"Irony: The one form of humor that everyone thinks they understand, when actually no one really does. Truly, it is the cleverest joke ever played on mankind."
The intended meaning is an inversion of the plain meaning. Pretty simple, really, but somehow a difficult concept for some to grasp.
Let's describe what irony is not, since that is where the confusion mainly comes from (and it's misused a lot
- It is not a lie.
- It is not a joke.
- It is not a coincidence.
- It is not merely anything unexpected.
- It is not the same as sarcasm.
- It is not something Alanis Morissette understands.
Irony can overlap
with those (with the possible exception of the last one), but just by themselves, they are not irony. This is where the confusion of the meaning of the word usually starts. People try to apply it where it doesn't belong
. It's rather common in fiction for one person to correct another who has incorrectly used the term
It enjoyed a renaissance in the '90s
thanks to Postmodernism
, which is a slightly different
concept of irony.
There are seven main situations where Irony belongs: Socratic
, and Historical
. If something does not fit in any of these, it is not irony.
This type is completely different from the others. First employed by Socrates
(hence the name), it's more of a debating tool than modern irony. Thus it rarely overlaps with the other types.
In a nutshell, this is the use of constant questioning in order to reveal the truth of any position. You know how kids like to ask "Why?" no matter the answer
? This is the more sophisticated version. You keep feigning ignorance
of the topic, in order to force the other person to explain it further. The irony lies in the fact that you are treating the other person as one possessing coveted knowledge and/or wisdom far above your "lowly" station, the whole point in doing so is to expose the fact that they are, in fact, not
. Jon Stewart
favors this method.
Closely related to Armor-Piercing Question
Verbal irony is part of the modern irony types, but it differs from the others in that the irony is intentional. Basically, you state something in a manner that has literal connotation, but expresses something different in the context of the situation. This may be done for any number of reasons, but typically the intent is either humor or emphasis.
Again, you have to intentionally create this difference in order for it to be verbal irony. If you deny that you're upset, but in an angry tone, that's just plain denial, not irony. You mean to try to convince people you were calm, but your tone betrays you. To be verbal irony you have to deny it in a calm tone, but deliberately make it clear you are seething on the inside and want the other person to know it. Note however that just because this example wouldn't be verbal irony, this doesn't mean it couldn't be ironic; the irony in this case would be situational, since it's not intended by the speaker.
The distinction between irony and sarcasm is that sarcasm is meant to mock things. The two frequently overlap, but not all verbal irony is sarcastic and not all sarcasm is ironic. Using the case above, denying your anger in a deliberately angry tone would be sarcasm, but would not
be verbal irony because the angry tone would imply your intention.
Note however that, though a sarcastic tone does betray the ironic intent of the words used, this does not mean that irony is no longer present. Indeed, it is only tone and context that distinguish verbal irony from outright lying. For example, take the film About a Boy
. The main character's father wrote a hit song, and every time he mentions the song, people start singing it. When the eponymous boy and his mother do the same, they apologize, seeing the look on his face. When they mention he probably got that a lot, he politely says, "No, you're the first
." If he had said it in a sarcastic (that is, openly derisive) tone, that would be sarcasm. If he had said it in a normal tone, and added something like, "In fact, I'd like people to do it all the time," there would be a hint of mocking, also making it sarcasm. But since he said it the way he did, it's just an example of verbal irony.
One non-sarcastic form of verbal irony is the "ironic simile". A common example would be the expression "clear as mud"; the message conveyed is the polar opposite of the adjective used, and this is made clear by the fact that the noun used for comparison is obviously not something possessing that quality.
Now what about lying? Though it may at first seem as though they may overlap, this is not really the case. Verbal irony has the intention of getting the meaning across. As in the example from About a Boy
, he did mean that they were not the first, but that he was being nice about it. In the case of most lies, the intention is not to give that hint; it's just outright deception.
This is basically letting the audience in on something of which one or more characters is unaware. Thus any actions or words from the character about this thing are ironic to the audience, because we know better.
Take the Disney version
of Sleeping Beauty
. Prince Phillip meets Briar Rose, but neither of them knows that other is royalty (and Briar Rose doesn't even know she is, herself
). The Prince's father is horrified to learn that Phillip wants to marry a commoner, and it seems as though they can't be together, but we know who Briar Rose really is, so we know that they can.
So this literally applies any time the audience is in on something, and watching characters react without knowing what the audience knows. Often a key part of a screwball comedy, but it can just as easily be played for drama or tragedy, such as in Shakespeare's Othello
, where the audience knows that Iago is lying long before the characters do.
Another way to create opportunities for Dramatic Irony in a story is to alter the chronology of its telling, by making use of Flashbacks
or doing the whole tale Back to Front
. This style allows characters to make promises that the audience already knows were ultimately broken.
has its own trope page.
In truth, a more fitting term would be "Expectational Irony", since that is what it covers. Situational Irony is when the outcome of some situation or action is the exact opposite of the intended outcome.
A man who is accused of being gay tries to prove he isn't by picking up a lady at a bar, and takes her home to have sex, then when he gets "her" undressed he discovers he took home a transvestite.
Take the trope Failsafe Failure
, for example. The expectation is for safety features to ensure that something is, well, safe
, and then the safety feature itself turns out to be dangerous.
Or see the tropes The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes
and Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
This, in a nutshell, is what people mean, or think
they mean, when they say "that's so ironic."
This is a specific type of dramatic irony, usually found in a Tragedy
, Film Noir
, or in general a story with a Downer Ending
. The character's words or even actions are not ironic to them (or perhaps anyone in the story), but the audience is fully aware that their actions will bring about a tragic or deadly result, all while they ostensibly fight against such a result.
A tragedy can have dramatic irony in it without being tragic irony; tragic irony depends on the audience knowing how the story ends
ahead of time. This might be intentionally produced by a Framing Device
, such as making the whole piece a Flashback
so the audience sees the end first ("Two households
, both alike in dignity
..."), or it might be unintentional because the end of the movie becomes very well known
, or somewhere in between those two
, or it could simply be a story whose ending the viewer is expected to already know about
from everyday life (such as Pearl Harbor
or The Passion of the Christ
For example: Charles wants to save his father from being jailed for "helping" commit a murder he was framed for. In the process of clearing his father's name, Charles discovers that his father was innocent of that
crime, but guilty of murdering Charles' mother, thus beginning the entire torturous process of trials, jail time, and eventual execution, as well as Charles learning something unforgivable about his father.
This would be Tragic Irony if
the audience knew from the start that the father had murdered his wife (say, if it were shown early in the film) and could foresee that investigating the father would lead to that discovery. If the audience discovered that fact at the same time
as Charles, then it becomes situational irony (at least, the first time you watch the film) because the viewers and Charles suddenly realize that everyone would have been better off if he had never started investigating.
Basically, the universe is screwing with you
. The difference between this and situational irony is a matter of degree, but if it causes a mess of some sort, it's usually this.
Take A Simple Plan
. It's situational in that the expectation is of course simplicity, but the way things tend to just snowball, often through no fault of the initiator, is this version.
The fact that most Self Fulfilling Prophecies
are caused by the very act
of trying to prevent them.
This is any of the above (save for Socratic), through hindsight. We know it happened, and unless we don't get the cultural causes
, we know why it was ironic.
Take the Oracle at Delphi's prophecy to Croesus that if the king went to war, he would "destroy a great empire." Since the empire that was destroyed was his own, it's a case of situational irony for Croesus (who chose to attack based on this supposed encouragement; his opponent was Persia, also a great empire at the time), verbal irony from the Oracle (who is entirely aware that Croesus will misinterpret her)note
, tragic irony for the audience (who already know how this is going to go), and possibly cosmic irony (for those who believe in hubris
, like many Ancient Greeks did), but since it's in the history books, it's also historical irony.
For some more lighthearted examples of historical irony, see the trope This Is Going To Be Huge
"Sort of like gold-y and bronze-y, but made of iron."
Joking aside, irony does
have a metallurgical definition, and predates the more generally accepted use of irony by at least 100 years. Irony, as a term having to do with the metal iron, is pronounced "ai-er
-nee" (rather than "ai-ruh
Irony is a Super Trope
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- A commercial for Cliff's Notes has a pair of teenagers attending a festival where the local firefighters put on a display for fire prevention. A mishap causes the firefighters' display to catch fire. One of the teenagers consults his Cliff's Notes for Fahrenheit 451 and points out the irony.
- A 2014 commercial for 7Up shows a pickup truck with a flat tire. The truck is overloaded with used tires. The announcer says "If we can pack this much irony into one scene, we can pack genuine 7Up flavor into ten calories."
Anime and Manga
- A Certain Scientific Railgun:
- Misaka Mikoto sees one of her clones get brutally murdered by Accelerator. There's a brief flashback to before she knew about the clones, discussing the possibility with Kuroko.
What would you do if a clone of yours appeared before you? Mikoto:
Ah, that would freak me out. I think I would wish it would just disappear. [present]:
Mikoto goes ballistic
- One of the Breather Episodes of the Sisters arc involves Kuroko learning that it's okay to rely on her friends, and that trying to do everything herself just causes problems. Cut to Mikoto, who is fighting a one-woman war against the Level 6 Shift project.
- Reiner in Attack on Titan is described by his instructor as having incredible willpower and mental fortitude and others rely on him, considering him stable and reliable. Not only is Reiner a mole, he is the Armored Titan who is completely invulnerable due to his armor plating and is mentally and emotionally unstable due to Becoming the Mask and is the least sane out of the Titan infiltrators.
- Eren has an all-consuming hate for Titans. He finds out he is a Titan shifter and several friends turn out to be the very Titans he hated the most. Furthermore, Eren has the ability to command regular Titans.
- Human characters struggle with becoming monsters to effectively fight against the Titans. The monsters (Titan shifters) struggle with their humanity which decreases their ability to fight effectively.
- Bleach had a moment of irony during the Fake Karakura Town arc. Kaname Tousen had been fighting Sajin Komamura, and revealed that he had gained hollow powers which, to Tousen's surprise, allowed him to see. However, as he was about to finish Sajin off, Hisagi attacked from behind, before remarking that Tousen would've dodged the attack easily if he hadn't been distracted (and, in effect, blinded) by his newfound sight.
- Three-quarters through season 1 of Code Geass when Suzaku is going to sacrifice himself to hold Lelouch/Zero in place for a massive missile strike, Lelouch whips out his Geass and commands Suzaku to 'live' thereby making a Heroic Sacrifice impossible. Exactly one season later in R2, while fighting (and losing to) Kallen the Geass activates causing Suzaku to fire the FLEIJA warhead, destroying most of Tokyo and supposedly killing Nunnally.
- A case of Cosmic Irony occurs early on in Code Geass when nobody can figure out who Zero is, but Lelouch almost gets unmasked by a cat.
- Two episodes after her declaration of The Power of Love and just one right after she finally requites her own love for Lelouch, Wrong Genre Savvy Shirley is killed by Rolo. Especially ironic in that she could have saved Lelouch from the path he would go down in the subsequent arc, and that her death was a catalyst for much of it.
- Also Ironic that after the "Orange Incident" Jeremiah was told by Guilford that his options were to continue working as a grunt, or go work on an orange farm. His profession after Lelouch's death? He works on an Orange farm with Anya
- On a smaller scale, the main antagonist of the story is the world's most powerful superpower, the Holy Britannian Empire, which, despite controlling over a third of the world at the start of the series...doesn't actually control Britain.
- Lelouch's entire plan to save the world was based on an attempt to make it 'gentler' for his sister Nunnally. He cares about this plan so much he sacrifices his own life for it, but as he lies dying in front of her, she tells him that the only kind of world she ever wanted was one where they could live together.
- Also, Suzaku killed his father to stop a war, but it really just started one.
- Also ironic is that at the beginning of the series, Lelouch took on the title of Zero, to become a symbol of Justice against he Britannian emperors tyranny, while Suzaku had joined the military hoping to change Britannia from within. At the end of the series, Suzaku and Lelouch had Their roles switched. Suzaku became Zero, as a symbol of Justice, never to live again as Suzaku Kururugi, while Lelouch became the Britannian Emperor, and gave his life in the process of changing the system from within.
- In Dragon Ball's Red Ribbon Army arc, the commander of the Red Ribbon Army wants to obtain all seven Dragonballs so he can make a wish to be taller, sacrificing hundreds of his men to do so. In retaliation, his second in command shoots him. In Dragon Ball Online, which takes place over 200 years after that event, it is revealed that Dr. Gero took the commander's body and modified him into a mindless android. As a result, he now stands at least twice as tall as the player character.
- In Dragon Ball Z, Frieza wiped out all the Saiyans because he was afraid that he will be beaten by a Super Saiyan. He was defeated by Goku, and ultimately killed by Future Trunks, both who are Super Saiyans.
- The true irony in the former case is that it was Frieza's own actions, killing Krillin, Piccolo, and Vegeta, that drove Goku into the Super Saiyan state. In essence, if Frieza hadn't been stupid enough to twist the knife, he probably wouldn't have had to deal with the thing he was most afraid of.
- Better yet, the "Episode of Bardock" special reveals that Bardock was sent back to the past and became the Legendary Super Saiyan. Meaning that Frieza was responsible for creating the very legend upon which he destroyed the Saiyan race for, and eventually his own death. Irony, thy name is Frieza.
- Bojack's last words are you fool, any last words before you die?!
- Few characters in the series have never been killed. The one who was never killed that was featured the most prominently was Hercule, who also happened to be the weakest of all the characters to never be killed.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Truth appears to like irony. Edward wants to support his family, so Truth takes his leg. Alphonse wants to feel his mother's embrace, so Truth takes his ability to feel. Izumi wants to have a child, so Truth takes away her fertility. Mustang has a vision for the country, and Truth takes away his eyesight. Father/Dwarf in the Flask/Homunculus didn't want to be a prisoner to anyone so Truth traps him behind the Gate of Truth. See a pattern?
- In Full Metal Panic! TSR:
- It's pretty ironic that Ax-Crazy Gauron of all people would call Gates "one hell of a nutcase." Especially considering that he was perfectly serious when he was saying it. And yes, this is coming from the man who canonically wanted to kill Sousuke and " fuck his corpse up the ass."
- When it comes to Gauron, irony pulls double shifts. For instance, within Amalgam (an organization whose main members all have code names of metals which are chemically able to form amalgams with Mercury), Gauron's code name is Mr. Iron, a metal that is, in fact, not able to amalgamate with mercury at all. (It is, however, very resilient and highly magnetic. Draw the parallels as you see fit...) It is mentioned in the later novels that Gauron had been given this name as a petty little in-joke, meant to set him apart as "not really one of us". After TSR, though, it became painfully obvious that the joke was in fact on Amalgam, as Gauron betrays them to Sousuke. The consequences of his betrayal are still being felt a couple of novels later. Not one of us, indeed.
- Yet more irony that involves Gauron: In Sousuke's life, it seems that every single one the men who eventually became close friends with him started out as his mortal enemy that he was trying to assassinate. Examples: Majid, whom Sousuke was sent to assassinate (though his attempt failed), only to take a liking to Sousuke and adopt him as his own son. He was described as an incredibly kind foster father to him - someone Sousuke would always respect. Kalinin, whom originally was Sousuke's enemy, since he was in the KGB and Sousuke was an Afghan Guerilla - Sousuke even tried to kill him, only to get kidnapped by him. Again, Kalinin treated him well, and liked him ever since the beginning (as he took a liking to Sousuke ever since he rescued the boy as a baby), eventually resulting in Kalinin legally adopting Sousuke as his son. Kurz, who was revealed to have been hired as a mercenary on the opposite side of Sousuke in Lebanon, before either joined Mithril. They almost ended up killing each other, and ended up developing a great amount of respect for each other, each claiming that the other was the strongest opponent they faced (despite being in Arm Slaves, meaning they didn't even see either's face). And then there's Gauron... who was actually one of the few main male characters who met Sousuke not as an enemy. And it was Love at First Sight for the crazy guy, resulting in his attempt at picking the boy up and taking him to his camp, which was rejected. And so, despite being one of the few guys who first met Sousuke on semi-amiable terms, he turns out to be the guy Sousuke hates most.
- Miaka of Fushigi Yuugi is not fond of books very much. And then she ends up in one.
- * Early on in Gundam Wing, Duo locates the sunken, damaged Wing Gundam and decides to take it for his backup supply. Two episodes later, Wing has been salvaged but needs to be repaired overnight for a new mission despite a lack of spare parts. Heero manages it anyway, which amazes Duo until he finds out that Heero stole the needed parts from his Gundam, Deathscythe. Though Duo's reaction is only aimed at the treachery because he was complementing Heero's work just moments prior.
- In Hayate the Combat Butler, Hayate does not believe any girl could ever like him. The dramatic irony here is, EVERY girl likes him. Situational irony also occurs in the manga on Valentine's Day, when Hayate is talking to Maria. Hayate tells her all the reasons he feels like he will never get a girlfriend (Which are identical to the reasons she doesn't have a boyfriend) and believes he is not in any position to ever get one. Maria contemplates this afterward and realizes that the only man she can get and is interested in is Hayate. Too bad her Ojou is also interested in him...
- Kamichama Karin - Kazune has the power of the sun god Apollo, but he sunburns easily. Micchi has the power of the sea god Neptune, but he can't swim at all.
- In Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, it's rather ironic that Rokudo Mukuro, who hates the mafia more than anything else and would rather die than get captured by them, eventually becomes Tsuna's guardian.
- It's also become very ironic when the series keeps claiming that "no-good Tsuna" is ugly and that no girl would want him... when he looks like this after Art Evolution. Extra irony when he's become the fandom's LOATS that's apparently wanted by everyone - ESPECIALLY the men.
- Rokudo Mukuro's main goal is to pull a Grand Theft Me on Tsuna and then proceed to destroy the mafia, and yet Daemon Spade's whole plan consists of doing the same thing, only via taking over Mukuro instead of Tsuna.
- In Mazinkaiser, the Mycene send one of their generals to attack Koji before he can ride his mecha, Mazinkaiser. Said general is stopped by someone piloting a different mecha. Thus, the plan to kill The Hero before he gets on his mecha is stopped by a Joke Character riding a mecha.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion has the so-called "big irony bomb". In episode 2, Misato said she won't "put the moves on a kid". Cut to episode 23, and later End of Evangelion, and...she does. Well, maybe.
- In One Piece, Monkey D. Luffy's first voyage as a pirate was to drop Coby off at a base to become a Marine.
- The main reason why Buggy didn't join Shanks twenty-two years ago was because he believed Shanks didn't have it to make it as a pirate due to his personality. Fast forward to the start of the series and Shanks is one of the four most powerful pirates in the world while Buggy is raiding small towns in East Blue, the weakest sea.
- Pokémon Special:
- Bianca gets considerably less screentime than her game or anime counterparts. This ends up fleshing out her character more as well as making her more sympathetic as she laments over the fact that she really is a weak trainer who didn't accomplish much on her journey.
- Giratina's Shadow Force would likely kill any ordinary human, but Diamond attempting to sacrifice his life on two separate occasions is actually what gives him immunity to it, allowing him to survive.
- In Toradora!, Taiga at one point chews out Ami's stalker for taking pictures of her without her permission, despite the fact that she herself has a large stash of pictures she's surreptitiously taken of Kitamura.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, Jack leaves Carly to protect her from the Dark Signers. This directly results in her investigating them, which leads to her death and resurrection...as a Dark Signer.
- While Hell's Gate dolls powers out at random in Darker Than Black, it seems to have a strong sense of irony in terms of who gets what or what price they must pay. Examples: The lesbian Mina Hazuki must french kiss men as her Remuneration; November 11 abhors smoking, so that's naturally what he must do every time he uses his powers; August 7's Reality Warping powers would sure have come in handy in his profession as a magician... if he didn't have to reveal the secret behind a similar stage trick immediately after, that is; and the one Contractor who gets to temporarily regain her conscience and humanity as her price? Her power is liquefying people's internal organs.
- In Tegami Bachi, during Zazie's backstory, the person who tries to convince him that the people who are claiming to be his parents are telling the truth is the cruel and two-faced orphan matron who was the cause of his trust issues. She turns out to be right, in the end.
- Magi – Labyrinth of Magic:
- While secretly investigating Magnostadt as a student and forced to hide his powers, Aladdin is remarked to possess "just above average" magoi. He is actually one of the Magi who is able to use and wield unlimited amount of magoi.
- Hakuryuu is presented as a contrast to the rest of his siblings who are war-mongering and imperialist. Then it turns out he could care less about the Kou empire and only wants to kill his mother for murdering his father and two brothers, not caring who stands in his way, leading him down a dark path and making him worse than any of his siblings.
- In the Chuunin Exam arc, the exam participants are given an extremely difficult written test; so difficult, in fact, that most of the participants are forced to cheat in order to pass. The only participant who is shown not to have cheated is Sakura Haruno, who is smart enough to understand and answer the questions fairly. As it turns out, the point of the test was to see how skilled the participants were at secretly gathering information i.e. how well they could cheat without getting caught. In other words, Sakura passed the test by unwittingly ignoring the actual objective of the test. Naruto didn't know any of the answers, but still refused to cheat and managed to pass due to the Secret Test of Character, so he also passed despite ignoring the actual objective of the test. He passed by turning in a blank test, which is also ironic.
- It took years for Hinata to finally admit her (obvious) feelings to Naruto, who couldn't comprehend the confession as romantic due to being Oblivious to Love. Come The Last: Naruto the Movie, Naruto has fallen in love with Hinata and Cannot Spit It Out, while Hinata doesn't notice his very obvious feelings. He eventually does spit it out (thanks to a Freudian Slip), only for Hinata to be unable to respond to his confession thanks to the intervention of the Big Bad.
- In Sailor Moon Sailor Venus has multiple parallels with the Roman Goddess of Love, including her tendency to bring couples together by simply being around. Her luck in love is so horrible the first youma she killed was her crush, and she later killed also her one true love. The fact she realizes it is part of the reason she's Married to the Job.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfc, The Irony Of Applejack, the irony is that Applejack, the Element of Honesty, is actually a Changeling.
- The Bleach fic Getting It Right involves an Alternate Universe where Ichigo's parents sealed his powers for his entire life as a way to protect him. Ichigo ends up hit and killed by a car before the events of the series have a chance to begin.
- A Brief History of Equestria: Princess Platinum spends her whole life trying to break the power of the nobility, and eventually kills herself to ensure there will be no more monarchy ever again. Then, decades or centuries down the line Princess Celestia and Princess Luna come along and Equestria becomes a Diarchism.
- In Calvin and Hobbes: The Series, Tug tackles Hobbes in the same manner as Hobbes himself usually does to Calvin. Lampshaded:
Calvin: Ah. He's reenacted our wonderful 'Welcome Home' Ritual.
- Also, Socrates is named after one of the most famous philosophers of all time.
- Clash of the Elements: Bowser, the one who once had the Star Spirits imprisoned in cards, Is actually the one to free them in Part 2 from Cackletta's spell.
- Dirty Sympathy has Lamiroir threaten Apollo with a gun to get Machi off his murder charge or else. Lamiroir is Apollo's biological mother and she is threatening her biological son for the sake of her surrogate son.
- In I Didn't Expect to See You Again, Ichigo ends up with two zanpakuto, both of whom would normally be calm and level-headed, but end up insulting and yelling at each other before coming to blows. Ichigo thinks to himself that it's ironic that the only person not giving him a headache is his hollow.
- In the Total Drama story, Legacy, Heather is planning to name her baby after her late colleague, whom she couldn't stand when the latter was alive. Heather appreciates the irony of her decision, and comments on it.
- The Man With No Name involves the Serenity crew being hired to find an alien, a job they often bemoan as being idiotic. Their new passenger is the Doctor. Yeah.
- Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race has this. The Special Edition of Episode 1 has Wily applying for a job at Vick-Tek. In episode 7, Wily tricks Vick-Tek into funding him to make Bass.
- My Little Unicorn:
- The author wrote this story partly because he thinks ''FiM'' is too girly, childish, and does not appeal to boys that much. His story contains effeminate characters with girlish interests, fairies, songs from children's shows like Strawberry Shortcake and Barney & Friends, and fights with choreography that's inspired by Sailor Moon.
- Also ironic is how Titan, a character portrayed as a spiteful villain who hates friendship and happiness, shares multiple personality traits with the author himself.
- The Perfect Scry has a moment where Arthur is reading about the prophecy of the Once and Future King.
When [the King] did show up, he was going to be appalled at how much was expected of him. Unite Albion? If Arthur was in his shoes, the first thing he’d do would be jump in the sea and swim for France as fast as he could. Poor dumb bastard.
- In Fire Emblem Awakening fanfic Pretender Frederick, who trusted Robin the least and believed him to a spy, ends up becoming Robin's confidant and lover.
- The whole idea of Kirk/Spock, in that it's the ultimate Ladykiller in Love, and he's in love with a man.
- Weiss Reacts: Blake is the quietest member of Team RWBY and also the most troubled character in canon. In Weiss Reacts, she is a Large Ham who takes notes from Kamina himself and is absolutely obsessed with the idea of manliness.
- Weiss claims to hate pranks and antics, but she ends the Antic War with one: specifically, she uses the exact same cheating tactic Yang used on her during the Tournament Arc- throwing an adorable animal at someone to distract them.
- Yona Arc, a Yoko expy, has absolutely no idea who Yoko Litner is. This is despite the fact her husband is literally Kamina, she's implied to be Yoko's Reincarnation, AND half her colleagues and most of her students are familiar with it and have compared her to Yoko to her face.
Films — Animated
- Frozen has some:
- In The Book of Life, Xibalba's human disguise in the framing device is Guicho, a security guard, someone bound to uphold the rules. And he frequently cheats in wagers, thereby disobeying the rules.
- Final Fantasy The Spirits Within ended up being the most critically acclaimed movie based on a video game to be featured on Rotten Tomatoes. It also ended up being the least financially successful (in terms of damage to its producers) movie based on a video game.
- Overlaps with Bilingual Bonus and Ominous Latin Chanting in Frollo's Hellfire in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. While he's busy condemning Esmeralda and absolving himself of any blame, the choir behind him is singing the the Confiteor, a Latin prayer for the confession of sin. For a specific example:
Frollo: "It's not my fault!"
Choir: "Mea Culpa ([it is] my fault)"
Frollo: "I'm not to blame!
Choir: "Mea Culpa ([it is] my fault)"
Frollo: "It was that gypsy girl, that witch who sent this flame!"
Choir: "Mea Maxima Culpa ([it is] my most grievous fault)"
- Towards the end of Lady and the Tramp, the dogcatcher picks up Tramp and takes him to the pound to be executed once and for all. Fortunately, Jock and Trusty intercept the wagon and save Tramp — but in stopping the wagon, it falls over, and a dog, in this case Trusty, seemingly is killed, crushed by the fallen wagon. Miraculously, this is averted in the last scene, where Trusty only broke his leg.
- The whole song "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" from The Lion King. Turns out Simba could wait. He had to.
- In Shrek, Shrek tells Donkey that he doesn't like annoying creatures who never stop talking (paraphrasing here). Donkey launches into a rant about how much they annoy him, too.
Donkey: And there's that awkward silence, you know...
Donkey: Can I stay with you?
- WALL•E, a robot who crushes trash into manageable cubes, is at one point found in a trash cube that was made by a larger trash-compactor bot. Also, towards the end, he is crushed to Disney Death by a machine whose purpose has nothing to do with crushing.
Films — Live-Action
- Bob Falfa in American Graffiti drives a '55 Chevy. He's played by Harrison Ford.
- The movie An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn! was about a movie that was considered one of the worst ever made. The movie itself ended up being considered one of the worst ever made. It featured a guy who tried to have this name removed from the film. The director of the actual movie, Arthur Hiller ending up having his name removed and credited to Alan Smithee. Furthering the irony, the failure of the film led to the retirement of "Alan Smithee" as a catchall pseudonym for directors who wished to have their names removed.
- Closely Watched Trains, a Czech film set during World War II and the Nazi occupation, has an example of Socratic irony. When the Nazi collaborator in charge of the railway gives the workers at the train station a bunch of lame excuses about the German retreats and starts barking orders about watching the trains, the workers keep asking "why?" until the irritated collaborator says it's what the Fuhrer wants.
- In Con Air, the inmates (with the exception of Cameron Poe, Baby-O, and Greene) celebrate their escape by dancing to "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Greene makes the following observation:
Greene: Define irony: a bunch of idiots dancing around on a plane to a song made famous by a band that died in plane crash.
- In The Crow, the main character is immune to bullets after rising from the dead and laughs about how bullets can't hurt him. Considering that Brandon Lee was accidentally shot and killed during production, this is both sad and ironic.
- Cube 2: Hypercube: Simon reveals to Jerry that he is actually a private detective. He was working a missing persons case and looking for Becky Young, somebody who worked for Izon, which is undoubtedly the reason they threw Simon into the hypercube to get rid of him. Jerry can't help but point out the irony of Simon's objective given their current situation.
- Elysium: Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) gets Carlyle to write a reboot code for Elysium to perform a coup and keep it safe from the people on Earth. In addition, she hires a complete psychopath to do her heavy lifting for her. Said psychopath ends up murdering her in cold blood, and the code gets used to give Elysium to the illegal immigrants she was trying to protect it from.
- The Final opens with a scene of a girl in a restaurant with her face horribly disfigured. She orders a burger. The movie flashes back a while ago and you hear a throwaway line from a vapid teenage girl "Red meat is for people who don't care what they look like". Said girl ends up getting a compound smeared on her face that erodes her skin away. It could be either tragic or dramatic irony.
- Dramatic irony in Gangs of New York, when a Tammany worker tells Bill he will be rewarded for delivering the Irish to the polls, Bill spits and says his father and his men died fighting the British in 1814-he will not let his memory be befouled for people who didn't fight for this country as they did. Cut to Irishmen being made to sign their enlistment papers along with their citizenship applications, and getting onto the troopship headed for Tennessee while the coffins are being offloaded.
- During the end of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra when Cobra Commander was captured, he proclaimed to Duke that it wasn't over between them. Duke responded that he'll be waiting for him. He then gets killed during the beginning G.I. Joe: Retaliation without so much as a single confrontation with him.
- Godzilla (2014):
- Yoshimitsu Banno was "banned" from working on Godzilla movies after the polarizing Godzilla vs. Hedorah but is now attached to this movie as a co-producer.
- The Male MUTO does all the things Godzilla does in Blue Oyster Cult's song Godzilla: he pulls some splitting high-tension wires down as he escapes from Janjira, helpless people on a subway train scream as he looks in on them, and he picks up a bus and throws it back down as he obtains a nuke from the military to present to his mate.
- Godzilla 1998 had a blatant Sequel Hook apparently expecting a success, but was cancelled for poor reception. This one however, doubted a 'two thumbs up' warm welcome and so left an open ending. Now it's green-lighted for a trilogy.
- The Body-Count Competition scene in Hot Shots! Part Deux claiming "BLOODIEST MOVIE EVER!" despite the Bloodless Carnage.
- Near the end of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 when President Coin delivers a rousing speech about how the rescue team "liberated the victors", the scene cuts between her and Katniss staring in horror at Peeta tied to a gurney, writhing and sobbing. It really drives home that even if the victors are superficially liberated from the Capitol, those around them don't— and probably never will— understand how they'll never be liberated from the havoc the Capitol on their bodies and their psyches. Even more poignant is that Peeta certainly isn't liberated at that moment— he's locked and tied down in a room. For his own safety as well as Katniss' safety, granted, but the scene leaves a bitter taste in your mouth when you see President Coin's speech juxtaposed with that.
- IKIRU is about a bureaucrat finding the beauty of life... after discovering he has cancer.
- One scene of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade has the titular hero and his father tied up together in chairs. They attempt to escape by burning through the ropes with a lighter and end up setting the entire room ablaze. The only part of the room that doesn't end up on fire is the fireplace.
- In Iron Man 2, a sub-plot involves the device that Tony Stark built to keep himself alive is actually killing him through the volatile metal that powers it. What a beautifully ironic twist to a story about a man associated with iron.
- Much of the underlying plot of the first film is tragic irony, as pointed out by Stane:
"How ironic, Tony! Trying to rid the world of weapons, you gave it its best one ever!"
- After many of the action sequence in Jurassic Park, a banner falls over the damage done by the dinosaurs, who now rule the island, reading, "When dinosaurs ruled the Earth" as part of the entrance.
- Despite Hammond's constant declarations of "we've spared no expense", his entire dream is undone by the one expense he did skimp on: leaving all of the park's electronic security measures for incredibly dangerous animals in the hands of a single underpaid IT guy who ends up betraying him partly out of spite.
- The protagonist of Kind Hearts and Coronets murders several people over the course of the film. However, he ends up getting arrested for the one murder he doesn't commit. (This also applies to the stage adaptation, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder.)
- In Mean Girls 2, it is ironic that a girl named Chastity will sleep with Anything That Moves. (Well, until she learns what her name means that is.)
- In Once Upon A Crime, Augie is questioned by the lead detective in the murder case. Having no alibi, he lies and says he was with his wife in their hotel room at the time of the murder. The detective reveals that a witness saw a man leave the room via the fire escape. Augie claims that the man was himself and the detective asks him to recreate the route. The fire escape is just the first part of a series of tasks the man performed that Augie now must recreate. When he finishes trying to prove his innocence, the detective confirms that he matched the mysterious man's route... and ended up at the scene of the crime.
- In Pacific Rim, the Kaiju Otachi is translated into "great sword". It gets slain by the debut of Gipsy Danger's sword.
- One of the film's official art designers is named Alex Jaeger. Coincidence or narcississm?
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl when the pirates raid Port Royal, Elizabeth assumes they've come to kidnap her because she's the Governor's daughter so she lies to say her last name is Turner and that she's just a maid. Except unfortunately for her, they were actually looking for someone descended from one of their crew whose blood they need to remove their curse. The last name in question? Turner of course.
- Further irony - the Turner the pirates were actually looking for is in love with Elizabeth and when the pirates kidnap her he sets out to try and rescue her, not knowing he's the one they're looking for. And another bit - he didn't need a plan to rescue Elizabeth. He could have just walked into the Isla De Muerto, told them who he was and offered his own blood in exchange for Elizabeth's safety (provided he invoked par lay as well).
- The first Police Academy film does this comically. Closer to the end, Fackler sits in a police car and his partner gets in and hands him an apple. As they drive off, Fackler tosses the apple over his shoulder and hits a tough guy in the back of the head. This starts a chain reaction that results in a riot. The irony hits in the following scene and this conversation:
Fackler: Hey, did you hear the news on the radio? A riot's broken out downtown.
Thompson: A riot?
Hooks: How come?
Fackler: Who knows how these things get started?
- In Predator 2, Leona explains that Jerry Lambert is a lone wolf with a reputation for recklessness that gets his partners killed. His actions get himself killed and Leona survives. Possibly.
- The Proposal stars Sandra Bullock as a Canadian businesswoman who tries to get a Citizenship Marriage with her assistant played by Ryan Reynolds. In real life, Bullock is American and Reynolds is Canadian.
- The film Seven Beauties is built around tragic irony. The film is told in Anachronic Order, and the audience gets snippets of lead character Pasqualino in his feckless womanising days, in a brutal insane asylum, as a soldier in wartime, and as a prisoner of war. As the film goes on you see the decisions which brought about each change in situation - being arrested for his hedonistic ways, he decides to plead insanity because it'll be a breeze compared to prison. By then the audience knows otherwise. Eventually the increasingly-desperate Italian army offers to get him out if he goes off to war, and he agrees, figuring war couldn't possibly be as bad. Yyyyeah. Then during his service he can't take it any more and surrenders, thinking being a POW would at least be a step up from what he's gone through so far. It's a whole movie of watching a guy make decisions which viewers know are awful, awful decisions.
- The film Stalingrad follows the a platoon of Wehrmacht soldiers during the titular battle, among them Corporal Fritz Reiser, played by Dominique Horwitz, a German Jew whose parents fled the Nazis.
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country features a black Insane Admiral who supports Fantastic Racism against Klingons, using language and arguments similar to twentieth-century white racists. For extra irony, his actor (Brock Peters) previously played Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird. Peters was aware of this, and very uncomfortable with saying many of his lines (the "bring them to their knees" line is originally from The Birth of a Nation, for instance). Nichelle Nichols, on the other hand, outright refused to say the old "but would you want your daughter to marry one" line in reference to Klingons, so that was cut.
- In Star Trek: First Contact, Data points out the irony that the Phoenix, the first Warp-capable ship, was built out of a nuclear missile - a weapon of mass destruction being used to usher in an era of peace.
- Star Wars:
- Revenge of the Sith, Anakin sees a vision of his wife dying in childbirth. Determined to not let this happen, he joins the Dark Side in order to find a cure. Doing that turns out to be what kills her.
- Meta-example: In 1977, many theaters refused to book Star Wars for fear it would flop and only did so when 20th Century Fox threatened to withhold the potential blockbuster The Other Side of Midnight from any theater which didn't run Star Wars. The Other Side of Midnight bombed and everyone knows what happened with Star Wars.
- In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke goes to Cloud City to rescue his friends, knowing that it's a trap. Luke ends up trapped on a weather vane at the bottom of the city while his friends escape on their own. And then they rescue him. The film is also considered to be the darkest in the original trilogy, but it also happens to be the only one where no main characters die. In fact, it easily has the lowest body count of them all, as the other films had planets and Death Stars being destroyed.
- In the Terminator films Kyle Reese tells Sarah Connor that the human race survived because John Connor refused to admit defeat and rallied humanity to fight back against the machines. At the end of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, John notes that the terminator's ceaseless dedication to fulfilling their mission taught him to never stop fighting. Ironically Skynet gave John the motivation that made him such a threat.
- In the first film, Skynet sends the Terminator back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor and prevent her from giving birth to John. Kyle Reese, the guy John sends back to protect his mother, ends up conceiving him with her. Although, it's hinted that John knew this.
- And in the second a deleted scene reveals that Skynet blocks the learning capabilities of its minions lest they rebel against it.
- In Thank You For Smoking, Aaron Eckhart's character is at one point abducted by what amounts to anti-smoking terrorists, who cover his entire body with nicotine patches. When he gets rescued and hospitalized, the doctor explains that someone who wasn't a life-long smoker would have died from a fatal overdose, while his system was (just barely) able to cope with it. The doctor points out the irony with something like "I can't believe I'm saying this, but smoking saved your life" (Eckhart's character, a tobacco industry lobbyist, naturally responds with "Can I quote you on that?"). Another irony is that no one is seen smoking throughout the film even though the movie is pretty much about it.
- The eponymous god of thunder gets tasered by a human when he lands on Earth after being depowered. Even funnier because he just said "Your puny weapon can not harm [me]!"
- Loki, the God of Lies, was lied to his whole life.
- When TRON was released, it was refused a nomination for Academy Award for Special Effects because it was felt that the use of CGI for them was "cheating". Nowadays, nearly all major special effects are CGI.
- The whole concept of The Truman Show is the dramatic irony.
- At the end of UHF, the bum saves the station by buying the remaining shares. He gets the money by selling the rare penny that R.J. Fletcher gave him earlier. This is ironic for two reasons: 1) The villain supplied the means for his own defeat, and 2) he gives the bum a seemingly worthless penny which turns out to be extremely valuable.
- Vacation and two of its sequels have an example similar to the American Graffiti example above. The Wagon Queen Family Truckster is based on a Ford and the Griswold family uses actual Fords in Christmas Vacation and Vegas Vacation. The family member who mostly drives these cars is Clark Griswold, played by Chevy Chase.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past, the person who led the extermination of the mutants is also a mutant, in this particular case an achondroplasic dwarf.
- In a Chapter in America (The Book) discusses a possible future in which the Conservatives' worst fears about immigration come true. In this possible future, whites become a marginalized minority, forced to work as itinerant day laborers. In their words, the greatest irony of the situation is that they don't realize the irony of the situation.
- This happens three times in Battle Royale in one scene alone:
- Yuko inadvertently kills every one of her friends in an attempt to stop their deaths after they take in Shuya who she witnessed accidentally kill a classmate. If she hadn't, then they would have all escaped, which is what she wanted in the first place.
- Satomi kills everybody in the lighthouse except for the actual killer of Chisato.
- Yuko is the only survivor of the lighthouse massacre, despite being the one who (inadvertently) started it.
- Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie is chock full of this. Let's take two just characters:
- Morveer: At the start, a master poisoner with a devoted apprentice. He always whines about how the profession of poisoner is horribly undervalued and unrespected. Monza is suspicious of him from the start, and tries to turn his apprentice against him for security. By a complete accident, she succeeds too well; the apprentice misunderstands Morveer, thinks he's going to betray them, and tries to kill him. He kills her, believing that Monza deliberately wanted to replace him, and starts acting against her. In doing so, he poisons every leader but Monza who might have united Styria, effectively turning her into the best candidate for queen. After he gets killed by his own poison, something he spent the entire book warning his apprentice to be careful of, Monza uses him as a scapegoat to deflect suspicion from her over the death of the other leaders, turning Morveer into the legend he always wanted to be.
- Friendly: A mass murdering Serial Killer with no understanding of right and wrong, and a severe case of OCD over numbers. Guess who's the only character in Monza's party not to betray anyone else's trust in any way, or commit any murder of innocents, or cause any other form of collateral damage? And guess who saves Monza's life from the ally she had trusted most at first? That's right, in a novel filled with betrayal and revenge, the obsessive sociopath is one of the most trustworthy and upright characters.
- And that's just two of the merry band. The whole novel is like this.
- Sort of literature: Exodus 17:14 reads "I [God] will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven". The only reason anybody remembers Amalek nowadays is because they're in The Bible.
- In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files novel Turn Coat, the White Council denies that there is any such thing as the Black Council. Therefore, Ebenezer proposes dealing with the issue behind its back: by denying the existence of a conspiracy, they force a second one into existence. Harry comments on "a twofer with a sidehelping of irony" — especially since this new conspiracy could be pointed out as the Black Council to cover the original one's tracks.
- Also from the same book, one of the eponymous characters is the Wrongfully Accused Warden Morgan, who ends up hiding out at Harry's place. The irony is that he's been convinced that Harry's a traitor since before the series began, and now needs the innocent man he's been hounding for over a decade to prove his own innocence.
- One of Ray Bradbury's highly acclaimed titles, Fahrenheit 451, is also very controversial and finds itself frequently subject to a lot of censorship. The irony of this reception is that it pretty much summarizes what the book is about- the censorship of literature itself.
- In First Casualty by Ben Elton, a policeman named Douglas Kingsley stands as a conscientious objector and refuses to join WWI. After he's put in prison and is nearly beaten to death there, the Intelligence service feigns his death and then enrolls him to conduct an anonymous investigation of a murder of an officer in Flanders. Right then fate seems to pick up a huge mallet named "tragic irony" and start hammering poor Kingsley on the head with it. He can't stop contemplating (and others can't stop reiterating) about how feeble and absurd the notion of "murder" sounds in the middle of the unthinkable massacre that is WWI. But wait, in order to obtain the evidence he has to follow a raid into the German lines and eventually joins the fight, kills some Germans, leads the raid safely back and is awarded a medal! But wait, again! He finally manages to exonerate the suspect and save him from the firing squad...only for him to be blown into "red dust" right in front of Kingsley's very eyes.
- Dru Polar from Fusion Fire is defeated by the exact same ability/technique he was trying (and failing) to create to increase his own power to virtually unbeatable levels.
- Halvgudene: has an interesting example, as the english description for the 3rd book calls 'forbundet', the 'alliance'. But the 'alliance' isn't like the allies of World War II, they're more like the Nazis.
- Harry Potter often displays many examples:
- In the Half-Blood Prince, Snape stops teaching Potions class and teaches Defence Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts and is replaced by Professor Slughorn. Previously Potions was Harry's worst subject because he hated Snape and never made the effort in class. In his first class with Slughorn he finds a second-hand book labelled as "the property of the Half-Blood Prince". Inside the book are vast amounts of hints that help Harry in his Potions classes, making it his best subject. Then the big reveal is that Snape is the Half Blood Prince. At one point in the book Harry even makes a throwaway remark that The Prince was a much better teacher than Snape. Dramatic irony at its finest.
- Another Half-Blood Prince example: Slytherin Blaise Zabini, who is revealed in this passage to be black, shows the usual Slytherin Fantastic Racism against Muggle-borns, half-bloods and pure-bloods whom he regards as "blood traitors" (that, is, they don't support Voldemort).
- The people who seem to care the least for Harry (Vernon, Petunia, Snape, Aberforth) are the people who sacrifice the most of their own security and commodity to keep him free from Voldemort.
- Although everyone agrees that Professor Trelawney has not a whit of divinatory talent (most of the time), it happens that every single prediction she makes eventually comes true. Largely this is because they are extremely vague or already probable (for example, telling Harry, who's been marked as the nemesis of the Dark Lord, that he is in danger), but even so, her ultimate record is astoundingly perfect.
- Ron comes from a big family that are quite poor and has a lot of hand-me-downs. Harry lived with his aunt and uncle who were a respectable middle-class family. When it comes to having to rough it in the wilderness in the seventh book, Ron isn't used to starving because his mother always cooked good meals - while Harry had endured plenty of starvation living with the Dursleys. The irony being that the boy who grew up in poverty was actually quite spoiled, while the boy who grew up with a normal family had Cinderella Circumstances.
- In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Ford Prefect wipes a bottle of liquor with his towel. Instead of the liquor dirtying up the towel, it actually cleans it, since the liquor in question is highly antiseptic.
- In Jam by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw a group of survivors in the wake of the Jam related apocalypse, have formed a tribe around "irony", or at least what they think is irony, such as calling their leader, a blonde, "Princess Ravenhair". One of the main characters points out that their understanding of irony is completely wrong.
- An in-universe example in Jingo. Nobby Nobbs uses Socratic irony on Colon to point out the flaws in his thinking about the Klatchians. It's not entirely clear whether he's using Obfuscating Stupidity on Colon, or if he's honestly baffled by the contradictions Colon is blissfully unaware of.
- Le Morte d'Arthur. It's called "The Death of Arthur". Unsurprisingly, the whole thing is tragic irony, as Arthur struggles to build a just and fair kingdom, only for his own knights, and his own actions to set in motion the events that lead to his death, and the collapse of the kingdom.
- Also cosmic irony. Time and time again, especially as the story approaches the end, it seems as though Arthur just might save it yet, only for cruel Fate to invert the situation to its opposite. The bit about the snake is downright mean.
- Also situational irony produced by the title, as Arthur doesn't actually die, being put on a ship to Avalon.
- It's more the death of his ideals and what he attempted to achieve, everything which made him Arthur. Perhaps "Death of Camelot" is a better title.
- In Moby-Dick, Ishmael winds up floating to safety on the coffin Queequeg had built when he thought he was going to die of a fever.
- Raphael Santiago from The Mortal Instruments is a vampire. It's said that he puts on a cross and visits his family every Sunday.
- In Murder on the Orient Express, it is revealed that the murder victim was himself responsible for the murder of a small child (based on the Lindbergh kidnapping), but had gotten away with it. One of the passengers comments on what an abominable act that is, and says "We are not so wicked as that in Germany."
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest has a very good example of situational irony. The main character is charged with statutory rape. He fakes insanity and gets himself committed because he thinks it'll be easier than going to a work camp. The knowledge that he's not insane and doesn't fit in makes him get on the bad side of the staff, who label him as genuinely insane and lobotomize him.
- Warrior Cats:
- In Outcast, when Hollyleaf sees Breezepelt getting ignored by his father Crowfeather, she thinks she's glad he's not her dad. Three books later, it's revealed that he IS her dad.
- Another example happens in Night Whispers, when Flametail tells Lionblaze that he once was glad they were related, but now he's glad he's not related to a murderer. Yet his grandpa Tigerstar had been a murderer when the series began.
- Plus, there's a part in Code In The Clans where Leafpool said that there were rumors that Owlstar of ThunderClan had kittypets as ancestors, and she says he doesn't. But as it turns out in Thunder Rising in Dawn Of The Clans, Owlstar does have a kittypet for a father.
- There's an Irish poem that compares the careers of poets to engineers and has a mocking tone where it states that engineers are overlooked in favour of poets. At first glance it seems like straight up satire since an engineer is a very important job and is looked highly upon by society while a poet is thought to be frivolous since they don't earn good money. However the true irony comes with Fridge Brilliance - in the long term, engineers end up being forgotten while poets are immortalised forever through their work. Think of it this way - do you know the name of the man/woman that built that brick building down town or do you know who wrote "The Road Not Taken"?
- The ending of "The Man Who Evolved" by Edmond Hamilton (1931), reprinted in Before the Golden Age edited by Isaac Asimov, is an example of dramatic irony. See LEGO Genetics for slightly more detail.
- Oceania in 1984 purged a lot of pre-revolutionary notions (ex. capitalism, nationalism, even peace) supposedly in the name of ushering in true proletariat power...only to re-purpose and regurgitate them in Big Brother's image ("War is Peace," "Ignorance is Strength," etc.) in the name of preserving the Party's power.
Live Action TV
- During one of the Celebrity seasons of The Apprentice, the IMDb ran a poll asking site visitors who they thought would win that season. That night, the "winner" of that poll was the next to be fired. (The poll didn't influence Trump's decision as the episode was taped months in advance.)
- The first episode of Arrested Development has Tobias misunderstand a comment from Michael and take special measures to prepare for George Sr's retirement party. As a result, he ends up joining a protest against the party he's supposed to be attending. What makes it ironic is that it happens completely by accident. (And that's just the first example from this show.)
- In "Top Banana", George Michael tries to distance himself from Maeby by requesting more hours at the banana stand. Michael mistakes this request as an example of ambition and promotes him to manager. Soon after, Michael discovers his relatives lapsing into laziness and has one of them work with George Michael: Maeby.
- "In God We Trust" has George Michael take Buster's place in the Living Classics pageant playing Adam in "The Creation of Adam". When he discovers he has to be naked in the reenactment, he goes in wearing Tobias' cutoff jeans instead. The audience's reaction to his not being naked is very much like moral guardians reacting to actual nudity.
- In "Pier Pressure", Michael discovers his son George Michael may be getting into drugs. He confesses to his father that he plans to teach him not to by scaring him like his father used to. His father tells him that he's come to realize that method was wrong and tries to get Michael not to do it. He fails to convince Michael and has to get him to reconsider by scaring him.
- "Altar Egos" introduces Maggie Lizer, a blind prosecutor in charge of the case of George Bluth. The following episode reveals that Maggie is only faking blindness, but her "seeing-eye" dog Justice actually is blind.
- A minor example from "Staff Infection": A person riding on top of the stair car hits his head on a sign reading "Drive safely".
- In "The One Where They Build A House", it's mentioned that Bluth Company constructions always featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony with George Sr. This includes the prison he would later occupy. The Narrator even points out the irony.
- In "Spring Break-Out", we see a flashback to an intervention the Bluth family was to give for Lucille's drinking problem. Knowing how vicious Lucille can be, the family starts taking a few drinks to take the edge off. By the time Lucille shows up for the intervention for her drinking, everyone else is really drunk.
- In season two, it's revealed that Oscar is Buster's real father. All throughout the season, he drops subtle hints that Buster repeatedly misses. At one point, Buster finds out through other means, but then forgets due to the trauma of losing his hand to a loose seal and Oscar goes back to subtle hints. In the season finale, Oscar makes a completely unrelated comment which triggers Buster's memory.
- In "Prison Break-In", the Bluths hold a fundraiser for Tobias' hair transplant rejection in the prison for plot related reasons. However, the inmates behave themselves and prove they can throw a benefit dinner and when it's revealed Tobias' condition already has a cure, the well-to-do attendees prove they can throw a prison riot.
- In "Making A Stand", George gets Buster a job at an Iraqi-owned toy store where he just has to stand around with his missing hand and wear a sign reading "I Stole". Eventually, he becomes offended at the job he's been given and runs out, stealing the "I Stole" sign in the process.
- The Big Bang Theory:
- Howard's mother never appears onscreen while Raj's parents do. The irony is that Howard's mother is only heard yelling from the next room while Raj's parents appear on his computer screen when he video conferences with them in India.
- In the fourth season Penny realizes that her love life has tanked (due to both lingering feelings for Leonard and the fact her standards of intelligent conversation jumped significantly) while Leonard, Howard and even Sheldon are doing better than her.
- A textbook case of verbal irony, from an episode of Blackadder the Third where Prince George is insisting he doesn't need a woman in his life.
Prince George: What can I possibly do with a woman that I can't do with you?
Edmund Blackadder: I cannot conceive, sir.
- The prince's reaction shows he takes it to mean that Blackadder can't think of anything. Blackadder's smug smile shows the joke was deliberate.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Season 6 Buffy learns the value of life at a cemetery.
- In Season 9, Drusilia shows up alive, sane, and using a demon that feeds on trauma to help those who ask for it. Angel thinks this is wrong so he kills the demon, thereby no longer giving those who would have wanted and needed Drusilla a choice, thinking what she was doing was Mind Rape.
- The First Evil is the last Big Bad of the (television) series.
- The General ruined his career by going after and destroying the Slayer Organization, believing them to be a threat to world peace, but was killed by Simone Doffler, a rogue Slayer that he didn't go after who really is a threat to the world.
- In response to Buffy's insistence that she do things her own way rather than follow orders, Kendra cynically retorted, "No wonder you died." In the season 2 finale, her own complete adherence to protocol and inability to not follow orders makes it all the easier for Drusilla to hypnotize and kill her.
- The actress originally cast as Anya pulled out of the role when she discovered it would only be for two guest appearances. Emma Caulfield was cast as a replacement and ended up becoming a series regular.
- In one episode of Castle, Captain Gates goes to a conference on terrorism, but returns early when the conference is cancelled due to a bomb scare. Castle even notes the irony.
- The Charmed episode "All Halliwell's Eve" opens with Phoebe talking about how much she hates the stereotype of witches as wearing pointy hats and cackling while riding broomsticks. Later on in the episode when the sisters are in the 17th century Virginia colony, they need to ward off a group of men with muskets and Phoebe declares "I'm embracing the cliche" and puts on the hat and flies on a broomstick, cackling for good measure to scare the men away. Yep, she may well have reinforced the very stereotype she was complaining about.
- One episode of C Hi Ps has Ponch getting accepted for a game show similar to The Price Is Right. He ends up spending much of his free time visiting stores and learning the prices of items. Then he goes on the game show and fails the "Showcase Showdown" copy. The featured item is a motorcycle, implied to be the same model he rides as a highway patrolman.
- Another episode titled "Vintage '54" involves a rash of classic car thefts. The irony is that none of the stolen classic cars are from the '54 model year.
- While the show makes extensive use of the Every Car Is a Pinto trope, it's never been applied to actual Pintos. (One gets driven into a swimming pool, but that's it.)
- The Community episode "Social Psychology" sees Professor Duncan run a psychological experiment to prove that a loss of control over a situation will weaken emotional control. (In reality, he's using the experiment as an excuse to torture the test subjects.) However, Duncan and his researchers end up losing emotional control themselves after test subject Abed manages to remain calm throughout the experiment.
- In the closing credit tag of "Interpretive Dance", Abed helps Troy with a crossword puzzle where all of the correct answers seem to be the names of the study group members. The last one ("Four letters, one of acting brothers Bridges") stumps them both, but Jeff suggests it's "Beau". Jeff himself doesn't realize the correct answer might be "Jeff".
- Straight-laced Annie moves in with man-children Troy and Abed in season three. She starts a subplot in "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism" by accidentally breaking Abed's rare DVD. Instead of admitting it and apologizing, she pretends a burglar stole it, inspiring Abed to dress up as Batman and seek out the culprit. Troy says it best: "You moving in here was supposed to tone us down!"
- In "Digital Exploration of Interior Design", Troy and Abed get into a fight over whether or not to go for a world record for world's biggest pillow fort. The fight (fueled by Vice Dean Laybourne) escalates into a massive pillow fight that takes up the entirety of the following episode, "Pillows And Blankets". Due to their fighting, they fail to set a record for the world's biggest pillow fort, but as pointed out on the show's Fridge page, they could have set a record for the world's biggest pillow fight.
- It's frequently established that Troy has a thing for "butt stuff" (that is things being inserted into his butt). In "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics", he's one of the victims of the "Ass Crack Bandit" (whose "crime" is sticking quarters into the butts of Greendale students) and the one most traumatized by the attack.
- On Cougar Town, Bobby has a houseboat that he apparently bought while married to Jules. The boat's name, written on the stern, is "Jealous Much?" After the divorce, Bobby falls on hard times and ends up living on the boat (on sawhorses), so his life has little to be jealous of.
- The first advertising client seen on The Crazy Ones was McDonald's. Series star Sarah Michelle Gellar's first acting role was a commercial for Burger King which directly mentioned its competitor (the aforementioned McDonald's).
- Brom Garret in Deadwood tells the people plotting to murder him "I'm not leaving camp without my money." He never leaves camp; he is murdered and buried there. A succinct example of dramatic irony since the audience knows he's going to die, and Brom doesn't realize what he says is exactly true though not in the way he means it.
- Nearly every episode of Dexter has multiple cases of verbal and dramatic irony. Dexter's secret life as a serial killer requires him to deceive everyone he knows about who he really is and what he does, so the comments he makes while acting with the "pretense of normalcy" are often heavily laced with lies about his attitudes and intended actions. The audience knows better and understands the irony.
- It is ironic that John Simm, the man who took the role as the Master in Doctor Who in order to impress his fanboy of a son, ended up forbidding him from watching the episodes in question due to their fearsomeness.
- In-universe example: the Fifth Doctor's attempts to return Tegan to Heathrow Airport landed them on various alien planets or, in one case, in the right location but three hundred years early. Eventually he decided to stop trying and decided instead on a trip to the Great Exhibition in London, 1851. You have three guesses as to where they ended up, and the first two don't count.
- For River Song, if she had not sacrificed her life to save the Doctor, she never would have met him and she would have never existed in the first place.
- Barry Allen of The Flash (2014) has Super Speed, yet somehow, he is always showing up late to things.
- Frasier: The core of Frasier Crane's character is that he's a brilliant psychiatrist who can always be counted on to help his friends, family, and patients with their problems, but has no idea how to deal with his own ample neuroses. Lampshaded by the title song: "And maybe I seem a bit confused / Well maybe — but I got you pegged!" Crops up explicitly many, many times, from one-off throwaway jokes to major plot points (like Frasier and Lilith successfully counseling a married couple, while tempestuously divorced themselves) to serious running themes, like the fact that Frasier's deliberate machinations managed to get Niles and Daphne to confess their love for each other after years of UST, but he himself cannot keep a girlfriend for more than a few episodes.
- Martin's cheap, tatty lounger is the source of some friction throughout the series between him and Frasier, because it clashes with Frasier's expensive, classy furniture. In one episode, it gets accidentally destroyed, leading to a fight between the two men. Frasier resolves it by having a perfect replica of Martin's old chair built for him. He then notes that ironically, given the lengths he had to go, it's now the most expensive piece of furniture in the entire apartment.
- Friends: Early on Chandler is described as terrible with women and voted the last Friend to get married. He's actually the first of the guys to make a relationship work and he and Monica get married long, long, long before the rest of the gang.
- In the Season 4 opener Monica's says she can't date him because he'll always be the guy who peed on her. Exactly one season later they sleep together and start a relationship.
- In a flashback Monica is horrified at the thought of giving up her virginity to Chandler. And she doesn't. She marries him instead.
- One episode of Full House has Stephanie preparing for a spelling bee. At one point, she becomes panicked because she forgot how to spell a particular word. So, her father teaches her a way to remember how to spell it, even using the term "mnemonic device". She then takes part in the spelling bee and loses on the first word: mnemonic.
- The Golden Girls had many a late night conversation over cheesecake. The irony is that Bea Arthur hated cheesecake.
- On Gotham, Oswald Cobblepot (who will one day be "The Penguin") is played by Robin Lord Taylor. To reiterate, one of Batman's biggest enemies is played by an actor who shares his name with Batman's sidekick (Robin).
- One of the villains in Heroes has the power to heal other living things.
- A lot of the German Nazi characters on Hogan's Heroes (including Sgt. Schulz and Col. Klink) were played by Jewish actors. They asked to play the Nazis as as bumbling as possible.
- How I Met Your Mother:
- Out of the gang, Ted is the one who really wants to get married. However, all of the other four get married before him. Including two with huge aversions to getting married.
- On a smaller scale, Robin's relationship with Don was full of irony. She only meets him after committing fully to her career over her personal life. However when given the choice, she chose him over furthering her career. He chose his career when given the exact same opportunity.
- Ted stated in "The Platinum Rule" that if he broke up with Stella it wouldn't be because of some stupid rule. At their wedding she left him at the altar to run off with her ex-husband and the father of her daughter, causing him to have the rule "never invite an ex to a wedding".
- Gets an extra level of irony, given that he meets his wife because Robin (his ex) invites him to her wedding.
- H2O: Just Add Water: Becoming a mermaid destroyed Emma's career as champion of her school swim team.
- From Keeping Up Appearances... Hyacinth goes out of her way to appear as a posh, upper-class woman and is always trying to hide her poorer relatives from society's judging eyes, yet all of Hyacinth's upper-class "friends" much prefer her poorer relatives to her.
- In an episode of The King of Queens, Arthur gets in an argument with Doug about whether a situation was ironic. The story was that Doug had to scan a box, but the scanner was broken. When he opened it, it turned out that the box was full of new scanners. The kicker came in the end sequence where Arthur wakes Doug up in the middle of the night to say: 'I was checking the dictionary and it turns out you were right. That situation was ironic. I thought "ironic" meant "Made up entirely of iron."' Doug merely replies "Good night, Arthur." See the definition "irony" above-he was barking up the right tree.
- This is a collective extensive list of all the irony one can milk out of LOST right down to the lost drop.
- In the Monk episode Mr. Monk's 100TH case, Monk ended up arresting a TV magazine news anchor for murdering his extramarital lover. Ironically, it was right after he aired a segment relating to Monk solving his 100th case relating to a serial killer photographer.
- On an episode of Name That Tune a contestant names a tune, then loses her balance and falls down. The tune: "Please Help Me I'm Falling."
- In Once Upon a Time, Victor Frankenstein of all people is leading a mob in the season 2 premiere against Regina.
- Pierce Brosnan was set to take over the role of James Bond from Roger Moore. The only obstacle was his commitment to Remington Steele which was suffering from low ratings and likely to be cancelled. So what happened? Word got out about Brosnan being in line for the role of Bond and viewers started tuning in to Remington Steele to check him out. This resulted in higher ratings for Steele and an unexpected renewal. The renewal ended up costing Brosnan the role of Bond due to his now busy schedule, and he only took it after Timothy Dalton's run.
- One episode of Silver Spoons has Ricky, Eddie, and Dexter staying at a hotel when a fire breaks out. At the end of the episode, it's revealed that the fire started due to a short circuit in the fire alarm.
- During the otherwise comedic Star Trek episode "The Trouble With Tribbles", it turned out the Klingons poisoned the grain meant for a disputed planet, so that it destroyed the digestive system. When the tribbles got into it, and died from it, Kirk described the situational irony thus, "In a room full of grain, they starved to death."
- Also remarkable as they were surrounded by Ham and Cheese.
- Kirk/Spock Slash is mentioned under Fanfiction, but it also works without the Slash. Out of all of Kirk's relationships, his longest lasting one has been his friendship with Spock, not any of his romantic ones.
- The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Game" has the crew of the Enterprise being taken over by a highly addictive game. At the end, Wesley Crusher saves the day. The irony is that Wesley's actor (Wil Wheaton) is an avid gamer in real life.
- In the first episode of Studio Sixty On The Sunset Strip, Wes Mendell stops the show to rant about a sketch called "Crazy Christians" being cut due to censorship. He gets fired as a result and replaced by Matt and Danny. Matt wrote "Crazy Christians".
- On Top Gear, Land Rover and Lotus are occasionally mocked for being unreliable. Then Jeremy bought a Range Rover for the South American adventure. Of the three off-roaders, it was the one that had the fewest problems. Later, James bought a Lotus for the Patagonia Challenge. Again, it had fewer problems than the other two cars.
- The first presenter to take the Bugatti Veyron (the fastest car in the world at the time) to its top speed was James May. Yes, James "Captain Slow" May.
- When Nigel Mansell was the "Star In a Reasonably Priced Car", Jeremy introduced him as a man born with a moustache. Mansell then walks up onstage clean shaven.
- The Vision On gallery theme tune ? The intended audience was deaf children (although it does have a very clear beat to it, which a deaf person might discern if they set their fingers on top of the television and turned up the volume.)
- On an episode of Wheel of Fortune in 1985, a contestant racked up $62,400 in one round, then lost her turn when she called a wrong letter with only 3 letters missing. The next contestant then solved for a paltry $1,100. The puzzle? THE THRILL OF VICTORY AND THE AGONY OF DEFEAT (only the L's, V and C were missing, and she called S). Since she didn't solve, she ended up missing out on a one-round record that still would've stood more than 25 years later.
- On one episode of Wings, Antonio puts a fountain pen in his pocket and it leaks, staining his shirt. The pen is from the cleaners.
Antonio: Jiffy Cleaners, we're on the spot.
- The Brit Com The Worst Week of My Life bases its plots on cosmic irony to the main character.
- TLC once had a series called Wrecks To Riches in which a professional car modifier would buy a run down car, fix it up, and sell it at auction. In the second episode, he buys a '72 Plymouth Road Runner and discovers the seller also has a '72 Plymouth Satellite. (Both cars have the same body.) His intention is to fix up the Road Runner and use the Satellite for parts. When he finally gets to look over the Road Runner, he discovers it's in such bad shape he ends up fixing up the Satellite and using the Road Runner for parts.
- In The X-Files, Scully, who initially disbelieved in paranormal phenomena, was abducted by aliens three times before Mulder, who steadfastly believed in aliens, was even abducted once.
- While at the same time, it's ironic that Mulder and Scully would immediately switch positions of belief when it came to any religious paranormal phenomena, given their usual viewpoints.
- The song "Ironic" by Alanis Morissette lists several "examples of irony". The true irony of the song however is most of the examples she gives are not actually ironic, just unfortunate coincidences, therefore making the whole song a kind of Dramatic Irony (as this page shows, one at least is truly ironic: a man who is afraid to fly suffers a plane crash on his first flight. Thinking "Well, isn't this nice?".
- The first teaser for AOA Black's song "Moya" had the girls dressed in white and standing against a white background◊.
- Barry Manilow did not write one of his bigger hits, "I Write the Songs".
- Nicely employed in "Daddy Never Was the Cadillac Kind" by Confederate Railroad. The narrator sings about his dad, a simple man who teaches him an anti-materialism lesson after he (the narrator) buys a Cadillac. In the third verse, the dad dies and is driven off to his grave in a Cadillac, causing the narrator to laugh despite his mourning.
- Country Music singer Doug Stone underwent heart surgery in 1992. The title of his album at the time? From the Heart.
- While Helen Reddy did write the lyrics to the women's liberation anthem "I Am Woman," a man wrote the music.
- Juniel's song "Cat Day" was written for her dog.
- The Other Wiki's article on Men Without Hats makes sure to point the irony on this recent photo.◊
- The music video to the D12 song "My Band" once ran on some music television presented as "Eminem feat. D12"
- Norman Greenbaum, writer and performer of "Spirit in the Sky" — a gospel-rock song that explicitly mentions Jesus — is Jewish.
- Queen's "Thank God It's Christmas" was sung by Freddie Mercury, a Zoroastrian. One has to wonder which God he was thanking.
- Jakob Dylan of The Wallflowers largely became a Reclusive Artist and stopped giving interviews in recent years, claiming he was sick of being compared to his father. His father, Bob Dylan, is known for also being a Reclusive Artist and rarely granting interviews, thus inciting more comparisons
- Although the band T.Rex had numerous songs about cars, lead singer Marc Bolan never learned to drive. In a more tragic irony, Bolan didn't learn to drive because he was afraid of dying prematurely in a car accident. He was killed instantly when the car he was a passenger in struck a tree. He was just two weeks away from turning thirty.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "Don't Download This Song" was explicitly made free to download by Weird Al himself. What's the song about? Digital piracy.
- Another example: In 1983, he recorded "I Lost on Jeopardy". 18 years later, he competed on Rock & Roll Jeopardy!… and lost. The producers showed part of the video over the credits.
- Furthering the irony: on April 27, 2012, the actual Jeopardy! used the song's lyric "My hope of winning sank, 'cause I got the Daily Double now, and then my mind went blank" in a Daily Double clue. The contestant who hit it couldn't come up with the answer, and lost.
- Al graduated from high school two years early as the valedictorian. What was the title of his third album? Dare To Be Stupid.
- "Yesterday's Hero", a song written by George Young of the 60s Australian group the Easybeats about his band's struggle with fame, was the song that created a new star, John Paul Young, in the 70s.
- There's a techno track out there with an unattributed author—at least six people have insisted that they are the creator of the track. What's the track's name? "I Am the Creator".
- The folk song "I Will Not Sing Along" is an audience-participation piece.
- In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin saves a snowball in his freezer for months. He then misses Susie when he throws it at the back of her head. While Calvin laments missing, Susie gathers up the snowball and hits Calvin in the face with it. Calvin then lampshades this event by saying "The irony of this is just sickening."
- Something similar takes place in the title routine from Bill Cosby's Revenge (see below for details).
- In a Dilbert comic, Dilbert is typing on his computer while Wally stands behind him and says "Have you ever noticed that people continuously bother you when you're trying to work? That's why I come here - to get away from those morons." In the final panel, Wally has "an unpleasant realization".
- A Doonesbury strip from July 2012 has Jeff complaining that Alex married Leo and not him, saying "If I hadn't been off serving my country...". Of course, Leo is a veteran who served in Iraq.
- The Planescape campaign "Faction War", Duke Rowan Darkwood was looking for a gemstone containing the soul of a mad mage who tried to overthrow the Lady of Pain. He found it, broke it open to release the soul inside, and was promptly sent back in time by the Lady. In the process, he lost his memories and became the very same mad mage who tried to overthrow the Lady. But that's not all. This time, the Lady imprisoned his soul inside a gemstone, where, a couple of centuries later, he finally died when the gemstone was broken open by his younger self. Irony to the power of Three indeed.
- An example of verbal irony shows up in Chicago, during Billy's song "All I Care About". Taken out of context, it is a song about a man whose sole priority is saving damsels in distress, and who cares nothing about money. In-context, however, the show makes it clear that he's just a money-grubbing Amoral Attorney.
- Oedipus Rex uses both Tragic Irony and Cosmic Irony.
- 2009 saw the release of the musical Rock Of Ages. The soundtrack consists mostly of rock and pop songs of The Eighties. Notably absent (they couldn't get the rights): Def Leppard's "Rock Of Ages".
- Disneyland, whose main mascot is a mouse, goes to great lengths to kill any mice in the park, even allowing feral cats to roam the park to keep the population down.
- The Haunted Mansion, where the ghosts are forever cursed to be trapped in the mansion and endlessly wander the hallways, is located in the Liberty Square area at Magic Kingdom.
- The children of Walter Knott refused to sell the struggling Knott's Berry Farm to Disney, believing that they would remove too much of what their father built. Cedar Fair, the company they eventually sold it to, ended up removing far more of the park than what Disney had planned to in their theoretical brainstorming of turning the park into "Disney's America".
- The characters in Marvel Superhero Island at Universal's Islands of Adventure are all now owned by Disney, Universal's biggest rival in the theme park business.
- Tomorrowland at the Disneyland parks always proved to be a challenge to Imagineers, as it kept becoming "Todayland" or even "Yesterdayland" as the technology of the outside world advanced. Nowadays, it's filled with many sci-fi franchises that are either set in the present or the past (Lilo & Stitch, Iron Man, Star Wars, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., and so on).
- The Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom, a park all about the conservation of animals and the environment, is built on an oil rignote .
- Sibrand, one of the last targets of Assassin's Creed I, was gripped with paranoia bordering on madness after most of the rest of the Templar brotherhood was assassinated. He wanders around, accusing everyone of conspiracy and believing assassins to be all around him. While chewing out some guards for whispering to each other, he whirls around and loudly proclaims that there's probably an assassin nearby at that moment; further evidence of his insane paranoia, except that Altaïr happens to be sitting on a bench listening to them.
- In the prologue of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, an engineer mentions to Ezio that the future of warfare is firing a cannon from your hands. Ezio's been using one, far more advanced than the one the engineer's boasting about, for over a decade at that point.
- Baldur's Gate has a meta example. The popularity of the series caused its Bigger Bad — Bhaal, the long-dead God of Murder — to gain a lot of name recognition. This eventually caused him to be resurrected in the 5th edition of Forgotten Realms canon, an irony given that the overarching plot of the games is about preventing this from coming about and killing off his legacy once and for all.
- BioShock Infinite is full of choices. Who to hit with a baseball, to argue with a ticket dealer or draw weapons, but the most famous decision without a doubt is "The bird, or the cage?" This choice appears in a lot of fan-art, on t-shirts, and there are dozens of arguments and polls online about which one is better. The bird, because the bird is free like Elizabeth now is, while the cage represents imprisonment? The cage, because the cage is empty? In the end it doesn't matter. The point of this choice was to show the player... that choices are meaningless. Out of all choices in the game (which all had minor effects, and none of which affected the plot) this one had the least effect of all, a minor difference in Elizabeth's appearance, which you wouldn't notice if you weren't looking for it. The choice which is most heavily debated is a choice designed to show that your choices have no real effect.
- The very title of Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance. "Dissonance" means a lack of harmony.
- A nice example in Chrono Trigger. There are three "gurus" named Belthasar (The guru of Reason), Melchior (The Guru of Life) and Gaspar (The Guru of time). After being attacked by Lavos its revealed that The Guru of Reason went insane, the Guru of Life developed weapons, and the Guru of Time reached an area where Time didn't exist
- Cam Clarke is one of the most prolific voice actors in the video game industry. However, he doesn't play any himself.
- Command & Conquer: Generals: Zero Hour
General Townes: If you build a Particle Cannon
and I destroy it with a particle beam... is that irony?
- A rare instance of Tragic Irony can be found in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. Because it's a prequel to the original Final Fantasy VII, we know exactly how it ends, which makes the final few hours unmitigated Tear Jerkers.
- Dead Rising 2 has a activist organization that promotes the protection of zombies, called C.U.R.E. After the outbreak occurs, the protagonist can use C.U.R.E. picket signs to beat zombies to death.
- One part of F. E. A. R. has a room with a massive pool of blood in it. On the wall above the puddle, a sign says, "Please help us keep this room clean."
- A positive example is the Final Fantasy series. The original was named because Square had almost run out of money and decided to make their final game a fantasy RPG, hence "Final Fantasy". They're currently making Final Fantasy XIV, meaning that "Final" Fantasy is one of the longest running video game series ever. In particular, the double-dose of irony from Final Fantasy X-2 was probably dense enough to make a dent in space-time.
- In Final Fantasy X the summoners journey to Zanarkand in order summon the Final Aeon which destroys Sin. The fact that it is called the Final Aeon is quite ironic in that though it is the last Aeon the summoner will ever gain, the Final Aeon summoned will become the next Sin and thus continuing the cycle, meaning that there will be more Aeons called because this Final Aeon has become the next Sin.
- Tidus. First example: Tidus doesn't want Yuna to die killing Sin. He ends up fading away while killing Sin. Second example: Yuna will die if she fights Sin and no one tells Tidus about this. Later on Tidus gets to know that he will fade away if Sin dies and doesn't tell anyone.
- From Final Fantasy IX there are two cases with the plot to kidnap the princess. First of all, Tantalus go to kidnap her when she was planning to run away with them anyway (they didn't know this). Second of all, the plan involved Zidane and Blank stealing the knights' armour and when they run into the princess in the midst of her trying to escape, she panics and runs off which starts off a big fiasco that leads to them all being discovered. The irony is that if they hadn't gone to so much trouble to create a perfect plan and just snuck in normally, Garnet would have recognised them and gone with them anyway.
- In Fire Emblem Awakening the Avatar is meant to become the vessel of the Big Bad and bring about the end of the world. Instead (depending on the choice you make) the Avatar ends up killing the main villain for good while Chrom can only put him to sleep for a thousand years. To further add on the delicious irony, the Big Bad accidentally blanking the memory of the Avatar at the start of the game made them become closer to Chrom and his crew, allowing them to fight off his influence.
- In Grand Theft Auto III, a caller on Chatterbox complains about people using phones and reveals that she's organized a group called Citizens Raging Against Phones to get phones banned from Liberty City. However, her planned communication method of carrier pigeons fails to organize the meetings note and she has to use a phone to call Chatterbox to spread the word. Lazlow is quick to point out the irony.
- In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, K-DST D.J. Tommy "The Nightmare" Smith occasionally makes cracks at other station Radio X. Radio X's playlist includes "Welcome To The Jungle" by Guns N' Roses. Tommy is voiced by Guns N' Roses lead singer Axl Rose.
- Guilty Gear: Ky Kiske lost his family and his supposed-to-be worry-free teenage years in a brutal war with the Gears. Not only is his best friend and rival a Gear, but he ends up getting married to another one and having a child with her.
- A common example in first-person shooters: The M79 grenade launcher, in real life, was too heavy to carry alongside a rifle, leading to the development of the underbarrel M203. And yet Left 4 Dead 2 is possibly the only video game in existence to feature the weapon that doesn't let you carry it alongside a rifle or two (any of which may also have the M203 attached to them for added irony).
- The Legend of Zelda:
- In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Viscen's soldiers wish to have everyone flee to safety while Mutoh's carpenters demand to stay and continue the carnival. On the final day, most of the carpenters have chickened out and fled while the soldiers are still at their posts due to not having been given the order to evacuate.
- A Double Subversion can be seen with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Medli, a Rito girl whose race and tribe have a fixation towards sky (and they indeed can fly), is chosen to be the sage of the Earth Temple. Makar, a plant born from the earth thanks to the Great Deku Tree, is chosen to be the sage of the Wind Temple. It looks at first that their corresponding elements are deliberately mixed up, but the assignations make sense. Birds are fond of rocky, earthly places to put their nest safe from predators, and plants are the reason why air (and, by extension, wind) exists for living creatures to breath.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, after all the fragments of the Fused Shadow are retrieved, Link is turned into a wolf for a fourth time after Zant forcefully inserts into him a Shadow Crystal. Zant's intention is to render Link powerless forever, but once the latter finds the Master Sword, the ability of switching forms between human and Wolf anytime thanks to the now-comprised power of the crystal ends up making Link even more powerful. Midna lampshades this right before the battle against Zant.
- In Mass Effect 3, Javik empathically learns English from gleaning Shepard's mind, unaware that due to their exposure to a Prothean beacon, Shepard is one of the few people alive who already understands the Prothean language.
- Zero from the Mega Man X and Zero series was created by the character who started the entire Robot War, yet Zero is ultimately the one who ended the war, finally bringing peace to humans and Reploids.
- In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Solidus Snake states that "Pawns can never become players." It turns out he was attempting to become a player himself by destroying the Patriots, but he was their Unwitting Pawn the entire time.
- Metroid Fusion is often considered the black sheep of its series, primarily because Sequence Breaking is nearly impossible to do to the degree you can in the other games - and yet it's the one game in the series where you can actually complete it with just one item collected. For comparison, Zero Mission requires at least nine items (ten on Hard mode).note This also happens with Metroid: Other M, which has received even more flak than Fusion for lack of Sequence Breaking, yet its hard mode removes powerups entirely.note
- Myrkul's death in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer: killed by the power that's keeping him alive.
- Doug Rattmann from Portal is schizophrenic. This has resulted in him being Properly Paranoid about the GLaDOS project. As every other scientist was ignorant of the danger GLaDOS possessed, he was the Only Sane Man because he was clinically insane.
- In the backstory of Rainbow Six: Vegas, Gabriel Nowak, one of your teammates for one mission per game, is essentially the team fuckup, most notably getting a hostage negotiator killed in the prologue mission in Vegas 2. In-game, however, he doesn't hold a candle to the mind-numbing stupidity of Mike and Jung that you have to deal with for the rest of the game.
- Red Dead Redemption has plenty of irony:
- The most prominent one is Edgar Ross's and Jack Marstons fate. By killing John Marston, he believes to be doing a good job and cleaning the West of dangerous outlaws. However, this results in Jack becoming an outlaw who eventually kills Ross.
- Reyes is revealed to be eventually successful in his revolution against the Mexican dictator - only to become a tyrant himself.
- The Stranger, in some cases, notes the irony in Marston's actions by stating that Marston values marriage even though he's a cold blooded killer.
- The people of the supposedly "civilised" town of Blackwater (namely the G-Men and Professor Mac Dougal) talk about frontier folk like they're mentally retarded savages. Of course, spend any amount of time with the Mac Farlanes or Nastas and you'll learn just how weightless and downright hypocritical these views are.
- Word of God stated that Dr. Eggman of the Sonic the Hedgehog series was based on Teddy Roosevelt (and was going to be the hero originally). Want to know how it's ironic? Dr. Eggman essentially is a threat to Environmentalism, and Roosevelt was actually one of the people who pioneered environmentalism (he was one of the reason why America even has Nature Reserves, for one thing).
- In Sonic Adventure 2, you find a device that lets Knuckles breathe underwater. Where is it? So far underwater that Knuckles almost drowns getting to it.
- Soulcalibur 3 introduces Zasalamel to the series. His story is that he carries a curse that causes him to be reincarnated upon death, and he wants the curse lifted so he can finally die permanently. His weapon is a scythe which is commonly associated with the Grim Reaper.
- Super Smash Bros.:
- In the Subspace Emissary, Sonic, the fastest thing alive, is very late to the final battle against Tabuu. He is also low-tier in Brawl tournaments, one of the reasons being that he has slow attack setups.
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl can apply here in of itself. Why? The game was designed by Masahiro Sakurai to specifically NOT be competitive, yet the number of official money tournaments featuring it actually exceeded those of Halo in 2010.
- Team Fortress 2: The Heavy, who has a PhD in Russian Literature and is technically a "doctor", is reliant on the healing capability of The Medic, who lost his medical license some time ago.
- The Medic can also use a bust of Hippocrates - named in-game the Solemn Vow - to bludgeon people to death. "First Do No Harm", indeed.
- The "Conscientous Objector" is a handheld wooden sign with the peace symbol drawn on it. You use this in the game to hit people and try to kill them.
- The series has this in the form of Reisen Udongein Inaba, who is a "Master of Lunacy". The irony? She's probably the most rational character in the series.
- Another irony occurs with Youmu Konpaku, who is terrified of ghost stories despite being half-ghost as well as the servant of Cute Ghost Girl Yuyuko Saigyouji.
- The intro movie of the World of Warcraft add-on Wrath of the Lich King has a voice over of the words Arthas' father left for his son for the event of his own death, reminding him of the responsibilities of a just ruler and that he has complete confidence in Arthas becoming a great king. In Warcraft 3, Arthas murdered his own father, slaughtered the entire population of his country (he originally did it to prevent what he saw as a greater crisis), and turned the land into a blighted, monster-infested wasteland. He later became the Lich King, the greatest and most terrible tyrant of the world, but still a king. In Cataclysm, the Scarlet Crusade, a group of xenophobic undead hunters (undead being in their viewpoint as "everything that isn't a Scarlet") were all killed and reincarnated as scourge when their leader, the demon Balthazaar, decided to stop hiding as their former leader and just make them his slaves.
- B.J. Blazkowicz, the player character in the Wolfenstein series, looks like the typical Nazi depiction of an Aryan....except for the fact that he's Polish on his father's side and Jewish on his mother's.
- In Homeworld the destruction of Kharak, is an attempt of the emperor's advisors at saving the Taiidan Empire, as the act should quell civil unrest by proving that the emperor can find and punish his enemies everywhere (the ancestors of the Kushan, the inhabitants of Kharak, had been allowed to leave and go into exile on condition they renounced to hyperspace technology. Since then they forgot their history, including the treaty, and lost all their advanced technology, and re-developed hyperspace technology right before the genocide) and kill the last remnants of their ancient and still feared enemy. The consequence of the act: the overthrow of the Taiidan Empire at the hands of the rebellion sparked by the genocide and the last surviving Kushan, who decided the genocide was a good reason to overthrow the Empire and got the means by reverse-engineering Taiidan technology and capturing Taiidan ships.
- At the beginning of "The Atonement Chapter",of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, we see Shion. Shion went on a killing spree the last few episodes before that,and died in the last episode. We see her just sitting at Angel Mort, with her body guard, just being Shion.
- Juniper's Knot: Before the fiend was trapped within the magical circle holding her captive, she had a human friend. When her friend was killed by humans, the fiend burned the town and killed them all. Years later, she returned to her friend's grave to find an ugly olive tree had grown over it. Still bitter over her death, she smashed the olive tree but left the roots alone because she didn't want to disturb her dead friend. Because olive trees are strong, it grew again, even uglier than before. In the present time, when the boy is looking to place a different life form within the circle so the fiend can get outnote , an olive tree is the only thing that manages to take root in the hard soil. It works, and the fiend goes free.
- Tsukihime: So you have Brunestud of the Crimson Moon, a borderline cosmic entity and strongest being of Earth's moon. In comes Zelretch, looking to kill it. He goes about this by first using his power to manipulate dimensions to move their fight to another dimension. He then proceeds to drop the moon on Type Moon.
- In Death Battle:
- the crew of the Righteous Fury meet their ends by the hands of a justifiably furious Fox after killing Slippy.
- The fight between Goku and Superman who both protect the Earth ends with it being destroyed by both heroes.
- In one Strong Bad Email, a fan told Strong Bad that he liked it better when Strong Bad simply answered the email without any gimmicks. After Strong Bad answers by expressing his agreement and supposedly ending the email, his computer spontaneously explodes.
- TED-Ed, a YouTube channel that's owned by TED, has three different videos narrated by Christopher Warner and animated by Ben Pearce that explains three kinds of irony: situational irony, dramatic irony, and verbal irony.
Web Comics / Web Originals
- The site Aspergia.com, which theoretically seeks to increase understanding of Asperger's Syndrome. The site tells the story of Aspergia, a mythical Atlantis-like land where having Asperger's was the norm and their society was built around facilitating the unique quirks the disorder granted each member. Then it's destroyed and the survivors are forced to scatter and live in "normal" societies. The irony is that the ultimate message is that Aspies should be allowed to behave as such instead of being forced to learn to integrate with normal society, but that's the only reason the ones in the story survived at all. There's a couple more reasons why it's ironic, but those are incredibly cynical.
- This College Humor Video parodies the Alanis Morissette song and makes it "actually ironic".
- The Transformers episode of Demo Reel had the openly Bi the Way Donnie trying to play the dudebro Sam in parody of said movie.
- Dork Tower: When you want to buy every comic, you can't afford it; when you can afford it, you want to be more selective. The comic book gods like a good laugh
- In this strip of General Protection Fault, Nick, who had a history of being a Horrible Judge of Character with regards to Trudy, finds several flaws in Trish's story and decides not to trust her. Meanwhile, Ki is weighing whether to trust Trish, and decides that perhaps being a trusting person like Nick is not a bad thing, and decides to trust Trish.
- Ghastly's Ghastly Comic has a particularly bizarre example, best summed up by the character in said comic:
Jesus: "As much as I appreciate the irony that after three years of tentacle monsters violating nubile young women, otaku-trannies, and furry sex that it was an image of missionary position sex for the purpose of procreation that made our sponsors drop all their ads, the truth is that you've seriously jeopardized the continued hosting of this webcomic."
- Homestuck mixes both Socratic and Situational Irony. Doc Scratch uses a series of leading questions to convince Rose to embark on a specific mission. The situational irony comes into play when the mission, intended by Rose and Dave to destroy the Green Sun, results in the creation of the Green Sun instead.
- The Institute of Official Cheer, founded by a eunuch named Dick Peter Strochwacker (gelded in an unfortunate accident involving the arrow on a sculpture of Cupid), is devoted entirely to the study and extirpation of irony.
- In No Rest for the Wicked, after Perrault and his companions rescue two children from the Wicked Witch, Perrault feigns ignorance to question the innkeeper in the Socratic manner, about how they would protect the children henceforth. (Earlier, he had deduced that the parents had been at least negligent about their children's safety, and at least one had willfully abandoned his children.
- This comic by The Oatmeal explains the three most common uses of irony.
- Orion's Arm puts a number of philosophies under the umbrella of "communism". One of those in Objectivism.
- Rinkworks' Computer Stupidities stories have a few examples:
- A systems administrator installed a security program on a network to protect it from viruses, but one still got in. It was later learned that the virus was introduced on the software to install the security program.
- A psychologist was given a new computer, but broke down crying because she couldn't figure out how to use it. This is despite the IT tech setting up the new computer to mimic her old one as closely as possible. Her psychological specialty is human memory systems.
- This message:
By the way, what does BTW stand for?
- Spacetrawler: Rickshaw Boans thinks Krep isn't committed enough to the cause, and kicks him out of Interplanet Amity to prevent Krep from undermining the latest mission. Getting kicked out is what convinces Krep that Rickshaw is kind of a dick—and Krep decides to undermine him, by warning the intended victims of Rickshaw's latest mission.
- The irony of minorities becoming majorities in the United States is discussed in this comic from Statistical Fact.
- Came up in one update by That Guy with the Glasses, when Doug explained that he wasn't getting videos out as fast because of problems with his computer; namely, that it was constantly playing the movie Ghostbusters for no reason. That's right: a computer was haunted by the Ghostbusters.
- Wapsi Square: Is it ironic or fitting?
- Used often in 8-Bit Theater. An example would be in this comic with a double dose of irony, first when Black Mage's prediction of the most dangerous thing in the dungeon being "a stairwell without adequate railing" being immediately proven wrong by a dozen dragons showing up, then a few panels later when the party tumbles down the aforementioned stairwell.
- American Dad! has a brief example of historical irony:
(After a lady gives a speech on how alcohol killed her teenage daughter)
Principal Shepherd: Thank you Mrs. Holiday. Your last name is very misleading given your tragic circumstances.
- In the Avatar: The Last Airbender short "School Time Shipping", Aang, Zuko, Jet, and Haru all compete each other to take Katara to the school dance. In the end, Katara goes with the Blue Spirit, Zuko's alter ego, saying that she "preferred the mysterious type." "I did NOT see that coming," says Zuko as Katara and the spirit walks off into the sunset.
- In The Legend of Korra, Korra and Asami were romantic rivals for Mako. Not only did both end up breaking up with him, the series ends with them getting together instead.
- Cellbound has an example of tragic irony. The prisoner is making preparations to escape jail and makes some small talk in order to quell the warden's suspicions, including a random mention of an "anniversary", thus prompting the warden to remember his forgotten wedding anniversary and run off to buy a gift for his wife. The gift? The TV inside which the prisoner intends to smuggle himself out.
- Cow and Chicken was accused of being a ripoff of Ren and Stimpy. Series creator John K. stated that Cow and Chicken is actually his favorite cartoon from the 90's. It's practically the only one he does like.
- One episode of Duckman has the title character buy a security system to keep his house safe. The night after it's installed, a pair of burglars drive by, see the sign for the security company, and realize that somebody lives there. They look up the system's technical specifications and successfully rob Duckman's house. Thus, the security system not only fails to protect Duckman's house, it actually leads to it getting robbed.
- In the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "All Eds Are Off," when Ed wins the bet and decided to spend the prize money on gravy.
Eddy: [angry] "Oh come on! You're gonna spend the money on more gravy?"
Edd: [happy] "Irony, Eddy. Look that up in the dictionary."
- Family Guy:
Fireman: It looks like the cause of the fire was these stress relief candles.
Chief: Huh. Irony!
- In the episode "Peterotica" this happens:
- G.I. Joe uses a number of weapons and vehicles in their war against Cobra. One of these is the Dragonfly attack helicopter whose design is based on the real life Bell AH-1 Cobra.
- The Coyote/Roadrunner Looney Tunes are cosmic irony incarnate. A good example is the time Wile E. straps himself to a motorized scooter headed for a cliff. He manages to free himself as it goes over, and just before falling, watches the scooter land safely on the other side.
- In a Mickey Mouse Works short, Minnie becomes tired of eating the same sandwiches at picnics because Mickey can't cook. When Micky later sees Minnie talking to José Carioca (of all people) about how he's going to prepare her a gourmet meal, he panics (thinking that Minnie wants to date José because of his cooking ability) and tries to learn how to cook. Minnie tells him that's not necessary, because she was just hiring José to cater their picnics. Cut to the picnic, and what is the gourmet food José has prepared? The exact same sandwiches that Mickey has been making the whole time. In trying to spice things up, Minnie has made things exactly same. The irony is not lost on her.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- One Froggy Evening is a perfect example of situational irony. A man wants to make money off a singing frog, only the frog won't perform in front of anyone else, making financial exploitation of its talents impossible.
- Also contains an example of dramatic/tragic irony at the end, when the Future Construction Worker runs off excitedly with the frog. You know full well what is going to happen...
- The Disney Wartime Cartoon Reason and Emotion ends with a lesson that you shouldn't let fear overcome either of those traits. But since it is a propaganda short, it is itself using fear to intimidate the viewer.
- In Recess, Spinelli, in an attempt to keep her friends from finding out about her parents (she felt they embarassed her), tried to lie to them by claiming her parents were spies/secret agents. In the ending of the episode, it turns out they actually are secret agents.
- In the Rugrats episode "At The Movies" the babies end up in a movie showing two people kissing. Lil gives us this little gem:
Lil: I hate kissing movies. Nothing ever happens.
- In another episode, Angelica believes she is a psychic. However she gets the word wrong and says "psycho" instead. So when she goes around referring to herself as "Angelica, your psycho friend" the fans wholeheartedly agree.
- In Samurai Jack. Qouth The Scotsman, "You are the only stranger I know."
- From The Simpsons:
Lisa: I think it's ironic that Dad saved the day while a slimmer man would have fallen to his death.
Bart: And I think it's ironic that for once Dad's butt prevented the release of toxic ga-
: So, Mr. Burglar. It seems the cat has been caught by exactly the person who was trying to catch him. Skinner
: How ironic.
- Then there's the time Barney wins the town's film festival with an entry depicting the hardships of suffering from alcoholism.
Barney: I've learned that I have a gift to share with the world. From now on, I'll be a new Bernard Gumbel; clean, sober, and hardworking.
Quimby: Congratulations, Barney, and enjoy your grand prize: a lifetime supply of Duff beer. (curtains open to reveal a huge truck filled with Duff Beer)
Barney: Huh? [pulls up sleeve] Just hook it into my veins!
- Another good example is the Car Built for Homer. It (in)famously ended up costing $82,000.00. The irony is that it was supposed to be the car designed by the average citizen for the average citizen.
- In 'Homer and Apu' the two go to meat the head of the Kwik-E-Mart who resides in the words first conveniance store, Said store being at the top of a mountain range.
- In "The Dad Who Knew Too Little", a private eye ends up getting blinded, but Homer instead points out this:
Homer: How ironic. Now he's blind after a life of enjoying being able to see.
- South Park:
- In "Cartman Joins NAMBLA," Kenny spends the whole episode trying to stop his father from impregnating his mother, then when that doesn't work, he tries to get rid of the unborn baby anyway. In the end, Kenny dies (again) before the baby is born, and the baby becomes him.
- Cartman's Small Name, Big Ego alter-ego "The Coon", also known as a racial slur for black people.
- Superjail is a meta-example. This Bloody Hilarious show by Augenblick Studios was often compared to Metalocalypse for the extreme levels of gore and carnage. However, when the company behind Metalocalypse produced the second season of the show, since Augenblick was unavailable, the bloody contents were toned down greatly.
- The Irony can be found in Team Umizoomi, where it's a show about math and 2 of our 3 main character has only four of all 5 fingers.
- The Disney's One Saturday Morning block that used to be on ABC should be considered an example. They advertised it as "the best thing to happen to weekends since... Saturday!" and sang that it was like "five hours of summer once a week" in its theme song. But most of the shows on the block were cartoons that took place almost entirely at school, something kids clearly don't associate with Saturday or summer.
- Court dates are not easily associated with summer either.
- The American Revolution was greatly assisted by the government of France, who spent a great deal of money in assisting the would-be Americans in gaining their independence. A few years later, that same government would be overthrown violently during The French Revolution, a revolution that was partly inspired by and partially modeled itself on the ideals of the American Revolution and spurred on by the economic instability of the time, partially caused by the cost of assisting the American revolutionaries.
- U.S. president Andrew Jackson hated paper money and tried to abolish it. Today, he appears on the twenty-dollar bill.
- Similarly, in real life, the astronauts in the Apollo 1 fire died because the capsule door had been bolted on; if the door could have been opened, not only could the astronauts have left the burning capsule, but the influx of normal atmosphere (as opposed to the pure oxygen environment inside) would have immediately doused the flames. The irony is that the original plan called for the use of explosive bolts, but NASA refused to use them due to concerns about the risk of having the bolts blow accidentally while in orbit.
- It is also an example of both tragic and historical irony, as is now known, after a long history of explosive bolts use, that their primary mode of failure is not "blowing up accidentally", but, quite contrary, not blowing up when commanded to. Which is exactly opposite to NASA's initial fears.
- The Apollo 1 fire is also tragic and/or historical irony because the door mechanism was changed due in part to the premature firing of explosive bolts during the second Mercury flight, piloted by... Gus Grissom, who died in the Apollo 1 fire.
- Apple aired advertisements in which they asserted that while PCs were chocablock with viruses, Macs had none. The people's natural reaction to something like this was to write up some brand new viruses (exclusively for the Mac!) for the benefit of Mac users worldwide.
- Apple has also asserted that because OS X is fully UNIX compliant, it's very secure. Except security reports and hackers routinely find more holes in it than Windows or Linux.
- As far as The Beautiful Game (and, more specifically, the Spanish Football League) goes, the fact that clubs Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid were founded by Catalans and Basques, respectively, gives a hilarious perspective to their local rivalries with Barcelona (Catalunya) and Athletic Club (Euskadi), especially since the latter two clubs come from separatist regions of Spain.
- The Big Bang is often thought of as an anti-religious idea. It was actually first proposed by Georges Lemaitre, a Catholic priest, who said the math fit the data—but others couldn't help but note that it conveniently left a place for God and Creation: if there's a Big Bang, that means there's a starting point to the Universe—and therefore, you can—and the modern Catholic Church does!—interpret the Big Bang as the Biblical Creation. "Serious" secular scientists scoffed, and opposed the theory because it was too religious; the Universe, they insisted, had always been and always would be the same (the "steady state" theory). Then they got some new data and ran the numbers... and were forced to admit that Lemaitre was right.
- The Dutch copyright watchdog BREIN was sued in December 2011 for using songs by Melchior Rietveldt for anti-piracy ads without securing the rights first.
- The 2010 British general election saw a surge in Liberal Democrat popularity. A lot of their votes came from people who voted for one of two reasons: keeping the Tories out, or the Lib Dems' pledge not to increase tuition fees (they got a lot of student votes). Fast forward a few months? Not only have the Lib Dems formed a coalition which got the Conservatives into government, but documents were leaked revealing the the Lib Dems were planning to drop the fees pledge two months before the general election.
Incidentally, the other main reason for people voting Lib Dem - that they seemed different from the other two mains, more trustworthy, etc - probably also counts as irony, considering that whole planning-to-break-their-main-pledge thing. Nick Clegg was... not a popular man in Britain.
- Christopher Dorner was dismissed from the LAPD after he was determined to have lied about another officer using excessive force on a suspect. He claimed he was wrongfully dismissed for being a whistleblower, and because his colleagues were racist. His response? Murder the daughter of the lawyer (and police captain) who defended him from charges of making false statements, said daughter's fiance, one of the police officers who was chasing him for having committed the first two murders, shoot several other officers who were pursuing him while making his escape, and eventually shoot himself once the police had him cornered. All this while claiming that another police officer had kicked a subdued suspect on one occasion. A bit excessive, huh?
- The City of Brotherly Love, where they boo Santa Claus, commit assault with batteries on opposing baseball players, boo Santa Claus, require a prison to be built into their football stadium, and has it been mentioned they booed Santa Claus? The irony is that this nickname isn't sarcastic; it's the literal meaning of the word "Philadelphia". The fact that this does not describe the city in the least means that its invocation will inevitably be verbal irony. The fact that the city was founded by a pacifist Quaker also makes it a historical irony. He had high hopes for them, hence the name he chose.
- Despite his ongoing struggle against communist China, the Dalai Lama is a self-described Marxist (of course, he doesn't believe China ever truly implemented Marxism, along with many other Marxists).
- Back in 1901, mathematician David Hilbert gave student Werner Boy the task of proving that the real projective plane could not be immersed (placed in such a way that there are no "singularities" or pinch-points on it) in 3 dimensions. So Boy went and discovered this.
- The 2010 explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico has the potential to become the worst ecological disaster in American history. While the explosion took place on April 20, the actual sinking - which started the discharge of thousands of barrels of crude oil into the Gulf - happened on April 22... Earth Day.
- The fact that Downornot.com, a web site used to check if a certain site is down, spends most of its time down itself.
- Richard Dadd was a patricide.
- Elmuh Fudd Syndwome, the inability to pronounce the letter R (and related sounds) properly, is called "Rhotacism" and thus cannot be properly pronounced by anyone who suffers from it.
- In an additional irony, a PERSON with rhotacism cannot pronounce r-sounds, but a LANGUAGE with rhotacism is a language with (certain kinds of) r-sounds.
- Tragic Irony: Fritz Haber, a Jewish German chemist invented a way to use hydrogen cyanide as an insecticide. His invention was branded for commercial sale as "Zyklon A"—minor modifications to which would produce "Zyklon B", used by Nazi Germany to exterminate 6 million people, including members of his family.
- Haber's tragic irony is far deeper. He did everything within his powers to help Germany win World War I as a patriot. His actions caused the deaths of several million more and made the war far longer and more brutal than had he done nothing. Specifically, he created the Haber process to produce artificial nitrates that let Germany survive without the imported bat guano they were otherwise dependent on for fertilizer and weapons production. Without them, the war would have ended far sooner and more decisively as Germany ran out of food and gunpowder.note He also invented chemical warfare as a way to make fighting Germany too horrible for anyone to pursue. After the war he won the Nobel Prize for his nitrates work, focusing on the agricultural side. Hank Green thinks this is a bit rich.
- After George Harrison of The Beatles died, a tree was planted in his memory. In 2014, the tree died... from an infestation of beetles.
- Back when he was in high school, George Lucas was thinking of becoming a race-car driver. Shortly before graduation, however, he got into an auto accident, where the cop who found him initially reported him as dead. He survived, but it was because his seat belt had failed. This accident would inspire him to go to school to study film and become a director.
- In 2013, Greenheart Games released Game Dev Tycoon, a game development sim. They released both a normal version (which they sold commercially) and a cracked version (which they allowed to be pirated.) The interesting difference between the two is that in the cracked version, reaching a certain point of the game causes the player's company to fall victim to game pirates and go bankrupt. And wouldn't you know it? Players who pirated the game ended up complaining about piracy making the game unwinnable.
- Gunpowder was original made in an attempt to find an elixir to extend life.
- Five Star Badass General of the Air Force Henry "Hap" Arnold commanded the Army Air Forces during World War II, and is considered the Father of the US Air Force. Aside from being an accomplished pilot and aviation officer, he was also afraid of heights, due to being one of the first people in history to be in a plane crash.
- Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia, a large word, means fear of large words.
- The 2014 Indianapolis 500 featured one female driver out of a field of thirty-three. Her name? Pippa Mann.
- Joseph Haydn wrote "Gott Erhalte Franz Den Kaiser", the melody for what would become the National Anthem of the Holy Roman Empire (and subsequently Austria-Hungary and Germany: Today the melody is used for the German National Anthem). The melody was written in honour of Francis II, in an attempt to unite the Empire in the face of French aggression in 1797. Francis II was the last Holy Roman Emperor; a decade after the song's composition the Empire had fallen to Napoleon.
- The Korean War has been called the "forgotten war" and has often been seen as merely ominous foreshadowing of The Vietnam War. However, it's the outcome of the Korean War, not the Vietnam War, which has had the greater impact on twenty-first century politics. North Korea has secured itself a place in international news for years what with their nuclear threats and so forth. Have you heard anything at all about what's going on in Vietnam right now?note Thought so. In retrospect, it seems like the "forgotten war" may have been the more important one. And, of course, there's the fact that North Korea's actions are making the "forgotten war" less and less forgotten all the time.
- In 1980, grocery chain Kroger withdrew from most of Michigan due to issues with local unions. The stores around the Tri-Cities (Bay City, Midland, Saginaw) and Flint were bought by a local businessman, who fashioned them into a new chain called Kessel Food Market. Kessel fared reasonably well in the area, even buying out a few other stores to expand its territory. In the late 1990s, most of the stores were bought out and converted… to Kroger.
- Through constant abuse, "literally" has acquired a secondary meaning as a general intensifier — a not-at-all-literal meaning.
- Martin Luther King Jr., the most famous person from the Civil Rights Movement, was heavily inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, despite the fact that Gandhi wrote explicitly racist anti-black tracts during his early South African days (he got better).
- The state of Massachusetts gets in a multi-whammy for historical irony. It was founded by a group of Protestant fundamentalists, the Puritans, who felt that the Reformation in England didn't go far enough in purging the new Anglican Church of "heretical" Catholic traditions, and wished to fully purify it (hence the name) of such. Once they arrived in America, they set up the Massachusetts Bay Colony, a theocratic state that was highly restrictive in its morality and interpretation of Scripture, to the point where dissidents founded two other colonies (Connecticut and Rhode Island) in order to have religious freedom.
- Irony #1: Today, the state of Massachusetts is one of the most Catholic states in America, thanks in no small part to The Irish Diaspora.
- Irony #2: Modern Massachusetts is also heavily associated with secularism and social liberalism (it was the first state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage), to the point where conservative Moral Guardians have been known to use the phrase "Massachusetts values" in order to describe anything that they don't like.
- Irony #3: The largest religious body claiming descent from the Puritan congregational churches, the United Church of Christ, is one of the most liberal denominations in the United States, having been the first in the country to come out in support of same-sex marriage rights.
- Mel Blanc, known for being the voice of Bugs Bunny, hated carrots and would spit them out after recording lines that required a munching sound.
- Melanie Lynskey said that her first audition went very badly with the casting director criticizing everything about her. Among his complaints was his uncertainty of her ability to speak with an American accent. Today, Miss Lynskey has played numerous American characters and can perform an American accent so convincingly, many people are surprised to discover she's from New Zealand.
- The former president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving was arrested for DUI.
- In 1800, Parson Weems wrote a highly fictionalized "biography" of George Washington in order to teach proper moral character. This book is the source of the famous cherry tree legend, which is intended to teach the value of honesty. Apparently, Weems never learned that lesson himself.
- In 1932, Peg Entwistle, a Los Angeles actress, committed suicide by jumping from the big H of the great Hollywood sign, because nobody seemed to want her as an actress. On the same day, finally a letter from a film producer arrived, offering her a role in a movie. She would have played the role of a girl that committed suicide.
- Pyongyang was once a veritable haven for missionaries and Christian Koreans, earning it the nickname "Jerusalem of the East". Now it's the capital of North Korea, a country positively Roman in its persecution of Christians.
- During the Red Scare, communists were often believed to be spreading homosexuality. The Soviet Union actually had more draconian laws against homosexuality than the U.S. did.note In fact, while U.S. propaganda was referring to homosexuality as "communist subversion", Soviet propaganda was calling it "capitalist decadence". Homosexuality remained illegal in Russia for two years after the Soviet collapse, finally being decriminalized in 1993. The People's Republic of China similarly considered homosexuality a crime until 1997 and a mental disease until 2002.
- One of the "Reds Under the Bed" threats of the mid-20th century was this: "If the communists come to power, the women will have to go to work like the men!"
- Sax Rohmer, author of a series of Yellow Peril novels that demonized Asians, died of Asian Flu.
- The power outage during Super Bowl XLVII was caused by the activation of a power relay when it wasn't supposed to. The purpose of the relay? To activate and relay power from another source in the event of a power outage.
- Roman historian Tacitus records a British chieftain making a speech against Roman imperialism, best known for the line, "to plunder, to slaughter, to usurp, they give the lying name of empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace." 1,800 years later, the British would be running the largest empire in history.
- The holiday of Thanksgiving is intended to remind people what they are thankful of... only for them to rush out and buy new things the day after: Black Friday.
- Though the factual accuracies surrounding this example are debated, it is said that the astrologer Thrasyllus predicted that Caligula had "no more chance of becoming Emperor than of riding a horse across the Gulf of Baiae". As you all know, Caligula was later made emperor, and in order to add insult to injury in regards to Tharasyllius and his prediction, he ordered a temporary floating bridge to be built using ships as pontoons. And then Caligula, a man well known for his inability to swim, proceeded with riding across the Gulf of Baiae while wearing the breastplate of Alexander the Great... The irony, from Thrasyllus perspective, must've so palpable he could've put it on a slice of toast and called it cheese.
- Major General William T. Sherman became infamous for "Sherman's March to the Sea", a Salt the Earth campaign against any target of worth to the Confederates, which included burning huge tracts of plantation and farm land. Seventy-eight years later, the medium tanks named after him would be deployed to the North African desert, where it was learned they had design flaws that caused them to catch on fire when hit.
- After the end of World War 2, many Armored Fighting Vehicles used by Nazi Germany would end up getting captured by the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union, in turn, once they were finished evaluating them, would send them off to client states. One of the many client states that received these AFV's was Syria, who would use them in future conflicts. Many of these WW2-era German AFV's would then be destroyed, captured and sometimes used by the Jewish Israeli military.
- As shown in the picture, a certain World War I memorial ended up being heavily damaged by bombings on May 24th of 1941, during World War II. Pushing the irony further: it's a remembrance of "The War to End All Wars" being wrecked by another - and possibly worse - massive war that followed it.
- At one point a group was going to present James Earl Jones with a plaque that contained stamps from a Martin Luther King commemorative series. The original version of the plaque was misinscribed and read: "Thank you, James Earl Ray, for keeping the dream alive." For those who don't get it, James Earl Ray was King's assassin. That would be like hiring a guy named Mark Chapman to play John Lennon. And that's what happens.
- The inventor of the fire hydrant is unknown. Why? Because the patent was lost in a fire.
- In World War II: The Nazis had two projects that, had they been completed, would have resulted in the largest and heaviest tanks the world has ever seen. The names of the projects? Maus and Ratte, which is German for "Mouse" and "Rat", respectively, which are among the smallest of mammals.
- Large media conglomerates often complain that Digital Piracy Is Evil, but in this case they sold Edwyn Collins' music illegally on iTunes, so they were basically doing the very thing they complain against!
- Consider the ocean, a gargantuan repository of life's most necessary resource, which is also completely undrinkable for creatures used to fresh water, like humans. Thus the line in the poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:
Water, water, everywhere
Nor any drop to drink.
- Republican politicians tried to stop Alaska from being admitted as a state because they thought it would wind up being a mainly pro-Democratic state, as opposed to Hawaii, which was thought to be mainly pro-Republican. As it happens, they both wound up being admitted in 1959, meaning the first presidential election they would participate in would be the 1960 one. Results? Alaska goes Republican, Hawaii goes Democratic. It's been that way ever since (except for the LBJ landslide of 1964, when Alaska voted Democratic, and the Republican landslides of '72 and '84, when Hawaii voted Republican.)
- Similarly, it was a cruel man that put the "s" in "lisp."
- There is one notable case in the history of communism, in which the workers united and rose up to fight against an oppressive regime that was controlled by a small group of people, who ruled by intimidation and exploitation, while they themselves lived in luxury, and for the first time successfully gained true democracy. And just as Karl Marx had intended when he wrote "Workers of the world, unite!", the uprising spread through numerous other countries as well. This took place in Poland in 1989, and the system they opposed and overthrew was the supposed communism of the Eastern Bloc countries.
- This happens a lot with fandoms, including but not limited to Computer Wars and Console Wars. Someone with brand loyalty calls a fan of that brand's competition a "sheep who is supporting rich greedy bastards".
- You know how people always laugh when a CEO or executive who earns 100 times more than the average guy says he's unhappy with it? The average American earns over 100 times more than someone in Nigeria, which usually comes up on surveys as the happiest country in the world.
- The 1948 U.S. presidential election went down like this. Republican candidate Thomas E. Dewey seemed certain to win, so his advisers urged him not to say or do anything which could screw up his campaign. He quickly became infamous for speeches that were composed of little more than platitudesnote . Put that together with incumbent Harry Truman's brutal campaign mockery of Dewey and the Republicans at every turn, and we get one of the biggest political upsets in US electoral history.
- The word feminism was coined by Charles Fourier, a man rather than a woman.
- A performer in the 1920's made a living by eating cigarettes, but he didn't smoke them.
- The infamous Ban Bossy campaign appears to be running off of irony. Isn't telling people to ban a word kind of bossy?
- While extremely rare, it is possible to be both diabetic and allergic to insulin.
- Iceland is green. Greenland is ice.
- Back in the Middle Ages, Islam and Saracens were very popular religions, and the caliphs of the time allowed many subjects of different religions to keep worshipping them. They were also very advanced, coming up with the system of mathematics that we use today along with advanced medicine. Fast forward to today, where a lot of the Middle East is considered a primitive, old-fashioned backwater filled with very intolerant fundamentalist jihadists.
- In George Orwell's writings, he deplored the abuse of language (particularly with words like "fascism") and subsequent loss of meaning into cheap swearwords and scapegoating as a result. Today, the term "Orwellian" (which in another irony is associated with everything Orwell detested) is used in almost the exact same way.
- In December 2011, Texas governor Rick Perry was vying for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 when he released an ad called "Strong," in which he said "there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school", all while dressed very similarly to Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain.
- The Commonwealth games is essentially the British version of the Olympics. Being that, you'd assume England would have the most medals in their own game, right? Wrong, it's Australia, and it's made all the more ironic as these games are British derived.
- Similar to above but the individual that created the word dyslexic/dyslexia, has a singularly cruel streak.
- Going along with the trend this article has been following, guess how Paul Walker, star of The Fast and The Furious franchise, dies.
- Right before World War II, the Italian seaplane model Macchi M.C.72 held the world speed record for all aircrafts (and still holds it as far as propeller-driven seaplanes are involved). During the war, the Royal Italian Air Force fielded the FIAT CR.42 biplane fighter, one of the slowest fighters of the war (and slower than its competitor, but selected for superior manouverability). For added irony, it's one of the fastest biplanes in history, with the experimental CR.42DB variant being the fastest biplane ever flown.
References to and spoofs of using "ironic" incorrectly:
- People misusing this trope appears to be something of a minor Berserk Button for Richard Castle (not entirely surprisingly, seeing as he's a novelist).
"Whoever killed her also murdered the English language."
- In one episode, they are interviewing a patient of the victim (a shrink) who is commenting on how ironic it is that she is now dead and is not available to help him. Castle points out that this isn't ironic, it would be ironic if her death made him feel better, it is actually just sad.
- The Golden Girls lampshades this with Sophia's brother Angelo (a Sicilian immigrant) when he was talking about reviving a comedy routine he did with a partner who wasn't there.
Angelo: He was killed quite ironically in a banana packing plant.
Blanche: How is that ironical?
I'm sorry, I made a mistake in my English. It was quite comical.
- Just Shoot Me!:
Nina: You know what's ironic? The same day I ran Elliot down, is the same day I ruined his life forever.
Maya: That's not ironic, that's what happened!
Nina: So true.
- Once on Roseanne when Dan informs his daughter's boyfriend that the joke he made was not irony.
Dan: That wasn't irony, it was sarcasm. But it was ironic that you didn't know the difference.
- 30 Rock did this when Liz's handsome boyfriend (an idiot doctor played by Jon Hamm) got to live outside "the bubble" which allows attractive people to think whatever they do is right:
Drew: I didn't like it outside the bubble. It was very ironic.
Liz: No, it wasn't - that's not how you use that word.
Drew: Stop it. I want to use "ironic" however I want. I want to stay in the bubble.
- In the song "Word Crimes", "Weird Al" Yankovic makes a point out of stressing that "Irony is not coincidence", and the accompanying video lends an example to this lyric: Irony is a fire truck on fire, rain at a wedding (an allusion to the Alanis Morissette song) is really just the weather.
- Com'c: In #38, "Ironically", Victor thinks it's ironic that "ironic" is one of the most misused words in the language. Ironically, that's not ironic at all, which means he's misusing it himself.
- In Doc Rat, a patient got burnt. The label said that the heated contents would be hot, but he thought it was ironic.
- In Homestuck, the Striders often claim that many things are 'ironic', when really they are just committedly sarcastic. Their exact definitions vary though (interestingly, since they both claim to be influenced by the other), in that Dave's interpretation seems to involve doing stuff that he doesn't enjoy which makes it ironic because he knows it's not cool, while Dirk's seems to involve doing things which are generally considered uncool but which he actually enjoys.
- In fact, characters having wildly differing (usually inaccurate) understandings of irony could almost be considered a running gag. One example from Andrew Hussie's Author Avatar himself occurs here:
How ironic, that your very demise would be in the proximity of some horses. What? You didn't follow that? Just think it over. Think it over...
- And another from uu:
uu: HOW VERY IRONIC. THAT A LIFE HANGS IN THE BALANCE. uPON YOuR WILLINGNESS TO DRAW ME SOME PORNOGRAPHY.
uu: THE VERY PORNOGRAPHY. WHICH YOu HAVE SPENT A LIFETIME DRAWING. IN YOuR SPARE TIME. BECAuSE YOu PRESuMABLY ENJOY DOING SO.
- Irregular Webcomic!: David Morgan-Mar called for a descriptivist re-evaluation of the word "irony" and an end to nitpicking over it in the annotation for this strip.
- This strip by The Oatmeal, in addition to listing the 3 most common examples, pokes fun at the arguments over the uses of the word over the internet.
- Terror Island strip #78 has Sid complaining about things that aren't ironic.
- In Dilbert Newsletter #49 Scott Adams discusses how people seem to think that "irony" means "unlikely, and bad."
- Comedic site The Oatmeal has an interesting take on what the most common source of irony is.
- This is discussed at length in season two of Red vs. Blue, when both the Red and Blue teams are forced by circumstance to team up to defeat a bigger enemy.
So now we're forced to work together. How ironic. Simmons:
No, that's not ironic. Ironic would be if we had to work together to hurt each other. Donut:
No. Ironic would be instead of that guy kidnapping Lopez, Lopez kidnapped him. Sarge:
I think it would be ironic if our guns didn't shoot bullets, but instead squirted a healing salve that cured all wounds. Caboose:
I think it would be ironic if everyone was made of iron. *time skip* Church:
Okay. We all agree that while the current situation is not totally ironic, the fact that we have to work together is odd in an unexpected way that defies our normal circumstances. Is everyone happy with that?
- In the Futurama episode "The Devil's Hands are Idle Playthings", the robot devil throughout the episode describes the results of his schemes as ironic, to which Bender kept correcting him: "It's not ironic; it's just coincidental!" or "It's not ironic; it's just mean!" Only at the episode's musical ending did Bender note that the robot devil finally executed the dictionary meaning of the word: "The use of words expressing something other than their literal intention! Now THAT... IS... irony!"
- In Jimmy Two-Shoes, Beezy exclaims that something is ironic. He then pauses and wonders if he actually knows what irony is. Later in the episode, he's still wondering if he got it right.