Well, This Is Not That Trope

Greenslade: Into this complex world of crime, of move and counter move, stepped a man of great ingenuity, daring, resource and brains.
Eccles: Ain't me, folks.

You know how when someone describes something they actually tell you about the thing itself? Well, this is not that trope.

Subversion distilled to its purest essence: you directly build up the audience's expectations with an elaborate description of something, then tell them that you're actually talking about something else — often the exact opposite of everything you've just said.

Closely related to Dissimile, where the simile is broken down by successively removing all the crucial elements.

Most often a Comedy Trope, but can be Played for Drama if done correctly. Compare Analogy Backfire, Bait-and-Switch Comparison. Related to Bait-and-Switch Credits.


    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Watchmen:
    Moloch: You know the kind of cancer you ultimately get better from? ...That ain't the kind I got.

    Fan Fiction 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Done twice in Piers Anthony's book Under A Velvet Cloak. First he describes the story of King Arthur and follows it up with "This is not that story." Then he describes the story of a girl who would be an ancestor to many Incarnations and says "This is not that story either."
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
    And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place...

    This is not her story.
    • Even this subversion is subverted a few books later, in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. It opens up the same way as Hitchhiker's Guide, then says, "This is her story." Although the readers never do learn what she figured out, which was presumably the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.
    • There's also a sequence where Arthur asks Ford about how the universe was born, and Ford goes off on a tangent about buying a bathtub, filling it with sand, then watching all the sand drain down while filming it, and then playing the film back in reverse. Which, he adds, is nothing like how the universe was born.
  • "Maybe once in a lifetime, there comes a book with such extraordinary characters, thrilling plot twists, and uncanny insight, that it comes to embody its time. Atlanta Nights is a book." ó Adam-Troy Castro
  • The winner of the 2007 Lyttle Lytton Contest freeform challenge:
    "Scaling Everest was, by far, the most amazing and transformative experience of my life. Unfortunately, this is a thesis on context-free grammars."
  • The Adventures of Pinocchio opens with one: "Centuries ago, there lived... 'a king!' my little readers will say immediately. No, children, you are mistaken. Once upon a time there was a piece of wood."
  • Used at the start of Stephen Leacock's short story Gertrude the Governess:
    It was a wild and stormy night on the West Coast of Scotland. This, however, is immaterial to the present story, as the scene is not laid in the West of Scotland. For the matter of that the weather was just as bad on the East Coast of Ireland.
    But the scene of this narrative is laid in the South of England...
  • Played for Drama in the final stanza of "Casey at the Bat":
    Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
    The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
    And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
    But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out.
  • In Sourcery, when Carding is bitten by the sourcerer's staff and Spelter asks him what it felt like
    Carding: Have you ever been bitten by a viper?
    Spelter: No.
    Carding: In that case you'll understand exactly what it felt like.
    Spelter: Hmmm?
    Carding: It wasn't like a snake bite at all.
  • The opening paragraphs of Terra says that some couples get along perfectly and are always in agreement, but the Bradburys weren't like that. It then says that there are also couples who argue, and make up, and it ultimately brings them closer together, and even when they're arguing you know they love each other beneath it. And the Bradburys aren't like that either.
  • Older Than Steam: The opening of The Canterbury Tales is so well-known today that it's easy to miss its use of this trope. The first eleven lines describe the start of spring in faintly erotically-charged terms, with flowers being "engendered" and the west wind blowing with its "sweet breath" and little birds being "pricked" to "make melody" all night, before upending the reader's expectations with "Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages."
  • In Relativity, when Ravenswood is telling Melody the story about how he met Michael, he starts with a lengthy description of the accounting class he took in college. Then he reveals that the class has nothing to do with the story, as he met Michael several years later.

    Live Action TV 
  • On Malcolm in the Middle, Lois tells Reese, "Some people have book smarts; some people have street smarts. You have neither."
  • When Mike ends his deal with somebody in Breaking Bad, he says, "You know how they say 'it's been a pleasure'? It hasn't."
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus:
    • One of the sketches featured a narrator who would introduce various on-screen characters in detail, only to remark that they were not going to be the protagonist and move on to someone else they run into. This happens several times.
    • Subversion: The "Science Fiction Sketch" begins by introducing Mr. and Mrs. Brainsample as a "perfectly ordinary couple" and promptly disregards them as being too ordinary to be of interest. Then they reappear at the sketch's climax to help resolve the plot.
    • "Mount Everest. Aloof, terrifying, the highest mountain in the world. (Camera pulls away from a poster of Everest to show a travel agency's office) No, we don't fly there."
    • "In 1943 a group of British Army officers, working deep inside enemy lines, carried off one of the most dangerous and heroic raids in the history of warfare. [Beat] But that's as may be. And now..." (segue to the Army Protection Racket sketch)
    • "...And he's come into the studio tonight to talk about Tchaikovsky, which is a bit of a pity as this is 'Farming Club'." (Subverted in that they end up doing a sketch about Tchaikovsky anyway)
    • "Mr. Bent is in our Durham studios, which is rather unfortunate as we're all down here in London."
  • In the Wonder Showzen Season 1 DVD, we have this:
    Know that famous Street where all the sunshiney happy kids go to watch quality TV and learn stuff? THIS AINíT IT!!!
  • In the Charmed episode "The Wedding from Hell":
    Allison Michaels: I love that show.
  • On Roseanne: "Mark, remember all those times you screwed up? This ain't one of them!"
  • In one episode of Hogan's Heroes, an American prisoner is brought to camp, and Hogan notices he's got a black thimble lens. When he looks into it, Klink asks him what he's seeing:
    Hogan: You know that famous picture of George Washington crossing the Delaware?
    Klink: Yes, I'm familiar with it.
    Hogan (grinning): This ain't it.
  • The Doctor (especially the 11th) does this a few times, using an analogy then saying immediately after (or after a convoluted explanation that goes nowhere) that the analogy is actually completely wrong.
    River: A needle in a haystack.
    Doctor: A needle that looks like hay. A haylike needle of death. A haylike needle of death in a haystack of... statues. No, yours is fine.
  • My Name Is Earl:
    • Used in the pilot.
      "And if you took the time to really get to know me, find out what kind of person I really am instead of just stereotyping me because of the way I look... well, you'd be wasting your time. 'Cause I'm exactly who you think I am. Hell, I'll pretty much steal anything that's not nailed down."
    • Once again used in "Buried Treasure", in the last intro sequence with the librarian.
      "You know the kind of girl who looks like a simple librarian, but when she pulls the pencil out of her hair it all falls down and she looks all wild and sexy? (sighs) I wish that was me."
  • An episode of the Scottish sketch show Naked Video had a Radio Times listing that went something like "Today Tony Sopernote  will be looking at the many kinds of wildlife and birds that can be found in the South East of England. Unfortunately, he's not on TV. We are. Sorry, Tony."
  • In the Musical Episode of Scrubs while they're preparing a patient for a brain scan:
    "Sometimes you're better off not knowing... but this isn't one of those times!"
  • A Running Gag in the final episode of Blackadder II was Master of Disguise Prince Ludwig describing a friend or associate of a character in great detail, and when they said "You mean...?" replying "Yes! I was [someone else who was there at the same time]!"

  • The Tenacious D song Tribute is about an encounter between Tenacious D and a Demon, who threatened to take their souls if they did not perform the Greatest Song In The World for him. After singing about it for the entire song, they reveal that the song you have been listening to sounds nothing like that song, as "this is a Tribute" to that song. note 
  • "It ain't me, babe" by Bob Dylan (and famously recorded by Johnny Cash):
    You say youíre lookiní for someone
    Never weak but always strong
    To protect you and defend you
    Whether you are right or wrong
    Someone to open each and every door
    But it ainít me, babe
    No, no, no, it ainít me, babe
    It ainít me youíre lookiní for. babe.
  • Fred Astaire by San Cisco starts off live a typical sappy pop love song, with the singer mentioning how much he misses his girl and has been thinking of her. The rest of the song is devoted to explaining how she'd be better off with...Fred Astaire?

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In one Beau Peep strip, Peep asks Lethal Chef Egon what the soup of the day is. Egon replies "Have you ever heard of minestrone? A delicate blend of Italian herbs and spices. But it takes ages, this is turnip water."

  • Often done with the introductions on I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. "People come to this theatre from far and wide to watch the greatest performers of the age. Other times, they come to see our teams..."
    • Celebrating the 30th Anniversary Special:
      Humph: For a show such as this to have lasted thirty years might be thought achievement enough in itself. But to have brought joy and laughter to thousands of listeners ... might at least have been worth a try.
    • "It would be a colossal waste to have Phil Jupitus on the show and not have a round that showcases his talents. Still, there you go."
    • After Tim has sung The Goodies theme to the tune of "Feelings":
      Jack: Sometimes when you do that to a song you realise for the first time how good the lyrics are. That wasn't one of those times, but it can happen.
  • The Audio Adaptation of Good Omens:
    Shadwell: Ye can take the field telephone. Ye ken those wee modern smartphones?
    Pulsifer: Yes.
    Shadwell: Well, this isnae one.
    FX: THUMP!
    Pulsifer: Gosh, they knew how to build them in the eighties.

    Video Games 
  • From the beginning of The Several Journeys of Reemus
    "Many moons ago in the Kingdom of Fredericus, there lived a champion dragon slayer. Beloved by the people, feared by outlaws, hated by dragons.

    He brought justice and peace to the land, saving villages and maidens wherever he traveled.

    This story is about his brother..."

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • FreakAngels kicks off with variation of this trope: "23 years ago, twelve strange children were born in England at the exact same moment. Six years ago, the world ended. This is the story of what happened next."
  • The Discworld Emporium page for the Fools' Guild Stamp says: " Ankh-Morpork boasts some of the most highly regarded and illustrious guilds on the Discworld. Incidentally, it's also home the Guild of Fools and Joculators and College of Clowns."

    Web Video 
  • The Dragon Ball Abridged parody of "Bardock: The Father of Goku" begins this way:
    Narrator: Long ago, on a planet long forgotten by time, a young hero was born. A righteous Saiyan warrior who would bring peace to the galaxy. This... is NOT his story...
  • The introduction of "Worms Armageddon - The Worst Shot Ever 2013" does this.
    There are rumours of legendary players
    who possess ruthless efficiency
    a flawless understanding of worms physics
    uncanny observation skills to find powerups
    and unmatched accuracy.
    This is not their story.

    Western Animation 
  • Computer Animation Showcase, a collection of computer-animated shorts, started one of them with this voiceover: "Every once in a great while, a movie comes along that touches everyone's lives. beat Eh, but not this one.
  • Animaniacs: In "Taming Of The Screwy", some very rich investors want to meet all the employees, so Plotz has a big meet-and-greet party organized. After being introduced, and behaving very nicely, the Warner siblings are sent home by Plotz. Dr. Scratch'n'Sniff explains matters and takes them home. As they start climbing back into the water tower and Dr. Scratch'n'Sniff leaves:
    Yakko: Well, I know when we're not wanted. I know when we should just -go home! (beat) Now... is not one of those times.
    (they climb back down)
  • From the first episode of Freakazoid!:
    Narrator: Only one hero can track down Cave Guy. Only one hero has the heart to fight this fiend. That hero is... On another network. Thus, we have no choice but to turn to...
    (zip pan to Dexter Douglas)
    Narrator: This fellow.
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode, "Be A-Fred, Be Very A-Fred", Grim goes to inquire about his laxative commercial. The very angry executive points to a chart that shows vast improvement in sales, saying, "This has nothing to do with us!" Then points to the one that does, showing the sales taking a downward spiral with a picture of a toilet at the current, lowest sales rating. (Clearly, a laxative commercial with The Grim Reaper in it was not a good idea.)

    Real Life 
  • Some schools of philosophy and theology hold that since certain concepts (such as God) are beyond human understanding, the only way one can describe them is by stating what they aren't. (e.g. "immortal", an attribute commonly given to gods, literally means "not mortal".)
  • Aristotle uses this trope frequently in the Metaphysics. To introduce new concepts, he will begin with an inaccurate-but-simpler version of whatever concept he wants to discuss, and once that is understood, he moves on to more-accurate-but-harder-to-understand iterations.
    • Chemistry and Physics are often taught that way as well. In the first year you learn a simple concept that works for some applications without actually being correct (e.g. atoms as little round balls). The next year (or unit of lectures) begins with: "Well what we previously taught you is not actually how this works. We will now explain how it actually works" (e.g. introducing the concept of electrons), the next step is pointing out how the real world is not that model either. Rinse, repeat. Justified insofar as many things can satisfactorily be explained by a "wrong" theory - Newtonian physics works just fine for human sized objects moving at highway speeds; it doesn't for atoms at near light speed. And some of the "wrong" theories are actually the basis for understanding the more advanced ones which are closer to reality.

Alternative Title(s): Bait And Switch Exposition, This Is Not That Trope, This Is Not That Story