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- A UK advert for Volkswagen (with the slogan "You get what you pay for") in which a father leads his son past a sleek Shark Cage stall to a rundown Budget Shark Cage stall whose owner assures them "We're as good as the others, more or less" as the boy watches the lock fall off the cage door and then the door swings open.
Anime and Manga
- Ai Yori Aoshi: When moving to the Sakuraba family's country estate, Kaoru initially believes he'll get to live in the house itself. No such luck: he's directed to a small shed in the back yard.
- Inverted with an early Pokémon episode which reveals James' background as a former rich boy. The cast initially sees a mansion which they think it's his house. It's the dog house. The actual mansion is even bigger, right next to it.
- In One Piece, when Luffy, Usopp, and Sanji are about to go to the island where the Big Bad has taken the rest of the crew in the Skypiea Arc, local girl Conis offers to help them. She takes them to a dock and we see a giant, truly badass vessel that Luffy geeks out over- whereupon Conis shows him that their ship is next to said badass vessel, which is very puny.
- Inverted in a story in one Beano annual. The characters have hired a boat to go to Australia and when they go to see it, they are shown a rather small battered wooden boat parked next to an ocean liner. They then use the small boat as to get the liner while the man giving them the boat shouts at them that it's the small one they're getting (he is ignored).
- Happens a lot in Disney Ducks Comic Universe stories where Scrooge McDuck takes his nephew(s) on a trip - mostly with ships for a reason.
- One of the most common running gags in Mortadelo y Filemón. For example, when the duo needs, for example, a plane for a mission, it will appear at first that they're going to get something like an F-22, only to realize that what they're going to get instead is an old, beaten up plane from World War I. Or worse.
- Played with in It All Started With a Visit to Gringotts when Snape leads Harry to a rented Bentley and then jokingly claims that a beat-up VW Beetle parked behind it is their "real" ride.
Films — Animated
- In Rio, a group of poachers plan to smuggle exotic birds out of the country by hiding them in float for Carnival. The lead poacher leaves the float-making up to his two underlings, and when the appointed time arrives, he's pleased to spot a very well-made, bird-themed float. However, as it passes, he hears the voices of his underlings calling from the float just behind it, a very shoddy chicken-themed float.
- In Brave, Lord Dingwall presents his only son as a suitor for Merida, the princess. The man she, her parents, and the audience all see is a huge, muscular guy who looks like quite the catch. Then, while Lord Dingwall is describing his son's heroic accomplishments, he pauses, reaches behind the big guy, and drags his real son out into view, a short and skinny kid who is clearly an incompetent doofus.
Films — Live-Action
- Transformers: Sam's dad plays this deliberately. When taking him to get his new car, he drives Sam through the parking lot of a Porsche dealer, waiting until Sam says in disbelief and excitement, "You are not getting me a Porsche!" to which Dad replies, "You're right. You're not getting a Porsche," and drives into a used car lot.
- Men in Black. Agents J and K go to the armory to get J a weapon. On YouTube around 2:00.
Agent K: [shows J a LARGE pistol] Series 4 De-atomizer.Agent J: That's what I'm talking about!Agent K: [shows J a tiny pistol] Noisy Cricket. [hands it to him]Agent J: Kay, no, no, come on, man. You get a Series 4 De-atomizer, and I get a little midget Cricket? [snip] Feel like I'm gonna break this damn thing!
- This one is actually a subversion of the usual gag, as the weapon J gets really IS the better one; it just doesn't look like it. J is later surprised when the weapon causes massive explosions akin to grenades. (While hurling him backward due to recoil.)
- Played straight in the first Major League movie, when the team is about to board the plane after the Cleveland Indians' Rich Bitch owner seeks to make them finish dead last.
- In The Movie of A Series of Unfortunate Events, the kids find themselves not in the house they liked, with the friendly judge, but in the grim-looking house across the street, with Count Olaf.
- A notable inversion/subversion at the end of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: The crew arrives at Space Dock to take charge of their new ship. The crew argues about which ship they will get. Dr. McCoy trusts the bureaucrats to give them a freighter, while Mr. Sulu opines he would like the Excelsior. Scotty of course scoffs at Mr. Sulu, asking why he would want that "bucket of bolts". Their shuttle starts its approach on the shiny new Excelsior... then flies over it to reveal the smaller ship hiding behind it: the Enterprise-A.
- The Eddie Murphy Dr. Dolittle has this:
Dr. Dolittle: Lisa, the more money you have, the more time you can spend with your family. That's the way it boils down. that's true. And in the meantime, you're just gonna have to make do and be happy with this beautiful, fancy sports car you always wanted. Right here, beautiful.Lisa Dolittle: Oh, my God, John, you didn't!Dr. Dolittle: No, I didn't. The van's around the corner. But I saw how fluttered you got, so don't tell me you don't care about money. (starts mocking) "Oh, John, you didn't. You didn't."
- The Waterboy: While looking through Mama Boucher's scrapbook, Bobby Boucher sees a picture of a young Mama with a hunky guy. When he asks if he was his father, Mama explains he was a guy she dated prior to meeting his father, "That was lust, not love." She then turns to a picture of a dopey-looking man, saying "That's your daddy."
- The Replacements (2000): "You see the yacht with the satellite dish?...Mine's the houseboat covered in pigeon shit next to it".
- Why Him?: When Ned and Laird go to a Christmas Tree shop, Ned looks at what he believes to be the christmas tree Laird chooses and likes it. However, the tree Laird chose is serving as a decoration at a nearby building.
- Wonder Woman (2017): When Diana notes that "at least Charlie is good with his fists", Steve tells her Charlie is the one being beaten.
- A reversal of sorts in the Star Wars Expanded Universe backstory for the Millennium Falcon. Han Solo wins a ship from Lando Calrissian in a card game, and Lando tries to get him to take one of the fancy-looking, worthless, all-style-no-substance ships he owns. Han pretty much says, "Not this one, that one," and picks the YT-1300 "junker".
- Goes to show how Genre Savvy Han Solo is.
- And smuggling-savvy. Han IS a smuggler, and the YT-1300 is the space equivalent of a beat up cube van—every legit courier business owns em, and nobody asks too many questions if they see one. Lando was trying to get him to take the equivalent of a Ferrari (high maintenance cop-magnet with no cargo space). Didn't want that, neither did he want the space equivalent of a semitrailer (may be a more efficient cargo hauler on a per-trip basis, but you can bet there will be a lot more regulatory agencies that want a piece of you if you own one-just what a smuggler wants to avoid). He wanted a ship he could turn into a medium-duty smuggling machine.
- Goes to show how Genre Savvy Han Solo is.
Live Action Television
- When Father Ted and Dougal go on a caravan holiday, they are terribly excited at the size of the caravan they've borrowed, but discover that it's not theirs, it's just so big it's totally concealing the shed-sized caravan they actually got.
- Happens in Keeping Up Appearances. Hyacinth has rented a boat, and she is delighted with the beautiful yacht she thinks it is; then it turns out to be the floating nutshell next to it. Her solution? Let's move it a bit further, it will look better on its own. Who am I to contradict Hyacinth, but it would have helped if any of them had actually known how to steer the thing?
- Inverted on Arrested Development when we first meet Rita.
Narrator: And that's when Michael laid eyes on the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen.[we see an older, heavyset woman]Narrator: No, not that one.[the older woman gets up to leave]Narrator: Wait for it.[the older woman walks away and reveals Rita behind her]Narrator: There.
- On Top Gear, the presenters (who typically review unobtainable supercars) are going on a caravan holiday. Presenter James May, standing next to a Lotus Exige, explains that they've chosen something very special for their tow car — cut and pan out to the unappealing Kia Cerato parked next to the Lotus.
- Inverted in an episode of Auction Kings. A customer wanted to auction off a vehicle he'd salvaged, and drove up in a beat-up truck. Paul asked if the truck was what he wanted to sell. Nope, the truck was the customer's working vehicle. Cue a very nice (and, as it turned out, very valuable) Mercedes-Benz convertible.
- On All That, two basketball team captains picking their teammates pass over the Butt-Monkey for various "players" you'd expect to be much worse, including inanimate objects. The final choice of "you" first appears to be him, but it's the cameraman.
- The Sooty Show: In the first episode of the Nineties series Sooty and Co., Sooty and Sweep take delivery of their miniature campervan. Matthew is to get his own vehicle, and is overjoyed to find his own full-sized luxurious campervan...only to find it was actually the bicycle behind it.
- An amusing variation in The Dick Van Dyke Show: when Rob and Laura were dating (while Rob was in the Army and she was in the USO), she was the prize in a dating raffle, much to Rob's discomfort. When they pick the winner, a short, funny-looking guy in glasses goes up to claim her. Rob is relieved...until he clarifies that he's just standing in for a friend, whereupon the real winner (a big, handsome soldier) shows up.
- In the second episode of the sixteenth season of Hell's Kitchen, Ramsay brings the chefs out to the grand prix and asks them who wants to race. After getting a volunteer, he's all "yeah, right," and reveals that what they will actually be racing is golf carts, which they have to use to deliver their food to Chef Ramsay several times throughout the challenge.
- Bloom County: Opus was surprised when his blind date was a hot blond chick ("Your photograph doesn't do you justice"), but it turned out it was a double date, and the hot one was Bill the Cat's date.
- In the Cabin Pressure episode "Newcastle", there is a subversion. A passenger asks the crew whether the plane she is looking at is theirs, in an admiring tone. Since GERTI is parked next to a much better plane, Douglas assumes that she's talking about the better plane and corrects her. She then tells him that she was talking about GERTI.
- In Mercenaries 2, "The Devastator" has the player sent out to retrieve the titular vehicle from the front lines. At the objective, at first said vehicle appears to be an impressive (at this point of the game) tank◊; it turns out, of course, that it's actually a dainty pink moped, complete with frily handlebar tassels, hidden behind it◊.
- In Pirate101, after finishing the first few missions, the player is granted their very own ship from Avery's private stock. As such, the private dock the player is directed to has a massive, golden, magnificent Cool Ship. This is, of course, promptly moved aside to reveal the player's raft.
- An inversion in an unproduced Homestar Runner script ("Soap Box Doiby") that was given to the Homestar Runner Wiki. Homestar looks at Pom Pom's racer, which looks like a hideous beat up wreck, and mocks it, saying that it looks like a cow built it. Pom Pom then reminds him that that racer is Homestar's, while Pom Pom's own racer, in Homestar's own words, "looks like several very smart cows built it."
- This strip of Dork Tower.
- Inverted in an episode of Concerned. When Gordon Frohman reaches the rebel base at Shorepoint, he's grown used to their (not unjustified) reluctance to actually give him any aid or materiel, so when the rebels tell him the scout car is reserved for Gordon Freeman, he immediately jumps onto a nearby bicycle while ranting about how he expected nothing else. He rides off... and in the next panel, the rebel is standing next to a lineup of jeeps and sports cars, confused why Frohman didn't ask about any of them.
- In Stand Still, Stay Silent, the small and run-down tank that the main cast ends up using is at the end of a line of much bigger and better-kept ones. Upon seeing the actual vehicle, a character says that it's okay, just a disappointment compared to those that she saw first.
- Inverted in Garfield in Paradise. Stranded in a tribal village, the chief calls for his daughter and her cat to meet his guests [Jon and Garfield]. The first girl and cat they see are rather homely, but then the real daughter and cat emerge, both of them significantly more attractive.
- The Simpsons:
Bart: What are you gonna do to me?Principal Skinner: Bart, not all Community Service is gang warfare and dangerous infection, and to illustrate that point here's where you'll be working.[Principal Skinner points in the direction of a storefront]Bart: The Fireworks, Candy, and Puppy dog store!?Principal Skinner: No, no, no. Next to it.[Next to the store is the Springfield Retirement Home, where we see Jasper and the Old Jewish Man sitting. Grampa comes outside]Grandpa Simpson: Settle a bet: boil or mole?[Bart gapes in horror]
- In the episode "The Old Man and the C-Student", Bart is ordered to go on community service:
- In another episode, "King of the Hill", where Homer is convinced to become a mountain climber, has it done twice with the size of the mountain.
- SpongeBob SquarePants has the Frycook Games: Cue the entrance of Plankton's entrant: what seems to be a massively muscled fish warrior, who actively smashed through the entrance, then turns around to reveal the real participant carried on his back: Patrick.
SpongeBob: Behold, Patrick, the Hallway of Learning. And here's the Fountain of Learning. And these are the Lockers of Learning.
- In "No Weenies Allowed", the bouncer at the Salty Spittoon redirects SpongeBob to the Weenie Hut Jr. ice-cream parlor across the way. When SpongeBob objects, the bouncer corrects himself and points at... Super Weenie Hut Jr.
- On "New Student Starfish", SpongeBob is showing Patrick around boating school.
Patrick: And these are the Stairs of Learning, right?
SpongeBob: No, they're just the stairs. These are the Stairs of Learning.
- In "Mr. Krabs Takes a Vacation", Pearl is excited as Mr. Krabs drives up to their surprise vacation, and they go towards the teenage boy museum. Cue museum being demolished and Pearl being heartbroken.
- Happens in the Sofia the First episode "Just One of the Princes," where Sofia is shown the horse she'll ride. She first spots a magnificent black horse, but hers is actually right behind it, a stumpy pony. She's still delighted.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: Billy and Pud'n entered a pie eating contest and Billy ate all the pies he saw at a table. However, those were Pud'n's pies. Pud'n was declared the winner.
- Teen Titans: In "Betrothed", Starfire returned to her home planet for her Arranged Marriage. When her sister announced Starfire's husband-to-be, a beautiful Tamaranean boy showed up and Starfire was actually looking forward the idea of being his wife. The boy then revealed a hideous-looking alien as the actual husband-to-be, much to Starfire's horror.
- In Porky And Teabiscuit (1938), Porky Pig thinks he's won a magnificent racing pony in a county fair auction. Turns out he actually won a broken-down nag.
- Star vs. the Forces of Evil: In "Diaz Family Vacation," Star takes Marco and his parents to Mewni. Shortly after their arrival, Mrs Diaz asks Star if it's where she grew up. Star tells her that she grew up in a castle. She points upwards, and the Diaz family gasp with awe at a fancy castle. Star tells them to look higher, and the camera pulls back to show an even bigger, fancier castle behind that one. Star tells them to look even higher, and her actual castle is shown, towering over the second one.
- On Max and Ruby, in "Max's Rocket Run," Max and Ruby go out sledding. They first observe Rocket Run, which Max is thrilled at the idea of. Then, Ruby shows him "where little bunnies go. You'll love it."
Ruby: This is Bunny Hill, Max. This is the hill you're going to go down. Won't it be fun, Max?Max: (looks annoyed, pulls sled away, points towards Rocket Run) Faster!