Dramatic Deadpan

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"You're gonna need a bigger boat."'
Police Chief Brody, Jaws

A major announcement is made more dramatic by being said in a matter of fact tone.

Brevity, as the Real Life examples show, can be the soul of this trope. Ancient Sparta used it, making this Older Than Feudalism.

Compare Tranquil Fury, and the stage direction sotto voce- "in soft tones, not to be overheard." Closely related to Major Injury Underreaction. Can overlap with Danger Deadpan. Sometimes used for This Is Gonna Suck, as the Boromir example shows.

Contrast Chewing the Scenery, Large Ham. See also Casual Danger Dialog.

Little No and Flat What are subtropes.

Examples of Dramatic Deadpan include:


Anime and Manga

Touga: You can't win, you know.
Utena: I won't lose.

  • Macross: "We may need to call for reinforcements" - Britai, said after the first use of the Daedalus Attack. (His executive officer is considerably less deadpan.)
  • Omae wa mo shindeiru (You Are Already Dead).
  • Episode 5 of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has Kamina and Yoko accidentally crash through a thin cover of earth over a massive pit while Simon and Leeron stand by.

Simon: They just fell through the ground (cue the rest of the cover collapsing).

Comic Books

Persian Messenger: No man – Persian or Greek – no man threatens a messenger! This is blasphemy! This is madness!
Leonidas: This is Sparta.

Fan Fics

  • Takeru Takaishi in the Tamers Forever Series delivers one of these when he calls the other Digidestined to fight once more and Kari and Yolei, only knowing that Gennai has summoned them bring along their children hoping it will be a simple reunion. which leads to this:

Takeru: "I will hold no responsibility for those children's deaths. Understood?"
Davis: "Damn, TJ, are you insane!"
Takeru: "If those two stay in this world, I assure you that they will die, as well as their parents. And if you call me…that, again, I will break your jaw so hard that you'll have to swim to the bottom of the lake for the pieces."

Film

  • Jaws: Chief Brody's quote (ad-libbed by Roy Scheider), above, comes after he sees the shark for the first time. It's dramatic and hilarious - so much that editing tricks were done so the screams from the shark Jump Scare didn't mute it!
  • The Bourne Identity. When trapped in the farmhouse Bourne is asked if the children will be harmed. "Not gonna happen," is his reply.
  • Equilibrium: "No." and "Not without incident."
  • When trapped in Moria in the movie of The Fellowship of the Ring, Boromir looks out the door and announces, "They have a cave troll." The tone is almost conversational. The circumstances, that this is important information in an already critical situation, make it dramatic.
  • Hellboy: Liz Sherman: [to John as she ignites her powers] "You should be running."
  • Much of Nicholas Angel's dialogue in the last half of Hot Fuzz is a direct parody of this very common action movie trope.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones is hanging by his fingernails above a bottomless pit. A fellow treasure hunter has already fallen attempting to retrieve the Holy Grail. At that, his father softly says, "Indiana, let it go." referring to him as "Indiana" rather than "Junior" for the first time. This convinces Indy to abandon the Grail and get to safety.
    • Also, "The floor is on fire." (though in this case, it's fueled by resignation as Indy didn't want to hear him)
  • The Last Starfighter:

Ko-Dan Officer: She won't answer the helm! We're locked into the moon's gravitational pull. What do we do?
Lord Kril: We die.

Cop 1: How're the kids?
Cop 2: Lost another one this week..
Cop 1: How?
Cop 2: Playing with matches.

All this dialogue was delivered with no more emotion than if they were discussing the weather.
  • Every line spoken by Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. Most notably "You will lose." and "I must break you."
    • Almost every line. The one exception mirrors Rocky's unbreakable spirit wearing Drago down.

"I fight for ME!!"

  • Soldier. Kurt Russell's laconic character Todd (104 words total spoken in the movie).

Sandra: "But one soldier, against seventeen. What are you going to do?"
Todd: "I'm going to kill them all, sir."

  • Star Wars: Alec Guiness as Obi-Wan Kenobi says "Obi-Wan Kenobi. Obi-Wan... Now, that's a name I've not heard in a long time. A long time."
    • It's his expression and carefully taking a seat that says it all.
    • Alec Guinness' performance has to be seen in light of the backstory. His character has just had the shock of his life, but he also has a lifetime of experience and training in a mystic philosophy of being centered and in control. It almost takes the prequels to really show how big of an effect this is. Like seeing a planet twitch.
  • Superman - General Zod: "Why do you say these things to me, when you know I will kill you for it?"
  • In True Lies Arnold Schwarzenegger's character, while under the influence of Truth Serum, announces in a monotone exactly how he is going to kill two villains seconds before doing so.

Live Action TV

  • "Gentlemen, I suggest you beam me aboard."

James T. Kirk, 30 seconds from being eaten and blow'd up by a Giant Space Doomsday Machine.

  • MASH TV series. Christmas Episode in Season 9, Episode 5 Death Takes a Holiday. Winchester is comforted by Klinger and says in a calm tone of voice, "Thanks, Max." Remarkably affecting for a simple statement of gratitude.
  • In Doctor Who, the Ninth Doctor had a few of these (in addition to some requisite hammy speeches):

"My planet's gone."

  • From Power Rangers RPM: A few episodes into the season, we find out that the Rangers' Mentor, Dr. K, was responsible for the creation and accidental release of the Venjix computer virus which has wrecked nearly the entire world except for Corinth City. A few episodes later, one of the Rangers named Dillon, a Half-Human Hybrid with Venjix implants, has become infected with that same virus, accelerating his transformation into a complete cyborg under Venjix's control. The only way it could be stopped was by Dr. K implanting the base code for the virus. What she says next, in a completely deadpan manner (as her personality is very deadpan because of her upbringing), shocks her team:

Dillon: I'm getting really tired of asking this, but what happened?
Dr. K: What just happened was I entered the base code for the Venjix virus. I know it because I wrote it. I'm the one who released it. Everything that's happened, everything you've all been through--it's all my fault.

Literature

  • In Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett, Carrot reacts to the story of Leggy Gaskin's death by saying flatly "That shouldn't happen." When Sergeant Colon, rain streaming down his face, says "But it does," Carrot is unmoved. "But it shouldn't." Carrot's actions over the next few books make him King in all but name. Deaths in the line of duty become rare for watchmen.
    • And speaking of Death - King of this trope.
  • From The Far Side of the Stars, a novel in David Drake's RCN Series series: Adele Mundy is ambushed on the street. Three in front, eight in back. "I have the ones behind," her aide Tovera murmured.
  • In The Forge, Raj is asked, "Sir, what if you're wrong?" "We die."
  • In The Long Ships the protagonists are at the Yule Feast at king Harald Bluetooth. Toke gets into an argument with another guest, but the king has forbidden bloodshed in the hall. Toke suggest that they "go out to pee and bring their swords". When he comes back, they ask about his opponent. "He's done peeing."
  • "You let the fire go out." (Lord of the Flies).
  • In Dr. No, James Bond receives a basket of fruit that he sends for testing. The telegram he receives in reply says, "Each object contained enough cyanide to kill a horse. Suggest you change your grocer."
  • At the climax of The Falcon Strikes by Mark Ramsay, the hero summons up strength beyond what's normally possible. The villain is so shocked to see it that instead of the loud exclamations usually associated with This Cannot Be! and Oh Crap, he simply says in a matter-of-fact way, "No man can do that."

Music

  • Luka, a song by Suzanne Vega about child abuse. Have some tissues handy.

Yes, I think I'm okay. I walked into the door again.

Video Games

  • Psychonauts - When the giant Censor appears in Sasha Nein's Mind, Sasha stares at it and quietly says, "Run, Rasputin. Very fast."
  • Tomb Raider: Anniversary.

Lara Croft: It was you. You were the Queen of Atlantis.
Jacqueline Natla: Once.

Web Original

  • Rick Point Blank has this fun bit of dialogue in reference to a healing serum after Rick shoots Don.

Don: Works better than we ever thought, huh?
Rick: Yeah. Yeah, sure does.

Western Animation

Real Life

  • The German army surrounded Bastogne in December 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. The German commander issued a "Surrender or Die" ultimatum. The American commander replied simply, "Nuts."
    • Napoleon's Imperial Guard ended up in a similar position during the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Historical accounts render the commander's response as either "La Garde meurt, elle ne se rend pas." ("The guard dies, it does not surrender."), or the similar "Merde." ("Shit.").
  • Ancient Sparta
    • Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, sent the Spartans a message: "If I enter Sparta I will level it to the ground." The Spartans replied, "If."
    • At the Battle of Thermopylae, dramatized in 300, the Persians demanded the Spartans surrender their weapons. The reply was "Molon labe," ("Come and take them.")
    • After the battle of Cyzicus, the Spartans sent the following message home: "Mindaurus (the Spartan admiral) dead, ships lost, men starving. Don't know what to do."
  • Military situation reports are written in standard flat format and terminology to minimize misunderstandings, resulting in a telegram transmitted around the world on December 7, 1941:

"AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR X THIS IS NO DRILL."

  • In one of the Norse sagas a war party is about to attack a man in his homestead. They send in a man to see if their enemy is there. When he exits...

"Was he at home?"
"His axe was." [keels over dead]

    • Another Norse favourite is the story of a king being assaulted and killed by axe-wielding assassins. His last words, roughly translated from Swedish? "Broadaxes are popular this year, I notice."
  • "Houston, we've had a problem." Undeniable proof that astronauts are hardcore.
  • Before being the launched into space, Astronaut Alan Shepard stated over the comms: "Let's not fuck this up."
  • General Charles Napier announced his conquest of Sind province, India to his commander (the then Governor-General) in a telegram containing only a single word "peccavi", a Latin word translating as "I have sinned". This also qualifies as both Genius Bonus and Just for Pun too.