"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 characters who don't think they're in a story, Master of Delusion characters, and Know-Nothing Know-It-Alls. As a general rule, an example should usually have the audience already know the conclusion is false. Exceptions to this rule exist, such as the Sherlock Holmes one below, but tread carefully in adding examples that don't have this trait. 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. Not to be confused with Sustained Misunderstanding.
— Pinkie Pie, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls
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Anime & Manga
- In Dragon Ball's Red Ribbon Army arc, when the Red Ribbon leaders observe Goku apparently leaving the site of the next Dragon Ball, Adjudant Black, on the (Very accurate) theory that Goku must have gotten his Radar from someone else, suggests that he's going back to that someone for help. A scout is sent to follow Goku, and sees him talking to an old man. The Red Ribbon then makes the very inaccurate conclusion that the genius behind the Dragon Radar is Master Roshi.
- 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:
- Tsukune's older cousin 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.
- Batman Adventures, 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".)
- After promoting how he's going to reveal "Superman's real identity," on TV, Jimmy Olson finally says Superman doesn't have one. In truth, Jimmy believes he knows who Superman is but doesn't want to ruin him. When criminals come after him for the info, Jimmy runs to the man he's convinced is Superman: Magazine publisher Colin Thornton. Jimmy even attacks him in his limo, tearing off the man's shirt and it's when Thornton kicks him out that Jimmy realizes he was wrong (even more so given Thornton is actually the demonic Lord Satanus.)
- 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.
- In a Silver Age Superman story, Jimmy Olsen sees Bizarro Superman dressed as Bizarro Clark Kent. He logically concludes that since Bizarro always does everything wrong, Clark Kent is therefore *not* Superman.
- 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 private eye makes a big deal of coming into "the payday of a lifetime." He talks to himself on how Spider-Man is seen at the Daily Bugle all the time and they publish his photos a lot. He thinks of how the guy is in good shape but puts on a show of looking worse in public so no one connects him and must be passionate to be a hero. The issue ends with the smirking PI at the Bugle confronting the man he is convinced is Spider-Man...J. Jonah Jameson.
- 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.
- An early issue of Fables introduces a hack tabloid journalist who manages to uncover and piece together evidence that the residents of Fabletown have lived in the same New York neighborhood for over 200 years without aging a day — thus making him the first "Mundy" ever to figure out the Fables' secret. And then he immediately jumps to the conclusion that they're all vampires, threatening to expose them to the world if they don't turn him into one of them. Since they obviously can't do that (and they can't just tell him who they really are), the Fables have no choice but to hatch a plan to steal and destroy his evidence.
- A Crown of Stars: After finding out that Misato was leading the troops captured his fleet under the orders of Shinji and Asuka, Jinnai concludes that the Nerv crew returned from Instrumentality several years ago and have spent the whole time plotting against him. It is not a illogical conclusion but it is still completely wrong because he does not know about the God-Emperor of an alternate dimension brought Shinji and Asuka's families back two months ago and lent both pilots an army to overthrow Jinnai.
- 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).
- Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: Thanks to Kaji walking into Shinji and Asuka right when they were about to kiss, Shinji becomes annoyed at the older man and how he got together with Misato. Because of this, Misato comes to the logical but incorrect conclusion that he's annoyed because he has a crush on her.
- 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 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.
- 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 Hail To The King, the human in King Sombra's body makes several assumptions based on the idea that he's actually in a coma and is dreaming everything around him. His idea that Shining Armor (who identified himself as prince of the Crystal Empire) is his son makes Cadence facepalm.
- 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.
- A Teacher's 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.
- Sunset Shimmer in The Bridge speculates her new friend, Irys, and their associate aren't native to the human world like she was. After seeing them head towards the school statue and disappear, she thinks they are Equestrians like her. What is actually the case is Irys and her friend, Monster X, were from the other half of the crossover.
- In Dark Memories, Dumbledore comes to the conclusion that Harry is in contact with Mage and HAS been in contact with him through a common link: Hagrid.
- In Moratorium, Harry thinks Professor Quirrell is a pedophile. She's wrong.
- In Thousand Shinji, when the plans of SEELE have been destroyed, Keel Lorenz thinks that Ikari is the culprit. It was true that an Ikari had destroyed their plans, but he was thinking of the wrong Ikari. It was Shinji, not Gendo, who ruined them, but he had no way to know that.
- In Sunset Shimmer Has Crabs, said former villain has crabs...... the edible, water dwelling kind, infesting her room. Everyone assumes that she has the STD type crab.
- In We Can Be Heroes, the remaining Scoobies learn that Xander and Cordelia are in the DC universe and there are in fact comics, cartoons, and even a television series about them. Notably, the pilot movie for the series had to base all of the Buffy characters except Xander and Cordelia off descriptions by the two. As a result, Willow is portrayed as a tall flirtatious woman and Oz is depicted as a Motor Mouth.
- In The Second Try, when Asuka's synchro ratio drops, Ritsuko blames it on Asuka getting upset after Zeruel defeated her. A reasonable conclusioin, since she doesn't know that Asuka “went through a hell that led to the destruction of the world, recently lost her child, then for some time her lover as well, now probably another close person, and is about to face that aforementioned hell once again.”
- Naruto is quick to spot that Queen Amidala is actually Padme in A Village Hidden in Hope but believes she's the queen's body double rather than being the queen herself.
- In I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For after learning how he came to the galaxy, Shaak Ti realizes that Harry Potter's long list of aliases on his Bounty Hunter Guild application was a way to let anyone else from his world potentially find him. Harry tells her he actually just did it to amuse himself.
- Later, Jedi Master Fay wonders if Harry left so abruptly after saving her life because he not only didn't expect a reward but didn't want any recognition for it. To her dismay, Harry reveals that the event in question was so unmemorable that he doesn't even recall saving her until she mentions it was on a volcanic planet and that's only because he spent several hours fishing a gold coin out of a lava flow.
- Played for Laughs in the Danny Phantom fanfic Bloodsucker. During a biology class experiment, Star discovers Danny's abnormally low vitals. Then he inadvertently shows off his Super Strength during a gym class. The Casper High School student body, shocked by all this, conclude Danny is a vampire. Danny, not wanting them to conclude he is a ghost, goes with the flow.
- In Unbiased, Sasuke learns that Naruto is a jinchuuriki and puzzles out that Madara controlled the Kyuubi via the sharingan after obtaining his brother's eyes. Between that and knowing Itachi is after Naruto, he thinks Itachi wants Sasuke to obtain Mangekyo so he can steal his eyes and control the Kyuubi.
- Hilariously in The Vain Rose's Garden, Yoshida gives Belldandy some wildflowers as "a beautiful gift for a beautiful woman". When Belldandy informs him she's not really a woman but gets distracted by a bee, he flees thinking she's a man. After all, who would expect someone to be a goddess?
- In Faery Heroes there's a vigilante known as Mr. Fox going around robbing and killing Death Eaters. Amelia Bones manages to question Mr. Fox when she almost captures him after he sacks Azkaban. His comments about the Unforgivables and the spell to cast the Dark Mark being "burned into his mind" and his disgust at Death Eaters going free after the war, lead Amelia to suspect he's a muggleborn who was Obliviated improperly during the last war after his family was killed. In reality, Mr. Fox and his unknown associates are Harry, Hermione, and Luna who've been sent back in time to prevent the extinction of the Fae and kill Voldemort.
- 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 The Wizard of Gotham, Batman comes to the conclusion that Poison Ivy's young new henchkid is his child by Pam during the missing time in his memories when she drugged and seduced him. To be fair, Batman's biases are showing: a boy named 'potter', an aunt named Petunia, who lives on Privet (A kind of hedge) Drive, and the lies about his parents the Dursleys fed to Harry, while believable to a young child, ring incredibly false to Batman's suspicious mind. It doesn't help that Ivy has a fragment of Lily's school-time memories Dumbledore was storing implanted in her head, and she's going by the name 'Lily Evans', which just screams assumed name.
- In Greyjoy Alla Breve, Tywin is murdered by someone using Petyr Baelish's own knife - which he had lost a few moments before the murder took place. Given his enmity with Varys the Spider, several comments made and Tyrion's (who has been taken prisoner by the North and has a legendary hatred of his father) friendship with Varys and dislike of Baelish, the latter comes up to the logically sound conclusion that Varys and Tyrion have made an alliance to kill Tywin Lannister and frame him, thus getting rid of an enemy and allowing Tyrion to claim Casterly Rock. Unfortunately, the real killer is Arya Stark, who was Tywin's cupbearer without Tywin knowing her real identity: she stole Baelish's knife without him noticing and then took advantage of being alone with Tywin to kill the man - and then Sandor Clegane helped her to erase the few existing clues so she is not found out.
- All over the place in How I Learned to Love the Wild Horse in regards to WOOHP's conclusions concerning Ranma Saotome. They believe he's the leader of a terrorist organization known as the Nerima Wrecking Crew and has come to America for some nefarious purpose, as opposed to trying to escape the shenanigans in Nerima. After getting to third base with him, Clover is convinced that Kodachi is Ranma's psychotic ex-girlfriend who made him go down on her but told him he sucked so she didn't have to return the favor. In reality, Ranma just experimented in his girl form.
- Of course, Ranma makes several false assumptions as well, partially due to thinking his violent Unwanted Harem, Hilariously Abusive Childhood, and terrible friends are the norm.
- Later, because they don't know Ranma and Ranko are the same person, Sam takes Ranko's slip ups while talking about Akane to mean she's a lesbian who had a thing for Akane but got violently rejected.
- Vigilante Tendency practically runs on this. A series of events leads to the vigilante group known as the Peaceful Namimori Committee taking a vacation at Mafia Land. There, they get into conflict with the Difo Family, the most powerful crime family in Asia, who, believing them to be associates of the Yakuza family Momokyokai (which they technically are, seeing as they took over their base, converted them to vigilantism, and then made them a branch of their group), demands that they give them 50% of their profits as regular tribute lest they be wiped out, and hands them their financial information. Tsuna promptly gives said information to Shoichi, who financially cripples them within a week. Since Tsuna never gave out the name of the Peaceful Namimori Committee nor did he specify what their actual occupation was, this leads to rumors of a new, unknown power in Asia — and assassins in Namimori.
- Dodging Prison and Stealing Witches has Harry Potter's brother John suffer from this twofold. First, when he's given a second chance to defeat Voldemort, John believes he's in a "Groundhog Day" Loop so when he can't win, willingly walks to his death, not knowing he was only given one second chance. Next, when John "awakens" to the timeline, he has memories of the first timeline and thinks he's in the second. In reality, he failed and is in the third timeline where Harry was sent back. He learns something's wrong when Ginny hates him and his parents talk about a mysterious Lord Slytherin.
- Having observed Harry all year, Voldemort realizes that Harry has his memories. Since long distance time travel is thought to be impossible, he comes to the reasonable conclusion that Harry somehow absorbed the soul fragment in his scar. Likewise Lucius Malfoy, whose time as a professional duelist has given him the ability to tell a lot about a person by analyzing their casting and dueling techniques, figures out that both Lord Slytherin and Harry Potter duel like Voldemort does and assumes they're new incarnations of him from other horcruxes.
- In FateBlack Reflection, both Lancer and Gilgamesh come to the perfectly logical conclusion that Ichigo's power must come from a lost Noble Phantasm he somehow came into possession of, which makes sense from their perspective since no modern magus could ever hope to even come close to matching a Servant without one. Of course, neither of them are aware that Ichigo isn't a magus, nor do they have any idea what a Soul Reaper or Zanpakutou is.
- The entire story as a whole pretty much revolves around this trope, with the other Master and Servant pairs making wildly wrong assumptions about Ichigo and his friends, from their morality, to the the nature of their abilities.
- In Twice Blessed Shinobi, Shikaku concludes that the young Haruo is actually from Nara stock after seeing the kid snuggling one of the clan's deer - which would be impossible for a non-Nara - and checking the mission records, which establishes that one of his cousins was in the right town at the right moment for the boy's conception. As Shikaku is unaware of Haruo's status as a Trueborn Sage - giving him a potent affinity with animals - and true age - he's actually two years younger than recorded but was aged to enroll in the Academy - the misunderstanding is clarified only when the Nara demands clarification from the Secret Ops Captain about "his lost clansman".
- Trying to guess Berserker's identity in Holding Back the Sea, Kayneth concludes that the godly powers over water and the invulnerability means the warrior is actually Achilles. Percy is actually a very modern demigod, being born only two years before the Fourth Grail War and invoked in his adult form only because of the Throne of Heroes' arcane working's ability to pull a hero from the future.
- In Blackkat's Reverse, an extrapolating Hiruzen assumes that Uzumaki Kurama is Naruto's maternal uncle by way of Kumo, having fled the Cloud for Uzushio right before its destruction. Kurama does his best to maintain the illusion, as he fears the consequences if it were known he's actually a time-travelling Tailed Beast stuck in a human body.
- Being familiar with the Kyuubi's chakra, Kushina isn't fooled by her "brother's" act, but thinks him an embodiment of the beast's unsealed chakra.
- In Deputy Taylor correctly deduces that Amy is gay and then incorrectly deduces Carol is a homophobe who mistakenly thinks Taylor is trying to seduce Amy. Amy finds this very amusing as Carol actually thinks Taylor will seduce Amy into villainy.
- Much later Danny, based on a conversation with Carol, comes to a very similar conclusion as Taylor.
- In LATE Naruto Sasuke puzzles through Naruto's suddenly more impressive skills, his unrealistic knowledge of others, and the teachers dislike of him and comes to the conclusion Naruto is a full-fledged shinobi sent by the Hokage to keep an eye on the class that's full of clan heirs. His knowledge and skills are due to having several years of being a shinobi under his belt. The teachers' dislike of him is because they don't want a shinobi infiltrating their class. Even Naruto's poor grades and frequent absences can be explained as being bored with classes he's already taken. In reality, Naruto's from a year in the future and everything else comes from being the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki.
- Siesta and the other commoners working at Tristain Academy of Magic in Enslaved take Saito speaking their language but not being able to read or write it along with being unfamiliar with the continent's geography to mean he grew up in an isolated village, probably in the mountains, where he'd never need to learn such things. Of course, Saito's actually from another world entirely.
- In An Open Secret, Mace Windu takes the odd goings on at the Jedi Temple and a holonet broadcast of Anakin's and Padme's marriage to be part of a zany scheme of Anakin's and Obi-wan's to root out potential traitors. In reality, the broadcast is real and several Jedi are jockeying for position to be the godparent of their unborn child. Obi-wan wonders what it says about them that Mace easily believe they'd pull off such a stunt.
- Later Riyu Chu Chi believes Ahsoka and Obi-wan are also in a relationship with Padme and Anakin because in her culture couple take an additional lover of each gender to both raise offspring and prevent infidelity.
- In Ninja Wizard Book 1 eight-year-old Harry Potter, after having dreams about Naruto's reality and watching The Manchurian Candidate, decides that he's being secretly trained as a sleeper agent, his babysitter, Mrs. Figg, is his handler and his late parents were actually ninjas.
- In The Death God Alliance, after examinating an unconscious Nico, Carter concludes he's from a wealthy family who freaked out when he developed some affinity for necromancy and started to neglect the crap out of him, because what other reason could explain the obvious signs of malnutrition and the fact Nico was wandering in a park at the dead of the night? Certainly not the kid's addiction to junk food and his desire to escape his stepmother going stir-crazy...
- Seventh Horcrux: Thanks to a combination of Evil Cannot Comprehend Good, misinformation, and sheer insanity, Voldemort (as both Harry and himself) often makes widely off-mark conclusions.
- He never sees Gilderoy Lockhart as the fraud that he is, instead interpreting his incompetency as Obfuscating Stupidity, and resorts to setting a deadly Acromantula on the man to stop him from staying on as the DADA teacher.
- Welcomes Sirius Black into his inner circle, since the Wizarding World claims that Sirius is his right-hand man and Voldemort assumes that it's true. He rationalizes the fact that he can't remember Sirius ever being one of his followers due to his first defeat and old age, and believes that he never gave Sirius the Dark Mark because he trusted him so much that such a test of loyalty was unnecessary. Sirius lets him believe it because it allows him sabotage the Death Eaters from the inside.
- Thought Draco and Hermione had a thing going on, and sees the same "UST" between Sirius and Snape (who, despite being on the same side, are Arch-Enemies). As a consequence, he is completely oblivious to the obvious attraction between Ron and Hermione.
- Thinks Dumbledore went to Durmstrang after learning about his former friendship with Gellert Grindelwald, who Voldemort believes Dumbledore killed to take out competition for taking over the world. Dumbledore attended and graduated from Hogwarts (obviously) and didn't meet and befriend Grindelwald until after he was expelled from Durmstrang. Not to mention, Grindelwald is alive and currently incarcerated in his personal prison Nurmengard (though it's entirely possible that information has been kept quiet to dissuade people from trying to break him out).
- A team of Skrulls in Scrap Value believe there's dozens of Black Widows because they arrived at a location with several of them. It's later explained that they arrived at a convention and those Black Widows were all cosplayers.
Film — Animated
- 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.
- 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 thinks she is being tortured and taken apart, having no way to know that the repairs are enjoyable for EVE.
Film — Live-Action
- In the 1943 film The Batman, Dr Daka, the Big Bad, finds that Batman keeps interfering with his plans despite his minions repeatedly claiming they've killed him. He comes to the reasonable conclusion that "Batman" is the Collective Identity of a group of agents working against him, so killing one just means another takes his place.
- 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. Each of the murder victims were actually going to make the town appear bad in the annual contest for best town, and the current Mayor is a little bit obsessed with winning every year due to a promise to his dead wife. The people were killed for having an annoying laugh, being a bad actor, making typos in a newspaper, having a gaudy house, and planning to move away, specifically. Funnily enough all of these details are offhandedly mentioned by Nick and Danny while brainstorming but neither ever considers they'd be motivation for murder.
- Pirates of the Caribbean:
- Curse of the Black Pearl: Norrington 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 is wrong because there are certain facts that he can'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. Norrington also criticizes Jack as the "worst pirate" he's ever met for, among other things, having a compass that doesn't point north and only one shot for his pistol. Not only does Jack demonstrate himself to be a skilled pirate, but it's later revealed the compass is enchanted and he only carries one shot as a reminder of being marooned by his crew.
- Dead Man's Chest: When Cutler Beckett asks Will to steal Jack's compass, Elizabeth recalls that it had been used to navigate to the Isla de Muerta, and assumes that Beckett is after the Aztec gold. She sneaks into his office at night to dissuade him, whereupon Beckett explains that the compass doesn't only point to the Isla. Immediately after, he makes the mistake of assuming she has no reason to be there.
Elizabeth: (cocks pistol) Recall that you robbed me of my wedding night.
- 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. The mysterious neighbour isn't scheming to knock down the value of Finch's houses and buy them on the cheap before putting up some profitable and soulless development, he and his ancestors have saved Finch from gentrification by owning nearly all of it outright in a trust and screening potential new residents.
- 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 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" instead of "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.
- Harry Potter:
- In Harry Potter and the 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 hold of an item belonging to a Hogwarts Founder for use as a Soul Jar. In Harry Potter and the 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.
- A major plot point in the first book. Given what they know, Harry, Ron, and Hermione come to a perfectly valid conclusion that Voldemort's supporter within Hogwarts is Snape. Turns out it's Quirrell.
- Honor Harrington:
- 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 reignite 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.
- An example occurs in the very first book, On Basilisk Station. The climax of the book is a fight to the death between a Havenite Q-Ship and Harrington's very-much-outgunned light cruiser. The battle breaks out because Harrington has figured out Haven's plan to use a native insurrection and attack on humans, including Havenite traders, to act as an excuse to launch a military occupation and seize the system, and that the Q-ship is supposed to be an "innocent trader" that goes running for "help" from a waiting invasion force, and so she has to stop it before it can. All of which is completely true, but circumstances are such that the plan has been shot to hell and the Havenite captain is running to tell the waiting invasion force to not to launch the invasion. And so the two ships get into a battle neither wants over something that both are trying to prevent.
- Motel of the Mysteries by David Macaulay is all about future archaeologists getting present-day America entertainingly wrong.
- Aivah Parsahn manages to work out that Merlin Athrawes is able to change his appearance and travel at speeds that should be impossible. Because Aivah is not aware of Safehold's true history as a Lost Colony, she deduces that these are simply part of Merlin's abilities as a seijin rather than because he's a Ridiculously Human Robot with access to aircraft. This is a perfectly reasonable assumption to make since the seijin title is Merlin's method for explaining away his capabilities for public consumption.
- The Sisterhood of Saint Kohdy is an Ancient Tradition even older than Charis' equivalent Brotherhood of Saint Zherneau. However, their patron had only begun to suspect that the "Archangels" weren't entirely on the up-and-up. As a result, they do not know Safehold's full history like the Brotherhood does. They were, however, able to work out that the original colonists, known as Adams and Eves, were someplace else before awakening on Safehold on the Day of Creation. There has been debate within the Sisterhood itself over whether it was the colonists or the colonists' souls that were somewhere else.
- 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.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: Eddard Stark in A Game of Thrones knows that his son Bran had a suspicious fall while the Lannister siblings Cersei, Jaime, and Tyrion were around, and that someone sent a man with a very rare and expensive knife to kill Bran shortly after. Furthermore, he later learns that the recently deceased Jon Arryn was looking through a book on noble genealogy before his death, a book which shows that all of Robert Baratheon's confirmed bastards and general family have his black hair while all of his wife Cersei's children have the characteristic Lannister golden hair, and he received a message from Lysa Arryn accusing the Lannisters of murdering her husband Jon. 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 it was Joffrey, the oldest of Cersei and Jaime's children who sent the man with the knife to murder Bran because he had heard Robert call Bran's paralysis a horrible fate and say that Bran should receive a Mercy Kill, 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, and the letter was meant to throw everyone off their trail and sow distrust between the rival houses.
- Star Wars Legends:
- In the The Thrawn Trilogy, 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. This caused them to turn on and assassinate Thrawn.
- Words of Radiance (second book of The Stormlight Archive):
- Tyn is perfectly reasonable in believing that Shallan is just using the identity of a conveniently housebound, never-seen noblewoman as her cover and still needs a dose of reality as to doing what needs to be done. Unfortunately for her, she's wrong on the first count.
- The book is pretty much full of this. Characters are constantly making assumptions about each other, their abilities, their religions, and more, that seem reasonable but are based on incomplete or incorrect information. Among the most amusing incidents comes when Shallan and Kaladin are falling into the chasms together. They both use their abilities to protect them, but being unaware of the extent of their abilities or each other's abilities, they both assume they're responsible for their survival.
- 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
- 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?
- On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Superior in convinced Coulson is responsible for the outbreak of superpowers and alien attacks because Coulson can be connected to almost all of them. Which is true, except for having the causality wrong since Phil's job is to react to such incidents.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mixed with Deceptive Legacy, an episode of Continuum has Liber8 killing women with the same name of Lilly Jones and time-travelling cop Kiera realizes they're trying to wipe her out of existence by killing her grandmother. As it happens, Kiera has already found the woman she believes is her grandmother, remembering her mother's tales of her being a strong, independent and compassionate woman and so thinks it's a successful lawyer. But then Kiera sees another woman named Lilly Jones who has the right tattoo and realizes her real grandmother is a pregnant homeless woman with a hot temper.
- 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.
- 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 Joff 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.
- This tends to be Littlefinger's M.O. Using knowledge of other peoples' assumptions against them to stir chaos and turn people against each other. Of course, the success rate of simply causing chaos to benefit himself tends to fall a little into Gambit Roulette territory. It would be a bit more believable if he had another few dozen chaos schemes that resulted in no major benefits at all.
- This is a Running Gag in How I Met Your Mother: Ted fancies himself "quite the detective", but his elaborate deductions are always wrong. In episode "Daisy", for example, Ted is onto Lily, suspecting her to have started smoking again. His elaborate summation ends with him pulling a .... pregnancy test from a flower vase. Apparently, all the changes Ted saw with Lily were due to her new circumstances.
- 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.
- 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.
- In an episode of The Mole, which frequently peppers the contestants' 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.
- 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!
- During "The Wrong Mrs. Boynton", "Mr. Boynton's Lots", and "June Bride", Walter Denton and the Conklins jump to the conclusion 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!
- Happens a lot on Psych as, while brilliant, Shawn's lack of police training means he can jump to the wrong conclusions a lot.
- One episode opens with a flashback of Shawn doing a book report on Charlotte's Web even though he hasn't finished reading it. Shawn tells dad Henry he doesn't see the point as "It's obvious what happens: Wilbur wins first prize at the fair and he and Charlotte live happily ever after." A smiling Henry bets Shawn a trip to Disneyland he gets an "A" on the report and Shawn starts planning it out.
- Shawn is about to accuse a man of murder only to have Henry interrupt. He takes Shawn aside to tell him that the guy is innocent because of a detail in the police report Shawn didn't bother reading. Thinking fast, Shawn is able to figure out who the real killer is and then acts like he meant to accuse the other guy to "flush him out."
- This leads to the plot of the episode as Shawn is hired to take part in a think thank by a billionaire to come up with ways to kidnap him as a "security precaution". Too late, Shawn discovers they are the kidnappers and he's just given them the perfect plan.
- On Quantico, the team are tracking who was behind the bombing of an airliner. They find a company short-sold the stock for the plane's cargo before the crash and thus logically conclude they must have known it was going to happen. The team do a full-on investigation at a party with aliases, costumes, bugs and more. Alex is putting up a tracker in the computer when she overhears the heads of the company talking...and discovers they had nothing to do with the crash as the company is actually just a massive Ponzi Scheme. The reason they decided to short-sell that particular stock? Because it was a shipping company and one of the partners was ticked they lost his mom's birthday present.
- Smallville gave us the line "Lois Lane is the Blur".
- Stargate SG-1:
- In the 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 rendered them invisible and intangible, and Sam spends most the episode hovering over Dr. Lee's shoulder, frustrated with the fact that she can't communicate this to him.
- In a later episode, another device sends Sam into an alternate reality. When she returns she discovers the rest of her team had assumed she'd been rendered into "ghost" form again and spent three weeks "keeping company" to an empty room.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
- The episode "Little Green Men" 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.
- In Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Time's Arrow," Data is sent back to the turn of the 19th century. He discovers Guinan also happens to be in that time period, and comes to the conclusion she somehow was sent back in time as well. Data had no way of knowing Guinan's real age.
- 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.
- Voyagers!, "Jack's Back": After spending a fair amount of time examining Jeff's shoe and all the different things on it, Doyle concludes he's been to the Royal Zoological Gardens. Jeff can't tell him the truth.
- Orphan Black: Krystal is correct that she is being targeted by a conspiracy targeting her and correct about who is behind the conspiracy, but is wrong about why they exist and what their goals are.
- 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!
- 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". Also for players who used the official strategy guide.
- Mass Effect:
- 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 Reapers' God-Complex seem downright modest in comparison.
- At the beginning of Mass Effect 2, Shepard off-handedly wonders if they are a clone, before Jacob reassures them that they are the real Shepard; the Illusive Man wanted them back exactly like they were, not a clone. In Mass Effect 3's "Citadel" DLC, the main villain is Shepard's clone, created as a backup in case the Lazarus Project failed. Shepard was right about being cloned; they just got the fact of who the clone was wrong.
- 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!
- In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the Rito think, upon seeing the Sheikah Slate on his belt, that Link is a descendant of the Hylian Champion who fought and died to defend Hyrule from Calamity Ganon a century before and who was bequeathed the Sheikah Slate as an heirloom. They don't realize that he was Only Mostly Dead as a result of that battle and that he spent the following century in the Shrine of Resurrection to heal. Though the elder Kaneli does start to catch onto the truth once he sees Link carrying the Master Sword.
- In the second to last trial in Super Dangan Ronpa 2 the team realizes that Nagito arranged it so that one of them would accidentally throw a bottle filled with deadly poison at him and guess that the reason for this was because he was trusting his luck to have it be the traitor so they could be unmasked at the trial. The last trial of the game reveals that it was actually the exact opposite. The intent had been for them to be unable to guess who had done it so that everyone besides the traitor would die and the traitor would be able to escape the killing game.
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations:
- Iris has a secret involving Phoenix which she doesn't want him to find out. During the final case Phoenix comes to Hazakura where Iris lives and on the same day she receives a letter telling her to come to a certain place at certain time "unless she wants her secret to be exposed". Iris of course thought she was being blackmailed and the blackmailer threatens to tell the aforementioned secret to Phoenix. As it turned out it was actually a love letter.
- When Phoenix met Iris for the first time he was rather shocked. As the player knows it was because she looked exacly like his ex-girlfriend who should be in prison after she tried to kill him. Maya, however, unaware of that fact, seeing Phoenix stunned after seeing such a beautiful girl, thought she just witnessed Love at First Sight.
- Jaune 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'.
- When Professor Goodwitch first heard Nora and Ren were partners, she assumed they'd be a terrible match because they're so starkly different. Their differences are actually the reason they have been friends since childhood.
- The Dark Angels commanders in If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device learn that both Cypher and Mechanicus are on one planet and conclude that AdMech must be in league with Cypher, while in fact the Techpriests were lured there for unknown reasons and they don't even know of Cypher's existence.
- 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.
- The Order of the Stick:
- Durkon at one point concludes 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 one 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.
- 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. (She does realize it's a violent action movie, but still thought it counted as "Christmas".)
- At the beginning of Girl Genius, it is perfectly logical for Baron Wulfenbach and his son Gilgamesh to conclude that a young soldier is the Spark responsible for a rampaging clank, rather than the girl he was found with, because you can't hide "the Spark". The girl, Agatha Clay, studies at the local university under Dr. Beetle: if she were a Spark, all her professors would know. The soldier, Moloch von Zinzer, only just came into town. What the Baron and Gil don't know is that you can hide "the Spark": Agatha had been wearing a device that does exactly that. Of course, since Klaus leaves early, he misses the big clue of the Clank going off to "protect" Agatha, leading Gil to do the sensible thing — check their hands, revealing that the soldier's hands are clean... but Agatha's has grease and oil on them from building the clank. Which leads Gil to come to the conclusion that Agatha is breaking through now due to the stress in her life. Once again, somewhat wrong: she broke through when she was five, and the same necklace that had hidden her was acting as a Power Limiter.
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: After waking up from a coma that was caused by a Power-Strain Blackout, Onni has a general dazed attitude, causing Trond to come to the conclusion that he suffered a stroke. What Trond doesn't know is that Onni saw his younger sister's soul leave for the afterlife little before waking up from his coma, and Onni's daze is his emotional reaction to it.
- In Babe Ruth: Man-Tank Gladiator Throckle No'Goor is almost always this.
- 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).
- The Salvation War:
- The demon lord Belial is extremely confused about why the humans are slaughtering the demonic hordes even though they used to only cower in fear a "mere" five millenia ago. He thinks about his own forges, and how his slight refinements to tridents made them much better. He comes to the conclusion that humans have been so scared of the mighty demons that they stockpiled many great weapons over the thousands of years and only use them now that they're facing 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 makes a lot of sense given the knowledge they have 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 don't have the concept of science and their latest information on humanity is at least several centuries old, which is completely up-to-date by demon 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.
- 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.
- Scary News out of Tokyo-3 is full of people trying to extrapolate the truth about the current crisis from what little they know about NERV and the Angels that isn't classified, and going in completely the wrong direction — when any of them makes a correct guess, it's usually by accident and frequently followed by skeptical dismissals. You know things are bad when the resident conspiracy theorists aren't crazy enough.
- SCP Foundation: SCP-451 is a former agent who ran afoul of an artifact that rendered him completely incapable of perceiving or meaningfully interacting with other people. His diary reveals that he has come up with increasingly outlandish ideas as to what has happened, all based on the assumption that the problem is with the rest of humanity and not himself.
- In Friendship is Witchcraft, when Fluttershy's attempt to free the demon Smooze fails, she starts to doubt Smooze's existence. In truth, Smooze is already free.
- 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 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 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. Becomes Hilarious in Hindsight when the Distant Finale reveals that Bruce actually is Terry's father, genetically.
- 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 were just a journal.
- King of the Hill:
- In one episode 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.
- Dale gets this a lot, usually involving Joseph's true parentage. However, one instance that was not about Joseph was when his dad (who Dale thinks is a real ladies man) awkwardly tried to come out to him as gay. He merely said that the rodeo he works at is a gay rodeo, and that his friend that Dale met earlier is his partner. Dale is disgusted, telling his dad to get out of his sight. After all, his dad obviously just confessed to being a government agent, the natural enemy of a Conspiracy Theorist like Dale! Why else would he be working at the gay rodeo with a partner? They must be undercover! Of course, when it's all straightened out, Dale is perfectly accepting of his dad's sexuality. After all, John Redcorn is gay and Dale's been friends with him for years!
- Peggy Hill often gets hit with a case of this as well, either due to her over-inflated ego or whenever her (in)ability to speak Spanish comes up. In one episode, she came to the conclusion that the actor who plays Monsignor Martinez, whose children she had been tutoring, was in love with her. He'd been speaking in a rather romantic tone, buying flowers and gifts, and said that his wife was "with her ancestors". However, he was just poor with English. What he meant was that his wife went to visit her grandparents and the flowers and gifts were a surprise for her when she got back. Funnier still, she thought she wooed him with her skills in Spanish!
- In The Simpsons "Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part 2", the police accuse and arrest Homer for the shooting due to a number of evidence that seemingly points to him; an eyelash with Simpson DNA on the suit Burns was wearing when he got shot, Burns waking up from his coma shouting "Homer Simpson!", and most damaging, the gun that was used to shoot burns not only found in the family's car, but also has Homer's fingerprints! The eyelash came from Maggie, who was left in the car. Burns tried to steal her candy, and during the struggle, his gun fell out of its holder, firing and shooting him. Homer got his fingerprints on it while feeling around for an ice cream cone he dropped. Oh, and Burns was saying "Homer Simpson" due to brain damage- it was ALL he could say.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Holocron Heist", Master Yoda has a premonition that there are going to be intruders in the Jedi Temple. The Jedi, therefore, assume that the intruders are after information on military deployments and strategies, stored on the computers in the Temple's communication centres. As the audience knows, however, bounty hunter Cad Bane and accomplices have actually been hired by Sith Lord Darth Sidious to steal a holocron — a Force-powered data storage device that can only be opened by a Jedi, and thus usually useless to anyone who isn't one. This misconception allows Bane to escape with a holocron, especially as he also had his personal droid engage in some misdirection to fool Anakin and Obi-Wan, in pursuit, into thinking the intruders were headed for the communications centre.
- 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 occurred when Atahualpa, the last Inca emperor, heard about the Europeans approaching the Inca capital of Cuzco. He noted that the Europeans had 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!
- 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 the 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.
- People once believed tomatoes were poisonous, being related to deadly nightshade and actually making people who ate it seriously sick. Both of these were true. However, the true culprit was the lead plates most people ate the tomatoes off of; while lead plates aren't a generally good idea, the real problem was that tomatoes were acidic enough to dissolve the lead off the plates, assimilate it and transport it into human biology.
- Many of the educated people who have developed pseudoscientific theories and/or reject accepted scientific consensus do so because they take facts they know and extrapolate them to a completely wrong conclusion, unaware that there are facts they don't know and that what they do know is often a very simplistic explanation useful for teaching students or the public but useless for detailed study of the topic.