A trope commonly seen in mysteries:
Cut from Scene A to Scene B, or alternate between two scenes. Viewer assumes that B shortly follows A in the first case, and that both are occurring simultaneously in the second. In truth, there is a much larger gap, or the scenes do not occur in that order
See also Cut Apart
, for when the deception concerns spatial rather than temporal relationships, and Meanwhile, in the Future
, for when events from different time frames are edited together for the sake of suspense or exposition, without necessarily being deceptive.
All examples will contain spoilers. You have been warned.
Anime and Manga
- Higurashi: When They Cry: Ending to Watanagashi-hen. Scene cuts from a woman announcing she's killed all her targets to police investigating outside the last target's apartment. In fact, the last target is still alive at the time of the announcement.
- Watchmen: Chapter 11: "I did it 35 minutes ago." Also a subversion, as there are clocks all over the place in both the Karnak scenes and New York scenes so people paying careful attention wouldn't be surprised.
- Saw II: There are two subplots, people in a death trap filled house and people including the father of one of the people in the house watching them on closed-circuit TV. It later turns out that the closed-circuit TV footage is recorded and his son is in fact in the same building in which he's watching the recordings. It's an interesting example since the characters have the same mistaken impression as the viewer — to tragic effect.
- Saw IV plays a similar trick. The first scene is chronologically the last; everything else takes place during the previous film.
- Ocean's 12: There was a segment where we see Ocean's team and a rival thief both trying to steal a MacGuffin, but find out that the rival got there much earlier and the Macguffin is gone.
- Sliding Doors
- Babel: The four story threads appear pretty much concurrent. At the end, it turns out the subplot involving the deaf girl takes place about a week after the three others.
- In Kamen Rider: The First, there's a sub-plot of a man in a hospital and a girl who tries to befriend him (against his will) that seems to have nothing to do with anything. Slowly, she gets him to defrost, and we find she is ill as well and just likes making people happy. They plant flowers together near the end. We cut from that to the field where the two defeated Shocker lieutenants have landed - it's the same one, and the flowers have grown, as the hospital scenes were in fact years go. The two generals, seeing the flowers, remember their true selves as the two from those scenes, just before dying.
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: The first scene, where Joel goes out to Montauk and meets Clementine, actually takes place after most of the events in the rest of the film, right after Joel's memories are completely erased.
- Mulholland Dr., in its last act (which conflicts with much of what is shown before), does some rapid intercutting between scenes that take place before and after the second-to-last scene.
- An episode that appears to be a flashback is actually a flash forward.
- An episode that appears to be a flash-forward featuring two characters is actually a flashback for one and a flash-forward for the other.
- Jonathan Creek, episode Angel Hair: Events that we think were recorded days in advance actually turn out to be happening live over a closed-circuit TV system rigged to look like a VCR. An exact inversion of the trope use in Saw II.
- How I Met Your Mother had a season 4 episode that used this effectively: the title itself, "Three Days of Snow," was already a hint.
- Funeral for a Friend's album Tales Don't Tell Themselves is mostly a concept album about a man who is having trouble at sea and hopes to get back to his family. However, the tracks are arranged to flow rather than to tell the story in a coherent order. The opening track, Into Oblivion (Reunion) seems to imply it's actually one of the last tracks chronologically. Confusingly, some of the tracks concern the character walking home through the desert but it isn't explained how he made it to land.
- Infinity series:
- The prologue of Ever17 switches back and forth between the two possible protagonists (Takeshi and the Kid). The two viewpoints are made to appear as though it is a mere perspective flip (including some scenes in which the viewpoint character changes in mid-conversation), but are actually similar events that take place on either side of a 17-year gap.
- Throughout the entirety of Remember11, the viewpoint switches between Kokoro and Satoru's bodies (though not their minds). Roughly halfway through the game, it is confirmed that there is a 1-year gap between the two time periods. Additionally, the end of the game also reveals that there was an additional 33 minute gap between perspective switches, which had remained undetected until then due to an inaccurate clock.
- Similar to Ever17, 12Riven's opening features what appears to be a mere perspective flip of the same incident. In the final route, we find out that these perspective flips are actually between two very similar events, exactly 24 hours apart.
- This Wapsi Square strip contains a particularly extreme example. The transition from panel two to panel three looks almost instantaneous, but there is actually a time difference of roughly 80,000 years.
- In an episode of Young Justice, one of the heroes is cornered by two supervillains; the show cuts to commercial and then returns to what seems to be the same moment, with the hero starting his escape. It later turns out that the hero is an unwitting Manchurian Agent pawn of the villains, and spent the commercial break in a trance as they gave him his instructions.