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Thinks of Something Smart, Says Something Stupid

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A character is contemplating about something they should do. They end up thinking of something smart that they should say, or something stupid that they should avoid saying. When it seems like everything will go well, they end up saying something stupid instead. Why the character says something stupid will vary, but the most common reason is for comedy. You can also expect a follow-up monologue of them scolding themselves.

This is a close relative of the Gilligan Cut, and they can easily occur together if the thought comes before the cut and the speech after. Can also overlap with Ignore the Disability, if the character is mentally reminding themself to not mention some awkward topic, only to blurt it out as soon as they open their mouth. May have some relation to Did I Just Say That Out Loud?. Gibberish of Love is a Sub-Trope to this for verbal blackouts caused by a hormone shock. Some instances of I Need to Go Iron My Dog can result from this trope.


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    Comic Books 
  • In the Marvel Comics Omega Effect crossover, Spider-Man meets up with The Punisher. When he sees that Frank Castle has a female sidekick, Spidey thinks to himself that cracking a joke about it will just piss Frank off—but he can't stop himself from saying it.
    Spider-Man's internal monologue: Of course... The Punisher... and he's brought a friend. Who's a girl. Don't say it resist the urge he'll kill you don't don't
    Spider-Man: So I see you've started dating again.
    Spider-Man's internal monologue: Stupid mouth!

    Comic Strips 
  • In one The Far Side comic, Tarzan swings through the jungle, rehearsing a number of ways to introduce himself to Jane. Upon actually seeing her, however, his far more eloquent introductions collapse into "Me Tarzan! You Jane!" much to his chagrin.

    Fan Works 
  • The Demesne Of The Reluctant Twilight Sparkle: Twilight's reaction to her "gift".
    Twilight: (thinking) I'm sorry Celestia, I should really head back to Ponyville and talk to Mayor Mare about this. Please rectify this situation for me, Luna, as soon as equally possible, as well-intentioned as your gift was. I hope you understand that I refuse it humbly, and not out of malice, as being the overlord of your friends tends to be a bit of a faux pas.
    Twilight: I need to get the buck back to Ponyville and figure this out before they tar my ponyfeathers and lynch me for this!
    Celestia: Twilight!
    Twilight: ...I just said the in-my-head thing out loud and the out-loud thing in my head, didn't I?
  • In Sword Art Online Abridged, Asuna asks Kirito what they should do next with their relationship. Kirito doesn't have the faintest idea, but he's on the spot and his brain tells him to come up with something. Anything. So long as he says it with confidence. Kirito says 'We should get married'.
    Kirito's Left Brain: NNOOOOOO!!!!
    Kirito's Right Brain: What?! You said "Say anything"!
    Kirito's Left Brain: Anything except that, obviously!

    Films — Animated 
  • Luca: In what is later revealed to be a Nightmare Sequence, Luca's mother asks him where he's been. He thinks, "Don't say surface, don't say surface..." but then casually blurts out, "Surface".
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: Miles, confronted by a security guard about leaving campus without permission, tells himself to play dumb. His verbal reply has him chastising himself for it being too dumb.
    Guard: I know you snuck out last night, Morales!
    Miles: (thinking) Play dumb. (out loud) Who's Morales? (thinking) Not that dumb!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: Scott, suddenly finding himself having to explain his previous relationship with Knives to Ramona, mentally spins a wheel of responses that enable him to avoid answering, landing between feigning ignorance ("Who, her?") and escaping to the bathroom ("I gotta pee."). The result?
    Scott: I gotta pee on her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Friends, when Ross attempts to kiss his attractive cousin after misreading her signals as flirtatious and she angrily demands an explanation, he spends an agonisingly long time trying to first think of something clever to say to relieve the tension, and then to think of anything to say at all. After landing on "I haven't had sex in a really long time" and she storms off in disgust, he reflects that he'd have been better off saying nothing.
  • Happens a few times in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia POV episode, "Being Frank".
    Angry Dad: Get out of my face, old man, before I kick your ass and throw you in that trunk.
    Frank's Inner Monologue: I gotta think of something tough to say.
    Frank: Nice nips, cupcake.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway?: One "Party Quirks" game has Colin Mochrie practicing clever pick-up lines—and then when he comes face-to-face with Kathy Greenwood, all he can say is "Nice boobs!" and immediately cringe at what he just said.

  • Frank and Nancy Sinatra's "Somethin' Stupid":
    I practice every day to find some clever lines to say to make the meaning come true
    But then I think I'll wait until the evening gets late, and I'm alone with you
    The time is right, your perfume fills my head, the stars get red, and, oh, the night's so blue
    And then I go and spoil it all by saying somethin' stupid like, "I love you"

  • John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: One sketch has a man on a date asked what he likes to do, causing him to panic as he can't think of anything he enjoys doing, or that is actually unique. After a minute or two of panicking he just blurts out "ice cream!" Then he remembers he's a mountaineer.

    Video Games 
  • Borderlands 2: Krieg does this quite a lot, as the good personality inside him that thinks of smart things is almost entirely a prisoner of his outer personality (which is basically a slightly more coherent Psycho, meaning he talks almost exclusively in bloodthirsty gibberish).
    Good Krieg: (seeing Maya) She's a Vault Hunter. A Siren warrior who can kill me with her brain. She's the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. Tell her she's as beautiful as a thousand sunsets. Tell her you need her help, tell her to rescue you and care for you, and whatever you do, do not scream the word "poop" at the top of your lungs!
    (Beat, then Maya starts shooting at him)
    Good Krieg: It's over, idiot. You're gonna die here and now, and your last words will have been "poop train".
  • In Stars And Time: After looping back for the first time, Siffrin attempts to act normal. Key word: tries.
    Mirabelle: ...Still half asleep, huh? How was your nap?
    Siffrin: (thinking) (Okay take two. Say something. Make normal words come out of your mouth. Smart and normal words, GO!)
    Siffrin: Yes. Correct. I was taking nap time.
    Mirabelle: (after hanging on the Visible Silence for a Beat) ...I know that?

    Web Animation 
  • Dick Figures: In one episode where Red switches into Blue's body, he's going to a job interview at a stock market. When he's asked "What are your interpretations of last quarter's stock returns?" He thinks to say "We are undervaluing our fiscal stock remainders", and instead says complete gibberish. His brain decides to give him amnesia as revenge.
  • OverSimplified: While France is receiving a "The Reason You Suck" Speech from Austria, it thinks to itself that it needs to say something to defuse the situation immediately. France announces a declaration of war, only heating things up.

  • In 8-Bit Theater, when Black Mage meets White Mage, the first thing out of his mouth is some Gibberish of Love. He then thinks, "Snap out of it, you fool! The most gorgeous woman in the universe is talking to you! Time to turn on the patented Black Mage charm and make a good first impression." He then says, "I am the Black Mage! I casts the spells that make the peoples fall down!" In an interesting twist, BM doesn't seem to realize how stupid he sounded.
  • In El Goonish Shive,
    • The Rant below a sketchbook strip has Dan failing to avoid making a hog heaven joke about the dead boar.
    • In the EGS NP storyline "Who is Ellen?" when Rich refuses to believe Ellen found GMing a certain RPG easy, Ellen's internal monologue considers the situation, points out that she was playing casually with friends who went easy on her and Rich most likely had a different experience, and decides she should explain this to de-escalate the situation. Then she yells "Maybe it's hard for you, but I found it easy!" and her internal monologue says "Oh we're going in this direction okay then."

    Web Videos 
  • Drew Gooden: In one video, Drew pokes fun at a YouTube channel with staged To Catch a Predator-style videos. In one, a woman is caught trying to assault a young girl (actually an adult woman playing the role). When it's pointed out that she knew the girl was 14 years old, she quickly claims that she said she was "some other age". Drew laughs at this, imagining what her thought process must've been.
    "No, she's not fourteen! She told me she was..." (thinking) "Come on, just say any number that isn't fourteen..." (speaking) "Some other age!"

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: In "The Hug", Gumball and Hot Dog Guy find themselves stuck in the school's broom closet together and both awkwardly try to leave each other when they hear the lunch bell ring. It doesn't work out smoothly for either of them.
    Hot Dog Guy's Brain: Oh no, lunchtime! Don't say it, don't say it...
    Hot Dog Guy: Hey, what are you doing for lunch?
    Hot Dog Guy's Brain: GOSH DARN IT!
    Gumball's Brain: Okay, don't say cafeteria. Bluff him, bluff him...
    Gumball: Cafeteria?
    Gumball's Brain: DAGNABBIT, YOU IDIOT! That was a double bluff!
  • Family Guy: At a job interview, Peter is asked where he sees himself in five years.
    Peter: (Don't say "doin' your wife". Don't say "doin' your wife". Don't say "doin' your wife".) Doin' your... (glances at boss's family photo of himself, his wife and his son) ...son?
  • Phineas and Ferb: When trying to covertly investigate the titular brothers' invention of the day in "Undercover Carl" due to mistakenly thinking it's actually an evil antigravity device, when asked his name, Carl thinks to himself, "Say a cool name, like Nitro Dax or Steel", and then when actually introducing himself, just says "My name... is Carl."
  • Robot Chicken: In a Dora the Explorer-themed sketch, Dora is sick of Boots saying he loves everything and asks him if there's anything he doesn't love.
    Boots' Brain: Tell her, man! Tell her her hair looks like Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men! This is your chance, Boots! Don't puss out!
    Boots: (beat) Nope!
    Boots' Brain: You pussy...
  • The Simpsons: This is a Running Gag with Homer, whose relationship with his own brain is... shall we say, adversarial.
    • A classic example from "Brother from the Same Planet".
      Bigger Brothers Employee: And what are your reasons for wanting a little brother?
      Homer's Brain: Don't say revenge. Don't say revenge.
      Homer: Uh... revenge.
      Homer's Brain: That's it, I'm gettin' out of here. (sounds of walking away, followed by a door slamming)
    • "Treehouse of Terror VI" segment "Homer Cubed": Homer is awed by the sight of the Third Dimension.
      Homer's Brain: O, Glory of Glories. O, heavenly testament to the eternal majesty of God's Creation.
      Homer: Holy macaroni!
    • In "Marge in Chains", Mr. Burns finds Homer sitting in a secret private chamber eating a sandwich. Burns furiously demands to know who he is.
      Homer's Brain: Don't panic. Just come up with a good story.
      Homer: My name is Mr. Burns.
      Homer's Brain: D'OH!
    • Even Bart goes through this. In "Teenaged Mutant Milk-caused Hurdles", he has a crush on the new teacher.
      Bart's Brain: All right, time to show this naive young veteran what happens when you call on Bart Simpson.
      Bart: Ma'am, my name is Bart, and I am glad to have you as my teacher.
      Bart's Brain: What the hell!?
      ** In the episode "New Kid on the Block" after Bart freaks out Lisa into running away from the basement of the house next door, he's shocked into unconsciousness by someone sneaking up behind him. When he wakes up:
      Laura Powers: Hey, kid, wake up.
      Bart: Who are you?
      Laura Powers: I'm Laura, your new neighbor. You all right?
      Bart's Brain: She's beautiful. Say something clever.
      Bart: I fell on my bottom.
      Bart's Brain: D'oh!
    • Sometimes a reversal of this trope occurs, like in "Mr. Plow".
      Insurance Agent: Now, before I give you the check, I have a few questions. This "Moe's" you were leaving just before the accident, was this a business of some sort?
      'Homer's Brain: Don't tell him you were at a bar. (gasps) But what else is open at night?
      Homer: It's a pornography store. I was buying pornography.
      Homer's Brain: Heh heh. I would've never thought of that!
    • In "Simpsorama" (the Crossover with Futurama), Marge is introduced to Leela:
      Marge (thinking): Oh, don't mention her eye. Don't mention her eye.
      Leela (thinking): Don't mention her hair. Don't mention her hair.
      Marge: I (Eye)... am so pleased to meet you.
      Leela: Nice to be hair.
  • Total Drama: Tyler asks Lindsay to go on a walk with him. Lindsay thinks to herself "Have to say no. Have to say no." because Heather doesn't want her getting cuddly with anyone on the other team. She ends up saying okay and goes on the walk.


Video Example(s):



Homer's initial thoughts of the 3rd dimension are surprisingly profound, but he has trouble vocalizing it.

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Main / ThinksOfSomethingSmartSaysSomethingStupid

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