Created By: LukeTheNuke on September 4, 2011 Last Edited By: LukeTheNuke on March 24, 2012

Relationship Fake-Out

Two characters pretend to have a different relationship than what they really have, but the audience doesn\'t initially know they\'re faking.

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I couldn't think of a more laconic description. Two characters meet for the first time onscreen, and begin acting a certain way towards each other. They may act like they don't know each other, or they're enemies. All of a sudden one of them says something that makes you realize it was all staged.

They two of them could be joking around, or they could be doing it for the benefit of a third character.

Examples:
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: Early in the film, Sundance parts from Butch for the night. We then see him sitting alone in a house. A woman enters, and it appears to the audience that he's ordering her to strip at gunpoint. Then he walks up to her and she says "You're late!" and embraces him, making us realize they were just fooling around.
  • Runaway Jury: Nick enters an apartment that's not his. A woman he'd met earlier confronts him with a baseball bat. At first it appears he's some kind of home invader, but then he makes a personal comment about his bat and we realize they're actually accomplices.
  • A one-sided version happens in The Empire Strikes Back. When Lando first walks out to meet Han and company, he acts like shit's about to go down, then suddenly embraces Han and laughs.
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • September 4, 2011
    JoeG
    • Forty Eight Hours. A man driving down the highway stops by a gang of prison workers and starts making racist comments towards a Native American inmate. The inmate takes offense and soon the two of them are fighting each other. After wrestling together for a few seconds, they both produce guns (which were hidden under the first man's shirt), shoot the guards, and escape. The entire incident was staged.
  • September 4, 2011
    PaulA
    Attack Hello is a subtrope.
  • September 4, 2011
    PaulA
    • At the end of the film version of Maverick there's a sequence of hold-ups where the person with the prize money gets held up at gunpoint, then the person who took the money from them gets held up at gunpoint, and so on. At least one of the hold-ups ends with the robber turning out to be an accomplice who was only fooling around.
  • September 5, 2011
    randomsurfer
    I've seen several times where a cop will start to harrass a group of nefarious looking civilians, sometimes goading one into taking a swing at him - at which point the cop will arrest him for assaulting a police officer. It turns out though that the perp is actually The Informant; the cop did what he did in order to justify having one-on-one interaction with the informant but not blow his cover.
  • September 5, 2011
    Arivne
    I suggest that this trope have a "spoilers ahead" warning.

    An expansion on the Maverick example above.

    Film
    • Maverick.
      • When Maverick enters a bank he enters the manager's office, threatens him at gunpoint and demands money. When the bank's clerk sees what's going on he starts yelling that there's a robbery, and the bank's owner explains that Maverick is his friend and the "robbery" is just his way of saying hello.
      • At the end of the poker tournament Marshal Zane Cooper stole the prize money and the Commodore (who sponsored the tournament) tried to shoot him as he escaped. Later on Cooper and the Commodore meet up and it's revealed that they were in a conspiracy to steal the money. Then Maverick shows up, retrieves the prize money from them at gunpoint and escapes. Finally, Cooper tracks down Maverick and threatens him, then it's revealed that Maverick is his son and they were in on it all along.
  • September 5, 2011
    thegrenekni3t
    • When Ben is first introduced in Scrubs, he and Dr. Cox embrace tenderly, and go in for a kiss--but it's quickly revealed that they are playing gay chicken, and Ben is actually Cox's brother-in-law.
  • September 5, 2011
    LukeTheNuke
    I've also seen cop examples like randomsurfer described, in order for the cop to have a private talk with his C.I.

    There may also be a scene where two characters are working undercover and playing off each other for the benefit of their targets. One could act like a buyer, and the other, his bodyguard. Then we find out they were both cops.
  • September 5, 2011
    PaulA
    Arivne, it's not that I didn't remember the details of how Maverick ended. I put quite a bit of effort into describing it as clearly as possible without spoilers.
  • September 11, 2011
    LukeTheNuke
    I saw another one.

    In Game Of Thrones when Ned and the King first meet in episode one, they start out rigid and formal. Suddenly, one says to the other "You've got fat!" and they laugh and embrace.
  • September 12, 2011
    KJMackley
    Needs a different title altogether, offhand the name sounds close to The Beard. I can't really think of a good, succint one, maybe Antagonistic Friend Ploy?

    Drake And Josh did this when Drake was secretly using Josh to hustle people playing pool. In a moment of payback, Josh convinced Drake to hustle some bikers at a Bad Guy Bar to get some extra cash. Drake (and the audience) were not in on it until the reveal where Josh explained the two "thugs" were his former camp counselors.
  • September 15, 2011
    LukeTheNuke
    It definitely needs a better name. It also needs more attention. This is a distinct trope.
  • September 16, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    Agreed on better name. "Deceptive" or "ploy" should be a part of it, I think. Deception seems to be a key element of the examples.
  • September 17, 2011
    MorganWick
    The title also needs to at least hint that the audience is among the deceived. Or maybe that's just my reaction to the current title that sounds like, I don't know, anything that could lead to It Meant Something To Me.
  • September 17, 2011
    CastingCrowns
    Another Scrubs moment: Carla introduces Dr. Cox to a patient, and he stops her and says, "Hello, Dad." to the patient and begins smothering him with a pillow. Carla freaks out and yells at Cox to stop. Dr. Cox pulls the pillow off and he and the patient begin laughing, and it's revealed that the patient is Sacred Heart's former Chief Of Medicine and Dr. Cox's mentor.
  • September 24, 2011
    LukeTheNuke
    The first time we see Lucy Liu and Matt Le Blanc in Charlie's Angels, it looks like they're in the middle of defusing a bomb, and then we realize they're just rehearsing lines.
  • September 24, 2011
    surgoshan
    Barney and Robin do this at the start of their relationship in How I Met Your Mother. They fake a relationship so Lily will stop bugging them, only they don't know they're not really faking it.
  • March 24, 2012
    LukeTheNuke
    Can anyone else think of an example?
  • March 24, 2012
    JoeG
    In the first episode of Hill Street Blues, public defender Joyce Davenport has an angry confrontation with police captain Frank Furillo about how her client has been treated. It looks like they seriously dislike each other. At the end of the episode, we find that they are lovers but are keeping their relationship a secret for professional reasons.
  • March 24, 2012
    Met
    In the pilot of Will And Grace, the title characters are having a phone conversation meant to deceive the viewer into thinking (at first) that they are boyfriend and girlfriend. By the end of the call, it is clear Will is gay and they are just friends.
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