Alice thinks she's found the house where Bob is. She walks up and rings the doorbell.
Bob looks up as the doorbell rings.
Alice waits for a moment, then rings again.
Bob gets up and goes to the door. He opens it.
Alice looks up as the door opens... and is face to face with some old lady. She's at the wrong place.
Bob finds Chris on the porch waiting for him as a dramatic sting
The Cut Apart
is a subversion of the Continuity Editing
that the audience is used to seeing. We're led to believe we're seeing the same event from two perspectives, then the Reveal Shot
shows that it's two separate events that may be miles apart. In most cases, this is used to get our hopes up (Alice finding Bob would be great) only to destroy them (Chris finding Bob is horrible), but occasionally it's the reverse, and Chris being there is a moment of triumph.
A variation is that the difference is not in space but in time
: Alice is actually arriving hours after Chris did and finds only the aftermath.
If you're looking for someone being
cut apart, Diagonal Cut
is the page to go to. Compare Your Princess Is in Another Castle
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Anime and Manga
- In Kangoku Gakuen Kiyoshi accidentally urinates on Hana, the next panel is a close-up of liquid falling into someone's mouth. The panel after that pans out to reveal that it's Meiko drinking water from a tap.
- Eden of the East has a very drawn out one: Osugi is drunk and wandering around the street just as Kuroha is walking down the same street and the episode ends. Next episode we see Osugi with a bondage mask on his face tied to a chair and being threatened by Kuroha, and his friends are unable to contact him but eventually judge an online poster to be him by the pictures of his stuff lying around the room. A couple episodes later it turns out the two never met on the street: the man in the mask was actually a serial rapist that stole Osugi's stuff before getting kidnapped and Osugi had his phone taken away while his new co-workers were making him drink a lot as a sort of intiation.
- Used in Naruto: Sasuke learns that Itachi and Kisame are searching for Naruto in a nearby town, so he dashes off to warn him. He knows that he is traveling with Jiraiya, so he asks every hotel owner he comes across whether they have seen a blonde kid with a tall white-haired man until he finally gets a positive response. He goes up to the room and knocks on the door. The scene cuts to Naruto inside his room hearing the knock while meditating. The scene switches back and forth a couple more times, with Sasuke knocking with increasing urgency until Naruto gets fed up and stands to answer the door. Finally, the door opens for Sasuke revealing . . . a completely unrelated blonde child and white-haired old man. Immediately after, Naruto opens the door to reveal Itachi.
- This scene was directly homaged in the Naruto fanfic RED when you're led to believe Naruto is bringing Sasuke to shelter at Kakashi's house only for it to reveal that Naruto has brought him to Shikamaru's house and the Red at Kakashi's door begging for help is Itachi come to ask Kakashi to look out for Sasuke.
- Attack on Titan: Mikasa and her parents are expecting a visit from Dr. Jaeger and Eren, and they hear a knock on the door. Cut to Dr. Jaeger knocking on the door. We're led to believe that these scenes occur at the same time...until Dr. Jaeger opens the door to find Mikasa's parents dead and Mikasa herself missing; the people knocking the first time were slavers.
- At the end of John Byrne's brief run of the Incredible Hulk Bruce Banner and Betty Ross are getting married in a small ceremony in a small church. At the same time Doctor Samson and Hulk are beating the crap out of each other in the desert (Hulk and Banner were physically separated at this point). It so just happens that there is a small church near them... Eventually a hit from Hulk sends Samson flying right towards the church, and he crashes through it - revealing it's been abandoned for years. Meanwhile, the wedding continues somewhere else completely unaffected by the battle.
Films — Live-Action
- Famously used to set up the Alone with the Psycho climax in The Silence of the Lambs.
- The first The Lord of the Rings film has the positive version, with closeups of sleeping hobbits mixed with Ringwraiths surrounding the beds. When the stabbing begins, we discover the beds were empty and the hobbits were in another room.
- The scene was lifted from the Ralph Bakshi animated film of LOTR made in 1978. Not quite shot for shot but kind of close.
- Collateral uses this, where an assassin is looking for a lawyer, while she gets a phone call warning her. We see him bursting into her office, only to cut and see that she's several floors above.
- Saw 2 plays this with three separate groups (a police squadron, a private detective, and a pair of escaped victims) who look like they're about to meet. It's soon revealed that none of them are in position to meet each other.
- Saw 4 uses the same thing and brings Strahm together with the Jeff from part 3, and Rig with Hoffmann instead.
- Charlies Angels Full Throttle has this. There are scenes of some mafia groups makig their way to the rooftop of a certain hotel. Then there's a scene of former Angel Madison Lee getting ready to meet them. As the groups gathered at the rooftop, faces to the door, Madison makes her way to a, ready to meet them. Then…the door the groups were waiting at opens…to reveal a police inspector to puts them under arrest, then snipers from the surrounding buildings show up and the groups were taken in. Madison meanwhile, opens the door and sees nobody. The gangs had met at the rooftop of the wrong hotel, set up by the Angels.
- Friends with Benefits uses this in the intro. We are lead to believe that Dylan and Jamie are late to a date with each other. However, it is soon revealed that they are late to dates with different people, and that these characters haven't even met yet. In fact, they're on different coasts.
- Depending on how you interpret it, the scene in which Ed Tom returns to the site of Llewelyn's death in No Country for Old Men qualifies. The film cuts between Ed Tom standing outside the motel room's door and Chigurh crouched behind it with a gun, but when Ed Tom opens the door, there's no one inside. The shots of Chigurh could've been in the past, or a figment of Ed Tom's imagination, or other interpretations.
- This trope was Played for Laughs in Kung Fu Hustle. The Big Bad and his gang of mooks go the apartment complex where they expect the hero to be hiding and crowd around a single apartment, slowly opening the door. This is intercut with the hero rising in his own apartment and going towards the door, allowing the viewer to believe that the villains are waiting for him. Instead, the bad guys open the door to an empty apartment and the hero steps out of his apartment on the other side of the complex. Everyone gives each other an awkward blank stare before the final battle commences.
- Also Played for Laughs in Waynes World 2. Wayne is told that love interest Cassandra is set to be wed at the First Presbyterian Church. In a scene straight out of The Graduate, Wayne speeds to the church where he bangs on the glass, interrupting the wrong wedding. He goes outside to find that he is actually at the Second Presbyterian Church, directly across the street from the First Presbyterian Church.
- The Fugitive. After Kimball goes home with the waitress, there's a scene of SWAT team storming the house. (Well, a house at any rate.)
- Man of Tai Chi opens with Inspector Sun closing in on Donaka's location with a SWAT team, busting his illegal fighting ring after a great deal of work. However, as she enters the room, turns out Donaka wasn't there (and he leaves her a flower pot.
- Never Say Never Again. Fatima Blush watches as James Bond takes a Girl of the Week up to his hotel room. There's a shot of a remote-controlled bomb under the bed, Bond and the girl smooching on the bed, Fatima pressing the button...and the lovers looking up in shock as a room on the other side of the hotel courtyard explodes.
Bond: Well, it proves we made the right decision.
Girl: About what, darling?
Bond: Your place or mine.
- Johnson Family Vacation starts with a montage of the family getting ready for the trip. We then see that the parents are living in different houses.
- In "The Horizon" on Alias, when a pregnant Sydney is kidnapped, her father tracks her down while she's simultaneously making an escape attempt. It seems like he found the right place, but he hasn't, of course; instead he finds something incredibly creepy.
- Used to great effect in the HBO adaptation of Angels In America, as Joe and Harper arguing is intercut with Luis leaving Prior.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- In "Hush", we see Tara knocking on one of the dorm room's doors, and Willow waking up from the noise. The door is opened by one of The Gentlemen holding a bloody heart. This was actually hinted, since Tara had previously found Willow's room number (which isn't the number on the door).
- In "Teacher's Pet" a demon posing as a Hot Teacher has lured Xander to her house. Buffy tracks down her address...which is opened by the woman whose identity she has stolen in order to pose as a teacher.
- Angel. Vampire Hunter Holtz and his men surround a house. They appear to be Just in Time to stop Angelus and Darla killing the women and children within. It turns out the house is empty and Holtz realises after reading a note that the two vampires are at his own house.
- The fifth season finale to CSI uses this trope to deal a Your Princess Is in Another Castle moment to a rescue operation.
- CSI: New York used this one when the investigators appeared to have found the apartment where a hitman was hiding with his hostage. They broke down the door of a Red Herring, and the hitman opened his on his building's superintendent.
- In the How I Met Your Mother episode "Three Days of Snow," Marshall debates whether or not to pick up Lily at the airport. The end shows Marshall and Lily searching for each other in the airport, only The series' trademark Anachronic Order made it look like their storylines were occurring concurrently but they weren't there the same day: Lily's flight was delayed by two days. They even have a scene of them sitting next to each other, which turned out to be a split-screen.
- Jonathan Creek has a clever variant, where it looks like two people are on opposite sides of a locked door and one even rattles the handle as the other watches, but it later turns out that this was an extremely elaborate trick and they were in two separate locations.
- In season 4, LOST spent a whole episode's flashforward with Sun preparing to have a baby, and Jin buying a stuffed panda for a new baby. It isn't revealed until the final flashforward that the scenes with Jin were flashbacks, with the panda being for the newborn child of the Chinese ambassador and Sun is left to have the baby alone in the future (though it's possible to determine from context that the segments with Jin take place in the past).
- Primeval uses this once.
- The second season premier of Prison Break has Michael saying he has things in "storage." The police chase down a storage unit Michael had rented, while Michael and his crew lift up the rolling door of a unit. The police find an empty unit, while Michael and the crew dig up a coffin Michael had planted with clothing, money, and ID prior to his arrest.
- This is done in Scrubs, when Turk makes it to his wedding just in time...only to find the "priest who looks like Sulu" from the church they agreed against.
- The first scene in Spaced appears to be Tim and Daisy splitting up, with Tim shouting up to Daisy's window. We see at the end of the scene that the two characters are talking to different characters, as Tim leaves.
- Supernatural, "Folsom Prison Blues": Sam and Dean pull a jailbreak and go to the cemetery to destroy the remains of a nurse who is haunting the prison. The FBI is headed to the cemetery to recapture them. The camera cuts back and forth until it's revealed that the FBI was directed to the wrong cemetery.
- Top Gear uses this quite a lot in their "epic race" challenges. In order to ramp up the suspense as to the identity of the victor - despite Jeremy having won all but one of them - the end of the race is often shown in this fashion, showing all three of the presenters converging on the finish line only to reveal that the victor had in fact made their journey a short time - usually a matter of minutes - earlier.
- The opening scene of Coupling, where Steve and Susan walk to the bar whilst chatting with their best friends, makes it seem like they're on their way to meet one another for a date: Steve is planning to break up (again) with his delusional-but-attractive girlfriend, while Susan thinks her boyfriend is going to take their relationship to the next level. Turns out Steve's girlfriend is Jane, and Susan's boyfriend is Patrick.
- Prior to the events of Star Trek: The Original Series, no human had ever seen a Romulan. Yet on Star Trek: Enterprise, Trip and Malcolm somehow find themselves wandering around a Romulan ship, while its commander and his staff monitor them from the control room. When the two get to the bridge, it's deserted, because the control room — the remote control room — is on Romulus.
- In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Waltz," Sisko and Dukat are stranded on an alien planet while the Defiant is on a search-and-rescue mission for survivors from the destroyed ship they were on. Sisko transmits a distress call, and the Defiant is then shown to receive a distress call. They locate two life signs, energize the transporter...and beam aboard two female officers.
- On the first episode of Committed, we see Tess setting up Marni on a blind date with someone she knows. Simultaneously, we see Bowie doing the same with Nathan. Both of them agree to meet their dates in the lobby of Nathan's apartment building. They meet and go to dinner where they discus how they were set up and it's revealed they don't know the people who set the other one up on the date. Cut to the lobby and their actual dates pacing around.
- In episode "Skin" of Almost Human, Dorian, Kennex and team begin searching Yuri's nightclub which is where they believe the "skin lab" is located. Simultaneously we see Yuri, his henchman and the doctors in the "skin lab" packing up their gear in a panic. After kicking in the last door, the police realize they are in the wrong place.
- Twelve Monkeys has the time travel variant in "Yesterday" – Cassie approaches the blast site as Cole is pulled from the ground, but it turns out Cole has been shifted two years into the future.
- While it is not a camera trick, this is the entire story told by the song "Silhouettes", where the guy is complaining how he can see his girlfriend in silhouette through the shade in her living room, dancing with another man, until he gets so disgusted he bangs on the door, only to discover two different people open the door, and he's on the wrong block!
- This is an aversion of an idea previously (and later) used by other songs called "Two Silhouettes" in which the other silhouette is another man.
- The video for Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" uses this to good effect. Male singer sits outside hotel room door, female singer inside hotel room. He reluctantly leaves, and is sitting in a coffee shop, she's in a cab going by a coffee shop. Cab pulls away, he leaves shop and is running down the sidewalk in the same apparent direction. He runs through a door and bursts into a party, scans the crowd looking for someone, then she runs through the same door and bursts into the same party, scans the same crowd. He spot his goal, his eyes light up, and we see...a completely different girl. Female singer similarly spots the completely different guy she was searching for.
- Not exactly "far apart", but this The Order of the Stick strip plays with people's expectations.
- This is a frequent source of comedy in Dork Tower. One story begins with Gilly and Matt each preparing for a blind date. We then see them at a table talking, and seeing how they share lots of common interests and hobbies. The final panel shows that they are actually sitting at two different tables, each talking to someone else who think their hobbies are weird.
- Inverted in another story, where Matt starts off talking to Ken about how Gilly is his ideal girl, while Gilly's brother Walden is talking to a stranger about finding a Nice Guy for her. After a page and a half, it's revealed that Matt and Walden ended up talking to each other, not realizing that they're both referring to the same girl... or how Matt would be perfect for her.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender, "Lake Laogai": Team Avatar opens the door to where they think Appa is, Appa looks up at the opening door to see... Zuko. A mild lampshading follows as Zuko snarks, "Expecting someone else?"
- Happened in a much earlier episode too, with the Gaang in a Fire Nation controlled village, worried about getting caught. Fire Nation troops walk around menacingly as they sleep, the troops then knock on a door... which is opened by Haru, a friendly kid they met earlier in the episode.
- The Doug movie uses this when government agents are sent to Doug Funnie's house to grab the Lucky Duck lake monster that they have been hiding there as Doug and his friend Skeeter are returning to said house. However the agents are actually at the wrong house and come across the nerd group playing a game that involves monsters. Part of the humor of this bit is that one shot features the agents leaping out of a black truck, then cuts to Skeeter commenting on an unusual truck parked in front of Doug's home that has no other importance to the plot for a perfect effect.
- The second Futurama movie, "Beast With A Billion Backs" shows Brannigan's ship, the Nimbus, fighting fruitlessly against the tentacled creature while Brannigan narrates. We then find out he's piloting the ship by remote in an Applebees on earth.
- Done in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, during the episode "Secret Snake Club". A group of nerds are performing a ritual to summon a giant snake, using the power of Grim's scythe. They then hear the door open. Billy (who, being trained by the CIA for the entire episode, is now an agent) comes in to arrest... a macrame club headed by Irwin. The snake nerds are interrupted by one of their brothers.
- On The Simpsons episode "Lisa the Drama Queen", Lisa and her new friend Juliet are hiding out in an abandoned castle-shaped restaurant. Marge realizes where they are and the family goes to get her. As the Simpsons arrive to the restaurant, Lisa and Juliet see their silhouettes through the stain glass window. The door opens and... it turns out Marge had gone to the wrong castle-shaped abandoned restaurant; what Lisa saw was Dolph, Kearney and Jimbo wearing hats that made them look like Homer, Marge and Bart.