Never Trust a Trailer

The trailer for the second season of our Echo Chamber webshow.

"Considering what we get, it's highly possible that Movie Trailer Voiceover Guy also sells billions of dollars worth of used cars and swampland real estate every year."

If Covers Always Lie, trailers can, too. Sometimes Tonight Someone Dies or hyping The Reveal might not be enough. And with the Internet an open window these days for writers and directors to viewers' likes, dislikes, hopes, predictions, and Shipping loyalties, it's easy to know exactly how to bait fans into watching the next episode. Be careful not to believe everything you see, though, because as all Fan Vid makers know, any scene can be mixed-and-matched with another to look completely different from their real context.

Of course, Tropes Are Not Bad, as used correctly this can be a very clever way of averting Trailers Always Spoil (by not mentioning or downplaying the real main plot) or Hype Backlash (by underselling the quality and letting word of mouth do the rest once it actually is out). But a few of us are a cynical bunch here at TV Tropes, and even the optimists among us know that in the worst examples it'll actually drive away those who would have otherwise enjoyed it, by completely confusing the relevant demographic.

Indeed, the creation of fake trailers to make a movie look like it's from a completely different genre has become one of the Internet's most beloved recent art forms, such as The Shining as a family-oriented romantic comedy, the one that started it all, The Ten Commandments as a chick flick, or Mary Poppins as a slasher horror flick.

Another way it can backfire is if you can't find enough good footage to make a decent trailer, Genre Savvy audiences can extrapolate just how bad the rest of the material must be.

If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

See this list for more examples.

Specific types:

Often a form of Misaimed Marketing (it's been said that trailers reflect the movie the studio wanted to make, rather than the one that actually got made). If it's a TV show's Title Sequence that lies, those are Bait-and-Switch Credits.

Example Subpages

Other Examples

    open/close all folders 

  • This trailer for Snickers' Super Bowl ad leads you to believe that the guys in it really have Betty White on their team. In the actual commercial she is called "Mike" and is told, "You play like Betty White!" She then eats a Snickers, and after a brief cutaway, she's replaced by a guy, proving that she only appears in the ad to support the tagline: "You're not you when you're hungry." And so does Abe Vigoda.
  • In the print ads for Son of Svengoolie, if a film was called "X of Dracula" or "Frankenstein's X" they always ran a picture of Bela Lugosi or Boris Karloff in costume as the title monster, even if they weren't in the film and it wasn't a Universal Horror film.

     Comic Books 

     Fan Works 

  • When Waiting for Godot made its American debut in Miami, its marketing prominently featured stars Bert Lahr (The Cowardly Lion) and Tom Ewell (from The Seven-Year Itch). Posters declared the play to be "the laugh sensation of two continents."

     Web Animation 
  • An egregious example is the trailer for the third Arfenhouse movie. The actual movie turned out to be a few seconds long (not counting credits) and was a Take That to all the creator's fans who were nagging him to deliver on his promise of a sequel, though real sequels were eventually made.
  • Parodied by Legendary Frog in the One Ring to Rule Them All: Special Edition, in which a "One Ring 3" Teaser includes shout outs to the movie Speed, the Incredible Hulk, and Charlie's Angels. Lampshaded by Sauron, who asks "Will any of this be in the actual movie?" His goblin assistant, Wayne, tells him that it'll all be cut in post-production.
  • The season 7 trailer for Red vs. Blue showed both Church and Tex watching over the Red and Blue teams in Valhalla. Neither actually appears in that season. In fact, according to Word of God, the "original" Church actually died at the end of the last season, so it seems likely Tex did as well. The difference here is that Red vs. Blue trailers are more like prelude episodes than actual previews. The season 7 trailer contained no footage from later episodes because it wasn't supposed to. Church and Tex seem to have been inserted into it to encourage Wild Mass Guessing as to what unseen role they may have had in the season.
  • This ended up backfiring a bit for the initial episodes of RWBY, as early trailers made it look like a fairy tale-themed Dead Fantasy.
    • The first few episodes turned out to be more gradual and comedic with little fight scenes, causing some disappointment among fans. Rooster Teeth admitted they gave a pretty poor showing with that choice a little around the time of the series debut.
    • They messed with the fans a little more deliberately with the trailer for Volume 2, altering scenes to disguise their true context. The most obvious is a shot of Ruby cradling Weiss's unconscious body; the trailer makes this look like a serious moment in a real battle, since they're both in their normal fighting clothes and Weiss is holding her sword. This seemingly promised fans that this volume would be Darker and Edgier than the first. However, this shot's counterpart in the show itself (same animation, but a different render) is played completely for laughs, because they're actually just participating in a food fight, wearing their school uniforms, and Weiss is just holding a swordfish instead of a real weapon. While Volume 2 did eventually deliver some pretty dark moments, and Weiss does get messed up pretty badly later on, it's Blake who eventually ends up cradling her, and in a completely different shot.

     Web Comics 
  • If you aren't familiar with Sluggy Freelance then the first half of this video would have you convinced that the comic revolves around... Well a relatively minor side character. After that it breaks down into half a dozen tiny trailers not to be entirely trusted, before finally giving up and summarizing the comic in one sentence.
  • Not a trailer, but a preview fragment. These 2 panels give the impression that the heroes of Swords and Sausages are going to wake up in bed together, naked, under the same blanket. The full page reveals that Tor was only shirtless and Silver slept fully dressed — her hair partially obscured her vest, which has the same colour as Tor's pants.

    Web Original 
  • More of a case of Never Trust An End-of-Episode Preview: The end of Chuggaaconroy's semifinal episode of his Let's Play of Pokémon Emerald shows a dramatic reveal of Pokemaniac Steve wanting a rematch, leaving a Cliffhanger for the finale. In the finale, Chugga beats Steve in under half a minute and spends most of the actual episode fighting Steven.
  • Inverted by Screen Junkies' Honest Trailers which pick apart plot holes and mock the movies featured.
  • Atop the Fourth Wall ocassionally does this as a spoof "previously on" segment.

Dishonest as it may be, you gotta admit that it is kinda funny, too.

Alternative Title(s): Trailers Always Lie