That one is keeping a secret, but I'm totally onto her. She's psychic!When somebody comes to a completely logical conclusion from what they know, and are completely wrong. The reasoning is usually (although not always) completely logically Valid, but either one of the premises is wrong, there exist things outside the frame of reference of the deducer, or there are just plain facts not in evidence that cause the wrong conclusion to be reached. Sometimes, assumptions based on what a character thinks or knows are used against them intentionally. See Kansas City Shuffle. A common feature of rational Wrong Genre Savvy characters who don't think they're in a story, Master of Delusion characters, and Know-Nothing Know-It-Alls. Inverse of Right for the Wrong Reasons. Many examples of Sure, Let's Go with That and Future Imperfect are the result of the assuming party being entertainingly wrong. This trope is the enemy of Occam's Razor.
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Anime & Manga
- In One Piece, upon learning that his friend and leader is also the father of Monkey D. Luffy, Emporio Ivankov makes the perfectly valid assumption that Luffy's brother Ace is also the son of the friend and leader and assists Luffy in a jailbreak to save Ace from certain death. Revealed only after the jailbreak is that Luffy and Ace are not blood-related siblings. Though he was correct in assuming that Ace's father was a world-renowned criminal — only instead of "The Revolutionary" Monkey D. Dragon like Luffy, it was "The Pirate King" Gold Roger.
- In his backstory, Chopper went on a journey and nearly got himself killed securing a mushroom he thought was a miraculous cure-all. Tragically, the reason Chopper thought this was because there was a skull-and-crossbones next to the mushroom's picture and his mentor Dr. Hiriluk had taught him to associate the skull-and-crossbones with the indomitable pirate spirit.
- Thanks to his refusal to fight her seriously during their battle, Tashigi accused Zoro of being sexist. Zoro actually has no issues fighting women so much as he has issues fighting Tashigi, who shares her face with the girl that inspired his dream. To defeat her would mean tarnishing the memory of his greatest rival. Otherwise, it's fairly obvious Zoro isn't sexist — the only reason Tashigi hasn't realized the truth herself is due to her own insecurities.
- Rosario + Vampire pulled this with Tsukune's older cousin, she came to a perfectly valid conclusion considering she didn't know about monsters being real prior to her arrival. Of course she was clearly not being entirely observant seeing as a succubus transformed right in front of her, a snow demon froze a goldfish in an unobscured line of sight before her, and a witch's magic kept dropping amusing weights on everyone that tried to talk to Tsukume.
- That and a faerie like spirit came right out of the cursed mirror she was holding, and she was still in denial till All Hell broke loose at the Extranormal Institute she was visiting.
- In A Certain Magical Index, the magic side hates and fears Touma Kamijou because of his Imagine Breaker. After finding that Touma has made "alliances" with several powerful people from both the science and magic sides, they conclude that Touma is building an army to take over both sides, calling this army the "Kamijou Faction" ("Kamijou Forces" in the English dub). They couldn't be more wrong, Touma has no interest in taking over anything and only wants to help and protect people. These powerful people are mostly members of his Unwanted Harem, and most of them are unaware of magic and Touma's adventures.
- Boku Girl is about an androgynous boy named Mizuki turned physically female for the amusement of trickster god(dess) Loki. Outsiders who learn Mizuki is female but do not know about the gender bending take his declarations of being male as something along the lines of Mizuki being Transsexual. On the other hand, Mizuki's crush Fujiwara, who is unaware of the gender bending but does know Mizuki was originally male, comes to the opposite conclusion and thinks Mizuki is a boy who would've preferred being a girl.
- In My Hero Academia, Todoroki has noticed that there is some kind of connection between protagonist Midoriya and number one superhero All-Might. He knows that Midoriya's Quirk is very similar to All-Might's, but the fact that All-Might's Quirk can be passed down to anyone of his choosing is a closely guarded secret. Given how Quirks are often hereditary, he asks Midoriya if he is All-Might's illegitimate child.
- There's a moment of this at the conclusion to Batman R.I.P. Batman concludes that the Joker's playing card suits were a reference to the red and black poisoned flower petals used against Batman during the climax. They weren't. There was no clue, the Joker was addressing Batman's skill at solving these kinds of things by providing a riddle with no answer. The Joker's crazy, you can't expect him to be honest all the time.
- In a comic based on Batman: The Animated Series Riddler manages to deduce that Batman has to be a rich Gothamite with a personal grudge against crime. He proceeds to accost a roomful of suspects matching the criteria. Bruce Wayne is not among them.
- In a different series, a federal agent named Cameron Chase is sent to Gotham to determine who Batman is (if he's even real). She deduces that Batman must be someone wealthy with a history of supporting social causes, probably has old family ties to Gotham and is a known associate of other superheroes and the Gordon family. At a party, she notices Gotham Broadcasting manager Alan Scott standing around confidently and realizes he fits all the criteria, noting that he "can't help but stand out amidst the group of useless schmoozers like Wayne."
- New 52: In Action Comics #2, Lex Luthor captures Superman and subjects him to torture and experimentation. At one point, Luthor orders him to "drop the act" and reveal his true form. Superman asks what he's talking about, and Luthor carts in a twisted inhuman corpse, saying that logically Superman is this creature's kinsman and shape-shifted into a human form to blend in. (A later issue, which reveals that the corpse was found in the vicinity on the night Superman's spacecraft landed, does at least mean Luthor had a reason for thinking it was related to him beyond just "they're both alien".)
- In a MAD parody of Superman 2, Lois Lane realizes why Clark Kent always seems to vanish whenever Superman shows up. It's because... he hates Superman and avoids him.
- Just about every recurring member of Spider-Man's Rogues Gallery is able to figure out that Spidey's usual photographer, Peter Parker, has a personal connection to him. So hey, maybe if we kidnap the kid, Spidey will show up and save him!
- When Peter starts working at Horizon Labs instead, you'd think this trope would go away. Nope! Instead, he becomes known as "the guy who builds Spider-Man's equipment." Cue more Peter Parker Held Hostage.
- A Webelos Woody comic from a 1989 issue of Boys' Life involves this trope. Woody is learning about air pressure and discusses many facts about air pressure in regards to a brick he's holding. He deduces that the brick is lighter than the air pressure pushing up on it and should therefore shoot upward when he releases it. The brick though falls on Woody's foot. Text at the end verifies that Woody's facts were true and the math was correct. It gets explained though that Woody didn't understand that an equal amount of air pressure was pushing down on the brick too, cancelling both forces out. Gravity then took over and made the brick fall.
- In chapter 15 of Inviolate,note Lex Luthor concludes that Bruce Wayne is backing Batman... but thinks that Batman is Matches Malone (sort of true, since both are really Wayne), and that Harvey Dent wore the cowl before him (completely false, but sensible - Jim Gordon thought much the same thing at one point).
- The premise of No Place Like Eureka, a Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Eureka crossover fanfic, is that Dawn gets embodied in Eureka rather than Sunnydale, using Carter and Stark's DNA instead of Buffy's. When the Eureka residents realize that something is strange about Dawn, they come to the perfectly logical — and entirely wrong — conclusion that she was born in the future and sent back in time for some inscrutable reason. Hellgods and mystical Keys aren't really on their radar...
- Though a Bird Can't Fly, That Doesn't Mean it Never Will is a One Piece AU featuring a universe where Kuina ended up blind instead of dead, and Zoro helps her become a talented swordsmen nonetheless. That's the backstory/prologue. The real story is Kuina misunderstanding Zoro's loyalty to Luffy as a forced slavery. Hilarity Ensues when we're shown outrageous Imagine Spots revolving around "murderous, chessmaster, Manipulative Bastard" Luffy. Kuina is understandably shocked when she finally figures out Luffy's a kind, Idiot Hero, and that Zoro (and "Prince Sanji's") loyalty is genuine.
- In Time and Again, Naruto's errant behavior tips Kakashi off that something's wrong with him. He eventually confronts Naruto when he thinks he's worked out Naruto's secret — he can see the future. Naruto finds the idea hilarious, probably because of how Kakashi was so near and yet so far.
- Definitely not played for laughs in the A Certain Magical Index fic A Certain Unknown Level 0. After Touma defeats Accelerator, several Level 0s and low-level espers hear about this and are inspired. Unfortunately, they think that the Unknown Level 0 who beat Accelerator was sending a message to rise up and destroy the high-level espers and those who associate with them, forming a highly-organized and murderous gang called "MINUS" in the process. Actually, Touma beat Accelerator because he is a hero who helps and protects people. When Touma explains this, the MINUS members refuse to listen to him and accuse him of being an impostor, as he is completely different from the image they created in their minds of the Unknown Level 0.
- Sasaki in Kyon Big Damn Hero tends to get hit by this trope fairly often due to her rational nature and not believing in the supernatural (having never been presented conclusive proof of time travel, aliens, etc.). For example, after witnessing Kyon's proficiency as a martial artistnote Sasaki accurately deduces that he must have trained for years to reach that level of skill, but she makes the reasonable yet incorrect assumption he knew how to fight when they met in middle school and remained quiet about it because he's not the type to brag.
- Several Naruto stories have members of the Rookie 12 note that Naruto is an orphan whose parents are never mentioned by anyone and is apparently hated for a completely unknown reason, then come to the conclusion that he's the son of traitors or criminals.
- In Jet's Troubling Obsession of the The Stalking Zuko Series, Jet realizes that "Lee" is probably not a firebender since he never finds any proof of him firebending but his "uncle" Mushi is. He believes the reason Lee only reacts to Jet's accusation with annoyance because Lee is a nonbender and he attracted Jet's attention to distract him from paying attention to his uncle.
- In Tangled In Time Link attempts to find his father after being separated from him for seven years. His neighbors tell him that his father, Mr. Dragmire hasn't been seen since Ganondorf's takeover and that many of the men surrounding Castle Town were captured and are Ganondorf's prisoners. The last time Link saw his father was outside of Castle Town and knows that Mr.Dragmire was searching for him when they were forcibly separated. So Link and his neighbors conclude that Mr.Dragmire is one of Ganondorf's prisoners, not knowing that Mr.Dragmire is Ganondorf.
- In A New World in my View, when Xander/Karen Starr is accidentally exposed to sunlight by Surge, she starts moaning in a rather... interesting way. As a result, Surge believes Xander/Karen's power is to have orgasms when exposed to sunlight.
- When Sakura eavesdrops on Fai and Kurogane have a discussion on Kurogane's romantic feelings for someone in Shatterheart, she draws the logical but wrong conclusion that Kurogane was in love with Fai, when they were talking about Kurogane's feelings for Syaoran.
- As it occurs on the show, this also appears fairly frequently in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction.
- The Writing On The Wall has Adventurer Archaeologist Daring Do assume that the ancient, well-defended, intimidating structure built to last forever in the middle of the desert is a tomb, and that the writing inside in multiple unknown languages is a curse meant to scare away tomb robbers. Entirely reasonable assumptions for the Adventurer Archaeologist which would serve her well otherwise, but unfortunately, the building isn't a tomb, and the writing isn't a curse.
- In Solitary Pinion, a 14 year old girl is brought into Equestria and transformed into a pony. Her inability to use her new body is seen by doctors to be the result of a lifetime of abuse, and she can't tell the truth because she can't even use her own tongue.
- In Over the Edge and Through the Wood, Troy is a human who finds himself in Equestria. Due to a Language Barrier, he only has limited communication with the ponies and can only make educated guesses on their society and behavior.
- When he witnesses the Apple family at the dinner table, while he correctly pegs Granny Smith as Apple Bloom's grandmother, he assumes Applejack and Big MacIntosh are her parents instead of her siblings. He also thinks Rarity is Sweetie Belle's mother instead of her sister.
- A cockatrice petrifies a deer and then targets Troy. Thanks to his at the time unknown Anti-Magic ability, the creature's stare only renders him temporarily blind instead of turning him to stone. Despite this, he manages to kill it, which then causes the deer to revert to normal. As he has no idea what a cockatrice is, he assumes it sprayed venom into his eyes, and that the deer has the ability to turn itself to stone as a defense mechanism.
- In the Digimon Adventure/Digimon V-Tamer 01 crossover The Teacher of All Things, Tai thinks Piedmon of the Dark Masters is Sigma's Piedmon from the original manga reborn and Brainwashed and Crazy due to the fact that he recognizes Tai. Sigma's Piedmon was actually reborn as Wizardmon, and the Dark Masters' Piedmon was Tai's Demi Devimon friend Pul from his first adventure.
- Practically everybody gets the wrong end of the stick at least once in Harry Potter and the Power of Paranoia, from Harry believing that Remus is in league with Death Eaters to Voldemort deciding that he and his minions have been stealth-obliviated after Harry hides his identity as the Boy-Who-Lived via a Fidelius Charm.
- In Swinging Pendulum, in a discussion about Ichigo's age, which he has not disclosed, Kaien assumes that Ichigo has to be two-hundred and fifty by the way he acts, at the least be one-hundred years old. Ichigo is actually twenty years old, which would disturb Kaien greatly if he finds out since children in Soul Society are around 40 years old.
- A Wrinkle in Time has many people assume numerous, logical reasons as to why Naruto, Shikamaru, and Lee are so skilled. The three, obviously unwilling to divulge that they're actually from ten years in the future, end up running with most of it.
- I Am NOT Going Through Puberty Again!: The Hyuuga Clan believes "The Hinata Massacre" was a result of Hinata finally snapping from all the pressure put on her, scaring the shit out everybody, especially those who know they are partly to blame. In reality, Hinata, having woken up without husband Naruto in her bed and reasonably horny, rampaged her way through the Hyuuga Clan to his location, putting a tenth of the clan in the hospital in the process. She hadn't realized where she was or the fact that she had time traveled until she caught up to Naruto. Hinata finds the whole thing hilarious, and plays along with a very innocent smile on her face.
- In Absurdly Simple, Watson learns that a client of Holmes is being blackmailed about something that would cause a great scandal, and concludes that said client who he knows to be male, a prominent public figure, and extremely averse to Watson figuring out his true identity must be Inspector Lestrade who fits the aforementioned criteria and knows Watson personally. To which Holmes delivers this drier-than-the-Sahara gem of a line:
Holmes: Capital, Watson. You have made a number of useful basic inferences from the facts at your disposal. The only drawback—and it is a great pity—is that every conclusion you have drawn from them is manifestly wrong.
- In A Teachers Glory Team 7 realizes they are Being Watched and counter-spy to find Hinata and Kabuto watching them. It's amusing but sensible that Sasuke believes Kabuto to be working for Itachi, but hilarious that they assume Hinata to be another of Sasuke's fangirls.
- Later on, Team 7 goes to Ino's flower shop and requests something for new mothers. Ino first assumes that Sasuke knocked up a girl, and then guesses he got as many as three girls pregnant. In actuality, he has three cats expecting litters of kittens.
- Ino's subject to this quite a bit. When she sees Sakura giving Haku an assessing glance she wonders if Sakura is secretly gay, and then Sakura takes offense at this and spends the next chapter freaking Ino out with blatant advances.
- In The Fifth Act when Angeal finds out that Cloud is a Sephiroth clone due to his large number of S-Cells, he concludes that Cloud's desire to kill Sephiroth was a journey for self-identity and to prove himself better than the original. He couldn't be more wrong.
Films — Animated
- WALL•E has the title character seeing EVE undergoing diagnostics and repairs after the plant was stolen from her body and the Captain thought she was malfunctioning. For the last 700 years, WALLE's ideas for repairs are "take pieces from broken down robots," and seeing Eve through a blurred-out glass, he thought she was being tortured and taken apart, having no way to know that the repairs were enjoyable for EVE.
- In Big Hero 6, the Genre Savvy Fred uses circumstantial evidence to suggest that Alistair Krei is the supervillain they've named Yokai. While Fred is correct that Krei is directly linked to Yokai's motivation, he isn't the Big Bad himself.
Films — Live-Action
- The entire plot of Hot Fuzz is this. Nicholas Angel examines the evidence he has uncovered and deduces that a string of murders that has been going on in town is all part of a master scheme involving real estate prices. The truth is much sillier. Having an annoying laugh, being a bad actor, making typos in a newspaper, having an ugly house, and planning to move away, specifically.
- Norrington in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl refuses to interrogate Jack Sparrow about where to find the pirates who attacked Port Royal and kidnapped Elizabeth. The pirates who attacked left Sparrow in his jail cell, therefore they weren't his allies, and so there's no reason to think that Sparrow knows where they went. In any case, Norrington wouldn't trust a pirate's word anyway. Norrington's conclusion was wrong because there were certain facts that he couldn't have known (they weren't his allies, but they were his old crew and were in fact his enemies, and he did know where they went). So Will takes it on himself to spring him and go after Elizabeth himself.
- Motel of the Mysteries by David Macaulay is all about future archaeologists getting present-day America entertainingly wrong.
- Happens in the Harry Potter series, most prominently in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore and Harry both come to the perfectly valid conclusion that Voldemort had tried to get a job at Hogwarts in an attempt to get ahold of an item belonging to a Hogwarts Founder for use as a Soul Jar. In Deathly Hallows, Harry realizes they had it backwards, and that Voldemort used the interview to hide one of his Soul Jars in a hidden room on the way to Dumbledore's office. Actually getting the job would've just been a bonus.
- Major plot point in the first book. Perfectly logical series of events leads them to the rational concept that Voldemort's supporter is Snape. Turns out it's Quirrell.
- Grand Admiral Thrawn discovers that a Noghri commando named Khabarakh has suddenly returned to his homeworld, Honoghr, after being missing in action for about a month following a failed mission to kidnap Princess Leia on Kashyyyk, the Wookiee homeworld. Khabarakh maintains that he had used that month to meditate over his failure. Thrawn, still suspicious, has his ship thoroughly examined, and finds Wookiee hairs all over. He concludes, quite logically, that Khabarakh had in fact been held on Kashyyyk for the last month, and has him taken into custody on suspicion of treason. Unfortunately for Thrawn, the conclusion was wrong: Khabarakh's story was true, and the Wookiee hairs were all from Chewbacca, who had been aboard the ship (and had helped with a bit of coverup sabotage to it). This is one of the few times that Thrawn is shown to be fallible, and in fact this error eventually leads to his downfall, because had he known a bit more information, he might have realized that there were Rebel spies on the planet. Specifically, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO—who eventually were able to expose the Empire's betrayal of the Noghri.
- In the Honor Harrington series, it's a belief of many Manticoran flag officers that one is not truly surprised in space combat, they just wind up in his trope due to overlooking or being kept from some key piece of information.
- Two more specific examples occur in the thirteenth book, A Rising Thunder. In one scene, Mesan antagonist Benjamin Detweiler is telling his father Albert everything Manticore and Haven have learned about them in the past book, including the fact they had Haven's Secretary of State re-ignite the war several books ago. Albert's surprised because they actually didn't have anything to do with that one. They just helped it along when they realized it was occurring. Benjamin points out that the circumstantial evidence alongside their use of Puppeteer Parasite nanotech to tie up loose ends supports their belief.
- The second example is from Mesa themselves. They had earlier covered up the self-destruction of one of their facilities by claiming that infamous Manticoran & Havenite spies had assisted local terrorists in a bombing that killed a large number of civilians and died in the blast. The fact that those spies had needed a long time to get home so they could report in supported their belief that the two were dead. Not only was Mesa wrong about this, but the fact that they're alive to now dispute their claims makes them an even bigger Spanner in the Works than they would've been otherwise.
- In "The Adventure of the Yellow Face" Sherlock Holmes deduces that a man's wife, recently immigrated from America, who has been spending money and apparently keeping a cottage for a mysterious yellow-face figure, is being blackmailed by her first husband, someone who apparently did not die of the Scarlet Fever she claimed he had. In a rare case, Sherlock is absolutely wrong.
- In Blood Trail, Detective Celluci looks into Henry Fitzroy's background and finds a lot of missing paperwork. While the specific conclusion that he comes to—that Henry is involved in organized crime—is definitely influenced by the fact that they're involved with the same woman, it's still more logical than the truth, which is that Henry is a centuries-old vampire.
- In the Aunt Dimity series, many of the plots resolve themselves in this way. Lori was right to suspect someone was in the woods in Aunt Dimity: Vampire Hunter, but it wasn't a vampire or a pedophile, it was a neighbor with a sun allergy thinking about a lost love. Willis Sr.'s new housekeepers have a secret, but they aren't burglars casing the joint, they're caring for an elderly aunt with dementia who grew up in the house. The elderly man wasn't robbed of his treasures by his family, his grandson loaned them to a museum with an inadequate security system, and he wasn't imprisoned by relatives taking advantage of his illness, he himself sent word that he couldn't see anyone due to his post-polio syndrome.
- In Reaper Man, Miss Flitworth's initial impression of Bill Door (the alias used by Death after his forced retirement) is that he's "one of them Men of Mystery" on the run from the authorities. The rest of Sheepridge think he's probably a revenuer. Bill Door's reaction on learning this is No. Not taxes.
- In Jingo, both Vimes and 71-Hour Achmed come to the same conclusion regarding a plot to kill a Klatchian prince: That it's deliberately designed to be an act of war. They each even figure it's their side (Klatch for Achmed, Ankh-Morpork for Vimes). The difference is that Achmed is the one who's right.
- In The Truth, this happens on two notable occasions with the otherwise very sharp William De Worde. First, he thinks that he's sussed out who the Watch Werewolf is: Nobby Nobbs. Second, he thinks that 'Deep Bone' - really Gaspode - said 'pull one of the other ones' not 'pull the other one' because he's a foreigner who hasn't quite got the hang of all the idioms. Since he's led to believe that 'Deep Bone' is part werewolf and most of the werewolves in the city come from Uberwald, this isn't an unfair assumption.
- Eddard Stark in A Game of Thrones. He knows that Bran had a suspicious fall while the Lannisters were around, that someone sent a man with a very rare knife to kill Bran shortly after, that Jon Arryn was looking through a book on noble genealogy before his death, that all of Robert Baratheon's confirmed bastards and general family have his black hair while all of Cersei Lannister's children have her blonde hair and received a message from Lysa Arryn accusing the Lannisters of murdering her husband. From all this he comes to the conclusion that Jon Arryn was murdered by Cersei and her brother Jaime because Jon had discovered that her children were the product of incest, and they tried to kill Bran because he saw them together. He's almost right except for two details. The first is that it's later implied that Joffrey sent the man to murder Bran because he had heard Robert call Bran's paralysis a horrible fate and the second is that Cersei and Jaime had nothing to do with Jon Arryn's death, it was actually Lysa acting under Petyr Baelish's orders.
Live Action TV
- This happens a few times in Our Miss Brooks:
- In The Burglar, Miss Brooks believes the man she recommended for the job of school custodian had stolen the cafeteria silverware, Mr. Conklin's watch and Mr. Boynton's desk.
- "The Wrong Mrs. Boynton" has Miss Brooks guess that Mr. Boynton wants someone to play his wife to impress a College dean. She gladly takes on the role, until she finds out she's playing his mother, not his wife!
- Also, during The Wrong Mrs. Boynton, (as well as in Mr. Boynton's Lots'' and "June Bride") Walter Denton and the Conklins jump conclude that Miss Brooks and Mr. Boynton are finally getting married.
- Miss Brooks believes Mr. Boynton is finally going to propose in Mrs. Davis Reads Tea Leaves. It turns out that he wants to start a summer camp!
- In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Arthur's Mantle", Dr. Lee knows that Sam and Cameron were in a room with an Ancient artifact; that the security cameras in that room went out and when they came back on the two of them were no longer visible; and that the cameras in the hallway outside the only exit don't show them leaving the room. He concludes that the artifact must have miniaturized them and spends quite a bit of time trying to find them on the floor of the room. In reality, it transported them to an alternate dimension which made them invisible and intangible, and Sam spends most the episode hovering over Dr. Lee's shoulder, in frustration with the fact that she can't communicate this to him.
- Later in the episode, after Daniel has figured out what really happened to Sam and Cam, Dr. Lee's attempt to counteract what Sam did to activate the device just results in turning Daniel invisible, too. When he tries to fix that mistake, he ends up draining most of the device's power, leaving very little time to figure out how to get everyone back before they are stranded in another dimension permanently.
- While Doctor Lee appears to be the second-best scientist at the SGC next to Sam, he is almost always entertainingly wrong.
- Commonly seen in the Law & Order franchise when one or more of the initial, red-herring, suspects turns out to have a perfectly reasonable explanation for their suspicious behavior. The guy with the shrine to a dead kid who was stalking him, who quit a high-paying job to work with young children, all seeming to perfectly fit a predatory pedophile? The kid's real father concerned about his care by the adoptive parents and wanted to be close to him.
- Also seen in Criminal Minds when an initial profile ends up being wrong and they're forced to re-evaluate the entire motive (and suspect). Often the result of Pulling The Thread.
- This forms an entertaining subplot in the first episode of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Watson's mysterious roommate doesn't seem to have a regular job, interacts with many unsavory people, seems to know a suspicious amount about crime and related subjects, and owns a set of lockpicks. Could he be a criminal mastermind?
- The Doctor Who episodes "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances", the Monster of the Week is a human child with a gas mask for a face asking for his mummy and who turns anyone he touches into the same. The mother is aware of this effect, but has no reason to realize that her touch would actually have the exact opposite effect, healing everyone affected, and kept away.
- In the The Andy Griffith Show, Andy and Barney came to the completely logical conclusion that Opie's friend, "Mr. Ockley" wasn't real, given the description Opie gave (jingles while he walks, can blow smoke out of his ears, runs around the top of trees, has 12 hands, and wears a silver hat). Turns out he is a tree climber, covered with tools (which he calls his "extra hands"), and can use a trick where he catches smoke from his mouth, and releases it by his ears note
- Another episodes had Andy and Barney worried about the town drunk buying a car. They later find the car crashed, found that Otis had let himself into the jail. They came to the conclusion Otis drove drunk. Turns out Otis had sold his car before even having a sip, already deciding a drunk like him doesn't belong behind the wheel.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Robin Wood tends to mix up details more than often.
Buffy: The military put a chip in Spike's head so he couldn't hurt anyone.
Giles: And that would be the abridged version.
Buffy: But he wouldn't hurt anyone anymore because he has a soul now.
Giles: Unless the First triggers him again.
Robin: Triggers the chip?
Buffy: No, the trigger's a post-hypnotic thing. The First put it in his head. It was... made him… He was killing again.
Robin: So, he has a trigger, a soul, and a chip?
Giles: Not anymore!
Buffy: It was killing him, Giles!
Robin: The trigger?
Buffy: No, the chip. The trigger's not active anymore.
Robin: Because the military gave him a soul? (Beat) Uh... sorry.
- In the pilot of Jonathan Creek, Jonathan uses a complex model to demonstrate how a woman could have escaped from her top-level office to commit a murder, while a secretary was waiting outside the entire time. After the demonstration, Jonathan admits that while theoretically possible, it requires too many things out of the woman's control to have actually been what occurred.
- The episode "Little Green Men" from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had 20th century humans unable to communicate with Rom, Nog, and Quark (whose Universal Translators weren't working) making assumptions about the three's behavior that were wrong but made sense from their perspective.
- Babylon 5: When trying to get the League of Non-Aligned Worlds to accept White Star patrols along their borders, Sheridan concocted a scheme that made the League ambassadors think there was a new enemy that only the White Stars could detect and so insisted that Sheridan deploy them to protect their space, exactly as he intended.
- Smallville gave us the line "Lois Lane is the Blur".
- During the first season, The Tribe meets Bray and Trudy, a handsome boy and heavily pregnant girl travelling together. They refuse to leave each other under any circumstances, and Trudy is very possessive of Bray and bullies any girls who show interest in him. The Mall Rats quite naturally assume that the pair are in a sexual relationship, but the truth is more complicated: Trudy has a crush on Bray, but slept with his brother, Zoot who became a fanatical tyrant after the Virus hit. Bray's morals demanded that he protect Trudy (and his nephew) while she was in such a vulnerable state, but he doesn't have any feelings for her at all, much to Trudy's anger. Because of the circumstances, though, it takes some time before all this is sorted out.
- In Game of Thrones Cersei is convinced that Tyrion is the one who murdered Joffrey at his wedding day feast. He previously had threatened to find a way to ruin Cersei's happiness at a moment she was convinced she was safe, openly hated Joffrey, had threatened to murder Joffrey previously and had tried to leave the feast more than once just before Joffrey died of poison. All in all it is pretty convincing, if entirely circumstantial. It just happens to be absolutely wrong, it's revealed to have been Olenna working with Littlefinger.
- In an episode of The Mole, which frequently peppers the contestant's interactions with hints about who the mole is, one time had the host meet up with the contestants while eating an apple. One of the contestants assumed that meant "The Big Apple," and thought the mole was a fellow contestant from New York. It wasn't, and he was eliminated right after, but the kicker was the apple thing was a clue, to lead them toward the actual mole, who was from Washington state, whose state fruit is the apple.
- From Forgotten Realms: The history of High Moor. The resident pissed-off druid in Elminster's Ecologies II, Bara, assumes it to be the result of typical human deforestation. It's really the result of a Killing Storm unleashed by elves during a civil war. She just assumed based on what she saw and knows, and probably never saw a single elf capable or willing to do this, nor would she know, since elves aren't eager to tell anyone else about less glamorous moments of their past. The fact she's a self-professed misanthrope who figures Humans Are the Real Monsters probably didn't help her.
- In My Fair Lady, during the Embassy Ball, Zoltan Karpathy (a rival dialectitian) is asked by the the Duchess to determine Eliza's background. He picks up on all the clues present that Eliza's perfect English is the product of coaching, but when he assumes that her manners are innate, he comes to the conclusion that she's a foreign aristocrat instead of that she's a lower-class Englishwoman.
Higgins: Oozing charm from ev'ry pore, he oiled his way across the floor.
Ev'ry trick that he could play he used to strip her mask away.
And when at last the dance was done, he glowed as if he knew he'd won.
And with a voice to eager and a smile too broad
He announced to the hostess that she was — A Fraud!
"Her English is too good," he said. "That clearly indicates that she is foreign.
"Whereas others are instructed in their native language, English people aren't.
"And although she may have studied with an expert dialectician and grammarian,
"I can tell that she was born — Hungarian!"
And not only Hungarian, but of royal blood.
- In Abie's Irish Rose, Patrick Murphy obverses all the oranges festooning the place, and leaps to the horrifying conclusion: his daughter is marrying a Protestant!
- In Batman: Arkham Asylum, the Riddler is convinced that Batman is a Villain with Good Publicity; he must be stealing money from criminals he catches to fund his Wonderful Toys and pay off the cops to look the other way. Besides his cynical belief that "no one is that selfless", he doesn't know that Bats is legitimately filthy rich and has an R&D department he can nick stuff from.
- In a wall-breaking moment, should the player solve enough of the Riddler's riddles, he'll scold "Batman" for looking them up on the internet. It becomes entertainingly wrong for those players who resisted the temptation to "cheat." Many players do resort to solving puzzles by looking them up.
- In Mass Effect 3, the plot of the Leviathan DLC revolves around Shepard trying to track down the Leviathan, believed to be a Reaper who has mysteriously gone rogue from the others. Despite all of the mounting evidence pointing to this conclusion, it turns out that Leviathan is actually a giant sea-monster, one of The Remnant of the race that came before the Reapers and whose image the Reapers stole for their own. It also makes the Reaper's God-Complex seem downright modest in comparison.
- The events of Save the Prince came about because a traveling sorcerer prince who was looking for a bride saw a beautiful girl on a castle balcony and in his mind beautiful girl + castle = princess. When the king denied having a daughter, naturally he was lying to try and keep his intended from said sorcerer and naturally the logical response was to start turning people into stone.
- The Longest Journey has you tricking a sea-captain into thinking wheat worms are eating through the apple supplies:
"These are worms, all right—viscous, snarling wheat worms driven mad by their hunger for a change of diet!"
- In Persona 4 the team comes up with multiple theories arrived at rationally, based on the information they have. They just happen to also be wrong. The killer isn't targeting women or people who had some indirect connection to Mayumi Yamano, the Midnight Channel isn't some ability of the killer used to announce the next target and the killer isn't even directly responsible for most of the people being thrown in the televisions!
- Banquo in the second Hark A Vagrant strip on this page.
- At one point in Homestuck, Terezi comes across the scene of Eridan's recent killing spree. Having just seen Tavros after he was impaled by Vriska, she concocts a crazy sequence of events positing Vriska as the killer there as well... except she immediately realizes it makes no sense. Especially since some of the evidence she saw was the result of one of the "victims" reviving as the troll equivalent of a vampire.
- In Kaspall, Sam concludes that the world would be a lot better if it was just humans, because there would be no Fantastic Racism.
- Similar to the Kaspall example, in one Order of the Stick comic, Roy concludes that if there were no raise dead or planeshift spells (meaning death was permanent, and you didn't even know for certain there was an afterlife), nobody would have wars.
- Durkon at one point concluded that the storm Miko ambushed the Order of the Stick in was sent by his patron God, Thor. He reasoned if there hadn't been a storm, the Order would have destroyed Miko before she even got in melee range with arrows and flame spells. She wouldn't have told them why she was following them, or figured out that her "detect evil" spell had been getting a false reading. The storm also cleared just as soon as Durkon noted this. Turns out, Thor was just drunk.
- In Narbonic, Dave's internet girlfriend Lovelace (who is actually Professor Madblood's supercomputer) lets slip that she's staying in the same hotel room as Madblood at a convention. When Dave and Helen break into Madblood's room to find her, they discover only one set of luggage; Dave mistakenly concludes from this that Lovelace is Madblood.
- In El Goonish Shive, Grace chooses Die Hard as the first movie in a Christmas Special marathon due to assuming that if it is a movie set during Christmastime it must be a Christmas Special.
- In the early stories of the Whateley Universe, Phase brilliantly deduces that the person who left him an extortion note just before school starts is...Assistant Administrator Amelia Hartford, who has a grudge against Phase's older sisters! Phase is so, so wrong. But he doesn't figure that out for about a month, when he spots the real clue and realizes what it means (which is probably a correct series of deductions).
- In The Salvation War , the demon lord Belial was extremely confused about why the humans were slaughtering the demonic hordes even though they used to only cower in fear a "mere" five millenia ago. He thought to his own forges, and how his slight refinements to tridents made them much better. He came to the conclusion that humans had been so scared of the mighty demons that they stockpiled many great weapons over the thousands of years and only used them now that they faced extinction. Wrong, sure, but much closer to the fact than the rest of Hell assuming that humans suddenly have magic.
- The demons thinking they would just crush the human race with ease actually made a lot of sense given the knowledge they had and their society as a whole. Hell's social and technological level is essentially the bronze age, and demons are immortal (unless they are killed); some been kicking around for thousands if not millions of years. They didn't have the concept of science and their latest information on humanity was at least several centuries old, which was completely up to date by demon's standards.
- The White House assumes that the sky volcano that was randomly moving around Detroit, spreading lava everywhere, was an intentional tactic by the demons to cause more damage than the previous one that stayed in the same place (limiting how far the lava spread). What really happened was a combination of the Nagas on the other end unable to make the portal in unison combined with the portal's guide demon being shot down before it could be opened.
- The famous The Legend of Zelda split timeline explanation took a lot of evidence from the games to create a working timeline, with the split happening in Ocarina of Time, due to the adventures of child and adult Link (either resulting in the Sacred Realm being protected or Ganon being sealed). Nintendo released the official timeline, which was a split timeline based on the actions of Ocarina of Time, but there was a third split that hadn't been considered, a timeline where the Hero of Time fails.
- In Worm, the events of June 20th (Arcs 18 Queen and 19 Scourge) get classified because the evil clone of Eidolon created by Echidna revealed the truth about Cauldron to everyone. Then Interlude 19 (Donation Bonus #2) shows us a thread from the In-Universe Parahumans Online forum in which, from the sketchy data they have, the forum members come up with theory which is not only false, but leads them to specifically rule out the existence of evil duplicates of prominent superheroes.
- Taylor creates a series of increasingly complex theories about Dragon, such as her being crippled in the destruction of Newfoundland and blackmailed by the PRT, to explain oddities resulting from Dragon being an Artificial Intelligence
- Jaune of RWBY assumes that Pyrrha is a deeply compassionate girl who wants to make her teammates happy (which is true), and that, furthermore, she's so ridiculously out of his league (also true) that her constant attempts to spend time with him and build his self-esteem could not possibly have romantic motivations (not true). Nothing about his thought process is wrong, but the viewers know that his conclusions are. note Of course, this didn't stop the fanbase from raking Jaune over the coals for 'being so blind'.
- In the first few chapters of Citadel, the super-powered agent in training Isaac grows increasingly concerned that his male roommate, Kelly, is skipping training. Kelly, a gender-fluid shapeshifter, spends that same time wondering what she did to offend Isaac, since he barely acknowledges her when they cross paths outside their shared residence.
- In The Batman, a couple of far-future archaeologists who are excavating the Batcave have a few conclusions like this. They think Oracle's wheelchair belonged to Alfred, for example, and after seeing a portrait of the Wayne family (Bruce and his parents), they conclude that Thomas Wayne was Batman, and Bruce was Robin. Rock-solid logic that fits their evidence, and is completely wrong.
- In one episode of King of the Hill, John Redcorn inadvertently helps Dale into having an honest-to-goodness spiritual vision during a camping trip. Dale's vision tells him, in pretty unambiguous terms, that his son Joseph was actually fathered by a Native American man. But instead of finally piecing together the many obvious hints that John Redcorn is his son's biological father, he becomes convinced that he is actually a Native American. Eager to throw him off, John Redcorn agrees with him, and Dale spends the rest of the episode hilariously trying to "reconnect" with his Native American roots.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Prince Zuko is hunting the Avatar expecting an old man, since he hadn't been seen in a century. A valid assumption since he has no way of knowing Aang was frozen in an iceberg.
- In the episode "Serpent's Pass", Toph is drowning, and Sokka yells out that he's going to save her. However, Suki ends up jumping into the water before he gets a chance to, and since Toph is blind, she can't tell the difference, thus assuming when the two resurface that Sokka rescued her. The "entertaining" part comes in when Toph gives Suki a Smooch of Victory before she gets a chance to reveal herself.
Toph: Sokka, you saved me! *smooch*
Suki: Actually, it's me.
Toph: Oh... you can go ahead and let me drown now.
- In an episode of Gargoyles, both the titled characters and Macbeth are on the hunt for scrolls written by Merlin. Naturally, they assumed the writings of the great wizard in history would contain all kinds of spells, incantations, and magic, but it turned out the scrolls was just a journal.
- In Season 3 of Batman Beyond, Terry/Batman's girlfriend Dana finally figures out why he's always ditching her in favor of his job... It's because he views his boss as a father figure and presumably wants to spend time with him and impress him with his diligence. Max thinks it's an entertainingly wrong conclusion, but Terry admits that there's some truth to it.
- Quoted above is a scene from My Little Pony: Equestria Girls. Twilight Sparkle knows Pinkie Pie and Applejack's names despite having met them for the first time, acting rather suspicious when questioned about it. Pinkie picks up on it and believes she has Twilight figured out — she's psychic! It isn't until later that she correctly guesses that Twilight is actually a pony princess from another world whose friends are pony versions of her friends.
- An example of It Will Never Catch On from Real Life: someone predicted television would never be successful in the United States because "Americans don't have the attention span to sit and watch a box for an hour". Logically sound, but based on wrong assumptions.
- A lesser known real life example occurs when Atahualpa, the last Inca emperor, hears about the Europeans approaching the Inca capital of Cuzco. Based on reports of these foreigners wearing helmets, he comes to an astonishingly brilliant conclusion had he only known about European warfare. He notes that the Europeans have cooking pots (metal helmets for protection) over their heads. Atahualpa believed that anyone who wore cooking pots was crazy, which goes double if they didn't even use those cooking pots for preparing food!
- On the way to Cajamarca, Atahualpa had also decided to kill all of Pizarro's men but three: The smith, so he could replicate the Spanish's fine weapons for the Incas; the horsebreaker, so he could breed horses and teach them to ride; and the barber, because he had the power to rejuvenate men.
- ''Ignorance Is Blitz: Mangled Moments of History from Actual College Students'' contains a healthy share of these, surprisingly, to the point of doubling for Right for the Wrong Reasons (had the phrase been explained properly).
- University teaching assistants, who are often responsible for grading undergraduate essays and exams, often have many a tale of the entertainingly wrong answer: whether it's a term definition, fill-in-the-blank, short answer, or essay question, someone will find a way to botch it beyond all belief working with the limited knowledge that they have.
- Wilbur Wright declared out of frustration that man would never fly... a solid day before this happened◊.
- One of the Wright brothers, knowing the limitations of his own invention, didn't think it would ever be possible to use one to fly over the Atlantic.
- Francis E. Dec's entire worldview was completely wrong, but some things stand out. For example, he claimed that Polish Christmas tradition of kolęda — children going from house to house dressed up as devils and angels and singing Christmas carols — is actually a leftover from ancient (Reality note: nonexistent) religion of Astrocism. This is especially jarring to someone who took part in kolędas.