A character appears to be setting up their Catch Phrase
, but instead says something completely different. Almost always a comedy trope, where the humour comes from subverting the audience's expectations.
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Anime and Manga
- This is common on Pokémon, where quite often, Team Rocket will set up as though they're going to say their usual catchphrase, then replace it with a variation or completely different wording.
- In, Gintama "Zura janai, Katsura da!" gets subverted plenty of times, always for laughs.
- In the series finale of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
Of course! Who the hell do you think-- Young Boy: [too busy drinking from a coconut to notice him]
Heh... No, I guess I'm nobody.
- Last Action Hero:
- Early on, when Jack still doesn't believe he's in a movie.
- And later in the same film:
Jack Slater: You've seen these movies where they say, "Make my day," or "I'm your worst nightmare"? Well, listen to this one: Rubber baby buggy bumpers!
- Occasionally done for laughs on Jeopardy! when someone hits a Daily Double. Instead of saying the typical "I'd like to make this a true Daily Double", one contestant said, "I'd like to solve the puzzle." The requirements for answers being a question have also been abused for jokes, such as "What be ebonics?"
- Contestants on other shows have to be reminded that they're not on Jeopardy! (Gambit, Win Ben Stein's Money) after answering a question in the form of a question. Ben Stein makes a causer of this infraction wear a dunce cap.
- Late in the run of Classic Concentration, contestants started saying "I'd like to solve the puzzle" once the board was at a position where the rebus was solvable.
Live Action TV
- Fez of That '70s Show is prone to saying "Good day," to which another character protests, "But, Fez..." and he replies, "I said, 'Good day,'" and storms off. On a few occasions, however, he subverts the expectation by either not responding to the "but" line in the same manner, or else replacing "good day" with another phrase, often something to do with candy or women.
- Barney from How I Met Your Mother did this once.
You are legen- wait for it - daddy, legendaddy
- Doctor Who:
- Upon entering the TARDIS for the first time, most characters feel the need to point out that it's "bigger on the inside." A few don't: Clara calls it "smaller on the outside," Wilf "thought it would be cleaner," Rory figures out that "it's a different dimension," The Brigadier insists it's an illusion and scolds the Doctor for wasting UNIT funds and equipment, etc.
Doctor: Well, Sergeant? Aren't you going to say 'it's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside'? Everybody else does.
Benton: Well, it's... pretty obvious, isn't it?
- A serious version occurs in Kamen Rider Wizard when the title character defeats Phoenix, a villain with Resurrective Immortality, by subjecting him to a Fate Worse than Death: "For you, there is no finale."
- In the Supernatural episode "What Is And What Should Never Be" (S02, Ep20), the Sam of the Wishverse does not respond with "Jerk" when Dean calls him a "Bitch". Instead Sam seems confused and hurt.
- Played for drama a few times in Animorphs, mostly as a case of OOC Is Serious Business. One notable example: when Ax, after getting some orders from Andalite commanders after being stranded alone on Earth for a long time, decides to follow them instead of staying loyal to his new human team. When he realizes that this was a mistake, he reaffirms that Jake is his prince, and the only leader that he should be following. He's expecting Jake to respond with "don't call me Prince," their usual running gag. For the first (and possibly only) time, Jake doesn't.
- Normally, Strong Bad's bad movie character Dangeresque says that things are not dangerous, they're Dangeresque! In Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, Dangeresque sees some objects on the floor that people could possibly trip over. He's asked if it seems... dangerous? His response? "I would say they are dangerous. Yes."
- The Nostalgia Critic does this a lot. Every once in a while, instead of his normal catch phrase ("I remember it so you don't have to."), he'll say something else instead, generally indicating the covered work is really bad instead of just plain old bad. One example comes at the end of his review of A Kid In King Arthur's Court, where he hits himself with a book in an attempt to forget the awful movie. As a result, he finishes by saying "I remember it so you don't Blue's Clues."
- Linkara has probably subverted his "Because poor literacy is kewl!" Running Gag more times than he's played it straight.
- In Two Best Friends Play: Captain America: The First Avenger, Matt spends the entire video avoiding his "AMERICA!" catchphrase despite Pat's goading, to the point where he even avoids saying Cap's name. Until the very end, that is.
- On an episode of Regular Show, Muscle Man subverts his "MY MOM!" catch phrase:
Benson: Muscle Man, have you seen Pops at all today?
Muscle Man: Yeah, and you know who else has seen Pops today?
Benson: (dryly) Who, your mom?
Muscle Man: I wasn't gonna say that! Why does everyone always think I'm gonna say "my mom"?
- And a Double Subversion, when asking if they know who taught High Five Ghost his mechanic skills:
Muscle Man: You know who taught him? My Uncle John. He's a mechanic[…]You know who taught him? MY MOM!
- At least once on Adventure Time, Finn and Jake have subverted their "What time is it?" "Adventure time!" exchange.
- In the Pinky and the Brain episode "That Smarts", the Brain's attempt to make Pinky smarter eventually leaves them both stupid. They attempt their usual So Once Again, the Day Is Saved:
What are we gonna do tomorrow night, Brain? Brain:
The same thing we do every night, Pinky... I have absolutely no idea. Pinky: Poit. Brain: Narf.
- In episode 10 of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Scooby is locked up in an animal asylum, framed for attacks made by a robotic lookalike. Shaggy is despondent, so Velma attempts to cheer him up by wolfing down a sandwich and saying "Relma Delma Doo!"
- Phineas and Ferb does this almost Once an Episode.
- Futurama sometimes does this with Farnsworth's "Good news, everyone", instead having him say something like "Bad news, no one" or "Good news, no one".
- Quest from World Of Quest subverts his "X. I hate X." catchphrase.
Quest: If you hadn't saved him, we wouldn't have needed his help.
Nestor: I... I...
Quest: A runt without words. I like a runt without words.