instead brought to an aisle to marry his fiancee, and the marriage is officiated by The Rock himself.
- Kitboga is a scambaiter popular on Twitch and YouTube. At one point in "Kitboga Meets the President," Kitboga's Barb character (Granny Enda) claims to have thrown a surprise party for herself. The tortured logic given for this is that supposedly the couple hundred people she invited thought she didn't know that it was her birthday.
- In the Arthur episode "Arthur's Birthday," this was Arthur and Francine's solution to the clash caused by Arthur and Muffy's birthday falling on the same day: They turn it into a surprise party for Muffy.
- In "Franklin's Party Plans" on the Animated Adaptation, Franklin and his friends throw Skunk a party because of a The Moving Experience situation - they think she's moving out of town and want to give her a good-bye party. It turns out she's only moving out of her old home in Woodland, but she appreciates the party nevertheless, as she was truly sad about moving, despite the fact that she wasn't leaving town.
- In "Franklin's All Ears," from the All-CGI Cartoon spin-off Franklin and Friends, Franklin and Snail both become convinced that Franklin's friends are planning one of these after Snail overhears a snippet of conversation and the two come to an incorrect conclusion. (They only wanted to give Franklin his lost soccer ball that they had found.) In the end, they end up having a party anyway because Franklin and Snail gathered up party supplies.
- "Hurry Up, Franklin!" has Franklin making his way to Bear's surprise party, but he gets distracted by his friends and various things he collects on the way. He helps Snail and him make it to the surprise just in time and gives all of the things he found, including Bear's missing blue cap, to Bear as a birthday gift.
- Holly Hobbie and Friends, a series of direct-to-DVD films featuring a character named after a popular author and illustrator, featured this trope on the debut DVD release, Holly Hobbie and Friends: Surprise Party, in which Holly and her friends (together known as the "Hey Girls"), plan and throw a surprise party for their Aunt Jessie.
- Mickey's Surprise Party, a Mickey Mouse short, involves Mickey holding one for Minnie.
- Mickey's Surprise Birthday is another short where Mickey tells his friends he's terrified of surprise birthday parties, and asks them not to. He's justified in asking as his friends would surprise him wherever he happened to be, such as the dentist's office, the shower, or while driving.
- Dinosaur Train
- In "Surprise Party," Shiny, Tiny and Don throw a surprise party for Buddy on the Dinosaur Train and invite all of their best dinosaur friends to attend.
- There's another one, "Rocket Train Surprise Party," in which the kids and the others on the Dinosaur Train hold one for the Conductor after the kids learn that it's his birthday and he hasn't had a birthday party since he was a kid.
- Blue's Clues has "Joe's Surprise Party," in which the viewers are asked to keep Joe distracted while Blue and the cast finish putting together a surprise party for him. It works out very well.
- In "Our New Neighbor" from Blue's Clues & You!, the question of Blue's Clues is what to do in order to make Periwinkle feel better about moving to the neighborhood. The answer is to throw him a party, which turns out to be a surprise party, as they don't tell him about in advance, then call him over and pop up out yelling "Surprise!"
- The "Days of Future Presents" episode from Harvey Girls Forever has this when Richie is surprised about his idea for his first ever birthday party, but the Harvey Girls and their friends decided to surprise Richie. It is an all the birthdays celebration for him and the girls worked very hard on a cheese sculpture that looks like the Sky Mansion that they have to give him as well.
- Dora escorts Boots to his own party in one of the first episodes of Dora the Explorer.
- In one episode of Rugrats, Stu plans a surprise party for his wife, Didi. He has one of the neighbors get her out of the house for the afternoon. Unfortunately, he is placed in charge of watching the kids when the ladies leave. They still managed to pull it off, though, though not without some grief on Stu's part.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- In "Party of One," Pinkie Pie throws a great party for her pet's birthday, and then invites all of her friends to an after-birthday the next day, only to be on the receiving end of I Have to Wash My Hair and I Need to Go Iron My Dog excuses for why everyone can't come. She eventually blows up and then throws a party by herself with various Companion Cubes, until Rainbow Dash insists that she come to Sweet Apple Acres, where it turns out that she and the others have set up a surprise party for her. Pinkie had forgotten her own birthday.
- Pinkie herself threw a surprise party for Twilight Sparkle in the first episode, running off literally the very second they met to set it up.
- In "Mama, Don't Go" on Timothy Goes to School, new girl Juanita at Hilltop School doesn't want her mama to leave. The surprise party is how Juanita is eventually convinced to let her mother leave— it's her mother's birthday and the class needs her to leave so that they can put together a surprise party for her. Juanita actually tells her mother straight-up that she needs to leave for a while and then come back so that they can surprise her.
- In "Angelina's Irish Jig," from Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps, after Angelina accidentally messes up Vicki's Irish music, she decides to throw her a surprise Irish party, but things are nearly ruined because Vicki overhears Angelina and the other characters whispering about her and thinks they're being mean.
- In "Goodbye, Mr. Pooh," from The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh's friends throw him one because they think he's moving away. Because of it, he actually does move away, but soon returns, only to find his house taken by Eeyore.
- A Couch Gag on The Simpsons, some of the show's supporting characters turn on the lights and yell "Surprise!" when the family runs into the living room. Homer suffers a heart attack as a result.
- In "Baileywick's Day Off" on Sofia the First, Sofia and her friends throw Baileywick a "Day Off Do-Over Party" after they ruined the holiday he was supposed to have that day.
- In "Blueberry Point," Grandpa is thrown one for his birthday. They put the finishing touches on the surprise party while Caillou is out with Grandpa on a trip to Blueberry Point.
- In another installment, Caillou and his friends hold a surprise birthday party for their playschool teacher, Miss Martin.
- In "Birthday Treasure" on Poppy Cat, a treasure map leads Poppy and her friends to a mysterious jungle, where they find a locked door that opens when Poppy blows a trumpet that she was given for her birthday. On the other side of the door is a surprise party that is the treasure of the treasure hunt.
- In the Detentionaire episode “The Tag Along”, Lee's friends organize one for him. Aside from being forced out into the rain by a fire alarm, it goes pretty well, though Lee is a little too distracted the whole time to really enjoy it.
- In "Happy Birthday Sweetheart" on My Little Pony Tales, one is held for Sweetheart at the end of the episode.
- In "Have You Heard?" on The Hive, Buzzbee and his friends decide to hold one for their teacher when Buzzbee partially overhears a conversation about somebody leaving the school. When they throw the party, the teacher reveals that it's actually the school cleaner who's moving away. They decide to continue the party anyway, as a celebration for the teacher staying. As for the cleaner... it seems nobody cares.
- A "Good Idea, Bad Idea" segment from Animaniacs features the bad idea of throwing a surprise birthday party for your grandfather... who dies from shock.
- One is held for Madam Gazelle in "Madam Gazelle's Leaving Party" on Peppa Pig as a leaving party for Madam Gazelle because she had said that she was leaving. The whole thing is a misunderstanding of Peppa's; Madam Gazelle is only going to be gone for a week for a holiday. She even said "no playgroup next week," but Peppa didn't understand. Everybody else believed her because Everyone Went to School Together and so they know Madam Gazelle might be at the point where she'd want to retire.
- On Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Daniel and his friends / classmates work together to make one for Teacher Harriet's birthday in "Teacher Harriet's Birthday".
If you can't do it alone, work together!
- In "Year of the Pig" from Toot & Puddle, when Dr. Ha Song is homesick because he's not able to visit China for Chinese New Year, Toot, Puddle and their friends throw him a surprise Chinese New Year party complete with Chinese dumplings, Chinese music, paper lanterns and a dragon dance featuring a dragon costume they made themselves.
- In "Awesomest Day Ever" from Care Bears & Cousins, everybody but Funshine Bear and Wonderheart Bear sets up one of these for Brave Heart, while those two keep him distracted. Unfortunately, the other shenanigans going on, particularly a Two-Timer Date situation, pretty much end up destroying the surprise party, though they still manage to have a nice party with friends once they learn the Aesop of the day.
- In one episode of W.I.T.C.H. Irma doesn't want a surprise party for her birthday. Her friends throw her one anyway.
- This is the subject of "Darby's Super Sleuth Surprise" on My Friends Tigger & Pooh - Rabbit is putting together a surprise party with the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood for the Super Sleuths - Darby, Pooh, Tigger and Buster.
- In "Surprise Quints" from the PBS animated Curious George series, a surprise party is held for the Quints (who are quintuplets) in their own home, and George has to keep them distracted from going there until it's ready.
- "Birthday" from Beat Bugs involves the throwing of one for both Crick and Jay. "Follow the Sun" involves the throwing of one for Blackbird to say farewell to her for her migration, though finding out about it also causes Kumi to find about the migration, as Blackbird kept putting off telling her, knowing she'd be upset.
- In "Dolphin Talk" from Stanley, it is Harry's birthday and Stanley, Mimi, and Marci, Dennis and Elsie are all throwing him a surprise party, but he keeps popping up at inopportune moments when they're trying to get the party together. Thus, they go into The Great Big Book of Everything to learn about dolphin communication and settle on using hand signals to indicate to each other if Harry is about to show up. In the end, things work out great and Harry is very surprised as he had forgotten that it was his birthday.
- In "Minnie's Birthday" on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Mickey and his friends throw Minnie a surprise Birthday Party at the Clubhouse.
- In "Hallie's Happy Birthday" on Doc McStuffins, Doc and the other toys throw Hallie a surprise Birthday Party at the clinic.
- On Kate & Mim-Mim, "Happy Mim Day!" involves Kate and Mim-Mim both trying to throw a surprise party for each other and their friends trying to help them both while keeping each other's surprise parties a secret from both of them.
- In the Miraculous Ladybug episode "La Befana", Marinette's friends try to throw one for her birthday, but Marinette figures out exactly what's going on.
- Ultimate Spider-Man: Spidey's teammates seem to being organized a party in Peter's house behind his back, but Subverted when they really just want to have some fun of their own, as that house was the only available for the purpose.
- In the Ready Jet Go! episode "Earthday Birthday", the kids find out that Jet is 63 years old in Bortronian years, and that they have missed all his birthdays. Since that day happens to the anniversary of when Jet arrived on Earth, they decide to throw him a surprise party to celebrate. Thanks to Carrot and Celery, Jet almost finds out, but they manage to keep it a surprise anyway.
- The "Butterfly Party" episode of Elinor Wonders Why has used this for Olive's mom on her birthday.
- 101 Dalmatians: The Series: In the episode "You Say It's Your Birthday", Roger and Anita decide to throw one for all of the dalmatian pups to celebrate the 101st day since their adoption. Though a series of misunderstandings occur leading the pups into believing that they're being given away to Cruella, while Cruella believes that Anita is moonlighting for her rival.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: In "SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout", Patrick takes SpongeBob to tour the human world while the rest of SpongeBob's friends prepare a surprise party for him. The preparation becomes a mess and by the time SpongeBob and Patrick come back, SpongeBob's house is destroyed. Doesn't make SpongeBob any less happier about the "party" though.
- At the end of The Penguins of Madagascar episode "Whispers and Coup", it's revealed that Maurice was planning a surprise party for King Julian the entire time, since the king said a surprise party on his own birthday isn't much of a surprise. But between Maurice sneaking around, the party goers having pitch forks and torches, and even the penguins being Locked Out of the Loop (Skipper told Maurice not to invite them during the last surprise party), it looked like he was plotting to overthrow Julian.
- In the first regular series episode of The Raccoons the pigs overhear Schaefer and the raccoons talking about a "plan" and tell Cyril that they're plotting to overthrow him. Naturally, it turns out that the hot air balloons and gunpowder are for fireworks and the "secret weapon" is a birthday cake.
- Rosie's Rules: In "Sister Surprise," Rosie learns that a 'sister surprise' party is being planned, and thinks it is for Crystal since she's a sister. It was actually for Liz, the sister of Uncle Steve. Rosie learns about how you can be more than one thing in a family, like how Liz is a mom, a sister, and a wife.
- The Owl House: The Distant Finale sees the entire cast getting together to throw Luz a belated quinceañera (or King-ceañera) for her eighteenth birthday as she had spent the last three years helping to rebuild the Boiling Isles after Belos' defeat.
- In his book As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, Cary Elwes described a situation in which he had wrapped a day of work on the film, only to receive an emergency summons from one of the production assistants. He was needed on the set right away to redo a scene. He was told that he only needed to put on his costume as the Man in Black but not worry about makeup, as it was to be a wide shot. He didn't think it too unusual, as it wasn't all that uncommon for actor to be summoned back to the set if the director had realized that there was a shot that needed to be redone before they moved on the next filming location. However, upon arriving at the set, he noticed everybody standing around and a suspicious lack of activity. Everybody then moved aside to reveal a cake shaped like the Man in Black and began singing "Happy Birthday" to him, completely surprising him, as he had entirely forgotten it was his birthday.
- During a concert in Indianapolis in 2019, Hugh Jackman is talking to the audience (and insulting Ryan Reynolds) when Reynolds himself appears on the screen behind him to sing "Happy Birthday", cuing the support staff at the concert to come out with a cake.