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Mar 22nd 2021 at 3:33:50 AM •••

Linking to a past Trope Repair Shop thread that dealt with this page: Needs Help, started by Likely on Mar 30th 2012 at 5:49:59 AM

Apr 30th 2019 at 4:16:20 PM •••

Okay, just WHAT is the trope namer of Tomato Surprise and Tomato in the Mirror? There's not a single mention in either article anywhere, though I think they may come from Mayor West from Family Guy thinking he's a tomato after a brick to the nose causes it to bleed.

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May 27th 2019 at 11:59:27 AM •••

It's a bit from Sesame Street where Grover is a waiter at an upscale restaurant. The skit goes on with Grover trying to convince a guest to try the day's special, "Tomato Surprise." While the diner is left to assume that the meal will be some kind of tomato-based dish, eventually Grover returns with the surprise — an anthropomorphic tomato creature who will be joining whoever orders the special as an additional member of their party. The guest then faints, leaving the tomato creature to order lunch while he is out of commission.

Dec 6th 2016 at 11:26:47 AM •••

How does the page image illustrate the trope exactly?

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Aug 23rd 2017 at 1:12:22 PM •••

Yeah, the current (twilight zone) one hardly demonstrates the trope whatsoever. The original image (an image from Sponge Bob, specifically the episode "Hall Monitor", when Sponge Bob finds out he was the "maniac") was a lot more understandable, and was a better example, especially since it comes from a series plenty of people nowadays would recognize.

I'd personally take it to Image Pickin', but I have no clue how, so I'll do the next best thing; complain on the Discussions page! Take THAT, image pickers who okayed that change!!

Sep 8th 2015 at 8:56:29 PM •••

I don't think it should count as a Tomato Surprise when the narrator describes a situation where he didn't know the important detail at first. For example, in "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)," "Silhouettes," and "Fool in the Rain," the narrator was not aware of the true situation at the time of the events described at the beginning of the song. Only over the course of the events described did the narrator realize that he was corresponding with his own girlfriend, looking at the wrong house, or waiting on the wrong block.

Oct 7th 2013 at 6:05:49 AM •••

I'm not sure if these ones belong here:

  • One of Robert Sheckley's short stories appears to show two men high on drugs beginning to hallucinate that they are insects... ...when they really are insects, who have just come down off a really intense LSD peak during which they hallucinated that they were primates.
    • Similar is a short story by Julio Cortázar, The Flip Side of Night, in which a man suffers a motorcycle accident and begins having hallucinations that he is an ancient Mesoamerican warrior about to be sacrificed by the Aztecs. The resolution is much the same: it ends with an Aztec priest cutting his heart out, as he hallucinates about a strange world far in the future.

  • TOS episode "The Midnight Sun." Society breaks down as the Earth moves closer and closer to the sun and people are dying of heat stroke. It turns out the protagonist is just dreaming the whole thing. In actuality the Earth is moving away from the sun and soon everyone will die of hypothermia.

These feel like All Just a Dream endings to me as they are also a suprise to the protaganists.

Edited by Hide/Show Replies
Apr 25th 2014 at 8:46:47 AM •••

^ You're right; cut 'em. This entire page needs a major cleanup, many of the examples here are really Tomato in the Mirror or just plain Twist Ending.

Apr 1st 2012 at 8:36:18 AM •••

I've reviewed the TV section and removed the following examples, which don't fit the definition of a Tomato Surprise, because the revelation comes as just as much of a surprise to the characters as to the audience:

  • Let's not forget the Lost's fifth season finale twist, informing us of the rather important detail that the resurrected John Locke is not, in fact, John Locke, but someone pretending to be him.
  • The finale of the American Life on Mars, shall we say, interprets the title of the show/David Bowie song in an absurdly literal way. If you want it spelled out: 1973 and 2008 are both figments of Sam's imagination. They were some kind of computer-generated simulation generated by the ship's computer while he was in suspended animation, with some sort of glitch putting a fake-memories-from-2008 Sam into 1973. Oh, did we not mention? Sam and all the other detectives from the 125 are actually astronauts on a search for—wait for it—life on Mars. Specifically they're looking for "genetic life", or on a gene hunt. Yes, the show goes there.
  • The 2009 remake of The Prisoner intercuts flashback scenes of Six back in New York City with his imprisonment in The Village; at least, that's what they appear to be until he starts seeing and hearing things in the "flashback" scenes that echo things that had already happened in "the present". It turns out that the scenes were not actually flashbacks at all, but were occurring simultaneously in the real world with events in a shared alternate consciousness (that is, The Village itself).

In addition, the following are examples of Tomato in the Mirror, rather than Tomato Surprise:

  • In the Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode "Whispers", O'Brien returns to the station, finds everybody acting suspiciously, and soon come to suspect a conspiracy or takeover of some sort. In the end, it turns out that it is actually O'Brien who is a cloned sleeper agent who has been programmed to believe that he is the real O'Brien.
  • An episode of Stargate SG-1 involved the team trapped on a planet with a crazy robot man, who kidnaps them and does something unknown to them. Despite his protests that they'll inevitably come back, they return to Earth, only to discover that they aren't, in fact, SG-1. They're robotic clones who can't leave the planet. They eventually return and the "original" SG-1 goes back to Earth.
    • The "sequel" episode to this, a few seasons later, had a similar twist. SG-1 was on a planet where everyone was furious at them for some unknown offense. Sam didn't remember that she was a Major now. Eventually, when one of the villains killed Daniel, it was revealed that they were the robotic duplicates, not the real SG-1. The real SG-1 were the "offenders".
  • The Fear Itself episode "New Year's Day" reveals that the main character was a zombie all along. She had killed herself after the New Year's party, and was reanimated by the chemical spill. She couldn't pull her car out of the garage because she no longer had the motor skills needed to drive it, she couldn't communicate with her friends over the phone because her speaking skills had been reduced to zombie moaning, and people were afraid of her and trying to kill her because, well, she's a zombie. Once she realizes this, she teams up with Eddie, her now-zombified boyfriend, to rip apart Christie.

Edited by Likely Hide/Show Replies
Apr 21st 2012 at 8:40:01 AM •••

As further cleanup, I've removed the following from the Film section:

  • Shyamalan tricks the viewers into thinking The Village is a period piece. And then, we see a modern car driving on a modern road, and this ain't no Flash Forward!
  • In The Usual Suspects, Verbal Kint is given virtual immunity as a witness to a massacre orchestrated by a criminal mastermind, Keyser Söze. The movie then follows his detailed story, as told to a US Customs Agent interrogating him. As the movie ends and Kint is leaving the station, his interrogator finally realizes that the story was a fabrication laced with hidden taunts at his ignorance - Kint was Keyser Söze.
  • In Saw VI, as in most films in the series, there is a tomato surprise ending when it turns out the kidnapped family are not related to the protagonist but actually to a man he killed by screwing him over on his health insurance.
    • VI also resolves the great mystery of Amanda's letter, three years after its introduction in III, which reveals that Amanda shot Lynn not out of a murderous rage, but because Hoffman blackmailed her into doing it.
    • IV had an especially pointless one when a 10-second scene near the end revealed that the whole movie happened during the events of III, not after, bar flashbacks. This didn't matter, and happened so quickly that many were left confused as to what just happened.
  • Brilliantly executed in Lo, a film about a man summoning the titular hideous demon in his apartment to bring back his girlfriend, who was dragged away by another demon. As the movie progresses, Lo tries to convince Justin not to go through with it, and Justin discovers his girlfriend was a demon all along... Lo, to be specific.
  • In The Book Of Eli, the eponymous hero was blind the whole time, and the Bible he's been protecting is in braille. He's implied to have had basic sight in one eye, but be legally blind, and it's left up to interpretation whether his abilities were due to hightened senses, the protection of God, or both. Keep in mind that he never attacks a person who doesn't attack first, and he can smell another human from ten yards away.
  • In Shutter Island, we find out that the main character is actually a patient of the island, playing a part in a complex role play in the hopes it will make him face his disease. It doesn't.
  • In High Tension, the main character Marie turns out to be the killer after all due to a split personality.
  • In the French supernatural period thriller Vidocq the geeky reporter Boisset, who until then had seemed like the Alchemist's Unwitting Pawn turns out to be the Alchemist himself.
  • In Dark City, it's revealed that the city is actually a huge space station controlled entirely by the Strangers.
  • The entire premise of The Sixth Sense is based on the fact that Dr. Malcolm Crowe was killed by a deranged former patient in an early scene. Crowe spends the entire movie as a ghost, trying to cure Cole of his "delusions" of being able to speak to the dead.
  • In Happy Accidents, Vincent D'Onofrio tells Marisa Tomei that he is a time traveler from a dystopian future who saw her picture and came to the present to find her. The story is told from Marisa's point of view as she talks with her psychologist and tries to figure out along with the audience whether he is telling the truth. It turns out that not only is he a time traveler, but the psychologist is too!

All of the above involve surprise revelations to the characters themselves, not just the audience. This is, appropriately, a rather rare trope in films, due to the difficulty of concealing something obvious from the audience but not the characters.

Edited by Likely
May 14th 2011 at 12:00:02 AM •••

I made some changes:

The endings to Fight Club and The Sixth Sense and Planet of the Apes feel like regular old twist endings to me. They're not in the same vein as Twilight Zone - The Eye of the Beholder - they don't dramatically reveal something every character knows. At the end of The Sixth Sense Malcolm is just as shocked as the audience.

So I went ahead and axed some examples, and removed this note:

"sometimes, [the twist] has been hidden from one character, so that subject will be just as surprised as we are."

And added this note:

"If the twist comes as a surprise to one or more protagonists, it probably doesn't fit this trope."

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Oct 30th 2011 at 10:05:28 PM •••

If the twist surprizes both the reader and the protagonist, what trope is it?

I'd like to add the short story "A Man Who Had No Eyes" by Mac Kinlay Kantor. The plot, briefly, is this: It's about a blind beggar who tells how he became blind to a rich man. The beggar explains that he used to be able to see, but he worked in a chemical factory. One day there was a fire, and as everyone ran out, the beggar was knocked down and trampled by a larger man. He escaped in time to avoid being burned, but he was blinded by the chemical fumes. The twist ending is that his story is a lie. The rich man worked at the same plant, and he is the one who was knocked down and trampled by the beggar. The beggar then screams that it is unfair that he had gotten out in time but was blinded, while the man he knocked down was not only all right, but went on to become rich. The rich man then said, "I don't know what you're complaining about. I'm blind too." The twist comes as a surprise to both the reader and the protagonist.

Nov 19th 2011 at 10:37:59 AM •••

I would agree with timeforgot's narrow interpretation of this trope. In a typical Twist Ending, there is key information that is concealed from at least some of the characters (and the audience), which is then revealed, to the surprise of those characters (and the audience). When the twist is fundamental enough, The Ending Changes Everything. What distinguishes a Tomato Surprise is that there is NO surprising revelation to the characters involved, just to the audience. If any of the characters are just as surprised as the audience, it's just a vanilla Twist Ending.

I think the twists at the end of "A Man Who Had No Eyes" are a use of Unreliable Narrator with an extra ...And That Little Girl Was Me twist.

Edited by Likely
Apr 25th 2011 at 1:35:13 PM •••

George Scithers was never the editor at Analog. He was the editor at Asimov's in the time frame discussed.

Mar 25th 2011 at 6:45:05 AM •••

The SC Conviction one shouldn't be here; it's pretty obvious what's going on.

Mar 23rd 2011 at 6:42:11 PM •••

Cut this:

* A variant occurs in Girl Genius, where Tarvek built a clank in the image of his sister Anevka. The clank was initially meant as a way for Anevka to interact normally with the world despite her condition. As her state worsened, the clank adapted and required less and less input from her. Eventually, the real Anevka died. The clank had gotten so good in imitating her that it never noticed her passing.
Because this is just a twist, not a Tomato Surprise. A Tomato Surprise is when a critical detail is left out that the audience might normally have been expected to be informed of from the beginning, such as, for example, that the story is not set on earth, or that a story that appears to be set in the distant past is actually occurring in the distant future, etc. There is no particular reason for the audience to expect to have been informed that Anevka had been Dead All Along. Why would we have expected to know that?

Aug 23rd 2010 at 8:49:13 PM •••

In the Atmosphere song "Yesterday", it appears at first that the narrator is speaking about a past lover who left him on bad terms, and couldn't reconnect with despite the long time they'd known each other. It is revealed at the end, however, that he is actually talking about his deceased father. And the song becomes awesome.

Mar 29th 2010 at 2:46:56 AM •••

Regarding the following:

In Shutter Island, we find out that the main character is actually a patient of the island, playing a part in a complex role play in the hopes it will make him face his disease. It doesn't.

I got the distinctly opposite impression to the final conclusion of this, being that the protagonist has finally accepted the truth of his condition, but rather than live with the knowledge of what he has done, he "chooses" to undergo the lobotomy so that he won't have to.

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Jul 14th 2013 at 9:35:18 PM •••

I was of the same opinion. It still fits this trope, though.

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