A kind of visual technique, usually (though not always) played for laughs. It features two objects, people, or images in proximity to provide a contrast to one another. Frequently, it's an inanimate object, such as a sign or billboard, and something in or of the real world. While the sign is making one very clear statement, the real thing will be portraying a reality that is completely different in nature. The sign, as a result, will appear to be either surreal or completely ineffective considering its general surroundings. A subtrope of Mood Dissonance. Birth/Death Juxtaposition is a subtrope common enough to have its own page. When played for drama, is usually extremely bleak and depressing, and a sign of a Crapsack World.
- This happens all the time with Internet ads, mostly because of their context sensitivity. There are screenshots of things like a news story about an infant dying in a house fire with an ad next to it for a CD burner saying "burn baby burn." There's also http://failblog.org/2008/09/18/ad-placement-fail/.
- One of the Lethal Weapon movies features a cool rebellious lead character standing in front of a non-smoking sign and smoking. You know, 'cause he's cool.
- There's a really dark example in Threads, where shell-shocked nuclear survivors are seen shambling past posters of happy, smiling babies.
- Jurassic Park: "Objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear." Said object is a charging tyrannosaurus.
- One scene in the film Joyeux Noël, which depicts the Christmas truce of World War I, has German officer Nikolaus embracing his lover Anna under a blanket in the trench, both overjoyed to be together for a few brief moments of peace. Cut to Scottish soldier Jonathan, lying on the snow outside, holding his dead brother William.
- October, a Soviet film about the Red October 1917 revolution, includes the "Women's Battalion of Death", an all-female Amazon Brigade that had been organized to fight in World War I. Instead, a fragment of the battalion wound up defending the Winter Palace against the Bolsheviks. Two of the women soldiers are shown going through military drill, right in front of a statue of a mother and child.
- Throughout Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Alice has been promising an insistent Tommy that she will get them to Monterey, California before the school year starts. In the end, Tommy tells her that it's OK if they stay in Tucson. The last shot of the movie shows them walking towards the Monterey Hotel.
- In Moonraker (the book), James Bond sees a billboard. The sign reads in blinking neon, "SUMMER SHELL IS HERE" but due to the angle at which he sees it, it says "HELL IS HERE...HELL IS HERE...HELL IS HERE".
- The first season finale of Burn Notice opened with Mike doing situps when Sam walks into his loft holding a bucket of fried chicken. Their conversation reaches a point when they're both standing at Mike's counter, Sam with his bucket of trans fat, Mike with his shirt off and a cup of yogurt. The camera lingers while they look at one another's choices.
- The music video of the iconic Dutch song 'Vijftien miljoen mensen' features a photo of a 'do not walk on the grass' sign, with a policeman cheerfully chatting with someone on the wrong side of it while dozens of people lounge about the grass.
- Perhaps the most famous examples of this are the Depression era photographs by Dorothea Lange, which contrasted extremely cheerful billboard advertisements with happy American families with the desolate ghost town that most of America had become. The worst of it is that these advertisements stayed up during most of the Depression- largely because no one could afford to take them down and put up new ones.
- In Dead Winter, Lou's van nearly squashes a soldier (who had tried to blast it with a RPG) against a wall. Right under a billboard:
"That was a close shave!"
- Ín Danny Phantom, the "Welcome to Amity Park" sign changes regularly, and sometimes does this, such as "Amity Park ? it's safe here!" right in front of a ruined town in the midst of a ghost attack.
- In The Venture Bros., there's a jolly sign with a smiling family stating, "If you lived here, you'd be home right now," Just outside the desolate trailer park that Pete White and Billy Quizboy inhabit. They are the trailer park's only residents.