Sometimes, a trope is handled in a way that is, quite frankly, beyond our normal categorizations of [[SubvertedTrope subversion]], [[AvertedTrope aversion]], DoubleSubversion, or [[InvertedTrope inversion]]. Such tropes wind up as those rare complexities that can make the readers grin or [[DrivenToSuicide shoot themselves]] due to being {{Mind Screw}}ed too many times... Thus, the Zig-Zagging Trope.

Sometimes a Zig-Zagging trope is a product of overcomplication after it comes into play; anything involving a triple subversion makes the result a zig-zagging use of the trope. Sometimes, a trope is both inverted and played straight at the same time, which is also a Zig-Zagging trope.

[[ForTheLulz And sometimes the author is simply saying "Dance, trope, dance! Dance for my amusement!"]] before indulging in an EvilLaugh.

In other words, think of an example of this as any that is too screwy or complex to be one of the other TropeTropes. As a rule of thumb, if someone cannot describe a use of a trope any better than "[[PlayingWithATrope played with]]", it's likely this.



* One coupon commercial ran up and down with its entire concept. It opens with a couple talking about a website that helped their relationship, before revealing that it's talking about coupons. Then the guy says that he printed out some coupons to surprise his wife, then cuts to a shot of her jumping on him, at which point it cuts to them being interviewed for the commercial on the couch, with the wife saying "and that's how the twins were born," implying that they really were talking about sex now, then it pans out to show two bags of groceries, leading you to believe that's what they were talking about, at which point the husband says that it's good they can get coupons for diapers, leading back to the idea that it was talking about sex.

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
%%* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' does this to many, many, many things ([[MindScrew it seems]]) such as [[HumongousMecha giant robots]], the [[AdultsAreUseless usefulness of anyone over 18]], the [[WhatMeasureIsANonHuman nature of man]], the [[AGodAmI nature of the divine]] and... [[RageQuit you know what? Just watch the show.]]
* ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'' does this with the concept of the UnwantedHarem. It starts out as one, but oh wait, he's ObliviousToLove, then a bunch of the cast fall in love with him anyway, but it doesn't count because he [[ChasteHero never reciprocates]], unless [[IDidntMeanToTurnYouOn it's unintentional]], etc. It's still not entirely clear if the series is actually an UnwantedHarem or not.
** Hell, it's not even clear whether the harem is unwanted! On one hand, he doesn't return any of the feelings at the moment, and probably won't for a while. One the other hand, he ''has'' become good friends with all the girls and a bunch more who aren't romantically interested in him, and does appreciate how much they are willing to help him. On the other hand, as Haruna and [[MetaGuy Chisame]] have pointed out, love triangles rarely work out well, and unless Negi goes for [[MarryThemAll everyone]] (and there are [[ChickMagnet a lot of them]]), a whole lot of them are going to be disappointed. On the ''other'' hand, this isn't just a straight romantic comedy but also an action/adventure fantasy as well, and Negi would not have gotten ''nearly'' as far as he had without all of these other characters backing him up. Zig Zagged Trope indeed...
** It does the same thing with FirstGirlWins, as there are about 5 girls who fit the criteria, and at least one of them could also qualify as [[LastGirlWins the last girl]]. But of course, [[NoRomanticResolution Negi didn't end up with any of them...]]
** The Negi/Rakan fight is essentially a long string of Subverted {{Anti Climax}}es combined with numerous instances of IAmNotLeftHanded. It's hard to tell whether the fight's conclusion is actually an AntiClimax or not.
* ''Manga/GiantRobo'' does this with a BrokenPedestal. The image of Vogler keeps getting added on with new information from new character left and right, from being a vengeful MadScientist to a benevolent scientist. Eventually, [[spoiler: it ends with subversion]]. Too bad PoorCommunicationKills.
* ''Manga/HighschoolOfTheDead'' does it in episode 11, when Takashi pins Rei to the bed after she confesses her felings for him. When he doesn't go any further, she asks why he's hesitating (i.e. ArentYouGoingToRavishMe). He tells her it's because he doesn't know how he should feel about it, since he couldn't tell whether she's being sincere or not. After being assured that she is, he accepts and leans down [[SexyDiscretionShot out of frame]], soon followed by [[CoitusEnsues the sounds of their lovemaking.]] But they're forced to stop moments later, because Rei hadn't fully recovered from her back injury.
* In ''Manga/KitchenPrincess'', Sora appears to be a SatelliteLoveInterest as he seems to fall for Najika off the bat. [[spoiler: A side story reveals that he had already run into her and was charmed by her, though she never finds out.]]Then it turns out he was just ordered to hang out with her so that she could be used in a publicity stunt. However, it was inevitable that he'd develop real feelings for her with all the time he spent with her. [[spoiler: Then Sora dies. Not to mention it's also insinuated another reason he wanted to have a relationship with her was so that there would be less chance of his younger brother remembering how their mother died]].
* In ''Manga/ZettaiKarenChildren'', WifeHusbandry is sent through a blender. Minamoto is [[DefiedTrope absolutely not trying to do this]], but [[InvertedTrope The Children want him to]] (not that they want him to wait that long), everyone else either [[LampshadeHanging thinks he's doing this]] or [[ShipperOnDeck is trying to get him to do it]]. Also, according to the future timeline, [[spoiler: it's DoubleSubverted when Minamoto and Kaoru get together ''despite'' his best efforts.]]
* ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' does this with their GoldfishPoopGang: Team Rocket [[DiminishingVillainThreat quickly goes from being a threat to being a]] GoldfishPoopGang. They volley between legitimate threats and harmless nuisances. As of season 14, they are dangerous threats with an EvilCostumeSwitch. But then they change back to white. Then ghosts suck out their life force, making them goofy for one episode. Then they're back to serious again. And now they're back to being goofy in ''X & Y''.
* ''Manga/AxisPowersHetalia'' does this with the CheeseEatingSurrenderMonkeys trope in it's depiction of France, playing it straight earlier on in the series, but averting it later on. The dub tends to play it straight, though, and England even calls him that in one episode.
* ''Manga/UchiNoMusumeNiTeODasuNa'' initially [[AvertedTrope averts]] the IBangedYourMom trope, by having [[TheDragon the antagonist]], Point Blank, hide it from Clara, rather than use it as an insult. But by the ''"Amazing Eighth Wonder Vol.1"'', he's revealed to be [[spoiler: her missing father]] when he reunites with her mother, Athena.[[note]]Via time travel. Point Blank is 17, making him the same age as Clara. He then spends 20 years trapped outside of space-time. By the time he escapes, only two years have passed; making him 19 (physically) despite being 37 (chronologically).[[/note]] So they spend every night [[CoitusEnsues making up for lost time.]] Despite their efforts to keep it down, Clara inhereted Athena's super senses, so [[RightThroughTheWall she can stil hear them]] -- and [[GreenEyedMonster she doesn't take it well.]]

* [[ I Want A Refund]], Kuno has forbidden anyone to date [[Manga/RanmaOneHalf Nabiki]] Tendo. Nabiki invokes an inverted "I'll do anything" offer to any boy that defeats Kuno- secure in the knowledge that he will successfully defeat all the other boys in school (since Ranma isn't fighting). Kuno [[spoiler:manages to defeat himself]], and what follows is a Triple subversion of the "I'll do anything" trope- maybe even quadruple, or quintuple depending on your perspective.
* ''Fanfic/KyonBigDamnHero'' does this with RecurringDreams: Kanae's favorite dream is kissing her [[SempaiKohai sempai]] at the beach and magically teleporting to a shadowy wooded glade surrounded by bunnies and flowers. The dream isn't psychic or precognitive but [[ContrivedCoincidence events happen]] so her sempai is in a very similar position to the start of her dream. With Kanae sightly dazed (enough to realize the differences on her usual dream but not enough to realize she's awake, ItMakesSenseInContext) she kisses her sempai for the first time, everybody watching.
* ''FanFic/ACharmedLife'' does this with HeelRealization: Light comes to realize he'd been acting like an asshole [[spoiler: when it comes to the way he was treating Ryuk]] and works to make amends [[WellIntentionedExtremist but he finds nothing wrong with being Kira of course.]] It also does this with the trope BecomingTheMask when [[MasterActor Light decides to play the role]] of "a naïve little boy playing with things he doesn't fully understand" but in many ways (such as his being a WideEyedIdealist PsychopathicManchild and messing with Shinigami who play by rules he does not fully understand) that is ''exactly'' what he is but Light himself is too deluded to realize it.

* HeroicSecondWind has a rather peculiar level of heavy subversion in ''Film/TheMatrixRevolutions'': After Smith delivers a truly exemplary NietzscheWannabe speech, he asks the beaten Neo why the hell he even bothers to keep fighting. Neo stands and says, "Because I choose to." Cue asskicking, trope subversion as Smith rejuvenates and beats Neo to a pulp again, double subversion as Neo gets up again, [[spoiler:triple subversion as Smith manages to infect Neo, and finally quadruple subversion as Neo uses his defeat to provide a link between Smith and the computer that created him, allowing it to simply delete him]].
* ''Film/GalaxyQuest'' in regard to LampshadeHanging.
* TheBadGuyWins becomes rather a Zig Zagging Trope in ''Film/MurderOnTheOrientExpress1974''. In the traditional way of viewing murder mysteries the "bad guy" is the committer or committers of the in-film murder, but the murder victim was himself a horrendous monster [[spoiler: and mafioso who was killed only because he escaped justice by due process of law for his crimes, and a large part of the story involves the central dilemma caused by Poirot being after the murderer/murderers of a man who so obviously had it coming to him and was clearly the worst guy amongst all the characters of the story ethically. When Poirot figures out whodunnit, he lets the guilty parties literally get away with murder, allowing them to win in the sense of escaping justice even though they've lost in the sense of failing to succeed at their plot of deceiving him -- although in a sense they won to begin with just by succeeding at their plot to murder Ratchett at all, which is what they were there for in the first place.]] If you go by defining the bad guy literally as the most morally degraded character in the story, then Ratchett alternately loses in the sense of ending up a murder victim himself, wins in the sense that his murderer(s) cannot murder him without getting caught, and he loses again in that the murderer(s) get(s) away with it anyhow. And had won long ago at escaping the law itself in the first place to begin with, at which his success technically remains permanent.
* [[ManicPixieDreamGirl Watching]] [[Creator/LucyLiu the]] [[SingleWomanSeeksGoodMan Detectives]] zigzags quite frequently between {{Deconstruction}} and {{Reconstruction}} while [[PlayingWithATrope playing tropes like a drum]]. It's better to just give up trying to analyze it and enjoy the [[Creator/CillianMurphy dreamy]] blue [[EvenTheGuysWantHim eyes]].
* MenDontCry is thrown into a Tornado when it comes to ''Film/TheWizardOfOz''. The Tin Man can cry, and even does so on several occasions, but is advised against it and it ends negatively for him, as he rusts when it happens. The Cowardly Lion also cries several times out of fear, and while he isn't human, he is genuinely courageous in the sense that when he has a good reason to, he does things even though he is afraid. The meaning of the trope is also challenged a bit when it comes to them; do they count as subversions because they are male characters who cry? Or are they playing it straight due to the negative InUniverse connotations they have for crying?
* AmericaSavesTheDay zigzags in ''Film/PacificRim''. The American [[HumongousMecha Jaeger]] Gipsy Danger [[spoiler: scores the deciding blow]], with an American at the helm, but only succeeds with the help of a Japanese co-pilot and with the way cleared by [[spoiler: an Australian and a Briton]], a multinational operation. But [[spoiler: the Chinese and Russian teams]] are taken out early on.
* In ''Film/TheDarkKnightRises'', LonelyFuneral gets a little twisted when only four people attend [[spoiler: Bruce Wayne's funeral]] but the entire city honours [[spoiler: Batman's sacrifice.]]
* ''Disney/TheLionKing'' zigzags AmazingTechnicolorWildlife. Most of the animals are naturally-colored, but the male lions are either bright yellow with blood red manes or dark brown with black manes. The ''I Just Can't Wait to Be King'' musical number plays this trope straight though.

* AssholeVictim is toyed with in Creator/IsaacAsimov's ''The Naked Sun'', where the murder victim qualifies under reasons two (to allow the murderer to be [[SympatheticMurderer sympathetic]]) and three (it maximizes the number of possible suspects) . . . because he was the perfect embodiment of the planet's social code ("a good Solarian"), that is, an anti-social a-hole. Everyone had a motive to murder the man who reminded them all of their imperfections, and in the end Elijah Baley decides to sit on the knowledge of who murdered the victim.
* TheMole is played with in the ''Literature/HarryPotter'' books with Snape. As in, the main characters have thought (and therefore the reader thinks) that he was ''every single sub-trope of this'' at some point, until finally he just becomes ambiguous. It was played straight to begin with, then inverted to become the ReverseMole, then the main characters thought he was a HeelFaceMole who was just duping Dumbledore and can't be trusted, and then the inverse of ''that'', etc, etc. That is, up until TheReveal, where [[WordofGod it's established]] that [[spoiler: he's just doing it for [[UnrequitedLove Lily]] [[TheOneThatGotAway Potter]]]].
* The entire point of the Creator/TomHolt novel ''Literature/FallingSideways''. The description of the backstory of the major players is revised, revisited and completely contradicted every two or three chapters, and keeping track of all the lies (and trying to fit it into the events of the book) becomes a big brain-hurting exercise. It doesn't help that, at the end, there's still plenty of huge {{Plot Hole}}s.
* Literature/TheWheelOfTime zigzags KissingCousins in ''one chapter'', when Rand is researching his family tree, trying to figure out if he is related to [[spoiler: Elayne Trakand, his lover]], and receives a lot of confusing and slightly contradictory evidence resulted in the trope going from seemingly played straight, to subverted, to "sort of true." [[spoiler: Elayne is indeed Rand's cousin, but only a very distant one. They descend from the same bloodline, but are not close enough to be considered really related.]]
** [[spoiler: Except that he doesn't know his mother was actually much more closely related. We think anyway.]]
*** [[spoiler: They are very distant cousins... who share a half brother, by way of Rand's mom and Elayne's dad.]]
* ''Literature/TheHungerGames'' zigzags ThereCanBeOnlyOne: [[spoiler:The premise is that the last survivor wins. With only a few competitors left, the Capitol makes an announcement that if the last two survivors are from the same district, they will be co-winners. Katniss and Peeta become the last two survivors, but the Capitol [[ILied lied]], and there will only be one winner after all. They decide to commit double suicide rather than attempt to kill each other, and the Capitol backs down, deciding that having two winners is better than not having any.]]
** In the second book, there's even more play on the trope- [[spoiler: Katniss is sure that there can only be one winner this time, but then five of the tributes are rescued from the arena.]]
* Lisanne Norman's ''Literature/SholanAlliance'' series does this with LukeIAmYourFather. It's ''mostly'' an inversion, but...
** To whit: Mara has a mate. She is also pregnant. Her mate is not the father. Half a chapter is devoted to finding daddy.
** [[PlayingWithATrope Played]] with for Kaid and his son, Dzaka.
* ''Literature/{{Candle}}'' by John Barnes does ''something'' to ShadesOfConflict, as one [[TheReveal reveal]] after another changes the apparent shade of the conflict. In order: BlackAndWhiteMorality ([[HiveMind One True]] is good, the last rebel raped a little girl for the fun of it), [[spoiler: BlackAndGreyMorality or EvilVersusEvil (One True is [[YouWillBeAssimilated solely concerned with propagating itself]], but the representative of it who serves as the main character is only partially controlled and is a LawfulGood WellIntentionedExtremist), WhiteAndGreyMorality or a reversed BlackAndWhiteMorality (One True lied about the rebel, and he's actually a good guy), GreyAndGreyMorality or EvilVersusEvil ''again'' (the rebel is the last survivor of a benevolent HiveMind founded to protect humanity from One True and its like, but it [[JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope jumped off the slippery slope]] and now what remains of it forces him to convert more people, [[AndThenJohnWasAZombie just like One True]]), and finally RousseauWasRight (the rebel himself is still an idealist, and One True is willing to learn from his example, voluntarily splitting itself into bits and becoming more of a MentalFusion.]] The sequel takes it another step: [[spoiler: One True is ''trying'' to be good, but is still driven to propagate itself, and may or may not have killed thousands of people so it could assimilate the rest into its "[[WellIntentionedExtremist benevolent]]" control.]]
* ''Discworld/MonstrousRegiment'' does that with the ModernMajorGeneral Blouse's PingPongNaivete. Is he really that stupid? No, he turns out to be a genius about certain things. Then he reverts right back to useless officer, and back to smart... and back.
** He's smart about certain things ... and ''only'' about those things. It's just that, unlike most characters of his type, he can find practical uses for them. But only some of the time - the rest of the time he's genuinely clueless.
** As well as this trope, ''Discworld/MonstrousRegiment'' zigzags [[spoiler:SweetPollyOliver , when it starts applying to every single character. Except Blouse. Who, when they have to disguise as women, suggests that he be the one who does it, as the "boys" would clearly fail. He does get into the stronghold unhindered, while the SweetPollyOlivers are so used to manly mannerism at that point that one of them has to lift her skirt in order to prove that she indeed ''is'' a girl.]]
* Creator/UmbertoEco's approach to TheDeathOfTheAuthor tends toward this, as demonstrated by ''The Limits Of Interpretation''.
* In L. Jagi Lamplight's ''Literature/ProsperosDaughter'' trilogy, Miranda sees Ferdinard, her NewOldFlame, again after centuries, and he actually has an explanation for why (despite Shakespeare) he didn't turn up for their wedding. Except that it's not him. But the person disguised as him is someone else who has a romantic link to her the past. Except that when she brings them up to him, he jeers at the very notion of ''love'' between someone of her species and his.
* ''Literature/{{Overenskommelser}}'' by Literature/SimonaAhrnstedt:
** DeathByChildbirth: This trope was played straigh with Beatrice's mother, who really did die from childbirth. But it's later [[SubvertedTrope subverted]] with Sofia, who is lucky enough though to survive despite getting ecclampsia.
** FriendsAreChosenFamilyArent: [[AvertedTRope averted]] with Sofia, who is Beatrice's cousin ''and'' one of her best friends, but it's played straight with with her uncle Vilhelm and her other cousin Edvard, who are just evil abusive sociopaths.
* The TragicBromance is played with in the ''Literature/MalazanBookOfTheFallen''. Trull Sengar and Ahlrada Ahn share all the trappings of the trope, including deeply respecting and admiring each other and [[spoiler:Ahlrada dying in Trull's arms after switching sides in the midst of a battle and begging Trull's forgiveness]]. Ahlrada is wracked by guilt over [[TheExile Trull's banishment]]. Except they're not actually friends. They ought to be, both know that and both wish they could be, but Ahlrada is [[TheMole a mole]] and deathly afraid of being found out and Trull is [[NoSocialSkills no good at reading social cues]]. It's the serie's greatest bromance that never happens, even though from start to finish it plays out as one.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/ICarly'' with its lack of continuity and RuleOfFunny taking precedence does this with a few tropes, but one of the more obvious and repeated tropes Zig Zagged is ShipperOnDeck:
** Mrs. Benson in the first and second seasons is clearly a Carly/Freddie shipper, going so far as to ask Carly ''"Why won't you love my son!"'' In Season 3 she Zig Zagged into an anti-Carly/Freddie shipper, blaming Carly for Freddie getting hit by the truck in ''iSaved Your Life'', for Freddie deciding to move out during ''iMove Out'' and basically blaming him for Freddie hitting puberty:
-->'''Mrs. Benson:''' You're the one who got Freddie interested in girls, and ever since then his boy chemistry's been all out of whack.
** Sam's actions in ''iSaved Your Life'' and ''iStart A Fan War'' show that she doesn't seem to mind the idea of Carly and Freddie together as long as it's for the right reasons. Then she Zig Zagged later, when she kisses Freddie in ''iOMG'' it's clear ''she'' wants Freddie for herself, and any previous acceptance of Carly/Freddie is replaced by her own feelings for Freddie.
** As a result of the above actions, Carly appears as a ShipperOnDeck in the first [[FanNickname iSeddie]] episode ''iLose My Mind'', cheerleading for Sam and Freddie to get together, asking the audience about it and generally acting extremely happy about the situation. Then in the next episode ''iDate Sam And Freddie'' she's Zig Zagged by being caught in the middle of their fights, telling them that they shouldn't be together because they can't sort their own problems out.
* Steve Urkel from ''Series/FamilyMatters'' ended up zig-zagging UnpopularPopularCharacter. He played it straight at first, when the fans loved him and most of the other characters on the show ([[ParentalNeglect which included his own parents]]) did ''not'' like him. But as the years went by and Steve went through a plenty of {{Flanderization}}, more and more viewers started to look at him in a less sympathetic light.

* Music/SoundHorizon's ''Chronicle 2nd Album'' has entirely too much fun with both YouCantFightFate and ScrewDestiny. For example, the story of Arbelge successfully [[ScrewDestiny giving Destiny the finger]] and subverting the Black Chronicle... which you are reading from the Black Chronicle.

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* The first time Lemont Brown is alone with Saxon Kenchu in ''ComicStrip/{{Candorville}}'', the latter goes from a FlatCharacter to an apparently AxeCrazy KnifeNut. The story he tells, however, indicates that he's just ProperlyParanoid - but the fact that he put a paralytic agent in Lemont's drink leads him to admit within two panels that maybe he's just plain paranoid. Meanwhile, Lemont thinks the whole story is [[ThroughTheEyesOfMadness Kenchu's hallucination]] and he really is AxeCrazy. [[spoiler: And then Kenchu shows his GameFace, meaning he's not AxeCrazy but ''is'' a {{Dhampyr}} and quite probably a KnifeNut. Then it turns out that Kenchu is [[FriendlyNeighborhoodVampire trying to protect Lemont]], subverting the KnifeNut trope.]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Traveller: PlanetVille. A planet does not have to be a planetville. Many planets are large and complex societies and some have mini-sourcebooks about them. On the other hand [=PCs=] when travelling through the stars often don't see more than the starport. On the other hand, a whole campaign can be set on a single planet. On the other hand some planets are almost virgin worlds with no more than a small outpost on them, whose population may be that of a small town or even a villiage.
* ''Tabletopgame/{{Zombicide}}'': Walker, [[DeadWeight Fat]][[{{Kevlard}} tie]] [[ZombieApocalypse zombies]] and the Abomination [[ZombieGait walk slowly]]. Runner zombies are EliteZombie who, well... Run.

[[folder:Video Games]]
%%* ''VideoGame/LegacyOfKain'' somehow manages to do this with both YouCantFightFate and ScrewDestiny.
%%* ''Franchise/{{Terminator}}''.
* ''VideoGame/AceCombat'' zig zags around SoLastSeason with its starter planes; some games have better starter planes than later ones, but the current latest one, ''VideoGame/AceCombat6FiresOfLiberation'' also has a better starter plane that some games before it. See the trope page for the full rundown.
%%* ''VideoGame/FatPrincess'' does this to SaveThePrincess.
%%* KnightInShiningArmour trope in ''VideoGame/{{Braid}}''.
* ''VideoGame/FrontlinesFuelOfWar'' zig zags with BagOfSpilling: Each mission comes in two halves, and you keep all of your gear if you die... But when the second half of the level loads you're suddenly stuck with a regular weapon set and ''none'' of the collected gear from the first section.
* ''VideoGame/JeanneDArc'' actually managed to pull this off with the DoomedByCanon Trope. In real life, UsefulNotes/JoanOfArc was [[DownerEnding burned at the stake]] but in the game, [[spoiler: she was previous NotQuiteDead, so her best friend Liane was actually posing as her for a portion of the game. Liane instead was captured and burned at the stake since she had been masquerading as Joan and everyone believed her to be the true Joan. For extra irony, Joan herself appears on the scene moments after.]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Portal 2}}'' does this with BossArenaIdiocy. [[spoiler:In the course of a few short minutes, the FinalBoss of the game defies it, plays it straight, subverts it, and double subverts it. The subversion is itself set up with a justification earlier in the game: there are elements of the mainframe room that are not under the control of the supervisory AI. This does not, however, prevent it from setting traps.]]
* ''VideoGame/NetHack'' has a triple subversion of UselessUsefulSpell. The game has an [[StandardStatusEffects instant death]] spell (and wand that contains the spell in consumable form) that's TooAwesomeToUse against regular enemies. However, the list of things immune to it is "everything that's already dead", which, in the first subversion, does not include all the bosses (it's about half; as an extreme example, two of the three endgame bosses are vulnerable to it, one is immune). However, the most powerful bosses (that are vulnerable to it) will simply respawn, making it much less powerful against them than you'd expect. However, it's still the most effective weapon to use against them anyway...
* ''VideoGame/KingsQuestIV'' and ''VideoGame/KingsQuestVII'' do this for StandardHeroReward. Subverted, gender inverted, played straight, subverted another two times, gender flipped again... in the end, Edgar and Rosella agree to a proper courtship. The VideoGame/TheSilverLining FanSequel and the Telltale Games sequel establish TheyDo.
* ''VideoGame/FireEmblemElibe'' does this to LamarckWasRight: Played straight with Lou and Ray's magical ability (inherited from Nino), Eliwood's and Hector's ability to wield Durandal and Armads, respectively; inverted with Zephiel's (and nobody else's) ability to wield Eckesachs; subverted with Hector's and Lyn's inability to wield Durandal in ''Rekka no Ken'' and with '''everybody's''' (if they have the appropriate skill in swords) ability to wield Durandal in ''Fuuin no Tsurugi''. Also subverted with Lilina's magical ability, as neither Hector nor his wife were able to use magic.
* ''VideoGame/Disgaea2CursedMemories'' pulls this off right at the very beginning, and relating to the game's major plot-twist. In order to lift a curse cast on their world, the heroes try a magic spell to summon the demon responsible, Overlord Zenon, but it was seemingly botched, and they instead get Zenon's spoiled daughter, Rozalin. [[spoiler:Then comes the major twist, revealed at the end of the game, that Rozalin ''is'' Zenon as a {{Reincarnation}}, and her father (who isn't even biologically related to her) is just a poser who took on the name just to spite her. The heroes [[BrickJoke did succeed in summoning Zenon]] after all; however, it was still the Fake Zenon that they were after, since he's the one who cast the curse, so in a way the summoning ritual still failed.]]

* Look under "FanPreferredCouple" for ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive''. The trope is set up when an alternate love interest for Elliott is introduced in the form of Nanase, [[SubvertedTrope subverted]] when they turn out to actually ''be'' a couple, [[DoubleSubvertedTrope double subverted]] when she breaks it off because there's no spark, and then ''triple'' subverted when [[OppositeSexClone Ellen]]/Nanase becomes canon. Triple-subversions are ''extremely'' hard to do, but the trope isn't being subverted as much as being a straight playing of WillTheyOrWontThey.
* ''Webcomic/DarthsAndDroids'' do this with NotTheFallThatKillsYou. More complex than you thought.
* Sivo in ''Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt'' is a triple subversion of the "Knight vs. Dragon" story.[[note]]To wit: A [[OurDragonsAreDifferent Rogat Orjak]] smashes in Antimony's dorm roof. He introduces himself as Reynardine, and asks that Annie stay with him [[SubvertedTrope so the cruel knight won't capture and imprison him.]] The next day, Annie sees Reynardine again, and he tries to [[DemonicPossession possess]] and kill her. Sir Eglamore--the knight from the previous evening--saves Annie. [[DoubleSubversion So he was the good guy and Rey the bad guy all along.]] The triple subversion comes when Eglamore explains that Reynardine is a "[[OurDemonsAreDifferent demon]]"--and that the Rogat Orjak whose body Rey had stolen was an old friend of Eglamore's, named Sivo.[[/note]]
** This comes close to ''quadruple''-subversion level, though only time will tell: [[spoiler:Reynardine is now under Annie's control, and as Annie learns more and more about him, he appears to be far more sympathetic and far less the demon that Eglamore believed.]]
*** Probably already counts as a quadruple subversion, after [[spoiler:in #109 Eglamore requested to turn Reynardine over and Antimony [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome refused and offered a good rebuff]],]] so the situation essentially turned into [[spoiler: "the Fair Maiden saves the [ex-] Dragon from the Knight"]].
*** Tom zigzagged the ShipTease in chapter 34 where it looks like [[spoiler:Annie and Jack]] flirt with each other well, in contrast to their previous awkward interaction in chapter 31. They have an apparently sweet moment in a balcony, which leads to her saying she doesn't like him when it looks like they're about to kiss. Then he sighs in relief and declares a crush on [[spoiler:Zimmy]]. She gets pissed off, and he gives her TheReasonYouSuckSpeech. He then cracks a joke, and she agrees with the joke and concedes to his calling her out. It finally ends in a relatively sweet moment which leads her to offering him an actual kiss. He turns her down gently and they're shown hugging at the end.
* Randomly point a finger, with eyes closed, somewhere on the FateAndProphecyTropes page, and you're likely to find something in ''Webcomic/{{Digger}}'' that's addressed in this manner.
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' does this with AlwaysChaoticEvil. Subverted, inverted, averted, double-subverted, and ultimately deconstructed. And just occasionally played straight. [[TropesAreNotBad It works beautifully.]]
* ''Webcomic/TheWhiteboard'' does this regularly with MoreDakka, substituting paintballs for real bullets. ''LOTS'' of paintballs.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Nedroid}}'', the initial comics had a lot of artistic experimentation, with some comics looking sketchy while others looked gorgeous. As time went on, the comic eventually focused on a simple, but polished art style. It's two cases of ArtEvolution while simultaneously being two cases of Art Decay.
* [[ This]] ''Webcomic/SaturdayMorningBreakfastCereal'' panel is a textbook example of screwing with the reader's expectation so many times it makes you dizzy. The webcomic in question ''loves'' this trope.
* ''Webcomic/{{Jack|DavidHopkins}}'' zigzags ParentalAbandonment with Fnar, an innocent unborn, who has two dead parents - both reside in Hell like he does. He is mainly kept away from them, since Mama's stuck in a dangerous place, and Papa is just dangerous. Later on the trope gets twisted further: Papa finds him [[spoiler: and to some degree abuses him as a means to get to his de facto guardian]], after which Fnar is separated from both Mama and Papa [[spoiler: as he is given another chance at life]]. Except that not all so, because [[spoiler:Papa is a Sin and able to visit the world of the living]]...
* In ''Webcomic/TalesOfTheQuestor'', Ralph Hayes has loads of fun with BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor:
** Subversion 1: Quentyn ''is'' careful what he wishes for, very carefully wording his wishes so that his Fae Lord enemy has no loopholes to wiggle through.
** Subversion 2: Later, he convinces himself that he wished for the wrong things--that he should have used them to bring back the artifacts he's looking for.
** Subversion 3: He's told that his wishes were the most damaging things he could possibly have asked a Fae Lord for [[spoiler:All debts and favors cancelled, everything stolen returned to the duchy, and barred from hunting the world again]]--and what he thought he ''should'' have wished for would not have worked as he thought.
** And before all this mess, Ralph plays it ''completely'' straight when Rahan wishes he could get a good look at Quentyn's face when their booby trap involving tar and feathers springs. After Squidge spooks them, causing the whole prank to epically backfire, he gets his wish--he sees Quentyn busting a gut at him. It comes complete with {{Lampshade}}.
* ''Webcomic/SequentialArt'' had fun with [[MadScientist 5C4RL37 and her sisters]] building a HumongousMecha, [[ because it's clearly the best way to stop a giant bug]]. Then they got carried away and due to a [[UnitConfusion scaling error]] [[ made]] what on the next page became a PoweredArmor. Then liked it and made more. But later built [[ one]] MiniMecha anyway, [[ as a carrier]] for "Soopa Soots".
* ''Webcomic/AllenTheAlien'' is another case of ArtEvolution zigzagged. Early in its run, it kept varying between quality. Now the art design gets better, but the style gets uglier

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In part one of ''WebVideo/{{Kickassia}}'', GodwinsLaw is both played straight and inverted ''in the very same sentence''.
-->Nostalgia Critic: "So are you a nazi, or a NAZIIIIIIII?"
* ''Blog/AliceAndBob'' zigzags SaidBookism in chapter 2, with attempts at avoiding "said" and then just settling on that word.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AladdinTheSeries'' has a female genie called Eden, who is also {{benevolent|Genie}}. Unlike Genie however, she's wise enough to become a LiteralGenie when dealing with JerkAss Abis Mal. When the villain wishes Genie imprisoned in the bottom of the ocean, she gives him an escape hatch because Mal didn't say forever. When Mal wished to become the biggest and strongest being in the world, she included a method of relieving him of his power; and when the little girl who finds her wishes for everything to be all right, she turns Abis Mal into a bug as a "freebie". She also went out of her way to encourage the little homeless girl to come up with better wishes; when the girl wished for a sandwich, she convinced her to wish for a lifetime supply of food instead.
* One episode of ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'' features a new guy in the neighborhood; one Stan instantly recognizes as an ex-KGB agent, one of their top guys in fact, with who he had several previous run-ins. He's convinced that the agent is here to destroy America, but everything points to him just wanting to live a good life post-USSR-breakup. Several pieces of seemingly damning evidence are piled up, but then they're all reasonably explained away. It seems for the entire first half of the show, Stan is just being put up as a bigot who can't let go of old rivalries; then it turns out the KGB agent actually ''is'' there for nefarious purposes, not to destroy America (in fact he does kind of like it here) but specifically to turn Stan's son Steve into a Communist as revenge against Stan. Even after admitting it to his face, [[CassandraTruth Stan still can't get others to believe him for a while]] due to his previous paranoia.
* ''WesternAnimation/MenInBlack'' plays with the WhatMeasureIsANonCute to a somewhat confusing degree in "The Buzzard Syndrome": An alien comes to Earth hunting another alien, so it's Space Policeman hunting Dangerous Killer. Then the lies are exposed, and it seems to be Heartless Bounty Hunter hunting Cute Alien. Then it turns out that the cute alien is a killer, so it's Heartless Bounty Hunter hunting Cute Dangerous Killer. Bit hard to keep track of the lies.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
** A Triple Subversion occurs in the episode "Bart Gets An Elephant." Two men are carrying a [[SheetOfGlass large pane of glass]] across a street. Out of nowhere, Stampy the elephant comes charging down the street, only for the men to [[SubvertedTrope move out of the way]]. Then Bart comes racing down the street on his skateboard in pursuit; [[DoubleSubversion the men move out of the way again]]. This leaves them free to continue carrying the pane of glass across the street, where they promptly toss it into a garbage bin, shattering it.
** The episode "Mypod and Boomsticks" has Homer becoming suspicious of Bart's new friend Bashir who is Muslim, believing all Muslims are terrorists. [[SubvertedTrope He and his family are actually nice people]] and Homer goes to their house to apologize for offending them at dinner. But then [[DoubleSubvertedTrope he discovers Bashir's father is planning to blow up Springfield Mall]]. But because [[PoorCommunicationKills he missed certain parts of the conversation]] between Bashir's parents, he doesn't know that [[AvertedTrope Bashir's father is actually part of a demolition crew that is being paid to blow up the]] ''[[AvertedTrope old]]'' [[AvertedTrope Springfield Mall.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' triple subverts AFoolAndHisNewMoneyAreSoonParted. Zoidberg bets all his money on a roulette game, and actually wins. He then is compelled to repeat this, and lightning manages to strike twice. Naturally, he does this a third time. Guess what happens.
* ''WesternAnimation/WanderOverYonder'' does this to the BatmanCanBreatheInSpace trope. How well characters fare in outer space range from nearly dying to doing perfectly fine despite there being no atmosphere. It really all depends upon what best suits the plot at the moment.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* In the days of Creator/WilliamShakespeare, ''all'' roles in a theater play were played by men or boys. This includes the female roles, so you had guys dressing up as girls, so you get DudeLooksLikeALady. Which makes for a very interesting time when this guy is playing Rosalind from ''Theatre/AsYouLikeIt'', Portia from ''Theatre/TheMerchantOfVenice'', Julia from ''Theatre/TwoGentlemenOfVerona'', or Viola from ''Theatre/TwelfthNight''. All are female roles, but the females ''disguise themselves as males'' in their respective plays, producing the reverse trope, {{Bifauxnen}}. So you end up with a guy playing as a girl that's pretending to be a guy: a crossdressing double-cross, one could say. But when a boy played Rosalind, he would take it one step further still - as a boy playing a woman, who disguises herself as a man, who pretends to be ''herself'' for her love interest to pretend to court her. The final speech of the play essentially lampshades the whole thing.
* [[ This]] newspaper article suggests that a political sex-scandal is going through this. In brief, Gay male mayor, possibly underage male intern. On the one hand, Gay Man Child Predator is a very old and damaging trope, on the other hand HotForStudent suggests that we don't think of a young male was 'taken advantage of' but maybe even 'got lucky'. By contrast, old guy - young girl is seen as more 'appreciable' but much more often 'predatory'. Furthermore, gay men are 'expected' to be secretive about their sex lives for some because of privacy, for some because of leeway for a frowned-upon sexuality, and for some because of BrainBleach.