Instantly Proven Wrong

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Monica: Sir, have you been drinking?
Jack: Of course not.
[cue his whiskey bottle crashing to the ground]

Sometimes the karmic baggage of a daring assertion or Blatant Lie is so heavy that the universe feels obliged to immediately expose said untruth by external circumstances. Usually this is Played for Laughs as we observe the perpetrator deal with the uncomfortable moment of their false testimony collapsing in front of others.

A form of Hypocritical Humor. May result in an attempt of Verbal Backspace, Last-Second Word Swap or Implausible Deniability. For added laughs, the universe's "proof" is often a Contrived Coincidence.

Compare with:

  • Tempting Fate: The universe punishes a character, and as a side effect it proves them wrong. In this trope, being proven wrong (or a liar) is the punishment. Also Tempting Fate mostly applies to predictions (explicit or implicit) that characters make about their own futures. This trope can apply to a much broader range of statements.
  • Cue the Flying Pigs: A character makes a bet on a close-to-impossible outcome and is proven wrong.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: The contradiction is brought about by the character themself and not by outside forces.
  • Gilligan Cut: The proving wrong only appears instantaneous due to the narrative omitting intervening events.
  • Liar Revealed: The lie and its exposure is driving the plot while Instantly Proven Wrong is an inconsequential, situational comedy element.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • Famous example involving a customer at a Chinese dry cleaner:
    Customer: How do you get your clothes so clean?
    Dry Cleaner: Ancient Chinese secret.
    [the dry cleaner's wife comes out of the back room]
    Wife: Honey, we're out of Calgon again.
  • An Israeli mineral water ad has a woman claim that she looks young thanks exclusively to said water. Then her son comes in and says her plastic surgeon is on the phone.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Black Butler: In preparation for Sieglinde Sullivan's debut before Her Majesty the Queen, she is being prepared formal attire. Sebastian, in a separate room, considers that Sullivan's hair should be coiffed in formal style, and that he "can rest easy on that, as Lady Sullivan already has long hair." Cue Sullivan being burst back into the room to reveal she has undergone an Important Haircut.
    Wolfram: What have you done to your hair!?
    Sebastian: So much for the formal styyyle...

    Comic Books 
  • Les Innommables: As the heroes are swimming back to shore, Tim sees a turtle and sees it as a good omen, since turtles means there aren't any sharks in the area. A shark eats the turtle just after he says it.
  • From a The Punisher/Wolverine crossover, where Oswald "Napoleon" Zinn and a mook are reviewing security footage of Frank mowing through his gangsters:
    Mook: And he's coming after you.
    Napoleon: Maybe he's not after me personally.
    Frank: Napoleon, whoever you are, I want you to know that I'm coming to get you. Doesn't matter where you run. Doesn't matter where you hide. I'm going to get you.

    Fan Works 
  • Ultra Fast Pony: The Cold Open of "Batshy Crazy" features Applejack planning to kill Fluttershy. When she gets caught in her plans, she tries to deny everything, and gets immediately proven wrong each time.
    Twilight: And since Fluttershy is our friend, we're going to help her out of this problem, instead of just killing her.
    Applejack: Well, of course, Twilight! I wouldn't dream of doing it any other way.
    Apple Bloom: Hey, Applejack! I found your shotgun that you said you wanted to murder Fluttershy with, just like you specifically told me!

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney's Aladdin. In the introductory scene with the merchant, he tries to give a sales pitch but is foiled by circumstances.
    Merchant: Look at this. Yes! Combination hookah and coffee maker. Also makes Julienne fries! It will not break! [taps item on table] It will not... [item falls apart] It broke.
  • Lilo & Stitch: While on trial, Dr. Jumba insists that all his genetic research has been only been theoretical, and he has not been creating new lifeforms. Cue the council bringing out Experiment 626 as evidence.
    Jumba: I would never, ever ... [sees 626] ... make more than one.
  • In Inside Out, when Riley arrives at the new place in San Francisco, Joy wants to calm everybody down but her soothing tactics are immediately torpedoed by reality.
    Joy: Guys, you are overreacting. Nobody is dying.
    Disgust: A dead mouse!
  • Happens twice in Zootopia
    • Officer Clawhauser has just walked in on Chief Bogo using a Gazelle app, whose music is still playing.
      Clawhauser: Is that Gazelle?
      Bogo: NO!
      Bogo's phone: I'm Gazelle, and you are one hot dancer.
    • Bellwether tells Nick and Judie that she feels well-appreciated by her boss Mayor Lionheart. Then the intercom beeps and we hear Lionheart shouting "Smell-wether!" in a commanding voice. Bellwether plays it down by saying it was a "fun little name he likes to use".
  • Big Hero 6:
    • When Baymax makes noises upstairs, Cass wonders who it was but Hiro blames it on Mochi. Cue Mochi snuggling up against his legs.
    • At the pier, Hiro assures his team that Baymax can handle Yokai. Cue Baymax come flying through the air and landing on the car roof.
  • Sing: Max leaves his bicycle with the valet at the fancy restaurant, claiming "It may look old, but it's a classic". Before he even enters the restaurant the bike falls apart, leaving the valet holding the handlebars while the rest of the bike lies on the ground.
  • In order to sooth the terrified kids in the opening scene of Moana, Tui exclaims "There are no monsters" but then he accidentally touches a column which leads to scrolls with painted monsters unravel all around the room. Cue a Mass "Oh, Crap!" by the little ones.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A classic example from Casablanca exposing gambling activities at Rick's Café:
    Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
    Louis: I am shocked, shocked, to find that gambling is going on in here!
    Emile: [handing him a stack of bills] Your winnings, sir.
    Louis: Oh thank you very much. [shouting to casino patrons] Everybody out at once!
  • In Big Trouble, Jack is questioned by Walter and Monica.
    Monica: Sir, have you been drinking?
    Jack: Of course not.
    [his whiskey bottle crashes to the ground]
  • In Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Austin is repeatedly called out for his ownership of a Swedish penis-enlarger pump while he's picking up his belongings after the unfreezing process. This embarrasses him in front of Vanessa Kensington and causes him to resort to Implausible Deniability. Here.
    Clerk: One Swedish-made penis enlarger pump...
    Austin: That's not mine.
    Clerk: One credit card receipt for Swedish-made penis enlarger, signed by... Austin Powers.
    Austin: [to Vanessa] I'm telling you, baby, that's not mine.
    Clerk: One warranty card for Swedish-made penis enlarger pump, filled out by... Austin Powers.
    Austin: I don't even know what this is. This sort of thing ain't my bag, baby.
    Clerk: One book: "Swedish-made Penis Enlarger Pumps znd Me: (This sort of thing is my bag, baby)", by... Austin Powers.
    Austin: Ah.
  • In The Princess Bride, Westley notices several Rodents of Unusual Size sneaking up on him and Buttercup but denies their existence because he doesn't want her to panic. Almost immediately after he says that, one of the ROUSes attacks them.
  • 1776: Just as John Adams is extolling the condition of the Continental Army ("Never has training been more spirited, never have spirits been higher"), a courier arrives with a message from General Washington describing the deplorable condition of the army, the raucous behavior, disrespect, and general unsuitability of the average colonial soldier.
  • Czech comedy Adele Hasn't Had Her Dinner Yet
    • The famous American detective Nick Carter travels to Prague to meet the local inspector about a case. Following conversation occurs as they ride down the street in a carriage:
      Nick Carter: I assume my arrival has been kept strictly secret!
      Inspector: But of course!
      Paperboy: The most famous American detective's in Prague!
      Inspector: [looks embarrassed]
    • Later, the villain announces to a round of friends that the American detective won't be able to make it to their place, as he wrongly assumes his henchmen took care of him. Cue, Nick Carter's visit card arriving on a servant's tray.
  • A serious example in the film version of Glengarry Glen Ross. Roma, a Shady Real Estate Agent, constructs an elaborate lie to assure to his client that their contract hasn't been filed yet and could still be amended. Then in comes his boss announcing that the contract was approved and the check has been cashed at the bank. Roma tries to resolve the awkward situation by claiming to his client that he didn't know about this.
  • The Wizard of Oz: Immediately after the Wizard's Huge Holographic Head threatens Dorothy and company, Toto accidentally exposes him for the humbug he is.
    Wizard: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
  • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, at the Peace Conference Dr. Bolivar Trask states that his mutant detector could not work in that very room.
    Trask: If I turn it on, the system couldn't even activate in here.
    [ping!!! device activates — surprised looks all around]
    Trask: Unless there's a mutant.
  • In Birdman, Mike Shiner insults Riggan saying that most people don't care about him as an actor. Cue a fan of Riggan's approaching from behind asking to be photographed together with him.
  • In The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, when Norval breaks into the bank.
    Norval: You have to know exactly what to do or else... it'll set off the alarm.
    Old Kockenlocker: Can you do it?
    Norval: Yes.
    [cue the alarm going off as Norval opens the safe]
  • Implied in The Amazing Spider-Man when Peter Parker comes home and Uncle Ben demands to know why he didn't answer his phone. Before Peter can speak, his phone rings, disproving any story of it being unable to do so.
  • In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, FBI Director Tom Manning is trying to perform a Gas Leak Cover-Up of the events in the auction house when, the next floor up, Hellboy's pyrokinetic girlfriend/partner Liz sets off an explosion that blows Hellboy out a window and into plain view of the reporters.
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: Edmund is first seen trying to enlist in the army. Since he's underage, he's trying to pass his Aunt Alberta's identification (which doesn't have a photo on it) off as Albert A. Then Lucy comes up and calls him by name.
  • After the highway fight in the beginning of Deadpool, Wade is trying to convince Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead that nobody got hurt... just as a corpse drops from an overhead traffic sign.
  • Only just averted in Midnight. At midnight, when Helene is about to reveal Eve as an impostor, the arrival of Tibor Czerny (the husband of Eve's assumed persona) is announced which renders Helene's theory untenable, forcing her into silence.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: While watching the German convoy, escorted by a tank, Henry expresses some concern, to which Indy assures him they're well out of range. Then the tank fires a shell which destroys a car some distance behind them.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Gimli declares that he won't be caught easily, because he has "the eyes of a hawk and the ears of a fox." A split second later, he sees elves pointing drawn bows at him less than half a meter away.

    Jokes 
  • An Urban Legend has an English teacher declare that while double negatives may convey their opposite meaning, no double positives will ever mean the opposite of what they say. Cue one student saying "Yeah right".note 

    Literature 
  • Discworld:
    • Combined with The Tape Knew You Would Say That in Thud! after a historical recording proves that a major facet of dwarf life is completely wrong:
      "For the enemy is not Troll, nor is it Dwarf, but it is the baleful, the malign, the cowardly, the vessels of hatred, those who do a bad thing and call it good. Those we fought today, but the wilful fool is eternal and will say—"
      "This is just a trick!" Ardent shouted.
      "—say this is a trick."
    • Ponder Stibbons once tries to explain to the faculty that a magical experiment he is about to perform is as safe as crossing the street. It certainly isn't his fault that there is a six-cart pileup just outside after he said that.
  • In one of the Alice, Girl from the Future books, Alice, on a planet taken over by Space Pirates, attempts to pretend in front of them that she has no idea what's going on. Right as it seems to be succeeding, a note arrives from her friend (a resistance member she helped yesterday) notifying her he's okay.
  • In Mansfield Park, Mrs. Norris is aghast to hear that her niece Fanny is to dine at the parson's house and goes on a long screed about how it's only because the Miss Bertrams aren't around, that the invitation is entirely undeserved, that she'd better keep her mouth shut and not embarrass the family, and that she is absolutely not going to have the carriage. Then Sir Thomas walks in to ask Fanny what time he should have the carriage ready for her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrested Development:
    • In episode "My Mother, the Car", Michael claims that his mother is frail right before she bursts through the locked balcony door.
    • Episode "Fakin' It" has Michael discover a secret room in the model home filled with body-building magazines, themselves filled with muscular men. Tobias enters and has a conversation with Michael where he admits the magazines are his. He says they're from a body-building phase he'd gone through (rather than using them to ogle the men) and he hasn't touched them in years. He then opens one and we hear a talking magazine ad for a new television show.
    • In "Whistler's Mother", Michael asserts the board that he has no business contact with his father in prison but is immediately proven wrong by his assistant:
      Michael: My dad in no way is talking about business from prison.
      [knocking on the door and an assistant entering]
      Assistant: Excuse me. Your father's calling from prison. He wants to talk about the land deal you made with his brother.
  • Babylon 5: Early in the fourth season, after Sheridan has seemingly died on the Shadow homeworld of Z'Ha'Dum, some of the League ambassadors try to rally a protest against Delenn's plan to attack Z'Ha'Dum full on, claiming that no one who goes to Z'Ha'Dum comes back, just as Sheridan walks up and stands right next to them. The wind promptly goes out of their sails.
  • On one episode of My Name Is Earl, we find out that Earl and Joy once sold an Alleged Car to a man. Earl tries to right this wrong only to find out that the experience left the man bitter and pessimistic about society and seemingly plans to kill everyone. Earl tries to change his mind by showing him that people can be nice. Unfortunately, he tries to track down the car and finds that everyone who's owned it did the same thing as Earl and Joy. He later gets Darnell to pretend he was the last owner who sold the car for scrap used to build a playground. In the narration, Earl says that he thought karma would forgive this falsehood. But then the car that was supposedly scrapped drives by.
  • In Agent Carter, after Peggy and Jarvis kidnap Mr. Hunt, a Mook who'd made an attempt on their lives, they return to the Stark estate, with Hunt in the trunk, to find Chief Sousa waiting for them. Since this was an unauthorized (and very illegal) mission, she tries to keep him from finding out, even when knocking from the inside of the trunk starts.
    Peggy: We... caught a possum on this property earlier this morning. Vicious little creature.
    Hunt: [from the trunk] Let me outta here!
    Peggy: Or I have a man stashed in the boot.
  • This trope is a staple of Disney Channel sitcoms; a character will say something, often in reassurance that something won't go wrong or that everything is fine, only to have another character walk in and do or say something that immediately proves them wrong. Cue laugh track.
  • In the opening scene of Doctor Who episode "The Empty Child", the doctor tells Rose that the tracking of the object is perfectly safe. Cue TARDIS's control panels exploding.
  • In "Funeral" of Peep Show, Toni declares "I don't waste my life looking for a man to fill a dad-shaped hole" just as her new much older boyfriend arrives.
  • Timeless: After going back to World War II Germany, Wyatt and Lucy are found out by Ian Fleming, who begins berating them for their sloppy espionage, saying they couldn't stand out more if they tried. Cue Rufus coming in. At the sight of a black man in Nazi Germany, Fleming just says, "I stand corrected."
  • In the seventh season of Game of Thrones, the Lannister forces are preparing to meet Daenerys' Dothraki horde bearing down on them. Recognizing the severity of the situation, Bronn urges Jaime Lannister to fall back and get to safety. Ever the Frontline General, Jaime refuses, grimly insisting, "We can hold them off." Cue the Mighty Roar of Daenerys' dragon, and one hell of an Oh, Crap! from Jaime.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Muppet Treasure Island: During the song "Professional Pirate", Long John Silver begins addressing "misconceptions" about pirates, how they'd never stab you in the back (someone falls dead a split second later with a knife in his back) or lie or cheat (as one of them picks another's pocket).
  • Following conversation from A Muppet Family Christmas:
    Kermit: Outside? Fozzie, it's too cold to go outside.
    Fozzie: It's not cold.
    Kermit: It is cold!
    Fozzie: It's not cold!
    [the door opens and the snowman comes inside shivering]
    Snowman: Can I come in and warm up?
    Fozzie: [with a vague dismissive gesture] Okay, so it's cold.
  • Fraggle Rock:
    Narrator: Fraggles are graceful creatures—
    [a Fraggle falls into camera shot]

    Video Games 
  • Wheatley from Portal 2 has a moment of this.
    Wheatley: I'm guaranteeing you, 100 percent, that it's this way.
    [enters a hallway]
    [immediately comes back out of the hallway]
    Wheatley: It's not this way.
  • In Broken Sword: The Serpent's Curse, after the Cable-Car Action Sequence Shears ensures Kat that nothing's really got broken. Cue the cable car's door falling off.
  • In Final Fantasy X-2, Logos and Ormi has the Gullwings watch a sphere recording that they had made. Part of the sphere was recorded pointed straight at Yuna's butt. Logos insists Ormi recorded that part, but Ormi then walks by in the background.

    Web Comics 
  • Furry Experience: As Vikki drags Ronnie to a Mormon institute, Ronnie is trying to tell her how all the students inside will be chattering away with their self-righteous gossip, until they open the door to dead silence.
    Vikki: God heard you and made them shut up.
    Ronnie: You hush.
  • In Kevin & Kell, when Hare-Link has to lay someone off, George points out that Candace is the most expendable employee. Kevin protests that her work on the telephone is valuable, at which point, Candace, likely oblivious to the fact that her job is about to be cut, cheerfully informs Kevin that she doesn't have to do as much work recently. After Candace leaves, Kevin, with chagrin, comments that "her timing could have been better."
  • In a strip of It Sucks to Be Weegie!, Luigi denies to know Daisy, just to be found out when she calls him by his name.
  • Downplayed in Stand Still, Stay Silent. As the author points out in her comment of the page, people should not be leaning on vehicle wing mirrors in the first place. However, the mirror in question chooses to break off right after someone comments that the old vehicle to which it is attached is probably sturdier than in looks. Later in the same chapter, an old bridge decides to start breaking down after that same person comments that it must be quite well maintained to still be standing.
  • In Girl Genius, Agatha wants to break in a Parisian dress shop, since they are barely clothed and supposed to go to costumed party. Dimo objects, as according to him you should only loot from defeated enemies. Agatha counters that it's not like she's going to battle a horde of socialites on the way. Cue a horde of well-dressed socialites turning the corner and coming at her with hostile intentions, to Agatha's dismay.
    Zeetha: Wow, you can find anything in Paris!

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama: In the episode "The Route of All Evil", Cubert accuses the crew of using Bender as a still for brewing beer. Bender immediately calls out "Lies! Lies and slander!", then burps out some suds.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "[1]": Burns is negotiating with Homer over the reward for finding his childhood toy, Bobo the teddybear;
    Burns: Naturally I can't afford to pay you much of a reward, because I'm strapped for cash. (The ceiling above gives way and a heap of money and jewels fall around him, including a crown on his head.) As you can see, this old place is falling apart.
    • "Homer the Vigilante": After people decide the Springfield Cat Burgler is not so bad after all and want him released from jail.
      Chief Wiggum: Oh, sorry folks. Gee, I really hate to spoil this little love-in, but Mr. Malloy broke the law. And when you break the law, you gotta go to jail.
      Mayor Quimby: Uh, that reminds me, er, here's your monthly kickback.
      Wiggum: You just... you couldn't have picked a worse time.
    • In "Girly Edition", Bart and Lisa become reporters at their school news station. Lisa tries a train story, standing next to some railroad tracks: "The old Union Pacific doesn't come by here much anymore..." Cue heavily labelled "Union Pacific" train going by for a very long time. Watch the scene here.
  • TaleSpin: In one episode Baloo decides to go do the one thing left he wants to do, fly across the Bearmuda Trapezoid. At the ends, Rebecca is assuring him that she knew he'd come back and never doubted him for a moment, right before another pilot comes in asking about the job she had listed for Baloo's replacement.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Love Thy Trophy", when officials from the Department of Child Disservices come to take Stewie away, Lois is enraged and wants to disprove their claims, which are immediately torpedoed by Peter's actions off-screen.
    Lois: How dare you! This is a wonderful home!
    [cue a gunshot going off in the distance]
    Peter: [shouting off-screen] Quagmire, you rat bastard! Come near my fence again, and that'll be your head!
  • In Star Wars Rebels episode "Stealth Strike", Ezra stuns Kanan and Rex coming to rescue him (since both were disguised as Stormtroopers), and when they wake up, he tries to tell them they were knocked out in a big fight with Imperials, but they both fought well. They seem about to buy it, until Chopper plays a holo of Ezra stunning them.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In an early episode, Princess Celestia declares that she "cares deeply about the well-being of all creatures." Her pet bird instantly begins having a coughing fit. Turns out the bird is doing it on purpose as a joke.
    • When Applejack and Rarity find Rainbow Dash at the spa, she protests that she's just there for a "deep tissue sports massage". Then one of the spa ponies comes up and apologizes for the wait on her "pampered muzzle massage and indulgent hooficure".
    • In "To Change a Changeling", Trixie proudly proclaims herself "The Great and Unscareable Trrrrixie!"... just before a nearby rock turns into a hissing changeling, sending her screaming in fright and cowering behind Starlight.
  • In Steven Universe, Peridot's attempt to fix her fractured relationship with Lapis ends when she asks Lapis "What do you want me to do?" and Lapis answers "Leave". Once Peridot stoically accepts this and walks off, Steven enters a big What the Hell, Hero? speech, ending with him dramatically saying that Peridot's never coming back again. Cue Peridot screaming in holy terror as she runs toward them, away from a spaceship that's suddenly appeared from Homeworld.
    Steven: Oh. She's coming back again.
  • King of the Hill: In the first episode, a social worker, believing that Hank is an abusive parent, visits the Hill residence and asks Peggy about her husband.
    Social Worker: Mrs. Hill, would you say your husband has a bad temper.
    Peggy: Who, Hank? No, Hank is as gentle as a lamb.
    [Hank bursts in, totally stressed out, and sees Bobby tossing a softball against the wall]
    Hank: Dang, no more bouncing that ball!!
    [Hank grabs the ball and throws it out the window, nearly hitting the social worker]
    Peggy: Hank, we have a visitor.
  • DuckTales (2017):
    • In the first episode, Scrooge makes a Badass Boast while dressing up for a diving expedition, including putting on a heavy helmet.
      Scrooge: I'm Scrooge McDuck! I made my name being tougher than the toughies and smarter than the smarties! And I made my money square, on my own! No nephews, no family! No one helped me then and I don't need help now, and—!
      [the weight of his diving helmet gives way, sending him rolling into some objects]
      Scrooge: Beakley, a little help?
    • Later in the episode, after crashing a press conference with the real Jewel of Atlantis (long story), Scrooge has this to say about the ruby Glomgold's presenting:
      Scrooge: That bauble? Sure, it's nice, but it's obviously super cursed.
      Glomgold: NO IT'S NOT[gets grabbed by a massive sea monster] AGH! CURSE YOU MCDUUUUUUCK!!
  • In the Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "The Cloning", the Aqua Teens' newest cloned TV breaks down and begins displaying disturbing footage of them. When Meatwad says something's wrong with it, Frylock denies it only to see the TV gushing blood.

    Real Life 
  • In the 1948 United States presidential election, The Chicago Tribune mistakenly printed a headline proclaiming "Dewey Defeats Truman", since polling and early returns seemed to indicate that this was inevitable. However, the actual election results had Truman defeating Dewey, resulting in major embarrassment for the newspaper.
  • During the American invasion of Iraq, Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf went on television to proclaim that American troops were stalled outside of Baghdad and killing themselves by the hundreds. As he insists that there are no American tanks near Baghdad, the sound of American tanks firing as they advance up the streets can be heard in the background.
  • Revolt of the Admirals. All the hard work of President Truman and Defense Secretary Johnson's work to prove that a large nuclear force is all the USA need, that much of the fleet can be dismantled, that the defense budget can be cut down... not six months later, and the Korean War shows that with this new doctrine, the USA army is totally impotent.

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