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Real Trailer, Fake Movie
"In a World where trailers are made for movies that will never exist..."

The show's great. You've seen every episode and bought the DVD collection. And there, tucked away in the extras, is the Holy Grail: the trailer for the movie.

But something's not quite right. Perhaps the trailer gives a 1999 release date, and it's already 2007. Perhaps the characters in the trailer are parodies of themselves. Perhaps?

Perhaps it's a spoof. The movie isn't going to be made, and there was never any intention of making it; it was just the production crew having a bit of fun.

Never mind. At least the trailer's funny — we hope.

This is the Logical Extreme of Trailers Always Lie - while that trope is about trailers misrepresenting various portions of a real film, this is about a trailer lying about an entire work. That being said... sometimes the trailer is so well-received that people actually make the movie.

Compare Trailer Spoof, which is for a real movie, just not the one you thought it was.

Intentional spoofs:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • Falling in Lamb was an Australian commercial from a few years back, advertising lamb. It was short-lived, though, possibly due to the number of calls to local theatres enquiring about the release date of this new romantic comedy.
  • Lucky Star (no, not the anime), starring Benicio Del Toro. There has to be more than one person who saw it repeatedly on TV and never realized it was a car commercial.
  • There was a trailer for an excellent sounding movie playing in a local movie theatre, but it is disappointing to find out it's just a anti-dandruff shampoo ad.
  • There's a whole series of fake trailers used by the AMC theater chain, to warn audiences to pipe down and turn off their personal electronics. Each one opens as expected for its genre (period Kung Fu flick, Disney Talking Animal cartoon, etc), only to be derailed when a cell phone rings, distracting the characters at some critical moment. Hilarity Ensues.
    • Speaking of silencing your cell phone, a policy shown in Israel movie theaters called "Fatal Call" starts out like a movie trailer, but you know from the beginning, since it takes place in a movie theater. The trailer contains a girl who is eating popcorn when her cell phone rings, and a voice from the phone says "Sarah! You shouldn't have answered! You should have left your cell phone off!" Then, Sarah chokes on her popcorn. Ah...don't you just love happy endings?
  • Scarlet looked like ads for a slick, spy-fi Spiritual Successor to Alias. It was an ad for a TV series, as in a series of TV's made by LG. Note a lot of the dialogue, such as "Putting her in every home on the planet," and saying "She's gonna change TV."
  • Geico made a trailer for a fake reality show titled Tiny House, about a couple living in a house that was built too small.
  • Connecting Flights, a holiday Rom Com Chick Flick that checks off every cliche in the book in the span of about 20 seconds, only for the stinger be that it's really an ad for Sears's line of appliances.
  • Cineplex theatres in Canada has a trailer for a time-travel movie that looks like a bigger budget version of Primer. The protagonist has to travel back in time to meet his girlfriend at a sold-out movie. Quote: "If you're not there tonight, I won't be here tomorrow." OR you could order tickets online.
  • Here's an action/comedy thriller starring the M&Ms Spokecandies!... except it turns out to be yet another "turn your cell phone off" ad.
  • Ford made a pretty epic one for their Summer Spectacular.

    Anime And Manga 
  • One omake for Blue Seed was a kaiju movie parody staring the cast. The English version was even done with odd tone variations and poor lip-syncing like early dubbed films, capped off with informing viewers it was all a big lie.
  • Elf Princess Rane is a two-episode OAV that ends with trailers for the completely nonexistent third and fourth episodes.
    • A similar fate had befallen a number of short OAV series, especially during the 80s and 90s: The material produced was intended to be a pilot for a longer work, but the series was canned before it ever got off the ground. While not all of them necessarily had trailers produced advertising the dead-in-the-water series, see also the "in the next episode" bit advertising "Knight of Lemon" at the end of "Knights of Ramune" (which is promptly followed by a note that the series had been cancelled).
  • The second episode of Itsudatte My Santa has a trailer for the third episode, featuring Mai, MaiMai and Shirley living with Santa, a cooking competition between Mai and Shirley, and a sleigh and reindeer which turn into a Humongous Mecha to battle a presumably possessed Miss Noel. The trailer is revealed to be fake at the end.
  • Magical Girl Pretty Sammy The Motion Picture: The God Boys VS. Magical Girls was included as one of the extras on the final Magical Project S LaserDisc and DVD. It had many fans believing that a movie was forthcoming, and resulted in a petition (unsuccessful) to get the movie made. What in anime doesn't it parody? "Oshioki desuu, haaaii!"
  • Mai-Otome had a fake trailer on the DVDs for the Mai-HiME movie. Many people on AnimeSuki and Wikipedia don't realize that it's a joke and keep asking when the movie will be released despite the release date being listed as 20006 [sic].
  • The last page of second volume of the hentai doujinshi Take on Me is intended to look like an advertisement for a anime adaptation. Far, far too many people have asked where they can find this movie, when it is coming out, etc. It's not, it's just the artist mind screwing the audience.
  • The seventh DVD special (NSFW) of Rumbling Hearts was a trailer of series' Remake IN SPACE WITH GUNDAMS!
    • This might or might not be a spoof. Either way, there's another visual novel series two of the female protagonists from Kimi Ga ended up in. Muv-Luv. Chances are this was a reference to it...
  • Similarly, the fifth DVD special of Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora was a trailer for The True Kyoshiro To Towa No Sora, a remake of the original series with a grander sci-fi plot and much more Romantic Two-Girl Friendship (with Kuu and Setsuna as the Official Couple). They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot, actually...
  • Hyakko does this in episode six of the series, giving the audience a preview that has, among other things, an army of Mecha-Torakos, Evil!Suzume and a midair battle between Torako and her brother. It's also completely fake.
  • The first volume of The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi-chan contains a preview of a manga dealing with Itsuki's becoming an esper and joining the Organization... except Kyon disillusions him next page with a "Yeah, that trailer was a fake, Haruhi-chan is a gag-manga".
  • The final episode of Seitokai Yakuindomo includes a preview for a Magical Girl show called Magical Mako, claiming that it will take over their timeslot the following week. Takatoshi then pulls out the TV schedule and points out that they're really be replaced by the second season of Hakuōki.
  • Subverted with Gintama, with the trailer for the Benizakura arc movie. It first shows up in the third season, when the characters admit that the trailer is fake. During the next season, the trailer is played again and the characters say it is actually coming out. Played straight with the second trailer, where the trailer is played and Gin follows up by telling us it is all a lie.
  • The last volume of Carnival Phantasm included an animation for the original concept of Fate/stay night, entitled Fate Prototype. It was basically this trope.
  • The special edition of the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The Movie 2nd As Blu-Ray/DVD included two Omake showing hypothetical shows featuring the Wolkenritter: Mahou Kazokunote  Lyrical Wolken and Iryou Shoujonote  Medical Shamal, which are broadcasted in BHK and other Belkan and Mid-Childan channels.

    Fan Fiction 

    Film 
  • All of the trailers in Grindhouse (Machete, Thanksgiving, Don't!, Hobo With a Shotgun, and Werewolf Women of the SS). In an unusual twist, both Machete and Hobo With a Shotgun got such a good reception that they were made into actual movies. And then Machete got a sequel, with another in the works.
  • Hardware Wars, by Ernie Fosselius, was made seven months after the first release of A New Hope and is reputedly George Lucas' favorite Star Wars parody.
    "You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll kiss three bucks goodbye!"
  • The trailer for Italian Spiderman has to be seen to be (dis)believed. SUSPENSO! It was so well-received that it's was expanded into a series, presented as parts of a recently recovered copy of the full movie.
  • The trailer for a "sequel" to Kung Pow! Enter the Fist was actually just deleted footage spliced together. In a strange twist, the film's producer tried to actually produce the sequel, but was denied funding as the original had been a box office flop.
  • The Mel Brooks parody History of the World Part I ends with a fake trailer for a part II. Wikipedia explains this as being a reference to the book The History of the World, whose author was beheaded before he could write a part 2.
  • The Kentucky Fried Movie includes trailers for parodies of other films, including Catholic High School Girls In Trouble, That's Armageddon! and Cleopatra Schwartz (a parody of a blaxploitation film called 'Cleopatra Jones'').
  • This is how Trey Parker's Cannibal The Musical began. He made a fake trailer for film class and was told to make the movie by his teacher.
  • Ben Stein's movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed was criticized for, amongst other things, lying to the interviewees about the nature of the film and cutting up interviews to change the meaning of what they said. Richard Dawkins, one of the scientists who claims to have been misquoted, produced his own satirical trailer for a possible sequel.
  • Kill Buljo, a spoof trailer of "Kill Bill" set in a Scandinavian indigenous people's setting, actually was filmed later. Supposedly, Quentin Tarantino quite liked it (the director eventually made a movie about a buried treasure guarded by Nazi zombies).
  • Tropic Thunder featured not one but four of these before the movie even starts, all featuring four of the main characters. The first is a fake commercial featuring Alpa Chino (a fictional rapper) as a spokesman for the now-real "Booty Sweat" drink, the second for the sixth installment in fictional action star Tugg Speedman's blockbuster Scorcher franchise, the third for an Eddie Murphy-style comedy called The Fatties: Fart 2 starring fictional comedian Jeff Portnoy, and the fourth for Satan's Alley, an Oscar Bait art film about gay medieval monks starring (the fake) Kirk Lazarus and (the real) Tobey Maguire.
  • Francesco Vezzoli's short film Trailer for a Remake of Gore Vidal's Caligula (NSFW for sexual content and nudity) is a fake trailer for a Caligula movie starring, among others, Benicio Del Toro, Helen Mirren and Karen Black.
  • The movie Movie Movie, a spoof of old double features, had, in between its two "features," a trailer for a fictitious World War II air battle movie called Zero Hour.
    Fight with them! Laugh with them! Love with them! And even die with them the death of heroes who will live forever!
  • Closet Cases of the Nerd Kind, a parody of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which involves aliens who hit people in the face with pies for no reason, singing mailboxes, and Darth Vader on a motorcycle telling the hero to stop holding up traffic.
  • Movie: The Movie from Jimmy Kimmel is a massive Genre-Busting fake trailer starring a serious number of A-list Hollywood talent.
  • In The Holiday, one of the leads runs a trailer editing company. The one shown in the movie is for a movie called Deception starring Lindsay Lohan and James Franco

    Literature 

    Live-Action Television 

    Music 

    Videogames 

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner has done this a few times, most famously making a fake trailer for a movie based on their game Peasant's Quest. According to their website, there already is a full-length Peasant's Quest movie: "its 'full length' is three minutes" (the length of the trailer).
    • See also the SBEmail "Narration", where Strong Bad narrates the lives of the residents of Free Country, USA as though they were movie trailers: Homestar and Marzipan are a couple torn apart by a novelty chef's hat, an argument between Coach Z and Bubs over napkins apparently leads to the fall of an empire, and Strong Sad gets a dead goose thrown at him.
  • Arfenhouse The Movie 3: Kill Billy. The actual third Arfenhouse movie was a perfunctory Take That to fans who demanded it really be made.
  • Red vs. Blue showed this for Youtube's Geek Week.

    Web Originals 

    Western Animation 

Unintended spoofs:

    Videogames 
  • The ad for The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was shown in theaters. It was so different from the style of the actual game that until the video started showing gameplay footage, some people have mistaken it for a trailer for a Zelda movie.
  • Same could be said for the MechWarrior 3 intro being shown in theaters. It practically could be considered a trailer for some kind of Battletech movie.

    Web Originals 
  • There is someone trying to make a Final Fight movie, though he just needs the budget apparently to make it work. From the looks of the trailer it looks like he could do it.

    Western Animation 
  • The excellent Pyrats animation was a final project for an animation school in Paris. It will never be a movie, but it looks like a trailer (and people have reported that they would like to go and see it).

Show Within a Show:

    Anime and Manga 

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • On 30 Rock, Tracy Jordan once made a trailer for his proposed biopic of Thomas Jefferson... with him playing all the parts. Highlights include Tracy as Jefferson proclaiming "Eat that, King George!" as he finishes writing the Declaration of Independence and the narrator describing him as an "Academy Award watcher".
  • Supernatural has a trailer for "Hell Hazers II: The Reckoning" in the episode "Hollywood Babylon."
  • The Daily Show advertises several fake products on a regular basis, including Jon magazine and the Daily Show Home Game. In 2003, they started airing joke trailers for a new spinoff called The Colbert Réport that had "already been cancelled". The Report premiered in 2005, and has been described as "the only show that started as a promo for itself".
  • A Bill Nye the Science Guy episode on the Earth's Crust had a trailer for a kid cop show called "Johnny Crust."
  • How I Met Your Mother had one of these where a trailer for The Wedding Bride was mentioned on the show and the full trailer was released online here. The movie describes Ted's failed relationship with Stella however from the somewhat skewed mind of her ex-boyfriend, now-husband, Tony. Ted in one episode goes to see this movie more than once and, at one point, acts out something similar to it to is date while he is in the movie theatre.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • The 100th episode, "Wormhole X-Treme!" took its name from a show based on the team, which the Air Force is letting go forward to give the SGC Plausible Deniability (assuming it stays on the air). After the opening titles SG-1 and Hammond are sitting in the briefing room watching a trailer for the show.
    • In the two-hundredth episode, titled "200," the team is giving advice on the production of a Wormhole X-Treme! movie adaptation. The opening to act four, which airs immediately after a commercial break and was intended to be mistaken for another commercial, is a trailer for Teal'c, P.I.. Bonus points for actually getting Isaac Hayes to do the narration.
  • On the Reality Show Scream Queens, one challenge each season had the contestants starring in a trailer for a fake campy horror film in order to test their acting skills. The first season, it was for a movie about reform school girls fighting zombies, while in the second, it was a vampire Western.

    Music 
  • The video for "Hang Me Up To Dry" by indie rock band Cold War Kids. It's filmed in black-and-white, set in a post-war (World War II?) era and revolves around the relationship of a pale-skinned brunette and a Loveable Rogue. The fact that it mentions that this is the third installment of a nonexistent trilogy turns this into a Foregone Conclusion whenever you watch it again (and again, and again), but some fans desperately yearn for Defictionalization.

    Radio 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons and The Critic are full of them.
  • The second season premiere of The Boondocks opens with a trailer for Soul Plane 2 (the original (which had John Witherspoon, who's also on The Boondocks) being one of Aaron McGruder's least favorite movies), and the episode itself revolves around its premiere.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends "One False Movie" can be explained by both Bloo's overwhelming ego and the Rule of Funny, as the 'trailer' seems to be the opening part of the film it's pimping.
    • That was only the trailer?
  • Robot Chicken is in love with this trope. They've made trailers for Kill Bunny, Shoots and Ladders, Hungry Hungry Hippos, and EXPLOSIONS.
    • Other trailers include Laff-A-Munich and "1776", the American Revolution told 300-style, complete with Mundane Made Awesome slow-motion zooms on the signing of the declaration, and the tagline "It's not accurate, but it'll blow your mind!"


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Quotes Fit for a TrailerTrailersSay My Name Trailer

alternative title(s): Fake Movie Real Trailer
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