Damn You, Muscle Memory

"No! I meant to hit X!"

"What bothers me about this game is just one simple problem: They swapped the buttons! B is Jump and A throws shells! How did they fuck up the controls for a Mario game?! Why change what we grew up with? Why change what's been firmly planted in our brains since childhood?!"

There are many, many Video Games out there. With so many video games, it stands to reason that most will be somewhat similar, and have similar control schemes.

But there's no guarantee that a developer will use what's usual, and might do something very different instead. And maybe this difference is what completely throws you off your game. This can lead to problems when playing one game for a while, then switching to another—especially if they are in the same or a similar genre.

Any game where you can change the control scheme will obviously avoid this by default, though the effectiveness depends on how far the game will let you remap its controls. PC games generally let the user reassign the controls, so this is very much a console problem. Emulators, special controllers and 3rd-party utilities can function as a workaround of sorts as well. Of course, allowing you to change the control scheme in a game with different characters who need different schemes can lead to this within a single game.

Psychologists call this negative transfer.

For when this is done intentionally as a game effect, see Interface Screw. This can go beyond gaming, as examples below show. Any control system for a device which can be easily confused for another falls into it. This is why we have Stock Control Settings.

Compare Centipede's Dilemma. Contrast Noob Bridge, which occurs when a game's control scheme has an extra aspect that's non-standard. See also Reflexive Response, Wikipedia Syntaxer.


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  • Toyota had a commercial in which a pro wrestler(April Hunter) gets disillusioned with the business and quits for an orchestra. Since she's used to submitting opponents in scissor hold though, she end up snapping her cello in half.

  • The Toyota Prius has most of the gears on a gearstick attached to the dashboard. "Park", however, is a button. People driving Priuses for the first time may try to shift the gearstick into a "park" position that isn't there.
  • Driving Stick compared to auto shift. And one that affects even people who know manual: the image on that page shows the transmission can be patterned on various ways, leading one to put on reverse or neutral instead of first. Similarly, somebody who usually drives stick might not know what to do with their left foot when switching to an automatic, and might accidentally press the brake, thinking it's the clutch.
    • Waving your hand uselessly over the console, trying to downshift into first gear, every time you come to a stop in an auto trans car after driving a manual for a long time.
    • Sequential shifters comes in two flavors: press up to shift up and press down to shift down or press up to shift down and press down to shift up. Motorcycles are almost always the former (racers do the opposite). Cars will zig-zag.
  • The car window is opened on the panel or the door?
  • Given power steering requires less force to move, if you're used to a stiffer car the usual effort applied to the steering wheel can lead to really sharp turns.
  • Different countries have different rules for which side of the ride one drives on, which also determines what side of the car the driver's seat is on. Many countries, including the United States and most of Europe, have you driving on the right side of the road, while some other countries, such as Britain and Japan, have you drive on the left. This can cause problems for people moving from a country that drives on one side of the road to a country that drives on the other side.
    • Asshole!
    • It also affects hand preference; if you are in a country that drives on the left, in a right-hand-drive car, requiring left hands to shift gears and you're a right-handed? Good luck, the reverse is also true for The Southpaws living in a country that drives on the right and in a left-hand-drive car that requires right hand to shift gears. Zig-zagged, though.
    • Even if you can mostly handle driving on the other side of the road, the issue comes with resolving how to get somewhere. You might think "if I make a left turn here, I can just pull in!" only to remember the place you're going is on the right side of the road and you're still on the left.
  • That stick on the side of the steering column may operate the lights, the windscreen wipers, or even the transmission. If you usually drive a car with one configuration, switching to another will result in wipers when you meant to change gear, finding yourself in neutral when you want to signal a turn, and signaling a turn when you want to clean the windscreen. Even if you regularly drive all three, you will still reach for the wrong one occasionally.
    • Similarly, going from a car that has a steering-mounted shift to one that has a center-dash shift can lead drivers to grope blindly for the one they're used to.

  • Macintoshes use the open Command (A.K.A.: Apple) key as their standard "meta" key for keyboard shortcuts, while Windows spreads most of the same shortcuts between Control and Alternate. Home/End goes to the start/end of a line in Windows, but to the beginning/end of a document on Macs (Command-Left/Right goes to the start/end of a line.) This is just one of many keyboard differences that trip up longtime users of either platform.
    • Try running Windows on a Mac with a Mac keyboard - the left Alt and Windows keys are now the wrong way around.note 
  • Switching Keyboards between France or Belgium (using AZERTY) and most other European countries (using QWERTY) can be a pain since so many keys are still at the same place, just not all of them. Especially frustrating when you're typing your password.
  • IBM (now Lenovo) ThinkPad keyboards, as well as the Rapid Access keyboards, have an annoying Back key above the left arrow, and forward key above the right arrow. Imagine: You are playing a game on the Internet and want to hit the left arrow key. You accidentally hit the back key. Damn. Now you have to start all over. Even experienced ThinkPad users get caught out by this one. The way to prevent this is to open the game in a new tab or window.
  • There have been Compaq keyboards where the left half of the space bar is replaced with an extra backspace key. See this.
  • Microsoft has a Sculpt Keyboard with the split spacebar... However, the left half of the spacebar can be programmed into the extra backspace key.
  • Some keyboards have a long Backspace key, roughly the size of three regular keys, while some have a short one, the size of ONE regular key.note  If you're accustomed to the long key and switch to a keyboard with the small one, prepare to constantly keep writing while you're actually trying to erase.
  • You can see this change happen right before your eyes in Acorn's lineup. The A3010, made in 1992, gives @ from its keyboard's shift+2. Fast-forward just two years to the Risc PC, and they're the other way round.
  • On Linux, and other Unix-like operating systems, Ctrl-D at a shell prompt will generally cause the shell to log out (generally closing the window if you're using a terminal emulator, or returning to a login prompt on a virtual console or serial line). On Windows, Ctrl-D at a command prompt just prints ^D.
  • Opera completely rewrote its famous web browser for version Opera 15, which skips versions 13 and 14. This rewrite removes a few things that classic opera users have used for 4 years, in particular reordering the right click menu section for opening links in new tabs.
  • On the older IBM-PC, the BIOS's IRQ handler used for the keyboard originally enabled Caps Lock by pressing the Caps Lock button and disabled it by pressing Shift. But for some reason, by the time Microsoft made Windows, they've decided to change it so that it's instead disabled by pressing the Caps Lock button the second time. So if you're moving from an old IBM-PC DOS computer, be prepared to accidentally write everything in uppercase before realizing what you've done.
  • Older text-editors like the one used by GW-BASIC have the insert-flag turned off during the normal input (with thin cursor), so you overwrite text. If you want to insert text, you have to press insert (and get a thick cursor). Most modern text-editors invert this, so standart (with thin cursor) is insert, and you have to press insert to overwrite.
  • Under the good old DOSes (MS,PC,DR) internal commands have absolute priority above executable files, even if there are files of the same name. Under FreeDOS and Windows-XP, this has changed, so executable files may have the names of internal commands. So the command "DIR.COM" which is intended to mean "List all File that have the suffix COM" is interpreted as "Execute the file DIR.COM" under FreeDOS and Windows-XP (you have to type "DIR *.COM" instead). This is more annoying than it seems in the first place, because listing all executables in a directory is a very common command.
  • Old DOS and DOS windows would default to overtype mode. This would often lead to arrowing back to add some text to the beginning of a parameter and completely overtyping the rest of the line that you wanted to prepend to.
  • Laptops try to keep accentuation and symbols as "secondary commands" so not so many keys have to be put in a supposedly more portable machine. This backfires once common punctuation such as slash and question mark end up hidden.
  • Another laptop issue: The "Fn" key on some laptop keyboards is placed in the lower-left corner of the keyboard, where the Ctrl key, now slightly over to the right, is traditionally located. Generally, investing in a USB keyboard can alleviate this.
    • Also applies to some of the stuff Fn allows you to do. For example, some laptops have the Home/End/PgUp/PgDn keys independent; others (like certain Dell models) have them mapped to the arrows, and only accessible via Fn+arrow, leading to much frustration when switching between laptops.
      • Related to this: some laptops don't require you to hold down Fn to do the stuff it would require—but it requires you to hold it to do the stuff it doesn't require. So for instance, to refresh a web page on a browser, instead of F5, you'd press Fn+F5.note  This can be sometimes toggled from within the BIOS setup, though.
  • Trying to use a laptop on the same desk as a desktop computer. You'll instinctively try to use the keyboard, mouse, USB ports, etc., wonder why they're not working, then realized you're manipulating the desktop computer instead of the laptop.
  • Xbox and PlayStation controllers both have an "X" button, but in different places. This can cause confusion for format-swappers when a screen prompt says Press X to Not Die. (Xbox X is PS Square, PS X is Xbox A).

  • Oh joy, it even happens with firearms. On the M1911A1, moving the safety down turns it off. On the Beretta 92, the same motion puts the safety on. On the H&K USP, the P8 variant used by the German military puts the safety in the opposite motion to the regular USP. Then there's the issues of finding the safety and the bolt releases on various Mausers, Springfields, Lee-Enfields, and Mosin-Nagants...
  • Try going from anything but a Glock, to a Glock. A Glock has two "triggers" slightly offset (kinda like a Accu-trigger) when you go to shoot, the first trigger you encounter is the safety, the second one fires the weapon. Pray it doesn't get caught on a tree branch.
  • Going from an AR-15 style mag release (a button on the side of the magazine well) to one like an AK-47 (a lever on the back of the mag well) then to one like on most hunting rifles (in front of the mag well.) If you're really used to one platform, but then use a completely different one, then don't be surprised if you reflexively use the motions for the completely wrong gun! Hilarity Ensues when the AR guys start looking for their AK's bolt release, or pull at the rear trunnion searching for the charging handles. Conversely, hilarity also ensues when the AK guys start looking for their AR's selector switch on the wrong side of the receiver or they keep grasping around the bottom of the magazine and wonder why they can't get it to release.
    • And even when you've got the motions for whatever weapon you carry down pat, if you ever get surprised or startled while not carrying it, expect to find yourself reaching for it anyway as part of your "startle/flinch" response.
    • ...and the FN Five-seveN (Protip: safety is above the trigger, use your index finger), and the Walther P99 (it does not have a safety).
  • P99 magazine release is a pair of small tabs at the base of the trigger guard which are, at least for first-time users, incredibly awkward to hit without removing your fingers from a proper shooting position. And let's not even get into the fact that previous mag-release buttons already could go either just behind the trigger guard (M1911) or at the heel behind the magazine (Makarov PM).
    • Try some early H&K guns - most of their weapons based on the G3's action have a AK-like release lever for military models, and then a AR-type release button on civilian ones. For some of them, that's the only significant physical difference between the two.
    • On the flip side, H&K has occasionally designed new guns of theirs specifically to take advantage of muscle memory - the XM8, while otherwise working exactly the same as the G36, uses a fire selector more like that of the M16 it would have replaced in the OICW trials; the UMP, also based on the G36, keeps the G3's side-mounted charging handle rather than a new symmetrical one, simply so those upgrading to it from the MP5 won't have to relearn everything about how to use it.
  • Go to the Steyr AUG from pretty much any other assault rifle. Even if you aren't using a semi-auto-only civilian version, you'll notice there is no selector switch - fire rate is entirely determined by how far you squeeze the trigger (halfway for semi-auto, fully for automatic).
  • AKM and most weapons derived from it have selector switch as following: Safe, Full Auto, Single Shot. Most other rifles have more "on paper" logical Safe, Single, Auto. Going from AK to other weapons is frustrating to say the least.

    Internet, software, and related 
  • The release of OSX Mavericks saw the switching of the positions of the "Open in New Tab" and "Open in New Window" options in Safari's right-click menu. Now, users used to the earlier layout (especially frequent TV Tropes browsers) will be constantly opening windows instead of tabs by accident.
  • The MediaWiki software used on Wikipedia and Wikia inherited much of its markup from the markup used on the UseMod wiki software, which is used on MeatballWiki and was used in the early years of Wikipedia. MediaWiki eventually became so all-pervasive that many editors automatically start using its formatting tags on Wikis using non-standard software... like TV Tropes Wiki. And we have a trope for that. It only gets worse the more types of wiki-like software you use. TiddlyWiki, for instance, formats its pot holes as [[text|page to send to]], which is the exact opposite of most other Wikis. Even Everything2, which has been around for ages, put the target first.
  • The forums: Most forums use BB Code, while the TV Tropes forum uses wiki markup.
  • Manga Fox for some reason switched places of Bookmark and Forum. So most of the times when trying to see if the manga you read has updated, you will accidentally send yourself to the forum.
  • An ancient example: in the 80s, the prominent word processor was WordStar, which defined several standard controls that the present Windows editing controls are based on, such as WASD. Their scheme was based on control+ letter for functions, and interestingly was written before cursor arrows became prominent on keyboards. Then in the late 80s / early 90s, the up-and-coming text editor was WordPerfect. WP took advantage of the rapidly expanding computer market to push their own standard instead of supporting existing ones. The result is that anyone familiar with WS is completely incapable of handling WP, and vice versa. F1 for help? Nope, that's F3. ^Q for quit? No, better try F7. And so on and so forth. The scheme relies on control/alt/shift+ F1-F10 for literally everything. About a decade later, Microsoft pulled the same trick with expanding markets to push the Word standard, but at least that one is comprehensible to a novice. WordPerfect's keyboard shortcuts were so complex (and, at times, unintuitive) that there were overlays one could put above one's function keys as a reminder of which key combinations did what.
  • Non-Home Editions of Windows of NT-based Windows OSes made CTRL+ ALT+ DEL act differently. Instead of bringing up the task manager by default like "DOS-based" versions of Windows, they bring you to a "lock out" menu, where you can choose to lock the computer, open task manager, switch users, etc.note  CTRL+ SHIFT+ ESC brings up the Task Manager on all Windows NT based computers. Also this works sometimes on public computer when CTRL+ ALT+ DEL is blocked and the admin had an oversight.

    Back in early Windows OS's (like Windows 3.0), CTRL+ ALT+ DEL didn't open a Task Manager dialogue, it simply rebooted your computer. At least in Windows 3.1 it occurred to someone to ask you for confirmation first. Meanwhile, to get to the Task List (what eventually grew up to be Task Manager), you pressed CTRL+ESC. In Windows 95 or later, CTRL+ESC opens the Start menu.
  • The MIDI composer Anvil Studio uses Ctrl+ S not to save (like every single other Windows program), but to create a new audio track.
  • Band-in-a-Box, possibly because it originated on the Atari PC before key commands were standardized, is absolutely brutal with these. It's near-universal in audio/MIDI programs for the spacebar to activate the "Play/Pause" transport function, but this one uses "Ctrl-A" and "Esc" for these. It can be very awkward moving between Band-in-a-Box and other programs.
  • Black & White features gesture recognition, including the ever useful ability to shake your mouse left and right to get rid of whatever special mode or spell you have attached to the cursor/hand of god. A decent number of people have tried to do the same thing to get out of zoom mode while using Microsoft Word.
  • Commands:
    • GUI: Ctrl-C is copy-to-clipboard. Command line: Ctrl-C is terminate process. Oops! Ctrl-C is terminate process at shell prompts in both Windows and Unix operating systems, and is copy-to-clipboard in GUI applications (at least most of the time in modern Unix applications). It's consistent between the two operating systems, but still well falls under this trope (just try copying from a Windows cmd shell, or worse; a UNIX ssh session running on a Windows desktop). This is less of an issue on OSes that use a different key for the command modifier, such as OS X, which uses "Command," or BeOS, which uses alt.note 
    • Ctrl-Insert and Shift-Insert for copy and paste, respectively, tend to work fine both in GUI apps and in shells. Microsoft has discarded any reference to these, because they originate in the bastard child they had with IBM: OS/2.
    • Ctrl+z is undo in Windows. Except in Emacs (even the Windows versions) where Ctrl+z is minimize-window.
    • In Mac OS' Finder, Cmd+ D creates a duplicate copy of a file. In Windows Explorer, Ctrl+ D deletes a file. In Finder Enter renames a file. Instead of opening it, which is obviously Cmd+ O.
    • Microsoft Office programs localize their commands. So on an English version of Word, Ctrl-S saves the current file, but on a Spanish version, Ctrl-S underlines the current text.
  • Windows Command Prompt (and earlier MS-DOS): dir to see the contents of a directory. Unix shell: ls to see the contents of a directory. This becomes very frustrating when using the command prompt to navigate files in Unix and then trying the same in Windows. It's made slightly better because some Unix distros humor Windows users by aliasing "dir" to "ls." In Windows PowerShell, the common Unix shell commands are aliased to the appropriate Command Prompt command. Moreover, the default output for the commands is different. "ls" generally gives a list of just filenames in as many same-width columns as will fit onscreen, while "dir" puts one file on each line with detailed information like last-modified date and file size. You need to add an extra option—"dir /w" or "ls -l"—to get the version for the other system.
    • Also similarly: to view the information about network boards that are connected to the computer, you use the command "ipconfig" on Windows, and "ifconfig" on Linux and OS X.
  • In Microsoft Word (or the Office software group), sometimes people may find that the text to the right of their cursor suddenly gets eaten up by whatever they're typing next. This is because the Overtype mode often comes on without them knowing they accidentally hit the Insert key, which is right next to the Backspace key. Good thing at least one keyboard type doesn't have an Insert key just to the right of Backspace (There's also the zero key on the number pad when Num Lock is off).
  • Anyone that has ever got used to vim surely has filled lots of files opened in other editors with "jjjjjjjjjjjjjkkkkkkkkkkkkkk" trying to scroll down. Another sign that you're a vim user is typing either ":wq" or "ZZ" at the end of documents opened in other editors. (Both those keystroke sequences are ways to save-and-quit in vim). For those gVim users out there? Don't get too used to using Ctrl+s to save your files, even though gvim gives you the option. Because one day, you'll be working in regular vim in a PuTTY session and you'll hit Ctrl+s to save all those awesome changes you've just made, and...AUUUUUUGH! Fortunately, Ctrl+q can get you out of that jam.
  • Scroll bars: Windows has up and down buttons on each end of the scroll bar. Mac has both button at the bottom end of the bar. It's a good thing that in both cases, the bar itself can be dragged, and users can still click past the bar for a page up/down effect.
    • Mac OS X provides an option, under System Preferences -> Appearance for scrollbar arrows to be located at the bottom end of the bar, or up and down buttons at each end. The former is the default setting, though. In 2011, OS X Lion took the arrows out back and shot them. With arrows, presumably.
  • A scrollbar is provided by Google Wave, where the arrows are located on the upper and the lower end of the bar. Clicking these will achieve a a page up/down effect indeed, instead of skipping lines. Moreover, you can't operate this thing carefully, because there is no line on which it would move, so you can't click past the bar. By dragging it, the scrolling delays until the shadow of the bar (?) catches up with the body of the bar, completely disorienting the user. You will end up dragging it randomly and ending up at the right place in the wave with a great deal of luck - the effect is simply ridiculous.
  • Scroll bar shenanigans: Mac OS X Lion inverted the default scrolling direction on trackpads, which makes things consistent with Apple's touchscreen interfaces (swipe down = move document down as if it were paper = scroll up) but throws you off of what Apple's trackpads have been doing for years, which matched arrow key and mouse scroll wheel behavior (swipe down = pan view down as if it were a camera = scroll down). But this switch also applies to mouse wheel behavior, making it the opposite of what you would get from the same mouse on a PC's default settings. Also, if you get used to this, and on occasion use arrow keys to scroll, you will probably hit the wrong arrows a few times.
  • Microsoft Word and Hotmail: Ctrl+ I is italics. Other pages on Internet Explorer and Firefox, even ones that let you write: Ctrl+ I opens the Favourites bar, with very few exceptions (such as a rare few message boards).
  • Microsoft Office products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) use Ctrl+ Y to redo, whereas plenty of other programs use Shift+ Ctrl+ Z. To make things worse, Shift+ Ctrl+ Z resets the formatting of the current selection in Office. Which then makes it impossible to redo what you had planned to redo.
  • The emulator SNES9x requires you to pause your emulation before saving or loading a state. On a Mac, this is done by pressing Cmd+ R, and then Cmd+ F or Cmd+ D depending on whether you want to freeze or defrost a state. However, other emulators generally skip the pausing part, so to save a state all you do is press Cmd+ F. What does Cmd+ R do? Reset the emulation! Extra fun because the instinct to press Cmd+ R then Cmd+ F in rapid succession can easily result in not only losing the progress you were trying to save, but making the whole save file useless because you just made a save state of the title screen. Hope you've been using the in-game save system! Or you could use the shortcut keys (F1-F10 to load a state, Shift-same to save).
    • On ZSNES, all you need to do to pause the emulation is press Esc.
  • Also on the subject of emulators, hotkeys. You know, the non-console-related keys that let you save and load states, take screenshots, speed up or slow down emulation, and the like. It's no problem if you're using an emulator that supports remapping the hotkeys to whatever you want, but if you're using one that doesn't support remapping and the defaults are something other than what you're used to, you almost certainly will press the wrong key for something. Bonus points if said wrong key still has a function in the new emulator but a different one. The worst example is probably ePSXe (a PlayStation emulator) and its accursed savestate hotkeys. Some emulators will map F1-F4 to decrement, save, increment, and load, respectively. ePSXe, on the other hand, maps save to F1, increment to F2, and load to F3...i.e., a similar configuration, except shifted one key to the left. Cue accidentally saving the current state instead of going back one, or worse, accidentally loading one (thereby erasing all progress since you last saved) instead of advancing to the next slot. And rage. Plenty of rage. At least if they're mapped to F5-F8 or the like, you won't accidentally overwrite states that you really didn't want to overwrite.
  • Dialog boxes on most systems (including Windows and most Linux distros) always place the OK button to the left and the Cancel button to the right, but dialog boxes on Mac OS X usually place Cancel to the left and OK to the right. It's admittedly pretty easy to get used to the Mac way...until you have to use X11 apps that use the standard placement.
  • From Windows 95 to XP, choosing "Shut Down" or "Turn Off" from the Start menu would take you to a confirmation screen where you can choose to shut down, reboot, or cancel. In Windows Vista, the default button was changed to "Hibernate" (which looked like XP's "Shut Down" button but yellow), or "Sleep"note , forcing you to open an extra menu to really shut down. This can be mitigated by going into Power Options in Control Panel and going into the "advanced power settings".
    • Windows 7 changed the default to Shut Down, this time with a written label instead of the universal power symbol. And, unlike Vista, the action you set for the button does not appear in the menu. It also removed the separate lock button.
  • In the Firefox browser, Ctrl-N starts a new window. However, if you happen to be using Hotmail, Ctrl-N starts a new email message.
  • Homestar Runner once had a link to the Store to the front page of its website. The "Watch Intro" button was where "Come On In" was for over 5 years.
  • When you open or save a file in some programmes, there is a sidebar with a number of default folder options; however, what exactly those options are and where can differ based on the application and operating system. Compare, say, Microsoft Word 2000's to Adobe Photoshop CS3's.
  • With an earlier version of the Fanfiction.Net website, clicking a button at the bottom-left of a page allowed you, by default, to post a review. A newer version moved the review button to the bottom-centre of the page, while the default setting for the button at the bottom-left adds the currently-being-read story to favourites. You can see how a veteran used to the older version of the website might trip over it.
  • Switching between Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and Runescape's clan chat gets frustrating: To chat in IRC, it's just typing in letters and pressing enter. In Runescape, you have to type a forward slash and then what you want to say. What does a forward slash do in IRC? Commands. This situation gets you having to trip over sentences because the client mistakes them for unknown commands, or accidentally typing what you wanted to say in clan chat out loud.
  • Switching from a MUD to IRC results in lots of sentences starting with the word "say"
  • Chat functions in video games. Enter-message-enter is a common one, but you may also find space-message-enter and one particular game had T-message-T. Valve's games have Y-message-enter for all-speak messages and T-message-enter for team-only messages.
  • When you do a text search, Firefox puts the search bar in the lower-left, and Google Chrome puts it in the upper-right. And Internet Explorer (and by extension, Microsoft Edge) puts it in the upper-left!
  • For Chrome: "Open new tab" is the first option in the right-click context menu. For Firefox and IE, it's the second. In the Firefox 4 beta, "Open new tab" is now the first option in the context menu. Cue thousands of Firefox users opening dozens of windows instead of new tabs.
  • In Chrome, opening an Incognito window is Ctrl+Shift+N. In Firefox, the equivalent Private window is Ctrl+Shift+P.
  • Some browsers let you type a Google search string into the address bar, others have their own bar for this and produce an error if you don't put an url into the address bar. Gnarfbl. (Firefox is an exception, for while it does have a separate search bar, the address bar will do a search if it does not find an URL).
  • 3d Software is absolutely awful for this. There are at least a few programs which could be considered industry standard so just learning how to operate in only one is limiting. Given the time projects take and how many shortcut keys are needed this is extremely confusing. Plus since you probably use the same shortcut 100 times in an hour, enjoy going to other programs. For example, Alt + Click is the pan camera control in Maya while using Photoshop only to bring up the eyedropper tool.
    • 3ds Max to Photoshop is also a bad one, especially since you'll likely be switching from one to the other to create textures for your models. To add areas, vertices, or other objects to your selection, you Ctrl + left-click in Max, but Shift + left-click in Photoshop. The number of times you'll have to hit undo (which, mercifully, is Ctrl + Z in both) just to recover your lost selections...
    • And don't even get me started on Blender... anyone starting with Blender will be absolutely confused with its interface, requiring you to access the manual just to find out how to pan and zoom.
  • The newest version of Ubuntu (10.04 "Lucid Lynx") had the brilliant idea of moving the minimize, maximize, and close buttons from the right side of the window, where they are on Windows, to the left side of the window, where they are on Mac OS X. This was pretty much only done to show off the new gconf option that enables the user to move those buttons around at will, although you wouldn't know that reading the official statement on the matter, which cites it as a bold and innovative and [a bunch of meaningless buzzwords] idea that will help encourage creativity and [a bunch of other meaningless buzzwords] in users. Needless to say, nearly every user who doesn't also use a Mac has since moved them back to the right.
  • Someone using both Vocaloid and its freeware derivative UTAU can get easily frustrated. The interfaces are similar, but the methods of drawing notes, doing pitch bends, creating vibrato, etc. are very different, causing a likelihood of extreme aggravation (especially when one tries to use the Vocaloid editor and click elsewhere to create a note from your current point to where the mouse is clicking, but instead starting a new note where the click is).
  • In most computer programs, if you try to quit with unsaved work, it will ask you if you want to save before quitting. Saying Yes will save first, possibly pulling up a Save As dialog box. Saying No will quit immediately. But in Microsoft SQL Server Profiler, an Omniscient Database debugging tool, the equivalent question is if you really want to quit with an active trace still running. Saying Yes is the "quit immediately" option, while "No" sends you back to the program.

    And for keyboard users, Windows. Vista. In previous versions, you could answer "Yes" or "No" to this question by pressing Y or N. Then someone had the bright idea to change this to "Save" and "Don't save". It's even worse in French, where the shortcut for "Ne pas enregistrer" (yes, they seriously chose the "R" for that) doesn't match the one for "Non".note 
  • The "scroll wheel" on mice is an extremely useful shortcut for scrolling up and down in a document. Unless you're on Google Maps, where scrolling "up" doesn't take you further north, like you'd expect, it zooms in. In ESRI's ArcGIS- scrolling "up" actually zooms OUT.
  • The middle mouse button pans in AutoCAD, but doesn't in Adobe software. This results in a few moments of stupidly staring at the screen wondering why it isn't changing.
  • Try using MicroStation after a few years of only using AutoCAD. Then, for giggles, try teaching yourself Google Sketchup. Where the heck are all my tools? And why can't y'all settle on names? Drop Complex=Explode=the default way something's drawn?
  • Tool shortcuts in Adobe, especially Flash and Illustrator. R is the rectangle tool in Flash, but the rotate tool in Illustrator, where M is the rectangle tool. Oval tool: Flash - O, Illustrator - L. Pencil tool: Flash - Y, Illustrator - N. For two such similar programs it's a huge pain in the ass.
    • Going from Illustrator to Photoshop is equally tricky. Pressing Ctrl while rolling the mouse wheel on Photoshop zooms in or out. On Illustrator, it just moves the artboard unless the Zoom function was selected. Some Photoshop commands require Ctrl+Alt+(Key) on Illustrator instead of just Ctrl. And of course, the fact that there is both Selection' and 'Direct Selection' can lead to a few distortions when trying to resize an image - on Selection, it does change the whole thing, but on DS it focuses on a certain point\anchor of the image and moves that instead - given they're on the same place as the Move on Photoshop and all icons are similar.
  • The menu bar shared by various branches of Google is inexplicably different on Google Groups, with the link back to the regular Web search jumping from the far left to the middle (and vanishing completely when viewing Groups search results.) The other links are also randomly jumbled.
  • Ever made a forum post only to find a garbled mess of the wrong-shaped brackets staring you in the face? Exacerbated by the fact that HTML and BB Code use a lot of the same tags, but those brackets...
  • Ctrl+Shift+T in Mozilla Firefox brings back a closed tab, but in Yahoo! Mail it opens the SMS feature.
  • On Mozilla Firefox, when right clicking on a link, the second menu option is "Open link in new tab" where as in Google Chrome, the first menu option is "Open link in new tab" and the second is "Open link in new window", which makes a big difference on slower computers.

    Made even worse in Firefox 4 - it has "open in new tab" as a first option, like Chrome but unlike earlier Firefox versions, adding to the confusion. It's incredibly annoying.
  • Yet another Firefox example: In version 3.6, new tabs open directly to the right of the one you're browsing rather than at the far right like they have previously.
  • killall in Solaris and HP/UX is not the same thing as killall in Linux. In Linux it means "kill processes by name" In Solaris and HP/UX, it means "kill all processes." Many sysadmins which are used to Linux only realize it when it's too late.
  • As of March 2011, when responding to posts on Facebook, hitting the Enter key will complete your post, rather than line break (in which case you have to hit Shift+Enter).
  • In Windows 95 to Vista, the "Show Desktop" button, which minimizes all windows, is an optional part of the Quick Launch toolbar, found on the lower-left corner of the screen next to the Start menu. On Windows 7 and later, this button is fixed to the far lower-right, next to the date and time, and it's not even labeled. Once you start using it on one OS, just try going to the other.note 
  • The Avant and Orca browsers use a right-click-and-drag gesture system (not unlike Black & White) as an alternative to buttons or menu commands. Naturally these gestures do nothing in Internet Explorer, which may take several failed attempts to register in the mind of someone used to them.
  • Code::Blocks (a free integrated development environment) uses CTRL+F to activate the Find function. In the Italian version of Notepad, the Find function is CTRL+T because the combination has been localized for Italian ("find" in Italian is trova). Unfortunately, CTRL+T in Code::Blocks switches the positions of the current line and the one above it. Try finding something in CodeBlocks after using the Italian version of Notepad for a while and you're guaranteed to ruin your code, as you'll switch the positions of two lines and type the search string as a new, third line.

    Aditionally, Code::Blocks handles copying and pasting the linux way. You highlight your code and copy it, then middle click to paste it in. For those of you migrating from other IDEs, such as DEVC++, this is infuriating. To add to the confusion, Code::Blocks uses the right mouse button for scrolling.
  • In Linux, you can copy and paste by selecting the text you want to copy, and middle-clicking where you want to paste. Attempting this on Windows results in nothing happening.
  • If you're a shortkey fan, switching from Windows in English to Spanish or other languages or viceversa will severely cripple you the first few days or weeks, as most of them change according to the language. For instance, while CTRL+F is the command to find in the English version, it changes to CTRL+B (Buscar) in Spanish and CTRL+L (Localizar) in Portuguese. CTRL+A is "Select All" in English, while in Spanish it's the "Open File" command, as "Select All" is CTRL+E. It becomes increasingly unnerving if you use, for instance, Windows in English and Office in Spanish, as you have to switch back and forth between shortkey commands as you work. Also, try using MS Office in a localized version, then using OpenOffice or LibreOffice (which do not localize shortcuts).
  • FilterKeys is an accessibility option in Microsoft Windows which is activated by holding down the SHIFT key for 8 seconds—this is especially frustrating because many people absent-mindedly keep the shift key held down as they think about their next sentence - because they know the first letter of which will be capitalized.
    • And pressing Shift five times in a row triggers another accessibility option: StickyKeys. This interrupts whatever game is being played.
    • Fortunately, there is a way to disable these shortcuts in the Control Panel, so it's not all bad.
  • So many sites have the top level domain ".com" that going to a site with a different one like ".org" or ".net" (including this one) can be annoying (unless you have it bookmarked).
  • The Eclipse development environment has quite a few completely non-standard keyboard shortcuts. Want to search for the next occurrence of something you've already found? Nope, not Ctrl+G, the most common shortcut for that function in text editors. It's not F3, either, which is a common alternative in Windows apps. Nope, the shortcut to do that in Eclipse is Ctrl+K!
  • In Flash, to play an animation you hit enter and determine how sounds play by options in your status. In After Effects, you can play by hitting enter, but in order to hear the sound, you need to press zero so that the animation caches. In Maya, there is no hotkey to make an animation play and you actually have to hit the play button, but you can use the Esc button to stop the animation. This can be pretty frustrating when you're mashing away at the enter key to test how your animation is working.
  • Try swapping from MS Paint in NT 5 (2000/XP) to NT 6 (Vista/7) and you'll quickly find the Ctrl+R (rotate in NT 5) activates the flipping RULER in NT 6! That not only screws up muscle memory but can/will add countless hours of time to what should be a simple effect.
  • On nearly every PC web browser, F5 refreshes the current page. On Twitter's website, however, that is overriden; F5 retweets a tweet instead!
  • Image Booru tag searching can differ in small yet significant ways. For example, on Danbooru you link words with underscores and use spaces to separate tags, while Derpibooru allows for space-separated phrases and separates tags with commas. Cue trying to use one 'booru's style with another.
  • SQL is really weird and illogical after other programming languages. With common logic, SQL commands would look like this: "tableName.getRow(x,1)". Instead it looks like this: "SELECT x FROM tableName WHERE x=1.
  • Part of the reason why Windows 8 is hated so much is that the new Start Screen screws this up for everyone... who's used to using Windows with a mouse. Most of the keyboard based actions were untouched and work more or less the same. note 
  • Finale PrintMusic changed a few things around between different versions. To name just one example, the number keys 6, 7, 8, and 9 are keyboard shortcuts for transposing a selected bit of music up or down. In PrintMusic 2004, 6 goes up one note, 7 goes down one note, 8 goes up an octave, and 9 goes down an octave. In PrintMusic 2011, 6 and 8 go down and 7 and 9 go up. Why they switched them is anyone's guess.
  • If you use a VoIP chat program like Teamspeak or Ventrillo and make use of a push-to-talk button, you can get so used to pressing it to talk that you can do something as innocent as sneeze or even have a conversation with someone standing next to you and press said button and transmit your conversation to the entire channel.
  • Microsoft Office's Excel, LibreOffice's Calc and OpenOffice's Calc all use (nearly) the same functions, except that Excel and LibreOffice's Calc use comma as a separator while OpenOffice's uses semicolon; thankfully, both Calcs replace the semicolons with commas (or vice versa) in case you forgot. Annoyingly, if you incorrectly type a function in Excel, it won't let you edit another cell until you correct the error, while Calc will either add extra end parentheses or simply display an error code in the cell, making the switch-over all that more annoying.
  • Google recently added a... *ahem*... feature in which the order of the different search options (Web, Image, Video, News, etc.) would depending on what you searched for (presumably based on how many results each option would yield). This didn't go over well with users, primarily because it was Damn You, Muscle Memory embodied in a form where small changes to the control layout are made constantly, rendering it impossible to adjust to.
  • The MS Paint Fan Adventures website used to use Page Up/Page Down buttons to skip to the previous/next page of the comic you're reading, instead of scrolling the current page. You can guess how annoying this way when just trying to scroll down quickly.
  • In most Android apps, pressing the "back" button at the bottom exits from the currently selected option. In the e-book reader app EBookDroid, pressing the button while using the "go to page" function doesn't close the window to let you read the selected page - instead it brings you back to the page you've been reading before. A lot of times you scroll to a given page, only to immediately accidentally go back to where you were.
    • If you're going from Android to iOS, you may end up trying to press a nonexistent back button at the bottom of your device. Likewise, if you're going from iOS to Android, you may reflexively hit the top left corner of the screen trying to go back inside apps.
  • In Android 4.0.0 and up, the task switcher is opened by holding down the home button. In iOS 8.1 and later, you double-tap the home button instead. If you're transitioning from Android to iOS, chances are you'll summon Siri (if you have it enabled) by accident a few times, and if you're doing the reverse, expect to accidentally open your homescreen at least once.
  • Wiki coding and formatting has no standard version. Moving, for instance, between tvtropes, the Terry Pratchett L-Space wiki, and Wikipedia, requires familiarity with three related but different formatting conventions. If you edit more than one wiki, it is perfectly possible to attempt to use MediaWiki formatting on this site, or else tvtropes formatting on the L-Space wiki. Does.Not.Work. You can end up beating your brains out trying to get the bloody formatting to bloody well do what it's supposed to do. And then you realize.
  • Almost any PC program uses Ctrl+F to find text. Infuriatingly, Microsoft Outlook uses it to Forward a message. Allegedly Outlook was designed correctly to start with, but a beta tester had them change it. That beta tester was Bill Gates.
  • Scrolling down on smartphones and tablets means moving your finger up. Scrolling down with a mouse wheel means moving your finger down. Scrolling down on a laptop with a trackpad means moving your finger down, unless it's using Windows 8, then you move your finger up, unless you've changed the default, then you move your finger down, unless you've changed it using third party software, then you move your finger up to scroll down until that software loads up and move your finger down to scroll down thereafter.

  • Often happens to pianists who switch between full sized pianos and small keyboards. Whilst the size of the keys may only differ slightly, it's enough to throw you off completely.
  • Pianists also deal with the differences between individual pianos. Using one piano while practicing at home and another for a performance is really hard without adapting to the new piano. Especially differences in resistance in the keys throws you off.
  • Going from practicing on a full piano (with very resistant keys) to playing a keyboard (with unweighed keys) is hard. The upside is that you can then play much faster on unweighed keys if you practice with weighted ones.
  • There's a major difference in functionality between many electronic keyboards and traditional pianos: on traditional pianos, and electronic pianos made to emulate them, when you press a key the whole key goes down. On most electronic keyboards, however, only one end of the key moves down, in a swinging motion. It can easily result in skilled pianists whiffing notes if they start playing up in the black keys.
  • For even more fun in this vein, try switching between a piano, a pipe organ, and a harpsichord. Modern pipe organs with fully-electric action have a light key touch similar to synthesizers, while older models with pneumatic action are a bit stickier, and old tracker-actions are much heavier, almost like a grand piano. A harpsichord has the added complication of plucking the string rather than hitting it, so that the pressure of the key suddenly releases while you're pressing it.
  • Guitars. Sometimes you need to change the key based on your singer. Works simple, right? Just replace the chords. Until you remember the fact that you need to accommodate the open strings. This can result in you having to retune the guitar, because the new key is a lot harder.
  • Capos brings the key up. A song that is in a low key, like E will lose most of it's bottom, since you are bringing the key up and sometimes thus "ruining" the sound. But this can create problems for other instruments. If playing a song that is normally with a capo, only the guitar has a capo. Say you want to bring it down, this can make the work hard for the bass player, if he's playing it in such a way that it's hard to move it (often the case if using open strings).
  • Averting the trope is a key skill for jazz musicians. There are certain keys that sound best for certain instruments, and in a five piece jazz band, it's possible that every single instrument would like to play the song in a different key (except the drummer, obviously). Most often, it's the guitarists and pianists who will change to play with the singer or horns, so they have to be able to transpose complex chords on the fly.
  • Playing guitars in different tunings. Some tunings, like E♭ standard or D standard, will just put you in the wrong key. Then you get to tunings where the usual string intervals are removed, like Drop D, Open E, or DADGAD. All of your usual chord shapes and scale patterns no longer apply.
  • Sometimes the resistance of the sustain pedal can throw piano players off. A pianist may be accustomed to a piano with a really firm pedal that allows the foot to rest on it even when it is not in use, only to do the same thing on a different piano and be accidentally applying the pedal for no reason!
  • People who switch between similar instruments (for instance flute/recorder/tin whistle) have to perform really awesome mental acrobatics to remember to prod the right bits.
  • Recorder players have to adjust to the very-slightly-different fingering of the Baroque and German recorders, which also happen to look and feel exactly the same.
  • Switching between soprano and alto recorders. The notes are suddenly a fifth down/up from what they were (which screws with you especially when you're reading music), and the holes are a different distance apart. Expect to miss a lot. This is a real Mind Screw when switching between the tenor and alto saxophone, and the clarinet in B♭ and A, despite that their fingering systems are identical to each other.
  • Percussionists have a similar problem when switching sticks. The slightest difference in weight or shape can throw you off completely. When playing snare drum, this difference in dynamic or rhythm could make for a very embarrassing entrance into the piece.
  • A drumset player switching between various drumsets for self-practice, group rehearsal, and performance.
  • This is why Ringo Starr plays such uniquely odd drum fills. He learned to play on a set laid out for a right handed drummer. Being a leftie, he couldn't really get the patterns right. By the time he tried switching to a leftie setup, his hands couldn't unlearn what they had learned. Whatever you might say about the technical correctness of his playing, it's hard to argue with success on that level.
  • Try learning to play the viola and then trying to play a contrabass. To clarify, the contrabass is a viol, which is actually a different instrument family than the violin, viola and cello, and tunes in fourths instead of the fifths that the others do. This means that the entire fingering system of the instrument is different from that of the other three, which could be a Mind Screw to adjust to, aside from the physical difficulty of pressing down on those steel cables that the contrabass calls strings. And the bow alone probably weighs more than a violin.
  • Handbells. Going from bass (F3-B3) to the bottom of the treble clef (D5-E5) mid-concert means that hand location for damping has moved about a foot backward, not to mention the care that must be taken to avoid tossing the bells across the room.
  • Going from a bass trombone with dependent valves to one with independent valves can be tricky; there are techniques that you can use on one that will not work on the other.
  • Going from a tenor trombone without an F attachment to one with an F attachment or a bass with just an F attachment or one with two attachments.
  • It can feel very strange playing bass for awhile and then changing to a guitar.
  • Switching between classical, steel-string acoustic, and electric guitar.
  • When Yamaha introduced the DX7 synthesizer in the 1980s, it was a big seller due to being the first fully-digital synthesizer, with all the convenience of being able to save sounds for later use (as opposed to having to manually set them with knobs every time), and perfect tuning stability. The tradeoff? It was a completely different method of synthesis than that used in earlier synthesizers: it was much less intuitive, and the results were much less predictable. Additionally, the replacement of knob controls with a digital menu that was paged through with buttons made it impractical to adjust sounds during performance. Many musicians simply treated the DX7 as a "preset machine", and didn't even bother trying to learn to program the thing.
  • Altering the sound of a subtractive-synthesis versus an FM-synthesis machine. Very different systems.
  • Logic Pro plays with this by having the oscillators switch between subtractive-synthesis mode and FM mode on the oscillator knob in its included ES 2 plugin.
  • Not technically muscle memory, but perhaps ordinary memory or pitch memory: going from an instrument written in one key to one that's written in another. For example, going from a sax (E♭) to a clarinet (B♭), or from trumpet (B♭) to horn (F) has major Mind Screw potential. "Concert B♭" (a common tuning note) is a B♭ on C instruments, an F on F instruments, a G on E♭ instruments, and a C on B♭ instruments, but they're all the same pitch.
  • One of the most difficult skills to learn as a musician is to read an orchestral score while mentally transposing all the parts to concert pitch. Doubly so if you're not fluent in alto and tenor clefs. If you're a pianist trying to play a reduction of the score, you're guaranteed to get mixed up between transposed parts and concert pitch constantly.
  • Young French Horn students going from single horn to double horn. Starting at C♯ and going up, the fingerings differ between the two. Then, a few years later, when the student reaches high school and has to switch to mellophone for marching band, the fingerings go back to single horn except for the notes below F, which were constant between single and double horns. It's manageable when you're playing the music your director gives you, but if you feel like learning something by ear it's more of a problem.
  • Learning to play the piano (which uses both treble and bass clef) after playing an instrument which uses only one of those clefs, will have you be far more proficient in one hand than the other for quite some time. This is more like visual memory, though.
  • On guitar, learning scales. Players get struck in 'boxes', and allow them to improvise in a closed part of the fretboard.
  • Going from Violin to Viola (or Vice Versa). Since they are both held under the chin, but have different clefs and slightly different strings,expect to be playing a note that's a 7th high than it should be when you first start out.

  • The face buttons (A/B/X/Y) on the Steam Controller are in the lower right, where the vast majority of other controllers place an analog stick of some description. The right touchpad is where the face buttons "normally" go. Many many people can't get past this.

    Portable Devices 
  • Graphing calculators are all over the place with layouts:
    • Most people start on the Texas Instruments TI-83/84 line, since it's the only one allowed in lots of US high school and college math courses. Then you move up to the more powerful TI-89 line, and not only has the keypad layout changed fairly significantly (if you use trig functions, for example, you'll now find that sine, cosine, and tangent are 2nd shift functions on the Y, Z, and T keys, with their inverses being diamond shift functions), but the general OS layout and interface has, too.
    • Then there's the Nspire line, which has interchangeable keypads; the original ones had the letter keys tucked in between the usual keypad keys, but the touchpad ones have a completely different layout that moves all the letter keys to a thumb keyboard at the bottom and consolidates the trig functions all into one button, among other things.
    • Hewlett-Packard calculators not only have a completely different layout and OS interface (where changing things in the mode screen requires one to hit F2 to choose what option to adjust and Enter just exits, among other things), but are often centered around Reverse Polish (postfix) notation, NOT algebraic (infix) notation. (Fortunately, both are supported-just go into the mode menu and switch it there.) Good luck transitioning between them and most other calculators (though you may not even want to if you're used to RPN).
  • Some smart phones rearrange buttons slightly on different iterations. While the QWERTY layout was the same on both the Samsung Blackjack II and the later iteration, the Jack, which ones did which symbols when the Function key is hit changed. Most annoying when you're trying to unlock your phone (which requires hitting S on the Blackjack II, but Z on the Jack).
    • Android phone's keyboards leave the little-used voice entry button right next to the end-of-every-sentence period.
      • Let's not get into how awkward it is to use different keyboards, either within the Android ecosystem or between iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
    • Because of the openness of the Android platform in regards to hardware, the four (sometimes three) main keys of the OS are shifted around across phones. And it's not even between companies. For example, the key layout on the Motorola Droid is different than the Droid X and Droid 2, for whatever reason. And some phones have specific function keys.
      • Soft keys were introduced with Android 4.0.0. And they can't be moved around by default. Some manufacturers may let you customize the layout or add more buttons.
  • Not restricted to smart phones are the phone buttons. Is the power button on the side, the top or the back of the phone? Or is it the same as the "end call" button? Also, most smartphones have the power\volume buttons on the side. Most LG phones have them on the back, right below the camera. And of course, a fourth side button (iPhone: Mute; Windows Phone: Camera) can confuse people.
  • Try going from a lifetime of using Gameboys and Nintendo DSes to a PSP. Not only do you have four new buttons to learn (circle, square, triangle, and X), the four arrows on the left side may not always be used for moving your character about (as in the Nintendo handhelds); they may be for a whole separate menu system, and you'd have to move using the joystick in the lower left-hand corner. Results in many a rage quit until one figures it out...
  • Each Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS version had its power button & start/select buttons somewhere else (as can be seen from their page image). At least the D-pad and ABXY buttons remained the same.
    • Where the stylus is on each model of the DS or 3DS differs. It's either next to the game cart or on the right side.

  • English-style riding (also known as classical or European style riding, and is the type seen at the Olympics) places a lot of emphasis on the rider looking like they're doing nothing at all. This isn't a factor in Western riding. So, to use a bending (weaving in and out of poles/around barrels) exercise as an example, an English-style rider will touch the horse's left flank very gently with their heel to get them to turn to the left, and increase the pressure depending on how much of a turn is required (pressing firmly with the calf will usually get a well-trained horse turning almost 90 degrees.) In Western style riding, all steering is done with the reins; touching your heels to a horse or applying pressure with your legs will only tell it to move faster.
  • Every horse is an individual and even similarly trained horses will respond differently to the same set of cues: One does NOT cue a hot thoroughbred the same as a phlegmatic warmblood... not if you want to live, anyway.
  • Speed skaters and roller derby players often find that they spend so long going counterclockwise around the track (the direction races and bouts go in) that they stumble over basic footwork when going clockwise. It's very frustrating.
  • A factor in running track, but still present: after doing so many laps going counterclockwise, it's just plain weird to go clockwise.
  • Professional wrestlers have said going from trying not to hurt each other while performing to getting into an actual fight can be damn awkward.
    • In the UK wrestlers post note  on the thigh, close to the knee, US wrestlers post on the hip. Also, English speaking wrestlers always work the left arm, and on the left side, but Mexican wrestlers work the right arm, which just feels...wrong. Also, in Japan lots of moves have different names - an arm drag is completely different over there.
  • Though cricket and baseball share some basic similarities on first sight, they each require some different skills, and everything from the way you hold the bat to how the ball is thrown is different. You can transition from one to the other and become a decent player, it just happens to be frustrating.
    • This is also a tactic in cricket. Since by the rules of the game require the bowlers (roughly equivalent to a pitcher in baseball) to alternate between overs you can alternate between left and right handed bowlers to keep the batsmen from getting too comfortable. The batsmen can do this as well if both a left and right-hander are in. By scoring single runs, they switch ends, not only forcing the bowler to adjust, but making the fielders change positions.
  • Taking advantage of this is a crucial element of fencing. Most good fencers will attack, parry, and move reflexively, so variations in your technique will throw the other combatant off. The 1, 3, 7, and 8 parries are slightly more difficult to pull off than the 2, 4, 5 and 6, but the techniques to avoid them are different.
    • This can also be a problem when switching from foil fencing to épée. The weapons vary in weights and length, but more importantly the target areas are different. New épée fencers will be frustrated by how often they get hit in the knee or arm. More subtly, the timing on the machines is different; in layman's terms, two hits close at close to the same time will both register in foil, but they have to be at much closer to the same time to register in épée.
    • A similar problem occurs when switching between one of the other blades and sabre (or vice-versa), as the majority of attacks in sabre are delivered with the edge of the blade, instead of the point. Adjusting for the extra step (swing blade down from guard to cut as the arm extends) can take a little while. Added to that, the standard guard in sixte (for example) has a radically different angle of blade when used in sabre to either of the other weapons, so people tend to find they're using the wrong guard stance and leaving themselves open.
  • Sometimes seen in players moving between field hockey and regular ball or ice hockey; in field hockey you aren't (except for a goalie) allowed to touch the ball deliberately with your body, whereas in ice or ball, you are allowed to block with your body, knock down high shoots with your hands, and kick the puck/ball (except to score). The method of stick-handing is also significantly different in that field hockey doesn't allow you to use both sides of the stick to hit the ball. And then there's the size and shape of the stick...
  • Most professional sports, at least in America, have some rules that are different than their college equivalents, some of which are common, everyday occurrences at both levels. For example, in Collegiate American Football, a receiver only needs to get one foot in-bounds after making a catch to make it count. In the National Football League, a receiver needs to get BOTH feet in before touching out of bounds. Rule changes like this are why positions such as wide receiver have some of the toughest transitions from one level to the next.
  • When American Football players get their team penalized yards because someone on the opposite team faked them into crossing the line of scrimmage before the play begins, they're grumbling this trope at themselves.
  • Rugby and American football are somewhat similar, and some American football players switch to rugby during their career. One notable difference between the two codes is that in the rugby "try", unlike in American football "touchdown", you must ground the ball with your hand behind the goal-line. Some converted players forget this in the heat of the moment and throw away the ball after running into the in-goal area. Also, rugby forbids forward passing which is a staple of the American code.
  • In swimming, flip-turns, or the underwater transition they do at the end of the pool to get going in the opposite direction. Every swimmer knows how many strokes they need to take prior to executing their turn once they reach the "flags", factoring in their own top speed and stroke/body length. However, in the US several lap pools are measured out to be 25 yards (especially older ones) while others are 25 meters, which is just enough of a difference to throw a swimmer off if they find themselves at a meet with a different pool length (i.e. taking 4 strokes and flipping but realizing that you undershot the wall by few feet). This is why many newer pools in the US are explicitly 25 meters long and why Olympian (and other international competitors) will invariably practice in them.

    Televisions and related 
  • TV and DVD player remotes can vary drastically between different brands — not just in layout, which is frustrating enough, but even in how correspondingly labeled buttons behave.
    • There may be buttons named Top Menu and just plain Menu. The top menu is the main screen, where you have access to the usual options (play movie, select chapter/episode, set-up, and special features). It's confusing, because usually, the "plain" menu button will take you to the main menu if you're watching the movie or episode, but to a sub-menu if you're watching special features. Either way, you get yanked out of whatever you were watching. The newer Blu-ray high-definition format uses this in a much more logical manner, where the top menu button functions more or less identically, but the regular menu button merely brings up the usual options above, but as an overlay while the content continues playing with selections made on the fly. It's much easier to use when changing audio or subtitles, or finding a specific chapter or episode.
    • This is especially when you switch from watching movies on DVD or Blu-ray on your Playstation 3. The menu and control configuration is different on almost all buttons.
    • While on the PS3 manufacturer, if you own both a Sony DVD and BD-Player, watching a Blu-Ray might get you to the menu because you pressed "Stop" when you wanted "Pause".
  • The standard TiVo remote control and the DirectTV-branded version are identical in all respects other than markings — and the placement of two buttons. One of them turns your TV off.
  • Not to mention most modern TV's no longer have buttons lined up on the front of the set, but rather a cluster of them on the side of the TV instead. This is supposedly for aesthetic reasons. Apparently the designers forgot the first rule of engineering and design: design for ease of use, not because it looks nice. Which is why you don't let artists design electronics or any home appliance for that matter.
    • And the cluster will never be on the side that you try feeling first. Operating any unfamiliar TV always means having to give it a little pat down as you run your hands along the top and sides. Eventually, they're just going to put the buttons on the back of the TV.
      • The new Roku TV has done it. 4 arrows and a power button on the back lower right
    • When the batteries on your remote have expired, you'll still point it at the screen and push buttons for a good ten seconds before realizing that swearing at the set (or smashing the remote against the wall, for that matter) is not going to work, at which point you remember that you need to change the batteries.

    Real Life 
  • Western comics read left to right, and manga reads right to left. This leads to at least one person who has read a conversation as "Fine, thank you." "Good, and you?" "Hi! How are you doing?". It gets even more confusing with things like switching from manga-mode to Western comics and wondering why Batman dropkicks a Mook after he tells him "Right Behind You".
  • Students of the language. Westerners reflexively start at the top left, so new students of Chinese and Japanese occasionally wind up staring at the end of a piece of writing. It doesn't help that Japanese and Chinese can be correctly written left to right, going to the next line at the end of a row (like English) OR up to down, starting in the upper-right corner and moving left at the end of a column (and just to make it harder, Classical Chinese and Japanese—before Western contact—can be written horizontally from right to left, which can cause problems when reading old inscriptions and signs). Luckily you can usually tell pretty easily since up/down writing tend to be spaced in a rather distinctive way.
  • Talking about Chinese and Japanese, Chinese characters and kanji use the same symbols, but are often pronounced and can mean quite different things. For example, 大丈夫 is "daijoubu" in Japanese and means "alright" while in Chinese it is "da zhang fu" and means "true man" or "great husband". It can trip up native speakers of one who are trying to learn the other.
  • Manhwa are written left-to-right too. So unless you read them often and remember that it's not a Manga or Manhua, you'll end up reading it the wrong way.
  • Arabic writing is backwards to Latinic or "western" writing too. Made worse that numbers are read from left to right. At least in Hebrew (where it's read right to left).
  • Any RC modellers will experience this at least once. On an RC controller, left stick Y-axis is throttle, while X-axis is yaw. Right stick is roll/pitch on X/Y-axis, respectively. Enter the Playstation. Left stick is pitch/roll, and throttle/yaw are usually relegated to the shoulder triggers. This is especially detrimental when attempting to hover RC helicopters - which is far more difficult than flying at any speed in any direction, for those that have not tried it.
  • The preferred/default stick layout also can vary between regions, with the above example layout (called mode 2) being common in North America, while European modelers will more commonly know mode 1 (left stick is yaw/pitch, right is roll/throttle). Other modes also exist. Add to that wildly inconsistent programming interfaces (even among the same manufacturer) and different styles of auxiliary switch arrangements.
    • RC car modellers are slightly better off, in that most racing games have accelerate/brake mapped to the right stick as well as L2/R2. The reversed sticks still don't help.
  • Anyone ever flushed the toilet while someone was in the shower due to this trope? Or sat on a toilet seat cover without doing any business, and flush anyway when you get up?
  • A classic one: reflexively glancing at your wrist only to feel like an idiot because your watch is stopped/in for repair/sitting forgotten on your bedside table/on the other wrist. Then doing the exact same thing less than a minute later. Related is checking your watch, someone asking what time it is and you answer by checking the watch again.
    • One reason for the latter is that often you don't want to know what time it is when you check your watch. You want to know how long you've been waiting for the train, or how long you have until your appointment, etc. The answer you get is not the time, which is why you have to look again if asked for the time.
  • Trying to push your glasses up the bridge of your nose only to remember you're not wearing glasses. No dramatic effect there. It even works if you just have a job where you wear safety glasses.
    • On the flip side, if you just started a class (like chemistry) that requires safety glasses when you've never needed them before, expect to walk out of class still wearing them at least once.
    • If you get laser eye surgery and stop needing glasses, you will still spend months looking for your glasses when you wake up, try to correct their position on your nose or pick up tissues to clean them.
  • Wearing contact lenses, putting on non-prescription sunglasses, getting a little itch in your eye, and reflexively reaching behind your glasses to scratch it. Now your contact lens is pushed up into your eye socket, you're half blind, and whatever important task you had been concentrating on is careening out of control. May compel you to reconsider laser eye surgery.
  • Every glasses wearer is familiar with spending the entire time they have lost their glasses and are searching for them fighting the impulse to put on your glasses to look for your glasses easier. PROTIP: Keep your old pair in a place you can always find them easily when you need to find your new pair.
  • On some construction equipment you use your hands to control the travel and your feet to control the bucket, on others it's just the opposite. Can lead to some interesting results when you have to use both types on the same job site.
  • Getting used to a Tivo DVR means you use the 'jump back 6 seconds' button a fair amount. You find yourself trying to use it on everything electronic...
  • Getting used to a PC media player like MPC or Zoomplayer will have you reaching for a keyboard to press the 'back 5 seconds' key combination on everything electronic.
  • When visiting someone who does not have a DVR-equipped TV set, confusedly mashing the fast-forward and rewind buttons to no avail.
  • Watching a VHS tape when you're used to DVD controls. With most but admittedly not all VCRs, double-tapping the rewind button won't increase rewind speed; the second tap takes you out of rewind.
  • Any txt-oholics who change phone brands suffer from this, especially with dumbphones. Manufacturers sure like to use completely different keys for commands like "space".
    • Smartphones where the "back" and "menu" buttons are switched, as compared to your previous phone. You'll often find yourself attempting to go back to the previous page, only to call up the settings.
  • Trained martial artists have gotten seriously hurt against knife-users because of reflexively trying to block the blade, which is impossible for normal humans. It's slightly better if you were taught to parry at the wrist than outright block, but still no guarantee. Which is why most training centers with an emphasis on self-defence teach knife defense. Of course, the best way to avoid dying in a knife-fight is to not get into one.
    • Bruce Lee worried about what would happen if someone attacked him; he considered it likely that he would kill the person out of reflex.
  • Most strategies in modern fencing consist of trying to work out what reflexive reactions you can provoke from your opponent and how best to exploit them.
  • If your workplace requires you to hit other numbers before you can dial to external lines, for quite a while you'll find yourself forgetting to do so and end up accidentally calling anyone from the Chief Janitor to the Big Boss and generally embarassing yourself. After you've gotten used to the system, you'll reflexively start doing the same thing at home or on the cellphone/handphone, dialling wrong numbers and referring to the person who answers as "Dude! I got tickets for the game! Who's your daddy, bitch?" only to realize that no, that's not your best buddy on the other end of the line.
    • Ask any 911 dispatcher: the typical call from a business isn't an emergency, but because someone thought they had to dial '9' before the real phone number.
    • Try getting stuck with a four-digit extension at work that just *happens* to be "1" followed by the local area code. Single ring calls. All. Day. Long.
  • Does your culture/nation/society/whatever have family name first and given name last or vice versa? Either way, if you go somewhere that has it the other way around, confusion will ensue. Even within the same "whatever", you can encounter this problem with certain websites, like Danbooru. Example: Searching for Nanoha Takamachi there uses "takamachi_nanoha", while searching for Fate Testarossa uses "fate_testarossa".
    • Happened when Koei switched from the Last First method in Dynasty Warriors to the First Last method in Samurai Warriors.
  • If you've gotten used to living in a same gender dorm / hotel / house with a bunch of your buddies, you might be surprised to find that doing things like walking out of the shower and dripping water all over the floor with just a tiny towel around your waist, leaving smelly socks and clothes all over the place, leaving old pizza boxes and food cartons around until they start growing stinky mushroomy thingies on them and living without hygiene in general is not considered acceptable behaviour in society. Be wary if you visit your parents while on this phase.
  • Have you ever been confronted by a large chunk of text and caught your eyes heading toward the upper left corner of the page in pursuit of the "Find on Page" function before realizing you were looking at a book and not a web browser?
  • Automatically skipping over banner ads before realizing you're reading a text book and all the brightly coloured, highlighted boxes are in fact "important key information" notes.
  • Likewise, holding your finger on a word in a paper book, or trying to scroll to it, to look up the meaning.
    • Or writing something on paper and expecting to see a bumpy red line under a misspelled word.
  • Try going from a pen tablet to drawing on paper. You will draw something wrong and almost instinctively try to hit the non-existent Undo Button. God help you if you're drawing with any permanent medium (like oil paints or pens). The same goes if you want to resize something, make different layers or copy a pattern several times.
  • Hand gestures tend to vary from culture to culture. In the U.S., waving your hand at someone is a way to say hi, but to the Japanese it means "come here". Also, in the U.S., the thumbs up is a signal of approval, but raising your thumb in Kenya is akin to flipping the middle finger.
    • And may God help you if you're in the middle east and you hand them something with your left hand, because that's the hand traditionally used for cleaning oneself.
  • A fatal example of this trope happened with the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash. The pilots inadvertently engaged the Yak-42's brakes during takeoff-causing the plane to take off later than normal, strike an antenna, and crash into a river-because they put their feet on the plane's brake pedal the same way they with the Yak-40, which they had more experience with. To make matters worse, the first officer suffered from a nervous system disorder that affected the feeling in his feet, which may have prevented him from realizing his foot was on the brake.
  • Some people, when gesturing that something is to their liking, automatically give the "okay" gesture of curling their thumb and index finger together and raising the other three. Plenty of others, however, just give a thumbs up. If you're one of the latter half, you're going to have trouble if you learn to scuba dive - the "okay" signal is the one for "everything's fine", but if you accidentally give the thumbs up underwater, it signifies that you intend to surface, and by implication, that everything is NOT fine. Thumbs down is less likely to be an issue, because it's a signal you give on the surface meaning "let's descend". However, the "so-so" gesture of holding your palm parallel to the ground and rocking it from side to side means "something's wrong" underwater (usually followed by pointing at the problem). Whilst a lot of signals are fairly intuitive (since they should be easy to learn and remember), because they tend to be things that are easy to do with your hands, we usually already have some mentally preassigned meaning to them, and so some of them do require overcoming your natural (surface-based) muscle memory to remember the correct way to say something underwater. And let's not even get onto the fact that different dive operations in different parts of the world can use slightly varying signals - it's part of the reason that the safety procedures involve making sure everyone is familiar with the signals before each dive.
  • During World War II, an English method for spotting German spies tried to exploit this trope. The idea was to approach the suspected spy and shout "Heil Hitler!", and if the man really was a German, he would reflexively respond "Heil Hitler!" and give the salute. It sounds daft, but thanks to this trope, it probably would actually have worked to some degree (see the Inglorious Basterds example below).
  • People who ride different types of bicycles on a regular basis can fall victim to this. One example might be someone who owns an 18-speed mountain bike and a 21-speed one. If they are coasting real fast down a hill on their 18-speed, they will often try to switch into the seventh right-hand gear... only to quickly remember that there are only six.
    • Another (more painful) example might be someone who rides a bike with regular gears, and then try to ride a fixed-gear bike. Many new fixed-gear riders (including a lot of would-be thieves) quickly find out that no, the bike they are on does not coast like their regular one. Many spills have happened because of this.
      • And the reverse (typically when growing up and going from a fixed-gear bike to, say, a 3-speed) and you discover that backpedalling no longer stops the bike...
    • What's worse is that they're different braking schemes for bikes. Most people grow up with the "back pedal to brake" style brakes. Then transfer them to a bike with lever braking, and you'll be guaranteed they'll try to back pedal at least once in order to stop.
  • When your body changes noticably in a short amount of time (haircut, getting a cast off, and so forth) you will find yourself still acting as if it was the older version for some time.
    • There's a condition called the Phantom Limb where your body thinks it still has a recently amputated or cut out part of your body, and your mind gives you sensations of a part that isn't there.
    • Trying to flip formerly long hair over your shoulder. Also using shampoo or a brush when you are suddenly bald.
  • Some telemarketing firms have you dial out on the computer keypad, which is inverted from a typical phone pad (1-2-3 is on the bottom instead of the top.) If you work there long enough, you'll start dialing all phones upside-down.
    • More generally, people that type numbers on keyboards a lot without looking at them (especially professional number-crunchers and data entry personnel) are prone to mess up on dialing phone numbers, even if they're looking at the keypad. The reverse also applies for telemarketers and customer service personnel or anyone that spends all day on the phone.
  • People who work in high volume call centers or other jobs that require answering the phone a lot with can find themselves answering or discussing the call in various ways:
    • A worker answering their home or cell phones with their job's standard greeting.
    • Someone who switches companies, products or goes from inbound to outbound, vice versa or from different departments will have trouble with mixing the companies up.
    • Are you used to doing outbound via an auto-dialer? You'll answer your phone and greet the caller by giving them the start of the sales pitch. You'll also end calls by thanking people for listening to your call even when they've called you.
    • If you are on inbound you'll start thanking people for their call even when you've called them.
    • Talking to your Significant Other often enough on the phone that you have to fight against reflexively saying "love you, bye" when ending business calls.
  • The number pad on PCs has "123" on the bottom row. The one on ATMs has "123" on the top ones.
  • Rotary phones in North America, Britain and Japan have the numbers going 1234567890 in the counter-clockwise direction [1]. In most European countries, however, they go 0123456789 [2]. Even worse, New Zealand goes in reverse order - 9876543210 [3]
    • New Zealand chose 111 as its emergency number because it allowed the telephone exchanges to use British 999 equipment - the New Zealand 1 and British 9 are in the same place on the dial.
  • For cosplayers: Going from Chest Binding to Corsets during costume changes. See, the problem is how you breathe: with binding, the top half of your torso is constricted, so you find that the only way you can breathe is through your stomach (i.e. you puff out your belly to breathe) However, anyone who has worn a corset knows that it mostly constricts the lower half of you torso, and so you breath through your chest. Doing a quick swap between can lead to several moments of absolute panic as you stand around unable to understand why you can't breathe before you realise you're doing it wrong...
    • Or for ballet dancers and singers. Ballet requires corset-mode breathing and singing (at least, the western method of singing) requires binder-mode breathing.
  • Men's bathrooms in countries such as Britain and Germany use timed flush urinals instead of manual flush, where all the (handle-less) urinals are connected to one slowly refilling tank of water that eventually flushes all of them every few minutes. This can be very wasteful, but men in those countries are so used to the timed flush system that attempts to switch have failed since they forget to flush.
    • While this might have been true for Germany 30 years ago (when no-one cared about wasting water), today's urinals usually have either a flush button, an auto-flush sensor or work waterless - a German invention.
  • Going from reading on a tablet like the iPad to any Kindle that doesn't have "Touch" in the name leads to you swiping your finger uselessly across the screen to turn pages, or pressing the sides when going Kindle-to-tablet.
  • Going from a touchscreen tablet to a laptop.
  • Go to a country where nodding means "no" and shaking your head means "yes" or vice versa. Confusion ensues.
  • In countries with Cyrillic alphabet switching the keyboard layout from Cyrillic to QWERTY and back is done usually either by Ctrl+Shift or by Alt+Shift. Using the computer, where the needed combination is different from what you've accustomed to, can be very annoying.
  • Attempting to use the car radio's volume control to make human passengers louder.
  • Completely losing your balance on non-moving escalators. Moving ones are fine. Stairs are fine. Escalators that ought to be moving but aren't are confusing.
  • Join a serious re-enactment group. Odds are you'll find your hands automatically riding the top of whatever weapons/tools you have hanging from your belt, even in modern-day clothing. And if the group is medieval, expect phantom drafts on the back of your thighs from the inevitable gap between braes and hosen.
  • A political version for Americans. Get used to the post-2000 color schematic for presidential elections (red for Republicans and blue for Democrats). Now, go to any site which uses the pre-2000 schematic (blue for Republicans and red for Democrats), like this one and get confused when it says the Democrat won even though most of the states are red.
    • This confuses people in Britain trying to work out American politics: we're used to a political map of Conservatives (blue) and the now-slightly-left-of-centre,-as-opposed-to-Socialist, Labour Party (red). Intuitively we equate red to the (slightly leftish) Democrats and conservative blue to the (rather right-wing) Republicans. This can cause us to look at the political map of the USA and get it completely backwards - until somebody kindly puts us right. Anyone from Europe seeing red as a socialist or left-wing colour will be confused by its attribution to the Republican Party, who are anything but the sort of political party that should use the colour Red.
    • Likewise, Canadians often get tripped up when following American politics, since the left-wing Liberals use red and the centrist/right-wing Conservatives use blue.
    • The networks used to alternate colors, or at least assign them semi-randomly. The Florida debacle in 2000 kept the maps around so long that it "locked in" the color scheme used in that election for all time in the minds of most American viewers, even though it makes no sense whatsoever to anyone from a country where actual Socialists (inevitably red) are a viable party.
  • The whole point of the game Simon Says.
  • Reaching for the automatic drive handlebar when using a lawnmower that doesn't have one. Tough luck, kid, you're gonna have to sweat those last few rows out.
  • Keeping important things on one side of your body all the time, then forgetting them. You can rub your hip for a while before figuring out that no, you left your wallet at home.
    • Similarly, it isn't uncommon to absentmindedly reach into your pocket and panic when you don't find your wallet or your smart phone or whatever there... while you're actively using the object in question with your other hand.
  • Photoshop artists have all at some point felt the embarrassment of looking for CTRL+S to save their work... only to realize that for once they're drawing on an actual sketchbook and not their computer.
  • Writing a paragraph, drawing a sketch, etc. and making a mistake, immediately thinking "Control Z"/"Command Z", then realising you're not using a computer. Sequential Art shows one example.
  • Having an item of interest on the computer screen obscured by a Post-It Note stuck to the screen, so you try to relocate the Post-It by dragging it with the mouse.
  • Attempting to use one's car alarm remote to lock/unlock one's home's front door.
  • Attempting to scroll down with the down arrow while watching a movie or TV show and there is a pause in dialogue, as a result of spending copious amounts of time reading on the computer.
  • People who play word-rearranging games and puzzles (Scrabble and its knock-off's is the most common culprit) often go about their business subconsciously rearranging letters in other words, like sitting at at a STOP sign and getting "POTS", "POST", "TOPS", "SPOT", and "OPTS" out of "STOP".
  • Going into the wrong bathroom because you normally enter from the hall on the opposite side.
    • The Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh has its restrooms in the same place on every floor, but at least one floor inexplicably switches sides for the men's and women's. Gotta wonder whose bright idea that was.
  • An RAF pilot flying during the Battle of Britain found himself on the tail of a German fighter but out of ammo. As they were now flying at treetop level, the RAF pilot maneuvered his aircraft directly above the German's. Seeing the belly of an aircraft virtually within arm's reach above him, the German pilot reflexively tried to dive away to avoid a collision, and in doing so plowed into the ground.
  • In World War II, the early Spitfire types were powered by the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, which spun the propeller counter-clockwise, making the plane turn to the left, so the pilot would compensate with a slight right rudder. The later types had the Rolls-Royce Griffon engine, which spun in the opposite direction.
  • Try writing today's date on your birthday. Chances are you will write your date of birth instead.
    • And, of course, there's accidentally writing the previous year for the first few days in January.
    • Then there's the confusion to starts when reading or writing a date differently based on what English you're using. In America, a date is written as month, day and year (March 30, 1998 or 3/30/1998) while in the rest of the English-speaking world, it's day, month and year (30 March, 1998 or 30/3/1998). Now, does 2/1/2000 mean January 2nd or February 1st?
      • Fimfiction.Net uses the British method of displaying dates (because its creator is British), despite the fact the majority of its users are American. People usually are not confused.
  • A variant of this trope is when something becomes so ingrained into your muscle memory, you don't consciously register yourself doing it. As a result, you can't remember whether or not you did something. Forgetting whether or not you washed your hair in the shower tends to be one of the more common ones.
    • Public Service Announcement: If this occurs in the form of you forgetting whether or not you took a medication, assume you did. 9 times out of 10, you're better off dealing with withdrawal symptoms than dealing with the effects of an overdose.
    • Also, if this occurs in the form of forgetting whether you locked your car door or not, especially in a crime-ridden area, check it right now. Missing a bus or train, being late for school or work, etc. is better than coming back to a sabotaged car or worse, no car at all.
  • And when all is said and done, most activities that require training invoke this effect, allowing the person to react without taking time to think.
  • When climbing stairs up or down in the dark, miscalculating the number of steps can give awkward results.
  • Lifting an empty milk carton up in the air in a too violent move, because your brain thought the opaque carton was still full and your arm muscle overestimated its weight before applying the vertical force on it.
  • Chris Pratt ran into a version of this while filming Guardians of the Galaxy; he had to be reminded that they would add sound effects in post-production before he realized he was making "pew-pew" noises for his prop pistols.
  • DVD cases with brackets. Have you ever tried to open one of these DVD cases like you would any other case only for it to not open or worse, break the case itself? There's a reason most DVD-case-making companies don't make them as much as they used to. The Bullshit Man was right on that too: just rip the bracket off the case, it will still snap shut just fine.
  • Serious programmers tend to start lists numbering from 0. This is because the array indices of most programming languages start from 0, and computers usually count from 0 as well.

In-Universe Examples:

    Comics and Manga 
  • Shougo from Holyland: Despite his time on the street, he was trained in karate first rather than street brawling. When he gets into trouble in a certain fight, he instinctively falls back on his karate base, which only makes things worse.
  • An inversion occurs in the manga Bokura no Kiseki when the heroine Takao first regains her memories of her previous life, a female knight. Her mind remembers the correct ways to move in a fight, but her average high school girl body can't keep up, so she just ends up off balance and in pain.
  • In Sword Art Online, Kirito's experience trapped in the video game world of Sword Art Online gave him incredible swordsmanship skills. At one point, while sparring with his sister using wooden swords in the real world, he trips up by attempting moves only possible in the game. After the match, he attempts the sheathe the wooden sword like he would a real one, forgetting that he is not wearing a scabbard and a wooden practice sword wouldn't go in it anyway.
    • In the Phantom Bullet arc, Kirito purchases a Beam Sword and tests it out with a sword skill he memorized. He then attempts to sheath it in a nonexistent scabbard again. After his first fight in the Bo B tournament preliminaries, he does it again.
  • In Marvel Zombies Return, zombie Spider-Man tries to shoot webbing, forgetting that it dried up when he died. The result? His body getting tricked by muscle memory to painfully shoot out his veins instead.
  • In an early Silver Age World War II period Captain America story, Cap is under the chemical mind control of The Red Skull and is presented to Adolf Hitler. Hitler takes a swing at Cap, but learns too late from the Skull that Cap's defensive reflexes are beyond his control as the superhero blocks the Leader's fist with his shield.

  • In Mean Girls, Gretchen is forced to change her usual place in "Jingle Bell Rock". As a result, she stumbles into Regina, then into the stereo that starts skipping, and kicks the thing into her crush's face.
  • In Burn After Reading a US Marshall talks about how muscle memory is pounded into people who went through the same training as him so they just react without even thinking. This turns out to be a massive Chekhov's Gun when he later shoots and kills another major character who he thinks is a burglar. He doesn't even realize what he's done at first, because he frantically flees downstairs and only goes up to investigate long after the "intruder" should have been coming after him.
  • In Inglourious Basterds, Lt. Hicox gets caught by the Germans in the bar because he orders three Scotches using his index, middle and ring fingers - like a Brit - instead of his thumb, index and middle fingers - like a German.
  • In Ip Man 2, there's a fight between the titular protagonist and Twister. That is, a Chinese martial artist vs. a British boxer. During the match, Ip Man forgets that the fight is being fought under boxing rules and accidentally kicks Twister in the face, which causes him to be penalised.
  • In X-Men: Days of Future Past Future!Wolverine keeps forgetting that he doesn't have metal claws when his mind is sent back to his 1970's body and is always falling behind in fights because it takes him a few seconds to remember and adjust.
  • In 36 Hours (1965), during World War II the Germans drug and capture an American intelligence officer and then subject him to an elaborate deception that he is recovering from amnesia in an American army hospital - all in order to trick him into supplying crucial military information. Upon beginning to suspect the ruse, the American barks an order at a supposed hospital staff member, who promptly clicks his heels in classic German fashion.
  • Similar to Inglourious Basterds, in the movie The Monuments Men, Nazi official Stahl finds out it wasn't a good idea indoctrinate his children to respond to "Heil Hitler" when hiding from the Allies and one of them casually says the salute.
  • In The Avengers, right after Nick Fury uses an RPG to take out the Quinjet carrying the nuke that the WSC ordered against New York, a second jet takes off from a different catapult. Without thinking about it, he whips out his sidearm before realizing the bullets would do as much damage as a spitball from the distance.

  • In Solitary Pinion, the main character turns into a pony without the knowledge to even form words with her new mouth. Oh, and she now has wings, too.
    • A lot of "Ponification" fanfics portray formerly human characters as often struggling with their new physical forms.
  • The Audience: Happens in chapter 29 to a hapless pony orderly who's used to pushing around quadruped patients in pony wheelchairs, which you tip forward to help the patient step off. Unfortunately, this time the orderly is wheeling around a human in a typical human wheelchair, and ends up reflexively tipping it forward and accidentally dumping his patient onto the ground.
  • The Fifth Act, Genesis reflexively cast status spells on Cloud, even though he does know it doesn't affect Cloud. Inverted when they have to fight a Jenova-possessed Cloud, Genesis casts a Sleep spell on Cloud and non-lethally takes him down because Cloud lost his immunity.
    • A tragic example, when Cloud and Sephiroth's rematch goes horribly wrong Sephiroth defends himself by attacking. While Cloud manages to hold back in time, Angeal who was intervening ends up taking the blow and gets horribly wounded.
  • In Deserted Distractions, Ryou finds himself able to pick locks and untie knots without even thinking about it thanks to Yami Bakura's muscle memory.

  • In Dune, Paul is used to attacking slowly while sword-fighting in order to circumvent the deflector shields that are common in the empire. (His defenses, on the other hand, are appropriately fast.) When forced into a knife-fight to the death against an opponent who had never fought with a shield before, despite being clearly far more skilled than his opponent, Paul couldn't make a killing blow as he kept slowing his strikes (which would be perfect for getting through a shield, but a burden here) and had never killed a man before. Unfortunately, this leads spectators to believe that he is being incredibly cruel by dragging out his opponent's inevitable death.
  • In the Katharine Kerr novel Snare, Zayn has absolute perfect memory. Most of the time this is useful (except for the social stigma that his culture places on Recallers), but it interferes with his archery skills. He was trained to the longbow, so when traveling with the Comnees, who use the horsebow, he tries to handle it like a longbow without thinking. The only time he ever uses a Comnee bow and manages to hit something, it's because he was drugged, and unable to rely on muscle memory.
  • In World War Z, soldiers fighting Zack find it difficult to stop aiming for center of mass even after they learn that only headshots work.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Jaime Lannister's dominant hand is amputated, and he has to learn to fight with a sword in his left hand instead. It goes about as well as you'd expect.
    • Dany finds out that riding a horse is very different from riding a dragon. For example, she mentions that whipping her horse on its right flank makes the horse go left, because a horse's first instinct is to flee from danger, but whipping a dragon on its right side makes it veer right, because a dragon's first instinct is always to attack.
  • In the Magic: The Gathering novel Future Sight spectral murderer Dinne-il-Vec is beaten by Radha due to this. His strategy of blinking in and out of existence and heckling her with shallow cuts, rather than simply offing her with a decisive blow when given the opportunity ends up being his undoing.
  • Allegiance has a stormtrooper's drilled-in self-defense techniques - such as disarming someone who's at close range and pointing a blaster at him, and then shooting when said someone threatens him - result in killing a superior officer, forcing him to desert.
    • A comedic example from the X-Wing Series: Wedge is going out on a date but getting pestered by two of his friends. They follow him into an elevator, he sets the destination for the roof instead of the hangar, and bellows in his best drill sergeant's voice "ABOUT FACE! FORWARD MARCH!" Purely on instinct his fellow pilots whirl around and slam into the back of the elevator, and Wedge steps out before they're carried out of his hair.
    • In the novelizations of the Dark Forces Saga, Kyle's father is killed in an attack carried out by ships bearing Rebel insignias. When Kyle has the chance to see footage of the attack, however, he realizes the attackers were actually Imperials thanks to their tactics, which he recognized due to having recently graduated from the Imperial Academy.
  • In Unseen Academicals this is Trev's problem. He promised his mum he'd never play football, so the only thing he's good at kicking is a tin can. He's no good with the new football. That is, the ball itself; he considers the new rules and style of play an improvement, but can't get the hang of kicking the ball. Fortunately, thanks to an old rule and Glenda standing by to replace the ball, he finishes the game and gets a win for his side by using a tin can.

    Live Action TV 
  • An episode of The Sketch Show featured an office worker switching from a typewriter to a computer for the first time, then pushing the monitor off the desk as if she were still typing on a typewriter.
  • In the fourth-season blooper reel of Castle, Stana Katic was supposed to write "Stan Lee" on a whiteboard, but then she realized that after writing S-T-A-N, she was automatically finishing it to write her own name.
  • In an episode of the UK version of Top Gear the group was tasked with finding sedans that would handle racing as well as work as a normal car. James May chose one that had a dog leg gear shift. This meant that that instead of up and away for the first gear, it is down and away. Every time he would try to go into first gear, he'd be throwing it into reverse and run into who ever was behind him.
    • This also happens anytime an American comes on the show; even if they know how to Drive Stick, they won't know how to drive one that is on their left instead of their right.
  • In an episode of Game of Thrones, Jorah Mormont gets into a fight with a dothraki named Qothor. Qothor uses an arakh, which are incredibly good at slicing flesh but are worthless against armour. At first, he puts Jorah on the defensive by swinging at his unprotected head, but then goes for a body shot which would have sliced an unarmoured foe in half. Since Jorah is wearing full plate he is completely unharmed, traps the blade against his side and stabs Qothor dead.
  • In an episode of Lois and Clark, Lois and Clark are sent back in time to the day Clark's ship crashed. They end up meeting Johnathan and Martha Kent, and when they leave, Clark automatically kisses his mom goodbye, which causes a very awkward moment.
  • The episode "Parallels" in Star Trek: The Next Generation has Worf jumping from one quantum reality to the next. In one, he has trouble finding the button to fire weapons, because the console has a completely different configuration than the one in his own reality.
  • A subtle and impied example in the episode Daredevils!! of Psych. Shawn was hired by the son of a daredevil to keep his dad safe after a sabotage attempt. However, it turns out the daredevil himself did it. Being terminally ill, he took out a unique life insurance policy that meant if he died during a stunt, his familly would receive a million dollars, being the sole source of income. Despite his sabotage attempts, his experience as a daredevil meant his instincts kicked in and would move his body to minimize harm from the faulty stunts. His final attempt would've msot likely killed him, but he undid the sabotage when Shawn talked to him, pointing out his family would prefer more time with him rather than the money.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Cedric Alexander usually follows Caprice Coleman's no hands huricanrana with a frog splash but on the June 2nd 2012 edition of ROH TV, Rhett Titus kept rolling passed the landing spot Alexander was so used to that he had jumped before waiting to see where Titus would stop. This allowed Titus's All Night Express tag team partner Kenny King to turn the match around.

    Standup Comedy 
  • George Carlin in one segment commented on the annoyances of driving someone else's car, especially if they had swapped the gear and turn signal levers to opposite sides of the steering wheel. Go to change gears and you tear the signal lever right off.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Ross discusses this in Steam Train. He's an immigrant from Australia, and is used to calling flashlights "torches", which is the custom in his country. So when in America, he had to learn to start calling torches "flashlights". The problem arises that he's so used to the mental substitution that when he tries to refer to actual wooden torches, he accidentally calls them flashlights.
  • Apparently, Chuggaaconroy was so used to his laptop that, when it was in for repairs and he was using a desktop computer, he slammed the monitor down onto his keyboard.
  • In this Texts from Superheroes entry, Agent Coulson demonstrates the Nazi-finding technique described in Real Life (above) on some agents of HYDRA.

    Video Games 
  • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, this is used to explain why Snake suddenly knows how to use CQC (added to the series in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, a prequel). He apparently knew how to do it all along, but never felt comfortable using it due to Big Boss' betrayal of FOXHOUND. However, Big Boss' files were recently declassified by the Pentagon, and his CQC techniques became widespread enough that practically every soldier in battle now at least knows about it. Snake finds himself using it again because his first response to someone using it on him is to respond in kind.
    • Otacon is hit with this, too. For Act 3 and most of Act 4, he's switched to contact lenses over his original glasses because Naomi thought he looked more handsome without them. However, in periods where he's feeling nervous or stressed, he still finds himself reaching up to push the glasses he's not wearing back into place.
  • The Citadel DLC in Mass Effect 3 gives you the M-7 Lancer, effectively a Call Back to the guns in ME1, such that it doesn't run out of ammo, and it overheats instead. When Shepard uses the gun and overheats it, s/he tries to eject the thermal clip, only to realise there isn't one.
  • Milla from Tales of Xillia inverts this. She spends the first hour of the game hideously overpowered thanks to the enhancement of the Four Great Spirits. When she loses this, it quickly becomes apparent she was relying on them so much that she has no muscle memory for anything; barely able to swim and suddenly becoming hopelessly uncoordinated with her sword.
  • While most Tetris games lock down with hard drop (up on the direction pad or space on the keyboard) and does not lock down with soft drop (down), Tetris: The Grandmaster series is vice versa. This will result in experienced Tetris players on other games attempting to slide a piece in, only to find that the piece has locked down before he can move it.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The four bending arts, Air, Water, Earth and Fire, have significantly different styles, strategies and philosophies, but also some similarities. As the Avatar has to master them all (and is, in fact, the only one capable of bending more than one), one element in particular gives them some difficulty, depending on which element they mastered first. Air and Earth are opposites, same with Water and Fire. There are complimentary elements too, Air and Water carry similar principles (be flexible and adaptive), same with Earth and Fire (stand your ground).
    • In the episode "Bitter Work," Iroh outlines all the bending philosophies and how they relate to the society they originate from. As part of being a Cool Old Guy and an Old Master, he tries teaching Zuko a Firebending technique he developed himself that actually utilizes Waterbending principles, which in theory should be impossible. Zuko struggled to learn how to do the technique, only to figure it out later in the series.
    • The same episode Aang, being an Airbender, started his training in Earthbending and found it far more difficult than his training in Waterbending. Being he was used to a fighting style that relied on agility and misdirection, Earthbending requires blunt, direct force. This was even foreshadowed very early on, when King Bumi (a very powerful Earthbender) forced Aang to think outside the box more, clearly in an attempt to start preparing him for the change in mindset he would have to make to learn Earthbending.
    • A later Whole Episode Flashback details the backstory of Avatar Roku and Firelord Sozin, it was mentioned that Roku had difficulty learning Waterbending, indicating that it and Firebending are opposites as Airbending and Earthbending are.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • While the focus of the first season is the difficulty she has learning Airbending, it seems to be an issue of personality (Korra is a Hot-Blooded fighter, which tends to clash with the philosophies of Airbending, the least offense-oriented style of the four) rather than this trope.
    • Korra outs herself as the Avatar while playing on the Fire Ferrets team when she accidentally earthbends in the middle of a pro bending match, despite being the team waterbender. Since she was also trained to fight rather than compete in a sport with rules, some of the tactics she initially uses (like knocking an opponent off the side of the ring instead of the back, and hitting an opponent with a very long stream of water) turn out to be illegal moves.
    • In the finale, Korra and Mako throw Amon into the water, knocking his mask and fake scars off. As Amon is naturally a waterbender, his first instinct is to launch himself out of the water. So all the Equalists gathered outside the stadium see that their leader, the charismatic anti-bending revolutionary who claimed to have been horribly burned, was in truth a bender faking his burns with makeup. Amon swims away.
  • A body part version occurs in the Looney Tunes cartoon Robin Hood Daffy. Twice in a row, Daffy manages to hurt himself with his buck-and-a-quarter staff by bouncing it off the ground and up into his face, which bends his beak up. When he subsequently does a verbal run-through without the staff in an attempt to figure out what went wrong, his beak bends up again on its own at that point.