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Kenstar, internally: (I sure hope we don't have to face another Bushido Blaster. I aaaaaaam tired.)

Kotobaru-san-sama, also internally: (Me too.)

Kenstar, aloud: Wait...


You have a character who's thinking. Not Thinking Out Loud, actually thinking inside their own head. And yet, another, non-psychic character can still hear them. And starts talking back--mentally or aloud. The first character's lips didn't move, and no one has any means of Telepathy or Applied Phlebotinum.

If characters weren't aware this was even possible, this is an Unexpected Gameplay Change of sorts applied to the rules of communication. Expect many a Flat What in response.

In some instances, this is because the characters know each other well enough. Not that that makes any more sense. In this case, if a character actually acts to react to the other character's thought process, then it could be a Preemptive "Shut Up" or The Tape Knew You Would Say That. All three of these are meant to automatically fall under Rule of Funny.

Because thought will happen in any quote used in an example, please use (parentheses) to indicate "thought speak", and "quotation marks" to indicate normal speech, as in the quote above.

Examples of Inner Monologue Conversation include:


  • In an ad for AT&T U-Verse (satillite TV service), a female customer thinks about the service and a male sales rep responds. At one point she thinks (Is this guy reading my mind?) and he responds, "No, ma'am."



  • In Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, a group of passengers on a train keep speaking in chorus and commenting that X is worth a thousand pounds a Y, but no one's really listening. The passengers hear Alice's thoughts, and she hears theirs, too.

 Alice: (There's no use in speaking.)

Passengers, in chorus:[1] (Better say nothing at all. Language is worth a thousand pounds a word!)

  • In the Edgar Allan Poe story "Murders in the Rue Morgue" starring C. Auguste Dupin, he's walking silently with his friend who is also silent, and then says something appropos to what the friend is thinking. Dupin explains that he followed his friend's thoughts based on body and eye cues, and jumped in at an appropriate time.
  • Poe's version is also referenced by Sherlock Holmes to Dr. Watson on a couple of occasions, to prove to Watson he's as good as the fictional Dupin, even though Holmes thinks doing it is "showy and superficial."

Live Action Television

  • One episode of Kenan and Kel begins with the titular characters prepping the audience, then thinking to themselves about each other and the audience. Inexplicably, halfway through the intro, Kenan is able to hear Kel's thoughts and proceeds to tell him what to do while in Kel's head. Kel is left wondering why he can't actually talk back, then opens the episode anyway.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Ted and Marshall are in some tense situation together. Marshall stares intently at Ted, and you can hear his thoughts in voiceover: (Ted, we've been friends so long that I know you can read my thoughts by now. Go get Lily). Ted, staring back, nods and leaves. Subverted in that he comes back with something else completely, as he thought Marshall wanted something else.
    • Marshall and Lily have "telepathic" conversations many times, Ted and Barney do at least once (which is rather hilarious, in that all Barney's thinking is the Beach Boy's "Kokomo"), and in one notable instance, Marshall, Lily, Robin and Barney all have one around Ted, where they coordinate a verbal attack to trick Ted into dyeing his hair blond.
  • This happens several times on Spaced. It is also subverted in Spaced when they're forced to come up with a lie:

 Daisy (thinking): It's times like this I wish I was telepathic. Don't you, Tim?

Tim: ...

Daisy (thinking): Damn!

  • In iParty with Victorious, Carly, Sam and Freddie use this to figure out how to get revenge on a cheating boyfriend. Tori lampshades this by asking to be included.

Manga & Anime

  • During the Arlong Park battles in One Piece, Nojiko & Genzou have such a conversation while underwater and trying to rescue Luffy.
  • The characters of Beelzebub often start doing this in funny situations. At first it was just a one-off the two main characters did (described as telepathy), but after that everyone started joining in.


  • In the play Interiors by Dean Barrett, each character is accompanied by a second actor representing the character's inner monologue. Partway through the play, the inner monologues realise they can hear each other, and start holding their own conversation independent of the external conversation taking place at the same time.

Web Original

  • The above quote from Girlchan in Paradise features both a mental and a verbal response in the conversation.
  • The Randomverse used this in a competition between Wolverine and Rorschach. As the characters' mouths never move, this is only noted by stating it occuring and a slight change in inflection.

Western Animation

  • An interesting example from The Simpsons, where both Principal Skinner & Homer think at Bart; it's not clear that Bart can hear them but it is implied that Homer can hear Skinner.

 Skinner: (I know you can read my thoughts, Bart. Just a little reminder: if I found out you cut class, your ass is mine. Yes, you heard me. I think words I would never say.)

Homer: (I know you can read my thoughts, boy. sings the "Meow Mix" song in his head)

  • Happens on the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Big Pink Loser", where Patrick is imitating everything Spongebob says and does. Spongebob thinks (At least I'm safe inside my mind), then hears Patrick thinking the same thing!
  • This is how every non-human character talks in Garfield and Friends, carrying over a tradition from the comics. However they move their mouths in The Garfield Show.
  • In American Dad, Klaus and Haley consider using their telepathy to screw with Steve, but decide on a different plan instead.
  1. The narrator doesn't know how people think in chorus, either.