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Sometimes, someone says something that is completely out of character for them. It may be agreeing with another character who is usually either prone to dumb ideas or of an opposite mindset. Or maybe someone is disagreeing to another's point of view when the other person is so obviously wrong/making the wrong arguments. In other cases, someone is in a position that is so unique that if the phrase were to be taken out of context, it would stick out like a sore thumb. Either way, this phrase is used to highlight the oddness of one person saying it.
Another common phrasing is: "I never thought I'd say this, but..." and "As much as I hate to say this, ...". Very similar to A Rare Sentence. Inverse of I Always Wanted to Say That. Similar is, "I can't believe I'm agreeing with X", where X is the The Ditz and the person saying it is often the Only Sane Man, in which case it would be Dumbass Has a Point.
For added irony, this may precede the Flashback to Catchphrase.
Not to be confused with Can't Believe I Said That.
- Said word for word in Chapter 551 of Naruto.
Naruto: I can't believe I'm saying this, but thanks for the save, Itachi.
- Groo the Wanderer became hyper-intelligent during one miniseries. Everyone who knew him was shocked by this, because his normal state is hyper-unintelligent. When the witches Arba and Dakarba saw him reason out a solution to a problem, Arba exclaimed, "Groo, you are brilliant!" and then thought, "There is a sentence I never thought I would say."
- At the end of The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda says to Andy: "I never thought I'd say this, Andrea, but... I see a great deal of myself in you." (funnily enough, Miranda means it as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, whereas Andy perceives this as a sign that she'd crossed the Moral Event Horizon).
The Wolf: I can't believe I'm saying this but... drink up.
- One of the newscasters in Shaun of the Dead says at the end that he never expected to say "Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain" on the air.
- French Kiss
Kate: You know, I never thought I'd be the kind of woman to say this, but it's true. All men are bastards.
Thurgood Jenkins: You know uh, I never thought I'd say this to anybody, but you two smoke entirely too much reefer.
- High Fidelity
Barry: I never thought I'd say this, but can I go work now?
Paul Stephens: I never thought I'd say this to anybody, but I got to go get the atomic bomb out of the car.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Captain Jack Sparrow: I agree with, and I cannot believe the words are coming out of me mouth... Captain Swann. We must fight.
- Towards the end of Star Trek III the Search For Spock, as McCoy is speaking to the Katra-less Spock:
McCoy I'm gonna tell you something that I... never thought I'd ever hear myself say. But it seems I've... missed you. And I don't know if I could stand to lose you again.
- The Dukes Of Hazzard: Bo and Luke Duke unwittingly get some African-Americans mad at them and, before they have a chance to harm the Dukes, a police car showed up. One of the Dukes said he never thought he'd say that when he commented how glad he was at seeing cops.
- In The Dresden Files, The Gatekeeper in Summer Knight can't believe he's saying "What the Council doesn't know won't hurt it".
- In The Fifth Elephant, Lord Vetinari: "I swore I'd never say this, but send for Sergeant Colon. Promotion, alas, awaits."
- Chuck episode "Chuck Versus the Alma Mater"
Chuck: I can't believe I'm saying this, but I have to go back to Stanford.
- Later in "Chuck Versus the Dream Job" by Casey when Chuck tells General Beckman that Operation Bartowski is their best team.
Casey: (to himself) I can't believe I'm going to say this. (aloud) Chuck's right.
- NCIS: Kate suggests illegally hacking a government database, and is promptly amazed that she would say that.
- Drop the Dead Donkey
Helen Cooper: I can't believe I'm saying this, Dave, but while I'm away you'll be in charge of ethics.
- Home Improvement episode "Mr. Wilson's Opus"
Tim Taylor: I can't believe I'm even saying this, but you're taking all the fun out of Shakespeare.
- The Office (American) episode "Weight Loss"
Jim: I can't believe I'm saying this, but Michael is actually killing it with Holly.
- As Time Goes By episode "What Now?"
Harry: I never thought I'd say this, but... You're a mate.
Wanda: I thought I'd never say this, but Larry is right.
- Episode 4 of the Doctor Who serial The Underwater Menace.
Jamie McCrimmon: You know I never thought I'd say this, but well it's great.
- Used in Red Dwarf in conjunction with Take Me to Your Leader.
- Star Trek Enterprise episode "Dear Doctor"
Captain Archer: I never thought I'd say this, but I'm beginning to understand how the Vulcans must have felt.
- Hannah Montana episode "My Boyfriend's Jackson and There's Gonna Be Trouble"
Robbie Stewart: I never thought I'd have to say this to any of my kids, but why didn't you break up with your sister, Jackson?
- Midsomer Murders episode "The Magician's Nephew"
Cully Barnaby: Now, Dad, I never thought I'd have to say this: "Put your teeth in!"
- Prison Break episode "First Down"
Brad Bellick: I never thought I'd say this, Scofield, but I thank God for the day you walked into Fox River.
Jerry: Kramer, I never thought I'd say this, but that's not a bad idea.
- Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode "What You Leave Behind"
Admiral Ross: I never thought I'd say this, but thank God for the Cardassians.
- That 70s Show
- Episode "Let's Spend the Night Together"
Jackie: I never thought I'd say this to someone wearing cashmere, but I don't think we can be friends.
- Episode "Who Wants It More?"
Red: I never thought I'd say this. I'm glad you're my friend.
Bob: Red, I never thought I'd say this, you smell nice.
- The Office (British) episode "Training"
Tim: I never thought I'd say this, but I'd actually like to hear more from Gareth.
- This is moments after Gareth has revealed that he has a lesbian Twincest fantasy.
- From Spicks and Specks:
Adam: "I never thought I'd say this, but listen to Hamish, he's right!"
Hammond: Okay, people. Let me remind you. This mission is recon only. Do not engage the enemy. I'm allowing the use of this ship because of the obvious tactical advantage it provides you. Under no circumstances is it to be used to travel through time. (beat) Never in my life did I imagine ever giving that order.
- In an episode of Frontline, Sam says this before telling Emma to page Mike. This is the punchline of a running gag with Mike reminding everyone of his pager number, oblivious to the fact that no one wants it.
- In the series finale of Mash, Klinger says this when he announces he's staying in Korea to marry Soon Lee and help her track down her refugee family.
- In an episode of Power Rangers Zeo, when it seemed Prince Gasket was finally about to destroy the rangers, Lord Zedd was Genre Savvy enough to understand it would prevent him from ever having a chance to take over the world, so he decided to help them but commented on how he never thought he'd say that (and was ever reluctant before saying). Rita even fainted from hearing Zedd saying that.
- On QI, one correction ends up being like this.
Stephen Fry: The language of the Flowerpot Men is actually called Oddle-poddle. "Flobbadob" means "flowerpot" in Oddle-poddle. I cannot believe I just said that.
- Life On Mars - By-The-Book Cop Sam Tyler and his Old-Fashioned Copper boss Gene Hunt have this memorable reversal of roles when discussing how to get information out of a suspect
Sam Tyler: We pull him in, we put the squeeze on him. Why is that so hard for you to agree to?
Gene Hunt: Because I am policing in the full glare of the public bloody eye, and the Chief Super is taking a personal interest and we also have no flipping evidence! And I can't believe I just said that!
- Kenan and Kel were once arguing about who was the best superhero: Skunkator or Mothman. Roger Rockmore agreed with Kel and lampshaded the trope by admitting how odd the idea of him agreeing with Kel sounded.
- Command and Conquer: Yuri's Revenge
Special Agent Tanya Adams: I never thought I'd say this to a Commie, but... thanks.
- Fur Fighters: Viggo's Revenge
Juliette the Cat: I never thought I'd say this, dog, but I'm glad you're okay.
Jenon: I hate to say it, but Nessiah is right.
Ratrap: I never thought I'd say this, but I'm gonna miss her.
- Captain Planet and the Planeteers episode "Bug Off"
Wheeler: [Linka has a cold] I never thought I'd say this, Linka, but what you got, I don't want.
- Kaput and Zosky: The Ultimate Obliterators episode "Me, Me, Me!"
Zosky: [Having escaped his enraged clones] I never thought I'd say this, but it feels good to get away from myself!
- SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Krab Borg/Rock-a-Bye Bivalve"
Squidward: I never thought I'd say this, but SpongeBob, let's get that poop.
- Also in the episode 'Born Again Krabs':
Squidward: Mr. Krabs, I can't believe I'm saying this, but how could you trade Spongebob for 62 cents?!
Mr. Krabs: (examines coins) Hm, you think I could've gotten more?
- The Simpsons episode "Dangerous Curves":
Homer: I never thought I'd say this, but [mumbling to himself] stupid Flanders.
- Bart, when he becomes famous as "the I-Didn't-Do-It Boy" and the whole class is waiting for him to say his line:
Bart: I can't believe I'm saying this, but...shouldn't we be learning something?
- In one episode of The Proud Family, in which Suga Mama's sister, Spice, comes to town and swindles people out of their money, she and Wizard Kelly try to get people to see the light, one of her lines is, "I can't believe I'm saying this, but everybody listen to the Wizard!"
- Family Guy episode "Hell Comes to Quahog":
Peter: Meg, that was a wonderful thing you just did for me. I can't believe this is coming out of my mouth, but... I love y- (interrupted by a tank crashing into the building)
- Fanboy and Chum Chum episode, "I, Fanbot", in which the titular duo's class will be rewarded with a bouncy house if everyone passes a test.
Fanboy: I'm about to say two words I never thought I'd say... let's study!
Washington:I'm investigating a critical issue and you seem to be the only person with the knowledge and experience necessary to help me. (Beat) And I just realized how ridiculous that sounded once I said it out loud.
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series: "This goes way beyond leather pants, Téa, and I never thought I'd say that."