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Drop everything! (Unless it is a baby.)
Drop What You're Doing is kind of a step-sib to Dropped Glasses and Slow Motion Drop. Something very startling or utterly shocking is announced or discovered - and the person encountering the shock literally drops what they're holding in astonishment. It most often falls ...and falls... and shatters at their feet - an aural punctuation mark to the bewildering announcement.
It usually occurs in specific situations:
- The person is given shocking or bad news, or sees someone unexpected come into the room, and they drop what they're holding, so it falls to the floor, and breaks.
- The person was doing something, and is in trouble.
- The person was minding their own business, when the bad guy comes and yanks them out of their day. What they were doing falls to the ground, broken or otherwise ruined.
- The person was minding their own business, and fell ill or succumbed to some injury or illness they were previously unaware of. What they were doing gets dropped.
- In particular, seizures, heart attacks, catatonia due to major emotional trauma (or Heroic BSOD), etc., are frequently announced by dropping crockery.
- The person dies.
- The person drops something to get the attention of someone they think is not paying attention, like a huge pile of books or a bowling ball.
- The person drops something in order to make a mad dash to save something more important/valuable.
- The person is suddenly the victim of Mind Control and turns immediately to the task they've been commanded to do.
This is a very commonly used trope. It used to happen quite frequently with telephone receivers left dangling when someone gets shocking news, but the advent of cordless and cellphones has caused that usage to fall out of favor. Used comedically in parodies of the ending of The Usual Suspects.
- A British PSA about how to recognise the symptoms of a stroke includes the on-screen victim losing control of one arm and dropping her mug of coffee.
Anime & Manga
- Ranma ½: Kasumi sees Akane's Close-Call Haircut and drops what she was cooking in shock. Ranma, not one to waste food, manages to save dinner.
- Used at least twice in the 2003 anime adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist: first, Edward drops a basket of vegetables when he sees his sick mother collapsed on the floor, and later on, Hughes's wife drops a tea set when she goes into labor.
- Hilariously invoked on Crayon Shin-chan, when Misae tells his son some shocking news (not really, but Shin-chan is quite the drama queen) and he actually goes to the kitchen to fetch some cookies in order to drop them after he makes his mother repeat what she just said.
- Done in a blatant fashion in Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl, when Tomari catches Hazumu and Yasuna kissing, which in turn makes her realize her own feelings for Hazumu.
- In Seirei no Moribito when Shuga, who was the tutor of a young prince receives a message that the boy is dead: He reads it and wordlessly drops several probably valuable books. The scene has some impact as he's normally very composed and circumspect.
- Doraemon: A woman drops her shopping onto the floor on seeing her baby hanging on the rail of a balcony.
- Haibane Renmei: In the first episode, Reki drops her box of art supplies when she finds Rakka's cocoon. Later on, Rakka herself drops a teapot when she's feeling faint.
- A heartbreaking example occurs in Fushigi Yuugi. Just before Miaka and her Seishi leave for Hokkan, Tamahome pays a visit to his family with Miaka and Nuriko. He buys them a few gifts before heading to their home, but when he opens the door to their house, he is horrified to see that his entire family had been murdered. The ball he had bought for Yuiren rolled right out of his hands and bounced on the floor before reaching her barely-alive fingertips.
- Fate Testarossa drops her intelligent device Bardiche when she discovers the truth about her past. Quite the Tear Jerker moment.
- In A's, Shamal is preparing a bento when she gets a message on her cell phone from Suzuka about wanting to visit the hospitalized Hayate with some friends. Shamal's initially pleased to hear this, but when she recognizes Nanoha and Fate (whom she fears will expose Hayate as her mistress), in the attached picture, she becomes shocked and drops her chopsticks.
- In Meitantei Holmes, Mrs. Hudson is chloroformed and kidnapped by Moriarty, and as she loses consciousness she drops the flowerpot she's carrying.
- In D.Gray-man, episode "The Black Order Annihilation Incident", both Lenalee and Alan drop their trays full of coffee during their encounter with Komui's robot.
- In one of the picture dramas of Code Geass, Nunnally is holding half of her mother's commemorative plate (she had an argument with Lelouch over whether Euphemia would give it to her when it got cracked in half and Euphemia gave one half to her) while listening to the news about Euphemia starting the Specially Administered Zone. When the news gets cut off as the massacre begins, Nunnally drops the plate.
- The Fantastic Adventures of Unico features a variant, in that Katy drops the bucket she was carrying to fetch water after the Baron D'Ghost invites her to his castle, and then only after he leaves.
- In the Mai Otome manga, Erstin drops her tray upon learning that she will have to move out of Nina's room to accommodate Mashiro.
- In Batman, Alfred drops his tray of tea when he sees that Stephanie, aka The Spoiler is still alive. Steph then lampshades this by commenting that it's nice to see Alfred lose his cool British demeanor once in a while.
- When the death of Bart Allen in in the DCU was announced to Robin (Tim Drake) via cellphone, he drops the phone in shock. There's no dialogue on the page and if the audience hadn't known exactly what had been happening in the DCU of late you probably wouldn't realise why (it was pretty safe for them to assume everyone who read Teen Titans might well have known about events in The Flash, but still possible that somebody could pick up the issue for the first time and wodner why Tim was dropping the phone and looking so depressed).
- Fittingly enough, Renee Montoya dropped her pack of cigarettes when she learned that her mentor Vic Sage was dying in lung-cancer.
Renee: When did you quit [smoking]?
- In the Iron Man issue 182, Tony Stark was drinking a bottle of alcohol when his friend, Gretyl, announced that she's giving birth. Tony promptly dropped the bottle to help her.
- In The Eye, a man and woman are having a conversation over the phone. The man drops the phone in the middle of a conversation with her because he's been mind controlled. The woman he's conversing with realizes something is wrong, and she drops the phone and her bags to rush to him and see if he's all right.
- Run Lola Run: plays this after Manny calls Lola; because the story explores several For Want of a Nail possible outcomes, it's repeated three times.
- Disney's Cinderella drops a tea tray when she overhears Lady Tremaine tell the stepsisters that the prince is searching for the mystery maiden he met at the ball.
- Done offscreen in Disney's Hercules: Megara, holding a vase, is told by Hades that she will be freed from her Deal with the Devil if she finds Hercules' weakness. The camera is held close on Meg's reaction, but a distinct crashing sound is heard.
- In the film version of Driving Miss Daisy, Idella drops a bowl of peas when she dies suddenly.
- Kill Bill: Hattori Hanzo is preparing food when The Bride addresses him by name. The food doesn't make it.
- Happens in the movie Latter Days when the main character Christian finds out that his love interest Aaron has not killed himself as he was previously led to believe and he's come back to be with him. He drops all the dishes he's holding to embrace him.
- In Spaceballs the cook at the space rest stop drops what he's carrying when he catches sight of the little alien doing its song and dance number on the counter.
- In ET the Extraterrestrial Elliott's mom doesn't completely drop what she's doing when she sees E.T. isn't just a great Halloween costume, but her fingers go slack on her coffee cup and it dangles from her fingers, spilling messily to the floor.
- Citizen Kane provides one of the best known examples: when Kane dies, the snow globe in his hand rolls down the stairs and shatters.
- Johnathan drops the Book of the Dead when an angry Imhotep turns on him in the first film of The Mummy Trilogy.
- In National Treasure 2, Riley drops several incalculably valuable treasures instantaneously the moment someone recognizes him as a treasure hunter and book author, and asks for his autograph.
- Probably justified, in the fact that the person that asks him is a very hot girl.
- Furthermore, she's the very first person to have an interest in his book.
- Probably justified, in the fact that the person that asks him is a very hot girl.
- The scene where Kevin Spacey throws his dinner plate against a wall in American Beauty was supposed to be one of these, but after it didn't work, Spacey unexpectedly ad-libbed, causing a priceless reaction that was kept.
- At the end of 1408, Mike Enslin is listening to his mini-recorder while his wife puts away stuff from a recent move. The recording jumps from mundane observations by Mike to the sound of the couple's dead daughter's voice. Mrs. Enslin stares dumbfounded at the recorder and very gradually lets go of the box she's holding, letting it crash to the floor.
- In Armageddon, Chick's ex-wife drops the phone when her small child says, "Mommy? That salesman is on TV." 'That Salesman' was her ex-husband, and the TV announcement was of the Freedom and Independence teams being launched to save the world.
- Also, later one in the movie Truman drops a mug (which shatters on impact) after receiving bad news.
- The Incredible Hulk has
an old manStan Lee who drank a soda with Banner's blood in it getting gamma poisoning and dropping the soda.
- Amélie uses this to get the plot started, as the titular protagonist reacts in shock to hearing news of Princess Diana's death.
- A slight variation occurs in The Prince of Egypt. During the plague of the Death of the Firstborn, we see a young boy carrying a jar of presumably water into his home. He gets through the door, we hear a loud exhale, and then the sound of the jar shattering. All we see is the boy's hand sticking out from the doorway.
- In The Hunt for Red October a high-ranking Soviet politician drops his drink when he reads a letter in which Ramius announces his intention to defect. Then he mobilizes the entire Soviet navy to sink the renegade submarine before it reaches America.
- In Gran Torino, Walt drops his glass when he sees Sue come back into her house bloody and beaten from being kidnapped and raped by Spider's gang.
- In Critters when the mom spots a crite outside she drops her tray breaking many dishes and teacups
- In The Usual Suspects, Agent Kujan drops his coffee cup when he realizes that he [apparently] let Keyzer Soze walk out the door after having him in the police station for several hours spinning his yarn.
- At the end of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, it happens when Pintel and Rageki are confronted by Barbossa.
- When the Police Inspector in M finds out that the criminals caught the Serial Killer he was looking for, the cigar he's smoking falls out of his mouth.
- The Omen has the second type: Damien intentionally runs his tricycle into the chair that his mother is standing on while she changes a second-story light fixture, it crashes to the first-story floor slightly before she does.
- Averted and played for laughs in The Shawshank Redemption when Tommy narrates his most recent crime he committed.
Tommy Williams: So I'm backing out the door, right, and I got the TV, like this; it was a big old thing, I couldn't see shit; suddenly I hear this voice, "Police, kid, hands in the air." You know, I was standing there, holdin' on to that TV, so finally the voice says, "You hear what I said, boy?" And I say, "Yes sir, I sure did, but if I drop this fucking thing you got me on destruction of property too."
- The Black Cauldron did this with a dog and his bone.
- Near the beginning of The Princess and the Frog, After Tiana realizes that she had made enough money to start her own restaurant for being a waitress at another, Duke, said restaurant's owner actually drogs a fried egg from a spatula.
- Cars: Chick Hicks' pit crew's "mustaches."
- A bar patron in Talladega Nights dropped his beer the second that Jean Girrard, a race car driver, introduced everyone to his husband.
- Happens a lot in mystery novels (Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes and the like): Someone who on the face of it shouldn't be startled or even interested in the news, drops something when hearing it and thus reveals to the detective that they have a secret interest in the matter.
- In Breaking Dawn Alice drops a vase because she had just had a vision of the Volturi coming to kill the Cullens.
- In Deathly Hallows, Hermione dumps a whole armload of basilisk fangs to kiss Ron after he finally earns his Relationship Upgrade by showing concern for the Hogwarts house-elves.
- Also, in Philosopher's Stone, Minerva McGonagall dropped the books she was carrying when she learned the Golden Trio knew about the Philosopher's Stone being kept inside Hogwarts.
- In Faith of the Fallen, from Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth, Nicci "was only dimly aware of the eggs hitting the floor" after being informed that Richard had been taken prisoner. Although, thinking about it, he gets captured so frequently in the series - indeed, by Nicci herself just earlier in the book - that you think she'd just roll her eyes or something.
- In Paradise Lost, Adam makes a crown of flowers for Eve, and then drops it when she tells him about having eaten the forbidden fruit.
- In The Iliad, Andromache drops her weaving shuttle when she realises that Hektor has died.
Live Action TV
- Happens offscreen in Doctor Who, "Boom Town". The Ninth Doctor goes to confront a previous enemy, who is currently Mayor of Cardiff, and asks her receptionist to tell her "The Doctor" is there to see her. He goes in, the Doctor turns, waits...and looks rather smug when he hears something shatter.
- When the Eleventh Doctor turns up at Rory's stag night and casually mentions that he kissed her fiancee, we hear a beer glass being dropped offscreen.
- Ned's mother in Pushing Daisies was brushing dust off him when she died suddenly, the brush falling from her hands. She then drops a pie after being revived and seeing her neighbor drop dead across the street.
- The last 30 seconds of an episode of Babylon 5 has Delenn dropping a snow globe which shatters at her feet.
- Of course you would too if the supposedly dead wife of your love interest walked into the room and found you spending the night with her husband.
- Hilariously parodied in Blackadder The Third: Prince George is reading the news that a criminal (who unknown to the prince, Blackadder teamed up with then was almost immediately betrayed by) was hanged:
George: It says here she had an accomplice!
- In an earlier episode of the same series, Blackadder "accidentally" dropped a tray full of refreshments after the Prince insulted him one time too many, leading him to the brink of resigning that very moment.
- In one episode of Home and Away, Leah drops the plates and cutlery onto the floor after she learns Dan dies
- In an early episode of Numb3rs, Charlie is making a sandwich when he sees a news report on TV saying that FBI agents are in a fire fight with bank robbers; we see the knife he was holding drop to the counter as Charlie realizes that his brother Don is among the agents on the scene.
- Wendy is consoling herself with ice cream from the carton because she just screwed up badly and got sent home by her boss, The Middleman, when roommate Lacey casually mentions that the Villain Of The Week is hanging out at the restaurant from which she just quit working. Wendy turns attentively to Lacey, and the viewer hears the spoon clatter to the floor.
- On Supernatural, Sam drops a cup of coffee when his father dies suddenly as part of a Deal with the Devil.
- Monk, "Mr. Monk and the Genius": Linda Kloster is nervous because her husband has been threatening to kill her. Her housekeeper tries to calm her, then leaves the room to get her a sandwich. When the housekeeper reenters the room, she drops her tea tray as she sees Linda's dead body on the bed. Lampshaded and played with in the same episode: Randy tells Stottlemeyer to put down his coffee mug so he won't drop when he hears the news. He puts it down, but when Randy tells him Linda is dead, he picks it up again and hurls it against the wall.
- "Mr. Monk and Little Monk": When Natalie tells him he has a visitor and that it's his childhood crush, he drops the cup he's holding and temporarily forgets that they're no longer thirteen years old.
- Psych, "Ghosts": Gus drops his cocoa mug when he sees someone moving in the woods outside. Later the pattern on the china turns out to be a clue.
- Colin on Everwood drops a glass when he starts having a seizure in a late first season episode.
- In the first episode of Chuck, the hotness of Sarah is startling enough to Chuck that he drops the phone he's using.
- Big Mike drops his fishing tackle box when he gets a text about a security breach at Buy More. In a much earlier episode, he likewise drops his danish (a huge shift in moment-to-moment priorities for the character) when the fire alarm is pulled at the Buy More.
- Jed Bartlet of The West Wing, on discovering that his daughter, Zoey, had been kidnapped dropped first of all the photos he had been holding, followed shortly by his whiskey glass. A particularly well-executed example of the trope.
- Heroes: In "The Eclipse, Part 1" when Mrs Bennet walks into the room and finds Claire unconscious on the sofa she drops what she's holding.
- In the Heritage Minute about Dr. Wilder Penfield, Mrs. 'burnt toast' famously announces her seizure by dropping the traditional plate.
- In the Fawlty Towers episode "Communication Problems" Basil drops an expensive vase when The Major tells Sybill that Basil had been betting on the horses behind her back.
- This happens in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Surprise" for no real reason other than some Anvilicious foreshadowing.
- Also happens in "Passion," when Giles discovers Jenny's corpse.
- Also happens in "Earshot", in which Buffy is temporarily telepathic and suddenly hears someone in the cafeteria think about killing everyone in the school. She's so shocked by this that she drops her lunch tray, and the whole cafeteria applauds her (while she, of course, goes into a mindless panic).
- And also happens in "Out of My Mind", when Joyce is preparing breakfast for Dawn before suddenly asking Dawn who she is and then dropping the plate and collapsing.
- On Charmed, when Phoebe and Dex got married under a spell, Dex carried Phoebe over the threshold and then they realized what happened. Confused by what happened, Dex promptly dropped Phoebe on the floor.
- On Wishbone, David drops a glass when his father walks in holding the rear view mirror of the new car.
- There's an episode of Brian Clemens' Thriller in which the heroine tries to phone for help but the villainess cuts the phone line. The heroine then drops the receiver.
- This trope is the very reason Moss always makes two cups of tea.
- In the Twilight Zone episode, Mr. Garrity and the Graves, Mr. Garrity was telling the bartender that he brings back the dead for a living. The bartender promptly dropped a full mug of beer.
- This is the Character Tic of Kazu in Kamen Rider Double, who drops whatever he's holding almost every single time he's asked a question or is told something even remotely dramatic. (This is in almost every scene he's in) Inverted in the fact that he hardly even seems to be fazed by this in any way, regardless of what he may be holding, be it a spoon, a suitcase, a teacup, etc, even if the object breaks.
- Played straight with Shoutarou late in the series with his phone.
- When Henry Blake's death is announced at the end of the third season of M*A*S*H, a nurse is heard dropping a scalpel amidst the shocked silence in the operating theatre. This was a case of Throw It In. The actors had not been told prior to filming what would happen, they expected Radar to announce that Henry had made it back to the States safely. The actress' reaction in the first take was genuine, and the director decided to keep it in later takes.
- In True Blood, last episode of the first season, Sookie drops the pitcher she was holding when she realizes the killer is in the room with her.
- Parodied in The Goodies - Bill isn't really shocked, he's just into loud noises.
- At the end of the Sliders pilot episode, the Sliders are sitting down to dinner believing they are safe and sound on their home earth. Quinn and the others make a toast just as Quinn's father, who died years ago, walks into the room. Realizing this means they didn't make it home, Quinn drops his wine glass and it shatters on the floor.
- Happens in the Criminal Minds episode "Won't Get Fooled Again." A mother is cooking when she realizes her daughter is holding a package containing a bomb. She drops an egg she was holding and it smashes to the floor.
- On an episode of Night Court, someone said "Who's willing to drop everything and help me?" Roz drops her lunch tray, just before she passes out. (Turned out she had diabetes.)
- It happened in NCIS when Gibbs drops his coffee after hearing a bullet whiz by, shattering glass, and the sound of Abby screaming. I repeat, he DROPPED his COFFEE.
- In The Duchess of Duke Street, a character's very quiet death is heralded by his cigarette falling from his fingers.
- Used humorously to make for a particularly charming moment in Once Upon a Time, especially considering it sets up an important Tragic Keepsake.
Rumpelstiltskin: You will serve me my meals, and you will clean the Dark Castle... You will dust my collection and launder my clothing... You will fetch me fresh straw when I'm spinning at the wheel... OH! And you will skin the children I hunt. For their pelts.
Religion and Mythology
- Older Than Feudalism: This even happens in The Bible. Moses drops the tablets with the Laws and breaks them (well, trashes them) when he notices that his followers have started worshiping the Golden Calf. He had to go back to get the Commandments, since he had broken the Laws, and God apparently had failed to keep a spare copy.
- Judas reportedly spilled his salt when Jesus announced that someone would betray him.
- In Charlie's Aunt' upon hearing the news that one man intends to marry Charlie's Aunt, who is actually another man in drag, drops the tray he's holding.
- At one point during Final Fantasy VII's ending, Cid drops his cigar from his mouth.
- The team is stuck in a collapsing cavern, with things about to get worse. Cid mutters to himself something along the lines of "Lady Luck, don't give up on me now." Cue the reaction above when the Highwind litterly drops from the ceiling.
- In the Riviera drama CDs, this is the young Malice's reaction to realizing that her mother has just died; she was fixing Rizuna some fruit beforehand, and we hear the plates shatter when she drops them.
- This Ctrl+Alt+Del comic.
- Also, Zeke's first appearance.
- Queen of Wands: Shannon drops the phone due to a complication with her pregnancy, and Angela thinks Shannon just got disgusted and hung up on her.
- Dominic's father Donovan displays it upon a harsh shock in this Dominic Deegan comic.
- Done by Meimi, Yuki's mother and retired Magical Girl at the end of Megatokyo's 9th chapter to introduce an element of uncertainty to Miho's No One Could Survive That, providing a massive Cliff Hanger as well.
- The webcomic Nothing Better has it at least twice:
- Jane drops her shower bucket when she discovers a prank grodying up the shower stall.
- Katt drops her art supplies when she is shocked.
- In Cwen's Quest, Riddly Lancer is occasionally so surprised he not only drops what he is holding but is himself dropped to the ground.
- Questionable Content has a three-person example of this trope.
- Happens several times in Ménage à 3:
- The trope is discussed in this Pv P strip.
- Girl Genius, when Vanamonde informed by his grandfather that there's one more claimant to be his liege than he thought while holding a big cup of coffee.
- Homestuck. Ms Paint has this reaction upon seeing Lord English behind the fourth wall.
- Spoony dropped his controller at the sight of Quistis in his Final Fantasy 8 review. A very hot teacher.
- In Survival of the Fittest version 4 Reiko Ishida does something like this with a piece of bread she had been eating when she finds out that her twin sister Reika has been killed. This quickly reached Memetic Mutation.
- Kim Possible: Ron drops his "flour baby" in shock when his parents spring on him that they've adopted a baby. The "flour baby" is a school project, and it becomes the episode's Running Gag, as it is repeatedly dropped or otherwise damaged.
- And when Nana Possible gets mind-controlled, she lets her lemon squares drop to the floor.
- Invoked during an episode of American Dad.
Stan: Francine, drop whatever you're doing and help me!
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Season 1
- "Imprisoned": Katara drops what she's doing (a perfectly nice ceramic jug of water) when she realizes that Haru's been arrested and taken prisoner for illegal Earthbending.
- "The Fortuneteller": Aang goes all the way up the mountain at the top of the village for a panda lily to give his crush. He drops it when he realizes that the volcano atop said mountain is close to erupting.
- Season 3: Katara again, when she discovers that Aang has run (well, flown) away (perfectly good food).
- Season 1
- Batman: The Animated Series episode "See No Evil": There's a criminal who is literally the Disappeared Dad, thanks to the Applied Phlebotinum. He pretends to be his daughter's Imaginary Friend, and holds a toy so she can tell where he is. When the little girl tells him they're moving, he drops the doll in shock.
- Yin Yang Yo: Master Yo, who is extremely fond of soft pretzels, drops one when he realizes the twins have been duped into actions that will result in letting Sealed Evil in a Can out.
- Transformers Animated is very fond of this. We even get close-ups of the objects hitting the ground.
- The Spectacular Spider-Man's Gwen Stacy drops her books in shock at seeing Harry Osborn unconscious on the ground after disappearing a while.
- Danny Phantom where Sam drops her tea cup when she gets word Danny and Valerie have been in the same room together for hours. Can be taken as a Double Entendre as well.
- As Told by Ginger: Macie's father, on realizing Ginger's right and he and his wife have forgotten Macie's 13th birthday, drops the stylus to his PDA — and then lets the PDA fall.
- Felicia Hardy drops a jar of face cream when she hears the body of Michael Morbius has been found in an episode of the 90s Spider-Man Animated Series.
- Justice League Unlimited uses this trope a fair bit:
- Two old ladies drop their teacups to shatter on the floor when Solomon Grundy shows up for revenge in a Halloween episode of The Batman.
- Alfred drops a Ming vase when Ethan says something to Bruce about the Batman.
Alfred: Just a Ming.
- Daria's Mom was busy talking to her boss, Eric, on the phone when Jake collapsed from a heart attack. As soon as she realized what happened, she dropped her phone.
- Helga and her father Big Bob on Hey Arnold both drop their glasses in shock when Miriam anounces she's going to be away from a few days, suggesting they spend some father-daughter quality time together while she's gone in the episode Quantity Time.
- In the episode Hand in Hand on Kick Buttowski, Kendall drops her phone in the middle of a conversation with her boyfriend, Ronaldo, when she realizes she's right outside the store he's in and he's about to exit and sees the possibility of him catching her and Kick together.
- A less dramatic, but memorable example occurs during a lecture by L. Ron Hubbard on the events of OT III. When he gets to the part about how Xenu used his last moments in office (he was about to be forcibly "un-elected") to "goof the floof," an attendee can be heard dropping their pencil, apparently in shock. Hubbard comments on this:
"Yes, I don't blame you for dropping something..."