Somebody points to the hero the car he'll get to drive, the airplane he's going to ride in, the hotel he's going to sleep in, the girl he's going on a date with, or whatever, and it meets every one of his expectations.
But...wait, it wasn't this
one. It was that
one, the crappy one right next to it.
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 Jame's 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.
- 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.
- Genius Bonus: The Porsche family has told Hasbro and Takara, makers of the Transformers toys, that their vehicles are off limits.
- Men In Black. Agents J and K go to the armory to get J a weapon. On YouTube around 2:00.
[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.
- 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.
- Well, chickens are birds, just not necessarily the particular ones needed.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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]
- 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.
- 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 a tank; it turns out, of course, that it's actually the dainty moped (with pink 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.
- 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.
- In The Simpsons episode "The Old Man and the C-Student", Bart is ordered to go on community service:
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]
- Another episode where Homer is convinced to become a mountain climber has it done twice with the size of the mountain.
- Sponge Bob Square Pants 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.
- In "No Weenies Allowed", the bouncer at the Salty Spitoon redirects SpongeBob to the Weenie Hut ice-cream parlor across the way. When SpongeBob objects, the bouncer corrects himself and points at... Weenie Hut Jr.
- On "New Student Starfish", SpongeBob is showing Patrick around boating school.
SpongeBob: Behold, Patrick, the Hallway of Learning. And here's the Fountain of Learning. And these are the Lockers of Learning.
Patrick: And these are the Stairs of Learning, right?
SpongeBob: No, they're just the stairs. These are the Stairs of Learning.
- 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.
- This strip of Dork Tower.
- 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.
- Happens a lot in Disney comic stories where Scrooge McDuck takes his nephew(s) on a trip - mostly with ships for a reason.
- A reversal of sorts in the 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.
- 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).
- At least one official mission for Paranoia includes a spiffy pile of equipment that looks like it might actually work and be useful... and is promptly assigned to some other team, after which a much less spiffy pile of equipment is rolled out and assigned to the PCs.
- 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."
- 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.