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Bait and Switch
"There was a very famous Jewish girl who kept a diary. It... ended badly. But enough about Fran Drescher! You thought I was making a Holocaust joke! Shame on you!"
Klaus, American Dad!

A type of joke where a character leads the audience or other characters into thinking he or she is going to say or do something, but says or does something unexpected. If the punch line of the joke causes the first part to take on a new meaning (ie: "I just flew in from Chicago, and boy are my arms tired"), it is technically called a "paraprosdokian."

In Dialogue, Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking is one example. The first two words raise the expectation of another crime, equally severe, but then switch it out with jaywalking.

The origin of the name comes from a now-illegal advertising practice in which a store would bait a customer into their store with an advertisement featuring a product selling for a reduced price, but when the customer got there he would find out that they were "all out" of the advertised product... but the store would be happy to sell a similar product for just a few dollars more, thus performing the switch.

A form of Subverted Trope, or a Double Subverted Trope. If discrimination is involved, see Discriminate and Switch. Sometimes turns into a Brick Joke if there's a later payoff. Related to Anti-Humor. See also Bait-and-Switch Comment.

This can also happen in film trailers and commercials as well.
    Subtropes 

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • "Connecting Flights" starts out as a trailer for a Christmas-themed Romantic Comedy and then turns into a commercial for Sears appliances.
  • Global Agenda's rather hilarious ad starts out about an elf, then has a laser point on his face, followed by a bullet all shot by a Recon agent who is the actual playable character shown here.
  • Several of the original Energizer Bunny commercials used a similar trick, with the bunny interrupting a commercial for another (fictional) product.
  • World of Tanks ads do this just about every single time, with the (Seeming) protagonist of the ad blown up in various ways by a tank.
  • A series of commercials from 1999 and 2000 are ads for The Disney Channel but are set up at first to make the viewer think they're about something else like a teen running home to go to the bathroom, or a group of teens running in horror like they're trying to escape something. They always ended with someone Breaking the Fourth Wall and saying, "What'd you expect?"
  • There's a commercial that shows a man happily eating dinner with his girlfriend who's very obviously another man in a wig and dress. Halfway through the dinner, the "girlfriend" admits that there's something the man should know in advance about their relationship... that the pizza he's currently eating isn't delivery but DiGiorno.
  • One PSA starts with a bunch of teens playing pool. One of them starts talking about something crazy he did and how his parents would probably cry when they find out. The rest of the group, obviously expecting something awful, asks what it is. Cut to him cleaning up his whole house for his parents and his parents' reaction when they return home.
  • A very infamous example is a commercial showing a montage of animals in Africa with their young while Rod Stewart's "Forever Young" plays in the background. At the very end of the commercial, a watermark appears in the bottom of the screen showing that this was an advertisement for Pampers diapers.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Early in Blizzard Storm, it seems as though Lazuli would either be an important character, if not one of the main antagonist. However, now with the author saying that the fic is almost finished, she has had more or less no significance to the story.
  • In You Got HaruhiRolled!, Haruhi crosses a busy street. She narrowly escapes being run over by countless vehicles, and makes it to the other side of the road safely. Immediately after, she is crushed by a blimp which crashes from out of nowhere.
  • Sophistication And Betrayal has the protagonist run home for a brief tryst with his girlfriend, only to cut to the next scene of him... bouncing a ball of a wall. The way this is described, you'd think it was initially describing something completely different.
  • It Sucks to Be Weegie!: In one comic, the pudgy hero of the Mushroom Kingdom whose name starts with M is finally showing up in the comic! You're expecting it to be Mario, aren't you? Nope, sorry, it's actually Mallow.
  • Shadows Awakening has a meta example. When the Phantom sends Wong to retrieve the first Oni mask, it looks like the story will turn into another alternate take on Season 4... until the Phantom forbids Wong to go after the other masks (as that would only aid their enemy Tarakudo), sending him on a different quest. Word of God is that this is in fact the only similarity to canon that will happen, as the story will focus on a different set of MacGuffins.
  • In the Medaka Box fanfic World As Myth, the Chapter 8 cliffhanger implies a battle between Zenkichi Hitoyoshi and Koi Munakata. Come Chapter 9, we have a fight between Nekomi Nabeshima and Tokemichi Choujabaru.
  • The Total Drama fanfic, Courtney and the Violin of Despair is a meta example. The story is billed as a "kinder, gentler 'Courtney bashing' story", but it doesn't take long for perceptive readers to discover that the "bashing" target is actually being treated like a woobie.

    Film 
  • In Blazing Saddles, one of this jokes is done when Bart says, "Excuse me while I whip this out," then proceeds to reach for a speech letter in his pocket, while the townsfolk gasp and cower in fear, thinking he's going to whip something else out instead.
  • One of the few notable things about the Eddie Murphy movie Metro is the bait and switch the writers pull on the usual "character opens mirror cabinet, and someone pops up in the reflection when s/he closes it" trope (and they do it twice). Details.
  • In the British gangster film Layer Cake, there's a variation on the Mirror Scare where the main character, in the middle of an angst-riddled drug- and whisky-fuelled freak out, opens the mirrored bathroom cabinet, music builds and then as he closes it the action suddenly cuts to the next morning, with the character neatly dressed and his problems resolved. It's a very powerful cut, subverting expectations at a moment of high drama.
  • Kung Fu Panda:
    • It has a double Bait and Switch: after suffering through one mishap after another that prevents him from getting into the tournament theater to see his favorite kung fu fighters in action, Po throws all caution to the winds, ties himself to a chair with hundreds of fireworks bound onto it, and prepares to light the fuse. His (adoptive) father shows up, incredulously demanding what he's doing. Admitting that he does not dream of making noodles, he lights the fuse and lets out a proud, reveling crow that he loves kung fu... only to have the fireworks do nothing, apparently duds. His dreams crushed, he sadly takes his apron to go back to work—only to have the fireworks go off after all. Comedy gold.
    • Later, when Po is talking to his goose father about how he doesn't want to work in the family noodle shop and comments about how sometimes he doesn't even think they're related. His father says there's something he needs to know, and everyone watching expects him to explain about how he's really adopted. He tells him how to make his secret ingredient soup. Cue laughter.
  • The Shawshank Redemption does one of these. Andy finds a grub of some sort in his first prison meal. As he's examining it, he has the following conversation with a crusty old con who's been in prison 50 years and may or may not have a few screws loose:
    Brooks: Are you going to eat that?
    Andy: Wasn't planning on it.
    Brooks: [holds his hand out] Do you mind?
    [Andy hands it over skeptically]
    Brooks: [with a satisfied smile] Ahh, that's nice and ripe.
    [He opens his jacket and feeds it to a baby raven in his pocket]
    Brooks: Jake says "Thank you."
  • One, Two, Three opens with one of these. James Cagney starts talking how the world was looking to Washington, DC on August the 13th of 1961... for a sports game. Oh, BTW, on the same day the Commies built The Berlin Wall.
  • Quite cruelly used in The Artist. Near the end of the film, George's depression has reached its peak and he prepares to shoot himself. Realizing his intentions, Peppy races after him in her car, despite not knowing how to drive. The scene cuts back and forth between George and Peppy, ultimately ending on George with the gun in his mouth as he tenses up to pull the trigger, and the film cuts to a title card reading "BANG!" Immediately after that, we see Peppy's car crashed into a lamppost and George looking up to see what made that racket.
  • The trailer for Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan opens on a pan to a character standing before a view of New York, giving an impression of a different kind of film. Only for the character to turn around to reveal himself as Jason Voorhees, and murder will ensue soon in a theater near you!
  • The trailer for Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III uses a similiar structure, but adds an Arthurian twist on it.
  • In Aladdin, Aladdin has Abu reach down and snag a watermelon, but the merchant catches this. We then find out that this was actually meant to be a diversion to the merchant as Aladdin snatched another melon from the cart.
  • The alternate opening of Iron Man 2 begins with the usual Marvel Comics logo and studio credits, albeit overlaid with sounds of Tony gasping and crying out in utter agony. When we finally cut to Tony, he's completely wasted and face-first in a toilet; in full armor, no less.
  • In Monsters, Inc., there's a scene where Sully tries to hide from Randal. Randal makes this face of shock as if he thought he heard something, but really, he made that face because he felt a sneeze coming on.
  • At the end of Girls Just Want to Have Fun, it looks like the Spoiled Brat won the contest, but the announcer was just stating it was a tie.
  • The trappers in Cannibal! The Musical boast in song about their superiority to the prospectors. After a few verses of increasingly graphic descriptions of how they brutalize animals, the prospectors finally interrupt with disgust with how badly off key one of the trappers is singingnote .
  • The LEGO Movie: Emmet gets tricked with this by Bad Cop during their Perp Sweating scene:
Good Cop: Hello Buddy! I'm your friendly neighborhood police officer!
Would you like a glass of water?
Emmet: Yeah. Yeah, actually.
[Good Cop switches to his Bad Cop Personality]
Bad Cop: Too Bad. [Punts the cup off the table but misses Emmet completely]
  • The final scene of X-Men: Days of Future Past sets you up to believe that it's a Call Forward tying in to previous, chronologically later movies, but switches gears at the last second. Wolverine's past self has been recovered by William Stryker, apparently setting up his involvement with Weapon X. Then we find out Stryker is actually Mystique in disguise.

    Literature 
  • In one of Louis Sachar's Wayside School book series, a hypnotist brainwashes a character so that, upon hearing the word "pencil", he will see another kid's ear as candy. The rest of the chapter deals entirely with the subject of a lost pencil, yet not one character says the word "pencil." That having been said, the chapter is titled "A Story With a Disappointing Ending." Several chapters later, when you're not looking for it, the Brick Joke hits.
  • Maskerade, one of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, is an homage to Phantom of the Opera. There's a giant, poorly attached chandelier hanging from the ceiling of the theater, which several characters proclaim is an accident waiting to happen. Unlike in the Broadway musical version of Phantom of the Opera, however, this chandelier never does fall down, despite the villain's best efforts.
  • Common in Ephraim Kishon's stories. For example, if he describes the Sabras. (An Israeli cactus fruit, or an Israeli born in the country.) "On the outer side, very prickly, but on the inside, completely inedible."
  • In Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, a letter with the seal and signature of the Duchess R is accompanied by an unlabeled photograph of said Duchess with Mr. Snicket's sister. Along with another unlabeled picture, which they told everyone was of them, but really wasn't.
  • Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle. Early on, there are flashes of a dream sequence that show an elven ship, two figures taller than six more that are holding hands, and two dragons flying into the sky. Early speculation figured it'd be Eragon and Arya sailing away, as Eragon was foretold to leave Alagaesia by Angela. However, at the end of Inheritance, Eragon leaves, but Arya doesn't. The romance everyone thought was going to happen ends up not happening and more than a few readers were completely flabbergasted by this twist.
  • In The Lost Symbol, Robert Langdon is describing the horrors of the cult he belongs in: 'I kneel at the foot of an ancient instrument of torture and consume ritualistic symbols of blood and flesh.' ďAnd if any of you care to join me, come to the Harvard chapel on Sunday, kneel beneath the crucifix, and take Holy Communion.'

    Live Action TV 
  • One of the more brilliant examples is from the sketch comedy The Kids in the Hall, in which two characters start the "Who's on First?" skit, but before long one of them realises what's going on and explains at length what the names of the players are and what bases they're playing.
  • There's a great example in the Father Ted Christmas Special: A Christmassy Ted. Father Ted states he wants a nice normal Christmas with no excitement or unexpected interruptions whatsoever. There's an awkward lengthy pause, and then the doorbell rings. An abandoned baby has been left on the doorstep, causing Ted to start. Then a woman appears out of the darkness, picks up the baby and asks, "Is this Mrs. O'Reilly's house?" and Ted directs her next door. On returning indoors he says to Dougal, "Can you imagine how funny it would have been if it had been an abandoned baby? We'd have had real laughs getting into all sorts of scrapes." Dougal replies: "Well, no Ted, it wouldn't have been that funny."
  • In the Firefly episode "Objects in Space" a fight in the corridor wakes Jayne up and he whips a bed sheet off his wall revealing an arsenal of weapons (complete with heroic leitmotif). Then he wraps himself up in the bed sheet and goes back to sleep.
  • Angel: "Double Or Nothing" has Angel give Cordelia a stake saying "you know what to do." It's implied that he is telling her to stake him if he loses the game and loses his soul, as well as Gunn's.(It Makes Sense In Context .) When he does lose, Cordelia stakes the demon he was playing with in his hand. This gives Angel the opportunity to cut off the demon's head.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Jonathan takes out a large gun and it's implied that he intends to shoot up the school. He doesn't.
  • One of the many Catch Phrases on Get Smart was the "Would you believe [improbable statement]?" routine, which almost invariably ended with Max being beaten down to something far more plausible than his opening line.
    • At one point, he claims that "One of our agents was lost in the Pentagon for five days, would you believe it? Five days!" After the obligatory I-find-that-very-hard-to-believe... he begins attempting to remember on which day he entered the Pentagon. Of course, Max is a Genius Ditz of the first order, so...
    • And then the movie Get Smart Again pulled a Bait and Switch on that very gag: At the end, Max tells 99 "I love you more than the whole world. Would you believe it?" To which wife 99 replies "I believe it!"
    • And then the remake movie uses it twice. The latter occurrence pulls a Bait and Switch on the gag as above, when Max is asked about the whereabouts of a nuclear bomb and in turn asks, "Would you believe...in the piano?" It is. The first time plays it completely straight and delivers a Crowning Moment of Funny in the process:
    Max: I think it's only fair to warn you, this facility is surrounded by a highly trained team of 130 Black Op Snipers.
    Siegfried: I don't believe you.
    Max: Would you believe two dozen Delta Force Commandos?
    Siegfried: No.
    Max: How about Chuck Norris with a BB gun?
  • In NUMB3RS, the following dialogue occurs between Charlie and a rival mathematician:
    Charlie: You're wrong. Its structure lacks originality or integrity.
    Archrival: It's a classic organization based on tested and proven elements.
    C: It's a chain! It's a chain with irregularities that come with maintaining complex matrices.
    A: Oh, so you propose that a single point mechanism provides superior output?
    (Fleinhardt walks in.)
    Fleinhardt: Enough! Surely, two eminent mathematicians can find ways to calmly discuss theory.
    C: ... We're not discussing theory.
    A: No. We're talking hamburgers.
    C: Pie n' Burger's the best, man. There's no question about it.
    A: In and Out is far superior.
  • Top Gear. All the time.
  • In one of the episodes of the second series of Black Adder, Edmund is shown doing what appears to be yelling at the Queen and Lord Melchett. After he is finished the Queen replies "And what did you say to him?"
  • Most of the deaths in Dead Like Me.
    Doomed fry cook picks up a very large knife and brings it down - on a potato. The stove won't light so he pulls out a match - and lights it without a hitch. He then proceeds to choke on a sandwich.
  • A notable one at the start of the second season of Noah's Arc. Noah is talking about this guy who he may be in love with, and based on the first season its implied to be Wade (the One True Pairing). When we actually see the guy its Malik, who Noah cheated on Wade with earlier as part of a random hookup.
  • Sons Of Guns: Steph uses a shotgun to win an accuracy contest while the guys use Handguns.
    Kris: I've been bamboozled!
  • In How I Met Your Mother the gang find a tape of Robin which initially plays out as though it were porn. It's far worse — she was a teen pop star. Though the line gets blurred a bit when they locate her later work, which has the visuals of a kids' educational show but a script that doesn't quite match.
  • On Have I Got News for You the chairman's scripted jokes often include things along the lines of:
    "This is the news that Anne Robinson has had her face injected with Botox. Deadly poisonous and liable to induce vomiting, Anne Robinson presents The Weakest Link."
    • Angus Deayton carried this style of joke over to Would I Lie to You?; on both shows, it stayed after he went. Often, part of the joke is for the setup to be long enough for the Genre Savvy audience to figure out what's coming.
  • One recurring sketch on TV To Go features an ex-con ranting about how much the world changed while he was in prison. One sketch had him going on a lengthy rant about the huge increase in surveillance and CCTV in the UK, which he follows by him relating how he and an accomplice had recently scouted a jewelry store, made sure it was clear then broke in by throwing a brick wrapped in newspaper at the window. The next day, the accomplice was arrested. Why? Because the newspaper was delivered to his house and still had his address written in the front page.
  • Community:
    • Two students look at a problem on a chalkboard and say that it's unsolvable. After they leave, Troy looks at the problem and picks up a piece of chalk... then puts the chalk in his pocket and walks away.
    • Also, this quote:
    Troy: Uh, guys, what does a pregnancy test look like?
    Jeff: *distracted* Eh, it looks like a thin piece of plastic with a thing on the end of it?
    Troy: Okay, so this is definitely A GUN!
  • The the first three episodes of the first season of The Almighty Johnsons grabbed the viewers' attention with nudity and sex. But went on to keep them with storyline and writing.
  • Doctor Who
    • In "A Good Man Goes To War", Amy, held hostage by Madame Kovarian, consoles her newborn daughter Melody by promising her, "There's a man who's never going to let us down. And not even an army can get in the way." Her speech sounds like she's talking about the Doctor, until she tells Melody, "That man is your father. He has a name, but the people of our world know him better... as the Last Centurion." At which point the audience realizes that she was talking about Rory.
    • Since Moffat took over the show, people who seem to talk about the Doctor while meaning someone else have become commonplace. Most notably the opening narration of A Town Called Mercy is ultimately revealed to refer to the Monster of the Week, who is more of an Anti-Villain on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, and quite noble once his hunt is over.
    • Episode titles sometimes do this. "The Next Doctor", "The Doctor's Daughter" and "The Doctor's Wife", for instance.
  • A staple of Chandler's jokes on Friends , especially when he talks about his parents and seems to be talking about his mother, but is actually talking about his (transvestite) father.
  • Frasier: In the episode after Roz first announces her pregnancy, Daphne and Martin repeatedly question her on whether or not she's told the father, and on each occasion either Frasier or Niles suddenly walks in on their conversation, strongly implying that one of them is the father (more likely Frasier, since she still didn't get along too well with Niles at this point). As it actually turns out, the father is a previously-unmentioned barista at the local coffee shop.
  • QI: "There are LOADS of female comedians, you just don't see them because they are rounded up and kept in a pen outside Harridge. You can adopt one online.
  • The Smallville episode "Nocturne" has a really good one. For the first half, it's about Clark and Lana trying to rescue a boy named Byron from his abusive parents, who keep him locked in the basement and claim he drowned years ago. However, when they do get him out of the house (they'd only met him at night before this), it turns out his parents weren't abusive. Ever since he was part of a LexCorp experiment to handle antisocial behavior, entering sunlight causes him to get some freaky big abs with a side order of Unstoppable Rage and super-strength that rivals Clark's.

    Music 
  • The Assumption Song is based around this.
  • The Dire Straits song "Industrial disease" contains a fairly subtle one: After listing two maladies caused by the protagonist's vices (smoker's cough from smoking, brewer's droop from drinking beer) the doctor in the song notes, "I don't know how you came to get the Bette Davis ...knees".
  • Throughout most of the song, Chuck Berry's "Memphis, Tennessee" seems to be a typical story about a boy missing a girl. However, at the very end of the song, the singer reveals that he is missing his daughter; This causes the listener to reconsider everything they just heard.
  • The cover for the Gentle Giant album Acquiring the Taste appears on the front to be a tongue licking between two round, flesh-coloured cheeks. Turning to the other side of the album cover reveals that the flesh-coloured object is, in fact, a peach.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In this sunday story, a dog was approaching Garfield, giving the impression he'd maul the cat but then the dog instead invites Garfield for lunch. Garfield commented that "Things aren't always as they seem".

    Radio 
  • From The Goon Show (one of many examples):
    Grytpype-Thynne: I thought I saw a Greek urn buried in the sand.
    Moriarty: What's a Greek urn?
    Grytpype-Thynne: It's a vase made by Greeks for carrying liquids.
    Moriarty: I didn't expect that answer.
    Grytpype-Thynne: Neither did quite a few smart-alec listeners.
  • I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue had a recurring segment in which the panellists announced arrivals with Punny Names at a themed Charity Ball. (e.g. at the Christmas Ball: "Mr. and Mrs. Amanger, and their son Wayne.") One episode had a Cheesemakers' Ball, and one of the announcements was "Mr. and Mrs. Zola and their son... Emile." Or at the Menswear Ball, "From Scotland, Mr. and Mrs. Strap and their son...Dougal."
  • You'll Have Had Your Tea: The Doings of Hamish And Dougal does this a lot, sometimes combining it with the Overly-Long Gag. They take longer not to do the "Watson, someone has stolen our tent" gag than it takes to tell it.
  • The News Quiz likes to use a similar form to the Have I Got News for You example (see above under "Live-action TV"), e.g.:
    "King Juan Carlos of Spain has caused outrage among animal rights campaigners and recession-hit Spaniards by paying £27,000 to hunt elephants in Botswana. Facing rapid extinction and plagued by inbreeding, the Spanish royal family have ruled for centuries."
  • In The Frantics' "Last Will and Temperament" sketch, the late Arthur Muldoon's will states that his overly-emotional sister Jenny shall be bequeathed a boot to the head (and one for her wimpy husband Chester). Subverted with his alcoholic brother Hedge, to whom he bequeathed three crates of whiskey and a boot to the head (and one for Jenny and the wimp). To Mrs. Mulroy, who took care of him, he bequeathed a boot to the head (and another for Jenny and the wimp).

    Sports 
  • During an opening segment on the Keith Olbermann sports show, Keith described a Japanese pitcher who is hyped up as being a must sign; known for dominating in Japan, and is seen by experts as a future superstar in the sport of professional baseball. Given that Masahiro Tanaka was just signed to a huge money contract for the New York Yankees, people assumed Keith was talking about him. But he was actually taking about Hideki Irabu, who was hyped up just like Tanaka in the past. Was signed to a huge money contract for the New York Yankees, then crashed and burned as a huge sports bust.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • While doing a bit about football Robin Williams described quarterbacks as "men with big hands and big feet, and you ladies know what that means. Yes... big gloves and big shoes."
  • Emo Philips 's comedy is based heavily around this trope/paraprosdokians.
  • Groucho Marx was fond of these in his acts.

    Tabletop Games 
  • One Paranoia mission starts out with a NPC being dragged off for termination, strongly suggesting to the players that it's going to be important somehow. It isn't - it's just there to mess with their heads when they fail to find anything else out about it.

    Theater 
  • The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) has an example similar to the very first one on this page. Austin's book is called "I Love My Willie" which he decides he wants to whip out. As the audience laughs, he takes his book out from his pants.
  • In The Odd Couple, at the end of the first act, Oscar tells Felix that he's saving all the chips on the floor for his game tomorrow. Felix gets a vacuum and picks them up anyway. Oscar comes back in and yells, "Hey!" Then he follows up with..."I didn't know I had one of those!"

    Video Games 
  • In BioShock, Sander Cohen hires you to finish his "masterpiece" (which consists of four photographs of corpses held, of course, by suspiciously bloodstained plaster statues). After you add the third photo, Cohen, like everyone you've met so far, sends a group of Splicers to kill you. He then apologizes and asks you for the last photo. When you add it, he comes down the stairs, thanks you, and gives you a powerup before letting you leave. It's really unexpected.
  • One puzzle in the first episode of Sam and Max: The Devil's Playhouse requires the player to set up what appears in the Flash Forwards to be a Banana Peel gag on one of Skun Ka'pe's henchmen. Instead, you lure him over to the banana so that Max can knock him out with a pair of trash can lids.
  • In Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: 8-Bit is Enough, Strong Bad finds out that the Trogsword is located in "a magical world where platforms mysteriously hang in the air, and extra men are extremely hard to come by". He replies "Platforms, eh? (in his Dangeresque voice) Looks like I'm gonna have to... (speaks quickly) ...find a way into the Stinkoman game and get the Trogsword before he does!"
  • Batman: Arkham City opens with one. Mooks are talking about how Batman won't be in the titular city, just as a pointy eared shadow appears behind them. One would would expect a Mass "Oh, Crap!" moment, but it's only Catwoman. Although considering that they're standing between her and the safe she plans to rob, it's just as well.
  • A room in The 7th Guest has a cutscene in which one of the guests draws attention to a maze design on the rug. Zooming in allows you to look at the maze design, but when you actually start the puzzle, the rug is suddenly swept aside and a chess puzzle ensues on the checkerboard floor. For bonus points, the maze design is a map to the maze in the cellar!
  • In Final Fantasy XII, there's a series of optional bosses that lead up to the Esper, Chaos. The first one? Really damn big. When you get to the second one, an even bigger monster is at the door... which promptly falls over, dead. And a little bunny-looking thing hops on top of the dead monster. Turns out, you really would rather have fought the big monster.
  • On december 18 2013, Nintendo announced on Nintendo Direct that they had new information on a title you were probably familiar with. The trailer starts with Kirby flying in space and landing on Mario Kart's Rainbow Road track while characters drive their karts, making it seem like Kirby would be playable in the then-upcoming Mario Kart 8. Shortly after, Rosalina from Super Mario Galaxy appears, and it turns out the trailer was announcing her as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and Nintendo 3 Ds (An actual Mario Kart trailer was shown afterwards).
  • In Donkey Kong Country, during the final battle against King K. Rule, at one point, he falls down, and Donkey and Diddy do their victory cheer. Then suddenly...the camera moves away and darkens, and the credits start rolling. But wait...something doesn't looks right about these credits. At the bottom, it says, "The End?" Then, we cut back to the Kongs, and King K. Rule gets back up. The battle is still going on! After this phase of the battle, we get a real ending.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3 has a good example. After you rescue and change back the seventh king, he says he is giving you a letter from the princess, but it turns out to be a letter from Bowser saying that he's kidnapped the princess while you were out and about saving the kings.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's changes the behaviour of every animatronic on the last nights, to exploit the player's previous tactics. In particular: Foxy, who normally requires the player to keep an eye on him with the cameras (but not too much), now must be left alone or he'll immediately attack.

    Web Animation 
  • ASDF Movie:
    • A guy is asked to hold a live bomb. The guy who gave him the bomb comes back a few seconds later and takes it back. No explosion, next skit. Look closely and you'll notice the fuse gets longer at the end.
    • "This is a robbery." *dramatic sting and close-up* *hangs up and walks away*. Next skit.
    • "WARNING POINTLESS BUTTON" is pointless.
    • "Damnit Jenkins, a giraffe will never be president!" "Yeah, you're... probably right."
    • "Die, potato!" "I like trains."
  • In one episode of Red vs. Blue, Tex has been continually hitting Grif in the nuts throughout the episode. Then Simmons finally manages to shoot a heat-seeking rocket launcher at the tormentor. After a really cool set of acrobatics with a set of portals, Tex (with the rocket still in hot pursuit) punches her way through Sarge, Tucker, and Simmons, and slides under Grif. Grif cringes, seeing the rocket coming right for him... and it flies harmlessly under his legs. Which instead blows up the pile of rockets right behind him.
  • Zigzagged in Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    Vegeta: Now watch, Kakarrot, as your life becomes inconsequential, as I reveal my GIANT MONKEY-
    -Camera zooms in on Vegeta's crotch-
    Crowd: (gasp)
    Vegeta: FORM!
    -Camera goes back to Vegeta's face-
    Crowd: (sighs of relief)
  • Homestar Runner: In Strong Bad's email where he creates his own candy bar, he keeps making the viewer think he's going to cover it in chocolate, but keeps changing it to something else like: "cover it with smooth, rich, creamy...pepperoni!" Eventually, he does top it off with chocolate and calls it "the ol' BBC" (Boring, Brown Chocolate).
  • Ultra Fast Pony: The episode "Pirate Shipping" uses this, and then immediate switches right back.
    Big Mac: Would you like to know why they call me "Big Mac"? It's because I love to mack on yarr. And also because I've got a giant co--
    *14 HOURS LATER*

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • The dreaded trap videos on YouTube, which set up a misleading thumbnail, title, and description to lure in audiences looking for those key words, then troll them by showing Something Completely Different. The Rick Roll was the most common variant in its heyday, although there are plenty of videos that go beyond this in terms of obnoxiousness.
  • Back to the Whoture promises an epic crossover of Back to the Future and The Who. Then as they travel through time they happen to crash into the police box of a certain other Who...
  • In The Nostalgia Critic's review of Catwoman, four Catwoman actresses confront him. They ask how attractive women dressed like cats can ever get as much attention as Halle Berry. The Critic (who previously encouraged them to flaunt their breasts) says that on the internet, there's an easy way, as dramatic music starts. They star in cat videos.
  • In Todd in the Shadows review of Chris Brown's Deuces, he does this while admitting that he does enjoy ragging on Brown.
    Todd: Now, all critics have their favorite whipping boys, and from the beginning, one of mine was Chris Brown. I love beating on Chris Brown just as much as Chris Brown likes beating... (Picture of Brown's head photo-edited onto a waitress at a breakfast restaurant) eggs for his famous homestyle breakfasts.
  • Invoked in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog when Moist mentions that he went on a double date with twins Bait and Switch.
    Dr. Horrible: Oh yeah, how did that go?
    Moist: Well, I was supposed to end up with Bait, but...you know...
  • In this video, Michael the Terrible Boyfriend ponders how to get into his girlfriend's house without her parents noticing, and sees a pizza delivery truck come. He looks at it and asks "Are you thinking what I'm thinking? I think you are!". Cut to him riding a pterodactyl into her home, which then eats her.
  • Tlf Travel Alerts claims is hot enough in the London Underground to literally fry eggs on the escalators. How ever you shouldn't try to do it ... they are on a diet.
  • In Cybershell's Let's Play of the Genesis Sonic games, he measures how annoying an enemy is by using a "Cunt-O-Meter". When he gets to the infamous Red Barrel in Carnival Night Zone, the gameplay stops and slowly zooms in on the barrel as Also Sprach Zarathustra plays in the background. After all that buildup, the Red Barrel gets a score of one on the Meter as Cybershell starts ranting that it wasn't that difficult to get past.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons has so many that it has its own sub page.
  • South Park
    • In the early episode "Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo", Kenny (who dies horribly in almost every episode) is continually subjected to a series of extremely hazardous situations. But nothing ever happens and he survives to the end of the episode for the first time.
    • Another example is the episode "Mecha-Streisand". Instead of being trampled by the giant metal Barbra Streisand, Kenny gets strangled playing tether-ball.
    • Happens multiple times in the more recent episodes when you expect Kenny to die like being held at gunpoint, but doesn't.
    • If there is an episode where the preview involves anything that will get a large portion of the fanbase going "Ha ha, they're making fun of X" the actual episode will likely portray X in a much more endearing manner, while those that see it as cheap, Acceptable Targets will be the ones on the receiving end of a Take That. These episodes typically center around Cartman The most recent notable example is "Poor and Stupid", with regard to NASCAR and its fanbase.
    • Part 2 of [episode title]... WILL NOT BE SHOWN TODAY to bring you this special showing of Terrance And Philip!
    • In "You Have 0 Friends", the whole sequence of Stan trapped inside the world of Facebook is a homage of TRON, and it appears that everything is all set for the inevitable Lightcycle race... when the bikes are abruptly replaced with a game of Yahtzee.
  • Futurama:
    • Bender has been rigged to a bomb which is set to go off on his most frequently used word. As it goes through the list, it starts to get to his catchphrase, "Number 5:Bite... Number 4: My... Number 3: Shiny... Number 2: Daffodil..."
    • In "Bender's Game", when the characters enter a cave called the Cave of Hopelessness:
    Frydo: Mr. Wizard, why is this place called the Cave of Hopelessness?
    Greyfarn: Oh, fear not, lad. 'Tis named for its discoverer, Reginald Hopelessness...
    Frydo: Whew!
    Greyfarn: ...the first man to be eaten alive by the Tunneling Horror.
    • In "The Problem with Popplers", the crew wants to find a name for a new food:
    Bender: They're tasty, right? Let's call 'em "Tasty-cles".
    Leela: We can't call them that.
    Bender: Why not?
    Leela: It sounds too much like those frozen Rocky Mountain oysters on a stick. You know, Test-cicles?
    • The Mars University Professor Fisherprice Shpeekenshpell (a robot with a Mattell See 'n Say for a head) continually talks with programmed lines like "The cow says 'Moo'" (apparently he proved that 50 years ago and had been coasting on it ever since). When it comes time to vote on Amy's doctorate:
    Professor Katz: We shall now vote, "Yay" or "Nay". Nay.
    Wernstrom: Nay!
    Bubblegum: Hell, nay!
    Shpeekenshpell: The horse says, "Doctorate denied".
    • From the first episode.
    Cop: Keep you big nose out of this, Eyeball!
    Leela: No one makes fun of my nose.
  • Family Guy is loaded with these! So many that it has its own page too!
  • The Cleveland Show episode "'Til Deaf" when two kids placing the letter R over the "ELECTIONS TODAY" sign outside the high school. They actually placed it over the letter I.
  • Happens sometimes on Phineas and Ferb, a show full of Running Gags:
    • In "Voyage to the Bottom of Buford", Candace uses a disposable camera to document the boys' adventures; meanwhile, Doofenshmirtz has invented the Media-Erase-Inator. That seems to fit perfectly, but the ray actually ends up erasing a stop sign, causing a traffic accident which knocks over a water tower, and the resulting wave of water destroys the camera.
    • In "Gaming the System", Candace gets sucked into Phineas and Ferb's video game when she was in the middle of getting ready for a date with Jeremy. Meanwhile, Dr. Doofenshmirtz has created a laser that puts fancy dresses on anyone who is shot with it. Right before Jeremy shows up, Perry and Dr. Doofenshmirtz fight and cause the laser to accidentally go off and shoot... everyone in the yard except Candace. Soon after that, Perry gets out of the dress he was wearing and it falls on Candace (and somehow does her hair).
    • "S'Winter": Doofenshmirtz creates the Meltinator ray, leading one to think that it will melt the boys' mountain of snow. Instead, it shorts out the city's power when he plugs it in, shutting off the fans that kept the snow cooled, and the snow melts on its own.
    • One unrelated to the show's running gags occurs in "A Real Boy". Candace gets Stacy to hypnotize her into not wanting to bust the boys anymore, with the result that the phrase "Holy guacamole!" will make Candace give up her urges to bust her brothers, and "Leaping lizards!" will make her go back to normal. When Candace heads off on her date with Jeremy, the two of them spot a literal leaping lizard, and Jeremy rattles off several treacherously-close synonyms for the code phrase, which actually ends up being said by a passing kid.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, just before Jimmy is about to perform a particularly irresponsible stunt, Beezy tells them to be careful not to break his dad's Priceless Ming Vase. Jimmy performs the stunt...and misses the vase entirely. Beezy dances around and celebrates... and spikes the vase.
  • In the first episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Twilight Sparkle has been told by her mentor to make some friends, but she has absolutely no interest in doing so. However, every pony she interacts with makes some kind of "we're gonna be friends" comment, causing her to have a reaction of some sort (spit take, eye twitch, etc). When the last pony, Pinkie Pie, throws her a party so "now you have lots and lots of friends," Twilight nearly hurks her drink... not because of Pinkie's comment, but because she accidentally took a big sip of hot sauce.
  • In Justice League Unlimited, there's an episode where Wonder Woman gets turned into a pig by Circe. Toward the end, Batman offers to bargain with Circe to get her back.
    Circe: I want something from you that's very precious. Something you've worked very hard to conceal. Something when gone, you can never reclaim. Something... soul-shattering.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • There is also classic short that ends with this. Bugs Bunny has to deal with some hillbilly hawks. The short ends with a series of gags that end with one of the hawks shooting the other every time he hears the word "four" (or any honynym of that word). At the very end, it shows Bugs dressed like a golfer about to yell out "Fore!" but then he stops himself by saying, "Nah. Why should I get in on the act?"
      • Subverted: Bugs starts to sing the first couple of lines of "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover". On repeat.
    • An infamous banned Porky Pig short shows Porky hitting his thumb with a hammer. He starts to stammer "Son of a bitch!", but in his usual fashion, he changes what he's going to say after he finishes stuttering. In this case, he changes it to "Son of a gun!" However, the real switch is, Porky goes Breaking the Fourth Wall and says to the audience, "You thought I was gonna say Son of a Bitch, didn't ya?"
    • In an episode of The Looney Tunes Show, Daffy tries his hand at inventing. His speech indicates he's invented a time machine... but he's invented a suitcase.
  • In the well-publicized The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy/Codename: Kids Next Door crossover, Billy spills mustard on his father's pants. He reasons, out loud, that there's only one group of kids who can help solve his problems, and grabs the phone... where he calls the cast of Ed, Edd n Eddy... who then tell him to call the Kids Next Door.
  • In the pilot episode of Codename: Kids Next Door, the Delightful Children from Down the Lane say at the end that the girl they chose to prevent the Kids Next Door from taking their birthday cake that they refuse to share was a horrible choice that they never should have used. The girl makes this face and gets angered, not because of what the Delightful Children said, but because the Delightfuls' cake was coconut flavor, which she hated.
  • Lampshaded in The Emperor's New School. Kuzco claims to have the perfect way to get into a store he's been kicked out of. Cut to a llama with a head and feet that look suspiciously like Kuzco's walking into the store. Kuzco then jumps out from offscreen and attacks the guard. Kuzco then stops the show and says, "You're probably wondering what that llama that looked just like me had to do with my plan. Absolutely nothing."
  • Dexter's Laboratory
    • In the episode, "Unfortunate Cookie", Dee Dee comes into Dexter's lab to tell him about a Chinese finger trap she found in her box of fortune cookies. Dexter responds by saying, "How can it be?" and begins a mathematical lecture about what we think is the possibilities of that happening, but it turned out he was just complaining about how Dee Dee keeps coming into his lab.
    • In the episode, "G.I.R.L. Squad", Dee Dee and her friends come into Dexter's lab to ask him what "Lick crime" means. Dexter gives the girls a tour of stuff they might need to help them with their mission, which eventually leads to a teleporter, which Dexter winds up using to teleport the girls out of his lab so they won't bother him.
    • In the episode, "Dexter is Dirty", Dexter starts yelling at Dee Dee after she fails to help him up while he's elaborated. She starts to look sad and imagine herself out in the snow, but it turns out she's picturing herself sledding down a mountain, and this gives her the idea to use Dexter as a sled.
    • In the episode, "Coupon for Craziness", Dee Dee is about to give Dextor (Dexter's hyper counterpart) a cookie, but he says he's not allowed to have sweets. Dee Dee says, "Oooooooohhh!" That means...she gives Dextor the other cookie! (It was most likely sugar free.)
  • In an episode of The Fairly OddParents, Timmy's parents congratulate him on being a local hero after he pretends to capture the Goatnapper, leading to this exchange.
    Timmy: Uhhh... guys? You'd still love me even if I wasn't a hero, right?
    (beat)
    (both parents look at each other)
    Mom: Well of course we would, honey.
  • Animaniacs:
    • In Slappy Squirrel's debut cartoon, "Slappy Goes Walnuts", Doug the Dog sets out a xylophone for Slappy to play that's set to explode when she hits a specific note. Slappy decides to play "Those Endearing Young Charms", and the viewer is set to believe she'll keep hitting the wrong note, which is a joke that's been done to death in the Looney Tunes franchise. The thing is, she actually does hit the correct note, and explosion ends up going off on Doug the Dog.
    Slappy: Old gag, new twist.
  • The Powerpuff Girls
    • At the beginning of the episode, "Just Deserts", the narrator talks about how Townsville is safe from crimes. He talks to a random guy who acts like he doesn't know what keeps Townsville safe from crime while the Powerpuff Girls are behind him playing. The narrator tells the man to look behind him, but it turns out he was actually referring to a prison further out in the distance.
  • In the Pound Puppies (2010) episode, "Beauty is Only Fur Deep", Champ tells the Pound Puppies the story about how he lost his fur and his self-esteem in a flashback. As he tells the story, he keeps coming to parts where he could have possibly lost his fur. For each one, Niblet interrupts by saying, "Is that how you lost your fur?" but it wasn't. It turns out he lost his fur...from eating a piece of boisenberry pie! (He's allergic to boisenberry.)
  • Wander over Yonder is basically built around this trope!

    Misc 
  • Many trolls or people who are bored on a forum will usually post a topic title that grabs everyone's attention, but the actual opening post has nothing to do with the topic title. This is usually done by people who just want the attention and this is also how Rick Rolling got started.
  • Another method involves starting a topic with a double meaning, with one interpretation (usually the more obvious one) being highly shocking or offensive, but the actual post being about the more mundane interpretation. For example, starting a topic with the title "I HATE FAGGOTS", only for the post to actually be about the poster's distaste for the food item.
  • It's at least Older Than Print. A tenth-century joke found in Britain goes What hangs at a manís thigh and wants to poke the hole that itís often poked before? A key.

    Real Life 
  • This is, unfortunately, Truth in Television, and isn't usually funny, even if the one doing the bating-and-switching may (or may not) think so. Some parents have actually done this to their sons / daughters. One example appears in a radio ad, although it (the ad) was intended to be funny:
    Mom: Hurry, or we'll be late for the Aerosmith concert!
    (everyone gets in)
    Mom: Did I say "Aerosmith concert"? I meant "dentist appointment!"
  • Penn & Teller are infamous for doing this in their magic acts.

Averted TropeTrope TropesCharacteristic Trope
Bad Omen AnecdoteComedy TropesBait-and-Switch Comparison

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