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Vandalism Backfire
A bad guy or bully breaks someone's stuff, either trying to upset them, get revenge, get information, or for any other nefarious purpose. There's a beat, as we see the victim's reaction. They're usually looking either utterly deadpan, slightly confused, or oddly, a little smug. Then comes the punchline;

"That's not actually mine."

For added facepalm value, the broken thing actually belongs to the guy who broke it. An alternative is for it to belong to someone much scarier than the intended victim.

See also Shame If Something Happened and Interrogation by Vandalism.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Comicbooks 
  • In an unusual shorter Archie Comics story (only two pages), Jughead boards a passenger train. The conductor yells at Jug to move his suitcase out of the aisle, but refuses. After another passenger trips on the suitcase, Jughead still refuses to move it, so the conductor throws the valise off the moving train. Jughead then says he learned his lesson, and will never leave things where people can stumble over them. After the conductor expresses a little remorse for acting so ruthlessly, Jug calmly adds, "...it wasn't even my suitcase."

    Film 
  • Double whammy in The Big Lebowski. Walter suspects a kid of stealing a million-dollar ransom from The Dude's car. When they arrive at his house, there's a new Corvette sitting out front, which more or less confirms their suspicions. After a brief interrogation, Walter decides that more severe measures are necessary and begins to smash the Corvette with a crowbar. Turns out it wasn't the kid's car, as the neighbor runs out screaming about his new Corvette. He decides to destroy Walter's car... which actually belongs to The Dude, who'd objected to the car-smashing in the first place.
  • In the movie Moving Violations, the two bully cops hassle John Murray's character and smash the tail light of the car near which he is standing so they can give him a ticket. They get carried away and start breaking other parts of the car, but Murray says it's not his car. It turns out to belong to their commanding officer.
  • The classic Polish comedy Sami Swoji features this as one of its most memorable gags. The patriarchs of two Feuding Families live right next to each other and often meet up at the fence between their yards to shout insults at each other. When things escalate one of them starts smashing clay pots hanging on the fence posts. In retaliation, the other man starts ripping up shirts drying on the fence. When their wives come out to see what is happening, the husbands tell them that they were destroying their own property rather than each other's.
  • Laurel and Hardy:
    • In You're Darn Tootin', Stan and Ollie knock each other's hats off as part of an Escalating War. Then Ollie stamps on what he thinks is Stan's hat. It turns out to be his own.
    • In The Music Box, Professor Von Schwarzenhoffen smashes the player piano that his wife bought for him as a surprise.

    Folklore 
  • There's an urban legend about a construction worker who comes home during the middle of the day to find a gorgeous new convertible parked in his driveway. When he looks in the window, he sees his wife talking and laughing with a younger man. Believing that he's being cuckolded, the construction worker proceeds to pour wet cement all over the car's interior, not realizing that A) the younger man is actually a car salesman closing a deal, and B) he's just ruined the new car his wife bought him as an anniversary gift.
  • A similar one exists where a guy sees police officers writing a ticket for an expensive-looking car that's parked in front of a big office building. He goes up and tells the cops he's not paying the ticket and keeps antagonizing them, with the cops finding ever more reasons for giving the car a ticket (tires too smooth, lights not working, etc.). When they leave it turns out the guy was perfectly honest: it wasn't his car, it was his company's CEO's.

    Literature 
  • Douglas Adams once related a story in which he had bought a package of biscuits on a train and was about to eat them when the guy sitting across from him reached over, opened the packet and started eating his biscuits. Incensed at the guy shamelessly stealing from him (but too British to, you know, say anything about it) he grabbed the biscuits back and defiantly ate a few himself. Not to be outdone, the other man began eating them just as defiantly. After this carried on for a while, the biscuits were gone and the other man stormed off. Adams, more than a little perplexed, looks down to see his own package sitting there untouched and realized that the ones they'd been eating had belonged to the other guy. He wrote this scene into the fourth book of the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, in which Arthur Dent relates this experience to an amused Fenchurch.
  • In Romance of the Snob Squad by Julie Anne Peters, Jenny covers what she thinks is her rival's house in toilet paper only to find that it might actually be the home of the leader of the Crips.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Shadow Line, Jay Wratten proves what an utter psycho he is by half-drowning a cat in front of someone, explaining as he does so that the cat's causing him plenty of pain in return. When he lets it go the guy points out it wasn't his cat, but even if it was he doesn't know anything. The scene doesn't do much except act as an Establishing Character Moment.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: Malcolm and Reese get into Escalating Wars of breaking each other's things on an almost daily basis, and Reese has been known to break his own things by accident. And Dewey's, of course, but who cares about that?
  • In an episode of New Tricks, Standing has been having an escalating prank war with a colleague, which culminated in him welding said colleague's locker shut. They finally call the grudge off...until the colleague reveals that it wasn't his locker.
  • Friends:
  • The suitcase example also comes up in a Patter Song from The Benny Hill Show. Benny doesn't go into quite so much detail. A gentleman goes into his rail compartment and finds a hippie seated there. Gentleman tells hippie to get out, hippie doesn't pay attention. Eventually, Gentleman throws the hippie's suitcase out the window: "Now what do you think about that?" "It's not my bloody case."
  • Inverted in iCarly at one point, where Sam thought it was okay to bust through her locker door with a hammer because her combination wouldn't work. It turned out to be Gibby's locker - Sam's was the one next to it.
  • In The Wire, Major Rawls trashes a desk thinking it belongs to Jimmy McNulty, his soon-to-be former (in)subordinate. He is informed that the stuff actually belongs to another detective. In line with his usual bluntness, Rawls doesn't seem to care much about the mistake.
  • Happens in Seinfeld, where Newman performs an Insignia Rip-Off Ritual on Jerry, forgetting that Jerry is wearing his coat.
  • Inverted in Roseanne. Roseanne is helping Jackie move out of her boyfriend's apartment after a break-up (said break-up being caused by the boyfriend physically abusing her) and putting items away into boxes.
    Roseanne: (holding fragile item) Where do I put this?
    Jackie: That's not mine, that's his.
    Roseanne: (delighted) Oh. (throws it on the floor before picking up an expensive-looking vase) Is this his too?
    Jackie: Mine.
    Roseanne: (disappointed) Oh.
  • In Las Vegas, Ed tries to get revenge on his anger management therapist by wrecking his car after the therapist had used accomplices to try to provoke Ed into lashing out throughout the episode. The therapist explains that it's not actually his car - cue the car's hugely built owner (also a patient of his) seeing the damage and telling the therapist that he'll have to ignore his lessons for a few moments.
  • El Chavo del ocho: After one of the times Dona Florinda unjustly punishes Don Ramon, his daughter tried to exact revenge by stealing her towel and covering it with dirt. It backfired because the towel belonged to Don Ramon (He, Dona Florinda and Dona Clotilde shared the same clothesline). While usually not approving revenge, he actually tried a hand on it by dirtying a piece of clothing belonging to Dona Florinda but he mistakenly picked one belonging to Dona Clotilde.
  • Hangin' with Mr. Cooper: Tyler tries to stand up to a bully who is forcing Nicole to do his homework. Tyler grabs the paper and rips it to shreds, only for Nicole to inform him that he just ripped up her homework.

    Music 
  • Rivers Cuomo's second guitar after forming Weezer was a red Stratocaster. It was eventually given to some friends in another band, Justin and Adam of Shufflepuck. One night, Adam was having trouble with his main guitar staying in tune, so halfway through the last song, he switched to the red Strat, but found it was even more out of tune. He got so upset, he started swinging the guitar around and smashing it. The spectators enjoyed themselves, but he noticed a look of horror on his friend Kevin's face. Turns out Justin sold the red guitar to Kevin right before the show started.
  • There is the Russian (Russian-Jewish) song called "The Little Suitcase", or "Train to Berdichev" where a man in a train argues with another about moving away the titular suitcase, and finally throws it out. Then the other man says, "It wasn't my suitcase, it was my mother-in-law's. It had the documents about me being married inside, so now, thanks to you, I am single and free."

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In an early Peanuts strip, Lucy takes a blanket away from Linus and tears it apart. Linus says, "That wasn't my blanket. It was yours." Cue Lucy pounding the floor in frustration.
  • In one series of FoxTrot comics, Jason and Marcus are at science camp and get into a prank war with Jason's sort-of girlfriend Eileen and her new friend Phoebe. The boys decide to win the war by sabotaging the girls' science project but get lost in the dark cabin where the projects are and end up sabotaging their own project. Then, to add insult to injury, it turns out the the girls' project is one of the top two—with Phoebe's brother Eugene (the most obnoxious kid at camp) having the other one. Jason and Marcus are forced to cast the deciding votes that give Eileen and Phoebe the win.

    Western Animation 
  • On The Simpsons, Bart is angry at Lisa, and darkly announces that as vengeance, he tore the head off a stuffed animal named Mr. Honey-Bunny. Lisa then reminds Bart that that was his beloved childhood toy.
    Bart: Agh! Mr. Honey-Bunny! (places the head back on and kisses it desperately)
  • Happens occasionally on The Fairly Oddparents. Vicky will destroy something of Timmy's (or less frequently, Tootie's) and Timmy will wish that the item was something belonging to Vicky instead.
    Timmy: That's not my treasured collection of Crimson Chin comics [you're burning]. That's your life savings.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: In "Heart of Evil", Dr. Zin captures the Blue Falcon and Scooby-Doo. Having established that the Falcon would do anything to save his dog, Zin proceeds to subject Scooby to the agonizer ray. This fails to convince the Falcon to talk and Zin asks him why. The Falcon replies "That's not my dog".
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force has a notable instance when Master Shake puts a cat in the microwave. Meatwad and Shake stare at each other, and through sticky notes, talk to one another. Shake, being the idiot he is, forgets that he already microwaved Meatwad's kitten, and Meatwad has to remind him that it was his own.
    Shake: Mr. Sparkles!!! *boom*
  • Freaky Stories: One story featured an overjealous man whose wife was constantly receiving a male visitor who even once took her for a car ride. The husband one day covered the car with concrete. The visitor was a car salesman and the woman had just bought the car for her husband's birthday.
  • Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain: Elmyra once stepped on Rudy's snake to force it to spit Pinky and the Brain out. Rudy tried to retaliate by stomping on something of hers but stomped on Brain's device of the week. After she told him it wasn't hers, Rudy simply gave up and left.
  • In Archer, Sterling Archer laughs hysterically after Malory slaps a phone out of his hands and breaks it on the concrete because it actually belonged to his servant Woodhouse.
  • In the Classic Disney Short "Lucky Number", Donald Duck wins a new car in a radio raffle drawing, but due to an error in announcing the winning number, he had thrown his ticket away thinking it was a loser. His nephews hear the correction, realize he's won, and cash the ticket in secret to surprise him. When they show up with the new car, Donald thinks it's a prank and unknowingly destroys his own winnings in a rage.


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