Push Me Pull You YKTTW Discussion

Push Me Pull You
(permanent link) added: 2010-10-31 10:54:48 sponsor: SonicLover (last reply: 2011-01-27 04:02:03)

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He's gifted, just not in the right areas.
Should I go ahead and launch this, or is more discussion called for?

Do We Have This? I didn't search for it, although we might have it. Seen It a Million Times. Rolling Updates. Definitely Needs a Better Name, or so the consensus is.

Another trope for the Door Tropes index.

Simply put, a character is unable to open a door because they're pushing when they're supposed to pull (or vice-versa, although the former is significantly more common). Sometimes the door is clearly marked "PULL", although sometimes it's not. Practically always Played for Laughs.

The [Trope Name] was the name of a fictional creature from the original Doctor Dolittle.


  • A commercial for the upcoming-at-the-time Pokémon Crystal had a team of explorers encountering a huge door with some writings on it, and try to push it open. Near the end, the camera cuts to a wide shot of the door, which clearly says "PULL" in unknown letters. We also see two natives discussing it:
    Native 1 (in foreign language): Should we tell them it says "PULL"?
    Native 2: No way, bro!
    (They high-five each other)

  • The translated lyrics of one of the opera songs in the Discworld novel Maskerade relate to this.

Live-Action TV
  • There was an episode of Married... with Children in which this was a running gag. Kelly was trying to open the door in the wrong direction, and in order for her to succeed she was told to do it otherwise. And then she explains it to an FBI agent who was just as stupid.
  • A variation in The Parent Trap (Lindsay Lohan version): Annie, in Hallie's house, has trouble opening the back door, because she is trying to turn the knob instead of pushing them.
  • One episode of The John Laroquette Show had Bobcat Golthwait as a neurotic safety inspector that always tried to open the door wrong, whether it was push or pull.

Newspaper Comics
  • A character in one strip of The Far Side got stuck at a door like this. See the page image.

  • Truth in Television. Many, many people in Real Life have done this, including George W. Bush himself.
    • Donald Norman's seminal book on design, The Psychology of Everyday Things, devotes nearly an entire chapter to describing how the design of door handles leads people to make this mistake.
  • There's a joke in which a guy tells of a recurring dream in which he's in front of a massive door with a sign on it, which he pushes with all his might, but it won't budge. When he wakes, he's drenched in sweat and bone-tired. When asked what the sign says, he replies "pull".
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