We associate family life with tradition and routine. From weekday dinners to get-togethers at our grandparents' farmhouse, it's what keeps us grounded even in the most challenging times. However, no matter how well we think we know them, the closest people around us can still find ways to surprise us. Somewhat paradoxically, I think that's mainly because of the same reason—they know us really, really well. Our moral system, the boundaries of our sense of humor, everything. And they can use it to their advantage. So we at Bored Panda put together a list of funny and ridiculous moments when folks realized their family members went completely off-script. Enjoy!

#1

Dominic Really Went Outside And Brought A Deer Back

Dominic Really Went Outside And Brought A Deer Back

Stephanie Orrantia Report

BakedKahuna
Community Member
2 months ago

Christmas miracle ☺️

View more comments
#2

Ex Cheated. Called Off Wedding. Day Of “Wedding” I Was Sad. My Family Surprised Me With An Anti-Wedding Party

Ex Cheated. Called Off Wedding. Day Of “Wedding” I Was Sad. My Family Surprised Me With An Anti-Wedding Party

lisainpurgatory Report

Thomas.Rudd
Community Member
2 months ago (edited)

Yes, that is a thing to celebrate 🎉 🎉 🎉

View more comments

Tania Luna, the co-host of the podcast Talk Psych to Me and the author of the book Surprise, describes the phenomenon as an error signal our brains produce when something unexpected or mis-expected happens. Luna believes it was an essential adaptation for our ancestors because it forced them to freeze and focus on threats and opportunities, while those who could not experience surprise could not react or learn quickly enough to survive.

"On a neural level, surprise is a dopamine trigger, producing the neurotransmitter that drives attention and motivation," Luna explained in Psychology Today. "To put it simply, surprise is a big deal to our brains. It makes us stop, notice, and learn." That's why we remember the times someone (or something) got us so vividly.

#3

Had My Leg Amputated And My Brother Shows Up To The Hospital Dressed As A Pirate

Had My Leg Amputated And My Brother Shows Up To The Hospital Dressed As A Pirate

TheGoodTwin94 Report

Katy McMouse
Community Member
2 months ago

THAT is the kind of support you can really lean into.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#4

I Beat Cancer This Year And Lost My Hair In The Process. My 4-Year-Old Son Wanted To Be Darth Vader For Halloween, So I Surprised Him As Darth Mom

I Beat Cancer This Year And Lost My Hair In The Process. My 4-Year-Old Son Wanted To Be Darth Vader For Halloween, So I Surprised Him As Darth Mom

just_amanda Report

Brian Meyer
Community Member
2 months ago

Ah! My heart! It's too warm!

View More Replies...
View more comments
#5

I Got My Grandma A New Apron For Her 90th Birthday. This Is The Moment She Realized What Was On It

I Got My Grandma A New Apron For Her 90th Birthday. This Is The Moment She Realized What Was On It

peekab0o14 Report

Claire
Community Member
2 months ago

That's a beautiful laugh, well done grandson

View more comments

In his book The Power of Surprise, psychologist Michael Rousell reveals his favorite insight gleaned from decades of his research: surprise is a key ingredient in our formative moments. (Formative events are the experiences that have shaped who we believe we are. They form our sense of self.)

All of us are influenced by the combination of our past experiences, and the majority of our experiences are part of a slow, gradual evolution in self-perception, except for the formative events that are like a sudden revolution, resulting in a sudden shift in how we perceive ourselves.

#6

Parents Gave Me A Gift For College Today, Which Was All The Money That My Mom Found In My Pockets When Doing My Laundry

Parents Gave Me A Gift For College Today, Which Was All The Money That My Mom Found In My Pockets When Doing My Laundry

austronomer99 Report

PCW10101
Community Member
2 months ago

AWWWW

View more comments
#7

My Kids Came In And Told Me There Was Water Coming From The Laundry Room. They Said It Looked Like It Started At The Washer. I Rushed In To Find This

My Kids Came In And Told Me There Was Water Coming From The Laundry Room. They Said It Looked Like It Started At The Washer. I Rushed In To Find This

Buncha comedians in my house.

narcolepsyinc Report

Thomas.Rudd
Community Member
2 months ago

Lol. :D

View more comments
#8

The Look On My Daughter's Face When I Tell Her She Gets To Adopt A Kitten For A Surprise Birthday Present

The Look On My Daughter's Face When I Tell Her She Gets To Adopt A Kitten For A Surprise Birthday Present

-TuRbRoN- Report

K- THULU
Community Member
2 months ago

That's sweet...

View More Replies...
View more comments
#9

My Wife Just Graduated From The Police Academy And Her Sister Sent These To Our House

My Wife Just Graduated From The Police Academy And Her Sister Sent These To Our House

Mr_Dislexyc Report

Lauren Ward
Community Member
2 months ago

Hoping she sent the plastic gun on the back of the couch too 😳

View More Replies...
View more comments

To help understand this concept, Luna suggests this example: it took Hector many years to develop the belief that he lacked leadership potential. And it only took an instant to change his beliefs when a coworker told him, "Most folks on our team just want to hear themselves speak, but you listen and make sure everyone feels heard. You are a great leader, and you inspire me to be better too."

"This simple comment was the surprise spark that transformed Hector's self-image," Luna said. "After hearing that, confirmation bias triggered Hector's search for confirming evidence, causing him to re-label his past experiences from 'people-pleasing' to 'great leader.' The result wasn't just a change in his thinking but also a catalyst for 'self-fulfilling prophecy' actions such as volunteering for more leadership roles."

#10

My Friend Got A Christmas Card From His Nephew. He Decided To Copy It And Send It Back

My Friend Got A Christmas Card From His Nephew. He Decided To Copy It And Send It Back

shootermcfahey Report

NoDak Pirate
Community Member
2 months ago

Thanks Uncle Luke!

View more comments
#11

When My Wife Had An Ultrasound For Our First Child I Took A Photo Of The Print Out So She Could Send To Friends And Family. Instead I Sent Her This Xenomorph Image

When My Wife Had An Ultrasound For Our First Child I Took A Photo Of The Print Out So She Could Send To Friends And Family. Instead I Sent Her This Xenomorph Image

And she sent it to everyone before realizing what it was. She was not amused.

WKFClark Report

Nini Meow
Community Member
2 months ago

I am amused though 🤣🤣🤣🤣

View more comments
#12

My Grandfather Always Wears His Favorite 70s Suit To Every Family Event, So As A Surprise For His 80th We All Dressed To Match

My Grandfather Always Wears His Favorite 70s Suit To Every Family Event, So As A Surprise For His 80th We All Dressed To Match

UnicyclePete Report

Nadine Bamberger
Community Member
2 months ago

Matlock?

View More Replies...
View more comments
#13

Shout Out To My Brother For Replacing A Picture Of Jesus At My Parent's House With A Picture Of Obi-Wan Kenobi As Portrayed By Ewan Mcgregor

Shout Out To My Brother For Replacing A Picture Of Jesus At My Parent's House With A Picture Of Obi-Wan Kenobi As Portrayed By Ewan Mcgregor

Three months and counting without them noticing.

A-ladder-named-chaos Report

Lothar Ohr
Community Member
2 months ago

Space Jesus is watching you!

View more comments

An example Rousell shares in his book is this: Samantha felt her shyness was a weakness, until her swim coach surprised her by naming her captain. He said, "She may be quiet, but when this girl says something, you're going to want to listen."

The surprise left her feeling quietly powerful, and the change in her beliefs and behaviors was instant and long-lasting.

#14

My Wife And I Like To Surprise Each Other With Unexpected Charlie. Charlie No Longer Finds This Amusing

My Wife And I Like To Surprise Each Other With Unexpected Charlie. Charlie No Longer Finds This Amusing

JGrce Report

Nadine Bamberger
Community Member
2 months ago

If looks could kill lol

View more comments
#15

2 Steps Into Walking Down The Aisle. He Said "Goddamit Jeri, Did My Pants Just Fall Down?"

2 Steps Into Walking Down The Aisle. He Said "Goddamit Jeri, Did My Pants Just Fall Down?"

ufjeff Report

Tiny Dynamine
Community Member
2 months ago

His pants are on but his trousers are down. ;)

View More Replies...
View more comments
#16

My Parents Are Retiring And Want To Travel Full Time. My Brother Sent Them This Suitcase For Christmas

My Parents Are Retiring And Want To Travel Full Time. My Brother Sent Them This Suitcase For Christmas

dawndollygolden Report

Benita Valdez
Community Member
2 months ago

Well atleast it's easy to find at luggage claim in the airport

View More Replies...
View more comments
#17

Was Wondering Why My Wife Was Giggling When She Asked Me To Change The Air Filters

Was Wondering Why My Wife Was Giggling When She Asked Me To Change The Air Filters

AelyneMB Report

NoDak Pirate
Community Member
2 months ago

Yippee Ki Yay...

View More Replies...
View more comments

But not all surprising moments are created equal. If you too want to catch your family member (or anyone else for that matter) off-guard, Rousell thinks there are three research-backed steps to use surprise well.

The first is to identify a perceived weakness: spot a self-criticism you'd like to help someone revise. For example, perhaps your student sees herself as a slow learner, your employee believes he lacks creativity, or your spouse beats themself up for being overly cautious.

#18

My Daughter Asked Her Dad To Be Launched Into My Photo Where She Struck This Pose. Now She Is Convinced She Is A Real Superhero

My Daughter Asked Her Dad To Be Launched Into My Photo Where She Struck This Pose. Now She Is Convinced She Is A Real Superhero

Big-Custard2645 Report

PVR
Community Member
2 months ago

She is!

View more comments
#19

My Mother-In-Law Was Visiting For Three Weeks Leaving My Father-In-Law 2,000 Miles Away To Fend For Himself. He Sent Her These Flowers After A Week

My Mother-In-Law Was Visiting For Three Weeks Leaving My Father-In-Law 2,000 Miles Away To Fend For Himself. He Sent Her These Flowers After A Week

GavinWakeUpCall Report

Nadine Bamberger
Community Member
2 months ago

That's kinda sad for a grown man lol.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#20

My Mom Has Been Begging My Dad For A Dog Since Ours Passed Away In May. He Surprised Her Christmas Morning With This Gift. He's A Man Of Few Words

My Mom Has Been Begging My Dad For A Dog Since Ours Passed Away In May. He Surprised Her Christmas Morning With This Gift. He's A Man Of Few Words

klawlz Report

Brian Meyer
Community Member
2 months ago

Aw!

View More Replies...
View more comments
#21

My Brother And I Became Uncles This Week To Twins. First Impressions Are Important, So Naturally, We Shaved And Dressed To Impress

My Brother And I Became Uncles This Week To Twins. First Impressions Are Important, So Naturally, We Shaved And Dressed To Impress

kraziefrazie Report

Katy McMouse
Community Member
2 months ago

The baby on the right is seriously starting to regret that trip through the birth canal.

View More Replies...
View more comments

Then transform the weakness into a strength. To do so, identify the strength that is the opposite side of the same coin. For instance, maybe the student who thinks she learns slowly is also very thorough. The employee who thinks he lacks creativity is highly logical. And the flipside of your spouse's concern is their attention to detail.

#22

My Dad Had Eye Surgery And My Mom Asked Where He Wanted To Go For Lunch After, So Here We Are

My Dad Had Eye Surgery And My Mom Asked Where He Wanted To Go For Lunch After, So Here We Are

McWitt Report

Alex
Community Member
2 months ago

So here we arrrrrrrrrrrr

View More Replies...
View more comments
#23

We Decided To Embarrass Our Daughter At The Airport After 3 Months Away. (We Don't Normally Dress This Way)

We Decided To Embarrass Our Daughter At The Airport After 3 Months Away. (We Don't Normally Dress This Way)

ron1337 Report

Lauren Ward
Community Member
2 months ago

I love your family

View More Replies...
View more comments
#24

My Son Wanted "Cold Hard Cash" For His Birthday

My Son Wanted "Cold Hard Cash" For His Birthday

reddit.com Report

I Think I'm Hilarious
Community Member
2 months ago

*parents wet themselves with laughter* This guy's expression says it all

View More Replies...
View more comments
#25

My Little Sister Knocked On My Door And I Came Out To This

My Little Sister Knocked On My Door And I Came Out To This

RexFry2005 Report

BakedKahuna
Community Member
2 months ago

Her smile is so adorable and contagious 😀

View more comments

Lastly, deliver the message. Share your sincere perception of the individual's strength. Rousell suggests making your message quick and to the point, as if you're stating an empirical fact. The more you dwell on the topic or dress it up as flowery praise, the less surprising it will be, and the less power it will have to change someone's mind.

#26

Made Masks Of Sister's Fiance's Face For A Bachelorette Party, This Is What She Walked Into

Made Masks Of Sister's Fiance's Face For A Bachelorette Party, This Is What She Walked Into

malsapeach Report

Paul Marney
Community Member
2 months ago

Your sisters marrying bill bailey???

View More Replies...
View more comments
#27

I Turned A Picture Of My Labrador Pooping Into A Puzzle, Gave It To My Dad For Christmas As A White Elephant Gift

I Turned A Picture Of My Labrador Pooping Into A Puzzle, Gave It To My Dad For Christmas As A White Elephant Gift

He put it together, framed it, and gave it back to me. That’s what Christmas is all about.

RPerkins2 Report

Joanie
Community Member
2 months ago

I want to be in that family!

View more comments
#28

My 11-Year-Old Daughter Has Insisted On Checking The Mail The Last Couple Of Days. Today, I Checked It. This Is What I Found

My 11-Year-Old Daughter Has Insisted On Checking The Mail The Last Couple Of Days. Today, I Checked It. This Is What I Found

BallCoach79 Report

ALittleKnownGoddess
Community Member
2 months ago

That is so sweet

View more comments
See Also on Bored Panda
#29

My Sister And Her Boyfriend Are Heading Up To Our Cabin Tomorrow Night, So I Left Them A Present For When They Turn On The Lights

My Sister And Her Boyfriend Are Heading Up To Our Cabin Tomorrow Night, So I Left Them A Present For When They Turn On The Lights

scroopiedoopie Report

Paul C.
Community Member
2 months ago

You could tell them to pack a defibrillator.

View more comments

"Surprise has the power to help others change how they see themselves. But, crucially, it also gives us the power to change how we see ourselves," Luna wrote.

Possessing these new skills, you can now act as an agent of surprise—unlocking people's confidence and self-esteem wherever you go.

#30

My Wife Put "We Still Do. 13 Years" On This Letterboard. I Added A Word When She Wasn't Looking

My Wife Put "We Still Do. 13 Years" On This Letterboard. I Added A Word When She Wasn't Looking

She is posting this version to Facebook as I type this without realizing the change. Wish me luck.

PM_ME_WITH_A_SMILE Report

Uber Mensch
Community Member
2 months ago

You are SO in trouble....

View More Replies...
View more comments
#31

My Mother Sketches While Watching TV. She Turns Her Favorites Into Little Printed Greeting Cards For Family

My Mother Sketches While Watching TV. She Turns Her Favorites Into Little Printed Greeting Cards For Family

Here is what she was using for birthdays a couple years ago.

RCViking44 Report

Babsevs
Community Member
2 months ago

Very talented ....I would buy her cards :)

View More Replies...
View more comments
#32

Let's See How Long Till The Family Notices

Let's See How Long Till The Family Notices

ANewBadlyPhotoshoppedPhotoofMichaelCeraEveryday Report

Sue From Michigan
Community Member
2 months ago

Lol.

View more comments
#33

There Are Some Advantages To Being Married For 15+ Years. Like You Can Scare Your Wife With The Cardboard Figure You Found Buried In The Garage

There Are Some Advantages To Being Married For 15+ Years. Like You Can Scare Your Wife With The Cardboard Figure You Found Buried In The Garage

That she bought you five years ago.

ollieoliverx000 Report

NoDak Pirate
Community Member
2 months ago

Did she call you a stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder?

View More Replies...
View more comments
#34

Marilyn Manson's Dad Surprised Him By Dressing Up As Him And Interrupting His Photoshoot

Marilyn Manson's Dad Surprised Him By Dressing Up As Him And Interrupting His Photoshoot

terryrichardson Report

Diana S
Community Member
2 months ago

Marylin Manson seen here with his father, Marylin Mandad

View More Replies...
View more comments
#35

My Mother-In-Law Made All The Men In Our Family A Pair Of These Sleep Pants For Christmas

My Mother-In-Law Made All The Men In Our Family A Pair Of These Sleep Pants For Christmas

KyleRichXV Report

Lauren Ward
Community Member
2 months ago

And I thought my MIL was nutty...

View more comments
#36

My Dad Thought He Was Home Alone. I Had To See Why He Was Laughing So Hard

My Dad Thought He Was Home Alone. I Had To See Why He Was Laughing So Hard

j_piper Report

Felice Coles
Community Member
2 months ago

Good to know he can amuse himself in ....productive... ways?

View more comments
#37

I Bought My Parents A TV For Christmas But They Are Going To Think It’s Something Else At First

I Bought My Parents A TV For Christmas But They Are Going To Think It’s Something Else At First

chicoquadcore Report

Péter Rózsahegyi
Community Member
2 months ago

How disappointed will they be...

View More Replies...
View more comments
#38

My Family Is Pretty Odd. Tonight, My Mom Hired An Elvis Impersonator And Didn't Tell Anyone About It

My Family Is Pretty Odd. Tonight, My Mom Hired An Elvis Impersonator And Didn't Tell Anyone About It

Sneegro-damus Report

Mozzarella
Community Member
2 months ago

Her amused face

View More Replies...
View more comments
See Also on Bored Panda
#39

Just My Mom And Aunt Doing Family Things In Wales

Just My Mom And Aunt Doing Family Things In Wales

OGThiede Report

Mozzarella
Community Member
2 months ago

Nice shoes Dino!

View More Replies...
View more comments
#40

My Brother Gave Me A Framed Photo Of My Most Upvoted Comment Of All Time For Secret Santa This Year

My Brother Gave Me A Framed Photo Of My Most Upvoted Comment Of All Time For Secret Santa This Year

icandoittwice Report

Alienking06
Community Member
2 months ago

Is the word Rēddit censored!?

View More Replies...
View more comments
#41

I Haven't Seen My Parents For Over A Year, So I Decided To Surprise Them For Christmas By Dressing Up As Santa And Coming Over

I Haven't Seen My Parents For Over A Year, So I Decided To Surprise Them For Christmas By Dressing Up As Santa And Coming Over

This is my mother's face when she realized that Santa was me.

whateverlollllll Report

Nadine Bamberger
Community Member
2 months ago

Awwww

View more comments
#42

My 13-Year-Old Sister Thinks She's Hilarious

My 13-Year-Old Sister Thinks She's Hilarious

WhuddupBoiz Report

Thomas.Rudd
Community Member
2 months ago

She is :P

View more comments
#43

I Replaced The Old Family Photo In My Mum's House With This. Still Waiting For Her To Notice

I Replaced The Old Family Photo In My Mum's House With This. Still Waiting For Her To Notice

aidN Report

Thomas.Rudd
Community Member
2 months ago

Ugh no. My dreams, nooooooooo.....

View more comments
#44

My Wife Has Had This Photo Frame Hanging On The Wall Without Any Pictures In It. Tonight, After She Went To Sleep, I Decided To Take This Matter Into My Own Hands

My Wife Has Had This Photo Frame Hanging On The Wall Without Any Pictures In It. Tonight, After She Went To Sleep, I Decided To Take This Matter Into My Own Hands

I’ll let you know tomorrow if I’m still married.

baritone39355 Report

K Sarfo
Community Member
2 months ago

He/she misses a great opportunity with the little bows.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#45

My Mom Always Finds A Way To Surprise Me On My Birthday

My Mom Always Finds A Way To Surprise Me On My Birthday

reddit.com Report

Kay
Community Member
2 months ago

LMAO

View more comments
#46

My Brother Is In For Quite The Surprise Tomorrow Morning

My Brother Is In For Quite The Surprise Tomorrow Morning

stim_ninja Report

Mark Howell
Community Member
2 months ago

For this you are promoted and recieve your own evil genius hide-away, complete with minions ;o)

View more comments
#47

Bought My Family Customized T-Shirts With My Face On Them. They Loved It

Bought My Family Customized T-Shirts With My Face On Them. They Loved It

awesomemas16 Report

Claire
Community Member
2 months ago

My son gave me one similar. Fortunately, he is my only son lol

View more comments
#48

Told My Dad He Was Having A Grandkid Before His Birthday Picture

Told My Dad He Was Having A Grandkid Before His Birthday Picture

JmsJordan Report

James Tartaglione
Community Member
2 months ago

awesome wholesome prank

View more comments
See Also on Bored Panda
#49

I Mailed My Sister One Square Of Toilet Paper And It Was Delivered

I Mailed My Sister One Square Of Toilet Paper And It Was Delivered

chief_longbeef Report

I Think I'm Hilarious
Community Member
2 months ago

2021 in one pic

View More Replies...
View more comments
#50

My Dad Sneaky Sneaks Money Around My House

My Dad Sneaky Sneaks Money Around My House

uragoodpupper Report

phil bishop
Community Member
2 months ago

Bananas for scale.

View More Replies...
View more comments

Note: this post originally had 128 images. It’s been shortened to the top 50 images based on user votes.