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A character receives an unmarked present, usually a gift. Think back to X-Mas when you were a kid, and how with some basic shaking, weighing, and appraisal of shape, you could pretty much guess what the object was.
This is a trope played for comedy in which characters are incapable of ascertaining facts that are pretty obvious to normal folk. Another variation is that a more intelligent character responds to the gift sarcastically invoking this trope. In this case, odds are good that the gift in question will turn out to be something completely different from the implied shape. Either way, Hilarity Ensues.
- In A Very Potter Musical, Hermione gives Harry and Ron a wrapped gift that is quite obviously a book, but they think it might be a puppy.
- In the Christmas Episode of Happy Days Ritchie's Brother Chuck (who is going to college on a basketball scholarship) gets a round object covered in paper.
Joanie: Here's a present from Richie to you. What do you think it is? bounces it to Chuck
Chuck: Hey, watch it. shakes It might be something breakable.
- In one strip of Questionable Content, Marten gets a large envelope from his mother. Faye argues that it might be "A collapsible pony". (Turns out it's an embarrassing T-shirt.)
- A Mad Magazine cartoon had a wrapped gift the shape and size of a bicycle; it was a wristwatch.
- Family Guy has a few examples:
- Brian (who drinks a lot) receives a bottle-shaped package at Christmas and sarcastically wonders what it could be. Turns out it's a book.
- Peter and Lois have agreed to go to a meeting about timeshares for the sole purpose of receiving a free boat for going to the meeting. When they're about to accept the gift, the salesman suggests that they could take the Mystery Box instead of the boat, said mystery box being about the size of a shoebox. Peter excitedly demands the mystery box over Lois' protestations, exclaiming that it could be anything, even a boat! It's not.
- In a Garfield strip, Odie is shown shaking a wrapped bone, then wondering what it could be.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series, Marik thinks that his snake-shaped present might contain the Buzz Lightyear figure he always wanted.
- In one episode of Community, Troy points out that his present is an even bigger secret. His present is a remote control helicopter, with even the blades being individually wrapped.
- In Harry Potter, Harry is instructed not to open his broomstick shaped package in the Great Hall as the teachers don't want the other kids to notice and get jealous.
- In the movie, there is no note as the suggestion looks even more ridiculous when you can actually see the package.
- Maybe they didn't want the other students to know what kind of broom it was; a first year who shouldn't have a broom getting a top-of-the-line one is definitely cause for jealousy.