Created By: Terrane on February 11, 2012 Last Edited By: Terrane on March 27, 2012

Subverted Sequitur

Dialogue that sounds like it is referring to a certain topic, only to end in a comedic twist.

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Rolling Updates, Needs More Examples

A type of Bait-and-Switch, used for comedy.

A character will describe or react to something in a way that looks like it's heading toward an obvious conclusion, but instead it ends differently. The key is the build up to the punchline. The longer the character goes on, the more ridiculous it becomes when their actual topic is revealed. When exaggerated, the character will expound with such specific detail it seems like they couldn't possibly refer to anything else, and yet still will somehow.

Compare with Non Sequitur, which will not make any logical sense and feel completely random. In this trope, the final comment will follow some sort of logic (if at least only to the person who brings it up), but the dialogue leading up to it will appear as if it's heading in another direction. A Bait-and-Switch Comment is when a sentence gains a different meaning only after being said in full. Innocent Innuendo and Stab the Salad are subtropes.


Live-Action TV:
  • In the Frasier episode "Hot Ticket", Frasier and Niles are trying to think of a way to get tickets to a sold-out play:
    Frasier: Niles, there is another way.
    Niles: You don't mean...
    Frasier: Yes. I know it's a calculated risk. It is a little uncertain.
    Niles: You can't be serious. It's unthinkable.
    Frasier: Niles, what other choice do we have?
    Niles: But the indignity, it reeks of desperation.
    Martin: Now, now, before you do anything desperate, at least go stand in the cancellation line. [He leaves.]
    Niles: What did he think we were talking about?
  • Used in Married... with Children:
    • In "How Green Was My Apple":
      Al: Look at her swinging back and forth. The way the sunlight hits her skin. I'd sure like to have that in my mouth.
      Peg: Al, you are talking about a stupid apple swinging from a tree.
    • In "Twisted", everybody is hiding in the basement as a tornado blows over them. The danger of the situation excites Peg and Marcy so much that when the lights go out, they ravish their husbands. Moments later the radio announces that the tornado is going to double back:
      Jefferson: Dear God, no! I can't live through that again.
      Al: The darkness... the cold... the awful suction!
      Jefferson: I'm not talking about the tornado, Al.
      Al: Neither am I!

Western Animation:
  • The Simpsons uses this a lot:
    • In "Deep Space Homer", Homer is sure he's going to win the "Worker of the Week" award because everybody has to win it at least once, and he's the only person at the plant who has never won it before:
      Mr. Burns: I can't believe we've overlooked this week's winner for so very, very long. We simply could not function without his tireless efforts. So, a round of applause for... this inanimate carbon rod!
    • From "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson":
      Homer: Now what do you have to wash that awful taste out of my mouth?
      Street Vendor: Mountain Dew or Crab Juice.
      Homer: [Disgusted.] Blecch! Ew! Sheesh! I'll take a crab juice.
    • In "Homer the Heretic", Homer decides to stop going to church, which Marge describes as being "wicked":
      Homer: Kids, let me tell you about another so-called "wicked" guy. He had long hair and some wild ideas and he didn't always do what other people thought was right. And that man's name was... I forget. But the point is... I forget that, too. Marge, you know what I'm talking about. He used to drive that blue car?
    • Similarly, in "The Springfield Files":
      Reverend Lovejoy: I remember another gentle visitor from the heavens. Who came to earth, and then died, only to be brought back to life again. And his name was... E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. I love that little guy.
  • Futurama, "Space Pilot 3000":
    Fry: My God, it's the future. My parents... My co-workers... My girlfriend... I'll never see any of them again. [Pause.] Yahoo!
Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • February 11, 2012
    • 30 Rock does this a lot. For example, in one episode when Liz and Kenneth are interrogating Tracy:
      Kenneth (Brandishing knife): We have ways of making you talk, Mr. Jordan (pulls apple out of his pocket and begins to peel it)...freshly peeled apple slices.
  • February 11, 2012
    The first Simpsons example sounds like And The Winner Is.

    Also, how is this distinct from Bait And Switch?
  • February 11, 2012
    Bait And Switch seems like a very broad page that lists any subversion used for comedy. In this subtrope, the key is how the dialogue goes out of it's way to set up a certain reaction, then subverts it with an unexpected punchline.

    So, for the Simpsons example you mentioned, it's not the fact alone that Homer gets passed up for an award that I'm highlighting, it's how Mr. Burns goes and mentions how "we've overlooked this week's winner for so very, very long", leading to the assumption that it's Homer who he's most likely talking about, which is then proven wrong.
  • February 19, 2012
    Looking for more examples and thoughts about this trope. This seems like something that occurs very often in comedy, but it's kind of hard to remember examples off the top of my head.
  • February 19, 2012
    This would be a supertrope to Innocent Innuendo.
  • February 19, 2012
    In something about Mary, the crazy ex- declares he wants something to remember her by and begins chasing her. Her shoes.
  • February 27, 2012
    Stab The Salad is probably a subtrope. One that the Thirty Rock example would fit in, at least.
  • March 22, 2012
    • This was somewhat of a Running Gag in the Spongebob Squarepants episode "Have You Seen This Snail?" The prime example would be this line near the end:
      Patrick: Did you just say Gary? Spongebob, I just remembered, earlier today at the craft store, I saw... these huge chunks of balsa wood! They were awesome!
  • March 22, 2012
    In an episode of Barney Miller, Wojo complains about one of his co-workers having to show how he's smarter than others, .... then mentions clothes, revealing he's talking about Harris, not Dietrich. Dietrich himself thought he was whom Wojo was talking about, at first. In an episode of Stargate SG-1, people are talking about a person apparantly born without a father, and Sam references Darth Vader, which others in the room find surprising.
  • March 22, 2012
    From the page Bait And Switch: "A type of joke where a character leads the audience or other characters into thinking he or she is going to say something, but says something unexpected."

    Your distinction: "In this subtrope, the key is how the dialogue goes out of it's way to set up a certain reaction, then subverts it with an unexpected punchline."

    The only difference I saw was possibly the degree in which the characters lead the audience to believe they're going to say something, which makes this The Same But More. We don't need this. It's covered.

  • March 23, 2012
    The thing with Bait And Switch is that page seems like it covers all jokes of this nature. The Laconic version even says it's about "Subversion as humor", and the original description simply says, "A type of joke where the joke is that a gag is clearly set up, then never happens." I'm not sure why it was changed. It wasn't explained and a lot of the examples aren't limited to dialogue. When I looked at the examples on that page, it seemed like there were a lot of them were about visual and other subversions also, which is why I thought this could be a specific subtrope.

    In addition, it's not the degree of the subversion that I felt was the heart of this trope, it's the execution and the delivery. That's why I compared it with Bait And Switch Comment, which has a similar joke, but the key is in the way it's presented. Although looking at some of suggested examples, they don't quite fit what I was thinking of, and would probably be better in some of the other pages. Maybe I'm not making the distinction very clear.
  • March 23, 2012
    Also, this seems like it's already covered in One Dialogue Two Conversations.
  • March 27, 2012
    They don't seem that similar.