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Leela: Nibbler you... You can talk?Nibbler: I can do more than talk. I can pontificate.
The character stumbles upon a seemingly normal animal/inanimate object. Turning away from it they hear a voice addressing them. Confused, they look around to see no one but the animal/object. When they finally realize it was the animal/object that spoke they freak out and exclaim their disbelief whilst stating the obvious.
Often coupled with: "Why didn't you say anything before?"
Which is then usually replied with You Never Asked.
Anime and Manga
- Bleach: Uryu is asking Orihime who their master will be. Orihime says that the master was standing there the whole time. Yoruichi speaks up to tell Uryu that it is "he" who will be training them. Uryu predictably freaks out at the notion of a talking cat. After regaining his composure over the issue, Uryu calmly states he can't believe that there is such a thing as a talking cat. Later, when Yoruichi reveals her true, human form to Ichigo, she plays with this trope by telling him it was silly of him to believe that a cat could talk.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S Erio and Caro had this reaction when Zafira spoke. This is a It Was His Sled moment for the audience, who knew he could do so, but he had never spoken in front of them before, and he was spending all his time in his wolf form.
- This happens between Captain Shiki and Dr. Indigo in the One Piece movie Strong World. Dr. Indigo tries to explain something to Shiki through charades or mime or something. When Shiki doesn't get it, Indigo just comes out and says it, and Shiki gives the reaction with much surprise. This happens more than once.
- In Alan Moore's Skizz from 2000 AD, the characters contrive a plan to break Skizz (an extra-terrestrial who crash-landed and stranded himself on Earth) out of an RAF airbase in Birmingham, not knowing that he has been taught English by his captors. When Loz discovers this, he has the following to say,
Loz: You can talk! Well I'll be! We've had our budgie for seven years and all it can do is whistle.
- Happens in Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire. Buck manages "Was that... did you..." and then gives up and just looks thoroughly bemused.
- Earlier in the series, the second appearance of the Pistol Packin' Polaris Packrat shows him brainwashed by court order into believing his Hypercompetent Sidearms, the talking pistols Smith and Wesson, are hallucinations and thus should be ignored. Eventually, they trick him into responding to them, which throws him so deep into this trope that he fails to notice Buck (who is not generally very stealthy) sneaking up from behind and clobbering him senseless.
- In one printed Garfield story, Garfield and the other animals sense a huge storm approaching that will destroy the town. Garfield convinces the other animals that they need to warn their human families about this and that this is reason enough to reveal that they can talk. Jon and the other pet owners all react this way when their pets suddenly start talking to them, which nearly distracts them from the huge storm their pets are trying to warn them about in the first place.
- Kicked off a week-long Out-of-Genre Experience (turned out to be a nightmare the father was having) in Marvin:
Father: Can you say "dada"? Come on, Marvin! Say "dada"!
Marvin: (in Thought Bubble) Oh, very well...
Marvin: (out loud) Dada, papa, daddy, father, pops, pater, and my old man.
Father: Wh-wh-wha-y-y-y-you can talk?!?
Marvin: And better than you, apparently.
- Played for Laughs (well, as a joke, anyway) in Transmetropolitan: for Spider Jerusalem's first interview with presidential nominee Gary "The Smiler" Callahan, it's his sycophantic campaign manager who actually answers most of the questions, while Callahan just sits there, immobile... smiling. When Spider finally gets fed up and forces the issue, there's a long silence before Callahan extends his hand and re-introduces himself, prompting a reaction of mock horror.
- At the beginning of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol run, Larry Trainor's Negative Spirit suddenly begins speaking after twenty-plus years. When queried on this, he responds that he "had nothing to say." Things quickly get weirder from there...
- H.P. Lovecraft is quite, er, surprised to discover that Atomic Robo (whom he has mistaken for an armored pygmy) can speak.
Lovecraft: Ah! Look, it's attempting to communicate. No doubt the savage thing knows the language like a housepet knows its reflection in the mirror. The sense is taken in, but the process, the meaning, is lost forever.
Robo: Yer razzin' me.
Lovecraft: See how it cobbles together a string of sounds not unlike words? Take. Us. To. Magic. Thunder. Man.
Lovecraft: Oh, back to its native grunts. I say, the poor beast is devolving before our eyes, Charles.
- In this Axis Powers Hetalia doujin, Germany is transformed into a cat by England. Italy is out of the room at the time, so when he returns and sees a cat in Germany's place, he goes over to it and cuddles it. When Germany-cat starts talking, this is Italy's reaction. (Warning: Slightly NSFW)
Italy: Oh, there's a kitty! *picks up Germany-cat* Hi there!
Germany-cat: What's going on...?
Italy: ...Eh? Did you just...
Germany-cat: WHAT'S THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?!
Italy: IT TALKS?!
- This is Phoenix's inmediate reaction in Turnabout Storm after seeing the source of the voice he was hearing after waking up from unconciousness and finding out he's not in his office anymore.
- Tom and Jerry The Movie: The eponymous cat and mouse do this to each other once they both reveal they can talk.
- The Cat in the Hat Movie: The kids do this when they discover their fish is talking.
Boy: The fish is talking.
Cat: But is he saying anything?
Donkey: Hi, Princess!
Fiona: It talks!
Shrek: Yeah, it's getting him to shut up that's the trick.
- Can Of Worms: In this Disney Channel Original Movie, the protagonist reacts to a talking alien dog this way.
- Doctor Dolittle. Of course it wasn't just one animal it was all the animals, which didn't really help matters.
- Cats and Dogs: Lou's human family has been captured by Mr. Tinkles, and are quite surprised when he starts talking, and immediately invokes this trope. The young son thinks the talking cat is very cool and starts asking the kitty criminal if he is a mutant "'cause I read in this comic book once..." Tinkles mockingly replies "ohh I read this in a comic book. YOU MAKE ME SICK!"
- Princess and The Frog: Tiana reacts this way to the transformed Prince Naveen. Later, she reacts the same way when she heard the dog speak to her.
- She later freaks out some frog-hunters by announcing, "And we talk too."
- In Rush Hour there is a slight variation. When Lee, out of nowhere, starts speaking English, Carter is shocked. Lee tells him it's his own fault for assuming he was a stupid foreigner who couldn't speak the language.
- In Planet of the Apes, Taylor's "Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!" were the first words the apes had ever heard a human say. The apes don't actually say "He can talk!", but their reaction to it is obvious.
Ape: Help, the human is about to escape!
Troy McClure: Get your paws off me, you dirty ape!
Ape: *Gasp* He can talk!
Group of Apes: He can talk! He can talk! He can talk! He can talk! He can talk! He can talk!
Troy McClure: I can siiiiiinngggg!
- Up: "Did that dog just say 'hi there'?"
- Monsters vs. Aliens: This is Susan's second reaction when Dr. Cockroach introduces himself. Her first reaction is to yell "EWW!" and swat him with her spoon.
- The Sword in the Stone:
Wart: Oh, what a perfect stuffed owl
Archimedes: Stuffed!? [huffs indignantly] I beg your pardon?
Wart: He's alive, and he talks!
Archimedes: And certainly a great deal better than you do!
- In Tarzan, Jane says this after Tarzan repeats her line "Very nice", the first words he says in human.
- In Toy Story, discovering that Woody can talk causes Sid to freak out.
- Subverted in Disney's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, when Mr. Beaver first speaks. Peter, Susan, and Emund are shocked to hear an animal speak, while Lucy simply giggles.
- In Disney's Pinocchio, how the Coachman tortures the Donkey Boys after they've transformed actually depends on whether or not they've all lost their ability to speak: those that cannot talk anymore are all sent to either the salt mines or the circus, while those that still do are all forced to stay behind at Pleasure Island where they are locked in a pen. At least the salt mines/circus would have been a kinder fate for them.
- The Cat from Outer Space, when Jake (the cat) first reveals his telepathy:
Frank: You? That's you?
Jake: Well, it isn't the mouse.
Frank: But your lips aren't moving! You're not... speaking.
Jake: Thought transference. Nothing exceptional where I come from.
- There was a joke about a kid that refuses to say a first word, then asks for the salt at the table one day. When the parents are surprised he comments that it is the first time the table wasn't set properly and so there was no need to say anything.
- A variant of that joke has the son of university professors who is seemingly retarded, the parents start spelling out things like "intellectually inferior" because they don't want him to know what they're saying, and he says "You left out an 'l'". This may be Truth in Television.
- There's a joke about a frog asking a girl to kiss him and turn him into a prince. The girl grabs the frog instead, because "men come and go, but a talking frog is worth something!"
- The following joke:
Two muffins are sitting in the oven. The first one says, "Gee, it sure is hot in here." The second one goes, "Eek! A talking muffin!"
- A related joke:
A man is riding his horse down a road when he meets a rabbit. The rabbit tells him, "Good morning!" and bounds away. The man says to himself, "I didn't know rabbits could talk." "Neither did I," says the horse.
- A man knocks on the door of a farmhouse. He tells the farmer "Listen, I was driving past your farm when my car broke down. I got out to fix it and I heard a voice say 'It's the carburetor!' I turned, and all I saw was this brown horse." The farmer says "Well, don't you listen to him! He don't know nothin' 'bout cars!"
- Eragon -- When Solebum the werecat speaks to Eragon telepathically the first time. Eragon utters: 'You said that!' followed by the reply: 'Who else?'
- Terry Pratchett loves playing with this one.
- In Moving Pictures Victor feels self-conscious about the trope, and rehearses to himself several different ways of saying it, all of which seem equally daft.
Gaspode: I expect you're wondering how come I can talk?
Victor: Hadn't given it a thought.
- Malicia's reaction to the talking rats in The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. Oddly, not her reaction to the talking cat, since that fits better with her idea of how stories go.
- In The Wee Free Men, the toad's reply is "You've only got my word for it. You can't prove anything."
- It's kind of a joke in Discworld that people always have this reaction to Gaspode, despite living in a setting where such a thing is hardly implausible.
- It's explained in the books that adults have ideas about what "must" be real and what must not be, so their minds edit out a lot of what comes through their senses.
- Averted by Brutha's reaction to the Great God Om in the form of a telepathic tortoise. At first he assumes Om must be a demon, but later decides he may just be a normal tortoise because no self-respecting demon would take a form like that.
Om: How many talking tortoises have you met?
Brutha: Well, they might all talk. They just might not say anything when I'm there.
- Subverted in Sourcery where Rincewind meets what appears to be a very well spoken snake, but is too embarrassed to mention it. Eventually, when the snake asks to come with him, he refers to it as a snake, only for the person sitting obscured in the darkness near the snake to stand up, offended at the description.
- Oz series:
- When Dorothy meets the Scarecrow in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, she has this reaction.
- This happens again in a later novel to Toto. All animals can talk in Oz, Toto just doesn't like doing it.
- In the Grail Quest Solo Fantasy adventure gamebook series.
Pip: You can talk! You're a talking snake!
Snake: Don't be silly, I'm a talking wizard in the form of a snake.
- Human example: In Pamela Jekel's Kipling pastiche The Third Jungle Book, there's a scene where the teenage Wild Child Mowgli is being held captive by a group of elephant traders. Although by this time he has learned human speech, he decides to keep quiet in their presence so he can eavesdrop on them without their knowing he can understand. He only breaks his silence when a rogue elephant breaks free and he tells its young handler to run for his life, much to the boy's astonishment.
- The Dresden Files : In Changes, after being turned into a dog by the "crazy death Sidhe lady," Harry is shocked to discover that his Evil-Detecting Dog can talk.
Mouse: "That bitch."
Harry [after being turned back into a human]: "You can talk. How come I never hear you talk?"
Lea: "Because you don't know how to listen."
Live Action Television
- The Benny Hill Show: in a parody of The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, Steve Austin and Jamie Summers have a baby. They're worried about him not talking yet even though he's [six?] years old. He takes a suck from his bottle, and spits it out.
Baby: This is terrible!
Austin: *GASP* You can talk! Why didn't you talk before?
Baby: Up until now the food's been OK.
- The very first episode of Mr. Ed.
- In The Jim Henson Hour, Jim has this reaction when he realizes that his friend the Lion (Who will appear in The Storyteller segment) can talk.
Jim Henson: Are you ever gonna talk on our show?
Lion: ...I doubt it...
- In his take on Peter and The Wolf, "Weird Al" Yankovic has Peter go "Wow! A talking bird!" when the bird appears.
- Frank Zappa's "Stink-Foot" has this, with a dog and his owner having a short philosophical conversation before the owner exclaims, "You can't say that." Mind you, the owner and the dog had already been talking for a short while before this.
- In Arsenic and Old Lace, Mortimer initially mistakes his long-missing and heavily surgically-altered brother for a particularly grotesque statue, so one can imagine his shock when it addresses him by name.
- Tifa reacts this way to Red XIII in Final Fantasy VII:
Aeris: It talks?
Red: I'll talk as much as you want later, Miss.
- In Day of the Tentacle, Hoagie is surprised to discover that horses can talk. The horse explains that "maybe they never had anything to say to you."
- In Jays Journey, Atolla (who has been turned into a lion) inspires this from many people. Max (who thinks Atolla is a "kitty") remains amazed by this the whole game.
- Thinbeard's dragon Azareth surprises the main cast when he speaks, as well; he'd gone almost the entire game without uttering a syllable.
- Vaarsuvius' familiar?
- Played with, somewhat. Vaarsuvius knew that Blackwing could speak Common, but thought that Blackwing wouldn't because it was demeaning. Turns out, that was only partly true. Blackwing considered speaking in Common to Vaarsuvius to be demeaning.
- In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja he says this to Yoshi. According to the alt text he responds with, "And I can SING!".
Serena: "You can read?"
Luna: "Serena, if I can talk of course I can read."
Serena: "...You can talk?"
- These are Elisa's first words to Goliath in Gargoyles after she falls off the Eyrie Building. Once talking's been established, she corrects herself mid-sentence.
Elisa: You can talk?
WhatWho are you?"
- In Young Justice (another Weisman production), when Aqualad, Robin, and Kid Flash discover and free Superboy, Kid Flash blurts out "He can talk?", to Superboy . . . who doesn't take it so smoothly.
Goliath: The Bugle was right about you: you are a threat and a menace!
Spidey: Wait, you can talk? And read?! And what you read is the Jolly One's editorials?!
- Nibbler in Futurama has this happen quite a few times.
Fry: [nods in agreement until he realizes] Gaah! D-D-Did you just talk?
Nibbler: Indeeed. And I have other amazing powers as well.
Fry: Like what?
[Nibbler knocks Fry unconscious and drags him away]
- Family Guy: Peter reacted to Brian this way once, after Brian had lived with (and spoken with) Peter for years.
- Played with in the Veggie Tales story "Larry-Boy and the Rumor Weed":
Laura Carrot: A talking weed?!
Rumor Weed: I'm a talking weed; you're a talking carrot. Your point was?
- In The Fluppy Dogs Pilot Movie, Tipi is talking with the girl who discovers her true nature and can only annoyingly repeat the stock phrase in astonishment to which Tipi responds "I wish you wouldn't be saying that, I've been talking ever since I was three."
- On an episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Prince Adam introduced a young boy to Cringer, who of course ran and hid. The boy said "Hi, kitty-cat!" Cringer responded with "I'm not a Kitty! My name's Cringer and you scared me!" The boy says "Wow! You can talk!" Cringer says "Doesn't everybody?"
- In the original My Little Pony cartoon, when Firefly asks Megan (who is used to real horses) for help, the first thing out of her mouth is "Talking pony!"
- The Simpsons, as mentioned above, when Troy McClure stars in a musical version of Planet of the Apes the famous scene kicks off a musical number.