Profile View Gag

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This example as presented by a... present.

Often Played for Laughs, this is when something seems small when viewed from the front, but when you turn it to the side, it turns out to actually be very long. The fun thing about this trope is that it can be done with almost any object. A big part of this trope's comedy value comes from the Oh, Crap! reaction that other characters may get from it, if they were hoping that the object really was small.

May lead to a Plank Gag. Subtrope of Depth Deception and sister trope to Big Little Man.

Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • There was a commercial for a lawn mower brand where a woman we see from the front tells her husband "It's time." He takes this to mean it's time to mow the lawn and uses the advertised mower to do so. She tells him again and he continues his lawn mowing. Finally, she yells "It's time!" and turns to the side to reveal she's heavily pregnant. He finishes quickly and takes her to the hospital.

    Comic Books 
  • One Rubrique-a-Brac strip was a Fractured Fairy Tale where a handsome prince sees a beautiful sheperdess (always from the front, as does the reader), but never manages to get close enough to talk to her. He finally approaches her from the side, suddenly mumbles an apology and gets the hell out of there, the confused sheperdess turning her head to look at him and revealing her nose juts out of her face like a trireme's ram. The dejected prince then laments that you can't see people from the side and the front at the same time... and turning his head to face the audience for the first time, revealing his own face is half-handsome, half-ugly.

    Films — Animation 
  • Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie: According to Professor Poopypants, the human brain contains a lobe called the "Haha-Guffaw-Chucklomatus", which controls laughter. He builds a ray to destroy this lobe in whoever it zaps so that people will stop laughing at him. When he shoots it at George and Harold, it doesn't work like it did with the other kids. Poopypants is dumbfounded, so he flips around his diagram of George and Harold's brains to find that their Haha-Guffaw-Chucklomatuses take up most of their brains, with the other parts flat on one side.
  • In Toy Story, the toys are watching the kids attending Andy's birthday party, and panic over how large and impressive the gifts are. Slinky Dog points out one kid with what appears to be a small, cube-shaped present. But then the kid turns to the side, revealing that the present is really long. Cue more screaming and wailing from the toys.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In this short scene from The Benny Hill Show, a soccer player is standing facing the camera, and appears normal until he turns to kick at the ball as it passes him, and reveals that his boots have extraordinarily long toes.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy: In "Brian Griffin's House of Payne", Brian meets with two network executives who look normal when facing front, but their profiles reveal they have extremely long noses.
  • The 1937 Warner Bros. cartoon Speaking of the Weather, which spoofs popular books of the day, depicts a caricature of actor William Powell in his role as detective Nick Charles from The Thin Man. When viewed from the front, Powell seems normal, from the side, however, he's drawn stick thin to where he could hide completely behind a pencil.
    • The gag was repeated in another "books-come-to-life" short, Have You Got Any Castles; only this time, Powell walks into a cookbook to eat, and he emerges with his side view now having a very large bulge in the back.
  • In one episode of The Simpsons, the Simpsons walk by Apu, who is facing the camera, wearing a baby carrier pouch with one of his babies. But then he turns to the side, revealing that the pouch actually extends outwards to carry all eight of them.
  • At one point in Swing, You Sinners!, we see a creature that looks like a circle with a face and legs dancing. Then it turns to the side, and we see that not only is its body long rather than sphere-shaped, but there are two identical creatures behind it.

    Real Life 
  • Panniers from the 18th century can have this effect. Sideways, they're pretty unnoticeable. Up front, they can be as wide as two dinner tables. Cartoonists from the 18th century had a field day with this.

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